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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
“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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Abdul Hadi's remarks followed an earlier war of words between PAS
secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali and DAP organising secretary Anthony
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,
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
“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
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
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.
Soliman was reacting to
reports that ten busloads of homeless people were taken to the Chateau
Royale Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas on January 14, a day before the
Pope’s arrival in the Philippines.
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 Parañaque. They had
stayed there for five days.
Incidentally, these same suburbs are areas where Pope Francis passed during his visit.
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
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 52, was arrested December 7 after
arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route from Shanghai to
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
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
Last year, Dominic Bird, a truck driver from Perth, was acquitted of