Monday, June 29, 2009

Pope: Basilica bones belong to apostle St. Paul

Pope Benedict XVI's roundelImage by Lawrence OP via Flickr

June 29, 2009 -- Updated 1821 GMT (0221 HKT)

Story Highlights

  • Scientific tests prove bones are those of the apostle St. Paul, pope says
  • Vatican tomb also holds "traces of a precious linen cloth"
  • Tests were carried out by inserting probe into small opening in sarcophagus

Pope Benedict XVI looks at the tomb of St. Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome in 2007.

ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Scientific tests prove bones housed in the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome are those of the apostle St. Paul himself, according to Pope Benedict XVI.

"Tiny fragments of bone" in the sarcophagus were subjected to carbon dating, showing they "belong to someone who lived in the first or second century," the pope said in a homily carried on Italian television.

"This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul," Benedict said in Sunday's announcement.

The tomb also holds "traces of a precious linen cloth, purple in color and laminated with pure gold, and a blue colored textile with linen filaments," the pope said.

The tests were carried out by inserting a probe into a small opening in the sarcophagus, "which had not been opened for many centuries," the pontiff said. The probe "also revealed the presence of grains of red incense and traces of protein and limestone."
Separately, archaeologists have uncovered an image of St. Paul which "could be considered the oldest icon of the apostle known to date," the Vatican's official newspaper reported Sunday.

The painting, in the St. Tecla Catacomb, is "among the oldest and best-defined figures from ancient Christianity," according to the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

St. Paul is one of the most significant figures in Christianity. Originally a persecutor of early Christians, he became a follower of Jesus after seeing a vision on the road to Damascus, according to Christian tradition.

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" the vision of Jesus asks Paul, using the apostle's birth name, in the Acts of the Apostles.

Saul then took the name Paul and became a missionary. His letters, or epistles, to early Christian communities around the Mediterranean form a significant portion of the New Testament.

Paul was beheaded by Roman authorities sometime between 65 and 67 A.D., according to the Catholic Church.

He was buried a few miles away, and when the Roman Empire stopped persecuting Christians some 250 years later, the Emperor Constantine had a basilica built over his grave.

It currently lies under a marble tombstone bearing the Latin inscription PAULO APOSTOLO MART (Apostle Paul, martyr), according to the Web site of the basilica. A papal altar stands over the tombstone, which is visible through a window-like opening, the Web site says.

Monday marks the end of a year of celebration in honor of the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul's birth. It also happens to be the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.

From; see the source article here.

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CDCs see 40% increase in households seeking help

By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 29 June 2009 2001 hrs

TeoSerLuck Teo Ser Luck (file pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Community Development Councils (CDCs) have seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of people seeking help as a result of the current economic downturn.

As Singapore's five mayors begin a new term, their focus will be on helping the needy.

In these tough times, mayors said "business" has gone up.

In the first quarter of this year, the number of families seeking help went up by 40 percent, while those looking for work doubled.

Between January and March 2009, the five CDCs received 5,540 applications for social assistance, compared to 3,934 a year ago.

The number of people seeking help in finding jobs went up from 5,844 in the first quarter of 2008 to 11,790 in the first quarter of this year.

Community Development Councils (CDCs) were first created in 1997 to bring back a sense of community spirit among residents. Since then they've taken on additional functions, including the delivery of a wide range of social services, such as financial assistance schemes and help in finding a job.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for the five mayors on Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said: “The CDCs play a crucial role because they're close to the ground and therefore more attuned to ground needs and the constraints and circumstances in your areas.

“You can deliver assistance to where it's most needed, where it's most deserved, and you can help Singaporeans get back on their feet and be more self-reliant."

New mayor Teo Ser Luck, who takes over from Zainul Abidin Rasheed, said his first task is to examine how resources are managed.

Mr Teo is also the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Transport ministries.

He said: "We have plenty of programmes and I'm not sure if every single one is effective. And the other thing is I'm not sure if it's well-served for the residents. We need to look through all the programmes and see which ones meet the targets and which don't so that funds are better allocated."

