Saturday, January 31, 2015
A rare megamouth shark washed ashore dead in the Philippines this week, wildlife officials said. The 15-foot shark, a Megachasma pelagios (or "giant mouth of the deep"), was discovered on the beach in Marigondon, Pio Duran, in Albay province.
The totally terrifying-looking specimen is one of less than 70 ever seen in the world, according to Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.
The shark, nicknamed "Toothless," was preserved in ice by local villagers.
It's the first megamouth shark to be documented since July, when an 18-foot Megachasma pelagios was caught by Filipino fishermen. 
The first confirmed megamouth shark sighting was in 1976, when a deep-sea anchor accidentally caught one near Hawaii. Most have been found in Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Despite the recent sightings, the megamouth shark remains "one of the most rarely seen species of sharks," David Shiffman, a marine biologist, told Business Insider.
Little is known about the species. According to the Shark Devocean blog, the deepwater shark is just one of three species (along with whale and basking sharks) that feed on plankton.
The slow-moving giant bottom-feeder swims with its big mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish.
The largest, discovered in waters off Taiwan, measured 19 feet.The sharks can live to about 100, according to Reuters.

Sources: Reuters
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Saturday, January 31, 2015
JAKARTA Indonesia is ready to execute seven foreigners on death row after their appeals for presidential clemency were rejected, an official said, despite an international outcry following recent executions.
Authorities had already revealed that the two Australian leaders of the “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling gang had lost their appeals for clemency from President Joko Widodo(photo), and would likely soon face the firing squad.
A spokesman for the attorney-general’s office revealed that a further five foreign drug convicts had recently lost their appeals, from countries including France, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana. Four Indonesians on death row had also lost their appeals.
“The attorney general’s office now has 11 convicts on death row ready to be executed,” spokesman Tony Spontana said late Wednesday.
Spontana said a decision had not yet been made on when or where the convicts would be executed, only that more than one would face the firing squad in the next round.
Indonesia earlier this month executed six drug offenders, including five foreigners, prompting a furious Brazil and the Netherlands — whose citizens were among those put to death — to recall their ambassadors. 

Sources: – AFP
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Friday, January 30, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has declared the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an "accident", its Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) said on Thursday.
The Boeing 777 aircraft disappeared on March 8 last year, carrying 239 passengers and crew shortly after taking off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing.
"We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident ... and that all 239 of the passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives," DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement.
"It is therefore, with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, we officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident," Azharuddin said in a televised announcement.
The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 in the International Civil Aviation, said Azharuddin. It will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation, he said. 
Months of searches have failed to turn up any trace.

Sources: Reuters, Agency

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015
WASHINGTON, U.S.A. - More than a decade after 9/11, Americans who come across a turban-wearing Sikh are still prone to mistaking him for a Muslim, according to a study released Monday. 
Sixty percent of Americans who participated in the study by the non-profit National Sikh Campaign admitted to knowing nothing about the Sikhs who live, study and work in their midst.
When shown a photo of a smiling older Sikh male in a red turban, 28% of respondents thought he was Middle Eastern and 20% believed he was Muslim.
Thirty-five percent thought he might be from India, or of Indian descent. Only 11% correctly identified him as Sikh.
Shown a fashionable young woman with knee-length hair – the Sikh faith discourages hair-cutting for either sex – 20% described her as Middle Eastern. No one thought she was Sikh.
"We have been very much part of the American fabric, and yet we are not well known, and often misunderstood," said Rajwant Singh, co-founder and senior adviser of the National Sikh Campaign.
"Frankly speaking, we are just tired of being the target and we want to be understood."
The first Sikhs emigrated to the United States from what was then British-ruled India a century ago.
Today, the Sikh American community numbers between 200,000 and 500,000. Estimates vary because the US Census Bureau collects no data on religious affiliation.
  • But in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Sikhs have found themselves targeted – with sometimes bloody results – by Americans who presume anyone in a turban must be a Muslim.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015
PETALING JAYA. Malaysia – Lizard Squad, the hacker group which claimed responsibility for hacking into Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) website, has indicated that it was also responsible for Tuesday’s worldwide Facebook and Instagram outages.
“Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, AIM, Hipchat #offline #LizardSquad,” tweeted the group at 2.36pm (Malaysian time) Tuesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, many Internet users took to Twitter to complain about glitches on Facebook and Instagram resulting after they were were unable to access both sites.
Instagram posted a tweet on Twitter acknowledging the problem.
“We’re aware of an outage affecting Instagram and are working on a fix. Thank you for your patience,” tweeted the photo-sharing service at 2.51pm.
By 3.10pm, Facebook was back online while Instagram was accessible at 3.20pm.
On Monday, MAS’ website was compromised by a group calling themselves the Official Cyber Caliphate.
The “hackers” later identified themselves as Lizard Squad, the group allegedly behind the hacking of Microsoft’s Xbox Live and the Sony’s PlayStation Network last year.

