Suu Kyi Aide Sworn In As Myanmar President In Historic Power Shift

Thursday, March 31, 2016
MYANMAR– Aung San Suu Kyi(photo), 70, is barred from becoming president by the junta-scripted constitution but has declared that she will steer the government anyway, taking on a clutch of cabinet positions including that of foreign minister.
However a close aide to Suu Kyi was sworn in as Myanmar’s president on Wednesday, a role that will see him act as a proxy for the pro-democracy figurehead and carry the hopes of a nation emerging from military rule.
Htin Kyaw takes power from former general Thein Sein who has helmed far-reaching reforms since 2011. The handover at the junta-built parliament in the capital Naypyidaw marks the final act of a prolonged transition since Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party swept the November elections.
The NLD won 80% of parliamentary seats, handing them a massive public mandate to rule after generations of army domination.
Wearing a collarless shirt in the NLD’s peach-coloured parliamentary colours, the bespectacled Htin Kyaw pledged to be “faithful to the people of the republic of the union of Myanmar”.
Htin Kyaw is known among political commentators as a party insider with close ties to Suu Kyi going back many decades, including as one of her classmates at high school in Yangon. 
Born in 1946, the 69-year-old is the son of a famous poet and writer, Min Thu Wun, who ran as an NLD candidate in the 1990 elections. 
Htin Kyaw is married to NLD politician Su Su Lwin, whose father U Lwin is one of the party's founding members. 
He studied economics at the University of Yangon and went on to study computer science. 
He had a stint as a government employee while Myanmar was under military rule but was jailed in 2000 after he tested the limits of Suu Kyi's house arrest at the time. 
Until his election, Htin Kyaw was the head of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity named after Aung Sang Suu Kyi's mother.

Source:Al Jazeera, Agencies
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Bangladesh High Court Upholds Islam As State Religion

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh's High Court on Monday rejected a 28-year-old petition calling for the removal of a constitutional provision recognising Islam as the official religion of the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.
The court ruled that the petitioning organisation, the Committee against Autocracy and Communalism, did not have the right to be heard in the court.
Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque, one of the three judges sitting on the bench, said that the court found that "the petitioner does not have locus standi and that is why the petition will be summarily rejected".  
The organisation's lawyer, Subrata Chowdhury, said that he was 100 percent disappointed with 
the decision.
  • "Without a hearing and without giving us any chance to present our argument on the point of locus standi, the court dismissed the case," he told Al Jazeera.
Others, however, were pleased with the decision.
Source: Al Jazeera...More...

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Rolling Stones Rock Into Cuba And Make History

Saturday, March 26, 2016
The Rolling Stones have rocked almost half a million jubilant Cubans in Havana, delivering a historic concert in a country where ardent fans once listened to their music behind closed doors.
"Hello Havana! Good evening to my Cuban people," lead singer Mick Jagger shouted in Spanish on Friday as he launched into the classic "Jumpin' Jack Flash." 
The concert on Friday came just two days after Barack Obama finished the first trip to Cuba by a US president in nearly 90 years. 
The free concert, billed as the biggest in the country's history, sought to cement the communist-run island's opening to the world. Security was heavy, provided by private guards in yellow jackets and hundreds of Cuban police and black-clad interior ministry officers in black jumpsuits. 
  • While no official estimate was immediately available for the crowd size, Cuban state media estimated 500,000 people could fit in the venue, which was nearly full. 
 Source: Al Jazeera...More...
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Asia Most Exposed To Disasters, Africa Most Vulnerable?

Friday, March 25, 2016
Countries and mega-cities across Asia are highly exposed to natural hazards ranging from cyclones to earthquakes, but people in sub-Saharan Africa are more vulnerable, according to a report released Wednesday.
Nearly 1.4 billion people in South Asia — India, Bangladesh, Pakistan — face at least one major threat from Nature, especially flooding, severe storms boosted by rising seas, and quakes. 
In the case of Bangladesh, 100 percent of its population is exposed, compared to 82 percent for India and 70 percent in Pakistan. China, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines are also among the nations with the largest numbers of people in harm’s way.
The United States, Mexico and Brazil round out the top ten. When it comes to vulnerability, however, Africa is the continent where people are most likely to suffer injury, disease and death as a result of natural disasters, according to the Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index from risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft.
The capacity to cope with disaster can determine whether a high-magnitude earthquake, for example, will cause hundreds of deaths, as happened in Chile in 2010, or hundreds of thousands, as befell Haiti in the same year. 
Nine out of ten countries ranked as most vulnerable to natural hazards in the index are in sub-Saharan Africa, and 23 of 25 are on the continent.
South Sudan — plagued by drought and war — heads the list of the countries most defenceless against disaster, followed by Burundi, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • “The frequency and magnitude of natural hazard events cannot be controlled,” the report noted. “But the development and implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies can help minimise the humanitarian and economic impacts.”
  • Among mega-cities, Manila — facing a triple threat from cyclones, superstorms and earthquakes — tops the list of urban areas with the highest number of people exposed. Tokyo and Jakarta and in second and third place, with Dongguan in southern China, Dhaka and Kolkata following close behind.
Mexico City, Delhi and Sao Paulo all have huge populations exposed to major storms. “This analysis shows that governance is key to lower vulnerability,” the report said. 
Without major reforms and political stability, “countries such as India and the Philippines are unlikely to see improvements in the near term.”  

