Saima is one of 37 refugees now sharing the house of a stranger. Their host, Rizwan Ali, 59, says: 'It would be easier to die than to ask displaced people to leave for the camps' The language was already biblical; now the scale of what is happening matches it. The exodus of people forced from their homes in Pakistan's Swat Valley and elsewhere in the country's north-west may be as high as 2.4 million, aid officials say. Around the world, only a handful of war-spoiled countries like Sudan, Iraq, Colombia have larger numbers of internal refugees. The speed of the displacement at its height up to 85,000 people a day was matched only during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This is now one of the biggest sudden refugee crises the world has ever seen. Until now, the worst of the problem has been kept largely out of sight. Of the total displaced by the military's operations against the Taliban, the army yesterday claimed a crucial breakthrough, taking control of the Swat Valley's main town, Mingora ,just 200,000 people have been forced to live in the makeshift tent camps dotted around the southern fringe of the conflict zone. The vast majority were taken in by relatives, extended family members and local people wanting to help. Courtesy: The Independent
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi says pirates are people who are defending their rights.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has slammed representation of Somali pirates as criminals, saying they act within their rights to "defend their territorial water".
Speaking a two-day summit of Saharan states in the Sabrata City on Saturday, Gaddafi said Western countries are to blame for the maritime crisis off the Horn of Africa state, a Press TV correspondent reported. Gaddafi says that the pirates are hungry men who only carry guns to hijack those who are looting the Somali resources. The Libyan leader, who was elected chairman of the African Union earlier this year, went so far as to suggest Somali pirates were on an anti-looting mission in their waters. "They are not pirates but people who are defending their rights." Gaddafi said the Somali pirates need real help and that Libya will accuse several countries of violating the international law if they do not stop their interference in Somali waters. Courtesy: Press TV
PENANG, Malaysia: Police today questioned DAP leader Lim Kit Siang for alleged defamation and sedition in his Penanti by-election ceramahs where he blamed the Perak crisis on Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Kit Siang said Chief Inspector Pang Meng Tak, in charge of a ceramah last Sunday, had lodged the report over his remarks at the gathering that the Prime Minister was responsible for the Perak constitutional crisis. Asked what he told the police officer, Kit Siang replied: "Well, I just said, meet in court." Kit Siang added that it is "virtually a foregone conclusion" that action would be taken against him as the police report was lodged by the police themselves. The veteran politician, who appeared in good spirits despite the police questioning, could not resist comparing the situation with the era of Najib's father's Tun Abdul Razak, who was also Malaysia's second prime minister. "When his father was a prime minister, he never touched me for sedition, but he is doing what his father has never done," he quipped. He added Najib’s “1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” slogan has been shredded and discredited with the Perak political crisis, abuse of police power in curbing political dissent, inequal distribution of scholarships and the delayed release of the audit on the Port Klang Free Zone. Courtesy: The Malaysian Insider
Palestinian Fatah has said it was "encouraged" by the meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and his US counterpart in the White House, while Hamas said the encounter would lead to nothing. "Palestinians are encouraged by the commitment President Obama and his administration have shown to Middle East peace," Saeb Erakat, a Fatah member and the Palestinians' top official said on Friday. Erekat said the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem would make the region more secure and stable.But, he warned "the peace process lives on borrowed time," saying it would not survive another round of failed negotiations. "Israel's failure to implement its obligations under existing agreements has eroded its credibility, while its continued settlement activities are undermining the very viability of the two state solution," Erakat said. Hamas, however, called the meeting a continuation of Abbas' "way of begging" to the US and the "Zionist entity."Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the meeting would "accomplish nothing but more pressure on Abbas."He said the US administration would fail to take "any action on the ground" to halt Israeli "aggressions" and realise Palestinian rights. Courtesy: Al Jazeera
climate change magnifies the possibility that the future will bring droughts or floods you never saw in your old measurements."
London - Rising temperatures due to climate change already account for some 300,000 deaths a year around the world and could rise to half a million casualties by the year 2030, estimates published Friday showed.
