MANILA, Philippines - The government has encouraged all Filipinos; Registered political parties, civic groups and people's organisations to air their sentiment to the proposed burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the national heroes' cemetery through text messages and email, a TV report said. Vice President Jejomar Binay said, the views of all sectors and groups are encouraged to participate in the decision-making.
His office is "collating the opinions of various groups on the issue, said Binay, adding he has until next month to make a recommendation to President Benigno Aquino. So far only 3,000 Filipinos worldwide have responded to a survey on the issue, Binay said
Earlier, Aquino asked Binay to handle the issue, adding he could not make a decision on the proposal of the Marcos family.
"He doesn't want to be accused of bias. His family was a victim of the Marcos regime and to render a decision (on Marcos burial as a hero) would be easily done by him. But he wants to tell the public that ‘I am holding my judgment and passing it on to the vice-president because I don't want to appear to be biased in the,'" said spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
In 1983, Aquino's father, former Senator Benigno Aquino was shot by Marcos aides at the foot of a service stairway of the China Airlines plane, at the international airport when the former arrived from exile in the US.
Marcos death sparked a strong anti-Marcos sentiment. A people-backed military mutiny ousted Marcos and propped to power Mrs. Corazon Aquino to the presidency in 1986. Mrs. Aquino openly said then that Marcos had ordered the killing of her husband.
Marcos was accused of plunder and human rights violations but cases were not filed against him because he and his family left for the US. Marcos died while living in exile in Hawaii in 1989. His surviving family members were allowed to return in 1990; his remains in 1992, during the time of former President Fidel Ramos. At the time, the Marcoses were barred from bringing the remains of the former strongman in Manila. Instead, they were kept in a family-owned mausoleum, now a tourist attraction in northern Luzon. When Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, was elected senator in 2010, he asked President Aquino for the burial of the former dictator at the National Heroes Cemetery. A survey done by private Social Weather Stations from March 4 to 7 showed that 50 percent have agreed and 49 percent disagreed with the burial of Marcos as a hero.
CAIRO, Egypt - The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will open on a permanent basis within seven to ten days, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told Al-Jazeera during an interview Thursday. He said during the interview that steps would be taken in order to alleviate the "suffering of the Palestinain people."
The opening of the crossing would allow greater freedom of movement for people on both sides of the border, as well as goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission.
In February, a limited number of Palestinians were allowed to cross through the border. The Rafah border was opened for the first time since January 30, 2011 during riots that erupted throughout Egypt which led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.
"Egypt has decided to reopen the border and it will allow up to 300 people from the Gaza Strip to exit each day," Hamas official Ghazi Hamad was quoted as saying at the time.
MARRAKESH, Morocco - An apparent terrorist attack shook Marrakech, Morocco on Thursday, killing more than a dozen and injuring 20 more. Eleven of the dead are believed to be foreigners, possibly tourists. The probability it was a terrorist attack is high given that the Argana cafe is a tourist magnet in the picturesque desert city.
The restaurant's terrace offers spectacular views of Djemaa el Fna Square in the city's bazaar quarter. The historical buildings and surrounding grounds are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The blast, which occurred around lunchtime in the central Djemaa el Fna Square, appeared to be a deliberate attack on a popular destination in the tourist-filled city, according to a senior Moroccan intelligence official.
Police and security officials were investigating the nature and cause of the blast. The Moroccan government characterized it as a criminal act but stopped short of describing it as terrorism.
The Figaro, the French daily, reported that two French citizens and an Englishman were among the dead in the cafe, the Argana. Djemaa el Fna is the main square in Marrakesh and has been called the cultural crossroads for all of Morocco.
“There was a huge bang,” one tourist in the square, Andy Birnie of London, told The Associated Press. “There was debris raining down from the sky. Hundreds of people were running in panic, some towards the cafe, some away from the square. The whole front of the cafe is blown away.”
Massive Tornado Hits Storms Leave Dozens Dead in Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama - The nation's worst outbreak of tornadoes in almost 40 years devastated much of the South on Wednesday night. Nearly 300 people were killed in six states, and two major cities were hit in Alabama.
The storms have unleashed heavy rain and powerful winds that have caused flooding and damaged homes and businesses. The National Weather Service said there were numerous reports of tornadoes. The NWS also predicts "severe thunderstorms from Gulf states to [the] Appalachians" Thursday evening.
