Friday, July 31, 2015

David Cameron has pressed the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak over claims he has imprisoned his political opponents and taken government money for personal gain, at a private meeting between the two men in Kuala Lumpur.
In a meeting at Najib’s residence, Cameron also urged his Malaysian counterpart to accept the importance of a free press, the need for ethics in business, and the fight against corruption. He stressed the importance of an open economy and open society.
Cameron has made the fight against corruption a key theme of his four-day trade mission to south-east Asia, and the British prime minister had arrived in Malaysia in the week in which corruption claims prompted Najib to sack both the attorney general, who had been investigating him, and his own deputy, who had been a prominent critic.
Najib has faced allegations that he received about $700m (£448m) in government money.
Leaked confidential documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal allegedly show how the money, from state investment fund 1MDB, went into his personal accounts.

  • Najib, who has claimed the attacks against him are politically motivated, has not disputed the existence of the accounts or the receipt of the funds but has insisted he never used government funds for personal gain.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

NEW YORK -   An eight-year-old American has become the world’s youngest recipient of a transplant of both hands, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announced Tuesday.
It took a team of 40 doctors, nurses and other staff from plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology and radiology, to pull off the pioneering surgery.
Surgeons first painstakingly attached bone, then veins. Once the blood was circulating, surgeons connected tendons, muscles and nerves.

  • “Zion’s kidney transplant following his infection made him a candidate for transplant because he was already taking anti-rejection medication,” said Benjamin Chang, co-director of CHOP’s Hand Transplantation Program.
  • Surgeons operated for 10 hours to carry out the incredibly complicated surgery on Baltimore native Zion Harvey.
  • He previously had both his hands and feet amputated and had a kidney transplant following a major infection.

Harvey is receiving daily anti-rejection medications. Doctors said he should be able to return home to Baltimore in a few weeks.
The smiling, precocious youngster had learned to eat, write and even play video games without hands.
Now he says he is looking forward to being able to throw a football with his own hands.

Source: AFP
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

KATHMANDU, Nepal – Some 2.5 million worshippers sacrificed an estimated 200,000 animals during the most recent instalment of the Gadhimai festival held last November in the village of Bariyapur near the Indian border.
The festival, held once every five years, sees hordes of devotees from Nepal and India flock to a temple in the Himalayan nation’s southern plains to sacrifice thousands of animals in the hope of appeasing the Hindu goddess of power, Gadhimai.
The practice of ritual sacrifice has a long history in Nepal, with devotees offering goats and buffaloes to gods during major festivals in the hope of finding health and happiness.
However in a victory for activists, Nepalese temple authorities said Tuesday they would end a centuries-old Hindu tradition of mass animal slaughter that attracts hundreds of thousands of worshippers.
Animal rights activists applauded the decision, which came after years spent lobbying temple authorities and the Nepal government in a campaign that attracted support from celebrities including British actress Joanna Lumley and French movie legend Brigitte Bardot.
“We have decided to completely stop the practice of animal sacrifice,” said Motilal Prasad, secretary of the Gadhimai Temple Trust, which organises the celebrations.
“I realised that animals are so much like us they have the same organs as us and feel the same pain we do,” Prasad told AFP.
“It won’t be easy to end a 400-year-old custom but we have 4 years to convince people that they don’t need to sacrifice animals to please the goddess,” he 

Source: AFP
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday sacked his deputy premier and attorney general as part of a major cabinet reshuffle widely seen as an attempt to tighten his hold on office amid corruption allegations.
Najib has come under mounting pressure in recent months over claims that huge sums of money had been siphoned off from state-owned development company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he launched in 2009.
Calls for Najib to step down mounted earlier this month after a Wall Street Journal report that Malaysian government investigators had discovered nearly $700 million had been routed to Najib’s personal bank accounts.
The prime minister and 1MDB have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
In a televised address, Najib announced he had dumped Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been critical of Najib’s handling of the affair and has called for more transparency.
Muhyiddin was replaced by Home Minister Zahid Hamidi.
Clearly referring to Muhyiddin and other lower-ranking ministers who had questioned the allegations surrounding 1MDB, Najib said cabinet members “should not air their differences in an open forum that can affect public opinion against the government and Malaysia”.
In total, nine ministers were replaced in the cabinet reshuffle that Najib said was aimed at creating a more “unified team” ahead of the next elections due by 2018.
Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail, who was part of a task force investigating 1MDB, also was “terminated… for health reasons,” a government statement said.
But the moves touched off speculation that Najib was attempting to curb further calls for transparency and possibly avoid criminal charges.
“The removal of the AG and the DPM will be seen as acts of desperation by Najib,” said Terence  Gomez, a  political  analyst  with  the 
 University of Malaya.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The Prime Minister's Office has released a statement saying everyone especially members of the administration including Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should wait for the outcome of the probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
"The investigation is ongoing and we should give those involved space to perform their duties.
"Therefore, all parties – especially those from the government, including Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – should wait for the findings of the investigation to be released.
"It would be wise not to make statements that could cloud the people's perception of the country's leaders, the government and Umno," the statement read.
"The people's support for the government and the party will be eroded if we fight among ourselves.
"In this regard, the actions of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in making unsubstantiated accusations, including the loss of 1MDB's RM42bil despite clarification provided by the government, have contributed to the erosion of confidence in the government and the party," it added.

