Selasa, 26 November 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China says monitored U.S. bombers' flight through airspace zone


BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday it had monitored the entire progress of two unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers that flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea on a training mission without informing Beijing.

The U.S. move was in defiance of China's declaration of a new airspace defence zone, and raised the stakes in a territorial standoff.

"The Chinese air force monitored the entire course and identified (them) in a timely way, ascertaining that they were U.S. aircraft," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

"The Chinese side has the ability to effectively manage and control the relevant airspace," it added.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Hui Li)

Merkel and SPD in breakthrough on coalition talks, conservatives say


BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) made a breakthrough early on Wednesday in talks about forming a "grand coalition" government, two top conservative politicians said on their Twitter accounts.

Germany's two biggest political forces negotiated through the night and reached a breakthrough at about 5 a.m. (0400 GMT), said senior Merkel lawmaker Michael Grosse-Broemer and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the conservative premier of Saarland state.

Two months after Merkel's election victory and a month after coalition talks began, the agreement, if confirmed, would enable her to form a government by Christmas - if the SPD gets approval in a vote among more than 474,000 party members.

The party leaders are expected to present details of a deal at a news conference on Wednesday, the deadline set by Merkel. But they may wait two more weeks to announce the allocation of cabinet posts.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown, Erik Kirschbaum and Andreas Rinke)

Defying China, U.S. bombers fly into East China Sea zone


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. military aircraft have flown around disputed islands in the East China Sea without informing China, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, defying China's declaration that the region falls into a new airspace defense zone.

"We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus. We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies," spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said, using the Japanese name for the islands.

There was no Chinese response, Warren said.

China published coordinates for an "East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone" over the weekend and warned it would take "defensive emergency measures" against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly in the airspace.

The zone covers most of that sea and includes the skies over islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan.

The United States and close ally Japan have sharply criticized the move, with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calling it a "destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region." He said on Saturday the United States would not change how it operates in the region.

The White House said that the dispute between China and Japan over the islands should be solved diplomatically.

"The policy announced by the Chinese over the weekend is unnecessarily inflammatory," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in California, where President Barack Obama is traveling.

"These are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically," he said.

Experts said the Chinese move was aimed at chipping away at Tokyo's claim to administrative control over the area, including the tiny uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

While Washington does not take a position on the sovereignty of the islands, it recognizes that Japan has administrative control over them and is therefore bound by treaty to defend Japan in the event of an armed conflict.

The Pentagon said the flights took place on Monday evening Eastern Standard Time and "involved two aircraft flying from Guam and returning to Guam" on a training mission.

Warren said the U.S. military aircraft were neither observed nor were contacted by the Chinese aircraft.


China's Defence Ministry said on Monday it had lodged protests with the U.S. and Japanese embassies in Beijing over the criticism from Washington and Tokyo of the zone.

China also summoned Japan's ambassador, warning Tokyo to "stop (their) words and actions which create friction and harm regional stability", China's Foreign Ministry said. Meanwhile, Tokyo and Seoul summoned Chinese diplomats to protest.

In addition, China sent its sole aircraft carrier on a training mission into the South China Sea on Tuesday amid maritime disputes with the Philippines and other neighbors and tension over its airspace defense zone in waters disputed with Japan.

The Liaoning, bought used from Ukraine and refurbished in China, has conducted more than 100 exercises and experiments since it was commissioned last year but this is the first time it has been sent to the South China Sea.

The Liaoning left port from the northern city of Qingdao accompanied by two destroyers and two frigates, the Chinese navy said on an official news website.


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Thai political protests paralyse more ministries


BANGKOK: Thai opposition protesters besieged several more ministries in Bangkok on Tuesday in a bid to topple the government, as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faced a no-confidence motion in parliament and warned against "mob rule".

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied against Yingluck and her brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, in the biggest street protests since 2010, when more than 90 civilians were killed in a military crackdown.

Fresh turmoil in the politically turbulent country has sparked international concern and raised fears of a new bout of street violence.

Demonstrators surrounded the interior, agriculture, transport, and sports and tourism ministries, ordering officials inside to leave, a day after occupying the finance and foreign ministries.

"We have to leave because they (the protesters) will cut the utilities," tourism and sports minister Somsak Pureesrisak told AFP.

Around 1,500 protesters, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles, marched to the interior ministry, which was heavily guarded by several hundred security personnel, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Demonstrators gave officials an ultimatum to leave within one hour, threatening to "close the ministry".

Unlike at the interior ministry, most of the government buildings taken over had only a light security presence outside.

But on the streets more generally, police numbers have been increased in Bangkok in response to the expansion late Monday of the Internal Security Act, which gives authorities additional powers to block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings and carry out searches.

Yingluck on Tuesday reiterated a vow that authorities would "absolutely not use violence" as she arrived at parliament, which was guarded by dozens of police.

"Everybody must obey the law and not use mob rule to upstage the rule of law," she told reporters.

MPs began debating the no-confidence motion, which was put forward by the opposition Democrat Party last week as part of a barrage of legal and institutional challenges to Yingluck's embattled government.

