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Philippines sends navy ship to disputed waters

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines said Friday it would send its
ageing navy flagship into disputed South China Sea waters amid rising
tensions with Beijing over their competing claims.
However defence department spokesman Eduardo Batac insisted the
deployment was a routine assignment and had nothing to do with an
announcement by China on Thursday that one of its maritime patrol
vessels would pass through the area.
“I don’t think these are connected,” Batac told reporters.
“The navy conducts regular offshore patrols and we should not connect
the deployment of Rajah Humabon to the deployment of this maritime
vessel of China.”
Batac said he was unaware if the Chinese vessel had reached waters claimed by both countries.
He also did not say when the Philippine vessel would be dispatched or exactly where it would go.
The Rajah Humabon, a former US Navy frigate that served during World
War II, is one of the world’s oldest warships. It began service in the
cash-strapped Philippine Navy in 1980.
Meanwhile, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario
met with envoys of ASEAN member nations on Friday, calling on them to
“take a common position” on the matter.
In the meeting with ambassadors of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, del Rosario said there should be “common approaches in
addressing worrisome developments” in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has competing claims with China, Taiwan, Vietnam,
Malaysia and Brunei over potentially resource-rich areas in the South
China Sea.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are also members of
ASEAN along with Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and
Thailand.
Tensions in the long-running dispute over the area have flared in
recent months amid allegations by the Philippines and Vietnam that China
has become increasingly aggressive in staking its territorial claims.
The Philippines accused China this month of sending naval vessels to
intimidate rival claimants around the Spratly Islands in the South China
Sea.
The Philippines also accused China of installing posts and a buoy in
nearby areas, opening fire on Filipino fishermen and intimidating a
Philippine oil exploration ship with a patrol vessel.
China has maintained throughout the flare-up that its has sole
sovereignty over the waters, but that it intends to resolve the dispute
peacefully.
Nevertheless, Chinese state media reported on Friday that China had
recently staged three days of military exercises in the South China Sea
and plans to boost its offshore maritime patrol force.
Del Rosario said the recent incidents showed the need for
“collaboration and solidarity (on)… a recurring and an exacerbating
problem.”
Reuters
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Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

Myanmar border clashes spark fears of wider conflict

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING (Reuters) – Myanmar troops clashed
with ethnic Kachin militias on Wednesday for a seventh day near two
Chinese-built hydroelectric dams, Kachin sources said, raising fears
that fighting could spread to other areas on the heavily militarised
border.
Light infantry units of Myanmar’s “Tatmadaw” army fought with guerrillas of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) who had cut some road and communication links to try to keep troops at bay.
“It’s tense. There were explosions and gunfights and the KIA has destroyed two bridges and cut telephone cables,” said Lahpai Naw Din, head of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, “We have no idea about casualties,” he said, citing information from sources on the ground.
The fighting, which began last Thursday, has killed at
least four people and forced about 2,000 people to flee towards the
Myanmar-China border, the U.S. Campaign for Burma has said.
Some experts warned it could destabilise the mosaic of
ethnic enclaves and alliances across a region vital for China’s growing
energy needs. As well as the dams, China is building oil and gas
pipelines that will span its Southeast Asian neighbour.
“The outbreak of fighting has meant that the armed groups
and alliances that they formed may trigger the next level of fighting,”
said Emma Leslie, director the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, a
Cambodia-based group that has closely followed the conflict.
Ethnic militias in northern Kachin and Shan States, like the powerful United Wa State Army, the KIA
and the Shan State Army, have fought for decades against successive
military regimes that have run the former British colony since 1962.
Cease-fire arrangements have previously been made
allowing a degree of self-rule, but those deals were torn up last year
when the bigger armies refused a government order to disarm and form
political parties to run in a November 7 general election.
Repeated efforts by the SSA, UWSA and KIA
to negotiate with the government have failed and their fighters have
long been preparing for an all-out offensive by the Tatmadaw.
MATERIAL INTERESTS’
Most analysts say Myanmar’s 10-week-old government is not
ready to go to war with the militias but is under pressure to secure
the dams and pipeline construction sites to appease China, its biggest
political and economic ally.
Some suggest the KIA, which was
shut out of lucrative energy deal between the two countries, might have
escalated tensions to force the government to negotiate and offer some
financial incentives, such as protection money.
“This is mainly about material interests,” said Lin
Xixing an expert on Myanmar expert at Guangzhou’s Jinan University. “The
Kachin also want a piece of the action.”
Lin said it was likely China would use its diplomatic clout with both the rebels and the Myanmar government.
“There is often friction in the area. But I don’t think
this will become too intense,” said Lin. “The Chinese government has
good contacts with both sides and will ask them to maintain the security
of the frontier lands.”
Neither Myanmar’s government nor its media mouthpieces
have commented on the fighting but sources in the region said it centred
on control of the dams.
“We don’t think the government wants to launch a major offensive against the KIA,” an official from a mining company based in Myitkyina, the Kachin capital, told Reuters.
“So far as we heard they just wanted to drive the KIA away from the Tapain hydropower project.”
That will, nonetheless, be a worry for Beijing.
In August 2009, an offensive by government troops against
a Shan State militia group sent 37,000 refugees fleeing briefly into
China. If the latest conflict with the bigger Kachin group grows, the
exodus from Myanmar could be greater.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month told new Myanmar
President Thein Sein that China wanted “smooth progress” on the oil and
gas pipelines projects and President Hu Jintao pressed his counterpart
to ensure stability at the border.
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

