Sunday, April 20, 2014
Divers have recovered 13 more bodies from inside the ferry that sank off South Korea nearly four days ago, bringing the confirmed death toll to 54. 
Officials said on Sunday that the bodies were recovered after divers gained access to the inside of the ferry after three days of failed attempts due to strong currents. 
Three bodies were pulled out of the fully submerged ferry just before midnight. 
Details of how they got inside the ship were not immediately clear, the Associated Press news agency reported. 
The ferry, carrying 476 passengers, many of them schoolchildren, capsized on Wednesday on a journey from the port of Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju. Around 174 people have been rescued but hopes are fading for the 266 people who remain missing. 
The captain of the ferry has been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two other crew members have also been taken into custody, including a junior officer who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama signed a law on Friday that effectively bars an Iranian diplomat from serving as an envoy at the United Nations because of suspicions he was involved in the 1979-81 Tehran hostage crisis. 
Obama signed a law passed by the US Congress that blocks any individual from entering the United States who has been found to have been engaged in espionage or terrorist activity against the United States or if that person may pose a threat to US national security.

The United States had already said it would not grant a visa to Iran's proposed UN ambassador, citing the envoy's links to the 1979-1981 hostage crisis. 
Obama had come under strong pressure not to allow Hamid Abutalebi into the country to take up his position in New York.   
The US government objects to Abutalebi because of his suspected participation in a Muslim student group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. 
The veteran Iranian diplomat has acknowledged that he acted as an interpreter for the militants who held the hostages. 
The United States said a week ago it had told Iran it would not give Abutalebi a visa. US officials privately said at the time they hoped Iran would quietly drop the issue and name a new envoy. 
But Iran on Monday asked for a special meeting of a UN committee on the US decision, calling it a dangerous precedent that could harm international diplomacy.

Source: Reuters
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

CINCINNATI, OH, USA — An Ohio teacher has been fired after a black student who said he wanted to become president claimed the teacher told him the nation didn't need another black commander in chief.
The Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 on Thursday night to fire science teacher Gil Voigt from Fairfield Freshman School, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer .
"The district felt that the evidence was sufficient to support the termination of Mr. Voigt's employment," Superintendent Paul Otten said in statement.
  • Voigt did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday but has said the student misquoted him.
  • Voigt, who is white, told school officials that what he actually told the teen was that he doesn't think the nation can afford another president like Barack Obama, "whether he's black or white."
  • A state referee investigating Voigt found that explanation was not credible.
  • The referee also found Voigt had made other offensive comments in class over the years, including an accusation that in 2008, he trained his laser pointer at a black student and said he looked like "an African-American Rudolph."
  • Voigt told school officials that he was only repeating what another student had said but later acknowledged his conduct had been inappropriate.
  • In 2012, Voigt was accused of calling a student stupid and implying that he and some of his classmates were gay.
  • In that incident, Voigt denied making any insulting comments to students and told school officials that a group of students in his class were colluding against him.
  • The state referee found Voigt's explanation for those two incidents to also be not credible.
  • "Voigt repeatedly engaged in conduct that is harmful to the well-being of his students," the state referee wrote in an April 11 report given to the board of education. "He has made race-based, culturally based and insulting comments to students over a period of years. 
  • He was warned on multiple occasions that if his behavior continued that he would be subject to termination. Unfortunately, for both Voigt and his students, he did not alter his conduct."
Voigt may appeal his firing to a Butler County court. The Ohio Department of Education will investigate to decide what to do about his teaching license.
Voigt taught in Fairfield schools since 2000. He had been on unpaid leave since December following a parent's complaint about the Obama remark.

Source: AP
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Saturday, April 19, 2014
The most Earth-like planet yet has been discovered, scientists report in the journal Science. 
The rocky planet, dubbed Kepler 186f, is close to the size of Earth. 
At about 10% bigger scientists say it may well have liquid water - a key ingredient for life - on its surface.
NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered three exoplanets that may be capable of supporting life, and one of them is perhaps the most Earth-like alien world spotted to date, scientists announced today (April 18).
That most intriguing one is called Kepler-62f, a rocky world just 1.4 times bigger than Earth that circles a star smaller and dimmer than the sun. 

