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Friday, February 12, 2016

Scientists glimpse Einstein's gravitational waves

(WASHINGTON-AFP) - In a landmark discovery for physics and astronomy, international scientists said Thursday they have glimpsed the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time, which Albert Einstein predicted a century ago.

When two black holes collided some 1.3 billion years ago, the joining of those two great masses sent forth a wobble that hurtled through space and arrived at Earth on September 14, 2015, when it was picked up by sophisticated instruments, researchers announced.

RM1b Sabah deal off due to falling oil price?

Petronas Gas Bhd (petGas) and Sabah Energy Corp Sdn Bhd decided to scrap a deal to develop a regasification terminal at Lahad Datu in Sabah due to the fall in price of fuel, including oil and natural gas.

The price of crude oil has drop more than 70pc over the past 18 months and is currently trading at around US$30 a barrel.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, PetGas said both parties had agreed to mutually terminate the agreement.

"In view of the prolonged uncertainty of the Regasification Terminal Lahad Datu (RTLD) project, the parties to the shareholders' agreement (SHA) for Regas have mutually agreed to terminate the said SHA effective Feb 10, 2016."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Taiwan quake toll rises to 59; 76 missing

Taiwan's Ministry of Interior says the death toll from the recent earthquake has risen to 59, with 76 people still missing and presumed trapped under the rubble of a collapsed residential building.

The 16-story Weiguan Golden Dragon complex was the only building to collapse during Saturday's magnitude-6.4 earthquake, which otherwise caused limited damage in the southern city of Tainan.

Uncertainty surrounds push for peace with militants in Philippines

MANILA: The fate of the long-awaited Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is facing an uncertain future.

In the Philippines, the BBL is the cornerstone of a peace pact between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Muslim-dominated Mindanao.

The historic peace deal was signed in March 2014 after 17 years of negotiations, and was expected to end decades of secessionist war that had cost the nation more than 120,000 lives.

Group to protest against influx of Bangladeshi workers

A protest will be held next month to oppose the government’s plan to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers.

Pertubuhan Ikatan Usahawan Kecil dan Sederhana Malaysia (Ikhlas) president Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah said the protest will take place outside the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

“We will protest... But for now, we are giving the government a month to reconsider the matter,” Ridzuan told a press conference.

Scandals, weak ringgit spurring Malaysians abroad to cash out EPF funds

When Joanne Koo first emigrated to Australia with her young family six years ago, she never planned on renouncing her citizenship as she was eager to hold on to her Malaysian ties, savings and investments.

However, earlier this month, Koo and her husband made a trip to Kuala Lumpur to surrender their Malaysian passports for the sole purpose of making a full withdrawal of their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings. (Savers are allowed full withdrawal at age 55.)

New Sulu ‘Sultan’ wants international conference for resolution on Sabah claim

The new self-styled Sulu “Sultan” Phugdalon Kiram II is seeking an international conference to peacefully settle the purported sultanate’s continued claim on Sabah as its territory.

Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate’s spokesman, said it has yet to receive a reply from the Malaysian government after sending in a written request for the conference to be held.

“The sultan’s concern is to find a resolution to this long-standing dispute and the way forward is an international conference on the matter,” the Manila-based spokesman was quoted telling local daily The Star through a phone conversation.

The spokesman said the suggested international conference be attended by the sultanate’s officials, Philippine and Malaysian officials as well as representatives of Sabah’s natives.

Private banker key figure in money laundering probe, 1MDB link

SINGAPORE - A private banker, caught up in Singapore's money laundering probe linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), was a key link between the embattled state investor, a Swiss private bank and a Malaysian businessman connected to the troubled fund.

Yak Yew Chee, a senior banker at Swiss-based BSI Singapore, has emerged for the first time as a key figure in Singapore's money laundering probe, according to documents released at Singapore High Court last week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Philippines: MNLF picks Misuari's son as No. 2

MNLF welcomes non-passage of law that would have sealed peace process between government and rival MILF

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Commanders and followers of a wanted leader of the Philippines' one-time biggest Moro revolutionary group have declared his son as second-in-command during an assembly in the troubled southern province of Sulu.

MASwings fares up for Sabah-Sarawak routes next year

KOTA KINABALU - Fares charged by local carrier MASwings between major towns in Sabah and Sarawak are set to increase next year with the removal of Federal subsidies for some of its routes.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who disclosed this, said a review was under way for routes which would no longer be subsidised, ahead of the renewal of the contract with MASwings in 2017.

