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From left, Janet Jackson, Paris Jackson, Prince Michael II, LaToya Jackson, Jackie Jackson and Prince Michael I during the memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
From left, Janet Jackson, Paris Jackson, Prince Michael II, LaToya Jackson, Jackie Jackson and Prince Michael I during the memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Final farewells and swan songs

More than 31 million people in the US watch Michael Jackson's memorial service and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant is honoured with a CBE.

Michael Jackson's memorial service in Los Angeles was watched on television by more than 31 million people in the US. At the service his daughter, Paris, 11, sang along on stage with an all-star cast to songs We Are the World and Heal the World, while the 15,000 (Dh90,000) bronze and 14-carat gold plated coffin holding her father's body was front of stage. Outside the arena, tickets changed hands for hundreds of dollars, but fears that up to 700,000 ticketless fans would besiege the building did not materialise.

The Government issued a decree establishing the Union Railways Company, with a capitalisation of Dh1 billion (US$272m), to oversee the introduction of a national rail system. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE, launched the new company to develop a freight and passenger system throughout the seven emirates. The network will be a dual-track line stretching from the Ruwais oil and chemicals centre in Al Gharbia to the northern emirate of Fujairah. It will eventually become the UAE portion of a wider GCC railway plan linking the six member states, which is awaiting approval from GCC ministers.

A Dubai-registered ship that sank off Qatar last week was raised from the seabed and the last of the 30 bodies were recovered. The 34-metre Demas Victory, an oil industry utility vessel, capsized in heavy winds about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Doha. Five survivors, including the captain, were rescued and 19 bodies were retrieved last week. Salvagers refloated the boat on Sunday and the remaining 11 bodies were removed. Investigations have begun into the cause of the accident. Salvagers had found the vessel's hull undamaged, suggesting adverse weather conditions probably sank the ship.

Labourers in Al Ain were banned from Al Bawadi Mall on weekday evenings and at weekends. The mall's marketing manager blamed their inappropriate behaviour, including staring at women and sleeping on the mall benches, on a lack of education. Workers complained the ban made them feel "subhuman" and that they were being punished for the actions of a small minority. The mall is considering building a mini-mall adjacent to the main mall to cater to labourers' needs.

A study entitled Break the silence: HIV/Aids knowledge, attitudes and educational needs among Arab university students in UAE, based on a WHO cross-national questionnaire adapted locally, found that although 90 per cent of young Arab students knew about the main routes of HIV infection, only 31 per cent were aware there is no vaccine and only 34 per cent knew that Aids cannot be cured.

An interventional follow-up to the 2005 study, whose findings are to be published shortly, recommended that 60-90 minutes of counselling should be enough to dispel such notions in young minds. Researchers found that fear and intolerant attitudes towards people living with HIV were also highly prevalent among the 5,280 first-year students of UAE University who were used as a sample group.

Running battles raged from Sunday in China's Xinjiang province lasting three days, pitting members of the Uighur minority against ethnic Han Chinese. Witnesses said that as many as 3,000 people rioted, while state television showed cars in flames in the streets. Other footage showed a number of men attacking a victim, thought to be Han Chinese, who lay on the street bleeding. The ethnic violence left at least 156 people dead and more than 800 wounded and marked the bloodiest social unrest in China since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council said more than 100,000 labourers housed at Mohammed bin Zayed City were required to be re-housed away from residential areas within two months. Representatives of the companies that employ the labourers feared that the move would double the present expense of providing accommodation and that the time scale for the move is unrealistic. Workers currently paying about Dh250 (US$68) a month in rent could see that rise to Dh 1,000, meaning a necessary rise in wages. Companies were also concerned that transport costs to and from the new site would mount.

With more than 40 years in the music business, the Grammy winner Robert Plant was presented with a CBE by Prince Charles in London. In April, he enthralled the crowds on the public beach in Abu Dhabi when he performed at the Womad festival. One of the world's most significant performers, Plant, best known as the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, is renowned for his powerful style and blend of musical cultures.

President Manuel Zelaya's return from exile was foiled as Honduras faced growing international isolation and was suspended from The Organisation of American States. At least one person was killed when thousands of pro-Zelaya demonstrators marched to receive him at the airport and broke through fencing near the runway.

An Iranian employee of the British Embassy was charged with "acting against national security", and his lawyer claimed denial of access. Ahmad Jannati, the head of Iran's supreme legislative body, the Guardian Council, claimed that he had made a confession. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his first televised address since Iran's disputed elections, calling them "the freest" and "healthiest" in the world, while opposition leaders demanded an end to the government crackdown and the release of hundreds of arrested protesters.

The body of a pregnant Muslim woman, killed in a German courtroom by a man convicted of insulting her religion, was taken back to her native Egypt for burial. Marwa Sherbini, 31, was stabbed 18 times by Axel W, who was placed under arrest in Dresden for suspected murder. Her husband, Elwi Okaz, was also in a critical condition in hospital, after being injured as he tried to save his wife. The Egyptian media expressed outrage, asking how the incident was allowed to happen and calling Ms Sherbini "the martyr of the hijab".

The suicide attacks against South Korean tourists in Yemen, four of whom were reported killed in March, were detailed by al Qa'eda in a new video statement released entitled I Have Won I Swear to Kaaba's God. The videotape, released through the jihadi media outlet Al Malahim, stated that the two separate attacks were premeditated and analysts claim were aimed at trying to damage the government's reputation. Yemen is struggling with a sporadic revolt in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and increasing al Qa'eda militancy.

India announced it was to reintroduce the cheetah almost 60 years after it was pronounced extinct in the country. It is the only one of the big cats no longer found in the country. While the tiger population has declined rapidly, India has spreading prides of Asiatic lions and a healthy leopard population. The last documented sighting of cheetahs in India was in 1947 when an Indian prince shot three during a hunting expedition. They were formally declared extinct in 1952. Today, there are probably fewer than 100 cheetahs left in Asia, all of which live in Iran.

glittle@thenational.ae

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