Grand Cape Mount has reported an alarming upsurge of the deadly Ebola virus with 49 new cases registered so far.The Head of the Incident Management System (IMS) and Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health, Tolbert Nyenswah, making the disclosure yesterday at the office of IMS in Monrovia, said that of the 49 new cases reported, 27 were confirmed, 13 suspected and 9 probable, putting Cape Mount in the Red County Category second to Montserrado in the country.Describing it as unfortunate, Minister Nyenswah attributed the increase to migration of people suspected of the virus and the continuous denial by some residents that people are dying of the Ebola epidemic in the country.According to the Minister, many people are still observing traditional and cultural practices, which undermine the fight against the deadly Ebola virus and stifle efforts made by the IMS and other international and local partners. “We have people still traditionally preparing the dead body before burial and secret burials are still taking place in the county causing the spread of the virus. We need to desist from these (practices) with the deadly Ebola virus still threatening,” he stressed.There is a high level of complacency and gross disregard for the preventive measures that were laid down by the Ministry of Health and its partners to contain the spread of the Ebola virus, he said.Minister Nyenswah reported that people in Cape Mount were not observing constant hand-washing with soap and chlorine solution. He said that they are also keeping sick people in their communities, getting in close personal contact with them and often do not report suspected Ebola cases.With the alarming number of new cases in the county, the IMS and its partners will open the Ebola Treatment Unit in Sinje and move in with more ambulances and health workers to ensure that the situation is put under control.“We are also installing new Labs in the next two weeks to have more people tested. We will also carry out a massive mobilization of partners to support the county health team in ensuring the IMS does not have any problem of containing this outbreak in the county,” Minister Nyenswah added.The Minister disclosed further that the 49 reported cases from Cape Mount have generated over 200 contacts in and outside of the county, which he said needed urgency to contain the situation. He appealed to local residents to work with health practitioners to address the problem.Monsterrado County remains the hotspot of the Ebola Virus Disease, but the IMS and partners are working to ensure that ‘zero new cases’ is achieved and Liberia is declared Ebola free, he said.He added that Nimba, which has not reported any case for the past 63 days, has now reported one new case, but the IMS is working to guarantee that all measures are put in place to handle the situation there.The Minister emphasized that only behavioral change of every Grand Cape Mount citizen and resident will help to stop the spread of the virus, stating that everybody needed to adhere to all the preventive measures to break the transmission of the Ebola disease.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Some special dogs will be fetching plenty of attention at the launch of the Donegal branch of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind this Friday in Letterkenny.A big paw-ty will take place in Letterkenny Shopping Centre from 10am to celebrate a new era for the organisation in Donegal.Shoppers will get the opportunity to meet two ambassador dogs and Sybil, the guide dog of Buncrana woman Jennifer Doherty, will also be in attendance. The Donegal branch of Irish Guide Dogs has been set up to connect current clients, raise awareness of the organisation and fundraise for the training and care of life-changing dogs.There are 14 working dogs in Donegal – seven assistance dogs for children with autism and seven guide dogs for people with visual impairments.The newly launched branch will be led by Jennifer Doherty, Lesley Newberry and Michelle Healy. Lynda Foley, regional fundraising coordinator said the branch is about bringing a community together: “It is important to have a hub to link clients in the county. The Irish Guide Dogs HQ is in Cork, so having a branch in Donegal will help to link the 14 clients here and encourage social interaction and the sharing of information.” “We have a lot of clients in Donegal, so this is about increasing the visibility of the organisation.”Friday’s launch at Letterkenny Shopping Centre will be an op-paw-tunity for the public to meet staff, volunteers, guide dog owners and the dogs. Merchandise will be on sale along with fundraising raffle tickets. There will be volunteer sign-up sheets if anyone wishes to support the cause.People will also be able to book a visit and talk for their workplace or school/ college.“With 70 branches in the Republic of Ireland, we have a large volunteer community of like-minded people. It is perfect for dog lovers and people who want to get involved in a community project,” Ms Foley added.Check out the Facebook page for more info: Donegal Branch of Irish Guide Dogs Pawsitively great launch planned for Donegal branch of Irish Guide Dogs was last modified: July 11th, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:irish guide dogs
In case you are … The ex-girlfriend of former 49er linebacker Reuben Foster appeared on “Good Morning America” on Thursday to address their relationship.Let’s just say they put the diss in dysfunctional. And that she tried, unsuccessfully, to drag the 49ers into the ooze.EXCLUSIVE: Ex-girlfriend of NFL star Reuben Foster recounts alleged assault as she speaks out to @ABC News’ @LinseyDavis. https://t.co/IQ2g78h2zS pic.twitter.com/3BWDQbJWuq— ABC News (@ABC) December 6, 2018
