Friday, August 29, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia Airlines will cut 30 per cent of its workforce as part of a restructuring that will cost 6 billion ringgit, majority investor Khazanah Nasional said on Friday.
Khazanah said the carrier will trim its staff by 6,000 to 14,000 as it seeks to stem long-running losses worsened by two aircraft disasters this year. 
The state fund said the airline will be de-listed from the Kuala Lumpur exchange by the end of 2014, adding that Ahmad Jauhari Yahya will stay on as chief executive until July 2015. 
Khazanah said it aims to return the airline to profitability within three years of its de-listing, and plans to re-list the carrier in three to five years from now.  
On Thursday, MAS said its second-quarter net loss widened to 307 million ringgit from 176 million a year earlier, though the result was an improvement from the net loss of 443 million ringgit in the first quarter.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea -  Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted Friday after a volcanic eruption on Papua New Guinea. 
Authorities in the South Pacific nation had evacuated communities close to Mount Tavurvur which erupted early Friday in Rabaul district on New Britain Island, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. 
Residents of Rabaul town, the provincial capital, had been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash, the statement said. 
Local resident David Flinn told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the volcano was emitting steam and occasionally boomed. Flinn said about one centimeter (half an inch) of ash covered surrounding areas. 
Qantas Airways said the ash cloud from the volcano had prompted minor alterations to flight paths between Sydney and Tokyo and between Sydney and the Chinese city of Shanghai.
The volcano, which is one of the most active in the region, destroyed the town of Rabaul in 1994 when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan.

Source: Agencies
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Friday, August 29, 2014
Israeli opinion polls showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu popularity plummeting, such as a survey on Channel 10 television in which viewers gave him a grade of 55 percent, down from a 69 percent score at the beginning of the month. 
"After 50 days of warfare in which a terror organization killed dozens of soldiers and civilians, destroyed the daily routine (and) placed the country in a state of economic distress ... we could have expected much more than an announcement of a ceasefire," analyst Shimon Shiffer wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's biggest-selling newspaper.
"We could have expected the prime minister to go to the president’s residence and inform him of his decision to resign his post."
Answering critics, Netanyahu told a news conference: "I don't set unrealistic goals. We're not dealing here with populism."
An open-ended ceasefire in the Gaza war held on Wednesday as Netanyahu faced strong criticism in Israel over a costly conflict with Palestinian militants in which no clear victor has emerged.
On the streets of the battered, Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, people headed to shops and banks, trying to resume the normal pace of life after seven weeks of fighting. Thousands of others, who had fled the battles and sheltered with relatives or in schools, returned home, where some found only rubble.
In Israel, sirens warning of incoming rocket fire from the Gaza Strip fell silent. 
Netanyahu told a news conference Israel had dealt Hamas its toughest blow ever and had rebuffed its demands for a truce. 
He said it was "too early to say" whether the calm would be prolonged, then threatened the Islamist group:
"If it resumes fire, we will not tolerate a sprinkle of shooting at any part of Israel, what we did in response now, we will respond even more vigorously."
But Israeli media commentators, echoing attacks by members of Netanyahu's governing coalition, voiced deep disappointment over his leadership during the most prolonged bout of Israeli-Palestinian violence in a decade.
In Gaza, several thousand Palestinians cheered and waved green Hamas banners as the movement’s deputy leader, Ismail Haniyeh, making his first public appearance 
since the war, proclaimed victory over Israel 
in the latest fighting.

