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July 8, 2009

Thaksin still pervades Thai political landscape

Thaksin still pervades Thai political landscape

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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Thailand’s fugitive ex-premier, Thaksin Shinawatra is in the news again today, phoning supporters in the country and appealing for no celebration of his sixtieth birthday at Sanam Luang outside the royal palace in Bangkok. This follows some red-shirted United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters vowing to go ahead with the party despite Bangkok’s Governor, Sukhumband Paribatra, saying he will deny any request.

File photo of Thaksin Shinawatra from 2005
Image: Helene C. Stikkel (US DoD).

According to Thailand’s English-language Bangkok Post, UDD leader Shinawat Haboonpad expressed determination to see the July 26 celebration go ahead, “… we will show our civil disobedience and ignore his order”.

The divisive impact of the populist Thaksin stretches back prior to him being ousted by a bloodless military coup in September 2006. As far back as 2005 figures within the Thai establishment were speaking against him; Thaksin used the courts to try and prevent dissemination of negative material, including the publication of a sermon by a respected Buddhist monk who compared him to Phra Devadhat, the Thai Buddhist equivalent of the devil. Bangkokians formed into the yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accusing the Prime Minister of corruption. Following the military intervention in 2006, and a groundswell of support among rural poor voters, the opposing pro-Thaksin groups formed into the UDD. Despite conviction in-absentia, Thaksin colours Thai politics, and has derailed efforts to stabilise the country’s political institutions.

This past week it has been the lead-up to the December 2008 dissolution of the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) government that has resurfaced. The then-Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat was barred from politics and his PPP dissolved by the country’s Constitutional Court following anti-Thaksin yellow shirts occupying Bangkok’s international airport and stranding as many as 300,000 tourists in the country. Now the country’s Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, a PAD leader, is facing pressure to step down for his part in the airport siege and blockade.

A report in Monday’s Bangkok Post indicates that Thai authorities continue to pursue Thaksin. The Interior Minister said that an attempt had been made to arrest Thaksin in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, but he had evaded capture and managed to return to Fiji where he remains in exile and a fugitive.



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More than 100 die in riots in Ürümqi, China

Filed under: Archived,Asia,China — admin @ 5:00 am

More than 100 die in riots in Ürümqi, China

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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Uyghurs are involved in China’s largest ethnic clash since March 2008, involving at first perhaps 1,000 and up to 3,000 protestors. Xinhua, the official news agency, reports that 156 people were killed and 1,080 other people are injured.

Ürümqi is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China

The riot began Sunday in Ürümqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China. It began as a protest encouraging authorities to look into a previous violent incident between Uyghurs and Han Chinese in June. In the June incident, two Uyghur men were reportedly beaten to death by a mob at a Guangdong province toy factory. A rumour spread that the men had sexually harassed Han Chinese women. According to Chinese state media, police have arrested a man who allegedly spread the rumour. The June clash has been cited as the instigating factor to the Sunday riot, which escalated.

Authorities closed down Ürümqi with a population of over 2.3 million and neighbouring cities Monday and Tuesday morning. Protests had spread to Kashgar by Monday.

Police arriving on the scene tried to quell the unrest with tear gas, water hoses, road blocks, armoured vehicles and armed police patrols. Curfews were imposed, while cell phone and internet services were cut off.

Rioters were using knives, wooden batons, bricks, stones, and were igniting cars, buses, and buildings on fire. About 700 people had been detained by police as of Monday evening, 200 stores, over a dozen homes, and more than 250 vehicles were destroyed during the riot.

The changing global economics is affecting the social and economic ethnic tensions in China. One sentiment is that the “government does bald-faced injustice to Uyghur People,” said a Uyghur student. “Uighurs have suffered for years under racial profiling and unjust government policies that have painted the entire Uyghur population as criminals and terrorists,” said Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur and human rights proponent based in Washington. Uyghur demonstrators during this riot were seeking an end to discrimination and not separatism, according to Alim Seytoff, Uyghur American Association spokesperson. More radical Uyghur separatists have been seeking independence in China.

However, the Han have voiced opposite sentiments. “What they should do is crack down with a lot of force at first, so the situation doesn’t get worse, so it doesn’t drag out like in Tibet,” said a Han woman. “Their mind is very simple. If you crack down on one, you’ll scare all of them. The government should come down harder,” she continued.

Uyghurs asked for the release of ordinary citizens who were detained.

On Tuesday morning a small contingent of Uyghur gathered to urge the release of those detained following the Sunday riot.

Later in the day approximately 10,000 Han Chinese took to the streets in Ürümqi with poles, meat cleavers, machetes, bricks, chains and other weapons. “The Uighurs came to our area to smash things, now we are going to their area to beat them,” said a Han Chinese protester. Police protected some neighborhoods with tear gas and road blocks.

By Tuesday over 1,400 had been detained.



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Google announces new operating system

Google announces new operating system – Wikinews, the free news source

Google announces new operating system

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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Google announced today that they are developing Google Chrome OS. The operating system, announced on their official blog, will be based on their Chrome browser, which is now nine months old.

Google said that at first it will be targeted toward netbooks, but in the future, will eventually expand. The company said that it will continue to be developed alongside Android, their operating system currently being used on mobile devices.

The system will run in a windowing system atop a Linux kernel and will be fully open source. It is planned to be released in 2010. On their blog, Google said, “Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds,” said the blog post written by Sundar Pichai, Vice President Product Management, and Google’s engineering director, Linus Upson.

Both men said that “the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web” and that the new OS is “our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be”.



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