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A prominent Chinese pig farmer who was detained after praising lawyers during a crackdown on legal activists by President Xi Jinping’s government has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of organizing an attack on officials and other offensesByThe Associated PressJuly 28, 2021, 10:25 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBEIJING — A prominent Chinese pig farmer who was detained after praising lawyers during a crackdown on legal activists by President Xi Jinping’s government was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison on charges of organizing an attack on officials and other offenses.Sun Dawu, chairman of Dawu Agriculture Group, was among 20 defendants who stood trial in Gaobeidian, southwest of Beijing in Hebei province. They were detained after Dawu employees in August 2020 tried to stop a state-owned enterprise from demolishing a company building.Sun also was fined 3.1 million yuan ($480,000), the People’s Court of Gaobeidian said in a statement. It said other defendants were convicted and sentenced but gave no details.Sun became nationally known in 2003 when he was charged with illegal fundraising after soliciting investments for his business from friends and neighbors. The case prompted an outpouring of public support for Sun.Since then, Sun has praised lawyers who help the public at a time when prominent legal figures have been imprisoned by Xi’s government. Sun’s lawyer in the 2003 case, Xu Zhiyong, disappeared in February 2020. Fellow activists say he was charged with treason.In the latest case, Sun and other defendants are charged with fighting with police, organizing a protest, sabotaging production, obstructing public services, illegal mining, illegally occupying farmland and illegally taking public deposits, according to a copy of the charges given out by defense lawyers.Sun was accused of “provoking quarrels,” a charge used against labor and other activists, when he was detained in August 2020.
CHUGUR, Peru — The humble two-story, adobe home of the Castillo family, located in one of the poorest districts of Peru deep in the Andes, feels a little empty now. Lilia Paredes packed up the family’s belongings within the last week, neatly folding her husband’s shirts and picking some plates and silverware in between visits from farmers from nearby villages stopping by to say goodbye.A neo-baroque presidential palace awaits Paredes, her husband and Peruvian President-elect Pedro Castillo, and their two children — should the family chose to live in the historic building.Castillo, will be sworn in as president Wednesday, less than two weeks after he was declared the winner of the June 6 runoff election. The leftist rural teacher, who has never held office, defeated his opponent, right-wing career politician Keiko Fujimori, by just 44,000 votes.Paredes is not sure where she, her husband and two children will live starting Wednesday. She also does not know where the children will go to school once classes begin.“We don’t have any property in Lima,” she told The Associated Press last week on her foggy patio in Chugur while she rubbed her hands amid the cold of the Andean winter. “We are people from the countryside, and almost always, the provincial have to wait years to have a property in the capital. If they tell me to live in another place, it would also be the same, we are not kings to live in a palace, we go to work.”Castillo’s supporters included the poor and rural citizens of the South American nation. He popularized the phrase “No more poor in a rich country,” and stunned millions of Peruvians and observers by advancing to the runoff.The economy of Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer, has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the poverty level to almost one-third of the population and eliminating the gains of a decade.The typical presidential transition process was derailed after Fujimori tried to overturn the result, asking election authorities to annul thousands of votes alleging fraud, an accusation she could never prove. That left the Castillo family little time to make plans and say their goodbyes.Unlike all of Peru’s former presidents of the last 40 years, the Castillos have no home in Lima. Paredes, also a teacher, said she and her husband have to decide whether they will live in the presidential residence, but it is likely they will call it home. She has seen it from the outside but has never stepped inside, not even on guided tours that were offered during pre-pandemic times.Choosing their home is a significant decision given Castillo’s anti-elite rhetoric. His campaign slogan could be called into question if the family moves into the ornate presidential palace.Paredes is taking to Lima some bags with food, including peas, beans, sweet corn flour and cheese that the family makes at home after milking their cows at dawn. The family’s house – which Castillo built more than 20 years ago – will be in the care of Paredes’ elder sister.The family has also packed study materials for Arnold, 16, and Alondra, 9. Paredes would like her children to attend a university and a state college. She said Arnold wants to study civil engineering because he likes math.