Wednesday, April 30, 2014

LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would resign if he is unable to deliver an in/out referendum on Britain’s European Union membership by 2017, a threat that will complicate any coalition talks that may follow next year’s election.
Cameron’s comments, made on Monday evening during a conference call with party supporters, were aimed at dispelling doubt among voters that his Conservative party is committed to renegotiating Britain’s ties with the EU, and then winning public approval for the reformed relationship with a referendum.
They also come as the anti-EU UK Independence Party is threatening Cameron’s Conservatives with serious losses in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
The comments confirmed that Britain’s future in Europe will be a sticking point in any future government-forming talks if next May’s vote does not produce a clear winner. Britain’s current junior coalition partners, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, are staunchly opposed to Cameron’s referendum plan.
 “This is not something I would ever barter away or give away,” Cameron said on the call, according to British media reports which were confirmed by the party. “I would not continue as prime minister unless I be absolutely guaranteed this referendum will go ahead on an in-out basis.” 
The Conservatives trail the opposition Labour Party by around 4 percentage points in opinion polls. Labour are also pushing for reform of the EU, but have said they will only hold a referendum if there is a major transfer of power between Britain and the EU — something they don’t foresee before 2020.

Source: Agencies
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The relegation round of the Polish Ekstraklasa began over the weekend, with Zaglebie Lubin suffering a 1-0 defeat at Slask Wroclaw on Saturday. 
After the game at Wroclaw's Municipal Stadium, the Lubin fans were kept behind, where they defied their loss with raucous chanting and plenty of flares. 
When one supporter climbed up on a gate to wave his flare in the air like he just don't care, a stadium security guard tried to get him down by dousing him in what appeared to be some kind of pepper spray. Unfortunately, the spray reacted with the flare and turned the fan into a human fireball. 

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Criticism of United States President Barack Obama continued to pour in over his insinuations that Malaysia discriminated against non-Muslims, the latest being former New Straits Times editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin, who described Obama’s statements as a form of foreign interference in Malaysia’s affairs and a provocation. 
Kadir, who ran the pro-Umno English daily for 12 years, also criticised the ruling Datuk Seri Najib Razak administration and Malay-Muslims for not responding adequately to the US president’s statement made on Sunday. 
“The question is are Malay-Muslims going to keep silent in the face of interference from Obama just because there are people who are so ‘elated’ that they can ride in the same car as him or (because) he (Obama) whispers praises those people’s ear?,” Kadir wrote in his latest posting. 
  • Kadir may have been referring to members of Najib’s government who were responsible for organising Obama’s historic three-day visit to Malaysia.
  • Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Malaysia in 48 years. 
  • The success of his visit has been attributed to Najib’s continuous efforts to build strong ties with the Obama administration since he became prime minister in 2009. 
  • “Indirectly, Obama has elected himself as a spokesman Malaysians who have complained to him that they are supposedly being severely discriminated against by Malay-Muslims,” Kadir said. 
  • He also questioned the veracity of Obama’s claims that non-Muslims faced discrimination. 
  •  “Who are the non-Muslims minorities who are oppressed, who cannot worship and who are destitute? 
  • “What about the dozens of churches in Brickfields, Jalan Gasing and Sentul? What about the Hindu temples on every street corner, under every big tree and the one in the cave? 
  • “What about the Buddihist, Siamese temples, the Sikh Gudwaras and Chinese temples found all over the country. And who controls the economy?” Kadir asked.   
  • He, however, praised Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who refuted Obama by saying that the Malaysian government was fair to all religions and gave equal opportunities to non-Muslims. 
  • “Congratulations Ahmad Zahid. It was not a waste for Umno delegates who voted you in as the most popular vice-president in the recent elections. 
  • “Thank God that there are still Umno faces who have not been infected by the Koro syndrome,” said Kadir. 
  • At a town hall meeting at Universiti Malaya on Sunday, Obama said Malaysia could not become a developed country if it continued to discriminate against non-Muslims and minority communities. 
  • The US president was responding to a question from a student from Myanmar, who said one of the problems which plagued that Southeast Asian country was that it did not protect the rights of its minority Muslim community. 
  • Ethnic Rohingnyas in northeast Myanmar have over the past few years been persecuted and driven from their homes by the majority Buddhists of that country. 
  • Obama then went on to say: “Malaysia won't succeed if non-Muslims don't have equal opportunity, Myanmar won’t succeed if the Muslim population is oppressed. 
  • "No society is going to succeed if half your population made up of women are not getting the same education and employment opportunities as men," he added. 
Though Malaysia allowed for freedom of religion, recent incidents between Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Muslims have led to questions as to whether Putrajaya was really committed to protecting minority faiths. 
These include the ongoing tussle over the use of the word “Allah” and child custody cases between Muslim and non-Muslim parents. 

