Jul 6, 2009

Official: Afghan militants fled dressed as women

U.S. Marines scan the site of a blast that hit a U.S. vehicle in southern Afghanistan.

Women and children had been caught in the standoff between the armed groups, but some of the women were not what they seemed, according to task force spokesman Capt. William Pelletier.

After the Marines began taking fire from insurgents in the town of Khan Neshin, in south Afghanistan near the Helmand River, the militants ran into a multiple-room compound, the U.S. military said.

Unsure of whether civilians were inside the compound, the Marines had an interpreter talk to the insurgents, said an official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly. After some time, a number of women and children left the compound, the military official said.

The insurgents denied that any more civilians were inside, the official said, but the Marines held their fire anyway. About 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET), in the midst of the standoff, another group of women and children emerged from the compound, the official said. As of 4:30 p.m., the Marines were holding all fire and waiting out the insurgents, the official said.

Finally, a screaming woman emerged from the compound with a bullet wound to her hand, Pelletier said. Then, another group of women came out, covered from head to toe, according to custom, he said. The Marines attended to the wounded woman while the others walked away.
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When the Marines went into the compound, they discovered that it empty, Pelletier said. That's when they realized the fighters had dressed up as women to escape, he said.

"Apparently these were tall, rather broad-shouldered women with hairy feet," Pelletier said.

The Marines' restrained approach differs from previous hits on compounds when airstrikes were readily called in, the official said.

Under a new tactical directive for forces in Afghanistan, some of which was unclassified Monday, forces must protect civilians soldiers and must be sensitive to Afghan cultural norms regarding women.

Pelletier said that during the standoff, "the Marines didn't have any female forces to do any searches, and they weren't going to violate cultural norms by patting down these women."

The standoff in the town of Khan Neshin was especially significant because it has been a Taliban stronghold for several years, and the U.S. military reported that the Afghan government regained control of the town Monday.

Coalition forces began talks with local leaders several days ago and have moved about 500 Marines into Khan Neshin, a U.S. military news release said. The government takeover of Khan Neshin marks the first time coalition forces have had a sustained presence so far south in the Helmand River valley, the release said.

The mission to secure Khan Neshin coincides with "establishing secure conditions" for August elections in Afghanistan, according to the release.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a six U.S. soldiers were killed Monday by two roadside bombs, a representative for NATO forces said. Four were killed in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Two soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan, NATO's
International Security Assistance Forces said

In India's Financial Hub, Mumbai, 'Sea Bridge' Aims to Ease Congestion

umbai "Sea Bridge" is inaugurated with fireworks

By Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi

In India's financial hub Mumbai, a bridge has been built over the sea to ease chronic traffic congestion in one of the worlds' most crowded cities. Updating inadequate infrastructure in Indian cities has become critical as its economy expands.

After a brief inauguration ceremony, ruling Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi drove on the eight-lane bridge that extends over the Arabian Sea across Mahim Bay.

The 5.6-kilometer bridge is the first to be built over the sea in India, and links the western suburb of Bandra with Worli in south Mumbai. It will cut travel time along this route from nearly 45 minutes to about eight minutes. A one-way trip in a car will cost about $1.

The bridge is expected to ease Mumbai's unending traffic snarls. But it will only make a partial difference in a city where an overburdened transport network makes commuting a nightmare.

Bidisha Ganguly at the Confederation of Indian Industry calls Mumbai's sea bridge a "landmark project" where infrastructure is concerned. "A great beginning has been made with this sea link, and there are opportunities for many more of such projects. Public transport is a major concern, and now with the congestion on the roads, its time to look for alternatives," Ganguly said.

The government says new flyovers, an underground railway, and an expansion of the sea bridge have been planned to cater to the city of 18 million people, and 1.5 million vehicles.

But experts are calling for faster implementation of these projects. In the past, many infrastructure projects have been delayed due to bureaucratic hurdles, lack of funding or litigation over land. For example, the construction of the sea bridge took nearly a decade as protests and litigation from the fishing community held up work until 2004.

The protests were triggered by concerns over the bridge's impact on the sea bed and its implication for the livelihood of fishermen.

It is not just in Mumbai where the transport infrastructure needs to be overhauled. In nearly all Indian cities, roads and mass transit systems have become inadequate as an expanding economy attracts millions of people from rural areas to cities, and the middle class snaps up more cars.

The government acknowledges that infrastructure needs investment of billions of dollars, and has commissioned several projects to build new highways, airports and rail networks. Experts say infrastructure is a key factor in holding back the economy from its full potential.

Remember Me?

Coleman: there is no way that you could be involved in something like this without feeling tremendous sorrow and guilt. But looking back on it was clear that there was not anything else. There was no other way that this could have ended. (03 July 2009)

By Brian Calvert and Men Kimseng
Original report from Washington

[Editor’s note: When it opened in March, the trial for Kaing Kek Iev, the infamous Khmer Rouge torture chief better known as Comrade Duch, returned the world’s attention to Cambodia and the horrors of the failed regime. In 1976, two American women helped care for a group of 114 Cambodians in the US who were determined to return to their home, now controlled by the Khmer Rouge. The two recently spoke with VOA Khmer to ensure the stories of those Cambodians, nearly all of whom perished, would not be forgotten. This is the second of a two-part series.]

Cynthia Coleman, who had helped the repatriates on their way to a Khmer Rouge-controlled country, was still working with refugees in the US in late 1978, when Vietnamese forces began their offensives against the regime. The fighting sent Cambodians streaming into Thailand, and in February 1979, after the capital had fallen to the Vietnamese forces, Coleman traveled to the border, in hopes of finding news of her lost friends.

“There was absolutely nobody in sight. I mean no one. I just stood at the gate stared into nothing,” said Coleman.

The Cambodians she found along the border were corralled in pens, shell-shocked and thin from their experiences under the Khmer Rouge. Coleman talked to everyone she could. She carried photographs with her, including one of Maj. Kim Pok Tung, one of the group of 112 Cambodians she had taken care of in Philadelphia in 1976.

“There was a big, makeshift bulletin board on one side of the camp. And there was hanging a lot of letters and photographs, in Khmer, people looking for family and relatives and friends, and I searched there and put up some of the photographs that I had,” Coleman said. “If you know any of these people or have seen them or have heard of them, please contact me.”

