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Malaysians Move On As MH370 Search Continues On

posted 22 Mar 2014 03:06 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 22 Mar 2014 03:07 ]

As the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reaches the two-week mark, some Malaysians say life must move on.

BANDAR KINRARA, MALAYSIA (MARCH 22, 2014) (REUTERS) -  The bustle of daily life continued for Malaysians on Saturday (March 22), as the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 dragged into a second week.

The airliner went missing with 239 people on board early on March 8.

But Malaysian officials say they are now bracing for the "long haul" as searches by more than two dozen countries turn up few results.

Newspaper headlines at one street-side seller in a southern suburb of Kuala Lumpurcontinued to be dominated by coverage of the search efforts, but customers said they were beginning to feel fatigued.

"Life will have to go on and you take this as a lesson for all, and we'll have to be closer together for the best of all Malaysia," 56-year-old Abdul Rahman Putra told Reuters.

"I think the authorities should just be allowed to do their jobs. I feel annoyed because there's too much speculation - and this needs to be stopped," Susarudin Yakub said.

Families of the passengers have faced an emotionally wrenching battle to elicit information from Malaysia's government, their angst fuelled by a steady stream of speculation and false leads.

The country's transport minister has rejected complaints that the country has botched search efforts or refused to share vital information with other governments.

But 46-year-old oil and gas consultant Ravi Chandran said he still suspected theMalaysian government knew more than they were letting on.

"I want to see something true is coming out from our government, from the people who is up there. This all is not a true stories I thinks. Something is going on," he said.

An international team hunting for possible debris from the aircraft in the remote southern Indian Ocean yielded no results on Friday (March 23), and Australia's deputy prime minister said suspected debris there may have sunk.

On Saturday, six aircraft began returning to the region where objects identified by satellite were spotted earlier this week, while two merchant ships were also searching the area.

ChinaJapan and India are sending planes and Australian and Chinese navy vessels are steaming to the zone, more than 2,000km (1,200 miles) southwest of Perth.

Aircraft and ships have also renewed the search in the Andaman Sea between India andThailand, going over areas that have already been exhaustively swept.

Chinese Families Of MH370 Passengers Moved From Hotel 'Because Of Formula One'

posted 22 Mar 2014 02:55 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 22 Mar 2014 02:56 ]

Malaysian official says Chinese families of passengers aboard missing flight MH370 have been moved from their hotel near Kuala Lumpur to make way for customers of the upcoming Malaysian Formula One grand prix.

SEPANG, SELANGOR STATE, MALAYSIA (MARCH 22, 2014) (REUTERS) - Chinese families who chose to fly to Kuala Lumpur to be closer to the search for relatives on board missing flight MH370 have been moved to make way for motorsports fans, a Malaysian official said on Saturday (March 22).

By late Friday (March 21), a handful of Chinese families who had been staying at a resort south of Kuala Lumpur had to decamp to another hotel to make way for visitors to the upcoming Malaysian Formula One grand prix.

"Look, I thought it was already explained, it's because of the Formula One. They are ok, they are not unhappy about that," Malaysia's envoy to ChinaOng Ka Ting told reporters.

"They are ok, they are well taken care of, I think they are fully understood and they accepted it," he added.

For families of the passengers, the search has proved to be an emotionally wrenching battle to elicit information, their angst fuelled by a steady stream of speculation and false leads.

In a Beijing hotel where the bulk of Chinese families have been awaiting information, the deadlock has prompted rage over perceived Malaysian incompetence.

On Wednesday (March 19), grief erupted into anger in Malaysia when several family members unfurled a protest banner in front of a throng of journalists, demanding the truth from the Malaysian government.

The ruckus prompted police to escort the relatives, including a distraught mother, away from the briefing room.

Greek Schoolchildren Form Human Chain On Acropolis Against Racism

posted 21 Mar 2014 09:03 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Mar 2014 09:04 ]

Thousands of young schoolchildren in Greece form a human chain around the Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis to mark the international day against racism.

 ATHENS, GREECE (MARCH 21 2014)(REUTERS) - Some 2,600 children in Greece formed a human chain around the famous Parthenon Templeon the Acropolis in Athens on Friday (March 21) as a symbol against racism.

March 21 is the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

"We're extremely excited, it was for a very good cause, we're sending a message loud and clear that everybody should be united, we're against racism and our children are holding hands and I think they're sending the message loud and clear," said English teacher Penelope Aristou.

