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Covering The Multicultural Asian American Community in Georgia March 15-31, 2013 Vol 10 No 6

Happy Easter

Georgia Asian Times March 15-31, 2013

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GAT Calendar of Events (For latest & updated events, visit

Publisher: Li Wong Account Manager: Adrian West Contributors: Andrian Putra, May Lee, Mark Ho Photography: Ben Hioe

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GAT welcome submission of announcement pertaining to community related events. Please email event, date, venue, and time to GAT does not guarantee insertion of event announcement and has the right to deny any posting. All Rights Reserved: including those to reproduce this printing or parts thereof in any form without permission in writing from Georgia Asian Times. Established in 2004, the Georgia Asian Times is published by Asiamax Inc. All facts, opinions, and statements appearing within this publication are those of writers and editors themseleves, and are in no way to be construed as statements, positions, endorsements by Georgia Asian Times or its officers. Georgia Asian Times assumes no responsibility for damages from the use of information contained in this publication or the reply to any advertisement. The Publisher will not be liable for any error in advertising to greater extent than the cost of space occupied by the error and will only be made for a single publication date. The Publisher reserves the right to reject any ad or articles submitted for publication that may not be in good taste for a free publication.

“Dynamic Taiwan in Film� Date: Friday, March 15, 2013 Time: 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm Venue: Chinese Culture Center, 5377 New Peachtree Road For more info: Jennifer Yen, TECO 404-532-1940

Symposium on Asia-USA Partnership Opportunities (SAUPO) Date: Friday, April 19, 2013 Venue: St. Regis Hotel, Atlanta For more info: visit

AREAA Workshop 2013 Date: Wednesday March 20, 2013 Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Workshop; 6:00 pm-8:00 pm Happy Hour Venue: Sushi Nami, 5610 Glenridge Drive For more info:

Indonesia Friendly Golf Tournament Organized by Consulate General Indonesia Date: Sunday April 21, 2013 Tee Time: 1:00 pm Venue: Hamilton Mill Golf Club - Canongate Golf Club

Hippodrome By Lauri Stalling and Gyun Hur Date: March 21-25, 2013 Time: 8:00 pm Venue: The Goat Farm Arts Center 1200 Foster Street, Atlanta GA 30318 For more info: http://tanzfarm. com/season/series-3-spring/

APAC 28th Annual Unity Gala & Scholarship Award Banquet Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013 Time: 6:30 pm Venue: Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place For more info: 770-722-8486

Indonesia Business & Investment Forum Date: Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 Time: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm Venue: Marriott Marquis Atlanta For

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March 15-31, 2013 Georgia Asian Times


Chief Designer of Beijing Olympic Games Delivered an Illustrated Talk

NACA Mentoring Program Kickoff at UPS Atlanta, February 21, 2013 -- NACA Chair Lani Wong delivered the opening remarks at the kick-off of NACA’s 2013 year-long Mentoring Program for young Asian-Americans in the Atlanta area. For this inaugural class, seven young Asian-American professionals in the Atlanta area have been matched with seven executives. The mentees come with diverse professional backgrounds that include banking, legal, engineering, marketing, information technology, and accounting. Mentors are equally diverse in their professional backgrounds and were chosen based on their commitment and diverse experiences in the U.S. Gail Evans, a long-time supporter and friend of NACA and a nationallyrecognized speaker, has studied the issues that face Asian and other minority leaders in the workplace. A retired Executive Vice-President of CNN and author of “Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman” and “She Wins You Win,” Gail Evans shared at the launch, professional development tips, leadership attributes, tidbits of knowledge and experiences relating to career advancement, as well as culturally sensitive issues.

Dr. Marilyn Buckner, President of National Training System and a leadership development expert, reviewed the mentees’ leadership styles by utilizing the Hogan Personality Inventory system which breaks down various leadership styles such as being ambitious, inquisitive and team-focused. Dr. Bucker and the mentees explored the strengths and weaknesses of each mentee. Attendees learned that to be successful, individuals must be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. By exhibiting a strength that is too strong, individuals can potentially derail their careers. In addition, individuals can leverage other people’s strengths to make up for their own weaknesses. NACA appreciates and thank the following corporate executives for their dedication and support in developing the next generation of Asian-American leaders by serving as mentors: Tina Nguyen (GE), Jenny Yao Harris (The Coca-Cola Company), Willis Fan (The Coca-Cola Company), Henry Yu (Fifth Third Bank), David Halm (Project Success, Inc.), Andrew Chang (UPS). and Brayton Li (ING).

Atlanta, March 11, 2013 -- Han Lixun, the chief designer of what may be the most spectacular public celebration ever mounted—the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics—presented an illustrated talk about his work at the UPS headquarters.

The presentation also offered insight into China’s historical and contemporary culture, including its politics, ethics, aesthetics, technology and world of design. Han discussed ways in which the arts are helping to satisfy social demands in China.

Using slides and discussion, Han, a revered figure in his field, revealed his behind-the-scenes work on design and presentation of the Olympic ceremony with some of the best-known figures in the contemporary arts world.

Han is a 1985 graduate of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where he studied scenic design. He later undertook the study of art and space design at the Art Academy of Dusseldorf under stage and costume designer, theater director and opera director Karl Kneidl. Han’s career has included extensive work in theatrical design, event design, interior design, theme-park design, public art, art installation and site specific theatre.

He described how the ceremony evolved from the point of conceptualization to material and technical choices, and from visualizing the design in a given space through its realization through the collaboration of architects and engineers.

The presentation is made possible through UPS Asian Business Resource Group and Kennessaw State University-Asian Studies Program.

2 Taiwanese Documentary Film Screenings For General Public Atlanta, March 15, 2013 -- Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta (TECO) will host “Dynamic Taiwan in Film,” featuring the screening of two documentary films, “Go Grandriders” and “Smangus,” as well as cultural demonstrations and Taiwanese cuisine. “Go Grandriders” is an adventure story about seventeen people—average age 81--who take a 13-day motorcycle trip across Taiwan, not letting age deter them from making this marvelous journey. “Smangus” chronicles the lives of a

group of more than twenty families in an aboriginal Taiwanese tribe who live 4,290 feet high in the mountains of Hsin Chu County, farming and safeguarding the forest where the tribe has lived for centuries. “Dynamic Taiwan in Film” When: 6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. March 15 (Friday) Venue: Culture Center of TECO, 5377 New Peachtree Rd, Chamblee, GA 30341 Contact: May Chi at 404-897-9996 for more information.

