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Archive for November 10th, 2009|Daily archive page

Delayed buying puts Vietnam stocks in red

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index, a measure of 181 companies listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, fell 1.8 percent to the lowest since August 21 as investors are still worried about further market correction.

The benchmark lost another 9. 96 points to close the day 524.40, with trading around ten percent more active over Monday. Nearly 52.5 million shares were traded at VND2.3 trillion (US$128.7).

Among index members, 138 stocks declined and 26 gained while 17 remained unchanged.

Declines on the southern market were led by the Hanoi-based Vietnam Mechanization Electrification and Construction Joint Stock Co. (MCG), Rang Dong Plastic Joint Stock Co. (RDP) in HCM City and Cadovimex Seafood Import Export and Processing Joint Stock Co. (CAD) based in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau.

Bank and finance stocks continued being the most active in volume as Saigon Commercial Bank, or Sacombank, (STB) had nearly four million shares traded on the city bourse Tuesday. Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI), Vietnam’s largest brokerage, came next with three million shares and Vietnam Export and Import Bank, or Eximbank, (EIB) 2.75 million shares.

Vincom Joint Stock Co. (VIC), Vietnam’s second biggest listed property company, rose 3.3 percent to VND93,000, the highest since the company started trading in September 2007.

The real estate developer plans to raise US$150 million by selling convertible bonds on the Singapore Stock Exchange, it said in a statement filed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange website. Once converted into shares, the securities will trade on the city exchange.

Phuong Nam Cultural Joint Stock Co. (PNC), a book publisher and video producer, fell 4.6 percent to VND10,500, the lowest since July 22.

General Director Phan Thi Le plans to cut her holdings in the company to 1.62 percent from 5.5 percent by selling 387,700 shares, the company said in a statement filed on the city bourse. The sale will start Wednesday and will be completed by February 11, 2010.

The after-the-bell announcement also saw a bad performance on the northern market, as the HNX-Index lost 4.47 points, 2.46 percent, to 177.34. Around 25 million shares worth VND1 trillion changed hands.

The UPCoM-Index rose to 70.29, up 1.14 percent, 0.79 points, over Monday. A total of 46,608 shares were traded at VND629 million.

On the global market, US stocks rallied as robust buying in International Business Machines, American Express and Caterpillar paced the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a new closing high for the year. The Dow was up more than 200 points and 29 of the index’s 30 components finished in the green.

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Miss Sport Viet Nam 2007 to compete in Miss International

In Vietnam Culture on November 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Vietnam’s Miss Sport 2007, Tran Thi Quynh, will travel to China for Miss International 2009, to take place in Sichuan Province from November 13 to 28.

           Vietnam’s Miss Sport 2007 Tran Thi Quynh

The contestant, 23, from the northern city of Hai Phong, graduated from the Faculty of Sport at Hanoi National University of Education. She has also been a volleyball player for four years.

Miss Quynh, who was also runner-up in the Miss Hai Phong 2006 beauty pageant, is a traffic reporter for Voice of Vietnam.

The Vietnamese contestant, together with her fellow competitors, will participate in environmental activities, charity work supporting disadvantaged children and visit Chinese historical sites during the contest.

More than 70 contestants from around the world will compete in the 49th Miss International pageant.

Related articles:
Tran Thi Quynh Crowned Miss Sport Viet Nam 2007
Lan Huong to take part in Miss Model pageant
Northern beauty to represent VN in world pageant

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Palestinians adrift five years after Arafat death

In World on November 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Every time Nader Ismail comes to Ramallah he makes his way to the white mausoleum of Yasser Arafat, the father of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, to say a prayer.

Palestinians walk pass posters showing the late President Yasser Arafat during a rally supporting President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009

“President Arafat is a symbol of the Palestinian revolution, and I cannot come to Ramallah without reading the fatiha (Koranic verses) over his tomb,” says Ismail, who lives in a small village 50 kilometres (30 miles) away.