The ruling Puea Thai party holds a comfortable majority and is expected to win the censure vote expected later in the week.

'Big move' threatened

Recent protests were sparked by Puea Thai plans to introduce an amnesty that could have allowed the return from self-imposed exile of Thaksin, a deeply polarising figure who was deposed by royalist generals in a 2006 coup.

Outrage over that plan failed to ebb after the amnesty was quashed by the Senate on November 11.
On Monday, protesters marched on more than a dozen state agencies across the capital, as well as several television stations.

There were no immediate signs that authorities were moving to evict them Tuesday but authorities said demonstrators appeared to be leaving the foreign ministry.

Television images showed protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned from the Democrats to lead the protest, at the finance ministry surrounded by supporters.

In a press conference broadcast on the opposition's television channel, a rally spokesman insisted protesters would wait until Wednesday before making a "big move".

"We are occupying the finance ministry in a non-violent and peaceful way, so our supporters around the country can do the same and occupy all government offices," said Akanat Promphan, speaking on behalf of Suthep, who had lost his voice after Monday's tub-thumping rally speeches.

Both the United States and Britain have raised concerns over the street action.

The rallies are the biggest challenge yet for Yingluck, who swept to power in 2011 polls on a wave of Thaksin support from the "Red Shirts", whose 2010 protests were crushed by the then Democrat-led government.

Many Red Shirts were also angered by the amnesty proposal, believing it would have pardoned those responsible for the 2010 crackdown, but they have since rallied in support of the government, with thousands massing in a stadium in Bangkok.

"Suthep is not trying to throw out the government... he wants to throw out democracy and replace it with an ultra-royalist administration," Red Shirt leader Thida Thavornseth told AFP.

Thaksin draws strong support from many of the country's rural and urban working class. But he is loathed by the elite and the middle classes, who accuse him of being corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.

A series of protests by the royalist "Yellow Shirts" helped to trigger the coup that toppled Thaksin, who now lives abroad to avoid a prison term for corruption that he contends was politically motivated. -AFP

China high-speed train kills four rail workers


BEIJING: A Chinese high-speed train killed four maintenance workers after a communication failure, state media reported Tuesday, the latest fatal incident on the country's flagship rail network.

The D28 train was at least 11 minutes behind schedule when it hit five railway personnel maintaining and cleaning the track during what was supposed to be their "working hour window", the 21st Century Business Herald said.

Four of the staffers, all under 30 and two of them new university graduates, were killed and one injured, said the report, which cited an internal railway circular.

China's high-speed rail network is the largest in the world, and seen by Beijing as a symbol of the country's advance.

But the expansion - which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars - has seen a series of scandals and widespread allegations of corruption, with accusations that safety has been compromised for speed.

The incident, between Taian and Panjin North in the northeastern province of Liaoning on Friday, was the latest fatal accident on the network.

At least 40 people were killed in a high-speed train crash near Wenzhou in Zhejiang province in July 2011.

Ex-railway minister Liu Zhijun, who campaigned for and oversaw the expansion of the high-speed network, was given a suspended death sentence in July for taking 64.6 million yuan ($10.6 million) in bribes. -AFP

AFDetect uses phone’s in-built camera to help detect irregular heartbeats


THOSE who are worried about erratic heartbeats but wish to avoid medical tests can now find the answer in a new mobile app that can detect the common disorder – within a minute.

Called AFDetect, the app uses the phone's in-built camera and flash light to detect one's pulse, which is analysed for the problem called atrial fibrillation.

The creator of the app, local medical device company HealthSTATS International, claims the app is a world's first and has patented the software behind it.

Adults over the age of 40 have a one in four chance of developing atrial fibrillation in their lifetime.

Typically, hospitals and clinics use an electrocardiogram (ECG) to detect the disorder.

The process, which involves placing electrodes on a person's chest, can be cumbersome and time-consuming for some, said HealthSTATS' chief executive Ting Choon Meng.

While there are drugs that can treat the condition, it is not easily detectable because it happens intermittently, Dr Ting noted.

"Even if the person goes to the doctor, his heart palpitations may have stopped by then."

The app, which is co-developed with and tested at University College London, is available on GooglePlay for Android users at S$1.98 (RM5.10).

The iPhone version is expected to be launched in January.

Users place their index finger over the camera lens for about 40 seconds.

The beam from the phone's flash light illuminates the pulsating capillary tissue beneath the surface of the finger.

Each time blood is sent to the fingertip, minute colour changes occur in the blood vessels, which are picked up by the camera lens.

The information can be saved and provided to a doctor.

The technology was tested on two batches of 50 patients, including people known to have atrial fibrillation – 98% of these sufferers were correctly identified.

HealthSTATS hopes to introduce the app to clinics here, as well as to people who engage in strenuous sports.

Dr Ng Siau Peng, a general practitioner, said many cases of atrial fibrillation are detected by chance as patients had actually showed up for a different health problem.

Said Dr Ng, who runs a clinic in Ubi: "Most patients would not know that they have this problem, and doctors may not be quick enough to pick it up due to limited consultation time." — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network


The Star eCentral: TV Tracks

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The Star eCentral: TV Tracks

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