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Sabtu, 27 Desember 2008

Island of Oahu, Honolulu, Barack Obama on holiday, darkness

Island of Oahu, Honolulu, where President-elect Barack Obama the U.S. holiday, lighting darkness without electricity Friday (26/12) due to a transformer in the area was thunderstruck.

Some witnesses said it seems the electricity in the complex where Obama vacationing on the workers and hastily turned the emergency generator.

Spokesman an electricity company, Peter Rosegg, said the entire island wide area of 1,553 square km inhabited the 900,000 people affected by the influence. "We lost the last generator ... the whole area is now the island without electricity," said Rosegg. Traffic on major roads Honolulu also disrupted.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann told radio station KSSK, take at least 12 hours or more may be to restore the situation. A transportation official told local radio that the aircraft-aircraft landed at the port of international air Honolulu, but to stay suspended landing.

The residents said this is the largest extinction since the earthquake that caused the darkness of the area in October 2006. A civil defense officials said, the possibility of lightning strike a transformer so that electricity is lost. Strong lightning was at the top of the island before electricity is suppressed.

Source: AP

New attack Israel Kills 2 Hamas soldiers

Two members of Islamic Hamas movement killed on Saturday (27/12) night in a new Israeli air attack in the Gaza Strip that Hamas dominated. Previous attacks, Saturday morning, kill at least 228 Palestinian residents in the coastal paths.

Second person killed in the eastern part of Gaza City when they are ready to rocket fire toward Israel, several witnesses said.

Two other Palestinian citizens injured in the attack, while one other man injured in the attack air prev died since Israel wound, the medical sources said. Some local residents said that Israeli helicopters have been a number of fire rudal, Saturday night, the four metal factory in the city. Israel says, factories have been used to make rocket for a number of countries are to the Jews.

Israeli military says more than 70 rocket or mortar shell are already against Israel as a retaliation attack on the air Monday, to deter one person and hurt four people.

Israel has launched a series of air attacks against a number of Hamas targets in Gaza Strip, Saturday, before lunch, at least 228 people cut retaliation for rocket attacks on Hamas. That the air attacks continued sporadically throughout the day and night to day. Some 700 people injured in the attack, 140 people seriously injured, according to Palestinian hospital sources.

Source: Ant

Halle Berry and Steven Spielberg to help fund the party learned Barack Obama.

The Hollywood stars, among others, Halle Berry and Steven Spielberg, and the boss of the giant information technology companies to open their wallet to help fund the party learned Barack Obama.

Obama, in line with the commitment to clean up the political influence of someone from the U.S., has ordered that the names of all contributors inauguration ceremony, which concealed the previous president, announced on the internet.

The list of contributors for the Jan. 20 inauguration celebration, it shows that Spielberg and his wife, Kate, each with a donation to provide the maximum value 50,000 U.S. dollars.

Actress Halle Berry, who is listed as a staff production company owns, bumper Inc., also provide 50,000 U.S. dollars, as well as actors and comedians Jamie Foxx. Sharon Stone also contribute as much as 50,000 U.S. dollars.

Funds inauguration Obama also received large donations from the Internet and the giant U.S. software industry. Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, who served in the council of economic advisers Obama campaign, giving 25,000 U.S. dollars, as well as the founders of Google, Larry Page, and Vice President of Google, Marissa Mayer. Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, contributed 50,000 U.S. dollars, as is his wife, Connie.

Former basketball star and businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson also gave 25,000 U.S. dollars and five family members, investors and financial speculator George Soros as the world's 250,000 U.S. dollars.

The fund is required to pay for a series of celebration events on the day of inauguration. Major contributor will receive tickets and special VIP access to the various events.

Obama Committee, with different committees inauguration, it is affirming the government would not accept donations from corporations, political action committees, unions, or registered pelobi donors who are not U.S. citizens, such reports AFP.

Source: Ant

U.S. will defend Israel, Hamas continued Keeping

Following the attacks Israel to the Gaza kill 228 people, the Government of the United States, Saturday (27/12), seemed impressed defend Israel and blame militant group Hamas who control Gaza.

U.S. asks Hamas immediately hold a truce and stop serangannya return to Israel if want this latest conflict ended.

Some 228 people were killed and 400 people were injured as a result of attacks explode-blind by Israel to Gaza City, Saturday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak still sesumbar that attack to the Gaza Strip will be expanded if "necessary".

Spokesperson U.S. National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, that the U.S. should not unleash attacks to Israel after the truce held last few months. "They are not another civilian, so Israel will protect its people from terrorist attack groups such as Hamas, which does not discriminate perspective and kill their own people," Johndroe said in Texas. However, Johndroe said, the U.S. does not want to see more violence.

Brooke Anderson, Spokesperson National Security Council, which appointed Obama, said, Obama continues to monitor global events, including the situation in the Gaza Strip. When Israel attacks the Gaza Strip again, Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum emphasized the government will continue to survive until the final point of blood.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemns attack Israel. Egypt has called Ambassador of Israel to declare keberatannya attitudes, and asks Israel to open Gaza Strip and allow cars an ambulance carrying injured victims.

Meanwhile, Laos Condoleezza Rice said the U.S., strong U.S. condemns rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas to Israel. "Hamas has violated truce. So, the armistice should be immediately implemented again," said Rice.

Johndroe said, the U.S. requested that humanitarian needs are met in the Gaza Strip. He was pressing Israel to avoid fisticuffs with civil society. "I know they (Israel) has a target of Hamas headquarters, headquarters. However, we are pressing them to avoid civilian victims," he said.

Israel attacks Gaza Strip to also invite protests from a number of countries in the world, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Vatican, and the Secretary General of the United Nations. Ambassador Tony Blair Middle East and the Arab League is scheduled to meet to discuss this issue. Elected U.S. President, Barack Obama, has received reports about the latest situation in Palestine.

Source: AP

Charris Bowers bite penis Delou Bowers

A woman in Deltona arrested because the United States on a penis to her husband last week.

As reported Orlando Sentinel, Sunday (28/12), the woman admitted to authorities because doing so angry due to the husband to force intimate touch.

Charris Bowers (27) on Saturday last week police arrested (vice SHERIFF) Volusia County with the allegations of persecution. However, a day later, the judge decided he was released without insurance. Her husband, Delou Bowers, has not commented.

According to a report in the police office, the pair went to a bar on Friday night and then go home. Delou Bowers admitted to the police strike and forced his wife to encourage the release bite.

But, Charris Bowers gave two versions to other officers. The first officer to admit he is sitting on the sofa and then her husband suddenly standing in front of the request and "served". "Available to drive and bite her husband," write the police report.

Charris Bowers and joking with the states to replace the husband approached and stood in front of him without pants before the snap. Police have witnessed the injuries it is experienced Delow Bowers, memotretnya, and arrest his wife.

Source: Ant

Jumat, 26 Desember 2008

Netanyahu predicted Israel Winning Election

Two institutions polls predict opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of the hardline Likud party won Israeli elections on 10 February 2009.

Polling Haaretz and Yediot Ahronot same sponsor defeat Netanyahu Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni from the moderate party, Kadima. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Labor Party leaders, followed behind.

In September 2008, Parliament decided the election was held after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resign because of corruption scandals and agents, Livni, failed to form a coalition government.

Livni became the head negotiator of peace negotiations with the Palestinians since Israel last few years. Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel in 1996-1999 against the transfer of the land that dicaplok as part of peace negotiations.


Norodom Sihanouk Fight Against Cancer

Former Cambodian king, Norodom Sihanouk is still struggling against cancer diseases that have experienced this three times. However, in a message on the site, he was sure to recover and return home after a treatment in China.

Sinahouk (86), in a statement Wednesday (24/12), said he was treated by team doctors in Beijing because of China's lymphoma cancer B. He can estimate the return to Cambodia in February 2009.

Sihanouk, the central figure in Cambodian politics for six decades, in 2004 as prime ill-weakly. He replaced one of her sons, Norodom Sihamoni, and since then he spends much time in China.

In the last few years, he suffered a number of diseases, including colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and two times.

Sihanouk is one of the world famous leader who is still alive. He has the experience of various kinds of war, Khmer Rouge terror and political turmoil that continues to haunt the government since independence from France in the early 1950's.
Source: AP

Pakistan's team is plunging into the Indian Border

Pakistan began to mobilize thousands of troops to the Indian border, Friday (26/12). The two nuclear armed countries that have been involved in war three times in the last 60 years.

