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UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK – Malaysia is one of the ten countries which together accounted for over 95% of all new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific region, a report issued by the United Nations says.

The report, compiled by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) “Ending AIDS: Progress Towards the 90-90 Targets”, said the other nine Asia-Pacific countries that had large constituencies of new HIV infections in 2016 are India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand.

It also contains an extensive analysis of the targets set for 2020 when 90% of all HIV-infected people should know their status, 90% of all HIV-diagnosed people should be able to access anti retroviral therapy (ART) and 90% of those taking ART are virally suppressed.

For the first time in the fight against AIDS, more than half of all people living with the HIV virus now have access to treatment while deaths caused by AIDS had been reduced by nearly 50% since 2005, according to the report.

Based on the report, HIV infections in these ten countries occurred mainly among sex workers and their customers, gay men and other men who had sex with men, people using drugs by injections, transgender people and others.

However, one silver lining spotted in the region is that the annual figures of new HIV infection showed a 13% decline during the last six years – from some 310,000 in 2010 to 270,000 in 2016.

Another encouraging development, according to the report, is that some 19.5 million of the world’s 36.7 million HIV-infected people had access to treatment, which showed AIDS-related deaths declining from 1.9 million in 2005 to one million.

The target is to put 30 million people worldwide on treatment by 2020, according to the report. — Bernama

 

SUNGAI PETANI – One of two men riding a motorcycle who were believed to be secret society members hurled a molotov cocktail in front of the main perimeter fence of the Kuala Muda District Police Headquarters, here early yesterday morning.

Kedah Police Chief Datuk Asri Yusoff said that in the 3.35 am incident, a small fire broke out in front of the main fence of the police station and a bottle hurled by the man was suspected to contain petrol.

He said that before the incident, two policemen manning the guard post there had seen two men aged between 20 and 30 years trying to place something at the main gate and were told off by the policemen.

“The suspects later fled on a yellow-coloured motorcycle (SYM Sport Bonus) but the registration number was not ascertained. One of the suspects had hurled a bottle which was believed to be self-made firebomb.

“The policemen later made a check at the place of the incident and found a small burning trace on the tar in front of the fence and glass shrapnels scattered in the area,” he said at a media conference at the Kuala Muda District Police Headquarters, here last night.

Asri said further investigation by the policemen on guard duty also found a white banner written with the figure 04 and the Nazi logo “To PDRM SOSMA 62 orang kes tembak mati semua India!! Mana Cina Melayu!! Fair Justice 4 All!! – Indians are not your slaves of racism – What was done to us was monsteros and they created a monster!! Last warning for PDRM”.

He said the incident was believed to be related to the arrest of 62 individuals who were believed to be members of the 04 Secret Society in a major raid by the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) around Kedah, Penang and Selangor since last Tuesday.

Asri said police were actively tracking down the suspects concerned and the case was being investigated under Section 506 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation.

Meanwhile, Asri said police were now actively searching for nine people believed to be members of the Gang 35 secret society which is very active in the Sungai Petani area indulging in criminal activities such as drug abuse, intimidation and robbery.

“We have arrested 17 people believed to be members of the Gang 35. The nine people that we are still searching included the two suspects involved in the molotov cocktail incident. We have identified all of them,” he added.

— BERNAMA

 

IPOH – A seven-month-old baby boy survived a fatal accident involving three cars which left three women dead in Gerik yesterday evening.

Muhammad Danial Mirza Saiful Haslim who was on his mother, Roslina Othman’s lap in a Proton Exora sustained minor injuries. His mother however, was seriously injured.

The deceased were identified as Wong Mee Lai, 47; Foke Yoke Wah, 25; and Woke Mei Yong, 44, all from Perak. They were passengers of a Perodua Myvi car.

The other car involved in the collision was a Kia Spectra.

Gerik police chief Supt Ismail Che Isa said the crash occurred about 4.30pm at Kampung Air Kala in Selat Pagar.

