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Archive for October 2nd, 2009|Daily archive page

City rejects proposal to rebuild children’s hospital for keeping green space

In Vietnam Health on October 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee will not allow the rebuilding of Children Hospital No 2 because of its environment and historical values, it was announced October 1.

It was an official response to proposed plans by the city-based company, Compensation and Site Clearance, to knock down and rebuild the hospital to international standards, at a cost of VND3.2 trillion (US$178 million).

A corner of Children Hospital No 2 (Photo: thesaigontimes)

The committee’s deputy chairman, Hua Ngoc Thuan, signed a document that informed the Government Office, the city Party’s Committee and relevant departments and ministries about the recent decision.

The decision said that the hospital needs to be preserved to keep green spaces in the inner city.

In case that it is necessary to repair and upgrade the hospital to meet diagnosis and treatment demand, the city’s Department of Health will order the hospital to establish projects, repairing rundown buildings in accordance with the city’s policy.

The hospital was built in 1867 by the French and is considered as a historical relic and green space in the inner city.

Related article:
Critics pan company proposal to rebuild HCMC children’s hospital

Source: SGGP

HCMC’s Pasteur Institute stops H1N1 testing

In Vietnam Health on October 2, 2009 at 10:08 am

The Ho Chi Minh City-based Pasteur Institute said it has stopped conducting H1N1 tests from October 1 due to lack of funds and mounting debts.

Medics carry out tests at Pasteur Institute. It stops medical testing due to lack of funds and mounting debts

In a document he sent to medical centers September 30 nationwide, Dr. Tran Ngoc Huu, its head, said no firm date has been fixed for reopening since it is waiting for financial assistance from the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The institute owes biological companies more than VND4 billion (US$223,000), he said.

Nguyen Huy Nga,  chief of the Preventive Health and Environment Department, said only when the institute clears its debt can it resume purchases.

But he said the institute’s closure would not affect the treatment and diagnosis of swine flu since it is only a supervising agency and other hospitals would continue to do tests.

The HCM-based Tropical Diseases Hospital and Pediatrics I and II Hospitals would take over the task of announcing swine-flu test results, he said.

Source: SGGP

Traditional Vietnamese music recognized by UNESCO

In Vietnam Culture on October 2, 2009 at 10:08 am

Quan ho Bac Ninh singing (Bac Ninh folk love duets) and Ca tru (ceremonial songs) have recently been recognized as “an intangible world heritage” by UNESCO, said an official of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

                   Quan ho Bac Ninh singing

Accordingly, Ca tru has been listed as a “cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.”

Quan Ho Bac Ninh singing was recognized as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” at the fourth session of the UNESCO International Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, which took place in Abu Dhabi, UAE, from September 28 to October 2.

A total of 111 cultural items from 34 nations were nominated as “intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding,” but only 15 have been approved, said Le Thi Minh Ly, deputy head of the Department of Cultural Heritage.

One of the highlights for two cultural items of Vietnam is the feasibility of an action plan for heritage protection, she added.

Ca tru is highly appreciated for its art value in the Vietnamese culture. Ca tru, which dates back to the 15th century, has also been listed among 12 “intangible global cultural heritage traditions in danger of disappearing.”

Meanwhile Quan ho singing is highly valued for its special cultural value, performance art and singing skills, with its unique customs, language and costumes.

“It is not just a source of happiness for the people in the northern province of Bac Ninh, the homeland of Quan ho singing, originating around the 13th century, it is also the pride of the Vietnamese people,” said “Meritorious Artist” Ta Thi Hinh, chairwoman of the Bac Ninh Province’s Quan ho singing club.

Previously, Nha Nhac Hue (Hue royal court music) of the Nguyen Dynasty, and the Space of Cong Chieng (gongs) Culture in the Central Highlands, were also recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Nguyen Dang Tuc, director of the Bac Ninh Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said that the Government should promote community awareness of protection and development of recognized cultural heritage; keep and foster folk music for the next generations, especially young people; and study, collect and preserve special features of Quan ho singing, as well as enhance the quality of Quan ho singing festivals to discover and foster new talent.

