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Friday, May 07, 2010

Namibia, Cambodia to establish diplomatic ties - by Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK – Namibia is to establish diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Cabinet has approved the establishment of diplomatic relations between Namibia and Cambodia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been directed to empower Namibia’s Permanent Representative to New York in the United States to sign the necessary documents on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

After many years of civil war, the Cambodian conflict came to an end and an election was organised by the United Nations under the auspices of the UN Transitional Authority of Cambodia.

Elections took place in 1993. In the same year, a new constitution was promulgated, establishing the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In 1998, another round of elections took place and Cambodia experienced peace and stability for the first time in 30 years. The country’s economy has improved, tourism has rebounded and improvements are taking place on infrastructure.

Namibia was one of the countries that sent a sizable contingent to join the UN peacekeeping mission in Cambodia in 1993.
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US Cambodians Urged To Join Census

As the US completes a new national census, one group in California is working to have more Cambodian-Americans participate and gain the benefits of better representation.

Sara Pol-Lim, executive director of the United Cambodian Community, a group based in Long Beach, told “Hello VOA” on Thursday Cambodians can benefit politically, economically and socially by taking part in the census.

An estimated 300,000 Cambodians live in the US, but only about 100,000 show up on the census, she said. That means they lose a voice within their communities and government.

For instance, the US government looks at the numbers of immigrants from different countries when it determines budgets, and having more people on a census can also mean better representation in the House of Representatives, she said.

A more accurate census can lead to more jobs and attract businesses and investment targeted to specific communities. In California, that can mean benefits for a high percentage of Asians, from China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, as well as Cambodia.

“That’s why we are working hard to make all our brothers and sisters understand the importance, especially those elderly who have received money [like welfare and social security] since they came to the US,” she said.

The United Cambodian Community has been operating since 1977, when it was formed to help Cambodians adjust to life in the US.

The US Census Bureau says 72 percent of households participated in the 2010 census, but census-takers are now going door-to-door to retrieve responses from households.

Sara Pol-Lim said now is the time to return forms to the census-takers if they have not been sent in already. She also said the census-takers are not to be feared, as they will not ask for confidential information. People should remember to have an ID ready, she said.
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Dallas theaters showcasing director Francesca Zambello — while she’s far away in China

By Arnold Wayne Jone

Francesca Zambello is well represented on the stages of Dallas ... which is a strange thing, because she’s not in Dallas. Not even close.

Try China.

“I’m directing Carmen at National Center for the Performing Arts here,” she says in an interview via Skype. “That’s the big theater that looks a giant egg. This is the first time a Westerner has ever directed a production in the theater and the first big production of a Western opera. There’re a lot of difficulties but I think the pros outweigh the cons — it’s such a unique experience.”

But Zambello sincerely wishes she could be in Dallas. After all, she has two shows opening here this week.

The first is the Dallas Opera’s season closer, a revival of her production of Madame Butterfly (playing five dates from May 7-May 23 at the Winspear Opera House), which she originally staged a decade ago for the Dallas Opera. Zambello’s concept for the show is being recreated by her on-site assistant, with whom she has been in daily e-mail communication.

Then across town, the national tour of Little House on the Prairie (playing at the Music Hall at Fair Park from May 11-23), which Zambello conceived and directed before it hit the road, arrives courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the East Coast girl who secretly pines for Texas.

“I’m a New Yorker who loves working in Texas,” Zambello says. “And I want to see the beautiful new [Winspear] theater. I do check on the tour with Little House and Dallas would have been the city I would have stopped in.”

For now, she’ll have to settle for being an internationally in-demand theater artist — one who, unconventionally, straddles the worlds of both musical theater and grand opera. And as one of the few openly gay women at her level, her achievements are rarer still.

“I started in theater and just gravitated to opera,” she explains. “The last number of years I have been doing more of both, which in Europe is very accepted but less common [in the U.S.].”

Her career path raises the issue: With the expansion of musicals from spritely revues to bombastic epics, is there a great dividing line between opera and musicals anymore?

“It’s very much blurring,” she says. “A lot of people will raise their hackles at me for saying this, but for me, musicals are American opera — our popular musical art form, the way people in Europe might whistle Verdi on the street. They have entered our popular culture and are our big contribution to musical history, a fusion of Vaudeville and operetta and opera. And it’s amazing to think they aren’t even 100 years old!”

It’s that approach that lets Zambello effortlessly flit between serious, deeply psychological classic operas like Butterfly and small, prosaic new musicals like Little House — with some Disney’s The Little Mermaid thrown in. (Zambello directed the live-action musical on Broadway, which she worked on with Dallas native Doug Wright. “I love, love, love working with him and he is a fantastic collaborator,” she says.)

But it all works together for her.

“The irony of the job is that your reputation is made in larger, more prestigious venues, but the work that satisfies you more is often in the smaller, out-of-the-way places. Of course, you want to be at the Met and at the Royal Opera House and the West End, but sometimes the pressures of these places are not as conducive to your best work. Little House we developed as a production based on the imagination of the audience. Little Mermaid is certainly more lavish.

“To be truthful, I think opera productions are very much like musicals in that you have to tell stories in highly dramatic and embellished ways, different from a straight play,” Zambello says. “One thing much better about theater than opera is you have so many performances and previews. But the great unknown is always the audience.”

That’s even more an issue when she finds herself overseas in places like China, and her recently completed tour of Cambodia. But she goes it alone there.

“My partner stays at home — she has no interest to come to Cambodia,” she drawls. “She’s the editor-in-chief for arts & culture for Bloomberg News, so she travels enough herself.”

The couple will settle in a little more next year, now that Zambello has accepted the choice assignment as general and artistic director of the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, one of North America’s most acclaimed opera programs. But she keeps coming back to Texas.

“I’m really upset I’m not coming,” she interjects suddenly. “You don’t know, I have a lot of friends there. There are certain cities where I know a lot of people. I love audiences in Texas because they definitely let you know what they think.”
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