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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cambodia welcomes the world of women's football

History was made today in Cambodia when the first pilot course for Com-Unity Women's Football Seminar opened in Phnom Penh, bringing the women's game to the football community of Cambodia.

The Opening Ceremony attended by Cambodia Football Federation President, Lt. Gen. Sao Sohka and the Secretary of State from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Dr. Phoeng Sakona, provided a strong start to the three-day course.

A positive tone was set right from the opening speech, with Lt. Gen Sao Sohka underlining the Cambodia Football Federation's dedication to promoting and developing women's football. He continued: "I look forward to the declaration at the end of the course to pledge our will to FIFA and our football community to develop women's football. We do not only want to help by giving moral support, but also the practical implementation of projects and activities."

FIFA representatives gave the audience a lively introduction to the world of women's football, before inviting Dr. Pheong Sakona to officially open the Cambodia Women's Football Com-Unity.

Dr. Pheong commented: "More women and girls are playing football in Cambodia and I support the idea that it is becoming more popular in this country." She continued: "Sport is very important to help reduce the social problems in Cambodia."

Also in attendance was the General Secretary of the National Olympic Council of Cambodia, Mr. Meas Sarin, in addition to a healthy turnout from NGOs based in Phnom Penh including UNICEF, Spirit of Soccer and the Indochina Starfish Foundation.

The FIFA delegation includes Michelle Cox (New Zealand), Mayrilian Cruz Blanco and David Borja (both FIFA), Windsor John (Malaysia, Development Officer Kuala Lumpur), Clare Kenny Tipton (Rep. of Ireland), Dato Yap Nyim Keong (Malaysia) and Belinda Wilson (Australia).

The next two days will be devoted to the Communications and Marketing of Women's Football. A friendly football match between the FIFA representatives and the Football Federation of Cambodia will take place at 1800hrs at the Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh on Tuesday 24 March 2009.

Directly following the Cambodia Women's Com-Unity, a practical FIFA Coaching Course will take place from 26 to 30 March 2009 to train Cambodian women's football coaches.
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Thai troops accused of crossing Cambodia border

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Nearly 100 Thai soldiers crossed into Cambodian territory Wednesday near a disputed border temple that was the site of clashes last year, Cambodian officials said.

The Thai army denied the claim.

Thai soldiers crossed into the area of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple about 1:40 p.m., said Phay Siphan, secretary of the Cambodian Council of Ministers.

The two sides did not fight and Cambodia has asked Thailand to pull back.

Thai Army Col. Sansern Kaewkumnerd said the troop movement was part of a normal rotation and that Thai soldiers had not gone anywhere they were not permitted to be.

For months last year, the two countries saber-rattled over the ancient temple. The nations differ on whether some territory around the temple forms part of Thailand or Cambodia.

Both countries posted troops in the area after the United Nations in July approved Cambodia's application to have the temple listed as a World Heritage Site -- a place the United Nations says has outstanding universal value.

The temple sits atop a cliff on Cambodian soil but has its most accessible entrance on the Thai side.

The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962. Thailand claims, however, that the 4.6 sq. km (1.8 square mile) area around it was never fully demarcated.

Thailand says the dispute arose from the fact that the Cambodian government used a map drawn during the French occupation of Cambodia -- a map that places the temple and surrounding area in Cambodian territory.

The United Nations' decision re-ignited tensions, with some in Thailand fearing it will make it difficult for their country to lay claim to disputed land around the temple.

Last year's flare-up began July 15, when Cambodian guards briefly detained three Thais who crossed into the area. Once they were let go, the three refused to leave the territory.

Cambodia claimed Thailand sent troops to retrieve the trio and gradually built up their numbers. Thailand denied that, saying its troops are deployed in Thai territory.
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Scientists find new solutions for the arsenic-poisoning crisis in Asia

( -- Every day, more than 140 million people in southern Asia drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic. Thousands of people in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar and Vietnam die of cancer each year from chronic exposure to arsenic, according to the World Health Organization. Some health experts call it the biggest mass poisoning in history.

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More than 15 years ago, scientists pinpointed the source of the contamination in the , where sediments containing naturally occurring were carried downstream to heavily populated river basins below.

But one mystery remained: Instead of remaining chemically trapped in the , arsenic was somehow working its way into the groundwater more than 100 feet below the surface. Solving that mystery could have significant implications for policymakers trying to reverse the mass poisoning, said Stanford University soil scientist Scott Fendorf.

"How does the arsenic go from being in the sediment loads, in solids, into the drinking ?" said Fendorf, a professor of environmental Earth system science and a senior fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment.

To find out, he launched a field study in in 2004 with two Stanford colleagues: Chris Francis, an assistant professor of geological and environmental sciences, and Karen Seto, now at Yale University. The initial study was funded with a two-year Woods Institute Environmental Venture Projects grant. Five years later, the research team appears to have solved the arsenic mystery and is working with policymakers and government officials to prevent the health crisis from escalating.

"The real thing is, how do we help the people who are there?" Fendorf said. "But first, we have to understand the coupling of hydrology—the way the water is flowing—with the chemistry and biology."

Finding a study site
Arsenic-laden rocks in the Himalayas feed into four major river systems: the Mekong, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy and Red. Epidemiologists first identified arsenic poisoning in the 1980s in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh. The sudden occurrence of the disease was linked to the increased use of wells for drinking water.

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