Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sandro focused on Inter

Internacional midfielder Sandro says he is not 'frustrated' that the club rejected an offer from Tottenham Hotspur.


The highly-rated Sandro has been hly-rated Sandro has been linked with a move to White Hart Lane, with reports claiming Spurs had offered �14million.

The Brazilian club's president Vittorio Piffero has described the bid as 'reasonable', but it is not enough to secure Sandro's signature.

Sandro is aware of the rumours surrounding his future, but he insists he is in no rush to leave the Porto Alegre-based club in order to join a European team.

"I am not frustrated by this matter," Sandro told the Brazilian media.

"For me to play in Europe is a dream, but there is time to have another chance to do this.

"At the moment I want to focus on my performances for Inter."

On Friday, Spurs announced a strategic partnership with Inter which could see players head to White Hart Lane from the Brazilian side

Premier League round-up

Chelsea and Tottenham both maintained their 100 per cent starts to the new season on an afternoon when Liverpool came from behind to beat Bolton.


Champions Manchester United also hit back in the evening game to defeat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford.

The Gunners controlled much of the first half and took the lead through an excellent long-range strike from Andrey Arshavin five minutes before the interval.

United improved in the second period and Wayne Rooney equalised from the penalty spot in the 59th minute after being brought down by Manuel Almunia.

Abou Diaby then headed a Ryan Giggs free-kick into his own net five minutes later to put United ahead, while the game ended with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger being sent off.

Chelsea were highly impressive as they chalked up a fourth successive league win via a 3-0 defeat of Burnley.

The Clarets will rue Martin Paterson's profligacy in front of goal with the scoreline blank, as once Nicolas Anelka broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time there was no way back.

Michael Ballack stooped to double Chelsea's lead after the break before Ashley Cole's stunning angled drive capped another imperious display from Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Tottenham left it late at White Hart Lane as Aaron Lennon's last minute strike against Birmingham City secured a 2-1 victory.

Worryingly for Harry Redknapp, Ledley King and Luka Modric hobbled off injured before the latter's replacement, Peter Crouch, scored his first Spurs goal with a looping second-half header.

Lee Bowyer restored parity via the scruffiest of efforts as Christian Benitez appeared to push Alan Hutton in the build-up to the goal, much to the ire of Redknapp, and the delight of a travelling Blues faithful.

It was, though, Spurs who had the last laugh as Lennon's impressive drive won it at the death.

Rafa Benitez has experienced better weeks in his football career and he'll be thankful for Steven Gerrard after his captain scored a thumping winner as Liverpool won 3-2 at ten-man Bolton.

Following Monday night's defeat to Aston Villa, things got a whole lot worse for Liverpool just past the half-hour mark when Bolton striker Kevin Davies stabbed home after a scramble in the box.

Davies' opener had come against the run of play so it came as little surprise when the in-form Glen Johnson restored parity before half-time when he cut inside on the edge of Bolton's box, before firing a daisy cutter beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen.

It was, though, a frailty at the heart of Liverpool's defence that was exposed again after half-time as Davies' flick header from a set-piece fell invitingly for Tamir Cohen to ram home.

Sean Davis saw red for two bookable offences before Gerrard struck the bar and Fernando Torres levelled matters with a neat finish. The scene was set fonish. The scene was set for Gerrard to emerge as a hero and he did just that with seven minutes remaining, via a searing drive from range.

Hull City and Wolves both went for three points in a bright game at Molineux but had to settle for one apiece after a 1-1 draw.

Stephen Hunt continued an encouraging start to his Hull career as his powerful run and cross from the left was headed in by Geovanni past Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Wolves struck back early in the second half when a free-kick from deep fell to Richard Stearman, who finished with aplomb for a centre-half.

Dave Kitson followed up his first ever Stoke goal in midweek, in the Carling Cup, with a debut league strike as his first-half effort was enough to give the Potters a 1-0 win at home to Sunderland following a scramble in the box.

Blackburn's game with West Ham at Ewood Park ended in a disappointing stalemate as neither club did enough to take the spoils.

Summer Bird soars in Travers Stakes

Jockey Kent Desormeaux celebrates atop Summer Bird after winning the Travers Stakes horse race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009. (AP PhoAug. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Mike Groll) (Mike Groll - AP)


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Summer Bird isn't the other Bird anymore.

The Belmont Stakes winner came charging off the far turn and splashed his way to victory in the $1 million Travers Stakes at rain-soaked Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.

Now that Summer Bird is the only 3-year-old male with two Grade 1 wins, the son of Birdstone almost certainly moves to the head of his class. Of course, Rachel Alexandra is No. 1 3-year-old filly and leading contender for Horse of the Year.

But Summer Bird is the word in the boy's world - ahead of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who missed the Travers as he recovers from throat surgery, and ahead of Quality Road, who finished third in the slop as the 3-2 favorite, five lengths behind the winner.

"To me, he is the 3-year-old champion now," a delighted winning trainer Tim Ice said. "They can call him the other Bird if they want, but he's won the Belmont and the Travers. Take it from there."

Like father, like son, too.

In completing the Belmont-Travers double, Summer Bird joins his sire, Birdstone, who did it in 2004. Summer Bird is the 30th horse to win both races.

"Winning this race means as much as winning the Belmont," Ice said. "For my colt to win the Belmont and come back and win the Travers like his sire means a lot."

A crowd of 34,221 braved showers all day for the biggest racing card of the six-week season, capped by the 1 1/4-mile Midsummer Derby.

Summer Bird, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, came into the race off a runner-up finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2. For two weeks, Ice had been saying his colt was ready for a big race, and he surely delivered.
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Quality Road, who would have been the Derby favorite before he was sidelined with hoof issues, won the Amsterdam Stakes earlier in the month in his return. But he wasn't quite ready for the Travers: He bucked jockey John Velazquez off before entering the starting gate, was squeezed between horses at the start and finished third in the seven-horse field.

Charitable Man was fourth, followed by Warrior's Reward, Kensei and Our Edge.

Kansas City Chiefs lose Matt Cassel to leg injury

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel grabs his left leg after he was sacked in the first quarter Saturday. (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images / August 29, 2009)


Matt Hasselbeck threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns with newly signed Edgerrin James watching on the sideline, leading the Seattle Seahawks to a 14-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., in a game in which the Chiefs lost quarterback Matt Cassel to a leg injury.

James, the NFL's active rushing leader, signed with Seattle on Tuesday but spent the game in sweats, pen and notepad in hand.

Hasselbeck put on a good show for his new teammate, leading the Seahawks on scoring drives to end the first half and open the second.

Kansas City had a woeful night on offense -- its only touchdown came on defense -- and lost two starters in the game's first three minutes: Cassel and cornerback Brandon Flowers (shoulder). Receiver Devard Darling also had to be helped off in the second quarter, favoring his left leg.

New York Jets 27, at New York Giants 25: Mark Sanchez, in his first game since being named the Jets' starting quarterback, completed a spectacular 31-yard touchdown pass play to Chansi Stuckey and put 20 points on the board in 2 1/2 quarters as the Jets took the annual New York braggin' rights game in East Rutherford, N.J. Sanchez overcame a slow start and a little early pressure to complete 13 of 20 for 149 yards for the Jets, who gave Rex Ryan his first victory as a head coach.

New Orleans 45, at Oakland 7: Drew Brees completed 14 of 17 passes for 179 yards and drove the Saints to touchdowns on all three drives he played.

San Francisco 20, at Dallas 13: Dallas rode Felix Jones and Marion Barber for most of a 94-yard touchdown drive, the highlight series during the first-half battle between the first-team units in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.

at Pittsburgh 17, Buffalo 0: Ben Roethlisberger played a nearly flawless first half in his first game since injuring his right foot, James Farrior had a 22-yard interception for a touchdown and the Bills starting offense struggled yet again. Roethlisberger led two scoring drives while going 15 of 19 for 168 yards and 103.5 passer rating before sitting out the second half.

at Cleveland 23, Tennessee 17: Brady Quinn threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards and outplayed Derek Anderson in perhaps their final auditions for Coach Eric Mangini to be the Browns' starting quarterback.

at Detroit 18, Indianapolis 17: Third-string quarterback Drew Stanton threw a 21-yard pass to rookie Dan Gronkowski and a two-point conversion to John Standeford with 4:13 left to win it for the Lions.

at Atlanta 27, San Diego 24:

The Chargers' Philip Rivers led touchdown drip Rivers led touchdown drives in two of his three possessions in his first game since signing a contract extension, before the Falcons' backups rallied.

