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.
‘West Wing’ inspires junta
Former generals have looked to US television for tips on how to build a democracy. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton drew laughter on Wednesday in Washington as she recounted a conversation with the lower house speaker from her historic visit to the country last year. Clinton said: “He said to me: ‘Help us learn how to be a democratic congress, a parliament.’ He went on to tell me that they were trying to teach themselves by watching old segments of The West Wing.” Clinton smiled: “I said: ‘I think we can do better than that, Mr Speaker.’”
Gaza strike kills two
A strike on Gaza killed two Hamas border guards overnight, Palestinian medics said, but Tel Aviv yesterday named them as “terrorists,” saying one was poised to attack civilians. “Two citizens were martyred and another was wounded in an Israeli air strike on a car in Rafah city,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told reporters. Officials in Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry said the air strike in southern Gaza killed two border guards and seriously wounded a third as they were patrolling the frontier with Egypt.
Police escape prosecution
The University of California, Davis police officers who doused students and alumni with pepper spray during a campus protest in November last year will not face criminal charges, prosecutors said. The chemical crackdown prompted widespread condemnation, campus protests and calls for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after videos shot by witnesses were widely played online. Images of an officer casually spraying orange pepper-spray in the faces of non-violent protesters became a rallying point for the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, the Yolo County District Attorney’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to prove the use of force was illegal.
King writing ‘Shining’ sequel
Readers who have been waiting for more than 30 years to find out what happened to Danny Torrance, the young boy who survived the horrific events of The Shining, can breathe a sigh of relief: Stephen King has finally announced a publication date for his long-awaited sequel. Doctor Sleep will be published on Sept. 24 next year, King has announced — 36 years after The Shining was first published in 1977. King’s Doctor Sleep will take up the story of a middle-aged Dan Torrance, a man who has “been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence,” according to King’s UK publisher, Hodder & Stoughton.
Reagan shooter not freed
A federal judge refused to rule on Wednesday whether the man who opened fire at former president Ronald Reagan should be freed, ordering a psychiatric hospital to submit a new plan. District Judge Paul Friedman on Wednesday gave the hospital until Oct. 19 to disclose its plan for John Hinckley, who has been held there for 30 years. Friedman held a lengthy set of hearings on the plan that ended in February. The judge has been reviewing Hinckley’s case to decide whether to expand the conditional release rights of the 57-year-old man, who was declared insane during a 1982 proceeding. He lives at St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists