Filipino activists lie on the streets to dramatize their protest at the historic Mendiola bridge near the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines
MANILA, Philippines – Some 1,000 journalists and activists marched Monday in the capital to protest the massacre in the southern Philippines of 57 civilians, including at least 30 journalists and their staff in the world's deadliest attack on the media.
Clad mostly in black shirts and carrying a black mock coffin as well as placards calling for a stop to media killings, they demanded the arrest of all suspects in the Nov. 23 massacre in southern Maguindanao province.
The massacre victims were in a convoy to cover a local politician's filing of his intention to run for governor in the predominantly Muslim province when dozens of gunmen abducted and then butchered them on a nearby hill and buried them in mass graves. The candidate's wife and sisters were among the dead.
The carnage drew worldwide condemnation, including from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It has also highlighted the violent factionalism that plagues the volatile region and the deadly risks journalists take in covering it.
Media watchdogs say it was the world's deadliest single assault on journalists. The protesters marched to a bridge near the presidential palace.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's spokesman Cerge Remonde, a former radio broadcaster, walked over to the protesters, whose path was blocked by barbed wires and police, to assure them the government was doing everything to give justice to all the victims. But he was booed, heckled and hit by crumpled paper thrown by irate protesters.
A representative of the Malaysia-based Confederation of ASEAN Journalists read a statement at the rally for CAJ President Norila Daud, who urged Arroyo to use the full force of the Philippine judicial system to ensure all suspects are immediately apprehended, whoever they may be and wherever they may be hiding.
BEIRUT - Lebanon's new cabinet has agreed on a policy statement that acknowledges Hezbollah's right to use its weapons to defend the country against Israeli aggression. Information Minister Tarek Mitri said late Wednesday after a cabinet committee set up to draft the statement met for the ninth time that an agreement had been reached.
He said the new statement will retain the same clause approved by the previous cabinet as concerns the arsenal of Hezbollah.
The clause states the right of "Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance" to liberate all Lebanese territory.
Hezbollah is commonly referred to as the resistance in Lebanon.
Israel waged a bloody 34-day war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 after Hezbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid that aimed to free Lebanese soldiers from Israeli prisons. The bodies of the soldiers were returned in a prisoner swap.
The war claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
Hezbollah, originally a resistance group formed to counter an Israeli occupation of south Lebanon, had forced the Israeli military out of Lebanon in 2000. Israel, however, continues to occupy the Lebanese Shabaa Farms.
Israeli flights over Lebanon occur on an almost daily basis and are in breach of UN Security Council resolution 1710, which in August 2006 ended the war.
Mitri said that reservations concerning the clause by members of the majority would be noted in the government programme.
Some Christian members of the majority, including the Phalange Party and Lebanese Forces, argue that Hezbollah's arsenal undermines state authority and runs counter to UN resolutions.
However the resistance party, which has two ministers in the 30-member unity cabinet, has made it clear that its weapons are for defending Lebanon, and that is not open to discussion.
The party argues its arms are necessary to protect the country against any future aggression by Israel.
Lebanon's new cabinet is headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The winning alliance headed by Hariri won 71 seats in the 128-member parliament in the election against 57 for the opposition led by Hezbollah.
The Hezbollah opposition had actually secured the majority (52%) of the votes in Lebanon, but could not secure a majority of Parliamentary seats (it won 45%) because of the nature of the sectarian government system in the country.
BAGHDAD – Turning on their TVs during the long holiday weekend, Iraqis were greeted by a familiar if unexpected face from their brutal past: Saddam Hussein.
The late Iraqi dictator is lauded on a mysterious satellite channel that began broadcasting on the Islamic calendar's anniversary of his 2006 execution.
No one seems to know who is bankrolling the so-called Saddam Channel, although the Iraqi government suspects it's Baathists whose political party Saddam once led. The Associated Press tracked down a man in Damascus, Syria named Mohammed Jarboua, who claimed to be its chairman.
The Saddam channel, he said, "didn't receive a penny from the Baathists" and is for Iraqis and other Arabs who "long for his rule."
Jarboua has clearly made considerable efforts to hide where it's aired from and refuses to say who is funding it besides "people who love us."
Iraqis surprised to find Saddam on their TVs responded with the kind of divided emotions that marked his reign.
"Iraqis don't need such a satellite channel because it has hostile intentions," said Hassan Subhi, a 28-year-old Shiite who owns an Internet cafe in eastern Baghdad.
Others said they felt a nostalgic sorrow at the sight of their late leader, a Sunni Arab.
PORT OF SPAIN: Commonwealth leaders have backed plans for a quick start to a climate change fund to help poor developing countries hit by environmental disasters. They have also accepted Malaysia’s proposal that grants be offered instead of loans to affected countries and that minimal conditions be imposed on them to receive the fund.
In a Communique issued on Saturday, the Commonwealth leaders welcomed the initiative to start a Copenhagen Launch Fund in 2010, with USD10bil (RM33.92mil) set aside annually for three years for the purpose.
The statement also called for 10% of the spending to go to mitigation in small island nations, which are facing climate change problems due to rising sea levels.
The Communique, issued following the executive meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on Saturday, is important as it lends weight to the negotiation process set to take place in next month’s global summit on climate change in Copenhagen.
The Communique, he elaborated, stressed on the importance of an internationally legally binding agreement and leaders had pledged to support the Danish Prime Minister in seeking a legally binding outcome no later than 2010.
CHOGM also called for urgent action to reduce global emissions and leaders discussed whether average global temperature increase should be constrained to below 1.5 degrees or to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
At a retreat following the executive session, the leaders agreed to accept Rwanda as a member country as it had met the criteria of the Commonwealth.
DHAKA, Bangladesh – A triple-deck ferry packed with hundreds of travelers heading home for an Islamic festival capsized as they disembarked in southern Bangladesh, leaving at least 37 dead and scores missing, authorities said Saturday.