Coleman and another American, Mary Beach, who had been deeply involved in the lives of the Cambodians in 1976, had heard nothing from them for three years. Part of program through the Nationality Service Center in Phildelphia, they had been given the task of helping the Cambodians return to Democratic Kampuchea. They counted many among the group as their friends, and they retold their stories to VOA Khmer recently to ensure the group was not forgotten.

After 1976, neither of them forgot their friends, and they searched whenever they could for information about them. On the border in 1979, Coleman learned nothing, and she returned to the US. Their fates remained a mystery until in 1981 history professor Ben Keirnan called her. He had uncovered a list of people executed in the Khmer Rouge’s main torture center, Tuol Sleng. On that list were 19 names that Coleman recognized. Among them was her friend, Kim Pok Tung.

“Certainly, there is no way that you could be involved in something like this without feeling tremendous sorrow and guilt. But looking back on it was clear that there was not anything else. There was no other way that this could have ended,” said Coleman.

Coleman continued refugee work with Southeast Asians until 1986, when she changed careers. Beach worked with refugees in the US until the 1990s, when she too changed careers. Both became teachers in small US towns.

Bonded by their experiences working with the Cambodians in Philadelphia, the two kept in touch, and they continued to have Cambodian friends. But it wasn’t until 2002 that a new opportunity to learn about their Philadelphia Cambodians emerged.

“I knew I had not heard anything about any of the others, in all these years,” said Coleman.

By then, Coleman was teaching high school in the US state of Michigan. As part of her lessons, she taught about the Cambodian tragedy. Eventually, some of her students began to question why she had never learned more about what happened to the Cambodians she had been so close to. She told them maybe she didn’t want to know.

“So finally the kids said, all right, sit down at the computer—it was kind of a question at this point of who was running the class—but, sit down at the computer and let’s see if we can find if there is some place that can tell you something,” she recalled.

It was then that Coleman learned about Youk Chhang and the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which by then had been working for years to record atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

“Several hours later, I got an answer back from Youk Chhang,” said Coleman.

Youk Chhang, in a recent interview with VOA Khmer, remembered.

“All the adults were dead...we had found all the documents from Tuol Sleng. They were tortured and executed,” he said.

Youk Chhang sent them photocopies of documents, but Coleman still did not want to believe that every single person she had known in Philadelphia, save two who had disappeared from the regime in Paris, were dead. Still, she kept in touch with Youk Chhang, and when the Khmer Rouge tribunal stood up, both Coleman and Beach saw a chance to stand as witnesses for their friends.

Beach, who had been 22 when she met her first Cambodians and had known little about their culture or their war, was now determined that their stories be told.

“I don’t want this group to be forgotten. I don’t want them to be just a statistic somewhere. So ya, it was an important thing to do at that point,” said Beach.

The two women had not seen each other since 1976, but they reunited in Cambodia, determined to file testimonies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Flying in, Beach thought about her lost friends.

“I remember specifically as the plane was landing, the image in my mind was, I kept thinking, what did they see when they landed at this airport, and I sort of half expected to see jeeps full of military men with machine guns lined up along the runway,” recalled Beach.

That didn’t happen. They met at the airport. Coleman wept. They shared a hotel room, shared evenings at restaurants along the river, shared cyclos. For Beach, this time in Phnom Penh was reassuring, from the moment she stepped into the New York Hotel on Monivong Boulevard.

“When I spoke to the bellboy, or the bellboy spoke to me, in that moment it was like, oh, I recognize this, the look in his eyes and the sound of his voice, I thought, yes, this is something that I know, and the thing that I love about Cambodia has not been destroyed,” Beach said.

What she loved was still there. In short time, the two went together to visit the Documentation Center, a day Youk Chhang also remembers.

“She burst into tears while recounting the returnees. I believe that the event really affect her feeling,” said Youk Chhang.

Documentation Center staff explained to the Americans how to file their testimonies, but both declined to file in Phnom Penh, preferring instead to do it from America, far from Cambodia and its politics and its potential dangers.

“Both of us felt strongly that we had to stand witness, but I was not going to do it from inside Cambodia,” Coleman said.

The two made another stop, at Tuol Sleng, the prison where most of their friends had met their end. They looked for faces among the hundreds of photographs on display at Tuol Sleng, where 16,000 Cambodians were tortured into confessions, later to be executed on the outskirts of the capital.

“After several rooms, I said to Mary, ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t do anymore’…. And I went out and sat on the stone bench… I should have come here ten years ago,” Coleman recalled.

The trip gave each of the women some solace, knowing that the Cambodians likely understood the risks they faced.

“I sat there on that bench and I thought, these guys knew what they were potentially getting into and this isn’t anything I did,” said Coleman.

Cynthia Coleman is now 67, living in a remote town in Michigan, volunteering at the local library, keeping up on tribunal news and wondering if Duch will ever mention her Cambodian friends. She does not regret having worked with them.

“I have a tremendously strong respect and probably love for Cambodians, and I’ve never been sorry that I’ve known a good many Cambodians, and been close to a few,” she said.

Marcy Beach teaches French in Farmington, New Mexico, fulfilling a career goal she’d had when she graduated college, before she’d become so involved, by a chance hiring, in the lives of the Cambodians.

There were many times over the years that the tragedy came back to Coleman, but there is one particular time that affects her most, a letter she received in 1982.

“Somebody passed me a letter from a woman in one of the refugee camps inside Thailand, and the letter started out, ‘My name is such-and-such, I was a lead dancer with the Royal Cambodian Ballet. And I am here in a refugee camp, and need a sponsor to come to the United States. Does anyone remember me?’ I was sitting in a restaurant in Washington, DC, and I just started sobbing,” said Coleman.

As the tribunal continues, and more witnesses come forward, that answer might someday be yes.

A look at health care plans in Congress


By The Associated Press

A look at health care legislation taking shape in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate as President Barack Obama pushes to overhaul the system, cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans and reduce costs. Many of the details are still being negotiated and any final health care bill would have to meld proposals from the House and Senate.



