Wednesday, October 31, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Myanmar has rejected an offer by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to open talks aimed at quelling deadly communal violence there, according to the regional bloc's chief.
Surin Pitsuwan (photo above) said on Tuesday he proposed setting up tripartite talks between ASEAN,  the UN and Myanmar's government to prevent the violence from having a broader regional impact.
But he said Myanmar turned down the offer to discuss the bloodshed in the western Rakhine state that has led to about 180 deaths since June.
The bloodshed has pitted Buddhists against minority Rohingya Muslims.
"Myanmar believes it is their internal matter, but your internal matter could be ours the next day if you are not careful," Surin, ASEAN's secretary-general, said after delivering a speech at a forum in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Fresh fighting in Rakhine this month resulted in another 88 people being killed and added to the thousands of homes torched, with tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims now living in overcrowded camps.

Source: Al Jazeera..More.. 

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Consumers in Malaysia are less optimistic this quarter, their confidence rattled by a belief that demand and investments may not be as resilient due to the slowing economy in Europe, North America and China, according to the latest global online consumer confidence findings from Nielsen, a global provider of information into what consumers watch and buy. 

Malaysia’s consumer confidence fell six points in the index to 105 in the third quarter of 2012 from 111 three months ago, despite seeing its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing by 5.4 per cent in the second quarter of the year and inflation at its slowest pace in September.
  • “Although domestic conditions remain stable consumers may have increasing concerns that external demand and investments may not be as resilient as expected and the economic situation in Europe, North America and the slowing down of demand in China may be contributing to the decline in optimism,” Nielsen Malaysia’s managing director, Richard Hall, said in a statement today.
  • Southeast Asia’s third biggest economy ranked ninth out of 58 countries surveyed in the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Confidence Survey 2012, falling four rungs from the previous quarter and landing behind neighbours Indonesia and India which both drew 119 points.
  • While it remained in the top 10, it also placed behind the Philippines (118), Thailand (112), China (106), the United Arab Emirates (114), Saudi Arabia (113) and Brazil (110) in the survey but ahead of Singapore, which ranked 15th out of the 58 countries surveyed.
  • Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
  • However, consumer confidence rose to 118.3 in the third quarter of 2012 from 114.9 in the second quarter of 2012, according to the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), which polls a sample of over 1,200 households in Malaysia every quarter to gauge consumer spending trends and sentiments.
  • The local research house has found that historically, from 2005 until 2012, Malaysia’s consumer confidence averaged 106.54 reaching an all time high of 124.10 in March of 2007 and a record low of 70.50 in June of 2008.
The Nielsen survey found that consumer confidence in Malaysia dropped by six points due to the drop in optimism based on job prospects as well as personal financial status.

Consumers are split between saying the country is in a recession or not. 

Source: The Malaysian Insider..More...
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The income of white South African households is six times higher than black ones, new census figures reveal.
President Jacob Zuma said the census showed the black majority is still at the "bottom of the rung", 18 years after white minority rule ended. 
The statistics showed that while the income of black households had increased by nearly 170% in the last decade, they still earned the least.

The population now stands at nearly 52 million, 79% of whom are black people.It has risen by seven million since 2001.
The 2011 census statistics showed that children below the age of five number nearly 11 million, making them the largest age group.

"It could be that HIV [infection] rates have levelled out and fertility has begun to recover," said Statistics South Africa's demographic analysis executive director, Diego Iturralde.
The average annual income of a white household is about 365,000 rand ($42,000; £26,000), followed by Indians at 251,000 rand, people of mixed race at 251,500 rand and blacks at 60,600 rand, it showed. 

Other key findings include:
  • Nearly 30% of the labour force is unemployed
  • More than three million children (nearly 4%) are orphans
  • More than nine million people live in homes while the number of shack-dwellers has risen since 2001 to nearly two million
  • The number of homes with flush toilets has increased from 50% in 2001 to 57%
  • The number of people who have completed higher education has increased to 11.8%, from 8.4% in 2001
  • The number of homes with electricity has increased from 58.2% in 1996 to 84.7% in 2011
  • Paraffin is the main energy source at 7.5% of all homes
  • Mobile phone ownership has increased from less than 32% a decade ago to nearly 90%.

