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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Alabama native, among nation's most decorated veterans, dies

By The Associated Press


WACO, Texas -- Retired Col. Robert Lewis Howard, a man considered to be the country's most decorated soldier, died Wednesday. He was 70.

Howard was battling pancreatic cancer and died about noon at a hospice, his friend Benito Guerrero, a Vietnam veteran and retired sergeant major, told the San Antonio Express-News.

The Army veteran died in Waco, according to Oak Crest Funeral Home. At the time of his death he was the most decorated American soldier, the funeral home obituary said. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. No date has been set, the funeral home said.

Howard grew up in Opelika, Ala., and served in the Army from 1956 to 1992. He was part of the U.S. Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets, and ran cross-border operations in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. He was wounded 14 times in Vietnam and was awarded eight Purple Hearts.

He was nominated three times for the Medal of Honor, the nation's most prestigious award for combat veterans. President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the honor at the White House in 1971 for his bravery in Vietnam during a mission to rescue a missing soldier in enemy territory.


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Cambodian PM accuses Thailand of preparing coup

CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen today accused neighbouring Thailand of preparing a coup against his government as the war of words between the neighbouring nations worsened.

Hun Sen said he had seen a secret Thai government document outlining the plan to mount a coup, which he said he had passed to Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni to show the "bad character of our neighbouring leaders''.

"In your secret document it says that although the (Thai) foreign ministry does not agree to stage a coup in Cambodia... others are working on it,'' Hun Sen said.

"Don't even think about it. I know who is doing this,'' he added, during a speech at a provincial ceremony.

The Cambodian premier said he had also seen documents that showed Thailand has considered waging war against its neighbour.

``You have outlined bad scenarios, including preparing to wage war against Cambodia,'' he said.

Hun Sen's comments follow the leaking of a document in Thailand last week, written by the Thai foreign minister to premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, in which the worsening relations between the two countries are analysed.
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Thailand preparing coup?

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday accused neighbouring Thailand of preparing a coup against his government as the war of words between the neighbouring nations worsened.

Mr Hun Sen said he had seen a secret Thai government document outlining the plan to mount a coup, which he said he had passed to Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni to show the 'bad character of our neighbouring leaders'.

'In your secret document it says that although the (Thai) foreign ministry does not agree to stage a coup in Cambodia... others are working on it,' Mr Hun Sen said. 'Don't even think about it. I know who is doing this,' he added, during a speech at a provincial ceremony.

The Cambodian premier said he had also seen documents that showed Thailand has considered waging war against its neighbour. 'You have outlined bad scenarios, including preparing to wage war against Cambodia,' he said.

Mr Hun Sen's comments follow the leaking of a document in Thailand last week, written by the Thai foreign minister to premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, in which the worsening relations between the two countries are analysed.

Relations between the countries, which have fought a string of deadly gunbattles on their border since last year, plunged last month when fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra became an economic adviser to Cambodia. -- AFP


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Cambodian new national airline makes profit

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said the country's new national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, had begun to turn a profit, raising hopes it would not fail like its predecessor.

The airline, which has capitalisation of US$100 million, was launched in July following the failure of a previous effort in 2001.

Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines, aims to promote Cambodia as a destination and boost tourism.

"We expected the airline to make losses for two years, but now this airline is making profit because a lot of passengers are using it," Hun Sen said during a provincial ceremony.

The last national carrier, Royal Air Cambodge, folded in 2001 after running up losses of US$30 million.

Cambodia Angkor Air flies between tourist hub Siem Reap and Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.

Tourism is one of the only sources of foreign exchange for impoverished Cambodia, which is recovering from nearly three decades of conflict that ended in 1998.

The kingdom aims to lure three million tourists annually by next year, and in 2009 attracted more than two million holidaymakers.

A number of foreign airlines, including Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways, currently operate direct flights to Cambodia.

- AFP/sc
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