Baltimore 17, at Carolina 13: Joe Flacco threw for 247 yards and a touchdown and the Ravens' defense shut down Carolina's first unit.

Elsewhere

Byron Leftwich has won Tampa Bay's prolonged quarterback derby by beating out Luke McCown. Leftwich will start the team's regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

Buccaneers Coach Raheem Morris announced the selection after practice Saturday, saying Leftwich had an edge over McCown heading into training camp.

New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said Tom Brady left Friday night's exhibition game so the coaches could look at the backup -- not because of injury.

The team had announced at the game that Brady had a sore right shoulder.

Lineup switch lifts Revs past Quakes

New England notches two late goals to extend winning streak
08/30/2009 01:56 AM
By Kyle McCarthy / MLSnet.com Staff


OXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The first UGH, Mass. -- The first half wasn't exactly what the New England Revolution had in mind as they carried a two-match winning streak into Saturday night's 2-1 win against San Jose.

All of the things that New England had done to achieve those wins against Seattle and Real Salt Lake last week -- tidy passing, opportunistic finishing and cohesive defending -- weren't on display. But for a few timely misses from the Earthquakes, the Revs would have entered the break down.

"We weren't too happy about our first half," Revolution midfielder Wells Thompson said. "We wanted to go out there from the start and get after it. We struggled a little bit. (Revolution coach Steve Nicol) just tried to calm us and get us together. We weren't down at half. The game wasn't over. We had another half to go out and give it to them. That's what we did."

Nicol made a couple of early switches in the second half, sending on Sainey Nyassi and Pat Phelan in place of Mauricio Castro and Kheli Dube. The moves were designed, Nicol said, to aid the Revolution's hold up play with midfielder Shalrie Joseph shifting into a target role.

"We were trying to get a lot more numbers up," Joseph said. "Our problem in the first half, and a little bit to start the second, was that when we got the ball up into the attacking third, it wasn't sticking."

The ball didn't need to stick for the Revolution's opener as Joseph flicked on Matt Reis' long clearance into the penalty area for Steve Ralston to chip over Earthquakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

"I was just trying to run off of it," Ralston said. "Shalrie makes a big difference. Kheli worked his butt off up there and was challenging everything, but I guess he doesn't have the body to win balls over their center back, who's a big guy. Shalrie was able to do that. He was able to hold the ball for us, and it made a big difference. On that specific play, I just tried to time it right and get off the center back's back shoulder. And the ball just sat up perfectly for me."

Ralston turned provider six minutes later when he set Thompson free down the right side and allowed him the opportunity to take Earthquakes left back Ramiro Corrales one-on-one. Thompson elected to cut inside onto his left foot and unleashed a stunning effort into the far upper left corner to double the Revolution's lead.

After pointing out that he had struggled with indecision over the past few weeks, Thompson said he wanted to do a better job of making the right choices. The decision to go for goal instead of cut towards the end line stemmed from another area he wanted to improve.

"One thing I've been trying to do is shoot out a little bit more," Thompson said. "It workedhompson said. "It worked out."

Earthquakes midfielder Ramon Sanchez grabbed a consolation goal in second-half stoppage time, but that wasn't enough to put a damper on the Revs' third consecutive win on a dreary night in suburban Boston. New England's first three-game winning streak since May 2008 ensured it would end the weekend in third place in the Eastern Conference.

Thompson said his team can point to its positive response after the difficult start as the reason why it managed to achieve the result it needed.

"That's the great thing about soccer," Thompson said. "It's a 90-minute game. You can beat the other team for 80 minutes and still lose the game 3-0. We just had to keep our heads in it and stay positive, and contain and push forward. And when Steve (Ralston) got that goal, and we didn't want to stop there."

Paul Goydos, Steve Marino tie for lead at Barclays



Both have triple birdies and shoot a three-under-par 68 in the third round to finish at nine-under 204.
Paul Goydos figured Liberty National at least would look good on television, with the Statue of Liberty and so many other New York landmarks serving as a spectacular backdrop at the Barclays.

Inside the ropes is starting to look pretty good to him too.

Goydos put together three straight birdies early in the third round Saturday to build a lead that stood up until Steve Marino ran off three straight late on the cloudy afternoon to catch him for the lead. Both shot three-under-par 68 and were at nine-under 204 at Jersey City, N.J.

Goydos has only two victories in his 17 years on the PGA Tour. Marino made his debut as a PGA Tour rookie in 2007 at the last tournament Goydos won (Sony Open) and is still looking for his first victory.

The focus shifted behind them on a day of light rain that didn't last long. Suddenly lurking is Tiger Woods, who struggled with his putter but made enough for a 67 that put him within five shots of the leaders.

The opening event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup has several possibilities:

Of the top six players on the leaderboard, only Steve Stricker, who is three shots behind, has won this year. Stricker won the inaugural playoff event two years ago at the Barclays. He kept bogeys off his card, yet made only birdies on the par fives for his 68.

Marino had two chances to win this year, losing a playoff at the Colonial and sharing the 36-hole lead with Tom Watson at the British Open. He might find out how that experience will help him now.

Two shots out of the lead were Fredrik Jacobson (72), the Swede with moving parts in his swing, who is winless in his six years on the PGA Tour; and 24-year-old Webb Simpson, who overcame a triple bogey to shoot 72 and give himself a chance to become the first rookie to win on tour this year.

Champions Tour

Mark McNulty shot a seven-under 65 to share the lead with Loren Roberts entering the final round at the Boeing Classic at Snoqualmie, Wash.

Roberts had four birdies in his final six holes to match McNulty's 65 and finish at 11 under in the second round. The duo holds a two-shot lead over Bernhard Langer and first-round leader Mark O'Meara.

McNulty was four under on his first nine holes, then made another four birdies on the back nine.

LPGA Tour

Rookie Anna Nordqvist's three-under 69 moved her into a one-shot lead over Seon Hwa Lee and Ai Miyazato going into the final round of the Safeway Classic at North Plains, Ore.

Nordqvist, who won the LPGA Championship this year, was at 10-under 134 after the first two rounds.

Miyazato had three straight birdies on Nos. 8-10, all par-five holes, to edge up the leaderboard with a 68. Lee sank a birdie putt on the par-four 18th hole and wound up with a 70.

U.S. Amateur

Byeong-Hun An will fa0D
Byeong-Hun An will face fourth-seeded Ben Martin in his bid to become the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur.

After being 1 down heading to the 13th hole, the 17-year-old South Korean won four straight holes to close out a 3-and-2 victory against Fresno State sophomore Bhavik Patel at Tulsa, Okla.

Martin took a 4-up lead through six holes as Texas senior Charlie Holland got off to a sloppy start, and he cruised to a 5-and-4 victory.

South coast blaze 'unpredictable'

Swirling winds are creating unpredictable conditions for firefighters battling a blaze close to homes at Burrill Lake on the New South Wales south coast.

Authorities haify;">Authorities have confirmed a holiday cottage near Dolphin Point was destroyed by the blaze last night.

Helicopters are waterbombing the fire and crews from surrounding areas have been called in to help protect properties.

Tim Carroll, from the Rural Fire Service (RFS), says strong winds are pushing the fire towards the township of Lake Tabourie, south of Ulladulla.

He says several rural properties are in the path of the fire and if residents choose to leave the area, they should go early.

Mr Carroll says if residents can see smoke and flames, it is probably already too late to leave.

RFS spokesman Matthew Schroder says the wind blowing on the fire ground is averaging about 40 kilometres an hour, with gusts of up to 60 kilometres an hour.

"The fire is still continuing to burn in amongst the properties there so our crews are in there working in behind the homes to ensure those properties are safe," he said.

"There is some wind that is impacting the fire at the moment, so the firefighters are experiencing quite sporadic fire activity as we speak, so they're trying to combat that throughout the day."

The Princes Highway is shut in both directions at Burrill Lake because of the fire.