M.V. Coco, traveling from the capital Dhaka, went down late Friday as it arrived at Nazirhat town in the coastal district of Bhola, 64 miles (104 kilometers) to the south. Some survivors said the boat hit a river shoal as it approached the terminal, breaking the hull and allowing water in. As passengers scrambled to disembark, the vessel then tipped and partially sank in the Tetulia River.
The ferry was crowded with people heading home to celebrate the Eid al-Adha festival, but it is unclear how many were on board. Dhaka's private ETV television station said the ferry was carrying more than 1,500 people but many had already disembarked when the vessel went down.
The ferry had a sanctioned capacity of 1,000 passengers, police officials said. Authorities usually don't keep passenger lists to make clear how many are on board.
Gas torches were used to cut open submerged cabins, and local residents joined divers to search for survivors inside the ferry. Police and fire brigade divers pulled 37 bodies from the sunken part of the vessel before darkness halted rescue work for the night, said Saiful Islam and Showkat Hossain, local police officials supervising the effort. Many of the dead were women and children.
Officials did not say how many people were missing. ATN television station said up to 80 people were still unaccounted for.
Climate models have confirmed that as a result of human-induced global warming, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing. The research was done by scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists and a group of international researchers.
Global Warming is a serious crisis right now. Not a lot of people are taking any notice to whats going on around them. People take for granted to the things they have and don't take care of the Earth.
Global Warming is a global issue that involves everything and everyone. The main reason for global warming is something that is called the Greenhouse effect, which is when a gas called CO2 or also known as carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and with that the suns rays can't escape causing the Earth to warm up.
One major affect is that natural disasters will worsen such as hurricanes and droughts will become deadly. If people don't react soon and take action the world will suffer.
Some things that people are doing are looking for energy substitutes such hydro power and wind power for cleaner energy instead of using fossil fuels.
Global warming is a growing problem that in the future will affect us in many ways. The world is heating up and the arctic ice is melting and the water levels are rising. Many of the world coats will sink in as well as other small islands. Animals are also being affected like polar bears because the land they stand on is disappearing so they have to swim further distances and when they no longer can keep up they drown..
MANILA: A Philippine politician ordered soldiers, police and other gunmen to kill at least 57 defenceless people in a horrifying slaughter that saw women shot in the genitals, the government alleged Friday.
In the most detailed account yet of Monday's election-linked massacre, which has sent shockwaves through the Southeast Asian nation, an emotional Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said female victims may have also been raped.
"It was horrible. I cannot begin to describe it," Devanadera told the GMA television network, recounting what she had seen of the bodies as well as the testimony of many of those who had taken part in the killings.
Devanadera said the witnesses told prosecutors that local mayor Andal Ampatuan Jnr ordered his private militia of more than 100 gunmen to open fire on the group of people on a remote farming area in the southern Philippines.
The gunmen had a short time earlier abducted a convoy of aides and relatives of a rival Muslim politician, Esmael Mangudadatu, plus a batch of local journalists.
The group had been travelling to an election office so Mangudadatu's wife could nominate him to run against Ampatuan Jnr for the post of Maguindanao province governor in next year's elections.
Fifty seven bodies have since been recovered from shallow graves in the killing fields close to a town bearing the Ampatuan name.
At least 22 of the victims were women, police said earlier.
Twenty-seven victims were journalists and 15 were motorists who were driving past the area at the wrong time, all of whom were apparently killed to eliminate witnesses.
Ampatuan Jnr, who surrendered to authorities on Thursday and was taken to Manila where he was expected soon to be charged with mass murder, has denied any involvement and blamed Muslim rebels for the killings.
But Devanadera said many of those who took part in the massacre were clear that Ampatuan Jnr was at the scene of the murders, ordered them to open fire and even shot people himself.
"The order was to kill them all, it appeared premeditated," she told GMA.
"One of the witnesses said he (Ampatuan Jnr) was the one who was ordering them... another witness saw him firing his gun as well."
Devanadera said some of those who took part in the killings, or were ordered to be involved, had come forward because of the guilt they felt.
"They were bothered by their conscience," she said, while emphasising many of them had given testimony against their former boss.
"We have many witnesses, not just one." She said the group of more than 100 gunmen included soldiers and policemen.
Authorities had already said that hundreds of policemen believed loyal to Ampatuan's powerful clan in Maguindanao province had been detained and suspected of being directly involved or linked to the massacre.
Devanadera painted a gruesome picture of the fate of the women at the hands of the marauding militia.
"Even the private parts of the women were shot at. It was horrible. It was not done to just one. It was done practically to all the women," she said.
"All the women had their zippers undone. The pants of some were pulled down.We have yet to determine whether they were raped. But it is certain that something bad was done to them."
ALICE SPRINGS, Australia - "The community of Docker River is under siege by 6,000 marauding, thirsty wild camels," local government minister Rob Knight said in Alice Springs, 310 miles (500 kilometers) northeast of Docker. "This is a very critical situation out there, it's very unusual and it needs urgent action."
In this juncture, the Australian authorities plan to corral about 6,000 wild camels with helicopters and gun them down after they overran a small Outback town in search of water, trampling fences, smashing tanks and contaminating supplies.
The camels, which are not native to Australia but were introduced in the 1840s, have smashed water tanks, approached houses to try to take water from air conditioning units, and knocked down fencing at the small airport runway, Knight said.
It is common to see some camels in the remote community, but a continuing drought and an early heat wave have dried up other water sources and forced great numbers of them into town. Much of Australia is gripped by some of the worst drought conditions on record.
In August, the federal government set aside 19 million Australian dollars for a program to slash the wild camel population, including a possible mass slaughter.
Glenys Oogjes, executive director of national advocacy group Animals Australia, said the plan to kill camels by helicopter was barbaric, and that the community could instead focus on setting up barriers to keep out the camels.