“Alondrita will continue studying in a public school, but I would like it to be one of nuns,” Paredes said. If that happens, it will be the first time in decades that the children of a president enroll in public education. The powerful in Peru have long preferred private schools.Some local media outlets had suggested that Paredes would wear an haute couture dress from a Lima-based designer, but she categorically denied that option. She chose Lupe de la Cruz, a seamstress from a town near Chugur, to make two suits for her.“I like simple… My husband likes what I wear, and I like what he wears,” she said.Paredes recently brought de la Cruz two cuts of brown and green wool fabric. The seamstress showed her a fashion magazine, and the next first lady chose the designs of two discreet suits.“She does not like embellishments nor scandalous colors,” de la Cruz said days later at her workshop, cluttered with fabrics, scissors, needles, threads and rulers.Before leaving for Lima, Paredes and her family attended a service in the Nazarene church that is located a few yards (meters) from their home. Pastor Victor Cieza invited dozens of pastors from other evangelical churches from the surrounding villages.The church with yellow walls and a tin roof filled up with neighbors dressed in hats and woolen ponchos like those worn by Castillo. Some sang accompanied by a guitar; others reflected on vanity and the importance of humility.“Everyone knows us, we will never forget where we are from and where we have to return because the positions are not forever,” Paredes said at the end of the service.
Nicaraguan police have placed under house arrest yet another presidential contender, the seventh so farByThe Associated PressJuly 24, 2021, 9:27 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaraguan police placed under house arrest a seventh presidential contender on Saturday, meaning that almost all of those who could have challenged President Daniel Ortega in the Nov. 7 elections have now been detained.Opposition leader Noel Vidaurre was placed under police custody at his home on Saturday, as was political commentator Jaime Arellano. Arellano had been called in for questioning regarding a commentary he wrote criticizing an Ortega speech.Vidaurre was one of the potential presidential candidates of the Citizens for Liberty alliance. The conservative alliance announced it had chosen as its candidate Oscar Sovalbarro, a leader of the U.S.-supported “Contra” insurgency that fought the Sandinistas in the 1980s. It was not clear if Sovalbarro had accepted the nomination.Half a dozen other potential candidates have been arrested in a crackdown that began almost two months ago. Almost two dozen other journalists and opposition activists have also been detained.Almost all were arrested under “treason” laws that Ortega has used against political rivals. Most face vague allegations of crimes against the state. Ortega alleges the country’s April 2018 street protests were part of an organized coup attempt with foreign backing.Another potential candidate, Cristiana Chamorro, is also under house arrest.Most of those arrested in a crackdown that began in late May are being held incommunicado, at undisclosed locations with no access to lawyers or family visits.They include Medardo Mairena, Félix Maradiaga and Miguel Mora.Potential candidates Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Arturo Cruz were also arrested. Candidates must register by Aug. 2.Lesther Alemán — a former student leader who returned to Nicaragua after exile but stayed in safe houses — has also been detained.And several of the leading Sandinista revolutionaries who fought alongside Ortega in 1979 have also been jailed by him.Those currently under arrest include 65-year-old Dora María Téllez, a former guerrilla commander who later split with Ortega and became a leader of the Sandinista Renovation Movement. Another jailed former Sandinista guerrilla and Renovation Movement leader, Hugo Torres, is 73.Another is Víctor Hugo Tinoco, the leader of the political movement Unamos, is a former assistant foreign minister and former ambassador to the United Nations.Ortega, 75, is seeking a fourth consecutive term in Nov. 7 elections.
