Korea to Loan $200 Mil. to Cambodia

Thursday, October 22, 2009


President Lee Myung-bak, left, is welcomed by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday. Lee pledged that South Korea will provide a total of $200 million in loans to the nation over the next four years to help its economic development.
/ Korea Times photo by Sohn Yong-seok

By Na Jeong-ju
Staff Reporter

President Lee Myung-bak pledged Thursday that South Korea will provide a total of $200 million in loans to Cambodia over the next four years to help its economic development.

He also said Korea will represent the interests of developing Asian countries at global forums, including the G-20 Summit, which Korea is set to host next November, for balanced global growth.

Lee made the promises during an interview with Cambodia's largest-circulation newspaper, the Rasmei Kampuchea, last week in Seoul.

Lee arrived in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the second stop on his three-nation, six-day Southeast Asian trip, from Vietnam.

Upon arrival, Lee visited Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni for talks on bilateral economic cooperation. In the afternoon, he held a summit with Prime Minister Hun Sen on increasing economic and cultural exchanges.

"President Lee and King Sihamoni agreed to expand cooperation on various fields, including the agricultural and cultural sectors," Cheong Wa Dae said.

"Underlying the rapid development of Korea-Cambodia relations since the normalization of their ties in 1997, Lee hoped there will be stronger bilateral cooperation."

During his meeting with Hun Sen, Lee asked for the support of Korean firms seeking to participate in Cambodia's infrastructure development projects.

Lee also asked him to play a role in strengthening ties between Korea and ASEAN - a 10-member economic bloc including Cambodia.

On the sidelines of the summit, the two governments signed an agreement, which will provide South Korean firms with 200,000 hectares of land - almost the same land area as Jeju Island - for forest plantation.

Seoul has increased its Economic Development Cooperation Fund to finance economic development programs in poor countries.

jj@koreatimes.co.kr
READ MORE - Korea to Loan $200 Mil. to Cambodia

Cambodia, S Korea develop comprehensive strategic partnership: FM

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong announced on Thursday that Cambodia and South Korea has developed comprehensive and strategic partnership.

Hor made the announcement after the meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting South Korea President Lee Myung-bok.

Hun Sen and Lee Myung-bak held in-depth talks focusing on strengthening the bilateral ties on the various fields as forestry, mineral, agriculture and tourism, Hor told reporters. Both countries also agreed to establish comprehensive strategic partnership from now on, Hor added.

After the meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of two agreements on extradition and 200 million U.S. dollars concession loan from South Korea that will implement from 2009-2012.

At the same time, Cambodia agreed to provide multiple entrance visa per year to South Korean tourists to encourage more South Korean tourists to visit here, he said, adding that both sides will sign other seven MOUs for expanding cooperation on Friday at relevant sectors.

Lee paid a two-day state visit here at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. After Cambodia, Lee will also attend the 15th ASEAN Summit set on Oct. 23-25 in Hua Hin, Thailand, that involves the ASEAN Plus Three and India, Australia and New Zealand.

READ MORE - Cambodia, S Korea develop comprehensive strategic partnership: FM

Senior Iran MP casts doubt on atom fuel deal

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A senior Iranian lawmaker rejected on Thursday the idea of sending low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing, casting doubt on a proposal aimed at easing international tension over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The comment came a day after the U.N. nuclear watchdog presented a draft deal to Iran and three world powers for approval within two days to reduce Tehran's stockpile of enriched uranium, seen by the West as a nuclear weapons risk.

"They (the West) tell us: you give us your 3.5 percent enriched uranium and we will give you the fuel for the reactor. It is not acceptable to us," parliament's deputy speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

"The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is obliged to provide us with the fuel based on the safeguards," he said.

Iran has yet to give an official reaction to the plan submitted by the IAEA Agency after talks this week in Vienna.

Western diplomats said it would require Tehran to send 1.2 tonnes of its known 1.5-tonne reserve of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France by the end of the year. The material would be converted into fuel for a nuclear medicine facility in Tehran.

Iran's IAEA envoy has hinted that his government may seek amendments. Western diplomats suggested this could jeopardize the deal if they overstepped "red lines" set to create confidence that Tehran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons option.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

READ MORE - Senior Iran MP casts doubt on atom fuel deal

Protests before British far-right leader's TV slot


LONDON — Protesters are gathering at the BBC studios in London on Thursday ahead of a controversial appearance by the leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP) on a top TV political panel show.

They handed out flyers outside Television Centre condemning the invitation to Nick Griffin on "Question Time", which attracts around three million viewers.

Griffin has thanked the BBC for inviting him and hailed his critics for being "stupid" enough to fuel a high-profile debate over whether he should be allowed on, generating huge publicity for the BNP.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Griffin's appearance on the show will be "a good opportunity to expose what they are about" but one of his ministers, Peter Hain, has threatened to sue the BBC for inviting the BNP leader.

The BNP wants to see an end to all immigration to Britain and does not allow non-white members, although that is set to change after a recent court ruling.

Large demonstrations and tight security were expected ahead of Griffin's appearance. He says his biggest concern about the evening is "that I might get shot on the way in."

The hour-long show will be screened at 10:35 pm (2135 GMT) on the BBC1 channel but is thought to be being recorded several hours previously. Related blog: Griffin's TV dream could be nightmare for opponents.

Amid the debate over whether the television exposure will boost the BNP or embarrass Griffin, he praised the broadcaster for giving him the slot.

"Thank you, Auntie," he told the Times newspaper, using the BBC's nickname, adding: "I thank the political class and their allies for being so stupid.

"The huge furore that the political class has created around it clearly gives us a whole new level of public recognition."

In a demonstration of his ability to provoke, Griffin used the Times interview to describe US President Barack Obama as an "Afrocentric racist bigot" and said Afro-Americans should have been resettled in Africa "because the two peoples living side by side would cause problems forever".

The BBC insists it has the duty to hold all democratically-elected political parties up to scrutiny.

The BNP is now in its strongest-ever position after two of its members, including Griffin, were voted into the European Parliament.

Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of the group Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said: "I don't believe the BNP are going to be taken apart in the debate.

"What they are going to get is a massive hustings for their fascist and racist politics and the price for that will be an increase in the number of racist attacks."

Griffin was pelted with eggs at a protest organised by the UAF as he tried to hold a press conference near the British parliament shortly after being elected.

Around 400 people gathered for a protest held by UAF on Wednesday night.

Police said they would provide "appropriate" security on Thursday while the BNP also said it would take its own measures to protect its leader. Within Television Centre, it will be the responsibility of the BBC itself.

The controversy has also helped turn the spotlight on Griffin's personal life. He lives in rural Wales and is married with four children.

Griffin's wife Jackie was quoted in the Daily Mail describing her husband as "an oddball" who saw politics as a game.

"I thought he would grow out of it," she said. "I was earning money, he wasn't -- what a fool I was."