RFS Assistant Fire Commissioner Rob Rogers says the holiday cottage destroyed last night "couldn't be defended" and the burnt out shell was discovered this morning.

Fingal Bay fire eases

Authorities say a bushfire burning at Fingal Bay, north of Newcastle, no longer poses a threat to properties.

Crews have worked this afternoon to contain a blaze burning through bushland in the Tomaree National Park in the Port Stephens area.

Lower Hunter Superintendent Jason Mckellar says the fire was heading towards properties, but it is now under control.

"What crews have worked on this afternoon is doing a backburn of an... area behind the houses at the back of Fingal Bay," he said.

"[The fire] has burnt out into the national park and met up with the wildfire and taken the intensity out of it.

"Now it will be a process of mopping up and patrolling that area."

Swat diary: 'Bright future ahead'


Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of Pakistan, has returned to his home in Swat three months after his family fled the conflict there. He describes the challenges of daily life with optimism about the future.


We returned to Swat on 2 August. We were very excited. We were desperate to go to our village, but we were told by other villagers over the phone that people were not allowed to enter the village without a special pass.

Therefore we had to stay near Mingora for two days to obtain such passes before we could return to our home village. More than two feet grass had grown while we were away. Everything seemed to be in its place, nothing was stolen.

After a few days staying at home I went out for a walk around the village. I found many houses badly damaged in the fighting. Our relatives' houses were among the damaged ones. Electricity wires and phone cables were lying scattered on the ground, although we do have power and our phone is working.

Many houses and shops were plundered. I saw three shops completely emptied. One shopkeeper told me that 200 sacks of rice had been stolen from his shop.

Three or four houses belonging to militants were completely razed to the ground. The army is still coming to our village to destroy houses known to belong to militants.

'Militants defeated'

I saw the hairdresser in my village openly and bravely shaving people. I heard songs in the streets and in the shops for the first time after a long while.

About 80% of the people from our village have returned. Life is getting back to normal, but there are problems.

Many people are without jobs d people are without jobs due to the curfews and people can't move easily inside Swat. Swat is like a jail for us now - there are many checkpoints and curfews are imposed all the time. People are sick of them.

Electric power is another big problem. It is so weak, that we can't switch on the motor to pump water up and we can't turn on the refrigerator to cool things. Power cuts can happen any time.

People are a little bit worried again as several suicide attacks occurred in the last few days. But as a whole, people are happy and satisfied with the operation in the area.

We are very happy with the army: people pat soldiers on the back and give them food and gifts - something that had never happened in the past. The army has regained its popularity. People feel indebted to the army also because it has reduced the price of bread from five to two rupees.

Everyone is pleased to be back home, though most people, including me, are anxious that leaders of the militants still haven't been arrested or killed.

You hear about bodies of militants turning up these days. Many people are of the view that the security forces are behind this.

But regardless of who's responsible, people get really happy when they hear that militants have been killed, because their dear ones were brutally killed by those militants.

I have so many stories of the cruelties happening in our lands. I hope I will write them down one day.

I am myself very happy of the way things have turned up. I am optimistic about the future because I see that the militants have been defeated.

They can't hold such a powerful position here again. Swat has a bright future because its people have learnt the importance of peace and education. They have become united.

I am now thinking about my wedding, which will take place soon after the Eid, before October.

Cosgrove honoured amid E Timor celebrations

Retired General Peter Cosgrove has been presented with one of East Timor's highest honours at a ceremony celebrating the country's 10 years of independence.

Galign: justify;">General Cosgrove has been presented with the collar of the Order of East Timor by the country's President, Jose Ramos-Horta.

General Cosgrove was the head of the Australian-led multinational peacekeeping mission which arrived in East Timor after the vote for independence in 1999.

He says he is receiving the award on behalf of all those involved in the mission in East Timor.

Earlier today, Dr Ramos-Horta thanked Australia for its support and friendship.

Australia's Governor General, Quentin Bryce, has also presented Dr Ramos-Horta with three corrugated iron kangaroo sculptures which are now at the front of the President's palace.

Earlier, Dr Ramos-Horta restated that there would be no international tribunal to bring people responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor to justice.

He said he respected those calling for an international tribunal, but he said one would not be set up.

He called on the United Nations to disband its serious crimes unit, which is gathering evidence on those responsible for the violence in East Timor.

Indonesia's foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, attended the ceremony in Dili this morning.

Dr Ramos-Horta said he was confident Indonesia would bring people to justice in its own time.

Adopted teen finds answers, mystery in China


By Barbara Demick
Christian Norris of Easton, Md., remembers little of his pre-U.S. life. A reunion at a Beijing hotel helps fill in some of the gaps. Reporting from Beijing - The father fell to his knees, weeping. The mother quietly buried her face in her hands. The 17-year-old boy stood upright and motionless -- whether out of shock or stoicism, no one knew.

Christian Norris, who had just returned to China for the first time since he was adopted by an American eight years ago, didn't know what to think.

The interpreter stood quietly on the sidelines waiting for what seemed an eternity, the only sounds were the sobs and the clicking of cameras that filled the room.

"Honey, are you OK?" Christian's adoptive mother, Julia Norris, finally asked. He nodded affirmatively, but said nothing.

The reunion between Christian, a high school student in Easton, Md., and his birth parents took place Saturday in a Beijing hotel room crowded with well-wishers and media on hand to witness the virtually unprecedented event.

Since the early 1990s, an estimated 75,000 Chinese-born children have been adopted abroad, and although they increasingly visit China on heritage tours, Christian is one of only a few who have managed to chase down their personal history.

"I'm not sure yet," Christian answered with a teenage boy's characteristic reticence when asked what he hoped would come of the reunion. "I want to move on."

Christian's case is unusual in several respects: He's male, whereas most adoptees are girls abandoned because of the Chinese preference for boys and the government's "one child" policy. And unlike most adoptees, who are given up as babies, he lived with his family until he was nearly 7, leaving him with fragmentary memories that became vital clues in the search.

His birth parents were medical researchers, better educated than most who give up their children, and it was possible to track them down on the Internet.

It also helped that his U.S. mother, who works for an adoption agency, is both a firm believer in open adoptions and a tenacious investigator who once worked for the television show "America's Most Wanted."

Julia Norris was able to enlist an army of volunteers through a Chinese nonprofit called Baby Come Home, which helps Chinese parents search for lost children.

"This is the first case we've handled where an adopted child came back to find birth parents, but I expect it is going to happen more often," said Yang Guan, one of the agency's founders. "I hope that China can move to a more transparent system where orphanages are more able to make information available."

Like many families, Christian's had its secrets and silences.

He was born Jin Jiacheng in 1991 in Yinchuan, a city in the Ningxia region several hundred miles west of Beijing, to a couple who both worked in a hospital and already had a son. Because his parents could have been penalized for having a second child, he was sent as a newborn to his father's home village to be raised by his grandmother and a 23-year-old uncle, who pretended the infant was his own son. When he turned 6 and was ready to start school, they sent him back to the city.

He had lived only briefly with his birth parents when he somehow got lost, his family says. His father, Jin Gaoke, said that they were on an excursion by bus and that he got off for a few minutes to buy food at a market, returning to discover that the bus had driven off.

"I hope you can forgive our mistakes," the father mumbled repeatedly during the reunion.

The family was wrenched apart by the boy's absence. His mother went into a deep depression. His father and uncle stopped speaking to each other, the younger one blaming the father for losing the child.

"He was like my son. I felt so bad when he was lost, I would drink liquor to take away the sadness," said his uncle, Jin Xiaowang, now 40 and still farming wheat, potatoes and corn at the village home.

Jiacheng somehow ended up 350 miles to the east in Henan province, where he was found wandering under a bridge and brought to an orphanage in the city of Luoyang.

In 2000, Julia Norris was 2000, Julia Norris was touring the orphanage on a business trip when she met the boy and fell in love. She returned the following year to adopt him, becoming a single mother. Three years after that, she adopted a Chinese girl as well. Christian Norris of Easton, Md., remembers little of his pre-U.S. life. A reunion at a Beijing hotel helps fill in some of the gaps. Growing up, Christian was frustrated by the fragmentary nature of his memories. He could remember only a house in the country, mountains in the distance, grazing yaks, a few names. How he had gotten lost had been erased from his memory, perhaps by the trauma of it all; he remembers only a man buying him food and giving him money.

