T.O.O.B. omni-directional digital dome screen

Thursday, August 27, 2009

T.O.O.B. omni-directional digital dome screen

The T.O.O.B. omni-directional digital dome screen will definitely revise how entertainment is played out, as it helps bring the big screen 3D experience right into the middle of your living room thanks to animator and inventor Alexander Marten McDonnell. that home dome screen will target cinephiles, gamers and technology enthusiasts who want to indulge themselves with a small luxury in an immersive environment without having to dip fingers into their kids’ college funds. The home screen measures 3′ x 6′ x 3′ and can be customized to fit into any room, retailing for $1,440 a pop although there is an option to rent these as well.

READ MORE - T.O.O.B. omni-directional digital dome screen

Reports: Gillispie arrested for DUI

Former Kentucky men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie was arrested early Thursday morning on a DUI charge, multiple media outlets in Kentucky are reporting.

Gillispie, who was driving a 2009 white Mercedes, was pulled over around 2:45 a.m. ET in Kentucky. He refused to take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, WLEX-TV in Lexington is reporting.

Gillispie, 50, reportedly told police that he and his passenger, Brian O'Connor, were returning from a golfing trip. O'Conner, 42, was reportedly charged with public intoxication.

It is the third time that Gillispie has been arrested on alcohol-related driving charges. However, in one case the charge was dismissed and in the other he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, reckless driving.

Gillispie sued the University of Kentucky Athletics Association in federal court in Dallas on May 27, claiming fraud and breach of contract. Gillispie claims the school never intended to sign him to a long-term deal. The school has denied the allegations. He is seeking at least $6 million -- about $1.5 million per year for four of the five years he says were left on his agreement.

The University of Kentucky countersued Gillispie, claiming it doesn't owe him pay because he never signed a contract.

UK's lawyers are asking the court to rule that the two-page memorandum of understanding Gillispie signed after his hiring in 2007 was not the equivalent of a full contract.

The athletics association has asked a federal judge in Texas either to dismiss Gillispie's lawsuit over his firing or to move the case to Kentucky. In a motion filed in federal court, the association's attorneys say the school has minimum contact with the state of Texas, giving the court there no jurisdiction to hear Gillispie's claims.

The association's attorneys also claim the University of Kentucky, not the athletics association, hired Gillispie and paid him.

Gillispie went 40-27 in two seasons with the Wildcats, including a 22-14 mark last season that tied for the second-most losses in the program's 106-year history. A stumble down the stretch left the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

READ MORE - Reports: Gillispie arrested for DUI

UPDATE 3-Bank of China sees loan rate slowing in H2

* Q2 net profit 22.55 bln yuan, beating forecasts

* Interest margin narrows to 2.04 pct from 2.72 pct yr ago

* Bank upbeat on China's economy

(Adds comments from media briefing)

By Michael Wei and Clare Jim

BEIJING/HONG KONG, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Bank of China (3988.HK), the country's biggest foreign-exchange lender, expects to scale back lending in the coming months as Beijing moves to stem a break-neck increase in liquidity fuelled by a massive economic stimulus programme.

Bank of China (601988.SS) President Li Lihui said the pace of lending was likely to be slowed in the second half of the year "by a relatively big amount," after a surge in loans helped second-quarter earnings beat analysts' forecasts.

He added demand for credit was likely to be lower in the second half, and that his bank's loan growth for all of 2009 was expected to beat the industry average.

Li's comments came as further evidence that lending growth could slow sharply after hitting a record 7.4 trillion yuan ($1.08 trillion) in the first half, potentially adding to worries about the strength of China's economic recovery.

A likely end to an unprecedented lending surge that sustained the world's third-largest economy in the first half of the year may slow income growth at banks but will also reduce the level of bad-loan accumulation.


Li said that his bank was also studying plans to raise capital, including potentially issuing subordinated bonds.

"We will study all options in the plan in a balanced way to decide the fund-raising channel which will be in the best interest of the Bank of China," Li said.

Despite the cautious note on loans, Bank of China on Thursday sounded an upbeat note on prospects for China's economy through to the end of the year.

"As China's economy is currently experiencing a critical period of stabilisation and recovery. The government will continue with its macroeconomic policies of maintaining a proactive fiscal and moderately relaxed monetary policy with a view to building up the economic base for further recovery," it said in a statement. Continued...

READ MORE - UPDATE 3-Bank of China sees loan rate slowing in H2

Decline in air traffic slowed in July: IATA But ticket prices continue to drop on aggressive promotions

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- The decline in global airline traffic slowed in July, but ticket prices showed no improvement despite capacity cuts, leading a global industry body to caution that the recovery will be both "slow and volatile."

Scheduled passenger traffic fell 2.9% in July from a year earlier, the International Air Transport Association said Thursday. It was an improvement over the 7.2% drop recorded in June and the 6.8% decline seen over the first seven months of the year.

Fares, however, continued to fall, despite airlines having greatly reduced capacity in the past few months in an effort to protect their load factors and profitability.

"Demand may look better, but the bottom line has not improved. We have seen little change to the unprecedented fall in yields and revenues," IATA Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement.

He cautioned that the months ahead were uncertain, in particular the price of oil, which has been creeping back up along with the first signs of a global economic recovery.

Bisignani, who said the industry remains "in intensive care," still expects any recovery to be "both slow and volatile".

The comments may dampen the optimism of investors recently cheered by statements from British Airways /quotes/comstock/23s!a:bay (UK:BAY 188.40, -3.30, -1.72%) and Air France-KLM /quotes/comstock/23r!paf (FR:AF 10.85, -0.01, -0.05%) two of Europe's largest airline, suggesting demand had recovered a bit over the summer.

Looking at individual regions, July traffic fell roughly 3% in both North America and Western Europe, but IATA warned the improvement was more the result of "deep discounting" than stronger incomes or greater economic confidence.

In the Asia Pacific region passenger traffic dropped 7.6% in July, which was still a notable improvement from the 14.5% collapse witnessed in June. The recovery was helped by the return of economic growth to a larger extent than anywhere else in the world.

In Latin America traffic fell 3.5%. The Middle East remained the only region to show growth with a 13.2% increase.

The global freight market, meanwhile, fell 11.3% in July, an improvement from the 16.5% drop in June. All regions showed an improvement except Africa, as companies started replenishing their inventories.

"Once inventories are at desired levels in relation to sales, improvements in demand will level off until business and consumer confidence returns," Bisignani warned.

Aude Lagorce is a senior correspondent for MarketWatch in London.

READ MORE - Decline in air traffic slowed in July: IATA But ticket prices continue to drop on aggressive promotions

August tied for deadliest month in Afghanistan

KABUL — A U.S. service member died Thursday in a militant attack involving a roadside bomb and gunfire, a death that pushed August into a tie with July as the deadliest months of the eight-year war.

The death brings to 44 the number of U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan this month. But with four days left in the month, August could set a new record.

More than 60,000 U.S. troops are now in the country — a record number — to combat rising insurgent violence. The number of roadside bombs deployed by militants across the country has skyrocketed, and U.S. forces have moved into new and deadlier areas of the country this summer, in part to help secure the country's Aug. 20 presidential election.

Violence is on the rise in Afghanistan even as it falls in Iraq, where nearly twice as many U.S. troops are still based. Five U.S. troops have died in Iraq this month, three fewer than in July.

A statement from the NATO-led force in Kabul said the U.S. service member died in southern Afghanistan when the troop's patrol responded to the bombing and gunfire attack. No other details were released. Thousands of new American troops are operating for the first time in Helmand and Kandahar, two of the country's most dangerous provinces, in part to secure the country's Aug. 20 presidential vote.

