State blocks Islam film
Google yesterday blocked YouTube users in the city-state from viewing clips of an anti-Islamic film that has incited violent protests across the Muslim world, acting on a request by authorities. Attempts to access the low-budget Innocence of Muslims film on the Google-owned video-sharing Web site resulted in a message reading: “This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request.” Google could not be reached to comment, but it has also blocked access to clips of the film in Muslim-majority neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia. The Ministry of Home Affairs cited “security concerns” as the reason behind the request to Google in a press statement released on Wednesday.
Aboriginal vote shelved
The government yesterday dropped plans to hold a referendum on formally recognizing the country’s Aborigines in the constitution, saying there was not enough public support for the move. Gillard described the vote as a “once in 50-year opportunity” when she first unveiled plans for the referendum in 2010, saying there was a rare moment of widespread public and parliamentary support. However, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said the plan had been shelved for two or three years due to a lack of community support. “I understand that people are disappointed. I’m disappointed myself,” she said.
Jakarta holds run-off
Voters in the capital, Jakarta, cast their votes yesterday in a run-off election for a new governor whose key challenges will include tackling traffic congestion and poor infrastructure. The election pits incumbent Fauzi Bowo against the popular mayor of Solo City in Central Java Province, Joko Widodo. Widodo topped the vote in July’s first round — winning 43 percent of votes, with Bowo taking 34 percent — but failed to reach the 50 percent required for victory. Analysts have predicted a close race. Official results are expected on Sept. 29.
Drone attack love song a hit
In a sign of how the routine hunting down and killing of militants by unmanned CIA planes has leached into the popular imagination, drones have been given a starring role in a new romantic song. In most respects the track, which is proving popular in the largely Pashtun city of Peshawar, is faithful to standard themes of the genre. The lyrics mention rosebuds and wine. Then the repeated chorus: “My gaze is as fatal as a drone attack.” Sitara Younis’ energetic performance of the song had been racking up a healthy number of hits on YouTube before the video sharing site was shut down by the government on Monday, amid rising public anger over an anti-Islamic film.
UK soldier gives birth
A British soldier has given birth to a boy at the Camp Bastion field hospital. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) in London said mother and baby were in stable condition and a specialist “pediatric retrieval team” would fly out from Britain to care for them during the long flight home. “It is not military policy to allow servicewomen to deploy on operations if they are pregnant. In this instance, the MOD was unaware of her pregnancy,” the ministry said. The Daily Mail, which first reported on the birth, said the woman herself was unaware she was pregnant when her six-month stint in Afghanistan began. Her job in the field involved providing covering fire for troops fighting insurgents.