The sources said the intelligence overhaul that the two countries increased tensions after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. India point out militant groups in Pakistan were involved in the attacks in Mumbai kill 175 people or more.

The troops were to maintain the previous duty near the border of Afghanistan. Frankly, this makes the U.S. frustration. Because, the U.S. expects Pakistan to help the U.S. fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban near the border of Afghanistan.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the Armed Forces Division, 14 were of the city of Kasur and Sialkot near the Indian border. Refusing to name sources quoted said that around 20,000 soldiers is the second city.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense India reluctant to comment on the news. Previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Friday, meeting with the head of the army staff, sea and air forces to discuss the security situation last.

Associated Press journalists in South Waziristan to report about 40 military trucks hauling leave Pakistan border Pakistan.

Source: AP

Russia Sell Rudal to Syria and Libya

Russian rudal-rudal sell land to the air to seven countries including Libya, Syria and Venezuela, said the Vedomosti business newspapers, Friday (26/12). Sales is worth 250 million U.S. dollars.

Russia will also send a battery-battery rudal S-125 Pechora-2M to Egypt, Myanmar, Turkmenistan and Vietnam, according to the contract, said the newspapers, which cite a source in the company Rusian Tehnologies owned by the government.

When contacted by AFP, the company is a He refused to comment. Rusian Technologies Company, including exporters of weapons. Newspapers did not say where the parties have signed the contract.

Pechora-2M, known as the SA-3A Cave in NATO is one version to the rudal land, air, which has been developed. Rudal was produced starting in the 1960s to be associates in the Soviet Union in the world.

Based on the contract, 200 rudal which will be submitted to it, including 70 Egyptians, said a manager who is not named in the defense industry factories to Vedomosti.

Source: Ant

War and the Crisis Obama Could Be the Blessing

U.S. President elected Barack Obama will inherit two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and the economic crisis when appointed on 20 January. However, the challenge is thus can be a blessing for Obama government.

Therefore, the reported news agency Associated Press, Friday (26/12), cite a number of experts in analyzing the prospects of governance Obama. Currently, the U.S. experienced a difficult situation with high unemployment and low confidence from inevstor. However, if Obama can make a few improvements so people will laud Obama sky.

Obama is currently enjoying high popularity. The Cabinet also chose to get wide support. Acquisition of majority party vote in the Democratic Senate and House of Representatives will also be the best agenda Obama.

However, a number of other politicians think that Obama is not a waste of time. He must determine the main issues that will be tackled first in the 100-day reign. Obama must determine which preferred to end the war between Iraq, restoring the economy to create jobs, secure the pension funds, or restore investor confidence.

"Obama should consider whether the risk exceeds the limit versus not reach the target," said William Galston, domestic policy assistant in the government President Bill Clinton.

Source: AP

Patriarch Alexy II: Priest who stayed close to the Kremlin while guiding the Russian Orthodox Church into the post-Soviet era

By Felix Corley

Patriarch Alexy II headed the Russian Orthodox Church at a difficult time in its history as it managed the transition from semi-official but restricted Church in an atheist state to semi-official Church in a half-reformed, unsettled post-imperial state.

As patriarch he tried to hold the ring between conservatives, suspicious at any sign of abandoning old values, and reformers, who believed that only by changing itself could the Church make its voice heard to a secularised generation raised under atheist rule.

Alexy was born Alexey Ridiger in 1929 in Tallinn, the capital of independent Estonia. His family was Russian-speaking, of Swedish or German origin, only coming to Estonia in 1917 from the turmoil of Petrograd. A former neighbour in Estonia remembered that they considered themselves Russian. His father, an Orthodox priest, was known as a Russifier in the pre-war Estonian Church.

After the wartime Soviet annexation of Estonia, Ridiger became a Soviet citizen. He entered the Leningrad Theological Seminary in 1947, graduating two years later. He was ordained priest in Leningrad in April 1950 at the age of only 21 and appointed to a parish in Johvi in north-eastern Estonia. While there he continued his external studies at the Leningrad Theological Academy, graduating in 1953 with a thesis on the 19th-century Metropolitan of Moscow Filaret Drozdov. In July 1957 he was appointed to a parish in Tartu as local dean.

He had married in Leningrad on 11 April 1950, just a week before his ordination, though the marriage was to remain shrouded in mystery. His wife was Vera Alekseeva, daughter of a priest who later became Bishop Ioann of Tallinn. The service was conducted by their fathers (tradition says that this would bring bad luck) and took place in the immediate aftermath of Easter, when Orthodox custom does not normally allow weddings. It was rumoured that the wedding and ordination were rushed forward to prevent Ridiger being called up into the Soviet Army. However, the marriage was soon dissolved, apparently on the grounds of non-consummation. This then made Ridiger eligible to rise into the ranks of the episcopate.

Ridiger's pedigree and his brilliant studies drew him to the attention of the KGB, which determined religious appointments in the Soviet Union in collaboration with the government's Council for Religious Affairs (CRA). He was formally recruited in February 1958 "on the basis of patriotic feelings" and given the code name "Drozdov". The KGB described their new recruit as "punctilious, energetic and personable" and praised him for his "willing attitude" to co-operation. He was earmarked to become Bishop of Tallinn and recommended for international work, a sign of the authorities' trust.

Ridiger's career did indeed take off from there. He was tonsured as a monk at the monastery in Zagorsk in March 1961, taking the name Alexy, and that September was consecrated Bishop of Tallinn (and temporarily of Riga) in Tallinn's imposing Orthodox cathedral. He was upgraded to Archbishop in 1964 and Metropolitan in 1968.

But Alexy was destined to play a leading role in the wider Russian Church and abroad. He joined the Church's governing body, the Holy Synod, and became chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1964, a jobhe held for the next 22 years. This powerful position – impossible withoutthe trust of the Soviet authorities – led to accusations that he was too closely identified with implementing the government's anti-religious policies. Documents show he fulfilled KGB commands in quelling protests among monks at the Pskov Monastery ofthe Caves.

The Soviet authorities also viewed Alexy as reliable in foreign work. He became a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in 1961, the year he became a bishop and the year the Russian Orthodox Church joined the WCC. Later he would be heavily involved in the Conference of European Churches, of which he became president in 1972 and chairman in 1987.

After each trip abroad he reported back fully to the KGB and the CRA, giving them information on events and individuals. In 1974, in a secret assessment, the deputy chairman of the CRA put him in the category of bishops most loyal to the Soviet state. His reporting and implementation of the state's wishes brought him a secret KGB award in February 1988.

In 1986 Alexy was appointed Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod, traditionally the Church's second most important diocese after the patriarchal diocese, while retaining his post in Tallinn. His time in Leningrad coincided with Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, which considerably loosened the restrictions on religious groups. Alexy was one of the first hierarchs to speak out for a greater Church role in public life.

Indeed, soon after Gorbachev became general secretary in 1985 (and before he had been named to Leningrad), Alexy had written to the new leader offering the Church's services in tackling some of the country's problems by improving the people's spiritual and moral health. Officials told Alexy not to interfere in politics.

In 1989 he was nominated as a member of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies by the Soviet Charity Fund and took an active part in the Congress until it was abolished in 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. Following the death of the reclusive Patriarch Pimen in May 1990, Alexy was elected the following month as 15th Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus.

The failed coup attempt of August 1991 posed his first major test. While a number of priests rallied to the democratic cause at the White House, Alexy prevaricated, merely dropping the traditional prayer for the government from the liturgy he served in one of the Kremlin cathedrals on the first day of the coup (during which the advancing tanks could clearly be heard). When he saw the coup crumbling – though the fear of a last-ditch violent assault on the White House was still present – Alexy issued a strong condemnation of violence, calling fratricide a "grave sin". In the 1993 crisis, when President Boris Yeltsin turned guns on his own parliament, Alexy tried to mediate, but with little success.

