Friday, July 31, 2009

WHISTLER, B.C., Canada: A mountain near the B.C. Olympic resort of Whistler was evacuated on Thursday due to a rapidly spreading wildfire.
  • The blaze burning on Blackcomb Mountain was triggered by a lightning strike just before noon.
  • The fire has grown in size quickly to an estimated 75 hectares, according to the B.C. forestry ministry website.
  • At about 4:30 p.m. local time, Coastal Fire Centre spokeswoman Starr Munro said air tankers were en route to the fire, which had "grown substantially in the last hour."
  • She said the flames were rising more than two metres high.
  • A ski lodge, staff housing and hiking trails near Crystal Ridge were evacuated at about 3 p.m.
  • "The RCMP has offered support and the forest service is working with us," said Alex Halbert, a spokeswoman for Whistler Blackcomb.
  • Crystal Ridge is "within 300 metres walking distance from the slopes of Blackcomb Mountain," according to the resort's website.
  • Helicopters and seven water bombers are dropping water on the blaze.
  • The Resort Municipality of Whistler has activated its emergency operations centre, according to a news release Thursday.
  • Sarah Harrison, a Blackcomb Mountain employee, was at Rainbow Park in Whistler with friends when she looked up and saw black smoke.
  • "Even on the left of us, there's lightning, and a storm is brewing," said Harrison, a 24-year-old canoe guide with Blackcomb.
  • Harrison, who lives in staff housing, has now been evacuated from her residence.
  • Whistler is the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, set to begin in February.
    Source: Canada. Com
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Friday, July 31, 2009

This undated photo released by a family member shows Darlene Haynes, 23, who was found dead in her Worcester home
A Massachusetts woman accused of cutting the fetus out of her pregnant friend and then telling others she'd just had a baby girl was ordered held on $2 million bail Thursday, a day after she was found with the live infant at a homeless shelter.
  • Julie Corey, 35, of Worcester, Mass., who was arrested Wednesday at the shelter in Plymouth, N.H., appeared in Concord District Court via video from the county jail. She did not waive extradition to be brought back to Massachusetts. The judge scheduled a hearing for Aug. 30.
  • She said little during the hearing, at which Judge Gerald Boyle ordered all police affidavits in the case sealed.
  • Police say they were alerted by acquaintances who became suspicious of Corey's claims that she had just given birth, and then heard the news about a neighbor whose dead body was found in a closet, with a fetus removed from her womb.
  • The body of Darlene Haynes, a 23-year-old mother of three who was eight months pregnant, was found Monday in her Worcester, Mass., apartment by her landlord, who was led her by the "horrifying smell."
  • The baby girl was in good condition at a Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, where she was brought in at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Hospital spokeswoman Michele Hutchins said the staff was working with police and state child protection authorities to resolve legal and custody issues for the baby, who is just days old.
  • Neighbors say Corey and a man she was with at the homeless shelter, 27-year-old Alex Dion, used to live in the same building and knew Haynes through her boyfriend. Dion was taken into custody and released to a family member.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Hundreds of anti-MIC protesters are facing off with party loyalists in front of the party’s headquarters here, causing the police to close roads and call in reinforcements to break up the demonstration.
The gathering of two rival party members followed the handing over of a memorandum on the Maika issue to Maika Holdings chief executive officer S. Vel Pari by PKR leaders.
The protest is believed to have been organised by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders galvanising opposition against the MIC over the Maika shares scandal.
The opposing groups have taken over the major Jalan Tun Razak flyover and are hurling insults at each other.
Federal Reserve Unit personnel are preparing to move in to disperse demonstrators at the MIC headquarters in Jalan Ipoh.
Roads near the MIC headquarters in Jalan Ipoh are closed to traffic as 500 PKR and MIC members converged in front of the building amidst heavy police presence.
Source: NST, The Malaysian Insider

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

According to Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress a human rights organization based in northern Nigeria, more than 400 people have been killed in a spate of violence in the area as troops search the Borno state capital for Boko Haram sect leader Mohammed Yusuf.
  • Nigerian authorities blame Boko Haram for launching attacks on police stations and government installations in the states of Bauchi, Borno, Kano and Yobe.
  • Meanwhile, Nigerian security forces have reportedly launched an extensive manhunt for remnants of an extremist sect in the northern town of Maiduguri.
  • The move came after security forces raided the enclave of the radical Boko Haram sect in the northern Nigerian city on Tuesday in an all-out attempt to crush the group.
  • President Umaru Yar'Adua has said that he wants to eliminate the threat they pose before the town can grow.
  • The unrest in northern Nigeria broke out after security forces arrested some men linked to Boko Haram sect in Bauchi state.
