Monday, October 31, 2011

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia — Not so far away from my home, a Sabah State Railways train and a road fuel tanker collided this evening, causing a huge explosion at Kepayan- road along Lintas junction near the Kota Kinabalu international airport here.
According to Bernama Online, at least eight people — including both the train and tanker drivers — were injured in the incident that occured around 5.30pm.
  • Fire and rescue services were deployed to the scene shortly after the crash, but found on arrival that most of the passengers had managed to escape from the stricken train unaided.
  • The Star Online reported that 34 passengers were still unaccounted for, although police confirmed that none remained on board the train carriages. Authorities are reportedly searching the area for those missing.
  • According to Sabah State Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib, the fully-laden tanker was attempting to cross the railway tracks to reach a fuel station where it was making a delivery, but was unable to clear the tracks in time to avoid the approaching train.
  • The impact triggered a derailment of the train, leading to one of the carriages crashing onto the tanker and sparking the raging inferno and subsequent blast.
  • The tanker driver has been taken into police custody for questioning, Hamza added. While the casualties were sent to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital for attention. According to to unconfirmed report, 18 people could be killed.
  • A Sabah Railways spokesman later described the crossing as illegal.
A witness who arrived shortly after the crash, Busri Asad, 39, told Bernama Online of scenes of chaos as passengers fled the burning train.
The sight of the burning wreckage on the site brought traffic flow along both roads to a near halt.
Source: The Malaysian Insider, mStar, Agency

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Monday, October 31, 2011

LONDON, U.K - Some children as young as 12 were found to be drinking the equivalent of 19 glasses of wine a week. Most were drinking at home, or in the homes of friends or relations.
The study by the Schools Health Education Unit, based at Exeter University based on data collected from more than 83,000 children aged between ten and 15, found four per cent of children aged 12 or 13 had drunk 28 units or more of alcohol in the week before they were questioned — exceeding government limits for adult men, who can safely drink three to four units a day.
  • Simon Antrobus, chief executive of the charity Addaction, which helps people with drug and alcohol problems, said: "These new figures back up our own experiences. We know children who drink at younger ages are the ones who need help most. We also know that children whose parents misuse alcohol are more likely to develop their own problems later in life."
  • The figures also disclose that by the age of 11, at least one in three girls wanted to lose weight, rising to two thirds at the age of 15. By that age, a third had skipped breakfast on the day they were questioned, and of those, one quarter had missed lunch the previous day.
  • Among boys, fear of violence was a prime concern; one in five said they sometimes carried weapons for protection. Girls were more likely than boys to express fears about bullying. One third of girls aged ten and 11 were frightened to go to school because of bullying on some occasions, though they became less afraid as they got older.
Dr Laura Wyness, a senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said young girls often employed unhealthy methods in an attempt to reduce their weight, with some taking up smoking, while others who cut back too drastically missed out on protein, iron and other vital nutrients.
The study also found that many children were too tired to stay alert at school.
Source: Agency
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A magnitude 6.5 earthquake jolted offshore northern Taiwan just before noon Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to buildings. The temblor was felt in most areas in northern, central and north eastern Taiwan, but its extreme depth limited the extent to which it was felt on the ground, Central Weather Bureau seismologists said.
  • The quake, which occurred at 11:23 a.m., was cantered 141.4 kilometres east of Keelung City Hall at a depth of 221.4 km, according to the weather bureau. The earthquake had an intensity of 2 in Yilan City, Hualien City, Taoyuan County, Deji District in Taichung and Nantou County, and 1 in Taipei, Hsinchu City, Miaoli County, the rest of Taichung, and Taitung County, the CWB said.
  • Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan because of the convergence of the Eurasian and Philippine Sea tectonic plates along its east coast. A magnitude-7.3 earthquake in central Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.
Source: Taiwan news
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