 Source:– AFP
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Obama Became The First US President In 88 Years To Visit Cuba

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

HAVANA, Cuba  – Barack Obama on Sunday became the first US president in 88 years to visit Cuba, hailing an “historic opportunity” to cast aside decades of Cold War enmity with the communist state.
Touching down in Havana, Obama began the landmark trip with an overture to Cuba’s citizens — “Que bola Cuba?,” he tweeted, using local slang to ask “what’s up?”
A smiling Obama then emerged from Air Force One with his wife Michelle and their two daughters Sasha and Malia, clutching umbrellas to shield themselves from a warm afternoon rain shower.
  • Obama is not only the first sitting US leader to visit Cuba since Fidel Castro’s guerrillas overthrew the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, but the first since President Calvin Coolidge in 1928.
  • “President Coolidge came on a battleship, it took him three days to get here. It only took me three hours,” Obama joked during a meeting with staff from the freshly reopened US embassy.
“This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity,” he said. For Cubans dreaming of escaping isolation and reinvigorating their threadbare economy, the visit has created huge excitement. But just hours before Obama’s arrival there was an ominous reminder of their government’s controlling hand. 
Police in Havana arrested dozens of people from a banned group demanding greater human rights,AFP reporters witnessed.
Source:Washington Post...More..
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Airport, Metro In Brussels Rocked By Blasts

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Western Europe was on high alert on Tuesday after attackers launched twin assaults in Belgium's capital Brussels with bombs ripping through the airport and the underground metro line.
More than 30 people were killed and hundreds wounded - many in critical condition. 
Belgian's federal prosecutor told state media one of the explosions at Zaventem airport was "probably" a suicide attack.
Police were going door-to-door throughout Brussels searching for suspects or others planning attacks. The interior minister said 600 additional police were deployed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The explosions struck the heart of European officialdom where NATO headquarters is based, along with the European Parliament and European Commission. 
Footage from the airport - the country's largest - showed people running from the terminal building as plumes of smoke rose to the sky. Fourteen people were killed and more than 90 wounded with the casualty toll steadily rising on Tuesday.

;Source: Al Jazeera...More...
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Malaysian Bar Approves Motion Calling For Resignation Of AG

Saturday, March 19, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar has debated and approved a motion calling for Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali to resign for clearing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of corruption. 
The motion was voted through after a debate during the Malaysian Bar's annual general assembly at the Renaissance Hotel here today. 
"The motion was passed with an overwhelming majority," a lawyer told the New Straits Times when met after the motion was debated. 
The lawyer, who declined to be named, admitted that it was a non-binding resolution, and that Apandi was not compelled to resign.
Three lawyers – Charles Hector, Francis Pereira and Shanmugam Ramasamy – had proposed a motion to debate the call for Apandi to resign. 
Apandi was urged to resign over his handling of the cases involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd, former 1MDB unit SRC International, and the transfer of RM2.6 billion into Najib's personal accounts. 

Source: New Straits Times
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Kurdish Woman Shot Dead After Rejecting Arranged Marriage

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Kurdish father whose daughter was shot dead at a wedding in Germany has posted a picture of her lying in a pool of blood on his Facebook page and is demanding justice.
He wrote that his beloved 21-year-old daughter Shilan had rejected an arranged marriage to her cousin and had paid for it with her life during a wedding ceremony in Hanover, Germany.
The father, named as Ghazi H., 50, posted the harrowing image of his daughter on Facebook as  police  continued  to   hunt  for 
the cousin. 
He said that his Kurdish family had fled Iraq heading to Germany when his daughter was just three, and he said she had grown up as a self-confident young woman with German citizenship, studying property management at college in Hanover. Posting the images he added:
‘It is with the deepest sense of loss and pain that I announce the loss of my daughter. She died in a pool of her own blood, as a victim of a treacherous tradition.’ He said that his two brothers, identified as Numan H. and Hassan H., had tried to arrange a forced marriage for the young woman to her cousin Sefin, 22, but she had refused.
  • She told her father that she did not love the man she was supposed to marry, and rejected the suggestion. He said that he had left his brother looking after his family including his daughter while he was working on a project in Iraq. 
  • He said that behind his back, his brother had decided to marry his son off to Shilan, and had already started to make the arrangements. 
  • When he returned, he said: ‘She begged me to do something and so I cancelled the engagement.’ The shooting took place at about 10pm on March 13. Police have a warrant for the arrest of Sefin, Bild reports. 

Source: – Daily Mail
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Indian Student Hacked To Death For Inter-Caste Marriage?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New Delhi – An Indian student from the lowest Dalit caste was hacked to death and his wife critically injured in southern India in a suspected “honour killing” by relatives angered by their marriage, police said Monday.