"It's a terrible thing that people react to these events by shooting," she said. "The real concern is the terrible distress and wounding when shot by helicopter. There will be terrible suffering."
Camels were first brought to Australia to help explorers travel through the desert, and now an estimated 1 million roam wild across the country.
They compete with sheep and cattle for food, trample vegetation and invade remote settlements in search of water, scaring residents as they tear apart bathrooms and rip up water pipes.
KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - A taxi driver and his wife were yesterday charged with trafficking eight Filipinas (Philippines women) aged from 23 to 28 years.
A local Su Chong Seng, 52, and filifinas wife Marilyn Cammayo Maquliano, 45, face eight charges each under Section 13 of the Anti Human Trafficking Act 2007, a punishment that carries a minimum of three to 20 years’ imprisonment and fine, if convicted.
The offence was allegedly committed in house Lot 1, Lorong Nibung 7A, Taman Friendly, Phase 3, at 1pm on Sept 12, this year.
Deputy Public Prosecutor, Niat Andy proposed RM50,000 bail for each charge as she said that the couple might abscond.
High court deputy registrar, Zaini Fishir released Su and his wife on a RM3,000 bail for each of the charge under a single surety after counsel Chin Tek Ming had asked for a lower bail saying that his clients were earning an average income of RM1,500 and have a seven-year old child.
Zaini fixed Dec 14, next month to determine whether both accused would have their charges consolidated.
Brazil has managed to reduce Amazon destruction to about 7,000 square kilometers (2,702 square miles) a year, the lowest level in decades. But that is still larger than the U.S. state of Delaware.
The Brazilian Amazon is arguably the world's biggest natural defense against global warming, acting as an absorber of carbon dioxide. But it is also a big contributor to warming because about 75 percent of Brazil's emissions come from rainforest clearing, as vegetation burns and felled trees rot.
Brazil has an incentive to protect the Amazon because the new global climate agreement is expected to reward countries for "avoided deforestation," with cash or credits tradable on the global carbon market.
Norway is making payments to give Brazil $1 billion by 2015 to preserve the Amazon rain forest, as long as Latin America's largest nation keeps trying to stop deforestation.
The nation was the first to supply cash to an Amazon preservation fund Brazilian officials hope will raise US$21 billion to protect nature reserves, to persuade loggers and farmers to stop destroying trees and to finance scientific and technological projects.
Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc has said Japan, Sweden, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland are considering donating to the fund.
South Africa slams Israel over plans to authorize construction of new settlements drawing parallels between Tel Aviv's practices toward Palestinians and the 'forced removals' of the apartheid era.
"We condemn the fact that Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem (Al-Quds) is coupled with Israel's campaign to evict and displace the original Palestinian residents from the City," the government said in a statement.
Israeli authorities are planning to demolish 150 Palestinian houses, home to about 1,000 people in East Jerusalem Al-Quds, according to a new report from the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights.
The leveling of two structures in the town of Beit Hanina on Monday were the first of a series that Israeli officials are planning over the coming year.
The statement noted that South Africa is deeply concerned that the activities by Israel will only serve to deepen the cycle of violence in the area. “We call upon Israel to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals and resume negotiations immediately," the statement read.
Last week, Israel gave approval for the construction of hundreds of new housing units in illegally annexed East Jerusalem Al-Quds, drawing international criticism as it drove another stake into the heart of efforts to restart the so-called peace process.
Under the 2002 Roadmap for the 'Peace plan' brokered by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia, Israel has to 'dismantle settlement outposts erected since 2001 and also freeze all settlement activities.'
The statement also pointed to the international condemnations of Israel's latest plan to construct 900 new housing units at Gilo settlement which is built illegally on Palestinian lands occupied in the 1967 war.
Security forces in the southern Philippines have arrested 20 people in connection with Monday's massacre on the island of Mindanao. The arrests come after police discovered another 11 bodies buried in shallow graves, taking the death toll in what is believed to have been the Philippines' worst politically-linked killing, to at least 57.
The first funerals of some of the victims are expected to take place on Thursday, although several others have yet to be identified.
Officials have named a local mayor, Andal Ampatuan Jr, as the lead suspect in the massacre and said they expect to take him into custody later on Thursday.
"We are expecting Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr to be turned over peacefully to the authorities anytime today," Lieutenant-Colonel Romeo Brawner, a military spokesman, told reporters.
Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from the town of Buluan close to the massacre site in Maguindanao province, said Ampatuan had told the authorities he would submit himself to investigators to show that he is "willing to co-operate" with the government.
Ampatuan is a member of a powerful local political family, and the son of the provincial governor who himself is a close political ally of the Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo.
SINGAPORE — The Court of Appeal has rejected a bid by the mistress of a dead businessman to get his estate to pay maintenance for their two children. But Singapore’s highest court said its decision was made with regret, as its hands were tied by what it considered an unfair law.
In his judgment, released on Monday, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin called for the law to be changed, saying there were compelling reasons to do so.
“It would be unfair to punish innocent children by denying them maintenance which a legitimate child would receive upon his father’s death, particularly where the father, as in the present case, has been supporting the child,” he wrote.
The case concerns a married man who began a relationship with an employee nine years younger than him in 1996.
The woman later stopped working, and they had two daughters, born in 1999 and 2001.
The parties in the suit cannot be named to protect the children, who are now in primary school.
While the man was alive, he gave his mistress S$3,000 (RM7,300) a month to bring up the children. But after his death in February last year, aged 60, the payments ended.
As he had not made a will, his mistress went to his grown-up children and asked for the payments to continue.
They hesitated initially, fearing that continuing with the payments would reveal the affair to their mother and devastate her.
But the widow eventually found out, and decided that smaller monthly sums would be provided for the girls’ upkeep, as they were not to blame for what had happened.
Unhappy with the reduced payments, the mistress, now 51, went to court to seek the S$3,000 she received previously. The High Court dismissed her case and she appealed.