13 February 2014All eyes will be on President Jacob Zuma on Thursday night as he delivers the sixth and final State of the Nation address of the current administration. The speech will be delivered to a joint sitting of Parliament in Cape Town at 7pm, and broadcast live on national radio and television.SAnews features editor Chris Bathembu takes a glance at the highlights of Zuma’s previous five addresses.2009It was a cold winter afternoon on 3 June 2009 when Zuma delivered his first State of the Nation speech following the elections of that year. The world economy was reeling from the effects of the recession. More than 900 000 South Africans had lost their jobs between 2008 and 2009, while some companies continued to cut staff due to rising costs of oil and energy.It was not going to be an easy speech for Zuma. Some cringed when he announced that between June and December 2009, the economy would have created about 500 000 job opportunities. The key element to the jobs drive would be the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which had achieved an initial target of one-million jobs by 2009.Zuma also knew that something needed to be done fast to cushion the poor from the aftermath of the most devastating economic crisis since the great depression. He announced the introduction of the training layoff scheme. Though it was met with opposition from Cosatu and the National Youth Development Agency, the plan would help to protect workers who would ordinarily have faced retrenchment. Companies in distress would also be assisted to train inexperienced workers. In the end, these workers would, instead of being retrenched, be kept in employment for a period of time and re-skilled.Zuma also announced that a scaled-up Industrial Policy Action Plan would be developed. The lead sectors in this were to be the automotive, chemicals, metal fabrication, tourism, clothing and textiles, and forestry sectors.This paved the way for the development of the New Growth Path (NGP) a year later. The NGP identified five key priorities, namely education, health, the fight against crime, creating decent work, and rural development and land reform, which would form the focal point for the rest of the five-year term of the current administration.Zuma ended that speech by saying: “Since the implementation of our programme will take place in the face of the economic downturn, we will have to act prudently. No wastage, no rollovers of funds – every cent must be spent wisely and fruitfully. We must cut our cloth according to our size.”2010It was 11 February, and this speech was to be delivered in the evening and broadcast on national television, to allow working people to follow it from home. There was much hype around it, as the date coincided with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.As expected, Zuma began his address by reminding South Africans of Mandela’s release, a watershed moment in the country’s history. Then it was down to the business of the day.Zuma reminded the nation that the global economic crisis had cost the economy about 900 000 jobs. He announced that to provide a safety cushion for the poor, the government would extend its child support grant to children over 14 years of age, and over the following three years to children aged 15 to 18 years.More than 480 000 public works job opportunities had been created, he said, which was 97% of the target set the previous year. The jobs were in construction, home and community-based care, and environmental projects.Zuma’s major announcement for 2010 was the R846-billion he said the government would spend on public infrastructure. The New Growth Path, he added, had been adopted as the official framework for economic policy and the driver of the country’s jobs strategy.Zuma also announced that all grade 3, 6 and 9 pupils would henceforth write literacy and numeracy tests that were independently moderated. The government had set a target of increasing the number of matric students who were eligible for university admission to 175 000 a year by 2014.Zuma wrapped up that speech by saying: “Inspired by our icon Madiba, it is my honour to dedicate this 2010 State of the Nation address to all our heroes and heroines, sung and unsung, known and unknown. Let us work together to make this year of action a successful one for our country.”2011This speech, delivered on 10 February, was all about jobs. Zuma announced the establishment of a Jobs Fund to the tune of R9-billion over three years to finance new job-creation initiatives. The Industrial Development Corporation had set aside R10-billion over five years for investment in economic activities with high job potential. Up to R20-billion was to go towards tax allowances or tax breaks to promote investments, expansions and upgrades in the manufacturing sector.Zuma also announced that South Africa had joined the Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC) grouping of influential emerging economies.He noted that more than 400 000 additional people had been connected to the country’s water supply the previous year, while about 81% of the country was now electrified, compared to 63% in the year 2000.About R44-million had been recovered from public servants illegally benefiting from housing subsidies. Just over 5-million HIV tests have been conducted since the launch of the testing campaign the previous April.Zuma concluded that speech by saying: “We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.”2012This speech, delivered on 9 February, focused on several key things that government would have to do to grow the economy, introducing the National Development Plan (NDP) as key to the elimination of poverty and inequality over the next two decades.Zuma used this speech to report back on a number of issues. The Jobs Fund, which was announced in 2011, had begun operating and 2 500 applications had been received in the first round. Project allocations of over R1-billion had been committed. In addition, seven projects with an investment value of R8.4-billion had been approved for the R20-billion tax incentive announced in 2011.Transnet would invest R300-billion over seven years in capital projects. Of this amount, R200-billion had been allocated to rail projects and the balance to projects in the ports.Zuma said the state would develop a major new south-eastern node to improve the industrial and agricultural development and export capacity of the Eastern Cape and expand the province’s linkages with the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In the former Transkei, part of the Eastern Cape, a dam would be built using the Umzimvubu River as the source in order to expand agricultural production.More than 220 000 solar geysers had installed in homes nationwide. The target was one-million solar geysers by 2014-2015.Zuma wrapped up that speech with these words: “I would like to appeal to all our people to join hands as they always do, as we deal decisively with the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Nobody will do this for us, it is in our hands. And we are all equal to the task.”2013Zuma began this speech by