Afghan election officials have released two batches of vote tallies that show President Hamid Karzai with 44.8 percent of the vote and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah with 35.1 percent, based on returns from 17 percent of polling stations. The next partial results are expected Saturday.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Afghan forces battled Taliban militants at a medical center in eastern Afghanistan after a Taliban commander sought treatment there, and a U.S. helicopter gunship fired on the clinic after militants put up resistance.

Reports of the militant death toll from Wednesday's firefight varied widely. The spokesman of the governor of Paktika province said 12 militants died, while police said two were killed. The U.S. military did not report any deaths. It wasn't clear why the tolls differed.

The fighting began after a wounded Taliban commander sought treatment at a clinic in the Sar Hawza district of Paktika. Afghan forces went to the center and got in a firefight with militants. U.S. forces later provided backup.

Hamidullah Zhwak, the governor's spokesman, said the Taliban commander was wounded Aug. 20, election day. Militants brought him and three other wounded Taliban to the clinic at noon Wednesday. Afghan forces were tipped off to their presence and soon arrived at the scene, he said.

Insurgent snipers fired from a tower near the clinic, and troops called in an airstrike from U.S. forces, Zhwak said. Fighting between some 20 militants and Afghan and U.S. forces lasted about five hours, and 12 Taliban were killed in the clash, he said.

"After ensuring the clinic was cleared of civilians, an AH-64 Apache helicopter fired rounds at the building ending the direct threat and injuring the targeted insurgent in the building," a U.S. military statement said.

A U.S. military spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, said the clinic's doctor gave U.S. troops permission to fire on the clinic. After the battle, Afghan and U.S. forces met with villagers and discussed rebuilding the clinic, a U.S. summary of the meeting said.

Villagers expressed "disgust" that militants used the medical center to fire from and that they understood that the action by Afghan and coalition forces was necessary, the summary said.

"The local villagers thanked the Afghanistan National Security Forces for ensuring all civilians were out of harms way before they were forced to use Coalition helicopters to engage the enemy," the summary said.

Seven insurgents — including the wounded commander — had been detained, the U.S. statement said.

Gen. Dawlat Khan, the provincial police chief, said two militants died in the encounter.

The Taliban have gained control of large segments of Afghanistan's south and east over the past few years, prompting the U.S. to send an additional 21,000 troops to the country this year.

The latest clash comes as the war-torn country awaits results from last week's election. The lengthy vote count, coupled with ongoing accusations of fraud, threatens to undermine hopes that Afghans can put together a united front against the insurgency.

READ MORE - August tied for deadliest month in Afghanistan

Tropical Storm Strengthens, May Brush Long Island, New England

By Alex Morales

Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Danny strengthened and may brush Long Island and New England as a hurricane on a path for landfall in Canada at the weekend.

Danny’s maximum sustained winds intensified to 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour from 50 mph late yesterday, the National Hurricane Center said on its Web site at about 4:45 a.m. Miami time. The system was 370 miles east-northeast of the Bahamian capital, Nassau, and heading northwest at 10 mph.

“Slow strengthening is forecast during the next couple of Days,” the center said. “Interests from the Carolinas northward to New England should monitor the progress of Danny.”

The center’s five-day forecast shows Danny strengthening on a northward track that may see the storm pass near the Carolinas late tomorrow and New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Aug. 29, before hitting Canada in the area of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick late that day or early on Aug. 30.

Danny, the fourth named storm of the June 1 to Nov. 30 Atlantic hurricane season, is forecast to become a hurricane, with winds of at least 74 mph, late tomorrow or early Aug. 28.

The eye of the storm, which the hurricane center yesterday described as “disorganized,” formed again today “a little farther to the north,” the forecaster said. The latest position east of the Bahamas is also about 575 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 mph extend up to 205 miles from the eye, and Danny is forecast to turn toward the north and accelerate tomorrow.

Danny would be the second cyclone to hit Canada this season, after Hurricane Bill on Aug. 23 and 24 brushed past Nova Scotia before hitting Newfoundland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net.

READ MORE - Tropical Storm Strengthens, May Brush Long Island, New England

Cambodian banking sector could be affected by the worldwide financial crisis

Tal Nai Im (C), director general of the National Bank of Cambodia (Photo: Sovannara, RFI)

August 26, 2009

By Ly Meng Huor
Radio France Internationale
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Mrs. Tal Nai Im, director general of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), expressed worries that, if the world financial crisis persists, its secondary effect will have a negative impact on the Cambodian bank sector. During the recent period of financial crisis, Cambodian banks were not directly affected.

Impact of the worldwide financial crisis on the banking sector in Cambodia and future prediction were two topics of discussion raised by Mrs. Tal Nai Im, NBC director general, during a roundtable discussion organized by the Club of Cambodian Journalists. Tal Nai Im indicated that the secondary effect of the financial crisis could have a negative impact on the banking sector in Cambodia because of the increasing amount of stagnant loans, i.e. bank loan borrowers during the financial crisis period do not have the ability to pay back their loans to the bank because of the stagnation of their businesses, and the loans borrowed to build houses or buy lands could not be returned to the banks either. Tal Nai Im added that the stagnant loan funds increased from 3.7% in December 2008 to 5.2% in May 2009.

Currently, Cambodia has 35 banks and 45 financial institutions that are under the supervision and review of the NBC. There are currently 820,284 bank loan borrowers, i.e. 6% of the 14 million population of Cambodia. The amount of bank deposits is $2.9 billion, and the amount of loans is $2.4 billion.

At the explosion of the financial crisis at the end of 2008, Cambodian banks were not seriously affected. However, Tal Nai Im indicated that the worldwide financial crisis caused a drop in garment export, tourism, construction, as well a drop in real estate prices in Cambodia.
READ MORE - Cambodian banking sector could be affected by the worldwide financial crisis

Dams menace Mekong River life

Cambodian locals rely on the Mekong River to survive. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

27 Aug 09
by Helen Jacobs

PLANS to build a series of dams on the largest river in South-East Asia are threatening to destroy the livelihoods of millions of people in Cambodia and surrounding nations.

The Mekong River flows through the developing country, providing much of the food and nutritional needs of a population estimated at more than 14 million.

Most live a traditional lifestyle, relying on the river to grow their rice crops, and taking fish from the river - one of the world’s largest inland fisheries - for food.

But if plans by the Cambodian, Thai and Laotian governments to dam the river go ahead, these rural communities could find it difficult to survive.

Footscray resident and Leader photographer Glenn Daniels recently made a journey up the Mekong with international aid organisations Oxfam and Manna Gum as part of a campaign to save the river for the millions of people who rely on it.

“The aim of our journey was to document the livelihoods of people who live on the islands along the Mekong and how they’ll be affected if a dam is built,” Mr Daniels said.

Through his skills with a camera, Mr Daniels is hoping to alert Australians to the plight of these people.

His photos will be shown next year in Melbourne.

It was a highly unjust situation that the people found themselves in, Mr Daniels said.

“The first notification that these people had of the dam proposal was some Chinese officials surveying the land,” he said.

“There have been no talks of compensation ... for the relocation of families.”

Spending time with the villagers, sharing meals with them, observing their daily work patterns and watching children play gave Mr Daniels some insight into a lifestyle far removed from suburban life in Melbourne’s West.

“Most of the people we saw or interviewed technically live on less than $1 a day,” Mr Daniels said.

“In monetary terms they are extremely poor, but they grow their own rice, raise pigs, and they work together, along with taking all the fish that they need from the Mekong, and the family buffalo is like their bank account.

“The value of all that is far more than $1 a day.