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Samsung unveils new champion in smart phone war NEW YORK, March 15, 2013 (AFP) Intensifying its smartphone battle with Apple, Samsung unveiled the featurerich Galaxy S4, with groundbreaking eye motion technology to let users control key functions at a glance. In one highlight, sensors in the S4 detect when a person looks away from a video and then pauses play until the distraction has passed and eyes are once again directed at the screen. The eye motion technology can also screen through emails. The South Korean consumer electronics giant introduced the Galaxy S4 Thursday on the stage of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall and said the smart phones would roll out in 155 countries in late April. Pricing was not disclosed. “For each of us, life is a journey,” said Samsung mobile communications division head JK Shin. “What we want is a device that can join us on that journey; a companion that helps us experience life in the fullest.”

S4 features include a high-definition, five-inch screen, enhanced picturetaking capabilities and the capacity to translate to and from nine languages. “It is now clearly Samsung’s flagship device; jam-packed with technology,” said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. “The question is how many of these features will resonate with consumers.” Samsung played up its online hub for music, books, and video and the ease with which the S4 can share video with televisions made by the company. “At this point, smart phones are all about software and ecosystems; showing up with compelling hardware is the expected starting point,” Gartenberg said. “This is about a Samsung ecosystem that happens to be built on Android.” Samsung is the biggest and most suc-

cessful maker of smart phones powered by Android software that Google makes available for free. Samsung has become the top smartphone maker worldwide with a 29 percent market share, according to IDC, while in the US market Apple remains the king and sells more than one of every three mobile phones. The Galaxy S3 has sold more than 40 million worldwide since its launch last May and has some analysts debating which of the two firms is ahead in innovation. “We are always listening to learn from people around the world about what kind of progress they really want,” Shin said. Samsung stressed innovation as it continues to defend itself against charges made by Apple in public and in lawsuits that the South Korean rival has copied the California company’s creations. The S4 is thinner than its predecessor and weighs just 130 grams despite having a bigger screen and battery. The smartphone also boasts a “dual camera” function that lets the front and rear-facing cameras be used simultaneously for pictures or videos that combine images of subjects with that of the photographer.

A Group Play function lets S4 handsets close to one another share music, photos, documents or games, or even work in unison as a sound system for a song. An S Translator feature lets people speak or enter text in one tongue and have it instantly converted to another. S4 sensors combined with S Health software enable handsets to be used to track exercise, eating, heart rate and other fitness factors. The handsets were also designed to measure temperature and humidity to help people “understand what is going on around them.” Samsung also took aim at the trend of people using their own smart phones for work with the addition of new Knox software that builds a secure wall between personal and business data on handsets. “The Samsung Galaxy S4 is very good, but looks like an evolution to the S3, not a revolution,” said technology analyst Jeff Kagan. Apple, which is known for keeping its plans private, is believed to be working on its own upgrades, including a new version of the iconic iPhone. But Apple shares have slumped some 40 percent from highs hit last year.

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March 15-31, 2013 Georgia Asian Times

BUSINESS Taiwan, US wrap first trade talks since 2007

TAIPEI, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - Taiwan and the United States agreed to further strengthen economic ties on Sunday as they concluded their stalled trade talks -- the first since 2007 -- in Taipei. The meeting was seen as part of growing efforts by the trade-reliant island to break political barriers and sign free trade agreements to avoid being marginalized by a growing number of regional economic blocs. After the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks, Taiwan and the US agreed to issue two joint statements on international investment and information and communications technology, indicating Taipei’s commitment to free trade in these areas. “The resumption of TIFA talks between Taiwan and the United States represents a new stage in our economic relationship that will more fully open the lines of communication on trade and investment,” Deputy US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, the US chief negotiator in the talks, told reporters. His Taiwanese counterpart Cho Shih-chao, who is also the vice economic affairs minister, said: “The two statements will be used as the basis for further cooperation.” Taipei and Washington also agreed to set up new TIFA working groups on investment and technical barriers to trade. Taiwan was also seeking US assistance in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But Marantis said any economies which hope to attend the bloc have to meet high standard obligations, suggesting the island still has a long way to go before joining the club.

On the eve of the talks, Cho had reassured the island’s pig farmers, who have a strong political lobby, that pork would not be on the agenda of the oneday discussions. Pig farmers had been worried that Taipei might yield to US pressure and lift a ban on imports of US pork containing the controversial additive ractopamine in exchange for the reopening of the talks. Negotiations on the trade talks, seen as a precursor to a full free trade agreement, had been dormant since 2007. The hiatus was prompted when Taiwan banned US beef containing ractopamine, a drug used in animal feed to promote lean meat. Taipei amended the law in July 2012 to allow imports of beef to resume. Marantis said the US delegates raised the issue of safety regulations regarding food such as pork, a major concern among local media and people, but he said there are many more critical issues to be discussed by the two sides. Washington is the island’s third largest trade partner and a leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Taiwan currently has free trade deals with Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua and has been pushing for tie-ups with other trading partners including Singapore. But talks have become bogged down, largely due to pressure from Beijing, which still considers the island part of its territory even though it has governed itself since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Indonesians working for China’s Huawei on strike JAKARTA, March 8, 2013 (AFP) - Indonesians working for Chinese telecom firm Huawei joined a strike Friday over claims their employer broke labour laws, in the latest industrial action to hit a foreign company in Indonesia.

Krisnamurti said the firm had hired foreigners without the proper work permits, as well as employing local workers on six-month or one-year contracts to carry out the company’s core activities, which is illegal in Indonesia.

Some 150 workers in the capital Jakarta and the eastern Java city of Surabaya took part over claims Huawei has illegally hired foreign workers and has sought to disrupt the work of labour unions. Huawei denies the claims.

“Huawei is fully aware of the industrial action currently taking place,” company spokeswoman Yunny Christine said in a statement, adding the strike had not affected operations.

Indonesians working for US mining giants Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold and Newmont Nusa Tenggara, and French retailer Carrefour, have gone on strike in recent years seeking better pay and conditions as the economy booms. “The strike is an escalation of several labour issues at Huawei,” said Huawei Tech Investment Indonesia Union chairman Heru Waskito Krisnamurti. He said 150 workers joined the industrial action Friday, the final day of a five-day strike. He said the union, which represents 900 of more than 4,000 people working for Huawei subsidiaries in Indonesia, planned to report the company to Indonesian authorities later on Friday for breaking labour laws.

The firm has denied disrupting the work of unions or illegally hiring foreign workers, saying all their foreign employees had the required paperwork. Of its 4,000 employees in Indonesia, more than 2,500 work at Huawei Tech Investment which develops telecom infrastructure in the archipelago, of whom 20 percent are foreigners, the firm said. Indonesia’s cheap labour has long attracted foreign firms to invest in Southeast Asia’s top economy, but workers have won pay hikes and better working conditions by taking industrial action in recent years.