  • Boko Haram opposes western education in Nigeria and views Abuja's government as 'corrupted by Western ideas'. The group is calling for a new leader in Nigeria ready to implement sharia law across the most populous African country.
  • The Nigerian extremists emerged in 2002 in Maiduguri. They set up a camp dubbed 'Afghanistan' in 2004 at Kanamma village of Yobe on the border with Niger.
Source: Press TV
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Women in northern Sudan usually dress in traditional outfits that include a large shawl [GALLO/GETTY]
A Sudanese court has adjourned the case of a woman who was arrested and charged with dressing indecently after she was seen wearing trousers in a Khartoum cafe.
  • A judge on Wednesday deferred the case of Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, a noted columnist and a press officer at the United Nations Mission in Sudan, after she waived the immunity given to UN workers.
  • "The court gave Lubna the choice either to accept immunity from the UN or to waive that and go on with the trial," Nabil Adeeb, her lawyer, said.
  • But al-Hussein, who has made her trial a public campaign, inviting local and foreign journalists to attend, told the packed court: "I wish to resign from the UN, I wish this court case to continue."
  • Al-Hussein was arrested, along with 13 other women, in a raid on a Khartoum cafe in early July and charged with breaching Islamic law.
  • Public order cases in Sudan are usually dealt with quickly and 10 of the women were fined about $120 and given 10 lashes as punishment, but al-Hussein demanded a lawyer and delayed her trial.
  • Women in northern Sudan usually dress in traditional outfits that include a shawl over their head and shoulders. Western dress is uncommon. Sharia, or Islamic law, governs the north of Sudan.
Source: Al Jazeera
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Australia Tuesday vowed to crack down on migration scams targeting Indian students and condemned a "cowardly" attack on a female reporter who blew the lid on the shady practices.
  • Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia was tightening regulations on migration agents after a current affairs TV show exposed rip-offs exploiting students who have fueled the country's booming international education sector.
  • The revelations are the latest to damage the 15.5 billion dollar (12.7 billion US) a year industry, Australia's third-largest export earner after a series of violent attacks on Indian students living in Melbourne and Sydney.
  • "Any of these abuses we of course won't tolerate and don't tolerate," Smith told public broadcaster ABC, referring to the migration scams.
  • "And the cracking down, so far as the migration agents' regulatory arrangements are concerned, will assist in that process."
  • Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard slammed the attack on the female Indian journalist, who was physically assaulted in a Sydney street over the weekend while working undercover for ABC's "Four Corners" programme.
  • Indian students last month protested in Melbourne and Sydney, following a series of attacks and muggings which strained diplomatic ties and prompted negative headlines in their home country.
  • Some 95,000 Indians are studying in Australia following a publicity blitz targeting the huge country's growing middle class.
Source: Channel News Asia
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

President Barack Obama's envoy, George Mitchell ( photo) has already held top-level talks in the UK, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Egypt in the past week. The official also cited him telling Abbas that everyone involved must do more in the coming weeks.
  • "Washington was doing everything it could to achieve a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between Syria and the Israelis, between Israel and Lebanon and the normalization of relations between Israel and all of the countries in the region," Mitchell told reporters.
  • The envoy said Obama wanted "an early return to meaningful negotiations and a prompt resolution of those negotiations." He added, "That means that everyone must take steps, some of them difficult, some of them controversial to create the context "
  • Mitchell has told Abbas that Obama is committed to the peace process, and is 'determined and consistent' about it. Mitchell is due to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.
  • However, George Mitchell, US envoy to the Middle East, says that he has not reached a deal with Israel on halting settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.
  • In a Monday meeting with the acting Palestinian Authority chief, Mahmoud Abbas, Mitchell said that he was still working on a deal with Israel to halt West Bank settlement activities as a prelude to the resumption of peace talks.
Source: Press TV
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Iran’s opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said today the pro-reform protests which erupted after the country’s disputed June presidential vote will continue, his website reported.
  • “The pro-reform path will continue,” Mousavi said in a statement. “The establishment should respect the constitution and let us to gather to commemorate our killed loved ones on Thursday.”
  • Moderate defeated candidates Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi yesterday called on the authorities to permit a gathering on Thursday at Tehran’s “Grand Mosala,” a prayer location where tens of thousands can gather, to commemorate unrest victims.
  • The June 12 vote plunged the country into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite.
  • Iranian media have reported several cases of protesters’ deaths following the vote, including those of Sohrab Aarabi and Mohsen Ruholamini.
  • Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro- reform politicians, journalists, activists and lawyers, have been detained in Iran since the election, which moderates say was rigged in favour of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
  • Mousavi, prime-minister in 1980s, said detentions could not halt the pro-reform movement.
Source:: Reuters, TMI
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Monday, July 27, 2009

India's first domestically built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine was launched on July 26, sunday. The launch ceremony of the 6,000-ton INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, the Times of India said.
  • The submarine completes India's nuclear triad, making it the sixth country after the U.S., Russia, China, France and the U.K. to have land, air and sea-based nuclear strike capability.
  • The submarine will be armed with torpedoes and missiles, including 12 ballistic missiles, and can also be armed with cruise missiles, the paper said. It is powered by an 85-MW reactor, and can reach a submerged speed of 44 km/h (24 knots). It will carry 95 crewmembers.
  • The long-running project to build the submarine, completed with Russian help, is part of a $2.9-billion plan to build five submarines.
  • The design was based on a Charlie 1 submarine that India leased from the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Sea trials and weapons tests will take place in the Bay of Bengal, and the submarine is expected to enter service in two or three years.
Source: Ria Novosti
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Twelve bombs were found hidden inside a bathroom in a ferry in the central Philippines, raising fears of another bombing campaign by suspected Islamic militants, the coast guard said Sunday.
  • The improvised explosive devices, made of bottles with gunpowder, blasting caps, shrapnel and wiring, were found hidden in a sack in the bathroom of the MV Blue Water Princess on Saturday just as it was about to depart the city of Lucena for the central island of Masbate.
  • Explosive experts and bomb-sniffing dogs were immediately dispatched to check the vessel for other bombs, said coast guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo.
  • It was not clear if the bombs were intended to go off inside the ferry or were to be used elsewhere, said Balilo who also declined to identify any suspects.
  • He said it was the coast guard's second discovery of large amounts of explosive material in just two weeks. Last week, a supply of ammonium nitrate and blasting caps was found in a port in the central city of Mandaue.
  • The discovery of the bombs also came just days before President Gloria Arroyo is scheduled to make her annual state of the nation address to Congress on Monday, noted Balilo.
  • The government had warned there may be attempts to disrupt the speech and has deployed more security forces as a precaution.
  • Earlier this month, a spate of bombings in the southern Philippines left about a dozen dead and 100 wounded. The blasts were largely blamed on Muslim extremists.
  • Muslim extremist group the Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the country's worst terror attack in which more than 100 people were killed in the bombing of a ferry in 2004.
Source: Channel News Asia
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pyongyang, N.Korea: The Samtaeseong restaurant opened in the isolated communist country last month in cooperation with a Singaporean company, according to the Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo. The Singaporean company, which the newspaper did not name, provided training to restaurant staff and supplied equipment.
The restaurant's interior appears to be styled after fast food joints the world over, but the menu is careful not to call its signature fare a hamburger - lest it give the impression North Koreans had embraced the American icon.
Although you can't get a hamburger in Pyongyang, "minced beef and bread" is now for sale at the North Korean capital's first fast food restaurant, a news report said on Saturday.
North Korea's authoritarian government is concerned that outside influences could undermine the regime.
Source: Gulf News
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Officials look at the wreckage of a passenger airplane in Mashhad in this July 24, 2009
Seventeen people were killed when a passenger aircraft caught fire while landing at the airport of Mashhad in northeastern Iran on Friday, the state news agency IRNA reported.
  • An airport official said there were 153 people on board the aircraft, which had flown to Mashhad from Tehran, and that 23 of them had been injured, according to the state broadcaster IRIB's website.
  • "Seventeen people were killed after a passenger plane caught fire at an airport in Mashhad," IRNA said, adding that the remaining passengers had been evacuated.
  • The plane, operated by Aria Tour, left the runway as it was landing and ran into a wall, state television said, putting the death toll at 16. The crash occurred at 6:20 p.m. (1350 GMT), media reports said.
  • Earlier this month an Iranian plane flying to Armenia crashed in northwestern Iran, killing all 168 people aboard.
Source:The Star Online
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Teoh Beng Hock's fiance, Soh Cher Wei addresses the crowd.
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA: Last few weeks Teoh Beng Hock , the political secretary of Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah and a former journalist with Chinese daily Sin Chew Jit Poh, fell or jumped from the MACC office.
  • Last week, Malaysian's Cabinet had made a decision fo form two separate bodies, namely a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate the MACC’s standard operating procedure (SOP) on interrogation-cum-investigation and the inquest to determine the cause of Teoh’s death.
  • Last night, Teoh Beng Hock’s fiancee Soh Cher Wei, two months pregnant, stepped on the stage at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall , looking pale but bright eyed. The crowd packed into the hall leapt to their feet and gave her a standing ovation.
