Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Website users will be able to track offences near public places and see what action police took
London:LONDON, U.K. - British Home Secretary Theresa May(right photo) says people will be able to track what crimes have been committed near public spaces like nightclubs, parks and shopping malls.
May yesterday said that a crime-mapping website for England and Wales that lets users track what crimes have been committed on a street-by-street basis will now cover places like clubs and rail stations where large groups of people gather.
  • She said that by May the public will be able to see what happened after a crime took place — what action police took and whether anyone was convicted. The website maps crime in Britain according to neighbourhood. It launched last year and authorities say it has received more hits than any other UK government website.
  • Meanwhile, police will no longer be able to ignore homeowners whose lives are being made a misery by aggressive youth, according the UK home ministry.
  • Once three separate complaints have been lodged, officers will have no option but to take action, the report said. The same will apply if five individuals from five different households in the same neighbourhood complain about the same issue. If they still fail to respond, they can be hauled in front of a ‘crime commissioner', who will have the power to fire chief constables.
  • Ministers hope the ‘community trigger' system will halt a string of shocking cases where police and councils have failed to intervene to prevent homeowners being tormented.
They want to prevent a repeat of the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled 18-year-old daughter Francecca — who had a mental age of four — when her cries for help went unheeded. An inquest heard that the youth screamed obscenities at them, hurled stones and eggs at the windows, shoved dog excrement and fireworks through the letterbox, and threatened Pilkington's dyslexic son Anthony with a knife.
Despite receiving 33 desperate 999 calls in ten years, police said Pilkington, 38, was "over-reacting" and dismissed her as "low-priority". Unable to bear the torment any more, she decided death was her only escape, and killed herself and her daughter by setting fire to their car near their home in October 2007.
Source: AP
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) is pressing Putrajaya to publicly disclose the details of the West Coast Expressway (WCE) deal, which the watchdog has criticised as opaque.
TI-M said the government should reveal the terms and conditions of the concession agreement and how it was awarded, given the “unprecedented” concession period and the high degree of public funding for the RM7.07 billion project.
  • “This will help show that the government is committed to tackling graft in Malaysia through better disclosure and governance and consistency in implementation of integrity compliance measures in all public projects,” it said in a statement today.
  • TI-M also said the “megaproject” would be an ideal candidate for the integrity pact (IP), which it described as a tool for curbing corruption risks in public contracting projects.
  • It pointed out that the government had recognised the potential benefits of the IP in a Treasury circular dated December 16, 2010 — which outlined guidelines for implementing such pacts in government procurements — and added that MRT Corp had already agreed to incorporate the IP in its procurement exercises.
Kumpulan Europlus Bhd (KEuro) announced on Thursday that it has been awarded a 60-year concession for the RM7.07 billion WCE, which will connect Banting in south Selangor to Taiping in north Perak. The new highway will serve as an alternative to the North-South Expressway.
The public-listed company will enjoy a RM2.24 billion federal soft loan at four per cent interest and an interest subsidy of up to three per cent from commercial loans for a period of 22 years.
The land acquisition cost amounting to RM980 million will also be borne by the government.
  • DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has censured the government for awarding the WCE to KEuro, which primarily produces granular and powder-activated carbon.
Party publicity chief Tony Pua has also questioned the doubling of construction costs and the concession period, noting that the highway originally cost RM3.02 billion when it was first proposed in May 2007, with a concession of only 33 years.
“It seems that the more the government negotiates, the higher the contract value and the more favourable the contract terms will be for the contracting business entities,” Pua said today.
Source: The Malaysian Insider
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Monday, January 30, 2012

ICA, Peru - Last week deadly blaze wept through Peru Rehab centre killing 26 people. And this morning at 00:11 am (4.11:11pm AEDT) a strong earthquake measuring 6.3 shook an area near the Pacific coast of central Peru today, US government researchers said.
The epicentre of the tremor was 23km southeast of the town of Ica, the US Geological Survey said.
The depth of the epicentre was 39km. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
The reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by US seismologists, which measures the area of the fault that ruptured and the total energy released.
Source: Agency
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Monday, January 30, 2012

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged African leaders to respect gay rights. Discrimination based on sexual orientation had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long, Mr Ban told an African Union summit.
Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries - a situation which has drawn increasing criticism from activists and the West.
