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Palestinian rivals to try reconciliation

Written By kemala yuspita on Rabu, 23 April 2014 | 21.31

PALESTINIAN officials say Hamas and the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas are making a new attempt to overcome the Palestinians' political split by holding general elections in seven months.

Similar agreements were reached in principle in the past but never implemented.

The Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Both sides have become entrenched in their territories.

Abbas sent a delegation to Gaza this week for reconciliation talks.

Bassam Salhi, one of those sent by Abbas, said on Wednesday that under an emerging agreement, a joint interim government would be formed within five weeks, followed six months later by elections.

A Hamas official confirmed the outlines of the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.

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NASA satellites used to protect reef

Written By kemala yuspita on Selasa, 22 April 2014 | 21.32

OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD techniques are being used to help protect one of the world's greatest natural wonders.

Researchers at James Cook University in north Queensland are using images from NASA satellites to study the impact of polluted land run-off on the Great Barrier Reef.

The researchers say river flood plumes from heavy rain or cyclones push polluted water, containing pesticides and fertilisers, into the reef.

Dr Caroline Petus, from the university's TropWATER program, says the publicly available images can be effectively used to map the extent, nutrient content and muddiness of flood plumes.

It replaces the need for costly and labor-intensive methods like using submerged data loggers or boats and helicopters to gather water samples, she said.

The images will be used develop river plume maps for the reef's seagrass and coral ecosystems, which are in decline.

"These maps will help our understanding of the resilience of these ecosystems to water quality changes," Dr Petus said.

"In the near future they should help us predict ecosystems' health changes associated with human activities or climate change."

Seagrass expert Dr Michael Rasheed said the new information would help researchers better understand flood plume impacts, leading to better management of the reef.

"It is often difficult to determine whether declines in seagrass beds are due to polluted river run-off or coastal development such as dredging around a port," he said.

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Comcast 1Q earns surge

COMCAST Corp says its first-quarter net income rose by 30 per cent as ad revenue surged at broadcast network NBC.

The results, released on Tuesday, beat Wall Street estimates and its shares edged up in morning trading.

Comcast is the largest cable company in the country with 22 million video customers and 21.1 internet customers.

It is in the midst of an expected yearlong review of its $US45 billion ($A48 billion) acquisition of No. 2 rival Time Warner Cable Inc.

Regulators are examining whether the combination would give it undue pricing power over customers and too much leverage with programmers.

Its net income in the quarter through March rose to $US1.87 billion, or 71 cents per share, from $US1.44 billion, or 54 cents per share a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, adjusted earnings came to 68 cents per share, beating the 64 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue grew 14 per cent to $US17.41 billion from $US15.31 billion - also higher than the $US16.99 billion expected by analysts.

NBCUniversal revenue grew 29 per cent to $US6.88 billion while cable services revenue grew 5 per cent to $US10.76 billion.

Olympics broadcast rights boosted NBCU revenue by $US1.1 billion.

Even excluding the games, broadcast revenue rose 17 per cent, helped by Fallon's selection for NBC's late night slot, replacing longtime host Jay Leno.

The network was also boosted by more hours of The Voice and the popularity of new shows such as The Blacklist.

On the cable connections side, Comcast added 24,000 video customers during the quarter, the second quarterly gain in a row following a six-and-a-half year losing streak.

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NAB lags on business customer ratings

Written By kemala yuspita on Minggu, 20 April 2014 | 21.31

NATIONAL Australia Bank continues to lag behind its major rivals when it comes to business customer satisfaction, despite a slight improvement.

NAB, Australia's biggest business lender, had an average customer satisfaction rating of 7.0 out of 10 in March, which lagged behind ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, which all scored 7.4.

But according to the monthly DBM Consultants Business Financial Services Monitor (BFSM), NAB has improved its standing among small and medium sized business.

DBM Consultants director Maria Claridad said the NAB ranked alongside the Commonwealth and Westpac in both categories, with ANZ lagging behind.

However, the bank's performance had been weighed down by its relatively weak standing among micro businesses.

"The key is to delight the micro businesses, as they make up close to 90 per cent of all Australian businesses," she said.

"NAB's score amongst these businesses is 6.9, although it has shown signs of improving in recent months."

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Two killed in Bahrain car bomb explosion

Written By kemala yuspita on Sabtu, 19 April 2014 | 21.31

TWO people have been killed and a third seriously injured when a car exploded in Bahrain.

The three were inside the vehicle when two successive explosions took place.

Police investigating the scene in Muqsha, north of the capital Manama, said explosive materials were inside the car.

Residents said one of the people was wanted by the police.

A hardline Shi'ite opposition movement, al-Wafa, released the names of the two dead and called them martyrs.

Further details were not immediately available.

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Bin Laden library causes storm in Pakistan

Written By kemala yuspita on Jumat, 18 April 2014 | 21.31

A DECISION by an Islamic seminary for women to name its library after former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has caused a controversy in Pakistan's capital.

Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque, known for its alleged links to militant groups, renamed the school's existing library Maktbah Usama bin Laden Shaheed - Urdu for Osama bin Laden, the martyr.