  • Surrounded by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders on both sides, the 28-year-old looked straight out at the crowd and spoke, in Mandarin, steadily and clearly: “I can do nothing more for Teoh Beng Hock but I’ll take care of his child. Thank you.”
  • Soh stepped off the stage, head held high, followed by the crowd’s thunderous applause in support of the steadfast school teacher.
  • By the stage, roses and chrysanthemums were beginning to droop in the heat. Their delicate petals white and yellow bruised easily, releasing a sweet, heavy, heady perfume that also smelled a little sickly with the thousands that thronged the hall here last night in memory of Teoh, the DAP political aide who was found dead last week outside the national anti-graft body’s office.
  • Many who came did not seem to know Teoh personally. When asked, they shook their heads, no.Why did they come? They came to show they were angry, said those who wore something black shirts, tee-shirts, blouses, pants, a headscarf.
  • Because they were sad, said those who dressed in other colours. They came because there were so many questions unanswered.
    Source: The Malaysian Insider
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Friday, July 24, 2009
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Thai television Wednesday that the regional bloc should consider kicking out the military-ruled member state if it does not free the Nobel laureate, who is on trial in prison.
  • However, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will not consider expelling Myanmar over the detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, rejecting US calls, Thailand's prime minister said Thursday.
  • Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking as current chair of the 10-state grouping, said that while ASEAN and the West "have the same goal, we cannot implement the same policy."
  • "There are not enough grounds to do that (expel Myanmar). We have already done what we can under the ASEAN mechanism," said Abhisit, referring to the group's public statements expressing concern over Aung San Suu Kyi's detention.
  • "If Myanmar is expelled it will further isolate (the regime) and would that solve the problem?"
  • Myanmar, ASEAN's problem child since it joined the bloc in 1997 and recently sparked outrage by putting Aung San Suu Kyi on trial over an incident in which an American man, John Yettaw, swam to her lakeside house uninvited.
  • The ruling junta snubbed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in early July by refusing to let him visit Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon's notorious Insein prison, deepening concerns in the international community.
  • Clinton on Thursday urged Myanmar to ensure free and fair elections that would require the release of political prisoners, of whom there are more than 2,100 behind bars according to UN figures.
  • ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Source: AFP,Channel News Asia
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

North Korea spokesman Ri Hung Sik
After the US secretary of state stiffened the American line against North Korean nuclear activities, Pyongyang hits back by saying that six-party disarmament talks are dead.
  • Bristling at remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about North Korea's nuclear program, Ri Hung-Sik, director-general of the foreign ministry's international organization bureau, dismissed the package of incentives suggested in return for North Korea's denuclearization as "nonsense.
  • Clinton, who is in Thailand for a major regional security meeting, has called on the ASEAN security forum to enforce the UN sanctions imposed against the North for its nuclear and missile tests.
  • Her comments drew a volley of criticism from North Korean officials who described Clinton as unintelligent and a "funny lady" who is "unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community."
  • "Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
  • Responding to Clinton's recent likening of Pyongyang's missile launches to the behavior of an attention-seeking teenager, the statement said Pyongyang is protecting itself against "the US hostile policy and nuclear threat," adding that it is not seeking "to attract anyone's attention."
  • The North Korean Foreign Ministry went further to lash out at Clinton, saying that she could make a contribution to US foreign policy "only when she has understanding of the world."
Source: Press TV
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm no saint!... Berlusconi (centre) with Obama (left) and Russian premier Medevedev on the right. - Reuters pic
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, dogged by accusations of cavorting with teenagers and high-end prostitutes, said today he was “no saint” and vowed to govern until the end of his mandate.
  • In his first public remarks since newspapers posted audio tapes of conversations supposedly between him and an escort, a defiant Berlusconi sought to dismiss the scandal with one of his trademark quips.
    “I am not a saint, you’ve all understood that. I hope those at La Repubblica also understand it,” he said, referring to the left-leaning daily which has led demands that he clear up aspects of his personal life.
    The websites of La Repubblica and weekly magazine L’Espresso have posted recordings of conversations they said were between Berlusconi and Patrizia D’Addario, an escort who says she and other women were paid to attend parties at Berlusconi’s residence in Rome.
    The 72-year old conservative prime minister, who often boasts of his sexual prowess, has not denied that D’Addario went to his home, but has said that he did not know she was an escort and that he has never paid for sex.
    D’Addario, 42, says she made the recordings during a night she spent with the prime minister on Nov. 4, 2008. the date of US President Barack Obama’s historic election victory and during various telephone conversations.