He said the Myvi driver, Chong Yah Wen, 23, sustained head and body injuries while another passenger, Wong Mei Chan had minor injuries.

Speaking to Bernama here last night, Ismail said the accident was believed to have occurred when the Myvi which was travelling from Gerik to Kuala Kangsar was hit in the rear by the Kia Spectra, causing it to veer into the opposite lane and collide with the oncoming Exora.

He added that Roslina’s husband and the couple’s two other children were unhurt in the collision.

Ismail said the post-mortem on the deceased was held at the Gerik Hospital while the Kia Spectra’s driver and passenger were detained to facilitate investigations.

— BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – Two senior management staff of two companies are remanded for six days from today to facilitate investigations into the purchase of a four-star hotel in Kingston, London by Felda Investment Corporation (FIC).

Magistrate Nik Isfahanie Tasnim Wan Ab Rahman allowed both men to be remanded after hearing an application from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The two men, aged 36 and 45, the property unit head of a postal service company and director of an asset consulting company respectively are suspected of being involved in the price and property evaluation of the hotel concerned.

They were arrested at the MACC office here at about 1 pm yesterday after they gave statements on the purchase of the property between 2013 and 2015.

Earlier both men, who wore orange lock-up attire, arrived at the court compound at 9.40 am accompanied by MACC officers. – BERNAMA

 

WEST BANK (Palestine) – At least three Israelis have been stabbed to death and a fourth was wounded in a knife attack in the occupied West Bank settlement of Neve Tsuf.

The Israeli army said in a statement on Friday that the four victims were Israeli civilians and that the assailant was also shot. It was not known whether he was killed or wounded.

Israel Radio identified the attacker as a 19-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank village of Khobar near Ramallah.

The attack came after a day of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces over new security measures at al-Aqsa mosque compound – the third holiest site in Islam. Three Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded in the clashes.

Israeli police fired live ammunition, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinians protesting against the new measures, including the barring of Muslim men under the age of 50 from the holy site and the installation of metal detectors.

In one incident, an Israeli soldier, who was carrying a firearm, kicked an unarmed worshipper while he was praying.

The protests come a week after a deadly shoot-out at the occupied East Jerusalem compound, which triggered tensions.

Tensions have risen since police installed the metal detectors in a move Palestinians and other Muslims perceive as a means for Israel to boost its control over the compound containing the al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock.

The controversy has resonated beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories, with the US and the UN Middle East envoy expressing concern.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke with US counterpart Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, urging the White House to intervene, the Palestinians’ official Wafa news agency reported. – Al-Jazeera

 

NEW YORK – Lana Del Rey emerged on the music scene as a haunting figure. She was “Born to Die,” in the words of her breakthrough album, and darkness permeated her sound and worldview.

Five years after “Born to Die,” the prolific singer on Friday put out her fourth major-label album, whose title – “Lust for Life” – would appear to show the inverse mindset.

Yet for the 32-year-old singer, sorrow and joy are intricately interconnected. On “Lust for Life,” she enjoys the world’s pleasures all the while feeling cursed by their ephemerality.

Del Rey carries the album through her quickly recognizable voice, breathy and coquettish yet sauntering with echoes of Nancy Sinatra.

“Lust for Life” builds on Del Rey’s signature cinematic style, melancholic with an aura of classic Hollywood, yet the album also shows touches of hip-hop swagger – most apparent in seamless appearances by rapper A$AP Rocky.

The title track – no relation to punk icon Iggy Pop’s classic “Lust for Life” – brings in emerging R&B superstar The Weeknd, who in his mellifluous falsetto at times reaches a higher range than Del Rey.

Even if the song celebrates life, it opens with a dark allusion to a Hollywood suicide before finding joy in the here and now.

“Take off / Take off all your clothes,” Del Rey intones, as The Weeknd sings, “They say only the good die young / That just ain’t right.”