Routes served by other airlines such as from Kota Kinabalu to Sibu would no longer be subsidised, the MCA president told reporters after attending a Sabah MCA Chinese New Year gathering here yesterday.

FB user threatens to blow up Seri Perdana

KUALA LUMPUR - A web user recently posted on his Facebook account threatening to blow up the official residence of prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police were currently tracking down the culprit.

The owner of Facebook account "Aidil Radzi" said he would rock the capital city and the PM's residence with bomb blasts "this Saturday" because the prime minister had made life difficult for the people.

Govt approves G2G on 1.5 Bangla workers to Malaysia

DHAKA - The Bangladeshi cabinet has approved a draft deal for "G2G (government-to-government) Plus" that will allow private firms to send some 1.5 million workers to Malaysia through government arrangement over the next three years.

The Daily Star of Bangladesh reported, quoting cabinet secretary Md Shafiul Alam that the government hoped to send 1.5 million workers to Malaysia over the next three years.

Traffic summons may be increased - IGP

KUALA LUMPUR - Discouraged by the attitude of road users, Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police may suggest to increase the RM300 traffic summons to a higher amount.

He said it was discouraging to see no improvement in the recent Ops Selamat 8 statistics.

“We will increase enforcement as that is the only way to change the attitude of the people. Maybe we will suggest to increase the compound amount as motorists seemed to have no problems in paying the current RM300,” he said at the Bukit Aman police headquarters today.

Deepa case: Civil courts decide custody of converted children

PUTRAJAYA - The Federal Court ruled on Wednesday that civil courts have the right to decide on custody of children converted to Islam.

It also ruled that civil courts were the proper forum to decide on the dissolution of marriages where one spouse had converted to Islam.

The apex court also ruled that Izwan Abdullah be given custody of his eight-year-old son while S. Deepa was granted custody of their 10-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sulu princess running for senator to push for 'Sabah Claim'

'Princess' Jacel Kiram is now running for senator in the May 2016 elections to push for the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.

She said the government has seemingly lost its interest in the resource-rich island and makes a priority the fight for the sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Despite her poor survey ratings, Jacel Kiram is optimistic that Filipino voters will eventually realize the need to have a Moro representative in the Senate.

There has been no Moro voice in the Senate for two decades now after Mamintal A.J. Tamano and Santanina Rasul.

Taiwan quake: Tin cans found in the construction of toppled high-rise

The Taiwanese government has ordered an investigation into the building's collapse, as images emerged showing tin cans built into the walls of the toppled complex.

Emergency workers came across the tin cans during the rescue operation, Taiwan's state-owned Central News Agency reported. They appear to have been used as construction fillers in beams.

Suicide bomber in wheelchair sucked out of hole in plane

A man in a wheelchair may have blown himself up on a plane in Somalia and then been sucked out of a hole in the side.

The passenger could have sneaked the bomb on to the Daallo Airlines flight on Tuesday, a source told the Wall Street Journal.

Only one person died as a result of the explosion, Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, but he has not yet been named as a potential suicide bomber.

Monday, February 8, 2016

West Londoner Alexanda Kotey one of the ISIS 'Beatles'

Alexanda Kotey
Londoner Alexanda Kotey is one in the group of Islamic State (IS) militants known as the Beatles, according to a joint Washington Post-BuzzFeed News investigation.

The Post reported that Kotey was a 32-year old convert to Islam who grew up in Shepherd's Bush, West London, and was of a mixed Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background.

His name was confirmed by a U.S. intelligence official and other people familiar with British nationals in Syria, the newspaper reported.

If the report is correct, Kotey would be the second "Beatle" identified, after "Jihadi John," or Mohammed Emwazi, was unmasked in 2015 as the militant filmed beheading American, British and Japanese hostages on videos released by IS, also known as ISIS. Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria, in November.

The group of four IS jailers and torturers were nicknamed the "Beatles" by their foreign prisoners because of their British accents.

Abu Sayyaf releases Philippine mayor’s toddler grandson

Ace Jay Garban held captive for over 10 months in troubled south after being seized alongside younger sister, later found dead
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - A three-year-old grandson of a mayor in the Philippines’ troubled south has been released after being held captive for more than 10 months by an al-Qaeda-linked militant group.