"I thought they abandoned me. It didn't feel good," Christian said.

Julia Norris decided to pursue Christian's origins because she worried he would be tormented for life by nagging questions.

"He needed the peace of mind of knowing what happened," she said.

She worries that many Chinese adoptees, now young children, will eventually be asking questions that will be almost impossible to answer. Adoptees usually have no information except the date and place they were found.

Norris' daughter, now 6, keeps asking, "Mommy, can I find out who my birth parents are too?" Norris said. "I can't make her any promises. She was found on the day she was born."

For Christian, the memories aren't exactly flooding back, but bits and pieces are starting to make sense. He can't remember a word of Chinese or his birth parents, but he recognized his grandmother and the uncle who raised him. At the reunion, his Chinese family gave him a bag with his favorite candy as a young child and an abacus -- on which he had been learning to count before he disappeared.

"This I remember," he said, fingering the beads -- one of the few times he smiled.

His Chinese family seems just as eager to understand the life that Christian has led in the United States. They pored over a photo album the American family brought: Christian posing with a surfboard. With a Halloween jack-o'-lantern. With his sister in front of the Christmas tree.

They marveled over the strapping American teenager Christian has become. A handsome, athletic boy, at 5 foot 8 he towers over all of his Chinese relatives.

"He's so big," his uncle exclaimed. "And he has hairy legs. Just like an American."

Christian and his mother, along with an aunt and uncle, will travel this week to Ningxia to visit his birthplace. Then he will return to start classes at Easton High School.

His birth parents say they are thrilled to see him, but do not expect him to move back.

"Jiacheng's roots are in China, but his future is in the United States," his father said. "It is clear that he has been well cared for and has a bright future in America."

His birth mother, Shao Julian, added quietly, "We hope to stay in touch with him, but we wouldn't try to force him to come back to China -- we wouldn't want to hurt him twice."

10,000 homes are threatened

Homeowners Jack and Debra Carr feel relief after hearing word from a U.S. Forest Service employee that their home in Big Tujunga Canyon is safe on Saturday night. (Christina House / For The Times / August 29or The Times / August 29, 2009)

Across the burning foothills, 1,000 are ordered to flee. Others watch, and dread the phone call to evacuate.
The unstoppable Angeles National Forest fire threatened 10,000 homes Saturday night as it more than tripled in size and chewed through a rapidly widening swath of the Crescenta Valley, where flames closed in on backyards and at least 1,000 homes were ordered evacuated.

Sending an ominous plume of smoke above the Los Angeles Basin, the fire was fueled by unrelenting hot weather and dense brush that has not burned in 60 years.

It took off Saturday afternoon in all directions, forcing residents out of homes from Big Tujunga Canyon to Pasadena, and reached toward Mt. Wilson.

Heavy smoke clung to the mountains and created a hot and massive convection column that limited the evening aerial fire fight.

Officials predicted that the blaze would continue its march toward homes and across hills through the night with flames that could reach as high as 80 feet.

Late Saturday, U.S. Forest Service officials said they were moving "several hundred firefighters" into the Acton area, where they expected the fire to reach this morning.

At midnight, crews were on alert for a wind shift.

The fire was headed toward Yerba Buena and Santa Clara ridges. El Dorado County Fire Capt. Larry Marinas said it was currently "probably bumping" against them, but all he could say for sure was that flames could reach those ridges "in 12 hours."

Forest Service officials said three civilians were burned and airlifted from rural Big Tujunga Canyon, where at least three to five homes were destroyed. One fire official, after surveying the canyon, estimated that the damage toll may be much worse.

No other homes had been lost by early evening as throngs of residents -- belongings loaded in cars -- descended from the hills.

"I wish I had good news for you," Les Curtis, a fire operations chief, said during a night briefing for firefighters. He shook his head and pointed to the map of the expanding fire zone. "How many of you have knots in your stomach?" he asked. More than a dozen raised their hands.

"Nothing can stop it," said Jost Vielmetter, 62, a Caltech scientist who watched the flames from the northern edge of Altadena.

By late Saturday afternoon, the fire had consumed more than 21,000 acres, propelled by temperatures that eclipsed 100 degrees, single-digit humidity and steep, rugged topography that made for a formidable foe despite low winds.

Firefighters can only expect a slight reprieve on the heat today as red-flag warnings extend until tonight. But more significant cooling and even a moist maroling and even a moist marine layer are expected Monday morning.

Fire officials estimate that about 10,000 homes are in danger if the fire continues burning unchecked.

At sundown, as scattered power outages hit the area, flames encircled the ridges near Briggs Terrace on the northeastern edge of La Crescenta. By 7:30 p.m., the northern end of Pickens Canyon, close to the neighborhood, exploded in flames.

"Oh, my God. This is what I've been dreading all day," said David Ferrera, 35, who grew up in the area.

It was the first time that he and his neighbors were seized with worry. At that point, clouds of glowing embers began floating up from the fire. Suddenly, so-called hotshots -- firefighters with shovels and axes -- rushed by on their way to battle.

Later, a wall of fire crept like lava along the mountainside toward Pickens Canyon homes. A tree would light up in a column of fire every few moments. On the streets, the air was still and quiet except for the crackle and roar of flames.

Firefighters climbed through backyards at the ends of the cul-de-sacs fronting the forest, laying their hoses and waiting to make a stand.
Across the burning foothills, 1,000 are ordered to 2C 1,000 are ordered to flee. Others watch, and dread the phone call to evacuate.
Capt. Kevin Klar of the Los Angeles County Fire Department was in place on Bristow Drive. "As far as the area goes, I think we're going to be all right," he said.

More than 1,800 firefighters from throughout California and the West used an arsenal of weapons to fight the flames.

Ten helicopters dropping buckets of water and eight air tankers were enlisted in the daytime fight.

Officials also are deploying at least one DC-10, one of the largest and most expensive pieces of firefighting equipment in the world.

Elsewhere, firefighters were on the verge of containing the Morris fire north of Azusa and a separate blaze on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Firefighters also made progress on a fire near Hemet in the San Bernardino National Forest, which has burned nearly 2,300 acres and was 30% contained.

As flames bore down on canyon cul-de-sacs in the Crescenta Valley into the evening, residents watched raptly as firefighters -- in the air and on the ground -- valiantly kept the fire away from homes.

On the northern edge of Altadena, a DC-10 unloading fire retardant at the base of a column of smoke received a standing ovation from residents in the 3900 block of Chapman Court, which had been under mandatory evacuation orders for an hour.

Among them was physician John Cooper, 52.

"I think the firefighters are doing an incredible job. I'm in awe. I'd like to line them all up and shake their hands one at a time -- and we also have our fingers crossed," Cooper said, acknowledging the precarious nature of his address. "Live on the edge, and you take your chances."

Evacuated residents could only wait, watch and worry as flames licked the ridges near their homes. Some La Cañada Flintridge residents were evacuated Friday night, but on Saturday that mandatory evacuation order widened to parts of Altadena, La Crescenta, north Glendale and Big Tujunga Canyon. More evacuations were expected throughout the night.

All faced the same nerve-racking drill: the automated phone calls ordering them to leave, the choices about what to pack up, the negotiations with skittish pets refusing to be stuffed into portable kennels.

In Glendale, in the evacuation area north of Santa Carlotta Road, residents were packing up their cars and watering their lawns after being notified to leave.

Joanna Linkchorst, 42, dashed around her house videotaping her belongings, but appeared possessed of a preternatural calm. "For some reason I'm not concerned," she said. "There are far too many houses that would have to burn before it gets down here."

Although authorities stressed that people should not defy evacuation orders -- it puts them as well as fire and police personnel at risk -- some did anyway.

In Pickens Canyon, firefighter hotshots had taken up positions in front of about a dozen homes beneath the oak canopy. Every few minutes, patrol cars cruised by, urging holdouts to leave.

At 8:30 p.m., a law enforcement officer asked Bob Jamison and Gary Ireland, who were sprawled on lawn chairs watching the fire, to collect their belongings and leave the area.

"Everything's under control here," Jamison responded. "We got all the women, pets and important papers down the mountain."