Five years after the leader passed away, the Palestinians are fiercely divided and no closer to their dream of statehood, with the divergent paths of peaceful negotiations and armed struggle both at an apparent impasse.

Arafat’s successor Mahmud Abbas, his authority confined to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has said he will step down in January out of frustration with Washington’s failure to get Israel’s right-wing government to freeze settlements ahead of fresh peace talks.

His rivals in the Islamist Hamas movement meanwhile rule over an increasingly isolated Gaza Strip still devastated from an Israeli onslaught at the turn of the year aimed at halting rocket attacks.

The two sides are as bitterly divided as they were when Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007, a crisis most Palestinians believe the wily and charismatic Arafat would have never allowed.

“If this division had happened during Arafat’s era he would have felt as though he had died 10 times every hour,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, a lifelong Arafat aide, told AFP.

“This black rift is the most painful Palestinian wound.”

During the nearly four decades in which Arafat led the Palestinian struggle he often had troubled relations not only with Israel and Arab states but with Hamas, which vehemently opposed his decision to sign the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords launching talks with Israel.

But most Palestinians, even former rivals, remember Arafat for catapulting their cause onto the world stage and never giving up on their core demands of an independent state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

A recent opinion poll found 81.9 percent of Palestinians in all the territories missed him.

“When Abu Ammar was around the entire world respected us, but now we are very weak,” said Salim Abu Nadir, 36, a teacher in the West Bank town of Nablus, using Arafat’s popular nickname.

“Now we’re like a football that gets kicked around… America and Europe and some Arab countries are pressuring us to give in to Israeli conditions.”

Abbas has said he will not run in the elections he called for January 24 because of the US failure to convince Israel to halt settlement activity which the Palestinians say threatens the establishment of a viable state.

The Palestinians’ internal rift meanwhile appears to be deepening, with Hamas having rejected the elections called by Abbas and vowing to prevent the vote from being held in Gaza.

Hamas, which still has grudging respect for Arafat despite his security forces’ crackdown on the Islamist group in the 1990s, blames Abbas for causing the divide by abandoning Arafat’s willingness to resort to armed struggle.

Arafat “refused to make concessions on principles,” senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan said. “We paid a price for that, but that was how we were able to preserve national unity.”

He “believed in the option of resistance as one of many strategic options for the Palestinian people to recover their rights, which is the opposite of Mahmud Abbas, who has targeted the resistance,” he added.

In the West Bank there is a mass rally planned to commemorate Arafat, who died in a French hospital on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75.

But in Gaza those who revere the departed leader do so largely in secret, fearful of attracting the attention of the Hamas-run police, who killed seven people at a giant rally held in Gaza on the third anniversary of his death.

There are a few gift shops in downtown Gaza City that sell souvenir keffiyehs, Palestinian flags and posters of Arafat, but the owner of one of them asked that his full name not be printed for fear of retaliation.

“Ever since Yasser Arafat died we have felt that we are isolated and deprived of many things,” he says, referring to Israeli and Egyptian sanctions placed on the territory when Hamas seized power.

“This isolation is not only from the Israeli occupation but from us, because we have isolated ourselves.”

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Aussie student in world-first ‘Rick Astley’ iPhone worm

In World on November 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm

An Australian student has created what is thought to be the world’s first iPhone worm, which replaces the popular device’s wallpaper with a picture of 1980s pop icon Rick Astley.

Customers queue outside the Apple Store in London. (AFP Photo)

Ashley Towns, a 21-year-old technical college student who lives with his family near Sydney, said he concocted the worm, which can spread from phone to phone, to raise awareness about security.

“This virus pretty much exploits people’s laziness to change their password,” he said, according to public broadcaster ABC.

Towns’ “Ikee” worm swaps the popular smartphone’s wallpaper with an image of Astley and the slogan “Ikee is never gonna give you up” — a reference to the British star’s 1987 chart-topper, “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

The virus affects only phones that have been cracked, or jail-broken, to let users install applications not approved by manufacturer Apple.

