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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Role of Youth in Malaysia

1.Just this week, many things have been happening. For one, my good friend, K (her nickname) is currently organizing “The ASEANpreneurs Youth Leaders Exchange” where youth leaders from the ASEAN region are joining this event, exchanging ideas and thoughts and bringing in many popular figures to come in and give talks.

2.And a few weeks before that, another good friend of mine, Michael Teoh was named the winner of the global Smaller Earth Your Big Year competition.

3.And another friend, Alexander of Nottingham University in Semenyih emailed me about how a group of youths going to hold workshops for rural high school students on tertiary education opportunities in Sarawak to address the particular problem, West Malaysians generally remain unaware of the plight of East Malaysians. Most have never been to East Malaysia and have never witnessed first-hand the situation for themselves. The general impression of East Malaysia as the backwater of the nation is a prevalent stereotype that holds too many ounces of truth in it. As a result, many Sarawakians view West Malaysians with general suspicion and an underlying resentment. As the Federal government continues to concentrate it’s distribution of economic wealth in the Peninsular, accessability to quality education resources in Sarawak remains a stagnant ambition for the majority of the state’s youth.

4. I’m just saying guys that our country is not short of young, enthusiastic leaders. Not one bit.In fact, we are very competitive in terms of this particular aspect. Once, I did attend this one event called as, Youth’08 and Youth’09. Yes guys, I attended both years. 🙂

5. What I found there was really making me delighted to see our young people are very enthusiastic in moving the country forward, regardless of who you are. In fact, the new generation (I regard this group as below 30) as more concerned about being Malaysian first, and malay-chinese-indian-kadazan-iban-bidayuh-bajau-etc etc…(sorry guys,too long to mention. :P) second.

6. And the best part is that these guys are not only enthusiastic, but very sincere in what they are doing, in the sense that it’s not always about the money.It’s more of achieving their goals and pursuing their interests.

7. So, that’s why I must stress that if the government wants to remain relevant, they have to start paying very serious attention on what these youths are doing, guide them to be on the right platforms and give more emphasis towards identifying talented youths across the country. You’ll be surprised at what they can do.

8. Only thing is, I do have to mention here that these youths are a little bit rebellious, in a way, so we have to adjust how we intend to form this so-called collaboration. *wink*

9. I think there are a few things I hope (my personal opinion, without the backing of the general views), these are some of the things that we should focus more:

a) give appropriate recognitions to the youths, not only to those who have been outstanding but also to those who have contributed their energy and time for the country.

b) the political arena of the country should move with time. Our young people are literally sick with the backstabbings and dirty news written on paper and reported in the news channel, so to remain relevant is also to engage the people in a clean and appropriate manner.

c) be more responsive and pay more attention what the youths are proposing. For example in the case of my friend K I told you earlier, it’s clearly a very good event in terms of developing the youths, relevant government agencies should take this opportunity to engage the youths more effectively. Private sectors should also not do it for CSR (corporate social responsibilities) to demand for (in certain cases) tax-exemption, but to consider contributing in these sorts of initiatives as a form of national service.

d) guide the youths. you know, Mr. Government, most of the time, these young people, including myself aren’t clear whom to approach, what organization to work with. So, spend some time in making your agencies more accessible and make it known to them what are your roles and responsibilities.

e) elected-representatives of the people, YB’s, MP’s, Dato, Datin of the governments, make yourselves more approachable and don’t be too much of the Kings where it is so hard for the people to meet you. too much protocols can too, make yourself irrelevant. Take the example of Dato Saifudin Abdullah, the deputy minister of Higher Education. That’s a good example indeed. After officiating events, for example, don’t leave right away for the VIP room and hang out with the rest of the so-called important people, but maybe sit and have a short informal chit chat with the youths. we know you’re busy, but isn’t serving the people, hearing the words from the people themselves is part of your duties as well?


f) include youths in the decision making. I know this sound a little bit immature, but whatever policies you guys are making, make sure the people that are going to be affected are part of the decision making as well. Make sense isn’t it?

10. It’s time that these youths are given the attention- an appropriate one. Although they may be lacking in terms of experience, maturity maybe for being too naive in certain issues/ cases, but actually they are the future leaders of tomorrow. If the parents don’t provide the guidance to them, then who will? In this case, the parents are the government. Just as being a good parent is to listen well to your child’s needs, so should the government.

11. Just my two cents, but I have no doubt that investing our time in understanding the role of youths in Malaysia could make a whole lot different. Apart from the three I just mentioned earlier, many more are creating impacts of their owns. Only thing is, not enough credits, recognitions and attention are given to them. Who’s fault?



An interview with Annie Machon.

Submitted by Reprehensor on Fri, 04/10/2009 – 5:54pm

Photograph by Chris Carr

(It’s been over 10 years since Annie Machon and David Shayler resigned from MI5, to blow the whistle on an act of False Flag terror by British intelligence in Libya, and other deceptive practices by intelligence agencies in the UK and abroad. In 2006, Machon gave a Keynote speech at the landmark Chicago 9/11 Truth Conference, introducing her story to a wider audience. In 2006-7, Machon organised three UK and European tours for William Rodriguez. She traveled and spoke with him at over 40 engagements, last year she spoke in California. She has also organised European speaking tours for Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin, and shared a platform with Cynthia McKinney in Amsterdam in 2007. Starting in May, Machon will be speaking at a number of places in Canada. To learn more about this speaking tour, and to possibly add your city to the itinerary, please contact Elizabeth Woodworth: elizwood(at) or Patrick Borden: directors(at) -rep.)

911blogger: Ms. Machon, what is your current relationship with David Shayler? Do you still believe that Shayler had a genuine breakdown, or was his breakdown perhaps premediated, with the intent of making 9/11 Truth advocates look batty?

Machon: David and I separated almost three years ago, and I’m now living in Germany with my partner and Molly the cat.

I have very little contact with David now, which is strange after the intensity of our years together, when we blew the whistle, had to go on the run around Europe, watch as our friends, family, supporters and journalists were arrested, live in France for 3 years and survive two high-profile court cases.

It’s a shame it all happened just before the internet, electronic media archives, and youtube were endemic – otherwise people would be able to see, at the click of a mouse, just how big a scandal it was, what we went through, and how vicious the response was from the government and intelligence agencies. The story has been largely forgotten and spun by the media, and my book (which described the full case) was buried.

Our involvement with the 9/11 movement started in 2005 at a journalism conference where we were trying to publicise the book, when a leading UK 9/11 activist approached us. We were actively “head hunted” by the nascent UK movement, and for the first year Shayler’s name and profile really helped build it – media interviews, speaking tours etc.

Then he started to get more and more erratic, and increasingly intractable in his views, until he started talking about speculative fringe theories such as “no planes” in public, and the whole campaign was ridiculed by the media in the UK.

During 2006 I was working flat out on building the movement with interviews and speaking tours. David and I argued about his approach constantly towards the end of our relationship and it was a factor in our split, as I felt angry that he was jeopardising all this work from so many people with his views.

That said, in my view it was a genuine breakdown – I think the hero-worship for the whistleblowing from certain sectors of society and the vilification by others, plus the constant isolation and struggle to survive, led inevitably to this victim (sacrificial/Messiah) mentality. I think it was just a traumatised mind’s survival mechanism.