BANGKOK. Thailand - Thailand's worst floods in half a century have killed 381 people since July. The death toll rose overnight when a boat carrying a family of four capsized in strong winds, drowning the father, mother and eldest son in three-meter-deep floodwater. Their six-year-old daughter, the only one wearing a life vest, survived.
  • The floods wiped out a quarter of the main rice crop in the world's biggest exporter, forced up global prices of computer hard drives and caused delays in global auto production after destroying industrial estates.
  • In Bangkok, prices of eggs have quadrupled as jittery residents stockpile staples, but the government said flood victims would have enough bottled drinking water, dairy products, pork and chicken.
  • Cash was also in heavy demand. The Bank of Thailand has repeated that there is enough money circulating to meet demand for three months following a crush of withdrawals. Nearly 400 bank branches have closed across the country due to the floods.
  • The floods have submerged 1.6 million hectares of land, an area roughly the size of Kuwait, turning entire cities into urban reservoirs.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the ebbing of floodwaters in northern provinces, thanks to the draining of water into the Gulf of Thailand through canals and pumps, had reduced the risk of large volumes of run-off water bearing down on Bangkok. The city sits only 2 metres above sea level.
"In this critical situation, there is some good news for us. Our water-management plan went smoothly during previous days," Yingluck said.
Source: Agency
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Sunday, October 30, 2011
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - An official ban on public gatherings in volatile Karachi has been lifted temporarily ahead of a planned rally by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the city to protest against "derogatory" outbursts of the opposition against President Asif Ali Zardari.
While the MQM, an ally of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was preparing to hold the rally today, the Sindh provincial government relaxed the restrictions imposed last month for two days, reports said.
  • The MQM announced its move after the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party held a massive rally against Zardari in Lahore, capital of Punjab province where it is in power.
  • Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of PML-N president and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, heaped scorn on Zardadri in his speech at the rally.
  • "If you don't step down you and your cronies will be hanged upside down," he warned, as the crowd shouted "Go Zardari go." The onslaught against its leader enraged the PPP. Central and provincial leaders of the party denounced the insulting language used against the president, accusing the PML-N leadership of undermining the democratic order restored in the country after the 2008 general election.
  • PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badar said yesterday in Lahore that talk of hanging someone upside down was indicative of "mental illness".
  • Badar said the PML-N's intentions were "dangerous for democracy" and warned that the PPP's reconciliatory approach should not be taken as a weakness.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Tehreek Insaaf (justice movement) is also making hectic preparations for its scheduled public rally in Lahore today at the Minar-e-Pakistan memorial to demonstrate its growing popularity.
Khan is expected to lash out at the PPP and PML-N leadership and urge the masses to vote for a change in the next general election.
Source: Gulfnews
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

SYDNEY, Australian - Australian flag carrier Qantas on Saturday took the “unbelievable” step of grounding its entire domestic and international fleet indefinitely in an escalating industrial dispute.
The airline, which has been hit by a series of strikes, said all employees involved in the action would be locked out from Monday evening and flights grounded from 0600 GMT on Saturday.
  • “Pilots, licensed engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff are essential to Qantas operations and the lock-out will therefore make it necessary for all Qantas aircraft to be grounded,” the airline said.
  • “Aircraft currently in the air will complete the sectors they are operating. However, there will be no further Qantas domestic departures or international departures anywhere in the world.”
  • Months of strikes by baggage handlers, engineers and pilots were costing the company 15 million Australian dollars ($16 million) per week, it said, with the total financial impact so far hitting 68 million Australian dollars.
  • Approximately 70,000 passengers had been affected ahead of the announcement and more than 600 flights cancelled.
  • “The airline will be grounded as long as it takes to reach a conclusion on this,” said chief executive Alan Joyce in a hastily called press conference, adding that he could not take “the easy way out” and agree to union demands. That would destroy Qantas in the long term,” he said.
  • “I’m actually taking the bold decision, an unbelievable decision, a very hard decision, to ground this airline.”
  • Unions have been protesting against pay and restructuring plans and the decision to ground the planes came a day after a fiery annual general meeting.
At the AGM, Qantas management came under fire for plans to refocus the airline on Asia which will see it launch two new airlines and axe 1,000 jobs.
Joyce was accused of running the carrier into the ground while reaping massive personal rewards.
Source: Jakarta Globe...Read more..
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

OTTAWA, Canada - Senator Nicole Eaton wants the polar bear to replace the beaver as an official emblem of Canada.
The Conservative senator says it's time Canada was symbolized by something more majestic than a buck-toothed rodent.
She says the polar bear is Canada's "most majestic and splendid mammal," and a powerful symbol in the lives of aboriginal peoples in the North. She believes the furry white carnivore's "strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity" add up to an appropriate symbol for modern-day Canada.
By contrast, she derides the lowly beaver as a "19th century has-been," a "dentally defective rat," a "toothy tyrant" and a nuisance that wreaks havoc on its environment.
  • Eaton acknowledges the beaver's involuntary role in founding Canada — providing the fashionable pelts that fuelled the fur trade — but she says it's now time for a change.
  • "A country's symbols are not constant and can change over time as long as they reflect the ethos of the people and the spirit of the nation," Eaton told her Senate colleagues Thursday. "The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part."
  • Eaton said the beaver should "step aside as a Canadian emblem, or, at the least, share the honour with the stately polar bear."
however, the government responded that it has no plans to change the beaver as a national symbol.
Sumber: CBC
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Friday, October 28, 2011

