Monday, September 28, 2009

Xerox announces $6.4 bln takeover deal

Xerox Corp. announced Monday it was buying Affiliated Computer Services in a cash-and-stock deal valued at 6.4 billion dollars that gives the US photocopier company a foothold in a new market.

A woman photocopies a document in a French office. Xerox Corp. has announced it is buying Affiliated Computer Services in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $6.4 billion that gives the US photocopier company a foothold in a new market.

Xerox said it will pay 63.11 dollars per share for the Dallas-based outsourcing company, a premium of 33 percent over ACS's closing price on Friday.

Xerox said the purchase of ACS, the world's largest diversified business process outsourcing firm, will make it the "leading global enterprise for document and business process management."

"By combining Xerox's strengths in document technology with ACS's expertise in managing and automating work processes, we're creating a new class of solution provider," Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns said in a statement.

"Acquiring ACS helps us expand our business and benefit from stronger revenue and earnings growth," she said, calling it a "a game-changer for Xerox."

"The revenue we generate from services will triple from 3.5 billion dollars in 2008 to an estimated 10 billion dollars next year," said Burns, who took over as CEO of Xerox on July 1.

ACS shareholders will receive a total of 18.60 dollars per share in cash plus 4.935 Xerox shares for each ACS share they own.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based Xerox will also assume ACS's debt of two billion dollars and issue 300 million dollars of convertible preferred stock to ACS's Class B shareholders.

"For ACS to expand globally and differentiate our offerings through technology, we need a partner with tremendous brand strength and leading innovation," said ACS president and chief executive Lynn Blodgett.

"Xerox offers that and more to bring our business to the next level while strengthening theirs," Blodgett said.

Xerox said ACS will operate as an independent organization and initially will be branded ACS, a Xerox company. It will be led by Blodgett, who will report to Burns.

ACS provides information technology services to a variety of industries ranging from telecommunications, retail and financial services to health care, education and transportation.

Xerox and ACS said business process outsourcing is estimated to be a 150 billion dollar market, growing at a rate of five percent per year.

The deal, which will need regulatory approval, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.

ACS shares soared 16.52 percent to 55.06 dollars in early trading in New York while Xerox shares were down 14.27 percent at 7.69 dollars.

[ ... ]

Obama promotes Chicago bid to host 2016 Olympics

US President Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen this week to press the International Olympic Committee on his hometown Chicago's 2016 Summer Games bid, a White House official said on Monday.

US President Barack Obama, seen here on September 26, will travel to Copenhagen this week to press the International Olympic Committee on Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Obama will lobby the IOC ahead of the October 2 vote on the venue for the 2016 Games, in a change of heart that will delight organizers vying with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro for the right to host the global sporting extravaganza.

The official said on condition of anonymity the president would go to Denmark later this week, after Obama previously said the pressure of his health care reform drive would keep him from attending the crucial meeting.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One last week that a presidential advance team left the United States one week ago "to preserve the option for the president to visit Copenhagen and lend his voice to America's bid for the 2016 Olympics."

King Juan Carlos of Spain and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are expected to travel to Copenhagen to press the candidacies of Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. London was awarded the 2012 Summer Games partly because British prime minister Tony Blair went to Singapore to lobby.

First Lady Michelle Obama leads the US official delegation and talk show star Oprah Winfrey has also agreed to lobby for the Windy City. Chicago mayor Richard Daley was also to go to Denmark in the effort.

House of Representatives Democrat Bobby Rush, who represents parts of Chicago, said last week that a direct lobbying role by the president would be critical in the city prevailing over the competition.

"You've got to be in-the-face, arms-around-the-shoulder. It's going to take that kind of lobbying to win this," he said. "It's all about contact, communication and the ever-present ask."

[ ... ]

Yen hits eight-month dollar peak

The yen struck an eight-month high point against the dollar on Monday as exporters repatriated overseas earnings and Japan insisted that it would not intervene to weaken its currency.

A woman walks past a foreign exchange bank in Seoul. The yen has struck an eight-month high point against the dollar as exporters repatriated overseas earnings and Japan insisted that it would not intervene to weaken its currency.

The dollar sank as low as 88.25 yen, the weakest since late January. In late morning London trade it stood at 89.49 yen, down from 89.60 in New York on Friday.

The European single currency fell to 130.90 yen from 131.64, and to 1.4627 dollars from 1.4686, as also traders digested the re-election of Angela Merkel as German chancellor.

The pound continued to suffer after Bank of England governor Mervyn King had said last week that the currency's weakness was "helpful" for rebalancing the British economy.

Sterling sank on Monday as low as 1.0752 against the euro, a level last seen in December.

Markets were looking ahead to US data including personal income and spending figures on Thursday as well as a key monthly jobs report on Friday.

On Monday, Japanese Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii reiterated that the new government was not considering a foray into the market to sell the yen and help exporters.

"The recent dollar trend (against the yen) is not abnormal," he said.

It would be a "mistake" to artificially weaken the yen to defend exporters, he added, restating the new government's view that a stronger yen would boost consumption at home thanks to cheaper imports.

His remarks gave dealers "the green light" to sell the dollar for yen, Mizuho Corporate Bank senior dealer Yuichiro Harada told Dow Jones Newswires.

Fujii, however, later appeared to backtrack somewhat, saying the yen's rise was slightly "one-sided" and that stable currency rates were desirable.

Even so, analysts said the dollar could drop below its January low of 87.10 yen, piling additional pressure on Japanese exporters.

"Without intervention to weaken the yen and with US yields so low, it's hard to see what will produce a reversal in the dollar/yen trend in the near-term," said NAB Capital analyst John Kyriakopoulos.

The euro meanwhile fell as drops on Asian stock markets reduced investor appetite for riskier assets and growth-sensitive currencies, dealers said.

Traders were looking ahead to US data including personal income and spending figures on Thursday as well as a key monthly jobs report on Friday.

In London on Monday, the euro was changing hands at 1.4627 dollars against 1.4686 dollars late on Friday, at 130.90 yen (131.64), 0.9197 pounds (0.9210) and 1.5107 Swiss francs (1.5091).

The dollar stood at 89.49 yen (89.60) and 1.0329 Swiss francs (1.0270).

The pound was at 1.5905 dollars (1.5951).

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold eased to 990 dollars an ounce from 991.50 dollars an ounce late on Friday.

[ ... ]

Philippines desperate flood relief effort

Philippine rescue workers struggled through knee-deep mud and putrid water Monday in a desperate effort to help nearly half a million people displaced by devastating floods, as the death toll hit 100.

A girl crosses a muddy road in the outlying suburb of Marakina City, near Manila on September 28. Philippine rescue workers have been struggling through knee-deep mud and putrid water Monday in a desperate effort to help nearly half a million people displaced by devastating floods, as the death toll hit 100.

Reaching people still stranded after Saturday's disaster in the national capital of Manila and surrounding areas, preventing disease outbreaks and getting aid to survivors were all big concerns, authorities said.

"We are concentrating on massive relief operations. (But) the system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed," the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Anthony Golez, told reporters.