Ban Ki-moon told delegates that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity "prompted governments to treat people as second class citizens or even criminals".
Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, including key Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Botswana.Both the US and UK have recently warned they would use foreign aid to push for homosexuality to be decriminalised on the socially conservative continent.
Source: Agency
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

BANGKOK, Thailand — A new taste for eating elephant meat — everything from trunks to sex organs — has emerged in Thailand and could pose a new threat to the survival of the species.
Wildlife officials told The Associated Press that they were alerted to the practice after finding two elephants slaughtered last month in a national park in western Thailand.
  • Poachers typically just remove tusks, which are most commonly found on Asian male elephants and fetch thousands of dollars on the black market. A market for elephant meat, however, could lead to killing of the wider elephant population, Damrong said.
  • Consuming elephant meat is not common in Thailand, but some Asian cultures believe consuming animals' reproductive organs can boost sexual prowess.
  • Damrong said the elephant meat was ordered by restaurants in Phuket, a popular travel destination in the country's south. It wasn't clear if the diners were foreigners.
  • The accusation drew a quick rebuttal from Phuket Governor Tri Akradecha, who told Thai media that he had never heard of such restaurants but ordered officials to look into the matter.
  • Poaching elephants is banned, and trafficking or possessing poached animal parts also is illegal. Elephant tusks are sought in the illegal ivory trade, and baby wild elephants are sometimes poached to be trained for talent shows.
  • "The situation has come to a crisis point. The longer we allow these cruel acts to happen, the sooner they will become extinct," Damrong said.
  • The quest for ivory remains the top reason poachers kill elephants in Thailand, other environmentalists say.
  • A NEW taste for eating elephant meat, everything from trunks to sex organs has emerged in Thailand and could pose a new threat to the survival of the species.
  • Wildlife officials told The Associated Press that they were alerted to the practice after finding two elephants slaughtered last month in a national park in western Thailand.
  • Soraida Salwala, the founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, said a full grown pair of tusks could be sold from 1 million to 2 million baht (RM97,970 to RM195,940), while the estimated value of an elephant's penis is more than 30,000 baht (RM2,939)..
  • "There's only a handful of people who like to eat elephant meat, but once there's demand, poachers will find it hard to resist the big money," she cautioned.
Thailand has fewer than 3,000 wild elephants and about 4,000 domesticated elephants, according to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.
The pachyderms were a mainstay of the logging industry in the northern and western parts of the country until logging contracts were revoked in the late 1980s. Domesticated animals today are used mainly for heavy lifting and entertainment.
Source: AP
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

LIMA, Peru - A fire swept through a Lima private rehabilitation centre for addicts on Saturday, killing at least 26 people and injuring 10.
One resident of the Christ is Love centre for drug and alcohol addicts in Lima's eastern Zarate district said he was eating breakfast on the centre's second floor when he saw flames coming from the first floor, where the blaze apparently originated.
  • Gianfranco Huerta told local RPP newsradio station that he leapt from a second floor window to safety.
  • "The doors were locked, there was no way to get out," he told the station.
  • Health Minister Alberto Tejada said the number of deaths had risen to 26 with 10 people injured.
  • Peru's chief fire fighter, Antonio Zavala, said the fire was of "Dantesque proportions." Firefighters had to punch a hole through a wall with an adjoining building to help the people trapped inside the rehabilitation centre.
  • "We've had to use electric saws to cut through the metal bars of the doors to be able to work," Zavala said.
  • Television images showed relatives of centre residents weeping in front of the building, located in a poor section of eastern Lima.
  • The cause of the fire is still not known, said Zarate police chief Clever Zegarra.
Local media reported the Christ is Love rehabilitation centre sought to use biblical teachings to help treat addicts. No representative of the centre could be immediately reached for comment.
Peru's fire fighters are notoriously underfunded. All the South American country's firefighters are volunteer and the annual firefighting budget for the entire country is $US19 million ($A17.94 million).
Source: Agency
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Britain's Stop the War Coalition has organized a protest rally in front of the US embassy in London on Saturday 28 January to stress opposition to an invasion on Iran.
LONDON, U.K. - The protest rally entitled “Hands Off Iran and Syria: No Western intervention”, will be held on Saturday from 2pm-4pm outside the US Embassy building in Grosvenor Square London W1, said the Stop the War Coalition in a statement.