Source: SGGP

ITE 2009 opens its doors to boost tourism

In Vietnam Travel on October 2, 2009 at 10:08 am

Ho Chi Minh City’s ‘International Travel Expo 2009’ officially opened October 1 with the participation of over 300 buyers from 28 countries and territories. The expo will remain open until October 3

Foreign buyers discuss tourism opportunities in Vietnam (Photo: SGGP)
ITE 2009, held under this year’s banner “Three Countries One Destination (3CODe),” aims to boost tourism of the three Indochina countries, including Vietnam, Lao, and Cambodia, create more tourist packages and help promote the images of the three countries worldwide.
Besides the main expo over October 1-3, this year’s program also included other activities, like the recent Friendship Golf Tournament ITE HCM 2009 at Long Thanh Golf Club, southeastern province of Dong Nai, and the Tourism Investment Conference 2009 at the New World Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City.
On this occasion, the Tourism Alliance Awards (TAA) 2009, designed to celebrate and recognize the brightest tourism stars in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, were presented at Phu Tho Exhibition Center, District 11, on October 1.

ITE has been held annually since 2004 by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism; HCMC Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Vinexad; and Singapore-based IIR Exhibition.

Related articles:
Travel expo to return to city in Oct
City to hold expo for Indochina tourism
Travel Expo becomes national event

Source: SGGP

China celebrates 60th National Day

In World on October 2, 2009 at 10:07 am

President Hu Jintao addressed a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on October 1 to celebrate the 60th National Day of the People’s Republic of China.

An armored unit at the military parade held at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, on October 1 to mark China’s National Day (Photo: AFP)

The event was attended by many Party and Government leaders, ministry officials, local authorities, representatives of diplomatic missions in Beijing, and foreign guests.

Mr. Hu, who is also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, said that the country would promote peaceful cross-Taiwan Strait relations and maintain its principles of “peaceful unification” and “one country, two systems” to keep stability and prosperity in Macao and Hong Kong.

He said China would also maintain its policy of peaceful development and friendly relations with all other countries under its five principles of peaceful co-existence: mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.

He highlighted the significance of the coming into being of the People’s Republic of China 60 years ago and the country’s achievements since adopting its renovation and open-door policy 30 years ago.

He called on the Party, army and people to endeavor to build China into a modern, harmonious, civilized, democratic, and prosperous country, and join hands with other countries to boost peace and prosperity in the world.

Following his speech was a parade involving 200,000 military and civilian participants and a military parade by more than 8,000 soldiers and modern equipment.
Also participating were a 1,300-member military band, a choral band of 2,100 singers and 300 children.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam wins second prize in UPU writing contest

In Vietnam Society on October 2, 2009 at 10:07 am

A Vietnamese schoolgirl, 13-year-old Nguyen Dac Xuan Thao, won the second prize in the UPU letter writing competition this year,  following a schoolgirl from the Czech Republic.

Nguyen Dac Xuan Thao (L) and her teacher

The jury agreed that “centered on her father’s working accident, her composition was a fine example to readers all around the world.” To quote her letter: “Unless they can guarantee safety, factories cannot obtain a production permit… This is intended to reduce the number of accidents at the workplace and to help realize the dream of better working conditions for all.”

This is a “beautifully structured letter, added the jury.

Nguyen Dac Xuan Thao wrote a letter to President Nguyen Minh Triet and her letter won the first prize in Vietnam and then translated into French to take part in the international competition.

“The letter is very humanistic”, the Vietnamese jury remarked.

The letter was also said creative because Xuan Thao imagined she was a little daughter whose father became disabled after a labor accident. The daughter told her story, hope and her father’s accident to the President. In the letter,  Xuan Thao also reflected how bad labor conditions would affect on workers’ life and their relatives.

Appreciating the first winner letter by Czech schoolgirl Dominika Koflerová, the judges said that Dominika took an original approach but she also clearly explained how rich countries can help to improve working conditions by consuming fair-trade goods”.

“Her understanding of the issue came over well in her letter. Whenever we eat a chocolate bar in the future we shall think of the prize winner’s letter,” added the judges.

In her letter, Dominika wrote: “The chocolate I had just been eating was no ordinary chocolate. The Zambian producer who made it received enough money to give him and his family a decent living”

 Almost 60 countries and more than 2 million children took part in the competition – the 38th – on the theme: “How decent working conditions can lead to a better life”. The theme had been chosen jointly with the International Labour Organization, which launched a wide-ranging campaign on decent work last year.