Mr Zainul steps down as mayor after 10 years.

But the rest of the mayoral line-up remains unchanged - Dr Amy Khor at South West district; Dr Teo Ho Pin at North West district; Mr Zainudin Nordin at Central district and Mr Matthias Yao at South East district.

The mayors also plan to better coordinate efforts between grassroots organisations so that help can be better delivered. - CNA/vm

From; see the source article here.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Number of Filipino drug mules increasing


06/26/2009 | 07:39 PM

DONKEY WORK. Despite the name, a drug mule is actually a person who smuggles something with him or her across a national border in exchange for money.
AP photo

MANILA, Philippines - Just as the world celebrated the United Nation's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Vice President Noli De Castro on Friday revealed that the number of Filipino drug "mules" is increasing.

Citing a report from Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Sonia Brady, De Castro said that a total of 158 Filipinos – most of whom were women – have been arrested for drug trafficking in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau as of June 7.

Drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of highly dangerous drugs like heroin is punishable by death in China and its territories.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier reported that in 2008 alone, 111 Filipinos were arrested for drug-related offenses in the same Chinese territories.

This, the DFA said, was a 594-percent increase from the 16 arrested in 2007.

Of those arrested in 2007 and 2008, 22 are facing death sentence, 12 have gotten life, while 11 have been made to serve 15-16 years prison terms.

De Castro said that all the arrests had stemmed from narcotic drugs being found in the suspects' luggage supposedly given to them by people they met in a transit country – usually Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Laos, and Vietnam.

He said that members of foreign drug rings give Filipino mules tickets and pocket money to travel to Hong Kong or to mainland China and promise to pay the carriers upon delivery of the drugs to their destination.

The vice president therefore appealed to the public to warn their relatives and friends not to accept any parcel or bag from people they do not know in exchange for money.

"Think twice before you allow yourself to be used as drug couriers as you become an instrument to destroying lives of others. At the same time, you expose yourself to certain criminal prosecution," said De Castro.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has said that it is working on a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to help prevent Filipinos from being used as drug couriers. - GMANews.TV

From; see the source article here.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mas Selamat not extradited to Singapore due to security reasons

Posted: 25 June 2009 1922 hrs

Photo taken of Mas Selamat Kastari after his arrest on April 1.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant leader Mas Selamat Kastari is still being detained in Malaysia due to security reasons.

The terrorist, who once plotted to hijack a plane and crash it into Changi Airport, was captured in Malaysia's Johor in April this year after escaping from Singapore's Whitley Road Detention Centre in February last year.

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Mas Selamat was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) as he is deemed a threat to the country.

Speaking in the Malaysian parliament on Thursday, the minister said Mas Selamat's ISA detention would ensure that his activities and contacts with other militant groups in Asia could be contained.

"The ministry has sufficient information to arrest him under the ISA," said Mr Hishammuddin. "We know his background, the details of his plan, network and contact with militant groups.

"He is arrested under the ISA as the government finds that he not only poses a threat to the country but also to the neighbouring countries like Singapore and Indonesia."

"Believe me, from the information that we have gathered, it was a serious plan," said Mr Hishammuddin. "We did not extradite Mas Selamat as we are concerned it will undermine the country's peace and put the people's safety at risk."

The minister also told reporters that Malaysia needed the cooperation from Indonesia to carry out its investigations.

- CNA/ir

From; see the source article here.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

‘Best girl on the planet’ freed

An SVG map of China with Hubei province highli...Image via Wikipedia

There is still a ray of hope on justice prevailing, even in China…


Waitress who stabbed Chinese official released

05:55 AM Jun 17, 2009

BEIJING - A Chinese karaoke bar waitress who became a folk hero after fatally stabbing a communist official who demanded sex was freed yesterday by a court that ruled she had acted in self-defence, state media said.