New floods have again swamped areas of Belgium and washed away cars as a wave of thunderstorms and heavy rain hit the country on SaturdayByThe Associated PressJuly 24, 2021, 8:19 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBRUSSELS — New floods have again swamped areas of Belgium and washed away cars as a wave of thunderstorms and heavy rain hit the country on Saturday.The provinces of Namur and Walloon Brabant south-east of the capital city Brussels were particularly hit. They had already been impacted by the devastating floods that left 36 people dead and seven missing in the nation with 11.5 million inhabitants last week.Belgium’s crisis center issued a warning to the population as the bad weather is expected to last for several days.Heavy rainfall caused significant damage in Dinant, where piles of cars were strewn across the town. Deputy mayor Robert Closset said firefighter were deployed to tackle floods he described as worse than last week.“I’ve been living here all my life and I’ve never seen this before,” he told The Associated Press, adding that no new victim had been reported.In the province of Liege, which was badly hit last week, local authorities monitoring the situation said no significant overflows of rivers were expected over the weekend and decided that a global evacuation of the area was not necessary at this stage.The confirmed death toll from last week’s floods in Belgium and neighboring countries passed 210 this week and the economic cost is expected to run into the billions.The Walloon government, in charge of the executive power in the French-speaking region, has announced a €2 billion plan for the reconstruction. To help citizens cope with the urgency before insurance companies take over, every household affected by the catastrophe will be granted interest-free loans of 2,500 euros to cover basic needs.Experts say such floods will become more frequent and severe due to climate change, and countries will need to adapt, including by revising calculations about future flood risks, improving warning systems and preparing populations for similar disasters.
Officials in the Philippines say thousands of residents have fled flooded communities and swollen rivers in the capital of Manila and outlying provincesByThe Associated PressJuly 24, 2021, 8:08 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMANILA, Philippines — Thousands of residents fled flooded communities and swollen rivers in the Philippine capital and outlying provinces Saturday after days of torrential monsoon rains, which left at least one villager dead, officials said.Officials said they struggled to open more emergency shelters in order to allow social distancing among the displaced residents and prevent evacuation camps from turning into epicenters of COVID-19 infections. In the hard-hit city of Marikina in the capital region, nearly 15,000 residents were evacuated to safety overnight as waters rose alarmingly in a major river.“This situation will be too difficult if there won’t be a permanent solution to flooding, especially now with the threat from the delta variant,” Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro told ABS CBN News, referring to the highly contagious COVID-19 viral strain that has been detected in the country.Many of the residents were evacuated from flood-prone villages in Marikina overnight, depriving them of sleep, said Teodoro. He blamed years of illegal logging in nearby mountains and heavy siltation in Marikina River for constant flooding in his city.In the mountainous northern city of Baguio, a resident died Friday afternoon after the taxi she was riding in was hit by a falling tree, police said, adding two other people in the taxi were injured. The northern Philippines has been swamped by days of monsoon rains that flooded low-lying villages and set off minor landslides.Typhoon In-fa, which has churned off the country’s eastern coast and dumped rain on Taiwan before blowing toward China, intensified the seasonal downpours, forecasters said.A cargo boat overturned after being lashed by strong waves Saturday close to a port in Pio Duran town in Albay province, southeast of Manila. Its 10 crewmen were rescued by police, firefighters and villagers, who used a long rope to pull the overturned boat closer to the coast, the coast guard said.Coast guard personnel rescued several residents trapped in their houses by rising floodwaters Friday in Naujan town in Mindoro Oriental province south of Manila. As they carried the villagers through waist-high waters, the emergency crew held on to a rope to prevent themselves from being swept away by the current.About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year, aside from seasonal monsoon rains. The country also lies in the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations.
