Obama: US underestimated Isis threat

US President Barack Obama said US underestimated the threat of terrorist group, ISIS.
US President Barack Obama said US underestimated the threat of terrorist group, ISIS.

​President Barack Obama admitted Sunday that the United States underestimated the threat posed by Islamic State fighters in Syria.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”  - President Barack Obama, referring to his director of national intelligence.

Asked whether Washington had also overestimated the ability or will of Iraq’s US-trained military to fight the jihadists on its own, Obama said: “That’s true. That’s absolutely true.”

Obama made this admission just as US-led coalition warplanes pounded the oil sites that fund the group, that has gained much notoriety after its series of videos executing captured Americans and Britons.

​Experts say the jihadists were earning as much as $3 million (S$3.8 million) daily from oil before the coalition began launching strikes on Syria, building on the air war under way against IS in Iraq since August 8.

Isis leader warns Americans and Europeans that they will 'pay the higher price'.

In his first speech since air raids were launched on Syria, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the head of the Al-Qaeda affiliate there, Al-Nusra Front, warned of reprisals.

"Your leaders will not pay the price for the war alone, you will pay the higher price.” - Abu Mohammad al-Jolani said in an Internet audio message, addressing “people of America and Europe”.

Failure to stop these air strikes “will transfer the battle to your very homes", he said.

Washington has said it would press on with “near continuous” strikes, and the latest raids were part of intensifying efforts to disrupt the group’s lucrative oil-pumping and smuggling operations.

Source: AFP

Tags: ISIS and Obama

Vivian ‘not surprised’ ex-beau and fellow sex blogger Alvin has jumped bail

File picture of Malaysian sex bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee leaving the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission office after investigations on July 15, 2013.

Vivian Lee, the ex-girlfriend of sex blogger Alvin Tan is "not surprised" that her former Alvivi partner has jumped bail and sought asylum in the United States, as he had suggested the idea before.

"He has suggested the idea of seeking political asylum briefly once.

“He didn't discuss his plan with me further," said Lee, 25,  in a Facebook message to The Star Online on Monday.

“He can pursue his dreams and resume his conquests in the US without any baggage." - Vivian Lee on her ex-boyfriend and fellow sex blogger Alvin Tan

Lee added that she was relieved because she now finally knows Tan is safe.

Tan resurfaced on Facebook on Sept 26 with posts in Los Angeles, California, ranting about Malaysian politics and sharing pictures to show off a more toned body.

"Now that he's made it safely to the US, I'm relieved because I finally know that he's OK," said Lee.

“I do not feel bitter and I do not blame him for anything," Lee told the Star.

“I wish him well and all the best. It would be a while, perhaps never again, that the two of us will meet,"

Lee also said that while she had been sending Tan text messages and emails ever since he went off the grid, he did not respond to any of them and only heard that he was safe and sound when her friends who read it in the news informed her.

She did not want to abscond

She added that she was against the idea of absconding from their trial in the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur.

"I don't see the point of living a life on the run.

“We still have a full life ahead of us, and the life as a fugitive wouldn't suit me.

“I was brought up by my parents to face and deal with any issue in front of us, and running away whenever there's trouble isn't a wise approach," said Lee.

She said that the possibility of an unfavourable outcome of their ongoing trial might have prompted Tan to abscond, adding however that Tan seemed determined to fight the charges against them.

They face three charges

Both Tan and Lee claimed trial last year to three charges under the Film Censorship Act, Sedition Act and the Penal Code.

Tan and Lee – known as Alvivi after shooting to fame with their now-defunct Sumptuous Erotica sex blog – still face two charges under the Film Censorship Act and Sedition Act for an insensitive “Ramadan greeting” that was posted on their blog last year.

Lee, and the 26-year old Tan, regained temporary possession of their passports on May 18, but only Lee showed up on June 3 to return her travel document.

The Sessions Court has issued a warrant of arrest for Tan and forfeited his RM20,000 bail after he failed to return his passport on Aug 22.

Related reports:  Sex blogger Alvin Tan says he's seeking political asylum in the US

                           You won't believe who Interpol is looking for: Sex blogger Alvin Tan

Spectator films monster truck as it comes towards him and crashes into crowd

Dutch policemen inspect the site of an accident after a monster truck drove accidentally into the audience during a demonstration in Haaksbergen, killing two people and injuring dozens
Dutch policemen inspect the site of an accident after a monster truck drove accidentally into the audience during a demonstration in Haaksbergen, killing two people and injuring dozens

A Dutch spectator was lucky to be alive as he shot this video of a monster truck that ran out of control and ploughed into the crowd in front of him. 

A monster truck killed two people after the accident during a motor show in the east of the Netherlands. 

Earlier, local media had quoted the town’s mayor as saying that three people had died, including two children. The authorities gave no details of who had died.

