Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE HAGUE, Switzerland - Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was jailed for 50 years on Wednesday for helping Sierra Leonean rebels commit what a court in The Hague called some of the worst war crimes in history.
Taylor, 64, was the first head of state convicted by an international court since the trials of Nazis after World War Two and the sentence set a precedent for the emerging system of international justice.
In an 11-year war that ended in 2002, Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels murdered, raped and mutilated their way across Liberia's West African neighbour, helped by Taylor as he profited from a trade in so-called blood diamonds.
  • "He was found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous and brutal crimes in recorded history," said the Special Court for Sierra Leone's presiding judge Richard Lussick, emphasising that the world was "entering a new era of accountability."
  • Although shorter than the 80 years that prosecutors had sought, the sentence set a precedent for an international justice system aimed at deterring future war crimes. The court rejected defence appeals for leniency.
  • "It is really significant that Taylor's status as a former head of state was taken as an aggravating factor as far as his sentence was concerned," said Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner of Human Rights Watch.
  • "That is a very important precedent and I hope that Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir take note."
Accused of genocide in Darfur, Sudan's President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court. The court will soon start the trial of Ivory Coast's ex-president, Laurent Gbagbo. President Assad does not currently face charges over the bloody suppression of an uprising.
Source: Reuters...
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MILAN, Italy - An earthquake was felt through much of northern Italy on Tuesday, just over a week after a tremor struck the region killing seven people and destroying or damaging hundreds of buildings.
Italian media said the latest earthquake caused more buildings to collapse in the areas already affected by the previous quake, where thousands are still sleeping outdoors in tents.
  • Television station Rai said some schools had been evacuated as far south as Florence.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicentre of Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck at depth of 9.6 km (6 miles), was less than 30 km (19 miles) from Modena, not far from where the magnitude 6 earthquake struck just over a week ago.
  • Messages posted on Twitter and other social media suggested the shake was felt across northern Italy.
  • "We felt a very strong tremor," said Raffaella Besola, a resident of Bologna.
  • The Italian civil protection department said it was carrying out checks in Modena province.
Source: Reuters
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Monday, May 28, 2012

HANOI, Vietnam - The success of the rapid and sustainable poverty reduction programme for 62 poorest districts over the past three years shows the Government’s Resolution 30a has been brought to life. But it still requires greater budget allocations from the state and more efforts from local authorities.
Nguyen Trong Dam, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, says the Government is set to carry on the programme in a more effective way.
The Government has focussed on four target groups.
  1. First, to promote local production, generate jobs to increase incomes for the poor, support forest plantation and protection, and boost trade activities and labour exports.
  2. Second, to ensure sustainable poverty reduction by way of providing education and training for labourers.
  3. Third, to transfer officials and encourage young intellectuals to work in poor districts.
  4. Fourth, to increase infrastructure investment.
In addition, the Government has directed relevant agencies to help poor people build houses and gradually stabilize their lives.
So far, businesses have helped build around 2,000 projects, such as roads, bridges, electrical grids, medical stations and schools, in poor districts. Therefore, the number of poor households has been reduced by 5 percent annually and the local people’s living conditions have been much improved.
Source: Agency
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Monday, May 28, 2012