SANTIAGO, Chile - Chilean authorities were still evacuating residents living near a volcano in the country's far south after a volcano spewed a jet of steam 3,200 feet into the air and seismic activity triggered an avalanche.
Government officials flew over the Hudson volcano, which lies around 1,000 miles south of the Chilean capital Santiago.
  • More than 100 residents from the sparsely populated area have been evacuated as a precaution as the state emergency office ONEMI increased the volcanic alert status to Level 5 in preparation for an imminent major eruption.
  • The Hudson volcano last erupted in 1991, melting part of the glacier that sits on the crater and triggering mud flows.
  • The recent activity comes in the wake of a string of eruptions at other volcanoes in Chile.
Source: Agency

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Friday, October 28, 2011

LONDON, U.K. — TV Company FBC Media, at the centre of the Malaysia news-fixing scandal facing broadcasters BBC and CNBC, is facing collapse, The Independent newspaper reported in London today.
The British daily said the London-based firm and its parent company FBC Group had gone into administration — a legal term that allows a company facing bankruptcy to carry on business — following reports it accepted £17million (RM85 million) from Putrajaya to burnish the Najib administration’s image on global broadcast networks.
  • The newspaper said FBC Media called in administrators last Monday, days before the BBC Trust was to review a BBC Executive report on a series of programmes the production company made for broadcast on the British corporation’s international news and current affairs channel.
  • FBC is also being investigated by the UK’s communications industry regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), and US broadcaster CNBC, for which it produced content on the latter’s flagship programme called World Business.
  • The show has been dropped. CNBC has suspended all shows produced by FBC, which has been exposed to have also doubled up as a publicity firm for the Najib government and was paid millions of pounds to conduct a “Global Strategic Communications Campaign”.
  • FBC was set up in 1998 by award-winning US journalist Alan Friedman and other prominent media individuals who built a network of blue-chip clients that included the governments of Greece, Italy and Zambia, with contracts to promote tourism in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hungary.
  • But Putrajaya has ended its RM96 million contract with FBC which started in 2009 after it was revealed Malaysian government leaders regularly appeared in paid-for-TV programmes.
According to reports, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been contracting a series of public relations strategists, including APCO Worldwide, to shine his personal image and his government’s locally and worldwide.
APCO’s time in Malaysia was marked by controversy after the opposition alleged the public relations firm was linked to Israel.
  • The most recent hire are members of the team behind former British PM Tony Blair’s “New Labour” campaign who were reported to have started work to reinvent Najib as a moderate reformist.
  • The team is also understood to be pushing a “Cool Najib” image to appeal to progressive voters as the PM prepares to lead the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) into elections for the first time.
However, Alastair Campbell, once the powerful director of strategy and communications during Blair’s administration, denied yesterday that he has been to Malaysia in response to suggestions that he recently visited Najib to advise the prime minister on his image.
Campbell, a former journalist, quit Blair's office in August 2003 after it was revealed that he ordered dossiers on Iraq’s purported possession of weapons of mass destruction to be altered to be consistent with the US government’s stand.
Source: The Malaysian Insider, Agency
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Friday, October 28, 2011

A poster campaign by Ohio University's Students Teaching About Racism in Society fights the use of Halloween costumes that stereotype ethnic groups and cultures.
TORONTO, Canada - An Ohio student group's campaign has started a firestorm of debate in Canada and abroad over whether wearing Arab, Spanish and other ethnically inspired garb is proliferating stereotypes and feeding racism.
The campaign, by Ohio University's Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS), features posters headlined "We're a culture, not a costume." Underneath the line, "This is not who I am, and this is not okay" are students of various ethnic backgrounds holding up photos of people wearing black face, or dressed up as natives, Geisha girls or people depicting "terrorists," for example.
  • Contacted by CBC News on Wednesday, a spokeswoman with the Athens, Ohio-based University said STARS was receiving an overwhelming number of requests for media interviews around the world, and may not return calls immediately.
  • STARS had garnered more than 8,000 views on President Sarah William’s blog, but the comment section was disabled due to inappropriate and hateful comments from some visitors. Still, Williams told ABC the campaign was worthwhile: "We wanted to highlight these offensive costumes because we've all seen them.
  • We just wanted to say, 'Hey, this is not cool. This is offensive and this shouldn't be taken lightly.' It's offending a culture and people should be aware."
  • Canadian reaction to the campaign has ranged from huge congratulations for raising awareness about the ills of proliferating stereotypes, to accusing STARS of making something out of nothing.
Brent Farrington, a campaigner with the Ottawa-based Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), applauded the Ohio school's poster campaign.
"There have been cases in Canada over the last couple of years that have really highlighted the fact that our campuses aren't quite as free from racism as people think," he told CBC News Wednesday.
Farrington says there's never an excuse for making light of someone's background, even if it seems like harmless Halloween fun.
"There's a cultural shift that seems to think it's OK and funny [to wear black face or other ethnic Halloween costumes], but it's not OK and funny. You can't mock someone's culture one day a year and think it's good fun." He says
  • Russian In Canada commented on one media website: "Those guys have completely lost their minds, to say nothing of tolerance and sense of humour. ANY Halloween costume is offensive to some group. How about discourtesy to not-so-sexy-nurses? Or being disrespectful to the dead? Halloween itself is offensive to many, as well as such celebrations as Christmas (because not everyone is Christian in North America). Shall we ban these holidays altogether? No more Christmas tree on Times Square?!! Down with Easter eggs and bunnies in shop windows?"
New Westminster, B.C., blogger Jarrah Hodge, a UBC graduate in women's studies and sociology, said costume companies are constantly coming up "with new ways to advance racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation, and sexualize women in every single profession and identity you could think of."
Source: CBC
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

