• Fresh protests in Cambodia over disputed election

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    Apocalyptic smog eases in China’s Harbin City
    BEIJING: A bout of choking smog that brought life to a standstill in a far northeast Chinese city for three days has dissipated, with flights resuming and students returning to school on Wednesday.
    The heavy pollution, which drew national and international headlines, was largely because of coal-fired heating and the burning of large amounts of straw as winter approaches, local environmental officials in the city of Harbin have said.
    Figures from monitoring stations on Wednesday morning showed that levels of the most harmful airborne particles, known as PM2.5, had dropped to an average of 123 micrograms per cubic meter in Harbin.
    That was down sharply from Monday’s figure of 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization’s recommended standard is 25.
    The overall air quality index in the city, which has a population of more than 10 million and which hosts a famed annual ice festival, was 162, or “moderately polluted.” AFP
    PHNOM PENH: Thousands of Cambodia opposition supporters staged a demonstration amid high security on Wednesday over fiercely disputed elections that extended strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen’s near three-decade rule, following bloody protests last month.

    The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which is boycotting parliament over the controversial July polls, said it would work with authorities to stop any clashes if there was trouble from “elements” looking to provoke unrest.

    “It will be completely peaceful . . . If there is any violence, it would not come from us,” said CNRP leader Sam Rainsy at a press conference, adding that the protest would last for three days.

    Thousands of riot police were deployed along the streets and at significant locations in Phnom Penh on Wednesday morning to meet the first major show of strength by the opposition since tens of thousands of its supporters joined three days of rallies in the capital in September.

    Those demonstrations left one protester dead and several wounded after security forces clashed with a stone-throwing crowd.

    The opposition has demanded an independent investigation into allegations of electoral fraud over the polls, which plunged the country into political turmoil.

    Rainsy, who travelled the United States this month as part of efforts to raise his complaints with the international community, said the opposition would not back down. AFP

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