“If they are forced to move they most likely won’t be able to farm the land any more. They will have to move to the cities, where, if they’re very lucky, they might earn more than $1 a day, but their expenses will also greatly increase so they would probably find it much harder to survive.”

Mr Daniels learnt a lot about a rich and diverse culture from “friendly and gentle people”, along with seeing the impact organisations such as Oxfam have had, including establishing schools, providing clean water and immunisations for animals.

“If these dams go ahead, they will make all the work that Oxfam has put in for these people a waste of time, it will threaten the diversity and health of one of the planet’s most important river systems, and most importantly it will destroy the lifestyles of millions of people,” Mr Daniels said.
READ MORE - Dams menace Mekong River life

Taiwan's government approves visit by Dalai Lama

FILE-In this file photo taken on April 7, 2001, The Dalai Lama smiles during a press conference before he leaving Taiwan, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou risked angering China with his surprise announcement Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009, that he has agreed to let the Dalai Lama visit the island to comfort survivors of a devastating typhoon.(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying, File)

By ANNIE HUANG, Associated Press Writer

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan's president risked angering China with his surprise announcement Thursday that he has agreed to let the Dalai Lama visit the island to comfort survivors of a devastating typhoon.

President Ma Ying-jeou's move was unexpected because he has made a priority of seeking better relations with China, and just last December nixed plans for a visit by the Buddhist spiritual leader in what was deemed a move to placate Beijing.

But his government has come under fire over its slow response to Typhoon Morakot, which claimed 670 lives when it hit Aug. 8-9, and opposition politicians in the storm zone pointedly invited the Tibetan spiritual leader to the island to console survivors.

The invitation put Ma into a bind — either risk angering China, or give further ammunition to the opposition, which accuses him of hewing Beijing's line. On Thursday, Ma gave his answer while visiting a school in Nantou County that was destroyed in mudslides triggered by the storm.

"The Dalai Lama could come to Taiwan to help rest the souls of the dead and also pray for the well-being of the survivors," he said.

There was no immediate comment from either China's Taiwan Affairs Office or Foreign Ministry.

Beijing considers the Dalai Lama a "splittist" for promoting autonomy in the Chinese region of Tibet, and opposes visits to foreign countries that raise his profile. Allowing him to visit Taiwan could undermine the rapidly improving relations between Beijing and Taipei, longtime rivals which are developing close business ties after decades of enmity.

China claims self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory, though they split amid civil war in 1949.

On Wednesday, leaders of seven municipalities hit by Morakot issued a joint statement inviting the Dalai Lama to visit storm victims from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4. The invitation from the leaders — all from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party — came as Ma faced criticism that he botched the government's response to the island's deadliest storm in 50 years.

The Dalai Lama — who has made three visits to the island over the past 12 years — has accepted the invitation "in principle," his spokesman Tenzin Takhla said Wednesday from Dharmsala, India, home to the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Since becoming president 15 months ago, Ma has reversed many of his predecessor's anti-China policies, tightening economic links across the 100-mile (160-kilometer) -wide Taiwan Strait and even speaking of a peace treaty with Beijing.

Presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said the Dalai Lama's upcoming visit would be strictly religious, with no political overtones.

"We welcome the Dalai Lama to come to Taiwan to take part in mass prayers," Wang told reporters. He said the visit was approved "for humanitarian and religious considerations ... and we believe it will not harm cross-Strait relations."

Wang declined to say if Ma would meet the Dalai Lama during his stay in Taiwan.

Ma's policy of seeking better relations with China contrasts sharply with the opposition DPP's strong support for formal independence for the island of 23 million people.

That stance infuriates Beijing, which has repeatedly warned that any move to make the Taiwan-China split permanent would lead to war.

Taiwan and Tibet share similar histories. Both are territories that Beijing believes should be under its rule. Despite a failed 1959 uprising that sent the Dalai Lama into exile, China controls Tibet and has refused the Tibetan religious leader's request for greater autonomy.
READ MORE - Taiwan's government approves visit by Dalai Lama

Review: Sleepwalking Through the Mekong - all weekend long at the Red Vic!

August 26

Sleepwalking Through the Mekong chronicles the journey of the band Dengue Fever as they travel through Cambodia playing their version of Cambodian rock tunes from the 60s and 70s. The viewer is treated to snippets of Cambodian culture, fun interactions between the band members, and panoramic views of the countryside.

As the film unfolds, it becomes clear that Sleepwalking Through the Mekong is more than a documentary about rock band Dengue Fever - it is a poignant celebration of Cambodian music and culture. The joy of the music created in Cambodia in the 60s and 70s is interwoven with the tragedy that cut it short - the Khmer Rouge. The film captures not only Dengue Fever's live shows in bars, schools, and festivals, but also people's reaction to hearing this music again. One interviewee who lived through the Khmer Rouge goes so far as to say it is good to hear old songs being played because it has a healing effect.

Other moments in the film show the depth of the damage done by the Khmer Rouge. In one scene it is explained that most masters of different Cambodian arts and musical instruments were killed, meaning that Cambodia could lose most of its culture very soon.

Mixed in throughout Sleepwalking Through the Mekong are anecdotes and interviews with the band members that show the depth of this group's passion for the music they play. One of the most touching elements of the film is the way in which two vastly different cultures (Cambodian and American) are able to find common ground through the music of Dengue Fever.

This is not a film you want to miss out on - you can find a screening near you by going to the website for the film - ".Sleepwalking Through the Mekong.""

Or, if you're here in San Francisco you can see them all week long at the Red Vic:

Red Vic Movie House - Screenings of Sleepwalking Through the Mekong
August 30, 2:00, 4:00, 7:15, 9:15
August 29, 2:00, 4:00, 7:15, 9:15
August 28, 7:15, 9:15
August 27, 7:15, 9:15
1727 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 668-3994
READ MORE - Review: Sleepwalking Through the Mekong - all weekend long at the Red Vic!

New bird count finds more rare ibises in Cambodia

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 27

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A new bird census has found that Cambodia is home to more endangered white-shouldered ibises than had been thought were in existence worldwide, three conservation organizations said Wednesday.

A joint statement from BirdLife International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature said 310 of the wading birds were found in the country's north and northeast during research carried out in July.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, had estimated this year that from 50 to 249 mature white-shouldered ibises were in existence worldwide, making the species critically endangered.

Hugh Wright, a PhD student at Britain's University of East Anglia who has been leading the research for 18 months, said there was a good chance that the actual population exceeded 310.

"Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the population has increased or is recovering, instead we are just starting to make more effort to count them and searching in more places," he said.

The statement did not mention any plans to expand their research.

The birds, considered endangered by the World Conservation Union, have a dark plumage with a pale blue collar and an off-white patch on the forewings, according to the Web site of the IUCN. They are found mainly in Cambodia although they were once common in other Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia, it said.

The statement said that it was not yet clear why the bird's numbers have been in decline in the last few decades, "although hunting and habitat destruction are likely to have played a part." It said they will conduct a new count in Cambodia in September.

From : ki-media.blogspot.com
READ MORE - New bird count finds more rare ibises in Cambodia

King Sihamoni asks for a reconsideration of Hang Chakra’s case

Hang Chakra brought to the Appeal Court on 11 August 2009 (Photo: Sok Serey, RFA)

26 August 2009
By Sok Serey
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy
Click here to read the article in Khmer

For the very first time, King Norodom Sihamoni intervened by asking Ang Vong Vattana, the minister of Justice, to reconsider the case of Hang Chakra, the editor-in-chief of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper who is currently jailed at Prey Sar prison.