    She has handed the tapes to magistrates investigating a businessman, Giampaolo Tarantini, on suspicion of providing paid escorts to curry political favours for an enterprise in the southern city of Bari, from where D’Addario also hails.
Source: Reuters
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Two Bosnian Serb cousins who burned alive 119 Muslims to death in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad had been been found guilty by UN war crimes court.
Milan Lukic was sentenced to life in prison and Sredoje Lukic to 30 years.
  • Judge Patrick Robinson said Milan Lukic was the ringleader in both incidents, helping herd victims into the houses, setting the fires and shooting those who tried to flee the flames.
  • The judgment said his cousin Sredoje Lukic aided and abetted in one of the blazes. Witnesses “vividly remembered the terrible screams of the people in the house,” Robinson said, adding that Milan Lukic used the butt of his rifle to herd people into the house, and said, “come on, let’s get as many people inside as possible.”
  • Milan Lukic shook his head but looked unmoved as Robinson pronounced sentence. Sredoje Lukic leaned back in his chair, his face blank.
  • Even Robinson, a veteran judge at the tribunal that has been prosecuting Balkan war crimes for 15 years, sounded stunned by the Visegrad atrocities.
  • “The perpetration by Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic of crimes in this case is characterized by a callous and vicious disregard for human life,” he said. “In the all-too-long, sad and wretched history of man’s inhumanity to man, the Pionirska Street and Bikavac fires must rank high,” the judge added.
  • Milan Lukic also was convicted of murdering 12 other Muslims, shooting them in the back on the banks of the Drina River, which runs through Visegrad, so the current would sweep away their bodies. One of the victims was murdered in front of his wife and child.
  • Robinson said Milan Lukic “ignored the victims pleas for their lives,” as he and other Serb paramilitaries executed them with a single shot in the back before firing into the bodies of any men they believed were still alive.
  • Milan Lukic led a paramilitary group known as both the “White Eagles” and the “Avengers,” which terrorized Muslims in Visegrad. His cousin Sredoje was a local policeman and a member of the group. Both men were also convicted of cruelty for visiting a detention center to savagely beat Muslim inmates.
Source: Arab News
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
With a dispute over Israeli occupation of acres of Palestinian land still unsettled, Tel Aviv takes a step to purchase dozens of properties in Jordan to further expand its territory.
  • The Israel Land Fund, which promotes Jewish construction and has bought land and dozens of houses in occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank, is planning to bring Jews from European countries to purchase dozens of properties once owned by Jews in neighboring Jordan.
  • "There are thousands of Jewish properties in Jordan which were purchased during the Ottoman era and under the British mandate. We have records of the ownership", chairman of the extreme-right Jewish organization Arieh King told AFP.
  • "We are trying to bring Jews from European countries to purchase property which we locate in Jordan," King said,
  • Up until 1995, selling land in Jordan to Israelis or anyone acting on their behalf was illegal and punishable by death. The new ruling which replaced the previous statute still bars Israelis from buying, or leasing, Jordanian land.
  • The move is expected to cause tensions between Tel Aviv and Amman, which is one of the only two Arab states having diplomatic ties with Israel. Egypt is the other Arab country recognizing Israel.
  • Earlier in 1967, the Israel Land Fund purchased the occupied territory in the West Bank which had been earlier seized from Jordan.
  • The disputed territory has been the cause of a long-running conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
  • While Palestinians have long been fighting to win back their territory for "a future state", far-right Jews are determined to keep the land in hopes of achieving what they describe as a "Greater Israel."
  • Historically, the concept of a "Greater Israel" also included occupation of Jordanian land.
Source: AFP, Press TV
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Monday, July 20, 2009
Despite the easygoing image propagated by tourist boards, gays and their advocates agree that Jamaica is by far the most hostile island toward homosexuals in the already conservative Caribbean.
  • They say gays, especially those in poor communities, suffer frequent abuse. But they have little recourse because of rampant anti-gay stigma and a sodomy law banning sex between men in Jamaica and 10 other former British colonies in the Caribbean.
  • It is impossible to say just how common gay bashing attacks are in Jamaica ,their tormentors are sometimes the police themselves. But many homosexuals in Jamaica say homophobia is pervasive across the sun-soaked island, from the pulpit to the floor of the Parliament.
  • Hostility toward gays has reached such a level that four months ago, gay advocates in New York City launched a short-lived boycott against Jamaica at the site of the Stonewall Inn, where demonstrations launched the gay-rights movement in 1969.
  • In its 2008 report, the U.S. State Department also notes that gays have faced death and arson threats, and are hesitant to report incidents against them because of fear.