WHO'S COVERED: Around 95 percent of Americans would be covered. Illegal immigrants would not receive coverage.

COST: Unknown.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; $600 billion in unspecified new taxes, likely including new levies on upper-income Americans.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals required to have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Certain small businesses are exempt.

SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) would get subsidies to help them buy coverage.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: A committee would recommend an "essential benefits package" that includes hospitalization, doctor visits, prescription drugs and other services. Out-of-pocket costs limited to $5,000 a year for individuals, $10,000 for families. Health insurance companies can offer several tiers of coverage, but all plans must include the core benefits. Insurers wouldn't be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: Plan with payment rates initially modeled on Medicare to compete with private insurers.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Through a new National Health Insurance Exchange open to individuals and, initially, small employers; it would be expanded to large employers over time.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: The federal-state insurance program for the poor would be expanded to cover all individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,404). Currently Medicaid eligibility varies by state, but childless adults are ineligible no matter how poor, and in some states parents with incomes well under the poverty line still aren't covered.



WHO'S COVERED: Aims to cover 97 percent of Americans.

COST: About $600 million over 10 years, but it's only one piece of a larger Senate bill.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: Another committee is responsible for the financing.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals required to have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers who don't offer coverage will pay a penalty of $750 a year per full-time worker. Businesses with 25 or fewer workers are exempted.

SUBSIDIES: Up to 400 percent poverty level.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: Health plans must offer a package of essential benefits recommended by a new Medical Advisory Council. No denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A robust new public plan to compete with private insurers. The plan would be run by the government, but would pay doctors and hospitals based on what private insurers now pay.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Individuals and small businesses can purchase insurance through state-based American Health Benefit Gateways.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: Medicaid would be available to individuals with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.



WHO'S COVERED: Around 97 percent of Americans. Illegal immigrants would not receive coverage.

COST: Around $1 trillion over 10 years.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: Possible sources include cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; about $300 billion in revenue from taxing employer-provided health benefits above a certain level; and about $300 billion in revenue from a requirement for employers to pay into the Treasury for employees who get their insurance through public programs.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Expected to include a requirement for individuals to get coverage.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: In lieu of requiring employers to provide coverage, lawmakers are considering penalties based on how much the government ends up paying for workers' coverage.

SUBSIDIES: No higher than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four).

BENEFIT PACKAGE: The government doesn't mandate benefits but sets four benefit categories — ranging from coverage of around 65 percent of medical costs to about 90 percent — and insurers would be required to offer coverage in at least two categories. No denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: Unlike the other proposals the Finance Committee's will likely be bipartisan. With Republicans opposed to a government-run plan, the committee is looking at a compromise that would instead create nonprofit member-owned co-ops to compete with private insurers.


CHANGES TO MEDICAID: Everyone at 100 percent of poverty would be eligible. Between 100 and 133 percent, states or individuals have the choice between coverage under Medicaid or a 100 percent subsidy in the exchange. The expansion would be delayed until 2013, a late change to save money — the start date had been 2011.



WHO'S COVERED: The House GOP's plan, in outline form for now, says it aims to make insurance affordable and accessible to all. There aren't estimates about how many additional people would be covered.

COST: Unknown.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: No new taxes are proposed, but Republicans say they want to reduce Medicare and Medicaid fraud.


REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: No mandates; small business tax credits are offered. Employers are encouraged to move to "opt-out" rather than "opt-in" rules for offering health coverage.

SUBSIDIES: Tax credits are offered to "low- and modest-income" Americans. People who aren't covered through their employers but buy their own insurance are allowed to take a tax deduction. Low-income retirees younger than 65 (the eligibility age for Medicare) would be offered assistance.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: Insurers would have to allow children to stay on their parents' plan through age 25.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: No public plan.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: No new purchasing exchange or marketplace is proposed. Health savings accounts and flexible spending plans would be strengthened.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: People eligible for Medicaid would be allowed to use the value of their benefit to purchase a private plan if they prefer.



WHO'S COVERED: All children and many now-uninsured adults.

COST: Estimates as high as $1.6 trillion over 10 years.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: Obama proposed cuts within the health care system and raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 annually.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Unlike his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama did not propose an "individual mandate." Instead he would have required all children to be insured, making it the parents' responsibility.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Large employers would have been required to cover their employees or contribute to the costs of a new government-run plan.

SUBSIDIES: Obama proposed giving subsidies to low-income people but didn't detail at what level.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: Insurers participating in a new health exchange would have had to offer packages at least as generous as a new public plan. All insurers would have been prohibited from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and would have had to cover children through age 25 on family plans.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A new public plan would have offered comprehensive insurance similar to that available to federal employees.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Through a new National Health Insurance Exchange where individuals could buy the new public plan or qualified private plans.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: Would have expanded Medicaid eligibility, but didn't specify income levels.

Sources: Associated Press research, Kaiser Family Foundation, Lewin Group.

Business booming for Aussie Jackson impersonator

Michael Jackson impersonator Jason Jackson (right) performs beside a wax portrait of his idol, in 1999

By Amy Coopes

SYDNEY (AFP) — He may be mourning the death of his idol but business is booming for Jason Jackson, Australia's answer to the late King of Pop.

The tribute artist, who has turned his Sydney home into a mini-Neverland Ranch, said he had been inundated with booking requests since the star's death.

"Before Michael Jackson's passing I was, I would say, 50 to 70 percent booked," he said. "Now I'm 200 percent."

Jackson, 35, changed his name by deed poll from Jason Zamprogno aged 18 and credits the "Thriller" icon with curing him of bone cancer.

He said the phone in his suburban home -- decked out with concrete tigers, rhinos and elephants in homage to Neverland's famous zoo -- had been ringing off the hook.

Hundreds of managers and agencies from Las Vegas to Beijing had called to make bookings, said Jackson, who performed an emotional moonwalk at a memorial concert on Saturday.

"It's been quite a rollercoaster for me, what happened with Michael. I was in such shock when the news broke out, I didn't want to believe it," he told AFP.

"Everyone wanted to sign me up and all I wanted to do was grieve for Michael and it's been very hard for me."

Jason Jackson has pursued his career since the tender age of 10, bringing the star's trademark moves, tunes and costumes to weddings, nightclubs and corporate events.