It’s official: Filipino is named world’s shortest man

June 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Junrey Balawing poses after a series of measurements at Sindangan Health Center, Sindangan township, Zamboanga Del Norte province, in the southern Philippines on Saturday. Bullit Marquez  /  AP
Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal who is 26.4 inches who is previous record holder.
A Guinness World Records representative has declared the son of a poor Filipino locksmith who measured 23.5 inches tall as the world’s shortest man.

Guinness official Craig Glenday says Junrey Balawing, who turned 18 on Sunday, broke the record of Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal, who is 26.4 inches tall.


The announcement drew a loud applause from Balawing’s parents and townmates in Zamboanga del Norte’s remote Sindangan township in the southern Philippines, who showered the new celebrity with a feast, a cake, balloons and cash gifts.

Balawing thanked the crowd and posed for pictures.
Lolit Homay, municipal health officer in Zamboanga del Norte province’s Sindangan township, said Balawing was measured on Saturday at about 24 inches from head to foot lying down and slightly above 23 inches standing up.
Associated Press

Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

Al Qaeda’s East Africa Chief Killed In Somalia

June 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Fazul Abdullah, the presumed head of al Qaeda in east Africa, has been killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The terror chief was wanted by America for allegedly planning in the US embassy truck bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 which killed 224 people.
Kenya’s police chief confirmed Abdullah was killed on Wednesday – confirming a report from Somali Islamist Shebab rebels.
“We have received that communication from authorities in Somalia,” Kenyan Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said.
“We have been told that there were two terrorists who were killed in Somalia on Wednesday last week.”
Officials with the Somali Transitional Government (TFG) said the terrorist pair were killed at a roadblock on the outskirts of Mogadishu after “they refused to stop”.
The men were travelling in a pick-up truck carrying medicine, laptops and mobile phones.

Abdullah: Wanted by the US over embassy bombings
Abdullah: Wanted by the US over embassy bombings
A Somali security source said the pair appeared to have taken the wrong turning and ended up in an area under TFG control.
A source close to the investigation said the man identified as Abdullah was carrying a South African passport in the name of Daniel Robinson.
The passport, issued April 13, 2009, indicated that its bearer left South Africa for Tanzania on March 19 and was granted a visa there.
Abdullah was also said to have been in possession of $40,000 (£24,600) in cash.
His body has been given to US officials for identification.
Abdullah, who was born in the Comoros islands, joined al Qaeda in 1991.
From 2002 he was put in charge of al Qaeda’s operations in the whole of east Africa.
That same year he planned anti-Israeli attacks in Mombasa that left 15 dead.
In January 2007, he survived a US raid that left dozens of people dead at Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia.


