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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

GLP Worldwide Expedition Offers New AMA Waterways Vietnam, Cambodia & Riches of the Mekong Tour Program

Toronto, July, 2009 - Cruise along the Mekong River, one of the world’s longest rivers as you pass through wetlands to famous cities like Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) - temples, palaces, fishing villages and significant historic sites fill the days of your journey into this mystical land. AMA Waterways, represented in Canada by GLP Worldwide Expedition Travel and Tours, has launched a spectacular new land and cruise tour program called “Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong.” Explore the fascinating region of South East Asia in this new 16-day itinerary.

“The South East Asia region has been gaining in popularity the past couple of years and we are thrilled to offer this exotic journey to Canadian travellers looking to explore this region but seeking the comfort and exceptionally high standards of AMA Waterways cruise ships and tour personnel,” said Patrick Tsung, president of GLP Worldwide Expedition Travel & Tours.

This exclusive 15-day itinerary is priced from as low as $5,560 per person CAD for the April 2010 departure - other departures available starting in September 2009 - prices vary).

The price includes air from Toronto and components listed in the Tour Highlights below but exclude taxes, visas and fuel surcharges. There is also an optional 8-day Central Vietnam pre-extension and an optional 4-day Hong Kong post-extension.

Tour Highlights:

• 2 nights in Vietnam’s bustling capital of Hanoi, famous for its graceful colonial architecture, verdant
parks, tranquil lakes and ancient temples;
• An overnight cruise onboard a luxurious traditional Junk in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO
World Heritage Site renowned for its spectacular limestone cliffs;
• 3 nights in Siem Reap,Cambodia, gateway to the Angkor Archeological Park, a UNESCO World
Heritage Site and home to the legendary Angkor Wat;
• An unforgettable 7-night cruise on the Mekong River aboard the luxurious, new 92-passenger MS La
Marguerite, the most deluxe vessel on the Mekong;
• An overnight in historic Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

AMA Waterways has redefined European river cruising since its founding in 2002. In 2009, two brand-new 148-passenger vessels, MS Amalyra and MS Amadolce, joined the luxurious
AMA Waterways fleet in Europe, which consists of the MS Amacello and MS Amadante (2008), MS Amalegro (2007) and MS Amadagio (2006). In 2010 AMA Waterways will welcome MS Amabella and continue to offer popular itineraries on the historic Danube, Main, Rhine and Mosel rivers, as well as the Douro River in Portugal, the
Rhône in France and the Volga-Baltic waterways in Russia.

Agents can find the sailing schedule, pricing, detailed itineraries and full terms and conditions in the 2009 Waterways of Europe brochure. To obtain a copy of the Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong brochure, please contact GLP Worldwide Expedition Travel and Tours. You can also visit the website www.europeanwaterways.ca for complete details on the various cruises and pricing or email: info@europeanwaterways.ca.

GLP Worldwide Expedition Travel and Tours is based in Toronto, Ontario and acts as the Canadian representative for various niche cruise operators such as AMA Waterways, Go Barging, Hurtigruten, Fred. Olsen Cruises and Lüftner Cruises. Information on GLP Worldwide Expedition Travel and Tours can be accessed at www.glpworldwide.com or by calling (866) 760-1987.
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Cambodia marks anniversary of temple's world heritage listing

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodians on Tuesday noisily celebrated the first anniversary of the UN's world heritage listing of an ancient temple which has stoked nationalist tensions with neighbouring Thailand.

Posters of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple were plastered in pagodas, schools and prominent locations around the capital Phnom Penh while celebrators screamed, "Long Live Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site!"

"As Cambodian people, we are very proud of Preah Vihear temple. We must celebrate this day, it is historic for us," Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema said after a traditional dance ceremony at a pagoda in front of 1,000 people.

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodians on Tuesday noisily celebrated the first anniversary of the UN's world heritage listing of an ancient temple which has stoked nationalist tensions with neighbouring Thailand.

Posters of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple were plastered in pagodas, schools and prominent locations around the capital Phnom Penh while celebrators screamed, "Long Live Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site!"

"As Cambodian people, we are very proud of Preah Vihear temple. We must celebrate this day, it is historic for us," Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema said after a traditional dance ceremony at a pagoda in front of 1,000 people.

Waving colourful Cambodian flags, Buddhist monks, nuns, students and teachers gathered at pagodas and schools nationwide and promptly beat drums and rang bells at 11:00 am (0400 GMT) to herald the listing, officials said.

"I am very happy and proud of Preah Vihear temple. The temple belongs to Cambodia. Thailand has no right to claim it," said student Hang Dalune as at another event as hundreds of people sang and danced to nationalist songs, waving Cambodian flags.