"We were used to helping one city, one or two provinces but now, they are following one after another. Our assets and people are spread too thinly."

The death toll from the flooding climbed to 100, with 32 people still missing, the government said in its latest update on Monday afternoon. Another 451,000 had been forced out of their homes with 115,000 in evacuation centres.Related article: Looters target homes

Soldiers, police, medics and a huge number of volunteers were involved in the effort to help flood victims, authorities said.

Saturday's disaster saw tropical storm Ketsana pound the heaviest rain in more than 40 years on Manila and neighbouring areas of Luzon island.

The nine-hour deluge left some areas of Metro Manila, a sprawling city of 12 million people, under six metres (20 feet) of water, with poor drainage systems and other failed infrastructure exacerbating the problem.Related article: Disease threat

Eighty percent of the city was submerged and, with parts of Manila remaining underwater on Monday, local television reported that some people remained stranded on the second floors of their homes.

Vast areas where flooding had subsided also remained covered in knee-deep sludge.

Adding to the chaos, telephone and power services in some parts of the city remained cut, while local government officials said survivors in makeshift evacuation camps were desperately short of food, water and clothes.Related article: New storm threat

Meanwhile, there were fears the number of dead could soar past the official tally.

Radio station DZBB quoted local officials as saying that 58 more bodies had been recovered from a flooded area in the Manila suburb of Marikina, and that they had not yet been included in the official tally.

The chief of a riverside village in Quezon city, part of Metro Manila, also told AFP that 29 bodies had been recovered and 108 people remained missing from his community.

Armando Endaya, captain of Bagong Silangan village, said those deaths had not been reported to national government officials.

Endaya was overseeing a makeshift evacuation camp set up at a gymnasium, where more than 3,000 people were sheltering on the concrete floor alongside 11 white coffins containing the bodies of their neighbours. Related article: Flood hero who perished

"We are waiting for more aid to arrive. We are trying to mobilise our own relief operations here. But we need more help," Endaya told AFP from the gymnasium, which had a roof but no walls.

The home of Edgar Halog, 44, a jeepney driver, was destroyed in the floods and he was sheltering at the centre with his wife and seven children aged between three and 12.

"We do not have any money, we do not know what to do. We don't have any other relatives. We are waiting for food rations," Halog told AFP.

With sanitation services across the city in disarray, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said authorities were working to prevent disease outbreaks.

"Our health teams are bringing in water and (products for) sanitation and hygiene at evacuation centres to make sure that disease does not spread," he said.

Initial frantic rescue efforts saw military helicopters and rubber boats fan out across the city to pluck people off houses and car roofs.

The government said more than 7,900 people had been rescued.

[ ... ]

Iran test-fires long-range Shahab missile

Iran on Monday test-fired its long-range Shahab-3 missile which it says could hit targets in arch-foe Israel, as the Revolutionary Guards staged missile war games for the second straight day.

Iranian short-range missile (Tondar) is test-launched during war games in Qom, south of Tehran, on September 27. Iran on Monday test-fired its long-range Shahab-3 missile which it says could hit targets in arch-foe Israel, as the Revolutionary Guards staged missile war games for the second straight day.

The exercise comes at a time of heightened tension with the West after the UN nuclear watchdog revealed on Friday that the Islamic republic was building a second uranium enrichment plant.

On Sunday, the Guards launched the missile manoeuvres marking "Sacred Defence" week, which commemorates the start of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Iran's English-language state-owned Press TV channel on Monday broadcast footage of the Shahab-3 being fired in desert terrain.

Iran says the weapon has a range of 1,300-2,000 kilometres (800-1,240 miles), which would put Israel, most Arab states and parts of Europe including much of Turkey within its range.

On Sunday, the Guards fired several short- and medium-range missiles, some with multiple warheads, state media reported.

The medium-range Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, with a range of between 300 kilometres and 700 kilometres, were successfully launched, the Guards' air force commander Hossein Salami said.

"The missiles shot have precisely hit the targets," he said.

Earlier, the Guards test-fired three types of short-range missile -- the Tondar-69, Fateh-110 and Zelzal. All three weapons, powered by solid fuel, have a range of between 100 and 400 kilometres.

On Monday, Salami issued a stern warning to Iran's foes.

"Our response will be strong and destructive to those who threaten the existence, independence, freedom and values of our regime. They will regret it," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

He said the missile exercise was aimed at practising for "long wars, moving the missile installations from one point to another as well as simultaneous and non-simultaneous shots at convergent and divergent targets."

On Sunday, Salami dismissed Israel as a potential threat, saying "that regime is not in a position that we need to comment about threats from it."

The manoeuvres come after US President Barack Obama earlier this month scrapped his predecessor George W. Bush's plan to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and a powerful tracking radar in the Czech Republic by 2013.

Obama said he had decided to replace the shield with a more mobile system using mainly sea-based interceptors.

In taking the decision, Obama emphasised the threat of Iran's short-range and medium-range missiles instead of the potential danger of its longer-range weapons.

The White House said the intelligence community now believed Iran was developing shorter-range missiles "more rapidly than previously projected," while progressing more slowly than expected with intercontinental missiles.

Iran has in the past threatened to target US bases in the region and to block the strategic Gulf Strait of Hormuz waterway for oil tankers if its nuclear sites are attacked.

Israel and the United States have never ruled out a military option to thwart Iran's nuclear drive, which they suspect of having a military aim despite Tehran's denial.

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was building a second uranium enrichment plant, sparking concern by Western leaders.

On Sunday, Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi vowed that Tehran will enrich uranium only up to the five percent level -- much lower than bomb-grade requirement, suggesting Tehran's atomic drive had peaceful aims.

Uranium enrichment lies at the centre of fears over Iran's controversial atomic work as the process to make nuclear fuel can also be used to make the fissile core of an atom bomb in much higher purifications of over 90 percent. Related article: Iran defends atomic plant

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with CBS network, said "we don't believe that they can present convincing evidence that it's only for peaceful purposes, but we are going to put them to the test on October 1." Related article: Hillary Clinton

Iran and world powers meet in Geneva on Thursday to discuss Tehran's disputed atomic programme.

[ ... ]

Germany's Merkel looks to rocky new term

Fresh from an election victory, Angela Merkel was steeling herself for a new term as German chancellor Monday, facing a rash of problems, topped by an ailing economy and an unpopular Afghanistan mission.

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel jokes with the band Firecats after parliamentary elections at the CDU headquarters in Berlin. Fresh from an election victory, Merkel got set for a new term as German chancellor on Monday, facing a stack of challenges topped by an ailing economy and an unpopular Afghanistan mission.

"I think we've really earned the right to celebrate tonight," a beaming Merkel, Germany's first female leader and the only chancellor from the former communist east, told jubilant supporters in Berlin late on Sunday.

"But I want to say to everyone in this country that I want to be the chancellor of all Germans, so that things improve for our country ... We have a lot of work ahead of us."

Although the wildly popular Merkel savoured her victory, the daily Tagesspiegel said her 33.8-percent score, the right's worst since 1949, marked a "black eye" for the chancellor.