I feel desperately sad about that a man who acted with the bravest and best of intentions should have been treated this way and brought to this state. And angry that the supine mainstream media did not hold the spies and government to account, but colluded in destroying a good man’s reputation.

That said, it’s difficult enough to get the general public to even ask the basic questions about 9/11. I think that going in at the deep end with subjects like NPT/space beams, let alone announcing that you’re the Messiah, is inevitably going to damage the movement.

911blogger: You don’t have to name names, but have you encountered MI5 operatives involved with infiltration of the 9/11 Truth movement in the UK?

Machon: I doubt if even MI5 would be incompetent enough to send in someone I’d recognise!

There is a very British muddle in how surveillance is done in the UK. It’s not just MI5 we have to worry about, there are also police Special Branch sections (ie secret police – every force has one), as well as a massive growth in the private security companies that are also being used to watch activists – all utterly deniable of course. There was a good article about this in The New Statesman Magazine.

Also, work is strictly delineated within MI5. Intelligence officers (which is what I was) tend to co-ordinate operations; agents are people specifically recruited to infiltrate groups, and their identities are a closely guarded secret even within the service, so it would be highly unlikely that I would bump into anyone I would recognise.

That said, I did a speaking event in London last year and a former counter-terrorism officer from the Metropolitan Police, who has been battling the Met for the last few years and whom I’d met on a couple of TV projects, did tell me that he recognised one of his former colleagues in the audience. Perhaps he was just there out of interest….

911blogger: Does MI5 in the UK, and MI6 abroad, actively recruit Muslims, who then in turn recruit other Muslims for “al Qaeda” — but really just wind up as Patsies to be blamed for False Flag terror? And is this really what “al Qaeda” is? A Western intelligence operation? Or do you think it is more complex than that?

Machon: The illegal MI6 plot to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi of Libya in 1996 was was a classic case of such false flag terrorism, and was the primary reason Shayler and I blew the whistle.

In this, MI6 funded a Libyan military intelligence officer, codenamed Tunworth, to organise this attack using a group of Islamic extremists with links to “Al Qaeda”. The attack occurred when Gaddafi was returning from Sirte in a cavalcade of cars and an explosion occurred beneath the wrong car. Gaddafi obviously survived, but innocent people were killed in the ensuing security shoot-out.

As well as being unethical and highly reckless in a volatile part of the world, the operation was also illegal under UK law. MI6 is supposed to be governed by by the 1994 Intelligence Services Act. Under this law, MI6 officers can have immunity for illegal acts carried out abroad (the real “James Bond” license to kill), but only if they have prior written permission from their political master – the Foreign Secretary. In this case, they had no such permission.

We repeatedly tried to give evidence about the Gadaffi plot to the government; to this day they have refused to accept it, even though an MI6 document was leaked in 2000 proving the plot, and sources in French and US intelligence were aware of it. When Shayler exposed this crime in 1998, he was thrown in prison in Paris because the British government tried (and failed) to extradite him. There was huge pressure for an enquiry, but the government managed to spin its way out of one.

Of course, it’s generally accepted that “Al Qaeda” began with the CIA’s support for the mujahadin in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Also, that the links continue to this day. But “Al Qaeda” has also become an ideology, a franchise that genuinely angry Muslims will sign up to. So it’s a mixed bag.

911blogger: Is there a political party in the UK that offers a real alternative for 9/11 Truth advocates? For example, is there a political party that demands a dismantling or serious overhaul of MI5/MI6?

Machon: Unfortunately not. The UK Green Party expressed some interest in the issue of 9/11 a while ago, but that went nowhere. The mainstream political parties won’t touch it. The issue was getting a lot of coverage in the UK a couple of years ago, but since then the campaign has been fragmented by arguments about whether we should focus on a credible political campaign, a la David Ray Griffin or Richard Gage, or focus on the “bigger picture”. Many people chose the latter, and this made it ridiculously easy for the media and political classes to dismiss the subject as pure conspiracy theory.

Ditto with the reform of the intelligence community. Whistleblowers are always dismissed as “Walter Mitty” fantasists who are disgruntled or too junior to know what they’re talking about (think Shayler, Dr David Kelly, Katherine Gunn, Richard Tomlinson). By attacking and dismissing the whistleblower, the government and spooks thereby manage to avoid enquiries into the very grave disclosures. The only time that MPs were roused to ire was when one of their own was arrested by Special Branch last year: Conservative MP Damien Green.

MI5 holds information on many senior politicians in the UK, which might explain their reluctance to rein in the spooks. This is a real problem for a democracy – very much a case of the tail wagging the dog.

I have been arguing for years now that we need a radical overhaul of the intelligence agencies. They are completely unaccountable and above criticism and, as such, become self-perpetuating oligarchies. By throwing more power, money and resources at them to counter the “war on terror”, we just make the existing problems bigger, not better.

So, the best thing that the politicians could do would be to step back and ask: what are the REAL threats to our national security and, based on that, how can we best protect ourselves from them? I would argue we should dismantle MI5. MI6 and GCHQ, with all their attendant historical baggage, and establish a new agency that has to work within strictly defined parameters, obey the law, and work under real democratic oversight.

Much more information about this can be found at

911blogger: In Yuri Felshtinsky’s new book, he shows that the KGB/FSB have engaged in False Flag terror to demonize Muslims in Chechnya. Recently, it was revealed in the New York Times, and elsewhere, that the Mossad recruited and ran a cousin of one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers as an asset. Can you cite some other examples of other nation’s intelligence agencies engaging in this practice?

Machon: Certainly. The classic example is the Israeli Embassy bombing in London in 1994. In this case, two innocent Palestinians studying in London, Samar Alami and Jawed Botmeh, were befriended by someone called Reda Moghrabi, who then asked for help in buying a second-hand car. That car subsequently exploded outside the embassy, and Alami and Botmeh were convicted of conspiring to cause a terrorist attack and sentenced to 20 years each. Moghrabi was never traced.

MI5’s official assessment of this attack, after reviewing all the evidence and all the intelligence, was that Mossad had attacked their own embassy in a controlled explosion. They did this for two reasons: first to gain enhanced security around Israeli interests in London, and secondly to shatter a fast-growing Palestinian support network in which Alami and Botmeh happened to be active.

This was one of the cases we blew the whistle on. You would think that there would have been an immediate retrial, but the government managed to avoid this as it would have justified the whistleblowing, and two innocent people continue to languish in prison.

Additionally, there was a similar attack in Buenos Aires in 1994. A few years ago, the government there DID order a judicial enquiry, and this revealed that Mossad had carried out that attack too.

911blogger: Are there any good books out there that tell a realistic version of how MI5/MI6 operates?

Machon: Glad you asked! My book is called “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers”. It was banned for 15 months by MI5, buried by the national media in the UK and is now, I believe, rather difficult to get hold of.

Also, Mark Urban, formerly of military intelligence and currently at the BBC, wrote a good book called “UK Eyes Alpha: Inside British Intelligence”, which gets the tone right, and Stephen Dorril writes well-researched books, although he has no insider knowledge of the agencies.