President Obama pledged support for affected areas in a statement Wednesday, saying the government will "continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms." The magnitude of the storms has swamped emergency workers and crews dealing with the widespread damages and flattened neighborhoods. Source: Agency
KABUL, Afghanistan - The Afghan officer, who was a veteran military pilot, fired on the foreigners after an argument. The shooting occurred in an operations room of the Afghan Air Corps at Kabul airport. As a results, Eight Nato troops and a contractor died on after an Afghan military pilot opened fire in a meeting — the deadliest episode to date of an Afghan turning against his own coalition partners, officials said.
"Suddenly, in the middle of the meeting, shooting started," said Afghan Air Corps spokesman Colonel Bahader, who uses only one name.
"After the shooting started, we saw a number of Afghan army officers and soldiers running out of the building. Some were even throwing themselves out of the windows to get away."
The nationalities of the eight NATO service members have not been released. However CNN says that six of those NATO soldiers were Americans. Five Afghan soldiers were wounded. At least one Afghan soldier was shot in the wrist while most of the soldiers suffered broken bones and cuts, Bahader said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the shooting and offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims. He ordered his defence and security officials to investigate.
GYONGVOSPATA, Hungary - The Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata has once again become home to violence between right-wing radicals and its Roma populace. Dozens of extremists marched into the town on Wednesday, one day after provoking brawls with the Roma who live there. It is the continuation of a trend.
Just a harmless excursion. That is how the Hungarian government sought toportray the evacuation of some 270 Roma residents of Gyöngyöspata over Easter. The group -- two-thirds of the 450 Roma who live there -- had left the village due to a planned training exercise for the right-wing extremist group Vederö, an exercise ultimately prevented by the police.
But on Tuesday evening, right-wing Hungarian radicals struck again. According to the news service MTI, three people were injured in fights between right-wing radicals and Roma in the village. Seven people were arrested.
On Wednesday morning, dozens of right-wing extremists flooded the village, according to a statement released on Facebook by a group sympathetic to the country's Roma population. Large numbers of police likewise arrived in the village. Around 100 Roma left the village on Wednesday, MTI reported.
What caused the fights on Tuesday evening remains unclear. Right-wing radicals are said to have thrown stones at a Roma house in the village. Members of Vederö are thought to have been involved in the brawls on Tuesday, but members of the right-wing group Betyarsereg are also thought to have participated. The group sent "reinforcements" to Gyöngyöspata on Wednesday.
Erik Selymes of the Hungarian Red Cross said that the Easter trip had been organized at the request of the Roma and Hungarian government spokesman Peter Szijjarto called reports of an evacuation a "bald-faced lie."
But Gyöngyöspata, a town of 2,800 residents located northwest of Budapest, has for weeks been the focal point of conflict between right-wing militants and Roma. A resident of the village told Reuters last week that he sent his wife and children to Budapest to avoid confrontation with the right-wing vigilantes.
In March, the uniformed right-wing radical group Szebb Jövöert marched through the village several times, striking fear into the hearts of the Roma who live there. The group is openly supported by the right-wing party Jobbik, which is represented in the Hungarian parliament after having received 17 percent of the vote in elections a year ago. Opposition to the Roma in Hungary was a major plank in the party's campaign platform.
Several other villages with large numbers of Roma residents have likewise seen right-wing marches -- protests, the groups say, which are meant to highlight "gypsy criminality."
In the small town of Hajdúhadháza, where members of Szebb Jövöert have been "patrolling" for weeks, five right-wing radicals were arrested 10 days ago for disturbing the peace. They were released just two days later. Gergely Rubi, a Jobbik member of parliament, said the group would continue its marches to "improve public order and security," the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine reported.
A separate Jobbik parliamentarian, János Volner, said the group is merely responding to the wishes of the populace and has "already caught several criminals red-handed and turned them over to the police," young Roma among them. Dénes Csáfordi, the mayor of Hajdúhadháza, has accused the group of creating an environment of fear in which Roma children "are afraid to go out on the street."
In Budapest, human rights groups are planning a demonstration on Wednesday evening in solidarity with the Roma. Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said that in Hungary "there is no Roma problem, rather there is a Nazi problem." Hungary holds the rotating European Union presidency until the end of June. The Hungarian government has been repeatedly criticized by its European partners for its authoritarian leanings and for its alleged censorship of the media.
KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 – A Hong Kong company and the Perak government have agreed to explore and mine for rare earths in the state, even as controversy is raging over the Lynas refinery in Pahang. In a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange dated April 18, CVM Minerals Limited — linked to Ho Wah Genting Berhad — announced it had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Perak State Development Corporation (PSDC) to carry out the project in Bukit Merah, Ipoh.