“When people jail-break their phone, it allows them to install a service on their phone called SSH,” Towns told ABC.

“Generally you should always change your password after setting up on the iPhone as all iPhones use the same password.”

He said he had proved it was not hard to hack into an iPhone, and was not aware if he had broken any laws. The virus is easily removed by deleting a few files.

“The virus itself is not malicious and is not out to hurt people. It’s just poking fun and hopefully waking people up a little,” Towns said.

“Somebody with more malicious intent could have done anything — read your SMSs, go through your emails, view your contacts, photos — anything,” he added.

Experts warned the virus was already spreading in Australia and the same technology could be used to steal personal information.

“It has now evolved into a worm which is spreading under its own steam and is infecting iPhone users in Australia,” Graham Cluley, a computer security expert with anti-virus firm Sophos, told the ABC.

“But what we are particularly worried about is a new version of the worm could steal confidential information about you. It may not be so obvious as to display a picture of Rick Astley.”

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Obama set for mission to reassure China

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm

US President Barack Obama heads this weekend on his first-ever visit to China in a bid to pursue a top, if abstract, goal — reassuring the rising power that Washington wants to be its partner, not rival.

US President Barack Obama makes a statement from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, upon his return from Camp David. (AFP Photo)

Obama tours China between visits to key US allies Japan and South Korea and a regional summit in Singapore.

But China is likely to steal the show, with Obama planning stops both in Beijing and Shanghai featuring some of his trademark public outreach.

Some environmentalists hope that Obama can hammer out a deal on climate change ahead of next month’s high-stakes Copenhagen summit. But the visit’s most important message might be symbolic.

Since taking office in January, Obama has pursued a broad drive to expand ties between the world’s largest developed and developing countries on issues from tackling climate change to restoring global economic growth.

Policymakers see the approach as a nod to hard-nosed reality with China extending its global reach and now holding some 700 billion dollars — more than any other country — in the ballooning US debt.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg has called the Obama administration’s approach to China “strategic reassurance” — a new Washington buzzword that may have triggered more questions than answers.

Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, showed himself keenly aware of history, saying he saw the role of reassurances when Britain handed over global stewardship to the United States a century ago.

“Even in the easiest circumstances, this is a very difficult proposition and one that will take years and patience,”Campbell said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

While stressing he did not see the United States as in decline, Campbell said it was inevitable that a growing China would challenge US interests — and that the two nations must therefore find ways to work with each other.

“I think those efforts to date have been insufficient and much more needs to be done over the course of the next several years that will increase … understanding between the two sides,” Campbell said.

China experts are closely watching whether Obama utters “strategic reassurance” — a successor to the George W. Bush administration’s catchphase that China should be a “responsible stakeholder” — and how he explains it.

“At this point it is not completely clear exactly what the term means and also how the Chinese view it,” said Ken Lieberthal, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who crafted China policy under president Bill Clinton.

But Obama’s remarks in China are unlikely to go heavy on the theoretical.

Jeffrey Bader, the top White House aide on East Asia, said that Obama will find opportunities to mingle with ordinary people and tap into his popularity in the world’s most populous nation.

“I personally believe there is no one better at this. We saw this in 2008, with the campaign, what his communication skills are with ordinary people as opposed to officials,” Bader said.

China is nonetheless organizing a lavish state dinner for Obama. It will be Obama’s first visit to mainland China in his life, although he has a half-brother who lives in the southern city of Shenzhen and a brother-in-law of Chinese descent.

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Floods, landslides kill 136 in El Salvador

In World on November 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Rescue workers combed through mud, rubble and debris in search of survivors from raging floods and landslides that killed at least 136 people, after a late-season hurricane devastated swaths of Central America.

A family show their dejection while rescue team look for victims among rubble in San Vicente 80 km east of San Salvador. (AFP Photo)

Landslides and overflowing rivers swept away entire homes, while a raging torrent ripped through an large section of the town of Verapaz, where bodies — covered in mud-caked sheets — were stored in a local chapel, waiting to be identified.