Despite opposing extreme nationalism, condemning bloodshed in solving disputes and supporting dialogue, Alexy's record – whether on Lithuania or Chechnya – often seemed closer to supporting Moscow's imperial tendencies. As leader of the Russian Church, Alexy had to deal with a host of problems. He rejected any renunciation of past collaboration between the Church and the Soviet regime, preferring not to rake over the events of the Communist era. This failed to please church reformers like Father Gleb Yakunin, who called for thorough repentance and a fresh start.

Alexy did all in his power to prevent Ukrainian Greek Catholics, whose church was banned between 1946 and 1989, returning to their ancestral faith and to prevent the Orthodox Churches absorbed by the Russian Church in the wake of the Soviet conquests, including those of his homeland Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova and Latvia, reasserting their independence. Within the Church he was caught between conservatives – led until his death in 1995 by Metropolitan Ioann of St Petersburg – and liberals. Under extreme conservative pressure, Alexy disciplined a number of liberal Moscow priests but fell short of backing their excommunication. In a powerful speech to New York rabbis in 1991 he condemned anti-Semitism, but he was bitterly attacked by the conservatives and back-tracked.

Alexy turned away from his earlier promotion of ecumenism, fiercely attacking non-Orthodox Christian groups, singling out the Roman Catholic Church on several occasions for its alleged "proselytism" in Russia. One of the sharpest attacks came during a visit to Lambeth Palace in 1991, rather embarrassing his hosts. He twice called off proposed meetings with Pope John Paul, once in 1996 in Pannonhalma in Hungary, once in 1997 in Vienna. At times he also seemed to be challenging the traditional primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch – the most senior Orthodox bishop – among the Orthodox Churches. Alexy strongly supported moves to tighten up Russia's liberal 1990 law on religion to make it more difficult for foreigners to play a role in Russia's religious life, a goal achieved in 1997.

At home he remained close to the Kremlin, often appearing in public with President Yeltsin. When Vladimir Putin was sworn in as acting president in January 2000, Alexy was on hand to bless him. He was vigorous in his defence of the Russian government's attempts to suppress Chechen separatism and during the brutal wars rarely expressed much sympathy for suffering Chechen civilians.

At one time close to Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov – Alexy was pleased that Luzhkov's pet project of rebuilding the city's massive Christ the Saviour cathedral was successful – he backed away when Luzhkov fell from Kremlin favour.

In his final years, Alexy could take comfort over achieving the long-desired reconciliation with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which had broken with the Moscow Patriarchate in the early Soviet years in response to government persecution of the Church. However, as with the campaign to crush the independent spirit of the Patriarchate's diocese in Britain in 2006, most of the running was done by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk as Alexy looked on.

Alexy could have been a great patriarch in less political times. He was intelligent, well-educated, diplomatic and hard-working, and was assiduous in making pastoral visits to dioceses and parishes throughout Russia. He had the qualities to discern the issues the Church needed to tackle. His long experience of working with anti-religious authorities gave him some skill at promoting what was possible in a difficult climate. But he lacked the conviction to follow through the vision the Church needed in troubled times. The compromises he felt obliged to make in the post-Communist era to keep a disparate Church together made him look weak and vacillating.

Alexey Mikhailovich Ridiger, priest: born Tallinn, Estonia 23 February 1929; ordained priest 1950; tonsured as a monk 1961, taking the name Alexy; Bishop of Tallinn 1961-64, Archbishop 1964-68, Metropolitan 1968-87; Metropolitan of Leningrad 1987-90; Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia 1990-2008; married 1950 Vera Alekseeva (marriage dissolved 1950); died Moscow 5 December 2008.

The pope's real message for Obama

The roughly 67 million Catholics in the United States make up nearly one-quarter of the American population, but just 6 percent of the global Roman Catholic total of 1.1 billion. Ninety-four percent of the Catholics in the world, in other words, are not Americans, which may help explain why the pope and his lieutenants are not always think American thoughts when they get out of bed in the morning.

That's a useful bit of context to bear in mind in light of a tough new Vatican document on bioethics, released one week ago, that ratchets up the church's condemnations of embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, the "morning-after pill" and a host of other techniques it regards as violations of human dignity.

In the United States, the tendency may be to see the document, titled "Dignitas Personae," or "Dignity of the Person," as a battle plan for resistance to the incoming Obama administration. In reality, that amounts to trying to shove a square peg into the round hole of American politics.

For one thing, the document has been in the works for years, so it is hardly a rapid response to the American elections. Moreover, the Vatican doesn't want to be at loggerheads with Barack Obama, because it sees a range of matters where it's more in sync with him than it has been with President Bush. On Dec. 3, for example, the Vatican simultaneously signed and ratified a new international treaty banning cluster bombs, a measure Bush opposed - a reminder that Catholic social teaching and Republican politics are not always a match made in heaven.

What the Vatican may not fully appreciate, however, is that putting out a hard-nosed pro-life document right now, at least in the United States, may be the political equivalent of shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

In the '08 elections, pro-life Catholics emerged as the dominant voice of the religious right. To be sure, Obama won a majority among Catholics. Yet the sharpest anti-Obama rhetoric from religious leaders came not from old culture warriors like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson but rather from some Catholic clergymen.

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri, for example, warned voters that their eternal salvation might be at stake if they supported Obama. A couple of pro-life priests even suggested that Catholics who voted for Obama should go to confession. (Their bishops, it should be said, quickly rejected that idea.)

Cardinal Francis Stafford, a former archbishop of Denver who today heads a Vatican court, described Obama's rhetoric on abortion as "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic," and compared the election results to the Garden of Gethsemane - the spot where, according to the Bible, Jesus agonized before his crucifixion.

In that context, "Dignitas Personae" risks being read as encouragement for the most ardent pro-life forces in America to let slip the dogs of war.

Of course, many Catholic bishops and many ordinary Catholics in America believe that while Obama's positions on abortion and stem cell research are troubling, there are also important areas of common ground.

That seems to be the balance the Vatican is trying to strike. Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of congratulations to Obama calling his election a "historic occasion," and the two men later spoke by telephone. A papal spokesman said the Vatican hopes to work with him on Iraq, the Holy Land, Christian minorities in the Middle East and Asia, and the fight against poverty and social inequality.

To be clear, the Vatican yields to no one in its pro-life commitments. In effect, "Dignitas Personae" is a reminder that there will be no "truce," no strategic silence, about the defense of human life from the moment of conception. The question now is whether the Vatican will find an equally effective way to mobilize those Catholics who hope to build bridges.

This is one case in which the pope would do well to think a few American thoughts.

John L. Allen Jr. is the senior correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter and the author of "The Rise of Benedict XVI."

Thai leader proposes $8.7 billion stimulus package

Thailand's prime minister said Friday the government wants to spend 300 billion baht ($8.7 billion) next year to jump-start the country's ailing economy.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the economic stimulus package would include increased lending from government banks for agriculture projects and direct lending to local governments for infrastructure projects.

The plan must first be approved by Parliament, where Abhisit's coalition has a slim majority.

"The plan will be announced in January and the budget needs to be approved by the parliament first and it is expected that the money could be injected (into the economy) from March or April,'' Abhisit told reporters.

The Thai government is desperate to help the country's ailing economy which the Fiscal Policy Office projected this week could grow by only 1 percent next year. It attributed the weak growth next year a drop in domestic consumption and damage to the export sector from the worsening global economy.

The Federation of Thai Industries on Thursday told The Bangkok Post that it expects 1.1 million employees will lose their jobs by the second quarter of next year as a result of the slowdown.

On top of that, the tourism sector which is a key engine of growth is expected to suffer next year from the global slowdown and lingering effects from the shutdown of Bangkok's two main airports for a week last month by anti-government protesters. The tourism authority estimates the number of tourists will decline over the next six months by 2.5 million, costing the industry 100 billion baht ($3 billion).

Together, these factors could push the economy into a recession.

Sompob Manarungsan, an economics professor at Chulalongkorn University, said he felt the stimulus plan could help counter the slowdown in exports and inflow of foreign investment. But he said much will depend on how it is carried out.

"First, we have to see how fast it can stimulate the economy,'' Sompob said.

MCA branch illegally occupied

UALA LUMPUR: A police report has been lodged at the Gombak district police headquarters near here over illegal occupation of the office premises of the Taman Selayang Baru MCA branch on Dec 8.