Source: TMI
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
MANILA, Philippines - US President Barack Obama said a 10-year agreement signed on Monday to give the US military greater access to Philippine bases will help promote peace and stability in the region and that he hopes China’s dominant power will allow its neighbours to prosper on their own terms. 
Signed as Obama arrived in Manila, the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to preposition fighter jets and ships. 
Although the deal is being perceived as a US effort to counter Chinese aggression in the region, Obama said his message to Beijing is that America wants to partner with China in upholding international law. 
In a joint press conference with President Beningo Aquino, Obama said: “The US is very supportive of President Benigno’s approach to seek international arbitration that can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion.” 
  • Obama’s overnight visit to the Philippines is the last stop on a week-long Asia tour that also included Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. At each stop along his tour, Obama reaffirmed the US treaty commitments to defend its Asian allies, including in their territorial disputes with China. 
  • He said in Manila that the US takes no specific position on those disputes, but believes China should resolve disputes with its neighbours the same way the US does — through dialogue.
When asked if the US would fight China in case the Philippines is attacked due to overlapping claims in the South China Sea, Obama said, “We don’t go around sending ships and threatening folks.”
China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea. 
Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim some parts of the Spratly Archipelago based on the provision of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that grants countries 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones starting from their shores.

Source: Agencies
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Monday, April 28, 2014
Authorities in Arkansas confirmed at least six people had died after a tornado ripped through two counties. The tornado also struck the nearby town of Mayflower.
A spotter in Mayflower, Ark., 35 kilometres northwest of Little Rock, reported a 800-metre wide tornado crossing Interstate 40 at about 7:30 p.m. CT, the National Weather Service said. 
At least one person was killed in a tornado in a small Oklahoma town in the northeast corner of the state, according to Ottawa County Sheriff's Department spokesman Derek Derwin.
Media and the National Weather Service reported that two people were killed. 
That twister was spotted in Quapaw, 322 kilometres northeast of Oklahoma City at about 5:45 p.m., according to the weather service. 
  • An Ottawa County, Okla., police dispatcher said a search and rescue effort was underway in Quapaw, but could not confirm reports of fatalities. 
  • At least a dozen twisters that tore through the central and southern United States on Sunday, leaving behind damaged structures and downed trees and power lines. 
  • Tornadoes were also reported in parts of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri on Sunday afternoon and evening, causing some damage but no known injuries, according to local officials and the weather service.
Trained spotters reported several tornadoes, with at least one touching down in southern Bates County, Mo., said Brad Vermaas, the county's deputy director of emergency management. Debris, apparently mostly trees, were left in the tornado's path, he said. 
A dispatcher for the Bates County sheriff's office said people reported damage in the tornado's wake.

Source: CBC
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Sunday, April 27, 2014
Some of the many unique and sometimes strange hotels that can be found all over the world.  a change from the cookie-cutter hotels you’re used to, try one of the following 10 hotels on your next trip;

1. Dog Bark Park Inn

If you’re a dog lover, this hotel is for you. Located in Cottonwood, Idaho, this hotel is actually in the shape of a dog. The room sleeps 4 and contains a full bath, a microwave, air conditioning, books, games, and puzzles, but no television or telephone. When you stay you’ll also be treated to a continental self-serve breakfast.

2. Das Park Hotel

Das Park Hotel located in Linz, Austria is actually a number of repurposed drainpipes that have been turned into rooms. Each room contains a bed, light, and power. These rooms are in the park and bathroom facilities and cafes are close by.

3. Palacio de Sal

This hotel is in Bolivia and is made entirely from salt. The floors, walls, and ceiling are made from salt. Even the bed and chairs are made of salt. Each room has a private bath. The Palacio de Sal is located at the eastern shore of the Great Salar de Uyuni.

4. The Hobbit Motel

The Hobbit Motel can be found in Woodlyn Park, New Zealand. Each fully furnished unit can house up to 6 people. If you’re a fan of the books of J.R.R.Tolkien, this is a place you should visit.

5. Null Stern Hotel

The world’s first zero star hotel is located in Teufen, Appenzellerland, Switzerland. Their catch-phrase is “the only star is you.” The hotel was built in a cold war bunker and there are no windows. The bathrooms are shared, and there is a lounge, and two large rooms for 14 people.

6. Capsule Hotels

In Japan capsule hotels are quite popular. They are small measuring only 1 x 2 meters. Many of the capsule hotels do offer television and wireless internet, but usually don’t allow eating inside the capsule. Bathrooms are shared and there are restaurants. They are very basic and quite cheap to rent running approximately $25-50/night.


7. IceHotel

If you’re looking for a unique experience, the IceHotel is a must. This hotel in Lapland, Sweden is rebuilt every winter. IceHotel is the original. The IceHotel has 65 rooms with beds made of ice. While the temperature inside will be a chilly -5 Celsius, it’s warmer than the -15 Celsius outside. The hotel also has an IceBar, sauna, and restaurants.

