Parliament rejects bid to amend Official Secrets Act
A motion to amend the Burma Official Secrets Act failed to muster enough support to pass Parliament on September 25, but Lower House Speaker Thura Mann Shwe says there may still be a way to alter the colonial-era law that was written in English.
It may be possible to modify, revise or amend the Act after it is officially translated into Myanmar language, he said, adding that he will request that this be done soon. MPs can then scrutinise the translation and the judicial and legal affairs committee can revise it and submit it Parliament for approval, Thura Mann Shwe said.
“We also need to consider whether or not to pass by-laws or announcements to make the law more specific,” he added.
The law was used to sentence four reporters – all of whom are in their 20s – and the CEO of Unity Journal to 10 years in prison with hard labour on July 10, following a lawsuit filed by the President’s Office over a January report in the now-shuttered journal. The report alleged that chemical weapons were being produced at a military facility in Magway Region’s Pauk Township. The verdict was appealed at the Magway Region Court at the end of last month, with the lawyer who represents the five saying, “Dictators believe that journalists should write whatever the government wants. This view has no place in a progressive society.”
The motion to amend the law was submitted to the Lower House by Thein Nyunt, an MP from the New National Democracy Party who represents Yangon’s Thingangyun Township constituency. His amendments aimed to prevent the government from jailing journalists for reports that displease officials, he told Eleven Media last month.
The MP argued that the 1923 law was out of step with the current social and political atmosphere as well as the 2008 Constitution, which makes Myanmar the country's official language and guarantees rights to Myanmar citizens that the British did not. The act also violates the Media Law, he said.
Previously, he told Eleven Media that it requires defendants to prove that they are innocent, while little more than assertions of guilt were required from the prosecution.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Brig-General Kyaw Kyaw Tun said the Act should not be amended because it was required to protect the security of the state at this time, a view that was supported by most MPs from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Thein Nyunt argued that citizens have the right to gather information. “When I took a look at the Act, I saw that there were some sections that we must amend. One thing about is that it is in English … ordinary people cannot understand it. When judges actually make a judgement, they have to reference the Act with a Myanmar version,” he explained. The differences between the two versions were particularly confusing in terms of the right to report and gather news, he said.
Thein Nyunt cited sections of the Constitution and the Media Law in his bid to amend the act, saying it should be changed so that it did not violate either.
Myanmar Peace Festival 2014 In Yangon
Mob Attacks Mosque Near Bagan After Allegations of Buddhist Maid’s Abuse
MANDALAY — A mob of about 100 people damaged a house, shop and mosque on Saturday in Myit Chay, a small town near the popular tourism destination of Bagan, after rumors spread that a Muslim man had beaten his Buddhist maid in the latest case of communal violence to hit Burma.
Heavy security has been deployed and the situation was reportedly calm as of Sunday night, with no injuries or deaths resulting from the incident. Myit Chay sits just across the Irrawaddy River from Bagan, a tourism hot spot known for the thousands of Buddhist temples that dot its plains.
According to witnesses in Myit Chay, an angry mob gathered and attacked the town’s mosque on Saturday evening, after word spread that a Muslim man named Moe Win had beaten his Buddhist maid after she asked him for her salary.
“The news that the Buddhist girl was beaten and chased away by the dog of the Muslim man, and was later admitted to the hospital, was spreading since Saturday evening. The mob gathered and threw stones at their house and shop,” said an eyewitness who asked for anonymity, fearing reprisals.
A duty officer from the Myit Chay police later refuted the rumors that the girl had been hospitalized.
“Actually, the girl is not hospitalized. But she said she was beaten up and had some pain in her arms and chest. We are trying to take action against those who caused the mayhem,” he said.
Residents of Myit Chay said Moe Win’s house and a construction shop owned by his brother were attacked, as was the town mosque. Police estimated the damages at 400,000 kyats (US$400).
“Elders from the town are urging the people to go back home and are controlling the situation and trying to preventing the violence from spreading,” said a resident.
According to police sources, Moe Win and his wife were arrested on Sunday, and are facing four charges under Burma’s Penal Code in connection with the alleged abuse of the maid.
The chief minister of Magwe Division, Phone Maw Shwe, paid a visit to Myit Chay on Sunday, asking residents to do their part to prevent the spread of violence beyond the town.
The situation is currently under control, with the security presence in the town bolstered by the Pakokku District police. Pakokku is located about 20 miles east of Myit Chay.
According to the district police office, security forces have been deployed in Myit Chay, and Pakokku as well, to prevent the potential spread of clashes.
Saturday’s mob attack was just the latest incident of communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma, which has seen similar cases play out in nearly a dozen towns in Burma over the last two years. Most recently, Mandalay was the scene of three days of rioting after rumors—later found to be false—that a Muslim man had raped his Buddhist maid spread largely via social media.