Soldiers, villagers, monks and officials at Preah Vihear also celebrated the listing despite a standoff nearby between Cambodian and Thai troops, Cambodian commanders said.

The neighbouring countries have been at loggerheads over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July when the temple was granted UN World Heritage status.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance to the ancient Khmer temple with its crumbling stone staircases and elegant carvings is from northeastern Thailand.

Thousands of people were also expected to gather in Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium Tuesday evening for an anniversary ceremony complete with a fireworks display, official speeches and patriotic songs.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia worsened last month when Bangkok announced it would ask UNESCO to reconsider its decision to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, as the surrounding land is still in dispute.
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Robert McNamara, architect of Vietnam War whose regrets made him opponent of Iraq War, dies at 93

Photo: President John F. Kennedy sits in his favorite rocking chair in the Oval Office during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, center, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson on March 16, 1961. Credit: Associated Press


Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War and President Kennedy's secretary of Defense, died this morning at his home in Washington at the age of 93. He had been the president of Ford Motor Co., and Kennedy plucked him as part of a new generation of managers who could bring business skills and brain power to government, part of an elite circle that author David Halberstam would dub, "The Best and the Brightest."

As The Times noted in its obituary, McNamara, who stayed on as Pentagon chief into the Johnson administration, oversaw the massive buildup of U.S. forces in Vietnam between 1964 and 1968, earning him the sobriquet as the war's architect.

But perhaps the greatest legacy of McNamara's tenure -- one that could echo in the post-mortems over President George W. Bush's war in Iraq -- is that in later years he disavowed his decisions, particularly his conviction that if Vietnam fell to communism other Southeast Asia nations would also be vulnerable. "We were wrong, terribly wrong," he said. "We owe it to future generations to explain why."

It isn't often you hear a major public official acknowledge mistakes of his own making, but two decades after the last helicopter lifted off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon with loyalists rushing to get aboard and communism, McNamara began to speak out.

He gave a series of interviews at UC Berkeley in which he confessed he no longer believed in the domino theory. "It was certainly the conventional wisdom among the foreign policy establishment," he said. "I think we were wrong, and certainly misjudged it."

He wrote a memoir, "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam," again questioning the "domino theory," an underpinning of U.S. policy that held that if South Vietnam fell to Communist control, other countries in Southeast Asia would too. "My aim is neither to justify errors nor to assign blame," he wrote in the book, "but to identify the mistakes we made."

Later, interviewed by filmmaker Errol Morris for a documentary called "Fog of War," McNamara said: We all make mistakes. I don't know any military commander, who is honest, who would say he has not made a mistake. There's a wonderful phrase: "The fog of war." What "the fog of war" means is: War is so complex it's beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate.

The experience of being wrong on a epic scale -- more than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, along with hundreds of thousands in Vietnam and Cambodia -- made McNamara an opponent of the Iraq War. Concerned that the Bush administration officials had failed to heed the lessons of Vietnam when they went into Iraq. he told a reporter for Canada's Globe and Mail in 2004, "We're misusing our influence. It's just wrong what we're doing. It's morally wrong, it's politically wrong, it's economically wrong."

Rest in peace.

-- Johanna Neuman
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Evaluating McNamara

He was always Bomber Bob, Bob McNamara - Robert Strange McNamara - the man who, perhaps more than any other, was responsible for the killing of millions in Vietnam and Cambodia more than four decades ago.

Of course, much later in life, well after those insane years of the Indochina conflict in which the United States participated without any sense of history or sensibility of local cultures, McNamara would publicly express some regret over his role as Defence Secretary in the administrations of Presidents John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson from 1961 to 1968. Regret, but never remorse.

McNamara died on July 6 at the age of 93. By conventional criteria, it was a long life of accomplishment. A Californian by birth, he went on to obtain an MBA from the Harvard School of Business.

Hired by the Ford Motor Company, he was one of the 10 so-called “whiz kids,” smart young executives who accelerated the automobile manufacturer’s fortunes. McNamara was widely considered to have invented a form of system analysis in business, something that he eventually applied to government - something that, to this day, is known as policy analysis in the corridors of power, a method through which the obtaining and allocation of resources for decision-making is quantified and streamlined.

He took that system with him when President Johnson named him President of the World Bank in 1968; there had been rumours that McNamara had had differences with Pentagon military leaders and that, in fact, he was leaning toward ending the bombing of Indochina, while U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, already a hawk, was becoming increasingly hawkish.

Moving from the Pentagon to the World Bank was as if the villainous Darth Vader of George Lucas’ Star Wars suddenly had a metamorphosis - McNamara became the benign Luke Skywalker.

He travelled around the globe, proclaiming his concern for the dispossessed and the disease-ridden. He committed vast sums of development money to the very nations whose societal fabrics he had been earlier responsible for shredding.