Aziz said the main objective of the initiative was to show "respect" for bin Laden.

"He is our hero, and we do not care if the world calls him a terrorist," the cleric said.

The library is situated in the centre of Islamabad, about half a kilometre from the headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence agency, which has been accused of protecting the former al-Qaeda chief before he was killed by the US military in 2011 during a raid in Pakistan.

Commentators have referred to the renaming of the library as inappropriate and have branded it an embarrassment for the government and its security institutions, which have come under fire for failing to curb the activities of extremist groups.

"It is a huge embarrassment," security expert Hasan Askari Rizvi said.

"It shows that the government is confused, and it does not have a clear policy towards the groups who cherish al-Qaeda ideology."

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Fourteen killed in Syria car bombing

A POWERFUL car bomb has exploded outside a mosque in a pro-government district of central Syria, killing 14 peoples, state-run Syrian television reported.

The bombing occurred as worshippers left the Bilal al-Habshi mosque on the edge of Akrama after attending Friday prayers, the report said.

The area, populated mainly by Alawites, members of President Bashar Assad's minority sect, has repeatedly been targeted by car bombs in recent months.

The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said the explosion killed at least nine people, adding that the number likely would rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition.

The attack coincides with a crushing offensive by government forces aimed at retaking the last rebel bastions in the historic quarters of the old city of Homs.

The last few days has seen some of the fiercest fighting there in months.

Activists say more than 150,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it began in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests calling for Assad's ouster.

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India election marred by rebel threats

Written By kemala yuspita on Kamis, 17 April 2014 | 21.31

INDIANS have cast their ballots on the biggest day of voting in the country's general election, streaming into polling stations even in areas where leftist rebels threatened violence.

Nationwide voting began on April 7 and runs through to May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to be announced four days later.

Among the 13 key states voting on Thursday was Chhattisgarh, now the centre of a four-decade Maoist insurgency that has affected more than a dozen of India's 28 states.

With roadside bombings, jungle ambushes and hit-and-run raids, the rebels aim for nothing short of sparking a full-blown peasant revolt as they accuse the government and corporations of plundering resources and stomping on the rights of the poor.

But authorities say that amid the bloodshed, there are signs that the rebels have waning support - including lines of voters shuffling into polling booths in rebel strongholds.

"I want a good life for my baby, security and peace," said Neha Ransure, a 25-year-old woman who was voting in the Chhattisgarh town of Rajnandgaon.

"The rebels are bad. They kill our soldiers. I don't go outside of town. It is too dangerous."

Rebels always threaten to disrupt Indian elections, and this year is no different.

While Rajnandgaon was peaceful on Thursday, rebels set off a bomb near a group of polling officials and security forces in the neighbouring district of Kanker but no one was hurt, police said.

Another blast injured three paramilitary soldiers and a driver in the state of Jharkhand, where they also blew up railway lines.

More than 4800 people, including about 2850 civilians, have been killed nationwide since 2008 in what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called India's biggest internal security threat.

Despite the rebel calls for an election boycott, voter turnout was 59 per cent last week in the rebel's unruly heartland of Bastar.

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Royals to visit Easter Show

THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will join thousands of Australians at the Royal Easter show, though it's not known if they'll have a chance to taste a Dagwood dog.

William and Kate are scheduled to meet students and teachers on Friday before viewing exhibits and a crafts exhibition at the show.

The pair will then view sheep shearing and wool handling, meet the 2013 Wool4Skool program winner - who designed a dress for the Duchess of Cambridge - and sign the visitor book.

They will then trade the show bags and rides for a visit to Manly's Bear Cottage palliative care hospice in the afternoon, where they will meet young patients, families, volunteers and staff.

Sydneysiders will be able to catch a glimpse of the royals when they visit Manly beach and view Surf Lifesaving activities on the sand.

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10 pound Pom arrival lists go online

Written By kemala yuspita on Rabu, 16 April 2014 | 21.31

EDS: Not for use before 0001 AEST Thursday, April 17

CANBERRA, April 17 AAP - No-one was to know it at the time but when the ocean liner Fairsea docked in Sydney in 1958, aboard were some passengers destined to become Australian musical legends.

Fairsea passenger lists show the Gibb family, including future Bee Gees Barry, Maurice and Robin, travelled third class from Southampton to make a new life in Australia.

Also aboard was Red Symons, future lead guitarist of Skyhooks.

They and some million others were referred to as "10 pound Poms", the wave of Britons who emigrated to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s for the princely sum of 10 pounds. They included the parents of Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackman and Julia Gillard.

Their names are on what's termed the "Fremantle Passenger Lists" of 3.5 million immigrants in the period 1897-1963.

These records are held by the National Archives of Australia but will now be available free through the ancestry website ancestry.com.au.

Ancestry.com.au content director Ben Mercer said these lists captured a crucial point in the story of many Australians.

"Fremantle in Western Australia was the first point where many immigrants stopped off before embarking on their new life in Australia," he said in a statement.

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