Misuari met with 2,000 followers in Sulu, says military

MANILA, Philippines - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari, who is facing rebellion charges over the 2013 Zamboanga siege, met with his followers last Sunday in Indanan, Sulu, the military said Monday.

Citing information relayed by "concerned citizens" and some attendees, Joint Task Group Sulu chief Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said the whole day assembly took place at Camp Astana in Sitio Bakud, Barangay Kagay.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

18 dead after magnitude-6.4 earthquake shocks Taiwan

At least 18 people were killed and more than 500 were injured Saturday morning when a magnitude-6.4 earthquake hit Taiwan, the official Central News Agency reported.

More than 350 people were rescued from damaged structures, many from a 16-story residential building that collapsed in Tainan, officials told CNN. At least 16 of the dead were from the Weiguan Jinlong building, CNA said.

Tightening OSA grip to protect perpetrators?

Amendments to strengthen the Official Secrets Act (OSA) proposed by attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali will turn Malaysia into a dictatorship, said veteran lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan.

"This is not about protecting sensitive security information but about not allowing the truth to emerge about corruption and abuse of power of those in the high echelons of power.

"Any such amendments will make us a complete dictatorship," Ambiga told Malaysiakini.

Mystery of Najib Razak's RM2.6 billion donor deepens

Mystery has deepened over the circumstances in which almost $US700 million ($990 million) was secretly deposited in the personal bank account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The country's attorney-general, Mohamad Apanda Ali, has declared the money was a donation from one of the nine sons of the late Saudi king Abdullah, but insists the motive is nobody else's business.

"Why are people asking for the reason for the donation? You have to ask the donor. He has billions in his coffers … if he wanted to give the money, what's the problem?" Mr Apandi told the Sin Chew Daily newspaper.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

More powerful sonar for China ship in MH370 search

A more powerful piece of sonar equipment is being provided to the Chinese rescue ship Dong Hai Jui 101 which recently joined the search for the missing Malaysian airline MH370.

The aircraft, with 239 people on board, vanished while on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014 and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean off western Australia.

Next week the Chinese ship will take on a side-scan sonar from a US company which says it is more accurate and can create an image of large areas of the sea floor, the Voice of America reported.

Rio carnival on despite growing Zika fears

RIO DE JANEIRO - Rio's Carnival ― a five day festival of dancing, bared flesh and wild costumes – opened yesterday in the face of warnings that the Zika virus might make even kissing dangerous.

Saudi minister: RM2.6 billion is for an investment deal

NY Times quotes Adel al-Jubeir as saying he thinks the money went to an investment in Malaysia

A Saudi minister has been quoted as saying that a private Saudi citizen may have been the source of a RM2.6 billion deposit in Najib Razak’s private bank accounts in 2013.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was quoted by the New York Times yesterday as saying that he accepted the Malaysian attorney-general’s opinion that there had been no wrongdoing.

Zika found in saliva, urine in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Authorities in Brazil said on Friday Zika has been detected in patients' saliva and urine, adding to the concern over the spread of the virus, while U.S. officials offered new guidance on sex for people returning from Zika-hit regions.

Zika, linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil, is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites, but word surfaced this week of infections through sex and blood transfusions, and news of the presence of the virus in the saliva and urine of two patients prompted new worries.

Twitter blocks 125,000 accounts in 'terrorist content' crackdown

WASHINGTON (FP) -- Twitter said Friday it suspended more than 125,000 accounts, most of them linked to the Islamic State group, as part of increased efforts to eradicate "terrorist content" on the popular messaging platform.

The accounts frozen since mid-2015 were targeted "for threatening or promoting terrorist acts," said Twitter, which is under pressure from governments to act but is also keen not to be seen as effectively censoring free speech.

6.4 magnitude earthquake hits Taiwan, killing dozens and injuring hundreds

TAIPEI (Taiwan) - A powerful, shallow earthquake struck southern Taiwan before dawn on Saturday, collapsing two high-rise residential towers and killing at least five people and injuring hundreds.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Saudi riyal peg under intense pressure

RIYADH - A devaluation of Saudi Arabia’s currency could cause such political instability that Riyadh has little choice but to stick to its promise to use vast foreign exchange reserves to defend the riyal’s 30-year-old peg to the US dollar.

Currency traders have been betting against the Saudi peg, and those of other regional oil producers, in the wake of oil’s price collapse.

Societe Generale said yesterday it saw at least a 25% chance of a near-term devaluation or 40% if oil prices stay at current levels throughout 2016.