RIO DE JANERIO, Brazil — Judging by the options on spectacular display at Fashion Rio, the Marvelous City's five-day-long summer 2013 fashion extravaganza, the options are endless.
Fancy pairing your string bikini top with spandex pants hung with rows of seductively dangling fringe, which provide so much more coverage than the country's traditional "fio dental" or "dental floss" bottoms? Rio's got just the thing for you.
  • Bikinis are Brazilian designers' bread and butter, so while their winter collections tend to fall flat, with half-hearted attempts at outerwear, summer reliably sizzles. And the southern hemisphere summer collections that will hit the beach this coming January were no exception.
  • Sao Paulo-based label Triya served up the season's most eye-popping options, a psychedelic rainbow that broke the beachwear mold. Beyond the fringed pant bikini, the brand's brainchild, were tiny bottoms paired with long sleeve spandex tops cropped short to show off the models' abs and a zebra-printed bandeau top that sprouted an ankle length skirt in aubergine silk with a bold slit up one side.
  • Swimsuits more in name than in function, many of Triya's offerings looked like what you might wear to an ultra-chic beachside rave thrown by a billionaire. Putting aside the inevitable inconveniences of wearing a flowing silk ball gown to the beach, the only drawback to the wildly creative offerings were the bizarre tan lines they'd be sure to leave.
  • Cia. Maritima brought out the big guns - Victoria's Secret angel Izabel Goulart among other Brazilian-born supermodels - to show off its teeny-weeny bikinis. Goulart rocked the catwalk in a leopard print string bikini fitted with a sexy spider's web of thin yellow straps.
Aline Weber, a regular on top runways in New York and Paris, worked a one-piece with cute cap sleeves and bold cutouts at the midriff. The pineapple prints gave a mouthwateringly tropical touch to the toothsome collection.
Va-va-voom one-pieces emerged as major winners here, with just about everyone who is anyone in Brazilian swimwear sending out variations on the vampish maillot.
Top high-street beachwear label Blue Man sent out white swimsuits decidedly not made for anyone's grandma, with how-low-can-you-go V necks. And a strapless one-piece had hiplines that started at just under the bust, the whole seemingly precarious contraption held, one can only hope, in place by a low-slung belt.
Source: AP
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

UN leads calls for urgent world action on Syria after confirming killing of 92 people, including 32 children.
The UN mission said 92 bodies, 32 of them children aged less than 10, had been found in Houla after the artillery offensive on Friday.
Major General Robert Mood, the mission chief, earlier condemned the "brutal tragedy" after monitors visited the area while residents buried the victims in mass graves.
Source: Agency
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Saturday, May 26, 2012
For the second year in a row, 24/7 Wall St. examined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s report on life satisfaction in the developed world. Economic prosperity, health and a strong social support network continue to correspond highly with happiness. Once again, the United States fails to make the top 10 happiest nations in the world, while countries like Australia, Israel and all of the Scandinavian nations do.
The OECD measured more than 30 sets of data in 11 different categories, including education, health and employment.
The study also asked residents of each country to rank, on a scale of 1 to 10, their general satisfaction with their lives. 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 countries with the highest life satisfaction scores to find the strongest factors related to happiness.

10 happiest countries in the world.

1. Denmark
  1. Life satisfaction score: 7.8
  2. Employment rate: 73% (6th highest)
  3. Self-reported good health: 71% (17th highest)
  4. Employees working long hours: 1.92% (4th lowest)
  5. Disposable income: $23,213 (15th lowest)
  6. Educational attainment: 76% (18th lowest)
  7. Life expectancy: 79.3 (11th lowest)

Denmark tops the OECD ranking as the country with the most satisfied citizens among the countries studied by the OECD. At first glance, the reason is not obvious. Denmark ranks no higher than fourth in any of the categories that appear to correlate strongly with overall satisfaction. Yet, in addition to the OECD, organizations such as the World Map of Happiness and the World Database of Happiness have consistently put Denmark at the top of their list of the world’s happiest countries. A high employment rate of 73% and a low percentage of 1.92% of employees working long hours contribute to high satisfaction levels. But overall, it is hard to pin down why those Danes are so darn happy.

2. Norway
Life satisfaction score: 7.6
Employment rate: 75% (4th highest)
Self-reported good health: 80% (8th highest)
Employees working long hours: 2.66% (5th lowest)
Disposable income: $30,465 (3rd highest)

Educational attainment: 81% (tied - 15th highest)
Life expectancy:81.2 (10th highest)

Of all the nations examined in the OECD’s report, Norway is among the most financially secure. Of working-age adults, 75% are employed — the fourth-best rate. Also, the average household disposable income is $30,645, the third highest among OECD nations. Norway also significantly outspends almost all other surveyed nations on health care, allocating $5,003 per person per year. This is well above the average for OECD nations of $3,060 per person per year. Norway also has one of the healthiest populations, with a life expectancy of 81.2 years and 80% claiming to be in “good” or “very good” health. Showcasing its economic strength, Norway is able to provide quality public health and education services while maintaining a budget surplus of 162.5% of GDP and an AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.