READ MORE - Protests before British far-right leader's TV slot

Cambodia exile offer for Thaksin increases tension

BANGKOK, October 22 (AP): Thailand's government threatened Thursday to seek the extradition of Thaksin Shinawatra if the fugitive former prime minister accepts an invitation for refuge in neighboring Cambodia. The reaction came a day after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pronounced Thaksin a "political victim" and said he was welcome in Cambodia - even adding that there's a house ready for him.
Hun Sen's comments were bound to increase tensions between the often-bickering neighbors and clearly timed to rattle Thailand's current leadership. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is hosting an annual summit of Asian leaders this weekend under tight security to prevent protests by Thaksin supporters. At a previous summit in April, Thaksin supporters stormed the venue and leaders were evacuated by helicopter.
"I would like to assure Thaksin and his supporters that Hun Sen will be his friend forever," the Cambodian leader told reporters in Phnom Penh on Wednesday after a meeting with influential former Thai prime minister, Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who recently allied with Thaksin as a member of the opposition Puea Thai Party. Thaksin has been living mostly in self-imposed exile since he was ousted in a 2006 coup. He was convicted last year of conflict of interest and sentenced to two years in prison, and Thai officials have revoked his passports.
"Thaksin was a political victim. I respect and like him more now than when he was a prime minister," Hun Sen said, adding that he has prepared a house where Thaksin can stay at any time. Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have already been sour due to a border dispute over a parcel of land around an 11th century temple. Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban called Chavalit's visit to Cambodia an attempt to "create legitimacy for Thaksin."
"Thailand will make an extradition request if Thaksin is given shelter in Cambodia," Suthep told reporters in Bangkok, dismissing questions about potential damage to Thai-Cambodia relations. Thailand and Cambodia have had an extradition treaty since 2001. Few, however, expect Thaksin to serve his sentence anytime soon. Putting Thaksin behind bars would only agitate Thailand's ongoing political crisis. And, extradition is generally a lengthy process that many countries make exceptions for if they believe politics played a part in the legal proceedings.
Past extradition attempts from other countries have failed due partly to bureaucracy and an inability to locate Thaksin, the government has said. Since the coup, Thaksin has surfaced in Dubai, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Liberia, and Montenegro in pursuit of investment opportunities. Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, remains popular among the poor who benefited from his populist policies, but he is reviled by many of the elite in Bangkok, where his administration was seen as deeply corrupt. Thaksin has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing.
READ MORE - Cambodia exile offer for Thaksin increases tension

UK warns of lack of urgency over Copenhagen talks


By Peter Griffiths


LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The world lacks a sense of urgency over the importance of the U.N. climate change talks in Copenhagen in preventing a "human emergency" affecting hundreds of millions of people, the British government said on Thursday.

With United Nations talks on a new deal to combat global warming less than 50 days away, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said too many people still failed to grasp the scale and urgency of the problem.

Climate change will deepen Middle East tensions, trigger wars over water and food and lead to unprecedented migration unless action is taken now to curb global warming, he said.

"For too many people, not just in our own country but around the world, the penny hasn't yet dropped ... that this climate change challenge is real and is happening now," Miliband told a news conference.

"The penny hasn't dropped too that Copenhagen is the chance to address on a global scale the climate change challenge. There isn't yet that sense of urgency and drive and animation about the Copenhagen conference."

Disagreement between rich and poor countries on levels of emissions cuts and aid for developing nations to help make those reductions have hampered talks leading to Copenhagen.



BREAK THE IMPASSE

Miliband is the latest senior member of the British government to attempt this week to persuade the 192 countries meeting in Copenhagen to "break the impasse" preventing a deal.

Finance Minister Alistair Darling told Reuters he feared the climate talks could drag on like the world trade negotiations [ID:nLL174744], while Prime Minister Gordon Brown said world leaders should intervene to avoid a catastrophe. [ID:nLI642078]

Unchecked global warming will lead to a further 150 to 200 million people migrating, four billion people facing water shortages and climate change dominating the U.N. Security Council, Miliband said. Water shortages in the Middle East will exacerbate the region's problems, he said.

Miliband and his brother Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, published a map showing the possible effects of a global average temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels.

It suggested northern areas, such as the Arctic and North America, will have larger temperature rises than the rest of the world. Every continent will face a higher risk of forest fires, while yields of maize and wheat in Africa could fall by 40 percent. Rice yields in Asia may drop by nearly a third.

The hottest days of the year in cities like New York and Washington could be as much as 10-12C (18-22F) warmer.

Sea levels could rise by 80cm by the end of the century, threatening low-lying islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The map was based on computer models run by the Hadley Centre, Britain's climate research centre, and the data was peer-reviewed. It is online: www.actoncopenhagen.decc.gov.uk.

The 4C rise could be reached by 2060, although it could be as late as 2100, according to the British government's Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington. He said it was crucial that the world agrees to limit the temperature rise to below 2C.

"There is going to be a danger of (reaching) a tipping point: a sudden, dramatic and unexpected change," he said.
READ MORE - UK warns of lack of urgency over Copenhagen talks

Fees serve as deterrents to Cambodian health care

Many families delay care for their children in Cambodia because they are worried about costs, says Dr. Dina Kulik.

Many families delay care for their children in Cambodia because they are worried about costs, says Dr. Dina Kulik.

Photo Credit: Dr. Dina Kulik

When I went to Cambodia to work in the National Paediatric Hospital, it was to learn about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and dengue. While I was there, I found I learned much more about health care delivery and inequality.

In Cambodia, those who have money receive care, despite the facade of a “public” and “free” health care system. Navigating the system for families felt much the same as it does in Canada, though in Cambodia the stakes were much higher.

In Canada. I fight for MRI access; in Cambodia I was fighting for simple access to care.

Despite the Jakarta Declaration’s investment in the determinants of health, including equity and access to health care services for all, I quickly realized that these basic needs are not being guaranteed in Cambodia.

Cambodian health care is public, though many families are charged fees. This leads to an underlying distrust of the health care system. Accordingly, many families will delay visiting hospitals because of the bills they encounter and children will often come to hospital only after they have become very ill.

I saw many cases of dengue, tetanus, AIDS and tuberculosis progressing to end-stages before families thought it necessary to bring their child to hospital. It is not uncommon to hear stories of families that went seriously into debt after borrowing from loan sharks to pay for the care of family members. In fact, many families delay care for their children because they are worried about cost.

In addition, and perhaps most sadly, I saw the consequences of care being delayed even when the patient was brought to hospital in a timely manner. Typically, a family must come up with the funds to pay for investigations and medicines, and until it does, the patient often waits without care — despite the care being “free” and seemingly accessible to all.

Most families seek the much cheaper services of pharmacists, who appear to act as Cambodia’s ‘frontline physicians’. However, the pharmacists are not trained as they are in developed countries. Therefore, it was common to see cases of overdoses, medication interactions and other medication errors. This often led to such consequences as dystonia secondary to metoclopramide prescribed for gastroenteritis and overdoses of paracetamol causing hepatotoxicity.

Nevertheless, despite inequalities of health care delivery, once care is obtained it is of good quality and provided by well-trained health care professionals. Children receive holistic, comprehensive treatment with modern medicines, procedures and investigation. The people are warm and inviting, and eager to gain knowledge and advance their practice.

Health care professionals and patients alike inspired me to continue to strive for excellence in my practice, no matter what challenges I face. Further, my work in Cambodia served as a reminder that unfortunately, we may have a long way to go before all determinants of health are guaranteed for all children around the world.