A copy of the king’s letters obtained by RFA on Wednesday 26 August indicated: “I received a letter dated 24 August 2009 from the director of the Cambodian Center for the Publication of Independent Information, the vice-president of the Information Forum and Academy, the president of the Neutral and Democratic Journalist Association, the president of the Association of Democratic Cambodian Journalist, the president of the Cambodian Journalist Watchdog and the president of the Association of Cambodian Journalist for Freedom who asked for my intervention to the Supreme Council of Magistracy to resolve this issue in accordance with the law regarding the legality of the of the decision handed down to Mr. Hang Chakra, the editor-in-chief of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.” The king’s letter added: “I am sending the letter above for your excellency to review.”

Ang Vong Vattana could not be reached on Wednesday 26 October to obtain clarifications on the king’s request, however, his aid replied that he does not know whether the king’s letter is in the hand of the minister yet or not: “So, I don’t know yet whether this letter arrived at the ministry yet or not.”

The king’s intervention letter came after 7 representatives of journalist associations and organizations sent him a joint letter on 24 August, asking for his intervention.

Chuong Chou-ngy, Hang Chakra’s defense lawyer, said that he is glad to see the king’s consideration for his client. “This is an indication that the king pays attention on social justice and it also provides justice for my client,” Chuong Chou-ngy added.

55-year-old Hang Chakra, aka Chey Uddom, was sentenced by the Phnom Penh municipal court on 26 June to 12-month of jail and he was ordered to pay 9 million riels ($2,250) in fine for defamation and disinformation published in this newspaper. The article claimed that Hun Xen broke up the bad and corrupt officials around Sok An, the article was titled: “Several pro-Sok An officials face dismissal.”

On 11 August, the Appeal Court stayed on the decision handed by the Phnom Penh municipal court, and it ordered that Hang Chakra be kept in jail.

Local and International human rights organizations called the jailing of this journalist an act of intimidation or a threat to those who criticize the Cambodian government.
READ MORE - King Sihamoni asks for a reconsideration of Hang Chakra’s case

Sony PSP-4000 rumor

Sony PSP-4000 rumor

Well well, what do we have here? Rumors of an upcoming Sony PSP-4000? Somehow we’re pretty much not surprised by such whispers, and old school PSP lovers will be thrilled to know that the PSP-4000 has no relation with the PSP Go, but will instead replace the current PSP-3000 which would probably mean retaining the UMD drive. Of course, as with any other rehash, we would look forward to a much better looking display and prolonged battery life among others. that rumor could hold a whole lot of water since it was the same person who leaked plans of the PS3 Slim earlier.

READ MORE - Sony PSP-4000 rumor

Pitino: Sex scandal 'pure hell' for family

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday a sex scandal involving a woman accused of trying to extort millions from him has been "pure hell" for his family, fuming that newly released video of her police interview revived her "total fabrication."

Pitino spoke at a hastily called news conference hours after Louisville police released audio and video recordings of phone calls and an interview with Karen Cunagin Sypher, the woman at the heart of the scandal. Pitino has told police that he had sex with her six years ago.

Sypher claims in the interview that Pitino sexually assaulted her, an allegation she brought to police after she was accused of trying to extort millions from the coach. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of extortion and lying to the FBI.

The coach lashed out at the media for again reporting on her accusations by airing clips of the interviews Wednesday. Prosecutors did not pursue charges against the coach.

"Everything that's been printed, everything that's been reported, everything that's been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie," Pitino said. "All of this has been a lie, a total fabrication of the truth."

The married father of five, who's a Roman Catholic, said the scandal has taken a heavy toll on his wife and family.

"It has been pure hell for her and my family," he said.

"I admitted to you I made a mistake, and believe me I will suffer for that mistake," he added.

Pitino's remarks were his first public statements since a five-minute apology two weeks ago for an "indiscretion" with Sypher at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. Sypher later told Pitino she was pregnant, planned to have an abortion but did not have medical insurance. He told police he gave her $3,000, money his attorney Steve Pence said was for insurance, not an abortion.

Pitino didn't plan on publicly addressing the situation again, preferring to let the case go to trial when he says "the truth will come out." Pitino didn't discuss details of the case at the news conference and said that his lawyer had advised him against speaking out at all.

Instead, he opted to come forward on Wednesday after local television aired portions of Sypher's interview.

"Enough's enough, everybody is tired of it," Pitino said. "We need to get on with the important things in life like the economy and really some crucial things in life like basketball."

As his news conference was carried live on television in Louisville, at least one station split the screen with Pitino talking the left, and the police video of Sypher on the right.

The video released under the Kentucky Open Records Act shows Sypher sitting across a table from Louisville Police Sgt. Andy Abbott. A full transcript of the interview was released by police earlier this month.

Sypher wasn't accompanied by a lawyer at the time of the videotaped interview. An attorney who was later appointed to represent her, James Earhart, said before Pitino's remarks that the release of the police video has no bearing on the federal case.

Included in the release of audio and video by police were a series of telephone messages left for Sypher by Pitino. Most of the calls are brief, with him leaving his name and asking for a call back.

In one message, though, Pitino alludes to the "very unfortunate situation."

"It's not something I can decide on," he says on the message. "I think the best thing in all scenarios is to go through with it. But, that has to be your call because (inaudible) ... I'm a high profile person ... I can't really give you any advice on this..."

It's not clear from the recording, parts of which are inaudible, what decision he's referring to. Sgt. Robert Biven said the recordings were provided to police by Sypher.

In an interview with police that was not taped but was summarized in a police report, Pitino said the encounter with Sypher was consensual. Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said Pitino's interview wasn't taped because his attorney accompanied him to the interview.

Federal prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson to order a psychological exam for Sypher, saying she may not be competent to understand the proceedings against her or assist in her own defense in the extortion case. Sypher's attorney had not responded to that request as of Wednesday.

Pitino has kept a low profile since his apology, focusing on preparing the Cardinals for the 2009-10 season. He was involved in individual workouts on Wednesday, and updates on the Twitter pages of several players indicated nothing except another series of grueling drills.

Pitino said Louisville would continue to be a Top 10 program despite the scandal.

"It has not hurt recruiting one bit. We will still bring in Top 10 players," he said.

Associated Press Writer Brett Barrouquere in Louisville contributed to this report.

READ MORE - Pitino: Sex scandal 'pure hell' for family

TiVo CEO: Must Stop Unauthorized Use Of Intellectual Property

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- TiVo Inc. (TIVO) needs to move quickly to stop the unauthorized use of its intellectual property, according to Chief Executive Tom Rogers.

TiVo earlier Wednesday said it had filed a patent lawsuit against AT&T Inc. ( T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) for their use of digital video recorders and TV "time-warping" technology.

Rogers told analysts during a conference call Wednesday that TiVo had attempted to strike deals with the telecommunications providers.

It is a similar lawsuit to the one TiVo filed against Dish Network Corp. ( DISH) and EchoStar Corp. (SATS). TiVo continues to deal with an appeal from those companies in a Texas federal court. Rogers said confidence is high on the prospects of the appeal, allowing him to feel comfortable enough to launch another legal attack.

While EchoStar and Dish trumpeted a minor victory in a similar case in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier Wednesday, Rogers said the company hasn't yet presented its information and believes that it will ultimately prevail.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office case shouldn't affect the other appeals hearing, he said.

As a result of the new lawsuits, Chief Financial Officer Anna Brunelle said she expects higher legal costs.

-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2153; roger.cheng@dowjones.com

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
08-26-09 1806ET
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
READ MORE - TiVo CEO: Must Stop Unauthorized Use Of Intellectual Property

Jockeying Begins to Fill Massachusetts' Open Senate Seat

See details on possible contenders.

