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Archive for November 12th, 2009|Daily archive page

Northern, central Vietnam set for cold spell

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:31 am

This undated file photo shows vendors in Hanoi get warm themselves near a fire during a cold time

A cold front is moving down from the north, bringing chill weather to northern border provinces, the Central Hydrometeorology Center said November 11.

It will blanket the border provinces on November 12 before moving over other northern provinces and then the central region on November 13.

Temperatures at all these places will drop to 20 degrees Celsius in the day and 15 – 16 Celsius in the evening.

The southern and south central regions would, however, continue to enjoy sunny weather.

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Stocks gain on fading gold

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:30 am

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index gained for the second straight day Thursday as the gold and dollar fevers began to break, protecting investors from the fear of a dong slump.

The shares of 181 companies and four mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange rose 1.56 percent or 8.39 points to 545.98. Yet investors still hesitate to make big purchases, as the trading volume dropped to around 50 million shares, worth VND2.32 trillion (US$130 million).

On the index, 158 advanced, nine dropped and 18 remained unchanged.

Gains on the southern market were led by SMC Trading and Investment Joint Stock Co. (SMC), a building material trader in HCM City; Tan Binh Electronic Joint Stock Co. (VTB) also in the city; and Thong Nhat Rubber Joint Stock Co. in the nearby Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. All three stocks gained by the maximum five percent allowed by the exchange.

Saigon Commercial Bank, or Sacombank, (STB) became the most active stock in volume Thursday with more than three million shares traded on the city bourse.

Saigon Securities Inc., Vietnam’s largest brokerage, came next with nearly two million shares changing hands, and Vietnam Export Import Bank or Eximbank (EIB) with around 1.9 million shares.

Rubber stocks have started to enjoy robust growth as Hoa Binh Rubber Joint Stock Co. (HRC) on Wednesday rose 4.8 percent, Tay Ninh Rubber Joint Stock Co. (TRC) advanced 4.7 percent, and Dong Phu Rubber Joint Stock Co. (DPR) gained 4.6 percent.

Rubber futures in Tokyo increased for a third time in four days Wednesday as data from China and Japan, Asia’s two largest consumers of the commodity, boosted optimism an economic recovery will increase demand, Bloomberg said.

Orders for Japanese machinery climbed more than economists expected in September, and China’s industrial production and retail sales accelerated in October, bolstering forecasts for economic growth to exceed ten percent this quarter for the first time in more than a year.

Japan’s Asiavantage Global Ltd. on Wednesday bought 850,000 shares to hold a 5.2 percent stake in the Hanoi-based Tu Liem Urban Development Joint Stock Co. (NTL), which rallied five percent Thursday, according to a statement on the exchange’s website.

Ho Chi Minh City-based Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Joint Stock Co. (REE) on Wednesday bought 6.35 million shares in Thac Ba Hydropower Joint Stock Co. (TBC), which rose 2.2 percent on Wednesday and was unchanged Thursday, to keep a ten percent holding in the company based in the northern province of Yen Bai, Thac Ba said in a statement to the bourse’s website.    

The northern market also performed well as the HNX-Index gained 1.78 points, 0.97 percent, to 184.37. Around 23.1 million shares worth VND954 billion changed hands.

The UP-CoM index fell to 67.32, down 1.24 points or 1.81 percent over Wednesday. A total of 83,834 shares were traded at VND1 billion.

On the global market, US stocks finished Wednesday with modest gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average extending its winning streak to a sixth session as Federal Reserve officials pointed to low interest rates for a little while longer.

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Pregnant woman dies of swine flu in delta

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:30 am

A pregnant woman from the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, six months into her term, has become the 41st victim of swine flu, a health official said November 11.

A doctor at HCMC’s  Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital examines a patient of A/H1N1 flu

Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga, chief of the Preventive Health and Environment Department, said at a meeting of the National Steering Board of Human Flu Prevention that the 16-year-old developed a fever, cough, and sore throat on November 3 and bought medicines to treat herself.