The protest campaign is supported by Unite union, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention on Iran (CASMII), Friends of Al-Aqsa, Goldsmiths Student Union and SOAS Student Union, the statement added.
It said that the growing threats against Iran in recent weeks have been backed up with increased unilateral sanctions imposed by the US, Britain and their European allies in the NATO military alliance.
  • “As we know from Iraq, these (the threats and sanctions) are a prelude to war, not an alternative to it. There are signs of covert intervention already in Iran, as there are in Syria. Stop the War opposes all military intervention from the west in the region, for which there is absolutely no justification”, the statement added.
  • Israeli regime is talking more and more of an attack to 'deal with' Iran's nuclear capability, even though it is the only entity in the Middle East that actually has developed nuclear weapons, the coalition noted in its statement.
“Following a year when Britain and France led the intervention in Libya the dangers of further western attacks in the region are very real. Under the guise of 'humanitarian intervention' there are already signs of covert intervention in both Iran and Syria. An attack on either country would set the Middle East on fire. Now is the time to start building opposition to these new wars. Join with us to say no to western intervention”, added the statement.
Source: Press TV
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Friday, January 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, U.S.A. - Global warming is hitting not just home, but garden. The colour-coded map of planting zones often seen on the back of seed packets is being updated by the government, illustrating a hotter 21st century.
It's the first time since 1990 that the US Department of Agriculture has revised the official guide for the nation's 80 million gardeners, and much has changed. Nearly entire states, such as Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are in warmer zones.
The new guide, unveiled on Wednesday at the National Arboretum, arrives just as many home gardeners are receiving their seed catalogues and dreaming of lush flower beds in the spring.
  • It reflects a new reality: The coldest day of the year isn't as cold as it used to be, so some plants and trees can now survive farther north. "People who grow plants are well aware of the fact that temperatures have gotten more mild throughout the year, particularly in the wintertime," said Boston University biology professor Richard Primack. "There's a lot of things you can grow now that you couldn't grow before."
  • The giant fig tree in his suburban Boston yard stands as an example: "People don't think of figs as a crop you can grow in the Boston area. You can do it now."
  • The new guide also uses better weather data and offers more interactive technology. For example, gardeners using the online version can enter their ZIP code and get the exact average coldest temperature.
Also, for the first time, calculations include more detailed factors such as prevailing winds, the presence of nearby bodies of water, the slope of the land, and the way cities are hotter than suburbs and rural areas.
The map carves up the US into 26 zones based on five-degree temperature increments.
The old 1990 map mentions 34 US cities in its key. On the 2012 map, 18 of those, including Honolulu, St. Louis, Des Moines, Iowa, St. Paul, Minn., and even Fairbanks, Alaska, are in newer, warmer zones.
Source: AP
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Friday, January 27, 2012

HYDERABAD, India - A 14-year-old boy was killed by a gang of people who believed a human sacrifice would yield them a secret treasure in Andhra Pradesh's Nirmal town, police said yesterday. The police yesterday recovered the body of Ganesh at Shyamgarh Fort on the outskirts of the town.
One man, Raju, who reportedly sold the boy for Rs20,000 (Dh1,466) to the treasure seekers, has been arrested while eight members of the gang which sacrificed him are yet untraced and on the run, police said.
  • The boy was sacrificed for hidden treasure believed to be in the fort on Amavasya (new moon night) on January 24-25. He was buried in the same area.
  • Ganesh was a Class 9 student at a private school, and was lured away with snacks by Raju, the boy's family members alleged.
  • On interrogating, Raju confessed to have sold the boy to a man named Prabhakar.
  • The angry relatives of the boy blockaded a road, demanding the police take immediate action against all accused.
  • According to locals, several people in the town and other areas in the district believe in hidden treasures and that a human sacrifice would reveal these.
Source: Agency
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Friday, January 27, 2012

LONDON, U.K. - Britons are more tolerant of extramarital affairs and drink-driving than they were a decade ago but more likely to condemn people cheating on welfare benefits, research showed yesterday.
The study from the University of Essex, which questioned more than 2,000 adults about whether a range of activities could ever be justified, concluded that British people are less honest than they were 10 years ago.