Del Rey teams up with other major names on the album. Stevie Nicks, her sandy voice smoothly complementing Del Rey’s, joins for “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems,” while Sean Lennon brings a gentle beauty to “Tomorrow Never Came.”

Activism through melancholy

If “Lust for Life” largely stays true to the sound honed by Del Rey, the New York-born singer reaches into new territory as she speaks out, in her own way, on politics.

Del Rey has hardly become a protest singer. But she becomes a uniquely effective voice in turning her forlorn sound into a reflection on the America of Donald Trump.

On “God Bless America – And All Beautiful Women In It,” Del Rey’s gloominess gives way to uplift as she finds solidarity in the masses of women who took to the streets after the shock of Trump’s election.

“May you stand proud and strong / Like Lady Liberty, shining all night long,” Del Rey sings.

The often dour Del Rey is again startling optimistic as she reaches into history on “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing.”

“Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America? No, it’s only the beginning. If we hold on to hope, we will have a happy ending,” she sings.

In a recent interview with Elle UK, Del Rey said it was impossible in the current moment to escape politics: “It would be weird to be making a record during the past 18 months and not comment.”

Yet her lyricism more often takes up loneliness than community.

The singer who scored an early hit with “Summertime Sadness” returns to similar territory on “Summer Bummer,” while “13 Beaches” relates her struggles to find a quiet place in the sand away from paparazzi.

Del Rey closes the album with “Get Free,” a reflection on the clash between gloom and her outreach to the world.

“Sometimes it feels like I’ve got a war in my mind,” she sings. “I want to get off, but I keep riding the ride.” — AFP

 

KOTA BHARU – The extra-ordinary presence of the Kelantan people at programmes organised by UMNO lately should be translated into votes for Barisan Nasional (BN) at the 14th general election, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday.

He said the people’s mandate was crucial for BN to form a government and rule the state as the coalition was determined to develop Kelantan.

“The Kelantan people not only want development, but also the contents. True that there should be a balance between worldly needs and the hereafter, physically and spiritually, but efforts to develop the people are also important,” he said when speaking at the Leader With The People programme at the Kelantan Poverty Foundation Complex in Melor, here today.

The event drew a crowd of about 20,000 people and among those present were UMNO Information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who is also Ketereh Member of Parliament, Kelantan UMNO Liaison chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and his deputy, Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub.

Ahmad Zahid said the BN federal government always gave priority to the well-being of the Kelantan people, although the state was under opposition rule.

“The federal government allocates RM12.7 billion under the 11th Malaysia Plan for Kelantan’s development,” he said.

He said the federal government also gave priority to development of the various sectors in Kelantan, such as education, religion, security and social-economy.

— BERNAMA

 

NEW YORK – Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who overcame a troubled childhood to top the charts with an angry but melodic brand of metal, was found dead Thursday in an apparent suicide. He was 41.

“Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true,” Linkin Park’s guitarist and main songwriter Mike Shinoda wrote on Twitter.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said it received a call just after 9am that Bennington had been found hanging at his home in the luxurious Palos Verdes Estate area.

“It is being handled as a possible suicide,” said Brian Elias, chief of operations at the coroner’s office.

Just hours before his death, Linkin Park had released a video for its latest single, Talking To Myself, whose lyrics took on a new meaning.

The song appears to take the vantage point of Bennington’s wife, Talinda Ann Bentley, as she begs him to control his substance abuse.

Bennington – who had six children from two marriages – had wrestled with alcohol and drugs since he was a pre-teenager and he coped with his parents’ divorce.

Born and raised in Arizona, Bennington said that a family friend abused him starting at the age of seven.

“I was getting beaten up and being forced to do things I didn’t want to do. It destroyed my self-confidence,” he told the British music site Team Rock in 2014.

“Like most people, I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want people to think I was gay or that I was lying,” he said.

He turned his rage into music with a growling metal voice. Linkin Park became one of the leading forces in the wave of so-called nu metal which incorporated pop structures and hip-hop, with Shinoda often rapping in between Bennington’s vocals.

