Jumaat, 29 November 2013

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The Star Online: World Updates

China to question movie director's agent on family planning allegations


SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Authorities will question the agent of acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou after the director went missing following allegations he had fathered seven children, a breach of China's one-child policy, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The agent for Zhang, the director of epics "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers", was summoned to the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi to answer allegations against him, Xinhua said late on Friday, citing the local family planning bureau.

In May, online reports surfaced that Zhang, who dazzled the world in 2008 with his Beijing Olympic opening ceremony, had at least seven children and could be liable for a 160 million yuan ($26 million) fine, Xinhua said.

The Xinhua report gave no further details about the case.

Authorities said this month they were unable to locate Zhang and had dispatched teams to track down the director and his wife Chen Ting.

The Wuxi family planning commission "has done everything possible to contact Zhang Yimou and Chen Ting and dispatched a work team that rushed to Beijing to look for Zhang Yimou, but there were no results, they could not find (him)", Xinhua said.

Zhang, 61, was once the bad boy of Chinese cinema, whose movies were banned at home but popular overseas. He has since become a darling of the ruling Communist Party, while long being a subject of tabloid gossip for alleged trysts with his actresses.

The government said last week that it would allow couples to have a second child if one of the parents was an only child. It was the most significant relaxation of its population control regime in nearly three decades.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Honduras's defiant left asks for presidential election recount


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The party of Honduras' defeated leftist presidential candidate Xiomara Castro demanded a full vote recount on Friday, offering examples of poll fraud that supporters say robbed her of victory this week when conservative Juan Hernandez was declared the winner.

Hernandez, who is head of Congress and enjoys close ties with incumbent president Porfirio Lobo, was declared winner on Monday, promising to tame violence that has made Honduras the world's murder capital.

Castro, wife of former ousted leader Manuel Zelaya, has refused to accept the results, setting the stage for a protracted conflict.

On Friday, Castro's Liberty and Refoundation Party, demanded a full recount of 16,135 ballot boxes, arguing that certificates signed by the parties and submitted to election authorities with local vote tallies had been falsified.

"We have uncovered a disgusting, monstrous fraud, through which the Honduran people have been robbed of the presidency of the Republic," said Castro. "We will not accept the results."

With 89.80 percent of the votes counted, Hernandez garnered 36.59 percent of the vote compared to Castro's 28.84 percent, electoral authorities have said.

Zelaya, Castro's husband, was deposed in a 2009 coup, which plunged the Central American country into deep crisis and turned Honduras into an international pariah.

(Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Senior Chinese official sacked in corruption probe


SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Communist Party has fired a senior provincial official for "suspected serious disciplinary violations", the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, making him the latest target in acrackdown on corruption.

Guo Youming, the vice governor of the central province of Hubei, was removed from his post after China's corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), announced a probe into the official this week.

The Xinhua report, which cited the ruling party's central Organisation Department, gave no further details, but the term discipline violations is generally used to denote corruption.

Guo's dismissal comes a day after China launched a pilot programme to make new officials disclose their assets as part of an anti-graft campaign, a step critics say is critical to weed out official corruption.

The government this week also announced that two other officials were being probed over graft allegations.

Xu Jie, a deputy head of the petitions office, has been sacked for suspected graft issues, while Cai Rongsheng, head of admissions at Beijing's prestigious Renmin University, is under investigation, in what state media said was related to "corruption cases involving large amounts of money".

President Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a top theme of his new administration, and has vowed to pursue high-flying "tigers" as well as lowly "flies" to assuage anger over corruption and restore faith in the party.

Guo is a long-time official in Hubei, where he served in the water management bureau and as party secretary in Yichang city, near the $59-billion Three Gorges Dam project.

His official biography says he was in charge of "follow-up work" on the dam, as well as elements of the controversial North-South Water Transfer Project, which aims to divert river water to the industrialised north.

Authorities have already announced the investigation or arrest of a handful of senior officials, among them former officials of oil giant PetroChina, in what appears to be the biggest graft probe into a state-run firm in years.

In May, Liu Tienan, the former deputy head of China's top planning agency, was removed from his post after online accusations of corruption were posted against him, and a criminal investigation began in August.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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