3. Netherlands
Life satisfaction score: 7.5
Employment rate: 75% (tied - 3rd highest)
Self-reported good health: 77% (11th highest)
Employees working long hours: 0.68% (2nd lowest)
Disposable income: $25,740 (13th highest)
Educational attainment: 73% (15th lowest)
Life expectancy: 80.8 (14th highest)

The Dutch government is heavily involved in internal economic affairs, playing a “significant role … pertaining to almost every aspect of economic activity,” according to the U.S. Department of State. Judging by Netherlands’ 75% employment rate — the third highest among those surveyed — this regulated, monitored economy has thrived in recent years. Of those employed, only 0.68% work longer than 50 hours a week — the second-lowest percentage among those surveyed. By contrast, 10.86% of U.S. workers eclipse the 50 hour mark. The Dutch also rank among the top 15 in self-reported

4. Switzerland
Life satisfaction score: 7.5
Employment rate: 79% (1st highest)
Self-reported good health: 87% (4th highest)
Employees working long hours: 5.87% (17th highest)
Disposable income: $27,756 (5th most)
Educational attainment: 87% (8th highest)
Life expectancy: 82.6 (2nd highest)

The most salient statistic with respect to well-being for the fourth ranked country on the list is employment. Switzerland tops the list in terms of working age employment rate at a whopping 79%. Switzerland also cracks the top five in three other categories: disposable income ($27,756), self-reported good health (87%) and life expectancy (82.6 years). Given these stellar numbers, it is easy to see why, according to the U.S. Department of State, “Switzerland consistently ranks high on quality of life indices.” The Swiss also have very high rates of insurance coverage and computer and Internet usage.

5. Austria
Life satisfaction score: 7.5
Employment rate: 72% (8th highest)
Self-reported good health: 69% (17th lowest)
Employees working long hours: 9.02% (10th highest)
Disposable income: $27,541 (7th highest)
Educational attainment: 82% (tied - 12th highest)
Life expectancy: 80.7 (22nd lowest)

Austria stands out in many economic categories. Ranking within the top 10 in both employment rate and disposable income, the Austrians have certainly had some measure of financial success. Disposable income, in particular, stands out as a strong factor in happiness for Austrians. The country’s average annual disposable income is $27,541, while OECD nations average $22,387. This disparity may be in part attributable to the number of citizens working in excess of 50 hours a week, which, at 9.02%, ranks 10th among OECD nations.

6. Israel
Life satisfaction score: 7.4
Employment rate: 60% (11th lowest)
Self-reported good health: 81% (7th highest)
Employees working long hours: 18.92% (3rd lowest)
Disposable income: n/a
Educational attainment: 82% (tied - 12th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.7 years (6th highest)

Israelis have a life expectancy of 81.7 years — sixth highest among OECD nations. The country also has a low obesity rate of 13.8%, while 81% of those surveyed report their health to be “good” or “very good.” By comparison, Americans’ life expectancy is 78.7 years, and they also have a higher obesity rate of 33.8% among adults. Despite the constant security concerns in the country, the homicide rate in Israel is in line with the OECD’s average of 2.1 murders per 100,000 people. In addition, 70% of Israelis surveyed feel safe walking home at night. Although Israelis work long hours, with 18.92% working at least 50 hours a week, life satisfaction remains high.

7. Finland
Life satisfaction score: 7.4
Employment rate: 68% (14th highest)
Self-reported good health: 68% (15th lowest)
Employees working long hours: 3.66% (8th lowest)
Disposable income: $24,958 (14th highest)
Educational attainment: 82% (tied - 12th highest)
Life expectancy: 80.2 years (16th lowest)

According to OECD figures, the Finns value their free time. They devote 14.9 hours per day to leisure on average, the ninth highest among developed nations. Americans, on the other hand, rank 20th with only 14.27 hours of leisure time each day. Finland also has the eighth-lowest percentage of employees working more than 50 hours per week, at only 3.66%. When they are not working, many Finns like to indulge by taking a sauna — so many, in fact, that a country with a population of 5.3 million has 2 million saunas, much more than the number of cars in the country.