Mr Zuma said the census showed that while "great strides" have been made since racial segregation ended in 1994, much still needed to be done to end inequality.
"These figures tell us that at the bottom of the rung is the black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment and inequality, despite the progress that we have made since 1994," he said. 

"Much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor."
Mr Zuma pledged that by 2030 the African National Congress (ANC) government would make sure that each community had a clinic, school, library and police station. 

Source: BBC
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NEW YORK/REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware, U.S.A. - Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, battered the densely populated East Coast on Monday, shutting down transportation, forcing evacuations in flood-prone areas and interrupting the presidential election campaign.

Fierce winds and flooding were expected along hundreds of miles of Atlantic coast and heavy snows were forecast farther inland at higher elevations when the centre of the storm moves ashore Monday evening near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
U.S. stock markets were closed for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and will remain shut on Tuesday. The government in Washington was closed and school was cancelled up and down the East Coast.

Nearly 700,000 customers were without power by midday and millions more could lose electricity. One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion (12.4 billion pounds), only half of it insured.

"This is going to be a big and powerful storm and all across the Eastern Seaboard I think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations," President Barack Obama said at the White House.
State governors from Virginia to Massachusetts warned of the acute danger from the storm for the 60 million residents in its path. Ten states have declared a state of emergency.


"There will undoubtedly be some deaths that are caused by the intensity of this storm, by the floods, by the tidal surge, by the waves. The more responsibly citizens act, the fewer people will die," Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley told reporters.
Forecasters said Sandy could be the largest storm to hit the mainland in U.S. history.

Source: The Star...More...
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Intense heavy showers hit Buenos Aires City and Greater Buenos Aires causing bringing floods and power outages in many neighbourhoods. Belgrano and La Boca neighborhoods took the worst part. BA City Environment Minister Diego Santilli informed that at least 200 mm poured down between 5 and 7am.

The National Weather Forecasting Service (SMN in Spanish) set a new alarm for heavy showers as well hail to hit the entire City and Río de La Plata areas. Likewise, the alert reaches the North and center regions of Buenos Aires province, south and center areas of Córdoba province, Northwestern La Pampa, and Southern Santa Fe and Entre Rios.
  • Metrovías Subway Company informed that services were cancelled at lines C, D E, and H, while a limited service is being provided by Line A (between stations Plaza Miserere and Plaza de Mayo), and Line B (between Leandro N. Alem and Lacroze).
  • Train line services were cancelled except for the San Martín line that runs between Retiro and Pilar, and Sarmiento Line.
Authorities also warned drivers to avoid main routes and highways as they were flooded, in same cases with up to 40 mm of water as the case of the General Paz Avenue.

Acceso Oeste, Acceso Sudeste, and Richieri highways are both flooded and collapsed with traffic jams of up to 45 minutes. 
In Greater Buenos Aires districts like La Matanza, Morón, Avellaneda and Quilmes were among the most complicated areas with reports of floods and power outages.

Source: Herald
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Monday, October 29, 2012
A young British tourist is recovering in a Thai hospital after being repeatedly stabbed by a mob as he tried to save his girlfriend from a pack sex attack. Jack Cole, 21, from Bath was stabbed in the face and body after the laughing youths grabbed his 21-year-old girlfriend April Clifton as they enjoyed a romantic stroll towards a boat pier in Ao Nang, in southern Thailand.

