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Archive for October 1st, 2009|Daily archive page

Woman dies of swine flu after delivering baby

In Vietnam Health on October 1, 2009 at 10:02 am

The quarantined area for flu patients at Pham Ngoc Thach hospital in Ho Chi Minh City

The Ministry of Health confirmed on September 30 one more death from swine flu, that of a pregnant, 15-year-old woman in Cam My District in the southern province of Dong Nai.

It took Vietnam’s death toll to 16 in less than two month after the first fatality.

The victim was taken to the province hospital on September 25 with breathing problems and tiredness. The next day she was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City where doctors decided she was in bad state and surgically removed her child, a 2.7-kilogram girl. The woman had been 39 months into her term.

Doctors continued to treat her with antibiotics but her condition deteriorated and she died on September 29.

Vietnam has confirmed 205 new cases of A/H1N1 flu, taking the country’s tally to 9,058, including the 16 deaths.

The health sector and local administrations must work closely together to monitor the spread of the flu to contain it, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan said at a meeting of the National Steering Board for Flu Prevention on September 30.

He said the growing number of infections and deaths is causing concern for the Government and public.

The mortality rate in Vietnam is 7 per cent lower than the world rate while the infection is 38 per cent higher as a ratio of the population.

Mr. Nhan said military hospitals should admit swine-flu victims, the purchase of vaccines should be done as soon as possible so that people in high-risk groups are immunized before winter, a season conducive for the spread of the flu.

Source: SGGP

Father of modern cai luong finds rest place in homeland

In Vietnam Culture on October 1, 2009 at 10:01 am

The very first historical and cultural memorial erected to late musician Cao Van Lau has been opened for public view in the Mekong province of Bac Lieu on September 30.

Ribbon cutting to inaugurate the memorial on September 30 (Photo: Lao Dong Newspaper)
The moemorial, located on three hectares of Ward 2 of Bac Lieu town cost approximately VND6.3 billion (US$350,000).
The monument includes the tomb of the late artiste and a house featuring his discography, personal items and details about the birth of the immortal song “Da co hoai lang”. The song is about a wife, who hears a far-off battle drum late at night and becomes tormented with missing her husband, who is away at war.
The song is widely accepted as the most important development of modern vong co and cai luong (Southern traditional music)
On the occasion of the inauguration, the Cao Van Lau cai luong troupe paid a visit to the monument and hosted an anniversary of the late artiste with plenty of activities, such as a drum performance, carrying a thurible, offering tea and rice wine to the artiste and some musical performances.
The province also presented the Cao Van Lau Awards to ten musicians and composers who have made great contributions to the development of Southern cai luong.
Cao Van Lau, 1892-1976, is considered the father of modern vong co and cai luong and one of Vietnam’s best musicians. He started composing at the age of 20 after four years tutelage by the popular local musician Le Tai Khi.

After three years of marriage to his wife, there was still no child, Lau was forced to send his wife back to her family in accordance with local customs at the time. This hurt came to inspire Lau to compose his best-known love-song, “Da co hoai lang,” which later had great influence on cai luong and vong co music.

Source: SGGP

Danish Embassy to celebrate cultural ties

In Vietnam Culture on October 1, 2009 at 10:00 am

A cultural program, “Dan Mach vui” (Joyful Denmark), which is targeted at Vietnamese youth to use innovative web and mobile technology, will be officially launched by the Danish Embassy on the occasion of a State visit to Vietnam by the Danish queen, it was announced September 30

The official website of the program (Photo: Courtesy of Danish Embassy)
Cultural exchange is a key factor of development, said the Danish Ambassador, Peter Lysholt Hansen, adding that the State visit will be a great occasion for young Vietnamese people to participate in Danish –Vietnamese cultural events and to explore the diversity of  art.
For the first time ever, the cultural events will be done through alternative modern forms of communication to attract Vietnamese youth.
The Denmark embassy has teamed up with FPT Visky to provide the newest and most innovative technologies available. The program will include social networks using web and mobile technology.
The program, found on, will provide details about the upcoming State visit, facts about Denmark, Denmark–Vietnam relations and all the cultural events open to the public.
There will also be a competition where visitors can win tickets to rock concerts in Hanoi, Hue and HCMC to watch Danish band “The Blue Van,” with shows also featuring Vietnamese bands “Pentatonic,” “Silent” and “UnlimiteD.”
The first ever joint State visit by Queen Margrethe II, her husband, and the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark to Vietnam in November provides a unique opportunity for Danish and Vietnamese culture to be brought together.
The Denmark embassy and The Danish Arts Agency, together with Vietnamese partners, have planned many of the cultural events.