911blogger: Thanks to the internet, we know much more about how “intelligence agencies” operate, and a growing realization of elite control that just didn’t exist on any significant level 20 years ago. Faced with the Orwellian power of the mainstream media, do you think we even have a chance of waking enough people up to change Western society sufficiently to put an end to False Flag terrorism?

Machon: The internet could be our salvation – we need to be our own media. We increasingly see citizen journalists recording and reporting facts that the MSM choses to ignore – only last week during the G20 demonstrations in London, a man was assaulted by a police officer and died. The MSM and the police claimed that he just collapsed, but a bystander had captured what really happened on film.

Of course, the MSM is part of the establishment, no longer the Fourth Estate. In the UK, is easily manipulated and controlled by secrecy laws, as well as patronage and spin from the spies and government. There’s a very good book out called “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies that charts the demise of real investigative journalism.

So, yes, it’s difficult to spread the word about 9/11 quickly and effectively. We need urgently to reach out beyond the choir. Many people around the world are appalled by the deaths of innocent millions in the illegal Middle East wars; and many are also appalled that the “war on terror” is used as an excuse to shred our freedoms and constitutional rights.

We need to place 9/11 at the heart of these discussions, but we will only have a chance of doing this if we are disciplined in our campaigning, no matter what our personal beliefs or interests are. The stakes are just too high.



March 16, 2010, 10:00 pm < Updated: 6:21 pm

Christian Soldiers


Robert WrightRobert Wright on culture, politics and world affairs.

Last Friday night a New York Times headline underwent an online transformation. The article formerly known as “A Christian Overture to Muslims Has Its Critics” acquired a new billing: “A Dispute on Using the Koran as a Path to Jesus.”

For my money this was a big improvement, and explaining what I mean will illuminate a dirty little secret: some American Christians are fostering religious strife abroad. They mean well, but the damage they’re doing can be seen all the way from Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims are killing each other, to Malaysia, where Muslims are trying to keep Christians from using the term “Allah” for God.

The Times story is about an outreach technique that some Baptist missionaries use with Muslims. It involves stressing commonalities between the Koran and the Bible and affirming that the Allah of the Koran and the God of the Bible are one and the same.

You can see how a headline writer might call this an “overture.” And certainly the Christians who deploy the technique see it in sunny terms. Their name for it — the “Camel Method” — comes from the acronym for Chosen Angels Miracles Eternal Life.

But a more apt etymology would involve the “camel’s nose under the tent.” The “overture” — the missionary’s initial bonding with Muslims via discussion of the Koran — is precision-engineered to undermine their allegiance to Islam.

These missionaries start out by noting that the Koran depicts Jesus and his mother, Mary, in a favorable light. Indeed, they point out, the Koran depicts Jesus as a great prophet and a miracle worker who can even raise the dead. In contrast, the Koran doesn’t show Muhammad himself doing that sort of thing. Hmmm … kind of makes you wonder who the top prophet is, doesn’t it?

In some cases even the “camel’s nose” image doesn’t do justice to missionary wiliness. “Trojan Camel” might be better; some Christian missionaries call themselves Muslims — or at least muslims — because, after all, “muslim” literally means one who surrenders to God. A few have gone way undercover, growing beards and abstaining from pork.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose you were a Christian parent in America and you heard that someone who called himself a Christian had bonded with your son via genial Bible talk and then tried to convert him to Islam. That would be annoying, right? Might even lead to some blowback?

The “overture” — the missionary’s initial bonding with Muslims via discussion of the Koran — is precision-engineered to undermine their allegiance to Islam.

I wondered after reading the Times piece whether the disingenuous use of “Allah” by Christians might help explain a recent news item: In Malaysia, Muslims are demanding that non-Muslims not be allowed to use the word “Allah” for God. I consulted my go-to authority on Christian-Muslim tensions around the world, Eliza Griswold (whose book “The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line between Christianity and Islam,” is scheduled to come out this fall).

She said tensions between Muslims and Christians in Malaysia are complex and longstanding, but, yes, when Muslims demand exclusive use of the word “Allah,” one source of their pique — and, indeed, their stated motivation — is that Christians sometimes use this linguistic bridge to pull Muslims over to the Christian side of it.

In Nigeria, the battle isn’t so much over the word “Allah,” but there, too, Muslims feel they are victims of cultural aggression. I recently got testimony about this from one of the perpetrators. He is a congenial Pentecostal minister from Nigeria who now drives a New Haven cab that I was riding in last month. (Yes, here comes a cab driver story. I feel like a real columnist now!)

When I asked him how things are in Nigeria, he started complaining about unruly Muslims. (This was weeks before the latest round of killings.) As the conversation continued, I started suspecting that part of the problem was something he’d spent time doing: trying to win Nigerian Muslims for Christ. With no prompting from me, and with evident pride, he said of Pentecostals, “We’re very aggressive.”

Doesn’t this bother the Muslims, I asked? Oh, yes, he said. And do the Muslims try to convert Christians in return? No, he said, “They keep to themselves.”

As this cab driver — a native-born Nigerian — illustrates, the problem isn’t just American missionaries going abroad and trying to leverage the Koran against itself. Depending on the country, Christian proselytizers may be of various nationalities and use various methods.

But whatever form the recruiting takes, it is often perceived by Muslims as cultural aggression — unprovoked aggression, since they’re not generally inclined to proselytize, and serious aggression, since in many Muslim cultures it’s a grave thing for a believer to stray from the fold. And even when American Christians aren’t doing the proselytizing, they’re often supporting it via money that flows from American churches — especially evangelical ones — to outreach programs abroad.

I’m not saying Christians are more to blame than Muslims for the world’s diverse Christian-Muslim tensions. In Nigeria, for example, the intensity of Christian proselytizing comes partly from past persecution by a Muslim majority; the Christians seek safety in numbers, so the bigger their numbers, the better. (Griswold explained this to me, and confirmed that, yes, assertive Christian proselytizing exacerbates tensions in Nigeria.)

Still, even if proselytizing isn’t the prime mover, my guess is that it pretty consistently falls in the “not helpful” category from the point of view of world peace and, ultimately, American security. And some of it — e.g., the “Camel Method” — is particularly antagonistic. Which explains why I’m not a big fan of that first headline, “A Christian Overture to Muslims Has Its Critics.” Overtures, when effective, don’t heighten tensions.

I’d like to be able to report that the “critics” in this headline are Christians who worry about heightening tensions and so refrain from offensive proselytizing. Alas, they’re Christians who favor assertive proselytizing but are offended by any suggestion that Muslims and Christians might worship the same god. One of them, Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., said in a recent podcast, “There’s nothing that the two gods — the god of the Koran and the god of scripture — have in common. Nothing.”

Well, to look at the bright side: Maybe that’s a basis for interfaith rapport; Caner can sit around with Malaysian Muslims and agree that they worship different gods.

Still, I like to think that their gods would beg to differ.

Postscript. If you’re wondering what Muslim scripture says about whether “Allah” and the God of the Bible are the same: By my reading of the Koran, Muhammad does assert (or God asserts through Muhammad, as Muslims would have it) the unity of the Abrahamic God. Indeed, my view is that Muhammad initially got the word “Allah” from Christians, or from both Christians and Jews, and may have seen himself as a kind of Judeo-Christian prophet; he seems at times to be trying to merge Jewish and Christian belief into mutually acceptable doctrine — and to get Arab polytheists to renounce their idolatry and sign on as well. (Even today Arab-speaking Christians and Jews use the word “Allah” for God, and there’s no reason to assume that’s a post-Muhammad development.)