Four days later, when her condition worsened, she was taken to the province’s General Hospital where she died on November 9.

Tests carried out by the Ho Chi Minh City-based Pasteur Institute later confirmed she had swine flu.

Flu-related hospitalizations continue to occur nationwide, with 17 provinces so far reporting deaths.

Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the Central Institute of Hygiene Epidemiology, said the National Steering Board for Vaccination against H1N1 has decided to vaccinate 1.2 million women who are three or more months pregnant.

According to a Pasteur Institute survey, 60 per cent of people with flu live in HCMC, half of them aged between 10 and 19.

The president of the institute, Tran Ngoc Huu, warned that the possibility of the H1N1 and H5N1 viruses combining is very high with winter approaching.

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Chinese foods sold in HCMC found to have excessive lead

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:29 am

Dried fruits and jams displayed at Binh Tay Market in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: SGGP)

The lead content in Chinese-made jams and dried fruits exceeds permitted levels, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health announced November 11 after testing samples taken from some city markets.

Of six samples of dried fruits and plums health inspectors took from shops in Binh Tay Market in District 6, five failed to meet food safety and hygiene standards.

Dried fruits and jams were found to have high lead content as well as cyclamate, a prohibited food additive. For instance, Songxinglianggouxilie dried plum contained 0.152mg per kilogram of lead and 2.25 per cent of cyclamate while kiwi fruits had 0.128mg of lead. The permitted level is là 0,1mg per kilogram, according to the Health Ministry’s regulation on December 19, 2007

Besides, most of the foodstuffs had no details of origin or production and expiry dates.

The head of the DoH’s food safety division, Huynh Le Thai Hoa, said after some vendors complained that smuggled dried fruits and jams being sold in Binh Tay Market have not been tested so far, her department has urged the District 6 People’s Committee to investigate 22 shops selling such foods in Binh Tay Market and penalize violators.

Furthermore, with some vendors packing these foods in small bags to sell at schools, she said inspectors have been ordered to monitor school canteens and streets near schools and destroy dried fruits found lacking information about origin.

Related articles:
HCMC authorities test imported dried fruits, bleached eggs

Health authorities to test Chinese-made jams, dried fruits for lead

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International Gong Festival opens in upland city

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:29 am

The 2009 International Gong Festival will open at the March 17 Square in the city of Pleiku, the central highland province of Gia Lai, in the evening of November 12 and runs until November 15.

The Buon Trap gong troupe of Dak Lak Province rehearse for the Nov. 12 opening ceremony of the 2009 International Gong Festival (Photo: SGGP)

The festival, this year themed “Space of Gong Culture of the Central Highlands,” aims to highlight the gong culture in the Central Highlands, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.’

According to the province’s People’s Committee, 22 ethnic groups with 63 troupes and five gong troupes from Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos and Myanmar, a total of 3,000 people, will join the event.

Earlier, the Vietnamese High Quality Goods Fair, featuring more than 200 businesses with 450 display booths, was held on November 11.

The province’s ethnic groups’ handicrafts were also presented to visitors at the fair.

The day also saw the opening of a photo exhibition of Dinh Nup, a freedom fighter of the Bahnar people, who was born and spent most of his life in the idyllic region.

Held at the Gai Lai indoor sports center, the display features 152 pictures taken by over 50 photographers and collected by Nguyen Quang Tue, deputy director of the Gia Lai Museum, of the hero’s daily activities and struggles from 1946 to 1999.

Dinh Nup (real name Dinh Nhui), who lived from 1914 to 1998, led the local resistance against the occupying French for many years and was a leading character in Nguyen Ngoc’s famous novel Dat nuoc dung len (The country’s uprising). He was also the first member of an ethnic minority to be awarded the title “Hero of the People’s Armed Forces.”