Rescue efforts focused on eastern San Vicente department, where 72 people were still missing after three days of driving rain, 60 of them in Verapaz alone, officials said late Monday.

“The problem here in finding bodies is removing all these rocks and trees,” Carlos Arce, 27, told AFP in what remained of his town of 6,800 after the storm.

“The floods took away people, houses and destroyed the crops,” said Javier Martinez, a local farmer.

A civil protection official updated the death toll from the storm from 130 to 136, adding that more than 13,000 people fled their homes, some 1,800 homes were damaged or destroyed and 18 bridges and many roads were washed away by the floods.

Although Hurricane Ida did not hit the country of some seven million people directly, it brought heavy rain that affected the entire region.

President Mauricio Funes visited Verapaz, where he vowed that “this time, the government will not leave the people alone.”

He has requested the national assembly to reallocate 150 million dollars from an international loan of 300 million designed for anti-crisis measures.

The National Assembly has declared a “public catastrophe and national disaster” and decreed three days of national mourning for the flood victims.

“There is no doubt that this is a town that has been severely hit by a natural disaster, but it also shows the lack of preventive measures and risk mitigation that could have been carried out years ago,” said Funes.

“We must overcome the tragedy … I know that those lives lost can hardly be replaced.”

Help for the flood victims was coming from across the Americas: the United States has donated 100,000 dollars in aid, Brazil 80,000 dollars, and Guatemala has sent rescue workers to help the recovery effort.

The UN World Food Program warned that over the next few days around 10,000 people in El Salvador will need emergency food assistance.

Teams would shortly begin the challenging work in this hilly and mountainous land of evaluating the flood damage, according to Interior Minister Humberto Centeno.

Ida, now weakened to a tropical storm, was crossing the Gulf of Mexico ahead of expected landfall in Alabama in the United States early Tuesday, although tropical force winds ahead of the storm were already lashing Louisiana and Florida.

Heavy downpours have hit El Salvador since Thursday, causing mudslides and flooding. Most of the deaths have occurred in the areas of San Salvador, La Libertad, Cuscatlan, La Paz and San Vicente.

Not even the country’s only zoo was spared: a stream running alongside it burst its banks, damaging some installations and killing a number of animals, National Zoo director Raul Miranda said.

Torrential rains have also hit neighboring Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

No victims or major damage have been reported either in Honduras or Mexico, but about 100 homes have been damaged by flooding in Guatemala, prompting the evacuation of at least 200 people there.

Ida also struck neighboring Nicaragua last week, destroying around 930 homes and leaving some 13,000 people homeless.


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Thailand’s Thaksin arrives in Cambodia for tense visit

In World on November 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra landed in Cambodia Tuesday to start a job as government economic adviser, escalating an already huge diplomatic row between the two countries.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (C) walks to a car at the Phnom Penh military air base on November 10, 2009. (AFP Photo)

Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006, exited a small private airplane at Phnom Penh International Airport and was then escorted into the capital by a convoy of cars under tight security, said an AFP photographer.

Cambodia announced Thaksin’s appointment last week, sparking a dispute that has led Thailand and Cambodia to recall their respective ambassadors and has deepened tensions after a series of deadly border clashes in the past year.

Thailand has also said it could seal the frontier if Thaksin is not extradited, but Cambodian ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Kuoy Kong said his country was “not concerned about these issues”.

“We will not extradite him (Thaksin). We already clarified this case because he is a political victim,” Kuoy Kong told AFP Tuesday.

Billionaire telecoms mogul Thaksin is living in foreign locations including Dubai to avoid a two-year jail term for abuse of power handed down by a Thai court in absentia in September 2008.

He justified his trip to Cambodia — whose prime minister Hun Sen is a close friend and political ally — in an open letter published on his website late Monday.

