- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

INDIA

Himalayan goats face starvation

SRINAGAR — More than 100,000 Himalayan goats — famed for their pashmina wool, or cashmere — face starvation after their desert habitat was blanketed with snow.

The government was trying to get emergency supplies to the area as winter stocks of fodder ran out after the region’s worst storms in three decades, officials said yesterday.

Nomads and Tibetan refugees herd the goats in the remote and barren area. Despite being high in the Himalayas, the arid region usually gets almost no rain or snow.

Ladakh, the area hardest hit, is part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. The highly prized wool is used to make famed pashmina shawls and cashmere, which takes its name from the region, and is a major source of revenue in the area.

THAILAND

Officials silent on Burma rights

BANGKOK — Thailand’s newly elected government will maintain a policy of noninterference in military-ruled Burma, the foreign minister said yesterday, adding that democracy and human rights are “domestic issues.”

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Thailand will work within the framework of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations but “will have to respect [Burma’s] sovereignty.”

Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962, and its ruling junta is widely criticized for human rights abuses and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.

Burma’s crisis attracted world attention in September when Buddhist monks led anti-government protests, the biggest in two decades. The government detained thousands and killed at least 31 persons, according to a U.N. investigator, whose tally was twice the toll acknowledged by the junta.

JAPAN

Court orders payment to teachers

TOKYO — A Japanese court awarded 12 retired schoolteachers and a clerk almost $260,000 yesterday after they were denied jobs at schools in Tokyo because they had refused to sing the national anthem at graduation ceremonies.

In a rare victory for pacifist teachers, the decision by Tokyo District Court requires the city to pay a total of $258,800 to the 13 plaintiffs, the court said. The plaintiffs planned to demand today that their job applications be reconsidered.

Tokyo city, led by nationalist Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, has cracked down in recent years on teachers who refuse to honor the national flag or sing the anthem, which many pacifists associate with Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century.

The city had issued verbal warnings to the plaintiffs and cut their pay for refusing to sing the anthem at graduation ceremonies from 2003 to 2005.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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