Her lawyers, George Pereira and John Tan, argued that ‘“egitimacy had gradually become an inconsequential factor in many aspects of Singapore law today”.
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Rare, heavy rainstorms soaked pilgrims and flooded the road into Mecca, snarling Islam’s annual hajj as millions of Muslims headed for the holy sites. The downpours add an extra hazard on top of intense concerns about the spread of swine flu.
Pilgrims in white robes porting umbrellas, some wearing face masks for fear of the flu, circled the black cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, the opening rite for the hajj. But the shrine, Islam’s holiest site and the nearby, rain-soaked streets did not see the usual massive crowds, because many tried to stay inside nearby hotels or were caught up in the traffic jams heading into the city.
The hajj, a lifetime dream for Muslims to cleanse their sins is always a logistical nightmare, as a population the size of a small city moves between Mecca and holy sites in the nearby desert over the course of four days.
In the past, the rites have been plagued by deadly stampedes caused by congestion as the massive crowds perform the rituals — and Saudi authorities Wednesday were clearly concerned the rains could worsen the potential dangers. Civil authorities urged pilgrims to move cautiously and not to rush.
This year has brought the added worry that the massing of more than 3 million people from around the world could bring a swine flu outbreak. For months ahead of the pilgrimage, the Saudi government has been working with the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention to set up clinics and precautionary measures to stem any outbreak.
AMPATUAN, Philippines — Philippine security forces found 11 more bodies today at the site of an election-related massacre in the south of the country, taking the toll to 57 dead, officials said.
Not all have been identified, but 22 of them were believed to be journalists, making Monday’s attack the deadliest ever on the media anywhere in the world. Thirty-three of the victims were men and 24 were women, police said.
The government has clamped emergency rule on the province of Maguindanao, where the killings took place, and in adjoining Sultan Kudarat province and Cotabato City. Truckloads of troops were brought to the area today and armoured cars were parked along highways.
“The perpetrators will not escape justice,” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo told reporters. “The law will hunt them until they are caught.”
The army disbanded a 200-member paramilitary force under the control of local officials in Maguindanao and sent an extra 500 soldiers, pulled out from a central island in the Philippines, to reduce tension in the area.
Investigators have said they will probe allegations that some members of the paramilitary force participated in the killings.
The massacre has been condemned around the world. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it a “heinous crime”.
“The Secretary-General extends heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and hopes that no effort will be spared to bring justice and to hold the perpetrators accountable,” a UN statement said.
The journalists were accompanying several women of the powerful Mangudadatu clan to file the candidacy of one of the family for the provincial governor’s post in elections next year.
No men from the family were present, since they believed that women would not be attacked by rivals.
Their convoy was stopped by about 100 armed men, who herded them to a remote hillside and attacked them with M-16 rifles and machetes. Two of their vehicles and many bodies were thrown into a freshly-dug pit and covered with earth by an excavator.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said the vehicles were buried with dead men at the wheel.
Clan feuds are common in the southern Philippines and the Mangudadatus have been at loggerheads with the Ampatuans, another local family, for months. Datu Andal Ampatuan, the patriarch of the family, has been elected governor of Maguindanao in three previous elections.
The Mangudadatus have blamed supporters of the Ampatuans for the massacre, but no arrests have been made and government officials were guarded in their comments.
Just last month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, was caught parking her Cadillac Escalade in an illegal red zone in Santa Monica, weeks after publicly apologizing for using her cellphone while driving. Now it seems her husband has the same bad parking habits.
Yesterday, TMZ posted photos of the Governernator himself getting into a silver convertible Porsche in a red zone. It appears that he avoided a ticket (usually $90 for this particular violation).
On Tuesday, the governor said that his weekend parking mistake shows “no one is perfect—not even me.”
Interestingly, just last night Schwarzenegger appeared on "The Jay Leno Show," where he participated in Leno's running "Green Car Challenge" segment.
The governor spent the first part of the segment talking about his commitment to promoting green cars (a category which definitely does not include Porsches), and became noticeably hesitant when Leno asked him how long it's been since he's gotten a speeding ticket. "Not in the last six years," Schwarzenegger said, which is the amount of time he's been governor. Good thing Jay didn't ask about parking tickets.
TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi has offered his services as referee in a bitter row between Algeria and Egypt over this month's World Cup qualifiers, official media said on Tuesday.
World football's governing body FIFA has already announced that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against Egypt over fan violence against Algerian players before their closing qualifying round tie on November 12.
But that has not prevented a diplomatic row between the North African rivals in which a stung Egypt has pulled out Union of North African Football Federations, complaining that Algerian fans had thrown stones at its supporters at the deciding play-off in Sudan which Algeria eventually won.
"As chairman of the African Union, the Guide of the Revolution (Gathafi) is going to work to bridge the gulf that has opened up between Egypt and Algeria," Libya's official JANA news agency reported.
The news agency said that Gathafi had agreed to play the role of mediator following a request from Arab League chief Amr Mussa, who is himself Egyptian, JANA added.
Khartoum as well as Algiers lodged a complaint against Cairo over its protests at the game in Sudan. The Sudanese insisted that just a few Egyptian fans were slightly hurt, rejecting the Egyptian case.
Algeria's 1-0 victory in the play-off meant that it took the final African berth for next year's finals in South Africa.
KATMANDU, Nepal – Hundreds of thousands of Hindus gathered at a temple in southern Nepal on Tuesday for a ceremony involving the slaughter of more than 200,000 animals, a festival that has drawn the ire of animal-welfare protesters.
A Nepalese minister said it was the largest sacrificial slaughter of animals in the world.
Protests have occurred in recent weeks in towns near the Gadhimai temple and in the capital Katmandu by animals rights activists and other religious groups. However, Hindu organizers refused to halt the slaughter saying it was a centuries-old tradition.
More than 200,000 buffaloes, goats, chickens and pigeons will be killed Tuesday and Wednesday at the temple in the jungles of Bara district, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Katmandu, to honor the Hindu goddess Gadhimai.