Source: SGGP

Indochinese nations mull over common visa

In Vietnam Travel on October 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia have agreed that a common visa to enter the three countries is an important goal in future.

This file photo shows Vietnamese tourists visit Angkor in Cambodia. (Photo: Van Huyen)

It followed discussions they held on their “three countries – one destination” strategy at a conference on tourism investment in the Indochina region organized in Ho Chi Minh City on September 30.

In last three years, they have cooperated step by step achieve the goal and got some achievements.

They also discussed a strategy for overland tourism between the three countries.

So Mara, Minister of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism, said that daily 100 buses carry tourists between Cambodia and Vietnam on average, and 40 between Cambodia and Laos.

From second position in 2008, Vietnam would climb to top spot in the number of tourists it sends to Cambodia this year, he said.

But the region has yet to develop a cooperation framework to offer tour that take in all three countries, he said.

Soukaseum Bodhisane, vice chairman of the Laos National Tourism Administration, said a lack of quality human resources is the biggest hurdle to tourism cooperation.

To persuade visitors to tour all three countries, they should issue a common visa, he said.

Vehicles to pass through Vietnam-Cambodia border gates

Vietnam and Cambodia held a ceremony on September 30 to mark unrestricted passage of vehicles at certain points on their border.

They include the Moc Bai border gate in the southern province of Tay Ninh and Xamat in Tay Ninh.

In October the two countries will add Tinh Bien in An Giang Province and Xa Xia or Ha Tien in Kien Giang.

Prospects of Vietnam tourism

At the conference, investors said Vietnam has a big advantage in sea-related tourism and would compete with countries like Indonesia and Thailand.

Consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted that Vietnam will become a big player in the entertainment and amusement industries in the next five years with a market worth US$2.3 billion by 2013, attracting international tourists.

But Nguyen Xuan Trung, deputy head of the Foreign Investment Department, said foreign investment in the tourism sector is only $20 billion out of an overall FDI figure of $170 billion.

Source: SGGP

UK donates £37 mln for education, fighting poverty

In Vietnam Education on October 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

Britain will provide Vietnam £37 million (US$59 million) to reduce poverty and enhance quality schooling through its Department for International Development, an official said on September 30.

Sue Wardell, the DFID’s regional director for Northeast Asia, said £20 million would go towards the Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC) and the rest for the School Education Quality Assurance Program (SEQAP), a full-day schooling program in Vietnam.

The latter aims to improve the quality of primary education and help children from disadvantaged groups access quality education through 2013. It is a joint program with the World Bank and Belgium.

The Poverty Reduction Support Credit will be transferred to the Government, enabling it to tackle pressing needs like mitigating the impact of the global economic crisis.

Source: SGGP

SGGP newspaper brings reliefs to flood victims

In Vietnam Society on October 1, 2009 at 9:58 am

The staff of Sai Gon Giai Phong’s representative office in the central region took two tons of rice and 200 cartons of noodles on September 30 to donate to people in flood-ravaged Hoa Xuan Commune, Cam Le District, Danang City.

SGGP donated relief materials for victims of Typhoon Ketsana in the central region on September 30. (Photo: SGGP)

Two motorboats and a coracle were used to transport the relief materials and it took the SGGP staff more than an hour reach the commune.

After receiving the donation, relief workers immediately went around to distribute it. Ho Thi Can, 85, whose house has been flooded, was happy to get a box of noodles.

Local resident Nguyen Van Toan said there are 2,000 houses in the commune, all of which are submerged in 1.7 meters of water.

Authorities have evacuated 1,700 people from 467 homes and most people lack food and water.

SGGP reporters saw a mother looking for her 20-year-old son who is missing since going out to buy food in a small boat.