After jumping to April's defence Jack was left to die in a pool of blood as the armed thugs fled.
She was also left bruised and battered when the motorcycle gang grabbed her, clawing at her clothes. Luckily a passing British tourist heard Jack's cries for help and called paramedics to the idyllic beach resort.
  • Jack said from the Bangkok-Phuket hospital yesterday, 'It was a calculated attack. They drove past us several times checking us out. We thought they had gone but they came out of the shadows and attacked April. They laughed as they grabbed April as a mob.
  • 'There were seven of them.  Four men and three girls. I knocked the guy down who had grabbed April and then they crowded around me and I thought they were punching me."
  •  'But it seems every punch was a stab. They were shouting in English ‘Come on. Come on’. I saw that April had managed to run away to the safety of a local Dive Shop and I fell to the ground as the group ran away laughing, said Jack.
    'I managed to stagger up to a foreigner whom I begged for help and people came to staunch the flow of blood.
  • 'There was no reason for the attack. We had never seen these people before. They appeared to be driving in a gang looking for foreign victims. They made no attempt to take my wallet. They were just interested in April.'
  • The unnamed Briton, who runs the dive shop, has posted on an expat forum in Thailand.
  • He said:  'In Ao Nang. I fear that another tourist death is imminent. Gangs of teenage kids, armed with knives and machetes roam the roads like something out of a Hollywood horror movie. WTF is wrong with this place!'
  • He added: 'I accompanied them to the Krabi hospital where I witnessed the same old story. You pay or no treatment.
  • 'The resort where they were staying kindly brought his and hers passports, money and the lifesaving Insurance'.
Yesterday three of the seven suspects were being held by Krabi Provincial Police. Another four are being sought from the Nong Talay area of Krabi.

Jack, who has been treated for stab wounds to his face, arms, chest and legs works for the Office Angels company in Bath as a recruitment officer. April has finished her studies and planned to seek work after returning from their dream holiday.
Source: Agency
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Monday, October 29, 2012

VICTORIA, Canada - A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit Canada's Pacific coastal province of British Columbia late Saturday, setting off a small tsunami, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, officials said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude had hit the province, centered 123 miles south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 6.2 miles.
Earthquakes Canada said the quake in the Haida Gwaii region has been followed by numerous aftershocks as large as 4.6 and said a small tsunami has been recorded by a deep ocean pressure sensor.
"It was felt across much of north-central B.C., including Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, and Houston. There have been no reports of damage at this time," the agency said in a statement on its website.
  • Officials with Emergency Management B.C. said in a conference call that while power supply had been hit in some areas, there was no major damage reported.
  • Some communities on the Haida Gwaii islands, as well as Port Edward in the northwest of the province were being evacuated as a precaution.
  • The provincial agency issued a tsunami warning for the north coast and Haida Gwaii, as well as for central coast communities like Bella Coola, Bella Bella and Shearwater.
  • A tsunami advisory was also issued for the outer west coast and part of the south coast of Vancouver Island. Officials said a lower-level advisory has been declared because of potentially strong currents and waves. 
  • It urged residents to stay away from beaches and shorelines until further notice.
The quake was not felt in the larger cities of Victoria or Vancouver in the south, a resident in each city told Reuters.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no destructive tsunami was expected from the quake but the West Coast-Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for coastal sections of British Columbia and Alaska.
Source: Reuters
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Fatalities resulting from the onslaught of storm Son-Tinh has reached 24 as of Saturday, as disaster risk management officials said as the turbulent weather had completely exited the Philippines.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said most of the deaths caused by the storm were from Central Visayas at Southern Luzon that suffered heavy flooding. Other affected areas were Bicol, Western and Eastern Visayas, and Southern Mindanao.
In the island of Romblon in the Visayas, teachers, Eva Fajutag and Grace Mallorca drowned when a boat carrying them capsized. Fajutag is a school superintendent while Mallorca is a school administration officer.
 Son-Tinh had affected 14,693 families, a total of 66,768 people. Some 3,382 families — 15,243 people — are currently staying in 97 evacuation centres.

Southern Luzon and the Bicol Region suffered extensive damage with property loss initially estimated to reach P36.6 million (Dh3.25 million) with least 22 houses totally destroyed and 95 partially damaged.

Reports reaching Manila said extensive flooding on the tracks caused a train to suffer derailment on Friday in Sariaya in Quezon province, Southern Luzon, resulting in several injuries to passengers but there were no fatalities.
The Philippines endures about 20 major storms or typhoons each year that occur mainly during the rainy season between June and October.