Die Welt daily hailed the election as "a success for the FDP," referring to Merkel's new partners in government, the pro-business Free Democrats, whose record 14.6 percent score tipped their centre-right coalition over the top.

Merkel's identified her "top priority" as tackling unemployment, which stands at 8.3 percent at present but is forecast to surge in the months ahead, as firms lay off workers on temporary part-time working schemes. Profile: Angela Merkel

A poll in Focus magazine showed that unemployment was also voters' number-one issue, with 38 percent saying it was the "most important topic for the future government," ahead of education, health and the financial crisis.

Europe's biggest economy has been hit harder than most by the global recession, slamming demand for its all-important exports and sending the country into its steepest recession since World War II.

Output is poised to slump by five to six percent this year, the government estimates, and Germany is also sitting on a vertiginous mountain of debt.

But this time around, Forbes magazine's most powerful woman on Earth will be in a different coalition, something she believes will help her implement the reforms she says are vital for lifting the economy out of its malaise.

For the past four years, her conservative CDU/CSU bloc has been stuck in a loveless "grand coalition" with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

But now Merkel's bloc and the FDP have a comfortable 332 seats in the 622-member parliament.

"Our main objective has been achieved, namely a change of government, which for me is what really counts this evening," Merkel, 55, said on public television on Sunday.

Turnout was at a record low of 70.8 percent against 77.7 percent four years ago.

FDP leader Guido Westerwelle aims to become the country's first openly gay foreign minister.

The SPD crashed to 23 percent, its worst result since World War II, and will be condemned to the opposition benches after 11 years in government.

The FDP, meanwhile, returns to government after 11 years watching proceedings from the sidelines.

They will likely push the CDU to cut taxes and to reverse Schroeder's decision to abandon nuclear power by 2020.

Even assuming the new partners see eye-to-eye on all issues -- anything but a foregone conclusion -- Merkel's new cabinet will have its work cut out, however, even without Germany's economic woes.

The head of European economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Holger Schmieding, said the dawn of a new-look cabinet was "not a revolution".

"There will be no dramatic changes but there will be some tax reforms over the next four years, and there will probably be some move towards deregulation modestly in the labour market and probably some changes in the health-care system," he told AFP.

The Financial Times Deutschland agreed: "Anyone who expected or feared the chancellor will make a radical change of course with her new government is mistaken."

In the foreign policy sphere, Germany's mission in Afghanistan is highly unpopular and could become a major domestic headache for Merkel if an insurgency in the north where its 4,200 troops are based continues to escalate.

The presence of German soldiers in Afghanistan has also prompted a string of threats by Islamic extremists, including from Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and German-born Muslims.

[ ... ]

Polanski's lawyers vow to fight Switzerland detention

Roman Polanski's lawyers vowed to fight his extradition to the United States on Monday after he was arrested in Switzerland over a 1977 childsex case in Los Angeles.

Polish-French director Roman Polanski attends the opening ceremony of the 8th edition of the Marrakesh film festival, 2008. Swiss police detained Polanski and could extradite him to the United States for having sex with a 13-year-old girl three decades ago, authorities said.

The 76-year-old Polish-French director, who pleaded guilty three decades ago to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, has been held since late Saturday, when he arrived in Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich film festival.

US authorities have been pursuing the controversial director of "Rosemary's Baby", "Chinatown" and "The Pianist" for many years. The Swiss Justice Ministry said it was now waiting for a US extradition request.

"We will be demanding that he be freed. Then we will fight the extradition," his lawyer Herve Temine told France's Le Figaro daily.

"Humanly, it seems to me unbearable that more than 30 years after the incident a man of 76 who obviously poses no danger to society and whose artistic and personal reputation are clearly established, should spend a single day in prison," he said.

Polanski fled the United States in 1978 before sentencing on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He admitted the charge at the time and has never returned, even missing the Oscar award for "The Pianist" in 2003.

"His wife and his children were very shocked by the arrest," Temine told Le Figaro.

Temine said Polanski visits Switzerland often and owns a chalet in Gstaad. "To the best of my knowledge, the United States is the only country he abstains from visiting," he said.

A Swiss justice ministry spokesman said Polanski was being held under a 2005 international alert issued by the US government.

A final extradition decision could only be taken after the judicial process has been "finalised," the spokesman said, adding that appeals were possible against the arrest warrant as well as any extradition decision.

Justice Minister Eveline Wildmer-Schlumpf said her country had to act on the US request and there was no political "pressure" involved. There was "no other solution" but to arrest Polanski, she said.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, confirmed that moves to detain the director were set in motion last week.

"It wasn't a big secret that he was going to be in Zurich," Gibbons said. "They had announced he was going on the Internet."

There had been two previous attempts to nab Polanski when he planned visits to countries that have extradition agreements with the US, but each time Polanski apparently learned of the plans and did not travel, Gibbons said.

The Polish and French foreign ministers Radoslaw Sikorski and Bernard Kouchner agreed to make a joint approach to US authorities, Poland's PAP news agency reported, including for a possible pardon from President Barack Obama.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand condemned the arrest of the film-maker, who lives in Paris, and said he had discussed the matter with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mitterrand told a press briefing that the arrest was "absolutely horrifying" and the case was "an old story which doesn't really make any sense."

A petition signed by film-makers and actors including Costa Gavras, Wong Kar Wai, Monica Bellucci and Fanny Ardant voiced dismay at Polanski's detention.

"It seems inadmissible ... that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by the police to apprehend him," the petition said.

At the festival, posters with "Free Polanski" or "No extradition" were plastered in front of the cinema, with the planned retrospective in Polanski's honour going ahead albeit without the award ceremony.

Polanski hit the headlines in 1969 when his second wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of Charles Manson's cult gang in Los Angeles. Polanski was out of the country at the time.

In May, a Los Angeles judge refused Polanski's bid to dismiss the underage sex case after he failed to appear in court.

Polanski's legal team argued that the conviction should be annulled because the judge who heard the 1970s case had improperly colluded with prosecutors. The judge has since died.

The woman named as the victim in the 1977 case has joined defence lawyers in urging the dismissal of the case.

[ ... ]

UN climate talks start in Bangkok with dire warnings

UN negotiations for a global climate treaty resumed in Bangkok Monday amid bleak warnings that failure to break a deadlock ahead of a showdown in Copenhagen would threaten future generations.

A power station is seen in Sun Valley, California. UN negotiations for a global climate treaty resumed in Bangkok on Monday amid fears that delegates will fail to agree on a draft text ahead of December's crucial showdown in Copenhagen.

The talks involving 192 countries are the latest session in nearly two years of haggling that have fallen far short of an agreement to tackle climate change beyond 2010, when the current Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases expires.

The task in Bangkok is to thrash out a draft text for December's Copenhagen talks on the post-Kyoto treaty, but delegates are wrangling over the two key issues -- cutting carbon emissions and meeting the associated costs.

"Our children and grandchildren will never forgive us unless action is taken. Time is running out, we have two months before Copenhagen," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at the opening of the talks.