The festival will include gong performances, a food fair, a seminar on promoting investment in the province and a photo exhibition of Space of Gong Culture and the Central Highlands’ ethnic culture, among many other events.

The national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, will increase the number of flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku between November 11 and 16.

The provincial Transport Department will also increase bus trips during the festival.

Related articles:
22 ethnic groups to join Gong Festival
Vietnam’s biggest gong to be displayed at festival

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Japanese designs in spotlight at HCMC exhibition

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

An exhibition on Japanese design will be held in HCMC in November under the auspices of the Mekong Japan Exchange Year.

The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchanges in Vietnam will organize an exhibition on design in Ho Chi Minh City in November as part of the Mekong Japan Exchange Year the country is celebrating the Indochina region.

Japan Design Today 100 will showcase contemporary Japanese design through a selection of around 100 everyday products used since the 1950s.

These will include clothes, lighting, tables and chairs, mobile phones, vehicles, and others.

It will also offer an explanation for the success of Japanese products and provide Vietnamese an opportunity to know about present-day Japanese life.
The exhibition will remain open from the 14th to the 24th at the Ho Chi Minh City Exhibition House at 92 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1. Ticket will be free.

Related article:
City to host Japan Cultural Month

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Gunmen kill Pakistani working at Iranian Consulate

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

Gunmen killed a Pakistani working at the Iranian Consulate in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Thursday, adding to security fears in the country as it presses an offensive against the Taliban along the nearby Afghan border.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which follows the abduction of an Iranian diplomat in Peshawar in November 2008. He remains a hostage.

Iran is mostly a Shiite Muslim country. The victim was also a Shiite Muslim. Sunni Muslim militants like the Taliban and al-Qaida believe Shiites are infidels and often target the sect. In the 1980s, Iran was alleged to have funded radical Shiite groups in the country.

The attackers opened fire on Abul Hasan Jaffri near his home in a central part of Peshawar, police official Mohammad Kamal told The Associated Press.

Jaffri, who was the director of public relations at the consulate, died at a military hospital, he said. The gunmen escaped after the shooting.

A Pakistani Army helicopter flies over the northwest tribal district of Mohmand in August

Peshawar is one of Pakistan‘s most dangerous cities and a hotbed of militant and criminal activity.

In 2008, gunmen ambushed a car carrying the Afghan consul toward his home in Peshawar, killing the driver and abducting the envoy, who was had recently been selected as the next ambassador to Pakistan. He has also not been released. Suspected militants killed a U.S. aid worker there last year.

Peshawar has been the target of several of the attacks sweeping the country in recent weeks in apparent retaliation for the offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan.

A car bombing in a crowded market outside Peshawar on Tuesday killed 26 people. A suicide bomber killed three policemen in Peshawar on Monday, and a similar attack a day earlier on a market outside the city killed 12 people, including a mayor who once supported but had turned against the Taliban.

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AP source: US envoy objects to troop increase

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

The U.S. envoy in Afghanistan, a former Army general who once commanded troops in the country, has objected strongly to emerging plans to send tens of thousands of additional forces to the country, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry resigned his Army commission to take the job as U.S. ambassador in Kabul earlier this year, and his is an influential voice among those advising President Barack Obama on Afghanistan. Eikenberry sent multiple classified cables to Washington over the past week that question the wisdom of adding forces when the Afghan political situation is unstable and uncertain, said an official familiar with the cables. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations and the classified documents.

Cables are diplomatic messages that may or may not be classified and carry greater heft than other forms of communication such as e-mail.

US marines in the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, prepare to deploy to Afghanistan

Eikenberry made the point that the administration should step cautiously in planning for any troop buildup while there are still so many questions surrounding Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the official said. Eikenberry is the front line U.S. official dealing with Karzai, the U.S.-backed leader whose administration was stained by corruption and mismanagement. It was a visiting senior senator, Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was instrumental in persuading Karzai last month to accept the findings of a U.N. panel that his re-election vote in August was too marred by fraud to stand.