Chief government administrator in the area Taranath Gautam said hundreds of thousands of people began lining up in the early hours of Tuesday, and the animal sacrifice rituals had started.
The Gadhimai festival is celebrated every five years. Participants believe sacrificing the animals for Gadhimai will end evil and bring prosperity. Many join the festival from the neighboring Indian state of Bihar, where animal sacrifices have been banned in some areas.
Critics say the killings carried out by slitting the animals' throats with swords are barbaric and conducted in a cruel manner.
A sign on display at the Nations Gunshow in Chantilly, Virginia. Recession-stoked fears of rising crime and tougher gun laws under a Democratic government are sending US gun sales sky high, and big crowds at the Chantilly Gun Show this weekend proved it once again.
Several hundred people thronged the gun show in the Washington suburb of Chantilly, where some 260 retailers have set up stalls hung with ready-to-fire Smith and Wessons, Glocks, Walthers, Colts and Berettas.
"We've had a huge increase in sales since last October," 2008 just before President Barack Obama was elected. "Well over 200 percent. It's coming back," said Jerry Cochran, owner of his eponymous major gun retailing firm in the state. He hopes to sell 500 weapons at the gun show this weekend.
Elliott expects as many as 12,000 people will turn up at the three-day gun fair.
In a state where you can wear a loaded weapon on your belt as long as it's in full sight, or a concealed one with a permit, handguns and semi-automatic assault rifles are openly sold to residents after a customary spot check for criminal records.
Worries that Obama Democrats will toughen gun ownership laws, an increase in hunting and fears of recession-driven crime have sent gun sales soaring 30 percent in the first three months of the year, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) gun permit statistics.
The Philippines has sent hundreds of extra troops to a southern province after at least 22 journalists and supporters of a candidate for governor were killed in what the president's office called the worst political violence in recent history.
Lieutenant-Colonel Romeo Brawner, a spokesman for the military, said on Tuesday that the army had sent in about 500 more soldiers to Maguindanao province on the island of Mindanao "to go after the criminals".
Brawner said the troops were under orders to arrest the followers of Andal Ampatuan, the incumbent governor suspected of being behind the mass killing after the abduction of more than 40 journalists and supporters of his rival, Esmael Mangudadatu.
"We maintain the Ampatuans are the suspects," Brawner told the AFP news agency.
The military said 22 bodies - most female, some beheaded and mutilated - had been found in a mass grave in a remote mountainous area and the number was likely to rise as soldiers dug further at the site.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Philippine president, condemned the violence and ordered her top security officials to "personally oversee military action" against those behind the killings.
"No effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law," she said in a statement. "Civilised society has no place for this kind of violence."
But Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from the Philippines, said Ampatuan is known to be closely-associated to the government and a close ally of Arroyo so people are watching to see what action the government will take.
MELBOURNE, Australia – A kangaroo startled by a man walking his dog attacked the pair, pinning the pet underwater and slashing the owner in the abdomen with its hind legs. The Australian, Chris Rickard, was in stable condition Monday after the attack, which ended when the 49-year-old elbowed the kangaroo in the throat.
Rickard said he was walking his blue heeler, Rocky, on Sunday morning when they surprised a sleeping kangaroo in Arthur's Creek northeast of Melbourne. The dog chased the animal into a pond, when the kangaroo turned and pinned the pet underwater.
When Rickard tried to pull his dog free, the kangaroo turned on him, attacking with its hind legs and tearing a deep gash into his abdomen and across his face.
"I thought I might take a hit or two dragging the dog out from under his grip, but I didn't expect him to actually attack me," Rickard, 49, told The Herald Sun newspaper. "It was a shock at the start because it was a kangaroo, about 5 feet high, they don't go around killing people."
Kangaroos rarely attack people but will fight if they feel threatened.
Dogs often chase kangaroos, which have been known to lead the pets into water and defend themselves there.
Rickard said he ended the attack by elbowing the kangaroo in the throat, adding his dog Rocky was "half-drowned" when he pulled him from the water.
SYDNEY – More than 100, and possibly hundreds, of Antarctic icebergs are floating towards New Zealand in a rare event which has prompted a shipping warning, officials said on Monday.
An Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist said the ice chunks, spotted by satellite photography, had passed the Auckland Islands and were heading towards the main South Island, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) northeast.
Scientist Neal Young said more than 100 icebergs -- some measuring more than 200 metres (650 feet) across were seen in just one cluster, indicating there could be hundreds more.
He said they were the remains of a massive ice floe which split from the Antarctic as sea and air temperatures rise due to global warming.
"All of these have come from a larger one that was probably 30 square kilometres (11.6 square miles) in size when it left Antarctica," Young told AFP.
"It's done a long circuit around Antarctica and now the bigger parts of it are breaking up and producing smaller ones."
He said large numbers of icebergs had not floated this close to New Zealand since 2006, when a number came within 25 kilometres of the coastline; the first such sighting since 1931.
Lebanese capital embarks on charm offensive to lure visitors thanks to its ambitious shopping projects.
Brimming with style, Beirut is regaining its reputation as a shoppers' paradise, with luxury labels such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton among a slew of shops opening in the city's renovated souks. Dethroned by Dubai as a top destination for shoppers, downtown Beirut today has embarked on a charm offensive as it seeks to attract visitors with ambitious projects like the "Beirut Souks," where 400 stores, 49 of them jewellers, are set to open in coming months.
"Luxury is spreading like an oil stain through downtown Beirut," said Guillaume Boudisseau, a consultant with Ramco Real Estate. And downtown is now the place to invest," he added.
The city centre, devastated during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war and paralysed between 2007-2008 by an opposition sit-in and by the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, today is bustling with activity. Hotels, restaurants and shops are opening at every turn.
The old souks have also been revamped to the tune of 100 millions dollars and house names like Vivienne Westwood, Armani, Berluti and Cartier.