— Dina M. Kulik, MD, Toronto, Ont
READ MORE - Fees serve as deterrents to Cambodian health care

Boeing Posts Wider Loss

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Boeing on Wednesday posted a larger-than-expected quarterly loss on costs related to its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner program, but the world's second-largest planemaker reaffirmed that the aircraft is on track to fly this year.

The loss, combined with a lowered 2009 earnings outlook, sent shares down in early trading, although most of the details in the earnings statement had been previously publicized.

"The surprise was they reiterated the (787) schedule," said Alex Hamilton, senior managing director at Jesup & Lamont.

"I always look at these as opportunities to kind of reset the bar," Hamilton said. "I think there's a lot of scepticism growing on the street about their delivery schedule."

Chicago-based Boeing and rival Airbus have been hit hard this year as carriers and cargo operators grapple with the global recession and credit crisis. Meanwhile, Boeing's defence unit struggles with sweeping government budget cuts.

Boeing said its revenue was $16.7 billion (10 billion pounds), up 9 percent from the year-ago period, which was impacted by a labour strike, but still far short of $17.16 billion that analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"There is no doubt that both our commercial and defence businesses continue to face challenging times right now," Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said on a conference call with analysts and reporters.

Shares of Boeing, a Dow component, were down 1.18 percent at $51.28 at midday on the New York Stock Exchange.

DREAMLINER ON TRACK

Boeing has grappled this year with delays to the Dreamliner program. The Dreamliner is Boeing's upcoming aircraft that features revolutionary composite materials and construction methods. The plane is two years behind schedule, and some industry watchers say it could be delayed further.

Boeing said on Wednesday the plane would fly this year with first delivery set for the fourth quarter of 2010. The company has a record 840 firm orders for Dreamliners from 55 customers.

The company previously said it would reclassify to research and development costs incurred through July for the first three 787 flight-test planes. Those costs amounted to $2.46 per share. Boeing reported an additional cost of 14 cents per share related to spending on those planes for August and September.

Earlier this month, Boeing said it would delay the first flight and delivery of its 747-8 Freighter and take a 99-cent-per-share third-quarter charge because of high production costs and tough market conditions.

To reflect the 787 and 747 impacts, earnings guidance for 2009 has been changed to a range of $1.35 to $1.55 per share, from $4.70 to $5.00 previously.

"The 787 cost reclassification and the 747 charge for increased costs and difficult market conditions clearly overshadowed what continues to be otherwise solid performance across our commercial production programs and defence business," McNerney said in a statement.

"We look forward to getting the 787 and 747-8 in the air soon and moving forward with flight test and certification for these two important programs," he said.

THE NUMBERS

Boeing said its net loss was $1.6 billion, or $2.23 per share, compared with a profit of $695 million, or 96 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a loss from discontinuing operations, Boeing's quarterly loss was $2.22 per share, compared with analysts' estimates for a loss of $2.12 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes posted a loss from operations of $2.8 billion. A year ago the unit posted earnings of $394 million. Revenue for the division increased 13 percent to $7.9 billion on higher deliveries.

The division booked 96 gross orders during the quarter, while 17 orders were cancelled. Its backlog was $254 billion.

Boeing's Integrated Defence Systems' earnings from operations were $885 million. Third-quarter revenue was up 3 percent to $8.7 billion on increased military aircraft deliveries.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; editing by John Wallace, Dave Zimmerman and Gunna Dickson)

READ MORE - Boeing Posts Wider Loss

Fed says economy perked up from depressed levels


By Emily Kaiser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. economic conditions stabilized or improved modestly in most parts of the country, according to a Federal Reserve report on Wednesday that suggested the economy was slowly clawing out of a recession.

In its "Beige Book" of anecdotal reports on the economy, which was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond based on information collected before October 13, the Fed noted improvement in two of the hardest hit areas -- residential real estate and manufacturing.

"Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated either stabilization or modest improvements in many sectors since the last report, albeit often from depressed levels," the Fed said. "Reports of gains in economic activity generally outnumber declines, but virtually every reference to improvement was qualified as either small or scattered."

U.S. stocks stayed at higher levels after the report was released, while prices for government debt remained lower, as did the U.S. dollar.

The central bank gave a grim assessment of commercial real estate, which is widely seen as one of the big remaining trouble spots for the still-struggling financial sector.

"The weakest sector was commercial real estate, with conditions described as either weak or deteriorating across all districts," the Fed said.

A number of the regional Fed banks said businesses in their area did not expect commercial real estate to improve much, if at all in, in 2010.

"Tenants are demanding significant concessions -- including space improvements and one- to two-year leasing commitments -- along with low rental rates," the Boston Fed reported.

THOSE WALL STREET BONUSES

Labor markets were typically characterized as weak or mixed, although there were "occasional pockets of improvement." That assessment supported the view that the worst of the job losses are over, but it may be a while before growth resumes.

The Atlanta Fed said many employers "indicated that they were holding on to the most skilled workers, but have reduced overall hours. They feel that a sustained increase in orders and sales is a prerequisite to adding to payrolls."

Despite all the recent talk about huge bonuses at Wall Street firms, the New York Fed heard from one of its contacts that times were getting tougher for top-tier bankers.

"Compensation -- especially cash compensation -- has reportedly fallen sharply, and is expected to fall further during the remainder of the year and into 2010, most notably for the top earners in the industry," the New York Fed said.

The report said the "cash for clunkers" auto sales incentive program left depleted inventories and slower sales in its wake. Overall spending remained weak in most districts, although "some improvements" were noted.

In residential real estate, which was at the heart of the credit crisis that sparked the recession, the government's $8,000 first-time homebuyers' tax credit helped to lift sales of low- to middle-priced houses, the Fed said. However, residential construction activity remained weak in most districts.
READ MORE - Fed says economy perked up from depressed levels

Pakistan Closes Schools Amid Attacks



ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's schools closed their doors Wednesday, a day after bombings at an Islamabad university, amid warnings of more attacks on a wider range of targets around the country.

The recent spate of attacks in Pakistani cities has come as the army prepared for, and launched, a military offensive in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan that is seen as a stronghold for Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

Intelligence officials warned that the militants could target foreign-controlled gas stations, banks and food chains.

All schools, universities and student hostels were ordered closed and vacated for an indefinite period, "until appropriate security measures are taken," said Qamar Zaman Kaira, the federal minister for information.

Many private schools in Islamabad and other major cities had already shut this week after intelligence reports that suggested militants would try to take students hostage to exchange for militants held by the security forces.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the two suicide bomb attacks on International Islamic University, which killed four students and two bombers Tuesday.

Tariq Azam, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a loose organization of Taliban factions, warned of more such attacks in a phone call to the BBC. Islamic militants have blown up hundreds of girls' schools in northwestern Pakistan, but it was the first time a university was targeted.

Tuesday's university bombing was the seventh major militant attack in just over two weeks and the first since the launch of the military offensive in South Waziristan.

Rehman Malik, the interior minster, said unarmed security guards posted at schools weren't capable of stopping terrorist attacks, and that police had been deployed around major educational institutions.

Fighting continued for the fifth day between government forces and Taliban militants in South Waziristan. Last week, around 30,000 troops launched the biggest offensive yet carried out by Pakistan to clear militants from the border region.

