KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - One-hundred-and-one protestors who were detained by police for taking part in the protest against the novel “Interlok” here today have been released in stages. However 8 leaders are still detained. Public affairs division officer at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters, ASP Suffian Sulaiman, said that they were freed after the police had finished conducting their investigations.
However, investigations into a remaining eight individuals, who are believed to be leaders of Hindraf and the Human Rights Party (HRP), are still going on.
“The police are in the midst of finalising investigations and will release them as soon as they are done,” he said in a statement.
The protestors — all aged between 18 and 66 — were detained in the vicinities of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and Jalan Pudu from 8am this morning.
SYDNEY, Australia – Almost one-quarter of Australians harbor anti-Semitic prejudices, according to the largest study on racism ever undertaken in the country. The 12-year study, conducted by several leading universities, surveyed 12,512 people across the country and found that 23.3 percent were negative towards Jews.
Almost half, 48.6 percent, were negative towards Muslims, and 27.9 percent were negative towards Indigenous Australians, also called Australian Aborigines. Still, the survey's head researcher, Professor Kevin Dunn, said overall the results of the Challenging Racism Project were positive, showing Australia's multicultural society was alive and well. “About 87 percent of Australians say that they see cultural diversity as a good thing for society,” he said.
But Professor Andrew Markus, the former head of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne, said the results “may be seriously flawed.” The length of time it took means some of the data is a decade old, he said.
Markus also said he had "major problems" with the conclusions about people being anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim because they were only asked how concerned they would feel if one of their close relatives were to marry a person of Jewish/Muslim/Asian/Aboriginal descent. "A respondent can be concerned about a close relative marrying a member of another faith or culture without being anti that faith," Markus said.
Roughly 10 percent of forests in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo (or formerly was known as the land of headhunters)were cleared in just the past five years, according to the analysis, which was commissioned by Wetlands International, a Netherlands-based environmental group. By comparison, the deforestation rate for the rest of Asia over the last five years was roughly 3.5 percent. Sarawak’s coastal peat-land forests are disappearing at an even faster rate, with an estimated 33 percent cut down since 2005, the group found. Once cleared, the land is being rapidly converted into palm oil plantations.
“As the timber resource has been depleted, the timber companies are now engaging in the oil palm business, completing the annihilation of Sarawak’s peat swamp forests,” Marcel Silvius, senior program manager with Wetlands International, said in a statement.
Several threatened and endangered species, including the Sumatran rhino, the Bornean clouded leopard and the Borneo pygmy elephant, are found in Sarawak’s peatland forests.
The group said that Malaysia had failed to provide detailed information on land use and deforestation in Sarawak, but that satellite data provided clear proof that deforestation was occurring at a rapid rate.
“Free availability of satellite imagery and tools such as Google Earth are revolutionizing forest monitoring,” said Neils Wielaard, a senior project manager with SarVision, a Netherlands remote sensing firm that conducted the satellite data analysis.
In a statement accompanying the report, Wetlands International called for a ban on palm oil production on Borneo’s remaining peatlands and an end to biofuel incentives in the European Union that it said contributed to the land changes in Malaysia.
UNITED NATION - The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his five adult children and top associates. Voting after a day of discussions interrupted at times for consultations with home capitals council members agreed on Saturday to impose an arms embargo, freeze the assets of Gadhafi, his four sons and one daughter, and to ban travel by the whole family plus 10 close associates.
The day was consumed mainly with haggling behind closed doors over language to refer Libya's violent crackdown on protesters to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.
All 15 nations on the council ultimately approved referring the case to the permanent war crimes tribunal. The vote came hours after U.S. President Barack Obama said Gadhafi must leave now.
Obama made the comments to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a private telephone conversation Saturday as they discussed the violence in Libya. The White House says Obama told Merkel that when a leader's only means of holding power is to use violence against his people, then he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what's right for his country by "leaving now."
The comments mark the first time that Obama has called on Gadhafi to step down. The Libyan leader has launched a violent crackdown against protesters demanding his ouster and has vowed a bloody fight to the end.
KLANG, Malaysia - Police have warned that legal action will be taken against anyone attending an unlawful gathering sponsored by Hindraf that is expected to be held at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Sunday. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said Saturday that no permit had been issued for the gathering, and anyone attending it would be breaking the law.
Police had rejected an application to hold the gathering on the grounds that it would jeopardise public order. However, the organisers who are connected to Hindraf, the banned Hindu Rights Action Force, were expected to go ahead with the gathering.
Ismail said such a gathering would adversely affect security and disrupt public order, especially if it were held at a place like the KLCC, where many people converged during weekends.
Earlier, in his speech, Ismail said incitement and extremist demands could cause rifts among communities and arouse hatred for one another. He said there should be early education on the need for tolerance and mutual respect in building a nation.
Meanwhile, in Temerloh, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he had directed Ismail to personally monitor the situation and take firm action if Hindraf created trouble. Hishammuddin said he believed the organisers were trying to create an atmosphere that was being witnessed in the Middle East, but Malaysia was a different situation altogether, and they were not getting the response they wanted.
