theSundaily theSundaily en Falling numbers at French anti-Macron protests
Under sunny skies, tens of thousands marched, chanted and waved anti-Macron banners in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other cities.

But the number of demonstrators was down sharply on the last day of nationwide action a month ago, according to the interior ministry, which estimated that 119,500 people took part – a little over half the 200,000 it said took to the streets on May 22.

The hardline CGT union, which fronted the rallies, claimed a far higher turnout of nearly 300,000 – a figure still significantly smaller than its estimate of half a million in May.

The low turnout was seen as a setback for unions and left-wing parties, who have been hoping that the various groups opposed to Macron's liberal reforms will coalesce into a mass movement and eventually force him to back down.

Some left-wingers are even dreaming of a re-run of the huge May 1968 demonstrations that nearly toppled the government of Charles de Gaulle.

But polls also show voters yearning for a firm hand with most saying he should not give into the striking railworkers or students leading the pushback.

"It's a critical moment for Emmanuel Macron's presidency," Stephane Zumsteeg, a public opinion expert from the Ipsos polling group, told AFP.

"Either he shows his ability to reform or he fails, and then it's difficult to know what he will able to do for the rest of his term."

Pressure has been mounting on Macron nearly a year since the 40-year-old centrist swept to power, with a survey by Ifop-Fiducial released Wednesday suggesting that 58% of voters were unhappy with his presidency.

A resolutely upbeat CGT leader Jean-Luc Martinez insisted the resistance was "getting bigger" – a view shared by anti-capitalist politician Philippe Poutou, who told BFMTV channel: "It's only starting to build."

The independent Occurrence consultancy estimated that 15,300 people took part in the main march in Paris, which was marred by isolated clashes between police and far-left activists.

"We're here for public services. We're ready to continue the whole summer, even into September and October," Helene Tricre, a 25-year-old ticket inspector working for the SNCF railway, told AFP at the start of the largely peaceful demonstration.

Rail workers, who embarked Wednesday on their fourth strike since the start of April, were out in force.

Staff at the debt-laden SNCF are striking two days out of every five against plans by Macron to cut job-for-life guarantees and pension privileges for new recruits.

But the number of strikers is down noticeably from two weeks ago.

Only one in three high-speed TGV trains operated Thursday, but this was considerably higher than at the start of April when only one in eight took on passengers.

Standing firm

Macron has vowed to stand firm on plans to make France more competitive, claiming a solid mandate from his election last year in which he swept away the traditional parties that governed for decades.

"I'm doing what I said I would," he told a television interviewer last week.

Opinion polls suggest France remains deeply divided about his leadership, despite a sharp fall in unemployment and a pick-up in investment partly accredited to his business-friendly policies.

An Elabe survey showed Friday that 52% of respondents felt his election has proven "a bad thing".

Another survey, released Wednesday, found 58% were unhappy with his presidency.

"People who generally have a good financial and professional situation support Macron, but among those who aren't so well off, it's much less," said Vincent Thibault, a researcher at Elabe.

"He's really a president facing two Frances," he said.

'Not much sympathy'

Leftists accuse Macron of trying to break up public services, citing his pledge to cut 120,000 public sector jobs over his five-year term.

The government points to France's mounting debt, equivalent to nearly 100% of GDP, in arguing the need to make painful choices.

Thursday's protests included many students who have blocked access to four of the country's 70 universities, angered by plans to make admissions more selective.

Paris's prestigious Sciences Po college – Macron's alma mater – remained partially blocked after students staged a sit-in Wednesday against the president's "dictatorship".

Despite his difficulties, Macron may take heart from divisions in the labour movement.

The more moderate CFDT – France's largest union in terms of membership – refused to take part in Thursday's demonstrations.

"I think the public doesn't understand the different demands, and there doesn't seem to be as much sympathy for the unions as we've seen in the past," said Zumsteeg, the Ipsos pollster. — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 01:22:14 +0000 theSundaily 541498 at
Judge blocks transfer of US 'enemy combatant' to Saudis
In a test case of the Trump administration's policy on Americans who join and fight for jihadist groups, Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a preliminary injunction blocking Defence Secretary Jim Mattis from transferring the unnamed detainee "from US custody", a court document said.

Dubbed "John Doe" in court documents, the man was detained in Syria last September and was turned over to the US military, who moved him to Iraq where he was interrogated by military and FBI officials.