Sky News
Categories: Terrorism, World News

Tropical Cyclone erupts in Eastern Arabian Sea

June 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The low pressure area in Eastern Arabian sea has now intestified into a depression.
According to Met Office, the sea surface temperature and other meteorological parameters indicate that this depression may develop into a tropical cyclone.Sources aid the expected Tropical Cyclone may further intensify on Friday and Saturday that would move in Northwesterly direction initially.


Met Office further told that the cyclone may cause widespread thunderstorm rain with scattered heavy fall accompained by strong gusty winds along Sindh-Makran coast from Friday evening.
Allvoices.com
Categories: World News

NZ mourns death of Shrek the famously shaggy sheep

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

New Zealanders were mourning the loss of the country’s most famous sheep Tuesday, a shaggy national icon named Shrek who was renowned for avoiding being shorn for years.
Shrek captured the public’s imagination in 2004 after he evaded the annual shearing roundups for the previous seven years by hiding in caves on his farm on the South Island. When finally found, he was clad in an astonishing 60 pounds (27 kilograms) of wool.
That’s about five times a typically annual shearing from Shrek’s breed, the Merino sheep prized for some of the softest wool.
In a country where sheep outnumber people by nearly 10 to one, Shrek’s story of stubbornness and guile appealed to many. After his capture, Shrek was shorn on live TV in a broadcast that was picked up around the world. His story inspired three books.
“He was quite an elderly statesman,” said owner John Perriam. “He taught us a lot.”
Until becoming sick three weeks ago, Shrek toured the country, commanding $16,000 for appearances and getting the star treatment wherever he went. In one appearance, Shrek was shorn atop a large iceberg that was floating near the South Island coast.
Shrek was one of about 17,000 sheep on the the 27,000-acre (11,000-hectare) Bendigo farm in the small town of Tarras. Perriam believes Shrek was able to survive the winters and avoid detection by moving about a series of sheltered caves and by munching on small native shrubs.
“It’s bizarre that we missed him seven years in a row,” Perriam said. “But from his point of view, it was the perfect environment.”
After Shrek became a star, Perriam gave him his own barn and showroom. Shrek even had a personal caregiver look after him when he became sick, before the sheep was euthanized Monday at age 17.
Perriam said that as well as laying claim to being New Zealand’s woolliest sheep, Shrek may also have been its oldest. Most sheep live for no more than six years before being slaughtered.
Since Shrek’s death, tributes have been pouring in online, including on the Facebook page “R.I.P Shrek the Sheep.”
Perriam is planning a funeral service and will ask a friend to scatter Shrek’s ashes atop Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain.
Categories: World News

21 dead in China mine flood

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

BEIJING: Authorities in southwest China have confirmed the deaths of 21 workers in two flooded coal mines, state media said Monday, highlighting the dangers of toiling in the nation’s collieries.

In Guiyang city, the capital of Guizhou province, 13 people were confirmed dead at the Fuhong mine, following a flood on May 29, the official China Daily newspaper reported.

Only five bodies have been recovered, but experts have determined that the eight miners still inside had no chance of survival.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the mine was not constructed in accordance with an approved design — a possible cause of the accident.

The second incident, which took place at an illegal mine on May 31 on the border of Guizhou province and the Guangxi region, left eight workers trapped. All of their bodies had been recovered by Saturday, the newspaper reported.

Police have arrested four mine owners, it said.

Last year, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics, or a rate of more than six workers per day.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely much higher than official data indicates, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

Fatalities at Chinese coal mines peaked in 2002 when 6,995 deaths were recorded, sparking efforts by the government to boost safety standards.

In its latest campaign, the government last year issued a policy that required six kinds of safety systems, including rescue facilities, to be installed in all coal mines within three years. (AFP)

Categories: World News