PHILADELPHIA, USA -- The Maryland State Senate passed legislation on Thursday night to allow same-sex marriage. The Civil Marriage Protection Act, approved by the heavily Democratic Senate on a 25-21 vote with strong support from the majority party, would effectively legalize gay marriage without forcing religious clergy to conduct marriages of which they disapproved. It had narrowly passed two preliminary stages of approval. Senator Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a Montgomery County Democrat and the senate's first openly gay member, hailed the vote as historic. He said the bill is the same as a similar act in Washington, D.C., in that it exempts religious leaders from performing ceremonies if they object to same-gender marriage.
LUBBOCK, Texas - A Saudi citizen has been arrested in Texas for allegedly building a bomb for an attack among others on former president George W. Bush’s home in Dallas, which he disparaged as the “Tyrant’s House”. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who attended a small college near Lubbock, Texas and kept a detailed journal outlining plans for a string of attacks, was charged with attempting to build and use a weapon of mass destruction.
Arrested late Wednesday, he is to appear Friday in federal court in Lubbock. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Aldawsari described nuclear power plants as “NICE TARGETS” and collected the names and home addresses of three former US military officers from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where prisoners were tortured and humiliated, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Thursday.
The 20-year-old Aldawsari described on his “fromfaraway90″ blog his journey to the Texas panhandle on a financial scholarship and student visa, “providing me with the support I need for Jihad,” the FBI said.
He learned English as a second language, rented a one-bedroom apartment, and purchased a 2006 silver Hyundai Sonata in Oklahoma.
He attended Texas Tech University, then switched this semester to the smaller South Plains College at Levelland, Texas, and took up chemical engineering classes.
Two searches of Aldawsari’s apartment turned up sulphuric and nitric acids, glass beakers and flasks, wiring from miniature Christmas tree lights, a Hazmat suit and gas mask, a 3.2 million volt stun gun, and a battery tester and Elgin alarm clock, some of it purchased on Amazon.com.
The FBI also reviewed his emails and blog, most of which FBI said Aldawsari sent to himself as notes. He allegedly considered hiding some bombs in the necks of dolls, then placing the toys in rental cars to be detonated by remote control during rush hour.
Aldawsari, FBI said, believed the Sep 11, 2001, terror attacks brought about a “big change” in his thinking, and he was “inspired by the speeches of Osama bin Laden.” In one blog posting, Aldawsari allegedly vowed, “After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”
TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Minister Jennifer Wang of the Council of Labor Affairs(CLA) said yesterday that her council will adopt an across-the-board freeze on the import of Philippines workers if the Philippines government fails to show goodwill to Taiwan in the wake of its failure to apologize for the wrongful deportation of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China earlier this month. Wang made the remarks in response to questions from reporters when attending a spring-gathering with local businesses and industrial associations.
The CLA head said that the CLA will follow the example of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in handling the row with the Philippines arising from the wrongful deportation case.
Once the CLA decides to freeze the entry of Philippines laborers across the board, there will be no timetable on how long the freeze remains in place unless the Philippine government shows goodwill toward Taiwan.
During the gathering, six major local industrial and business associations voiced their support for the government's possible freeze on the import of workers from the Philippines, in a bid to safeguard the dignity of the nation.
Lin Bing-bin, chairman of the National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises of the R.O.C., which hosted yesterday's party, said that although freezing the entry of Philippines workers would impact on the local enterprises, the impact can be minimized by introducing workers from other Southeast Asian countries.
Lin continued that the government can introduce more workers from Indonesia to serve as domestic helpers or caretakers, and import more from Thailand to work in manufacturing and construction industries. “As long as the aggregate number of foreign workers allowed into Taiwan is not reduced, local enterprises won't suffer from an across-the-board freeze on Philippines workers.
Also the legislative caucus of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party called for the government to immediately enforce an across-the-board freeze on entry of Philippines workers, shut down the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan and terminate all the lending programs granted to the Philippines, if the Philippines insists on refusing to apologize to Taiwan for its wrongful deportation of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China.
A Philippines special envoy, former Senator Manuel Roxas, recently came to Taiwan to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang and President Ma Ying-jeou to settle the diplomatic row with Taiwan arising from the deportation case, but he did not offer an apology for the event during the meetings.
BENGHAZI, Libya - Two Libyan's air force pilots jumped from parachutes from their Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet and let it crash, rather than carry out orders to bomb opposition-held Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, the website Quryna reported, citing an unidentified officer in the air force control room.. One of the pilots identified by the report as Ali Omar Gaddafi was from Gaddafi’s tribe, the Gadhadhfa, said Farag al-Maghrabi, a local resident who saw the pilots and the wreckage of the jet, which crashed in a deserted area outside the key oil port of Breqa.
The opposition said it had taken over Misrata, which would be the largest city in the western half in the country to fall into its hands. Clashes broke out over the past two days in the town of Sabratha, west of the capital, where the army and militiamen were trying to put down protesters who overwhelmed security headquarters and government buildings, a news website close to the government reported.