People later informed her of his death.

Many individuals and businesses have come to SGGP’s office to donate money to victims of Typhoon Ketsana.

Phong Vu Computer Joint Stock Company and Diep Bach Duong Real Estate Company each gave VND20 million, An Binh Bank gave VND10 million, and Bui Trung Chu, 83, of Gia Lam, Hanoi, also gave VND10 million.

SGGP has so far raised VND50 million and donations continue to pour in from around the country.

At least 35 people have died so far, 73 have been injured, and 12 others remain missing in severe flooding caused in the central region by Typhoon Ketsana, the ninth tropical storm to hit Vietnam this season.

The Central Highlands province of Kon Tum reported nine deaths, Binh Dinh five, and Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Thua Thien-Hue three each.

To make donations to help the victims, please contract SGGP at Community Program Department, Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper, 438 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

Source: SGGP

Ireland braces for crunch vote on European treaty

In World on October 1, 2009 at 7:49 am

Irish voters cast their ballots Friday in a closely-watched second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which EU leaders hope will reverse last year’s ‘no’ vote and clear Europe’s political deadlock.

Electoral officers deliver the referendum ballot box on Inishfree Island, Donegal, Ireland, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen is leading the campaign in support of the reforming treaty, and warned this week that another rejection would damage Ireland’s recovery from deep recession.

Opinion poll results suggest his side will win this time. The latest survey on Sunday put support for the treaty at 55 percent, compared to 27 percent who said they were planning to vote against it.

European leaders are also anxiously awaiting the referendum results, hoping for an end to the constitutional deadlock the EU has been in ever since last June when Irish voters rejected the treaty by 53.4 percent.

Ireland is the only EU country constitutionally obliged to put the treaty to a referendum, and a ‘yes’ vote is required if the document — already ratified by 24 of the 27 member states — is to pass into law.

Dublin agreed to hold another poll after securing guarantees on key policy areas which it said were behind last year’s decision.

Specifically, its EU partners gave assurances on Catholic Ireland’s abortion ban, its military neutrality and its tax-setting right, while pledging that every EU state will continue to have a commissioner in Brussels.

Cowen said Wednesday that the referendum was “one of the most important decisions in our recent history” and vital to Ireland’s economic future.

“Will we move forward together with Europe or will we take an uncharted and more uncertain road?,” he said.

“A Yes vote marks an essential step for recovery. Only with a Yes will we ensure investor confidence in Ireland, protect our influence in vital economic decisions and reform Europe so that it is more dynamic and effective.”

This year Ireland’s GDP is set to shrink a record eight percent, while the jobless toll could exceed 15 percent, three times its June 2008 level.

The Yes camp likes to point out that, without the 120 billion euros (175 billion dollars) injected by the European Central Bank, Irish banks would probably have had to close.

However, there are concerns that some voters will use the referendum — backed by all the mainstream parties bar the republican Sinn Fein — to kick Cowen’s unpopular government.

Declan Ganley, the millionaire businessman who spearheaded the successful “no” campaign last year, has argued that the “only job that the Lisbon Treaty will save is Brian Cowen’s”.

He warned the treaty imposes a “Brussels democracy”, putting more power into the hands of unelected leaders who are unaccountable to citizens.

Voting is already underway in five Atlantic Ocean islands, which start early in case weather delays the transportation of the ballot boxes to the mainland, while eight islands off western County Mayo and County Galway vote Thursday.

Source: SGGP

Germany’s Oktoberfest shrugs off terror threats

In World on October 1, 2009 at 7:48 am

“Maybe the terrorists should come down and have a drink with us,” suggested Bob Kalman, as he enjoyed a beer in one of the huge tents at Germany’s world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich this week.

A German police officer and her bomb-sniffing dog search through an Oktoberfest tent during the early morning hours in Munich September 30, 2009.

“It might solve a few of the world’s problems if people got talking,” the 30-year-old marketing manager originally from the Scottish city of Glasgow, now looking very German in his lederhosen, told AFP.

A string of threats against Germany by Islamic militants in the run-up to last Sunday’s general election has prompted security to be stepped up around the country, including at Oktoberfest in the Bavarian capital.