Russia has sent a shipment of coronavirus-related humanitarian assistance to Cuba, including 1 million medical masks, the defense ministry said on Saturday, adding President Vladimir Putin had given instructions for the aid.Cuba, which kept coronavirus infections low last year, earlier this week reported the highest rate of contagion per capita in Latin America. That has strained its healthcare sector and helped stoke rare anti-government protests earlier this month on the Communist-run island.Two military planes carrying 88 tons of aid – including food and personal protective equipment, including over 1 million medical masks, departed from an airfield near Moscow on Saturday, the defense ministry said in a statement.’BLOODIED’ LITTLE HAVANA DEMONSTRATOR SLAMS BIDEN: ‘CUBANS DON’T WANT VACCINES, THEY WANT FREEDOM'”On the instructions of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, military transport aircraft are delivering humanitarian aid to the Republic of Cuba,” the ministry said.The ministry did not mention the United States, but with its aid to longstanding ally Havana, Russia could also be looking to make a point against Washington.The Cuban government has blamed the protests mostly on what it calls U.S.-financed “counter-revolutionaries” exploiting economic hardship caused by decades-old U.S. embargo. Government critics say the island’s economic woes are caused largely by the inefficiencies of the state-run system.Mexico said on Thursday it would send to Cuba two navy ships loaded with medical and food supplies, including syringes, oxygen tanks and masks, along with powered milk, cans of tuna, beans, flour, cooking oil and gasoline.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPMexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has blamed the U.S. embargo for fomenting the unrest in Cuba.With a population of 11 million, Cuba reported nearly 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases per million residents over the last week, nine times more than the world average, in an outbreak fueled by the arrival of the more contagious Delta variant on the island.
A news report says a man in central China has been rescued after spending three days trapped in a flooded underground garage during torrential rainsBy DAKE KANG Associated PressJuly 24, 2021, 6:31 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleZHENGZHOU, China — A man in central China was rescued after spending three days trapped in a flooded underground garage following torrential rains, while at least four bodies were found after a traffic tunnel was drained, a news report said Saturday.The death toll rose to 58 after record rains hit the major city of Zhengzhou on Tuesday, state TV reported, citing Li Changxun, deputy director of Henan Provincial Emergency Management Department.Meanwhile, rescuers used bulldozers and rubber boats to evacuate residents of areas that still were under water, according to the Shanghai news outlet The Paper.The rains flooded a Zhengzhou subway tunnel where at least 12 people died, knocked out power to a hospital and other buildings and left streets filled with mud. Dozens of trains in the region were delayed for up to 40 hours.Li Yongsheng was found Friday afternoon in a garage under the Jincheng International Plaza in Zhengzhou’s Jinshui District, The Paper said. It said he was trapped when the garage flooded Tuesday and lay on a ventilation duct surrounded by floating cars.A photo on The Paper’s website showed Li being guided by rescue workers through chest-deep water. It said he was hospitalized with a crush injury.On Saturday, skies were mostly clear but parts of Zhengzhou and other cities including Hebi, Xinxiang and Anyang still were under water.In Hebi, rescuers were moving people out of neighborhoods where water was up to two meters (six feet) deep, The Paper said. It said authorities intentionally flooded parts of Hebi on Saturday afternoon to lower water levels elsewhere.A video on The Paper’s website showed rescuers in boats making their way down streets through waist-deep water.In Zhengzhou, a city of 12 million people, bodies and more than 200 wrecked cars were found in the Jingguang North Road Tunnel, where water up to 13 meters (43 feet) deep was pumped out, The Paper reported.Some downtown streets and intersections remained flooded with a few inches of water, in places knee-deep. Crews of emergency workers pumped water, removed debris, and laid sandbags down on pedestrian crossings. Rows of army trucks were parked at some intersections, hung with red banners with slogans like “We must not let up in bringing relief to disaster areas; we must not let up in protecting the people.”Large swaths of the city have resumed normal life, with shoppers thronging upscale shopping malls and the elderly dancing on outdoor plazas.“For the most part, life has returned back to normal, but there’s still some stuff that hasn’t,” said Li Nana, who had been trapped in her office by the rising floodwaters last week. She said electricity hadn’t yet been restored to her home.The Ministry of Emergency Management sent flood-drainage teams with 300 people and equipment from neighboring provinces, the official Xinhua News Agency said.Direct economic losses were estimated at 13.9 billion yuan ($2 billion), according to Xinhua. It said a total of more than 3,800 houses collapsed across the province and 920,000 people were evacuated from their homes.