Jay Porter, 47, and his two teenage sons stood on an Altadena ridgeline overlooking tinder-dry Millard Canyon as flames advanced to within 1,000 feet of his two-story Spanish-style home.

"I want to know what's going on here for as long as I possibly can," said Porter, who wasn't budging early Saturday evening. "Right now, I have more information than a lot of my neighbors."

He said, however, that he would relent overnight. He made reservations at a nearby Westin hotel that he said was offering "refugee specials" for evacuees -- in his case, that includes two dogs and a cockatiel.
Across the burning foothills, 1,000 are ordered to flee. Others watch, and dread the phone call to evacuate.
He watched as earthmovers in the distance rumbled over the ridge, toppling flammable chaparral and small trees in their paths. "Makes me happy," he said.

Ray Henmann, a 76-year-old graphic designer from Glendale whose home on Brookhill Street is in the evacuation area, said he had no plans to leave his home of 48 years.

The fire, he said, would have to come within a few streets of his home before he fled. "I'm not going to panic, I've lived too long to panic," Henmann said.

Across the region, there was no escaping the specter of what has been dubbed the Station fire. An ominous cloud of smoke wafted across the area and rose as high as 20,000 feet in the air, visible from the ocean and the San Fernando Valley, even the Antelope Valley. Otherwise fire-savvy Los Angeles residents were so startled by the sight that they inundated 911 emergency lines with calls about smoke. Authorities begged people to stop calling.

Donna Robinson, 60, of La Cañada Flintridge had been preparing to be evacuated since Wednesday, packing up documents, clothes and baby dish mementos of her adult children. She also packed up two dogs and three cats.

"I'm not even afraid now. I think it's good we're just out of the house. Now I feel it's not under my control," Robinson said Saturday morning as she sat with her husband, Paul, 57, outside the gym at La Cañada High, the evacuation center.

Others couldn't escape the worry. It showed on Sonia Castellon's face as she made her way into the evacuation center. "I was trying to keep calm, keep it together. But the moment you leave your home it's hard," the 46-year-old dentist said as she began to tear up.

U.S. fears clock ticking on Afghanistan

Lance Cpl. Mark Chieffallo of Pittsburg arrives at an observation post on a peak above a village in Helmand province with over Marines. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press / August 22, 2009)

As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time and backing for its long-term military strategy.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington - The Obama administration is racing to demonstrate visible headway in the faltering war in Afghanistan, convinced it has only until next summer to slow a hemorrhage in U.S. support and win more time for the military and diplomatic strategy it hopes can rescue the 8-year-old effort.

But the challenge in Afghanistan is becoming more difficult in the face of gains by the Taliban, rising U.S. casualties, a weak Afghan government widely viewed as corrupt, and a sense among U.S. commanders that they must start the military effort largely from scratch nearly eight years after it began.

A turnaround is crucial because military strategists believe they will not be able to get the additional troops they feel they need in coming months if they fail to show that their new approach is working, U.S. officials and advisors say.

"Over the next 12 to 15 months, among the things you absolutely, positively have to do is persuade a skeptical American public that this can work, that you have a plan and a strategy that is feasible," said Stephen Biddle, a military expert who advises the U.S.-led command in Afghanistan.

A similarly urgent view was voiced by military and diplomatic officials who described the administration's goals and self-imposed deadline during recent interviews in Afghanistan and Washington. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in an interview last month, first pointed publicly to the need for progress by next year. Since then, the goal has spanned the administration's international diplomatic efforts, its aid program for the Afghan government and its combat strategy.

Unlike during the Bush administration years, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld clashed with other Cabinet members, particularly in the State Department, Gates' assessment appears to be shared by every other major Obama administration player. At the White House, State Department and elsewhere, officials agreed on the need for rapid progress in key areas.

Besides reversing Taliban advances and strengthening the central government, U.S. officials will strive to hold the NATO alliance intact while reshuffling deployments to consolidate gains, especially in the eastern part of the country, near the Pakistani border.

Administration goals in
Administration goals in Afghanistan also include stemming government corruption, improving security forces, especially the police, and reducing violence through efforts such as wooing insurgents.

In part, the administration thinking reflects the growing impatience of liberal Democrats with the war. Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin has called for a "flexible timetable" for troop withdrawals, while House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin has warned of funding cuts next spring unless there is significant progress.

A senior administration official said Obey's comment was "a very important signal" to the White House.

Among military commanders, there has been no effort to sugarcoat conditions in Afghanistan.

"We need a fundamental new approach," said one officer, a senior advisor to Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly appointed top commander in Afghanistan.

McChrystal's initial assessment of Afghanistan to Pentagon officials is due soon, in a report expected to be made public in early September.

That report will probably avoid a troop recommendation, but by outlining McChrystal's view of what has gone wrong and his vision for fixing it, officers hope he can make Washington more receptive to a later request for more troops.

"We have to demonstrate we have a clear way ahead, matched with appropriate resources, that is making an impact on the ground," said the officer.

The proportion of Americans who believe it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan rose from about 25% in 2007 to 42% this year, according to Gallup surveys. A slight majority of Americans no longer believe the war is worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC survey this month.

August has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A U.S. fighter was killed Friday when his vehicle hit an explosive device in eastern Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. military deaths to 45 and exceeding the previous record, set in July. At least 732 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghanistan war, compared with more than 4,300 killed in the Iraq conflict.

The faltering public support highlights another concern: the U.S. midterm elections next year. Democratic lawmakers fear they may become targets of Republican political attacks over the administration's handling of the war.
As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time and backing for its long-term military strategy.

In the face of those doubts and time pressures, top Obama administration officials such as James Jones, the national security advisor, have expressed skepticism about the prospects of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

President Obama has committed 21,000 additional troops this year, bringing the U.S. force to 68,000 by the end of the year. But military analysts said that the new strategy being developed in Kabul, the Afghan capital, will require still more troops.

Officers in Afghanistan consider much of the effort of the last eight years wasted, with too few troops deployed, many in the wrong regions and given the wrong orders.

For instance, in Iraq, the military spent between three and nine months on programs to roust militants from cities. In Afghanistan such clearing operations have lasted as little as three weeks.

"Clearing operations aren't about kicking down doors, or even going house to house once," said Kimberly Kagan, a strategist who has advised the military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "They are about establishing presence and then building a trust relationship with the local population so that over time they feel they can provide information."

Shoring up NATO

Diplomatically, U.S. officials have begun a push to persuade NATO countries to send more forces to Afghanistan. And they are also trying to stave off departures by key allies.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 38,000 troops, is considered important both to combat efforts and to the international credibility of the war.

But Canada, which now oversees the southern regional command, is scheduled to pull out its combat troops in 2011, and the Dutch are scheduled to leave next year. A German opposition party, the Free Democrats, this month called for the removal of Germany's 4,500 troops. And in Britain, public support for the war is flagging.

Any departures mean more work for U.S. forces, but are also likely to raise questions at home about why Americans are shouldering so much of the burden of the conflict.

"We cannot afford to re-Americanize the war," said a senior administration official.

Fighting corruption

As the military is overhauling its priorities, so too is the State Department. Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has signaled a major push to reduce corruption in the government as soon as the presidential election results are known.

Senior officials are weighing a number of approaches, including, possibly, an international commission to probe corruption cases. The goal is not only to improve Afghans' low regard for their government, but also to reassure Americans that the $2.6 billion a month they are providing is well spent.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the task is not easy. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expected to win the election, has built political support for his administration through alliances with a number of regional leaders and warlords who face allegations of corruption.

One is his running mate, former Defense Minister Mohammed "Marshal" Fahim, accused of involvement in drug trafficking. U.S. officials have already warned Karzai that they were not happy with the prospect of Fahim as vice president.

Improving the police

Key to both the diplomatic and military strategies is a rapid expansion of the Afghan security forces.

U.S. officials are particularly focused on stepping up police training programs, a key to long-term stability in the country.

Holbrooke describes police training as one of the toughest jobs the allies face, and predicts that success in Afghanistan will depend heavily on whether a skilled force can provide security. But NATO officials continue to report that Afghan police, woefully undertrained in many regions, can't be trusted with many of the most important assignments.

Choosing fights

Most military officers believe lasting progress will be years in the making. But they also realize that they only have a few months to add to the perception that they are making headway.