The Badong County People's Court exempted Miss Deng Yujiao, 21, from punishment for the crime of intentional injury because she was acting in self-defence, the official People's Daily newspaper said in a brief report on its website.

The report said the court ruled that Miss Deng had limited criminal responsibility and also took into account the fact that she had turned herself in to the police after using a fruit knife to stab 43-year-old Deng Guida, who later died. No further details were given.

Coverage of her case in the entirely state-controlled media has been unusually sympathetic. Popular posts in online forums called Miss Deng "the best girl on the planet", composed lines of verse in classical Chinese that described her as "beautiful and fierce" and dedicated the lyrics of a popular love song Like a Mouse Loves Rice to her.

Her popularity reflects widespread anger in China over abuse of power by Communist cadres, officials and the security forces.

Reflecting the huge interest in the case, at least 500 supporters of Miss Deng gathered at the courthouse, according to Luo Jiajiu, one of the organisers of the rally. But the group was banned from attending the trial.

A similar public outpouring of sympathy followed the case of a man who confessed to killing six Shanghai police officers last year in revenge for torture he allegedly suffered while being interrogated about an allegedly stolen bicycle.

Chinese media reported that the official, Deng Guida, found the waitress in the laundry room of a hotel spa a few floors below the bar where she worked and demanded sex.

When she refused, he allegedly forced her onto a couch and blocked her from leaving. She attacked him with a fruit knife she had in her bag, the report said.

Police said she also attacked his colleague, Huang Dezhi, at the hotel in Badong in the central province of Hubei.

Deng Guida, who ran a local government office for business promotion, is not related to the waitress.

Xinhua news agency reported last month that Huang and another government official who was also at he spa on the night of the stabbing were fired amid investigations, while police shut the spa and were questioning its owners. Huang has also been detained. AGENCIES

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 17-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Storm strands passengers in central Philippines

I used to wade on the waters… a fishpond, a river, the sea, and the streets… back then the water is clear and unpolluted…


Posted: 24 June 2009 0508 hrs

Pedestrians walk through flood water on a street in the financial district of Manila, Philippines.

MANILA: Vessels were on Tuesday told not to leave the central Philippine islands as tropical storm Nangka hit the region packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometres an hour, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage as the strengthening storm struck Samar island in mid-afternoon.

The coastguard issued an advisory banning all maritime traffic around 14 central islands and the southeastern tip of the main island of Luzon - the expected immediate path of the storm.

Ferries and cargo ships weighing 1,000 tonnes or less were also restricted to port in Manila and along the nearby coast of Luzon or ordered to seek shelter if they were already at sea.

The local weather service said the storm was moving northwest and due to pass just south of Manila on its way to the South China Sea on Wednesday afternoon.

Local television in Samar said hundreds of people who rely on small ferries to commute between central islands were stranded at major ports in the area. - AFP/de

From; see the source article here.

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Four loanshark suspects arrested for harassment

By Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 23 June 2009 2024 hrs

090615-2042hrs SINGAPORE: Police have arrested four people who were suspected to be involved in a series of loanshark harassment cases islandwide.

They are aged between 16 and 24 years old.

They were nabbed on Monday after the police received a tip-off of a case of loanshark harassment at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1.

Police first arrested a 17-year-old girl, who had a marker pen, an ATM card and lighter on her – items used in loanshark activities.

Following that, police caught her accomplices on the same day at Marsiling Lane, Whampoa Drive and Jurong West.

A 16-year old boy and two other women aged 20 and 24 were arrested.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the group was believed to be responsible for multiple cases of loanshark harassment islandwide, including setting fire to items outside units in Hougang, Woodlands and West Coast.

All four suspects will be charged in court on Wednesday under the Moneylenders' Act.

First time offenders found guilty of loanshark harassment may be fined at least S$4000 and up to S$40,000, or jailed for up to three years, or both.

Offenders may also be caned.