Source: Agencies
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Believe it or not, according to a missive spreading far and wide on Facebook, NASA scientists are predicting something called a "universe change" during a three-day period beginning Dec. 23, 2012. 

A total blackout phenomenal on 23-25 Dec 2012 during alignment of Universe.US scientists predict Universe change, total blackout of planet for 3 days from Dec 23 2012.


It is not the end of the world, it is an alignment of the Universe, where the Sun and the earth will align for the first time. The earth will shift from the current third dimension to zero dimension, then shift to the forth dimension. During this transition, the entire Universe will face a big change, and we will see a entire brand new world.


The 3 days blackout is predicted to happen on Dec 23, 24, 25....during this time, staying calm is most important, hug each other, pray pray pray, sleep for 3 nights...and those who survive will face a brand new world....for those not prepared, many will die because of fear.


Be happy, enjoy every moment now. Don't worry, pray to God everyday. There is a lot of talk about what will happen in 2012, but many people don't believe it, and don't want to talk about it for fear of creating fear and panic.
We don't know what will happen, but it is worth listening to USA's NASA talk about preparation. Whether it's true or not, better be prepared. No panic, stay calm, just prays. Remember to smile more, love more and forgive more...every day. Better avoid traveling during December.

Source: Agency

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) - A human rights group expressed concern for the safety of thousands of Muslims on Saturday after revealing satellite images of a once-thriving coastal community reduced to ashes during a week of violence in western Myanmar.
The images released by the New York-based Human Rights Watch show "near total destruction" of a predominantly Rohingya Muslim part of Kyaukpyu, one of several areas in Rakhine state where battles between Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists threaten to derail the former Burma's fragile democratic transition.
More than 811 buildings and houseboats were razed in Kyaukpyu on October 24, forcing many Rohingya to flee north by sea toward the state capital Sittwe, said Human Rights Watch.
"Burma's government urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Arakan (Rakhine) State, who are under vicious attack," said Phil Robertson, the group's deputy Asia director. 
There were widespread unconfirmed reports of boatloads of Rohingyas trying to cross the sea border to neighbouring Bangladesh, which has denied them refugee status since 1992.
Dozens of boats full of Rohingyas with no food or water had fled Kyaukpyu, an industrial zone important to China, and other recent hotspots were seeking access on Friday to overcrowded refugee camps around the state capital Sittwe, according to four Rohingya refugee sources.

Source: The Star...More...
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Eid al-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event. 

At Eid al-Adha, many Muslims make a special effort to pray and listen to a sermon at a mosque. They also wear new clothes, visit family members and friends and may symbolically sacrifice an animal in an act known as qurbani. This represents the animal that Ibrahim sacrificed in the place of his son.


In some traditionally Muslim countries, families or groups of families may purchase an animal known as udhiya, usually a goat or sheep, to sacrifice, but this is not common or legal in many parts of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States or many other countries. 
In these countries, groups of people may purchase a whole carcass from a butcher or slaughterhouse and divide it amongst themselves or just buy generous portions of meat for a communal meal on Eid-al-Adha. People also give money to enable poorer members of their local community and around the world to eat a meat-based meal.

In the period around Eid al-Adha, many Muslims travel to Mecca and the surrounding area in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Package holidays are organized from many countries. Muslims may plan and save for many years to enable them to take part in this event, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Five things to know about Eid al-Adha: 

1. Considered one of Islam's revered observances, the four-day religious holiday corresponds with the height of the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that annually draws 2 million Muslims.

2. Eid al-Adha commemorates when God appeared to Abraham known as Ibrahim to Muslims in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. As Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and gave him a sheep to kill in place of his son. A version of the story also appears in the Torah and in the Bible's Old Testament.

3. Pronounced EED al-UHD-huh, the holiday begins Friday and ends Monday, the last day of the Hajj. Eid al-Adha is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice or Greater Eid. It is the longer of two Eid holidays observed by Muslims. Eid al-Fitr or Little Eid follows the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan.

4. During Eid al-Adha, many Muslim families sacrifice a sheep and share the meat with the poor. They also are required to donate to charities that benefit the poor. Muslims also routinely exchange presents during the holiday.