Racism has become an issue in Greece in the last two years following a series of racist attacks on immigrants believed to be carried out by right wing extremists.

The thousands of children, who came with their teachers from schools in the Greek capital, after forming the human chain held up placards reading "I embrace the Acropolis, I embrace humanity," and sang as tourists looked on.

"I really like doing this event, because we need to show respect for everyone, it's very important," said 12-year-old Marilia Diamantopoulou.

The event was organized by the Greek Secretariat for Human Rights.

Turkish President Posts Message On Twitter Saying Social Media Bans Are Unacceptable

posted 21 Mar 2014 07:44 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Mar 2014 07:45 ]

Turkish President Abdullah Gul posts a message on Twitter saying the ban on the social media platform is unacceptable, as the country's main opposition party prepares to launch a legal challenge against a court order blocking the website.

 INTERNET (MARCH 21, 2014) (TWITTER WEBPAGE) - Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Friday (March 21) that it was unacceptable to impose complete bans on social media platforms after a court decision to block access to Twitter.

Posting on his own Twitter page, Gul said only individual Internet pages should be blocked if a court ruled that an individual's privacy had been violated, adding he hoped the current block would not last long.

Turkey's courts blocked access to Twitter following a vow from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, on the campaign trail ahead of key March 30 local elections, to "wipe out" the service.

In a defiant stand, Erdogan said he did not care what the international community had to say about it.

The Prime Minister, who has been in power for 11 years, is battling a corruption scandal that has been fed by social media awash with alleged evidence of government wrongdoing.

Gul, however, took to Twitter himself to say complete bans on social media platforms were unacceptable and to voice his hope that the block would be short-lived.

"One cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms," Gul tweeted.

He said only individual Internet pages should be blocked if there is a court order on the grounds that a person's privacy is being violated.

Gul co-founded the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party with Erdogan and has remained a close ally.

But he is viewed as a more conciliatory figure than the combative prime minister and their relations have at times appeared strained.

Turkey's main opposition party said it would challenge the ban and file a criminal complaint against Erdogan on the grounds of violating personal freedoms.

The country's bar association filed a separate court challenge.

"We will file a complaint against the block access, against the ruling by Istanbul court. We are preparing a petition and we will submit it this afternoon around 2.30 p.m. (1230gmt). As a citizen of this country as a lawmaker I will file a complaint against twitter ban." CHP Deputy Levent Gok told a news conference on Friday.

In the run up to the elections, the president has been hesitant to openly criticise Erdogan, despite the brewing scandal and the lather's increasing claims of a conspiracy against his government

Erdogan's ruling AK Party has already tightened Internet controls, handed government more influence over the courts, and reassigned thousands of police and hundreds of prosecutors and judges as it fights a corruption scandal he has cast as a plot by political enemies to oust him.

Telecoms watchdog BTK said the social media platform had been blocked by the courts after complaints were made by citizens that it was breaching privacy.

It said Twitter had ignored previous requests to remove content.

Twitter users in Turkey began reporting widespread outages in direct connections overnight.

Some users trying to open the website were taken to a statement apparently from another regulator citing four court orders as the basis for the ban.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it was looking into the matter but had not issued a formal statement.

The company did publish a tweet addressed to Turkish users instructing them on how to continue tweeting via SMS text message.

Turkey Blocks Twitter Days Before Election, As PM Fights Corruption Scandal

posted 21 Mar 2014 07:40 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Mar 2014 07:41 ]

Turkish courts block access to Twitter just days before the country's March 30 election. The ban comes as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan battles a corruption scandal that has seen social media platforms flooded with alleged evidence of government wrongdoing.

 ISTANBUL, TURKEY (MARCH 21, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Turkey's courts blocked access to Twitter late on Thursday (March 20), just days before elections as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan battles a corruption scandal that has seen social media platforms awash with alleged evidence of government wrongdoing.

The ban came hours after a defiant Erdogan, on the campaign trail ahead of key March 30 local elections, vowed to "wipe out" Twitter and said he did not care what the international community had to say about it.

Erdogan's ruling AK Party has already tightened Internet controls, handed government more influence over the courts, and reassigned thousands of police and hundreds of prosecutors and judges as it fights a corruption scandal he has cast as a plot by political enemies to oust him.

Telecoms watchdog BTK said the social media platform had been blocked by the courts after complaints were made by citizens that it was breaching privacy.

It said Twitter had ignored previous requests to remove content.