Source: Huffington Post

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Friday, April 18, 2014
About 100 activists today protested outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur against the coming visit by President Barack Obama, denouncing him as an enemy of Islam. 
The demonstration underscored the delicate nature of Obama's trip to Malaysia, which will make him the first sitting US president to visit in nearly half a century, a period marked by mutual distrust. 
The protesters marched to the embassy from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers, shouting "God is great" and "Obama is the enemy of the Prophet Muhammad". 
They also bore placards and banners saying: "US is axis of evil" and handed out leaflets saying "Reject Obama, World's No. 1 Terrorist". They dispersed after about 15 minutes. 
Malaysia has opposed US wars in the Middle East and supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. 
Obama embarks on a week-long Asia tour next week that will bring him to Malaysia from April 26 to 28. 
The last US president to visit was Lyndon Johnson in 1966. 
US-Malaysia relations have been marked by rancour in recent decades, particularly during the tenure of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad from 1981-2003, who was harshly critical of US policy around the world. 
Current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has taken a more friendly tone toward the West, but he is restrained by conservative elements in the Muslim-dominated government. 
Obama will also visit South Korea, Japan and the Philippines at a time of unease around the region over China's rise.
Source: AFP
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Friday, April 18, 2014
A prolonged undersea search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could cost nearly a quarter of a billion U.S. dollars if private companies are used, Australia's top transport official said Thursday. 
Martin Dolan emphasized that the $234 million price tag is a "ballpark rough estimate" of an extended search and salvage mission that includes an underwater vehicle that has come up empty in its first four missions. 
The Bluefin-21 is back at work Friday morning on a fifth trip into the southern Indian Ocean. 
Authorities said the vessel has scanned a total of 110 square kilometers (42.5 square miles) without making any "contacts of interest." 
Searchers seem to be preparing for the possibility that an underwater drone scan of the southern Indian Ocean may not yield debris from the plane immediately. 
Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, tweeted Friday that authorities are looking at deploying more unmanned underwater probes. 
Officials might consider searching along a large portion of sea highlighted by a partial digital "handshake" between the jetliner and an Inmarsat PLC satellite, Dolan said. 
That arc of sea is over 370 miles long and 30 miles wide.

Source: CNN...More...

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

KAMPAR, Malaysia - Bukit Gelugor Member Of Parlimen and veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh died in an accident near Gua Tempurung here early Thursday. 
The prominent lawyer and his assistant, C. Michael, died on the scene. His son Ramkarpal and the car's driver, C. Selvam, were injured in the 1am incident. 
Their bodies have been brought to Kampar Hospital. 
The Toyota Alphard in which Karpal and the three were in had collided with a lorry. Karpal was on his way to Penang to attend a court case.
It was a highly emotional scene at the Kampar Hospital mortuary.
  • His wife Gurmit Kaur was inconsolable, as she wailed, "why, why." Karpal's son, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who was holding his mother all the way to the mortuary, also broke down. They arrived at the hospital at about 5.15am.
  • It was a highly emotional scene at the Kampar Hospital mortuary as family members of the late Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh arrived.
Karpal's daughter Sangeet Kaur Deo was also sobbing away. His eldest son Jagdeep Singh Deo was also at the mortuary.

The bodies of Karpal and his assistant, C. Michael, who also died in the accident, would be taken to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh for post mortem.

Source: AsiaOne...More...
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast.  
Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, told a press briefing in Seoul that he could only confirm the rescue of 161 people so far. 
However, he added that commercial ships involved in the operation were understood to have rescued a significant number of people. 
"The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue. 
Lee had said there were no reports of casualties so far, but the coastguard later said one person had been killed. 
Photos broadcast on television showed the ship initially tilted over 45 degrees on the port side with helicopters flying overhead, and then fully capsized with only its stern visible. 
  • Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The remainder of those on board were crew. 
  • Coastguard officials said the crew sent out a distress signal at 9:00 am (0000 GMT) with passenger testimony suggesting it may have run aground. 
  • "We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped," one passenger told the YTN news channel by telephone. 
The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong. 
Distraught parents of the students gathered at the high school in Ansan, desperate for news.  
TV footage showed a chaotic scene in the school's auditorium, with parents yelling at school officials and frantically trying to make phone calls to their children. 

Source: AFP
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
QUANG NGAI, Vietnam— Nearly 3,000 residents in Pho Thanh Commune of central Quang Ngai Province have been living with a foul stench and odorous wastewater leaking from a nearby waste treatment facility in Duc Pho District. 
The site, covering more than 1.3 ha, receives and treats household and solid waste from the district daily. 
Pham Thi Long, a local resident living near the site, said the smell, dust and smoke were especially strong on sunny days.
"On rainy days, wastewater from the site seeps into local paddy fields and residential areas, which leads flies everywhere," she said.
Tran Thi En, who also lives in the area, said she was concerned that wastewater from the site had polluted the underground water; a vital water source used by local residents. 
Vice chairman of the communal People's Committee, Nguyen Duy Trinh, said the committee had forwarded numerous complaints by local residents to the district authority to help resolve the leakage, but nothing had changed. 
Trinh said waste at the plant was being dried and burnt, explaining that it was not the waste treatment process that had been designed for the facility, which stipulated waste be sprayed with chemicals first before incineration. 
A tank would need to be built to collect the wastewater, while waste would need to be treated in accordance with designated plans, he said.  
Chairman of the district People's Committee, Le Van Mui, affirmed the need for the tank, saying the district would deploy the necessary funds to build it. Waste would also be treated in accordance with initial plans in the near future. 
In the long term, the district has planned to build a waste treatment site, covering about 10 ha and worth VND35 billion (US$1.6 million) to tackle the problem. 
Funds to build the waste treatment site had been mobilised, he said. 

Source: VNS

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