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Big Pharma battle threatens to delay Pacific trade pact SINGAPORE, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - A US-led Pacific free trade pact faces further delays as a row between Big Pharma and activists supporting access to generic drugs erupts ahead of an October deadline, officials say. Negotiators from the United States and 10 other countries are holding closed-door talks in Singapore from March 4-13 on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as they race to seal an accord. “It’s getting tougher and more challenging towards the end. There might be some problems in meeting that deadline, October 2013,” Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed told the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore after the talks opened. Activists pushing for greater public access to cheap generics are sparring with the pharmaceuticals industry, which was worth $355 billion in 2010 among the 11 countries involved in the talks, with US firms accounting for 80 percent of the market. The dispute illustrates the complexity of the TPP, which has already missed a 2012 deadline due to differences over non-tariff issues like labour standards, environment protection, government procurement and intellectual property rights. Some countries are also keen to impose protection for sensitive sectors like agriculture and cars. On pharmaceuticals, humanitarian group Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) asked negotiators from developing countries to reject what it claimed are patent provisions being pushed by Washington restricting access to generic drugs. MSF cited what it said was a leaked draft of the US negotiating position threatening to keep “monopoly protections that keep medicine prices high”.

It warned that if other countries in the Asia-Pacific region eventually opt into the TPP, tighter patent protection may make new medicines out of reach to a wider number of people. US President Barack Obama has mooted the TPP as a centrepiece of renewed American engagement in Asia. The talks currently involve Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Japan has said it wants to join the process, but is expected to face strong domestic opposition against opening up its farm sector. China is not involved in the talks, preferring to concentrate on other Asian trade pacts that analysts say require less stringent commitments. MSF said one provision advocated by US negotiators in the TPP is the grant of new 20-year patents for modifications of existing medicines, making it harder to make cheaper generic versions. Another provision makes it “more expensive and cumbersome to challenge” invalid patents, while another would add more years to a patent term to compensate for administrative processes, MSF added. Pharmaceutical companies argue that copyright protections are necessary to allow them to recover investments and continue research on new cures. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which sent representatives to monitor the Singapore talks, urged negotiators to adopt robust intellectual property (IP) protections. “A weak IP framework within TPP would create uncertainty at a time

US companies keep more money offshore: report WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 (AFP) - US companies are keeping more of their profits offshore, choosing overseas tax havens amid talk in Washington about closing corporate tax loopholes, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The business newspaper said its analysis of 60 big American companies had found that they had collectively parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year. That shielded more than 40 percent of their annual profits from US taxes, the report said. Each of the 60 companies chosen for the analysis had held at least $5 billion offshore in 2011, according to The Journal.

when we need to be doing more to champion researchers and innovators who rely on strong protections,” said Jay Taylor, PhRMA vice president of international affairs. Taylor said that PhRMA wants a provision that will give companies 12 years of data protection on new “biologic” medicines, which are made with living tissues in contrast to drugs made by compounding chemicals. They are already being used to treat cancer and diabetes and are crucial in developing new cures, he said. The 12-year protection should start from the time the new medicine is ap-

The list included Abbott Laboratories, whose store of untaxed overseas earnings rose by $8.1 billion, to $40 billion, the paper said. The increase exceeded the pharmaceutical maker’s net income of $6 billion. Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc. boosted its store of untaxed earnings held by its offshore subsidiaries and earmarked for foreign investment by $3.5 billion last year to $11.6 billion, a rise equal to the company’s annual profit, excluding a pension adjustment, The Journal said. The practice is a result of US tax rules that allow companies to not pay taxes on profits earned by overseas subsidiaries if the money is not brought back to the United States, the report pointed out.

proved by regulators for release into the market, he said. Taylor added that it takes an average of 10-13 years and more than $1.0 billion in investments to develop a new cure, but not all research projects are successful and some could lead to financial losses. Medicine patents currently last 20 years, but Taylor said that research and development eat up more than half of the period as the coverage starts from the time the molecule is identified.

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FEATURE Argentina’s Bergoglio becomes first Latin American pope VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 (AFP) - Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis I on Wednesday, becoming the church’s first Latin American pontiff after a conclave to elect a leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The 76-year-old conservative emerged from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to the cry of “Habemus Papam!” (“We Have a Pope!”), as tens of thousands of pilgrims clambered over barriers and broke down in tears, overcome with emotion after suspenseful prayer vigils worldwide. White smoke earlier billowed from the Sistine Chapel and the bells of St Peter’s Basilica rang out, signalling the election had taken place after five rounds of voting in the Vatican -- one more than when Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pope and is believed to have been the runner-up in 2005. The first wisps of smoke in the evening sky prompted cries of “Long live the pope!” from pilgrims clutching rosaries and waving flags in the square, where the image of the tiny copper chimney was projected onto four giant screens. Bergoglio, who is the 266th pope in the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history, retired to a chamber known as the “Room of Tears” immediately after the nomination to don his papal vestments and then prayed in the Pauline Chapel. Bells pealed in churches across Italy to celebrate the announcement and residents of Rome could be seen racing to the floodlit 17th-century Vatican plaza, running out of their homes and cafes to reach the square in time.

Cardinals have been locked up behind the Vatican walls and cut off from the outside world since Tuesday, meeting in a sublime Renaissance chapel swept for recording devices and installed with scramblers to prevent any communication. The historic election after Benedict’s abrupt resignation last month was being followed around the world on live television as as well as through social media and smartphone apps -this is the first ever tweeted conclave. “I didn’t think I would cry but I guess the adrenalin’s taking over!” said Rebecca Hine, a student from Canada who had waited two days in the rain. “I’m overjoyed!” said a tearful Veronica, a nun from Botswana. “I’m so emotional I can hardly speak!” A breathless Ruud, a 31-year-old Dutch tourist, said: “We were having dinner nearby and heard a roar, and raced here to see for ourselves.” Benedict’s eight-year papacy was riven by scandals and the new pope will face immediate challenges -- stamp his authority on the Vatican machinery and try to bring back a Catholic flock that is deserting churches across the West. Benedict’s style was often seen as too academic and he was never as popular as his predecessor. Many of the cardinals have called for the new pope to be a better communicator, able to reach out particularly to young people. Conclaves are usually only held after a pope dies and are sometimes decades apart -- the last one was in 2005, the one before that 1978. A

popular Italian expression for things that happen very rarely is “at every death of a pope”. The 85-year-old Benedict broke with tradition, becoming the first pontiff to resign since the Middle Ages. He has said he will retire to a former nunnery inside the Vatican -- an unprecedented and delicate situation for the Church. In one of his last acts as pope, he issued a decree allowing cardinals to bring forward the date of a conclave in cases of papal resignation -- a move seen by many as potentially setting a precedent for future aging pontiffs. The scandal of hushed-up sexual abuses of children by paedophile priests going back decades has also cast its shadow over the conclave. The US group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) called for over a dozen cardinals to be excluded from the conclave either for covering up abuses or for making tactless remarks about the scandals.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on Wednesday defended the cardinals and accused SNAP and other activists of showing “negative prejudices”. “None of us are surprised that they have tried to take advantage of these days to repeat their accusations and give them greater resonance,” he said.