As a result, the military is likely to focus on select goals instead of trying to save the entire country at once. McChrystal has said he plans to focus efforts on securing population centers. That means, at least initially, Taliban outposts that do not threaten significant Afghan cities or villages will not be targeted.

"We have to do triage," Biddle said. "We do not have the resources to stabilize the whole country at once."

U.S. fears clock ticking on Afghanistan

Lance Cpl. Mark Chieffallo of Pittsburg arrives at an observation post on a peak above a village in Helmand province with over Marines. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press / August 22, ed Press / August 22, 2009)

As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time and backing for its long-term military strategy.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington - The Obama administration is racing to demonstrate visible headway in the faltering war in Afghanistan, convinced it has only until next summer to slow a hemorrhage in U.S. support and win more time for the military and diplomatic strategy it hopes can rescue the 8-year-old effort.

But the challenge in Afghanistan is becoming more difficult in the face of gains by the Taliban, rising U.S. casualties, a weak Afghan government widely viewed as corrupt, and a sense among U.S. commanders that they must start the military effort largely from scratch nearly eight years after it began.

A turnaround is crucial because military strategists believe they will not be able to get the additional troops they feel they need in coming months if they fail to show that their new approach is working, U.S. officials and advisors say.

"Over the next 12 to 15 months, among the things you absolutely, positively have to do is persuade a skeptical American public that this can work, that you have a plan and a strategy that is feasible," said Stephen Biddle, a military expert who advises the U.S.-led command in Afghanistan.

A similarly urgent view was voiced by military and diplomatic officials who described the administration's goals and self-imposed deadline during recent interviews in Afghanistan and Washington. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in an interview last month, first pointed publicly to the need for progress by next year. Since then, the goal has spanned the administration's international diplomatic efforts, its aid program for the Afghan government and its combat strategy.

Unlike during the Bush administration years, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld clashed with other Cabinet members, particularly in the State Department, Gates' assessment appears to be shared by every other major Obama administration player. At the White House, State Department and elsewhere, officials agreed on the need for rapid progress in key areas.

Besides reversing Taliban advances and strengthening the central government, U.S. officials will strive to hold the NATO alliance intact while reshuffling deployments to consolidate gains, especially in the eastern part of the country, near the Pakistani border.

Administration goals in Afghanistan also include stemming government corruption, improving security fon, improving security forces, especially the police, and reducing violence through efforts such as wooing insurgents.

In part, the administration thinking reflects the growing impatience of liberal Democrats with the war. Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin has called for a "flexible timetable" for troop withdrawals, while House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin has warned of funding cuts next spring unless there is significant progress.

A senior administration official said Obey's comment was "a very important signal" to the White House.

Among military commanders, there has been no effort to sugarcoat conditions in Afghanistan.

"We need a fundamental new approach," said one officer, a senior advisor to Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly appointed top commander in Afghanistan.

McChrystal's initial assessment of Afghanistan to Pentagon officials is due soon, in a report expected to be made public in early September.

That report will probably avoid a troop recommendation, but by outlining McChrystal's view of what has gone wrong and his vision for fixing it, officers hope he can make Washington more receptive to a later request for more troops.

"We have to demonstrate we have a clear way ahead, matched with appropriate resources, that is making an impact on the ground," said the officer.

The proportion of Americans who believe it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan rose from about 25% in 2007 to 42% this year, according to Gallup surveys. A slight majority of Americans no longer believe the war is worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC survey this month.

August has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A U.S. fighter was killed Friday when his vehicle hit an explosive device in eastern Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. military deaths to 45 and exceeding the previous record, set in July. At least 732 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghanistan war, compared with more than 4,300 killed in the Iraq conflict.

The faltering public support highlights another concern: the U.S. midterm elections next year. Democratic lawmakers fear they may become targets of Republican political attacks over the administration's handling of the war.
As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time and backing for its long-term military strategy.

In the face of those doubts and time pressures, top Obama administration officials such as James Jones, the national security advisor, have expressed skepticism about the prospects of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

President Obama has committed 21,000 additional troops this year, bringing the U.S. force to 68,000 by the end of the year. But military analysts said that the new strategy being developed in Kabul, the Afghan capital, will require still more troops.

Officers in Afghanistan consider much of the effort of the last eight years wasted, with too few troops deployed, many in the wrong regions and given the wrong orders.

For instance, in Iraq, the military spent between three and nine months on programs to roust militants from cities. In Afghanistan such clearing operations have lasted as little as three weeks.

"Clearing operations aren't about kicking down doors, or even going house to house once," said Kimberly Kagan, a strategist who has advised the military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "They are about establishing presence and then building a trust relationship with the local population so that over time they feel they can provide information."

Shoring up NATO

Diplomatically, U.S. officials have begun a push to persuade NATO countries to send more forces to Afghanistan. And they are also trying to stave off departures by key allies.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 38,000 troops, is considered important both to combat efforts and to the international credibility of the war.

But Canada, which now oversees the southern regional command, is scheduled to pull out its combat troops in 2011, and the Dutch are scheduled to leave next year. A German opposition party, the Free Democrats, this month called for the removal of Germany's 4,500 troops. And in Britain, public support for the war is flagging.

Any departures mean more work for U.S. forces, but are also likely to raise questions at home about why Americans are shouldering so much of the burden of the conflict.

"We cannot afford to re-Americanize the war," said a senior administration official.

Fighting corruption

As the military is overhauling its priorities, so too is the State Department. Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has signaled a major push to reduce corruption in the government as soon as the presidential election results are known.

Senior officials are weighing a number of approaches, including, possibly, an international commission to probe corruption cases. The goal is not only to improve Afghans' low regard for their government, but also to reassure Americans that the $2.6 billion a month they are providing is well spent.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the task is not easy. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expected to win the election, has built political support for his administration through alliances with a number of regional leaders and warlords who face allegations of corruption.

One is his running mate, former Defense Minister Mohammed "Marshal" Fahim, accused of involvement in drug trafficking. U.S. officials have already warned Karzai that they were not happy with the prospect of Fahim as vice president.

Improving the police

Key to both the diplomatic and military strategies is a rapid expansion of the Afghan security forces.

U.S. officials are particularly focused on stepping up police training programs, a key to long-term stability in the country.

Holbrooke describes police training as one of the toughest jobs the allies face, and predicts that success in Afghanistan will depend heavily on whether a skilled force can provide security. But NATO officials continue to report that Afghan police, woefully undertrained in many regions, can't be trusted with many of the most important assignments.

Choosing fights

Most military officers believe lasting progress will be years in the making. But they also realize that they only have a few months to add to the perception that they are making headway.

As a result, the military is likely to focus on select goals instead of trying to save the entire country at once. McChrystal has said he plans to focus efforts on securing population centers. That means, at least initially, Taliban outposts that do not threaten significant Afghan cities or villages will not be targeted.

"We have to do triage," Biddle said. "We do not have the resources to stabilize the whole country at once."

Suicide Blast Kills 12 in Pakistan's Swat Valley

A Pakistani police officer stands at the site of a suicide bombing in Mingora, the main town of Pakistan's troubled of Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley, Sunday, 30 Aug. 2009


By VOA News
Pakistan officials say at least 12 police recruits have been killed in suicide bomb attack.

Authorities say the attack in the northwestern Swat Valley happened Sunday while the cadets were training near a police station.

Associated Press says television footage shows officers picking up mutilated bodies.

The attack on the police comes a day after Pakistan's military announced it destroyed a training camp for suicide bombers in the Swat Valley.

The army said in a statement that reports from intelligence sources and local residents led them to the location in northwest Pakistan.

Six militants were reported killed in the operation and several others were said to be wounded.

Pakistan's government has been fighting a Taliban insurgency in the northwest.

Fighting Stops as Kokang Surrender Arms to Chinese

ighting near the Sino-Burmese border came to an abrupt halt today after about 700 Kokang troops handed over their weapons to Chinese officials following days of clashes that sent thousands fleeing across the border.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese military analyst who is close to the Kokang, told The Irrawaddy on Saturday that at least 700 soldiers from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), an ethnic-Kokang militia, crossed the border into China today and surrendered their arms to local officials.He added that troops from the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a much larger force allied to the Kokang, have been repositioned to Wa-controlled territory.

