- Kenya vows to crack down on fake police officers
- Yum says China chicken suppliers dropped before probe announced
- Texas school can force teenager to wear locator chip - judge
Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:57 PM PST
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya pledged on Tuesday to root out impostors in its police force following the arrest last week of a man suspected of masquerading for a decade as a top provincial security official.
Joshua Waiganjo, who said he was an assistant commissioner in the Rift Valley region, appeared in court on Tuesday to face 10 charges of serious crimes including impersonating a police officer and highway robbery, prosecutors said.
The case has caused a public outcry in the east African nation, where persistent corruption scandals have undermined confidence in the government ahead of a presidential election on March 4.
An internal police investigation found that Waiganjo had leaked information that caused the massacre of 32 police officers in November when they were pursuing cattle raiders, Kenyan newspaper The Standard reported.
Johnston Kavuludi, head of the independent National Police Service Commission, said it would seek to establish if Waiganjo had access to confidential security information and whether there was any link between him and the massacre in Baragoi, 210 miles (340 km) north of the capital Nairobi.
"The incident has exposed serious systemic weaknesses in the police service," said Kavuludi. "The commission is undertaking a detailed audit of all the police officers in the service, an action that would weed out 'ghost' officers."
Waiganjo's lawyer, Katwa Kigen, told Reuters his client "has nothing to do with the Baragoi massacre".
He said Waiganjo was not an impostor and they would prove his innocence of all the charges.
UNIFORMS FOR SALE?
Media showed photos of a middle-aged Waiganjo wearing the uniform of senior officers and flying in a police helicopter. They carried tales of junior policemen he had intimidated and even sacked from the force over the years.
He attended several planning meetings for the doomed mission to recover stolen cattle, The Standard reported, quoting the report of the internal investigation.
Kavuludi said the police commission had suspended John M'mbijiwe, the Rift Valley police boss, and two other senior officers in the region to facilitate its probe.
The commission said a committee leading the investigation would report back within three weeks.
In 2006, two Armenian brothers - Artur Margariyan and Arthur Sargsian - whose swaggering lifestyle turned them into celebrities - were found to have been fraudulently issued with certificates showing they held the rank of deputy commissioner.
They were accused of involvement in a police raid on media offices and were deported after assaulting customs officers.
President Kibaki appointed a new police chief last month to bolster the force ahead of the March presidential vote.
It will be the first since a disputed 2007 election provoked ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,200 people and threw a spotlight on the failings of Kenya's security forces.
(Corrects story in paragraph 3 to show Kibaki not seeking another term)
(Additional reporting by Anthony Gitonga in Naivasha; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by George Obulutsa and Tom Pfeiffer)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 08 Jan 2013 07:14 PM PST
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - KFC parent Yum Brands Inc said it had stopped using chicken from suppliers in China that are now under a government investigation before the review was even announced and analysts said they expect the company to recover from the business hit in its biggest market.
Yum, which gets more than half of its overall revenue and operating profit from China, on Monday warned that bad publicity from a Chinese government food safety review of chicken suppliers hit its sales in China harder than expected in the latest quarter.
Wall Street analysts expect that Yum's business will rebound as negative media coverage wanes even though consumers continue to criticise the company.
"Precedent suggests Yum can weather this type of incident," Bernstein Research analyst Sara Senatore said.
Some bloggers however, disagree with Senatore and have taken to China's Twitter-like Weibo to criticise KFC.
"I will never eat KFC again," said microblogger "Neverbunny". "We should get KFC out of China," wrote another under the name "ninibababa".
In 2005, Yum pulled some products from its KFC restaurants in China because they contained "Sudan Red" dye, which was banned from use in food due to concerns it could lead to an increased risk of cancer. Yum's China sales took a similar hit from that incident, but rebounded in the subsequent months, Senatore said.
Yum says it is cooperating with the Chinese government's review of two poultry suppliers - Liuhe Group Co. and Yingtai Food Group Co - that provided chicken to KFC with unapproved levels of antibiotics. Those suppliers "represent an extremely small percentage of product to KFC", according to Yum.
The company had stopped sourcing from Liuhe in August and has halted purchases from a problematic Yingtai plant, Yum spokesman Jonathan Blum told Reuters on Tuesday.
Yum had cancelled purchasing from the Yingtai plant before the government investigation was announced in late December, said Blum, who did not have more specific information on the timing.
Yum stopped using the suppliers after its own random tests showed that they were not meeting the company's own standards, he said.
"We certainly didn't knowingly put any product into the marketplace that had excessive antibiotics," Blum said. "We feel comfortable that we have the very highest, industry-leading standards on food quality and food safety."
Chinese food safety authorities, which were looking into a report from China Central Television that some of the chicken supplied to KFC contained antiviral drugs and hormones to accelerate growth, said in late December that KFC was supplied with chicken that contained excess amounts of antibiotics in 2010 and 2011.
Subsequent findings by the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration found the level of antibiotics and steroids in Yum's current batch of KFC chicken supply to be safe, but the watchdog found a suspicious level of an antiviral drug in one of the eight samples tested.
As part of its response to the publicity, Yum will use a combination of social media, mainstream media and other marketing and promotional activities to communicate directly with consumers, Blum said.
Yum has more than 5,100 restaurants in China and is the largest Western restaurant operator in China.
As a foreign brand, KFC had enjoyed a reputation of higher quality in China, where it now faces tougher local and foreign competition.
For example, Country Style Cooking Restaurant Chain Co Ltd, a local fast food chain based in the south-western city of Chongqing, has been gaining popularity.
China has been trying to stamp out health violations that have dogged the country's food sector amid reports of fake cooking oil and tainted milk. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000.
Shares in Yum ended down 4.2 percent at $65.04 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matt Driskill)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:12 PM PST
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A public school district in Texas can require students to wear locator chips when they are on school property, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday in a case raising technology-driven privacy concerns among liberal and conservative groups alike.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the San Antonio Northside School District had the right to expel sophomore Andrea Hernandez, 15, from a magnet school at Jay High School, because she refused to wear the device, which is required of all students.
The judge refused the student's request to block the district from removing her from the school while the case works its way through the federal courts.
The American Civil Liberties Union is among the rights organizations to oppose the district's use of radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology.
"We don't want to see this kind of intrusive surveillance infrastructure gain inroads into our culture," ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley said. "We should not be teaching our children to accept such an intrusive surveillance technology."
The district's RFID policy has also been criticized by conservatives, who call it an example of "big government" further monitoring individuals and eroding their liberties and privacy rights.
The Rutherford Institute, a conservative Virginia-based policy centre that represented Hernandez in her federal court case, said the ruling violated the student's constitutional right to privacy, and vowed to appeal.
The school district - the fourth largest in Texas with about 100,000 students - is not attempting to track or regulate students' activities, or spy on them, district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said. Northside is using the technology to locate students who are in the school building but not in the classroom when the morning bell rings, he said.
Texas law counts a student present for purposes of distributing state aid to education funds based on the number of pupils in the classroom at the start of the day. Northside said it was losing $1.7 million a year due to students loitering in the stairwells or chatting in the hallways.
The software works only within the walls of the school building, cannot track the movements of students, and does not allow students to be monitored by third parties, Gonzalez said.
The ruling gave Hernandez and her father, an outspoken opponent of the use of RFID technology, until the start of the spring semester later this month to decide whether to accept district policy and remain at the magnet school or return to her home campus, where RFID chips are not required.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Peter Cooney)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
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