- CNA/yb

From; see the source article here.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Typo cuts drug offender's prison term

June 22, 2009 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)

By Jim Kavanagh, CNN


  • Error on verdict form casts doubt on jurors' intent, Ohio appeals court rules
  • Decision means Calvin Wells must serve just one year, not 10
  • Legal issue elsewhere may have him transferred to New Jersey

Calvin Eugene Wells discovered a discrepancy on the verdict form for his conviction.

(CNN) -- A three-letter typo has slashed years off a prison sentence for a repeat drug offender in Ohio.

Calvin Eugene Wells of Akron was sentenced in October 2005 to 10 years in prison after being convicted of possessing more than 100 grams of cocaine, a first-degree felony.

Or so it seemed.

While serving his time, Wells discovered a stray word on the verdict form signed by the jurors who convicted him in Summit County Common Pleas Court. The form, typed up by a court or prosecutor's office employee, read:

"We, the Jury, find the Defendant Guilty of the offense of POSSESSION OF CRACK COCAINE.

"We, the jury, further find that the amount of crack cocaine WAS in the amount exceeding ten one hundred (100) grams as charged in the indictment."

The word "ten" in the second sentence is extraneous.

Wells brought the error to a succession of attorneys' attention, but no one managed to turn it to his advantage until Jason Desiderio was appointed to represent him.

"I have never seen anything like this in my life, where just attorney after attorney did nothing," Desiderio said.

"I think he had four appellate attorneys, and one appeal ... It's a very, very bizarre case."

Under Ohio law, for a person to be found guilty of a higher-level felony, the jury form must state either the degree of the offense or the circumstances that would make it a higher offense. The form's second sentence apparently was an attempt to state those circumstances, but the stray word muddled the meaning, Desiderio said.

A three-judge panel of the Ohio Court of Appeals unanimously agreed.

"The form is unclear, and we cannot determine what the jury understood 'ten one hundred (100) grams' to mean," Judge Eve Belfance wrote in the court's decision. "It certainly could have meant an amount exceeding one hundred grams, but it is possible the jury believed the form actually meant an amount exceeding less than one gram."

The uncertainty meant Wells could be convicted of nothing more than a fifth-degree felony, the judges ruled. The maximum sentence for a fifth-degree felony is one year, and Wells already had served four. Game over.

But not quite.

It seems Wells is wanted in Morris County, New Jersey, on a November 2000 sheriff's warrant for violating his probation for drug and weapons convictions. The sheriff is seeking extradition, spokeswoman Staci Santucci said. It's unlikely he'll be able to avoid it, said Desiderio, who will not be able to represent Wells because he's not licensed in New Jersey.

The original judge in the Ohio case, James R. Williams, is retired. The Summit County prosecutor's office did not return calls seeking comment on Wells' case.

"At the end of the day, he was convicted, and I understand that some people are going to feel upset that he's essentially out six years earlier than anyone anticipated," Desiderio said.

"But in our system, we give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant, and we do that for good reason. And in here there's a statutory mandate to ensure that we know what we're convicting people of and we know why we're doing it. And that mandate wasn't met."

From; see the source article here.

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November fight may be the last for politics-bound Pacquiao

LAS VEGAS - MAY 02:  Manny Pacquiao of the Phi...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

06/22/2009 | 10:53 PM

MANILA, PhilippinesManny Pacquiao appears bent on entering the political ring that he is seriously contemplating leaving the boxing ring for good.

The reigning pound-for-pound king declared he is good for one last fight, his projected November 14 gig at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas intended to be his swan song.

"Siguro last fight ko na ito para magserbisyo naman ako sa mga tao," Pacquiao said in an interview on 24 Oras.

"Ang mama ko nga ayaw na niya akong lumaban pero sabi ko, kaya ko pa naman, isa pa," added the two-time Fighter of the Year, whose camp is currently in negotiations with WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto for a possible showdown.

Pacquiao is eyeing a congressional post in Saranggani Province in next year's elections and he has already set the wheels in motion for this bid by forming his own local party, the People's Champ Movement, and setting residence in the province.