8. Australia
Life satisfaction score: 7.4
Employment rate: 72% (9th highest)
Self-reported good health: 85% (5th highest)
Employees working long hours:13.99% (4th highest)
Disposable income: $26,927 (9th highest)
Educational attainment: 71% (tied - 12th lowest)
Life expectancy: 81.8 years (5th highest)

Of the countries with high life satisfaction, Australia’s citizens have comparatively little leisure time. They tend to work long hours, with nearly 14% of the population working 50 hours a week or more. Australians are healthier than most, with a life expectancy of 81.8 years — the fifth highest in the OECD. Additionally, 85% of Australians report their health to be either “good” or “very good.” The national economy has also fared well in recent years, with a post-financial crisis peak unemployment rate of only 5.7%. Presently, the Australian unemployment rate is 4.9%. Another sign of economic strength is the low government debt that stands only at 4.9% of GDP. Comparatively, the U.S. government debt represents 73.8% of GDP.

9. Canada
Life satisfaction score: 7.4
Employment rate: 72% (7th highest)
Self-reported good health: 88% (3rd highest)
Employees working long hours: 3.91% (11th lowest)
Disposable income: $27,138 (8th highest)
Educational attainment: 88% (5th highest)
Life expectancy: 80.8 years (13th highest)

Canada’s score of 7.4 has much to do with the success of its health care system, a socialized plan that provides coverage to all of its citizens. As many as 88% of Canadians report their health to be “good” or “very good,” which ranks third among all nations surveyed. Canada also ranks among the top 15 nations in life expectancy. Other factors that may be contributing to Canadians’ high life satisfaction level are education and employment levels. Some 88% of Canadians have at least a high school diploma — the fifth-highest rate among the nations the OECD reviewed. Also, 72% of working-age citizens are employed — the seventh-highest rate. By comparison, Italy — one of the poorer-performing countries in these categories — has a working-age employment rate of 57%, and only 54% of its population has at least a high school diploma.

10. Sweden
Life satisfaction score: 7.3
Employment rate: 73% (5th highest)
Self-reported good health: 79% (9th highest)
Employees working long hours: 1.28% (3rd lowest)
Disposable income: $26,633 (11th highest)
Educational attainment: 86% (9th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.5 years (7th highest)

In the OECD’s latest Better Life Index report, Sweden scores 7.3, the 10th-best score. Sweden has a life expectancy of 81.5 years, which is the seventh highest in the OECD. The country has extremely low pollution levels as well. According to the Better Life Index data, 97% of Swedes are satisfied with the quality of their drinking water — the second most among developed countries. The country also has the lowest levels of air pollution in the OECD. In the country, leisure is a priority for the working population as just 1.28% of Swedish employees work in excess of 50 hours per week. By comparison, 10.86% of U.S. employees work that much each week.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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Friday, May 25, 2012

KIEV, Ukraine - A violent scuffle erupted in Ukraine's parliament over a bill that would allow the use of the Russian language in courts, hospitals and other institutions in the Russian-speaking regions of the country.
The fight broke out Thursday evening between members of the pro-Western opposition who want to take Ukraine out of Russia's shadow and lawmakers from President Viktor Yanukovych's party, which bases its support in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east.
  • At least one legislator, opposition lawmaker Mykola Petruk, suffered an apparent blow to the head and was taken to the hospital with blood streaming down his face. The opposition demanded an investigation.
  • Ukraine is deeply divided into the Russian-speaking east and south, which favors close ties with Moscow, and the Ukrainian-speaking west, which wants Ukraine to join the Western club.
Source: Agency
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