Source: Reuters

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Malaysian women are believed to have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) forces to offer Jihad Al-Nikah or sexual jihad, senior intelligence officials told The Malaysian Insider. 
Authorities confirmed that three Malaysian women have journeyed to the Middle East to join up with Isis forces. 
Jihad Al-Nikah refers to a controversial concept where Sunni women allegedly offer themselves in sexual comfort roles to fighters for the establishment of Islamic rule. 
The concept originated from a Wahhabi edict around 2013, that called for Sunni women supporters to come forward for sex jihad and boost the morale of fighters battling against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. 
"These women are believed to have offered themselves in sexual comfort roles to Isis fighters who are attempting to establish Islamic rule in the Middle East. 
"This concept may seem controversial but it has arisen as certain Muslim women here are showing sympathy for the Isis struggle," an intelligence official told The Malaysian Insider. 
  • Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said one of the Malaysian women had traveled to the Middle East in December last year. 
  • "The woman, in her 30s, went to Turkey before meeting up with middlemen who helped her to complete her journey to Syria via land routes. 
  • "Another Malaysian woman in her 40s is believed to have linked up with Isis forces sometime in April this year," the source said. 
The intelligence official said Malaysian women were not the only ones who were performing sexual jihad as there were also other Muslim women involved. 
"Intelligence exchanged with other countries revealed that Sunni Muslim women from Australia and the United Kingdom had also joined up with Isis." 
The intelligence official said Isis had issued a decree in June this year ordering for the conscription of Jihad Al-Nikah or sexual jihad. 
  • "Shortly after the town of Mosul in Iraq was captured by Isis forces, people were ordered to send unmarried women to jihad for sex," the intelligence official revealed. 
  • "In its proclamation, Isis threatened to impose shariah law on all those who failed to comply with the edict or decree," the official added. 
The intelligence official said British counterparts had revealed that more than 600 British Muslims are believed to be fighting for Isis.  
This figure also includes British Muslim women who are not fighting on the front line, but are still involved by performing sexual jihad. 
Australian intelligence officials have revealed that more than 100 Australian Muslims are in Syria fighting alongside Isis, the intelligence official said. 
Although Putrajaya had initially revealed that about 30 Malaysians might have traveled to the Middle East to fight for Isis, the actual figure is believed to be higher", the official told The Malaysian Insider.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Public Health Agency of Canada said in a statement late Tuesday it is finalizing plans to bring the three-person mobile team from Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory home from Sierra Leone. 
The team is being recalled after three people staying at their hotel were diagnosed with the Ebola virus. None of the team members had direct contact with those diagnosed, and they are not displaying any signs of illness, officials said. 
The team members will remain in voluntary isolation and will be monitored as they travel back to Canada. Those plans have not yet been firmed up, PHAC said. 
The United Nations health agency had earlier announced it was pulling staff from a laboratory testing for the Ebola virus in Kailahun, in Sierra Leone, after a Senegalese epidemiologist was infected. 
"It's a temporary measure to take care of the welfare of our remaining workers," WHO spokesperson Christy Feig told Reuters, without specifying how long the measure would last. "After our assessment, they will return."
The three Canadians were among six workers at the lab.There will be an investigation to see whether it was a routine infection, or something to do with the lab's processes or equipment, WHO said. 
Meanwhile, there are five Canadian staff members with Doctors Without Borders who 
all remain in Sierra Leone.
The Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria is the largest ever with at least 1,427 deaths and 2,615 infected since March.

Source: CBC...More
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Nearly 200 cabin crew have resigned from Malaysia Airlines which was hit by two deadly tragedies this year, the carrier said Tuesday, and some reportedly cited fears for their safety. 
The flag carrier, which prior to this year had a good safety record, has been in the spotlight in the past six months following the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8 and the shooting down of MH17 on July 17 over rebel-held eastern Ukraine. 
The airline said 186 crew had left in the first seven months of this year, with many blaming family pressure prompted by the tragedies. 
"Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels," it said in a statement. 
"Many cited 'family pressure' as the reason for their resignation due to the MH17 and MH370 tragedies." 
Abdul Malek Ariff, secretary-general of the employees union, said some "are now are afraid to fly". Abdul Malek, quoted by the Edge Financial daily Monday, also said crew shortages were forcing staff to work up to 12 hours a day. The union represents about 8,000 of Malaysia Airlines' 19,500-strong workforce. 
  • The carrier said it was providing emotional and psychological support to its staff. The two aviation tragedies killed 537 people including 27 crew members. 
  • Flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously in March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace has been found despite an intensive search in the southern Indian Ocean. The airline was widely criticised for its handling of the crisis.
  • On July 17 MH17 was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine, with another 298 people killed.  
  • The ailing airline is in the midst of being taken private by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional as part of an expected major overhaul. 
Khazanah is expected this week to announce a series of restructuring measures including job cuts and axing of unprofitable international routes. 
The carrier has struggled amid intense competition, losing US$1.3 billion over the past three years even before the two disasters. For this year's first quarter the airline posted a net loss of 443 million ringgit (US$137 million) citing MH370's impact on bookings. It was the fifth straight quarterly loss.