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New American Hero Award by Korea American Friendship Society, Mar 2, 2013

Dr. Sammy Lee delivers his acceptance speech.

Dr. Sammy Lee accepting a $10000 donation which he donates to USC Aquatic Center.

AD Frazier, COO, 1996 Atlanta Olympics, presenting the Korean national flag that flew in the opening ceremony of the Games

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March 15-31, 2013 Georgia Asian Times

EVENT Han LiXun, Chief Designer of Beijing Olympics. March 11, 2013

Members of UPS Asian Business Resource Group

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Papal conclave: Ancient ritual and high-tech security VATICAN CITY, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - There will be no tweeting the results of the papal election from inside the secret conclave: cardinals withdrawing to choose a new pope enter a world apart where ancient ritual meets high-tech security. Red-robed cardinals in all their finery chant to invoke God’s guidance as they process into the Sistine Chapel, which will be swept for bugs in a bid to keep would-be spies from spilling conclave secrets to the world. The conclave, named after the Latin phrase meaning “with key”, comes eight centuries after the first lock-in, when protesters angry at nearly three years of indecision fed cardinals bread and water until they had made up their minds. While many things have changed since then, the element of secrecy has not. Under rules to make sure that not even the merest hint emerges from the cardinals’ deliberations, those who betray the conclave face excommunication. The cardinals too are cut off from any information filtering in from outside until the conclave is over. The centuries-old bid to eliminate the influence of meddling outsiders like the Roman nobility on papal elections was strengthened by pope John Paul II. “Careful and stringent checks must be made... in order to ensure that no audiovisual equipment has been secretly installed in these areas for recording and transmission to the outside,” the pope ordered in his 1996 document. Benedict XVI may have revolutionised the Vatican’s communication

approach by opening a Twitter account and encouraging media-savvy cardinals to tweet, but here the language is Latin and the tool the humble pen. A system is installed under Michelangelo’s magnificent fresco of Christ delivering the Last Judgement to scramble any mobile phone communications with the world outside: no Twitter, no Facebook, no smartphone conclave apps. A system designed to regulate moisture in the chapel is removed, for fear bugs could have been planted at a previous moment. The Renaissance chapel, one of the most visited sites in the world, is lined with rows of cloth-draped tables and electors draw lots to see who sits where. The “Princes of the Church” swear oaths of secrecy, before the master of Vatican liturgical ceremonies intones “Extra Omnes” (“Everyone Out”), and all non-voters leave while the cardinals hear a spiritual meditation on their task. Even Vatican staff, from doctors to elevator operators, must swear oaths, and the lifts and nearby bathrooms will be swept for bugs. To vote, cardinals write their choice on a piece of paper, often under the Latin heading “Eligo in Summum Pontificem” (“I elect as Supreme Pontiff”). When casting his ballot, the cardinal slides the folded paper into a specially designed urn while invoking God as his witness in Latin. At the end of the vote, counting can begin once the scrutineers have checked that the number of votes conforms to the number of electors. There is no electronic voting ma-

chine or risk of e-fraud: as the votes are counted, a scrutineer calls out the name and a needle and thread is passed through each ballot. At the end of the count, the thread is knotted. The electors vote four times a day until a two-thirds consensus emerges. Historical methods intended to speed up the vote have been ditched, and the cardinals will not be forced to remain holed up each night in the ballot room. They have been given an upgrade on the previous spartan lodgings given to electors within the Vatican, where they shared toilets and other facilities. Now they enjoy hotel-like accommodation -- with individual bathrooms -- in a purpose-built residence, but even there security is tight: they have no radios, televisions, newspapers or any means of communicating with the world outside. There will be no Internet either and smartphones are strictly off limits -- on pain of excommunication for breaking the secrecy of the conclave.

Should any of the cardinals be ill and unable to attend the vote, they can drop their ballot through a slit in a locked box brought to them in their rooms at the Vatican by selected “infirmarii” cardinals, trusted not to peek. Once the vote is in, the ballot papers are burnt: black smoke curling from the Vatican’s chimney means no decision has been made, white means a new pope has been elected. The smoke was traditionally blackened by adding damp straw to the fire, but following confusion over several instances of grey smoke, the Vatican now adds a chemical to the fire to make sure the smoke emerges the correct color. And just in case even modern chemicals prove unreliable, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will peal to tell the world “Habemus Papam” -- “We have a pope” before the chosen one emerges onto a balcony over St Peter’s Square.

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TECH Japan extracts ‘fire ice’ gas from seabed TOKYO, March 12, 2013 (AFP) - Japan said Tuesday it had successfully extracted methane hydrate, known as “fire ice”, from its seabed, possibly unlocking many years’ worth of gas for the resource-starved country. In what they are claiming as a world first, a consortium is drilling for the hydrate, a fossil fuel that looks like ice but consists of very densely-packed methane surrounded by water molecules, one kilometre below sea level. The solid white substance burns with a pale flame, leaving nothing but water. One cubic metre of it is estimated to contain many times the equivalent volume of methane in gas form. The consortium, led by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, began initial work in February last year and on Tuesday started a twoweek experimental production, an economy, trade and industry ministry official said. “It is the world’s first offshore experiment producing gas from methane hydrate,” the official said, adding that the team successfully collected methane gas extracted from the half-frozen substance. Under the government-led project, the consortium is to separate methane -- the primary component of natural gas -- from the solid clathrate compound under the seabed using the high pressures available at depth, officials said. A huge layer of methane hydrate containing 1.1 trillion cubic metres in natural gas -- equivalent to Japan’s consumption of the gas for 11 years -is believed to lie in the ocean floor off the coast of Shikoku island, western Japan, the officials said. “We aim to establish methane hydrate production technologies for practical use by the fiscal 2018 year” ending March 2019, a consortium official said.