BOGOTA, Colombia - Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, has called for the global legalization of marijuana to help combat the trafficking of harder drugs and related violence.
Mr Santos added his voice to a growing list of influential figures in Latin America demanding a rethink of the policies that have been used for decades to fight the drugs trade.
He said legalizing softer drugs such as marijuana worldwide could help improve international efforts to deal with harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
  • "The world needs to discuss new approaches ... we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years," he said.
  • Asked if making marijuana legal could offer a way forward, Mr Santos said it could and that he would support it "provided everyone does it at the same time". But he emphasized that other countries needed to take the lead, saying the issue was "a matter of national security" for Colombia, whereas "in other countries this is mainly a health and crime issue".
  • "Drug trafficking is what finances the violence and the irregular groups in our country. I would be crucified if I took the first step," he said in an interview with Metro, the global free daily newspaper chain.
  • Last month Felipe Calderón, the Mexican president, used a speech in New York to warn the US that as the world's "largest consumer of drugs" it may have to consider legislation "to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organizations".
In June a report by politicians and former world leaders said that the global war on drugs has fueled organized crime and recommended an end to the criminalization of drug users and the legalization of some banned substances.
Ernesto Zedillo, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Cesar Gaviria, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia respectively, were among the 19-member commission that drew up the report.
Source: Agency
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Thursday, October 27, 2011
A recently completed study conducted by USM researchers yielded genetic evidence that , a modern Malay cannot be easily identified based on physical characteristics alone, said a medical geneticist from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), who presented a paper at the 2nd Borneo History Seminar held at the International Convention Centre last week.
His study included those from five Malay sub-ethnic groups (the Malay Bugis, Malay Jawa, Malay Minang, Malay Kedah and Malay Kelantan) found in the Malay Peninsula.
"'Modern Malays' are an admixture of races," said Professor Zilfalil Alwi, whose paper "Asal Usul Melayu Berdasarkan Fakta Genetik" (Tracing the Origins of the Malays by Analysing Genetic Data) discusses a three-year study involving around 50,000 volunteers.
  • "Nowadays you can't tell the difference whether someone is Chinese or Malay by appearance alone," he added.
  • These subjects were first interviewed to ascertain that they are Muslims, speak local Malay dialect and come from at least three generations of Malay, with both parents as Malays. They must also give consent to the use of their blood samples as research material.
  • Professor Zilfalil explained that the genome of each subject were extracted from each of these blood samples one genome is one complete set of genetic information of a particular individual. Genetic markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were then identified for each genome.
  • The distance between two particular genetic markers determined the genetic composition of each Malay subjects.
The research discovered that the Malays in these sub-ethnic groups were genetically composed of some Proto-Malay (orang asli Melayu), Semang and Indian DNA, with at least 20 per cent Malay and and 52 per cent Chinese DNA.
"This finding corresponds with a theory that these Malays originated from Austronesia in Yunnan, China," Professor Zilfalil said, " with the first wave of migration from Austronesia to Southeast Asia occurring in 25, 000 BC and the second one in 1, 500 BC".
  • The professor added that "the Malay language used in the Malay Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak also belongs to the Austronesian stock".
  • Another theory presented by Professor Zilfalil was that early Malays could also be Indian priests who came to the Malay peninsula to spread Hinduism.
  • From the research results, the professor explained that the Kelantan Malays, Kedah (Lembah Bujang) Malays and Pattani Malays were clustered together based on their DNA composition. This is how he genetically concluded that Kelantan is the "cradle of Malay culture".
  • Meanwhile, the Malay-Hindu Langkasuka kingdom, which was founded in Pattani (today's Southern Thailand) in around 200 AD, was believed to be one of the oldest kingdoms on the Malay Peninsula.
From his presentation, the 'Indianisation' of the Malay peninsula was described in early Chinese accounts, where there was a Hindu kingdom in the lower Mekong Basin called Funan during the third century. The 'Indianisation' process then culminated in the seventh century with the development of the Srivijaya kingdom.
Kedah was previously the headquarters for the Srivijaya empire and an important entreport for Arab traders. It was in Lembah Bujang, Kedah that the first Malay settlement was found.
Source: AsiaOne
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