"The troops are facing stiff resistance and the militants are fighting for every space," said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman.

At least 105 militants and 13 soldiers had been killed since the military offensive began on Saturday, according to the military. Access to the region is restricted, and reports by the military couldn't be confirmed.

More than 150,000 civilians have now fled the war zone, according to aid agencies.

A major battle is being fought for the control of Koktai, the hometown of Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the main Pakistan Taliban faction. Gen. Abbas said government forces have secured the high ground around the town. The troops have also demolished the houses of Mr. Hakimullah and Qari Hussein, the main trainer of suicide bombers for the faction, the military said.

READ MORE - Pakistan Closes Schools Amid Attacks

Rome goes fishing in Anglican pond

By Robert Pigott
Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News

Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia at Vatican (left) and Dr Rowan Williams in London
The nature of the news conference was kept secret beforehand

The announcement from the Vatican, made simultaneously in Rome and at a news conference in London was dramatic, even historic.

The Roman Catholic Church was going to extraordinary lengths to make it easy for disenchanted Anglicans to convert to Catholicism.

They could join the Roman Catholic Church as full members, but hang on to many of their Anglican traditions and practices - and indeed preserve much of their "Anglican identity".

In the past Anglicans have converted (although many have and are moving in the opposite direction), but it's been on a case-by-case basis.

The creation of a special section of the Roman Catholic Church - backed up by church law - especially for Anglicans all around the world is unprecedented.

At the somewhat bizarre press conference secretively arranged at the offices of the Catholic Church in London, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols acknowledged converts had never before been provided with this structure.

"I can't remember quite a response that gives a juridical structure. And in that sense I think I would describe this as a courageous and a generous response by Pope Benedict."

'Progressive' trends

It wasn't just that Rome is paving the way for traditionalists on the Catholic wing of the Church of England to jump ship - it is doing so at a critical moment.

But first a word of explanation - about why this move has such huge implications for the Anglican Church.

Pie chart of the world Catholic and Anglican populations

Since the Protestant Reformation, when the Church of England broke away from Rome, it has been a sometimes uneasy coalition between its Catholic and Protestant members.

It's the huge achievement of the Church that it has kept these two wings together through numerous crises - that over homosexuality being only one of the more recent.

But traditionalists on the Catholic wing have become increasingly disenchanted by "progressive" trends, not so much with respect to liberal moves on homosexuality, but about the ordination of women as priests, and, in the next few years, as bishops.

This development - utterly rejected by the Vatican for the Catholic Church - has been agreed by the Church of England Synod, and the only question is how far traditionalist parishes and clergy will be "sheltered" from having to serve under a woman bishop.

That debate is in the balance, and the Vatican's initiative is bound to have a profound effect - not just on the numbers who leave, but on the sort of church they leave behind.

Many traditionalist "Anglo-Catholics" have threatened to leave the Church and convert to Catholicism, and leaders of their cause say having a home already prepared for them will greatly increase the exodus.

'Immediate exodus'

Fr David Houlding, the leader of the Catholic Group on the Church's synod, said "several hundred" clergy would leave immediately, and something like 1,500 altogether.

Fr Houlding might have his own reasons for thinking big, but it does stand to reason that many wavering Anglicans, including married priests, will go and others will watch to see how they fare.

Pie chart of the UK Catholic and Anglican populations

If they do leave in such numbers, the ground will be cut away from those left in the Church of England trying to preserve the Anglo-Catholic wing of this "broad church".

The departure of the most vociferous opponents of women bishops would surely reduce the pressure on the Synod to make concessions.

Some liberal Anglo-Catholics, who have no problem with women bishops but are desperate to preserve "catholic" traditions, fear they would leave behind a more Protestant church.

Other groups are also deeply unhappy about the way the Vatican sprang its idea.

Bear in mind that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams knew nothing about this far-reaching move until two weeks ago, and made no contribution to it.

(Could it be a coincidence that at roughly that time news emerged that a special committee was suggesting more generous concessions to traditionalist opponents of women bishops?)

'Unnecessary move'

Some evangelicals - traditionalists but on the Protestant wing of the Church - have joined forces with Anglo-Catholics in an alliance resisting a number of "liberal trends".

Their targets have included the Church's approach to homosexuality, but also their joint opposition to the ordination of women as bishops.

Traditionalist evangelicals now stand to see an important ally massively weakened.

Their powerful lobby, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, set up in Jerusalem last year, criticised the Pope's move as unnecessary, insisting that Anglo-Catholics had a home in their alliance.

Considering the audacity of the Vatican's initiative, it was muted criticism. But, off the record, evangelicals were briefing that Rome was capitalising on Anglican divisions to poach clergy.

It has no negative impact on the relations of the (Anglican) Communion as a whole to the Roman Catholic Church as a whole
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Only last week the Vatican's senior spokesman on relations with other churches, Cardinal Walter Kasper, said "full visible unity" with Anglicans was Rome's long-term goal.

"We are not fishing in the Anglican pond," he insisted.

But by removing a potentially significant portion of the most "catholic" element from the Church of England, surely that sort of "reunion" has been set back.

Dr Williams stressed the Pope had only been responding to pleas for help from Anglo-Catholics, and insisted that this was not a hostile takeover.

"It has no negative impact on the relations of the (Anglican) Communion as a whole to the Roman Catholic Church as a whole."

However, the archbishop's representative in Rome, Bishop David Richardson, described the Vatican's move as surprising, asking "why this, and why now?"

The initiative, and the extraordinary way it emerged, also indicated the distance between the churches and the public they serve.

Journalists were called to a news conference, but officials refused to say what it was about.

Then the language in which the mysterious developments were explained would have struck most people as complete gobbledygook.

We learned that an "Apostolic Constitution" had been prepared, introducing a "canonical structure" which would establish "Personal Ordinariates".

These would allow former Anglicans to "enter full communion with the Catholic Church" while preserving their "spiritual and liturgical patrimony".

It gave the misleading impression of institutions that were out of touch and irrelevant to the lives of the many unattached but spiritually hungry people whom the churches need to attract.

READ MORE - Rome goes fishing in Anglican pond

Climate cooperation to help ties, Hu tells Obama


By Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao has told his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama that closer cooperation on fighting climate change could help improve overall ties between the world's top two greenhouse gas polluters.

Hu also said he was optimistic about U.N.-led talks on a new global framework to tackle climate change, even though the latest round of negotiations ran into trouble.

"Developing cooperation between the two sides on climate change issues would not only benefit the international community in its efforts to tackle climate change, but also have great significance for promoting the development of China-U.S. ties," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Hu as saying.

The leaders spoke by telephone on Wednesday morning Beijing time. Hu said "the two sides face common challenges in the field of climate change, and shared common interests."

Obama is due to make his first presidential visit to China next month, when he will also attend the APEC regional summit in Singapore and visit Japan and South Korea.

Officials have touted climate change as an area where both sides have much to gain from working together and much to lose if they cannot reach a deal to limit the production of gases that scientists say are warming the atmosphere.

Beijing and Washington also face contention over trade, military plans, and human rights -- all issues likely to be discussed when Hu sits down with Obama in Beijing.