  • For gays, the reality of this enduring hostility is loneliness and fear, and sometimes even murder.
  • Andrew, a 36-year-old volunteer for an AIDS education program, said he was driven from the island after his ex-lover was killed for being gay — which police said was just a robbery gone wrong. He moved to the U.K. for several years, but returned to Jamaica in 2008 for personal reasons he declined to disclose.
Courtesy: Yahoo news
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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) Party's president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu(photo above) today said having many Indian-based political parties could cause the community to be split.
  • He said he took a serious view of the matter and urged the government to be careful when approving such new parties.
  • “The MIC is having a programme to unite the Indian community, such developments are not healthy for the community so I urge the political parties to work with us,” Samy Vellu told reporters after officiating the 63rd Negeri Sembilan MIC delegates convention here today.
  • He expressed confidence that the Indian community would support the MIC given that the party was established for 63 years.
  • “Many Indians meet me about problems and this is proof that the MIC is still relevant and can look after the interests of the Indians,” he said.
  • To date, there are six Indian-based parties, namely the MIC, the Indian Progressive Front, the Malaysian Indian United Party, the Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party, the Malaysian Indian Democratic Action Front (Mindraf) and the Parti Hak Asasi Manudia.
  • Samy admitted that “a small number of Indians” alleged that the MIC did not look after the interests of Indians with problems and, as a result, about 40 per cent of the Indian support had swung towards the opposition since 2008.
  • “Today we see the Indian support for the MIC and the Barisan Nasional returning,” he said.
  • He said the MIC today wanted to change and take steps to set up the party’s community service centres in every state to help the Indian community.
  • Earlier, there was only a centre in Kuala Lumpur, excluding the centres set up by state assemblymen and members of parliament.
Source: BERNAMA, The Star Online
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Malaysian extremist wanted for a string of terror attacks was named Saturday as the likely culprit behind suicide bombings at luxury hotels in Indonesia that left eight dead and 55 injured.
  • Police were studying explosives found in the suspects' "control centre" in room 1808 of the Marriott hotel, which was bombed along with its nearby sister hotel the Ritz-Carlton on Friday during the busy breakfast period.
  • DNA evidence, including a severed head from the remains of two suicide bombers, was also being examined as security was tightened across Indonesia and the Philippines amid warnings of follow-up attacks.
  • Five foreigners,three Australians, a New Zealander and a Singaporean,were identified among the dead as Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda put the total toll at eight, including the bombers.
  • Meanwhile, the Singapore embassy in Jakarta told AFP it had not verified the death of the Singaporean man because the Indonesian health ministry was not able to give the complete name of the victim.
  • Of the 55 injured, police said that 18 were foreigners including citizens of Australia, Britain, Canada, China, India, Italy, Norway, South Korea, the Netherlands and the United States.
  • The attacks triggered the cancellation of a planned Manchester United friendly against an Indonesian All-Star team scheduled for Monday, a decision which caused bitter disappointment among football fans here.
Source: Channel News Asia
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

China has warned its citizens in Algeria to be on heightened alert following warnings that al-Qaeda could be plotting attacks on Chinese workers in North Africa in retaliation for the recent crackdown on unrest in China's western Xinjiang region.
  • In a statement, China's foreign ministry said it was taking "all necessary measures" to protect Chinese nationals overseas.
  • "We will keep a close eye on developments and make joint efforts with relevant countries … to ensure the safety of overseas Chinese institutions and people," a spokesman said.
  • The warning follows the publication of an intelligence report citing "chatter" from al-Qaeda's North African arm vowing to avenge the deaths of Uighur Muslims killed during several days of unrest in the city of Urumqi.
  • A posting on the website of the Chinese embassy in Algiers on Tuesday urged all Chinese nationals and organisations in the country to take increased safety precautions and strengthen security measures "in consideration of the situation after the July 5 incident in Urumqi".
  • A diplomat, Shao, at the Chinese embassy in Algiers told Reuters: "We do believe that security has improved a lot in Algeria and we will rely on Algerian security forces to protect our people."
  • In the Philippines, which is battling a Muslim insurgency in its south, the government has ordered security to be tightened around the Chinese embassy and consulates, said Andres Caro, head of the national police directorate.
Courtesy: Al Jazeera
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Friday, July 17, 2009
Two suicide bombers were behind bomb attacks in Jakarta hotels on Friday morning, the national police chief told reporters.
  1. Two bomb blasts, one at the JW Marriott, the other at the Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta's main business district killed 8 people and injured more than 60, including foreigners and Indonesians.
  2. A car bomb had also exploded along a toll road in North Jakarta, police said. Indonesia’s Metro TV said two people had been killed. No further details on that blast were available.