Source: SGGP

At least 155 dead in Samoa tsunami: officials

In World on October 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

A tsunami that wiped out entire villages in Samoa has killed at least 155 people in the South Pacific, officials said Thursday, adding the toll could rise to as much as 190.

Some 115 people have been confirmed killed in Samoa, which was worst hit by the disaster, according to Guretti Wulf of the Samoa Red Cross. Another 31 are dead in nearby American Samoa and nine were killed in Tonga, officials said.

“There’s still (people) missing,” she told AFP. “They are still looking, searching for them. I don’t think anybody’s going to be found alive at this point.” The official toll stood at 110 on Wednesday.

Rescuers are seen wading through water looking for bodies after a devastating tsunami hit the south coast of Samoa.

But Samoan disaster officials said they feared that up to 150 people may have died, a toll that would bring the total number of dead in the region to 190.

The toll is expected to rise as more bodies are being recovered and some dead were buried before they could be counted, an official told AFP.Related article: Relief efforts

“The deaths are probably between 120 and 150 in reality, it’s definitely more than the official toll,” a senior figure in the disaster management office told AFP on condition on anonymity.

“We know there will be more because recovery operations are still bringing in bodies and some villagers have buried their relatives without recording their deaths at the hospital,” he said.

An 8.0 earthquake churned up walls of water measuring between three and 7.5 metres (10 and 25 feet) that thundered down on small coastal settlements on Tuesday, smashing them to bits.

Officials in American Samoa, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Samoa, said 31 had been killed in the remote US outpost, but that a 12-year-old Korean girl was missing following the disaster.

In Tonga, a government spokesman said two more people had been confirmed dead after the tsunami hit its small northern island of Niuatoputapu, bringing the total number of deaths there to nine.

“There are nine people confirmed dead,” he told AFP. “We are confident that everyone has been accounted for,” he added.

More than half of homes on the island, which has a population of about 950, were damaged by the waves with many washed away, he said.

A powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in seas off Tonga and the Samoan islands on Friday but no immediate tsunami alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii and Australian experts said the tremor was likely too small to create another deadly wave.

“I don’t think there is a particular tsunami danger from that earthquake,” Geoscience Australia seismologist Phil Cummins told AFP.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake, at a shallow depth of just 10 kilometres (six miles), struck 242 kilometres (151 miles) off Tonga‘s northwest island of Neiafu.

The epicentre was 377 kilometres from American Samoa capital Pago Pago, which was hard-hit by this week’s 8.0 earthquake and tsunami.

Dozens of aftershocks have rocked the region since giant waves smashed the South Pacific islands on Wednesday.

Source: SGGP

Japan’s jobless rate falls for 1st time in 7 months

In World on October 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

Japan‘s jobless rate fell unexpectedly for the first time in seven months in August while consumer spending rose, data showed Friday, boosting hopes the economy is healing after its worst slump in decades.

Massive stimulus spending and rebounding exports are nursing the world’s number two economy back to health, but there is a risk that the recovery may stall at some point as the impact of pump-priming measures fade, analysts said.

The jobless rate fell to 5.5 percent in August, from a record high of 5.7 percent in July, the government said. The improvement surprised markets, which had anticipated a figure of 5.8 percent.

“The job market is still bad but is coming out of the worst period,” said UBS economist Takuji Aida.

Even so the unemployment rate will stay high for a country that once boasted a job-for-life culture, he said.

The number of people out of work stood at 3.61 million in August, up 890,000 from the same month of 2008 — the 10th straight year-on-year increase.

Household spending rose by 2.6 percent in August from a year earlier, reversing a drop of 2.0 percent in July, the government said.

Together with the drop in the jobless rate and a rise in retail sales, “the spending number raised a possibility that the state of the household sector has improved more than we had expected,” said JP Morgan economist Masamichi Adachi.

But “it looks too early to judge that the households are now gaining strength,” he added, noting that the effect of stimulus measures would eventually fade.

Pedestrians are seen crossing a street in downtown Tokyo

While the job market slump appears to be easing slightly, conditions remain tough for people looking for work, with only 42 offers for every 100 jobseekers in August, matching a record low set in July.