Over the weekend, he graced the celebrations for the founding anniversary of the district of Malapatan, where he publicly expressed his intention to serve them as congressman.

"Itong mga kamao ko na ginamit ko pang-knockout sa mga kalaban sa boxing, gagamitin ko para makatulong sa inyo," he told his highly-appreciative "constituents."

To show his seriousness to help the townsfolk, Pacquiao, one of the highest-paid athletes in the world according to Forbes magazine and one of the most influential people based on a list by Time magazine, donated an ambulance and fire-truck for the district's use.

This would be the Pacman's second attempt at a House seat after getting knocked out in 2007 by incumbent Rep. Darlene Custodio over in South Cotabato district.

But before Pacquiao could train his 100 percent attention to politics, he has to take care of one more business in the ring first.

Currently, his promoter is in talks with fellow Top Rank fighter Cotto for his "lash hurrah."

The Filipino ring icon himself had greenlit the negotiations with Cotto after personally seeing the Puerto Rican fight and escape with a split decision win over challenger Joshua Clottey in New York last June 13.

Top Rank boss Bob Arum had expressed confidence he would get Pacquiao and Cotto to sign on soon for what he described as a terrific fight. Among the issues still to be ironed out are the purse split and possible catch weight. – GMANews.Tv

From; see the source article here.

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Dog walker trampled to death by cows

Updated 3 hours, 11 minutes ago


  • 49-year-old woman dies after being trampled by cows while walking her two dogs
  • Police believe dogs may have made cows feel their calves were threatened
  • Experts say it's very unusual for people to be killed by cows
  • Police advise dog walkers to let pets off leash if they feel threatened by cows

TramplingCows Experts say cows can become aggressive if they feel their calves are being threatened.

LONDON, England (CNN) -- A woman was trampled to death by cows while walking her dogs in northern England, police said Monday.

The 49-year-old died at the scene, said a press officer for North Yorkshire police, where the incident took place on Sunday just after noon local time (7 a.m. ET).

"She had two dogs with her," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with police policy. They were not on a leash, she added.

"We believe the cows may have gotten protective of their calves," she said.

The woman was alone when she was killed in Gayle, near Hawes in Wensleydale, she said.

Police and the National Farmers' Union both said it was very unusual for people to be killed by cows in Britain.

"There are perhaps a few incidents every year where people are injured by cattle," said Mike Thomas, a spokesman for the union. "People being killed by cattle is quite a rare occurrence."

But he said cows could become aggressive if they felt their calves were being threatened.

"If the dog is getting close to the animal, it's going to react in some kind of aggressive manner," he said.

People who feel threatened by cows while walking dogs should let their animals off the leash in order to put distance between themselves and their pets -- because cows are more likely to see dogs than people as a threat -- and move to the edge of the field, he said.

The average cow weighs about 1,760 pounds (800kg), he said.

From; see the source article here.

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Pilot buries helicopter crash survivor in sand

Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).Image via Wikipedia

Updated 2 hours, 27 minutes ago

By Saeed Ahmed



  • Helicopter pilot buries injured passenger in sand to save him from hypothermia
  • Pilot dragged him from crocodile-infested mudflats in Australia's Northern Territory
  • Helicopter crashed as they flew in low over mudflats to look for the giant reptiles
  • Passenger remains hospitalized Monday in serious but stable condition

ChopperCrash1 Air ambulance workers attend to a man buried in sand following a helicopter crash.

(CNN) -- A pilot dragged his passenger to safety and buried him neck-deep in sand to protect him from hypothermia Sunday night after their helicopter crashed in crocodile-infested mudflats in Australia's Northern Territory.

"The pilot thought that in this remote location, nobody would find them. So he buried his friend to try and stop the hypothermia," said Ian Badham, director of CareFlight, the air ambulance service involved in the rescue.

The two friends had gone camping on a remote beach without road access, about 130 km (80 miles) from the Northern Territory capital of Darwin.

