09 December 2008

Datuk (Sir) Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan knighted in Malaysia
MALACCA, Malaysia - Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan said he will star in a new movie that will help spread the message that Islam does not support terrorism as he was knighted Saturday in Malaysia's southern Malacca state.Adorned in a traditional black and gold Malay outfit and headgear, the Indian Muslim actor was conferred the honorary "datuk" title that is equivalent to British knighthood.

Bollywood movies are highly popular in Malaysia and Khan enjoys a huge following among local Malays and ethnic Indians.

After the ceremony, Khan told reporters that his new film "My Name is Khan," which starts shooting this month, makes clear "that Islam does not in any which way tell you to be violent."

"I think the whole concept of jihad, the whole concept of warring needs to be explained as Allah meant it to be in the Quran ... it is an attempt to try and do that in an entertaining way," Khan said.

The film, about a Muslim's strife in telling people his name but that he is not a terrorist, will be directed by top Bollywood film maker Karan Johar and will co-star Kajol Mukherjee, Khan said.

"When you are an actor, you truly believe that the language that you speak can be truly international and go across boundaries and bring hope, especially in today's time and age when the world is full of strife," he said.

The honorary title, bestowed by Malacca Gov. Mohamad Khalil Yaacob, has stirred controversy with Malaysians who say it was wrong to honor a foreigner when there were many deserving local artists.

Malacca authorities said Khan was knighted because six of his movies were shot on location in the historical state and helped boost its tourism.

One missing after four die in Malaysia landslide

By Varsha Tickoo

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian agencies were still searching for one person on Sunday in the wake of a landslide near the capital that killed four people, forced thousands out of their homes and cut electricity supplies.

The landslide struck in an affluent suburb north of Kuala Lumpur early on Saturday morning, flattening 14 houses. It happened just over a week after two sleeping sisters were killed by a mudslide nearby and after two other slides in the capital.

Some residents packed their belongings into cars and headed for temporary housing as the rubble was being cleared, while others struggled to get supplies to their families after tents were set up to distribute emergency supplies.

"We had to use a small little path to come out. It's all blocked," said Ngu Siong Ho, 52.

"Our cars and everything are trapped inside. We are considering to go and stay with a friend," he said.

Shifting earth temporarily halted the search effort which the police said had involved a thousand emergency personnel on the 10 acre site in Selangor state near Kuala Lumpur.

"We have stopped work right now because there is earth movement and it is not safe," Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told a press briefing on the site.

State electricity company Tenaga Nasional said in a statement that progress restoring power had been slowed due to rain and earth movements and that four of 16 transformers the slide affected had been put back online. State news agency Bernama reported 1,500 houses were without power.

Green campaigners have repeatedly criticised the building of houses on the steep forested hills near Kuala Lumpur. When the opposition won Selangor in March's election it banned construction on slopes with more than a 25 percent incline.

Construction has boomed in recent years in the state, the most affluent in this Southeast Asian nation of 27 million people.

The worst disaster was in 1993 when 48 people died in the collapse of a tower block on a site 1.5 kilometres from Saturday's slide.

Action by the federal government has not materialised however, and developers continue to apply pressure to build.

"Even as recent as last month, developers were insisting that they had the right to develop hill slopes and some had told a couple of ExCo (state executive council) members that they were planning to sue us," Elizabeth Wong, a Selangor state executive council member in charge of environmental matters, said on her website (http://elizabethwong.wordpress.com/) on Sunday.

05 December 2008

The truth about Obama's birth certificate

Barack Obama’s Official Birth Certificate

Barack Obama's Birth Certificate
n June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document's authenticity.
And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is "fake."

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.
Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.

Fukino also was quoted by several other news organizations. The Honolulu Advertiser quoted Fukino as saying the agency had been bombarded by requests, and that the registrar of statistics had even been called in at home in the middle of the night.
Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 1 2008: "This has gotten ridiculous," state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. "There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy." . . . Will this be enough to quiet the doubters? "I hope so," Fukino said. "We need to get some work done."
Fukino said she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

Since we first wrote about Obama's birth certificate on June 16, speculation on his citizenship has continued apace.
Some claim that Obama posted a fake birth certificate to his Web page. That charge leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream media earlier this week when Jerome Corsi, author of a book attacking Obama, repeated the claim in an Aug. 15 interview with Steve Doocy on Fox News.