OVERALL TALKS COULD HELP PRODUCE CLIMATE AGREEMENT

But potential give-and-take across these issues may also help create room for some agreement on climate change, said Wang Ke, an expert on global warming at Beijing's Renmin University.

"China may be able to make more concessions over climate change if it feels it's gaining more in other areas of the relationship, such as trade," Wang told Reuters.

"Balancing across a whole range of issues may be easier than trying for a one-dimensional agreement on climate change."

China and the United States together account for about 40 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but China's average emissions per person are much lower.

In 2008, fast-growing China's emissions of carbon dioxide reached 6.8 billion tonnes, an increase of 178 percent over 1990 levels, according to the IWR, a German energy institute. U.S. emissions rose 17 percent to 6.4 billion tonnes.

Chinese scientists say higher global temperatures will cause more flooding in the south, droughts in the north and smaller harvests.

But despite growing concern among politicians and the public of many countries, U.N. climate talks on expanding the fight against global warming have largely stalled, making the outcome of a climate summit in Copenhagen in December uncertain. Continued...

READ MORE - Climate cooperation to help ties, Hu tells Obama

Afghan elections: Your stories

An Afghan man peers trough the window of a bus decorated with electoral posters

Officials involved in flawed Afghan elections are being removed ahead of next month's run-off, the UN has said.

The second round, between Mr Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, has been scheduled for 7 November.

Voters in Afghanistan have been digesting the news that they will be required to cast their votes again. Here are some of their thoughts.

EBRAHIM BAREKZAI, 35, GOVERNMENT WORKER, KABUL

It is clear to all that Mr Karzai is our legitimate president after the elections on 20 August.

If the US and other Western countries want a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, they should respect the votes of the poor Afghan people.

My request to the international community is - don't interfere in the elections, otherwise the consequences will be very bad for Afghans and for our international friends.

I am sure that President Karzai will win in the second round - but it's going to be a waste of time and money in such a poor and unstable country.

This is Afghanistan, not Germany or the UK. Democracy is new here.

There is no guarantee that there won't be fraud during the run-off. Only one thing is certain - the Taliban will benefit from this situation.

AIMAL ABDUL GHAFAR, 32, COMPANY WORKER, KUNDUZ

The people of Afghanistan are not allowed to make decisions anymore. It's Western countries and America in particular who make the decisions in Afghanistan.

They are not here to bring peace, but chaos.

There are explosions and suicide bombings all the time

There was some fraud, I am not rejecting that and it is a concern. Once they establish who committed the fraud, that person should be disqualified for ever. They should not be allowed to run in an election again, as they might do it again.

You can't run for government office if you are guilty of corruption and fraud. There should be new requirements for entry into the election race and we should have new candidates.

Otherwise the problems surrounding the election on 20 August will exist during the run-off. This is disrespectful for those who dared to vote during a difficult security situation.

There is lots of Taliban activity in the whole province of Kunduz, where I live. There are explosions and suicide bombings all the time.

There was fighting in the main city of Kunduz and there were rocket attacks on election day. The highway from Kunduz to Baghlan has also been in the control of militants.

People took the risk and their votes were dismissed. I am not going to vote again

Going to the polls was a big risk. Many preferred to stay at home and only a few went out to vote.

I took the plane to Kabul so I could vote there and I waited there for the ink on my finger to fade away before I returned to Kunduz. The Taliban gave a clear message as to what they would do with those who voted.

People took a risk to vote and then their votes were dismissed. I am not going to vote again.

ABDUL MALIK NIAZI, DIRECTOR, KABUL

This is bad news for Afghanistan. We, Afghans, risked our lives in order to elect our president and now, due to foreign interference, we have to do it again.

Abdul Malik Niazi

The international coalition blames our government for everything from the day they put their soldiers on our land. Decisions are made from outside Afghanistan, and I am worried that we'll have a president we didn't want imposed on us.

I doubt that the ECC findings are correct. I do accept that there was fraud, but there should have been some kind of compromise. Why did they have to annul 30% of the votes for Karzai? They could have said only 10 or 20. But I think they wanted to make sure that he didn't get the 50% he needed to win.

The same will happen in the second round, so it doesn't really solve the problem.

It's not going to be possible to hold the elections in two weeks. The weather is changing, it's getting cold and it's going to be very difficult for people to go out and vote. The timing is bad and the turnout will be very low.

The security situation also worries me. This is not Europe - it's Afghanistan.

MUZAFAR ALI, 28, OFFICE WORKER, DAIKUNDI, HAZARAJAT
Muzafar Ali

Unfortunately the decision for a run-off has come too late. The government backed election commission has (unintentionally and unwillingly) dented Karzai's chance of retaining his post for a second time by delaying a run-off, because of upcoming severe cold weather in most parts of the country will prevent people from voting.

This is the first Afghan led election and it was overshadowed by irregularities in the process. A run-off means the next Afghan election will need more intense involvement of foreign observers during the process.

The Taliban's presence and anti-government propaganda has intensified in many areas. People are concerned about this matter, especially in many parts of Taliban ruled Gezab district which borders peaceful Dai Kundi province.

In the places where the Taliban used to have surprise visits in Gezab; they now have a permanent presence. They thoroughly search incoming and outgoing vehicles and passengers.

I am quite hopeful that the run-off will bring a glimmer of hope for Afghans

To some extent the run-off can wash off the bad reputation of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan.

I am quite hopeful that the run-off will bring a glimmer of hope for Afghans who are currently disappointed. The IEC also needs a major overhaul to prevent such irregularities in future elections.

If IEC officers and authorities were responsible for fraud they should not only be sacked from their position but should also be investigated and put in prison if they are found guilty. Afghans have to pay huge price for such irregularities in elections. It will take time to fully recover from current situation created by the current political dilemma.

READ MORE - Afghan elections: Your stories

Talks show Iran open to pressure - Israeli official

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JERUSALEM, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Talks that produced a draft deal presented on Wednesday to Iran and three world powers by the U.N. nuclear agency prove that Tehran is vulnerable to international pressure, a senior Israeli defence official said.

The remarks by Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai came as Israelis debate the value of diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programme.

Many Israelis are sceptical that Tehran is open to persuasion. Their leaders have made clear they may use force instead if talks do not deliver the results they want.

"This proves just how much international pressure is significant," Vilnai told Israel Army Radio when asked about the plan for uranium stocks put to Iran.

"Iran is a country susceptible to pressures more than we tend to estimate."

Vilnai also stressed that even if Iran endorses the plan to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium, world powers would need to keep pressure on the Islamic Republic to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons capabilities.

"It's a reason to continue it with full strength, and if we achieve something here, there will be nothing more important."

Iran declined to say if it would endorse the plan, which Western diplomats said would require Tehran to send 1.2 tonnes of its known 1.5-tonne reserve of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France by the end of the year for conversion into fuel for a nuclear medicine facility in Tehran.

Though Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, the lack of transparency around its programme and the virulently anti-Israel rhetoric from Tehran has stirred global fear of secret bomb designs that could draw pre-emptive Israeli military strikes.

Israel, assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, and the United States launched an air defence drill on Wednesday as part of what Israeli public radio called preparation for a face-off with Iran.