The Hong Kong company, through its local subsidiary CVM Metal Recycle Sdn Bhd, has applied to the state’s land and mineral office for a licence to explore the area, covering 250 hectares, for rare earths.
Bukit Merah was also the site of Malaysia’s last rare earths plant 20 years ago, which is still undergoing a massive RM300 million clean-up.
Environmentalists have raised questions over radioactive waste being produced and stored at Lynas’s Gebeng plant, fearing a repeat of the Japanese-owned Mitsubishi Chemical’s Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant, which has been linked to eight cases of leukaemia, seven resulting in death.
The Australian miner’s shares dropped eight per cent to AU$2.25, as of 3.49 pm in Sydney, on the first day of trading since the Malaysian government announced a review of its plant in Gebeng.
CVM’s shares traded at HK$0.33 on the HK stock exchange, as of 4pm today.
CVMSB, which is headquartered here, was set up in 2007 to mine for dolomite and manufacture magnesium ingots in Malaysia. It has been operating in Perak since June 2009 and is also exploring mining iron ore, coal and manganese.
CVM’s chairman, Goh Sin Huat, was formerly Ho Wah Genting Berhad CEO.
Ho Wah Genting has also been reported as saying it would venture into tin mining to widen its earnings base.
The company also said that the deal with Perak’s investment arm has yet to be sealed. “As of the date of this announcement, no legally binding agreement has been entered into between the company and PKNP in relation to the formation of the joint venture,” CVM said in its filing.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan government’s final offensive in the country’s civil war, in actions that may amount to “crimes against humanity”, a UN inquiry has found. A panel of experts convened by Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, said “tens of thousands lost their lives” in shelling during the last five months before the 26-year war ended in May 2009.
Government forces “systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines” while also attacking UN facilities, food distribution points and areas close to Red Cross rescuers, the panel said in a report.
The attacks centred on three “no-fire zones”, where civilians had been told to gather, the panel found, adding that civilians were denied food and medical supplies while government critics were disappeared.
Fleeing civilians were stripped naked, raped and executed, according to the extensive 216-page report, which included graphic images as evidence of government offences.
The report was delayed for several days amid diplomatic wrangling. It will provoke fierce denunciation from Colombo, whose ministers have accused the UN of jeopardising their peace process.
Sri Lanka’s civil war started in 1983. The Tamil Tigers sought to create an independent Tamil state to the north of the island and launched an insurgency against the Sinhalese majority government. The Tamils were finally defeated in May 2009, amid widespread reports contradicting the government’s insistence that it had launched a “humanitarian rescue mission” with “zero civilian casualties”.
The panel said the bloody reality of the final months was “in stark contrast” to this official line and that “credible allegations” indicated there had been multiple, serious breaches of human rights law.
Some of these “would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”, it said, including killing civilians by widespread shelling, shelling hospitals, denying access to aid and inflicting other violations.
The Sri Lankan government, which caused the delay to the report’s publication by repeatedly refusing to submit a response to the UN, remained officially silent.
The panel also criticised UN agencies that it said had “failed to take actions that might have protected civilians” in the final months of the civil war. Mr Ban said an internal review would be carried out.The panel, which said the opposition Tamil Tigers may also have committed crimes against humanity, called for a full war crimes inquiry. A spokesman for Mr Ban said: “The Secretary-General sincerely hopes that this advisory report will make a contribution to full accountability and justice so that the Sri Lankan Government and people will be able to proceed towards national reconciliation and peace.”
ROME, Italy - Around 26,000 people have made it across the Mediterranean so far this year, with many landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa which is just 150 kilometres from the Tunisian coast. Most end up interned in overcrowded camps. To relieve the pressure, Italy has started issuing refugees from Tunisia with six-month Italian visas which give them the right to move throughout the EU.
This has infuriated many other European politicians not least French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He has mooted lifting the Schengen agreement which abolished border checks between EU member states, in order to try to stop North African refugees from heading to France.
The German Interior Ministry said it was monitoring the situation and was prepared to strengthen border checks, although there was no indication that many North African refuges would be heading for Germany.
Nonetheless, Bavarian state Interior Minister Joachim Hermann said he was outraged by the Italian move. “The behaviour of the Italian government is unreasonable,” he told Der Spiegel magazine.
“Italy must stop granting residence permits to Tunisian economic refugees as soon as possible.”
The first Tunisian with such a visa was spotted in Germany last week according to a report in Der Spiegel. The man not only had the correct paperwork but also enough money for his stay in Germany, the report said, so the border police who had been making a routine check on a train from Milan to Munich, did not stop him.