The Irrawaddy was unable to verify this information with other independent sources.

The sudden end to 0A
The sudden end to the fighting came a day after Kokang and UWSA troops ambushed a convoy of Burmese army vehicles in Kokang territory. According to unconfirmed reports, more than a dozen Burmese soldiers were killed in the attack.

On Thursday, a 20-year ceasefire between the Burmese army and the armed ethnic groups broke down after government forces moved to occupy Kokang territory. Since then, the Burmese army has sent reinforcements into the area from Light Infantry Divisions 33 and 99.

The crisis began on Monday, when tens of thousands of refugees, including Chinese businessmen, started flooding across the border into China from Laogai, a town in Kokang territory. Cross-border trade in Laogai has since come to a standstill and trading at other border checkpoints has decreased, say sources in the area.

The rapidly deteriorating situation caused consternation in Beijing, which has long had close relations with both sides in the conflict. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said China hoped the Burmese junta would deal with the situation properly and ensure stability along the border and protect Chinese citizens in Burma.

“China is following the situation closely and has expressed concern to Myanmar [Burma],” said Jiang.

Some observers said that junta head Snr-Gen Than Shwe’s decision to send troops into Kokang territory despite China’s concerns showed his determination to demonstrate that he will not be constrained by Beijing.

“The Burmese junta doesn’t care what anybody thinks, so I don’t think the generals are thinking about China’s response,” said Chan Tun, a former Burmese ambassador to China.

But while Naypyidaw showed little concern about the consequences of renewed fighting in the area, Beijing couldn’t ignore the worsening situation, as Chinese living near the border expressed outrage at the Burmese military’s actions.

“I feel upset with the Burmese government. The Kokang people have Chinese blood. And in China, many people are so angry that they are urging the Chinese government to send troops to help the Kokang,” said a Chinese journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Although Beijing appears to have defused the potentially explosive situation for the time being, it remains to be seen if fighting will resume between the Burmese and the Wa, who command a much larger military force uch larger military force than the Kokang.

The current conflict stems from the refusal of ethnic ceasefire groups, including Kokang, Wa, Kachin and Shan militias, to transform themselves into border security forces under Burmese military command.

The 20,000-strong UWSA presents the greatest obstacle to Burmese ambitions to pacify the country’s borders after six decades of civil conflict. Although they were among the first ethnic groups to sign a ceasefire agreement with the current regime in 1989, they have also been the most resistant to any effort to weaken their hold over their territory.

In Rangoon, news of the clashes in the country’s north has revived memories of the insurgencies that wracked the region for decades.

“People here are talking about it at teashops. They are saying that this is the return of civil war,” said an editor of a private weekly journal in Rangoon.

Meanwhile, Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), called for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in northern Burma.

“We want the junta to resolve the issue in a peaceful way with ethnic groups,” NLD spokesman Han Thar Myint told The Irrawaddy on Saturday. “The cause of the conflict is the Burmese regime’s failure to resolve problems in the country politically.”

Cambodia Wants Closer Relationship With Next Japanese PM

Written by DAP NEWS

Cambodian-japanese cooperation will increase in all fields and a closer relationship with newly the elected Japanese Prime Minister will help ties “become more developed and better than before,” a Foreign Affair and International Cooperation spokesman told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.


A general election will be held in Japan on August 30 as the Liberal Democratic Party (CDP) leader, Taro Aso, is unpopular among voters having led Japanese into one of the worst economic crises in living memory. According to a survey in Japan, opposition party leader, Yukio Hatoyama, of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is expected to be voted in as the next PM.
“Cambodia’s relationship with Japan will not be changed whoever will be the next Prime Minister,” said Kuy Koung.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that world leaders are promoting globalization so that all fields of cooperation among Cambodia and Japan, especially assistance and aid, will be not be changed, Kuy Koung reiterated.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), on Friday claimed to be too busy to give comment.
Hatoyam, a founder of the DPJ who would be a senior minister in any future government, emphasized the need for political and economic integration with East Asia, especially with China, and warned that, under a DPJ government, Japan would be as likely to criticize the US as to support it. He rejected the habit of past LDP government of virtually worship the US in the belief that everything will be all right if Japan does whatever the US does, according to Japanese local news agency.
Yukio Hatoyama has called for a single Asian currency to strengthen the region´s economic and political ties. A single currency would help Asia fend off the impact of any future global economic crises and also reduce political confrontation in the region, his saying quoted by article in monthly magazine. Japanese government has donated a great deal of aid and support to Cambodian government aiming at reducing poverty in Cambodia as the government’s core policy.
Japan on August 13, 2009 provided US$72 million in concessionary loans to develop Cambodia’s Sihanoukville port to expand its capacity.
“The fund is to improve the capacity of Sihanoukville port, the only international deep sea port in Cambodia, by constructing multipurpose terminals including a bulk terminal and oil supply base, and developing infrastructure related to the terminal at the port,” Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation told reporters. The minister signed the exchange note with Shinohara Katsuhiro, Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, with the presence of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
It will also help contribute to industrial development and economic growth in Cambodia. And it is the third time that Japan has helped Sihanoukville port since 1999 aimed at improving handling capacity of containerized cargos, Namhong said.
Japan also provided about US$10 million non-project grant aid for promotion of economic and social development efforts in Cambodia, Hor said, adding that since 1993, under the type of grant aid, Japan has extended to Cambodia a total amount of US$187 million.

Electric Crematorium Online

Written by DAP NEWS

Cambodia’s newly-constructed electric crematorium will soon open to replace the wood burning crematorium located in Resey Sanh pagoda, Preysor commune, Dongkor district, Phnom Penh, according to the Phnom Penh Governor on Thursday.


“This news electronic crematorium cost US$500,000 and will much reduce environmental affects by replacing burning by wood,” Kep Chuktema (First smiling man in picture) told reporters on Thursday.
“This cremation will serve all class of citizens and we do not charge poor people. We don’t force to those who do not want to use this crematorium, but it shows the attention of the Phnom Penh authorities.”
The governor dismissed criticisms that the site is too far from the city centre.
High ranking officials and the rich who wish to be buried at Wat Unaloum and Wat Langka could continue to use these city-center sites, he said. “They have a full right to choose; it is their decision,” he confirmed.
Both the crematoriums at Wat Unaloum and Wat Langka have been demolished, as will other crematoria around the capital.

Wife found her husband after he went missing for 20 days

A woman found her husband, 20 days after he went missing. But when she found him, instead of a scream of joy, she screamed in anger causing panic and curiosity among passersby.

The woman standing in front of her husband's car to block him from driving off. Source: Deum Ampil newspaper Reported in English by Khmerization


A 45 year old man went missing for 20 days with his luxury Lexus at a time when one of his children was very sick and when his wife went to do business in Siem Reap. After the man failed to return home, the wife cut short her trip and returned to look for him across Phnom Penh City.

At 11:40 pm today (30th), passersby and shoppers were alerted by a loud scream. They looked toward to the scream and saw a lone woman standing in front of a luxury 4-wheel drive Lexus. Fearing that she was hit by the luxury Lexus, they all ran to investigate. But the woman was fine. She was not hit by the car, instead she screamed because her 'lost' husband was driving his luxury Lexus with a young beautiful girl by his side.

The police was called. At the police station, the alleged wife accused the young girl of being her husband's mistress. The husband responded that the girl is merely a relative. The young girl also concurred the man's story. But the wife responded "if she is your relative, how come I never knew her?" The man and the young girl were dumbfounded.

Now, it is the turn to verify if the woman is really the real wife of the man as the man did not admit either way whether she is his wife or not. In order to prove that she is his real wife, she called all her children to come to the police station to prove it.

After a long talk, the parties reached a reconciliation and the husband agreed to return home leaving a teary young mistress distraught.

The woman said when she went to Siem Reap she got a call from a neighbour that her husband was going out with a young girl everyday. As a result, she cut short her trip to Siem Reap to return home to confront him and caught him red-handed with his young beautiful mistress by his side in their luxury Lexus.

Mr. You Hok Sim, commander of Monorom Police Station, confirmed the story to Deum Ampil. "Yes, there is a case happening as described above, but when the police called them to a round table discussion, they were reconciled and have now returned back home happily together."

