Southern District residents welcome MTR service

The MTR’s new South Island Line opened on Wednesday, with the first train leaving South Horizons on Ap Lei Chau for Admiralty at 5.55am.

Southern District councillor, Lo Kin-hei, was one of those who rode the first train. He said residents in his district are happy with the quicker journey time into the city.

But he expressed concern about congestion at the Admiralty interchange, especially when Ocean Park closes each day, putting extra pressure on the evening rush hour.

Lo told RTHK that residents were also concerned that some bus services may be cancelled.

South Horizons resident, surnamed Pang, said his journey time to Admiralty has been cut short by at least 30 minutes compared to when he had to take a bus, and said he would most likely switch to taking the MTR from now on.

He also said that he’s not concerned about the safety of the driverless trains.

“It seems absolutely fantastic. It’s a nice train. Everything seems to be going very smoothly… Many trains in western countries like England have driverless trains. I think it’s perfectly safe,” he said.

Anger at Georgetown professor over her MONTH-LONG foul-mouthed Twitter rant at Muslim ex-colleague who voted Trump

Anger at Georgetown professor over her MONTH-LONG foul-mouthed Twitter rant at Muslim ex-colleague who voted Trump

  • Asra Q Nomani, a Muslim who voted Trump, says C Christine Fair is harassing he 
  • Fair was allegedly incensed by Nomani’s political choice and insulted her  
  • Nomani says ex-friend Fair told her ‘F**k you’ and ‘go to hell’ in private messages
  • She also says Fair insulted her on Twitter and Facebook from Nov 22-Dec 23
  • Fair is a Georgetown professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies 
  • Nomani has complained to Georgetown, wanting an investigation and apology

Suga says currency policy a top Abe priority


Currency policy is a top priority of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration in creating a favorable business environment for Japanese companies, the country’s top government spokesman told the Nikkei newspaper in an interview that ran on Tuesday.

“It’s extremely important to create an environment where Japanese companies can (smoothly) set business plans,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was quoted as saying, adding that currency policy was an “important factor” in the government’s handling of economic policy.

Suga said the government has taken “various crisis management steps” to arrest unwelcome yen rises that hurt Japan’s exporters, such as creating a meeting of Ministry of Finance, Financial Services Agency and Bank of Japan bureaucrats to discuss exchange rate moves.

“We have a very strong interest” in currency moves, he said.

The Nikkei did not say when the interview was conducted.

Japanese government officials have repeatedly issued verbal warnings to market players against pushing up the yen too much when the currency spiked earlier this year.

But they have been silent recently as a broad dollar uptrend, driven by expectations of steady interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, helps weaken the yen.

Sneak peek at Hong Kong’s first new railway line in a decade

Tens of thousands of Hongkongers flocked to brand new MTR stations on Saturday for a sneak peek at the city’s first new railway line in more than a decade.

Train services were not running ahead of the official opening of the long-awaited South Island Line next Wednesday, but the MTR Corporation invited the public to inspect its four new stations in Southern District and the extended interchange at Admiralty that will link it to the rest of the city’s railway network. Some 28,000 people responded to the invitation.

The HK$16.5 billion line, the first to open since the Disneyland Resort Line in 2005, will feature driverless three-carriage trains and run from South Horizons in Ap Lei Chau to Admiralty via new ­stations at Lei Tung, Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park.

Other new additions are the Kwun Tong Line extension to Ho Man Tin and Whampoa, which opened in October, and the extension of the Island Line from Sheung Wan to Sai Ying Pun, the University of Hong Kong and Kennedy Town in 2014

Malaysia: Cheras doctor accidentally slices off boy’s penis head during circumcision