Indeed, the very Koranic passage that practitioners of the Camel Method use to stress Jesus’s wonder-working power conveys Allah’s roots in both the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and the New Testament:

When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favor unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead… . [Koran 5:110; Muhammad Pickthall translation]

Interestingly, the reference in that passage to Jesus making a bird of clay and then infusing it with life comes from a gospel that didn’t make it into the Christian canon — the Infancy Gospel of Thomas — and that presumably was circulating among Christians in Muhammad’s milieu. This story gives people like Caner grounds to assert that the Jesus of the Koran and the Jesus of the Bible aren’t the same.

So does the fact that Muhammad, trying to build an emphatically monotheistic religion, denied the doctrine of the Trinity and denied that God could have a son (though he affirmed that Jesus was, as the Gospel of John has it, the “Word” of God and also called him “Messiah”). Still Caner’s claim in the aforementioned podcast that “Muhammad considered the nature of the God in the Bible, rejected it and made one up” is almost certainly a characterization that Muhammad wouldn’t have recognized. Muhammad’s project to build an interfaith community around the biblical God may have been doomed by intellectual tensions between Christian and Jewish belief — and for that matter between strictest monotheism and the Christian doctrine of Jesus’s divinity — but I do think that this was his project.


Ban Ki-Moon Addresses Children’s Issues

17/3/2010, SOS Children Village  Canada – In two speeches yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon touched on issues of critical importance to global child welfare.

Yesterday, in an address to the General Assembly, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called upon the Member States of the UN to strive to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs are a set of 8 pillars that form the backbone of the UN’s plan for poor and developing countries. They are:  (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; (2) Achieve universal primary education; (3) Promote gender equality and empower women; (4) Reduce child mortality; (5) Improve maternal health; (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; (7) Ensure environmental sustainability; (8) Develop a Global Partnership for Development.

The title of Ban’s speech was “Keeping the Promise: A Forward-Looking Review to Promote an Agreed Action Agenda to Achieve the MDGs by 2015.” He emphasized the shared responsibility for meeting the goals by governments, civil society and international organizations, and expressed his deep regret at the adverse effect the global economic recession and recovery have had on foreign aid funding and economic development.

In the past decade since the first Millennium Summit in 2000, when the goals were first encapsulated, there have been mixed results. Africa has succeeded in improving universal primary education and eradicating measles for the most part; this has been reflected in the fall of child mortality from 12.5 million in 1990 to roughly 9 million in 2008. The average school enrollment rate is now at 74% in Africa—in some countries, the number of school-going girls is greater than the figure for boys, showing immense improvements in improving gender equality and empowerment girls/women.

However, maternal health remains a great challenge, as does post-conflict rebuilding and lifting the more than 1 billion people living on less than a $1.25 a day onto the “first rung” of the ladder of development—to use terminology originated by Columbia University Economist and advisor to Ban Ki-Moon on the MDGs.

There have been great successes, Ban summed up, but they have been witnessed in tandem with great failures. Going forward, the “agenda should be specific, practical, and results-oriented, with concrete steps and timelines.”

Planning is well underway for the United Nations High-Level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals that will take place in New York in late September. The purpose of the conference will be to redouble efforts at achieving the 2015 target date for the MDGS. Some of the most important themes for global child welfare to be discussed at the meeting’s round tables include: Addressing the challenge of poverty, hunger and gender equality (Round Table 1), Meeting the goals of health and education (Round Table 2), and Addressing the special needs of the most vulnerable (Round Table 3).

In other news, Ban also appointed a new Executive Director of UNICEF yesterday at his monthly press conference.  American diplomat and Georgetown University Professor Anthony Lake will take over for Ann Veneman, who announced earlier this year that she would not continue as the chief of the UN’s agency for children when her term expires at the end of April. Ban commended Veneman on her work during her years with UNICEF, thanking her for her “immense dedication, energy and determination to improve the lives of children around the world.”

Ex-Labuan MP pleads guilty to cheating
Mar 9, 10 5:01pm

A former Labuan member of parliament pleaded guilty in the Sessions Court here today, to an amended charge of cheating a bank.

suhaili abdul rahmanSuhaili Abd Rahman, who is ex-Labuan Umno chief, admitted to using someone else’s identity to act as a guarantor for a RM160,000 loan and overdraft in 1996.

Judge Duncan Sikodol will pass sentence tomorrow after hearing the mitigation.

Deputy public prosecutor Fariza Hamzah told the court that the amended charge under Section 109 (1) (m) (ii) of the Bankruptcy Act 1967 carried imprisonment of up to two years or a fine or both.

Suhaili, 48, who was also former Labuan Corporation chairperson, was originally charged under Section 420 of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of between one and 10 years, and whipping and a fine.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge on April 13, last year and the one-week trial was scheduled to start today.

However, the prosecutor applied for an amended charge which carries a lighter sentence.

Declared a bankrupt

Suhaili, who was represented by Rakbir Singh, was charged with cheating Malayan Banking Berhad Kota Kinabalu manager Ismail Jantan by not informing him that he was a bankrupt when he applied for the RM110,000 loan for his company, Saraequity Sdn Bhd, and a RM50,000 overdraft to buy an apartment unit at Api-Api Centre here.

Fariza said Suhaili was declared a bankrupt through a court order on April 3, 1993 but was discharged from bankruptcy on May 9, 1997, more than a year after the credit facilities were approved.

Former Labuan MP Suhaili Abdul Rahman's two MyKad, IC card.On another charge, Sikodol acquitted and discharged Suhaili of making a false statement in a statutory declaration after Fariza said the prosecution had no evidence to present to the court.

The former MP had pleaded not guilty with making a false statement before Justice of the Peace Mohd Naser Mohd Noor at the JP’s office here for the purpose of registering Saraequity Sdn Bhd on Aug 3, 1995.

Suhaili has been accused of a litany of alleged wrongdoings when he was Labuan MP and Umno chief, including a case of abuse of power involving the closing down of a popular seafood restaurant on the island.

has reported in 2007 that he held two identity cards, which he denied.


Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

space.comTue Mar 2, 10:00 am ET

The massive 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile may have changed the entire Earth’s rotation and shortened the length of days on our planet, a NASA scientist said Monday.

The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 milliseconds, according to research scientist Richard Gross at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

“Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth’s axis,” NASA officials said in a Monday update.

The computer model used by Gross and his colleagues to determine the effects of the Chile earthquake effect also found that it should have moved Earth’s figure axis by about 3 inches (8 cm or 27 milliarcseconds).

The Earth’s figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis, which it spins around once every day at a speed of about 1,000 mph (1,604 kph).

The figure axis is the axis around which the Earth’s mass is balanced. It is offset from the Earth’s north-south axis by about 33 feet (10 meters).

Strong earthquakes have altered Earth’s days and its axis in the past. The 9.1 Sumatran earthquake in 2004, which set off a deadly tsunami, should have shortened Earth’s days by 6.8 microseconds and shifted its axis by about 2.76 inches (7 cm, or 2.32 milliarcseconds).

