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November 11, 2007

Malaysian Manufacturer Unveils "Muslim Car"

Malaysian car manufacturer Proton has unveiled its new "Muslim Car," a vehicle made for Muslim drivers. The car will be manufactured with the coperation of companies in Turkey and Iran, according to the BBC.

While the idea originated from a visit to the Middle East by a Malaysian delegation, AFP reports that the car is mostly a move to grow Proton's export market. From AFP:

"'We will identify a car that we can develop to be produced in Malaysia, Iran or Turkey,' he told the Bernama agency in a weekend report.

'The car will have all the Islamic features and should be meant for export purposes,' he said, adding that it would feature a compartment for keeping the Muslim holy book the Koran, and prayer scarves."

Proton is also in talks with VW about a possible take-over.

November 4, 2007

Pakistan enters State of Emergency

CNN reports that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has declared a state of emergency that will last "as long as it is necessary," according to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. CNN:

"The state of emergency had been imposed to 'bring more harmony to the pillars of state' and to protect against extremism in the country, Aziz said."

The AFP reports that Musharraf "suspended the constitution, sacked the chief justice and imposed strict media curbs" when the state of emergency was declared on Saturday. Up to 500 people have been detained across the country in an attempt to curb "terrorism" and "extremism." "Inaction at this moment is suicide for Pakistan, and I cannot allow this country to commit suicide," Musharraf said.

US officials have been watching the situation closely and plan to "review" the current aid package to Pakistan. The Economic Times reports:

"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that Washington would 'review' its financial aid to Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule in his country."

'Obviously we are going to have to review the situation with aid, in part because we have to see what may be triggered by certain statutes,' Rice told reporters in Jerusalem."

King Tut, in repose

The face of King Tutankhamen, ancient Egypt's "Boy King," was revealed to the modern world for the first time. The BBC reports that "Archaeologists took the mummy from its stone sarcophagus and placed it in a climate-controlled case inside his tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings. Until now, only about 50 living people have seen the face of the boy king, who died more than 3,000 years ago."

The move was part of a plan to protect the shrivelled, black body, whic faces further decomposition from overly humid conditions.

The discovery has also led to further speculation on the cause of Tut's death. National Geographic reports that famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass postulated that a chariot accident led to the king's death. While other theories have been tossed around, most experts agree that the age-old murder-myth surrounding Tut's death is false.

October 28, 2007

Nepotism Watch 07: Argentina Votes!

Argentina's first election since crawling out of a debilitating economic crisis is shaping up to be quite interesting. Current Argentine first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is favored to win the election, which takes place today. Reuters reports that Fernandez de Kirchner, a "forceful orator and glamorous dresser, [who] emphasizes social justice," holds a 20-point lead over her closest rival. Her husband, current president Nestor Kirchner, has gained wide renown for facilitating economic recovery after a major collapse six years ago. Kirchner faced promising odds for re-election, but chose not to run.

Some are skeptical, though. The BBC reports that other candidates, including former beauty queen Elisa Carrio and leftist Roberto Lavanga, has criticized Fernandez de Kirchner for her vague policy plans. Even more vague is why; as the BBC article says regarding the husband-wige change-up, "No explanation was given."

October 21, 2007

Sri Lanka unrest continues in Air Base attack

The civil unrest in Sri Lanka continues to grow as the Tamil Tigers launched an attack on a government Air Force base in the "pre-dawn hours," colombopage reports.

"Defense officials said a small group of LTTE cadres infiltrated the Air Force base and launched the initial ground attack which was then followed by an air attack from the Tigers dropping one or two bombs. Reports from the area said explosions rocked the capital city of the North Central Province and flames were seen from the sky over the camp."

The BBC reports that this is the second air attack that the Tigers have carried out this year. Authorities believe that the group is smuggling in the aircraft piecemeal and re-assembling them. Currently, no information regarding casualties has been released.

The attack comes shortly after the Sri Lankan government had claimed that the Tigers' smuggling capacities were significantly hindered.

October 14, 2007

Chinese Freshman: Owned

Chinese Universities are cracking down on online gaming addiction by banning the use of personal computers among incoming freshman. Ars Technica reports:

"Three popular universities in the country—Zhejiang University, Nanjing University, and Shanghai Jiaotong University—have all instituted new rules this term that forbid freshmen from bringing computers with them. Others have been using the rule for years. University officials believe the policy will help prevent freshmen from falling into the temptations of online gaming—an extremely popular pastime not only in China, but many Asian countries."

While freshman are banned from owning computers, sophomores are allowed to after completeing certain exams. Despite the severity of the ban, some have doubts. An article on China.org questions the ban's efficacy, citing the fact that the majority of students surfing the web and playing games at internet cafes and univeristy computer facilities are freshman.