"Much needs to be done and much needs to be resolved. Let us use the two weeks in Bangkok to the full to ensure the future," he told around 2,500 delegates and representatives from business and environmental groups.

The Bangkok talks, part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), run to October 9 and are the next to last negotiations before Copenhagen's deadline meeting.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said on the eve of the meetings in the Thai capital that there was intense pressure on the participants to agree on a text.

"We're arriving here in Bangkok with about, I think, a 280-page negotiating text which is basically impossible to work with," de Boer told AFP.

"We've got 16 days of negotiating time left before Copenhagen so things are getting tight and we need to get to a result."

Greenpeace spokeswoman Tove Ryding said the delegates were "drowning in text". "In three months they have cut out just 18 pages. We need 50 pages out by Monday," she said.

The talks follow last week's UN climate summit in New York and a G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, which failed to break the deadlock on either of the two biggest issues.

The final talks before Copenhagen are in Barcelona from November 2-6.

Experts warn that global temperatures must rise no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 over pre-industrial times, a target embraced by the leaders of the G8 nations in July.

Scientists also say emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases should peak just six years from now.

Without drastic action, they fear drought, floods and rising sea levels could grip the world by the end of the century, causing famine, homelessness and strife.

On emissions, developed economies have acknowledged a historical responsibility for global warming. Most have put numbers on the table for slashing their carbon pollution by 2020 and by 2050.

But they say that developing nations -- especially China, India and Brazil and other major emitters of tomorrow -- should also pledge to curb output of greenhouse gases.

Poor and emerging economies refuse to take on their own hard targets but call for rich nations to make higher cuts than they have set themselves for 2020.

President Hu Jintao did vow at the UN last week to make China's economy less carbon intensive -- essentially promising to use fossil fuels more efficiently -- by a "notable margin" before 2020. But he set no figures.

China has overtaken the United States as top carbon polluter, according to several scientific assessments. Together, the two nations account for 40 percent of greenhouse gases.

Campaigners pointed to devastating floods in the Philippines that have killed 100 people and displaced half a million others as evidence for the need for an urgent agreement.

They are looking to the United States to take the lead in pushing for a pact, although it has so far offered much lower targets for emissions cuts by 2020 than other developed economies.

"Either the US lifts its game, or the next two weeks in Bangkok could go down as just a holding pattern before a fatal nosedive in Copenhagen", said Antonio Hill, senior climate policy adviser at Oxfam International.

[ ... ]

Philippines desperate flood relief effort

Philippine rescue workers struggled through knee-deep mud and putrid water Monday in a desperate effort to help nearly half a million people displaced by devastating floods, as the death toll hit 100.

A Philippine man grieves next to the coffin of his wife and two young children who perished in floods which hit Manila. The Philippine government said Monday it could not cope with massive flooding that has displaced nearly half a million people and killed 100.

Reaching people still stranded after Saturday's disaster in the national capital of Manila and surrounding areas, preventing disease outbreaks and getting aid to survivors were all big concerns, authorities said.

"We are concentrating on massive relief operations. (But) the system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed," the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Anthony Golez, told reporters.

"We were used to helping one city, one or two provinces but now, they are following one after another. Our assets and people are spread too thinly."

The death toll from the flooding climbed to 100, with 32 people still missing, the government said in its latest update on Monday afternoon. Another 451,000 had been forced out of their homes with 115,000 in evacuation centres.

Soldiers, police, medics and a huge number of volunteers were involved in the effort to help flood victims, authorities said.

Saturday's disaster saw tropical storm Ketsana pound the heaviest rain in more than 40 years on Manila and neighbouring areas of Luzon island.

The nine-hour deluge left some areas of Metro Manila, a sprawling city of 12 million people, under six metres (20 feet) of water, with poor drainage systems and other failed infrastructure exacerbating the problem.

Eighty percent of the city was submerged and, with parts of Manila remaining underwater on Monday, local television reported that some people remained stranded on the second floors of their homes.

Vast areas where flooding had subsided also remained covered in knee-deep sludge.

Adding to the chaos, telephone and power services in some parts of the city remained cut, while local government officials said survivors in makeshift evacuation camps were desperately short of food, water and clothes.

Meanwhile, there were fears the number of dead could soar past the official tally.

Radio station DZBB quoted local officials as saying that 58 more bodies had been recovered from a flooded area in the Manila suburb of Marikina, and that they had not yet been included in the official tally.

The chief of a riverside village in Quezon city, part of Metro Manila, also told AFP that 29 bodies had been recovered and 108 people remained missing from his community.

Armando Endaya, captain of Bagong Silangan village, said those deaths had not been reported to national government officials.

Endaya was overseeing a makeshift evacuation camp set up at a gymnasium, where more than 3,000 people were sheltering on the concrete floor alongside 11 white coffins containing the bodies of their neighbours.

"We are waiting for more aid to arrive. We are trying to mobilise our own relief operations here. But we need more help," Endaya told AFP from the gymnasium, which had a roof but no walls.

The home of Edgar Halog, 44, a jeepney driver, was destroyed in the floods and he was sheltering at the centre with his wife and seven children aged between three and 12.

"We do not have any money, we do not know what to do. We don't have any other relatives. We are waiting for food rations," Halog told AFP.

With sanitation services across the city in disarray, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said authorities were working to prevent disease outbreaks.

"Our health teams are bringing in water and (products for) sanitation and hygiene at evacuation centres to make sure that disease does not spread," he said.

Initial frantic rescue efforts saw military helicopters and rubber boats fan out across the city to pluck people off houses and car roofs.

The government said more than 7,900 people had been rescued.
[ ... ]

Iran test-fires longer-range missile




Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Monday test-fired a ''long range'' Shahab-3 missile which Tehran says is capable of hitting targets in Israel, Iran's English-language Press TV said.
[ ... ]

UN climate talks resume as pressure for pact grows

UN negotiations for a global climate treaty resumed in Bangkok on Monday amid fears that delegates will fail to agree on a draft text ahead of December's crucial showdown in Copenhagen.

A power station is seen in Sun Valley, California. UN negotiations for a global climate treaty resumed in Bangkok on Monday amid fears that delegates will fail to agree on a draft text ahead of December's crucial showdown in Copenhagen.

The talks are the latest session in nearly two years of haggling -- known as the "Bali Road Map" -- that have fallen far short of an agreement to tackle climate change beyond 2010.

"Our children and grandchildren will never forgive us unless action is taken. Time is running out, we have two months before Copenhagen," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told around 2,500 delegates as the talks opened.

"Much needs to be done and much needs to be resolved. Let us use the two weeks in Bangkok to the full to ensure the future."

The Bangkok talks, part of the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), run to October 9 and are the next to last negotiations before Copenhagen's deadline meeting.

They follow last week's UN climate summit in New York and a G20 leaders' meeting in Pittsburgh, which failed to break the deadlock on either of the two biggest issues -- reducing carbon emissions and meeting the associated costs.

The final talks before Copenhagen are in Barcelona from November 2-6.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said on the eve of the meetings in the Thai capital that there was intense pressure on the participants.