“We want to consolidate technologies for its commercialization,” economy, trade and industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi also told a news conference, according to Jiji Press. “I hope we can make use of resources surrounding our country as soon as possible by clearing hurdles one by one,” he added. The move comes as resource-poor Japan has struck out in search of new energy supplies after it shut down its stable of nuclear reactors in the wake of 2011’s tsunami-sparked nuclear crisis. Japan switched off its atomic reactors for safety checks following the disaster that saw a wall of water hit the Fukushima plant, crippling its cooling systems and sending reactors into meltdown. Only two of the nation’s 50 reactors are now operating, with more stringent safety standards and political nervousness in the wake of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 keeping the rest out of action. This has meant energy costs have shot up for Japan as it has been forced to buy pricey fossil-fuel alternatives. The battle for energy resources in Asia has become a driving force behind many regional disputes. Talks between Japan and China over a disputed gas field in the East China Sea have been stalled amid the worst diplomatic row between the Asian giants in years. The gas field is northeast of the Tokyo-controlled disputed islands -called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China -- over which Asia’s two largest economies have locked horns for months.

Videoconference robot Beam walks the walk at SXSW AUSTIN, Texas, March 12, 2013 (AFP) - After a long day at the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive trade show, Susie Kim and her colleagues took a leisurely twoblock stroll back to their hotel in downtown Austin.

be there,” he said.

Except that Kim never left her office in southern California, on the other side of the country.

So in lieu of traveling half-way around the world, a designer in New York or London, for instance, can use a Beam to zip around a factory floor in China to inspect an assembly line in real time and talk to colleagues on the spot.

Nor did her other colleagues at Suitable Technologies who virtually attended SXSW via Beam, a remote-controlled videoconference robot that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. The “remote presence device,” as its manufacturer likes to call it, has been a breakthrough hit at this year’s SXSW, a 10-day showcase for innovative technology, indie film and new music that wraps on Sunday. Using the cursor keys on her computer, users can twist and move a Beam in any direction they like -- enabling them to just roll up to someone and say hello, or walk alongside people while keeping up a conversation. “People loved it. They took pictures. We chatted,” Kim told AFP via Beam on Tuesday, recalling the walk back to the Hyatt the night before with Suitable Technologies CEO Scott Hassan, the only Beam team member physically at SXSW. “You don’t see a robot walking and navigating itself every day. It’s kind of fun” -- although Kim acknowledged, that once at the hotel, Hassan “obviously had to help me press buttons for the elevator.” Fewer than 100 Beams have been made since manufacturing began in California in November, and they don’t come cheap -- $16,000 each, or the price of a compact car in the United States, plus $3,200 for service and support. But Hassan, part of the team that developed a search engine at Stanford University that came to be known as Google, sees big potential for the useful gadget that stands a humanly five feet two inches (1.57 meters) tall. “Basically any time you need to have a face-to-face meeting with someone, or where physicality is important, you can substitute a Beam for it and then you can

All that’s required is an Internet or mobile data connection. The Beam itself is battery powered and comes with a custom docking station.

Surgeons in one place can similarly take their place alongside colleagues in a hospital operating theater in another, lending their observations and expertise to those actually wielding the scapels. “We think this is a good way to lower health costs all around the world,” said Hassan, adding that Beam is working on a new model with a high-definition zoom camera especially suited for precise medical applications. In time, depending on demand, “we might build a unit for the consumer market,” he said, raising the prospect of using a Beam to go to a family reunion without, er, actually going. Basketball legend turned tech tycoon Shaquille O’Neal came up with yet another mission for Beam when he discovered it at SXSW over the weekend and expressed interest in supporting the venture. Instead of making a personal appearance for, say, a store opening, celebrities can just turn up on a Beam and interact with their fans, without leaving their home or movie set, said Kim, recalling her conversation with him. For now, however, the target market for Beam are businesses that operate in several countries and looking to improve on the static nature of existing videoconference technology. With Beam, said Kim, “you’re not just on a computer screen. “I can walk and talk with you from the conference room to your desk and then go with you to the kitchen and have coffee. You get more of that cultural interaction with each office -- and I think people really love interaction.”

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Cuba demolish Taiwan to keep WBC hopes alive TOKYO, March 9, 2013 (AFP) - Powerful Cuba belted four home runs in a 14-0 demolition of Taiwan on Saturday which kept alive their hopes of a first World Baseball Classic title.

United could face City clash in Cup semis LONDON, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - Manchester United will face bitter rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals if Alex Ferguson’s team can win their quarter-final replay against Chelsea. United learned the Cup draw had given them a potential Wembley showdown with City just minutes after being forced to settle for a frustrating 2-2 home draw against Chelsea, who recovered from two goals down to set up a replay at Stamford Bridge. If United do go through to face City, 5-0 winners over Barnsley in their quarter-final on Saturday, it will be the third successive season the old enemies have met in the FA Cup. They clashed in the 2011 semi-finals at Wembley, with Yaya Toure’s goal giving City a 1-0 victory, while United were 3-2 winners in the third round at Eastlands last season. In the other semi-final, Premier League strugglers Wigan, making their first ever appearance in the last four, will face Championship opposition in either Millwall or Blackburn, who face a replay at Ewood Park on Wednesday after sharing a 0-0 draw on Sunday. Wigan reached the semi-finals with a surprise 3-0 win over Everton on Saturday and Latics chairman Dave

Whelan revealed he may lead the team out himself if they face Blackburn at Wembley. As a player, Whelan suffered a broken leg playing for Blackburn in the 1960 Cup final against Wolves and he would love to meet his old club at the English national stadium. “The dream is there,” Whelan told Sky Sports News. “All Blackburn have got to do now is get through the replay and my dream is on, I can go to Wembley and we can play against Blackburn. “When you’ve been to Wembley and got what I got, a broken leg and Rovers went on to lose 3-0, it’s very upsetting. I feel I’ve got unfinished business at Wembley. “(Manager) Roberto (Martinez) has asked me to lead them out at Wembley and if we get Blackburn, I may just say yes.” Draw for the English FA Cup semifinals made on Sunday: Millwall or Blackburn v Wigan Manchester United or Chelsea v Manchester City Ties to be played at Wembley on the weekend of April 13/14.