According to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity, the unnamed man is a senior anti-drug trafficking police officer and is also a senior advisor to the leader of the Cambodian parliament (Mr. Heng Samrin's adivsor?).

500 soldiers from Division 11 withdrawn from Preah Vihear

Source: Khmer Sthapana newspaper
Reported in English by Khmerization

Cambodia had unilaterally begun to withdraw troops from the disputed borders with Thailand under order from Prime Minister Hun Sen to cut troops by 50% from the disputed border areas.

A convoy of military trucks transporting soldierrucks transporting soldiers fks transporting soldiers from Division 11 passing through Phnom Penh to Takeo on 28th August.

At 4 am on 28th August, 500 troops from Division 11 had been withdrawn from Preah Vihear in a convoy of 36 American-made military trucks to return back to their barracks in Takeo.

Gen. Chea Drara, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Cambodian Armed Forces in charge of the Preah Vihear operations, said these 500 soldiers are the first batch to be withdrawn from the borders.

Prime Minister Hun Sen unilaterally ordered the troops withdrawals because he needs the troops to help Cambodian farmers who face the drought and also because the border situations have eased significantly since 25th August.

Being so used to be hand-fed by the CPP for free, Kampuchea Thmei couldn’t fathom why someone would pay to buy their own food to listen to Mu Sochua

$20 fee to meet with Mrs. Mu Sochua
Kampuchea Thmei (Pro-CPP) newspaper
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

[KI-Media note: It is customary in democratic countries where a large number of Cambodians are currently living, that participants who attend meetings with Cambodia politicians help pay for their own food and other miscellaneous cost to organize these meetings. This is quite contrary to Cambodia where, corrupt politicians usually pay for the public to come to listen to them. Generally, due to poverty, Cambodians are enticed to come and listen to propaganda speeches organized by CPP candidates in exchange for one or two kilos of rice, one krama (towel) and one sarong. In return, these poor Cambodian constituents are also forced to pledge their vote to these vote-buying CPP candidates.]

SRP MP Mu Sochua (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

An announcement indicates that each participant must pay $20 to participate in a meeting and a session to demand freedom organized in Philadelphia, USA.

Kampuchea Thmei received unbelievable news that Mrs. Mu Sochua plan to meet with member in the US, and members who plan to attend the meeting with Mrs. Mu Sochua are frankly told that they must each pay $20. According to an announcement posted on the SRP website, SRP members in the US plan to organize a meeting session on 05 September 2009 at the Grand King Buffet, Philadelphia, USA, from 6PM to 9PM.

According to this announcement, participants to this even must each pay a contribution of $20. The event, labeled: a ceremony to demand freedom and justice, will include the participation of SRP MP Mu Sochua.

The announcement indicates also that Mrs. Mu Sochua, the SRP MP for Kampot province, is a courageous Cambodia woman who stood up against injustice to defend women’s rights in Cambodia – rights that were looked down and violated under the threat of the Cambodian government.

The announcement also indicated that participants to the event must prepare their questions to ask them directly to Mrs. Mu Sochua according to their personal views.

SRP MP Mu Sochua left Cambodia after the Phnom Penh municipal court decided that she lost her case against Hun Xen’s defamation lawsuit. The court ordered her to pay a fine of 16.5 million ($4,125). Her departure overseas took place at the same time as the Appeal court summoned her in for clarification. However, Mrs. Mu Sochua asked for a delay in this summon until after 20 September 2009, and she claimed that she was busy with taking care of her health overseas.

Following her departure, several local news media reported that SRP MP Yim Sovann, SRP spokesman, claimed that Mrs. Mu Sochua is seeking to set up a fund in Canada, the USA, etc… to help the victims of the judicial system in Cambodia.

The announcement indicates that the meeting with Mrs. Mu Sochua will take place on 05 September 2009 in Philadelphia, USA.

Regarding this announcement, a number of analysts claimed that it a merely a meeting to collect funds to conduct politics in Cambodia, and involvement in politics through these minor fundraisings, these analysts do not believe that it will lead to success.

Duch’s trial: black day for victims’ participation

By Stéphanie Gée
Ka-set

The role of civil parties is one of the main issues at stake in Duch’s trial, which enshrines their first participation in a jurisdiction with international support established to judge crimes against humanity. However, this characteristic of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – often presented as an important progress – was severely curbed on Thursday August 27th,

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 27/08/2009: The hands of François Roux, Alain Werner, Ty Srinna, Nil Nonn, Jean-Marc Lavergne, Hong Kim Suon, Vincent de Wilde and Kar Savuth during the debate on the admission of civil parties on Day 66 in Duch’s trial at the ECCC 
(Photo: John Vink/ Magnum)
following a debate abruptly opened by the Trial Chamber and which it quickly ruled on by taking a brutal decision that partially closes the victims’ participation to the trial. The Chamber’s move occurred ten days before the plenary session – when judges revise and amend, if necessary, the directions and Internal Rules – and may hint at the possible adoption then of potentially critical changes regarding the place of victims in the next trials before the ECCC. Often criticised for failing to measure up to their mission and frequently overstepping their role, the civil party lawyers appeared to try and make up for a failing prosecution office. For its part, the Chamber rarely sought to channel these abuses or drifts and did not use its full authority to ensure a strict direction of the hearings. Thursday/ the hearings. Thursday, while there was likely only a few days of hearings left, the Chamber allowed itself to invent a new rule of the game. On the substance, this turning point stirred consternation, not only among civil parties, but also the prosecution and the defence, whilst among the judges, judge Lavergne registered a dissenting opinion for the first time.

Unconvincing Salesman Par Excellence

Alternatives Watch – 30viii09
Op-Ed by Ung Bun Ang
Originally posted online

Council for Development of Cambodia secretary-general Sok Chenda may find it most difficult to attract foreign investments. He is confident, enthusiastic, and optimistic, which are necessary attributes for the task. However, he may need to be more. Reporter Roger Mitten, who conducted and published an insight interview with Sok Chenda, concludes he is only half convinced after encountering the man he dubs the salesman par excellence.

Sok Chenda Sophea

There are reasons why the salesman par excellence is not fully convincing. He claims all businessmen are interested only in profit, “not physical incentives, the political regime, not even religion – Ramadan or not, they don’t care”. His best selling point is simply that there is money to be made in Cambodia. He says there are fiscal incentives, total foreign ownership, and many untouched sectors to choose, offering “unique” opportunity foreign investors cannot find elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the sale pitch is only half truth. Globalised Cambodia, of which Sok Chenda is proud, also means investors do have access to other truth the salesman par excellence would prefer buried. Many long term investors – the type that Sok Chenda claims like growing up with the host country – take into account in their investment decisions those Sok Chenda dismisses as irrelevant, plus much more.

One of them is the high cost of doing business in Cambodia, which Sok Chenda acknowledges in particular for electricity, telecommunication, and transportation sectors. The government’s effort to reduce the electricity costs by buying it from Vietnam is commercially sensible at least in the short run, but this will not address a structural defect that keeps the cost high – corruption.

Sok Chenda shows the least concern about the impact of corruption. He maintains as long as there is a profit at the end businessmen do not mind making some payment they “should not really have to make”. He does not seem to realise these unnecessary payments push the business cost up, requiring the businessmen to pass them onto consumers in the form of higher prices to retain their profit. This in turn keeps away other businessmen whom Sok Chenda tries to entice. It is a vicious cycle that could be broken only by bringing corruption under control.

However, the corruption is likely to persist, if not prospering. Sok Chenda trivialises corruption by claiming the number one in transparency Singapore still has “people who are corrupt and who cheat the tax department”. He fails to distinguish between corruption and impunity for corruption when asserting, “Singapore has policemen and jails for a reason [corruption]”. It would be hard pressed for him to come up with any case where a Cambodian high profile official is convicted and jailed for corruptiod and jailed for corruption. Incidentally, Sok Chenda – he says he ends the interview so that he can pick up his daughter at the British School – may have difficulty in justifying the school fee with his official meagre income.

Thus, the salesman par excellence appears to be an optimist who would say, “See, I am not injured yet” while falling from Eiffel Tower.

Ung Bun Ang

Quotable Quote:
“The latest definition of an optimist is one who fills up his crossword puzzle in ink.” - Clement King Shorter (1857–1926), British journalist and literary critic. Observer.