Source: Agency
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
GREENVILLE, S.C. USA -  A Baptist minister is in hot water after preaching a sermon that called the Ten Commandments sayings or promises rather than mandates.
In his Christmas Eve message, Senior Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church, which regularly has more than 32,000 worshippers at 11 campuses across South Carolina, told congregants that no word for “commandment” exists in Hebrew, the Old Testament’s original language.
“Instead of Ten Commandments that you have to keep if you’re going to be a follower of Jesus, they’re actually 10 promises that you can receive when you say yes to Jesus,” Noble said.
 He then proceeded to rephrase each of the commandments as a promise. The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” became “You do not have to live in constant disappointment anymore.”
Noble told his far-flung congregation that he believed his topic was given by God for a specific people whose struggles over their inability to keep the Ten Commandments were preventing them from “saying yes” to Jesus.
But the president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention said Noble had better reassess his position or reassess his affiliation with the state’s Southern Baptist churches.
  • “His 2014 Christmas Eve message and his theological position in that message are evidence of continued problematic positions and statements that are inconsistent with the beliefs of South Carolina Baptists,” the Rev. Tommy Kelly said last week in a statement published in the denomination’s statewide newspaper, The Baptist Courier. Kelly is pastor of First Baptist Church in Varnville, S.C., in addition to heading the first state Baptist convention organized in the U.S.
  • After a backlash on social media and among bloggers, on Jan. 9 Noble wrote in his own blog that he had misunderstood what a teacher in Israel had told him: Hebrew does have a word for “commandment.” He apologized for his error.

Source:  huffington post...More..
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
COTABATO, Philippines - At least 30 people were killed in heavy fighting between police and Muslim rebels in the Philippines on Sunday, military and local officials said, threatening a year-old peace agreement and shattering a ceasefire that held for three years.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest rebel group in the Philippine south, accepted an autonomy offer in March 2014 from the government, ending 45 years of conflict in which 120,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced.
Under the deal, brokered by Malaysia, the Moro rebels were to surrender their weapons and disband after the government had set up a new autonomous government in the south and granted the Muslim minority wider economic and political power.
But Sunday’s clashes, which lasted nearly 12 hours near Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, are likely to be a major setback in the implementation of the deal as Philippine Congress deliberates a new law on Muslim autonomy.
Army sources said police had entered a Muslim community where MILF and its rival faction, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, are believed to be operating. The Philippine National Police did not give any statement.
  • Zacaria Guma, a MILF commander, in a statement said the police did not coordinate with a joint government and rebel ceasefire panel.
  • Police had wanted to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian bomb expert who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S. State Department, an army spokesman said.
  • Local officials in Mamasapano said 27 police officers and five rebels were killed. Seven more police officers were unaccounted for and a further eight captured by Muslim rebels.
  • The death toll could reach 50 people, most of them from the police, the army sources said. Colonel Restituto Padilla said no army unit was involved but they were helping recover police casualties in the area. Nine had been retrieved.
Government and rebel peace panels are now holding informal talks to defuse tension and prevent the incident from escalating and spilling out and threaten the entire peace process.
The last time the MILF clashed with security force was in November 2011 when troops raided a supposed Islamist militants lair. The peace talks with MILF nearly collapsed then.

Source:- Reuters
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Monday, January 26, 2015
The Senegalese-born rapper Akon, who grew up in the US, still holds Africa close to his heart. 
His initiative, known as "Akon Lighting Africa" programme, aims to bring clean electricity to 49 African countries by the end of 2020. 
However, in an interview with Talk to Al Jazeera, he turned his attention to the increase in US police brutalityand his views on 
life as an African American.

Source: Al Jazeera
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Monday, January 26, 2015
According to the Malaysia Human Development Report 2013 released by the United Nations Development Programme, income inequality in Malaysia is among the worst in the region. 
The report also highlighted that while absolute poverty has generally decreased, relative poverty has emerged as a growing concern.
As Aristotle put it, “Poverty is the parent of crime.” Was he right? No. Although poverty and crime to a certain extent are associated, they are not mutually exclusive.
Although rising inequality does not definitively suggest the existence of poverty, coupled with indication of poverty, it demonstrates that the poor are being left behind.
While we move into the 11th Malaysia Plan, it is disheartening to see how being poor in Malaysia can quite literally become a crime.
Seemingly,  these poor people are a marginalised sector of our society due to the widening gap between the rich and the poor. These people are in fact the victims of poverty.
At the end of the day, the reality is that the rich got rich faster than the poor. 
Another problem are the rowing cases of child abuse and negligence in Malaysia are becoming a serious issue for the government and the general public.
Just recently in Butterworth, the father of a 7-year-old girl who was found abandoned and abused in an apartment was charged under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001.
In many cases, the parents might be financially unstable or poorly educated. Such forms of scarcity could then lead to abusive behaviour.
Similarly, homelessness is another great concern that affects thousands of people across the country. 
The awful part is that people who are homeless are generally blamed for their homelessness. 
The public typically perceive homeless people as lazy.
The fact is, the presence of homelessness in the city indicates the failure of government to provide adequate social welfare for the poor.

