China Charges 58 with Covering Up Mine Disaster
Ten journalists and 48 officials have been charged with taking bribes to cover up a mining disaster last year, according to a report published on Monday in China Daily, an official English-language newspaper.
Mine bosses relocated bodies, destroyed evidence and paid the journalists the equivalent of $381,000 to cover up the explosion, in which 34 miners and a rescuer were killed, China Daily reported. Earlier reports by other news organizations indicated that the bosses also cremated miners’ bodies against the wishes of family members, paid grieving relatives to silence them and sealed the mine shaft with truckloads of dirt.
The disaster took place on July 14, 2008, almost a month before the Beijing Olympics, at the Lijiawa mine in Hebei province, about 100 miles west of Beijing. The cover-up kept the disaster out of the public eye for 85 days.
In September 2008, someone reported the cover-up on an Internet chat site, and the ensuing clamor forced the central government in Beijing to step in, firing 25 local officials and putting 22 of them under criminal investigation. The charges reported by China Daily on Monday were the result of an investigation by the State Council, China’s cabinet.
Somali Pirates Seize U.S.-Bound Oil Tanker
Somali pirates have struck again, seizing an oil tanker loaded with $20 million in crude that was headed from Saudi Arabia to the United States, naval authorities said Monday.
According to European naval reports, nine pirates hijacked the tanker and its crew of about 30 about 800 miles offshore and headed back toward pirate havens along the coast of central Somalia.
The pirates — many of them penniless former fishermen from Somalia’s war zones — appear to be positioning themselves in the middle of the ocean on mother ships and then, for attacks, deploying on motorized dinghies, mere ants compared to the mammoth ships they capture.
The pirates seem to have shifted from the Gulf of Aden, where dozens of ships were attacked in 2008 but which is now heavily patrolled, to the vast stretch of ocean between the African mainland and the picturesque Seychelles islands.
In the past two months, 38 ships have been attacked and 10 hijacked, the International Maritime Bureau said.
Wall Street Wanders But Closes Higher at the End
Wall Street spent Monday trading within a narrow range but managed to push higher at the close.
Despite a lackluster day, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose more than 5 percent in November, their biggest gain since summer. The Nasdaq rose slightly less than 5 percent for the month.
Investors spent much of the session gauging the fallout from Dubai’s debt crisis and weighed results from the first weekend of holiday shopping.
The sales on the weekend after Thanksgiving provided an early snapshot of consumer spending for the holidays. The National Retail Federation reported that more people went to the stores this weekend, but total spending was virtually unchanged at $41.2 billion, and the average shopper spending fell to $343.31 a person, from $372.57 a year ago.