Mexican drug cartel at work
Anti-drug police said yesterday they had arrested three people connected to Mexico’s feared Sinoloa drug cartel while they were storing narcotics. The two Philippine citizens and one Filipino-Chinese were arrested in a raid on Wednesday in Lipa City, 75km south of Manila, after weeks of intelligence operations by local and US anti-narcotics personnel. Seized in the raid were 84kg of methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known as “ice” or “shabu,” as well as two firearms, police officials said. However the actual members of the Mexican cartel were not there during the raid, said Senior Superintendent Bartolome Tobias, head of a drugs task force. “We have previously had reports that the Mexicans are here and ... this is the first time we have confirmed that indeed, the Mexicans are already here,” he said. He said a Philippine-American named Gary Torres and two Mexicans known as “Jaime” and “Joey” were being sought in connection with the seized drugs.
Ex-CCP leader’s widow dies
The widow of a former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader ousted after the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests has died at age 95. Friends of Zhao Ziyang’s (趙紫陽) family said they were notified of the death of Liang Boqi (梁伯琪) at Beijing Hospital on Wednesday night. No cause of death was given. Zhao helped promote reforms that launched the country’s economic boom, but was purged after he called for compromise and expressed sympathy for some of the students’ demands during the protests. He was accused of splitting the CCP and placed under house arrest after the military crushed the protests. Zhao died in 2005 at age 85.
Bombings target Christians
Militants targeted Christians in three separate Christmas Day bombings in Baghdad, killing at least 37 people, officials said on Wednesday. In one attack, a car bomb went off near a church in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, killing at least 26 people and wounding 38, a police officer said. Earlier, two bombs ripped through a nearby outdoor market simultaneously in the Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21, the officer said. The Iraq-based leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Sako, said the parked car bomb exploded after Christmas Mass and that none of the worshipers were hurt. Sako said he did not believe the church was the target.
UN force attacks rebels
A special UN force in the east of the country used helicopters on Wednesday to fire on Ugandan rebels and help government troops retake the town of Kamango after an attack that killed civilians. “South African helicopters in the UN intervention force were asked by FARDC [the army] to give them support to recapture Kamango,” said a senior officer with the UN mission to the country who declined to be identified. The rebel attack took place before dawn, said Teddy Kataliko, head of the civil society in the Beni region where Kamango is located. “We have 10 people kidnapped, 11 civilians and five soldiers wounded, and several civilians killed, as well as homes burned, by the attackers,” Kataliko said, adding that the rebels were “now heading towards the town of Nobili,” on the Ugandan border, where more than 150,000 people have taken refuge from the fighting.
More than an ordinary tip
Las Vegas cab driver Gerardo Gamboa thought someone left a bag of chocolates in the back seat of his vehicle, but the stash turned out to be US$300,000 in cold hard cash. Now, Gamboa is winning honors for honesty after turning in the money he found on Monday. The money was returned to an unidentified poker player. Yellow Checker Star Transportation named Gamboa its driver of the year and rewarded him with US$1,000 and a dinner for two at a restaurant. Gamboa told the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper that he had another passenger by the time he began wondering what kind of chocolates were in the brown paper bag. He peeked inside at a traffic light. “I told my passenger, ‘You are my witness on this,’” the 13-year taxi driver told the Las Vegas Sun, “and then I immediately called my dispatcher.” Gamboa took the six bundles of US$100 bills to the company’s main office, where Las Vegas police and casino officials linked it to the poker player.
It took several hours to verify the identity of the owner and return the cash.
Washington rides again
George Washington has made his annual Christmas Day ride across the Delaware River. Washington’s daring Christmas 1776 crossing of the river turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. The 61st re-enactment of it was staged on Wednesday. Hundreds of people gather each year to hear Washington’s stand-in deliver stirring words to the troops and watch three boats make the crossing from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. During the original crossing, boats ferried 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons across the river. The troops marched 13 kilometers downriver before battling Hessian mercenaries in the streets of Trenton. Thirty Hessians were killed. Two Continental soldiers froze to death on the march, but none died in battle.
Eight die due to rains
Flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains have killed at least eight people and injured five on the eastern Caribbean island of St Vincent, officials said on Wednesday. The government’s National Emergency Management Organization said one of those who died was an 18-year-old college student. Five people were reported missing. Among the eight killed was a cousin of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Cassian Gonsalves, who died on Tuesday night when a landslide crashed through his house, Cassian’s cousin Mark Boyea said. In the heavily hit area of North Leeward in northwestern St. Vincent, a family of five was killed when a house was swept into their home. There was also extensive flooding and damage elsewhere in the eastern part of the Caribbean.
Settlement plans continue
Israel will announce plans for new settlement construction next week, coinciding with the release of a third batch of Palestinian prisoners as part of peace talks, an official said yesterday. “The Israeli government will announce tenders for new construction in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem which will coincide with the release of a third group of Palestinian prisoners,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Two previous rounds of prisoner releases in August and October have been accompanied by Israeli announcements of fresh construction on land the Palestinians want for a future state, provoking Palestinian ire.