  3. Windows were shattered at both hotels, which are close to each other in the Kuningan business area which is popular with foreigners and Indonesians, with many bars, offices and embassies.
  4. Hundreds of police, some soldiers and ambulances were at the scene of the hotel attacks. A Reuters witness said about 100 foreign and Indonesian hotel guests and office workers were gathered outside, some still wearing bathrobes.
  5. The windows in the first floor of the Ritz-Carlton were blown out, indicating the blast may have been in the restaurant, which would have been busy at that time of the morning
  6. The bomb attacks, the first in several years, could badly dent investor confidence in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The Indonesian government has made considerable progress in tackling security threats from militant Islamic groups in recent years, bringing a sense of greater political stability to the country.
Source: The Malaysian Insider, The Star Online
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim Thursday won a key ruling in his sodomy trial, forcing the prosecution to hand over evidence including video footage and medical reports.
  • The High Court ordered government lawyers to produce witness statements and reports from doctors who examined Anwar's accuser, 24-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who was an aide in his office.
  • Anwar, who was sacked as deputy prime minister and jailed a decade ago on separate sodomy and corruption charges, welcomed the decision but said there was still no certainty he would get a fair trial.
  • "I would say that we are glad with this particular judgement but we have to go through the processes because of past experience. We cannot be too presumptive," he said.
  • He also said he was concerned that the court had denied the defence team access to DNA specimens, and criticised the prosecution's plans to file an appeal on the decision to release evidence, saying it was a delaying tactic.
  • The 61-year-old opposition leader faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment if he is convicted of the charges, which he says are a conspiracy to frustrate his political ambitions.
  • The earlier sex conviction was overturned in 2004, allowing him to go free after six years in jail.
Couryesy: Channel news Asia
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The death of 30 years old Teoh Beng Hock , the political secretary of Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, will put more pressure on the The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) (SPRM), which has been accused by the opposition of conducting selective investigations.
  • As a result of this incident, MACC controversial probe into several DAP assemblymen’s activities was thrown into more turmoil today.
  • MACC said he was freed but his body was later found sprawled on the roof of a five-storey building next door.
  • It is unclear if Teoh, a former journalist with Chinese daily Sin Chew Jit Poh, fell or jumped from the MACC office.
  • Ean Yong and several other DAP lawmakers were at the scene, including M. Manoharan, Gan Pei Nee and Teresa Kok.
  • DAP’s Ronnie Liu said the police has confirmed that the body is that of Teoh. He added that he does not understand how this could have happened.
  • At a press conference, the MACC director of investigations Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdul said Teoh was questioned from 5pm yesterday to 3.45am and was released soon after.
  • However, Teoh apparently said he was tired and so he rested on a settee in the lobby. He was seen sleeping on the settee at 6am.
  • At about 1.30pm, Shukri said, they heard that a body had been found on the 5th floor of the adjacent building and when one of the MACC officers went to investigate, he realised it was one of their witnesses.
  • Shukri said Teoh was not a suspect but was questioned as part of their investigations into the misuse of state allocations.
  • Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said the deceased was found lying in a pool of blood clad in a white shirt, black pants and jacket.
Source: The Malaysian Insider
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
A Tupolev passenger aircraft crashed in northwestern Iran today and 168 people on board were killed, Iranian media reported.
The Caspian Airlines aircraft was carrying 153 passengers and 15 crew, Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for Iran’s aviation organisation, told state television.
  • State television showed footage of debris from the plane and some body parts.
  • The plane was travelling from Tehran to Yerevan in Armenia when it came down at 11.33am (3.03pm, Malaysian time) near the city of Qazvin, the official IRNA news agency said.
  • The plane crashed 16 minutes after take-off from the capital’s Imam Khomeini International airport, it said.
  • The semi-official Fars News Agency quoted a senior provincial official, Sirous Saberi, as saying the plane had experienced technical problems and had tried to do an emergency landing.
  • A fire brigade official, Hossein Behzadpour, said firefighters were trying to extinguish the fire.
Source: Reuters
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Israel's Police on Tuesday night met with Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz in Jerusalem to discuss the final stages of the criminal investigation into Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
  • "We confirm that there was a meeting in the attorney-general's office regarding Lieberman. We stress that this was not a summing-up meeting and that the case has not been sent to state prosecutors," police said.
  • Lieberman is suspected of fraud, bribery, breach of public trust, and fraudulent receipt of goods. Police believe Lieberman laundered millions of dollars, funneling the funds through a consultancy firm registered in his daugther's name, as well as a company owned by Lieberman himself.
  • Lieberman is also suspected of running personal business affairs while holding a ministerial post.
