X-Men Artist Apologizes for Reportedly Anti-Christian, Anti-Semitic Imagery

Oliver Gettell reports: Comic book artist Ardian Syaf has issued an apology for including hidden messages in an issue of X-Men: Gold that have been interpreted by many readers as being anti-Semitic and anti-Christian.

“My career is over now. It’s the consequence what I did, and I take it.”

The panels in question appear to allude to religious and political tensions in Syaf’s native Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

“My career is over now,” Syaf said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday. “It’s the consequence what I did, and I take it. Please no more mockery, [debate], no more hate. I hope all in peace.”

Syaf went on to address his inclusion of the number 212 and the phrase “QS 5:51” in the comic, writing that they were meant to represent “justice” and “love.” He also apologized “for all the noise.”

As reported by Bleeding Cool on Saturday, Syaf’s artwork in the first issue of X-Men Gold appeared to reference hardline opposition to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian governor of Jakarta, as well as anti-Semitic sentiments. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Archaeology: Monkeys Have Used Stone Tools for Hundreds of Years

New archaeological evidence suggests that Brazilian capuchins have been using stone tools to crack open cashew nuts for at least 700 years. Researchers say, to date, they have found the earliest archaeological examples of monkey tool use outside of Africa. In their paper, published in Current Biology, they suggest it raises questions about the origins and spread of tool use in New World monkeys and, controversially perhaps, prompts us to look at whether early human behaviour was influenced by their observations of monkeys using stones as tools. The research was led by Dr Michael Haslam of the University of Oxford, who in previous papers presents archaeological evidence showing that wild macaques in coastal Thailand used stone tools for decades at least to open shellfish and nuts.


Malaysian Cartoonist Draws Attention of Police

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Police Raid Cartoonist’s Office

“They’re trying to keep me quiet. If I was here at the time, I’m sure they would have arrested me, too.”

— Cartoonist Zulkiflee ‘Zunar‘ Anwar Ulhaque

KUALA LUMPUR — James Hookway reports: Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s doodlings aren’t much of a joke for the country’s rulers.Cover-web1

[Zumar’s newest book, “The Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar,” spans the entire sodomy saga. More details and ordering information for the English edition here]

For years, he has poked fun at figures of authority, including Prime Minister Najib Razak and former premier Mahathir Mohamad, becoming part of the cultural landscape in the process. His cartoons have been collected in a series of books and are featured on the country’s most popular Internet news sites. The latest collection focuses on the long-running sodomy trials involving opposition champion Anwar Ibrahim, for which the final verdict is due Feb. 10.

“I started out with too many words. There was too much going on. Now, I try and just use a drawing, and the simpler the better. If people get the message, then they like it, like they are in on a secret.”

Last week, though, with tension in the country mounting ahead of the decision, police raided the cartoonist’s office in a nondescript business park in Kuala Lumpur’s suburbs and seized 149 of his books to assess whether Mr. Zunar should be added to the list of Malaysians to be prosecuted for sedition. Broadly defined, sedition criminalizes speech that could incite contempt toward the government or inflame hostility between the various ethnic groups in the country.

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“They’re trying to keep me quiet,” said the grizzled, 51-year-old Mr. Zunar, whose full name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque. “If I was here at the time, I’m sure they would have arrested me, too.” He was in England when the raid occurred, but is now back at home.

Police officials declined to comment on the investigation.

“The Malaysian government condemned the attack on Charlie Hebdo. But what are they doing here? They are trying to shut me down.”

Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, is Malaysia’s leading political cartoonist. He takes The Wall Street Journal through the evolution of his craft.

That Malaysian authorities are investigating Mr. Zunar at all speaks volumes about how tensions are running high in the run-up to the Anwar verdict.

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His newest book, “The Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar,” spans the entire sodomy saga. It starts in 1998, when the goateed, bespectacled Mr. Anwar, now 67, was fired as deputy prime minister after challenging Dr. Mahathir’s leadership. Mr. Zunar sketches his way through the opposition leader’s first sodomy trial and the six years he spent in prison until his conviction was overturned in 2004, before turning his pen to the current case, which began in 2008.

Now, as before, Mr. Anwar denies allegations, which were made by a male former aide. The government denies Mr. Anwar’s claim that the charges were orchestrated against him. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Divers Retrieve 1 of 2 Black Boxes From Crashed AirAsia Jet

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Divers retrieved one of the black boxes Monday from the AirAsia plane that plummeted more than two weeks ago into the Java Sea, a major breakthrough in the slow-moving hunt to recover bodies and wreckage.

The flight data recorder was found under part of the plane’s wing and brought to the surface early in the morning, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, head of the national search and rescue agency.

Divers began zeroing in on the site a day earlier after three Indonesian ships picked up intense pings from the area, but they were unable to see it due to strong currents and poor visibility, said Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, operation coordinator at the national search and rescue agency.