Corsi: Well, what would be really helpful is if Senator Obama would release primary documents like his birth certificate. The campaign has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. How is anybody supposed to really piece together his life?

Doocy: What do you mean they have a "false birth certificate" on their Web site?

Corsi: The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it.

Doocy: Well, couldn't it just be a State of Hawaii-produced duplicate?

Corsi: No, it's a -- there's been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It's a fake document that's on the Web site right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce.

Corsi isn't the only skeptic claiming that the document is a forgery. Among the most frequent objections we saw on forums, blogs and e-mails are:
  • The birth certificate doesn't have a raised seal.
  • It isn't signed.
  • No creases from folding are evident in the scanned version.
  • In the zoomed-in view, there's a strange halo around the letters.
  • The certificate number is blacked out.
  • The date bleeding through from the back seems to say "2007," but the document wasn't released until 2008.
  • The document is a "certification of birth," not a "certificate of birth."
Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it's stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.

The Obama birth certificate, held by FactCheck writer Joe Miller

Alvin T. Onaka's signature stamp

The raised seal

Blowup of text

You can click on the photos to get full-size versions, which haven't been edited in any way, except that some have been rotated 90 degrees for viewing purposes.

The certificate has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport: "
your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records." The names, date and place of birth, and filing date are all evident on the scanned version, and you can see the seal above.

The document is a "certification of birth," also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents' hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health's birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

The scan released by the campaign shows halos around the black text, making it look (to some) as though the text might have been pasted on top of an image of security paper. But the document itself has no such halos, nor do the close-up photos we took of it. We conclude that the halo seen in the image produced by the campaign is a digital artifact from the scanning process.

We asked the Obama campaign about the date stamp and the blacked-out certificate number. The certificate is stamped June 2007, because that's when Hawaii officials produced it for the campaign, which requested that document and "all the records we could get our hands on" according to spokesperson Shauna Daly. The campaign didn't release its copy until 2008, after speculation began to appear on the Internet questioning Obama's citizenship. The campaign then rushed to release the document, and the rush is responsible for the blacked-out certificate number. Says Shauna: "[We] couldn't get someone on the phone in Hawaii to tell us whether the number represented some secret information, and we erred on the side of blacking it out. Since then we've found out it's pretty irrelevant for the outside world." The document we looked at did have a certificate number; it is 151 1961 - 010641.

Blowup of certificate number

Some of the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Obama are quite imaginative. One conservative blogger suggested that the campaign might have obtained a valid Hawaii birth certificate, soaked it in solvent, then reprinted it with Obama's information. Of course, this anonymous blogger didn't have access to the actual document and presents this as just one possible "scenario" without any evidence that such a thing actually happened or is even feasible.

We also note that so far none of those questioning the authenticity of the document have produced a shred of evidence that the information on it is incorrect. Instead, some speculate that somehow, maybe, he was born in another country and doesn't meet the Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural-born citizen."

We think our colleagues at PolitiFact.com, who also dug into some of these loopy theories put it pretty well: "It is possible that Obama conspired his way to the precipice of the world’s biggest job, involving a vast network of people and government agencies over decades of lies. Anything’s possible. But step back and look at the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and your sense of what’s reasonable has to take over."

In fact, the conspiracy would need to be even deeper than our colleagues realized. In late July, a researcher looking to dig up dirt on Obama instead found a birth announcement that had been published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961:

Obama's birth announcement

The announcement was posted by a pro-Hillary Clinton blogger who grudgingly concluded that Obama "likely" was born Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu.

Of course, it's distantly possible that Obama's grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday. We suggest that those who choose to go down that path should first equip themselves with a high-quality tinfoil hat. The evidence is clear: Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.

