Tuesday, July 7, 2009

(MY067) China's restive west descends into mob violence

URUMQI, China – Scattered mobs of Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese roamed the streets and beat passers-by Tuesday as the capital of China's Xinjiang region degenerated into communal violence, prompting the government to impose a curfew in the aftermath of a riot that killed at least 156 people.

Members of the Muslim Uighur ethnic group attacked people near the Urumqi's railway station, and women in headscarves protested the arrests of husbands and sons in another part of the city. Meanwhile, for much of the afternoon, a mob of 1,000 mostly young Han Chinese holding clubs and chanting "Defend the Country" tore through streets trying to get to a Uighur neighborhood until they were repulsed by police firing tear gas.

Panic and anger bubbled up amid the suspicion. In some neighborhoods, Han Chinese — China's majority ethnic group — armed themselves with pieces of lumber and shovels to defend themselves. People bought up bottled water out of fear, as one resident said, that "the Uighurs might poison the water."

The outbursts happened despite swarms of paramilitary and riot police enforcing a dragnet that state media said led to the arrest more than 1,400 participants in Sunday's riot, the worst ethnic violence in the often tense region in decades.

(MY066) Yemen executes man for rape, killing 11-year-old

SAN'A, Yemen – The Yemen news agency reports that a barber has been publicly executed after he was found guilty of raping and killing an 11-year-old boy who came to his shop for a haircut.

Pictures of the execution Monday in the capital of San'a showed hundreds of people gathered around as Yehya Hussein was killed.

The pictures showed the barber lying face down on a large piece of red cloth, his hands bound behind him, after a Yemeni police official standing over him with what appeared to be a machine gun shot him four times.

According to the news agency, Saba, the barber was arrested in December 2008 and confessed during a January trial to raping the boy inside his salon, killing him and cutting up his body before dumping it outside San'a.

(MY065) 150 people fall ill on virus-struck cruise ship in Scotland

LONDON (AFP) – About 150 people have fallen ill aboard a cruise ship berthed in Scotland following a suspected outbreak of the vomit-inducing norovirus, health officials said Monday.

A 74-year-old English man has also died on board the Marco Polo, which is berthed near Invergordon in northeastern Scotland, but the ship's operators said his death was unrelated to the outbreak.

Two people have been hospitalised and the others are being treated on board, according to Ken Oates, the local National Health Service (NHS) director of public health.

"NHS Highland can confirm that around 150 people on board a cruise ship docked at Invergordon have become unwell with suspected norovirus," he said.

"The Marco Polo docked today. This evening two people have been admitted to Raigmore Hospital who are showing symptoms of norovirus."

Germany-based operators Transocean Tours said the man's death earlier Monday was unrelated to the outbreak, saying he had chronic heart and breathing problems and "suffered a fatal heart attack on board ship".

It said 769 passengers and 340 crew were on the Marco Polo and its medical team had reported that 54 passengers and 21 crew "have an unconfirmed virus that causes a form of gastroenteritis".

Norovirus is highly contagious and induces vomiting and diarrhea. It affects between 600,000 and one million people in Britain each year and outbreaks are common within contained environments.

Passengers on the world-famous Queen Elizabeth II luxury liner were struck by an outbreak in 2007.

(MY064) Lawyer who blogged about ongoing case fined S$1,000

SINGAPORE, July 7 — It is the first case of its kind: A lawyer has been fined S$1,000 (RM2,427) by the Law Society of Singapore for giving his views of an ongoing case in his blog.

Alfred Dodwell was taken to task by the society for “publicly promoting his view of the witnesses and the merits of an ongoing court proceeding, albeit through the medium of blogs”.

The action, reflected last week in the Government Gazette, was taken as Mr Dodwell “had failed to meet the standard of conduct befitting” a lawyer.

As a result of the case, the Law Society has cautioned lawyers about comments they make in blogs and to the media.

In an advisory two months ago, it warned lawyers not to post comments that would compromise client confidentiality, discuss ongoing cases, or make adverse comments about the clients of the opposing party.

The incident relating to Dodwell, 40, is believed to centre on a 2006 case in which siblings had a spat over the will left by their late mother for an estate worth S$700,000.

In it, four siblings represented by Dodwell disputed the validity of the will, which bequeathed an additional S$50,000 to another sibling, who was represented by lawyer Lim Joo Toon.

Dowell’s clients lost the case, but they have appealed, and the three-year saga will continue with a hearing in the Court of Appeal in September.

It is unclear what statements Dodwell made in his blog, entitled “My God Given Life”.

The Straits Times understands that although names were not mentioned, his blog entries contained enough key details for affected parties to recognise the case.

The lawyer is also believed to have made offending remarks on more than one occasion.

When contacted yesterday, Dodwell did not want to go into what his blog postings said.

He said, however, that blogs were part of the new media scene, but added: “I did what I did as a private individual, but I am also a lawyer. This is a whole new area and the Law Society has come to a view.

“I stand guided by the society’s stand, as would all lawyers in this new media arena.”

Lawyers say that while factual reports of an ongoing case can be blogged about, commenting about witnesses or the merits of a case go beyond the pale.

Last week’s Government Gazette also contained an item about rogue lawyer Zulkifli Mohd Amin, who disappeared in 2007 with more than S$6 million of his clients’ money.

It said Zulkifli had been fined S$1,000 for a breach related to overcharging clients. — The Straits Times

(MY064) China arrests 1,434 after deadly Xinjiang riots

URUMQI, China – Police have arrested 1,434 suspects in connection with the worst ethnic violence in decades in China's western Xinjiang region, which killed at least 156 people, state media reported Tuesday.

The arrests come amid a security clampdown on the region, with hundreds of paramilitary police with shields, rifles and clubs taking control of the streets of the capital, Urumqi, where the riots took place on Sunday.

The violence does not bode well for China's efforts to mollify long-simmering ethnic tensions between the minority Uighur people and the ethnic Han Chinese in Xinjiang — a sprawling region three times the size of Texas that shares borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.

Mobile phone service and the social networking site Twitter have been blocked, and Internet links also were cut or slowed down.

(MY063) Tix to Jackson memorial being sold for thousands

NEW YORK – Michael Jackson's concerts always were difficult to get tickets to, but that's nothing compared to the pop star's memorial service.

On eBay, bids for tickets for Tuesday's event were reaching as high as $3,000, though it was impossible to verify the seriousness of those bids. On Craigslist, asking prices also were in the thousands. Some unable to attend, though, simply wanted to give away their tickets — as one post read — "to only true fans."

Throughout the day, both eBay and Craigslist were taking down postings attempting to sell tickets to the memorial service, which will be held at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

More than 1.6 million fans registered online for a chance to attend, and only 8,750 names were chosen — each of whom received two free tickets.

(MY062) Record crowd welcomes Ronaldo to Real Madrid

MADRID (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo said on Monday he had fulfilled a "childhood dream" as he was officially unveiled as a Real Madrid player before a record-setting capacity crowd of nearly 80,000 people at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

"I am very happy to be here," the 24-year-old Portuguese winger told cheering fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the Spanish capital after completing his long desired move to the club from Manchester United.

"For me it is the realization of a childhood dream, which was to play for Real Madrid. I never expected the stadium would be full just to see me. It is impressive," he added.