Diagnosed with bone cancer as a baby, the impersonator's obsession began during a trip to hospital for treatment, when "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" came over the car radio.

Inspired by the man he considered a "second father," Jackson studied the pop legend's footwork and taught himself to sing and dance.

"I saw him doing Billie Jean and I thought 'I want to be just like him,' so I started to do talent quests, and I got over my cancer because of Michael," said Jackson.

"I had so much passion and I've built this (show) from nothing to something. Michael Jackson gave me the strength to do that."

Jackson's "Michael Jackson Dance Spectacular" has played thousands of venues, including many of Sydney's major arenas, and he believes the show will now be more popular than ever.

"There's something fantastic, it's spectacle," he explained.

"When people go to one of his concerts they expect the best showmanship that Michael can give, it's amazing to watch, he's got so much talent and so much charisma."

His promotional material boasts an "uncanny likeness to the King of Pop himself," but it's the spirit of his hero that Jackson values most.

"I am not Michael Jackson but people look at me and go 'oh this guy's got talent, this guy's got the same thing as Michael,' and it makes me happy to show what Michael can do," he said.

"I am very blessed and very honoured to pay tribute to him, the biggest artist in the world."

Jackson's estate could be a thriller of a profit machine

Times Online

The singer's valuable share of a music catalog including songs by the Beatles and careful management of his image in the future could expand the vast fortune he leaves behind.

By Harriet Ryan and Chris Lee
Michael Jackson was one of the most famous people on Earth and also one of the most famously broke. Many who crossed paths with the performer in the final years of his life -- business advisors, lawyers, a Tennessee art dealer and even a Bahraini sheik -- accused him of skipping out on bills. Jackson came within days of losing Neverland Ranch to a foreclosure auction last year, and he died owing more than $400 million to various financial institutions.

But the reality, those familiar with his finances say, can be summed up by the title of a Beatles' song he counted among his possessions: "Baby, You're A Rich Man."
Jackson's assets outweigh his debt by at least $200 million, according to people knowledgeable about his business holdings. Determining a precise figure is difficult, they said, given the complexities of his finances.

Those calculations do not include his posthumous earning power, which seems immense based on the enormous public appetite for his music and memorabilia in recent days. Moreover, his death removed the biggest drain on Jackson's finances: his legendary spending.

Who will control his estate's great existing wealth and the massive fortune that licensing his name, recordings and likeness may bring is at the heart of a hearing today in a downtown L.A. courtroom. Lawyers for Jackson's mother, Katherine, 79, filed papers last week asking that she oversee the estate, but 48 hours later, two longtime Jackson associates filed a will the performer signed in 2002 naming them as executors.

At the hearing, which is expected to attract media from around the world, Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff is to take up the issue of who should have authority to handle Jackson's affairs.

Collecting fees

The need for control is as plain as Jackson's distinctive face on numerous memorial T-shirts and commemorative plates being hawked around the world. Images of the pop icon would appear to be the intellectual property of his estate, but no one is empowered to crack down on unlicensed vendors or collect fees.

The executors, leading entertainment attorney John Branca and veteran music executive John McClain, have urged the judge to clear them immediately to address another pressing matter: resolving issues related to Jackson's canceled comeback concerts.

Whoever the judge names will be running an estate for Jackson's children and perhaps other beneficiaries. Katherine Jackson's attorneys wrote in court documents that the pop star's two sons, ages 12 and 7, and daughter, 11, should inherit all of his assets. The 2002 will transfers his property into the Michael Jackson Family Trust. People familiar with the trust said that under its terms, 40% of Jackson's assets go to his children, another 40% to his mother and the remaining 20% to charities working with children.

Jackson's most valuable asset is his 50% share in the Sony-ATV Music Publishing catalog, which people with knowledge of the partnership value at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. The partnership itself has about $600 million in debt, one person said. In what is recognized as the shrewdest business move of his career, the singer bought the catalog in 1985 for $47.5 million. Earlier this decade, he borrowed $300 million against the catalog. That puts the value of Jackson's share at between $150 million and $400 million.

The Beatles catalog includes music written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Sony-ATV administers nearly all of the Beatles' greatest hits with the exception of the group's songs from the movies "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!"

It also oversees the publishing of some 750,000 artists -- performers such as Elvis Presley, Destiny's Child, Hank Williams, Joni Mitchell, System of a Down, Eminem, Neil Diamond and Bjork. The catalog has continued to acquire song catalogs into the 21st century, and Sony-ATV is reportedly the fourth-largest music publisher in the world.

"Certain catalogs are considered prizes. There's nothing like them in the world in terms of generating licenses and income," said Lance Grode, adjunct professor at USC Law School who worked at the law firm that brokered Jackson's acquisition of the catalog when the deal was struck in 1985. "The Sony-ATV catalog, it's going to be exploited forever. It's probably the premium catalog in the world."

The catalog generated between $13 million and $20 million for Jackson annually, said people close to Jackson. Under the terms of the agreement, Jackson's estate and Sony are to reassess the partnership next year. They could enter into a new agreement, Sony could buy Jackson's share or the performer's estate could buy Sony's stake. A second catalog, Mijac Music Publishing, includes Jackson's music as a solo artist as well as songs by other acts, including Sly & The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Ray Charles, among others. Jackson used the catalog as collateral for a $73-million loan. People close to Jackson estimated its worth about $100 million, but it is difficult to place a current value on it because of the tremendous sales of Jackson's music in the days since he died.

Last week, Jackson albums occupied nine of the top 10 positions on Billboard magazine's Top Pop Catalog chart. Eight were solo recordings. One was by the Jackson 5. Fans downloaded 2.6 million Jackson songs, including some he recorded with the Jacksons and the Jackson 5, according to Keith Caulfield, senior chart manager for the magazine. The week before his death, Jackson sold 48,000 digital downloads.

Thanks to the unusual and lucrative recording contract structured with Sony at the peak of the entertainer's fame by Branca, Jackson's longtime entertainment attorney, Jackson receives half the profits from U.S. sales in addition to an approximately 25% royalty rate. Most acts sign deals with a 12% royalty.