There are concerns that unemployment could worsen again later this year as firms continue to restructure and as the effect of pump-priming measures such as government incentives to buy cars in Japan and overseas begin to wear off.

The jobless rate may rise to as high as 6.0 percent by the end of the year, said Susumu Kato, chief Japan economist at the Calyon investment bank.

“August labour market indicators appeared to stop worsening but this can’t be understood as a turnaround in job market conditions,” he warned.

However, “recent sustained gains in industrial production could help to increase employment among some manufacturing sectors,” he said.

Japan’s factory output rose for a sixth straight month in August, the longest unbroken expansion in 12 years, earlier data showed.

Many Japanese companies, particularly exporters, moved swiftly to cut jobs and production in response to a slump in demand caused by the global economic downturn.

Some companies are now starting to hire again after the economy grew in April-June for the first time in five quarters.

Toyota Motor said this week that it would take on 1,600 temporary workers because sales were recovering more strongly than expected.

But deflation remains a worry for Japan and domestic demand is relatively subdued, weighed down by weak wages and people’s fears of losing their jobs.

Average household income fell 2.0 percent in August from a year earlier, following a 0.2 percent rise in July.

The results of the Bank of Japan’s closely watched Tankan business survey showed Thursday that corporate executives were less gloomy for a second straight quarter but the outlook for profits and investment remains bleak.

Source: SGGP

Evacuations start for new Philippine storm

In World on October 2, 2009 at 6:41 am

 Filipinos in the likely path of a looming typhoon began evacuating Friday, as the toll from a storm that tore across Southeast Asia days earlier rose to more than 400.

Officials fear Typhoon Parma — due to hit Saturday unless it changes course — will cause a second disaster in the northern Philippines after the worst flooding in four decades swamped the homes of more than 2 million people.

The storm that caused those floods, Ketsana, also ripped across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, killing at least 406 people — 293 in the Philippines, 99 in Vietnam and 14 in Cambodia.

Disaster officials said evacuations have begun in low-lying and mountainous villages in several provinces north and east of Manila, and officials were poised to relocate other communities in Parma’s path, once that became clearer Friday.

A woman washes clothes while standing in floodwaters brought on by Typhoon Ketsana, known locally as Ondoy, in San Pedro Laguna, south of Manila October 1, 2009

Refugees from Ketsana were asked to halt any plans to return home and stay in shelters.

Some 300,000 people have returned to their homes from shelters in schools and other places, though about 400,000 are still housed there, said Glenn Rabonza, executive officer of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

Heavy rain fell on parts of the eastern coast Friday morning, as Parma swirled slowly northwest. It was about 170 miles (270 kilometers) off eastern Catanduanes province, the government’s weather bureau said.

Parma is packing sustained winds of up to 120 mph (195 kph) and gusts up to 140 mph (230 kph), the government’s weather bureau said. The bureau’s chief Nathaniel Cruz said this was enough to be very destructive.

The prospect of another storm was daunting for many flood survivors.

“We’ve been hit so hard. The situation now is just so difficult, and I don’t know if we can take another calamity,” said Glen Juban, whose 4-year-old daughter was swept away by floodwaters and drowned in Saturday’s deluge.

Vietnam’s government raised the country’s death toll from Ketsana by seven to 99 on Friday, and said it was distributing 10,000 tons of rice and $25 million in cash to victims in 14 central provinces. The Philippines raised its toll by 13.

The storm comes as the region struggles to recover from two major earthquakes. The death toll from Tuesday’s quake-triggered tsunami in the South Pacific rose to 160, while the toll from a powerful quake in Indonesia was more than 1,000 and climbing.

Typhoons occur year-round in the northeastern Pacific, usually blowing in from the east and tracking a path threatening Southeast Asia and southern China to Japan in the north. They are most common and usually most powerful from August to November.

Ketsana followed on the heels of Typhoon Morakot, which slammed into Taiwan in early August, causing mudslides and the worst flooding on the island in 50 years. Morakot also killed 22 people in the Philippines and eight in China.

Source: SGGP

US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,347

In World on October 2, 2009 at 6:41 am

As of Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, at least 4,347 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The figure includes nine military civilians killed in action. At least 3,473 military personnel died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

The AP count is three fewer than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 179 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia and Georgia, three each; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand and Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and South Korea, one death each.

Source: SGGP