Karzai agreed to a second round of voting but was elevated to a second term as president without a runoff election when his challenger dropped out. Since then, U.S. officials have been alarmed at some of Karzai’s remarks and the lack, so far, of meaningful steps to clean house.

Eikenberry’s objections were a wild card in the midst of what had appeared to be the final days of Obama’s long decision-making process on how to revamp U.S. strategy in the 8-year war. Eikenberry has participated in some of Obama’s war council sessions over the past several weeks.

A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that Obama rejected all four options presented to him at what had been expected to be the last of those sessions Wednesday. Those options started from the premise that some addition of U.S. forces is necessary, and included ways that Obama could meet or nearly meet war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s preference for about 40,000 additional troops.

It is not clear whether Eikenberry’s objections played a part in Obama’s decision not to accept any of the choices prepared by military planners Wednesday.

At his Senate confirmation hearing in March, Eikenberry underscored what he called the urgency of the requirement to turn around the war effort, which has evolved into a stalemate in key parts of Afghanistan as the Taliban-led insurgency has gained clout.

Time is of the essence,” Eikenberry said. “There will be no substitute for more resources and sacrifice.”

He said Europeans, for example, should be expected to provide more mentors for Afghan police trainees. Another key to success, he said, is getting more civilian experts such as agriculture specialists and justice experts who can help reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on the illicit narcotics trade.

Eikenberry was the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan for two years before moving to Brussels to be deputy chairman of NATO‘s military committee in 2007. He had served one previous tour in Afghanistan.

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Israel hints at Syria opening after Sarkozy meet

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:27 am

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met French President Nicolas Sarkozy for talks on the crisis in the Middle East peace process and appeared to open the door to talks with Syria.

Neither leader spoke to reporters after their two-hour meeting in the Elysee Palace, and Netanyahu set off for the airport immediately afterwards. The pair had addressed the media after both their previous Paris meetings.

A short statement from Sarkozy’s office said that the talks had included only the leaders and one senior advisor each. They discussed “international issues and notably ways to restart the Middle East peace process.”

But, while the mood surrounding the meeting was downbeat, afterwards an Israeli official did hold open the chance of progress in one of the overlapping negotiating tracks that make up the stalled regional peace plan.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Elysee Palace in Paris

“Mr Sarkozy raised the issue of the Syrian track,” the senior aide said.

“The prime minister said he is willing to meet with the Syrian president at any time and anywhere to move on the peace negotiations on the basis of no pre-conditions,” he added.

Earlier, in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a meeting of Arab politicians that Syria would not “put forward conditions on making peace” but warned it had “rights that we will not renounce,” according to the SANA news agency.

Assad is due in Paris on Friday for talks with Sarkozy.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and unilaterally annexed it in 1981. Damascus has repeatedly demanded the strategic plateau’s return as a non-negotiable condition for peace.

Telephone talks arranged by Turkish mediators between the arch foes were broken off last year during Israel’s offensive in Gaza, closing a promising diplomatic channel towards a broader Middle East settlement.

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Paris that he was ready to resume his role as mediator of three-way telephone conversations between Israeli and Syrian leaders at any time.

There was no sign, however, that the Paris meeting had made much progress on the issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

On the eve of the visit, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said a “real political difference” separates Sarkozy and Netanyahu on the issue of Israel’s continued building of settlements on Palestinian land.

“We think that a freeze on settlements, that’s to say no more colonisation while talks are ongoing, would be absolutely indispensable,” Kouchner told France Inter radio. “We need talks and the peace process to restart.”

French fears for the peace process have been exacerbated by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’ threat to resign in protest at Israel’s refusal to stop building on Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“The return to negotiations depends on Israel adhering to the terms of reference of peace and that means halting all settlements,” Abbas told Palestinian supporters on Wednesday in Ramallah.