MANILA — Actors Jodi Sta. Maria and Allen Dizon have put their support behind Migrante International and its campaign demanding justice for overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Terril Atienza whose death in December remains shrouded in mystery.
When Atienza’s remains were flown back to the country on December 9, it was discovered that her heart was missing and her entire body bore various bruises and burns. In an autopsy report made by the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Medico-Legal Division, it was stated that the OFW’s other internal organs were “sectioned with missing portions.” A cloth rag was also extracted from inside her body.
  • In a press conference, the two actors joined Atienza’s family who again called on the Benigno Aquino III government to help them find justice for the killed 34-year-old mother of four. Sta. Maria and Dizon are lead actors in the upcoming movie, “Migrante (The Filipino Diaspora)” which is directed by director Joel Lamangan and written by Bonifacio Ilagan.
  • Sta. Maria said their new film is “More than anything else, an advocacy film which tackles issues confronting OFWs such as the abuse and exploitation they suffer under employers and the neglect of the government for their welfare.
  • According to Migrante International, Atienza first worked in Singapore as a domestic worker in January 2010. By June 2011, she had already told her family that she wanted to return to the Philippines. Her request was denied by the recruitment agency that hired her, saying that she had to finish her two-year contract first.
  • After a year and a half in Singapore, the same agency deployed her to Mongolia. It was there that she died under mysterious circumstances.
In Mongolia, Atienza worked for a certain Sergelen Davaakhu whom she said in her various letters to friends and family was the Consul of Austria in Mongolia and a son of a former Mongolian Prime Minister.
Atienza said that the man was often drunk and held nightly rowdy parties in his house where she worked. She was forbidden from using her mobile phone and laptop. After four months of working for Davaakhu, she was only able to send US $184.37 to her family.
  • On November 13, 2011, she called her 16-year old daughter Nyrriel and told her that she was coming home because her employer had not paid her wages for three months.
  • Ten days later that same month Nyrriel received a call from her mother’s friend and fellow OFW Karen Cruz. Cruz reportedly said that she was worried because Atienza failed to show up for an agreed-upon meeting they had. Cruz also said on that same day, Atienza’s employer called her and said that Atienza would not be able to meet with her because she was not feeling well.
  • What made the entire matter most upsetting for the family even then was that two days previous to Cruz’ call, Atienza’s agency here in Manila got an email from her employer that her body was already in the morgue.
  • Initial autopsy reports from Mongolia indicated that Atienza died of “severe intoxication from an unknown source.” A conclusive autopsy report from Mongolia is still pending following results from laboratory tests conducted on her body. Her family, however, took Atienza’s remains to the NBI for a second autopsy. The second autopsy report was vastly different: it said that the cause of death “probably secondary to hypertensive cardiovascular disease due to a stabbing incident.”
Atienza is the latest addition to the growing list of OFWs who died under mysterious circumstances abroad. Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International reported that they receive at least two cases of mysterious deaths every month. Migrante International currently handles nine cases of mysterious deaths. Most of the victims are women OFWs.
Source: Agency
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hundreds demonstrate in the impoverished Hatikva neighborhood of south Tel Aviv against the African migrant community.
TEL AVIV, Israel - Dozens of African asylum seekers were injured as race riots broke out in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.
Thousands of protesters joined politicians to protest against the arrival of an estimated 60,000 asylum seekers in Israel in recent years. But after inflammatory speeches the demonstration broke out into violence.
Witnesses reported seeing men and women being beaten and shops and properties being attacked. Police said nine people were arrested.
  • The protesters were addressed by politicians including Miri Regev and Danny Danon of the ruling Likud Party. According to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Regev described the asylum seekers as a "cancer in our body," and promised to do everything "in order to bring them back to where they belong".
  • Danny Danon, who heads a lobby group which seeks to deal with the issue of illegal immigration, said the only solution to the problem would be to "begin talking about expulsion".
  • "We must expel the infiltrators from Israel. We should not be afraid to say the words 'expulsion now'," he was reported as saying.
  • Thousands of asylum seekers have arrived in Israel from Eritea and South Sudan, escaping poverty but also oppressive regimes and political instability.Most are bound for Europe, but find Libya blocked to them by the government and civil war.
  • Often travelers are taken to Israel by Bedouin people smugglers, abused and held to ransom for months at a time before they are deposited on the border where Israel is building a new fence. Once in Israel, they are looked after by Israeli non-governmental agencies and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Some work illegally and the majority live in the poorest areas of Tel Aviv where they find themselves in competition with working class Israelis mostly from a Middle Eastern or north African background. The sparse greens and parks of south Tel Aviv are dominated by the African migrants who sleep there at night.
Anger has been growing in the city and earlier this year the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the migrants threatened the Jewish character of Israel.
Source: The Guardian
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