KUALA LUMPUR: What was supposed to have been a routine circumcision went disastrously wrong for a 10-year-old boy when the doctor accidentally sliced off the head of his penis. The incident occurred on Dec 20 at a clinic in Taman Cheras Utama at 8.15pm. It was learnt that the boy’s father had brought his son to the clinic for the surgery. However, during the surgery, the doctor, using a laser, inadvertently sliced off the glans (head) of the boy’s penis. The doctor informed the father of his mistake, and they then rushed the boy to the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Doctors there then transferred the boy to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for him to undergo surgery to reattach the head of the penis. It is unknown at press time as to whether the reattachment surgery was a success. Upon advice, the boy’s father lodged a police report at the hospital. It is learnt that the clinic where the accident took place had been in operation for 15 years. The doctor in question has 21 years experience, and is a graduate of the University of Karachi, Pakistan. It is learnt that the clinic, however, is not registered under the Health Ministry. It is learnt that the doctor concerned had also lodged a police report and had admitted that it was an accident. Kajang police chief Assistant Commissioner Othman Nanyan confirmed the case.

Read More :

Deaths from botched circumcision climb to 23 in S. Africa

CAPE TOWN, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) — At least 23 people have died from botched circumcision during the summer initiation season in South Africa, authorities said Wednesday.

The deaths occurred despite the “Zero Deaths” campaign launched by the government, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said in its latest update on initiation deaths during the summer initiation season.

“Despite government’s interventions, these tragic incidents seem to persist,” department spokesperson Legadima Leso said.

Most of the deaths were reported in bogus initiation schools, according to Leso.

He said government-dispatched teams will continue to monitor the situation across the country throughout the current initiation season.

“We are urging communities, especially parents, care givers or legal guardians to play their part and support our zero deaths approach during this initiation season – enough is enough,” said Leso.

The message should be clear that those who use the important cultural practice of South Africa to enrich themselves have no place in the communities, Leso said.

“Let us all alert the authorities about bogus initiation schools and those that abduct our children, thus disgracing this important part of our tradition,” he added.

Circumcision is viewed a sacred practice in African cultures, marking a male’s transition from child to adulthood. According to the tradition, young males have to be circumcised as the passage to manhood.

In winter and summer initiation seasons of 2015, approximately 101 initiates lost their lives, most in the Eastern Cape, and in the last 10 years there has been an estimated 1,000 penile amputations.

Slower tax revenue growth in aging Japan puts Abenomics at crossroads


As Japan takes on the elusive challenge of fiscal reconstruction, slowing tax revenue growth is casting a shadow over the future of an aging Japan.

That bodes ill for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has touted recent growth in tax income since taking office in 2012 as one of the achievements of his Abenomics policy mix.

Under a draft fiscal 2017 budget approved by Abe’s cabinet, the government expects a 0.2% increase in revenues from corporate, income and sales taxes to 57.71 trillion yen ($490 billion).

The yen’s advance against other major currencies prompted the government to cut its fiscal 2016 tax revenue estimate from its initial plan by 1.74 trillion yen and issue additional government bonds even before the year ends in March.

Securing stable tax revenues is seen as a top priority at a time when Japan’s aging population is expected to increase already ballooning social security expenses in the years ahead.

“Japan’s tax revenues are easily swayed by currency moves just as we saw in fiscal 2016. We need to think about how to reduce such volatility,” said Takuya Hoshino, an economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“For now, the yen has been weakening (since the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president), which could lift tax income. That said, though, the opposite is also true” should the yen strengthen, Hoshino added.

Earlier this year, Abe postponed raising the country’s sales tax to 10%, originally planned for April 2017, to October 2019 as the economy lacked vigor. The hike is aimed at increasing state revenue to pay for social security.

Japan also relies heavily on issuance of government bonds for revenues, making it an urgent task to improve the country’s fiscal health, which is now the worst among major developed countries.

Debt-servicing expenses, accounting for some 24% of next year’s total spending, are expected to drop 0.4%, after the Bank of Japan’s policy to keep the benchmark 10-year bond yield target at around zero enabled the government to lower its assumed interest rate used in compiling the budget.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said that Japan heeds to implement “a more detailed and credible consolidation plan, including a path of gradual increases in the consumption tax” to sustain confidence in its public finances.