Branch chairman Heng Kai Hiyong had lodged the report on Dec 11, claiming that the office premises in Batu Caves near here had its lock changed, the MCA signboard removed, the building repainted and the pictures within replaced.

Selayang MCA Division chairman Datuk Tang See Hang, who broke the lock Friday, said Heng noticed the change when he came to the premises at about 8pm on Dec 8.

He said the building was put up with donations from MCA members and the public and was used as the MCA office and a hall was used for party and social activities as well as for student activities on Sundays.

Tang said he had also referred the incident to the Selayang Municipal Council president Zainal Abidin Azim.

“As we have all the documents pertaining to the building, the municipal council president said no one else could take over the premises,” he said.

Tang said none of the items within the premises was missing but the pictures on the walls had been replaced with pictures of activities conducted by the trespassers.

“All the tables, chairs, a karaoke set, the PA system, air conditioner, steel cabinets and small items are safe,” he said.

“We have lodged a police report and our lawyers are handling the case. What happened was something illegal because anyone who had wanted to use our hall should have sought our permission,” he said. -- Bernama

Death sentence for accomplice in lawyer’s murder

KUCHING: A former car salesman has been sentenced to death for his role in the shooting and murder of senior civil lawyer Fabian Lim Ann Hoaw about four years ago although he did not pull the trigger.

The accused, Lim Kiang Chai, 38, was the rider of a motorcycle while the pillion rider, who is still at large, fired the shot at close range to kill Fabian.

High Court judge Clement Skinner said although Kiang Chai did not fire the shots that killed the lawyer, he was liable for the murder because of having a common intention.

He said the prosecution had proven the case beyond reasonable doubt and the only verdict he could pass was the death sentence.

Kiang Chai smiled and showed no remorse as the sentence was read Friday.

He was charged, together with another person still at large for causing the death of Fabian on Feb 18, 2005 at about 6.15pm in front of Fu Xiang Food Centre, Rubber Road, Kuching which is punishable under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

It was revealed in earlier hearings that the autopsy report showed that Fabian was shot four times and died of gun shot wounds in the neck and chest.

He was leaving in a car after having a meal with his wife when the hit man walked up to his car and shot him.

Skinner had admitted the accused’s cautioned statement although the latter disputed it claiming that it was not given voluntarily, and that the police had made up stories in the statement.

The court was told that an unidentified “towkay” (trader), through another man, had offered RM65,000 to the accused to kill the lawyer.

In the statement, the accused admitted that after the murder was committed, he threw the pistol and his helmet into the river from Batu Kawa Bridge here.

A day after the crime, the accused was given RM64,950, of which he retained RM9,000.

DBKL hits out at litterbug-partygoers

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) hit out at irresponsible revellers who littered Jalan Sultan Ismail during the Christmas Eve celebration on Wednesday.

DBKL director-general Datuk Salleh Yusup said although the public had “a right to party” they should not go overboard and dirty the place.

“We had a tough time clearing the mess left behind by these irresponsible revellers. They obviously do not bother about cleanliness and left the mess for others to clean up.”

He said that the event was an impromptu celebration. Thousands of people had flocked to the Bukit Bintang area on Christmas Eve, causing the usually clean area to be littered with aerosal cans used in the revelry.

Even vehicles passing by Jalan Sultan Ismail were not spared and were sprayed by the revellers.

The celebration, which began at 9pm, turned into a big carnival and only ended after 3am.

Russian Patriarch who saw end of communism, dies

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II, who revived the nation's main religion after decades of Soviet atheism and healed an 80-year rift with a branch of the Russian Orthodox church in the West, died on Friday. He was 79.

Enthroned in 1990 a year before the Soviet Union's collapse, Estonian-born Alexiy II was relieved of the state ideological control that weighed on his predecessor in the ancient chambers of Moscow's Danilovsky Monastery.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II leads a service in Kiev in this July 27, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

But the former bishop of Tallinn and Estonia struggled with many of the same problems that worried post-Soviet Russia's politicians -- separatist tendencies, schisms and an influx of competing beliefs from the West.

In one of his biggest achievements, the patriarch signed a pact in May 2007 with Metropolitan Laurus, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ending an 80-year split begun by White Russians who fled Soviet Russia to set up a rival faction.

Alexiy II made the most of Russia's spiritual vacuum after the long-held Communist beliefs crumbled. But he was also criticised for supporting measures to restrict the freedom of other confessions, including Roman Catholics, to work in Russia.

He stood in the way of a visit to Russia by the Polish-born former leader of the Catholic church, Pope John Paul II.

And although he expressed similar views on same-sex marriage, euthanasia and abortion as Pope Benedict XVI, this never resulted in a meeting.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last year, Alexiy II denounced homosexuality as a sin, an illness and "a distortion of the human personality like kleptomania". He also said European civilisation was threatened by a divorce of human rights from Christian ethics.


Alexiy II moved the Orthodox Church closer to the centre of political power, despite repeatedly voicing support for Russia's constitutional separation of church and state.

He was a frequent visitor to the Kremlin, and then Russian President Vladimir Putin was often seen at key church services held at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, demolished by Soviet ruler Josef Stalin and rebuilt in the 1990s.

Many of the Orthodox religious leaders who avoided arrest and torture during repeated Soviet-era clampdowns were later found to be agents working for the KGB security service.

Among researchers who had access to KGB archives, Gleb Yakunin said Alexiy was a KGB agent though the Moscow Patriarchate has always denied this.

Alexiy plunged into politics during the September 1993 crisis, when he tried to negotiate a deal between then-president Boris Yeltsin and his hardline opponents.

The mission collapsed when Yeltsin crushed the opposition and fired with tank guns at their headquarters in the White House parliament building.

Later Alexiy raised his voice against war in Chechnya, where Yeltsin sent troops in 1994 to quell the region's independence drive, but to little avail. During the second campaign, led by Putin, he was silent.

Moving easily in capitalist circles, Alexiy has also not shied away from endorsing the values of the new Russia.

In late 2001, he appeared in a television advertisement for LUKOIL, thanking the oil company for its financial help.

Alexiy Mikhailovich Ridiger was born on Feb. 23, 1929, in the Estonian capital Tallinn, into the family of a Russian Orthodox priest.

He later said his family's many pilgrimages to the then Soviet Union's key religious sites were crucial to moulding his future path.

In 1953 he graduated from the St Petersburg Spiritual Academy as a priest. He served in Estonia and Russia before becoming a monk in 1961, taking the vow of chastity necessary for any orthodox clergyman seeking a top position in the church.

In 1961 he was appointed Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia and in 1986 was consecrated Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod.

In 1990 he became the 15th patriarch to lead the Orthodox Church since the position was established in 1589. The patriarchate was abolished between 1721 and 1917.

Bugging fears thwart sinners' confessions

EGYPT'S Coptic pope has banned the faithful from confessing their sins to priests over the telephone because intelligence agents might be listening in.

"Confessions over the telephone are forbidden, because there is a chance the telephones are monitored and the confessions will reach state security," the independent newspaper Al-Masri Al-Yom quoted Pope Shenuda III as saying.

The leader of the Coptic minority also said confessions over the internet were invalid because they might be read by websurfers.

"A confession over the internet does not count as a confession, because everybody can look at it and it won't be secret," he said.

The sacrament of confession, also practised by Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, is normally a private conversation between penitent and priest.

Priests are strictly bound to respect the privacy of confession, even in the face of threatened punishment, and many countries' legal systems specifically protect the "seal of the confessional".

Unlike Catholic confessions, Coptic confessions are done face to face.

Coptic Patriarch Anba Morcossaid people had begun to phone in their confessions.

"It's a new thing; it's been happening for the past four or five years," he said.

Morcos said Pope Shenuda has also banned monks in Coptic monasteries from using mobile phones.

"The monk is supposed to be secluded from the world. But the mobile phone brings the world to him," he said.

Monastery administrators are allowed to keep their mobile phones.

The Vatican does not recognise confessions by telephone or over the internet.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has said "confession requires the physical presence of the priest and the penitent".

"Privacy is absolutely not guaranteed on internet, and there is no certainty as to the identity of the two parties to the communication. You can't have confession by email, any more than you can have it by telephone or letter."

Egypt's Coptic pope bans phone confessions

Leader of Egypt's Coptic minority says confessions over Internet 'invalid' as they might be read by websurfers.