Source: The malaysian Insider
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Sunday, January 25, 2015
KOTA KINABALU, Sabah, Malaysia - Local government elections are not viable as Malaysians still largely vote based on racial backgrounds, said Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
Such polls could thus result in greater racial polarisation in the country, he warned.
DAP has called for local government elections to be reintroduced but the proposal has received criticism from its Pakatan Rakyat partner, PAS, not least from its party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who said the move could eventually lead to a repeat of the May 13 riots.
After local government elections were abolished on March 1, 1965, appointments to local councils have been made by the ruling party of the state.
Abdul Hadi's remarks followed an earlier war of words between PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali and DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke.
Mustafa had labelled DAP "arrogant" for claiming that PAS' hudud plan was against Pakatan's common principles, but violating those principles themselves to implement the local council elections,

Source: AsiaOne
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Sunday, January 25, 2015
SYDNEY, Australia  – Increasing numbers of young women are altering the profile of Australians joining the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, Attorney-General George Brandis, enticed by the “false glamour” of the organisation.
“At an earlier time, perhaps even six months ago, we were concerned almost entirely about young men,” Brandis said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“But a more recent estimate by the national security agencies suggests that a growing number of young women are travelling to participate in that fighting as well.”
Brandis said about 90 Australians were now believed to be caught up in the conflict, compared to 70 last year, the ABC reported.
Ever more young people were being “enticed and ensnared here in Australia with the false glamour of participating in the civil war on behalf of ISIL, or Daesh,” he added, using alternative acronyms for the group.
  • “The Australian people should be aware that this is a real and growing problem.”
  • Canberra has passed a law criminalising travel to terror hotspots without good reason, fearful that nationals will pose a risk when they return radicalised. Under new laws, anyone who heads to nominated areas will face up to 10 years in jail.
  • In December, Senator Brandis accused Islamic militants of using foreign fighters as “cannon fodder” and “propaganda tools” as he revealed 20 Australian nationals had been killed in Syria and Iraq, where IS militants control huge swathes of territory.
The problem was not exclusive to Australia in the region, he said, but one also faced by Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Top officials from the US-led coalition against the IS group met in London on Thursday for the first talks since the Paris attacks in which 17 people were killed, with the threat posed by homegrown jihadists high on the agenda.
Meanwhile, a US court jailed a “radicalised” Colorado teenager intercepted by the FBI when she attempted to join her fiance to fight in Syria.

Source: – AFP
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Saturday, January 24, 2015
MANILA. Philippines - The government on Friday admitted rounding up dozens of destitute people from the streets of Metro Manila and temporarily billeting them to a resort south of the capital.
In radio interviews, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman(photo) said her department gathered poor and homeless people — including entire families — and took them to a resort in Batangas to take them off the streets, document them and provide them with assistance they would require so that they can live productively.
She denied the activity was undertaken to shield the presence of a number of homeless people from the eyes of Pope Francis;who is known for his sympathy towards the poor during the Pontiff’s January 15-19 visit to the country.
“The local government units took families so they would be registered under the government’s conditional cash transfer programme, be provided with orientation, so that they and their children be given the opportunity to study under the alternative learning system programme,” she said.
According to a report by radio station dzMM, the social welfare department booked 70 rooms for poor and homeless families living in the cities of Pasay, Manila and ParaƱaque. They had stayed there for five days.
Incidentally, these same suburbs are areas where Pope Francis passed during his visit.

Source: The Guardian...More...
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Saturday, January 24, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – An Australian mother of four charged in Malaysia with the capital crime of drug trafficking was duped into carrying the drugs after falling for an online romance scam, her lawyer said Friday.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 52, was arrested December 7 after arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route from Shanghai to Melbourne.

A routine customs check discovered a hidden compartment in a bag she carried, which contained 1.5 kilogrammes (3.3 pounds) of suspected crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”. She was charged December 19.

Exposto has denied knowledge of the drugs, saying she accepted a bag that she thought contained only clothing from a stranger who asked her to take it to Melbourne.

One of her lawyers, Tania Scivetti, said Exposto had become involved in an online romance with a person claiming to be a US serviceman.

She travelled to Shanghai to meet him, only to discover that another person had been posing as her supposed love interest. 
It was there that she was tricked into carrying the drugs, Scivetti said.

“Basically she had been duped into believing she was going to see him, but instead she was duped into becoming a (drug) mule,” Scivetti said.

  • Scivetti provided no further details. Drug-trafficking carries a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Anyone with at least 50 grammes of “ice” is considered a trafficker, subject to the death penalty. Exposto originally hails from East Timor but has been an Australian citizen since 1985, her lawyers have said.
  • She appeared in a court outside Kuala Lumpur on Friday for the scheduled presentation of test results on the substance found in the bag, but the court was told the chemist’s report was not yet ready. A new date was set for February 27.
  • The defence is yet to enter a plea as the court now handling the case has no jurisdiction over death-penalty cases. The case is expected to be moved up to a higher court.

Hundreds of Malaysians and foreigners are on death row, many for drug-related offences, though few have been executed in recent years.

Two Australians were hanged in 1986 for heroin trafficking; the first Westerners executed in Malaysia in a case that strained bilateral relations.

Last year, Dominic Bird, a truck driver from Perth, was acquitted of traffickin.
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