  • In 2000, seven out of ten people said cheating on your spouse could never be justified, but this has now dropped to just over half.
  • Attitudes to driving while under the influence of alcohol have also softened, although more than 85 per cent of people still believe it is never justified, down from 90 per cent in 2000.
  • Meanwhile the proportion who condemn picking up money found in the street has fallen from almost 40 per cent to fewer than 20 per cent, while tolerance of smoking cannabis and underage sex has also significantly increased.
  • The one area where British people appear to have become less tolerant of misdemeanours in the last decade is cheating the benefits system, with 78 per cent condemning the practice in 2000 but 85 per cent doing so in 2011.
  • It is perhaps no coincidence that Prime Minister David Cameron's government is currently trying to push through major reforms of the welfare system. Young people were much more likely to condone bad behaviour than older people, with the under 25s recording on average 47 points on the "integrity scale" against an average of 50, compared to 54 points for the over 65s.
Professor Paul Whiteley (left photo), director of the Centre for the Study of Integrity at the University of Essex, said the results had implications for how people viewed civic duty in Britain today.
"If social capital is low, and people are suspicious and don't work together, those communities have worse health, worse educational performance, they are less happy and they are less economically developed and entrepreneurial," he said.
Source: AFP
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stumbled and was caught by a security guard as riot police helped her force a path through a crowd of rowdy protesters following a ceremony to mark Australia’s national day Thursday.
She was unharmed and later remarked that she was made of “pretty tough stuff” and commended police for their actions.
  • Some 200 supporters of indigenous rights had surrounded a Canberra restaurant and banged its windows while Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott were inside officiating at an award ceremony.
  • Around 50 police escorted the political leaders from a side door to a car. Gillard stumbled, losing a shoe. Her personal security guard wrapped his arms around her and supported her to the waiting car, shielding her from the angry crowd.
  • The protesters had been demonstrating for indigenous rights nearby at the so-called Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a ramshackle collection of tents and temporary shelters in the national capital that is a center point of protests against Australia Day.
Australia Day marks the arrival of the first fleet of British colonists in Sydney on Jan. 26, 1788. Many Aborigines call it Invasion Day because the land was settled without a treaty with traditional owners.
Abbott appeared to be the target of protesters, who chanted “shame” and “racist” outside the restaurant.The Tent Embassy celebrated its 40th anniversary on Thursday. Abbott had earlier angered indigenous activists by saying it was time the embassy “moved on.”
Gillard was unharmed and later hosted another Australia Day function for foreign ambassadors at her official residence.
Source: Agency
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It is better to slow down development than to scrap race-based policies and risk ethnic clashes in the country, Tun Dr Mahathir(right photo) has said.
The former prime minister, in making the case for the continuation of such policies, wrote in a blog posting here that taking away racial consideration when doing business would not necessarily guarantee development.
He asked if racial considerations in the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP) had truly posed a hindrance to the country’s economic growth.
  • “The world has admitted that multiracial Malaysia grew faster than other developing nations that did not have the problem of race to consider,” he said.
  • The NEP, put in place in 1971, officially ended in 1990, but many of its programmes are still being continued.
  • Malaysian Prime Minister,Datuk Seri Najib Razak(right image) has said he plans to remove subsidies and many Bumiputera quotas under economic reforms, but the prime minister’s efforts have received notable opposition from Malay rights groups.
  • Chief among Najib’s detractors appear to be Dr Mahathir himself, who has repeatedly argued for the continuation of race-based policies under the NEP, warning there would be an escalation in ethnic tension and division if they were to be dismantled.
  • Writing once in an earlier blog posting in 2010, Dr Mahathir had said: “I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is good for the country.
  • “Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor Bumis and rich non-Bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit.”
The country’s longest-serving former prime minister, who still wields influence in the ruling Umno, continued to stress this point in his latest posting.
“It is true that if the problem of race does not haunt Malaysia, development would speed up.
“But when the distribution of wealth is so wide between the races, there is a large possibility hostilities would occur between the rich and the poor,” he said.Such hostilities, added Dr Mahathir, would later ensue in tension within the community and lead to chaos and rioting.
This in turn, he said, would frighten away investors and businesses, further stunting the country’s economic growth.
“Therefore, it is better that development is slowed slightly than destruction to occur because of such rioting,” he said.
Source: The Malaysian Insider
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