Jackson is also among a handful of megastars who have commanded so-called reversion rights to their music. Under the terms he negotiated with the label, Jackson's estate will assume control over his master recordings at some point in the next few years and could potentially distribute its own greatest hits CDs and DVDs -- or spark a bidding war by offering to license the music to one of Sony's competitors.

Also in the entertainer's portfolio is a profit-sharing agreement with Colony Capital, the private equity firm that bought the note on Neverland Ranch when Jackson defaulted on payment of a $24.5-million loan. The terms of the agreement are not clear. Nor is the future of the 2,600-acre Santa Barbara County ranch, which could sell for a reported $70 million to $90 million. Tom Barrack, Colony's chairman and chief executive, called Neverland a "Hope diamond" and told The Times the current focus is on restoring the property.

"The burden we have is to provide stewardship to this timeless asset and an elegant and timely transition," Barrack said.

OIL FUTURES: Crude Drops Further, Plagued By Bearish Economy

New York Times

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Crude oil futures dropped amid thin trading in Asia Monday, still plagued by bearish sentiment resulting from earlier U.S. macroeconomic data.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in August traded at $64.29 a barrel at 0718 GMT, down $2.44 in the Globex electronic session.

During the intraday session, August Nymex crude fell to $64.19 a barrel before rebounding.

August Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange fell $1.47 to $64.14 a barrel.

Until the U.S. equities and currency markets open and offer new signals, oil prices will likely continue to be weighed down by earlier weak macroeconomic data, analysts said.

"With the bearish sentiment (seen earlier), it's not surprising to see the market is still under pressure in the Asia trading session," said Toby Hassall, a research analyst with Commodity Warrants Australia.

The Nymex crude futures dropped $3.51 a barrel, or 5.08%, last week, as the latest U.S. consumer and labor data showed that economy may be still mired in recession.

"There are some concerns that the market moved up too quickly (in the second quarter)...we may be looking down to $62 or $63 a barrel now," Hassall added.

Oil soared 40.7% in the second quarter, the biggest quarterly percentage gain since the quarter ended September 28, 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

But oil prices now are "dashed" by the bearish macroeconomic situation, said Ben Westmore, a commodities economist with National Australia Bank Ltd.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for August, the benchmark contract, fell 454 points to 174.54 cents a gallon, while heating oil traded at 165.27 cents, 489 points lower.

ICE gasoil for July changed hands at $520.25 a metric ton, down $9.00 from Friday's settlement.

2ND UPDATE: Samsung's Shares Gain On 2Q Sales Outlook


(Adds more analysts comments, updated share price move)

SEOUL (Dow Jones)--Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE) said Monday it expects second-quarter sales to come in higher than a year earlier, underpinning suggestions that Asia's flagship technology companies are seeing a recovery after posting steep losses in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Samsung Electronics, South Korea's biggest company by market capitalization, said it expects sales for the three months ended June 30 to come in between KRW31 trillion and KRW33 trillion, up from KRW29.1 trillion a year earlier.

Operating profit is expected to be between KRW2.2 trillion and KRW2.6 trillion, compared with KRW2.4 trillion registered in the second quarter of 2008, the company said.

All figures are on a consolidated basis.

Many analysts now believe the tech industry may have hit bottom late last year, although there's still caution about the sector's prospects given the global economy's uncertain future.

Nevertheless, investors were encouraged by the announcement, pushing Samsung shares sharply higher to finish 5.5% up at KRW634,000, outperforming the Kospi's 0.6% gain.

Samsung didn't provide a reason for the expected better performance in its guidance, which it provided for the first time in an attempt to reduce confusion arising from competing market forecasts. But analysts widely expect the company's performance will have improved from the first quarter thanks to stabilizing prices for memory chips and liquid crystal displays.

The company added that the actual results, due July 24, may differ from the guidance as it hasn't completed an audit.

Most analysts saw the estimates as a big surprise, with the guidance setting a positive tone for the upcoming results of global technology firms.

"The announcement means optimism has spread across the overall (IT industry)," said Brian Park, an analyst at Prudential Investment & Securities. "The likely improved second-quarter performance is expected to continue into the third quarter due to continued price run-ups in the semiconductors and LCDs."

However, Park added the lingering uncertainties surrounding the global technology sector aren't likely to abate just yet as weak demand persists due to the prolonged economic slump worldwide.

Meanwhile, Citigroup said in a report that Samsung will continue to surprise the market in the second half of the year, largely thanks to a strong turnaround in the memory semiconductor and LCD divisions.

"We expect upward earnings revision cycle will continue to drive a stock price uptrend in the coming quarters," added Citigroup, which has a Buy rating for Samsung shares, with a target price of KRW810,000.

According to data from DRAMeXchange, a Taiwanese online chip clearinghouse, the average spot price of the mainstream 1-gigabit double-data-rate-two chip that runs at 667 megahertz rose 13% to US$1.08 on June 30, up from US$0.96 in Apr. 1. The mainstream 16-gigabit NAND chip spot price stood at US$3.95 on average, up from US$3.47 on the first day of April.

In the first quarter, Samsung posted consolidated sales of KRW28.67 trillion, up from KRW26.01 trillion a year earlier, while its operating profit fell to KRW470 billion from KRW2.57 trillion a year earlier.

Tokyo Shares End Dn On Thin Volume As Oil Stks,Shippers Weigh


By Juro Osawa
TOKYO (Dow Jones)--Tokyo stocks ended lower Monday on thin turnover with shipping and commodities stocks falling due to renewed concerns about global economic recovery prospects.

"The market is now aware that economic rebound hopes had been too high," said Yumi Nishimura, a market analyst at Daiwa Securities SMBC.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 135.20 points, or 1.4%, to 9680.87, falling for the fourth straight session. The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues fell 8.2 points, or 0.9%, to 912.42. Turnover ranked among the lowest seen so far this year, at about 1.6 billion shares, with the U.S. market closed on Friday.

September Nikkei 225 futures ended down 1.5% at 9690 on the Osaka Securities Exchange, and weighed on the cash market due to the latter's anemic volume, said Tamotsu Numazaki, manager at the futures and options division of Traders Securities. As has been seen in recent sessions, European brokerages were likely behind much of the futures selling, he added.

