Archive for April 2nd, 2010

April 2, 2010

Digital Democracy

China’s president Wen Jiabao is one of many leaders using the internet to communicate with the mass population

With each passing year, the internet is transforming the way we interact with our governments and the people who run our lives.

From 15 March, Chris Vallance looks at the many ways participation is changing our relationship with people in power.

Persuaders

Whether it is policies or patios, sooner or later just about everyone wants to find the best way to sell an idea or a product.

In the era of the internet, companies and governments are discovering new techniques of persuasion – and top of the list are online social networks.

But how important are the likes of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to what we think and do? Chris Vallance investigates.


Hacktivism

From emails taken from climate change research groups to Latvia’s so-called “Robin Hood hacker”, computer hackers pack a powerful political punch.

But how far should you go to make a political point, and when does online activism become online crime – or even cyber-terrorism?

Chris Vallance looks at the debate within hacker circles about the ethics of hacktivism.


Coming up

Chris investigates the issue of transparency. How much data do various governments have about us? How much should be online? And what happens when it gets lost?

Meanwhile, media organisations are able to access secret information through sites such as click Wikileaks. Is this leading to a media without rules?

The programme also looks at direct action on the web, and how effective it can be, and at the hidden persuaders online – public relations and lobbying groups, sometimes posing as members of the public, and their efforts to effect change through online campaigning. The practice is known as “astroturfing” – but can it really work?

Digital Democracy is broadcast on BBC World Service news from 15 March 2010

http://ow.ly/1p0Fm

April 2, 2010

EU Funds Laos To Address Food Security

April 02, 2010 15:58 PM

EU Funds Laos To Address Food Security

Cached page: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=487470

<!–

By: Ramjit

–>HANOI, April 2 (Bernama) — The European Union (EU) agreed to fund 17 million euros (about US$22.78 million) to improve food security in Laos, China’s Xinhua news agency cited the Lao newspaper Vientiane Times as saying on Friday.

The agreement was made at a meeting held in the Lao capital of Vientiane, gathering governmental agencies, relevant units and experts to discuss the ongoing initiatives to reduce food insecurity and poverty in Laos.

The money will be used to assist 15 projects which are being implemented in 500 target villages in Lao provinces.

These projects work on improving health and nutrition status, increasing crop production and productivity, boosting production infrastructure and market access and promoting income-generating activities, said the newspaper.

– BERNAMA

April 2, 2010

Meeting on Mekong water resources kicks off in Thailand amid tight security

The first Mekong River Commission Summit opens in Hua Hin, Thailand, April 2, 2010, featuring “Transboundary Water Resources Management in a Changing World”. (Xinhua/Shi Xianzhen)

Cached page:  http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-04/02/c_13235144.htm

HUA HIN, Thailand, April 2 (Xinhua) — The Mekong River Commission (MRC) International Conference started here on Friday under the theme of “Transboundary Water Resources Management in a Changing World.”

The conference, attended by senior officials from member countries in the Lower Mekong basin, will discuss water resources development and management on the Mekong River.

Solutions from the meeting will be forwarded to leaders of the member countries including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam in the MRC Summit, the Thai News Agency reported.

The meetings have been hosted in Thailand’s central resort town of Cha Am and Hua Hin amid tight security as Major General Dithaporn Sasasamit, the spokesman of Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said earlier that some 8,660 security men would be deployed to ensure security.

The security operations have been managed under the enforcement of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which is enforced in four sub- districts of Hua Hin district in Prachuab Khiri Khan province and two other sub-districts of Cha Am district in Petchburi province.

Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is scheduled to arrive at the meetings’ venue on Friday afternoon to inspect and supervise security operations.

The MRC international conference will be held till Saturday, and after that the first MRC summit will kick off on April 4, lasting two days.

The summit is going to discuss a wide range of challenges facing the Mekong basin, including the long-term climate change.

The meetings are held as the water level in the Mekong River has recently dropped dramatically, the worst in 50 years, affecting local people.

The MRC Summit will be attended by leaders from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, including an representative from China as observer.

April 2, 2010

Countries Blame China, Not Nature, for Water Shortage



A Cambodian worker transporting sand along the Mekong River. Farmers and fishermen affected by the river’s low levels are lashing out at China. More Photos »

Cached page: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/world/asia/02drought.html

BANGKOK — In southern China, the worst drought in at least 50 years has dried up farmers’ fields and left tens of millions of people short of water.

Chinatopix, via Associated Press

Villagers collected water from a tank in China’s drought-stricken Yunnan province. More Photos »

But the drought has also created a major public relations problem for the Chinese government in neighboring countries, where in recent years China has tried to project an image of benevolence and brotherhood.

Farmers and fishermen in countries that share the Mekong River with China, especially Thailand, have lashed out at China over four dams that span the Chinese portion of the 3,000-mile river, despite what appears to be firm scientific evidence that low rainfall is responsible for the plunging levels of the river, not China’s hydroelectric power stations.

This weekend, a group of affected countries — Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam — are meeting in Thailand to discuss the drought, among other issues.

Thailand will be requesting “more information, more cooperation and more coordination” from China, said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a government spokesman.

China has begun a campaign to try to counter the perception that its dams are hijacking the Mekong’s water as the river runs from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea.

Chinese officials, normally media shy, recently held a news conference and have appeared at seminars, including one on Thursday, to make their case that the drought is purely a natural phenomenon.