Police in the southern state say that since September 19, six videos have surfaced on the Internet threatening attacks unless Germany withdraws its 4,200 troops from Afghanistan.

In one of the videos, a man calling himself “Ajjub” and speaking in German, said it was only a matter of time “before jihad destroys German walls.”

Photos of famous German sites and events then appear in the video, including Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Cologne’s cathedral — and Munich’s Oktoberfest.

In another, an German Islamist originally from Bonn called Bekkay Harrach or Abu Talha al-Almani says: “The time is ripe for Germany to finally understand that Afghanistan is not Germany’s 17th state.

“Nor is it a beer tent to celebrate Oktoberfest in all year round.”

At Oktoberfest, which every year attracts around six million visitors from all over the world, armed police were searching people as they came in, and cars were banned from parking nearby.

Private security guards were also searching people’s bags as they entered the festival’s immense tents, and once inside there was a visible security presence. There was also a large number of surveillance cameras.

On Thursday a light aircraft advertising beer caused minor panic among visitors after it flew over the site and circled around at low altitude, organisers said. Since then a no-fly zone has been in place over the festival.

Part of the security operation includes closer surveillance on Germany’s Muslim community and German converts, with Munich police saying on Monday they were detaining two suspected Islamists until Oktoberfest ends on Sunday.

Police last week carried out 20 raids in five of Germany’s 16 states on suspected Islamists, a spokeswoman for Munich prosecutors office told AFP on Sunday.

Oktoberfest has seen violence before. On September 26, 1980 a homemade bomb thought to have been planted by a far-right extremist killed 13 people and injured 200, 68 of them seriously.

But this year’s drinkers were not letting anything spoil their fun.

Inside the tents a lively atmosphere reigned, as live music, singing and the sound of hefty glasses clunking together filled the air, together with the smell of roast pork.

On Wednesday afternoon, the tents also were filled with Juventus fans singing alongside Bayern Munich supporters before the evening’s Champions League clash.

“There is a much higher police presence this year than normal, but look around, everyone is having a great time and enjoying themselves,” said Bob Kalman.

Susanne Seitz, 30, a communications manager from Munich in a black “dirndl”, a traditional southern German dress, agreed: “It won’t spoil the party, people are having just as good a time as they have always done.”

“The police are clearly doing all they can to protect us, but if it happens, I don’t think there is really very much anyone can do about it,” Seitz told AFP.

“On a lighter side, police have virtually stopped fining people for being drunk on their bikes or not having their lights on while cycling, they seem to be more pre-occupied about catching the terrorists.”

Source: SGGP

Obama holds ‘candid’ talks on Afghan war with top aides

In World on October 1, 2009 at 7:48 am

President Barack Obama held “candid” talks with heavyweight national security advisors Wednesday on saving the US mission in Afghanistan, edging closer to a decision on whether to deploy more troops.

US President Barack Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House in Washington, DC on September 29.2009. (AFP Photo)

 As Obama huddled with top military and civilian brass in the secure White House Situation Room, his administration also counter-attacked against Republicans who accuse the president of dragging his feet in sending more US soldiers to war.

“In today’s meeting, the president engaged his national security team in a candid assessment of the progress that has been made and the challenges we still face in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The intense talks, among top officials with varying perspectives on the war, grouped administration heavy-hitters including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Obama also called on top military leaders and, taking part by video link-up, war commander General Stanley McChrystal, who warned in a leaked report that the conflict could be lost within a year without more troops.

The White House says Obama will only decide on whether to accept McChrystal’s request for up to 40,000 more troops — as part of a rigorous counter-insurgency push — after first arriving at a new US strategy.

The process could take weeks, officials say, warning that past conflicts like the Vietnam war have shown the folly of throwing thousands of men into a fight that is not properly defined.

Obama will next hunker down with top officials on Afghanistan on October 7.

The White House meanwhile accused its critics of “game playing” over critical troop deployment decisions after a top Republican lawmaker, Eric Cantor, claimed Obama’s delays were putting the lives of troops at risk.

“I would say this to Congressman Cantor and everybody else: the American people deserve an assessment that’s beyond game playing,” Gibbs said.

“The men and women in Afghanistan that we’ve sent to serve and protect our freedom deserve that.”