Razak received RM137 million over arms deal, denies corruption

Abdul Razak Baginda, the political analyst acquitted of abetting in the 2006 murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu, said he received €30 million (RM137 million) as consultation fee in Malaysia's purchase of two Scorpene submarines from France, the Financial Times (FT) reports.

"It was a legitimate agreement. I did my job and I got paid for it. And I never paid any official," the former aide of Datuk Seri Najib Razak was quoted by FT as saying, adding that the deal's execution spanned eight years.

Terror attacks loom as Indonesian trio vie for IS glory

JAKARTA (AFP) - A power struggle among three Indonesian-born Islamic State militants in Syria could have a violent ripple effect in Southeast Asia, senior police warn, as a deadly game of one-upmanship threatens to cause more Jakarta-style attacks.

A crackdown in the wake of January's gun and suicide assault on the Indonesian capital has uncovered a complex web of small militant cells working at the behest of competing ringleaders in Syria, shedding light on the nature of IS infiltration far from its Middle East heartland.

Two detained in gov't crackdown on social media

The men were picked up in two separate raids in Alor Setar and Kota Baru for content uploaded in December 2015.
KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has arrested two men who allegedly uploaded offensive content onto a social media network in December last year.

The MCMC said today that the men, aged 26 and 57, were picked up in raids early this week in Alor Setar and Kota Baru respectively.

“The communications equipment of the suspects were confiscated to facilitate investigations,” it said in a statement.

The MCMC said the improper use of networks or services was an offence under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

Banker in 1MDB-linked Singapore case withdraws request to unfreeze accounts

A banker at Swiss wealth manager BSI's Singapore unit withdrew a court application to release his bank accounts which were frozen as part of the city-state's probe against possible money laundering linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Yak Yew Chee, whom sources said is responsible for dealings between BSI in Singapore and entities linked to Malaysian state-owned investment fund 1MDB, withdrew the request in Singapore's High Court on Friday, his lawyer Roderick Martin told the court.

11 acquitted, 16 ordered to enter defence in Lahad Datu intrusion case

KOTA KINABALU - The High Court here has acquitted 11 Philippine nationals who were charged in connection with the 2013 intrusion of Lahad Datu.

High Court Justice Stephen Chung, however, ordered another 16 Filipinos to enter their defence.

The judge also ordered an amendment of charges for the three Malaysians in the case.

The charges against all 30 accused were framed under Section 121 of the Penal Code for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Section 130E for recruiting persons to be members of a terrorist group.

Adenan: Master the English language, Chinese here centuries ago

PETALING JAYA - Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem has called on Sarawakians to master English as it was the international language of knowledge, and cited Singapore as an example they should follow.

Speaking at the opening of a new school building for the Chung Hua Primary School in Kuching, Adenan noted that Singaporeans spoke English well and said he saw no reason why Sarawakians could not follow the rest of the world in mastering the language.

How Malaysia will benefit from TPPA

Following are some of the benefits that Malaysia will derive from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), signed Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand.

Reporter Breaks Down Laughing About A ‘Defecation Emergency’

What’s an emergency defecation situation? As Hilary Barry–that’s the reporter who agrees she might be losing her job–explains it, it’s something that occurs when a Malaysian diplomat goes to the home of a woman without pants and leaves a steaming pile of excrement on her doorstep.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Finas gone racist highlighting local movies' Bumiputra ownership status

KUALA LUMPUR - Is it really necessary to find out whether a local movie is Bumiputra-owned or not before deciding whether to watch it or forgo it?

Blood Banks Use Caution With Travelers From Zika Zones

Blood banks in the United States have begun asking potential donors not to give blood if within the last month they have visited a country in which the Zika virus is spreading.

The aim is to avoid contaminating the blood supply with the virus, said to AABB, the group that represents most blood donation groups in the United States.

Infection of pregnant women with the Zika virus may be linked to microcephaly — unusually small heads — in infants.

Marine troops reinforcement deployed to Sulu to 'finish off the Abu Sayyaf'

The military has deployed fresh Marine troops to Sulu "to finish off the Abu Sayyaf," which is currently holding several Filipino and foreign hostages, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"The command is indeed committed to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, that's why we are pouring in forces there," said Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman for the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command.

"If you want to corner the Abu Sayyaf, we have to add forces there," Tan added.

‘Clown-faced Najib’ goes international

Caricatures featuring Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in clown face are making international news, as more digital artists share their versions online.