Under Massachusetts law, a special election to fill Mr. Kennedy's seat must take place between Jan. 18 and Feb. 2. Days before his death, Mr. Kennedy, who had served in the Senate since 1962, requested that the state's legislature—controlled by Democrats—pass an amendment that would allow Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary replacement. Lawmakers are debating the request.

Either way, the list of potential contenders is long. One possible candidate is Mr. Kennedy's nephew, Joseph P. Kennedy II, who served as a U.S. congressman between 1987 and 1999 and heads Citizens Energy Corp., a nonprofit that distributes heating oil to the poor.

The son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy is "one of the most popular figures in Massachusetts," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. In Suffolk's March poll of 400 likely voters in Massachusetts, 67% had a favorable view of him.

The younger Mr. Kennedy "has youth and spunk and government experience, and he has the Kennedy name," Mr. Paleologos said. If he chose to run, others said to be interested—including Democratic U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch—"would take a second look at running," Mr. Paleologos predicted.

Mr. Kennedy's office didn't return a call seeking comment.

Edward Kennedy's widow, Victoria, also has been discussed as a possible candidate, but she reportedly has denied interest. Ms. Duffy said if Mrs. Kennedy ran, "there are a number of [potential candidates] who would naturally defer to her."

Other possible Democratic candidates include Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general since 2006, who has paid for polling about her viability as a Senate candidate. Ms. Coakley earned a 56% favorable rating in Suffolk's March poll. A spokeswoman for Ms. Coakley had no comment on her polling.

Martin Meehan, a former Massachusetts congressman who serves as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts campus in Lowell, "has always held aspirations to the Senate," Ms. Duffy said. Mr. Meehan still controls a campaign chest with $4.9 million left over from his tenure in Congress. The funds could jump-start a run, but Mr. Meehan has said he won't leave Lowell's chancellorship for several more years.

Mr. Meehan's office didn't respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, who represents a district near Boston, may also consider running. A spokesman declined comment.

Possible Republican candidates in the heavily Democratic state include Kerry Healey, a former lieutenant governor, and Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney and state legislator.

Until 2004, Massachusetts's governor had the authority to appoint a replacement senator until the next general election. But the state legislature took away that power over concerns that then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, might appoint a Republican if Democratic Sen. John Kerry won his campaign that year for president.

Write to Jennifer Levitz at jennifer.levitz@wsj.com and Keith J. Winstein at keith.winstein@wsj.com

READ MORE - Jockeying Begins to Fill Massachusetts' Open Senate Seat

Tribunal Prosecutor Replacement Delayed

Lars Olsen (L) and Reach Sambath (R) (Photo: Leang Delux, RFI)

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2009

Officials at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal say they won’t be able to replace Robert Petit, who resigned his post as international prosecutor earlier this year, by the Sept. 1 deadline.

Petit had been instrumental in the initial stages of the tribunal, as five former leaders of the regime were arrested and prepared for trial.

He had been a proponent for indictments for more Khmer Rouge leaders beyond the five already in detention, but met with resistance from his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang, who has argued that more indictments could destabilize the country.

Petit, who is from Canada, left the tribunal for personal reasons, earlier this month.

Lars Olsen, a legal officer for tribunal, told reporters Wednesday it was “clear” a new candidate would not be moved into his place by Sept. 1.
READ MORE - Tribunal Prosecutor Replacement Delayed

Recession threatens families [-There's a recession in Cambodia after all?]

Fourteen-year-old bookseller Vichet waits for customers along the riverside on Tuesday. (Photo by: Sovan Philong)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009
The Phnom Penh Post Staff

Layoffs among parents augur a rise in child labour: experts.

A STEEP decline in Cambodia's garment exports for the month of July has forced officials to reassess the strength of the global economic downturn and its impact on the country, as child welfare experts warn that the Kingdom's most vulnerable citizens - its children - may have the most to lose.

Official figures released Tuesday showed a 26.4 percent plunge in garment exports for July compared with a year ago and a 17.5 percent slide from June, - the latest in a series of grim economic indicators that prompted an admission by the head of the Cambodian Economic Association that the worst of the crisis could still be ahead.

Standing in the path of that slide, says Bill Salter, head of the International Labour Organisation's subregional office in East Asia, are Cambodia's children.

"The trend threatens to push 200,000 people back into poverty and erect new financial obstacles in front of children trying to access education," Salter said Tuesday during the launch of a national workshop studying the impact of the global economic crisis on child labour.

An estimated 40 percent of children aged between 7 and 17 years are currently engaged in some form of child labour, the group ChildFund Australia said in June.

Child labour rising

ILO officials said earlier this year that the number of children working in hard-labour conditions in Cambodia had grown from an estimated 250,000 in 2002 to about 300,000 this year.

The government has acknowledged the risks facing children, especially as families dependent on the garment sector - the Kingdom's largest industrial employer - suffer job losses or salary cuts that could prompt them to pull children out of school and into the workforce.

Cambodia's garment sector, which accounts for about 90 percent of the Kingdom's total exports, has borne the brunt of an economic downturn that can be linked directly to the rising numbers of children being forced into work, the ILO's Salter said, as cash-strapped families increasingly view education as a financial burden.

Veng Heang, director of the Department of Child Labour within the Ministry of Labour, said the link between the global crisis and child labour was no surprise.

"We knew that the economic crisis would impact children," he said Tuesday, adding that a rise in instances of child begging, scavenging and domestic labour would not be unexpected.

Warnings over deteriorating child welfare came amid protests by thousands in the garment sector over slashed pay.

More than 70,000 garment workers have been laid off since the crisis began, industry analysts say, with another 100,000 under threat in the next two years.

Nearly 3,000 employees at the Sky High Garment Factory in Daun Penh district went on strike on Monday to protest drops in their salaries, inadequate working conditions and unexpected work stoppages.

from:http:// ki-media.blogspot.com
READ MORE - Recession threatens families [-There's a recession in Cambodia after all?]

Details of border talks to be tabled

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on August 27, 2009

The Foreign Ministry will submit details to Parliament tomorrow of three meetings on demarcation of the Thai-Cambodian border - centred on the Preah Vihear temple area - amid strong opposition from some senators and influential members of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)

The Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), met last November, in February and in April this year, to set a framework on boundary demarcation and provisional arrangements for the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

Article 190 of the Constitution requires the ministry to report to Parliament on meetings of the JBC, deputy ministerial spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said, and this had to be done before further discussion with Cambodia.

Senator Paiboon Nititawan said earlier his group of 40 senators would oppose the government's demarcation and provisional arrangements for the disputed area at the Preah Vihear. The 4.6 square kilometre area belongs to Thailand, he said.

The senators' move was backed by the PAD, who demanded yesterday the government remove by force the Cambodian community in the disputed area.

"The PAD disagrees with negotiations as long as Thai territory is occupied," PAD spokesman Panthep Phuaphongphan said.

The Democrat-led government should take the same stance as when it was in opposition, he said.

The Democrat Party and the PAD used the bruised nationalism of Preah Vihear temple to attack the previous governments. They managed to get Noppadon Pattama to step down as foreign minister, and had the whole cabinet under Samak Sundaravej in legal trouble for its support of Cambodia's proposal to list the Preah Vihear as a world heritage site.

However, Thani said the senators and the PAD misunderstood the demarcation and provisional arrangements.

"The ministry would not submit the provisional arrangements to the Parliament this Friday since we have not yet begun discussion with Cambodia on the matter," he said.