Most of the deaths would occur as a result of long-term environmental degradation due to climate change, with causes including malnutrition and disease, while others would be the result of weather-related disasters. A report on the human impact of climate change, presented by the Global Humanitarian Forum in London Friday, put the current estimated costs of global warming at 125 billion dollars a year. By 2030, the number of people seriously affected, either in the short term, for example through loss of their homes due to weather disasters such as flooding, or in the long term through water scarcity, hunger or disease, could rise to 660 million. Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, described global warming as the "greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time." Source: Top News
SHAH ALAM, Malaysia: Former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo(photo) criticised the Home Ministry for being slow in providing stateless Malaysians with proper birth certificates and identify cards.
“We hope that the Home Ministry and the minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein will be able to look at this issue objectively. I hope the ministry will be able to establish a special task force to help solve a problem which is at a very critical stage,” he said. He said that Selangor Barisan Nasional (BN) compiled 5,000 cases from January 2008 and had submitted 200 applications to the Home Ministry but only 30 applications had been processed and of those, only 16 had been approved. “I feel sad because there has not been any concrete action taken by the Home Ministry. We have compiled 5,000 cases and 10 per cent are Malays, 15 per cent are Chinese and 75 per cent are Indians,” he explained. Khir stressed that if this problem was not solved, it would lead to a bigger social problem which will further weaken the government’s and BN’s credibility. Last year, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) wants the Government to set up a special task force to look into the growing problem of “stateless” Malaysians. Commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the task force must specifically look into the core problem and others like documentation and to solve them. He said the issue needed to be addressed urgently. “It is sad to learn that some Malaysians still do not have identification documents now.”This is a violation of the basic human rights as no eligible Malaysian should be denied the right of citizenship,” he said when commenting on the increasing number of cases of “stateless” Malaysians that attracted national attention. Courtesy:The Malaysian Insider
A bomb in a mosque in south-east Iran has killed at least 19 people and injured 60, the governor of Sistan-Baluchestan province said.
The explosion struck the Amir al-Mohini mosque on Thursday in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"The bomb exploded at the time of evening prayer and killed a number of worshippers," Ali Mohammad Azad, the governor general of the province told reporters. "It was a terrorist attack and the bomb was exploded by a terrorist." Al Jazeera's Alireza Ronaghi said the death toll was bound to rise as it was a very strong explosion. "The timing of the explosion was interesting, as today was a national day of mourning in Iran for the death of the Prophet Muhammad's daughter," he said. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Courtesy: Al Jazeera
The Catholic church in Malaysia has failed in a bid to suspend a government ban on the use of the word "Allah" in its weekly newsletter after the court rejected its application.
The high court ruling on Thursday effectively upheld the federal government's 2007 ban, which has become a symbol of religious tensions in the country. The government directive bars non-Muslims from translating God as "Allah" in their literature, saying it would confuse Muslims in this plural, Muslim-majority country. The Herald, which reports on Catholic community news in English, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin, tried to get the order suspended while waiting for a court decision on the ban's legality. The court will hear the newspaper's original bid to review the administrative order on July 7.In 2007, the government issued a warning over The Herald's use of the word "Allah", which officials had said could only be used to refer to the Muslim God. Christian groups say the ban is unconstitutional, arguing that the word "Allah" predates Islam.Print publications in Malaysia require a permit which is renewed every year, and is subject to conditions set by the government. Courtesy: Al Jazeera
Three bombings brought grief to Peshawar on Thursday. At least 10 people have been confirmed as killed and around 100 injured. Four blasts have hit northwestern Pakistan, killing at least fourteen people and injuring more than one hundred. Two back-to-back blasts were heard on Thursday in Qisa Khwani and Kabari Bazar in the city of Peshawar, where several vehicles and dozens of shops caught fire. Local television footage showed flames and black smoke rising from buildings after the powerful blasts, which went off within minutes of each other. Medical sources expected the death toll of six reported in the incident to rise as some of the nearly 100 people injured had received burn injuries and were said to be in critical condition.There were also reports that pitched battles broke out between security forces and militants following the powerful explosions. The militants have reportedly kidnapped several civilians to use as human shields against the troops in the region, according to a Press TV correspondent. The Pakistani Taliban said it carried out the Lahore attack, saying it was in revenge for an army offensive in the Swat region. “We have achieved our target. We were looking for this target for a long time. It was a reaction to the Swat operation,” Hakimullah Mehsud, a militant commander loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, said by telephone. Courtesy: Press TV
South Korean and US troops go on higher alert amid Pyongyang's threats of 'a powerful strike' and growing fears of a full-scale war in the peninsula. "As of 7:15 am Thursday (2215 GMT Wednesday), the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command upgraded Watch Conditions by a notch to Stage Two," Seoul's Defense Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday. "Surveillance over the North will be stepped up, with more aircraft and personnel mobilized," AFP quoted spokesman Won Tae-Jae as saying. The remarks come in response to North Korea's Wednesday announcement, saying it was withdrawing from the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The North also warned that it could launch a military offensive on the South as it faced further pressure over test-firing an atomic bomb for the second time on Monday. Following the test fire, Seoul said it planned to join the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which is aimed at halting shipments of weapons technology. Courtesy: Press TV
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Chin Peng, the notorious Communist Party of Malaya(CPM))'s Secretary-General would not be allowed to return to Malaysia. Chin Peng has been living in exile since the end of hostilities in 1989.