  • Muhyiddin last night said that The Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) accusation that billions of ringgit was transferred from state-owned funds into the personal accounts of Datuk Seri Najib Razak was a serious matter that needed explaining.
  • "When the news first came out, I texted the prime minister, saying: 'Sir, this was something serious that you have to deny'. He replied, saying thanks and told me he had already done so.
  • "Although there was a denial, it was from the Prime Minister's Department. I told him again that he had to be the one to do it as the allegation was made against him and then only there was denial," he said when officiating the Cheras Umno division meeting in Kuala Lumpur last night.

Source: The Malaysian Insider
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015
A woman was killed after she plunged through flooring over an escalator in a Chinese department store, reports said Monday, thrusting her toddler to safety as she fell to her death.

Xiang Liujuan, 30, was holding her son in front of her as they went up the stairway on Saturday, the Wuhan Evening News said.
Security camera footage of the incident posted online showed a panel in the floor giving way as Xiang stepped off the escalator. 
As she fell half-way through she pushed her son forward, and a nearby shop assistant dragged him to safety.
But the escalator continued rolling, and several seconds later Xiang is seen disappearing downwards into the mechanism, despite one of the staff briefly grabbing her hand.
It took firefighters more than four hours to cut open the machine and recover the woman, who showed "no signs of life", the newspaper report said.
The footage shows employees standing at the top of the escalator as the mother and child 

  • Maintenance had just been carried out on the escalator at the Anliang department store in Jingzhou in the central province of Hubei, and workers forgot to screw the access cover back into place, the newspaper cited an unnamed source as saying.
  • The accident was one of the top topics on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday with more than 6.6 million views.
  • Most comments expressed fury at the shop management.
  • "Why didn't the staffers stop customers at the entrance to the machine or just turn it off?" wrote one. "The department store is definitely responsible."
  • Others were moved by the woman's final actions. 
  • "I was appalled when I saw her sink and at the same time felt the greatness of maternal love the mother wasted no time pushing the child out when it happened," said one.

Source: Agency
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Monday, July 27, 2015
Discount carrier AirAsia on Monday called for urgent repairs at Malaysia's new budget airline terminal, claiming the tarmac was "sinking".
AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes criticised Malaysian aviation officials after a plane came off its chocks, a block that braces the wheel, at the KLIA2 terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, causing an eight-hour delay.
"The wheel was bent because the aircraft went over the chock, because it’s sinking," Fernandes told reporters on Monday.
Since opening last year, KLIA2 has been riddled with controversy, with cracks reportedly forming on the taxiway and faulty design leading to water pools on its grounds.
"The airport needs to be fixed. Fix it and let’s move on," Fernandes said.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which oversees KLIA2, had previously acknowledged the airport was located on unstable ground, which could require years of considerable maintenance to address.
MAHB did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
But Bloomberg news agency quoted the company as saying the problems stemmed from uneven soil settlement.
The settling "has been anticipated from the start of construction", the company was quoted as saying, adding that the airport was addressing the issue by patching and resurfacing problem areas and injecting polyurethane under the ground.
A concrete slab to be completed by next April will provide a more permanent solution, it said.
However AirAsia said permanent solutions must be found quickly.
  • "We can't afford to have an airport where it is continuously under construction as it obstructs our operations," Aireen Omar, chief executive officer of AirAsia, added.

Source: Yahoo News
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Monday, July 27, 2015
NAIROBI, Kenya – US President Barack Obama joked about Kenyan family politics and vowed Saturday to return again to his father’s homeland, sketching plans for philanthropic work in the country once he leaves office.
“What I can guarantee, I’ll be back,” Obama said during a joint outdoor press conference with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“The next time I’m back, I may not be wearing a suit,” he joked as US military helicopters whirred overhead and Secret Service agents stood left, right and centre – a constant reminder of the bubble that surrounds any US president.
“The first time I came, I was in jeans and a backpack,” Obama said recalling a visit made almost three decades ago in search of the 
origins of a father he barely knew.
  • “One of the challenges of travelling and visiting Kenya is that I’m much more constrained.”
  • Those restrictions meant that, unlike his first trip, Obama was unable to visit his father’s village near the shores of Lake Victoria.
  • That was something that had disappointed his extended family, leaving the first African-American president “begging forgiveness” from some relatives who he admitted to meeting for the first time when they dined together in Nairobi on Friday.
  • His half-sister Auma Obama, with whom he is in regular contact, made sure all branches of the family were represented at the meal, he said, joking: “I think the people of Kenya will be familiar with the need to manage family politics sometimes.”
  • “In these extended families, there are cousins, uncles, aunties that show up that you didn’t know existed. But you are always happy to meet and there were lengthy explanations in some cases of the connection.”
  • Obama indicated that his future with Kenya after 2017 may not be just touristic and familial.
“My hope is some of the work I do after the presidency is over builds on what we have been doing now. I’m not going to stop being interested in the young people of Kenya and Africa, developing talent and leaders and entrepreneurs that are going to help make this country and the world prosper,” he said.
“You can anticipate that I will continue to make those contributions where I can.”
He said next time he would bring his 
wife Michelle and  their 2 daughters.

