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Asian Voice - Saturday 3rd December 2011

In focus 6,000 evacuated after China chemical plant blast

Beijing: Over 6,000 people have been evacuated after an explosion ripped through a warehouse at a chemical plant in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. The accident occurred at the Futian Chemical Company in Panyu district, the local government officials said. Residents were evacuated after a small amount of toxic hydrogen chloride gas was detected in the air following the blast. Ninety firefighters and 15 fire trucks were dispatched to handle the blast and the situation was brought under control, but evacuated residents were yet to return home.

China sentences 113 in tainted pork scandal Beijing: China's state news agency says more than 100 people including 77 government employees have been sentenced in a scandal involving pork tainted with a banned chemical. At least one person was given the death penalty.Several farms in Henan province were found to be using the fat-burning drug clenbuterol - a banned chemical that makes pork leaner but can harm humans.The main culprit, Liu Xiang, was convicted of harming public safety and sentenced to death, with the execution delayed for two years.

Putin formally nominated to reclaim presidency Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned the West against interfering in Russia’s elections in a speech before thousands of cheering supporters as he formally launched his presidential bid. Putin, who stepped down in 2008 after two presidential terms but kept his hold on power, announced in September that he intended to reclaim the top job next year and was formally nominated by his United Russia party. The boisterous televised congress also was aimed at boosting support for Putin’s party ahead of parliamentary elections one week away. He promised to strengthen the economy, improve living standards and social services and bolster the military.

US, UK, Canada slap curbs on Iran Washington: The US, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors. The US named Iran as an area of "primary money laundering concern," a step designed to dissuade non-US banks from dealing with it; blacklisted 11 entities suspected of aiding its nuclear programs; and expanded sanctions to target companies that aid its oil and petrochemical industries. They stopped short, however, of targeting Iran's central bank, a step that could have cut it off from the global financial system, sent oil prices skyrocketing and jeopardized US and European economic recovery. Britain ordered all British financial institutions to stop doing business with their Iranian ounterparts.

Triple bombings in south Iraq kill 19 Baghdad: A string of bombings in a southern oil city killed 19 people and injured dozens more, a grim sign of the security challenges Iraq will face after American troops go home. The US military is drawing down its troops ahead of an end-of-December deadline to have all American forces out of the country. Incidents like triple bombing in a city seen as key to Iraq's economic development show the dangerous prospects awaiting Iraqis next year. Three bombs went off in a popular open-air market in Basra, police and health officials said. The third bomb exploded a few minutes after Iraqi army and police forces arrived on the scene in response to the earlier blasts, officials said. The third blast caused all the fatalities and almost all of the injuries, the officials said. Among the dead and wounded were many policemen and Iraqi army soldiers.

Arab League okays Syria sanctions Beirut: The Arab League overwhelmingly approved sanctions on Sunday against Syria to pressure Damascus to end its deadly crackdown on dissents, an unprecedented move by the League against an Arab state. Before the vote, Damascus slammed the vote as a betrayal of Arab solidarity. Besides punishing an already ailing economy, the sanctions are a huge blow for a Syrian regime that considers itself a powerhouse of Arab nationalism. At a news conference in Cairo, Qatari foreign minister Hamad bin Jassim said 19 of the League's 22 member nations approved the sanctions.


Burglaries on rise as gold prices skyrocket London: With rise in gold prices, residential burglaries in London have risen by 8.8% from last year. So police in new Malden have been actively approaching Asian households to ensure their homes are properly secured to prevent damage and theft. This comes as the Met launches its ‘Bumblebee Campaign’ to raise awareness for home owner’s that there are simple measures to help prevent being targeted by burglars. The police have advice on their website on how to secure your home and on how to reduce the risk of being burgled. A few tips include: • Ensure your security

alarm is visible and has been tested by a qualified professional who is recognised by the police • If you leave the house, for any length of time, always secure the windows and doors and set the alarm • Any external lighting should be placed where it is difficult for intruders to reach and should be focused on areas where they may be able to gain entrance to the property, for example the side entrance or garage • If you are going on holiday, stop all items you may have delivered to your home and ask a neighbour or family member to check on your home regularly

• Be aware of ‘Bogus’ callers, who pretend to be people they are not. If they are from a utility company, check their ID and if you are still unsure call their customer services. Genuine callers will not mind waiting. Many people, who are claiming as a result of being burgled, are receiving reduced settlements as valuable items are not or have not been declared when home insurances are being taken out or when new items have been purchased. To avoid this happening to you, check your policy for the following: • Have you declared all your high value items,

such as jewellery? Check with your insurer what items they consider to be high value. • Are you correctly covered? Many insurers insist that jewellery, statues and paintings should account for, no more than, one third of your overall contents. • Ensure you have, at least, the minimum lock requirements on doors and windows as stated by your insurer to secure your home • Insurers have an occupancy clause in household policies that state they must be made aware if you leave the property unoccupied for more than a set number of days.

Egyptians vote to usher in Yemeni president Salehs agrees democracy after popular uprising to step down from power Cairo: Egyptians on Monday began voting in a historic three stage parliamentary elections to usher in democracy in the Arab world's most populous nation, nine-months after a popular uprising toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak. The elections, clouded by violence, demonstration and confrontation between the ruling military and prodemocracy protesters, was the first step in a transfer to civilian rule, promised by the ruling army council that replaced Mubarak in February. Initially, 27 provinces went to the polls in three separate stages in a long procedure until January to elect the 508-member People's Assembly or lower house of the parliament. Voting took place in the main cities of Cairo and Alexandria, as well as Fayyum, Luxor, Port Said, Damietta, Kafr el-Sheikh

and the Red Sea province on Monday and Tuesday. A run-off is scheduled for December 5. Over 50 political parties, along with thousands of independent candidates are running in the elections. The second stage will be held on December 14 in Giza, Beni Sueif, Menufia, Sharqiya, Beheira, Suez,

Ismailiya, Sohag and Aswan, with a run-off scheduled for December 21. The third and final round will take place on January 3 in Minya, Qaliubiya, Gharbia, Daqahliya, North Sinai, South Sinai, New Valley, Matruh and Qena. The last run-off will be held on January 10. The final results are expected on January 13.

Dubai: Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a Gulf initiative last week to hand over power to his deputy as part of a proposal to end months of protests that have pushed the Arab country to the brink of civil war. The accord was signed in the presence of Saudi King Abdullah and Crown Prince Nayef. Yemeni opposition officials signed the accord after president Saleh. It was the fourth attempt to wrap up a power transfer accord that Saleh backed out of on three previous occasions at the last minute, fuelling turmoil that has bolstered al-Qaida militants next door to Saudi Arabia. Activists who have

camped in central Sanaa have demanded Saleh end his 33 years of rule now. Government troops skirmished with gunmen loyal to a powerful opposition tribal leader in the capital and some clashes were reported in the southern city of Taiz. Saleh arrived in Riyadh following an invitation from the Saudi leadership, to attend the signing of the Gulf initiative and its operational mechanism, state news agency Saba reported. Under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan, Saleh will shift all his powers to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who would form a new government with the opposition.

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