He worked vigorously to draw attention to the endemic problem of river blindness, especially in Sub-Saharan countries in Africa. He took the late Mahbub ul Haq, the Pakistani economist, as his developmental guru, and initiated the publication of the much-acclaimed annual World Development Reports. He transformed the World Bank from a bloated behemoth into a bureaucracy with a heart. He was always running, always peripatetic.

Perhaps McNamara did this, I think, because he seemed to be always trying to expunge his war days from his conscience. During an interview that I did with him, well after he had retired from the World Bank, McNamara bristled when I asked him about Vietnam. “That was an unfortunate war, and it’s best relegated to history,” he said to me. I don’t think there was a trace of remorse in his voice; he spoke as he always did - firmly, crisply, and to the point.

When Susan Tolchin, a Professor of political science at George Mason University near Washington, reviewed Deborah Shapley’s extraordinary book, Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara, for a newspaper that I published and edited for a dozen years, The Earth Times, I was summoned by one of McNamara’s best friends, the Canadian tycoon Maurice F. Strong.

Strong had been my friend, too, and he was a noted environmentalist who had been a moral and intellectual supporter of my newspaper.

He tore into me for running Tolchin’s critical review in which she had recalled McNamara’s heavy-handed conduct during the Indochina years and his subsequent “conversion on the Road from Damascus - like St. Paul” during his tenure at the World Bank. “Bob is a good man,” Maurice Strong told me, his voice quivering. “Your paper shouldn’t be carrying such criticism of him.” Implicit in what Strong said, of course, was that some sort of apology was due to McNamara.

Neither Susan Tolchin nor I ever issued such an apology. What for? Yes, Bob McNamara had served admirably well as the World Bank’s President, and later as a board member of the Washington Post Company and the Washington-based liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution. Yes, he made contributions to philanthropies. And yes, he came out against George W. Bush’s military adventure in Iraq.

But one’s past is not cleansed so readily. I know that a 93-year-old man has passed away peacefully in his sleep, and I know that it is traditional to view such a man’s life through the prism of kindness.

I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. Too many of my friends died in Indochina. Too many of them came home without limbs. Their lives never got to be celebrated in the manner in which Robert McNamara was feted in his later years. That’s why, for me at least, he will always be Bomber Bob. (Courtesy: The Hindu)

The writer is a veteran international journalist and author who has worked for The New York Times, Newsweek International, and Forbes.

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Thailand’s foreign minister reports to police to hear charges over 2008 Bangkok airport siege


Kasit piromya and 35 others rats got in trap

Thailand’s FM reports to police over airport siege

BANGKOK — Thailand’s foreign minister reported to police Monday to hear charges related to his involvement in mass demonstrations that climaxed with the seizure of Bangkok’s airports last year.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and 35 other leaders of the “yellow shirt” protest movement face criminal charges including terrorism, illegal assembly, attempts to stir unrest, and breaches of aviation law for the eight-day siege of Bangkok’s two airports in November and December.

They were summoned to report to police on July 16 to hear the charges, said Police Lt. Gen. Worapong Chiewpreecha. But Kasit reported on Monday because he will be on official duty abroad on the scheduled date, Worapong said.

Kasit declined to comment on the allegations.

The charges brought a controversy surrounding Kasit’s appointment as foreign minister to the forefront as opposition members in Thailand’s Parliament called for his resignation.

“The charges are very serious. How could he represent our country as a foreign minister? He has no credibility left,” said Prompong Nopparit, spokesman of the opposition Phuea Thai Party.

Kasit spoke at several rallies by the protesters, who sought to topple the previous government allied with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They accused Thaksin, who was toppled in a military coup in 2006, of massive corruption and abuse of power.

The protesters occupied the prime minister’s office compound for three months and shut down Bangkok’s airports. Kasit later hailed the blockade — which stranded more than 250,000 travelers — as an “innovation in public protests.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Kasit will remain in office while he fights the charges.

“There is no reason for him to resign at this point. He was only summoned to hear charges and at this stage, he is only a suspect,” Thepthai Senpong, Abhisit’s spokesman, said Monday.

Jatuporn Phrompan, a member of Parliament from Phuea Thai Party, said the lack of immediate response from the government “sends a signal that they do not take these charges against the yellow shirts seriously.”

Thailand was destabilized by months of protests by both supporters and opponents of Thaksin.

Abhisit’s government took control in December after a court ruled the previous pro-Thaksin ruling party was guilty of election fraud. The court decision prompted protesters to abandon the airports siege.

Abhisit’s six-month-old government has since faced street protests by Thaksin’s supporters, known as the “red shirts,” this year. Rioting in April left two dead and more than 120 injured.

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