Market analysts say next week's earnings reports from U.S. financial firms will be key for Japan stocks.

"Investors are unloading their positions ahead of earnings," said Hideyuki Okoshi, head of equities at Chuo Securities. He said he expects the Nikkei to remain in a 9500-10,000 range for most of this week.

Shippers led the weaker broader market, with the Topix marine transport subindex's 3.6% fall pacing the decline. Nippon Yusen dropped 3.4% to Y396, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines sank 4.4% to Y567.

Investors sold oil-related stocks on the view that crude prices will stay capped just above $70 a barrel for now, said one Japanese brokerage analyst. Shares of Japan Petroleum Exploration lost 3.1% to Y4,940.

Blue chip tech and auto shares were also lower as the dollar lost some ground against the yen to the mid-Y95 level during the stock trading session. Sony lost 1.2% to Y2,410, while Honda Motor fell 1.5% to Y2,580.

North Korean Freighter Said to Be Returning to Port

MSN Philippines News


EOUL, South Korea — South Korea said Monday that a North Korean freighter suspected of carrying banned cargo was expected to return to home port, as U.S. officials claimed that international sanctions had forced the ship to turn back.

The 2,000-ton Kang Nam 1 left North Korea in mid-June, and was believed to be heading for Myanmar only days after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that banned the North from nuclear and ballistic missile tests and called for a global embargo on its trade in weapons.

The American Navy tracked the ship amid suspicions that the North was using the voyage to test Washington’s will to enforce the sanctions. Late last month, the ship turned around and began sailing homeward. On Sunday, Vice President Joseph Biden said the ship turned back because the U.N. sanctions prevented it from entering any port.

The ship was sailing in international waters between China and the Korean Peninsula on Monday and was likely to enter North Korean waters within the day, Won Tae-jae, a spokesman of the South Korean Defense Ministry, said Monday.

North Korea has not explained why the ship appeared to have canceled its voyage.

American authorities monitored the ship on the high seas but did not stop and search it — _ a move the North said it would interpret as an act of war _ while working with regional governments to inspect the ship under the U.N. mandate if it entered their ports.

The South Korean authorities suspect the Kang Nam 1 was carrying a cargo of rifles and rocket launchers for Myanmar, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, quoting an unnamed government source. If the ship indeed was carrying weapons, aborting its voyage would be seen as a victory for the sanctions regime.

The Security Council imposed the sanctions after the North tested a nuclear weapon on May 25.

In a gesture of defiance, meanwhile, North Korea fired seven ballistic missiles Saturday during the July 4 Independence Day holiday in the United States.

South Korea’s mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Monday that the missiles fired on Saturday included three Scud-ER missiles, which have a range of up to 620 miles and can hit Japan.

The Defense Ministry here said it could not confirm the report. But South Korean officials have told reporters that the North appeared to have fired five Scuds and two Rodong missiles.

Five of them plunged into the same zone in the sea between the North and Japan, indicating that the North was improving its firing accuracy, they said.

“Some of it seems like almost attention-seeking behavior,” Mr. Biden told the American television network ABC on Sunday, referring to the North’s latest missile tests. “ I don’t want to give the attention.”

The North Korean cargo ship turned around because the United States has “succeeded in uniting the most important and critical countries to North Korea on a common path of further isolating North Korea,” Mr. Biden said. “There was no place they could go with certitude that they would not be, in fact, at that point boarded and searched.”

Philip S. Goldberg, the American diplomat coordinating enforcement of the U.N. sanctions, visited Malaysia on Monday for talks with officials there. Unconfirmed press reports in South Korean said that Washington has found bank accounts in Malaysia used by North Korea for its illicit trading and sought to shut them down. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman could not confirm the reports but pledged that his government will work with the United States.

“If they have evidence, we’ll be most willing to work together to solve this problem,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Goldberg was in Beijing last week to discuss sanctions enforcement with officials in China, the North’s largest trade partner and aid provider.

140 slain as Chinese riot police, Muslims clash in northwestern city

Firefighters are seen dousing a bus in Urumqi, the main city in Xinjiang, where China's ethnic Uighur minority is concentrated. Eight hundred people were injured and hundreds held as demonstrations against racial discrimination erupted into street violence.

Eight hundred people are injured and hundreds are reported arrested in Urumqi. The Uighur demonstrators were protesting against racial discrimination.
By Barbara Demick
Reporting from Beijing -- China's worst ethnic violence in years broke out Sunday in the northwestern city of Urumqi, leaving 140 people dead and more than 800 injured, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

The unrest pitted Uighurs, a long-aggrieved Muslim minority, against the Han Chinese, who increasingly dominate the far-flung Xinjiang region. With the death toll climbing over the course of the day, the violence appeared to be far deadlier than that last year in the Tibetan region.

Images from the city of 2 million showed flames raging from overturned cars and black smoke billowing over downtown.

Urumqi was virtually closed down today, with vehicles barred in much of the city, telephone lines and the Internet down.

Chinese bloggers wrote that at least one bomb exploded during the incident and that about 100 public buses were destroyed.

The Chinese government accused Uighur exiles in the U.S. of masterminding what was described by state television as a rampage of "beating, smashing, robbing and burning."

But representatives of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority, countered that they were holding a peaceful demonstration that turned ugly because of government brutality.

"Under Chinese law, we should have the right for a peaceful protest against what the Chinese government is doing to our people," Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said in a telephone interview from his home in Sweden.

He described the incident as the most serious unrest in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region, where 8 million Uighurs live uneasily among the majority Han Chinese.

Witnesses reported that riot police arrived on the scene in armored personnel carriers, dispersing the crowd with water cannons and tear gas, and firing warning shots into the air.

At least 300 people were reported to have been arrested and 828 injured.

The trouble began shortly after 3 p.m., when about 300 Uighurs held a sit-in at People's Square. Later, thousands of Uighurs began marching. By nightfall, riots had spread throughout the city, concentrated around the traditional market area known as Erdaoqiao.

Video from Uighur sources that circulated on the Internet for a few hours before being removed by Chinese censors showed a crowd that appeared to be about 3,000-strong marching through the city. In another scene, people subdued with cuffs and ropes were lying on the pavement.