Cantor said in an interview with Wednesday’s Washington Times newspaper that Obama’s “uncertainty” over future war strategy was “troubling.”

“Listen, you’ve got American lives on the line over there,” Cantor said. “As long as they are delaying, that puts in jeopardy, I believe, our men and women.”

Other Republicans also pushed for a fast decision to send more troops into the conflict.

“Time is not on our side, we need a decision pretty quickly,” Senator John McCain, Obama’s defeated 2008 election opponent, told ABC News.

McCain said Obama would put America in “much greater danger” if he decided not to deploy more soldiers.

Obama is considering whether current US tactics and force levels, which will reach 68,000 troops by the end of the year, are the best way to defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Some experts, however, doubt whether even a deployment of 40,000 more men will be sufficient to subdue the insurgency. They advocate a narrower strategy of surgical strikes designed to squeeze Al-Qaeda.

The president is also coming under pressure from top Democrats and liberal supporters who oppose escalating the war.

Obama’s task in building political support for any troop increase is being complicated by the fraud-tainted Afghan presidential election and widespread mistrust in Washington over the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The US military has declined to reveal the details of McChrystal’s troop request but McCain said in a weekend television interview that the commander had appealed for 30,000 to 40,000 troops.

Gates has said he will only formally convey McChrystal’s request to Obama once the policy review is complete, and denied any rifts between the Pentagon and some skeptics of troop increases in the White House.

Source: SGGP

Philippine floods victims brace for another typhoon

In World on October 1, 2009 at 7:48 am

Millions of terrified flood victims in the Philippines, many of them in cramped evacuation camps or still cleaning their homes, braced Thursday for another storm bearing down on the country.

Residents are seen wading through a flooded street in the town of Binan, Laguna province, south of Manila, on September 30.2009. (AFP Photo)

“We must prepare for the rain and the wind,” chief government weather forecaster Prisco Nilo said as Typhoon Parma churned towards the country and nearly 700,000 flood survivors crowded into makeshift government-run shelters.

Disaster officials fear more rains spawned by the typhoon could trigger another massive flood as streets and drainage systems remain clogged from the tonnes of debris left by the previous deluge caused by storm Ketsana.

Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in more than four decades on Manila and surrounding areas of Luzon islands on Saturday, submerging most of the national capital with up to six metres (20 feet) of water.

The number of people confirmed killed in the disaster climbed to 277, the government said Thursday, a rise of 31 from the previous day, with 42 people still missing.

After the Philippines, Ketsana powered on to other parts of Southeast Asia, killing 86 people in Vietnam and 11 in Cambodia.

The number of people known to have been affected by Ketsana in the Philippines rose to 2.5 million on Thursday, according to the government’s latest update, up nearly 300,000 from Wednesday’s estimate.

The number of flood survivors staying in gymnasiums, schools and other makeshift evacuation camps also continued to rise, with about 687,000 people known to be staying in them, the government said.

Those in evacuation centres feared fresh rains would aggravate the already squalid conditions, and further hamper over-stretched relief efforts.

As Typhoon Parma approached, worried residents who had returned to their homes after the waters receded, and those whose houses were unaffected, were stocking up on food and emergency lights.

As of dawn Thursday, the typhoon was 650 kilometres (400 miles) east of Borongan town on the eastern island of Samar.

It was moving on a west-northwest trajectory toward the northern part of Luzon island with sustained winds of 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph), the weather bureau said in its latest update.

If the storm maintained its trajectory, it would spare Manila and surrounding regions still reeling from the impact of Ketsana, Nilo said in a radio interview.

However, Nilo warned he was not ruling out the possibility that Typhoon Parma would change course and strike the central Luzon region just north of the capital and dump more torrential rain in the disaster zone.

And even if it did not score a direct hit, its outer rain band could still cause damage in Manila, while heavy winds would cause additional problems.

Weather forecaster Mario Palafox said in another radio interview that Parma had the potential of becoming a super-typoon, referring to storms with sustained winds of over 180 kph (110 mph).

The lowest of a four-step storm signal was raised over the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes on Luzon’s eastern coast, weather officials said, warning fishermen against venturing out to sea.

Source: SGGP