"Because there was no other choice, access to Twitter was blocked in line with court decisions to avoid the possible future victimization of citizens," it said.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it was looking into the matter but had not issued a formal statement.

The company did publish a tweet addressed to Turkish users instructing them on how to continue tweeting via SMS text message.

"Twitter, mwitter!," Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a rally late on Thursday, in a phrase translating roughly as "Twitter, schmitter!".

"We will wipe out all of these," said Erdogan, who has cast the corruption scandal as part of a smear campaign by his political enemies.

"The international community can say this, can say that. I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is," he said in a characteristically unyielding tone.

Twitter users in Turkey began reporting widespread outages overnight.

Some users trying to open the website were taken to a statement apparently from another regulator (TIB) citing four court orders as the basis for the ban.

"We are resembling the Arab countries. Turkey's future is not bright. We cannot even talk to people on the street about this issue. This is not good for the country", said Istanbul resident Doga Satir.

Another resident of Istanbul, Fahir Karabel, said the public will always find a way to voice their opinions.

"Congratulations to him. What else can I say? He cannot prevent this by blocking a website. No matter how hard he tries, people will always find their ways, they will always find an open door", he said.

Aylin Vural, a resident of Istanbul, said despite the ban, nothing will change,

"I am a twitter user for a very long time. It is now blocked because people were sharing their opinions there. He thinks we cannot criticize him if he shuts down twitter but our struggle will continue. Nothing will change despite the ban", she said.

The corruption investigation became public on Dec. 17 when police detained the sons of three cabinet ministers and businessmen close to Erdogan.

The three ministers resigned a week later, while others were removed in a cabinet reshuffle.

At an extraordinary session on Wednesday (March 19), the parliament speaker blocked opposition pleas to have a prosecutor's report with allegations against the former ministers read out.

A document purporting to be that report appeared on Twitter last week.

It included alleged transcripts of wiretapped phone conversations, pictures from physical surveillance and pictures of official documents accusing the former ministers and two of their sons of involvement with an Iranian businessman in a bribery and smuggling racket.

Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the document.

Turkish Internet users were quick to come up with ways to circumvent the block. The hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey quickly moved among the top trending globally.

The disruption sparked a virtual uproar, with many comparing Turkey to Iran and North Korea, where social media platforms are tightly controlled.

Erdogan said two weeks ago that Turkey could also ban Facebook and YouTube, which he says have been abused by his enemies after a stream of audio recordings purportedly revealing corruption in his inner circle emerged online.

But a senior official said on Friday (March 21) there were no immediate plans to do so.

South Africa Opposition Files Graft Charges Against Zuma Over Home Upgrade

posted 20 Mar 2014 10:45 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 20 Mar 2014 10:46 ]

South Africa's opposition party lays criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma, accusing him of "flagrant abuse" of public money over $23 million in home upgrades .

NKANDLA, KWAZULU-NATALSOUTH AFRICA (MARCH 20, 2014) (ENCA) -  South Africa's main opposition party laid criminal charges against PresidentJacob Zuma on Thursday (March 20), accusing him of "flagrant abuse" of public money over $23 million in upgrades to his home that included a swimming pool and a cattle enclosure.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) filed eight charges of corruption against Zuma at a police station near his Nkandla homestead, a party spokeswoman said.

"If everyone is equal under the law, then everyone must be treated the same, I believe that President Zuma has benefited personally and his architect Makhanya benefited through this result and therefore a criminal process must take place personally to President Zuma" , said DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.

The sprawling compound in rural KwaZulu-Natal province has become a growing headache for Zuma and his ruling ANC just six weeks before an election.

South Africa's corruption watchdog on Wednesday (March 19) said Zuma benefited "unduly" from the state-funded security upgrades, accusing him of conduct "inconsistent with his office". It said he should pay for some of the unnecessary buildings, which also included an amphitheatre and a chicken run.

"This is a particularly egregious case because this is not a case of somebody splashing out on a big unnecessary government office. This is the case of an individual who is being accorded enormous privilege, an individual who is a final custodian of public resources. So it doesn't say a lot of good, it doesn't say a lot of good that the ruling party can't do what should be done under the circumstances" said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, an anti-graft watchdog set up in 2012 with the backing ofSouth Africa's largest trade union grouping COSATU, an ally of the ANC.

"We actually have sweet anti corruption laws that are by and large unenforced but we have big red lights. We have big red lights in relation to the prosecution authorities, we have big red lights in relation to the police, we have big red lights in some of theprovincial administration and certainly in local government I think our role is to make the public and the authorities and the leadership of the private sector take this seriously because, the consequences are pretty dismal, I mean one doesn't wanna land up likeRussia or India where this is so in built into the system that it is just impossible to eradicate" added David Lewis.