CAIRO - Egypt's Coptic pope has banned the faithful from confessing their sins to priests over the telephone because intelligence agents might be listening in, a newspaper reported on Friday.

"Confessions over the telephone are forbidden, because there is a chance the telephones are monitored and the confessions will reach state security," the independent Al-Masri Al-Yom quoted Pope Shenuda III as saying.

The leader of the Coptic minority also said confessions over the Internet were invalid because they might be read by websurfers.

"A confession over the Internet does not count as a confession, because everybody can look at it and it won't be secret," he said.

The sacrament of confession, also practiced by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, is normally a very private conversation between penitent and priest.

Unlike Roman Catholic confessions, Coptic confessions are done face to face.

Coptic Patriarch Anba Morcos said that people have begun to phone in their confessions.

"It's a new thing; it's been happening for the past four or five years," he said.

Morcos added that Pope Shenuda has also banned monks in Coptic monasteries from using cell phones.

"The monk is supposed to be secluded from the world. But the mobile phone brings the world to him," he said, adding that monastery administrators were allowed to keep their cell phones.

The Vatican does not recognise confessions by telephone or over the Internet.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has said "confession requires the physical presence of the priest and the penitent.

"Privacy is absolutely not guaranteed on Internet, and there is no certainty as to the identity of the two parties to the communication. You can’t have confession by e-mail, any more than you can have it by telephone or letter."


Tsunami aid 'being spent on schedule'

A fifth of Australia's $1 billion tsunami aid package, donated to Indonesia after the devastating natural disaster four years ago today, could be spent in the next six months.

More than $500 million of the aid package has already gone towards rebuilding more than a hundred schools, constructing 1200 temporary shelters with running water and sanitation, as well as restoring hospitals and health clinics.

The parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, Bob McMullan, said the money was being spent on schedule.

''At the moment just over half has actually been spent and by the end of this financial year we expect that to be up towards 70 per cent,'' Mr McMullan said.

''At it's simplest it's about making people's lives better and there are a lot of peoples lives better as a consequence of this, most obviously in Aceh.

''So from a humanitarian point of view that [is] justification enough.

''If you add [Australia's] national interest in the terms of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Indonesia on our doorstep, then it's been a good investment.'' The Aceh area was devastated four years ago when an earthquake off the Sumatran coast triggered a tsunami that wreaked havoc in low-lying nations ringing the Indian Ocean.

In Indonesia alone, 167,000 people died and more than 50,000 people were left homeless.

The Howard government responded to the natural disaster by giving our northern neighbour a $1 billion aid package, to be administered by the Australian Indonesian Partnership for Reconstruction and Development, to rebuild affected areas in Aceh and north Sumatra.

The immediate humanitarian crisis has passed and the aid package is now targeting long-term projects such as health, infrastructure and importantly from an Australian security perspective according to Mr McMullan education.

''It is providing alternative opportunities for education where people might have been otherwise only had access to more extremist groups who provided educational opportunites,'' Mr McMullan said.

Indonesia says Chevron may invest $3 billion there

Chevron Corp.’s Indonesian unit, which accounts for about 42 percent of the nation’s oil output this year, may invest $3 billion to boost production from a Sumatran field, a government official said.

The company will use a new drilling technique to increase its extraction rate to tap 800 million barrels of oil that is currently inaccessible, Eddy Purwanto, deputy of operations at Indonesian oil and gas regulator BPMigas, said in Jakarta today.

A $170 million pilot project is being conducted until 2011 to test the new technology that uses chemical injection to produce oil, Purwanto said.

If the project is a success the company will “continue on a larger scale,” he said.

Chevron is turning to new drilling techniques to halt a drop in production. The Southeast Asia nation imports about one- third of its oil products amid a lack of investment in new reserves and limited refinery capacity.

Chevron’s Sumatra concessions including the Duri and Minas areas may produce an average 405,000 barrels of oil a day this year, lower than the 408,000 barrel-a-day target set by the government or 425,000 barrels a day last year, Suwito Anggoro, president director of Chevron’s Indonesian unit, said Sept. 8.

Anggoro couldn’t be reached for comments on his mobile phone.

Personal glory given precedence over team

MUMBAI: It was a short series, as Test cricket goes, yet it, meant so much to both sides. India may have won it by virtue of their immense back-breaking effort of chasing close to 400 runs in the last innings at Chennai. But England were not the least disgraced.

Considering the circumstances under which the England team came back after returning home, made everyone proud and in the end, it can rightly be said that it was the game of cricket that triumphed.

There were so many positives that came out of the series for both sides and the manner in which the matches were played, it was a fitting tribute to honor 75 years of Test cricket in India. After all the great work done especially by a resurgent Indian team under M.S. Dhoni, one cannot help but comment on the rather strange approach of the team on the last two days of the second Test at Mohali.It was completely out of tune with what one had come to expect from this side.

For the first time, since Dhoni took over the leadership, one witnessed an element of negativity in the tactics employed. For all the wealth of talent it possesses, the side’s batting suddenly lacked enterprise. Even attacking batsmen became unnecessarily defensive.

As things stood in the mid-afternoon of the fourth day, India had to go for quick runs, which surprisingly, they did not. Worse was on the final day when a declaration should have been first thing on the mind.

The batsmen carried on in a lackluster manner. It was strange to see the innings being extended beyond the lunch-break to enable Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh to complete their centuries. The attempt of both batsmen to manufacture a century, instead of getting it in the natural course of play, failed.

For once, it was felt that personal glory of players was given precedence over the prime interest of the team. Also, a feeling was inescapable that Dhoni had set his mind on playing out a draw instead of going for a win.

One only hopes that this is only a one-off switch to the defensive and that Dhoni does not, on the advice of some people, change what has so far been his trademark wholesome approach that has brought so much freshness of thought into the Indian team.

Country’s defence is strong, says Shahbaz

LAHORE, Dec 25: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif says Pakistan’s defence is very strong and invulnerable and no power on the earth can succeed in its evil designs against it.

He was speaking at a meeting held to observe the 133rd birthday of the Quaid-i-Azam under the auspices of the Pakistan Movement Workers Trust and Nazaria-i-Pakistan Foundation at the Ghulam Haider Wyne Auditorium here on Thursday.

The chief minister said while the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal founded Pakistan helped by the dedicated leaders and the workers of the Muslim League, the people worked hard to make their country strong and invulnerable, particularly after its scientists made it a nuclear power.

He said the process of making Pakistan a nuclear power, which had been initiated by the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and helped by the successive governments was culminated with the nuclear tests carried out by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998 making Pakistan the first atomic power of the Muslim world.

It was Pakistan’s nuclear capability that India could not dare to attack Pakistan in 2002 when it had deployed troops along its borders and even now could never dare to attack it though it had been hurling all sorts of threats since the Mumbai attacks last month.

Mr Shahbaz said the Mumbai attacks were condemnable and all sections of people of Pakistan and politicians had condemned them. Pakistan had already offered to India for cooperation in investigating the attacks. India had not provided any solid evidence, but its leaders and media were busy making all sorts of accusations against Pakistan.

The chief minister said Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism and “we have evidence of India’s involvement in the acts of terrorism in Balochistan and tribal areas of Pakistan.”

He said that an Indian army colonel had been founded in carrying out bomb blast in Samjhauta Express while it was on its way from Delhi to Lahore early this year. Similarly, there were many other instances of involvement of Indian elements in acts of terrorism in Pakistan.

He said that while Pakistan had become a nuclear power and was capable of defending its borders it was facing an economic crisis and the government was begging for financial help from international donors and various countries, which was against its honour and dignity.

In his welcome address, Pakistan Movement Workers Trust chairman Dr Javid Iqbal said that the Quaid’s vision of making Pakistan an Islamic, democratic welfare state had not been realised by the nation and every ruler had been violating his principles.

He said that making Pakistan an Islamic state meant that the people’s problems should be solved in the light of the Islamic principles. The welfare state was meant to provide the people with the social security, enough food and fibre at reasonable prices and necessary facilities for their healthcare and education.

A democratic state provides the people their right to elect their representatives independently. “If we can evolve our state affairs on these lines we can boast to revive the system of governance introduced by the pious Caliphs (Khulafa-i-Raashideen) of Islam.