Najib said that allowing Chin Peng to return would cause unhappiness among the families of victims who were killed during the Emergency.
Mean while, Mas Selamat Kastari will not be handed over to Singapore and will continue to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) because he is considered a security threat to Malaysia as well. The Jemaah Islamiah (JI) leader had escaped from detention in Singapore but was arrested in Johor Baru on April 1. Although he was a fugitive from across the Causeway, Malaysia has decided to detain him instead of handing him over to Singapore. He stressed the decision was not discussed with Singapore although authorities on both sides of the Causeway were in close contact with each other. Courtesy: The Malaysian Insider
A picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean military officers celebrating the second successful nuclear test
North Korea warned on Wednesday of a possible military response after South Korea joined an anti-proliferation exercise, and said it is no longer bound by the 1953 armistice which ended their war. A military statement quoted by official media also said the North could no longer guarantee the safety of shipping off its west coast. It repeated Pyongyang's position that Seoul's decision to join the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is tantamount to a declaration of war. "Any tiny hostile acts against our republic, including the stopping and searching of our peaceful vessels, will face an immediate and strong military strike in response," the statement said. "Our military will no longer be bound by the armistice accord as the current US leadership has drawn the puppets (South Korea) into the PSI," said the statement from the North's military representative at the border truce village of Panmunjom.
please God, let there be no more of this ,ever - Voice from Chernobyl kids
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has urged the authorities to rethink the idea of using nuclear plants to generate cheap energy by 2020.
On Monday, it was reported that the head of Tenaga Nasional's nuclear unit, Mohamad Zamzam Jaafar, said that the national utility intended to hire Korea Electric Power Corporation to help it prepare a preliminary feasibility study for what would become Malaysia's first nuclear plant. He said an agreement was likely to be signed next month. “Korea has about 20 plants,” Zamzam reportedly said. “They should be a good teacher for us.” Even so, the Cabinet has not officially agreed to allow nuclear energy but Tenaga believes it is not only feasible but desirable by 2025 because much of Malaysia's gas reserves would have been exhausted by then. Sixty per cent of Malaysia's power needs is currently met by burning gas. Nuclear energy, according to the utility, is also the cheapest option. Tenaga wants the government to agree by 2013 as it would take that long to get a reactor up and running by 2020. The former premier listed Russia's Chernobyl disaster as an example. “Despite thousands of tonnes of concrete being poured into the site, the power plant is still emitting dangerous radiation,” he noted. And he posed the question of what to do with the radioactive waste. “The waste cannot be disposed of anywhere — not by burial in the ground nor dumping in the sea,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog yesterday. “It can be reprocessed by certain countries only. This requires the dangerous material to be transported in special lead containers and carried by special ships. Most ports do not allow such ships to be berthed at their facilities.” Courtesy: The Malaysian Insider
Nearly 120 people have been killed by a cyclone that ripped through Bangladesh and eastern India, officials and local media said on Tuesday, while millions remained marooned by floodwaters or living in shelters. The death toll in Bangladesh rose to at least 89 following recovery of more bodies on Tuesday, the Daily Star newspaper said in its online edition, while Indian officials said at least 29 people had died in West Bengal state. Cyclone Aila slammed into parts of coastal Bangladesh and eastern India on Monday, triggering tidal surges and flooding that forced half a million people from their home. Officials in Bangladesh moved about 500,000 people to temporary shelters after they left their homes to escape huge tidal waves churned by winds up to 100 kph (60 mph). Heavy rain triggered by the storm also raised river levels and burst mud embankments in the Sundarbans delta in the neighboring eastern Indian state of West Bengal. The affected area is home to hundreds of thousands of people as well as the world's biggest tiger reserve. Bangladesh officials said at least 100 people were missing after Monday's cyclone. In West Bengal, the Indian army and government aid workers on Tuesday began an operation to provide relief to more than 400,000 people marooned in the Sundarbans delta region. Officials in West Bengal said at least 29 people died in the cyclone, mostly from house collapses, electrocution and falling trees. Courtesy: REUTERS