Blockbuster debut

Bennington’s start with Linkin Park sounded like the lore of an earlier era. After unsuccessfully trying to make his mark musically in his native Phoenix, a talent scout heard his voice and arranged an audition in Los Angeles with Linkin Park.

The band quickly found a chemistry with Bennington despite his very different background from Shinoda, a trained classical pianist with a degree in graphic design.

The band, which had floundered before Bennington’s hiring, sealed a record deal with leading label Warner and its debut, Hybrid Theory, became the top-selling album in the United States in 2001.

The album – which has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States – produced hits such as the snarling In The End and Crawling, in which Bennington reveals his helplessness in the face of addiction.

Linkin Park went on to release six more studio albums, all of them entering the top three on the US charts.

The latest album, One More Light, came out in May and marked a stylistic departure for Linkin Park with more pop and electronic influence.

While the sound alienated some longtime fans, Bennington said he did not want to be stuck in the past and welcomed the growing blurring of genres in music.

Linkin Park has won two Grammys – including in a rap category for the collaboration Numb/Encore with Jay-Z.

Days before tour

Bennington in 2013 briefly joined as the frontman of leading grunge act Stone Temple Pilots, filling in for Scott Weiland who died of an overdose shortly afterward.

Bennington had spoken of being moved by the death in May of another grunge great, Chris Cornell, the singer of Soundgarden.

But there had been little public sign of Bennington retreating from the world.

Linkin Park was scheduled to start a tour next week which would include a performance at New York’s Citi Field baseball stadium alongside other major acts from the band’s generation including Blink-182 and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Rockers paid tribute to Bennington including Avril Lavigne, who recalled his kindness when they both played Germany’s Rock Am Ring festival.

“I can’t even deal. Horrible news. To lose one of the best,” she wrote on Instagram. — AFP

DUNGUN – Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seems unable to accept the reality that there are other leaders who are ranked higher than him at the moment, said UMNO Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Rural and Regional Development Minister said the negative attitude was evident when Dr Mahathir described his position in the opposition pact Pakatan Harapan as ‘unofficially’ on par with that of the position of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“Being a president of a party, the position is the same. Mat Sabu (Mohamad Sabu) is also a party president (Parti Amanah Negara). There are various parties in Malaysia, small parties, anybody can become a party president.

“Just remember, the prime minister (Najib) is the president of Umno and chairman of Barisan Nasional chairman),  which controls the current government. Of course, it’s very different,” he said.

Recently, Dr Mahathir said he would chair Pakatan Harapan’s presidential council meetings and would become the ‘top dog’ in the hierarchy of the opposition coalition.

In the meantime, in DUNGUN, Ismail Sabri rural youths who do not have salary slips now have the opportunity to own their own homes through the National Buildings Scheme (RBN) introduced by his ministry.

The scheme was aimed at addressing the problem of home ownership often faced by rural youths,  he

told reporters when launching a housing project in Bandar Ketengah Jaya. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Preserve the greatness of the Malay diaspora, which is now recognised by the world, to enable the Malays to compete with other races at international level, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.

He said the Malay race was now capable of becoming ‘Glocal Malays’ to continue to compete and maintain their greatness to avoid a breakup which could eventually led them to be suppressed in their own country, as happened to other racses.

Among the the greatness of the Malay diaspora are efficiency, diligence, bravery, boldness, perseverance, hard work and with a big soul, as well as being a Muslim, open-minded and practising the Malay culture and speaking the Malay language.

“As Malays, be grateful with Allah’s gift. Preserve this tradition of greatness so that the Malay race will not be like the people of Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Rohingya, who are being oppressed and suppressed in their own country, ” he said in his post at sskeruak.blogspot.my, today.

Salleh said they were not only suppressed in their own country, but were scattered all over the world, such as Australia, Britain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Surinam, Saudi Arabia, China, Madagascar, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States of America.

He estimated them to be about 500 million or about nine per cent of the world population, hence reflecting the Malays as a great race. – BERNAMA