referring to the crisis in the Eurozone, which is South Africa’s major trading partner, accounting for around 21 percent of the country’s exports.He also spoke at length about the National Development Plan (NDP), which outlines interventions to put the economy on a better footing. The speech set the target for job creation at 11-million by 2030 – while noting that the economy needed to grow threefold to create the desired jobs. Zuma said that the government would have spent about R860-billion rand on infrastructure since 2009. Various projects were being implemented around the country.The Judicial Commission of Inquiry, led by Judge Ian Farlam, had been appointed to probe the tragedy in Marikana, where more than 44 people were killed during a strike by miners.Investments amounting to R400-million in green economy projects had been approved for municipalities, other organs of state, community organisations and the private sector across all provinces.The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units had secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73%, for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70% for crimes against children under 18 years of age.Zuma ended the speech by saying: “As South Africans, we should continue to have one primary goal – to make our country a truly great and prosperous nation.”Source: SAnews.gov.za
I’ve been involved with green building certification programs for about 10 years now, starting with my work with Southface and the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association in developing the EarthCraft Renovation program. Since then, I have become a HERS rater, an NAHB verifier, a LEED Green Rater, a BPI Building Analyst, an EarthCraft Technical Advisor, a Green Communities Technical Advisor, and a Building America Builders Challenge verifier (I don’t think I left anything out). In these various capacities, I have certified many single- and multifamily units under most of these programs and, until recently, felt pretty comfortable managing them and explaining the various—and sometimes conflicting—requirements of each to my clients. While I was aware that there were some changes on the horizon, it seems that the upcoming changes in ENERGY STAR and the ripple effect through other programs have taken myself and most others in the industry somewhat off our games.What’s the schedule?ENERGY STAR versions 2.5 and 3 have been in the pipeline for a while, and although I have been keeping up with them in theory, I have not yet taken the time to sit down and go through them in detail, nor have I yet taken the two-day required class for raters. The raters I have spoken to who have taken this class seem to be a frustrated bunch, many having only recently entered the industry looking for a new source of income. The general impression is that the new versions will likely lower the number of builders seeking certification—not good news for the rating industry and the thousands of newly trained professionals looking for business opportunities.I believe it is important to raise the level of performance of our buildings, but the complexity of the new ENERGY STAR, as well as many other certification programs, deserves some reconsideration. LEED for Homes, scheduled for a new version release in late 2012, has not yet shared publicly how the program will relate to ENERGY STAR Version 3, nor has the NAHB Research Center said anything publicly on the subject that I am aware of. EarthCraft House is scheduled to release a new version in March 2011 that will, hopefully, clarify some of the confusion. Right now it is a challenge to know how much work will be involved in certifying future projects, making it hard to provide pricing to potential clients. It’s enough to drive a rater crazy.I don’t need any stinking consensusIt seems to always be a big deal that many of these green programs were developed by “consensus,” supposedly leading to the best outcome, but I fear that I must disagree with this opinion. We need to only take a look at our dysfunctional legislative bodies to see just how effective (or ineffective) we can be when trying to come to a consensus. When we look at things realistically, there are lots of constituencies involved in green programs, each one having its own goals to work toward, everyone compromising, until we end up with something that ultimately pleases very few people and leaves everyone else feeling slightly abused. I do not come to this opinion from experience; rather, mostly as an outside observer of the various committees assembled to create these standards. I am willing to listen to anyone’s opinion to the contrary. While I don’t know that there is necessarily any better way to create a program, I don’t believe that the consensus model (or muddle) brings us the best product. Rather, it brings us one that offends the smallest number of people.Eschew obfuscationOne of my favorite pieces of graffiti—“eschew obfuscation,” which I translate to “avoid overcomplication”—is something I would like to see all the various and sundry green certification programs take as their mission statements. Unfortunately, “overcomplicated” seems to be the key to most programs. If it’s not a long checklist like the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) or EarthCraft House, it’s a dense, interpretation-heavy spreadsheet like LEED for Homes. Even ENERGY STAR, which in Version 2 was pretty straightforward, seems to have become obfuscated, at least for the time being, in Version 3.I’m not sure if there is a better model out there, but I believe, deep down, that there must be a better way. I have always had a theory that compared to a democracy, a benevolent dictatorship (if the dictator was truly benevolent) might be a better system to live under. I get so disgusted by politicians; I think that anyone who aspires to public office should be denied the opportunity. Some as yet unnamed higher power should just appoint people based on merit, with no opportunity for them to decline. I realize that I am being totally delusional, but it’s my blog and I can write what I want, and you’re reading it anyway.So why can’t we just pick the smartest people, sit them down, and tell them to put together the most effective, simplest, and least expensive green building program? If we pick (or someone from above chooses) the right people, we might end up with something that doesn’t continue to drive us crazy. I’m just sayin’.