Frederich Cepeda’s two-run homer got them off and running in the first inning and Yasmany Tomas hit another for three runs in the fourth, before Jose Abreu and Alfredo Despaigne both knocked it out of the park in a sixth-inning rampage. The thumping win, which was brought to an early halt after Cuba had a more than 10-point advantage after seven innings, revived the campaign of the 2006 finalists after Friday’s shock loss to the Netherlands. Cuba will now face the losers of Sunday’s clash between Japan, the two-time defending champions, and the Netherlands for a spot in the second round’s final game on Tuesday. But defeat spelled the end of Taiwan’s campaign after the round one co-hosts narrowly lost to Japan 4-3 on Friday. “I told my men,’We have no more game if we lose this one. We got to score first to put the brakes on the opponents,’” Cuba manager Victor Mesa said. “We did score first and produce the result,” he said. “Whoever come our way next, we have no choice but to fight on.” Taiwan manager Hsieh Chang-Heng used five pitchers in a vain effort to stop Cuba. “The average level of pitchers must be kept high. But we have an uneven level of pitchers and it is difficult for us in fielding them,” Hsieh said. “Taiwan, as they are now, may play well in one game but they slip back in the next game to suffer a big defeat.”

Cepeda’s two-run homer off Taiwan starter Lo Ching-Lung into the right stand put Cuba ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first. Taiwan squandered a scoring chance with two outs in the second inning when Kuo Yen-Wen grounded out with runners on the first and second bases. Lo walked Erisbel Arruebarruena at the start of Cuba’s third-inning offensive and let him reach second base on a sacrifice bunt by Guillermo Heredia. Manager Hsieh changed their pitcher to left-hander Yang Yao-Hsun to stop the Caribbean guns. But they had to pull him out in the next inning after he allowed Cuba a four-run blitz including the three-run homer by right-fielder Tomas. “We knew it was a crucial game for us and we had to move forward,” said the 22-year-old Tomas. “I hit a homerun very timely to push the team move forward and I am glad about that.” Taiwan put another runner in a scoring position with two outs in the fifth inning after catcher Kao Chih-Kang was walked and reached second base on a grounder by Kuo. But Yang Dai-Kang popped up, drawing a collective sigh from Taiwan supporters among a sparse crowd of 13,000 at the 46,000-seat Tokyo Dome. Cuba’s red machine hit top gear in the sixth with eight runs including two homers by Abreu and Despaigne, forcing Taiwan to change their pitcher twice. The game was called at the end of the seventh inning as Cuba’s lead had surpassed 10 runs.

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SPORTS Woods claims WGC-Cadillac Championship

MIAMI, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - Tiger Woods captured the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Blue Monster course Sunday with a closing round of one-under 71 for a two-shot victory over fellow American Steve Stricker. Woods earned his 76th career PGA Tour win and posted his second victory of the year as he steps up his game ahead of the upcoming Masters tournament in April. Woods improved to 40-2 with the outright lead going into the final round on the PGA Tour, fending off a star-studded leaderboard on Sunday to finish at 19-under 269. The 14-time major championship winner Woods sank his final putt, picked up the ball and put it in his right pocket before waving his black cap to the crowd on No. 18. “I played well this week,” said Woods, who collected $1.5 million in prize money. “It was one of those weeks where I felt good about the way I was playing and I made some putts. I pretty much got it rolling.” The 37-year-old Woods posted his 17th career WGC victory, though it was only his first in four years. He has not won a major title in almost five years but hopes to change that with a win in the 77th Masters running April 11-14. Woods has won a handful of PGA tournaments over the past two years but this was his first in some time against an elite field with most of the top 50 players in the world competing. Woods made it interesting at the end by making bogey on two of his last three holes. He needed just 100 putts over the four rounds, the fewest he’s had in his career in a 72-hole tournament. “It feels good, especially to play that well this entire week on a difficult set up,” Woods said. “The greens got really quick

out there today. If you left the ball in the correct spot, you could be pretty aggressive and shoot a good number. “If you didn’t, boy you had to putt so defensively. The wind was moving the balls on the greens.” Stricker closed with a four-under 68 to finish at 17-under-par 271. Despite the impressive rally, he couldn’t make up the difference between himself and Woods and finished runner-up for the second time this season. Woods’s playing partner Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, posted a double-bogey on the final hole to finish at even-par 72. He was joined in third place at minus-14 by Sergio Garcia (69), Phil Mickelson (71) and Adam Scott (64). McDowell blamed his putting for his downfall.

Lee beaten in All-England final Birmingham, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - World number one Lee Chong Wei, who deferred retirement after the Olympics to make a few last attempts on the major titles, found himself denied in Sunday’s final of the All-England Open. Lee also found himself with an impressive new rival, Chen Long, a 24-year-old from Shashi, who fought off brave fightbacks by the favorite in each game to triumph 21-17, 21-18. Last year Lee lost the title to Lin Dan. Now the Chinese legend may have a good successor, on the evidence of Chen’s marvelous containment and rallying ability, and increasing patience and judgement on when to make pouncing attacks. Chen also carried himself like a champion. He never panicked when the match got tight, and handled the pressure like a player who may go on to win many more big titles. “This is very important - a top, world class tournament, and winning it has given me a lot of experience,” he said. “I am very excited about that.”

“I can’t fault my ball striking this weekend,” McDowell said. “Tee to green I did everything I had to do.

It suggests that Lin may not need to come out of semi-retirement and make an attempt to defend the world title in Guangzhou in August for China to win it again.

“But as these greens got firmer, faster and crustier, my pace and my speed got slower and slower. I wasn’t putting with the same authority I had on Thursday and Friday.”

For Lee this was a disappointment. The 30-year-old started both games slowly. He was 0-7 down before he got going, and 1-6 down in the second game, and both deficits proved a little too much to make up.

American Keegan Bradley had a 71 to end alone in seventh at 12-under 276.

He moved beautifully as usual, but could not force his attacks through Chen’s brilliant defense when he tried to ambush the second seed, and did not have quite enough energy in the tank to apply pressure with a few extra-fast rallies.

World number one Rory McIlroy fired a seven-under 65 to finish in a tie for eighth at minus-10. He was joined by 2012 champion Justin Rose (68), Peter Hanson (70) and Michael Thompson (73). McIlroy said he feels much better about his play after admitting recently he made a mistake by pulling out of the Honda Classic tournament earlier this month. “I was pretty down about my game coming into this week,” McIlroy said. “A few days like I’ve played, it does my confidence a world of good.”