The modified pick-up with huge, oversized wheels was driving on top of a row of cars before suddenly veering off course and driving into the group of onlookers.

It was reported that another another 18 people were injured as a result. Six of them suffered from serious injuries.

In the video footage, screams could be heard as people tried to escape as soon as the truck knocked down the barriers separating the crowd from the monster trucks.

The driver of the truck has been detained and an inquiry has been opened, police said, quoted by local media.

The show's organisers, Geerlof Kanis, told local media that safety fences kept onlookers at a sufficient distance from the show. He suggested that the truck's accelerator pedal had got stuck or its brakes had failed.

Source: Mirror Online, BBC, YouTube/Marcos Mini​

Golf giants mouth off after US' Ryder Cup loss to Europe

US Ryder Cup player Phil Mickelson.

Phil Mickelson’s scathing criticism of United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson sparked a firestorm of reaction on Sunday with former European skippers Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo saying the American was out of line.

Former PGA Tour player Brandel Chamblee, who now works as a golf analyst for Golf Channel, went even further, describing Mickelson as a golfer who had “corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup”.

Shortly after the U.S. had slipped to yet another Ryder Cup defeat by Europe on Sunday, Mickelson told a news conference his captain had not engaged with the players and should have stuck with the system that worked so successfully in 2008.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from that for the last three Ryder Cups and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.”  - Mickelson

Both Montgomerie and Faldo responded by saying that Mickelson, a former world number two, should have kept his thoughts to himself.

“Should we go into this one hour after we’ve been defeated? The answer is a flat no,” Montgomerie, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory at Celtic Manor in 2010, said on Golf Channel.

“You support your captain under all circumstances. In public, you respect and honour your captain. - Ex-European captain Colin Montgomerie

“The PGA of America selected Tom Watson as the best choice to try to win the Ryder Cup back. Unfortunately, the team didn’t perform for Tom.”

Faldo, a losing Ryder Cup captain at Valhalla in 2008 when his American counterpart, Paul Azinger, achieved success with his “pod” system of four groups of three players who practised and played together, agreed.

“That should have been a private conversation. Phil certainly doesn’t respect Tom Watson. He threw his captain right under the bus.” Former European captain Nick Faldo​

Montgomerie implied that the importance of the captain at a Ryder Cup was overrated.

“The Europeans happened to play better (at Gleneagles), it’s as simple as that,” said Montgomerie.

“I think Tom Watson did the best with (what) he had. It doesn’t matter who captains a team really. It’s up to the players to bring back those points.”

US Team Captain Tom Watson gives his remarks during the trophy presentation ceremony​. Photo: AFP

Frustrated figure

Mickelson, who has now lost eight of his 10 Ryder Cups, was a frustrated figure during the US team’s news conference at Gleneagles while he praised the successful strategy adopted by Azinger in 2008.

“Paul Azinger got everybody invested in the process,” said Mickelson. “We use that same process in the President’s Cup and we do really well.

Chamblee immediately piled the criticism upon Mickelson.

“That was as close to a one-man mutiny as I ever seen,” Chamblee said on Golf Channel.

“I think that’s a moment that Phil would like to have back.

“If you are looking for a reason why the United States continues to lose, you just saw it, you saw it in one man – Phil Mickelson."  - Former PGA Tour player and Golf Channel​ golf analyst Brandel Chamblee

“Phil Mickelson, along with the best players of that era, have so corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup for their fellow competitors by not having records anywhere near what they should, given their rank in the game and what they’ve achieved,” said Chamblee

Mickelson, a five-time major champion, now has a win-loss-half record of 16-19-6 from his 10 Ryder Cups.

“Players of an era who are the best go to the Ryder Cup and show off, not goof off,” said Chamblee.

“Phil Mickelson in 2004 changed clubs at the Ryder Cup, the week of, and the day before he went to practise at another golf course.

US not a team

“This is yet another example of (Americans) not coming together as team.”

Montgomerie wondered why Mickelson had been the only player on the 12-man US team who did not travel on the chartered jet to Scotland last week.

“I have a big problem with that,” Montgomerie said. “The team should fly as a 12. We have to start out as we want to finish, as a team.” - Reuters

Should protests and marches be allowed beyond Hong Lim Park? 82 per cent say 'No'

Bloggers Roy Ngerng (with flag) and Han Hui Hui (right) march to the stage area during a charity carnival for YMCA beneficiaries at Hong Lim Park on Sept 27, 2014.
Bloggers Roy Ngerng (with flag) and Han Hui Hui (right) march to the stage area during a charity carnival for YMCA beneficiaries at Hong Lim Park on Sept 27, 2014.

In an ongoing poll conducted by The New Paper, we asked if protests and marches should be allowed to take place beyond​ Hong Lim Park.