Big Data is all the rage. And with good reason, too. There is so much data being created, captured, sorted, sifted through, analyzed, reported, sold, and shared that extraordinary business insights are inevitable. And we’re just getting started.But not so fast! With all this trumpeting of the “new” new thing, let’s not forget about what’s really important: Little Data.Little DataBig Data is the aggregated data from lots of individual consumer transactions (as well as all of the rest of the data in the digital wake now trailing behind each of us). The data is being used to determine how to sell to individuals and businesses. But you already have Little Data, and that Little Data can help you serve your clients and dream clients now.Over time, you’ve captured your client’s communication preferences. You know that they prefer phone calls to email, or in some cases, they prefer a text message. You know that they like a follow up call when they place an order. You know that sometimes they need to see your face, and sometimes they just want you to listen. You’ve got information about your client’s communication preferences in your sales force automation software right now.You’ve also captured information about your client’s ordering patterns. You know the big shifts in their business, their peak season, and their client’s ordering patterns. You’ve got this information in your system now.You have a lot of data about your clients at your fingertips now.Context and InsightIf you’ve done a reasonably good job capturing information from all of the interactions you’ve had with your clients and dream clients, you’ve also got something Big Data doesn’t necessarily give you: context.I bought my son the Hellsing videos on Amazon.com. I think I bought two separate sets of videos. Now, Amazon is recommending I buy all kinds of cartoons and manga. The data collected doesn’t come with context. It doesn’t recognize that I am not my son, that the videos were a reward for good grades, and that they are cluttering my experience with what their data tells them I want to buy. It’s not the perfect analogy, but Amazon’s algorithm says that if I bought Helsing, I am interested the stuff that other Hellsing buyers bought.You, on the other hand, know why your clients ordered what they ordered, when they’ll need to order it again, and how they might do better by doing something different.You are all the time collecting and capturing data about your clients and your dream clients. But to make this Little Data work for you, you have to use it to generate insights, ideas, and value for your clients and your dream clients. Sometimes Little Data is more powerful than Big Data.QuestionsWhat little data do you collect?What do you know about your clients that helps to you serve them better than anyone else could?What ideas and insights does your insight give you?Is your Little Data as important as any Big Data? Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Now
Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsThe RCMP in Manitoba has an open investigation into allegations involving the use of money from a Peguis First Nation land settlement trust fund, APTN National News has learned.The RCMP investigation, triggered by a complaint from a Peguis First Nation band member, is currently on hold pending the completion of a financial review launched by Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ audit and evaluation branch, APTN can report. The review is being executed by auditing firm Deloitte.The complaint filed with the RCMP involves the use of funds from the $64 million Peguis received as part of a 2006 treaty land entitlement (TLE) agreement. Some of those funds, held in trust by the Peguis Treaty Land Entitlement Fund, were used to launch a joint venture with the Manitoba Jockey Club to develop the Assiniboia Downs race horse track.Indigenous Affairs’ audit and evaluation branch opened an investigation in December 2015 after receiving allegations involving the misuse of the TLE funds from former Peguis chief Cindy Spence. The branch tapped Deloitte to lead the probe in early 2016.“The review is being conducted as a result of information received by the department’s audit and evaluation sector,” said a statement from department spokesperson Valerie Hache. “At this time, the review is ongoing and no additional information is available.”The time frames for the allegations sent to the RCMP and Indigenous Affairs correspond with Glen Hudson’s previous terms as chief for Peguis. Hudson was chief of Peguis from 2007 until 2015 when he was beat by Spence, whose campaign focused on the previous administration’s alleged misuse of funds. Hudson regained his seat in March by beating the incumbent Spence.Hudson has not been charged with any crime and no allegations against him have been proven in court.Hudson was contacted by Deloitte shortly before the election in mid-March, according to his lawyer Jamie Kagan. Kagan said he recommended Hudson reject a meeting with Deloitte. Kagan said Deloitte wouldn’t reveal the client who requested the financial review or provide any documents ahead of time.“I never heard back from them again. Either this is not a particularly good audit or something is fishy,” said Kagan.Kagan said he initially didn’t believe Indigenous Affairs (INAC) was behind the financial review.