SOLYMONE BLOG

QATAR REMOVES ZIDANE STATUE AFTER OUTCRY

Thursday, October 31, 2013
DOHA - Qatar has removed a statue depicting a headbutt attack by French footballer Zinedine Zidane (photo) following an outcry by conservatives who slammed it as anti-Islam idolisation.
The 5-metres sculpture depicting the France footballer attacking Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final was put on display on Doha's corniche on October 3.

  • But the statue, sculpted by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed, appears to have offended Muslim conservatives, who saw it as a violation of religious tenets.
  • It was removed on Monday, according to local newspapers.
  • "Congratulations for having new idols," wrote one tweeter sarcastically, as the Arabic hashtag "Zidane's statue in Qatar" triggered huge reaction from dismayed conservatives.
  • "It is sad that our youth see in this art and modernity. Our children do not differentiate between the right and the wrong, or the haram (prohibited) and the halal (permissible)," wrote another.
  • The Qatar Museum Authority bought the "Coup de Tete" sculpture after it was put on display earlier outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
To avoid the possibility of idolisation, Islamic jurisprudence prohibits statues of human beings and animals. Although some Muslim countries display statues in public, conservative Gulf nations mostly do not.
Saudi municipal authorities in June smashed sculptures of horses erected on a roundabout in the southwestern Jazan province after the kingdom's top cleric Abdulaziz al-Shaikh wrote to the local governor demanding their removal for being a "great sin".

Source: Al Jazeera
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MALAYSIAN COURT DISMISSED MINISTRY APPEAL TO STOP NEWS PORTAL PUBLICATION

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A popular Malaysian news portal that is often heavily critical of the long-ruling government has the right to issue a print edition, a court ruled on Wednesday, dismissing an appeal by the home ministry.
The decision in favor of the portal Malaysiakini signals a possible loosening of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's tight control over print and television media, which has contrasted with its policy of allowing broad freedom of expression on the Internet.
  • A panel of three judges at Malaysia's Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a decision by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in October last year that the home ministry cannot deny the news outlet a permit to print. The government had appealed against the lower court's ruling.
  • "This is a landmark decision on the right to go to print," Malaysiakini chief executive Premesh Chandran told Reuters, adding that the portal would now apply to print a national daily.
  • In 2010, the home ministry rejected Malaysiakini's application to publish a print edition for circulation in the Klang valley, an area that includes the capital Kuala Lumpur and its densely populated suburbs.
  • Malaysiakini's lawyers had argued that being able to go print was a right rather than a privilege granted by the government.
  • Websites such as Malaysiakini have emerged as an important source of news to counter the traditional media, most of which is owned by interests linked to the ruling coalition.
  • The Barisan Nasional's dominance of media is one of its crucial advantages as it fends off an increasingly potent opposition that has made gains in each of the last two elections, the latest in May this year.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Wednesday's ruling a "big victory" for freedom of expression in Malaysia.
"Just as Malaysiakini was a pioneer in developing credible, independent on-line news reporting, so one hopes this judicial decision will open the door for it to play the same role among the country's printed newspapers," said Phil Robertson, HRW's deputy Asia director.

Source: Reuters
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A GIRL BURIED ALIVE BUT DIGS HERSELF OUT OF THE GRAVE?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A 13-year-old Pakistani girl was forced to dig herself out of her own grave after she was buried alive by her rapists.
The girl’s father, Siddique Mughal, said his child was abducted by two men while walking to Koran lessons in Punjab’s Toba Tek Singh district.
The attackers took the victim to an isolated area and raped her until she was limp and unable to move. Thinking they had killed her, the two men dropped her body into a shallow roadside grave and covered it up with dirt.
She was taken to a medical centre and survived her horrific ordeal.
  • According to the New York Post, her father Siddique Mughal told local police that his daughter had been taken. But they initially refused to investigate the incident.
  • Child rape is becoming increasingly problematic in Pakistan.
  • According to Pakistani children's charity Sahil, the number of children raped between 2002 and 2012 increased from 668 to 2,788.
One of the most notable cases was that of Kainat Soomro (photo) who was attacked by four men when she was aged just 13 in 2007.
She was shunned by her village after speaking out against her attackers and was labelled a 'kari' or 'black virgin'.
Despite her own family being ordered to kill her to rid themselves of shame, they stood by her despite threats of violence against them.