Source: – AFP
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Opposition leaders have criticized the timing of British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to Malaysia next week, saying it could send a signal that Downing Street was indifferent to allegations surrounding Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Britain's Financial Times (FT) quoted PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar as saying that Cameron’s visit could show the UK government was not concerned about “the current scandal-ridden ground on which Najib treads”, while DAP's Tony Pua warned that any support to Najib would taint Britain's image "as a country which supports democratic principles and good governance”.
  • But a British official appeared to defend the visit, saying Cameron believed in engaging with all leaders.
  • "He has said that the way to talk about issues is to have an engaging relationship and try and work with countries.
Malaysia is a longstanding partner of the UK and the relationship is important for our prosperity and security, FT quoted a source in Downing Street as saying.
The Najib government is currently battling allegations of mismanagement and corruption surrounding  his  brainchild, 1MDB, 
which has raked up debts up to RM42

Source: The Malaysian Insider
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Saturday, July 25, 2015

ATHEN, Greece - Hundreds of cats are loose on the streets, and food is running low for some residents of Athens' zoo. It isn't just humans who are suffering as Greece tries to claw its way out of economic crisis.
"I'll have to call the bank again," sighed Jean-Jacques Lesueur, the founder of Athens' only zoo.
The Frenchman had been trying for days to place a 6,000 euro ($6,600) order of frozen fish for the zoo's six dolphins. Without fresh supplies from abroad, he feared he would have to put them on a diet.
Normally the order would be simple enough, but Greece imposed strict capital controls on June 29 as panicked account holders began emptying the nation's banks.
The measures have stopped the flight of cash from the debt-crippled country but in doing so have made life extremely difficult for Greek firms that do business abroad.
All bill payments to foreign countries must be approved by a government commission, a process that is proving so slow that distrustful suppliers are now asking Greek firms to pay in advance.
Lesueur, who is in his seventies, finally managed to get the dolphin food payment approved late Thursday. 
But he's still unable to pay for a shipment of meal worms, beloved of the zoo's two giant anteaters, and nutritional supplements for the rhinos. 
The zoo feeds most of its animals with local meat and vegetables, but it also spends some 80,000 euros (S$120,000) a year.

The zoo feeds most of its animals with local meat and vegetables, but it also spends some 80,000 euros (S$120,000) a year on imported food for its more fussy residents. - See more at:

Source: AFP(yahoo)
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Saturday, July 25, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities have suspended publication of a business daily whose aggressive reporting on a financial scandal has rocked the government, a move the newspaper and media groups decried Friday as a grave breach of press freedom.
In a notice dated Thursday, the Home Ministry suspended the publishing permits of The Edge Media Group for three months, saying its reporting on the scandal swirling around state-owned company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) threatened "public order".
The Edge has published a series of exposes over the past year detailing alleged fraud, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds surrounding 1MDB, which is closely linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"This is nothing more than a move to shut us down in order to shut us up," the Edge group's CEO Ho Kay Tat said in a statement.
  • Earlier this week the government blocked the UK-based website Sarawak Report, which also has published extensive reports on the scandal.
  • Najib is under mounting pressure amid allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars in 1MDB funds were siphoned off in complex overseas transactions.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported this month Malaysian government investigators had discovered that nearly $700 million had moved through government agencies, banks and companies linked to 1MDB before ending up in Najib's personal accounts.
  • Najib and 1MDB officials have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
  • The premier has dismissed the Wall Street Journal report as "political sabotage", while 1MDB has said it did not transfer any funds to the premier.
  • 1MDB also is reeling under 11 billion dollars in debt, blamed largely on a drive to acquire power-industry assets.
  • Fears that it may collapse or require a massive bailout have contributed to a recent slide in the ringgit currency to 16-year lows.
  • The Home Ministry said The Edge's reports on 1MDB were "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest."
  • But Ho said: "We don't see how exposing the scam to cheat the people of Malaysia of billions of ringgit can be construed as being detrimental to public and national interest."
  • Malaysia's Centre for Independent Journalism called the printing suspension "an extremely heavy-handed measure and a breach of freedom of expression and media freedom in particular."
The suspension, effective from July 27, applies to print outlets The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly, Ho said, adding that the company would fight the suspension in court.
The Edge's online platforms will be unaffected, he said.
Malaysia passed laws in the 1990s protecting the country's Internet from censorship, part of a pledge aimed  at luring foreign high-tech 
Source: Agency
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