"We're arriving here in Bangkok with about, I think, a 280-page negotiating text which is basically impossible to work with," de Boer told AFP in Bangkok.

"We've got 16 days of negotiating time left before Copenhagen so things are getting tight and we need to get to a result."

Experts warn that global temperatures must rise no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 over pre-industrial times, a target embraced by the leaders of the G8 nations in July.

Scientists also say emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases should peak just six years from now.

Without drastic action, they fear drought, floods and rising sea levels could grip the world by the end of the century, causing famine, homelessness and strife.

On emissions, developed economies have acknowledged a historical responsibility for global warming. Most have put numbers on the table for slashing their carbon pollution by 2020 and by 2050.

But, they say, developing nations -- especially China, India and Brazil and other major emitters of tomorrow -- should also pledge to curb output of greenhouse gases.

Poor and emerging economies refuse to take on their own hard targets but call for rich nations to make higher cuts than they have set themselves for 2020.

President Hu Jintao did vow at the UN last week to make China's economy less carbon intensive -- essentially promising to use fossil fuels more efficiently -- by a "notable margin" before 2020. But he put no numbers on the table.

China has overtaken the United States as top carbon polluter, according to several scientific assessments. Together, the two nations account for 40 percent of greenhouse gases.

Campaigners are looking to the US to take the lead in pushing for a pact, although it has so far offered much lower targets for emissions cuts by 2020 than other developed economies.

"Either the US lifts its game, or the next two weeks in Bangkok could go down as just a holding pattern before a fatal nosedive in Copenhagen", said Antonio Hill, senior climate policy adviser at Oxfam International.

[ ... ]

Sacrava's RFA Cartoon: The Asora is called "Aa Mieng Kayeh"






Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at http://sacrava.blogspot.com)

23 Dec 2006
By Chey Dara
Sralanh Khmer
Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy

Sok Serei, RFA’s reporter who was injured in an accident last week, asked Sam Rainsy, SRP President, to look after Kem Sos, RFA Khmer Service director, because he (Kem Sos) undertook several irregular actions.

In a statement made to Sam Rainsy in front of reporters, in Calmette hospital, on Thursday morning, when Sam Rainsy went to visit him, Sok Serei claimed that his corruption reports involving government officials that he planned on broadcasting had been prevented by Kem Sos who said that these corrupt officials are his friends and close acquaintances. Sok Serei who was seriously injured to his head, but with improving condition, said that Kem Sos should not mix up professional work with his personal feelings.

Sam Rainsy declined to comment when asked by reporters on the issue raised by this RFA reporter, he said that his visit to Sok Serei at his Calmette hospital bed was mainly because he knew Sok Serei.

Sok Serei also told Sam Rainsy in front of reporters that people are after him because of his reporting on corruptions perpetrated by government officials.

Sok Serei indicated to Sam Rainsy that on some stories, he has to oppose Kem Sos and broadcast stories involving corrupt officials. Sok Serei said that he is certain his determination to publish these stories was the cause of his accident.

Sralanh Khmer could not contact Mr. Kem Sos for clarifications regarding the criticisms raised by Sok Serei. However, an anonymous RFA reporter told Sralanh Khmer that Kem Sos bears several suspecting points.

A few years ago, Mr. Pin Samkhon was removed from his position as RFA director because he was suspected of being indulgent with several government officials and that this affected the work of RFA.
[ ... ]

Mixed results for Cambodian development goals


Mon, 28 Sep 2009
By Jurgen Schmidt
DPA


Phnom Penh - Cambodia is seeing mixed results in its progress towards meeting nine Millennium Development Goals by 2015, a UN Development Programme consultant said Monday. Sherif Rushdy told a conference in Phnom Penh that the country is on track to meet targets for three goals - reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and the Cambodia-specific target of zero civilian casualties from landmines - but will likely miss the goals set in at least three other key areas.

Rushdy said Cambodia has shown "spectacular" performance in reducing mortality of children under five years to the goal of 65 per 1,000 live births. In 1998 the rate was 124 per 1,000 live births, and the latest figure is 83.

Infant mortality figures were also down sharply and ahead of target with the rate of 60 per 1,000 live births. The target for 2105 is 50 per 1,000 live births.

Rushdy warned that three goals likely to be missed are reduction in maternal mortality, the goal of nine years' education for all school-age children, and environmental sustainability.

"Maternal mortality has not changed at all, the situation is one of the worst," he noted, citing a figure of 461 deaths per 100,000 live births against a target of 140.

Rushdy said soaring food prices last year added to the likelihood that Cambodia would miss the maternal mortality goal, because the numbers of women suffering from anaemia and other nutritional deficiencies had not decreased.

Environmental sustainability is also falling short, particularly with respect to forest cover. Cambodia suffered extensive deforestation in the past decade.

Rushdy said 373,000 hectares of forest was lost between 2002 and 2006, and added that increasing dependence on wood for fuel means "the prospect of preserving natural resources is not very good."

He also said Cambodia's target for universal education "way too ambitious." The standard target is universal primary education, but Cambodia is aiming for nine years' schooling for all children.

"[These three goals] are flashing a red light, and the country is unlikely to reach its goals in these areas," he said.

Attaining two of the remaining three goals - eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and promoting gender equality and empowering women - remains possible provided certain changes are made to the way the goal is being approached.

The UN Millennium Development Goals are a set of typically eight goals that reflect the key development challenges facing countries around the world, and which countries agreed to meet by 2015. Cambodia added a ninth goal of achieving zero casualties from landmines and unexploded ordinance, legacies of its conflict-ridden past.
[ ... ]

Tire burning protest in front of RFA office following the firing of 4 employees and preventing them from protesting


Fired RFA employees burnt a tire to protest in front of RFA office (Photo: Khmer Sthabna)

26 September 2009

By Sopheak and Sopheap
Khmer Sthabna
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer


The firing of 4 Radio Free Asia (RFA) employees and the work contract reduction for a fifth employee without providing a reasonable explanation, the prevention of these employees to protest against these firings and their evictions out of the RFA office on 25 September led to a tire burning protest. The protesters were wearing mask to symbolize the fact their freedom of speech was silenced by the administrators of RFA, a radio station that is supported by the US government.

The 4 former RFA employees gathered in front of the RFA office, located on Street No. 240 (behind the royal palace), at 7PM on 25 September 2009 to burn the tire in protest.

Phan Sophat (aka Ath Bonny) claimed in the evening of 25 September at the protest location that 4 employees were fired one after another on 25 September 2009. They are: Mrs. Sean Sophorn, Mr. Huy Vannak, Mr. Um Vun, Mr. Thai Sothea. Phan Sophat said that his 1-year work contract was cut down to 3-month instead. RFA administrators did not allow these 5 employees to lodge their protest (no comment?) and security guards walked them out of their offices.

Phan Sophat told reporters that silencing their freedom to protest is likened to the situation in Tuol Sleng (S-21) jail under the Khmer Rouge regime. Furthermore, even under the KR, they allowed the prisoners to criticize somewhat, but in the case of the sacked RFA employees, they were not allowed to comment on their firing at all. Such action is very shameful because RFA belongs to the US.