8. V8 Hotel

Are you a car fanatic? The V8 Hotel in Meilenwerk, Germany may be your cup of tea. Each room has an automotive theme. You can sleep in a bed made from a white Mercedes or sleep in the workshop room where your car bed is actually lifted up on jacks. This hotel is child friendly. There is a CD player in each room, wireless internet, free parking, and laundry services.

9. Forest Hut Hotel

In Kolarbyn, Sweden you can stay in a hut in the forest and fend or yourself. If you would rather not forage for your own food, you can have food dropped to your site. If you’re looking for a new and unique experience, one of these hotels might be a nice change of pace and give you a once in a lifetime experience.

10. CasAnus

CasAnus is a giant sculpture of a human intestine that is located in Kemzeke, Belgium. CasAnus was created by Joep Van Lieshout. It contains a double bed, heater, shower, and toilet. CasAnus is run by a couple of Belgian art collectors. While it might not look especially appealing from the outside, except for being in the middle of nature, the inside of the room is as comfy as any place else.

 Source: Agencies

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Sunday, April 27, 2014
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced his resignation today over the government response to the ferry disaster, in which it was first announced that everyone had been rescued, focusing attention on poor regulatory controls.
The Sewol ferry sank on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional holiday island of Jeju on April 16.
More than 300 people, most of them students and teachers on a field trip from the Danwon High School on the outskirts of Seoul, have died or are missing and presumed dead.
The children on board the Sewol were told to stay put in their cabins, where they waited for further orders. The confirmed death toll today was 187.
South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy and one of its leading manufacturing and export powerhouses, has developed into one of the world's most technically advanced countries, but faces criticism that regulatory controls have not kept pace.
As part of the investigation, prosecutors raided two shipping safety watchdogs and a coastguard office. They have also raided two vessel service centres, which act as maritime traffic control.
Chung's resignation has to be approved by President Park Geun-hye, who has the most power in government.
  • "Keeping my post too great a burden on the administration," a sombre Chung said in a brief announcement. "... On behalf of the government, I apologise for many problems from the prevention of the accident to the early handling of the disaster.
  • "There are too many irregularities and malpractices in parts of society that have been with us too long and I hope those are corrected so that accidents like this will not happen again."

Chung was booed and someone threw a water bottle at him when he visited grieving parents the day after the disaster. President Park was also booed by some relatives when she visited a gym where families of the missing were staying.
Tempers have frayed over the slow pace of the recovery and frequent changes in information provided by the government.

Source: Reuters
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Sunday, April 27, 2014
Mount Everest will not be conquered for the first time in 27 years as climbing season is called off after sherpa guides' strike over avalanche threat. 
Climbers and their local guides were descending from Everest base camp yesterday as officials said a sherpa boycott and fresh avalanches had ended hopes of any group reaching the summit this year from the more popular Nepal side.
More than 300 climbers had hoped to scale Everest this season but the deaths of 16 sherpas last week in the worst ever accident on the mountain left the local guides distraught and angry. They were swept away by an ice avalanche as they fixed ropes up to camp two at above 19,000 feet. 
It will be the first time in 27 years that the Everest route will be closed to climbers, although dozens are attempting to reach the summit from the northern Tibetan side.
  • Dipendra Paude, a spokesman for Nepal’s tourism ministry told The Daily Telegraph records showed the last time was in 1987, when it was closed due to bad weather.
  • Earlier this week, sherpa threatened to boycott the rest of the season unless the government agreed a new compensation package for sherpas injured and higher life insurance payments for the families of those killed. Nepal’s tourism minister flew to the base camp for talks with sherpas on Wednesday but they failed to reach agreement.
  • They had demanded that payments to widows and families be doubled to £12,000.
  • The demands had caused a rift with some of the sherpas who depend on the payments of up to £4,100 they can earn for leading a group to the summit - around ten times the average wage in Nepal. 
Mr Paude said some of them had wanted to stay and climb but he could not confirm reports that they had been threatened by other sherpas supporting the boycott.
Adrian Ballinger, an American mountaineer, had reported that younger sherpas had been behaving aggressively and attempting to stop others continuing with their expeditions.
Fresh avalanches and icefalls reported near the Khumbu icefall earlier however brought the climbing season to a final halt. 

Source: Telegraph


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Sunday, April 27, 2014
United States President Barack Obama has arrived at the compounds of the Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur, as he embarked on what has been described as a historic visit to Malaysia.
He was welcomed on arrival by the Yang di-Pertuan Agung Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. 
His presidential limousine had earlier left the Subang airport where Air Force One landed at about 4.50pm, after a six-hour flight from South Korea. 
The three-day visit to Malaysia - part of Obama's four-nation tour of Asia - is a first by a sitting US president in 48 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson's trip back in 1966. 
Obama is expected to have talks with Najib as the country grapples with the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane, the search for which is aided by a US Navy submersible drone.

Source: The Malaysian Insider...More... , Astro
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