5. Eid Mubarak (pronounced EED muh-BAR-ack) and Eid Saeed are routine greetings used during the observance to offer best wishes.
Source: CNN
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Friday, October 26, 2012
FLORIDA, U.S.A. - As Hurricane Sandy makes its way toward the eastern seaboard of the United States, disaster experts and meteorologists warn that the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states face dangerous winds and heavy rains that could trigger flooding in the coming days.
It swelled into a major threat to much of the U.S. East Coast on Thursday after lashing Cuba with heavy rains and tree-toppling winds and swirling through the Bahamas, U.S. forecasters said. 
Hurricane Sandy swelled into a major threat to much of the U.S. East Coast on Thursday after lashing Cuba with heavy rains and tree-toppling winds and swirling through the Bahamas, U.S. forecasters said. 

Strengthening rapidly after tearing into Jamaica and crossing the warm Caribbean Sea, Sandy hit southeastern Cuba early on Thursday with top sustained winds up to 110 miles per hour (177 kph) that left a trail of destruction, especially in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba. 
Some forecasters even say that Sandy has the potential to be a multibillion dollar disaster greater than last year's Hurricane Irene, though it may be too soon to tell if it has the power and trajectory to fulfill that worst-case scenario.

There are concerns that Sandy could join with another storm approaching from the west, a "nor'easter" that was going to strike somewhere around New York City and New England next week anyway, hurricane or not.  If the two systems combine, the effects will be much worse than if Sandy were to turn and go out to sea.

Sandy already left at least 21 dead as it ground over Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba. 

Source: 60News...More...
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Navaratri is a nine night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It's a festival full of worship and dance. The festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day.
Usually in late September/early October each year. In 2012, Navaratri starts on October 16 and ends on October 23. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Note that it's only an eight night Navaratri this year, as astrologically Day 3 and Day 4 both occur on the same date (October 18).
The festival is celebrated all over India but in different ways. The most flamboyant and renowned Navaratri celebrations can be seen in western India, throughout the state of Gujarat and in Mumbai. In West Bengal, Navaratri and Dussehra are celebrated as Durga Puja.

In western India, Navaratri is celebrated with nine nights of dancing. The traditional dances of Gujurat, known as garba and dandiya raas, are performed in circles with dancers dressed up in colorful clothes. Small, decorated sticks called dandiyas are used in the dandiya raas.
In Mumbai, dancing takes over stadiums and clubs throughout the city. While some of it has retained a traditional flavor, the introduction of disco dandiya has given Mumbai's Navaratri celebrations a glamorous and modern twist. Nowadays, people unleash their dancing to a fusion of remixed beats and loud Hindi pop music.
Pictures Tell A Thousand Words 

In this Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 photo, devotees throng a butterfly-shaped worship venue during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India. The five-day festival, commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil.

In this Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 photo, a priest worships an idol of Hindu goddess Durga during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India. The five-day festival, commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil.

Hindu women apply vermillion powder on each other during Durga Puja festivities in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, ten armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil.

A Hindu woman offers betel leaves to an idol of Hindu goddess Durga during Durga Puja festivities in Hyderabad, India, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, ten armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. 

Hindu women make offerings before idols of Hindu goddess Durga during Durga Puja festivities in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, ten armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil.


Hindu women apply vermillion on each other during Durga Puja festivities in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, ten armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil.

Indian workers carry an idol of Hindu Goddess Durga for immersion into the River Ganges on the last day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India.

A man looks at an idol of Goddess Durga floating on water after being immersed into the river Ganga on the last day of the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India.
Over the course of the nine days, the Mother Goddess is worshiped in her various forms -- Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.

Each goddess is worshiped for three days in turn, starting with Durga who destroys negative tendencies. Next is Lakshmi who bestows good virtues and fortune, and last is Saraswati, who instills wisdom and spiritual knowledge. The worship, accompanied by fasting, takes place in the mornings. Evenings are for feasting and dancing.
Source: For more pictures___ DenverPost, Telegraph.
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