In regard to provisional arrangements on border issues in the area near Preah Vihear, both sides merely reached an agreement in a meeting in April in Phnom Penh on the use of the term "Temporary military monitoring groups" for security units in the area. The foreign ministry needed the Parliament's approval for further talks.
READ MORE - Details of border talks to be tabled

Exports fall 26.4pc in July as crisis in Kingdom continues [-Is there anything to worry about yet?]

The garment sector, responsible for about 90 percent of Cambodia's exports, has been severely hit this year. (Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Chun Sophal
The Phnom Penh Post

Exports slide 2009
  • January down 14.62pc
  • February down 18.35pc
  • March down 35.24pc
  • April down 18.08pc
  • May down 12.13pc
  • June down 17.5pc
  • July down 26.4pc
Source: Camcontrol
Latest government figures show deterioration on export data from June, when total exports fell an annualised 17.5 percent
If this situation continues, the economic crisis ... will get unavoidably worse.
FIGURES released Tuesday by the Kingdom's import-export inspection body showed July exports plummeted an annualised 26.4 percent, a larger decrease than in June, suggesting the worst of the economic crisis is not yet over for Cambodia.

After showing a fall of 17.5 percent in June, Camcontrol figures indicated that exports fell to US$249.94 million last month from $339.43 million in the same period last year, meaning that the garment industry, which is responsible for about 90 percent of Cambodia's total exports, had not yet overcome the worst of the drop in global demand, particularly in key markets the United States and Europe.

"The decline in exports has affected Cambodia's economy since the beginning of the year and is not something new," said Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association.

"If this situation continues, the economic crisis in our country will get unavoidably worse and worse."
Aside from garments, the Kingdom's next largest export is agricultural products such as corn, beans and rubber.

Last week, the Ministry of Commerce said that garment exports had fallen 18 percent in the first half of the year to $1.27 billion, compared with $1.54 billion in the same period in 2008.

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said Tuesday that it did not have the latest figures for garment exports. Business Development Manager Kaing Monika warned that although some markets, including Asia and Europe, had picked up in recent months, the United States - Cambodia's biggest export market by trade value - was showing relatively few signs of recovery.

"Whether it will get worse or improve, I am not sure yet because the impact of the global economic crisis is still continuing," he said in an interview Tuesday.

Though Cambodia's export figures continue to decline, a number of other export-dependent economies in the region have seen recent improvements, including China, Singapore and Taiwan.

Hong Kong, however, saw its exports worsen in July, down 19.9 percent year on year compared to with 5.4 percent in June, government figures said Tuesday.

Cambodia's total trade also declined last month compared to June.

The Kingdom recorded $574.52 million in total trade volume in July, down 24.2 percent on the same month last year. In June, the annualised total trade figure fell 16 percent, according to Camcontrol figures.

Despite the depressing figures, Khuon Savuth at Camcontrol's General Directorate said Tuesday that Cambodia's trade volumes regularly fluctuate, and that this year's total export volumes will not be severely affected, despite the effects of the global economic crisis.

"I think that the decrease in value of Cambodia's exports and imports may be about just 18 percent compared to last year," he said.

Official figures showed that July imports fell 22.4 percent year on year to $324.58 million from $418.4 million in the same month last year. Last month imports were down an annualised 14.5 percent to $360.1 million.

Much of Cambodia's imports are raw materials for the beleaguered garment industry such as cloth and thread, as well as foods and construction materials.
READ MORE - Exports fall 26.4pc in July as crisis in Kingdom continues [-Is there anything to worry about yet?]

Tribunal Prosecutor Replacement Delayed

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2009

Officials at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal say they won’t be able to replace Robert Petit, who resigned his post as international prosecutor earlier this year, by the Sept. 1 deadline.

Petit had been instrumental in the initial stages of the tribunal, as five former leaders of the regime were arrested and prepared for trial.

He had been a proponent for indictments for more Khmer Rouge leaders beyond the five already in detention, but met with resistance from his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang, who has argued that more indictments could destabilize the country.

Petit, who is from Canada, left the tribunal for personal reasons, earlier this month.

Lars Olsen, a legal officer for tribunal, told reporters Wednesday it was “clear” a new candidate would not be moved into his place by Sept. 1.
READ MORE - Tribunal Prosecutor Replacement Delayed

Troops Begin Partial Border Withdrawal

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2009

Cambodian soldiers and armored personnel carriers began a step-by-step withdrawal from border positions near Preah Vihear temple on Wednesday, as part of a drawdown deal with Thailand.

The partial withdrawal follows an announcement by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday and a meeting between top military commanders on Monday.

Lt. Gen. Chea Dara, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, told VOA Khmer “a number of soldiers” had withdrawn from the front line near Preah Vihear temple, which has been at the center of a military standoff since July 2008.

At least seven soldiers from both sides have been killed in skirmishes following the build-up, which began after Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage Site, prompting protests in Thailand and Thai occupation of land claimed by both sides near the temple.

“We began to pull our soldiers back to their previous bases, following the order of Prime Minister Hun Sen,” Chea Dara said.

The withdrawal included soldiers from Intervention Brigade 11, soldiers from Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces and Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, he said.

The withdrawal was to reduce tensions from the standoff, said Chhum Socheath, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

“It is a sign of stability in the border area,” he said. “It demonstrates a better situation and cooperation between the soldiers of the two countries along the border.
READ MORE - Troops Begin Partial Border Withdrawal

Failure to agree on Suu Kyi will haunt, undermine Asean

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on August 27, 2009

A move to seek a pardon from Burma's military junta for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has gone nowhere after senior Asean officials failed to get a consensus for the plan at a meeting in Jakarta last week.

Most international media misinterpreted a statement by Indonesia's spokesman on the outcome of the meeting last Friday. They headlined their reports that "Asean officials agreed on a joint appeal for Suu Kyi's release".

A court in Burma sentenced the opposition leader to a further 18 months under house arrest for breaching conditions of her detention after an American, John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake to her house in May. The American was deported last week but Suu Kyi looks set to serve her term. An appeal against the decision has not been considered yet.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya proposed that Asean ask junta chief, Senior General Than Shwe, to grant Suu Kyi a pardon.

Senior officials at Asean, including Burma's representative, debated the Thai proposal last Thursday and Friday to find a common stance for the group to appeal for her release.

But they could not agree on a common stance because representatives from Laos and Vietnam opposed the plan and insisted the Burmese court ruling was a domestic affair in which other members of the group should not intervene.

Senior officials from other member states failed to convince Laos and Vietnam to change their minds. They created a way to save face for all by recommending respective officials relay the Thai proposal to their governments.

At the end of the meeting, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah merely said: "Officials agreed that a joint appeal is a good idea and they recommended that foreign ministers take follow-up action".

Such a statement cannot be interpreted as an agreement. It is normal at Asean to refer decisions to higher levels when officials at lower levels fail to find common ground on some issues. This is the Asean way of "agreeing to disagree".

In fact foreign ministers of all states, including Burma's Nyan Win, had already been informed about the proposal. They don't need their senior officials to recommend anything. Prior to the senior official meeting in Jakarta, Foreign Minister Kasit contacted many of his counterparts including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia to discuss the idea.

Newer members of Asean - Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Vietnam - usually take the same stance and chose to adhere to the Asean taboo of non-interference in fellow states' domestic affairs. Lobbying them to change their stance on this can be very difficult.

As of Tuesday, Laos and Vietnam maintained their stance that they did not want to interfere in Burma's domestic affairs, while Cambodia was moderate about the matter but preferred to take the same position, according to an Asean official.

Asean foreign ministers are not due to meet until they gather in New York late next month for the United Nations General Assembly. That means the proposal to seek a pardon for Suu Kyi is unlikely to be considered before then.