He did fight hard, getting back to 17-19 in the first game and to a brief lead at 15-14 in the second. But Chen’s speed and consistency never slackened or wavered and proved decisive, as Lee conceded. “This was my best,” said Lee, “I was frustrated that there were certain shots which appeared impossible (to return) but Chen Long got to them when I thought I had

deserved the point. He played very well. “But I won’t be down about it. I will try and try and try to get back at him.” Earlier, Tine Baun became the oldest All-England women’s singles winner of the open era when she beat the youngest singles finalist, Ratchanok Intanon, in an uniquely emotional final. The 33-year-old’s 21-14, 16-21, 21-10 win over the 18-year-old brought to an end the career of one of the outstanding players of the past ten years, and the only one to threaten Chinese dominance. The Dane decided to compete this year as a “last adventure” but instead, as seventh seed, surprised herself by winning the All-England title back and taking it a third time. Her young Thai opponent, the youngest world junior champion at the age of 14, was not far from spoiling the script with her wonderful movement and wide range of strokes. Intanon was ahead early on, and began to move Baun around much more in the middle of the match. But she was, she admitted, nervous, and could not play her best in the decider. To a significant extent she was prevented from doing so. Baun did that by clearing the shuttle into difficult positions, getting many of the rallies played at the net, and varying the rhythm of the action. Nevertheless, Intanon is a name which looks likely to be on the champions’ list soon. But the real drama was in Baun’s life story. She might easily have decided not to play this, her favorite tournament, again. She had already decided she would like to start a family, with her physio, Martin Baun. And when she played, it was principally with ideas of leaving the sport with a flourish. “What’s happened is absolutely amazing,” she said. “It’s exceeded all my expectations. I am not sure of all my emotions right now. But of all the successes, I think this feels the best.”

Georgia Asian Times March 15-31, 2013

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HEALTH Study links HIV infection to heart attack risk WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 (AFP) - Being HIV-positive raises a person’s heart attack risk by about 50 percent, said a study released Monday that confirms earlier findings. The study looked at 82,459 US veterans, the vast majority of them men. It was published in Archives of Internal Medicine, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It said that in three age groups, the average incidence of heart attack was consistently and significantly higher for people who are HIV-positive, compared to uninfected veterans. After adjusting for illness, smoking, alcohol consumption and risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, the HIV-positive subjects in the study had a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack than uninfected people. The research was led by Matthew Freiberg of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Several studies have shown that chronic activation of the immune system because of HIV infection prior to antiretroviral therapy seems to cause inflammation that apparently speeds up the aging process and leaves a person more vulnerable to illnesses associated with growing older. A study published in July by the JAMA showed that people who are HIV-positive have twice the risk of heart attack or stroke compared to uninfected people. The authors of that study linked this increased risk to inflammation of the arteries.

US implant device helps prevent clotting: study WASHINGTON, March 10, 2013 (AFP) - An implant device designed by US firm Boston Scientific to prevent strokes in high risk people helps avert blood clotting, a new study said.

The results show that “the device performed similar to warfarin with a rate ratio of 1.07”, said the report, presented at an annual conference of the American College of Cardiology.

vein in the groin.

The umbrella-shaped device called “Watchman” can also serve as an alternative to treatment with anticoagulants of patients suffering from arterial fibrillation, a study by the manufacturer said.

“The results ... add to the wealth of previously published data confirming the utility of the ‘Watchmen’ device as an option for the reduction of stroke in high risk patients,” said Kenneth Stein, chief medical officer with the cardiac rhythm management department of Boston Scientific.

“Watchman” was approved for sale in Europe in 2005 and some countries in Asia in 2009, according to Boston Scientific.

The trials involved 407 patients at 41 sites and compared the “Watchman” to warfarin, an anticoagulant medication, said the study, which was presented on Saturday. Of the people surveyed, 269 used “Watchman” and 138 took the blood thinner warfarin.

“’Watchman’ is the only device-based alternative to anticoagulation that has undergone rigorous scientific study,” he added.

Atrial fibrillation affects approximately 15 million patients worldwide. Â Patients have a five times greater risk of stroke.

The results of the study will be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration as part of a process to obtain approval for its marketing in the United States.

“Watchman” is introduced into the heart via a catheter that goes through a

Niacin therapy unhelpful, occasionally harmful: study WASHINGTON, March 9, 2013 (AFP) - A combination drug containing niacin failed to lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes and even proved harmful for some with vascular disease, a study released Saturday reported.

Indeed, the combination drug used in the study -- made by US pharmaceutical giant Merck and combining extended release niacin with laropiprant -- is already approved in 70 countries, though not the US.

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, has for years been widely prescribed to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

But when tested against a placebo in more than 25,000 patients, it failed to reduce the numbers of heart attacks, strokes or other serious cardiovascular problems.

The link between high levels of LDL cholesterol and heart disease is well-documented, and doctors work to mitigate that risk with diet and lifestyle changes as well as a variety of medications.

Even more worryingly, the study showed unexpectedly higher levels of bleeding and infections in the group taking the drug versus the placebo.

But even with these protocols in place, heart disease and stroke claim lives and cause damage, so scientists continue searching for ways to improve the treatment. Niacin -- in doses about 100 times higher than the recommended amount from food -- was thought to be helpful.

And the group taking the study drug also showed higher levels of other side effects, including new cases of diabetes and complications for previously-diagnosed diabetes, as well as rashes and diarrhea. “We are disappointed that these results did not show benefits for our patients”, said Jane Armitage, lead author of the study, which included more than 25,000 subjects.

But she and her fellow authors said the result is important, because it gives evidence that the risks of niacin outweigh the benefits when used with current treatments. Armitage said it was unlikely the poor outcome could be linked to the second component of the drug, laropiprant, which was included to reduce the facial flushing caused by niacin. The lack of benefit on heart attacks and strokes is consistent with another recent, smaller-scale study of niacin, which did not use laropiprant, and many of the side effects are known to be due to niacin, she explained. Because of the results of this research, Merck has withdrawn its application for FDA approval of the drug and suspended its sale around the world.

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March 15-31, 2013 Georgia Asian Times

Misc Asia

Japan’s huge quake heard from space: study WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 (AFP) - The colossal earthquake that sent a devastating tsunami barreling into Japan two years ago on Monday was so big it could be heard from space, a study has said. A specially fitted satellite circling the Earth was able to detect the ultra-low frequency sound waves generated by the massive shift in the planet’s crust, when the 9.0-magnitude quake struck. Nearly 19,000 people died because of the towering tsunami it caused, which crushed settlements and swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sparking meltdowns that displaced tens of thousands of people. “The atmospheric infrasounds following the great Tohoku earthquake... induced variations of air density and vertical acceleration of the GOCE platform,” said a report published in the US-published journal Geophysical Research Letters. The Gravity Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is a super-sensitive satellite run by the European Space Agency. Scientists say earthquakes not only create seismic waves that travel through the planet’s interior, but large tremors also cause the surface of the

planet to vibrate like a drum. This produces sound waves that travel upwards through the atmosphere. GOCE is designed to capture and register these signals, acting like an orbital seismologist. According to the report, the magnitude 9.0 tremor on March 11, 2011 sent a vast ripple through the atmosphere that caused air waves to accelerate. “These perturbations were due to acoustic waves creating vertical velocities up to 130 metres per second,” it said. The satellite first recorded the signal as it passed over the Pacific Ocean about 30 minutes after the quake and then again 25 minutes later as it moved across Europe. “Seismologists are particularly excited by this discovery because they were virtually the only Earth scientists without a space-based instrument directly comparable to those deployed on the ground,” said Raphael Garcia from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France. “With this new tool, they can start to look up into space to understand what is going on under their feet.”