The works are now featured on the UK’s BBC channel, through its ‘BBC Trending’ section, which reports on trending topics on the Internet, worldwide.

Digital artists started posting the caricatures online in solidarity with artist Fahmi Reza, who was told he was under police watch for uploading a poster of Najib in clown face for an anti-Sedition Act campaign.

Prepare for the Lunar New Year of the Clever Red Fire Monkey

On my recent trip to China in early January, I was surprised to find scads of scampering monkeys swinging on red and gold banners all over Beijing. “It’s weeks before February 8, the start of the new Lunar New Year; isn’t it a bit early to start decorating?” I asked my guide.

“Oh no,” she replied, “it’s such an important holiday, people begin preparations way ahead.”

Although I’m back in the East Bay now, part of me is still in China, wishing I could celebrate this New Year of the Monkey appropriately, with festive decorations and symbolic lucky foods. As I headed to a job in downtown Oakland last week, the clever Monkey spirit must have heard my wish, because I happened to pass the perfect store on the edge of Chinatown, called Chanco. Its personable owners, husband and wife Jimmy and Sandra Lam, were happy to help me find everything I need to warmly welcome this year’s Fire Monkey (who is supposed to usher in a year of passion, creativity, and joy).

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WhatsApp hits the billion-user mark

Mobile messaging app WhatsApp on Tuesday said that it has crossed the billion user milestone globally, with an addition of 100 million users in the last five months.

“As of today, one billion people are using WhatsApp. That’s nearly one in seven people on earth who use WhatsApp each month to stay in touch with their loved ones, friends, and family,” WhatsApp said in a blogpost.

“In India, more photos are sent using WhatsApp than in any other country in the world. As one of WhatsApp’s largest countries, it’s not surprising that the second-highest number of groups is here,” the company said.

Mukhriz's ouster due of critical stance on scandalous 1MDB

ALOR SETAR - Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir appears to be taking the ouster against him in his stride, saying today that now that he is no longer Kedah mentri besar, he will find it easier to speak out freely against the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

The leader who was all smiles at the press conference to announce his resignation, told reporters that he was always openly critical of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s leadership but will be even more so now that he has given up his post.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Zaid seeks court order to challenge A-G’s decision on Najib

Former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has filed for leave at the High Court to challenge the decision of the attorney-general (A-G) not to prosecute Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over his RM2.6 billion donation and Finance Ministry-owned firm SRC International Sdn Bhd.
He is also seeking leave for a judicial review to challenge A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali's decision in ordering the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close its investigations into both matters.

Stop rumours of IS threats in Sabah, say Cops

Sabah police today denied allegations of threats posed by Islamic State (IS) terrorist groups at several areas in the state as spread through WhatsApp chats since yesterday.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abd Rashid Harun said the information was just rumours and he appealed to the public to stop believing them and refrain from spreading unverified news.

News about terrorist threats which went viral via WhatsApp since yesterday was believed to have been spread by irresponsible parties after police assets and personnel were deployed in several operations and roadblocks around the city area.

"The deployment of assets and personnel is a normal practice and has nothing to do with any incident or threat as claimed in the news," he told reporters after launching 'Ops Selamat 8' in conjunction with the Chinese New year celebration in Kota Kinabalu today.

TPPA inevitable even if Sabah autonomous

KOTA KINABALU - Multi-lateral trade pacts are always difficult to negotiate. It took super power America ten years to get 11 other countries on board. Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee said.

Some say that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is an American agenda to re-assert American leadership over the Trans-Pacific economies to counter the growing China influence he said.

Former Umno leader lodges report against Apandi for abuse of power in Najib’s case

Former Umno division leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan has lodged another report against Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali for abuse of power, this time with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Khairuddin said the anti-graft body should investigate Apandi over his recent decision not to frame charges against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the RM2.6 billion donation and SRC International Sdn Bhd because of “insufficient evidence”.

Daily denies not contacting Ismail Sabri on turtle eggs case

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) source reportedly told Daily Express that it was willing to go to Kuala Lumpur to record his statement, if necessary, as it understands the Minister may be too busy.

KOTA KINABALU - Daily Express, a leading Sabah English daily in broadsheet, has denied in a page one story on Tuesday, tucked at the bottom right, that it failed to contact Federal Minister Ismail Sabri before running a story recently on turtle eggs. “Following the report — on the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) — Daily Express contacted the Minister’s office for his response but was refused.”