While leaving Sunday night, the pair decided to fly their two-seater helicopter over waters that are home to large crocodiles.

"It's an area known for its big saltwater crocodiles," Badham said. "Those things make alligators look like wussies."

The pilot later told rescuers that they flew in to take a closer look. The next thing he remembered was lying upside down in the mud with the wreckage of the helicopter on top of him, Badham said.

ChopperCrash2 The man remained in a serious but stable condition on Monday.

The men, both in their 50s, were about 100 meters (328 feet) from the main beach. Finding his friend seriously hurt, the pilot dragged him back to shore, away from the crocodiles -- and buried him in sand up to his neck to prevent him from freezing to death.

Rescuers responded after the pilot used a satellite phone to alert them.

The friend remained hospitalized Monday in serious but stable condition, Badham said. He suffered head and chest injuries. He also fractured his arm and several ribs.

The pilot suffered minor injuries.

"It was the opinion of the (air-ambulance) doctor that the friend's injuries were grave and, quite likely, this man would not have survived the night," Badham said.

From; see the source article here.

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Foreign maids to get 1 day off a week

A more humane treatment… this is good!


05:55 AM Jun 18, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR - Foreign maids working in Malaysia will soon get one day off a week as part of a bid to improve working conditions for domestic helpers from overseas.

Human Resources Minister S Subramaniam told state media on Tuesday his ministry was amending the Employment Act to make it compulsory for employers to give maids a day off.

He said it was part of moves to prevent the abuse of domestic workers in Malaysia - most of whom are from Indonesia - who are not covered by legislation that protects foreign workers in other sectors like construction.

"The ministry will make it mandatory for all domestic helpers to sign (a) contract of employment containing provisions like salary, the name of employers, their workplaces and the compulsory one day off a week," Mr Subramaniam said.

Mr Subramaniam said the off day would be jointly determined by employer and employee while the domestic helper could forgo the rest day as long as they were compensated for it.

Employers could be fined up to RM10,000 ($4,128) if they fail to comply, he warned.

The minister added that the plan could be implemented this year, but did not elaborate on specifics.

More than 300,000 Indonesian women work as maids in Malaysia. Many have complained of ill treatment by their employers, including overwork, unpaid salaries and physical abuse. In a latest abuse case, a 33-year-old Indonesian maid claimed she was scalded with hot water and beaten by her employer, who is now in police custody.

However, not all are for the mandatory day off. Some agencies and employers worry that maids will use it to meet men and run away. "It looks very good on paper ... (but) if you give too much freedom to the maid, there is room for them to run away," said Mr Raja Zulkepley Dahalan, president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Housemaids Agencies, which represents 160 of 360 maid agencies. AGENCIES

From TODAY, News – Thursday, 18-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Don’t talk to strangers

05:55 AM Jun 18, 2009

YOUR phone rings and a stranger informs you that your relative has murdered someone and needs to flee the country. Or you could be told that your family and company are being watched.

In both scenarios, the caller would eventually demand money and will threaten to use violence to disrupt your business activities or cause harm to family members if payments are not made.

The police have detected this new variation of phone scams in which culprits make extortion calls to business offices demanding money. Like the earlier versions of phone scams, these are designed to trick victims into parting with their money.

The calls are believed to be made from overseas, and the culprit is also known to converse in Mandarin with a China or Taiwan accent, the police said in a statement yesterday.

The culprit may also threaten to kidnap female victims and take nude photos of them if his demands are not met. He may also claim that he has links with secret societies and needs money to help his men flee Singapore after committing serious crimes.

He may also say he has firearms and explosives.

None of the culprits have so far been successful, and none of the threats made have been carried out, according to the police. But they advise members of the public to be aware of, and to be vigilant against such scams.

You should never reveal any personal details, including those of your business or family to any caller, or transfer money to unknown persons.

Such calls should be reported as soon as possible by calling the police hotline at 1800 255 0000 or 999 if urgent police assistance is required.