International designers who hail from Lebanon also showcase their work in their capital: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad both have ateliers in the high-brow shopping district.
While Beirut still can not compete with the wide array of boutiques Dubai offers, it has one advantage in addition to its long-standing reputation: it's all available within walking distance.
Tony Salameh, CEO of Lebanon's top luxury importer Aishti, hopes the city will "reclaim its position as the shopping destination of choice in two years' time."
Salameh says the luxury market in Lebanon is on the rise too, estimating growth at close to 15 percent annually.
Dubbed "the Paris of the Middle East" before the war, Beirut re-emerged as a showcase for style after the end of the fighting, despite an economic slump and still-shaky infrastructure in the 1990s.
But the country was once again plunged into a period of instability following the 2005 assassination of billionaire ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, who is credited with having rebuilt central Beirut.
"We now have the chance to regain first place instead of Dubai, because its clientele, mainly wealthy Russians, accounted for between 60 and 65 percent of its turnover," said Salameh. "And that has disappeared."
He said some of the clients at his high-brow department store don't flinch at spending 200,000 dollars (134,600) per season.
The shopping area is not limited to the souks with boutiques opening in nearby streets, transforming downtown Beirut into a big outdoors shopping mall wildly popular among visitors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and other Gulf countries.
Western tourists, largely absent in past years because of security concerns, have also have also begun making a shy comeback.
"Gulf clients prefer to shop here in Beirut, because to them it still represents sophistication," Salameh said.
Fadwa, a visitor from the United Arab Emirates, says the arcaded streets are "the new Dubai, but much prettier."
Wafa al-Ayuti, a wealthy Egyptian tourist, agreed: "It's both modern and intimate at the same time."
"It's like Paris," added her mother as the two walked down a street in the shopping district.
But the Beirut Souks' new and improved face has left some seasoned denizens feeling nostalgic for the old city.
The last patient is evacuated from Rylstone Hospital as a fire approaches the town of Rylstone, northwest
Hundreds of residents in eastern Australia were on alert Sunday as out-of-control wildfires fanned by soaring temperatures and windy conditions threatened properties, officials said.
A bushfire emergency warning, the highest level of alert, has been issued for those living in the New South Wales towns of Rylstone, Kandos and Clandulla about 170 kilometres (105 miles) northwest of Sydney.
The warning come nine months after a firestorm in southeastern Victoria state in which 173 people were killed as fires razed homes and trapped residents in the country's worst natural disaster of modern times.
As temperatures in Sydney reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), prompting thousands to flock to Bondi and surrounding beaches, about 1,000 firefighters were battling around 100 blazes across New South Wales state.
Of most concern was the Rylstone/Kandos fire which has burned through some 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of bush and has now broken containment lines, despite the efforts of 170 firefighters aided by six helicopters and four planes.
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Rescuers saved more than 240 people aboard a crowded Indonesian passenger ferry that sank Sunday in rough waters off Sumatra island, but 29 people have died so far and at least 17 others were missing, officials said.
Rescue teams had rescued 242 people but high waves were making the operation difficult, said Brig. Gen. Puji Hartanto, police chief of Riau Kepulauan province. The passengers on the second ferry were all said to be safe.
The Dumai Express 10 left on an inter-island voyage Sunday morning and reportedly sank in poor weather 90 minutes into the trip from Batam to Dumai in Riau, a province off Sumatra island in western Indonesia. The area is about 600 miles (900 kilometers) northwest of Jakarta
The passenger manifest said it was carrying 228 passengers, including 15 children, said Yasin Kosasih, a local police chief. It was also carrying 14 crew, according to Lt. Col. Edwin, the local navy chief.
At least nine ships and several fishing boats were searching for those missing, Edwin said.
A journalist from el-Shinta radio reported from one of the rescue ships that passengers could be seen floating in the water around some small islets, but the ship could not reach them due to high waves and shallow waters. Passing boats have picked up dozens of those rescued.
CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez is praising Carlos the Jackal, the imprisoned Venezuelan once notorious for a series of Cold War-era bombings, assassinations and hostage dramas, saying he was a "revolutionary fighter" and not a terrorist.
The Venezuelan president lauded Carlos — whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez — during a speech Friday night saying: "I defend him. It doesn't matter to me what they say tomorrow in Europe."
Ramirez is serving a life sentence in a French prison for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and an alleged informant.
He has testified that he led a 1975 attack that killed three people at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria. He also has been linked to the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet en route to Uganda.
"They accuse him of being a terrorist, but Carlos really was a revolutionary fighter," Chavez said during a televised speech to socialist politicians from various countries, who applauded.
He said Ramirez had aided the cause of the Palestinians, something Chavez has also supported while verbally clashing with Israel.
In this photo provided by the United Nations, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John
MANIK FARM, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka will release next month the remaining 136,000 Tamil refugees still in the squalid and overrun government camps where they've been detained since the country's civil war ended six months ago, a top official said Saturday.
Some 300,000 war refugees were forced into the camps after fleeing the final months of the government's decades-long war with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May.
The ethnic-minority Tamils are being held against their will. More than half were released in recent months amid pressure from rights groups and foreign governments. Authorities say nearly 136,000 people remain detained in the camps, which are guarded by soldiers and strung with barbed wire.
Basil Rajapaksa, a senior adviser to his brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Saturday the refugees will be free to return to their villages after Dec. 1, and the camps will be completely closed by Jan. 31.
TEL AVIV - The ancient hymns brought tears to the eyes of Solomon Ayeli, as well as memories of his native Ethiopia which he left two decades ago for Israel a country he loves but where he often feels rejected.
"There should be no differences between black Jews and white Jews," said Ayeli, 29, who was among 15,000 people who this week celebrated the Ethiopian-Jewish Sigd prostration festival in Jerusalem.
