Estrada makes Manila bid
Ousted president Joseph Estrada filed his candidacy yesterday for mayor of Manila. The polls are scheduled for May 13 next year. “There is no boundary to serving the people, especially the marginalized,” Estrada, 75, explained as his motive. “I will not stop until my last breath.” Boxing champion and Representative Manny Pacquiao is also expected to file his candidacy before leaving for the US to prepare for a fight scheduled in December. Imelda Marcos, widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is expected to be among candidates for 286 congressional seats. Her daughter, Imee, is to try to keep her seat as governor of their northern home province of Ilocos Norte.
N Korea drops leaflets
North Korea has dropped thousands of propaganda leaflets attacking the South across their heavily militarized border for the second time this year, Seoul’s defense ministry said yesterday. Soldiers have collected about 17,000 leaflets, which were floated by balloon over the frontier on Saturday, a ministry spokesman said. “They were found scattered in western border areas,” the spokesman said. The leaflets criticize the defense ministry’s “anti-Pyongyang” education program for its military and praise pro-North Korean activists in the South, he said.
Rebels, government in talks
Negotiators from the government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group began a fresh round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, aiming to seal an agreement to end 40 years of conflict. Negotiators are closing in on a peace deal after nearly 15 years of violence-interrupted talks. A peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would set up an expanded autonomous area for Muslims on Mindanao Island, giving them more political and economic powers including a bigger share in revenues from natural resources and a more active role in internal security. “The road is not that long, but it’s still very hard to tell if we will reach there,” Mohagher Iqbal, the rebels’ chief negotiator, said by text message late on Monday. “But we are close to it.”
Groups slam sentencing
A court yesterday handed two Frenchmen partially suspended two-year prison sentences for sexually abusing teenage boys, a punishment criticized as too lenient by the victims’ lawyer. Denis Page, 63, and Jean Vidon, 67, were arrested on Oct. 25 last year for paying for sex with the boys aged 15 and 17 in a hotel room in Battambang Province. The court ordered them to serve one year in jail from the day of their arrest and suspended the remaining year, meaning they could soon be released although the boys could appeal the verdict. “I’m not satisfied because the sentences are lenient. I will discuss it with my clients and we may appeal,” the victims’ lawyer said. The defendants denied having sex with the boys and said they had brought them to their hotel to perform massages, according to anti-pedophile group Action Pour Les Enfants, which monitored the case.
Retired general attacked
Retired Indian Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar, who helped lead a deadly 1984 raid on Sikhism’s holiest shrine in India, has been stabbed and wounded in London, in what he said was an assassination attempt. Brar, 78, was set upon by four men and slashed in the neck as he walked with his wife near Oxford Street on Sunday. He was treated in a hospital and released.
Raid foils terrorist plots
Government forces killed three suspected al-Qaeda militants in a raid on their hideout in Aden, foiling a major plot to blow up targets in the southern port city, a security official said yesterday. “We raided a house in the Mansoura District ... clashes broke out, three [al-]Qaeda operatives were killed and four members of the security forces were wounded,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Yesterday’s operation “foiled several terror attacks that were going to be carried out in the coming hours,” he added. Two vehicles packed with explosives and three suicide belts were discovered at the hideout, the official said, without giving further details.
Train collides with truck
Two cars and the locomotive of an Amtrak passenger train carrying about 169 passengers derailed on Monday after colliding with a big rig truck in California’s Central Valley, authorities said. At least 20 passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries, authorities said. The 12:25pm crash occurred when the driver of the tractor-trailer carrying cotton trash failed to yield and hit the train, authorities said. The impact pushed the two passenger cars and the locomotive off the tracks south of Hanford. The train traveled about 180m after the collision before hitting a switchback and derailing, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Harris.
Farmer devoured by hogs
Terry Vance Garner, 69, never returned after he set out to feed his animals last week on Wednesday on his farm near the Oregon coast, Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said on Monday. A family member found Garner’s dentures and pieces of his body in the hog enclosure several hours later, but most of his remains had been consumed, Frasier said. Several of the hogs weighed 318km or more. It is possible Garner had a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, or was knocked over by the animals and eaten, Frasier said. “For all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it’s so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities,” Frasier told The Register-Guard.
Thieves nab precious gems
California investigators searched on Monday for thieves who made off with an estimated US$2 million in precious gems and gold from a mining museum in the Sierra Nevada foothills. However, the thieves did not get away with the biggest prize of all: the nearly 6.35kg Fricot Nugget, a giant crystalline gold mass unearthed in the Gold Rush era. During their attempt to grab the massive nugget, the robbers triggered an alarm that alerted authorities, who swarmed the museum but were unable to nab the thieves. Authorities said the pieces taken would be easily identified, which could make it difficult for the robbers to sell them.
Montreal mayor accused
The Montreal mayor’s political party received kickbacks of 3 percent of all construction in the city, a former construction mogul testified on Monday at a corruption inquiry. Lino Zambito told the commission headed by Superior Court Justice France Charbonneau the monies were paid to former construction company head Nicolo Milioto, whom police have identified as a middle-man between construction magnates and the Rizzuto crime family. Zambito said the payments began in 2005 or 2006, and Milioto told him they were destined for Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s party. Tremblay denied the allegations.