Bali mulls ‘no sex’ signs after couple caught in temple DENPASAR, Indonesia, March 8, 2013 (AFP) - Officials on the Indonesian island of Bali are considering putting up “no sex” signs at Hindu temples after a lusty Estonian couple were caught in the act. Police took the pair in for questioning after they were found by youth leaders who had gone to check up on repairs at the temple in the village of Saraseda. “They said they really did not know that sex at temples was prohibited in Bali, so we just let them go and left it up to the village heads to decide how to handle the case,” said Gianyar district police chief Hadi Purnomo on Friday.

An official at the Japan Meteorological Agency, the main body that monitors earthquakes in Japan, said it was unusual to be using a satellite for this kind of analysis. “Generally speaking, earthquakes are monitored using land-based seismographs. Satellites are not used to monitor earthquakes when they strike,” he said. But he said the agency would welcome it if the satellite provided a technical breakthrough to advance the study of earthquakes.

“In the end, the village decided they wanted to hold a cleansing ceremony and ordered the couple to pay 20 million rupiah ($2,000) to fund the ritual.” The couple admitted they had also used the temple’s outdoor shower before having sex, Purnomo said, and apologized. District officials are now discussing whether to add “no sex” signs to the temples besides the usual “no eating” and “no smoking” warnings.

The agency uses some 250 seismographs on land in addition to about three dozen underground units and about 10 seismographs placed on the bottom of the Pacific waters off Japan, he said.

Georgia Asian Times March 15-31, 2013

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Misc Asia Main accused in Delhi gang-rape found dead in cell NEW DELHI, March 11, 2013 (AFP) - The main accused in the fatal gangrape of a student on a bus in New Delhi last December was found dead in his prison cell Monday, prompting fury from the victim’s family and accusations of murder. Officials at the maximum-security Tihar Jail in the Indian capital said bus driver Ram Singh, 34, had hanged himself with a makeshift noose which he tied to a grille on the ceiling of his cell. But Singh’s parents said their son had been previously assaulted in prison and had told them about threats to his life, while his lawyer said the death should be treated as murder. Singh was one of six people on trial over the notorious gang-rape on December 16 which appalled India and brought simmering anger about endemic sex crime to the boil. “He tied all his clothes together and used the ceiling grille and a wooden stool to hang himself,” said the prison’s law officer Sunil Gupta, adding that he was found dead shortly before dawn.

“We don’t understand how could the police fail to protect Ram Singh. They knew he was the prime accused,” said the student’s father, who cannot be named for legal reasons. “How could they let him choose the way he wanted to die?” The horrifying case, which ignited sometimes violent street protests in December, has led to a toughening of India’s rape laws as well as deep introspection on social attitudes to women and the apparent rise in sex crime. Singh was making regular appearances in a fast-track New Delhi court where the proceedings are subject to a media gagging order. All five adult suspects including Singh pleaded not guilty to charges including rape, murder and kidnapping. A sixth 17-year-old suspect is being tried in a juvenile court where he faces a maximum three years imprisonment. Ram Singh’s father, Mange Lal Singh, admitted that his son had talked of his guilt over the crime.

India’s Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde called the incident “a major lapse” by the prison service and said security would be boosted for four other suspects lodged in Tihar who appeared in court on Monday.

“My son told me that he was ashamed by what had happened on 16 December. He said that he would accept whatever punishment was given to him by the court,” he said near the family’s shack in a New Delhi slum.

“It is a suicide, the preliminary reports show... but we are awaiting the enquiry report to come,” he told a press conference.

He also said that his son, who claimed he had been threatened and sodomised by other inmates, would have struggled to rig up a ligature as a result of a hand injury he sustained in a road accident several years ago.

The family of the victim, a 23-yearold physiotherapy student who was on her way home with a male friend when she was attacked, denounced the jail authorities and said Singh had escaped justice. They have called for all the suspects to be hanged, a punishment used in India for the rarest of crimes.

“He couldn’t have committed suicide with just one hand,” he said. Ram Singh’s attorney V.K. Anand urged police to open a murder inquiry. “If he had committed suicide then he would have left a suicide note,” he said

Demand for China chopsticks killing trees: lawmaker BEIJING, March 11, 2013 (AFP) - A Chinese legislator who heads a forestry company has urged the country to save more trees by reducing the 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks it makes each year, state media say. “We must change our consumption habits and encourage people to carry their own tableware,” Bo Guangxin, the chairman of Jilin Forestry Industry Group, was quoted as telling fellow delegates at the country’s annual parliament session on Friday. China’s chopstick production amounted to 20 million 20-year-old trees, enough to fill Tiananmen Square with 360 layers of the single-use utensil, the Xinhua state news agency cited him as saying. Representatives to the rubber-stamp

Singh’s body has been taken to the government-run Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital in the capital where an autopsy is expected to determine the cause of death. The gang-rape victim died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore where she was transferred for treatment. As well as being repeatedly raped by the men while being driven around the capital, she was also sexually assaulted with a metal bar, leaving her with massive internal injuries.

National People’s Congress meet each year largely to approve decisions already made by the country’s communist leaders. China is the world’s largest consumer and importer of wood, and imposed a five percent tax on disposable chopsticks and wooden floor panels in 2006 in an effort to reduce timber wastage. The country’s demand for foreign wood had tripled since 2000 to reach 180 million cubic metres in 2011, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said in a report last year. The campaign group said the growing appetite for timber -- with at least one-tenth of supplies coming from illegal sources -- meant that “the fate of much of the world’s natural forests is in China’s hands”.

Singh, a widower whose younger brother Mukesh is also one of the accused, was the regular driver of the private bus allegedly used for the crime which was normally used to ferry schoolchildren. He was the first to be arrested after the attack when the police pulled over the vehicle the next day. Detectives immediately became suspicious because the seats of the bus had been freshly cleaned.

Georgia Asian Times Vol 9 No 6  
Georgia Asian Times Vol 9 No 6  

Georgia Asian Times covers the multicultural Asian American community in metro Atlanta and Georgia.