“It was during the election call, that is what made me immediately suspicious it wasn’t INAC,” said Kagan. “INAC is not going to mess around in the middle of an election.”Kagan said the federal department’s Winnipeg office told him they were not aware of any financial probe. Kagan said he did not, at the time, contact the audit and evaluations branch in Ottawa.When informed of the department’s statement to APTN last week, Kagan said he would be looking into it.“I would like to know when this so-called investigation happened and I would like to know when Deloitte was retained. To me this is all interesting in an artificial sense. The details are important,” said Kagan.As of this article’s posting, Kagan said he was still trying to get clarity from the federal department on the issue.Shortly before the March 24 election in Peguis, Kagan penned a carefully worded letter on behalf of Hudson addressing claims around the RCMP investigation and the department’s financial review.“We can confirm we have never been contacted by the RCMP in respect of former chief Hudson. We are not involved in any investigation and do not believe any such investigation exists. We understand this allegation to be false,” said the March 16 letter, signed by Kagan.“We have also contacted Indian and National Affairs Canada [sic] (INAC). INAC has confirmed that there is no investigation at all of former chief Hudson. These allegations are therefore equally false,” said the letter.In a subsequent interview, Kagan repeated his assertion that, based on the information in his possession, he didn’t believe the investigations by the RCMP and INAC existed at the time. This led him to believe the information about the allegations was incorrect, said Kagan.Kagan said he stands by what he wrote and is willing to litigate to defend himself and Hudson.“If your network is going to put on the air that there is a file open and here are all these allegations and they are going to put my name, my firm’s name or Hudson’s name associated with them, I can tell you there will be a response,” said Kagan. “If our letter is referred to as anything other than factually accurate there will be consequences to that. I know that every word of that letter is factually accurate.”As to the allegations, Kagan said he has no intimate knowledge of Peguis’ side in the Assiniboia Downs venture.“If you are talking about the Downs—which I don’t know much about and was not involved with at all. Interestingly enough I acted on the other side of Peguis on that matter,” said Kagan. “I don’t have information on Peguis and the transaction. A transaction closed and there are lawsuits outstanding related to that”Kagan represented former NDP provincial finance minister Stan Struthers who opposed the deal between Peguis and the Jockey Club.The Jockey Club launched a civil suit against Struthers and the province alleging a conspiracy to sink the horse race track. The suit was eventually settled out of court in 2014 through a deal between Manitoba and the email@example.com@JorgeBarrera
OTTAWA – The Liberal government is planning to make good on a campaign promise to create an ombudsman with teeth to oversee the conduct of Canadian companies operating abroad.International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is expected to announce the creation of a new position on Wednesday.Government sources say the new position will be a substantive upgrade to the “corporate responsibility counsellor,” which has been widely criticized as a toothless entity for dealing with misconduct complaints against Canadian companies, mainly in the mining industry.One source, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a matter not yet made public, said the new ombudsman would have jurisdiction over more than just the mining sector, but provided no further details.The source said the position would be “the first in the world with real independence with real powers, and more than just mining.”It is not clear how much power the newly created position will be given, such as whether it will be able to compel specific behaviour from companies.The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, an organization pushing for changes, says it is encouraged by the pending announcement but needs more details on whether the new office will have real powers and independence before endorsing it.“Will the ombudsperson be relying on ministerial discretion to exercise investigator powers? Will the ombudsperson operate autonomously from Global Affairs Canada?” asked Stephanie Gervais, the group’s spokeswoman.The organization also wants Champagne to confirm whether the ombudsman can look at old cases retroactively or just new ones, she said.Hundreds of mining companies operating in Latin America, Africa and Asia make Canada a leading player in the sector. But the sector is periodically the subject of human rights complaints and legal action, often by Indigenous groups.The head of one of the largest investment firms that has consulted closely with the Trudeau government on its economic agenda distributed a letter this week telling big companies they need to step up their corporate responsibility efforts if they want to benefit from their financial largesse.