Three men armed with sickles and sharp weapons attacked the 22-year-old student and his wife, who is from a higher caste, on a crowded street in Tamil Nadu state on Sunday.

Local police commissioner N Manjunatha said the 19-year-old woman’s relatives were angered by the couple’s marriage.

“They married some eight months ago and the woman’s family was unhappy. She is an upper Thevar Hindu caste and the man was a Dalit,” Manjunatha told AFP.
The woman is recovering at a local hospital and police are searching for her uncle in connection with the attack, he said.

  • CCTV footage of the incident broadcast on Indian television showed the couple walking along the street when three men on a motorbike stop and attack them.
  • Thevars are a dominant community in Tamil Nadu while Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, are a historically marginalised community.
  • India has long witnessed so-called honour killings, where couples are targeted because their families or communities disapprove of their relationships over caste or religion. Most occur in rural pockets of the north. 
  • They are carried out by relatives or caste groups to protect what is seen as the family’s reputation and pride.

There are no India-specific figures available, but United Nations statistics say 1,000 out of the 5,000 such killings every year are in India.

India’s Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that those involved in honour killings should face the death penalty. 

Source:– AFP
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Australian Journalists Detained In Malaysia For Defying Police Orders?

Monday, March 14, 2016
KUCHING, Sarawak, Malaysia - Two Australian journalists were detained and barred from leaving Malaysia after they had tried to "aggressively" question Prime Minister Najib Razak about a corruption scandal, police said Sunday. 
The duo were detained after they crossed a "security line and aggressively tried to approach the prime minister" who was visiting a mosque in Kuching on the island of Borneo, according to a police statement. 
"Both of them were subsequently arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line," read the statement. 
The journalists, who work for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners investigative programme, were detained on Saturday night after the incident but were released Sunday without charge. 
"ABC 4Corners team arrested in Malaysia last night after trying to question PM Najib Razak over corruption scandal," the programme's executive producer Sally Neighbour tweeted Sunday. 
  • Reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu had approached Najib on the street before their arrest, the broadcaster added.
  • Neighbour said their passports, which were initially seized, had been returned to them but they "can't leave Malaysia". ?We will discuss with the Attorney General's Chambers [whether] to charge them," 
  • Malaysia's national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar was quoted as saying by local news agency Bernama. "Police are responsible for the prime minister's security. So we do not want anything untoward happening to him," he said, adding that the journalists were barred from leaving the state while investigations were underway. 
  • Two of Najib's bodyguards were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. Najib, who was defence minister at the time, has strongly denied any involvement in the murder and has said he did not know the woman. 
  • But government critics have long alleged that the two bodyguards, members of an elite unit that guards top ministers, were scapegoats in the killing of Altantuya, who was at the centre of allegations of massive kickbacks in the $1.1 billion 2002 purchase of French Scorpene submarines. 
  • Najib, 62, has also been under fire over allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from a state firm he founded, and over his own acceptance of a murky $681 million overseas payment.
  • He and the state firm have vehemently denied any wrongdoing. 
  • In the allegation's wake, the prime minister has curbed investigations into the scandals and purged his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) of critics, essentially shutting off internal party challenges.

Whistle-blowers have been arrested, while media outlets reporting on the allegations have been muzzled, raising concerns over rights and freedom of speech. 
Leaders from across Malaysia's political spectrum joined forces on March 4 to call for the removal of the scandal-hit premier.

Source: AFP
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Man In Wheelchair Robs Bank?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

ZAGREB – A Croatian man in a wheelchair robbed a bank after passers-by helped him to enter the premises, local media reported today. 
“I have a bomb!” shouted the 35-year-old disabled man to shocked employees in a branch of  Austria’s Erste Bank in downtown Zagreb, before forcing them to hand over the cash, the Vecernji list newspaper reported. 
  • The crime occurred on Wednesday evening only a few seconds after the man had politely thanked passers-by for helping him to enter the bank in his wheelchair, the paper said. 
  • After employees handed over 50,000 kunas (RM30,000) the robber wheeled himself to a nearby taxi station where a cab driver helped him get into the car and put his wheelchair in the trunk
  • Unaware of his client’s recent activities, the driver took the man towards the northern town of Bjelovar, where he was eventually arrested. 

Source: — AFP
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At Least 5 Killed, Several Hurt In Shooting Near Pittsburgh,USA

Thursday, March 10, 2016
WILKINSBURG - Four women and one man were  shot,  killed and several injured on Wednesday in a residential neighborhood in Wilkinsburg, about 8 miles (13 km) east of the city, news station WPXI said, adding that the suspects were at large. 
Other regional media said seven or eight people were shot and Police were not immediately available for comments. 

Several reporters in the area Tweeted photographs of ambulancesand police cars. 
Dozens of shell casings littered the pavement of an alleyway at the scene, media reports 
Wilkinsburg is a borough of about 16,000 people. The population are mostly people with lower and middle income residents, demographic data showed.

Source: Reuters
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