They branded him an "enemy combatant", but after seven months, have not charged him with any crime.

Chutkan's ruling protected the detainee from being moved to another country without being charged or tried.

A transfer could have taken place within hours.

Justice Department lawyers earlier Thursday indicated they would appeal a court order blocking the transfer.

The case is the first of a US citizen detained and accused of joining IS.

Scores of Americans travelled to Iraq and Syria after 2011 to enlist in the group and could pose legal challenges if caught as US and allied forces near elimination of the group on the battlefield.

President Donald Trump has pledged to be tough on Americans who fight for jihadist groups.

Foreign fighter dilemma

But bringing them to trial in US courts could raise difficult issues, including the unresolved question of whether the US military had the legal authority to detain IS fighters.

US, European and other countries are wrestling with how to deal with hundreds of "foreign fighters" now held in Iraq and Syria after the self-proclaimed IS caliphate collapsed.

On Monday the Justice Department gave a required 72 hour notice saying they planned to send "John Doe" to a third country, which has agreed to accept him.

Though the country has not been officially identified, multiple court document references point to Saudi Arabia, and lawyers have not disputed media reports naming the country.

The Justice Department lawyers said that sending him to the third country was an issue of maintaining strong relations with a US ally. But they could not discuss, at least publicly, what would happen to him once he was transferred.

The man has not been charged with a crime in Saudi Arabia, and the United States does not have an extradition treaty with the country, which has imprisoned numerous people with alleged ties to radical jihadists.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the man, asked the court Wednesday to block the transfer, and demanded that he be charged under US law or freed.

"Forcibly rendering him to another country would be an unconscionable violation of his constitutional rights," said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz. — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 01:13:47 +0000 theSundaily 541496 at
US jury will likely get Cosby case next week: Judge
The now frail and isolated 80-year-old entertainer could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, 45, at his Philadelphia home in January 2004.

"The testimony in this case will probably be concluded early next week. That's a big difference in where we were before," Judge Steven O'Neill told the ninth day of proceedings.

"This case will clearly be to the jury sometime next week," he added. The judge had previously told the sequestered jury in Norristown, Pennsylvania that they should allow for a month-long trial.

On Thursday, jurors were treated to a day of science as opposing toxicologists testified about Benadryl, an antihistamine that Cosby says he gave Constand, and Quaaludes, a 1970s "party drug" that he has testified to obtaining with a view to having sex.

Harry Milman, the defense pharmacology and toxicology expert, said Cosby could not have given Constand Quaaludes, because they only ever came in the form of a white pill.

Constand says Cosby gave her three blue pills. The now disgraced megastar maintains that they were three half-dose pills.

Milman said Constand's symptoms were consistent with neither Quaaludes nor Benadryl. Constand says she passed out after taking the pills, waking up to find the actor sexually assaulting her.

But Timothy Rohrig, the prosecution expert in forensic toxicology, said the symptoms were consistent with both Benadryl and Quaaludes.

Alcohol would only enhance each pill's sedative effects, Rohrig said, leading to impaired vision, "mental clouding", dulled senses, short-term memory impact, and would engineer muscle weakness and clumsiness.

Cosby's first trial ended in a hung jury in June last year, with a sequestered panel hopelessly deadlocked after six days of testimony and 52 hours of deliberations.

But it trashed the reputation of the man once adored by millions as "America's Dad" for his role as lovable father and obstetrician Cliff Huxtable on the hit 1984-92 television series The Cosby Show.

The defence called their star witness on Wednesday, a former Temple University colleague, Marguerite Jackson, who claims Constand told her she could set-up a celebrity for cash.

Constand says she recognizes Jackson's name but denies ever rooming with her on basketball away games.

The defence maintains that Constand is a lying, money-grabbing "con artist" who falsely accused the star to bag a US$3.4 million (RM13 million) civil settlement in 2006 as a way out of financial problems. — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 01:09:28 +0000 theSundaily 541494 at
Liberia ex-warlord 'Jungle Jabbah' jailed for 30 years in US
Nicknamed "Jungle Jabbah", 51-year-old Mohammed Jabateh commanded the "United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy" (Ulimo) and later Ulimo-K rebel groups, which engaged in killings, rapes, mutilation and cannibalism during Liberia's 1989-2003 civil war, according to prosecutors.