The findings from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's two-year investigation are widely seen as damaging for scandal-plagued Zuma and may harm his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the May 7 polls, although the party, which has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994, is still expected to win.

"Therefore for rating agencies and many of the security exchange organisations such as the security exchange commission of U.S. they are very, very worried about companies being involved in bribery and corrupt activities when bidding for jobs, so therefore we may see a challenge whereby Standard and Poor's look at us and say we don't believe in this long term project, therefore South Africa is not an investment grade it should be downgraded for me that's the biggest worry, not for only but for many corporate who want to expand in the rest of the continent," said Lumkile Mondi, an economist at IDC (Indistrial Corporation development)

Under South African law, an individual or an institution can lay criminal charges through a legal filing. The DA submission was expected to go the National Prosecuting Authority, which would decide whether there was a formal case to answer.

The charges were filed a day after the DA said it planned to start impeachment proceedings against Zuma in parliament.

But given the ANC's two-third majority in parliament, the move to impeach Zuma is certain to fail. Nor is it likely to be a game-changer for the DA in the elections, as many blacks see the party as representing privileged whites.

Still, the charges reinforce the perception among many South Africans that Zuma and senior members of the ANC have grown rich as millions remain mired in poverty. While the ruling party leapt to Zuma's defence on Thursday, it admitted the scandal could be damaging with the elections looming.

"I'm very dismayed because instead of spending on his own house why doesn't he concentrate on things in the country like education and hospitalisation etc. So From the President's point of view, he should have noticed that was wrong, you do not do things like that. Think about the people first, think about the country first before you spend money on your own house, using the tax payer's money to do something like that, I am really dismayed and he will definitely not get my vote" said Johannesburg resident Elise Nightingale.

In the last three months, townships around Johannesburg and Pretoria have been rocked by daily protests, mainly by young blacks stuck in poverty and unemployment that has changed little in the two decades since white-minority rule.

"There is the poor underprivileged children; why doesn't he think about them? Why doesn't he do something about the e-tolling? But he'd rather spend money on himself. It's not fair," added another Johannesburg resident, Kathy McArthur.

Zuma, a polygamous Zulu traditionalist, has ruled South Africa since winning a 2009 election after his supporters ousted rival and predecessor Thabo Mbeki from the ANC leadership and the presidency. He has been dogged by scandals throughout his political career.

Indonesia To Provide Malaysia With Data In Search For Missing Plane

posted 19 Mar 2014 20:49 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Mar 2014 20:50 ]


Malaysia Says "Radar Data" Received In Search For Missing Flight MH370

posted 19 Mar 2014 08:52 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Mar 2014 08:53 ]

Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says the investigating teams have received "some radar data" in the search for missing flight MH370.

SEPANG, MALAYSIA (MARCH 19, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Wednesday (March 19) said investigators have received some radar data concerning missing flight MH370.

No wreckage has been found from the Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 239 on board, which vanished from air traffic control screens off Malaysia's east coast at 1:21 a.m. local time on March 8 (1721 GMT March 7), less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

"I can confirm that we have received some radar data, but we are not at liberty to release information from other countries. I appeal to all our partners to continue volunteering any and all information that could help us with the investigation and the search for MH370," Hussein, who is in charge of the operation said at a news briefing in SepangMalaysia, on the 12th day of the search for the missing plane.

Some sources involved in the investigation have voiced fears it could be drifting towards deadlock due to the reluctance of countries in the region to share militarily sensitive radar data or allow full access to their territory.

Police have searched the homes of the 53-year-old pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq AbdulHamid, 27. Among the items taken were a flight simulator Zaharie had built in his home.

The methodical shutdown of the communications systems, together with the fact that the plane appeared to be following a planned course after turning back, have been interpreted as suggesting strongly that foul play, rather than some kind of technical failure, was behind the disappearance.

"Local and international expertise have been recruited to examine the pilot's flight simulator, some data has been deleted from the simulator and forensic work to retrieve this data is ongoing, I would like to take this opportunity to state that the passengers, the pilot and the crew remain innocent until proven otherwise," Hussein said.

An unprecedented search for the Boeing 777-200ER is under way involving 26 nations in two vast search "corridors": one arcing north overland from Laos towards the Caspian Sea, the other curving south across the Indian Ocean from west of Indonesia's Sumatra island to west of Australia.