He said the two-nation theory was the very basis of Pakistan which must be strictly upheld by the nation for its own survival.

The theory, he said, demanded elimination of all kind of regional, parochial and sectarian prejudices and development of the spirit of tolerance and brotherhood.

He said that India’s recent expression of sentiments of aggression against our country called for strengthening the basis of the ideology of Pakistan to silence the Indian outbursts against Pakistan.

It is heartening that the whole nation is united against these Indian threats and the need of the hour is to strengthen this unity and solidarity of the nation.

Dr Iqbal said the PMWT had so far awarded 950 gold medals to workers of the Pakistan Movement and disbursed a sum of Rs8.6 million as financial aid to them. He said that 671 gold medalists were from Punjab, 116 from the NWFP, 104 from Sindh, 16 from Balochistan and 32 from Bangladesh.

Foundation chairman Majid Nizami said that the Quaid-i-Azam’s main purpose of establishing Pakistan was to solve the economic problems of the Muslims of the subcontinent.

He said it was heartening to note that the Punjab government was taking measures to ameliorate the social conditions of the common man, particularly in the education and health sectors. Foundation secretary Dr Rafiq Ahmad and Shahid Rashid also addressed.

The chief minister gave 47 gold medals to the living workers of the Pakistan movement and the posthumous awards to their relatives. They include 29 from four provinces of Pakistan and 18 from Bangladesh.

Jobless Philippine workers head home

Americans were already defaulting on home payments when Gertrudes Capili mortgaged her modest farm near Manila to help send her two granddaughters to Taiwan.

There they worked in a factory making microchips for appliances sold to a US consumer market on the verge of collapse.

Little did the 90-year-old grandmother know that the US subprime meltdown and subsequent financial crisis would come home to roost in Angono, a lakeshore town east of Manila where she lives with a daughter and two granddaughters in a cramped 34m2 plywood and sheet iron home.

A nearby river often overflows and floods the ground floor in the rain, and the warped furniture, bought with the granddaughters’ earnings, has to be replaced every year.

“Huge debts and a splitting headache,” 24-year-old Bernadette Cortas said when asked what she earned from her stint at the ASE semiconductor factory near Taipei, which serves electronics giants such as Motorola and Epson.

Both she and her cousin Cristina de Borja now wear horn-rimmed glasses, the result of working long hours in front of tiny circuit boards.

Just eight months after the cousins got their jobs, which netted them about NT$20,000 (US$600) a month after food and lodging expenses, they were shipped back home along with 103 other Filipinos as the company cut staff amid plunging global electronics demand.

Cortas would be an apt poster child of the Philippine economic diaspora.

Once a giggly, leggy teenage schoolgirl, she is now a college dropout who had worked in a fast food restaurant to put herself through high school.

The oldest of five children of an unemployed bus driver who lives with another woman, Cortas single-handedly fed, housed and put her siblings through school.

Her mother works as a maid in Saudi Arabia but has a new boyfriend and no longer gives money to the family, Cortas said. When Cortas lost her job the siblings also had to quit school.

Jobless, penniless and deep in debt, she is staring down a bleak Christmas, unable to pay back the 50,000-peso (US$1,048) loan she and de Borja had secured with grandma’s 2,000m2 farm as collateral.

The loan only covered part of their “job placement fees” of 85,000 pesos each which was mainly paid for by commercial money lenders that charge interest rates of 2 percent a month.

Cortas does not even have money to go home to Rosario town south of Manila for Christmas and is temporarily staying at her grandmother’s.

Their desperation has seen them line up overnight outside a Manila television station last weekend for a game show that offered a house and 1 million pesos in prizes.

Both missed out because “they appeared to favor domestic helpers,” de Borja said.

The cousins are just two among some 8 million Filipinos — 10 percent of the population — who have joined an economic diaspora.

The government says several hundred “overseas Filipino workers” have lost their jobs because of the global crisis, which the International Labor Organization has warned could see as many as 20 million people put out of work by the end of next year.

The two cousins have filed a suit to get a refund of part of their placement fee, which had guaranteed them contracts for two years in Taiwan.

While no one can be jailed in the Philippines for failing to pay a debt, they need to repay the loans to avoid becoming blacklisted by labor recruiters.

De Borja, 30, a former Manila pharmaceutical company worker, said a job in the Philippines is not appealing because of the low pay.

Two in five Filipinos live on US$2 or less a day and a third of the labor force is either out of work or underemployed at any one time.

De Borja said she has pawned or sold most of her jewelry to try to pare down debts.
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Freida & fame

That’s because Freida, along with the rest of the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire, the Danny Boyle-directed movie, are the latest darlings of the international film festival circuit. Danny, the director of movies like Trainspotting, chose Mumbai as the setting for Slumdog Millionaire, the story of a boy who enters Kaun Banega Crorepati to find his ladylove. Freida plays the part of the beloved.

She’d been doing a travel show for a while, and “nothing was happening” when the casting director for Slumdog came to India and Frieda learnt that they were auditioning for the movie. “I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I mean, it was so big – I’d studied one of Danny’s films back in college at St Xavier’s (Mumbai)!” She had to audition for six months till, to her disbelief, she got the role. “I was ecstatic. I was screaming and jumping around, and my mom came and saw me and said that she wouldn’t stop me. ‘Go ahead and jump,’ she said, ‘You deserve it.’ At that time, no one could fathom how big the opportunity was.”

That she did, and it paid off – she says that when she started touring internationally with Dev, the response they got as Indian actors was phenomenal. “In Toronto, the film got a standing ovation. It’s true that people have discovered Mumbai through the film. It’s changed the perception that it’s a poor city. They’ve seen it in the film as a big metropolitan city, the financial capital, a power centre... The film’s put Mumbai on the map, and it’s making a mark for itself,” she says.

Freida was in LA when she heard of the terror attack in Mumbai. “My heart goes out to all those who lost their lives or loved ones in the attack,” she says.

A couple of days after the attack, Freida was rushing off to London again. She’s been so busy touring the world for Slumdog, she says, that she hasn’t had time to consider other offers yet. “It’s so funny. I can sit in a rickshaw in Mumbai and no one will recognise me, but in LA, they can tell who I am now,” she giggles.

Men dressed in Santa Claus the kill 8 People in Los Angeles

A man who wear a Santa Claus house down in a quiet rural areas Covina, about 30 kilometers east of downtown Los Angeles. Bloody incident that occurred on Christmas night in the house burned and destroyed at least eight people killed.

After doing the act brutalnya, actors and suicide in the house with his brother near the scene of an accident. Covina police officer, Pat Buchanan, meet the press on Thursday (25/12) morning, said local police to identify perpetrators of the attack as Bruce Jeffery Pardo (45).

According to police, Pardo has a problem with the marriage of a woman who attended the event on Christmas night in the house. When police arrived, they found two-storey house was burnt and the situation in at least three dead bodies found after the fire be quenched. Police have not identified all the victims, but had to rally troops home after getting reports about the shooting.

Source: Antara

U.S.-Georgia Partnership for opponents of Russia

Georgian and the United States on January 4 will sign a strategic partnership agreement to address the threat from Russia. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and Minister of Foreign Affairs U.S. Condoleezza Rice will sign a strategic partnership agreement on January 4 in Washington.

Said Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Georgia, Khatuna Iosava, Thursday (25/12) in Tbilisi. Agreement was similar to the strategic partnership agreement that was signed with the U.S. Ukraine is not yet old.

Signing agreements to increase the risk of tensions with Russia, which has not been recently involved in a brief war with Georgia, related Ossetia region who want independence from Georgia.

Pascaperang tensions between Georgia and Russia have been so high. This marked the fact that on Wednesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev unleash personal attacks against the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

"We suspect our friend Georgia has a problem with otaknya, but we do not realize it," said Medvedev.


Saakashvili crest-banggakan U.S.-Georgian agreement the document as a "historic" relationship that will enable the two countries move toward a new stage. "U.S. has never previously said Georgia as a strategic partner," said Saakashvili, on Monday (22/12).

The Georgian opposition politicians and observers concur that the agreement is a positive step, but also cautions that not terhanyut by self-interest.

"No doubt, this is a step forward in strengthening the security of Georgia. However, Saakashvili overstate interest-interests, "said party leader of the Republic of Georgia, Levan Berdzenishvili.