He earlier said the black box was lodged in debris at a depth of about 30 meters (100 feet), but Soelistyo did not provide additional details on the discovery. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Couple Held in Bali after American Woman’s Body Found in Suitcase

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The body of Sheila von Weise Mack, 62, was found in a hard-sided piece of gray luggage at the St. Regis Bali Resort

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN.com) — Roger Clark and Jethro Mullen report: An American woman and her boyfriend have been taken into custody in connection with the killing of the woman’s mother, whose body was left inside a suitcase at a luxury hotel in Bali, Indonesia, police said.

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“Police said the couple told them that they had been taken captive at the resort Tuesday by an armed gang, whose members killed Sheila von Weise Mack, but they escaped.”

The body of Sheila von Weise Mack, 62, was found with head wounds, stuffed in a hard-sided piece of gray luggage at the prestigious St. Regis Bali Resort on Tuesday, said Djoko Hari Utomo, the police chief of Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Police are waiting on forensic information to determine the time and cause of death.

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“When the taxi driver and a manager opened the trunk, they saw blood on the luggage and drove the car to a police station. Police opened the suitcase and found the woman’s body inside.”

Her daughter, Heather Mack, and the daughter’s boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were later found by police sleeping in a hotel room in Kuta, according to Utomo. Kuta is a town about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the St. Regis.

Police have not named Mack and Schaefer as suspects, Utomo said. According to Indonesian law, police can keep the couple in custody for up to 24 hours before they are named as suspects. If named, they can be held up to 20 days. Read the rest of this entry »


Finally, Technology That Matters: Molson Beer Fridge Only Opens if ‘O Canada’ is Performed Correctly and in its Entirety

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OTTAWA, June 30 (UPI) — After stints in Indonesia and Europe, the Molson beer fridge, which only opens if “O Canada” is performed correctly and in its entirety, will be returning home for Canada Day on July 1.

Sorry USA. Canada Day is coming. #July1st #IAMCANADIAN http://t.co/4nYNzWZnmP pic.twitter.com/CXy5lgwEMo— Molson Canadian (@Molson_Canadian) June 30, 2014

Previous versions of the fridge have only unlocked for people with Canadian passports. Read the rest of this entry »


Indonesia’s ‘Mountain of Spirits’ Volcano: Photographer Sofyan Efendi Looking Out His Window on a Commercial Flight…

Eruption: The powerful explosion took place at Mount Sangeang Api in the Lesser Sunda Islands – an area that plays host to 129 active volcanoes. The Sunda Islands sit inside Indonesia‘s notorious ‘Ring of Fire’. Since Sangiang Api’s first recorded eruption in 1512, it is believed to have erupted a total of 20 times

This is the incredible moment when a huge volcano erupted in Indonesia sending ash spewing an estimated 12 miles into the sky.

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The powerful explosion took place at Mount Sangeang Api in the Lesser Sunda Islands – an area that plays host to 129 active volcanoes – and sent a distinctive spaceship-shaped ring of pyroclastic smoke high into the air.

The photographs were taken by professional photographer Sofyan Efendi during a commercial flight from Bali to the fishing town of Labuan Bajo in West Nusa Tenggara province. Read the rest of this entry »


How Hong Kong’s Maid Trade is Making Life Worse for Domestic Workers Throughout Asia

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Lily Kuo writes:  Every few years, the city of Hong Kong is rocked by news that another foreign domestic worker has been badly abused by her employer. Last month, 23-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih told authorities that she had been beaten daily, hit with mops, rulers, and clothes hangers until she could no longer walk.

But Hong Kong’s treatment of the thousands of women who are known here as “helpers” has ramifications beyond a case of physical abuse. The city’s double standard for foreign domestic wages and its increasingly strict policies are making conditions worse for hundreds of thousands of women across the entire region, where almost half of the world’s domestic workers are employed.

Hong Kong's Domestic Help System Under Scrutiny Following Recent Cases Of Abuse

Globally there are 53 million domestic workers, mostly women, according to a conservative estimate by the International Labor Organization (ILO)—that’s an increase of almost 60% since the mid-1990s, and the ILO says the true figure may be closer to 100 million (pdf, p. 19). Some 41% of them are working in the Asia Pacific region, where keeping hired help has long been a tradition from the lower middle class to the wealthiest of families.

Read the rest of this entry »


Python kills security guard outside luxury hotel in Bali

Bali Hyatt Hotel

Bali Hyatt Hotel

The lush Indonesian island of Bali is a tropical paradise full of world-class hotels, amazing beaches and ridiculous yoga retreats. It’s also home to the occasional terrorist bombing (2002 and 2005) and, of course, killer pythons.

Python / Getty Images

Python / Getty Images

One of those pythons strangled a security guard to death outside the Bali Hyatt, a luxury hotel in Bali’s Sanur area on Friday, reports the Daily Mail.

The victim, 59-year-old Ambar Arianto Mulyo, was an employee at a restaurant nearby.

He managed to capture the 15-foot-long snake, which had for awhile been menacing the hotel (which is, thankfully, closed for renovations until 2015).

Mulyo spotted the snake and successfully got his hands on the serpent’s head and tail. Then, however, he made the fatal mistake of hoisting the python on his shoulders.

The snake wrapped itself around Mulyo in a flash and suffocated him.

Read the rest of this entry »