Jabateh was arrested in March 2016.

It is not the atrocities that will send the former warlord to prison, but rather lying about his past to American authorities as part of his 1998 asylum application and his subsequent bid for permanent residency, which saw him convicted in October of "two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury".

Prosecutors did, however, summon 17 Liberians to testify during the trial about the actions of Jabateh and his men, which allegedly included killing a village leader and bringing his heart to his wife with orders for her to cook it for them.

"This defendant committed acts of such violence and depravity that they are almost beyond belief," US Attorney William McSwain said in a statement.

"This man is responsible for atrocities that will ripple for generations in Liberia. He thought he could hide here but thanks to the determination and creativity of our prosecutors and investigators, he couldn't," McSwain said.

'Our only option'

"This prosecution was our only option under the law and his sentence achieves at least some measure of justice for his victims," he said.

The fact that Jabateh is being held responsible at all is exceptional, as many people involved in the civil war still hold important positions in Liberia.

The establishment of a court for war criminals involved in the conflict, which left about 250,000 people dead, is an extremely sensitive topic.

Fearing for his safety, BBC journalist Jonathan Paye-Layleh recently decided to leave the country after a question about the subject prompted an angry response from Liberian President George Weah.

Journalist Hassan Bility, head of the Global Justice and Research Project, which works to document war crimes and see those responsible brought to justice, said Jabateh's sentencing was "a happy day" for the victims of atrocities in Liberia.

Now it is up to "the Liberian government to make sure other perpetrators are brought to court. We have been pushing for all perpetrators in the Liberian civil war to have their days in court, but the Liberian government has not yet had the courage to do so", Bility said Thursday.

"We will continue to push for that until the government can bring the perpetrators to account for what they did during the war," he said. — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 01:05:01 +0000 theSundaily 541492 at
French MPs roast 'misleading' soya steaks, vegan sausages
Under the measure proposed by a farmer MP, food producers will no longer have the right to use "steak", "fillet", "bacon", "sausage" or any other meaty term to describe products that are not partly or wholly composed of meat.

The regulation, which was tabled in the form of an amendment to an agriculture bill, will also apply to vegetarian or vegan products marketed as dairy alternatives.

Refusals to comply with the regulation will lead to fines of up to €300,000 (RM1.4 million). — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:59:27 +0000 theSundaily 541490 at
RM20m holidays taken up at Penang Matta Fair
Matta honorary secretary-general Nigel Wong said the number of contestants who took part in the Buyers' Contest was also encouraging at 838 contestants with 22,328 entries and a total expenditure of RM4,562,362.50.

Based on a summary report of Penang Matta Fair buyers' contest, the leading domestic destinations were Penang, followed by Sabah, Sarawak, Perak and Selangor. Top international destinations were China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Turkey.

Clara Cherubin today emerged as the lucky winner of a six-day and four-night Hokkaido Holiday Package for two persons worth RM15,000, courtesy of Apple Vacations and Conventions Sdn Bhd.

She said she was shocked when her name was announced as the winner.

"My heart was pumping really fast just now," she said.

Cherubin purchased a travel package to Cambodia during the fair, adding that she had been to several places such as Hong Kong and Macau prior to this.

The 55-year-old international school secretary in Tanjung Bungah said she will definitely return for the fair in September to look out for more offers.

Visitors with a minimum purchase of RM200 at the fair were eligible to win attractive prizes of many international and domestic packages such as cruise holidays and theme park vouchers worth over RM60,000.

The next fair, scheduled for Sept 28-30 at SPICE Arena, will be a bigger one following overwhelming response to this one.]]>
Local Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:05:56 +0000 theSundaily 541409 at
Process to bring home M'sian woman linked to Daesh will take time: Police
Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay (pix) said the process was currently in the early stage of discussions involving the Home Ministry, Wisma Putra and related parties in Syria.

"We will see what the best option is, as we have also identified about 10 other couples who are still there (Syria). We have already met the members of their families to seek the best situation to bring them home.

"However, we also need to know their real situation and locations, whether they are still in Syria or in other countries and once we receive the information, only then we can plan the next course of action," he told reporters after appearing as a panelist in a forum on religious extremists at the Al Hidayah Mosque in Kampung Sungai Penchala here today.

He said any individual who had been to Syria to be involved with the extremist group would be punished though it would depend on the case.