He added that the agreement is not a substitute for Georgia's membership in NATO, which is the only way to ensure the security of Georgia.

An analyst at the Georgia Institute of Public Affairs, Tornike Sharashenidze, say, there is still a question in the agreement, namely the security Georgia. "This Agreement is our moral support," he said.

U.S. has signed similar agreements with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1998. (AP / AFP / OKI)

Source: Kompas

Christmas message Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Invite criticism ambassador inggriss, israeland london

Christmas message delivered Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on one of the UK television invite criticism. Criticism came from the UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador of Israel to London.

Ahmadinejad in a message that Christmas station Channel Four, Thursday (25/12), explained, "If Jesus lived at this time then he will oppose oppression and the strength of the expansion."

Channel Four broadcast is seen as an alternative or penyeimbang annual message from Queen Elizabeth II to the commonwealth countries. Channel Four deliberately invite Ahmadinejad to convey the Christmas message.

"President Ahmadinejad has now ruled out a series of anti-Semitic statements are appalling," said Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaking English through an interpreter.

"Media is the UK have the right to have the option editorialnya, but this invitation will have the cause of the shoulder and confused, not only in domestic but also the parties in the countries of friends," added the announcement.

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor his impressions as a scandal and a national shame. Prosor rate Christmas message from Ahmadinejad as irony that wind.

"In Iran, people who enter the Christian death. One of the unjust if this is left interprets views of Jesus, the Christian vassal government to take pole hanging," said Prosor quoted as DPA news agency.

The Ambassador also said Israel was broadcast on Channel Four television stations are "losing ethical ranking for the surprise factor and the (audience)."

Yesterday, Ahmadinejad initiated with a congratulatory message to the Christians and the British people celebrate Christmas.

"If Jesus today is in the earth, He will certainly be in the party against forces like the champ, ill-natured, and ekspansionis."

"If Jesus today is in the earth, He will certainly expand the flag of justice and love for humanity against the instigator of war, annexationist, terrorist, and the bully in the world."

"I pray that New Year to be year of happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood for the sake of humanity. Hopefully you all success and always happy."

Channel Four leaders of redaction, Dorothy Byrne, revealed the reason for inviting Ahmadinejad is "a leader as one of the most powerful country in the Middle East, views, President Ahmadinejad is extraordinary."

"At the time we approach a critical time in international relations, we offer the audience an alternative perspective on the views of the world," he said.

Source: Ant

in Lima, Peru 5 "Clubber" died in the spray by Gas

The Police Lima, Peru, say, five people died in the place after a grenade diledakkan tears in the middle of the crowd who are swing in a disco night club, on Thursday (25/12) local time. They died because of suffocation inhale too much carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, seven people have been reported injured, and was soon to a hospital in Juliaca, south of Lima.

At this time, police said Jaime Munoz, nine people suspected, including a minor injury victim, has been secured. They allegedly responsible for the explosion is.

Other police, John Mestas said, tear gas guns to be shut off when diledakkan in a closed space with little ventilation. He added that the clubbing that can only accommodate 800 people plateau around 1200 people that night.

Now the authorities to investigate how the people suspected of responsibility can have tear gas.

Source: AP

China Send 3 warships, to fight Somali pirate

Government of China has sent three Navy ships (AL) for a combat mission in Africa rover. This is China's first mission outside the country during the last few centuries. The three vessels consists of two k apal crusher, Haikou DDG-171 and DDG-169, Wuhan, and one transport of goods, Weishanhu, along with a team that's waiting for the AL pangkatan military on the island of Hainan.

"Because this mission is the first foreign country, we may be experiencing the unexpected incident. However, we are ready," said Laksamana Du Jingcheng.

Third tercanggih fleet had 1,000 troops are expected to start work three months. This is monumental. Usually, AL China focus only on domestic defense.

According to Mayor Xie Zengling, the personnel who participated in this mission has been following the intensive training in the field of maritime tactics and dive. "If pirate attacks to reinforce our fleet, we will take steps behind the attack," he told Xinhua news agency saying that one person sesumbar only members of the mission can overcome some of the enemy with empty hands.

Xinhua said, AL has been anticipating boredom of the mission is complete with the ships facilities, such as library, computer room, and gym.

China, said investigations will ship to any ship that dicurigainya as a pirate, approached, and ask that they show official documents.

Last week, the UN Security Council gives a mandate to countries in the world to act in the Gulf of Aden, the regions in Somalia without the law. Gulf of Aden is one of the strategic waters, and become part of the Suez Terusan.

"This will be big slap in the Chinese concept of security. This is a message for the international world that China has been making improvements in the field of economic and military power. This is also the message that China wanted to play a greater role in maintaining world peace and security," said Li Wei, Director of Research Center Antiterorisme in China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Source: AP

Meetings sleepy time, Chinese government officials stopped 6 Officers 6 China

Government of Hengyang city, Hunan province, south China oust six pejabatnya camera caught the nod in a meeting. According to the Beijing News, Friday (26/12), the image of officials headed across the Internet.

The six officials that consists of a number of company managers and leaders of the Communist Party of the various branches of government. They attend a meeting to commemorate the 30 years of economic growth.

"Dismissal was meant to strengthen discipline and clean up the bad impact caused by it in city government," write the Beijing News quoted an official government statement Hengyang city.

The report did not mention who took the photographs and displaying on the internet. Incidents that have triggered hot debate in the virtual world. Some people call it as a dismissal is unfair because it is not a mistake but because the officials meeting very boring.

"In 99 percent of such meetings, the words (used) and does not contain stereotipikal," said someone in the virtual world that uses the name Damocangying 2007 in the popular portal "If the participants fall asleep when you make a speech pidatomu then it is wrong," said someone else calling himself Cmbbs.

Meeting the government in China are usually very long and full of speech-long speech, although senior officials have been trying to streamline and make it more efficient.

Sixth is not the person who first caught and removed after the act evidently do not deserve. An official in the southern city, Shenzhen, ax months ago, after images and video klipnya while drunk in the virtual world.

Source: Ant

Al Qaeda prisoners vs Iraqi police, 13 killed

Six Iraqi police and seven Al Qaeda militia killed, Friday (26/12), when the members of the group that seeks an escape from custody at the police office in the city of Ramadi, western Iraq.

"In the shooting of prisoners who attempted escape and the police in the office, six police and seven prisoners died," said the head of the provincial police Tareq al Dulaimi.

Dulaimi describes three successful escape custody and a re-arrested. Four other injuries in the police shooting that occurred at 02:00 local time in the Forsan police station in the central city of Ramadi.

Ramadi police the curfew in the city after the incident, said a ministry source in the country and add three fugitive Al Qaeda is the "emir" or local leaders.

Ramadi city settled the majority of the Sunni groups is the capital of Anbar province, base important Al Qaeda after the government removed President Saddam Hussein by U.S. leaders invasion in 2003. But since 2006, Sunni groups to help the U.S. military to fight hard line groups. Action violence every day decreased dramatically in the Anbar province while the Al Qaeda combatants have been out of the area.

Source: Ant

40 Tamil tiger rebels died on Christmas day in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka troops shot dead at least 40 Tamil rebels Macan and beat back the backlash against gerilyawan on Christmas Day, said the defense ministries of Sri Lanka.

Hostilities erupt, Thursday (25/12), in at least three field combat in the Kilinochchi town, capital of political Exemption Macan Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that its.

Ministry, said the sharpshooter to kill 28 rebels in two places, while 12 other rebels died and 18 more injuries in the third. But the military did not explain whether the security forces had killed the victim.

"Terrorists LTTE has attempted several times retake the area of falling into the hands of government troops that," said the defense ministry. He was referring to the battle that lasted gerilyawan in their area, Kilinochchi. No immediate comment obtained from the Tamil Macan.

Tamil tiger, said Monday that they have killed more than 100 government soldiers, and has been retake the region fall into the hands of the government. Both parties mutually recognized claims raise the number of victims of their own, and the parties may not perform independent verification because the journalists and aid workers are forbidden to enter the conflict area.

In January, the government of Sri Lanka has withdraw from the 2002 cease-fire with rebels who initiated Norway. Macan Tamil rebels have fought since 1972 to establish a separate state for the ethnic Tamil minority, of which Sri Lanka has a majority ethnic Sinhala.