Vilnai said Israel would examine the U.N. draft agreement cautiously, "paying attention to every detail", to make sure Iran was not just trying to buy time. (Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)
READ MORE - Talks show Iran open to pressure - Israeli official

Local woman raising funds for a school in Cambodia


Donna Martin loves being retired after teaching full-time for 34 years in the Chippewa Falls School District.

But while enjoying the more relaxed pace of retirement, she kept asking herself: “What are you doing to make a difference?”

Last summer, while on a trip to the Boundary Waters area in Minnesota, Martin found out.

She read an article in O, The Oprah Magazine, about how to help girls around the world. The article said a Web site, Cambodiaschools.com, builds an entire school in Cambodia, a country of 14 million, for a donation of $13,000. After the Asian Development Bank matches the donation (up to $30,000), a site is selected from a waiting list and a school is built by American Assistance for Cambodia. The group, which has built over 300 schools in the country, says $10,000 of the donation is used to build the school, and the other $3,000 for a general school account. (The contributions are tax-deductible).

“I thought $13,000 was nothing,” she said.

So Carol Martin, who retired in 2003, is setting aside money she earns by substitute teaching to build a school in Cambodia. She figures that it will take three years to raise the money.

Several people suggested speeding the process by taking her idea to community groups to see if they would be willing to donate. “That’s exactly what I’m doing,” she said.

She said she’s willing to speak to groups about the school project, and has a 10-minute DVD to show about building a Cambodian school.

She talked with the Chippewa Falls Senior High School staff on Thursday, Oct. 15, asking that the school’s service clubs keep the Cambodian school idea in mind for a project.

Martin said each school built by the group behind the Web site has three to six classrooms. The teachers are state certified, and each school has solar panels that give off enough power to run a couple of computers.

Each school is built in brick, because a wooden structure would not stand up to Cambodia’s monsoon season from May to November.

Martin said some people may remember Cambodia for “The Killing Fields” days, when murderous dictator Pol Pot killed thousands. Cambodia today is a democracy, and has been since 1991. “It is stable,” Martin said.

Many in the country live in villages of 100 to 400 people. Martin said 84 percent of the population lives in rural areas. “Half of the women can’t read or write,” she said.

So there are a lot of people in search of an education. “The classes are huge. The classes are 30 to 45 people in the class,” Martin said.

Martin said within 5-8 months of getting the money, the American Assistance for Cambodia will have the school built. “I could name the school. I could go visit it. And I could teach there,” Martin said.

The main thing, however, is to get the school built so students can begin learning.

“I’m hoping to do it in a year with contributions,” Martin said.

READ MORE - Local woman raising funds for a school in Cambodia

Cambodia investigates second killing on border

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian official accused Thai troops of fatally shooting a Cambodian national who tried to cross the border illegally, local media reported Wednesday.

The incident marked the second time in two months that Thai troops have been accused of killing Cambodians along the border in north-western Cambodia.

The Phnom Penh Post newspaper cited the governor of the provincial capital of Oddar Meanchey province as saying the victim, Sim Bun Chhim, 25, was crossing the border with two other men Monday night when Thai soldiers opened fire. The other men escaped, but Sim Bun Chhim was seriously injured and died on his way to hospital.

Thon Nol, the governor of Samrong, condemned the act.

'They crossed the border illegally, but [Thai troops] shot them like animals,' Thon Nol told the newspaper. 'They should have arrested them and sent them back to the Cambodian authorities.'

The Foreign Affairs Ministry was awaiting an report from local authorities before deciding on any course of action, spokesman Koy Kuong said Wednesday.

Last month, a Cambodian teenager was reportedly tied to an ox cart and burned alive by Thai troops after being caught logging illegally in Thailand.

The Thai government had said 16-year-old Yon Rith was already dead from gunshot wounds when troops burned his body.

The ministry spokesman said Phnom Penh had received a note from the Thai government refuting the allegation. Cambodian officials were still investigating the teenager's death.

'The note says that the Thai side agrees to cooperate with Cambodia to bring the offenders to justice but asked Cambodia to provide more evidence,' Koy Koung said. 'I don't know how long that [investigation] will take.'

Cambodia and Thailand have had a tense and long-running dispute over their 804-kilometre-long border. Violence has flared on occasion between troops on both sides, most recently in the area around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on Cambodia's northern border.

READ MORE - Cambodia investigates second killing on border

Family shattered in an instant

Lim Taing, the father of crash survivor Pho Taing expresses his pain after losing his daughter-in-law and granddaughter in a collision with a suspected drunk driver. (Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star)

Immigrants who persevered over war, separation and disease grapple with losses in fatal car crash

Wed Oct 21 2009
Jennifer Yang
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star (Canada)


The Taings survived war, sickness and poverty. But a speeding BMW shattered the family forever.

"In one minute. In one minute. Two die in just one minute," wept 72-year-old Lim Taing, his face covered with both hands.

His son, Pho Taing, was driving a minivan on Saturday night when it was sliced in two by a speeding BMW near Finch Ave. W. and Tobermory Dr.

Pho Taing's wife, Hon To, 44, and their 24-year-old daughter, Khan (Christine) Taing, were ejected from the minivan and killed instantly. Christine's godmother was also killed.

Pho Taing, 42, and a family friend, 36-year-old Hon Tran, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The speed limit in the area is 60 kilometres an hour and police estimate the 1999 BMW 540 was travelling at 200 km/h.

Roman Luskin, 21, faces numerous charges, including impaired driving and failing to take a breathalyzer.

Pho Taing has since been released from hospital and is staying with family in the Jane and Finch area. On Tuesday, he was too grief-stricken to speak about the tragedy and spent much of the day lying in bed, a table of pills and tissues at his side.

"He wishes he could have died with her," said Lim Taing, speaking through a translator.

"He lived only to get more pain. All night long, all day long, he cries all the time and becomes sick and pained."

Lim Taing said he was worried about his son, a man who loved his family deeply and had already survived many hardships.

Originally from Cambodia, the Taing family lived through the Cambodian civil war. In 1979, they were forced to flee following the Vietnamese invasion. Lim Taing said he and his wife went to Thailand while Pho, his second-eldest child, wound up at a refugee camp in Vietnam.

The two men wouldn't see each other again for nearly 20 years. Lim Taing eventually moved to Canada with his wife but he continued searching for his son, posting ads in newspapers and asking friends and acquaintances.

Father and son eventually reconnected in the early 1990s and in 1995, Pho came to Canada as a refugee. He brought with him a new wife, Hon To, and their young daughter, Christine.

"I was very happy," Taing remembered, closing his eyes.

But the family faced hardship once again when Hon To fell ill, about 10 years ago. She was diagnosed with cancer and doctors gave her five years to live, Taing said.

Pho quit his factory job to care for his ailing wife and the family began to live off government assistance. But Hon To, a devout Buddhist, fought the disease and ultimately outlived her grim prognosis by five years.

Meanwhile, Christine enrolled in nursing studies at the University of Toronto. She was set to graduate in March.

"One of the reasons she wanted to take medicine is because she wanted to take care of her mother," Lim Taing said.

Taing said his granddaughter was an "extraordinary child" who respected her parents deeply. She was so studious she would even avoid dating, he added.