Ayob Khan said that if a child or a woman was involved, they would not be imprisoned but detained in accordance with the Security Offences (Special Measures) (Sosma) Act 2012.

The 30-year-old woman, believed to have fought with Daesh militants in Syria, has sought help from the police and government to rescue her and her four children who were detained in Syria.

Ayob Khan said the woman who contacted her father over two weeks ago said she and her children were in a detention camp while her husband, who was captured by Kurdistan troops was in jail. — Bernama]]>
Highlights Thu, 19 Apr 2018 23:47:11 +0000 theSundaily 541478 at
GE14: DAP hit the ground running
Leading the campaign trail at the Pulau Tikus market this morning, Chief Minister and Air Putih incumbent Lim Guan Eng was accompanied by his cadre, Tanjung Bungah candidate Zairil Khir Johari, Pulau Tikus candidate Chris Lee Chun Kit. and Bukit Bendera candidate Wong Hon Wai.

They started their walkabout and were well-received by the majority of the people at the market.

Market-goers took the opportunity to take photographs with them.

A party member, when met, said it is important to gather feedback from the grassroots and to listen to the people's grouses.

So far, the Penang DAP has only revealed two candidates who will be contesting in the elections.

The announcement will be made in stages before nomination day next Saturday.

BREAKING NEWS Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:52:52 +0000 Edmund Lee 541487 at
US police chief apologises after Starbucks arrests uproar
After the coffee chain moved to repair the damage to its image in the wake of a series of protests at Starbucks outlets, the city's police commissioner Richard Ross told reporters his force also needed to do better.

"It starts at the top and that starts with me," Ross, who is himself African-American, told a press conference in the East Coast city.

"Messaging is important and I failed miserably in this regard. It is obvious the issue of race is indicative of a larger problem in our society and I should not at all be the person that is a party to making anything worse relative to race relations."

Ross was widely criticixed after he initially said his "officers did absolutely nothing wrong" during the arrests which followed a 911 call from a Starbucks worker who said the men were trespassing, after refusing to buy anything.

Police said officers had "politely" asked Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson to leave before finally arresting them. They reportedly asked first to use the bathroom, but were told it was only for paying customers.

A video, which went viral after being posted on social media by a customer, showed several uniformed police officers questioning and then handcuffing the pair despite offering no resistance.

Ross said he himself had "to do better" and that his force now had new policy guidelines over how to deal with a similar situation in the future.

"Previously we did not have such a policy ... but we have a policy now," he said.

"I'm not going into it at this point in time but we will be pushing that out at a later date."

Speaking for the first time about the arrest, Nelson told the ABC network on Thursday that he and Robinson had never been given a chance to explain themselves when the police arrived in the downtown store last Thursday.

"As soon as the officers approached us, they said we have to leave. There was no question of 'was there a problem here between you and the manager (or) what happened?'"

The two men's lawyer Lauren Wimmer has told a CBS affiliate in Philadelphia that they had been waiting for a third man to arrive for a business meeting.

The chain's CEO Kevin Johnson has already apologised and has ordered that all Starbucks stores and corporate offices across the United States close for an afternoon next month to conduct "racial-bias education". — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:32:03 +0000 theSundaily 541485 at
Back from therapy, Kanye announces two albums
The 40-year-old rapper and fashion designer who has likened himself to Michelangelo tweeted that he will release a seven-track album on June 1 and another album a week later with his protege Kid Cudi.

West, who returned to Twitter earlier this week nearly a year after deleting his account, said little about the new albums. But he wrote that his collaboration with Kid Cudi will be called Kids See Ghost.

The husband of socialite Kim Kardashian in 2016 cut short a tour after increasingly erratic behaviour on stage, including alleging that rap mogul Jay-Z was out to kill him and throwing his support behind now-president Donald Trump, a rarity for an African American celebrity.

His associates said he went into therapy for a breakdown and he has made few appearances since – other than showing up shortly after the 2016 election to meet the then president-elect at his Trump Tower residence.

Once known for his introspection, West became become increasingly boastful in his lyricism, interviews and social media postings although he has consistently won high marks for his musical skills.

His last album, 2016's The Life of Pablo, broke from the traditional recording model by initially coming out only through streaming, with West tinkering with it even after its "release". — AFP]]>
World Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:28:35 +0000 theSundaily 541483 at