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Syria: President Asad Fails to Deliver Reform | Human Rights Watch

(New York) – President Bashar al-Asad’s speech on March 30, 2011, failed to commit to a specific reform agenda that would safeguard public freedoms and judicial independence and prohibit the Syrian government from encroaching on human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. The much anticipated speech was delivered before parliament. Commentators and analysts had expected the president to announce specific ...

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Japan nears key fix for nuclear plant, but could it come too late? | CSMonitor.com

A top nuclear regulatory official testified Wednesday that Japan’s nuclear plant might already be too dangerous to allow repairs, even though external power could soon be available to run crucial water pumps. If the electricity arrives in time and workers can prevent the Fukushima I plant’s predicament from becoming more grave, the utility faces a long road to what several ...

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In Brief: Drought threatens hydropower in Vietnam | IRIN Asia

BANGKOK, 9 March 2011 IRIN – Low water levels in reservoirs opened in January to irrigate rice fields in Vietnam are threatening to undermine hydropower-fuelled electricity, warn experts. Approximately 2.7 billion cubic metres of water, equivalent to 500 million kilowatts of electricity, were discharged to irrigate more than 635,000 hectares of crops, according to Nguyen Tri Ngoc, head of the ...

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Philippines Prepares for Next Phase of Peace Talks | Voice of America

The Philippines government lead negotiator says the core of the problem with Muslim separatists is not religion – it is identity. Marvic Leonen, head of the peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, (MILF) says his team looks forward to hashing out several aspects of the “comprehensive compact”. Read more here: Philippines Prepares for Next Phase of Peace ...

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Chinese Move to Prevent Reporting on Protests | NYTimes.com

BEIJING — In the days since plainclothes security agents harassed and assaulted several foreign journalists on Sunday, the Chinese police have moved to prevent reporters and photographers from covering any potential public protests by establishing “no reporting” zones in Shanghai and Beijing. Read more here: Chinese Move to Prevent Reporting on Protests – NYTimes.com.

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Japan responds to urgent needs in Afghanistan | ReliefWeb

The Government of Japan provided UNOPS with USD 19 million to protect lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan this week. Despite a decade of development aid, communities are still suffering from poverty, a lack of preparation for natural disasters and limited access to basic social services. UNOPS has signed an agreement with Japan to implement three eight-month projects designed to tackle ...

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VIETNAM: Struggling to cope with rising prices | IRIN Asia

HO CHI MINH CITY, 1 March 2011 (IRIN) – Vietnam’s inflation rate is among Southeast Asia’s highest and its population is struggling to keep up with sharp increases in food, fuel and electricity prices. On 1 March the government increased electricity prices by a record 15 percent to an average 1,242 dong (US 6 cents) per kilowatt per hour. The ...

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