VENTERSDORP, South Africa - A court found a black farmworker guilty yesterday of murdering a white supremacist in rural South Africa. A younger farmworker was acquitted of murder, but found guilty on other charges.
The two black farmworkers were accused of beating 69-year-old Eugene Terreblanche (right photo) to death with an iron rod in April 2010.
  • Protesters scuffled outside the courthouse where the verdict was read yesterday. Scores of white protesters gathered in support of Terreblanche's family facing off against a larger crowd of black supporters of the accused. But the tensions did not explode into broader violence, and the crowd showed little reaction to the verdict.
  • Police have described Terreblanche's murder as the climax of an alcohol-fuelled dispute over unpaid wages. But during the trial, defence lawyers alleged the farmworkers had been abused by Terreblanche and acted in self-defence.
Terreblanche had been jailed in 1997 and sentenced to six years for the attempted murder of a black security guard and assaulting a black gas station worker.
Prosecutors rejected allegations that Chris Mahlangu, who was found guilty of murder, had been sexually abused by Terreblanche.
The younger suspect, Patrick Ndlovu, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of breaking and entering with intent to steal
Source: AP
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Niagara Falls emergency workers rescue a man who plunged over the falls and survived in an apparent suicide attempt.
NIAGARA FALL, New York- A man has survived a fall of more than 50 metres into the raging waters of Niagara Falls.
The man, who police say was attempting to take his own life, is only the third person to survive such a fall without a safety device.
Hundreds watched the dramatic rescue as Canadian firefighters and a policeman worked to save the man in his 40s who went over the Horseshoe Falls on Monday around 10:30 a.m.
  • Niagara Falls Fire Platoon Chief Mark Diamond said, "A sergeant had found his way down to the man and was sitting with him and had gotten him out of the water and was sitting with him on the rocks near the water's edge."
  • First responders risked their own lives to save the man, extending an aerial ladder over the falls and repelling down to the man with a basket. The rescue took around two hours.
  • After he swam to safety, firefighters had to winch their way down the side of a cliff to bring him to safety. He remains in a serious condition in hospital.
Source: BBC
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Monday, May 21, 2012

BANGKOK, Thailand - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has kept everyone guessing her next move despite the changing political developments.
Although her brother Thaksin Shinawatra phoned in on Saturday to congratulate redshirt leader Jatuporn Promphan for his pending appointment, Yingluck kept mum on whether this meant she would shuffle her Cabinet.
  • She said, however, that the people expected her to tackle their grievances instead of playing a political game.
  • She repeated her stand that her government would let Parliament to play a lead role on bringing about reconciliation.
  • She said she would allow the reconciliation process to run its course before tackling the legal issues involving Thaksin, including his homecoming despite his fugitive status.
  • The prime minister reminded all sides not to draw a hasty conclusion that the Friday's verdict to strip Jatuporn of his MP status would lead to a further punishment by disbanding the Pheu Thai Party.
  • She said her ruling party had fully complied with relevant laws and regulations in connection with the Jatuporn case.
The verdict said due to his detention from May to August last year, Jatuporn (left photo) had lost his party membership before the July general election. This resulted, in turn, to disqualify him from holding a House seat.
Reacting to the judicial decision, the Democrats have threatened to initiate a separate litigation holding the ruling party accountable for fielding Jatuporn despite the lack of party membership.
  • Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the Democrats had no justification sue the ruling party because the Jatuporn case was about an individual status without any linkage to the party.
  • Prompong said he saw no possibility for disbanding the party.
  • If the Democrats try to disband Pheu Thai, then the ruling party will retaliate by seeking to dissolve the main opposition party for bringing up a trumpup charge, he said.
  • Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he believed Thaksin's phonein to the reds rally was meant as a push for the new charter designed to strenthen the government.
  • Abhisit said the ruling party was obsessed with the majority rule to push its agendas without paying due attention to the checking mechanisms.
  • He said he suspected the new charter to accomplish two things weakening the judiciary and paving way for amnesty for Thaksin.
Commenting on the push for bringing the political disturbances in 2010 to the attention of the International Criminal Court, Abhisit (left photo) said he saw the push as a publicity stunt.
Thaksin just wanted to mislead the red shirts in to believing that he had not forgotten about their blood spilled although the push would not bear any tangible results, he said.
Source: The Nation
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