Update, August 26: We received responses to some of our questions from the Hawaii Department of Health. They couldn't tell us anything about their security paper, but they did answer another frequently-raised question: why is Obama's father's race listed as "African"? Kurt Tsue at the DOH told us that father's race and mother's race are supplied by the parents, and that "we accept what the parents self identify themselves to be." We consider it reasonable to believe that Barack Obama, Sr., would have thought of and reported himself as "African." It's certainly not the slam dunk some readers have made it out to be.

When we asked about the security borders, which look different from some other examples of Hawaii certifications of live birth, Kurt said "The borders are generated each time a certified copy is printed. A citation located on the bottom left hand corner of the certificate indicates which date the form was revised." He also confirmed that the information in the short form birth certificate is sufficient to prove citizenship for "all reasonable purposes."

by Jess Henig, with Joe Miller
United States Department of State. "Application for a U.S. Passport." Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

State of Hawaii Department of Health. "Request for Certified Copy of Birth Record." Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

Hollyfield, Amy. "Obama's Birth Certificate: Final Chapter." Politifact.com. 27 Jun. 2008.

The Associated Press. "State declares Obama birth certificate genuine" 31 Oct 2008.

Nakaso, Dan. "Obama's certificate of birth OK, state says; Health director issues voucher in response to 'ridiculous' barrage" Honolulu Advertiser 1 Nov 2008.

source http://factcheck.org

03 December 2008

Malaysia's Revenue May Suffer If Oil Prices Fall Sharply, Says Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's revenue may take a beating if world oil prices fall sharply following the global economic crisis, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said tonight.

"If oil price continue to slide drastically, our revenue will be affected as the percentage of income from oil is high," he told reporters after chairing the monthly meeting of the Umno supreme council, the party's highest decision-making body.

"If our revenue dwindles, it will lead to other problems," said Abdullah, who is also Umno president, without giving details.

Oil is the biggest revenue contributor to the country's coffers.

Abdullah said his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also Finance Minister, briefed supreme council members on the current economic status of the United States, the world's biggest economy.

World oil prices have fallen to below US$50 a barrel following the decision by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to delay the decision to lower the production quota although supply was higher than demand in the world market.

Following the sharp fall in global oil prices, the Government yesterday announced a reduction in the pump prices of petrol and diesel by 10 sen a litre effective today.

This is the sixth downward revision in fuel prices since August. The last revision was on Nov 18.

In announcing the reduction, Abdullah said the government decided to expedite the lower retail price of petrol and diesel to enable the people to enjoy cheaper fuel prices following the drastic drop in global oil prices.

The RON97 petrol will be sold at RM1.90 a litre today from RM2 while RO
N92 at RM1.80 a litre from RM1.90, he said in a statement.

Diesel will be retailed at RM1.80 from RM1.90 a litre, he added.


Mumbai aftermath: Probe shows no links to Malaysia

By : Adrian David
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KUALA LUMPUR: An initial probe into the Mumbai attacks has not uncovered any links to Malaysia, said consul-general in Mumbai, Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah.

He said the Indian authorities had denied newspaper reports that the terrorists had used Malaysian travel documents and credit cards.

This was revealed to the consul-general by senior police investigators but there is still no official statement from the Indian government on this so-called link.

"Investigations are ongoing with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States and India's own Central Bureau of Investigation, their police and other enforcement and intelligence agencies," Wan Zaidi said.

It is reliably learnt that Indian authorities have also sought the assistance of British and United States intelligence following reports of the terrorists' links with international criminals.
He added the authorities had yet to ascertain the authenticity of news reports that Malaysian credit cards were discovered in the knapsacks of several terrorists killed in shoot-outs with Indian crack Black Cat commandos.

He also denied reports that eight of the terrorists were living in Mumbai for a month prior to the attack and were posing as Malaysian students.

"If there were any truth to these reports, then Malaysia would have been linked to the terrorist attacks," he said when contacted in Mumbai.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said police were liaising with Interpol on the matter.

"The claims are unsubstantiated. This is an allegation that does not have any evidence," he said after a National Economic Council meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.