Source: AsiaOne
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Islamic State fighters used a high-flying surveillance drone to help plot their deadly capture of a key Syrian air base, according to a new video released by the terror group. 
The propaganda video, posted on YouTube, features about 25 seconds of aerial footage shot above the military air field at Tabqa, and shows ISIS fighters planning to attack the installation that they overran on Sunday. 
The footage emerged as Syria’s foreign minister touched off a war of words with the United States on Monday by warning that any American airstrikes launched against the Islamic State inside Syria without permission “will be considered as aggression.” 
Obama administration officials fired back after Walid al-Moallem publicly demanded that “any effort to combat terrorism should be coordinated with the Syrian government.” 
“We’re not looking for the approval of the Syrian regime,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Source:  NY Post
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Photos of a semi-naked couple, allegedly taking their wedding photographs in front of a bank on Jalan Sultan Yussuf here, have surfaced on social media. 
The photographs of the couple in minimal dress, with the “groom” shirtless wearing just a bow tie and black pants, with the “bride” clad in just white undergarments, with a wedding veil. 
It is not known when the photo shoot occurred, but photographs have been circulating online since Monday.
The couple seemed undaunted by their state of dress, even as passers-by took their photographs. 
However, a wedding gallery general manager, who only wished to be known as Koo, said the duo were models and it was merely a photo shoot and not for a wedding. 
Koo, who organised the photo shoot, said the photographers were merely being “creative” and was surprised by the response on social media. 
He said he had considered the legal aspect of the shoot and was confident it was not an offence. People are over-reacting because they have never seen a bikini-clad woman on the streets before, koo said.
  • “It is their right to complain,” said Koo, adding that he has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. 
  • “I chose the location because it suited the theme and the concept,” he added. 
  • When contacted, Perak police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said the police had not received any reports, but were probing the matter.

Source: The Star
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The body of a mechanic was found floating at sea Monday, two days since he was swept away after rescuing a woman and her two children who were trapped on a rock by a flash flood that swept down the Anuling River from the mountains following heavy rain on Saturday, the authorities said. 
“We feel very sad. All of us tried our best to scour the river hoping to see him alive so we could all say thank you for his saving my niece and my grandnephews,” Romeo Serna said upon learning that Raymundo Chin’s body had been found. 
Serna’s niece, Gigi Salvador, and her two children, a boy and a girl, were bathing in the river when the flash flood struck. 
Chin, 49, a heavy equipment mechanic employed by a local hardware dealer, was rapairing a backhoe owned by a relative of Serna’s near the river when the rampaging waters came down from the mountains, said Zamboanga police chief Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro. 
“The woman tried to keep her children out of the water, but due to the strong current she could not traverse. They were stuck on a rock in the river,” Casimiro told reporters.
“Chin rescued Salvador and her children. Unfortunately, after rescuing them, he was carried away by the water,” Casimiro said.
“We don’t blame anybody for our loss. My brother and whoever may have witnessed the agony of the woman and her children would have done the same thing,” Chin’s brother, Nestor, said in an interview. 
“My brother lost his balance while trying to step on the slippery rocks. We lost him but he saved three persons,” Nestor added.

Source: Agency
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