Thai Sothea, the RFA Khmer Service website admin who was also fired, indicated: “They (Kem Sos, the RFA Khmer Service director, and US administrators) did not allow us to lodge a protest at all.” Phan Sophat added that the 5 RFA employees suffer from injustice and they sent a letter to the US embassy in Cambodia, a protest letter to the Cambodian ministry of Labor, to the unions, and they also sued for employment termination without reasonable cause.

Phan Sophat also added that: “Originally, Seang Sophorn was improperly fired, in violation of the labor law, i.e. she was only informed verbally about her firing and no advance notice was provided to her. Such action is a violation of law and the human rights. So we helped her protest by telling [RFA’s administrators] that such firing is improper, RFA should set the example. If I did something bad, how can I go interview people? How can I tell others what to do? If people ask me about the law, how can I answer them? Therefore, [RFA] cannot afford to take such bad action.”

Phan Sophat indicated also that, with many employees protesting, RFA decided to fire 2 additional employees. As for himself, Phan Sophat said that he was not fired, he was told earlier to continue his 1-year contract, but in the morning of 25 September, he was informed that his contract was reduced to 3-month instead without any explanation provided to him, i.e. “no comment, no opinion, no discussion.” In this case, Norm Thompson (?), the US RFA vice-chairman, did no respect human rights and the labor law.

Phan Sophat added that RFA journalists usually report about the firing of factory workers by owners who violate the law and human rights, but when it is RFA’s turn to violate the law, how can he interview anybody? Phan Sophat regrets the action taken by RFA which serves as a forum in the past 12 years (from 1997 to 24 September 2009), and he said that the fired RFA employees dedicated themselves to their work and they even risked their own lives in the past when the situation was still unstable, they did all these because they love freedom.

At 7:30PM on 25 September, the 4 RFA employees fired dropped their protest letter to Ambassador Carol Rodley at the US embassy in Phnom Penh. They also met with John Johnson, the embassy spokesman on that same evening and they requested him to help resolve this problem with RFA administrators who fired them.
[ ... ]

President of Khmer Mchas Srok Movement visits Minnesota


Dr Chak Sakhoon, President of the Khmer Machas Srok Movement
Dr. Chak Sakhonn and Mr. Sean Masavang of the Khmer Mchas Srok Movement

Monday, September 28, 2009
Source: Khmer Mchas Srok Movement

Dr. Chack Sakhonn visits Minnesota in a second times to meet her supporters and update the current situation in Cambodia and the Khmer Mchas Srok‘s policy. On September 26. 2009 at 2:00pm about 100 supporters came to listen to her emotional speech and a presentation of real tragic pictures from Cambodia.
On her speech, Dr. Sakhonn focused on the critical issues that our people and nation are facing today: illegal immigrants, borders issues with neighboring countries, land grabbing by the powerful and rich, widespread corruption, national debt, unemployment, poverty, human rights violation, bias justice system, and unfair election.

Furthermore, Dr. Sakhonn accused Vietnam of trying to control Cambodia through the CPP puppet regime. She gave an example that the so-called Triangle Development Zone which contains 20 percent of Cambodia’s size and 30 percent of natural resources of the country but has only two hundred thousand Khmer population to joint with Vietnam’s 3 provinces that has more than 6 million population as a first step toward full Indochina Federation in the future.

At the end of her speech, Dr. Sakhonn appeal to all Khmers who live outside and inside the country to use their rights and voices as the Khmer Mchas srok to demand independence, sovereignty, and eternal peace for our nation, which guaranteed by the Paris Peace Accord in 1991.

For additional information about the Khmer Mchas Srok Movement, click here.
[ ... ]

Two CPP affiliates participate in Communist Vietnam Fatherland Front congress


Fatherland Front holds congress

09/28/2009
VOV News (Hanoi)

The seventh national congress of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) opened at the International Convention Centre in Hanoi on September 28, with the participation of Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and other high-ranking leaders of the Party and State.

The VFF committees from across the country, at both central and local levels, will gather together for the first time.

The congress aims to enhance the role of the VFF, promote democracy, improve social consensus, build national solidarity to keep the nation strong, and enable prosperity for the people in a just, democratic and civilized society.

Approximately 1,300 delegates will join the convention, 989 of whom are official delegates from VFF committees nationwide.

The oldest participant will be 92-year-old Venerable Thich Pho Tue from the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, while the youngest will be 19-year-old Vu Thi Xua, an ethnic minority delegate from the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang.

The three-day congress will be attended by delegates from the China People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Lao Front for National Construction, the Cambodian Front for National Construction, the Cambodian Front for National Solidarity and Development, the Cuban Revolutionary Protection Committee and representatives from foreign embassies in Vietnam and domestic and international non-governmental organisations.
[ ... ]

Cambodia confirms first death of A/H1N1 flu


PHNOM PENH, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday announced the country's first death case of flu A/H1N1.

The dead patient, a 40-year-old Khmer woman, died on Sunday at Phnom Penh's Calmette Hospital, said the premier at the inauguration ceremony of Tourism Ministry building.

So far, the number of the confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases in Cambodia has risen to 88, according to officials of the Ministry of Health on Monday.
[ ... ]

Cambodia Approves USD84 Million Worth Of Investments In August


PHNOM PENH, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- The Cambodian government approved US$84 million in investment applications in August, taking the total value of approvals for the year to date to USD1.56 billion, China's Xinhua news agency said quoting a local media report on Monday.

The new approvals included three agriculture and three industrial projects, the Phnom Penh Post quoted the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government's chief investment body, as saying.

In August last year, the government approved US$652 million worth of investments, and the first eight months of 2008 saw the approval of US$8.99 billion worth of investment projects.

The Post said Youn Heng, deputy director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Cambodian invesment Board (CIB), a body of the CDC, said he was too busy to comment Friday.

However, he said last month that although the number and value of applications was falling due to the economic crisis, a few very large project approvals contributed to heavily inflated investment figures last year, including a US$3.8 billion proposal, the largest approval last year, by Chinese company Union Developmem Group Co. to build a coastal development in Koh Kong.

Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said the drop in approvals in tourism and real estate was being offset by investments earmarked for the agriculture, industrial and agro-industrial sectors.

The International Monetary Fund projected Wednesday that foreign direct investment in Cambodia would be worth US$490 million this year, down from US$815 million in 2008.
[ ... ]

China’s dams worrying S-E Asia


Michael Richardson
The Straits Times


SEPT 28 — As China prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule this week, there are many signs of the country's growing international influence. One of the least recognised is China's role as Asia's dominant headwater power.

Geography has made China the source of some of the most important rivers that flow into South and Southeast Asia. They include two of South Asia's great rivers, the Indus and Brahmaputra, and two of Southeast Asia's — the Salween and Mekong.

All have their headwaters in China's Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, a region so high and remote that it is known as the “roof of the world”. These four transnational rivers of Asia flow for much of their early course through Chinese territory.