Foreign Minister Kasit seemed to have no idea how to turn his plan into reality. He told reporters on Monday the pardon was no longer an issue. He said he had conveyed Asean's views on political developments in Burma several times and hoped the junta leaders would understand the situation.

If Asean gives up, Suu Kyi's predicament could become a mounting issue for the group at international forums. From now on, Asean will have to bear the brunt of Burma's problems at all forums around the globe, including the UN next month and a summit with partners from Asia and the Pacific in Thailand in October. If the situation in Burma is raised in meetings, it could overshadow other initiatives and cooperation.

Asean needs to make more effort to engage and frequently communicate with the junta to explain that the country has a chance to avoid international isolation by simply being more accommodating to its domestic opposition.

Burma is not only a problem for Asean but a challenge for the group to overcome. If the regional body gives up or fails, Asean will be relevant no longer.
READ MORE - Failure to agree on Suu Kyi will haunt, undermine Asean

Villagers Protest Before National Assembly Over Land

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2009

More than 50 villagers from Kampong Speu province gathered in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh Wednesday, demanding a solution over a land issue.

Villagers say 25 hectares of land belonging to 61 families in Korng Pisey district were sold by a village chief to a private company.

Land grabs are an ongoing problem in Cambodia that observers warn threaten the stability of the country.

“My purpose here is to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the national institution to find justice for people,” said Van Yeat, 57, one of the protesters. “We have been trying to file with commune, district and provincial authorities, but they ignore our complaints.”

Ros Vey, the chief of Sala Kros village, was not available for comment. But Hang Sarun, commune chief for Preah Nipean, where the village lies, said the 61 families did not have documentation for their land.
READ MORE - Villagers Protest Before National Assembly Over Land

China moves to cut use of executed inmates' organs

FILE - In this April 26, 2003 file photo, China's Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu, center, is surrounded by journalists after attending the ASEAN + 3 Health Minister Special Meeting on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The majority of transplanted organs in China come from executed prisoners, state media reported Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, in a rare disclosure about an industry often criticized for being opaque and unethical. The country's Health Ministry and the Red Cross Society of China this week launched a national organ donation system to reduce the reliance on death row inmates and encourage donations from the public, the China Daily newspaper reported. Condemned prisoners are 'definitely not a proper source for organ transplants,' the report quoted Huang as saying.(AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

By GILLIAN WONG, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 26, 2009

BEIJING – China has launched a national organ donation system to try to reduce its dependence on body parts harvested from executed prisoners, who make up the majority of donors, state media reported Wednesday.

Organ transplantation in China has long been criticized as profit-driven and unethical, with critics arguing death row inmates may feel pressured to become donors, violating personal, religious or cultural beliefs.

The World Health Organization and international human rights groups welcomed the new system, saying it was in line with best practices in other countries and would likely help meet the needs of all patients.

The move is China's latest step to better regulate organ transplants. Medical officials agreed in 2007 not to transplant organs from prisoners or others in custody, except into members of their immediate families.

But in a rare disclosure about an industry often criticized for being opaque, the China Daily newspaper said Wednesday that more than 65 percent of organ donors come from death row.

Though the figure could not be confirmed with the government, Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu has publicly acknowledged in recent years that most organs used for transplants are taken from executed prisoners, though only with prior consent.

Condemned prisoners are "definitely not a proper source for organ transplants," the China Daily quoted Huang as saying.

With the new donor system, launched Tuesday, the Health Ministry and Red Cross Society of China want to reduce that proportion by encouraging the normally hesitant general public to donate organs after they die.

WHO's top transplantation official in Geneva, Dr. Luc Noel, praised the Chinese move, saying: "We're eager to see the results and are very supportive."

Noel said a few other countries occasionally extract organs from executed prisoners, though he did not specify which. China's "reliance on organs from executed convicts was certainly not an option that could withstand time" and opened the way for abuses, he said.

Nicholas Bequelin, Asia researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said China's dependence on death row inmates for organs was so high because there has been no system in place for organ donations.

"All organ transplants had to come from somewhere," Bequelin said, noting the practice was riddled with problems. "If you're a prisoner and you're about to be executed, you do not have a real choice, especially in a system ... (that) is completely untransparent and notorious for abuses against prisoners, as the Chinese system is."

The new donor system will link potential donors with recipients and make public a waiting list of patients to increase transparency and fairness in allocating organs.

The system was initially being launched in 10 provinces and cities, including Shanghai, Tianjin and Xiamen and will eventually be rolled out across the country.

Voluntary donations remain far below demand, partly because of cultural biases against organ removal before burial. Only about 130 people have pledged to donate their organs since 2003, the China Daily said, citing research by Chen Zhonghua, an organ transplant expert with Tongji Hospital in Shanghai. Chen declined to comment when contacted.

The Health Ministry said it could not provide more information on the new donor system. The Red Cross Society of China would not take questions by phone and did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
READ MORE - China moves to cut use of executed inmates' organs

A Close Neighbor, Vietnam Increases Investment

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2009

Through August this year, Vietnamese companies have invested nearly half a billion dollars, a giant increase in activity that makes the country a top investor, along with China, South Korea and Russia.

Economic conditions and the strong political relationship between the two countries have led to the increase, analysts say.

“There are narrow business markets in Vietnam, with a lot of business people facing high competition,” said Chan Sophal, president of the Economists Association of Cambodia. “Furthermore, they have no free land to make investments. So they see our country as a neighbor with huge free land. It’s a good opportunity for them to invest in.”

Meanwhile, a stall in investment from other countries has given Vietnam a better chance to invest than in past years, Chan Sophal said.

In 2008, fixed investment from Vietnam was just $20 million, according to government figures. That number is just a sliver of the $534 million invested in the first eight months of this year alone.

Since 2005, Vietnamese companies have looked to Cambodia to invest in minerals, hydropower, telecommunications and rubber plantations. But in recent months, these investors have extended their range into banking, an airline and agriculture.

Last month, Vietnam opened a branch of one of its biggest banks, the Bank of Investment and Development of Vietnam, starting with a capital of $100 million. That followed Vietnamese joint investment in the new national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, with a capital share of $49 million, after negotiations with Indonesian investors failed.

And last week, a Vietnamese delegation signed a $420-million agricultural investment agreement that included plans for rubber plantations and factories for sugar cane, ethanol and power generation.

Chap Sotharith, a senior economic researcher for the Cambodia Institute for Development and Peace, said Cambodia had become an attractive option as a primary investment destination for Vietnam because it could not only help expand a business market but provided a tax and export benefit.

Politics is also a motivating factor, analysts said.

“A historic political relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam, along with confidence among leaders of the two countries, makes Vietnamese investors confident,” Chan Sophal said.

Chheang Meng Heak, a professor of economics and finance at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said Vietnamese investors were confident in coming to Cambodia because they depend on political relationships to secure their businesses.

“Political relationships are seen as a buckle to protect business interests,” he said.

Lee Bien Cuong, commercial councilor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, acknowledged the political relationship as a main attraction for Vietnamese investors.

The relationship can be traced back to the ouster of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces, in January 1979 and the decade-long takeover that followed. Many members of the current government were put in place during Vietnam’s occupation.

That political friendship was bolstered recently when Cambodia and Thailand began military tensions over a disputed border region near the temple of Preah Vihear. By comparison, Vietnam has opened six borders with Cambodia to boost trade and investment.

Vietnam hopes to see bilateral trade climb to $2 billion in 2010, from $1.7 billion in 2008.

The investment relationship has its critics.

“Whenever there is political motivation behind investment, it will make a huge [economic] loss, because there will be no more competition,” said Yim Sovann, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

Meanwhile, Sok Chenda, secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, said investment depends on investment laws, and no country receives special conditions.