One Earth day is about 24 hours long. Over the course of a year, the length of a day normally changes gradually by one millisecond. It increases in the winter, when the Earth rotates more slowly, and decreases in the summer, Gross has said in the past.

The Chile earthquake was much smaller than the Sumatran temblor, but its effects on the Earth are larger because of its location. Its epicenter was located in the Earth’s mid-latitudes rather than near the equator like the Sumatran event.

The fault responsible for the 2010 Chile quake also slices through Earth at a steeper angle than the Sumatran quake’s fault, NASA scientists said.

“This makes the Chile fault more effective in moving Earth’s mass vertically and hence more effective in shifting Earth’s figure axis,” NASA officials said.

Gross said his findings are based on early data available on the Chile earthquake. As more information about its characteristics are revealed, his prediction of its effects will likely change.

The Chile earthquake has killed more than 700 people and caused widespread devastation in the South American country.

Several major telescopes in Chile’s Atacama Desert have escaped damage, according to the European Southern Observatory managing them.

A salt-measuring NASA satellite instrument destined to be installed on an Argentinean satellite was also undamaged in the earthquake, JPL officials said.

The Aquarius instrument was in the city of Bariloche, Argentina, where it is being installed in the Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC-D) satellite. The satellite integration facility is about 365 miles (588 km) from the Chile quake’s epicenter.

The Aquarius instrument is designed to provide monthly global maps of the ocean’s salt concentration in order to track current circulation and its role in climate change.


Tuesday March 2, 2010 The Star

Energy surge


The new feed-in tariff rule will allow anyone to produce green energy and get paid for it.

HOW would you like to generate your own electricity, and make money from it? If things go according to plan, the impending introduction of a new feed-in tariff law that is set to revolutionise Malaysia’s renewable energy production will make it easy for everyone to generate renewable electricity and sell it back to the national power grid.

With the feed-in tariff (FIT), all you need to do is apply for an account and install a renewable energy generator such as a wind turbine or solar photovoltaic (PV) system, together with a special two meter system in your home.

Of the two meters, one will measure the electricity you use and the other, the renewable electricity you generate and contribute to the grid. When the Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) meter reader comes by, you will receive two bills – one is the usual electricity bill you have to pay to the utility, and the other is for the electricity that it has to pay to you (both bills are kept separate and won’t cancel each other out, so if you don’t pay your bill, they won’t pay you in return).

Solar farms: Large-scale solar power plants are coming up all over the world. This one in Lujhu, Kaoshiung, Taiwan is touted as the largest highconcentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar energy power plant in Asia. Its 141 panels produce up to one megawatt of energy, saving up to 670 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. HCPV power plants use sets of dish reflectors and concentrating optics to focus sunlight into greater densities, which allows solar power plants to be situated in smaller areas.

Doesn’t that sound good? But the best is yet to come. Under the FIT law, the electricity you generate is sold back to the utility at a premium rate.

“In a nutshell, the feed-in tariff will enable anybody, whether individual consumers or companies, to generate renewable electricity and sell it to the utilities at a premium price for a fixed period of time, usually 20 years,” said Ahmad Hadri Haris, head of the renewable energy unit at Pusat Tenaga Malaysia. Hadri also heads the feed-in tariff project team.

The feed-in tariff concept has been tried and tested in many countries, most effectively of all in Germany, which introduced it in 2000. Central to the success of FIT in Germany is Dr Herman Scheer, chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, and founder of the non-profit European Association for Renewable Energies, EUROSOLAR. Scheer, who was in Malaysia late last year for a conference on photovoltaics, is an elected member of the German Parliament since 1980, and was the prime initiator of the German Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff Law. All the same, even in Germany, where the FIT law is considered to be the best-implemented in the world, it was not smooth sailing at first.

According to Scheer, power companies were against the implementation of feed-in tariffs at the beginning and all four major power utilities in Germany tried to block the policy. “The structure of a conventional power centre is very centralised. They wanted to monopolise the electricity supply and the feed-in tariff caused them to lose this monopoly,” he said. To overcome the opposition, Germany declared the feed-in tariff a law, which in turn pressured the utilities to change their priorities and start investing in renewable energy or face the prospect of losing out to others who would be doing so.

Hadri faced the same problems with the utilities in Malaysia, with the main concern being loss of revenue. Another concern was that with so many individuals generating power, it would upset their planning as they plan the energy output 10 to15 years in advance to ensure there is enough power.

“They were not confident that renewable energy could generate enough power by 2015, which is fair comment, since we haven’t had a good success story of renewable energy in Malaysia,” said Hadri, stressing that the FIT proposal will address these issues.

“In terms of future planning, the law will state that each producer of renewable energy has a goal to achieve, and they must fulfil at least 80% of that obligation or be penalised. So there should be no problems of shortage in the future.” Another hurdle is that the technology is currently still too costly for most people to afford. This results in a Catch-22 – solar panel producers cannot lower their prices because demand is low, and at the same time, demand remains low because prices are still too high for consumers.

“You need a breakthrough to overcome this vicious cycle, and that means creating a market. You must force the industry to grow first. Once you have that, then the cost lowers,” said Scheer.

He said Germany overcame the Catch-22 situation by introducing the 100,000 PV Roofs Programme which saw solar PV installed in public buildings, universities, government buildings, hotels and schools.

Instead of roof tiles, solar cells are used on the roof of this car park of a supermarket outside Montpellier, southern France.

Malaysia has copied this strategy, running the Small Renewable Energy Power Programme since 2001, as well as the Suria 1000 programme since 2006, which offered subsidies to individuals who wished to install solar PV in their homes.

“Through these programmes, we have already conditioned the market. The price for solar PV has already gone down by 20% since we started Suria 1000, and we expect it to go down further once the FIT law is in place,” said Hadri.

He stressed that Suria 1000, meant to kick-start the industry here, focused only on small PV systems. To sustain the industry, he said bigger capacity generators and the feed-in tariff law were needed.

“The law will act like an umbrella that protects investors, by stipulating that the government will buy the renewable energy at a fixed price that is guaranteed for 21 years,” said Hadri.

And who will pay for the higher price of the renewable energy generated? Not TNB, but all of us. The additional cost of FIT will be added to our electricity bills. “About 2% of everyone’s bills will go into a fund. The utilities will pay consumers for the renewable electricity they generate, then claim the difference from the fund. We have calculated that the 2% collected is almost guaranteed to be more than the cost of sustaining the FIT,” said Hadri.

Now, before crying foul about the higher electricity bill, consider this: based on the current tariff, about 30 to 40% of every Ringgit paid to TNB is subsidised by the government. With plans to eventually remove this subsidy, the cost of electricity is set to go up. Factor in the cost of generating and transporting electricity to your homes, that 2% increase for the FIT is actually a tiny amount – less than 1 sen per unit, based on 2009 tariffs.

“Whether we like it or not, the cost of electricity will go up in the future,” said Hadri. “What we’re doing now is to give the public an opportunity to make an income to offset that cost.”

The low income group is insulated from future costs increase because those who use less than 200 units of electricity are still subsidised.

