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Ratings of Japan PM, ruling party fall on scandal

Ratings of Japan PM, ruling party fallonscandal

TOKYO (Reuters) – Voter support for Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his party has fallen due to a funding scandal linked to his powerful No.2 party executive, two media surveys showed on Monday, raising the risk of a policy stalemate.

Opposition parties have threatened to boycott parliamentary debate on an extra budget to prop up the economy if the ruling Democratic Party dodges questions about the scandal ensnaring its secretary-general, Ichiro Ozawa.

The scandal could also threaten the Democrats’ chances of gaining a majority in a mid-year election for parliament’s upper house that they need to win to pass legislation smoothly.

Support for Hatoyama’s cabinet, which had already slid since he took office four months ago due to voters’ doubts about his leadership, fell to 42 percent in an Asahi newspaper poll from 48 the previous month. That was down from initial highs above 70 percent after Hatoyama took power last September.

A Yomiuri newspaper survey showed a steeper drop to 45 percent from 56 percent earlier this month.

Prosecutors have arrested three current and former Ozawa aides. Japanese media say they are probing the source of funds improperly reported by Ozawa’s funding group, and suspect construction firms seeking government contracts were involved.

Hatoyama said on Saturday he would back Ozawa’s decision to stay on in his key post and urged him to fight on.

That stance has drawn fire from Japanese media and the opposition as suggesting bias against the prosecutors, but Kyodo news agency said the premier repeated his position on Monday.


Equally disturbing for the government, the percentage of those planning to vote for the ruling party in the upper house election fell to 28 percent from 35 percent in the Yomiuri poll.

That compared to 21 percent who said they would opt for the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), little changed.

But 70 percent of respondents to the Yomiuri survey said Ozawa, who stepped down as party leader last year over a separate scandal, should resign from his No. 2 post.

“We must accept the figures from the polls sincerely,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told a news conference.

“Parliament opens today and our mission is to enact the extra budget as quickly as possible … and by so doing, realise policies that put priority on the people’s livelihoods.”

The Democrats and their allies could ignore any opposition boycott but doing so could further erode voter support.

The Democrats swept to power in an August election that ended more than half a century of nearly unbroken LDP rule, pledging to refocus spending on consumers and cut wasteful spending to help rein in Japan’s ballooning public debt.

But they need to win an outright majority in parliament’s less powerful upper chamber to break free of two small allies who often disagree on policy and ensure smooth passage of laws.

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Apple iPhone TV Ads

Apple iPhone TV Ads

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Packet Video’s latest Mobile Broadcast Receiver, which looks like a small white box, is able to stream mobile TV to devices with no mobile TV reception capability, such as the iPhone and iPod Touch.This list is a round up of some of the live TV options available on the iPhone.

Most of these apps work best over wifi (and a few won’t work at all over 3G), and generally live streaming is a big drain on battery life. Still, being able to catch up with live television or out-of-market broadcasts when you’re not near your TV is a great option for iPhone owners to have.

netTV (Free/$2.99

Available in both free and paid options, netTV offers live streaming access to over 200 channels from around the world, including a larger-than-usual number of channels from the US. The quality is generally pretty good, though I did experience some issues when first connecting to a channel, and of course it varies from channel to channel (depending on the source of the video stream).TVUPlayer


TVUPlayer plays live TV for over 300 channels, though only a handful of channels broadcast at the right bandwidth to play well

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Thai “red shirts” consider symbolic airport rally

Thai “red shirts” consider symbolic airport rally

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai “red shirt” demonstrators are planning a symbolic rally next week near Bangkok’s main airport, but insisted on Wednesday there would be no repeat of a crippling blockade a year ago by a rival protest movement.

The anti-government group said it was considering a brief demonstration on the road leading to Suvarnabhumi Airport to highlight the government’s failure to prosecute “yellow shirt” protestors who shut down two airports in December 2008.

The eight-day blockade by the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which helped undermine two governments backed by exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, disrupted trade and left at least 230,000 tourists stranded.

The PAD’s occupation of the $4 billion (2.45 billion pound) Suvarnabhumi airport led to downgrades of Thailand’s sovereign credit rating and dealt a big blow to the country’s vital tourism industry, which returned to positive growth in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Most significant, the “red shirts” say, is the failure to prosecute those behind the siege. At the same time as the PAD protest, a court dissolved the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party government and ushered in the current administration, led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrats.

“If we go to the airport, it will be a symbolic rally. We won’t bring many people,” said Arisman Pongruangrong, a folk singer and key activist with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the “red shirts” formal name.

“We won’t close the airport or shut down traffic. We just want to tell the world that the government is unfair and practices double standards,” he added.


Thailand’s stock market has reflected concerns about the impact of the UDD’s anti-government push, with the benchmark index falling more than one percent on Tuesday, against regional trends, on news of the mooted airport rally.

The UDD, which is backed by the twice-elected Thaksin, accuses the government and his opponents — the PAD, royal advisors, business elites and the military — of using undemocratic means to topple elected pro-Thaksin governments.

The UDD has staged recent protests at symbolic locations such as the offices of the Election Commission (EC) and the Privy Council, a body of advisers to the country’s revered king.

The UDD plans to hold a mass rally in eastern Chantaburi province this weekend at a golf course they claim was built illegally on forest reserve land and may have links to Privy Council Chairman Prem Tinsulanonda, the king’s closest aide.

It believes Prem, an 89-year-old former premier and army chief, masterminded the coup that removed Thaksin in 2006. It also says the EC is dragging its heels in investigating Abhisit’s Democrats over alleged irregularities in campaign donations.

The UDD also plans to hold a mass rally lasting at least one week on the roads near the seat of government, starting in mid-February, calling for fresh elections.

It is likely to take place at the same time as a parliamentary no-confidence motion against the government by the pro-Thaksin opposition Puea Thai party.

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