And, so far, a vast majority voted no.

Out of 383 people, 82 per cent preferred to have protest activities take place in the designated Speakers' Corner.

The poll comes after bloggers Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui frightened and confused special needs children by loudly protesting just before they were to go on stage during a YMCA event held at Hong Lim Park.

Ms Han had permission from NParks to hold the fourth CPF rally on the same day in another section of the park.

But the pair decided to take their protest to the YMCA event, which was officiated by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck.

The TNP poll also asked readers if, as per Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim's suggestion, police should allow street protests as a way to improve their crowd control skills.

And 68 per cent disagreed with Lim as they said that street protests should not be held so that the Special Operations Command can be better prepared to handle a crisis similar to the Little India Riots.

You can still vote here: Tide turning against CPF rally organisers?

GALLERY: George Clooney, Amal Alamuddin tie the knot in Venice

US actor George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin stand on a taxi boat on the Grand Canal on September 28, 2014 in Venice.
US actor George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin stand on a taxi boat on the Grand Canal on September 28, 2014 in Venice.

The world's most famous bachelor, George Clooney, broke a vow to remain single on Saturday and married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin during a weekend of lavish celebrations in Venice.

The Italian city of gondolas and palazzi looked like Hollywood on the Adriatic as A-list guests cruised between luxury hotels for the extravaganza, billed as the party of the year even as details were kept largely secret.

Venice's Grand Canal turned into an aquatic red carpet as the tuxedo-clad actor and his guests crossed the lagoon from the Cipriani hotel for dinner at the seven-star Aman Canal Grande Venice, housed in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli.

Actors Matt Damon and Bill Murray mingled with model Cindy Crawford, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and singer Bono at a reception on the terrace of the plush Cipriani.

Passing "vaporetti" public boats tilted sideways as passengers crowded to see two-time Oscar winner Clooney, who waved to onlookers and rubbed his hands together on arrival at the Aman, as if to show he was looking forward to a good meal.

Kentucky-born Clooney, who shot to stardom in the television series ER, had vowed never to remarry after his 1993 divorce from actress Talia Balsam and is said to have made a US$100,000 bet with Michelle Pfeiffer that he would stay single.

The Lebanese-born Alamuddin, who had no previous connection to Hollywood, has represented Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at the European Court of Human Rights, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in extradition proceedings.

"She will keep him on his toes because she is bright," said Judith Graham, 59, of Surrey, England. "He's had all these actresses fawning over him before. I hope he'll be happy."

The two left the Aman on a wooden speedboat appropriately called "Amore" on Sunday afternoon, headed for the famed Cipriani hotel, where they were expected to have a late lunch.

Clooney, 53, wearing a light gray suit, and the 36-year-old Amal, wearing a short, white flower-patterned dress with lace around the shoulders, waved at a swarm of photographers in boats and well wishers on bridges as the boat slowly plied the waters of the canal towards the Cipriani on the Giudecca Island.

Photos: AFP, Reuters

Speculation about more celebrations to come spread after the local government said it would close a number of streets around Venice's 14th-century Ca' Farsetti town hall on Monday.

The weekend extravaganza has been billed as the party of the year even as details remained secret and lavish receptions and dinners at luxurious hotels were shielded from prying eyes and photographer's long lenses.

Alamuddin, who is based in Britain, also advised former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on the conflict in Syria, an issue about which Clooney has spoken publicly.

Clooney has also led campaigns to highlight the plight of refugees in Darfur, Sudan, and is expected to donate the fees earned from selling rights to the wedding photos to that cause. - Reuters

Rooney: I deserved to be sent off for that foul

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney looks dejected after being sent off against West Ham United

Wayne Rooney admitted he deserved to be sent off in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over West Ham as his sixth career red card again put his temperament under the spotlight.

Rooney, who has been appointed skipper by coach Louis van Gaal this season and is celebrating a decade at Old Trafford, was dismissed for a reckless lunge on Stewart Downing just on the hour mark on Saturday.

“I knew at the time that I misjudged it,” 28-year-old Rooney said Sunday.



“It is a red card and I don’t think it will benefit anyone to appeal against the decision. It was probably the right decision. I saw the West Ham player making a counter-attack and I tried to break-up the play, but I just misjudged it." - Rooney

“I think everyone knew (I was in the wrong), so I am just grateful that the lads were able to hold on.”

His first red card at club level in five and a half years means he will likely miss United’s games against former club Everton, Chelsea and West Brom through suspension.

Sorry to teammates but not Downing

Rooney said he had apologised to his teammates but not Downing.

“No. I haven’t absolutely volleyed the lad,” said the England star.

“I have tried to trip him up and, to be fair to him, he got further away from me and that is why my leg is straighter than it should have been.