“More information will help reduce misinformation,” said Yao Wen, the head of the political section at the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok.

He presented pictures of sun-baked riverbeds and dried-up wells at the seminar, including one of a man straddling cracks in a dry riverbed.

“This old man used to be a boatman, but now he has nothing to do,” Mr. Yao told participants.

The concluding image was that of a child staring longingly into a bucket. “You can see how serious the drought is,” he said. “It is a very, very terrible situation.”

Still, many in the room continued to focus on China’s dams. Mr. Yao listened to impassioned pleas by residents of northern Thailand to stop further construction on the river.

“It’s where we fish, where we get food,” said Pianporn Deetes, a Thai campaigner for the environmental group International Rivers. “It’s where we feed our families.”

She blamed Chinese dams and the blasting of rapids to make the river more navigable for reduced fish catches, and she criticized plans for more dams without more transparent public consultations.

By one recent count, there are more than 80 hydropower projects in various stages of preparation and construction for the Mekong and its tributaries.

“How can you decide without listening to us?” asked Ms. Pianporn, a native of Chiang Rai Province, in northern Thailand.

As in so many other parts of the world, the politics of sharing water are rife with tension. Within Thailand, where the drought has affected at least 14,000 villages, one official has described “water wars” between farmers hoping to keep their crops alive.

But discussions among the countries that share the Mekong are more complicated. A common approach toward planning the river’s future means accommodating Thailand’s lively and freewheeling society, the military dictatorship in Myanmar, the authoritarian democracy in Cambodia and the Communist-ruled systems of Laos and Vietnam.

Many Thais remain particularly suspicious of Chinese plans for the Mekong, called Lancang in Chinese.

One professor at the seminar on Thursday prefaced a question to Mr. Yao, the Chinese diplomat, with this: “I realize that it’s difficult for you to speak freely — after this conference you would be fired if you talked freely.”

Some conservationists have attributed the low river levels partly to the construction of China’s fourth dam on the Mekong, at Xiaowan. The dam began filling its reservoir in July, during the rainy season, Chinese officials say, a process that was stopped with the arrival of the dry season.

In recent weeks, as water shortages became acute and navigation at some points of the Mekong became impossible, China released water from its dams, raising the water level, according to Jeremy Bird, the chief executive officer of the Mekong River Commission, an advisory body set up in 1995 by the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. China and Myanmar are not members but have some agreements to share information.

Over all, Mr. Bird says China has a “limited capacity” to reverse the effects of the drought for countries downstream. The Mekong, he says, has always been volatile.

“Intense droughts and intense floods have been experienced for a long time,” he said.

Mr. Bird and other experts say dams on the lower part of the river, including one planned in Laos, could have a harmful effect on migratory fish, among other problems.

But over all, Mr. Bird said he believed that more dams in China could even out the Mekong’s seasonal variations by storing water when it was plentiful and releasing it when scarce.

For Ms. Pianporn, who says she cherishes the river’s natural beauty and its bountiful fish, that argument is not persuasive.

“We don’t need more water in the dry season, and we don’t need less in the wet season,” she said. “We would like to see the water as it is.”

April 2, 2010

LAOS

World Statesman.org
LAOS
Cached page from:
http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Laos.htm
[Flag of Laos]
16 Oct 1945 – 23 Apr 1946;
Adopted 2 Dec 1975
[Laos -    1947-1975]
8 Apr 1945 – 23 Apr 1946;
11 May 1947 – 2 Dec 1975
[Laos  French  Protectorate 1893-1947]
3 Oct 1893 – 8 Apr 1945;
23 Apr 1946 – 11 May 1947
Historical Maps of Laos
click on the map to enlarge

“Textfiles” leads to files from WHKMLA
“Topical Maps” lead to further maps posted at WHKMLA
“External Maps” lead to maps posted elsewhere on the web
LAN CHANG IN THE 16TH CENTURY

Textfiles : Lan Chang

LAN CHANG IN THE 17TH CENTURY

Textfiles : Lan Chang

THE LAOTIAN STATES IN THE EARLY 18TH CENTURY

Textfiles : Vientiane 1690-1779, Luang Prabang 1690-1893

THE LAOTIAN STATES IN THE LATER 18TH CENTURY

Textfiles : Vientiane 1690-1779, 1779-1828, Luang Prabang 1690-1893

THE LAOTIAN STATES, 19TH CENTURY

Textfiles : Vientiane 1779-1828, Luang Prabang 1690-1893

External Online Map : South East Asia (Stieler 1891), posted by maproom.org
External Online Map : Burmese Empire and Hindoo-Chinese States (Milner 1850), posted by maproom.org

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1893-1897

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1893-1918

External Online Map : Indochina 1886, posted by PCL, UTexas
External Online Map : Asia 1892 (Encyclopaedia Britannica), posted by PCL, Texas

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1898-1901

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1893-1918

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1902-1918

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1893-1918

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1918-1940

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1918-1945

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1941-1945

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1918-1945
External Online Maps : Japanese Empire 1943, from History 159b at UCSC

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1945-1946

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1945-1954
External Online Map : La guerre d’Indochine (1946-1954), from Atlas Historique

LAOS AS PART OF FRENCH INDOCHINA, 1946-1954

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1945-1954
External Online Map : La guerre d’Indochine (1946-1954), from Atlas Historique

LAOS INDEPENDENT, SINCE 1954

Textfiles : History of Laos, 1954-1975, since 1975

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