Hadri said the benefits of implementing FIT far outweigh the costs. “It has been proven in Germany that the cost to society will be far less than the benefits, especially in terms of the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, energy savings, fossil fuel use, and infrastructure. And that’s not even taking into account the impact on the economy in terms of new jobs or manufacturing revenue.”

The proposal for FIT was completed last April. All that is needed now is for the Government to make the decision and pass the FIT law. Hadri warned that the longer the Government drags its feet, the more we stand to lose out.

“Taiwan passed their FIT law last April and endorsed it in June 2009, and many other countries are already implementing it. If Malaysia is slow to pass our law, then all the potential market and business will go to the other countries first. So the danger is that by the time we introduce our FIT, we might be left with scraps and leftovers.”

It is proposed that a dedicated agency be set up under the FIT law to manage the fund.

It will be like a one-stop centre to ensure FIT runs smoothly, handling everything from setting and achieving goals to collecting data, facilitating infrastructure, managing funds and rates, working with banks, and training small and medium scale enterprises.

“The agency has to be accountable and transparent. We are even putting in a clause in the act that makes it a criminal offence to misuse the fund,” said Hadri

Tuesday March 2, 2010

Getting fed in

CAN’T wait to get in on the feed-in-tariff act and start generating your own green electricity? But how exactly do you do it, and how much money do you need to pay?

According to Ahmad Hadri Haris of Pusat Tenaga Malaysia, the process of applying for feed-in tariff will be similar to that of getting a car.

“When you buy a car, the car dealer settles everything for you – from the insurance, the road tax and so on. We are proposing the same concept here. All you have to do is go to a service provider who will be like a car dealer. You key in your details online, and you will know on the spot which tariff you are eligible for. You then go to Tenaga Nasional Bhd to sign a contract, and then apply for a bank loan.

“Then, after paying the down payment to the service provider, they will do everything else on your behalf – install the renewable energy system, and then provide customer service to you. The only difference is that the value of a car drops as soon as you drive it, but here, the value of the property will increase instead.”

Unlike the Suria 1000 project, which only the well-to-do could afford because the houseowner has to fork out the capital for the photovoltaic sysem on his own, practically anyone can apply for a feed-in tariff (FIT) system.

“You can apply for a loan based on the contract with the utilities, which is good for 21 years and is backed by the FIT law. Once you get the loan, you will be able to get the system up almost immediately,” said Hadri.

“We have calculated that the revenue garnered from FIT will be higher than the payment to the bank every month, taking into account the low interest rate and repayment period of the loan.”

To encourage consumers to get into the FIT game early, they will also introduce something called digression. For example, if you sign a contract for the first year, it will be fixed for the next 21 years. If you do it a year later, you will get lower prices, which will still be fixed for 21 years.

Now, all that we have to do is wait. Once the Government passes the FIT law, we can all be independent – and green – power producers.

Despite protectionism, ASEAN eyes single market

By EILEEN NG (AP) – 6 hours ago

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — Southeast Asian nations on Sunday said they are still aiming to set up a European Union-style economic community by 2015 despite concerns that the global slump has led to a rise in trade protectionism.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations plans to have a free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labor within five years, although it has fallen short so far in most of the sectors targeted for accelerated integration.

“The crisis has somewhat affected our progress … there is a tendency to be more protective,” Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed told reporters at the end of a two-day meeting of economic ministers from ASEAN nations, which comprise more than 500 million people.

He said satisfactory progress has been made in only four of 11 priority sectors targeted for accelerated integration: tourism, air travel, textiles and the automotive sector.

Some countries also failed to meet goals to eliminate non-tariff barriers, harmonize product standards and accelerate custom clearance, he said.

But it still has met most of its overall integration targets, and ministers this weekend renewed their commitment to speed up trade liberalization to create the ASEAN Economic Community as planned by 2015, Mustapa said.

“We need to put our house in order,” he said. “We have not been able to achieve a perfect score but we have come a long way. The shortcomings are not fundamental, the (2015) goal is going to be achievable.”

Skepticism remains about ASEAN’s ability to achieve complete economic integration and insure that its diverse membership, which have occasional disputes among themselves, can cohere effectively.

A wide economic gulf divides its six more developed nations — Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines — and its four newer members, communist Vietnam and Laos, military-ruled Myanmar and Cambodia.

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan stressed the need to fuse the disparate economies into a single market to be competitive.

While ASEAN economies were bouncing back from the global slump, foreign investment, especially from the U.S., has dipped, he said.

An ASEAN ministerial delegation will tour the United States in May to woo investors and expand trade ties but the bloc has not decided whether to join a proposed U.S.-backed Asia-Pacific free-trade region, he added.

The proposed Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific comprising 21 economies ranging from the U.S. to Russia was envisaged as an alternative if global world trade talks failed but analysts have said it is premature for progress on such a broad pact.


Friday February 19, 2010 The Star
Feuding MPs among 18 attending peace conference in Seoul

PETALING JAYA: Eighteen Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, including feuding MPs Zulkifli Noordin and Jeff Ooi, have gathered in Seoul for a universal peace conference.

They are being joined by three Barisan Nasional MPs from Sarawak at the five-day International Lea­dership Conference in the South Korean capital, which began on Tuesday.

The MPs left the KL International Airport on the same plane in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

However, a Pakatan Rakyat leader said the trip was not a “retreat” to cool things off.

Zulkifli, who had chided the PKR disciplinary committee for trying to “set him up” by fixing the hearing of his case while he was away, said he was not running away from internal problems in the party.

PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali said in a statement yesterday that Zulkifli had gone to Seoul on a “personal arrangement” without informing PKR, adding that he had not suggested an alternative date for the hearing.

”All Pakatan MPs were invited to attend the conference but they needed to pay their own fares. The NGO which invited them only paid for lodging,” he added.

Among the PKR MPs attending the conference are Azan Ismail (Indera Mahkota), Ahmad Kasim (Kuala Kedah), S. Manikavasagam (Kapar), Zuraida Kamaruddin (Ampang), Amran Ab Ghani (Tanah Merah), and Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri (Bagan Serai).

The PAS lawmakers included Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin (Bukit Gantang), Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (Kuala Krai), Dr Lo’Lo’ Ghazali (Titiwangsa) and Che Rosli Che Mat (Hulu Langat).

Sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, the conference is targeted at past and present politicians and religious leaders.

However, a Parliament spokesman said he was not aware of the MPs’ trip to South Korea.


KLCC shops upset over rental hikes
KUALA LUMPUR: Suria KLCC, Malaysia’s premier retail centre at the iconic Twin Towers complex, is facing a revolt from several of its most established tenants. They are opposing sharp spikes in rental rates and a reorganisation plan that will force many of them to relocate to higher floors. –>
Leslie Lopez
Thu, Feb 18, 2010
The Straits Times


KUALA LUMPUR: Suria KLCC, Malaysia’s premier retail centre at the iconic Twin Towers complex, is facing a revolt from several of its most established tenants. They are opposing sharp spikes in rental rates and a reorganisation plan that will force many of them to relocate to higher floors.

Over the past year, the mall’s top Malaysian tenants, including luxury brand operators like Royal Selangor Pewter, British India and the Valiram Group, have rebuffed demands by Suria to accept new tenancy terms.