Abbas is seen by many as the only Palestinian leader with the power and credibility to lead meaningful negotiations, and his departure could even trigger the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Sarkozy called Abbas on Tuesday to urge him to reconsider a decision not to seek re-election next year, and was expected to pressure Netanyahu during his meeting Wednesday to halt settlement building.

The Israeli leader arrived in Paris late Tuesday after flying in from Washington, where he had held similarly tense discussions with US President Barack Obama, who has also called for a construction freeze.

Netanyahu insists he has limited settlement activity and has called for immediate peace talks with the Palestinians, but his Washington trip ended without the usual friendly joint appearance with the US leader.

The lack of a press conference was widely interpreted as a snub by Obama.

Speaking in Jerusalem, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday said the meeting had helped pave the way for the possible restarting of Israeli-Palestinian talks.

“This meeting was good, important and constructive. It lifted a number of obstacles and created a decisive base for the resumption of negotiations that will allow us to reach an agreement with our neighbours, the Palestinians,” he said.

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N.Korea: S.Korean military will pay for sea clash

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 10:27 am

North Korea accused South Korea’s military Thursday of staging a naval clash this week to raise tensions on the peninsula, and said it would pay dearly for the provocation.

Each side has blamed the other for Tuesday’s exchange of fire near the disputed Yellow Sea border, which came just over a week before a scheduled visit to Seoul by US President Barack Obama.

The South has sent one of its newer destroyers equipped with torpedoes and guided missiles closer to the border, military sources told AFP, in addition to two extra patrol boats.

The South Korean forces will be forced to pay dearly for the grave armed provocation perpetrated by them,” the North’s official news agency KCNA quoted newspapers as saying.

“The artillery pieces of the KPA (Korean People’s Army), convinced of justice and afire with hatred, are now levelled at the provokers,” it quoted Rodong Sinmun as saying.

South Korea Navy-issued photo shows high-speed patrol boats on patrol.

Rodong, the journal of the ruling communist party, said the clash was not accidental “but a deliberate and premeditated provocation” by the south Korean military to try to heighten tension on the peninsula and damage relations.

Seoul says a North Korean patrol boat crossed the border, ignored five warnings to turn back and then opened direct fire at a South Korean boat that had fired a warning shot.

It said South Korean boats returned fire and set the North’s boat ablaze.

The North says Seoul’s ships opened fire while its craft was north of the border, which was the scene of bloody battles in 1999 and 2002. Chronology: Clashes on Korean peninsula

Its military demands an apology, as do the South’s armed forces.

South Korea has put its forces on alert but says it does not want the clash to damage relations. After months of frosty ties, the North has recently put out peace feelers to Seoul and Washington.

Some analysts suspect the North wants to strengthen its bargaining hand in upcoming talks with the United States by raising tensions on the peninsula.

The US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, is expected to visit the North by the end of the year to try to bring it back to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. Related article: US warns North Korea after naval clash

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed Wednesday the trip would go ahead despite the naval clash.

The North’s Minju Josun government newspaper said it was in fact the South’s military which had sought to raise the stakes before Obama’s visit and Bosworth’s trip.

“By committing this armed provocation, the South’s military authorities are seeking to raise animosity against us among their US lords, and to appeal to them not to change their hostile policy against the DPRK (North Korea) and not to engage in DPRK-US talks,” it said.

Military sources told Seoul media that one North Korean sailor was killed and three wounded in the exchange of fire, although there was no official confirmation.

No South Koreans were hurt, although one South Korean boat was hit 15 times.

Yonhap quoted an unidentified defence official as saying the North’s boat had to be towed on the final stretch of its journey home.

Cross-border tensions have been high for more than a year. The North has also angered the international community with missile test-launches, a walkout from the six-party talks and a second atomic weapons test.

The United Nations tightened sanctions in response.

The North now says it is ready to rejoin the six-nation talks if the US discussions go well.

Washington stresses its bilateral talks are intended only to bring Pyongyang back to the six-party forum, which also includes South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

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