For Southeast Asia, by far the most important river is the Mekong. Back in 1986,when China began building the first of a series of dams on its section of the Mekong River, hardly anyone in the downstream countries paid attention. But today, as China races to finish the fourth dam for generating electricity on the upper reaches of the Mekong, concerns in the region about the possible environmental impact are rising.

The sheer scale of China's engineering to harness the power of the Mekong and change its natural flow is setting off alarm bells in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, the four countries of the lower Mekong basin. More than 60 million people in these countries depend on the river for food, water and transportation.

A report in May by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) warned that China's plan for a cascade of eight dams on the Mekong, which it calls the Lancang Jiang, might pose a considerable threat to the river and its natural riches.

In June, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was handed a petition calling for a halt to dam building. It was signed by more than 11,000 people, many of them subsistence farmers and fishermen who live along the river's mainstream and its many tributaries.

Some analysts say that if the worst fears of the critics come to pass, relations between China and its neighbours in mainland Southeast Asia will be severely damaged. But mindful of the growing power and influence of China, Southeast Asian governments have thus far muffled their concerns. Meanwhile, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand have put forward plans to dam their sections of the Mekong mainstream, prompting Vietnam to object and undermining the local environmentalists' case against China.

The Mekong River Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental agency formed in 1995 by the four lower basin countries to promote sustainable development of the river, is in the midst of a cost-benefit analysis of mainstream dams, including the influence of the upstream dams in China on the river system as a whole. However, the MRC's authority is limited and Beijing has refused to join.

Although the Mekong is widely regarded as a Southeast Asian river, its source is in the glaciers high in Tibet. Nearly half of the 4,880km length of the river flows through China before it reaches Southeast Asia.

Since there is no international treaty governing use of transboundary rivers, China is in a dominant position as the Mekong's headwater power. It has the right to develop its section of the river as it sees fit, and has done so without consulting its neighbours, let alone seeking their approval.

The Mekong River basin drains water from an area of 795,000 sq km. The MRC estimates that the sustainable hydropower potential of the lower basin alone is a massive 30,000 megawatts. But it says that there are major challenges in balancing the benefits of electricity, water storage and flood control from the dams with their negative impact. These include population displacement, obstruction to fish movements up and down the river, and changes in water and sediment flow.

The cascade of dams being constructed on the upper Mekong in China's Yunnan province will generate more than 15,500 megawatts of electricity for cities and industries, replacing polluting fossil fuels with clean, renewable hydropower. The eight Yunnan dams will produce about the same amount of electricity as 30 big coal-burning plants.

The fourth of China's Mekong dams, at Xiaowan, is due to be completed by 2012 at a cost of nearly US$4 billion (RM14 billion). Rising to a height of 292m, the dam wall will be the world's tallest.

In terms of water storage capacity, the first three Chinese dams on the Mekong, completed between 1993 and 2004, are relative minnows. Between them, their reservoirs hold back just over 2.9 billion cubic metres of water.

The Xiaowan reservoir will hold 15 billion cubic metres of water, more than five times the combined capacity of the first three Chinese dams. Filling it is expected to take between five and 10 years, using half the upper Mekong's flow. When full, the reservoir will cover an area of more than 190 sq km. With a capacity to generate 4,200 megawatts of electricity, Xiaowan will be by far the largest dam so far on the Mekong.

However, by 2014, China plans to finish another dam below the Xiaowan at Nuozhadu. It will not be quite as high but will impound even more water, nearly 23 billion cubic metres, and generate 5,000 megawatts of power.

Chinese officials have assured Southeast Asia that the Yunnan dams will have a positive environmental impact. They say that by holding some water back in the wet season, the dams will help control flooding and river bank erosion downstream. Conversely, releases from the hydropower reservoirs to generate power in the summer will help ease water shortages in the lower Mekong during the dry season.

However, the UNEP-AIT report said that Cambodia's great central lake, the nursery of the lower Mekong's fish stocks, and Vietnam's Mekong Delta, its rice bowl, will be at particular risk from changes to the river's unique cycle of flood and drought.

The Cambodian lake is linked to the Mekong by the Tonle Sap river. Scientists are concerned that reductions in the Mekong's natural floodwater flow will cause falls in the lake's water level and fish stocks, already under pressure from over-harvesting and pollution.

Vietnam worries that dwindling water volumes will aggravate the problem of sea water intrusion and salination in the low-lying Mekong Delta, where climate change and sea level rise threaten to inundate large areas of farm land and displace millions of people by the end of this century.

The MRC says it has been discussing with Chinese experts technical cooperation to assess downstream river changes caused by hydropower development. But neither China nor Myanmar have joined the MRC or agreed to observe its resource management guidelines. In the case of Myanmar, this may not matter much, since only 2 per cent of the Mekong basin's annual water flow comes from Myanmar.

However, 21 per cent of the water is from China. Despite this, Beijing has so far baulked at full membership of the MRC, preferring to remain a “dialogue partner”. Full membership would intensify scrutiny of its dam plans by downstream Southeast Asian states and increase pressure on Beijing to take their interests into account.

While China's programme to dam the Mekong is moving ahead on schedule, proposals to do the same on the Southeast Asian section of the river have been put on hold. So far, only China has actually built dams on the Mekong mainstream.Alibaba.com - The largest database of products & suppliers from China


In the lower Mekong basin, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have all developed hydropower dams on rivers that flow down from mountains into the Mekong.

There are now more than 3,200 megawatts of electricity being generated on Mekong tributaries. More dams, with a generating capacity of nearly the same amount, are under construction.

The temporary economic slowdown in Southeast Asia has reduced demand for electricity. This provides a breathing space to assess how the Mekong mainstream dam projects will affect the interests of people in the river basin. But without China's full participation, no Mekong management plan can be effective.

Beijing is intent on forging closer economic integration with Southeast Asia through trade, investment, communication, transport and energy cooperation with its neighbours in the Greater Mekong Subregion. But this strategy may backfire if mainland Southeast Asians conclude that Chinese dams are having an adverse impact on their future development prospects.
[ ... ]

Comrade Hor 5 Hong addresses the 64th UN General Assembly ... Interesting accent Comrade!

part1

part2


On Saturday 26 September, Comrade Hor 5 Hong addresses the 64th UN General Assembly. It's interesting to hear the comrade's accent. Anybody can guess where he picked up this accent from?
[ ... ]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is Comrade Hor 5 Hong confessing that Cambodia is in serious economic trouble?


Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Cambodia calls for successful conclusion of trade talks

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Saturday called for the successful conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations to help mitigate the impact of the world economic and financial crisis on developing countries.

Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong made the statement as he addressed the general debate of the UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters.

While the developed countries have more possibilities and resources to cope with the economic slowdown, the developing countries have suffered the most with a huge loss of national income, he said.

The economic growth of developing countries is expected to fall sharply due to a drastic reduction in export which they have largely been dependent on, to the falling of investment, and to the rising unemployment, he said.