Investigators probing the disappearance of the plane believe it most likely flew into the southern Indian Ocean, a source close to the investigation said on Wednesday.

"Some priority is given to that area, this morning I spoke to Admiral Locklear of PACOM (Pacific Command) in trying to identify equipment that would assist us in locating a possibility of a black box, if that is the focus and the French experts that I spoke to earlier this afternoon in looking onto the black box which took them two years in the Atlantic, the equipment that they used, we are now identifying the assets," he said.

Police officers on Wednesday were seen dragging out distraught family members of Chinese passengers from the news briefing room. Many of them have arrived in Sepang demanding answers on the location of the plane.

"I hope then I appeal to everybody that though we understand their concerns we are trying our very best and it is heart-wrenching, even for me," Hussein said.

Investigators piecing together patchy data from military radar and satellites believe that minutes later the plane turned sharply west, re-crossing the Malay Peninsula and following an established commercial route towards India.

After that, ephemeral pings picked up by one commercial satellite suggest the aircraft flew on for at least six hours. The data from the satellite placed the plane somewhere in one of the two corridors when the final signal was sent at 8:11 a.m.

Masked Men Attack Hong Kong Newspaper Executives With Iron Bars

posted 19 Mar 2014 08:49 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Mar 2014 08:49 ]

Two executives at a newspaper that is due to start publishing later this year are beaten by four men wielding metal bars, causing injuries requiring hospital treatment.

HONG KONG, CHINA (MARCH 19, 2014) (ATV) - Two senior executives at a Hong Kong newspaper that is due to start printing later this year were beaten by masked men wielding metal bars on Wednesday (March 19) afternoon.

The four men wearing caps, surgical masks and gloves attacked Hong Kong Morning News Media Group Limited's vice president and director Lei Iun-han (pron: Lay Yun-han) and senior executive Lam Kin-ming, according to local newspaper South China Morning Post.

Executives suffered from non-life threatening injuries to their limbs. No arrests have been made so far.

Footage from local television ATV showed Lei on a wheelchair. She refused to comment on the attack.

The Hong Kong Morning News' organizers issued a statement last month to fight accusations that it was pro-government and backed by Beijing, according to local reports.

Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned the attack in a statement, stressing the city would not tolerate any violence.

This is the second attack on media workers in four weeks in Hong Kong.

Kevin Lau, until recently chief editor of Ming Pao, a Chinese-language newspaper known for its investigative reports, was stabbed in the back and legs several times on February 26. The assailant rode off on a motorcycle with an accomplice.

A total of 11 people were arrested in the case, including two 37-year-old men who were charged on Wednesday after being arrested on Monday (March 17) in the southern Guangdong province in China.

The stabbing sparked a protest with thousands of people voicing support for press freedom in the former British colony.


Seven Dead In Shooting At Turkey Statistics Office

posted 19 Mar 2014 08:28 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Mar 2014 08:29 ]

A Turkish worker shoots dead six people in the eastern province of Kars before committing suicide by turning the gun on himself.

KARS, TURKEY (MARCH 19, 2014) (DHA) - A worker at a Turkish statistics office in the eastern province of Kars shot dead six people before committing suicide on Wednesday (March 19), in what local media said appeared to have been a revenge attack over a professional dispute.

Kars Governor Eyup Tepe said the Statistics Institute (TUIK) employee had come to the building and had shot dead six staff including the regional manager with a Glock pistol. One other employee escaped with light injuries.

"Veysi Erim was working as a sociologist ... and was receiving treatment for psychological problems. This horrible incident has no connection with terrorism," Tepe's office said in a statement on its website.

Turkey's Minister of Development Cevdet Yilmaz said that the perpetrator must have had psychological problems.

"This is a saddening incident. As you can tell from the way it happened and from the way victims were killed, this was carried out by a man who had psychological problems. Unfortunately we cannot change the past," Yilmaza said.

TUIK confirmed that one of its employees had killed six staff before turning the gun on himself but gave no further details. The Hurriyet newspaper said Erim had been involved in a professional dispute before the shooting.

Kars is in northeastern Turkey near the Armenian border, where militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party(PKK) - branded a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union - have conducted attacks including kidnappings.

Political tensions are running high in Turkey ahead of local elections on March 30 and amid a corruption scandal dogging Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.

There has been a series of attacks, including shootings at the local offices of political parties, in recent weeks, most of them in Istanbul.

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