The police also advise vigilance against the other variations of phone scams such as the kidnap, lottery and impersonation scams.

More details of what these entail can be found at the Singapore Police Force website at or the Commercial Affairs Department website at

From TODAY, News – Thursday, 18-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Goodness gracious...

Phua Chu Kang (middle) and the main characters...Image via Wikipedia

Will this ever end? I don't think so. Each generation has its own ungracious people…

by Joanne Leow,

05:55 AM Jun 20, 2009

IF YOU are a mother who takes public transport, chances are that you have had experiences similar to this one: You are on the bus or train, struggling with your bags, the baby and the pram ... you make your way to the priority seating and there is an able-bodied person already sitting there who refuses to make eye-contact.

I have had cases where the person pretended to be sleeping while I stood in front of them and even worse, when I was about five months pregnant, I gave up my seat for someone who was eight months pregnant.

It is very hard for me to understand the inconsiderate behaviour that occurs on our public transport and even harder for me to think about how this could possibly be changed.

Which is why I was particularly interested when Gerard Ee, chairman of the Public Transport Council, dropped by to talk about the latest "graciousness programme" that is being implemented.

Gerard was optimistic about the campaign, saying: "It's very light-hearted, we have used the popular figures of Phua Chu Kang and Rosie. And by making it lighthearted, you don't put people on the defensive. The guilty ones will know who they are but they don't want to be preached to ... We want to make it a fun thing and maybe the message might hit home."

My scepticism remains though - can this programme succeed where others like the National Courtesy Campaign have barely made a dent in the level of graciousness in our society?

Gerard pointed out though, that the National Courtesy Campaign has had some benefits: "People don't notice it, but on our roads, fewer motorists sound their horns. Ten years ago, everyone was just pressing their horn and telling people to get out of the way ... I think we have made progress, but we have a long way to go."

Unfortunately, the disillusioned pragmatist in me points to the success of disabled parking lots. Just why are those clearly labelled lots so psychologically off limits to able-bodied drivers even in the most crowded of car parks? We all know the answer to that - it's backed up by laws.

Can we make sitting in a priority seat an offence if you're able-bodied? I see where the authorities are coming from when they shy away from this idea. Think about the costs of enforcement and administering a fines system.

As for me? After I've spent a few times struggling with toddler and infant in tow, I caved in and bought a small car. While I sometimes feel guilty about not being more environmentally-friendly, I do not miss having to deal with the rudeness that I've encountered so often. Perhaps I've given up on my fellow Singaporeans, it is nice to know though that others like Gerard haven't.

From TODAY, News – Weekend, 20/21-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

A pitiful passerby

bicycle as street furnitureImage by krakow.bicycles via Flickr

The point made here is very right: have we been so much preoccupied with our own affairs that everything and everybody else is a blurred view? We may be looking at the mirror now, and all we see is our own self…


05:55 AM Jun 16, 2009

Edric Sng,

ON THE walk home from the MRT station on Saturday, I saw a man lying face down in the grass by the roadside, barely moving, legs and arms awkwardly splayed, a bicycle in a heap beside him. Bending over him was another man, seemingly a stranger, nudging him and urgently asking him if he was all right, but getting no response. I sprinted over.

The fallen man - we guessed he was a foreign labourer - was a mess. Face covered in blood, thickly flowing from his nose, which was likely broken. Grass and dried mud all over his face, hair, and clothes. His eyes were glassy, faraway.

We were at the foot of a fairly high hill and we figured that he’d probably sped down too quickly on his bicycle, whose brakes had failed him, sending him headfirst into the concrete.

He wouldn’t respond at first when asked if he needed a doctor or an ambulance. Then he started spouting gibberish, asking where his sister was. After about five minutes, he groggily stood up, but his legs gave way and he damn near fell into a drain. We forced him to sit down again.

At this point, a Singaporean woman who looked in her mid-20s came over, glanced at the man lying on the pavement, then tapped me on the shoulder. She, too, looked worried.