"In order to help mitigate the impact of this economic and financial disaster on developing countries, I am of the view that we should do everything possible to get the Doha Round negotiation back on track for a successful conclusion in order to break down barriers to trade, to better market access, particularly in agricultural goods, and to reduce agricultural subsidies," he said.

He welcomed the recent commitment of G20 made in Pittsburg to bringing the Doha Round to a successful conclusion in 2010.

The Monterrey Consensus should be invigorated in order to help developing countries to alleviate poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs), he added.
[ ... ]

Petition to Ensure Human Rights and Democracy in Cambodia - Please Sign Online!


Subject: Petition to Ensure Human Rights and Democracy in Cambodia

Target:US Secretary of State, Hillary R Clinton
Sponsored by: Ros Visal - Philadelphia, PA.


The current government has brought so many negative changed to Cambodia. Here is lists of some of the unethical actions of the current government in Cambodia that I believe are must mentioning:

The Paris Peace Agreement in 1991: The primary objective of this agreement should be the advancement of the Cambodian nation and people, without discrimination or prejudice, and with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedom for all. The Cambodian current government have not fully implemented this Paris Peace Accord which agreed and signed by: Secretary General of the United Nations, the United States of the America and 18 other countries of which Cambodia was presented by 4 parties to the agreement, namely FUNCINPEC, KPNLF, PDA and CPP.

The Judiciary System: Out of its conviction to justice, the government has not established an independent court system that works for the people. In todays Cambodia, justice is not served for every citizen; innocent people get penalized for a crime and high ranking government is above the law.

The Parliamentary System: The government has no truly representative parliamentary system comprised of members elected directly by the people and responsible to the people.

The Freedom of Speech: Not consistent with the constitution to materialize, the government has not given people rights to speak the truth about their immoral characterizations. If someone does exercise these rights, he/she will get conviction of defamation and will be prosecuted. The freedom of speech is a milestone underachievement for the people of Cambodia.

The Human Rights: Cambodian citizens, politicians and journalists critical of the government face violence and intimidation and are barred from equal access to the broadcast media. In addition, the judiciary remains weak and subject to political influence.

The Force Evictions: Recently, the evictions were carried out without proper compensation to the villagers instead with excessive force by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, military police and civilian police officers armed with guns and lethal weapons. Such as inhumane evictions in Cambodia have caused thousands of families to lose their land, homes and livelihoods, and left them destitute.
[ ... ]

Therion - The Miskolc Experience (2009)

Therion - The Miskolc Experience (2009)
Therion - The Miskolc Experience (2009)
Genre: Sympho Metal | MP3 | VBR | CBR 44,1kHz | 133 Mb

Tracklist:
01 - Clavicula Nox
02 - Dvorak- Excerpt from Symphony no. 9
03 - Verdi- Vedi! le fosche notturne spotigle from Il Trovatore
04 - Mozart- 'Dies Irae' from Reqiuem
05 - Saint-Saens- Excerpt from Symphony No. 3
06 - Wagner- 'Notung! Notung! Niedliches Schwert!' from The Ring
07 - Wagner- Excerpt from the Overture from Rienzi
08 - Wagner- Second part of 'Der Tag ist da' from Rienzzi
09 - Wagner- First part of 'Herbei! Herbei!' from Rienzi
10 - Blood Of Kingu
11 - Sirius B
12 - Lemuria
13 - Eternal Return
14 - Draconian Trilogy
15 - Schwartsalbenheim
16 - Via Nocturna
17 - The Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah
18 - Grand Finale
Download link:
part1
part2
[ ... ]

Barbra Streisand - Love is the Answer (2009)

Barbra Streisand - Love is the Answer (2009)
Barbra Streisand - Love is the Answer (2009)
Genre: Jazz | MP3 | VBR | CBR 44,1kHz | 133 Mb

Tracklist:
01 - Here's to Life
02 - In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
03 - Gentle Rain
04 - If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
05 - Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most
06 - Make Someone Happy
07 - Where Do You Start
08 - A Time for Love
09 - Here's that Rainy Day
10 - Love Dance
11 - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
12 - Some Other Time
13 - You Must Believe in Spring (Bonus Track)
14 - Here's to Life
15 - In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
16 - Gentle Rain
17 - If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
18 - Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most
19 - Make Someone Happy
20 - Where Do You Start
21 - A Time for Love
22 - Here's that Rainy Day
23 - Love Dance
24 - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
25 - Some Other Time
Download link:
part1
part2
[ ... ]

Emil Bulls - Phoenix (2009)

Emil Bulls - Phoenix (2009)
Emil Bulls - Phoenix (2009)
Genre: Alt Metal | MP3 | VBR | CBR 44,1kHz | 94 Mb

Tracklist:
01 - Here Comes the Fire
02 - When God Was Sleeping
03 - The Architects of My Apocalypse
04 - Ad Infinitum
05 - Infecting the Program
06 - Nothing in this World
07 - Time
08 - It's High Time
09 - The Storm Comes in
10 - Triumph and Disaster
11 - Man Overboard! (the Dark Hour of Reason)
12 - Son of the Morning
13 - I Don't Belong Here
Download link:
[ ... ]

Basshunter - Bass Generation (2009)

Basshunter - Bass Generation (2009)
Basshunter - Bass Generation (2009)
Genre: Eurodance | MP3 | VBR | CBR 44,1kHz | 67 Mb

Tracklist:
01 - Every Morning
02 - I Promised Myself
03 - Why
04 - I Can't Deny (Featuring Lauren)
05 - Don't Walk Away
06 - I Still Love
07 - Day & Night
08 - I Will Learn To Love Again (Featuring Stunt)
09 - Far From Home
10 - I Know U Know
11 - On Our Side
12 - Can You
13 - Plane To Spain
14 - Every Morning (Michael Mind Edit)
15 - Bonus Track (Hidden Track)
Download link:
[ ... ]

A Storm Of Light - Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2009)

A Storm Of Light - Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2009)
A Storm Of Light - Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2009)
Genre: Post Metal | MP3 | VBR | CBR 44,1kHz | 98 Mb

Tracklist:
01 - Alpha (Law of Nature Pt. 1)
02 - Amber Waves of Gray
03 - Tempest
04 - The Light in Their Eyes
05 - Trouble is Near
06 - Arc of Failure (Law of Nature Pt. 2)
07 - Midnight
08 - Across the Wilderness
09 - Time Our Saviour (Law of Nature Pt. 3)
10 - Omega
Download link:
[ ... ]

Castanets - Texas Rose the Thaw and the Beasts (2009)

Castanets - Texas Rose the Thaw and the Beasts (2009)
Castanets - Texas Rose the Thaw and the Beasts (2009)
Genre: Psychedelic folk | MP3 | VBR | CBR 44,1kHz | 49 Mb

Tracklist:
01 - Rose
02 - On Beginning
03 - My Heart
04 - Worn from the Fight (with Fireworks)
05 - No Trouble
06 - Thaw and the Beasts
07 - We Kept Our Kitchen Clean and Our Dreaming Quiet
08 - Down the Line, Love
09 - Lucky Old Moon
10 - Ignorance is Blues
11 - Dance Dance
Download link:
[ ... ]
 

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