Opposition threatens strike
The country’s opposition party yesterday threatened a nationwide general strike to protest what it says was a rigged election and the illegitimate return to power of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he is considering calling a one-day strike for factory workers, civil servants and shopkeepers unless the ruling party agrees to an independent probe of electoral fraud and a program of immediate reforms. He made the comments a day after ruling party lawmakers extended Hun Sen’s rule for another five years, despite a boycott of parliament by the opposition. Official results of the July 28 polls gave the ruling party 68 seats in parliament, compared with 55 for the opposition. The opposition says it was cheated out of victory and has staged several mass demonstrations against the election results.
Brotherhood paper closed
Authorities have shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper in Cairo, the latest move aimed at crushing the Islamist movement, the Brotherhood said yesterday. “We the journalists of the Freedom and Justice newspaper condemn the security forces for closing down the headquarters of the newspaper,” the Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. Police stormed the building overnight and removed the contents. A source at the Cairo Security Department said the raid followed Monday’s court ruling that banned the Brotherhood and ordered its funds seized.
Holding without trial mulled
The government proposed an amendment to crime laws yesterday that would give authorities the power to hold suspects for years without trial, in what critics said was a lurch back to draconian security policies that were only recently eased. The government is justifying the proposed toughening of security laws as necessary to curb a rise in violent crime in recent months, including the murder of a prominent former banker in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, that has alarmed the public. However, the move to amend the 1959 Prevention of Crime Act has political resonance in a country where tough security laws have been used in the past to detain opposition figures and government critics and following an election in May that deepened ethnic and political divisions. Teo Nie Ching, an opposition member of parliament, said the new proposal appeared to be a “fundamental breach of human rights.”
Street vendor to be executed
The country will execute a street food vendor who stabbed two urban security officials following a street dispute, a court said yesterday, provoking outrage online. The Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against Xia Junfeng (夏俊峰), who killed two “city management” officials after a dispute over his streetside stall in 2011, the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court said in a verified social media account. Xia had appealed his sentence on the grounds he killed the two officers in self-defense when they savagely attacked him and others in Shenyang as he sold food, reportedly barbecued meat, on the street. Xia’s case drew widespread sympathy amid regular reports of abuses by quasi-police city management officials. The officials, known as chengguan, “have earned a reputation for brutality and impunity... They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention, and theft,” a spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch said last year.
Officer arrested in kidnapping
Mexico City’s police chief says a fourth officer has been arrested in the investigation into the kidnapping and killing of 12 young people who disappeared in May from an after-hours bar and later turned up in a mass grave. Security Chief Jesus Rodriguez Almeida says the four have been turned over to the prosecutors’ office and he has no evidence to conclude they were involved. The Mexico City prosecutor announced on Monday that two more police had been arrested in the case, putting the total at three officers. Rodriguez on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of the fourth officer. Eighteen people have been arrested so far in the case involving the after-hours bar, Heaven. The killings shook Mexico City’s image as a haven from drug-related, organized crime.
UN reports top coca grower
The nation was the world’s top coca grower last year, even though the area under cultivation shrank for the first time in seven years, a UN report said on Tuesday. The South American country had 60,400 hectares under coca cultivation last year, down from 62,500 the year before, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. However, it replaced Colombia as the world’s top coca producer because the amount of land under coca cultivation there dropped to 48,000 hectares. Coca leaves are the raw material of cocaine. “There has been an important turning point with a 3.4 percent reduction, coming after seven years of continuing increases in those crops,” said Flavio Mirella, the nation’s UN office’s representative. Peru produced 128,000 tonnes of coca leaf last year, almost all of it destined for the illegal cocaine trade, according to the UN study.
King faces hip operation
Surgeons gave 75-year-old King Juan Carlos a temporary hip replacement on Tuesday, but said he requires more surgery for a long-term fix, likely giving fuel to speculation of a history-making abdication. US hip specialist Miguel Cabanela led the surgery at a Madrid hospital to give the frail-looking monarch a new left hip after the previous artificial joint fitted in November last year became infected and painful, making it hard to walk. “Fortunately it has all gone well for his majesty, for us, for the country,” Cabanela told a news conference after the two-and-a-half-hour operation at the private Quiron Hospital in the western suburbs of Madrid. The temporary hip replacement was the king’s eighth operation in three years and news that more surgery must follow in two months or so will no doubt keep alive speculation of a possible abdication, despite palace denials. Cabanela said the king would require a new operation for a permanent prosthetic hip after a period of at least eight weeks fighting off an infection in surrounding tissue.
Bear obeys bartender
If only all unwelcome bar guests were this obliging.
A black bear walked into the bar at the Alaskan Hotel in downtown Juneau on Monday night. Bartender Ariel Svetlik-McCarthy says she freaked out and yelled: “No bear, get out. No, you can’t be in here.” The bear complied, leaving the bar within seconds. State biologist Ryan Scott says it is rare for black bears to go inside Juneau businesses, but they have wandered inside homes before. He said the staff did a great job, and it was good news the bear left. State wildlife officials have killed two nuisance bears in Juneau this summer.