Ahad, 27 April 2014

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

India test-fires anti-ballistic missile

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 06:05 AM PDT

NEW DELHI, April 27, 2014 (AFP) - India successfully test-fired a new anti-ballistic missile on Sunday in a step towards developing a missile defence system which only an elite club of countries has built.

India, which shares borders with arch-rival Pakistan and giant China, both of whom are nuclear-armed, is developing the system that aims to shield it against a ballistic missile attack.

The test was conducted off the east coast on Sunday morning, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told the Press Trust of India news agency.

"The trial was conducted successfully and all the mission objectives were met," said DRDO spokesman Ravi Kumar Gupta.

The missile, which was tested at Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa, is capable of intercepting targets outside the earth's atmosphere. 

India has a double-layered ballistic missile defence programme which can destroy missiles at higher as well as lower altitudes. 

Only a small number of countries including the United States and Russia have anti-ballistic missile systems.

India, the world's second-most populous country, has been stepping up efforts to position itself as a strong regional power in Asia. 

The nuclear-armed country has fought three wars with Pakistan and one war with China. 

Catholic Philippines hails new saints

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 05:00 AM PDT

MANILA, April 27, 2014 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Catholics attended special masses across Manila on Sunday to celebrate Pope Francis' proclamation of two new saints including John Paul II, a beloved figure in Asia's bastion of the faith.

Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle led the service at the packed 16,500-seat Araneta Coliseum in the Philippine capital as huge screens beamed live images from the Vatican of the canonisation of John Paul II and John XXIII.

Many of the devotees were tearful, recalling personal stories of how seeing John Paul II during his visits to the Southeast Asian nation in 1981 and 1995 had changed their lives.

"We're so touched and blessed to have witnessed this great pope who was a part of my youth, and my religious journey," said Mila Estrada, 46, who was among millions of students who gathered to see John Paul II when Manila hosted World Youth Day in 1995.

"He was the pope we grew up with, and whose teachings directly touched our lives," said Estrada.

For photographer Ernie Sarmiento, seeing John Paul II for the first time in 1981 as a student was a "mesmerising" event that cemented his future career path.

He had been assigned by the school paper to cover the pontiff's visit to the University of Santo Tomas, Asia's oldest and largest Catholic school.

Sarmiento remembers fumbling with his equipment as the pope started walking in his direction, regaining composure just in time to capture an image of the pope tightly embracing a student.

"I now have a straight line" to God, Sarmiento said of the new saint.

The student in the photograph, Henry Tenedero, said he had been chosen to deliver a message to John Paul II by the Manila archdiocese but military generals under then dictator Ferdinand Marcos had tried to prevent him from approaching the pope.

"I was strictly advised by the generals to go back to my chair after my speech," Tenedero said. "I saw the Pope smiling, as if to say, 'come here', so I did, and then (I got) the big hug."

Five years later, Marcos' 20-year regime crumbled following a "people power" revolution backed by local Catholic church leaders.

More than 80 percent of the Philippines' 100 million population are Catholics, and the Church remains a major influence on daily life.

However ordinary Filipinos know little about John XXIII, according to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, one of the organisers of an upcoming display to spread awareness about the pope.

The relics of John XXIII, including a piece of his funeral cassock, will be on display in Manila in May as part of the celebrations.

Anti-nuclear protesters stage Taipei blockade

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:57 AM PDT

TAIPEI, April 27, 2014 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of protesters broke through a police cordon to block one of the busiest streets in Taiwan's capital Sunday as they called for a new nuclear power station to be scrapped.

Chanting crowds gathered in the square outside the presidential palace where protesters had already been staging a sit-in which started Saturday and lasted through the night.

Shouting "Stop construction of a fourth nuclear power plant!", demonstrators marched to nearby Chung-shiao West Road - an eight-lane artery where the main railway station is located - and swarmed through police lines to occupy the street, bringing traffic to a halt.

Around half an hour later, the outnumbered riot police, who had offered no resistance, retreated from the middle of the road to wild applause and cheers from the crowd, an AFP reporter on the scene said.

Buses and other vehicles were forced to detour around the intersection and traffic became paralysed.

Police put protester numbers at around 28,500.

The demonstrators pledged to continue their sit-in until Tuesday, when parliament meets to discuss the controversial nuclear power plant.

"If Taipei citizens complain about the traffic tomorrow, they should blame President Ma Ying-jeou," a activist said through a loudspeaker as she stood on top of a van.

Known as "Nuke Four" the plant outside Taipei has been one of the most contentious projects in Taiwan. Intense political wrangling has repeatedly delayed its construction, which began in 1999 and has already cost around Tw$300 billion ($10 billion).

Concerns about Taiwan's nuclear plants have been mounting since 2011, when Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by a tsunami which knocked out power to its cooling systems and sent reactors into meltdown.

Like Japan, Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes. In September 1999 a 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people in the island's deadliest natural disaster in recent history.

Taiwan's three existing nuclear power plants supply about 20 percent of the nation's electricity and the first reactor at the fourth power station is almost complete. 

The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party opposes the facility on safety grounds, while the ruling Kuomintang party says the island will run short of power unless it goes ahead.

Respected former opposition leader and devoted anti-nuclear campaigner, Lin Yi-hsiung, brought the issue into the spotlight once more on Tuesday when he started an indefinite hunger strike against the new power plant.

The 72-year-old activist said he had been forced into making the drastic move because the authorities had ignored majority public opinion against the power station.

Ma on Friday promised to let the public decide the fate of the facility in a referendum, but gave no timetable for the vote.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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