“We make a balance of countries from the West and the East, including socialist countries like Vietnam and China, as well as countries like France and the US,” said Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers.

Economists agree: Any legal investment will provide economic benefits through job creation and tax revenue for the government.
READ MORE - A Close Neighbor, Vietnam Increases Investment

Reviving Khmer classical dance

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Dance of Loyalty to the King, May 1923. Bettmann Archive.
CAMBODIAN DANCE: Celebration of the Gods Denise Heywood River Books Bangkok, 144 pp, $45 ISBN 987-9749863404
Pamina Devi choreographed by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro.

How Cambodian culture re-emerged after the devastating Pol Pot years

Bangkok Post

The awesome grace and meticulous movements of the performers have entranced audiences since ancient times, an experience now shared with plane-loads of tourists descending on Siem Reap in western Cambodia, the jumping off point for the world's largest temple complex - legendary Angkor Wat.

Dating back to the days of the great Angkor empire that flourished from the 9th to 15th centuries, Cambodian dance is a celebration of the gods, mythology and the world of the royal palace.

This 144-page lavishly illustrated coffee-table book authored by Denise Heywood, a lecturer on Asian art, brings the reader a fine appreciation of Cambodian dance intertwined with the turbulent history and how it has always been at the core of Khmer culture and identity. The book details and explains the origins and development of the dances, music and shadow puppetry, all in the context of their spiritual importance as a medium for communicating with the gods.

But Cambodia's recent tragedy brought its great tradition of dance near oblivion. The "Killing Fields" regime of the Khmer Rouge not only killed through slave labour, starvation and slaughter nearly 2 million people, including 90 per cent of artists, dancers and writers, but it also came close to extinguishing Khmer culture and tradition. Pol Pot's brand new agrarian dystopia had no place for the arts, culture or any other kind of entertainment except xenophobic songs and Pol Pot propaganda.

Heywood first arrived in Cambodia as a freelance writer in 1994, and her interest in dance was heightened by the extraordinary tale of how a few dancers and choreographers survived the genocidal years from 1975 to 79.

In January 1979 a new Heng Samrin government backed by Vietnam proclaimed the restoration of normal society after four years of the Pol Pot regime had trashed most aspects of family life and the previous society.

A handful of survivors emerged from the darkest era in Cambodian history dedicated to resuscitating their cherished traditions of dance. Actor, poet and director Pich Tum Kravel and former director of the National Conservatory Chheng Phon were among the cultural stars who miraculously survived.

They became the key people enlisted by the new Ministry of Information and Culture under Keo Chenda, charged with the critical mission of bringing all the surviving dancers together.

The expertise was handed down through the generations from master to pupil and never documented in written form, so everything depended on human memory. The late Chea Samy became the leading teacher at the re-established School of Fine Arts in 1981 (ironically Pol Pot was her brother-in-law).

Piecing together the collective memories of survivors and much of the vast repertory, the performing arts were revived.

When this reviewer saw the post-Pol Pot Cambodian National Dance Company perform in Phnom Penh in 1981, it was a highly emotional experience. Members of the audience wept. This outpouring of raw emotion encompassed both tears of sadness for those loved ones they would never see again - and tears of joy that Khmer dance was alive again and had risen from the ashes of nihilistic destruction.

Nothing had greater significance for the Khmer people in this process of rebuilding than this revival of the nation's soul and psyche in which dance plays a central role.

While Heywood is to be commended for her documentation of the revival of dance in the 1980s, it is a pity she has wrongly contextualised this cultural renaissance by claiming that "Heng Samrin's Vietnamese government" organised a national arts festival in 1980.

In fact President Heng Samrin and everyone else in the new government were all Cambodians and not Vietnamese. Somehow the author has been infected with the cold war propaganda emanating from Asean governments and US embassies in the region that stressed Phnom Penh was being run by a "Vietnamese puppet-regime" and the Cambodians blindly followed Hanoi's orders.

The reality was more complicated. The cultural revival depicted in this book makes it clear that Vietnamese control over security and foreign policy, despite tensions and differences with their Cambodian allies, did not block the re-emergence of Khmer culture that at the same time planted the seeds for future independence.

In 2003 Unesco bestowed formal recognition proclaiming the Royal Ballet of Cambodia to be a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage. And one year later Prince Norodom Sihamoni, a former ballet choreographer and dancer, was crowned king.

Thai classical dance borrows much from the dance traditions of Angkorian times. After Siam's invasion of Siem Reap in 1431, hundreds of Cambodian dancers were abducted and brought to dance in Ayutthaya, at that time the capital hosting the royal court of the Thai king.

This timely book also mentions that Cambodian choreographer Sophiline Shapiro has, among many other projects, adapted Mozart's Magic Flute to Khmer classical dance as part of a 2006 festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the great composer's birth.

This production with many innovations caused a stir among the purists. Shapiro passionately defends her new productions against the critics, telling the author "increasing the repertory of dance will help to preserve it and prevent it from atrophying or becoming a museum piece."
READ MORE - Reviving Khmer classical dance

Sacrava's Political Cartoon: Cambodia Today

READ MORE - Sacrava's Political Cartoon: Cambodia Today

Big Brother praises Little Brother

Big brother and Little brother?!?!
"La joie de vivre" [Joy of life] under Hun Xen's CPP rule?!?!

Sihanouk praises the CPP

Kampuchea Thmei newspaper
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia’s Hero-King, talked about the resistance to demand independence from colonial France. At the same time, the ex-monarch clearly confirmed that the CPP is the younger brother of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (SRN) regime [Sihanouk’s party] and the CPP took on the SRN’s position since ever. In the morning of 21 August 2009, during a meeting session with elder citizens at the Siem Reap royal palace, the ex-monarch said that he fought hard to wrestle independence from colonial France and his crusade started in Siem Reap province in 1949, then it went on the Kampong Thom, Battambang … until he received complete victory in 1953.

The ex-king added: “In 1951, 1952, 1953, I had the great honor to start the royal crusade the independence, to liberate our nation and our country, and we accomplished as our Kaun-Chao (children and grandchildren) hoped, i.e. we received full independence for our nation and our country in November 1953. Following several months of peaceful negotiations, France, which held its colonial rule over the kingdom of Cambodia, saw that our people, both young and old, all followed King Norodom Sihanouk, and they cannot be stopped. So they lifted their colonial rule from Cambodia in 1953 following peaceful negotiations between Cambodia and France and the transfer of total power to King Norodom Sihanouk.”

The ex-king said that since then, there was no French troops’ presence in Cambodia anymore, there was only French ambassadors only, as well as ambassadors from other countries. Hero-King Sihanouk added, since then on, we started to build the nation in all fields, and we never stopped. And up until now, under the alert leadership of Samdach Akkok Moha Sena Batdey Dek Cho Hun Xen, Samdach Akkok Moha Ponhea Chakrey Heng Xamrin, Samdach Akkok Thomak Pothisal Chea Xim who are leading the CPP, as well as all the other leaders, they continue the lineage of the SRN which, he, the ex-king, led in the past.

The ex-king said that he is announcing in great pomp that the CPP is the direct younger brother of the SRN for its preservation of prosperity, well being to the people, as well as the progress in all fields of national construction, and the CPP defended the country with victory since ever. At the same time, the CPP also preserved the independence which existed under the SRN by preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity – our heritage – for the future of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It should be noted that Hero-King Sihanouk repeatedly recalled about the history of the CPP struggle, and his speech [about this issue] took place since he returned back from China recently.
READ MORE - Big Brother praises Little Brother