LUCKNOW, India - At least 16 people returning from a religious congregation were killed and over a dozen injured when a private bus in which they were travelling rammed into a stationary truck and caught fire in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich district, police said Saturday.
The pilgrims were returning from the Ghazi Miyan ki Dargah in Bahraich after attending an Urs. The bus ploughed into the truck at Tilwarai, some 130 km from here, around midnight on Friday.
  • The passengers were on their way to Ajmer in Rajasthan.
  • Officials told IANS that while 16 burnt bodies had been sent for autopsy, the disaster site suggested the magnitude of the tragedy could be much higher as the bus was packed to capacity.
  • "We have been told that there were 78 people in the bus. While many injured have been admitted to different hospitals, we fear the toll may go up," said a home department official.
  • Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced an ex-gratia of Rs100,000 to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs50,000 compensation for those seriously injured, said labour Minister Waqar Ahmad.
Akhilesh(left photo) said the cost of treating the injured people will be met by the government. Two of the injured were referred to Lucknow as their condition deteriorated.
Police said it was too early to ascertain the exact reasons that caused the tragedy, but they suspected that the impact of the collision led to a spark and some gas cylinders kept in the bus exploded.
Source: Agency
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

BOLOGNA, Italy - A strong earthquake rocked a large swathe of northern Italy early on Sunday morning, causing at least three deaths and collapsing rural factories and ancient bell towers in towns.
The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 4:04am (0204 GMT) and had a magnitude of 5.9, was in the plains near Modena. But it was felt in nearby regions.
  • One person working a night shift died in the collapse of a factory and two others were killed in the collapse of another building. Rescue officials were checking reports that other people were buried under rubble.
  • First television pictures taken after dawn showed serious damage to historic buildings and rural structures. Parts of a historic fortress in one town collapsed.
  • Thousands of people in the area rushed into the streets after the quake, felt in the major towns of Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Rovigo, Verona and Mantua.
A series of strong aftershocks hit the area and local mayors ordered residents to stay out of their homes.
The quake was centred 35km north-northwest of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey said.
The last major earthquake to hit Italy was a 6.3 magnitude quake in the central Italian city of L'Aquila in 2009, killing nearly 300 people.
Source: Agency
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

HO CHAI MINH, Vietnam - A Malaysia-Vietnam information technology forum will be held at the Quang Trung Software City (QTSC) in Ho Chi Minh City on May 24.
The event, to be co-hosted by the Malaysia Trade Section (MATRADE) and QTSC, will create opportunities for the two countries’ IT businesses to share information on products, services and solutions to increase investment in the IT sector, and to establish partnerships.
  • Ahmad Shanizam Ab.Ghani, an MATRADE officer, quoted the 2011 statistics as saying Malaysia is Vietnam’s 9th biggest investor, pouring more than US$9 billion into the country, but IT projects were valued at just US$6 million.
  • At the forum, he said, Malaysia businesses will share experience in developing the e-government model, seeking sectoral management solutions, and expanding operations in Malaysia.
Part of the forum will be a meeting between 27 IT Malaysian companies and 30 Vietnamese businesses specialising in database, telecom and financial services, pharmaceutical and hospital services, and health care.
Malaysian businesses are scheduled to work with big IT Vietnamese groups.
Source: VOV
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Barry Lok grimaced as he gazed at the rotting carcass of his rhino bull, Kruger, lying under a tree on his farm northwest of Johannesburg. His heart had been pierced by a poacher's bullet and his horn, worth its weight in gold, sawn off to be sent to Asia. Kruger's slaying spells more than the loss of a beast Lok loved for its "prehistoric beauty".
Lok, like private rhino owners including Nicky Oppenheimer, the richest South African, must now either pay heavily for more security or sell livestock and contribute to the species' demise.
  • Rhino poachers in South Africa, home to about 90 per cent of the world's population of the endangered animals, are increasingly targeting private game owners as the level of rhino killing rises towards a record.
  • Demand is rising in China and Vietnam, where rhino horn powder is believed to cure cancer. Last year 125 rhinos were poached from private farms in South Africa, a 52 per cent increase from 2010.
  • "If we're going to keep them here we're going to have to protect them," Lok, the 54-year old founder of chip-board company William Tell Holdings, said in an interview at his 5,000-acre farm. "Bluntly, you would have to sell the rhinos to pay for it. That is not sustainable."
The farmers need rhinos to run their hunting and game-viewing businesses, which can charge a premium if their properties boast the so-called big five: rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, lions and leopards. Some, such as Lok, breed the animals for sale to ranchers. By targeting the rhinos, poachers are endangering conservation efforts while also threatening South Africa's billion-dollar wildlife ranching industry.
Source: PHYS.ORG
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