Plea for change made
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday said the 2015 elections will not be democratic without constitutional changes. “The constitution must be amended,” the Nobel laureate said as she met European Community President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels. “If the constitution is not amended, the 2015 election cannot be free or fair.” Parliamentary polls will be held in 2015, with the new parliament then choosing a president and Aung San Suu Kyi has said she wants to run for the presidency. The constitution, crafted under the former military regime, blocks her from becoming president as it excludes anyone whose spouses or children are foreign nationals from holding the post. Aung San Suu Kyi’s two sons are British nationals through their father, academic Michael Aris. Aung San Suu Kyi met European leaders over the weekend before heading to Luxembourg to pick up the EU’s main human rights prize that she won 23 years ago. At a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg tomorrow, she will finally receive the Sakharov prize she won in 1990 at the height of the military crackdown.
Bootleg liquor kills 10 more
Another 10 people have died in hospitals after drinking toxic bootleg liquor in the north, police said yesterday, raising the death toll to 42 in the past three days. Some 40 people are being treated in hospitals in Uttar Pradesh state, District Magistrate Neena Sharma said. Police arrested 32 people for illegally brewing and selling the toxic drink to the villagers, who were celebrating the Hindu “Dussehra” festival in Azamgarh District last week, Sharma said yesterday. Deaths from drinking illegally brewed alcohol are common because the poor cannot afford licensed liquor. Illicit liquor is often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency.
Three named for ministers
Local media says President Hassan Rouhani has named three candidates for ministerial posts to replace nominees rejected by the conservative-dominated parliament. In August, lawmakers attacked his proposed Cabinet for its members’ Western educations, their alleged ties to the opposition and their supposed lack of experience. However, in the end parliament rejected only three out of his 18 nominees. State TV said yesterday that the president named Reza Faraji Dana to be science, research and technology minister, Reza Salehi Amiri to fill the sports and youth portfolio and Ali Asghar Fani to head the education ministry.
All rallies banned in Dhaka
Police on Saturday banned all rallies in the capital, Dhaka, fearing violence after the opposition called for “armed” protests to force elections under a caretaker government. The ban comes after an official from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) urged supporters to stage non-stop protests starting on Friday armed with machetes and knives. The BNP and its Islamists allies have set the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a Thursday deadline to agree to their demand to hold upcoming parliamentary elections under a neutral caretaker government. Hasina on Friday proposed an all-party interim government in an effort to break the deadlock over the polls. The BNP has yet to respond to the proposal, but the party has long threatened to boycott any elections held under a government or interim administration led by Hasina.
Train slams into station
A commuter train slammed into the end of the line on Saturday morning at the same station in Buenos Aires where 52 people were killed in a similar crash last year. This time, emergency officials did not report any deaths, but said at least 35 people were injured, five seriously. A mob quickly formed, unleashing its fury at the train operators by trying to attack the motorman, breaking glass inside the station and throwing stones in the street outside. Passengers screamed “murderer” at the injured driver. Officers intervened and he was hospitalized under police custody as police in riot gear took control. Secretary of Security Sergio Berni told reporters that it was too early to say why the train failed to stop, crashing through bumper at the end of the line and ending up wedged between the floor and ceiling of the platform. A response team of firefighters, police and medical personnel evacuated the wrecked train at the busy Once station. Many passengers did not wait, kicking out windows to escape their cars where doors failed to open.
Activists free 178 beagles
Police say animal rights activists broke into a laboratory in the southeast and released 178 beagles being used for drug tests. Officer Edivaldo Nunes of the Sao Roque police department says that “a large group of activists shouting: “Save the dogs” stormed the Instituto Royal Lab Laboratory early on Friday morning and drove away with the animals. He says none of the dogs have been recovered and no one has been arrested. The Folha d S. Paulo newspaper says that the lab used the dogs to test for adverse effects of drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry.
‘Carjacker’ killed at border
A high-speed chase that ended with authorities killing a suspected carjacker closed traffic on Saturday into Mexico at one of San Diego’s border crossings. Three Customs and Border Patrol agents shot at and killed the driver of a car that stopped near the Otay Mesa border crossing and then began driving forward toward an agent, San Diego police Lieutenant Jorge Duran said in a statement. The driver, who died at the scene, had led California Highway Patrol officers on a nearly 160km chase. The crossing was shut to southbound vehicle and pedestrian traffic following the 10:30am shooting. It remained open from Mexico, but could be closed well into the evening going the other way, Customs and Border Forrest Bustamante Protection supervisor said. The busy San Ysidro crossing nearby was unaffected. The chase began after a suspected carjacking in the Riverside County city of Perris just after 9:30am. It reached speeds of 160kph.
Alleged child killers arrested
Police arrested five men for the rape and murder of two toddlers this week that sparked rioting in a restive shantytown northwest of Johannesburg, a spokesman said on Friday. “The fifth [suspect] was arrested this morning,” police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said. Four others detained earlier would appear in court on Friday, he added. “Charges against them will be kidnapping, rape and murder,” he said. The men were aged between 29 and 47. All lived in Diepsloot township, northwest of Johannesburg. A resident discovered the bodies of the girls, aged two and three, early on Tuesday in a communal toilet. They had been missing since the previous Saturday. Their rape and strangulation caused uproar and angry members of the community rioted and blocked the streets with rubble.