Hope fades for missing climbers
Ko Aung Myint Myat and Ko Wai Yan Min Thu were last heard from shortly after ascending Myanmar’s highest mountain, 5881-metre Hkakobo Razi in Kachin State, on August 31.
Htoo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of U Tay Za’s Htoo Group, has been spearheading the search for the pair, sending two helicopters to remote Putao. The army has also provided one helicopter but bad weather has hampered the search.
Htoo Group spokesperson U Myo Tun told The Myanmar Times in Putao that there is little chance the pair could have survived more than two weeks in freezing conditions.
“There is little hope left that we can find them alive,” he said. “We are shifting from a rescue operation to a search and recovery operation because … we are now looking for their bodies.
“[Recovering their bodies] is very important for their families.”
Captain Som Kiat, one of two Thai helicopter pilots hired by Htoo to help find the men, said conditions had made the search difficult.
He said he had been mostly moving food and fuel up to forward bases set up in Panangdeng and Tahundam villages to supply rescue teams.
“It is necessary to have good weather conditions to move the supplies by helicopter and we have had to wait a long time for good weather,” he said.
According to the military’s Northern Region Command, ground crews are searching at an altitude above 4800m, or 16,000 feet. Another Htoo Group spokesperson, U Soe Than Win, said the company had also hired a pilot from Nepal and mountaineers from the United States to assist the search.
U Na Ma Johnsein – a Myanmar citizen of Tibetan ethnicity who, with Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki, became the first to climb Hkakabo Razi in 1996 – is also among those helping with the search on the ground.
U Soe Than Win said the mountaineers were carrying a global positioning system device that they could use to alert designated recipients if they encountered trouble.
However, it has not been used since they reached the peak on August 31, he said.
“They used it once when they were at the top of the mountain and they used it once while they were climbing the mountain before they reached the top. But contact was cut after they reached the top,” he said. – Translation by Thiri Min Htun
Brain may 'compensate' for Alzheimer's damage
The human brain may be able to compensate for some of the early changes seen in Alzheimer's disease, research in Nature Neuroscience shows.
The study suggests some people recruit extra nerve power to help maintain their ability to think.
Scientists hope the findings could shed light on why only some people with early signs of the condition go on to develop severe memory decline.
But experts warn much more research is needed to understand these processes.
Continue reading the main story
I think it is very possible that people who spend a lifetime involved in cognitively stimulating activity have brains that are better able to adapt to potential damage”
Dr William Jagust University of California
The study, led by researchers at the University of California, involved 71 adults with no signs of mental decline.
Brain scans showed 16 of the older subjects had amyloid deposits - tangles of protein that are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
All participants were asked to memorise a series of pictures in detail while scanners were used to track their brain activity.
They were then asked to recall the gist and later the detail of all the pictures they had seen.
Both groups performed equally well but those with tangles of amyloid in their brains showed more brain activity when remembering the images in detail.
Scientists say this suggests their brains have an ability to adapt to and compensate for any early damage caused by the protein.
Dr Laura Phipps, at the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "This small study suggests that our brains may have ways of resisting early damage from these Alzheimer's proteins but more research is needed to know how to interpret these results.
She added: "Longer term studies are needed to confirm whether the extra brain activity seen in this research is a sign of the brain compensating for early damage, and if so, how long the brain might be able to fight this damage."
Scientists say they need to understand why some people with an accumulation of this protein are better at using different parts of their brain than others.
Dr William Jagust, a researcher on the study, said: "I think it is very possible that people who spend a lifetime involved in cognitively stimulating activity have brains that are better able to adapt to potential damage."
Invictus Games: Queen 'deeply moved'
The Queen has told competitors in the inaugural Invictus Games she has been "deeply moved by your courage, determination and talent".
In a statement read by Games organiser Prince Harry at the closing ceremony, she said they had "overcome great adversity just to take part".
Wounded servicemen and women from 13 countries have taken part in the Games, which officially finish on Sunday.
On Friday, the prince took part in an exhibition game of wheelchair rugby.
"Prince Philip and I send our heartfelt congratulations to the organisers and supporters of this competition and most importantly to you men and women of the armed forces who have overcome great adversity just to take part in these Games," the Queen said.
"As I have followed the competition over the past four days, I have been deeply moved by your courage, determination and talent.
"All of you have used the power of sport to enhance your own recovery and to raise wider awareness of the enormous challenges faced by wounded veterans."
Performers at the opening ceremony Some 6,500 spectators watched Wednesday's opening ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Road cycling at the Games Road cycling is one of the sports featured in the Games
Prince Harry chats with Sgt Israel Del Toro, of the US team Prince Harry based the event on the Warrior Games in the US
The Queen said the success of the Games "can be measured not by medals won but by the renewed sense of purpose and confidence in your abilities that you have gained".
She added: "I send my warmest good wishes and congratulations to you all."
The Games have featured more than 400 competitors in track and field events and disciplines including cycling and indoor rowing.
Teams have travelled from the US, Afghanistan, New Zealand and across Europe to take part in events at the Olympic Park and Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London.