And they have turned to several of the country’s top politicians, including former premier Mahathir Mohamad, to intervene in the dispute, according to correspondence reviewed by The Straits Times.

February 15, 2010
Op-Ed Columnist

The Making of a Euromess


Lately, financial news has been dominated by reports from Greece and other nations on the European periphery. And rightly so.

But I’ve been troubled by reporting that focuses almost exclusively on European debts and deficits, conveying the impression that it’s all about government profligacy — and feeding into the narrative of our own deficit hawks, who want to slash spending even in the face of mass unemployment, and hold Greece up as an object lesson of what will happen if we don’t.

For the truth is that lack of fiscal discipline isn’t the whole, or even the main, source of Europe’s troubles — not even in Greece, whose government was indeed irresponsible (and hid its irresponsibility with creative accounting).

No, the real story behind the euromess lies not in the profligacy of politicians but in the arrogance of elites — specifically, the policy elites who pushed Europe into adopting a single currency well before the continent was ready for such an experiment.

Consider the case of Spain, which on the eve of the crisis appeared to be a model fiscal citizen. Its debts were low — 43 percent of G.D.P. in 2007, compared with 66 percent in Germany. It was running budget surpluses. And it had exemplary bank regulation.

But with its warm weather and beaches, Spain was also the Florida of Europe — and like Florida, it experienced a huge housing boom. The financing for this boom came largely from outside the country: there were giant inflows of capital from the rest of Europe, Germany in particular.

The result was rapid growth combined with significant inflation: between 2000 and 2008, the prices of goods and services produced in Spain rose by 35 percent, compared with a rise of only 10 percent in Germany. Thanks to rising costs, Spanish exports became increasingly uncompetitive, but job growth stayed strong thanks to the housing boom.

Then the bubble burst. Spanish unemployment soared, and the budget went into deep deficit. But the flood of red ink — which was caused partly by the way the slump depressed revenues and partly by emergency spending to limit the slump’s human costs — was a result, not a cause, of Spain’s problems.

And there’s not much that Spain’s government can do to make things better. The nation’s core economic problem is that costs and prices have gotten out of line with those in the rest of Europe. If Spain still had its old currency, the peseta, it could remedy that problem quickly through devaluation — by, say, reducing the value of a peseta by 20 percent against other European currencies. But Spain no longer has its own money, which means that it can regain competitiveness only through a slow, grinding process of deflation.

Now, if Spain were an American state rather than a European country, things wouldn’t be so bad. For one thing, costs and prices wouldn’t have gotten so far out of line: Florida, which among other things was freely able to attract workers from other states and keep labor costs down, never experienced anything like Spain’s relative inflation. For another, Spain would be receiving a lot of automatic support in the crisis: Florida’s housing boom has gone bust, but Washington keeps sending the Social Security and Medicare checks.

But Spain isn’t an American state, and as a result it’s in deep trouble. Greece, of course, is in even deeper trouble, because the Greeks, unlike the Spaniards, actually were fiscally irresponsible. Greece, however, has a small economy, whose troubles matter mainly because they’re spilling over to much bigger economies, like Spain’s. So the inflexibility of the euro, not deficit spending, lies at the heart of the crisis.

None of this should come as a big surprise. Long before the euro came into being, economists warned that Europe wasn’t ready for a single currency. But these warnings were ignored, and the crisis came.

Now what? A breakup of the euro is very nearly unthinkable, as a sheer matter of practicality. As Berkeley’s Barry Eichengreen puts it, an attempt to reintroduce a national currency would trigger “the mother of all financial crises.” So the only way out is forward: to make the euro work, Europe needs to move much further toward political union, so that European nations start to function more like American states.

But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. What we’ll probably see over the next few years is a painful process of muddling through: bailouts accompanied by demands for savage austerity, all against a background of very high unemployment, perpetuated by the grinding deflation I already mentioned.

It’s an ugly picture. But it’s important to understand the nature of Europe’s fatal flaw. Yes, some governments were irresponsible; but the fundamental problem was hubris, the arrogant belief that Europe could make a single currency work despite strong reasons to believe that it wasn’t ready.


Accused Alabama prof shot, killed brother in 1986


By DESIREE HUNTER and JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer Desiree Hunter And Jay Lindsay, Associated Press Writer – 5 mins ago

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – More than 23 years before a college professor was accused of shooting six of her colleagues, her teenage brother died from the blast of a shotgun she held in the kitchen of her family’s home in Massachusetts.

The 1986 shooting was ruled accidental and no charges were filed against Amy Bishop. The case could get a closer look as authorities try to explain why they believe the Harvard-educated neurobiologist opened fire Friday, killing three.

Bishop, a rare woman suspected of a workplace shooting, had just months left teaching at the University of Alabama in Huntsville because she was denied tenure.

Some, including the husband of one victim and one of her students, have said she was upset after being denied the job-for-life security afforded tenured academics. Authorities have refused to discuss a motive, and school spokesman Ray Garner said the faculty meeting wasn’t called to discuss tenure.

It appeared the violent episode in Bishop’s past wasn’t known to her colleagues in Huntsville.

Bishop shot her brother, Seth, an 18-year-old accomplished violinist, in the chest in 1986, said Paul Frazier, the police chief in Braintree, Mass., where the shooting occurred.

Both William Setzer, chairman of chemistry department at UAH, and university police Chief Chuck Gailes said they had not heard about the Massachusetts incident until being asked by reporters Saturday.

The Norfolk County District Attorney’s office released a 1987 report with details of their investigation, based on interviews with Amy Bishop and her parents conducted by a state trooper after the shooting. The report concluded Seth Bishop was killed by an “accidental discharge of a firearm.”

Amy Bishop told investigators she was trying to learn how to use a shotgun that her father had purchased for protection in the home after a break-in. She said she did not know how to use the weapon and brought it downstairs to the kitchen for help unloading it.

She said she was raising it when “someone said something to her and she turned and the gun went off” while her brother was walking across the kitchen, according to the report.

She then ran out of the house with the weapon. When she talked to investigators 11 days after the shooting, she told them she could only remember hearing her mother scream and she didn’t know the gunshot struck her brother until later.

The report by Trooper Brian Howe said Bishop’s “highly emotional state” immediately after the shooting made it impossible to question her. The report said she was 19 at the time. Police say she is 42 now, though the university’s Web site lists her as 44.

The handling of the case prompted back-and-forth claims from the current Braintree police chief, Frazier, and the former chief, John Polio.

Frazier said Polio instructed officers to release Amy Bishop to her mother, who had once served on a police personnel board. That move upset officers who remembered the 1986 shooting, Frazier said.

“The police officers here were very upset about that,” said Frazier, who was a patrolman at the time and spoke to officers who remembered the incident that day, including one who filed a report on it.

Frazier also said the police records of the shooting have disappeared and he planned to meet with the local district attorney over the possibility of launching a criminal investigation into how the Bishop case was handled.

Polio, now 87, said Saturday at his Braintree home that he was astonished at any implication of a cover-up. He said he didn’t instruct officers to release Bishop and wasn’t close to her mother, who he said served on the police board years before the shooting.

“(There’s) no cover-up, no missing records,” Polio said. “If they’re missing, they’re missing since I retired.”

