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Thursday, November 25, 2021 5:49 PM

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KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Five Afghans were arrested Thursday for allegedly bribing members of the country's Independent Election Commission, a deputy attorney general said.

The arrest of three people who identified themselves as election commission officials and two as money-changers came a day after the commission released the controversial final results of the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections, Rahmatullah Nazari said.

Separately, a sixth official who works for the United Nations in what Nazari called its "election monitoring office" was being sought as the ringleader, Nazari told The New York Times.

The actions intensified pressure from the government on election officials, the Times said.

Nazari told the U.S. newspaper the unidentified suspects depicted themselves as prominent officials of the election commission but may have been go-betweens. The unidentified U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan employee was the ringleader, he said.

The alleged bribes totaled $220,000 and further arrests are expected, Nazari told the Times.

He did not say whether any charges had been brought against two other election officials who Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Aloko said he was considering charging with defaming Afghanistan because of public statements they had made about the conduct of the elections.

The two officials, Noor Mohammed Noor of the election commission and Ahmed Zia Rafat of the Electoral Complaints Commission, are their organizations' official spokesmen.

Poll: America headed in wrong direction

ASBURY PARK, N.J., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Sixty-six percent of U.S. voters think the country is headed in the wrong direction while 28 percent approve of its course, a national opinion poll indicated.

Forty-seven percent of black voters believe the country is headed in the right direction, though the percentage has been dropping, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey indicated.

By contrast, 70 percent of white voters and 66 percent of all other voters think otherwise, the poll suggested.

Overall confidence in the nation's course has been hovering near the 30 percent mark since November 2009, except for a brief burst of enthusiasm, largely among Democratic voters, after the U.S. Congress passed two national healthcare reform bills March 23 and 30.

Thirty-nine percent of voters indicated they believe the federal government currently operates within the limits established by the U.S. Constitution.

The national telephone survey of 3,500 likely voters was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research LLC for Rasmussen Nov. 15-21. The survey's margin of error is 1 percentage point.

FDA pursues alcoholic 'energy' drinks

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says makers of alcoholic energy drinks have made "significant progress" in complying with the agency's new regulations.

Last week, the FDA issued warning letters to four manufacturers of the drinks that the caffeine in the high-alcohol drinks is an "unsafe food additive," ABC News reported.

Phusion Projects, the Chicago-based manufacturer of Four Loko, had said before receiving the FDA warning it would remove caffeine-containing ingredients from their beverages.

United Brands said it has stopped shipping its drink, Joose, and will have the product off store shelves by December 13.

The company also said it will no longer market Max, another beverage mentioned in the FDA's letter.

Two other companies, Charge Beverages and New Century Brewing, told the FDA they would no longer manufacture any caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

While the FDA letter did not constitute an outright ban, the agency said it was a first step in that direction.

"(It's) part of the process that FDA uses that leads to these products being removed from the market," Joshua Sharfstein, FDA principal deputy commissioner, said.

Four states and a number of college campuses have banned the sale of the alcoholic energy drinks.

Teens found in after 50 days lost at sea

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Three boys found alive in a lifeboat off Fiji after being lost at sea for 50 days had been presumed dead -- memorial services had even been held for them.

But Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, of Atafu atoll, north of Samoa and part of the New Zealand territory of Tokelau, say they survived by eating a seagull they caught and eventually drinking seawater, a crew member of a fishing boat that found them said.

After the boys disappeared from Atafu Oct. 5, and a search by New Zealand's air force failed to locate them, the boys' families and some 500 other people on Atafu held memorial services, The (Wellington) Dominion Post reported.

Their boat had drifted more than 800 miles when they were rescued by a wayward tuna boat from Wellington that happened to travel into the French territory of Wallis and Futuna, northeast of Fiji -- an area into which it didn't normally venture.

"We saw this craft floating on the horizon and it's normal to check on them," first mate Tai Fredricsen told The Guardian newspaper.

"So we went over and yelled out, 'Are you okay?'" he said. "As we got closer, we realized they weren't."

The boys were malnourished but in surprisingly good spirits after so long at sea, Fredricsen said.

Fredricsen, also the ship's medic, bandaged the boys' sunburn wounds and put them on an intravenous drip, but the boys began to sip water and soon wanted real food.

"They are in incredibly good shape for the time they have been at sea," he told The Guardian.

He then got a phone number for the grandmother of one of the boys and called her.

"I didn't understand what she was saying, but I could tell she was ecstatic and over the moon to find out they were still alive," he said.

Fredricsen said finding them was "pure miracle."

"Had we been a kilometer either side of that course, we would have missed them," he told the New Zealand Herald.

Poll: Thanksgiving among most important

ASBURY PARK, N.J., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Thanksgiving is seen as "one of the most important holidays" by U.S. adults while Christmas and the Fourth of July are seen as more important, a poll indicates.

The Rasmussen Reports telephone poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found 54 percent rated Thanksgiving as "one of the most important holidays" and 86 percent said they "have a lot to be thankful for this year."

Only 10 percent of respondents said they do not have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, Rasmussen said.

The pollster said Christmas and the Fourth of July were rated as more important than Thanksgiving by those polled, while Halloween and St. Patrick's Day were rated as among the least important.

The poll had a 3 percent margin of error with a 95 percent level of confidence, Rasmussen said.

(Source: UPI )
(Source: Quotemedia)


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