Singer to face former first lady in Haiti's March 20 presidential runoff

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti

Singer, former first lady are in election runoff

Haiti's presidential runoff election will pit a popular singer and political novice against a former first lady with a record of political opposition, election officials announced Thursday. Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, 49, was chosen over Jude Celestin, the government-backed candidate, to compete for the Haitian presidency in a March 20 runoff. Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, will be the two candidates in the runoff since preliminary results of a disputed Nov. 28 election showed her in first place. The presidential runoff will be Haiti's first in 25 years.

WASHINGTON

Congressman files for bankruptcy

Democratic Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, an eight-term Texas congressman who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, has filed for personal bankruptcy and is blaming his family meat company for his problems. According to federal bankruptcy court documents, Hinojosa has $2.9 million in liabilities, though he also has nearly $1.5 million in assets. Most of the money Hinojosa owes — $2.6 million — is a claim by Wells Fargo Bank. The congressman says that is due to a loan he personally guaranteed for the H&H Meat Products Co., which went bankrupt. House aides and outside experts say there are no rules forbidding a lawmaker who owes large sums to a bank from serving on the Financial Services Committee.

MIAMI

Miami brothers are Medicare fugitives

Three Miami brothers top the list of the nation's most wanted health care fugitives. It's the first time such a list has been released by Department of Health and Human Services inspector general officials. Officials say the top 10 suspects have cost taxpayers more than $124 million. Authorities say the Miami brothers, Carlos, Luis and Jose Benitez, set up bogus clinics and charged Medicare $119 million for costly HIV drugs that patients never received. Authorities say they bought hotels, helicopters and boats before fleeing to Cuba. Officials hope the list, which includes a website with suspects' photos, will drive callers to the tip hotline. Taxpayers absorb the $60 to $90 billion Medicare fraud costs each year.

Elsewhere

Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba: The U.S. military said Thursday that a Guantanamo prisoner has died from what appear to be natural causes. Awal Gul collapsed and died in the shower Tuesday evening after exercising on an elliptical machine at the jail, a statement said, and the cause of death is under investigation.

Rome: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported Thursday that world food prices have reached a historic peak, but good harvests are for now forestalling the kind of food emergency felt in many places in 2008.

Garowe, Somalia: A severe drought threatens millions of Somalis after rains failed for several consecutive seasons in this Horn of Africa nation. The U.N. and aid groups warned Thursday of a looming catastrophe, and officials in a central Somali region said 18 people died of drought-related effects.

Tokyo: The 4,660-foot Shinmoedake volcano on Japan's southern island of Kyushu, featured in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, erupted for the second time Thursday and the ninth time in a week, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

Times wires

Singer to face former first lady in Haiti's March 20 presidential runoff 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 10:43pm]

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