Only recently, Lim Taing had been bragging to friends about his granddaughter, he said, expressing pride in her achievements. Days later, Christine and her parents were returning home from visiting a local temple when the BMW slammed into their car.

"(Pho) told me that he completely didn't see it coming," Lim Taing said.

When Pho awoke in the hospital, he didn't know his wife and child had died, Lim Taing said. On Sunday, he insisted on leaving the hospital to see them and only then did he learn of their passing, Taing said.

Lim Taing said he feels "only pain" when thinking of the tragedy. As for the other driver, he said his fate is now for to the courts to decide.

"Why (drive) like that? Why 200 kilometres an hour?" he asked, grimacing in anguish. "It's too much."

Luskin faces three counts of impaired driving causing death, three counts of criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide a breath sample.

On Tuesday morning, the Russian immigrant appeared in court wearing a white bandage around his left hand, with visible scrapes along the right side of his head. He was remanded in custody until Oct. 30, when he will return to court to set a date for a bail hearing.

Luskin has faced other charges in the past and in 2007, he was charged with failing to provide a breathalyser sample, possessing tools for the purpose of forgery and fraud, and a court order violation. The charges were stayed or withdrawn, although the record did not state why.

That same year, Luskin also pleaded guilty to five charges related to the placing of an electronic information "skimmer" on an ATM at a Kingston Scotiabank branch, according to a story in The Kingston Whig-Standard. He was given a six-month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

With files from Brendan Kennedy, John Goddard, Denise Balkissoon, Rosie DiManno and Jesse McLean
READ MORE - Family shattered in an instant

Govt forecasts growth to hit 2.1pc in Cambodia this year [-Keat Chhon dreaming again?]

A worker unloads locally produced bananas in Siem Reap. Minister of Finance Keat Chhon said Tuesday that agriculture would help prevent a Cambodian recession in 2009. (Photo by: BLOOMBERG)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Nguon Sovan
Phnom Penh Post


While rejecting alternative forecasts, Minister of Finance Keat Chhon says agriculture will drive economy this year and next.

CAMBODIA’S economy will expand 2.1 percent this year on the back of strong growth in the agriculture sector, Finance Minister Keat Chhon said Tuesday.

The agriculture sector was expected to expand 5 percent this year despite the recent destruction wrought by Typhoon Ketsana, he said.

Economic growth would accelerate next year to 3 percent, he added, led again by agriculture but boosted by a slight recovery in tourism.

However, he expected the garment sector to continue to struggle in 2010.

“The US market still doesn’t have any purchasing power,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a four-day securities conference that opened Tuesday in Phnom Penh.

The United States takes around 70 percent of Cambodia’s garment exports. Ministry of Commerce figures show US buyers took just over US$1 billion worth of output from Cambodia’s garment manufacturers over the first eight months of 2009, down 29.9 percent from $1.42 billion a year earlier.

The forecast, which Keat Chhon said was based on figures from the National Institute of Statistics, is a downgrade from previous government predictions of 6 percent growth this year, and is in stark contrast to recent projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which he continued to reject.

“We are not interested in debating forecasts made by the IMF and the ADB,” he said. “Our forecast for growth this year is 2.1 percent. That is based on figures from our National Institute of Statistics.”

Downwards estimates

The ADB slashed its growth projection for Cambodia in September, saying its reliance on exports, tourism and foreign direct investment left it exposed to the effects of the global economic slowdown.

It said then it expected the economy to shrink 1.5 percent in 2009 before expanding at 3.5 percent in 2010 as a gradual recovery in the global economy stimulated clothing exports and tourism. The ADB predicted in March that Cambodia would grow 2.5 percent this year.

The expectation of a 1.5 percent contraction matches forecasts published by the Economist Intelligence Unit since September but positions the regional body as much more optimistic than the IMF, which in late September forecast a 2.75 percent contraction of the economy this year.

David Cowen, deputy division chief in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, also singled out the agriculture sector as a bright spot on the economy. Like Keat Chhon, he predicted agriculture would expand 5 percent this year. He also said agriculture would drive the economy in 2010, which was expected to grow 4.25 percent with the appearance of “signs of recovery in other sectors”.

The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) estimated earlier this month that Typhoon Ketsana cost Cambodia at least $29.3 million when it tore through the country.

The bulk of those losses hit farming sector, with 35,681 hectares of paddy fields and 2,071 hectares of other crops damaged, said NCDM Communications Officer Keo Vy.
READ MORE - Govt forecasts growth to hit 2.1pc in Cambodia this year [-Keat Chhon dreaming again?]

Cambodian law to ban rallies

Cambodian law to ban rallies



Lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) said the new legislation would ensure security and help maintain public order, but the opposition dismissed the law as another attempt to stifle freedom of expression. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA'S parliament approved a new law on Wednesday banning demonstrations of more than 200 people, sparking fresh concerns the government is trying to silence dissenting voices.

Lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) said the new legislation would ensure security and help maintain public order, but the opposition dismissed the law as another attempt to stifle freedom of expression.

The law also requires groups to seek permission five days in advance of planned demonstrations.

Mass rallies in Cambodia have been harshly dealt with in the past but are now rare as the country enjoys an unprecedented period of political and economic stability after decades of brutal civil war.

The new law on protests follows recent tightening of Cambodia's defamation laws after a series of court cases brought against opponents of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen and his powerful associates.

Parliamentarians from the CPP have defended the defamation laws, which it said 'protected the dignity and reputation' of the country's leaders. -- REUTERS
READ MORE - Cambodian law to ban rallies

SKorean men arrested for rape in Cambodia: police

PHNOM PENH, Oct 21 (AFP) - Three South Korean men have been arrested after one of them was caught raping an intoxicated Cambodian woman in their private room at a karaoke club, police said Wednesday.

Authorities said the three men -- two restaurant owners and a tourist guide -- were arrested immediately Tuesday night at the club in northwestern Siem Reap province, home to the famed Angkor Wat temples.

Sun Bunthong, chief of Siem Reap's anti-human trafficking police, said the men forced an 18-year-old girl to drink beer until she was intoxicated, and then asked other women to leave the room so that one of the men could rape her.

"After girls who were not drunk were out of the room, they locked the door and one of them started raping her," he said.

The men -- whose identities were not immediately provided -- were arrested after karaoke club staff forced their way through the door and saw one of them raping the woman, Sun Bunthong told AFP by telephone.

The man faces a rape charge while the two other men face charges of being accomplices to the crime, he added. (AFP)

READ MORE - SKorean men arrested for rape in Cambodia: police

Hun Sen to Thaksin : Run to Me


Published on October 22, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

If Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's decision to virtually lead the Pheu Thai Party is something of a political rebirth, he has hit the ground running.


One day in Phnom Penh and a bombshell was dropped on the already sour relationship between Thailand and Cambodia.

Following a meeting with Chavalit, Cambodian Premier Hun Sen told reporters how his wife cried at the mention of Thaksin Shinawatra's fate and how a plan to give Thaksin a home "that deserves his honour" was discussed.

"We have been great friends since Thaksin was businessman and the relationship has remained the same since he entered politics," Hun Sen said.

"Though I'm not Thai, I'm hurt by what has happened to him. My wife even cried on knowing about it and has an idea to build a home for Thaksin to come and stay honourably."