Meaning that you can still play WOW on your alma mater's time.

Maybe I got that headline wrong.

Putin travels amid fears of assasination

A plot to assasinate President Vladimir Putin has been uncovered according to sources within Russian national security services. Citing "multiple foriegn sources," the Moscow Times reports that the attempt was to be made during Putin's visit to Iran this week, although the officials cited have yet to come forward. Putin has been briefed on the threat.

The BBC reports that the historic trip, which is still on schedule, will mark the first visit by a Russian President to Iran since Joseph Stalin attended a summit of the Allied Powers in 1943.

Mohamed Ali Hosseini of the Iranian Foreign Ministry has decried the reports as "erroneous" and "baseless."

October 7, 2007

Teen Arrested for Possession... of the Anarchist's Cookbook

Confirming an urban legend feared by 12-year-old NOFX fans the world over, a British teenager was arrested Monday for possession of the Anarchist's Cookbook, a book containing plans for a wide variety of explosive devices.

The 17-year-old, who was arrested in the Dewsbury area of West Yorkshire, was arrested under two charges of the 2000 Terrorism Act, according to the BBC. The BBC Reports that "The first charge relates to the possession of material for terrorist purposes in October last year. The second relates to the collection or possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism."

The incident is surprising considering that the Anarchist's Cookbook has been widely circulated on the internet for years by kids trying to be punker than their friend who's really into Alkaline trio. Ah, thsoe were the days.

Seriously, seventh grade is the age of anarchy.

Last Tamil Tiger Boat Destroyed in Sri Lanka

The last seaworthy vessel commanded by the notorious Tamil Tigers was destroyed by Sri Lanka's navy early Sunday. Sri Lanka's Daily News reports that this is the second such action within in a one-month span, and the eigth ship sunk within twenty months. The ship, which was 70 meters long with a three ton capacity, was reportedly smuggling weaponry. Government officers chased the ship for 36 hours before it opened fire and was desttroyed by "retaliatory fire" opened by the Navy.

Cmdr Dasanayake told the BBC that this was "a serious blow," but that the Tigers could use international funding to secure more craft.

Fighting between the Tigers and government forces has intensified recently in a fierce bid for the independence of the disputed Tamil Region, erupting into civil war.

September 23, 2007

Iran President Plans U.S. Visit, Denies War

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made comments downplaying fears of war on the eve of his plannes U.S. visit. The BBC reports that Ahmadinejad has sought to quell fears of Iranian military ambitions in the face of further sanctions proposed by the U.S. government. "It's wrong to think that Iran and the US are walking towards war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing," Ahmadinejad said in an interview.

The Iranian president's visit is primarily to address the U.N. assembly, (for the third time in three years) but also to speak at Columbia University. While the idea has moved tickets quite quickly, many are ideologically opposed to the idea. "Many experts believe Ahmadinejad's previous two visits brought no achievement ... rather, it heightened tensions," the reformist daily Etemad-e-Melli, or National Confidence, said in an editorial Sunday." (source: CNN)

Ahmadinejad says that his purpose is to provide clear and accurate information to Americans who have been denied it.

September 16, 2007

France Prepares for WWIII

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the world should prepare for war with Iran over its nuclear program in an interview Sunday. “"We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war," he said. The BBC reports that Kouchner’s remarks come in the face of continued denial by Iran that it is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.

Kouchner also expressed concern over economic dealings with Iran. “We are not banning French companies from submitting. We have advised them not to. These are private companies," he said.

Kouchner remarks are nor surprise given his reputation as a taboo-breaking, hard-line minister who is “vexing and exceptional,? according to Time.

Thai Airline Tragedy

A passenger plane crashed in Thailand today, killing 88 people en route to Phuket. The BBC reports that the 123 passengers aboard were mostly foreign tourists. About 40 of the passengers escaped, most of them risking severe burns and other injuries as they crawled out of the burning wreckage. The plane, operated by One-Two-Go, one of Thailand’s first budget airlines, actually fell apart in an attempted landing. "The control tower allowed it but the aircraft fell to the runway and the body broke," the plane’s pilot said.

According to MSNBC, most of the passengers were en route to Phuket’s “pristine beaches,? a popular tourist attraction. Poor weather and visibility were cited as possible causes for the crash by Thai officials. “The visibility was poor as the pilot attempted to land. He decided to make a go-around but the plane lost balance and crashed,? said Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of Thailand’s Air Transport Authority.

CNN reported an interesting breakdown of victims by nationality, obtained from national hospitals. Their nationalities were as follows: “Australian: 1, Austrian: 1, British: 8, Dutch: 1, German: 4, Iranian: 3, Irish: 3, Italian: 1, Swedish: 2, Thai: 14.?