In what was emerging as a battle of images, Chinese television countered with footage of rioters overturning a police car. Two young women with blood streaming down their faces, who appeared to be victims, hugged each other and wept.

A man said to have been beaten by the mob was quoted by the official New China News Agency as saying, "They took to the street, not peacefully, carrying knives, wooden batons, brick and stone." His name was reported as Wang Yaming.

The imagery bore an eerie resemblance to those that came out of Lhasa, the Tibetan region's capital, in March 2008 when years of suppressed rage by Tibetans erupted in rioting. The Tibetan unrest dragged on through much of the year and threatened to mar the festivities around the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

It is unclear whether the Uighurs' protests will have a similar effect during another sensitive year, in which Beijing is planning massive celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of communist China.

Sunday's protests were triggered by the June 26 killing of two young Uighur men at a toy factory in Guangdong province.

According to Uighur sources, the men were beaten to death by a mob, enraged by false rumors that they had sexually harassed Han women.

"Uighurs have suffered for years under racial profiling and unjust government policies that have painted the entire Uighur population as criminals and terrorists," U.S.-based Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer said in a statement released last week.

The Uighurs say that an influx of ethnic Han Chinese into their traditional homeland has diluted the Uighur culture and led to high unemployment. China considers Uighur activists to be criminals and terrorists for their opposition to Beijing's rule over Xinjiang.

The news agency today quoted an unidentified Chinese government official as saying that "the violence was masterminded" by Kadeer.

Alim Seytoff, secretary-general of the Uyghur American Assn. and Kadeer's spokesman, said in an e-mail from Washington late Sunday that the demonstrators were not separatists and that many had carried the Chinese flag on the march.

"They only asked the Chinese government to stop racial discrimination against Uighurs. . . . However, you will see what kind of brutal force they met," he wrote.

The Obama administration has been struggling in recent months to resettle Uighur detainees who had been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since they were captured in Pakistan in 2001.

Obama heads to Russia facing nuclear arms impasse

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, setting off from Andrews air force base for Moscow. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Medvedev seeks to tie arms reduction treaty to US missile defence, ahead of Obama's first presidential trip to Moscow
Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, setting off from Andrews air force base for Moscow. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama is due to arrive in Moscow today for his first trip to Russia as US president, amid dwindling hopes of a breakthrough deal on nuclear weapons.

The summit's centrepiece is supposed to be a groundbreaking pact on nuclear arms reduction, but Russia said there could be no agreement unless the US was prepared to heed its concerns on missile defence.

Obama and the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed during their last meeting in April to hold talks on a successor treaty to the 1991 Start-1 pact, which expires in December. But attempts to reach a deal appear to have come unstuck over the same problem that defeated the Bush administration: the Kremlin's unbending hostility to the Pentagon's planned missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

While Obama has agreed to review the plan, he is not prepared to abandon it. Yesterday Medvedev said any new arms reduction treaty was definitively "linked" to the US's missile defence ambitions in central Europe.

"We consider these issues are interconnected," he said. "It is sufficient to show restraint and show an ability to compromise. And then we can agree on the basis of a new deal on Start."

Medevedev's comments place Obama in an uncomfortable position on one of the biggest foreign policy trips of his presidency. If he makes concessions he risks a political backlash at home and the charge of capitulation. If he doesn't, he may emerge from the US-Russia summit no more successful than George Bush.

Russian officials revealed that they had not been able to reach agreement on a "framework document" setting out a blueprint for nuclear talks – an ominous sign. Obama, however, made clear his determination to improve relations.

"I believe that Americans and Russians have many common interests, interests that our governments have not pursued as actively as we could have," he told the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

On Tuesday he will meet Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister and the man who most people believe still runs the country. Obama described Putin slightingly last week as having "one foot in the past".

In his interview, Obama acknowledged "Russian sensitivities" over the shield, but said it was needed to protect the US and Europe from a nuclear-armed Iranian missile. He made clear he would not accept Moscow's linkage between arms control and missile defence, a statement that suggests there is little prospect of a rapid breakthrough.

Analysts said there were profound, irreconcilable differences between both sides, not just over the shield but also on technical issues including counting, verification and delivery systems.

"It requires a miracle to resolve these differences," said Sergey Rogov, director of the US and Canadian Institute in Moscow.

The US and Russia account for more than 90% of the world's nuclear weapons. They have agreed in principle to reduce their nuclear warheads below the 2,000 agreed in the Start treaty to 1,500-1,700 each. But they have not been able to agree on a reduction in delivery systems, which include intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles or heavy bombers.

According to Rogov, Russia wants to reduce the number of launchers to 600. The US is insisting on around 1,000. Additionally, Moscow is against the US having what it calls a "return potential", which would allow nuclear weapons scrapped by the US to be redeployed in the event of a nuclear crisis. "I'm not sure Obama understands it," Rogov said.

Writing last week in Novaya Gazeta, the Moscow defence analyst Pavel Felgenhaur predicted the summit would be a failure. He said the Russian government, emboldened by the recent oil price rise, expected the US to make "one-sided" concessions while making none itself.

During his two-and-a-half day trip to Moscow, Obama is expected to seek Russia's co-operation on Iran, and support for a stronger sanctions regime against North Korea. Yesterday, however, Medevev hailed Iran as a "major partner".

Who's Smiling and Who's Frowning About the Palin News

Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, on election night last year. She may be aiming for more time on the national stage. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

By Chris Cillizza
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to resign at the end of this month is one of the most surprising, perplexing and just plain fascinating moves from a national politician in recent memory.

As such, it produces any number of consequences -- intended and otherwise -- in the political world. (Like it or not, Palin is a prime mover on the national scene; she acts and others react.)

In the wake of Palin's announcement Friday, the Fix reached out to a handful of senior-level strategists in both parties for their assessment of who won and, more deliciously, who lost as a result of the Palin bombshell.


Mark Sanford: Just when it looked as if the South Carolina governor was headed -- whether he liked it or not -- toward a resignation announcement, a fellow Republican chief executive swooped in and diverted the attention of every political reporter in the country. Timing is everything in politics, and Sanford benefited from a very fortunate bit of it. Can he survive? Perhaps -- unless he decides to conduct another confessional interview with a news outlet.