Wednesday's opening ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was watched by 6,500 spectators including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Cambridge.
Defense Minister: Western Weapons on Way to Ukraine
Ukraine's Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said Sunday weapons are on the way to Ukraine from Western countries - which he would not name - to help the country in its fight against Russian-backed rebels.
The claim came as sporadic fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, despite of a nine-day-old cease-fire.
Heletey said the shipments were agreed to in secret at the NATO summit 10 days ago. He said the new weapons will help Ukraine defend itself against potential Russian missile attacks from across the border.
The minister indicated the shipments include a missile-defense system capable of stopping any rockets launched toward Ukraine in what he called “a matter of seconds.”
Ukraine has accused Russia of launching artillery shells across the border, and of sending troops to support the rebels. Russia denies the charges.
The Ukrainian defense minister’s comment came amid reports of some continuing fighting Sunday in the east, after an intense exchange of fire on Saturday at the airport outside the key rebel stronghold of Donetsk.
Ukrainian government forces control the airport.
Each side has accused the other of numerous violations of the cease-fire, which is supposed to pave the way for negotiations.
Ukraine, Russia and rebel representatives signed the accord on September 5, including a 12-point peace plan. But there are huge differences on what the outcome of the talks should be.
Ukraine wants its sovereignty restored and promises more regional autonomy in the east. Russia and the rebels want the area to be independent, or at least fully autonomous and able to establish strong links with Moscow.
Analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to be able to destabilize Ukraine any time he decides it is becoming too politically close to Western Europe.
But both sides have reasons to go to the negotiating table.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he wants to stop the bloodshed, and analysts say he has realized Putin will not allow the separatists to lose on the battlefield.
Russian exile and military expert Igor Sutyagin, now at London’s Royal United Services Institute, said Putin wants to avoid further Western economic sanctions, which are already hurting the Russian economy.
“It was necessary to fix the situation, to force, and Putin openly said that, to force Kyiv to sit at the table and negotiate with the separatists,” he said.
In spite of the violations, the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine has significantly reduced the violence and casualties, and could provide a chance for the leaders to find a way out of the crisis.
British PM Vows Response to IS Militants after Beheading of Briton
Family of Beheaded US Journalist Starts Fund for Hostages
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Obama: US Fights IS With Allies
Kerry: Some Nations Offer Ground Troops in Fight Against IS
Last updated on: September 14, 2014 11:09 AM
In an emotional statement at 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain will hunt down those responsible for the death of British aid worker David Haines.
Speaking after an emergency committee meeting of top military and political officials, Cameron paid tribute to the 44-year-old father of two, who was held hostage and killed by Islamic State militants.
"David Haines was a British hero. The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of ISIL sums up what this organization stands for,” Cameron said.
'They are monsters'
Cameron said the Islamic State group is a fanatical organization that is planning attacks across Europe. He said it claims to act in the name of Islam, but he stressed that Islamic State militants "are not Muslims, they are monsters."
Alice Gross search: iPhone appeal in missing girl case
A missing iPhone belonging to missing schoolgirl Alice Gross could hold key information that might help to find her, police have said.
Alice, 14, from Hanwell, west London, was last seen two weeks ago.
She sent her father a text just after 15:00 BST on 28 August from the phone, which was switched on until 17:00.
Her rucksack was found near a towpath beside the River Brent between Hanwell Bridge and the Grand Union Canal on 2 September, but the phone was not there.
Image of Alice's bag Alice Gross's rucksack was found beside the Grand Union Canal towpath
The white iPhone 4S has a distinctive cracked case the girl had colourfully decorated herself.
The Brentside High School pupil left the family home at 13:00 on 28 August. She had not had an argument with her family, who were trying to overcome her anorexia problems together, police said.
CCTV footage shows her walking alone along the towpath of the canal that afternoon.
Scotland Yard has released an interactive map of the route she took.
She was recorded by CCTV cameras at 14:23 near the Holiday Inn at Brentford Lock, heading towards Kew, and again at the same location walking towards Hanwell at 15:45.
At 16:23 she was caught on camera near Trumpers Way Canal Bridge.
Her purple rucksack was found on Thursday near the River Brent.
Det Ch Insp Andy Chalmers said: "We know that Alice's bag was first found the day after she was last seen by two builders, who we have spoken to, who put it back down in the same spot on the towpath.
Interactive map Scotland Yard has released an interactive map of the route she took
Post box Lampposts and postboxes have been decorated with yellow ribbons to raise awareness about the missing teenager
"I need to know if anyone found Alice's bag before the builders and was anything taken from it, or if anyone has her iPhone.
"Did you find or see a white iPhone 4s with a cracked rear case, that Alice had decorated with marker pen? If you did, do you still have it?"
Police divers are continuing to search the canal where Alice was last seen, with 32 detectives and 170 officers working on the case.
Two men, aged 25 and 51, who were arrested on suspicion of murder were later released without charge.