"We want to be fully fledged Israelis," he said, as priests intoned prayers in Ethiopia's ancient scriptural language Geez. "We want to fully belong to Israeli society which often rejects us."
In spite of everything, Ayeli, like many members of the Ethiopian Jewish community are known as Beta Israel says his journey to the Holy Land (Palestine and Israel) was the fulfilment of a dream. "Living here is an exceptional opportunity." But the cost was high.
"I lost 10 family members in the desert, on the way to Israel," says Ayeli who had to walk for days through Sudan on his way to Israel when he was 10-years-old.
The Beta Israel were only recognised as Jews by Israel's two chief rabbis in 1975.
The recognition was crucial, as Aliyah the Israeli law of return allows any Jew to settle in Israel and get citizenship.
Israel airlifted in 35,000 Ethiopian Jews under Operation Moses in 1984, at the height of a killer famine in the Horn of Africa, and during the 1991 Operation Solomon.
Today, there are more than 120,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel, 80,000 of whom were born in Africa.
Many feel they are still treated like second-class citizens.
A recent study showed that 53 percent of employers preferred not to hire Ethiopians, who nevertheless still fared better than Arabs with an 83 percent rejection rate.
Israel has often come under international criticism for ‘racism’ and mistreatment of its non-Jewish Arab minority, who are the original inhabitants of the land and today make up one fifth of its total population.
The study also found that 70 percent of employers tended not to promote Ethiopians.
Israel's Association for Civil Rights says employment rates within the Ethiopian community were 10 percent lower than for the rest of the population last year.
Official figures show that 2008 high school completion was only 36 percent among students of Ethiopian origin as compared with 55 percent for other Israelis.
In September, ultra-Orthodox schools in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, caused a public uproar when they initially refused to accept children of Ethiopian descent, although they eventually accepted some of the applicants.
KUNMING, China - Malaysia will step up the promotion of Muslim tour packages, including Ramadan attractions, for the Chinese market, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
"The number of Chinese Muslim tourists to Malaysia in year 2003 was 50,000 and the figure has gone up to 94,000 people last year. With the high volume of Chinese tourists, I believe that promoting Islamic tourism among Chinese Muslims has great potential," she said at a dialogue Thursday with Muslim leaders and tour operators in her 12-day working trip to China", Eng said
Ng added the packages could incorporate visits to mosques and promotions during the Ramadan month such as halal food stalls and hotel buffets during the period.
"Malaysia has Islamic banking and is a halal food hub which could be advantageous in promoting Islamic tourism. Besides that, Chinese Muslim travel agents could also bring their customers to attend exhibition on halal products organised in Malaysia," she added.
Ng also encouraged Chinese Muslim tour operators to look into the potential of Malaysian Muslim tourists to China apart from travelling to the Middle East.
For example, she said, Malaysian Muslims could take holidays in southwestern Yunnan province, to enjoy the four seasons of the year.
Amee, a Chinese tour operator who attended the dialogue with Dr Ng, said the 20-million Muslim population in China was a strong potential market and tour operators here had been working together with Tourism Malaysia in recent years.
He said religious travel, education travel, family holidays and the "Malaysia My Second Home" programme were the main draws.
Dr Ng also led a delegation to the opening of the 11th China International Travel Mart (CITM) on Thursday attended by 94 countries and visited the Malaysian pavilion and exhibitors.
With Chinese arrivals to Malaysia totalling 835,000 in October, she hoped that the target of one million Chinese tourists could be achieved this year. Dr Ng also attended the inaugural China-Asean Tourism Cooperation Forum and called on Shao Qiwei, China National Tourism Administration chairman.
KABUL – Afghanistan will prosecute corrupt officials and control its own security within five years, President Hamid Karzai pledged Thursday in an inauguration speech made under intense pressure to shed the cronyism and graft that marked his government's first term.
As Karzai vowed to make the country safe from an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency, two U.S. service members died in a bomb attack and a suicide bomber killed 10 civilians in the south. But his speech appeared to make strides toward appeasing the international allies he needs to fend off the Islamist militants.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Karzai's comments about battling corruption provide a "very strong base on which to measure the actions taken."
"He could have been very vague and talked about how we're all against it and all want to end it, but he was much more specific, and we're going to, along with the people of Afghanistan, watch very carefully to see how that's implemented," said Clinton, who attended Karzai's inauguration.
Scientists have warned that global temperatures could rise by six degrees Celsius by the end of the century, four degrees higher than previously predicted and at a level that could wipe out species and cause widespread natural disasters.
In addition, the study by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) said on Wednesday, that the ability of the world's forests and oceans to absorb carbon emissions was declining.
The paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, comes in the run up to UN talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, aimed at crafting a pact to combat climate change from 2013.
It said pollution "continued to track the average of the most carbon-intensive family of scenarios" put forward by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Professor Corinne Le Quéré, the lead author of the study from the British Antarctic Survey, said: "The projections of climate that have been made before are always based on scenarios of climate change, so they tell that if the emissions are such and such you get 2C, if they are such and such you get six or seven.
"What our study is doing is identifying that the trend in the CO2 emissions, particularly from fossil fuels in the past decades, is so large it is at the higher end of the emissions scenario and this is why I am saying that we are on the scenario for a 6C warming," she said.
Under the IPCC's most extreme scenario, the Earth's surface will warm by around four degrees Celsius by 2100 compared with 2000 - a rise consistent with a wipeout of species, widespread hunger, flooding, drought and homelessness.
The new report highlighted the situation in emerging economies, such as China and India, where emissions have more than doubled since 1990 and now emit more greenhouse gases than developed countries.
Sarah Clifton of Friends of the Earth said, "This is yet more evidence, if any more was needed, of a strong and fair deal at Copenhagen in December in order to help us reduce emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change.
"Politicians are hiding behind each other, no one wants to step up and take the action, and what we actually need to see is political leadership by the rich countries. We need emission reductions, commitments from the the rich countries of at least 40 per cent by 2020.