“As he pushed the ball away, my leg has straightened out and that is obviously why the referee has deemed it as a red card.”

Can still play for England

Rooney, who had scored United’s opener on Saturday, will still be available to play for England in next month’s Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia.

But he will not turn out for van Gaal until the first weekend of November, when United play bitter rivals Manchester City.

“That’s the most disappointing thing,” said the striker, who has scored three times for the club this season.

“I am really gutted that I am going to be missing the next three games. It is hard to take. It helps that the England games are coming up, but the training here is really good." - Rooney

“It is tough and it is getting my fitness up there, so I just have to make sure I train well and be ready for when I come back.” - AFP 

HK police surprise protesters with tear gas

A pro-democracy protester protects himself from tear gas in Hong Kong during a demonstration yesterday.
A pro-democracy protester protects himself from tear gas in Hong Kong during a demonstration yesterday.

Protests continue as Hong Kong democracy supporters fill the streets after days of protesting.

Students led peaceful protests on Wednesday to oppose China's new plan to control Hong Kong's 2017 election.

But the protest took a surprising turn yesterday evening at about 6pm when riot police started using force by firing tear gas and pepper spray in a bid to quell the growing number of pro-democracy demonstrators, which went into the thousands as of this morning.

At least 34 people have been injured so far.

In 1997, after Hong Kong, a former British colony was handed over to China, Beijing made a promise that Hong Kong's citizens would be allowed to democratically elect their top leader for the first time. 

China appeared to go back on its promise after it announced that the candidates for the election would have to be approved be a special committee. 

Frustrated, protestors did not leave the streets last night as they took short rests by sleeping on the streets.

The use of tear gas and pepper spray has not deterred demonstrators as thousands more have joined in and are now occupying Causeway Bay, Mongkok and Admiralty.

Despite protest leaders asking supporters to leave as the police were starting to use force, they chose to stay.

After tear gas was unleashed on the protesters last night, protesters chose to use umbrellas to protect themselves.


The hashtag #umbrellarevolution has since started taking over #occupycentral as the social media hashtag on Twitter.


A symbol of the protests has since begun to make its rounds on Facebook, although the designer is not known.



This morning at 7.30, South China Morning Post reported that protesters refused to negotiate with police to open the road to commuters trying to get to work and school.



Loud jeers are heard from demonstrators as Chinese flag turns upside down at 7.25am. It is unclear if it's intentional.


Sources: South China Morning Post, Vox, AFP, Reuters, Twitter


Berahino brace sends Burnley to bottom of EPL

West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino shoots to score his team's third goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Burnley.
West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino shoots to score his team's third goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Burnley.

Burundi-born striker Saido Berahino’s double inspired West Bromwich Albion to a 4-0 victory that sent promoted Burnley to the foot of the Premier League table on Sunday.

After Craig Dawson had broken the deadlock, England Under-21 international Berahino scored either side of half-time and Graham Dorrans claimed a late goal as West Brom recorded their first home win of the season.

Following last weekend’s 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur and the mid-week success against Hull City in the League Cup, new West Brom manager Alan Irvine has led his side to three consecutive victories. But his side play Liverpool and Manchester United in their next two matches.

“We were terrific. I believe we have got a great group of lads, but I also know how hard it is going to be to win games in this league. We will not get carried away.” - West Brom manager Alan Irvine​

Burnley are still without a win since returning to the top flight and have not scored since the season’s opening day.

They now sit bottom of the table, below Newcastle United on goal difference, while West Brom moved up to 10th place, level on points with seventh-place Manchester United.

“We never got started and never got to grips. It’s important we grow and learn from it.”  - Burnley manager Sean Dyche

After bossing the early exchanges at The Hawthorns, the hosts went ahead in the 30th minute when Dawson met Chris Brunt’s right-wing corner with a downward header at the back post to claim his first West Brom goal.

Having drawn their three previous games 0-0, it was the first goal Burnley had conceded in four matches.

Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton then had to tip over a 22-metre shot by the influential Dorrans, before West Brom made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time.

The goal also stemmed from a corner, with James Morrison’s delivery from the left flicked on at the near post by Dorrans for Berahino to nod in from barely a yard at the far post.

Dyche introduced Ashley Barnes and on-loan Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah at half-time, but within 11 minutes the game was over as West Brom scored again.

Dorrans was again the creator with a through ball for Berahinho, who angled a low shot across Heaton and into the bottom-left corner.

 WBA's Graham Dorrans (C) celebrates with Saido Berahino after scoring his team's fourth goal against Burnley. Photo: Reuters

West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster produced an alert save to repel a header by Lukas Jutkiewicz, but Dorrans had the final say, sweeping a low shot past Heaton from substitute Cristian Gamboa’s right-wing cut-back. - AFP


Premium content not available