“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” writes Laurence Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, in a letter that was first obtained by the New York Times this week.If companies don’t engage better with local communities, Fink writes, they will “ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”In November 2016, BlackRock was among the of the world’s most powerful institutional investors to take part in a summit hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.According to a draft agenda, Fink and Trudeau were to deliver the opening remarks at the gathering, which used the opportunity to promote Canada as an attractive place to invest. BlackRock was asked to invite its clients to the event.In the lead-up to the summit, BlackRock reportedly participated in biweekly conference calls with Infrastructure Canada and the Privy Council Office to create a presentation Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi was to deliver to the investors.Trudeau will meet more business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week in an attempt to continue selling Canada as a prime investment destination.“We must have the full and equal participation of all to have economies that work for everyone and a future that is fairer, more inclusive, and more compassionate,” Trudeau said in a statement.— With files from Andy Blatchford in Ottawa
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister was charged Friday with abuse of power, corruption and money laundering involving millions of dollars in another graft investigation against leaders ousted in elections earlier this year.Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who now leads the opposition after his party was defeated in the May general elections, was brought to court a day after he was detained by the anti-graft agency.Zahid pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of criminal breach of trust involving nearly 21 million ringgit ($5 million) in his family-run welfare group, eight counts of abusing power as home minister to receive bribes worth over 21 million ringgit for various projects including the supply of passport chips, and another 27 counts of laundering about 72 million ringgit ($17.3 million).Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who along with his wife was also charged with graft after the elections, appeared in court to support his former deputy. Zahid took over as president of the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, after Najib stepped down following their coalition’s defeat for the first time since independence from Britain in 1957.Dozens of UMNO members rallied outside the court complex, slamming the charges as politically motivated. They carried placards accusing the new government of adopting a “rule of the jungle” in an attempt to cripple the party. UMNO was the linchpin of the former ruling alliance, which has since disbanded, but the party still holds about a fifth of parliamentary seats.Zahid, 65, was freed after posting bail. He told supporters that he considered the 45 charges against him as a “test from Allah.” He indicated most of the money was meant for charity such as to build orphanages, mosques and other welfare programs, and that he will clear his name in court.“Whatever the public opinion is, I leave it to Allah to decide. Allah willing, with all the good things I have done with the intention of upholding Allah’s religion, I hope Allah will protect me,” Zahid said. Each of the charges against him carries a prison term of up to 20 years, plus heavy fines.His daughter, Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid, has called her father a “target of cruel injustice” under the new government.Two public listed companies implicated in the charges issued denials after prices of their shares plunged Friday.Datasonic Group Berhad said in a statement that neither the company nor any of its directors paid any bribe to Zahid to supply biodata chips for Malaysian passports, adding that it won the contract by offering the best pricing through an open tender.MyEG Services Sendirian Berhad said separately it has no knowledge of the person and company that allegedly paid Zahid millions in bribes to secure projects from MyEG, a provider of online government services. It said it was not privy to their alleged dealings with Zahid. Trading of MyEG shares were halted Friday afternoon on the company’s request.The charges against Zahid are not related to the multibillion-dollar looting of the 1MDB state investment fund that led to his coalition’s shocking loss.Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, were charged earlier with multiple counts of corruption and money laundering linked to the 1MDB scandal. The fund, set up by Najib, is being investigated in the U.S. and several other countries. They have both denied any wrongdoing and Najib’s trial is to start next year.
Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party on Friday released a list of six candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, fielding party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav from its stronghold Mainpuri. Dharmendra Yadav will contest from Badaun, Akshay Yadav from Firozabad, Kamlesh Katheria from Etawah, Bhailal Kol from Robertsganj and Shabbir Valmiki from Bahraich, the party announced. The list was signed by SP national chief general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav. The party left Mainpuri, described as its “safest” seat, from Mulayam Yadav, who is MP from Azamgarh right now. He represented Mainpuri in the Lok Sabha in 1996, 2004 and 2009. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mulayam Yadav contested from Azamgarh and Mainpuri and won both. In Mainpuri, his victory margin was a massive 3.64 lakh votes.