March through Prague : Thousands of Czech people are seen through a window, in which a poster portraying a man is reflected, as they march through streets of Prague to commemoration the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
Czech people watch a symbolic iron curtain burning on Narodni trida in Prague in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
People light candles at the memorial for the Velvet Revolution in Prague's city centre November 17, 2009. Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Communist government in the "former Socialist Czechoslovakia"
A US general says that suicides in the US military will rise to a new high this year. “We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year,” General Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, told a Pentagon briefing. “This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way.”
Chiarelli said the causes of the suicides were still unclear and noted that roughly a third of the soldiers who took their own lives had never been deployed abroad.
The US Army recently announced that about one in five low-ranking soldiers suffer from mental health problems like depression.
Earlier in November, an army doctor -- identified as 39-year-old Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who had treated soldiers wounded in foreign wars -- opened fire at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, killing 12 people before being shot and wounded. Thirty-one people were also injured.
US President Barack Obama called the incident 'a horrific outburst of violence.'
SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd voiced "concerns" about the Church of Scientology Wednesday after a senator detailed explosive allegations including torture, imprisonment and coerced abortions.
Rudd said the accusations, made by independent Senator Nick Xenophon in parliament but strenuously denied by the organisation, were "grave" and needed further consideration.
"Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology. I share some of those concerns," the prime minister said.
"I don't want to rush into any judgement on this, other than to say (Xenophon) raised concerns and made some serious allegations," he added.
"Let us proceed carefully and look carefully at the material he has provided before we make a decision on further parliamentary action."
Xenophon on Tuesday branded the secretive group, whose high-profile adherents include Tom Cruise and John Travolta, a "criminal organisation" and called for a review of its tax-exempt status as a religion.
He tabled letters from former members claiming embezzlement, forced confinement, torture and blackmail, as well as the "ordering" of abortions and virtual house arrest of followers.
"Scientology is not a religious organisation, it is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs," Xenophon told parliament.
"The letters received by me which were written by former followers in Australia contain extensive allegations of crimes and abuses that are truly shocking," he added.
"These victims of Scientology claim it is an abusive, manipulative and violent organisation."
The Church said Xenophon's claims were "fascistic" and an "outrageous abuse of parliamentary privilege", referring to his protection from libel laws.
"Senator Xenophon is obviously being pressured by disgruntled former members who use hate speech and distorted accounts of their experiences in the Church," it said in a statement.
"They are about as reliable as former spouses are when talking about their ex-partner."
According to an excerpt of one of the letters, published in The Australian newspaper, Church staff who fell pregnant were "put under duress" and members lived in fear of expulsion and being "severed" from their families.
"We had one staff member who used a coathanger and self-aborted her child. All her files were destroyed," wrote former staff member Aaron Saxton.
Politicians in some European countries including France, Germany, Greece and Russia have accused the movement, which claims global membership of 12 million, of exploiting its followers financially.
Last month, French judges fined the group almost one million dollars for defrauding vulnerable followers.
Founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology is officially recognised as a religion in Australia for tax purposes.
Flame-haired Latvian Vaira Vike-Freiberga, known as the "Iron Lady of the North", is leading a pack of late contenders who have dashed into the closing round of the race to become the EU's first president.
With so much still to play for, diplomats have warned of a long night on Thursday, when EU leaders meet to decide names over dinner.
Some suspect the talks will spill over into Friday; others that a decision may be postponed even beyond that, but the Swedish presidency is determined not to let that happen.
Over the past days, another Baltic colleague, Estonia's President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, has added his name to the growing list of presidential hopefuls, which is now thought to include around a dozen potential candidates.
Although Tony Blair's chances still look extremely slim, there has been renewed momentum behind a faltering bid by Luxembourg's premier Jean-Claude Juncker and mentions of Spain's ex-leader Jose Maria Aznar.
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who was president of Latvia until 2007 and led the former Soviet state into the EU and Nato, is the only female candidate applying for the newly created job. Known for her charisma and outspoken views, she was an enormously popular leader at home, with thousands of grateful Latvians turning out to lay flowers when she retired.
The technology of carbon capture and storage is a means to reduce the effects of global warming by 'capturing' carbon dioxide gas emitted from power plants and storing it beyond the reach of the atmosphere.
"We know that we must use coal in a more clean fashion," said Joe Manchin, West Virginia's governor, at the commissioning ceremony for the pilot project. "This is what we've demonstrated today - that it can be done."
The process involves cooling the carbon dioxide gas into a liquid state, then compressing and injecting it into shafts drilled more than 2km under the surface, below water tables and drinking water supplies. (For an animation of the process, click here).
The carbon dioxide (CO2) spreads through porous rock formations, similar to water filling up a sponge. It is prevented from rising up again by the same thick solid rock layers above that have kept oil and gas deposits trapped for millions of years.
Environmental groups are divided about carbon capture. Some dismiss the very possibility of clean coal, while others are worried that despite all assurances, some of the trapped CO2 could eventually escape.
Then there is the added cost.By most estimates, the retail price of electricity from low-carbon coal could be more expensive than nuclear or solar power.
To make carbon burial commercially practical, billions of dollars in government subsidies would be required.
Low-carbon burning plants. For the long-term, some experts are calling on the US and China, the world's number one CO2 polluter, to collaborate on a crash programme of building new low-carbon- burning coal plants.
In a new report, the Asia Society of the US, an institution which works to improve Asia-US ties, says: "Both countries will continue to depend on burning large amounts of coal for the foreseeable future, and thus, if this technology can be proven at sufficient levels of scale and safety, the deployment of CCS [carbon capture and storage] technologies is an essential element in any effort to stabilise global greenhouse gas emissions."
But even if carbon capture clears all its technical and economic hurdles, sceptics say it might take another 15 to 20 years to start making a noticeable difference in the world's CO2 output.
Without an ambitious investment in the technology, however, the fight against global warming could well be futile.