Nasheed, Yameen to face off
Former president Mohamed Nasheed will face a run-off election on Sept. 28 after his win in the presidential poll ended without a majority, Election Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek said yesterday. Thowfeek told a media briefing that Nasheed secured 45.45 percent of the total votes polled, while rival Abdulla Yameen won 25.35 percent. Gasim Ibrahim, a resort tycoon, secured 24.07 percent and President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was only able to get 5.13 percent. He confirmed that the country would hold a run-off election on Sept. 28 between Nasheed and Yameen. Nasheed was forced to resign last year after mutinying police and military forces armed opposition demonstrators and gave him an ultimatum.
Liu Zhijun associate charged
A businesswoman linked to the corruption case against former minister of railways Liu Zhijun (劉志軍) has been charged with bribery and illegal business activities, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Liu received a suspended death sentence in July in the country’s highest-profile corruption case in years. He was convicted of taking bribes and steering contracts to associates. A suspended death sentence is usually changed to life in prison. Businesswoman Ding Shumiao (丁書苗) is charged with intervening in bidding for railway projects, Xinhua said, citing a statement by the Beijing Prosecutors’ Office. The charge of illegal business operation involves activities that totaled 180 billion yuan (US$30 billion), Xinhua said. It gave no indication how much of that Ding received or other details of the case. Liu was best-known as the driving force behind the nation’s bullet train network. The ministry is one of the largest entities in the world, with an investment budget last year of 630 billion yuan.
Web blackmailers detained
Xinhua yesterday said police have detained 16 people accused of blackmailing companies by threatening to spread fake news stories about them on the Internet. Xinhua said four groups set up Web sites that falsely claimed that they were run by the Chinese Communist Party or the government and threatened to post damaging information about the companies online. The report said that some of the damaging information about companies was true, but others paid to suppress reports they knew were false for fear their reputations might be hurt. According to Xinhua, police said the four groups were involved in more than 120 cases and collected a total of more than 3 million yuan.
‘Spy’ stork found dead
A stork once detained by authorities on suspicion of being a winged spy has been found dead. Mahmoud Hassib, the head of the southern protected areas, on Saturday said local residents found the dead bird on an island in the Nile, south of the ancient city of Aswan. Last month, a resident found the stork in the Qena Governorate, about 450km southeast of Cairo. Both he and police were suspicious of the European wildlife tracker found on it. Authorities later let the bird go. However, controversy trailed the bird even after its death. A local wildlife organization claimed on its Facebook page that the bird was “eaten by local villagers.” Hassib denied that the bird had been eaten, but said he did not know the exact cause of death.
Immigrant hides in chiles
Authorities say an immigrant suspected of entering the country illegally attempted to make his journey in a shipment of red chiles. Customs and Border Protection officers working at a New Mexico border checkpoint said the man was discovered on Thursday face down among a commercial load of the spicy stuff. Columbus Port director Robert Reza says next to the “highly intoxicated” 35-year-old was a bottle of tequila. The man, who authorities described as Mexican, told agents that he climbed into the commercial hopper while it was being staged in Mexico. He got into the truck-full of chiles in hopes of catching a ride to Chicago, the El Paso Times reported. Agents said he got less than 100m into New Mexico before he was discovered. He will be returned to Mexico, officials said.
Wildfire prevention costly
The cost of fighting the wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has risen to more than US$89 million as the blaze enters its fourth week. The Forest Service reported on Saturday that the Rim Fire has burned 1,020km2, 28.5km2 more than the day before when it became the third-biggest wildfire in modern California history. It remains 80 percent contained. The fire started in the Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17. There were still more than 3,400 people fighting it as hotter and drier weather arrived on Saturday. Officials say it could cost tens of millions of US dollars more to restore damaged habitat and waterways before the fall rainy season.
US plotting downfall: Maduro
President Nicolas Maduro has claimed the White House is plotting the “collapse” of his government next month by sabotaging food, electricity and fuel supplies. “I have data about a meeting at the White House, the full names of those who attended. I know what plans they made for the total collapse” of the country, Maduro said on Saturday during a ceremony in northern Aragua state. “They think that Venezuela will collapse in October, so long as they plan for it by sabotaging the people’s food, electricity, fuel and refineries.” In recent months, the government has made several allegations about conspiracies against it and plots to kill Maduro, who even stated that Washington wanted to kill him at the same time that it carried out a possible attack on Syria. On Tuesday, Maduro claimed the opposition had sabotaged the electrical power grid after a massive blackout left 70 percent of the country without power for at least four hours.
Traffickers destroy drugs
Egyptian and Syrian drug traffickers set fire to their own ship carrying 30 tonnes of hashish after being intercepted by maritime patrols, the police said on Saturday. The police said in a statement they were tipped off three days ago about a major drug cargo on the ship sailing across the Mediterranean. The statement said that on Friday they approached and tried to board the ship, an 85m cargo vessel registered in Tanzania. “The nine crewmembers, Egyptian and Syrian nationals, set fire to the ship to destroy their precious cargo and jumped into the sea,” it said. The traffickers were fished out of the water and arrested by police and the fire was extinguished after several hours. Maltese forces helped put out the fire on the Gold Star, a spokesman for the Maltese military said, adding that it had deployed three patrol boats and a helicopter in the area.