It was the closest thing to saying Cambodia would be willing to give Thaksin a political exile, an issue which will present both countries with an awkward situation, in addition to the Phra Vihear conflict, going into the Asean summit.

Chavalit, on his return to Thailand from the one-day visit to Cambodia, confirmed what Hun Sen said. And true to his characteristics, he created more speculation by suggesting he was ready to meet Thaksin's arch-rival Sondhi Limthongkul.

Sondhi's People's Alliance for Demcoracy reacted guardedly to that, saying that no matter what Chavalit had in mind, the PAD's fundamental stand remains unchanged _ Thaksin has to serve his jail term first, and the rest can be discussed later.

There have been whispers, though, that Chavalit had met another PAD key man, Chamlong Srimuang, before deciding to seek a "summit" with Sondhi. A Chavalit-Sondhi meeting, PAD insiders believe, is "possible". They said things could become clearer after key PAD members meet this coming Tuesday.

On Hun Sen and Thaksin, Chavalit said the latter would be given a house in case he wanted to have a long stay in Cambodia.

Chavalit met Hun Sen during his one-day visit to Phnom Penh yesterday as a representative of Thaksin-backed Peu Thai Party.

As a long time friend, Prime Minister Hun Sen paid a lot of attention to fate of Thaksin, Chavait said.

Hun Sen has known Thaksin for long time since the latter was a normal businessman who invested in Cambodia.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family are neither Thai nor relative of Thaksin but feel sympathy to him and want to declare that they are friend forever," Chavalit said.

"They have prepared a beautiful house for Thaksin and give him an honor as a friend," he said.

Asked if the Thai government was concerned over his visit to Phnom Penh, Chavalit said no government official called him to express such concern since he just went there to visit his friends and did not represent the government.

However Chavalit also discussed border conflict at the area near Preah Vihear temple with Hun Sen and praised Cambodia's stance to solve the problem with peaceful way.

The border conflict could be solved via bilateral mechanism of joint boundary commission, he said.

"We don't expect the issue could be solved within a few days, it could be 20 years but we should handle it with understanding and friendship," he said.

On the sea boundary, Chavalit said Cambodia has not yet granted concession to exploit oil and gas in the sea overlapping area to any foreign companies but is waiting for the Thai government to negotiate on the issue.
READ MORE - Hun Sen to Thaksin : Run to Me

Former Thai PM Chavalit Visits Cambodia

BANGKOK, Oct 21 (Bernama) -- Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, leader-in- waiting of Thailand's opposition Puea Thai Party, is visiting Phnom Penh at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thailand News Agency (TNA) reported Wednesday.

Speaking before leaving for neighbouring Cambodia, Chavalit said it was a trip to visit an old friend.

The Thai-Cambodian dispute over the area around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple may be discussed if the Cambodian prime minister raised the issue as a friend talk, said Chavalit.

"Cambodia's relations with Thailand have not changed much but both sides understand some issues in different ways. That's not a problem," he said. "Relations will improve."

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand over the surroundings of Preah Vihear boiled over into violence last year when the temple was granted World Heritage status by the United Nations Educational Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Meanwhile, Chavalit and about 50 former classmates of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra from Class 10 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School applied to become members of the opposition Puea Thai party on Tuesday. All had retired from the military.

More retired officials from other classes will later join the Puea Thai party, the one-time Army commander said.

"Everyone wants to spend the rest of their lives to work for the nation without any demand for political position. I clearly said to the Puea Thai (leaders) and members that I want to be neither a prime minister nor have a seat in the cabinet. I'm content to work for the most benefit of the country," Chavalit said.

"The current conflicts indicate the political alertness of the public," he said. "Compromise and goodwill advice will be very useful to the country. It's a transition period," Chavalit said.

-- BERNAMA
READ MORE - Former Thai PM Chavalit Visits Cambodia

Hun Sen will host Thaksin 'anytime'

If 'former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wishes to travel to Cambodia anytime... the Cambodian Prime Minister is ready to prepare a residence for (his) stay in Cambodia,' the television channel reported. -- PHOTO: AP

----------------------------------------

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen is prepared at 'anytime' to host his 'eternal friend' the fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the country's state television reported on Wednesday.

State-run TVK said that Mr Hun Sen made the invitation during a private meeting Wednesday with Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, a key member of Thailand's main opposition party Puea Thai.

The overt invitation to Thaksin, who fled Thailand in August 2008 to escape a jail term for corruption, is likely to frustrate Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has had strained relations with his Cambodian counterpart.

If 'former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wishes to travel to Cambodia anytime... the Cambodian Prime Minister is ready to prepare a residence for (his) stay in Cambodia,' the television channel reported.

Mr Hun Sen also promised to boost relations between his ruling Cambodian People's Party and the Puea Thai Party, the report said.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have been difficult for months amid an ongoing border conflict. The two governments have been at loggerheads over the land around Preah Vihear for decades. Nationalist tensions spilled over into violence in July last year, when the temple was granted Unesco World Heritage status. -- AFP

READ MORE - Hun Sen will host Thaksin 'anytime'

Cambodia passes law banning big demonstrations

By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's parliament approved a new law on Wednesday banning demonstrations of more than 200 people, sparking fresh concerns the government is trying to silence dissenting voices.

Lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) said the new legislation would ensure security and help maintain public order, but the opposition dismissed the law as another attempt to stifle freedom of expression.

"This law is nothing more than just a ban on protests against this government," said Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, the main opposition.

"How does this law provide freedom for the people, when you have thousands of protestors who want to hold demonstrations but are not allowed?" he added.

The law also requires groups to seek permission five days in advance of planned demonstrations.

Mass rallies in Cambodia have been harshly dealt with in the past but are now rare as the country enjoys an unprecedented period of political and economic stability after decades of brutal civil war.

In contrast, mass protests since 2006 in neighbouring Thailand have helped topple two elected governments, triggering street riots, security crackdowns, a coup and an airport seizure, which has spooked investors and prompted credit ratings downgrades.

READ MORE - Cambodia passes law banning big demonstrations

Cambodian Speaker Urges Expansion of Relations with Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Cambodia's Parliament Speaker Heng Samrin on Wednesday called for the development of all-out ties between Tehran and Phnom Penh.



Speaking in a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Cambodia Seyed Javad Qavam Shahidi, the Cambodian speaker lauded the achievements made by the Islamic Republic of Iran in political, economic and high-tech fields, and underlined the necessity for the promotion of his country's ties with Iran and maximum utilization of cooperation capacities and opportunities by the two countries.

Samrin further felicitated Iran on the successful arrangement and holding of the June 12 presidential election.

The speaker also welcomed a visit to Cambodia by Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani during his upcoming trip to the Southeast Asia.

Also during the meeting, the two sides agreed on exchange of visits by the two countries' parliament speakers as well as parliamentary friendship groups.

Qavam Shahidi on Wednesday also met with Cambodian ministers of energy, mine and industry, science, sports and youth, culture and religion, deputies of foreign and tourism ministers as well as the mayor of Phnom Penh, where the two sides explored avenues for further cooperation between Iran and Cambodia.
READ MORE - Cambodian Speaker Urges Expansion of Relations with Iran

 
 
 

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