International outrage mounted after Gaddafi on Tuesday went on state TV and in a fist-pounding speech called on his supporters to take to the streets to fight protesters. Gaddafi’s retaliation has already been the harshest in the Arab world to the wave of anti-government protests sweeping the Middle East.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said estimates of some 1,000 people killed in the violence in Libya were “credible,” although he stressed information about casualties was incomplete. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at nearly 300, according to a partial count.
Gaddafi’s speech appeared to have brought out a heavy force of supporters and militiamen that largely prevented major protests in the capital Tuesday night or Wednesday. Through the night, gunfire was heard, said one woman who lives near downtown.
During the day Wednesday, more gunfire was heard near Gaddafi’s residence, but in many parts of the city of 2 million residents were venturing out to stores, some residents said. The government sent out text messages urging people to go back to their jobs, aiming to show that life was returning to normal. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliationon protesters. The opposition also claimed control in Zwara, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Tunisian border in the west, after local army units sided with the protesters and police fled.
LONDON, U.K - Queen Elizabeth has placed two job advertisements on her website (www.royal.gov.uk), advertising for a General Assistant (Coffee Room) and a General Assistant (Wash-up). 1,900 people are invited to Prince William's upcoming wedding. Both jobs pay about £14,000 (Dh83,000) a year and the positions are based at the monarch's Buckingham Palace residence in London, although both appointees will have to travel to other royal homes around Britain, as and when required.
The dish-washer must maintain "the cleanliness of the staff restaurant and wash-up areas" while the other employee will be in a team responsible for arranging trays for tea and coffee and breakfast with "the correct glass and porcelain", the advertisements said.
If neither of those jobs grabs you, the queen is also looking for someone to earn up to £75,000 a year as Head of Royal Travel, with a brief to ensure that the royal family travels cost-effectively and with an eye on environmental issues.
New Zealand's second largest city, Christchurch, laid in ruins Tuesday, devastated by a massive earthquake that toppled tall buildings and churches during a busy workday. The quake killed at least 65 people and many more were missing.
More than 100 people, including as many as 12 visiting Japanese students, were thought to be trapped underneath rubble as drizzling rain fell on the city at nightfall. A visibly shaken Prime Minister John Key said the world may well be witnessing "New Zealand's darkest day."
Rescue crews with sniffer dogs fanned out across the city in search of survivors, some of whom sent desperate text messages and made cell phone calls from under the wreckage of the 6.3 magnitude quake.
Television footage showed several multistory buildings that fell in on themselves or into the streets, as well as the collapse of the Christchurch Cathedral, whose stone spire crumbled into a city square. Rescue workers say they believe people were in the tower at the time. Helicopters were seen fighting fires and plucking stranded workers from the roofs of high-rise office towers. Source: AP
MANILA, Philippines - Bulusan, a volcano in Bicol, southern Luzon, erupted with a three-kilometre ash column that descended on a town with 46,000 residents, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. "The eruption started with a loud sound from the raging crater of the 1,559 metre tall Bulusan. A blanket of ash fell on Irosin town which became pitch dark until early afternoon," Phivolcs said, adding the volcanic activity was "hydrothermal and shallow".
"We expected this. We are on Alert Level 1. At this stage, it is possible to have steam-triggered explosions which are not really very strong," Renato Solidum, Phivolcs director said.
"People are advised not to enter Bulusan's four-kilometre permanent danger zone," Solidum said, adding that aircraft were advised to steer clear from the erupting volcano to avoid their engines from being clogged by volcanic ash.
TRIPOLI, Libya - Two Libyan air force jets landed in Malta on Monday and their pilots have asked for political asylum. The pilots claimed to have defected after refusing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Benghazi in Libya. The pilots, who said they were colonels in the Libyan air force, were being questioned by authorities in an attempt to verify their identities.
Meanwhile, a group of Libyan army officers have issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to "join the people" and help remove Muammar Gaddafi. The officers urged the rest of the Libyan army to march to Tripoli.
Earlier, diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations sided on Monday with the revolt against their country's leader and called on the Libyan army to help overthrow "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi."
In a statement issued as protests erupted across Libya, the mission's deputy chief and other staff said they were serving the Libyan people, demanded "the removal of the regime immediately" and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.
Gaddafi was waging a bloody battle to hang on to power as the revolt against his 41-year rule reached the capital, Tripoli.
The statement issued in New York said hundreds had died in the first five days of the uprising.
Meanwhile, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has appeared on state television to signal his defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. "I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs," Gaddafi told Libyan state TV, which said he was speaking outside his house on Tuesday. Reports on Monday said Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.
Gaddafi, in his first televised appearance since protests to topple him started last week, was holding an umbrella in the rain and leaning out of a van.
"I wanted to say something to the youths at the Green Square (in Tripoli) and stay up late with them but it started raining. Thank God, it's a good thing," Gaddafi said in a 22-second appearance.
State TV reported earlier that pro-government demonstrations were taking place in Green Square in the capital.
Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi have fought an increasingly bloody battle to keep the veteran leader in power with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and one political activist saying warplanes had bombed the city.