  • Her father and one of her brothers were beaten, and another older brother went missing and was later found murdered.
  • Despite her quest for justice, her alleged attackers were eventually acquitted.
  • She told the Press earlier this year that her family have 'lost everything.
  •  
Source: Daily News


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HOSTAGES SHOT BY PHILIPPINES SOLIDER CAUGHT IN AMATEUR VIDEO

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Benigno Aquino, the Philippine president, has questioned the authenticity of an amateur video that appears to show hostages being shot at during a siege last month. 
Fighting between the Philippine army and the hostage-takers left many dead near the southern city Zamboanga. Human rights groups are calling for an investigation. 
The Philippine military says the hostages were caught in the crossfire as the army fought the rebels. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala, speaking to Al Jazeera for the military, said civilian safety was the top priority. 
"During this video we never fired at them; we were firing at sniper positions of the enemy. They [MNLF rebels] were the ones firing at the hostages," he said, referring to the Moro National Liberation Front.
 "If you look at the video, you can see a bazooka aimed at the hostages. "We were directed by the president to rescue the hostages and neutralise the threat. We were able to rescue 195 hostages. Unfortunately 12 were killed, eight directly by rebel fire and the other four, we think, were killed on a bus when a bomb went off."
Source: Al Jazeera
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NEGOTIATING WITH SYRIAN GOVERNMENT WOULD BE AN ACT OF TREASON?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Armed opposition groups in Syria have said that they will not attend the Geneva II peace talks, saying that negotiating with the government of Bashar al-Assad would be an act of betrayal  and would be an act of treason.
The powerful opposition group's statement comes on Sunday as fighting rages on near the border with neighboring Iraq and in the central city of Homs.
The Geneva peace talks set to take place on November 23 have been repeatedly postponed amid wrangling among the Syrian opposition, and a dispute over which countries, including Iran, should participate.
Meanwhile, in a hopeful turn, Assad's government has handed over on time a detailed plan on destroying its chemical weapons stockpile, an international watchdog has said.
  • A move in line with US-Russian deal reached last month that headed off threatened military strikes on Syria and triggered the initiative for peace talks staged in Switzerland next month.
  • However, in the latest blow to the peace talks, 19 of the groups fighting to topple Assad issued a statement saying: "We announce that the Geneva II conference is not, nor will it ever be our people's choice or our revolution's demand."
  • The statement was read out by Suqur al-Sham brigade chief Ahmad Eissa al-Sheikh in a video posted online.
  • They warned anyone who attends such talks would be committing "treason, and... would have to answer for it before our courts".
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani also weighed in on the upcoming talks, saying that part of the solution to the Syria crisis was expelling 'terrorist groups' from the country and complete the destruction of chemical weapons, a report said.
"Iran believes in preventing the entry (and) expelling terrorist groups from Syria and the complete destruction of chemical weapons will be first important steps for achieving stable peace in Syria," Rouhani said.
The statement comes as the UN-Arab League peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, prepares to travel to Damascus on Monday garnering support for the upcoming talks, a Syrian government source told AFP news agency.

Source: Al Jazeera
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MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES BUT GOLD LEAF DOES?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

SYDNEY, Australia - Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have found minuscule nuggets of gold hidden inside the leaves of eucalyptus trees, in a discovery they say could help prospectors discover new deposits of the precious metal.
According to Australian researchers, deposits of the precious metal found in the resource-rich Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia, which was the site of a major gold rush in the late 1800s.
Geochemist Mel Lintern said it appeared the trees sucked up the gold particles from 30 metres (100 feet) below the ground through their roots.
He said, the eucalyptus acts as a hydraulic pump — its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold.
As the gold is likely to be toxic to the plant, it’s moved to the leaves and branches where it can be released or shed to the ground, he added.
In research published in the journal Nature Communications, the CSIRO said the leaf particles themselves would not trigger a new gold rush as they measure just a fifth the width of a human hair and are visible only through advanced X-ray imaging.
Researchers involved in the study estimated it would take the gold from 500 eucalyptus trees to make a single wedding band.
But they said the discovery presented a gilt-edged opportunity to improve the exploration methods used to search for gold, making them more efficient and environmentally friendly.
  • “This link between ... vegetation growth and buried gold deposits could prove instrumental in developing new technologies for mineral exploration,” they said.
  • New discoveries of gold have fallen by 45 per cent in the past decade, while prices have skyrocketed as reserves steadily dwindle — the cost of the yellow metal shot up by 482 per cent between December 2000 and March this year.
  • The CSIRO said scientists could use a technique known as “biogeochemical sampling” to give an indication of the presence of gold.
  • Nigel Radford, a geochemist who has been involved in gold exploration for decades in Western Australia, said the discovery was a world-first with major implications for prospectors.
According to the World Gold Council, more than 174,000 tonnes of gold have been extracted from Earth since the dawn of civilization.
In 2011, the US Geological Survey estimated there were 51,000 tonnes of gold left in reserve in the world.
Radford said using biogeochemical sampling had the potential to make searching for gold deposits much easier.
“If you can sample on-surface, it saves all the cost and all the time involved in drilling holes,” he said.
Sixty per cent of gold becomes jewellery, but it is also a crucial component in electronics and is used in medical technology, including for cancer treatment.
Source: Agencies
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