Source: Ant

Kamis, 25 Desember 2008

In central Jakarta, ruins of Indonesia’s colonial past

By Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo
JAKARTA: In the middle of Jakarta there is a place more reminiscent of the ruins of Cambodia’s Angkor than the heart of a historical capital seeking to promote itself to the world.

Trees grow through the crumbling ceilings of derelict buildings, while thick vines reach out into the sun through dark windows and cracked walls.

Jakarta’s historic “Old Town” of Batavia, the centuries-old centre of Dutch colonial trade and administration until only about 60 years ago, is in ruins.

What could have been the centrepiece of Jakarta’s tourism drive in “Visit Indonesia Year 2008” is instead being left to the elements and vandals, while investors spend billions of dollars on new shopping malls instead.

“This is actually one of the best and most complete old towns in Asia,” said architect Budi Lim, who has been involved in efforts to revive the area, known as Kota Tua or “Old Town,” for more than two decades.

“The anatomy of the original town exists in full form. The old port and warehouses are still there.”

But unlike other Asian cities that have preserved and celebrated their historic sites, such as Singapore’s Boat Quay and Malaysia’s Malacca, Jakarta’s modern caretakers have left Batavia to rot.

West Jakarta Mayor Djoko Ramadhan recently conceded that “some old buildings” had not survived the capital’s rapid growth into a city of more than 12 million people dotted with skyscrapers and slums.

“We realise that the Old Town’s infrastructure is far from adequate,” he said, referring to a lack of parking spaces which discourages visitors in the absence of public transport.

Kota Tua was declared a heritage site in the early 1970s and town planners have promoted several schemes to revive it over the years, all of which have failed.

About two years ago the city spent more than seven million dollars on a facelift for the European-style Fatahillah square in the centre of Kota Tua, and in the 1970s the 18th century city hall was turned into a museum.

Two other Dutch colonial buildings on the square have been repaired and converted into museums of puppetry and fine arts. The well-known Batavia Cafe occupies what used to be a colonial-era warehouse on the square, but otherwise the area is derelict.Of more than 284 buildings in Kota Tua which are on the city’s heritage list, 19 are abandoned ruins and many more have been stripped bare with no thought for their historical importance.

“People chopped off the historical parts of their buildings, such as the teak from the 1800s, with no regrets. Many antique aspects of the properties have been vandalised or stolen,” said Kota Tua property owner Ella Ubaidi.

A law supposed to protect historical buildings says violators face six months’ jail and a fine of 100 million rupiah (9,200 dollars). But it has rarely been enforced.

“Law enforcement is weak because we don’t have a solid investigation team yet,” said Kota Tua development agency head Candrian Attahiyyat.

Abandoned and neglected it may be, but history still echoes throughout Kota Tua’s narrow streets.

Leading off the square are alleys and lanes lined with crumbling old shopfronts, warehouses and offices that formed the epicentre of the region’s spice trade for about 300 years.

Asian luxuries such as Chinese porcelain, silk and tea were packed and shipped off to Europe from Batavia’s markets, along with “spice island” delicacies such as cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

The port of Batavia was established on the northwestern coast of Java island by the Dutch East Indies Company in the mid-1600s and remained Indonesia’s capital until it was renamed during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

Since independence in 1945, the mainly Muslim country of 234 million people has naturally celebrated its resistance to the Dutch occupiers and built monuments to its freedom fighters. The thought of restoring and caring for the remnants of Dutch rule is anathema to many Indonesians.

According to the development agency, most of the 19 heritage-listed buildings which have fallen into total ruin in Kota Tua are state owned.

“The high cost of renovating a building, about 920,000 dollars, has discouraged many investors,” said Robert Tambunan, manager of the state-owned Indonesian Trading Company, which has 22 buildings in the area.

Long-term resident Henry Leo said it was time to restore the historical centre of old Batavia, if not for the preservation of Indonesia’s colonial history then at least as a tourist attraction to boost the incomes of local people.

“I was born here. We’re angry and saddened that the government’s lack of action has caused many buildings to deteriorate,” he said.

“I once brought US visitors to the area. They’ve never come back.”

Muslims set for Manila

COTABATO CITY: A gathering of ulama (Islamic scholars) who are known to be advocates of moderate Muslims from Mindanao that include delegates from this city will be held in Manila early next year in a three-day dialogue or forum with their Islamic scholar counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia in order to discuss moderation in Islam as against extremism.

Prof. Taha Basman, president of the Center for Moderate Muslims (CMM), which is the main sponsor of the three-day dialogue that will be held at Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City from January 9 to 11, said the dialogue seeks to address issues affecting an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims in the whole world like the problem on extremism in Islam.

In an interview with The Manila Times, Basman said, “We want Muslims to follow the real teaching of Islam which is ummatan wasata or moderation. With this we can achieve peaceful co-existence in the world.”

The Center for Moderate Muslims president said over 200 participants are expected to attend, some of them are Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Muslim leaders as resource speakers, who will discuss the issues and problems affecting the Muslim community based on the theme “Redirecting Islamic Da’wah: Addressing the Contemporary Concerns of Muslims.”

Basman said those who are scheduled to speak, among others, are Malaysian Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia and Dato Ismael bin Mohamad also of Malaysia, who are both Gusi Peace Prize Laureates; Saudi Arabian envoy to Manila Ambassador Muhammad Ameen Wali; former Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Dr. Tarmizi Tahir; Haji Mohamad Alami Musa of Singapore’s Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) and Sanusi Ismael of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia.

On the other hand, the resource speakers from Manila are Supreme Court of the Philippines Jurisconsult Saaduddin Alauya; former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao secretary of the Department of Education Dr. Salipada Tamano; Ms. Roslaini Iljas Rasu­man; University of the Philippines student regent Shahanna Abdulw­ahid; Philippine Marine Commandant Gen. Ben Muham­mad Dolor­fino and several others.

Meanwhile among the known ulama from Mindanao who are expected to attend the forum are several muftis, which is somewhat equivalent to a Roman Catholic bishop. They are Mufti Ismael Ibrahim of Cotabato City; Mufti Julasiri Aberin of Sulu; Mufti Abdulwahid Inju of Tawi-Tawi; and Mufti Abdullah Utoh of Basilan province.

“With the extremists still finding attentive ears in the ummah or Islamic community, a gathering of these international Islamic leaders and their Filipino counterparts through the CMM will help empower the moderates among us Muslims and eventually seek to address the most important issue affecting the Muslim world like extremism,” Basman emphasized.

It can be noted that the CMM since its inception a few years ago, with its affiliate organizations in the Asean region, has been in the forefront of promoting interfaith dialogue, fostering religious tolerance and harmony, and working for peace between Muslims and non-Muslims and among members of the Islamic world. It has held its first dialogue in the year 2004 while the second one was in 2006.

“In order to address the issues effectively, selected and influential Muslim personalities from various sectors—ulama, diplomats, professionals, academicians, businessmen, traditional leaders, women groups, youth associations and the media—are invited to grace the occasion and share their valuable ideas and experiences,” said Basman in a letter to Saudi Ambassador Wali.

Basman, who is also a commissioner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), said the event seeks to boost the “tradition of promoting dialogue and the use of other more effective means for the resolution of issues besetting the Muslim ummah.”

He said some of the concerns to be addressed are issues of deviation, radicalism and disunity among Muslim missionary (da’wah) groups; problems facing the youth, many of them have become easy recruits for extremists who advocate violence; issues on the role of women in the family and the community; and economic opportunities, among others, as Muslim-Filipino traders continue to seek better chances to improve their lives through business

World also concerned on Mindanao

ACHIEVING peace in Mindanao is a concern not only for the Filipinos, but for the international community as well, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said.

He disclosed that the Mindanao situation has been a fixture in conversations during sidelines of international meetings, saying that other countries leaders would want to be updated on how the Philippines is doing in the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Romulo said world leaders and diplomats have asked him about the peace pact while he was in China for the Asia-Europe meeting in Beijing, as well as during the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Everywhere I go, they are asking about it,” Romulo told reporters in a press conference held at the Harborview restaurant on Tuesday.

“They are interested about it because we all know that peace is crucial not only for the development and progress of Mindanao but also of the whole country.”