“Excuse me, do you know where Jalan Masjid is?”

I don’t know, I wanted to say, ask the bloodied man lying on the floor. I bit my tongue and pointed her the right way. She walked off without so much as a glance at our fallen acquaintance.

Eventually, we managed to bundle the poor man and his mangled bicycle off into a passing cab - he absolutely refused to allow us to take him to a clinic or hospital - and between us gave him $20 to get him home.

I don’t know what was at Jalan Masjid, but I sure hope it was a matter of life or death. Singaporeans, eh?

From TODAY, Voices; see the source article here.

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Florida City to workers: Wear underwear, deodorant

Florida's state quarter.Image via Wikipedia

06/19/2009 | 07:47 AM

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. – A Florida city is cleaning up with a new dress code that requires city workers to wear underwear and use deodorant. The city council in Brooksville north of Tampa recently approved a dress code that instructs employees to observe "strict personal hygiene."

It also prohibits exposed underwear, clothing with foul language, "sexually provocative" clothes and piercings anywhere except the ears.

Repeat offenders can be fired.

The city council approved the dress code 4-1 as part of a wider effort to update existing policies and ordinances.

The one vote in opposition came from Mayor Joe Bernadini. He said the underwear edict "takes away freedom of choice." – AP

From; see the source article here.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Australia appeals sentence in honeymoon death

Posted: 18 June 2009 1600 hrs

The Great Barrier Reef

SYDNEY: An Australian state launched an appeal against an American man's "manifestly inadequate" 12-month jail term for the manslaughter of his wife during a honeymoon diving trip.

Bubble-wrap salesman David "Gabe" Watson was sentenced to four-and-a-half years on June 5 but under a plea bargain most of the term was suspended, a decision that caused outrage among friends and relatives of his late wife.

"I have formed the view that this sentence is manifestly inadequate and the state will therefore lodge an appeal against the sentence in the Queensland Court of Appeal," said Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick.

Dick added that his decision was made after "careful consideration and due deliberation." Queensland's Solicitor-General Walter Sofronoff will represent the state in the Court of Appeal.

Watson, 32, was on honeymoon with his new wife Tina when she drowned during a diving trip at a shipwreck off the Queensland city of Townsville, just 11 days after their wedding in the United States.

An instructor found novice diver Tina lying on the bottom of the ocean after Gabe, an experienced rescue diver, had surfaced. She never regained consciousness.

An inquest heard earlier that a fellow diver saw Gabe Watson bear-hugging his wife underwater before he re-surfaced while she sank to the ocean floor.

In mid-2008, coroner David Glasgow found it was likely Watson killed his wife by holding her underwater and turning off her air supply, adding he may have been seeking a large life insurance payout.

"Let's hope justice will now be served," said opposition justice spokesman Lawrence Springborg.

"The handling of this sad case has been absolutely deplorable," he added.


From; see the source article here.

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Property agent charged with obstruction of justice

Honestly, it is not that you are in financial difficulty… it is when you resort to 'anything' to get you out of that financial difficulty. I am in financial difficulty, but I pray hard, and look for other 'clean means' to get me through…


Posted: 18 June 2009 1217 hrs

SINGAPORE: A 33-year-old woman got herself on the wrong side of the law after she allegedly took the rap for a traffic offence.

Leung Man Kwan, an associate director with property firm HSR International Realtors, was charged on Thursday with obstructing the course of justice.

The court heard that Leung received S$1,000 from Evangeline Tay Su Ann in February 2008. In return, Leung took the rap for a traffic offence committed by Tay in January that year.

Tay, who was driving her friend's car, failed to stop at a red light at the junction of Lornie Road and Sime Road. She then asked a friend to help her find someone who would take the rap on her behalf.

When approached, Leung, who was in financial difficulties, agreed to do so. If convicted of obstruction of justice, she could be jailed for up to seven years, fined, or both.

- CNA/so

From; see the source article here.

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