Hariri's assassination prompted a widespread outpouring of anger in Lebanon Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has accused Israel of being behind a report in Germany's Der Spiegel implicating the movement in the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister. "I consider the report in Der Spiegel an Israeli accusation that Hezbollah killed the martyr Rafiq Hariri and we will deal with this claim as such," Nasrallah said on Monday. Speaking by videolink to thousands of supporters gathered in south Beirut, Nasrallah said that the report in the weekly news magazine was aimed at fomenting strife between Lebanon's Sunni and Shia Muslims. "The report in Der Spiegel is very, very, very dangerous," he said. The Der Spiegel report quoted an unnamed source as saying that the UN-backed tribunal into the assassination had found evidence which suggested Hezbollah had a role in attack. Al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim construction magnate who had been Lebanon's prime minister on two occasions, was killed with 22 other people in a bomb attack in Beirut in February 2005. At the time of al-Hariri's death, Damascus had thousands of troops and intelligence officers deployed in Lebanon. Widespread public anger in Lebanon after the assassination led Syria to pull its forces out of Lebanon in April 2005, ending a 29-year presence in the country. Damascus dismissed the Der Spiegel report as "insignificant". Courtesy: Al Jazeera
TALES FROM TWO CITIES The attack in Vienna is the first act of violence involving Sikhs in the city
VIENNA , Austria:Police Investigators believe a sermon at a Sikh temple set off an attack that saw worshipers use a frying pan and microphone stands to fend off knife and gun-wielding assailants who fatally shot a cleric, police said Monday. Witnesses said the Vienna temple attended by lower-caste Sikhs was attacked Sunday by Sikhs from a higher caste who accused one or both of the preachers of being disrespectful of the religion's Holy Book. "We're assuming that the content of the sermon was the trigger," Werner Autericky, a high-ranking Vienna police official, told the Austria Press Agency, adding that the motive was not definitive. The attack set off a brawl that wounded 16. Police said they found a 9 mm pistol and several knives at the scene. It was unclear if some were kirpans — ceremonial daggers that may legally be worn by Sikhs in Austria.
. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Punjab over Sunday's attack in Austria JALANDHAR, India:The death of the Sikhs Preacher in Vienna, sparked riots in several northern Indian cities. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Jalandhar on Monday, defying a curfew, and setting a train, vehicles and shops ablaze, authorities said. Police opened fire to disperse angry crowds, reportedly killing two protesters in separate incidents, the AFP news agency said. The violence comes a day after Sant Rama Nand, a preacher, was killed when six men firing guns and wielding knives attacked a temple in Vienna, Austria's capital. The clash involved members of several rival Sikh temples in Vienna who had been feuding for several years, local authorities and witnesses said. Authorities in Punjab have imposed a curfew on parts of the state, and the army was placed on standby after the protests broke out. Source: ABC and Al Jazeera
A map of North Korea shows the epicenter of a 4.7 magnitude earthquake believed to have occurred as a result of the nuclear test
North Korea said on Monday it had staged a "successful" underground nuclear weapons test which was more powerful than its previous test of an atomic bomb almost three years ago. The North "successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way as requested by its scientists and technicians", the Korean Central News Agency said. "The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control," it said. The results resolved "scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology. "The brief report gave no details of the location of the test. South Korean officials said a tremor was detected around the northeastern town of Kilju, near where the first test was conducted in October 2006. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak called an emergency National Security Council meeting for Monday afternoon, while the Japanese government set up a crisis management office with Prime Minister Taro Aso ordering ministers to gather information related to the nuclear test.