“As I travel to Cambodia to discuss poverty and the world economic situation, I will try to preserve Thai interests with our friends in Phnom Penh, despite the Thai government still hounding me wherever I go,” he wrote.

“I will not go to Cambodia to help Cambodia fight with Thailand but to exchange views and experiences on poverty-solving as well as new regional economics.”

Thaksin, the former owner of Manchester City football club, is due to give a a speech to hundreds of Cambodian economics experts in the capital on Thursday. He has not said how long he will be in Phnom Penh.

The Thai government said it had not been officially informed of Thaksin’s arrival in Cambodia. “We want to verify the report first,” Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to Thailand’s foreign affairs minister, told AFP.

Thaksin won two elections and remains a massively influential figure in Thai politics, stirring up mass protests by so-called “Red Shirt” supporters against the current government.

His presence on Thailand’s doorstep is the closest he has come since he last fled the country in August 2008, a move that is likely to alarm the shaky 11-month-old coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thaksin’s visit also threatens to take the shine off a summit of Southeast Asian leaders with US President Barack Obama that Abhisit is due to chair on Sunday in Singapore.

Thailand remains bitterly divided between Thaksin’s main support base among the poor, especially in rural areas, and his foes in the Bangkok-based elite power circles of the palace, military and bureaucracy.

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Obama says willing to visit Hiroshima while in office: NHK

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 12:54 pm

US President Barack Obama is willing to visit the nuclear-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while in office but won’t go there during a Japan trip this week, he said in an NHK TV interview Tuesday.

Doves fly around the statue at the peace memorial park in Nagasaki during the ceremony of 64th anniversary of atomic bomb attack into the city by the US Army. (AFP Photo)

“The memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are etched in the minds of the world, and I would be honoured to have the opportunity to visit those cities at some point during my presidency,” Obama said in an exclusive interview.

Obama would become the first US president in office to visit the Japanese cities which the United States attacked with atomic bombs in the final days of World War II, killing over 200,000 people and leading to Japan’s surrender.

The US president, who has promoted the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, visits Japan on Friday and Saturday as part of an Asia tour.

He told Japan’s national broadcaster that “unfortunately I can’t visit this time because my schedule was so compressed.”


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Kind-hearted people aid storm victims in central Vietnam

In Vietnam Society on November 10, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Benefactors and official agencies have donated books and study items to students in the central province of Phu Yen where Typhoon Mirinae wreaked havoc at the beginning of November.

Students of Xuan Lam Primary School in Song Cau District in the central province of Phu Yen wait  for kind souls to donate tables and chairs as they resume their studies after the destruction caused by Typhoon Mirinae ( Photo: SGGP)

In Song Cau District, 162 children returned November 9 to Xuan Lam Primary and Pre-School which now functions in a tent.

The Ministry of Education and Training has provided the school VND10 million while the province’s Department of Education asked the Education Publishing House in Ho Chi Minh City to donate books worth VND15 million.

The local education bureau and Hoa Mai enterprise gifted 400 notebooks and 200 pens.

Sai Gon Giai Phong has promised to give 20 tables and chairs, 5,000 notebooks, and some study items to the school while the Book and Educational Equipment JSC has supplied books for all children in first to fifth grades and teachers.

It is the first school to open in the district after the storm. The 20 other schools in Song Cau, Dong Xuan, and Tuy An Districts have yet to reopen.

Some good Samaritans have promised to provide financial support to children whose parents died in the storm, Dong Xuan deputy chairman Nguyen Ly Nguyen said November 9. The orphans would be educated up to grade 12 and young employees will take turns to take care of them, he added.

Sai Gon Giai Phong’s charity mission, the HCMC-based Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University, and 2-9 Pharmaceutical Company visited An Dinh and An Nghiep Communes in Tuy An District, the worst-hit area, on November 8.

They donated 1,000 boxes of instant noodles to disadvantaged people while doctors examined people and gave them medicines.

Most were found to suffer intestinal and skin problems.

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