Mitt Romney: The Republican Party establishment worries openly about the prospect of a matchup between Palin and President Obama, believing that such a showdown would result in a reelection landslide for the Democrat. That fear could well rally institutional support behind the former Massachusetts governor, who, despite what he says, is running for the nomination in 2012.

Don Young: The ascension of Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell to the governorship removes a potential primary challenger to the embattled Republican House member. Young defeated Parnell by 152 votes in the 2008 GOP primary, and Parnell was considering another run. With Parnell now ensconced as governor, Young is likely to face an easier path to reelection, despite the constant swirl of ethics trouble around him.

Fred Malek: Malek, a major player in Republican money circles, has emerged as Palin's most prominent supporter and defender in recent weeks. Malek has also been working with the soon-to-be-former Alaska governor to introduce her to the smart set in Washington; he recently organized a foreign-policy-themed lunch at Palin's request in which the guests included former secretary of defense Frank Carlucci and former deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott.

Jul 5, 2009

Scores Killed in Clashes in Western China

A photograph taken by a local citizen. Protesters clashed with the police Sunday in a Uighur part of Xinjiang

BEIJING — The Chinese state news agency reported Monday that at least 140 people were killed and 816 injured when rioters clashed with the police in a regional capital in western China after days of rising tensions between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese.
The casualty toll, if confirmed, would make this the deadliest outbreak of violence in China in many years.

The rioting broke out Sunday afternoon in a large market area of Urumqi, the capital of the vast, restive desert region of Xinjiang, and lasted for several hours before riot police officers and paramilitary or military troops locked down the Uighur quarter of the city, according to witnesses and photographs of the riot.

At least 1,000 rioters took to the streets, throwing stones at the police and setting vehicles on fire. Plumes of smoke billowed into the sky, while police officers used fire hoses and batons to beat back rioters and detain Uighurs who appeared to be leading the protest, witnesses said.

The casualty numbers appeared to be murky and shifting on Monday. A one-line report by Xinhua, the state news agency, giving the estimate of 129 dead and 816 injured attributed the numbers to the regional police department, but did not quote officials by name and did not have any details. Earlier, Xinhua had reported that three civilians and one police officer had been killed.

One regional official reached by telephone put the death toll at 105 and said at least 800 people had been injured. One American who watched the rioting at its height said he did not see people being killed or corpses in the streets, though he said he did see Uighurs shoving or kicking a few Han Chinese. Images of the rioting on state television showed some bloody people lying in the streets and cars burning.

Dozens of Uighur men were led into police stations on Sunday evening with their hands behind their backs and shirts pulled over their heads, one witness said. Early Monday, the local government announced a curfew banning all traffic in the city until 8 p.m.

The riot was the largest ethnic clash in China since the Tibetan uprising of March 2008, and perhaps the biggest protest in Xinjiang in years. Like the Tibetan unrest, it highlighted the deep-seated frustrations felt by some ethnic minorities in western China over the policies of the Communist Party, and how that can quickly turn into ethnic violence. Last year, in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, at least 19 people were killed, most of them Han civilians, according to government statistics.

Many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group, resent rule by the Han Chinese, and Chinese security forces have tried to keep oil-rich Xinjiang under tight control since the 1990s, when cities there were struck by waves of protests, riots and bombings. Last summer, attacks on security forces took place in several cities in Xinjiang; the Chinese government blamed separatist groups.

Early Monday, Chinese officials said the latest riots were started by Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur human rights advocate who had been imprisoned in China and now lives in Washington, Xinhua reported. As with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, Chinese officials often blame Ms. Kadeer for ethnic unrest; she denies the charges.

The clashes on Sunday began when the police confronted a protest march held by Uighurs to demand a full government investigation of a brawl between Uighur and Han workers that erupted in Guangdong Province overnight on June 25 and June 26. The brawl took place in a toy factory and left 2 Uighurs dead and 118 people injured. The police later arrested a bitter ex-employee of the factory who had ignited the fight by starting a rumor that 6 Uighur men had raped 2 Han women at the work site, Xinhua reported.

There was also a rumor circulating on Sunday in Urumqi that a Han man had killed a Uighur in the city earlier in the day, said Adam Grode, an English teacher living in the neighborhood where the rioting took place.

“This is just crazy,” Mr. Grode said by telephone Sunday night. “There was a lot of tear gas in the streets, and I almost couldn’t get back to my apartment. There’s a huge police presence.”

Mr. Grode said he saw a few Han civilians being harassed by Uighurs. Rumors of Uighurs attacking Han Chinese spread quickly through parts of Urumqi, adding to the panic. A worker at the Texas Restaurant, a few hundred yards from the site of the rioting, said her manager had urged the restaurant workers to stay inside. Xinhua reported few details of the riot on Sunday night. It said that “an unknown number of people gathered Sunday afternoon” in Urumqi, “attacking passers-by and setting fire to vehicles.”

Uighurs are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang but are a minority in Urumqi, where Han Chinese make up more than 70 percent of the population of two million or so. The Chinese government has encouraged Han migration to the city and other parts of Xinjiang, fueling resentment among the Uighurs. Urumqi is a deeply segregated city, with Han Chinese there rarely venturing into the Uighur quarter.

The Uighur neighborhood is centered in a warren of narrow alleyways, food markets and a large shopping area called the Grand Bazaar or the Erdaoqiao Market, where the rioting reached its peak on Sunday.

Mr. Grode, who lives in an apartment there, said he went outside when he first heard commotion around 6 p.m. He saw hundreds of Uighurs in the streets; that quickly swelled to more than 1,000, he said.

Police officers soon arrived. Around 7 p.m., protesters began hurling rocks and vegetables from the market at the police, Mr. Grode said. Traffic had ground to a halt. An hour later, as the riot surged toward the center of the market, troops in green uniforms and full riot gear showed up, as did armored vehicles. Chinese government officials often deploy the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force, to quell riots.

By midnight, Mr. Grode said, some of the armored vehicles had begun to leave, but bursts of gunfire could still be heard.

Huang Yuanxi contributed research.