Polio said that at the time there were questions about whether Amy Bishop intended to kill her brother because of conflicting reports about whether the two had argued or had just been horsing around when the gun was fired.

Polio said the officer who took Bishop into custody told Polio he was upset she was released but “it was an isolated cop, telling me something. It wasn’t a big movement.”

Attempts by AP to track down addresses and phone numbers for Bishop’s family in the Braintree area weren’t immediately successful Saturday. The current police chief said he believed her family had moved away.

In Huntsville, students, faculty and the community struggled to explain the violence.

The three killed were Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and two other faculty members, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. Three people were wounded. Two of them — Joseph Leahy and staffer Stephanie Monticciolo — were in critical condition early Sunday. The third, Luis Cruz-Vera, had been released from the hospital.

Bishop was arrested shortly after the shooting and was charged with capital murder. It wasn’t immediately known if she has an attorney. No one was home at the couple’s house. Her husband, James Anderson, was detained and questioned by police but has not been charged. She is the mother of four children.

A 9 mm handgun was found in the bathroom of the building where the shootings occurred, and Huntsville police spokesman Sgt. Mark Roberts said Bishop did not have a permit for it.

Descriptions of Bishop from students and colleagues were mixed. Some saw a strange woman who had difficulty relating to her students, while others described a witty, intelligent teacher.

Students and colleagues described Bishop as smart, but someone who often had difficulty explaining complicated concepts.

Bishop was well-known in the research community, appearing on the cover of the winter 2009 issue of “The Huntsville R&D Report,” a local magazine focusing on engineering, space and genetics.

Setzer, the chemistry chairman, said Bishop was appealing the tenure decision made last year.

“Politics and personalities” always play a role in the tenure process, he said. “In a close department it’s more so. If you have any lone wolves or bizarre personalities, it’s a problem and I’m thinking that certainly came into play here.”


Lindsay reported from Braintree, Mass. Associated Press Writers Kristin M. Hall in Huntsville and Thomas Watkins in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Abdullah Karim jawab Tuan Ibrahim
Jimadie Shah Othman
Feb 13, 10

Exco Pemuda PAS Abdullah Karim – yang mengecam Naib Presiden Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man dalam isu jawatankuasa disiplin – kini bersumpah dengan nama Allah bagi mempertahankan hujahnya.

“Saya bahkan bersumpah dengan nama Allah bahawa apa yang ditulis oleh Tuan Ibrahim itu adalah tidak benar sama sekali,” katanya.

Tuan Ibrahim pada 3 Februari, antaranya mendakwa aduan Abdullah – berhubung penglibatan ahli PAS dalam “konspirasi menjatuhkan Pakatan Rakyat” – kepada jawatankuasa disiplin tidak dilayan kerana tidak berasas dan dibuat berdasarkan dengar cakap.

Abdullah yang juga timbalan ketua Pemuda PAS Pahang sebelum itu mempertikaikan kewibawaan jawatankuasa tersebut susulan kontroversi penggantungan jawatan ahli parlimen Shah Alam Khalid Samad pada 29 Januari lalu.

Abdullah antaranya dilaporkan membayangkan jawatankuasa disiplin PAS berat sebelah apabila memejamkan mata terhadap aduan-aduan tertentu, termasuk yang dilaporkannya kepada jawatankuasa itu dan pejabat agungnya.

Dalam kenyataannya kepada Malaysiakini kelmarin, Abdullah menyatakan keraguannya kemungkinan “terdapat sebab-sebab lain” aduannya ditolak.

“Saya menegaskan bahawa saya tidak pernah pada bila-bila masa dimaklumkan oleh Tuan Ibrahim atau mana-mana orang lain bahawa aduan saya tidak boleh diambil tindakan kerana ada bukti, atau kerana ia sekadar dengar cakap sahaja, atau kerana sebab-sebab lain yang menyebabkan aduan ini ditolak,” katanya.

Kenyataan tidak dibetulkan

Setelah ditegur Tuan Ibrahim sebelum ini, Abdullah berkata, beliau telah menggunakan “saluran yang betul” dengan menghubungi sendiri naib presiden itu melalui panggilan telefon dan e-mel.

“Namun, selepas seminggu berlalu, Tuan Ibrahim tidak menjawab e-mel saya dan tidak juga memperbetulkan tulisan tersebut yang masih kekal ada di dalam blognya.

“Maka, saya tidak mempunyai pilihan bagi menyatakan kebenaran ini melainkan membuat penjelasan terbuka dan saya berharap hal ini dan perkara-perkara lain yang bersangkutan dengannya dapat diperjelaskan di dalam mesyuarat jawatankuas pusat PAS yang akan datang,” katanya.

Jawatankuasa pusat PAS akan dijadual bersidang esok di ibu pejabatnya di ibu negara.

Abdullah juga sekali lagi mempersoalkan kedudukan Setiausaha Agung PAS Datuk Mustafa Ali yang mengelolakan aduan kepada jawatankuasa disiplin kerana ia dilihat memberikan kuasa yang cukup besar kepadanya.

Perkara itu juga, tambahnya, menunjukkan jawatankuasa itu seolah-olah hanya menerima arahan dari setiausaha sgung.

“Jika inilah keadaannya, ianya perlu diperbetulkan bagi mengelakkan konflik kepentingan dan juga angapan-anggapan negatif yang lain. Soal menentukan sesuatu aduan tatatertib itu mempunyai merit atau sebaliknya, tidak sepatutnya diputuskan oleh seorang individu sahaja.

Beliau juga sempat menempelak Mustafa yang tidak langsung memanggilnya berhubung aduannya walaupun telah memberitahu media akan melakukannya segera awal bulan ini.


Most visual impairment in Kelantan due to poverty

GUA MUSANG, Feb 13, Malaysian Insider — Poverty is the main factor for 6,000 people in Kelantan having visual impairment, according to Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital’s community service project coordinator Dr N. Jaganathan.

He said the number was based on a study conducted as each eye treatment cost a lot of money.

“Those suffering from visual impairment, including blindness, did not take care of their eyes by seeking early treatment for their blurred vision at the nearest clinic.

“In light of this, the eye hospital and Malaysian Association for the Blind had set up a branch in Jalan Telipot, Kota Baharu, in 2005 to assist the less fortunate to receive free eye treatment.

“Besides many who are blind, there are about 20,000 people in Kelantan who have restricted vision while nationwide, there is a high percentage of people with cataracts and require eye check-ups,” he said at the officiating of the Tun Hussein Eye Hospital’s community service eye operation programme at the grounds of the Gua Musang Hospital today.

The five-day programme was officiated by Gua Musang district officer Abdullah Md Yusoff. It involves 50 patients who are categorised as critical and requiring eye operations.

Dr Jaganathan said the eye hospital’s main objective was to identify and treat people with cataracts and pterygium living in the rural and remote areas of Kelantan before their conditions became critical and requiring surgery.

He said the hospital also had a mission of providing eye-care services to prevent blindness among the people.

“During the eye examinations conducted throughout the Gua Musang district, we found that 394 people required follow-up treatment while 50 had reached a critical stage.”

He said the programme was the eighth held in Kelantan after Jeli and had received good response from the public, especially the elderly and poor. — Bernama

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