  • While Mazuz has the power to order police to launch investigations into senior politicians, he can not decide on whether to indict suspects. Rather, it is state prosecutors who take final decisions on whether to proceed to indictments, Guttman said.
Source: JPost
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Two hard-line US lawmakers have called for greater efforts to topple the Tehran government, going as far as to suggest support for anti-Iran terrorist groups.
  • Democratic Representative and Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Bob Filner called, on June 26, for greater support for what he called "resistance groups" in Iran, putting a special emphasis on the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), UPI reported.
  • On Sunday, Former House Speaker and leading Republican hawk Newt Gingrich also called on the Obama administration to "sabotage" Iran's oil and gas industry to trigger an economic crisis - which he claimed would bring down the Iranian government.
  • "[We] should use covert operations to create a gasoline-led crisis to try and replace the regime," he was quoted by UPI as saying.
  • The idea of attacking Iran's oil industry is not a new concept in US politics as many leading analysts and politicians have already explored its feasibility and effectiveness, but outward talk of support for a group that is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States is a rare move.
  • The MKO, listed as a terrorist group in Iran, Iraq, Canada, and the US, has claimed responsibility for bombings, killings and attacks against Iranian government officials and civilians over the past 30 years.
  • he attacks include the assassination of the late president Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, prime minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar and judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.
  • The MKO is also known to have cooperated with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hossein in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq and the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.
  • The organization is also notorious for using cult-like tactics against its own members and for torturing and murdering its defectors.
    Source: Press TV
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Monday, July 13, 2009
Bombs have exploded outside four churches across Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, killing at least four people and wounding 28 others, police have said.
A car bomb placed outside a church on Palestine Street in the east of the city on Sunday killed four people and injured 21 others.
Three bombs placed in cardboard boxes went off earlier near the gates of churches in the Ghadir and Karrada districts of central and eastern Baghdad.
  • Christians, believed to number around 750,000, have been sporadically targeted for attacks, particularly in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, leading many of them to flee abroad.
  • In the northern city of Kirkuk on Sunday, armed men assassinated Aziz Rizqo Nisan, the head of the provincial audit department - a Christian in a city divided along ethnic and sectarian lines.
  • Although violence has fallen significantly from a peak following the US-led invasion in 2003, there has been an increase in attacks as US combat troops have pulled out of the centre of towns and centres.
  • Two explosions outside a billiard hall in Baghdad on Saturday killed at least one person and wounded at least 20 others and a roadside bomb in the Saydiya district killed a junior cabinet official.
  • Despite the violence, a senior US military official said on Sunday that there had been calls for help with urban combat since the withdrawal on June 30.
Courtesy: Al Jazeera
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's rise in approval ratings may mean a snap poll as soon as November, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang predicted today.
Some political observers have said that the prime minister needs to secure a fresh mandate by calling an election before the 2013 deadline.
  • According to independent polling firm Merdeka Center, Najib was staring at low approval ratings of only 45 per cent as of May, one month after being sworn in as prime minister.
  • A series of reform-minded policy announcements later and Najib's ratings have risen sharply to 65 per cent by the end of June.
  • With his message of racial unity and lifting of ethnic quotas in selected sectors of the services and financial industry, he also appears to have won back a significant chunk of the non-Malay support that fled to the opposition during the last general election due to racial politics practised by the Barisan Nasional.
  • Approval ratings among Chinese and Indians are at 48 and 74 per cent respectively, up from 24 and 64 per cent in May.
  • Lim says that if approval ratings keep rising, the prime minister may call an election this year.
  • Monash University Malaysia political analyst James Chin disagrees however that the prime minister will call a snap election based solely on approval ratings, but will wait until the economy recovers from the current slowdown.
Source: The Malaysian Insider
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Member of Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS)
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS - Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura) celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it has become an integral institution within the Singapore Muslim community due to its continuing efforts over the years as well as tackling community challenges head on.
  • Speaking first in Malay at the anniversary celebrations, Prime Minister Lee noted that Muslims in Singapore contribute actively in the economy, professions as well as the social and cultural life of Singapore.
  • Mr Lee said that MUIS has not only ministered to the religious needs of Muslims, it has also taken the lead on difficult issues.
  • It was a "milestone" for the community, said Mr Lee, as many Muslims had reservations over organ donation. MUIS helped clarify concerns about the matter.
  • Another example was when terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was discovered in Singapore after the September 11 attacks in the United States.
  • Said Mr Lee: "MUIS took a firm stand against terrorism, as did the Muslim community. It helped the government to reassure Muslims in Singapore that security action was not targeted at the community or Islam."
Source: Channel News Asia
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