Latest News March 22, 2011
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Latest News March 22, 2011


By THE IRRAWADDY Tuesday, March 22, 2011


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Thailand Backs UN Attacks on Libya

Thailand, as a member of the United Nations, supported the UN resolution authorizing military action against Libya, Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said yesterday, according to a report by The Bangkok Post. The cabinet is expected to endorse the Thai stance today, he said. However, the country has no plan to send forces to join the operation at the moment. Meanwhile, the Thai embassy in Tripoli is trying to persuade the last group of 86 Thais living in the strife-torn country to return to Thailand following international military intervention. Thani said most of the Thais remaining in Libya have refused to leave the country because they have families there. He said more than 40 Thai laborers have decided to stay on.

Shoe Factory Workers in Rangoon Strike

Some 500 workers at a shoe factory in Hlaing Tharyar Township in Rangoon launched a peaceful protest on Tuesday against the rejection of their demand for an increase in salary. The workers at the New Way factory refuesd to work, but gathered outside the factory at 7 am to voice their concerns, said a witness. The strike came one day after factory authorities ignored a proposal by some workers' representatives demanding salary increases. Several security guards and police officers were deployed outside the factory, but no violence was reported. The workers ended the protest at 9 am after negotiations were held including officials from Hlaing Tharyar Township and the Ministry of Labor.

Burma Emerges as Top Travel Destination for 2011

The UK-based Wanderlust magazine says Burma has gone from being the world’s most controversial travel destination to, potentially, the most exciting, and has named the country the “top emerging destination of 2011.” Although Burma still has a long way to go to compete with its Asian neighbors as a tourism destination, overall tourism in the country has been increasing. According to the Bangkok-based Pacific Asia Travel Association, Burma received more than 310,000 tourists last year, setting a new record.

World Bank Calls for Refocus on Bird Flu Vigilance

The World Bank has called for increased vigilance on highly pathogenic bird flu, which has re-emerged in Hong Kong, Japan, Burma and South Korea since January, and has continued to circulate in Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh and other countries. The surge in new infections in commercial poultry flocks and among wild birds is reminding governments and communities of the potential threat of H5N1 to national and global health, financial systems, and the livelihoods of farmers.

Thai Police Arrest Man for Selling Monarchy Video

A Thai man faces up to 15 years in prison for selling video CDs containing an Australian TV news program about Thailand's monarchy, his lawyer said on Monday. Akachai Hongkangwan was arrested on March 11 on the charge of lese majeste, or disrespect for the monarchy, said Anont Nampa of the Rasadorn Prasong Law Center. The center was established in January to assist poor people charged with politically related crimes, and currently has six clients arrested for lese majeste. Akachai was arrested for selling VCDs containing a segment on ABC's “Foreign Correspondent” series from last April that was a serious examination of the future of Thailand's monarchy, but included footage from a private video of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn with his wife-to-be. Anont said Akachai acknowledged selling the VCDs, but denied he broke any law. He was released on bail on Friday.

World Markets Rise as Japan Nuclear Crisis Eases

World markets were higher on Monday, buoyed by news over the weekend that Japan was making progress in its battle to control radiation leaks at a nuclear complex that was severely damaged in the country's worst-ever earthquake. Oil prices, meanwhile, jumped to near US $103 a barrel after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed a “long war” amid allied military strikes over the weekend in the OPEC nation. European shares were higher in early trading. The World Bank said Japan may need five years to rebuild from the earthquake and tsunami that decimated the industrial northeast, causing $235 billion in damage and likely killing more than 18,000 people.

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