- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009


Carbon cuts pledged as GDP percentage

NEW DELHI | India’s environment minister says the country will significantly slow its carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade.

The pledge to reduce by 2 to 25 percent the ratio of pollution to GDP comes just days before world leaders are set to gather to discuss a new climate pact.

The announcement follows China’s pledge last week to cut its own “carbon intensity” by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, a move that intensified pressure on India to bring its own emissions-reduction plan to the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen.

India’s targeted reductions would only be a domestic commitment and would not be legally binding.


More rioters sentenced to die

BEIJING | A Chinese court sentenced five more people to death Thursday for killing a police officer with a brick, kicking bystanders to death and other crimes committed during ethnic riots that rocked the western region of Xinjiang in July.

The Intermediate People’s Court of Urumqi also sentenced two others to life in prison, said a woman who answered the phone at the media center of the Xinjiang regional government. Like many Chinese officials, she refused to give her name.

China announced last month that nine Uighurs had been executed for taking part in the ethnic rioting that left nearly 200 people dead in July. It was China’s worst ethnic violence in decades.


No mercy on currency rules

SEOUL | North Korean authorities threatened “merciless punishment” for defiance of new currency rules, activists said Thursday, as the change sparked panic and despair among merchants left with piles of worthless bills.

North Korea informed citizens and foreign embassies Monday that it would redenominate its national currency, the won, diplomats said. Residents in the reclusive communist country were told they have until Sunday to exchange a limited amount of the old bills into new ones, they said.

The news sent Pyongyang residents distrustful of the local currency rushing to the black market to convert hoarded bills into U.S. dollars and Chinese yuan, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, citing unidentified North Korean traders operating in neighboring China.

North Korea announced that the exchange rate would be set at 100 old won to 1 new won, one foreign diplomat said. Residents will only be allowed to exchange 150,000 won for the new currency, according to media outlets monitoring North Korean radio.


Women raped before massacre

MANILA | At least five women among 57 people massacred in an attack on an election convoy in the southern Philippines last week may have been raped, police said Thursday.

The forensic findings from the Nov. 23 carnage, blamed on a powerful clan that has ruled impoverished Maguindanao province unopposed for years, also indicated that some of the victims were mowed down with a light machine gun and others shot from a distance of only 2 feet, said Arturo Cacdac, director of the police crime laboratory.

The convoy was carrying 30 journalists, their staff and the family and supporters of a local politician to file his candidacy for governor of Maguindanao, a position held by the powerful Ampatuan clan.

Twenty-one of the 57 people slain were women. More than half of those killed were journalists.


Police confiscate snakes, tortoises

PHNOM PENH | Cambodian police confiscated two tons of live snakes and tortoises and arrested two men trying to smuggle the slithering cargo up a river from Cambodia to Vietnam, authorities said Thursday.

Acting on a tip, police intercepted the boat Wednesday on the Bassac River in southeastern Cambodia just before it crossed into Vietnam. They found 3,640 pounds of snakes, mostly pythons, and 263 tortoises that weighed a combined 697 pounds, said Col. Chan Savouen, deputy police chief of Kandal province.

Police arrested two Cambodians, ages 17 and 20, who said they were hired to transport the cargo but did not know the identities of their employers.


World Bank loan to help clean Ganges

NEW DELHI | The World Bank has agreed to loan India $1 billion to help clean the Ganges river, sacred to hundred of millions of Hindus and also one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

The loan to clean up the 1,550-mile river will be spread over the next five years, according to a statement released late Wednesday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said.

Scientists say massive amounts of human and chemical waste have devastated the river, which spills from a Himalayan glacier and cuts through India’s plains before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

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