The Paris-based organization added that investment in education and training is required to boost the country’s growth potential.

Ahead of Thursday’s cabinet approval, lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party praised the budget plan as “balanced,” saying money is allocated adequately to boost the economy.

The Japanese economy grew an annualized real 1.3% in the July-September period. Domestic demand remains weak despite efforts by the government and the BOJ to jolt it out of prolonged deflation.

Under the fiscal 2017 budget, the government is seeking to encourage more workers to enter sectors suffering from labor shortages such as nursing care. It also aims to set the stage for industrial innovation as the networking of everything from home appliances to cars and factories progresses.

“It’s obvious that spending on growth areas gets cut when social security costs continue to increase,” said Yasuhide Yajima, chief economist at the NLI Research Institute.

“In terms of limiting annual growth in social security costs and reducing issuance of government bonds, you may say the goals have been achieved,” Yajima said. “But what we need to do is to invest in people.”

By fiscal 2020, the government aims to turn Japan’s deficit in the primary balance into a surplus and achieve 600 trillion yen in nominal GDP under the Abenomics program. For now, however, some economists said neither of the targets appears to be within reach.

Hoshino of the Dai-ichi Research Institute sees a growing trend toward adding fiscal stimulus as the global economy is experiencing low growth.

“When it comes to fiscal spending, it’s often the case that an extra budget is compiled for short-term purposes. But a long-term perspective is more important if Japan aims to achieve economic growth and fiscal consolidation,” Hoshino said.


The Islamization of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Courtesy of the hijrah. Source: Little mosques on the ocean: Halifax welcomes a growing Muslim population | CFJC Today

[Zia] Khan, who co-founded the mosque [the Centre for Islamic Development] about 17 years ago, has watched that change over the last few decades, and has been part of a demographic shift that is slowly changing the complexion of a largely uniform province to include a richer mix of languages, religions and cultural practices.

The numbers appear to bear that out.

The most recent census in 2011 listed Arabic as the third most commonly spoken language or mother tongue in Nova Scotia — at roughly 6,700 people — and second in Halifax, ahead of Mi’kmaq and Chinese.

Many of the Arabic speakers are part of the province’s Lebanese population, much of which is Christian, but a rising number are from other countries like Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

About 1,500 Syrian refugees also arrived in the province this year, boosting the number of Muslims and Arabic-speaking people in communities that many say are responding to the unique demands of a changing population when it comes to language, food and religion.

Gerry Mills, executive director of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, has overseen the arrival of many of the Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia since late last year, and says there have been visible gestures aimed at accommodating the growing Arabic-speaking population, which peaked in the 1990s as people fled conflict in the Middle East.

“In Halifax, I’m starting to see welcome signs and instruction signs and organizations … doing their pamphlets in Arabic, especially this year when we’ve seen a lot of people at one time speaking one language coming into the province,” she said, adding that some sports facilities, libraries and banks are now posting signs in Arabic.

“If you go into the banks and the grocery stores, you’ll begin to see people who clearly don’t have English as their first language. I don’t think you used to see that 15 years ago, but you do see that now and that’s wonderful.”

Hijabs are no longer an uncommon sight in the city’s core. And most Nova Scotians are learning to see immigrants as a solution to the aging province’s demographic crisis.

When Khan arrived there was one mosque in Halifax. Now, there are at least five, along with several halal grocery stores, markets and restaurants.

The rise in the number of people who speak Arabic in the city attracted the attention of Montreal-based radio station, Radio Middle East, an all-Arabic channel which began broadcasting remotely in Halifax in April, with plans to open offices this spring.

“Not everyone has encountered an Arab or Muslim, especially in Nova Scotia, and some people may not have ever had a friend who wasn’t white.”

The subtle bashing of white, Canadian, non-Muslims is ironic coming from Muslims who think Islam is a race. Many in Halifax probably wish they never had encountered Muslims. Like some of these folks: