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Archive for November 15th, 2009|Daily archive page

Cold spell cast over northern Vietnam

In Vietnam Weather on November 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm

A cold front brings chill weather to northern provinces

According to the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting, a cold front moved to coastal provinces in the northern central area November 14, causing temperatures to fall to nine to ten degrees Celsius in the evening.

It blanketed and cast a cold spell over Hanoi and northern delta regions.

Meanwhile, there was also another cold front heading south from the north. It will affect northern provinces on November 15 before moving over central provinces.

Ho Chi Minh City and the southern region will continue to enjoy sunny weather.

Temperatures in southern provinces will rise by two to three degrees to 33-34 degrees as an approaching cold front pushes a warm front in the central region to the south, it said.

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Vietnam’s Asian Cup hope fades after Syria defeat

In Vietnam Sports on November 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Vietnam lost 0-1 to Syria in their 2011 Asian Cup qualifier in Hanoi on Saturday evening, facing a very high hill to climb in their group, which includes powerhouse China.

Vietnam’s Portuguese coach Henrique Calisto and his players did not intend to play low later in the game at the My Dinh National Stadium when they could not remain in good fitness against their stronger opponents from the Middle East. In the 93rd minute, captain Nguyen Minh Phuong could not reach to touch the ball from a low cross during an attack by the home side.

Vietnam midfielder Le Tan Tai (C) fights for the ball with a Syria player at My Dinh Stadium on Nov. 14. Syria won 1-0. (Photo: SGGP)

Right after the hosts’ missing chance, substitute Raja Rafe gave Syria a 1-0 win with an unchallenged header in the 94th minute. Weakening central defenders Vu Nhu Thanh and Le Phuoc Tu did not concentrate enough, leaving Rafe free. The final whistle came just after the only goal.

Syria’s win gave them nine points after three games and the top position in Group D, but left Vietnam in the third place with three points. China are in second with six points while Lebanon have no points.

Inspired by about 30,000 fans at My Dinh Stadium on Saturday evening, the hosts came close to the opposite goal immediately. Vietnam come closest in the first half when captain Phuong struck the post in the 14th minute.

Vietnam’s Portugal-based striker Le Cong Vinh and forward Nguyen Viet Thang made lots of efforts towards Syria’s defending so that the Vietnamese midfielders could get more space to play. It was the midfielders who brought about chances but none were converted. 

Meanwhile, the West Asians developed attacks from both wings and crossed the ball towards their taller strikers. Vietnam goalie Duong Hong Son had to work hard against the high balls. Son made at least four or five excellent saves until the final minute of the game, and then unchallenged Rafe beat him with a header.

Vietnam coach Calisto said after the match that Australian referee Benjamin Williams ignored two Syria situations that were worth penalties for the home side.

Vietnam left Hanoi Sunday for Syria for the second leg.

In the 2007 Asian Cup, Vietnam were among the last eight.

Position and points in group D
1: Syria  9  
2: China  6  
3: Vietnam  3   
4: Lebanon  0

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Preservation of gong culture discussed

In Vietnam Culture on November 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism held a seminar November 14, “Changes in socio-economic conditions and the preservation of gong culture in Vietnam and Southeast Asia,” in the Highland city of Pleiku as part of the ongoing International Gong Festival 2009.

(File) Performers in traditional costumes participate at an ox-killing festival (Photo: SGGP)

Many international and domestic social scientists spoke about the social role of gongs and gong culture in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia, focusing on economic and social effects, as well as preservation and development of human values of the culture.

The presentations also mentioned measures to preserve and build on these cultural values. Participants stressed that keeping space for the gong could protect and preserve the special culture.

Master Linh Nga Niek Dam said ethnic minorities all have sets of gongs because the musical instruments are the soul of a group.

Gongs are regarded as the axis of the culture of rice, architecture, traditions, oral literature and food. It therefore needs to be protected with proper policies and public awareness to preserve the specific culture raised, he added. Otherwise, a group of ethnic people should be trained to keep the culture.

Vietnamese Prof. To Ngoc Thanh said teaching how to play gongs from generation to generation is very important; therefore society should pay attention to nurturing artisans as ‘human treasures.’

Furthermore, schools should teach gong culture and folk traditions and cultures in curricula in a bid to cultivate young generations to have an understanding and sense of protecting the special musical instruments, Prof. Thanh said.

Artisans are currently performing gongs sets, statue sculpting and slaughtering an oxen throughout Pleiku, such as at Dong Xanh Cultural Park, Dien Hong Park, Ve Nguon Entertainment Zone.

In addition to performances of M’nong, Cham and H’roi artisans, Burmese players contributed with 70 musical instruments of the Mon people and Indonesian performers with ten instruments.

A photographic exhibition, “Space for the Highland’s gong culture,” was also opened in the province’s museum the same day.

VTV 2 will broadcast the closing festival ceremony on November 15.

Related articles:
International Gong Festival opens in upland
Jubilant atmosphere covers highland city
22 ethnic groups to join Gong Festival
Vietnam’s biggest gong to be displayed at festival

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Russia’s Medvedev warns Iran over nuclear deadlock

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

SINGAPORE, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday warned Iran it could face new sanctions if there is no progress in the deadlock over its nuclear programme.

Medvedev said after talks with President Barack Obama that neither he nor the US leader were satisfied with the pace of the process, as Tehran drags its feet over its response to a UN-sponsored deal.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev listens during meetings with US President Barack Obama (not pictured) in Singapore, site of the APEC summit, November 15 (AFP photo)

“Our goal is clear, it is transparent” he said. “We are prepared to work further” to ensure Iran’s nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes, he said.

“In case we fail, the other options remain on the table, in order to move the process in a different direction,” he said in reference to new sanctions against Tehran.

Obama described as “fair” the proposal offered to Iran which would see states including Russia help Tehran enrich uranium.

“Unfortunately, so far at least, Iran has been unable to say yes,” he said. “We now are running out of time with respect to that approach.”

Obama, who needs Russia’s help to break the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, exchanged a warm handshake with Medvedev at the conclusion of the talks.

“I have found, as always, President Medvedev frank, constructive and thoughtful,” he said. “The reset button has worked,” he said.

Russia has the strongest ties with Iran of any major power, and its capacity to provide technical help for the Iranian nuclear drive is seen by some analysts as giving it unmatched leverage in Tehran.

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British PM vows law to crackdown on banker bonuses

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised Sunday to introduce legislation to “transform” the policing of Britain’s financial sector when his government sets out its political programme this week.

Brown said a Financial Services Bill would offer tough new powers to regulators to tear up bankers’ contracts if they include excessive pay and bonus deals which might threaten the stability of the financial system.

(File) Finance workers protest against bank bosses in central London earlier this year. (AFP photo)

Some observers blame the bonus culture of the world’s two pre-eminent financial sectors — the City of London and Wall Street — for encouraging excessive risk-taking, which helped to tip the global economy into chaos.

Speaking in a podcast on the Downing Street website ahead of Wednesday’s policy-setting Queen’s Speech in parliament, Brown said Britain had a “bright future” ahead after the economic turmoil of the past year.

He insisted that despite being one of the few major European economies still in recession, Britain had fared well in terms of jobs and repossessions compared with the last slump in the early 1990s.

The main opposition Conservatives have promised to introduce belt-tightening measures if they defeat Brown’s Labour Party in next year’s general election, but Brown said he “optimistic” about the coming period.

He said he believed it could be “one not of austerity but progress”.

Finance minister Alistair Darling said the Financial Services Authority, the financial sector watchdog, would be given new powers to stop bankers collecting excessive bonuses or to cancel pay packages which rewarded undue risk-taking.

Legislation to be unveiled on Wednesday will also enable the FSA to require banks to renegotiate remuneration packages which breach its pay code, and fine those which continue to offer unjustifiable sums.

Brown said: “We will ensure that the banking crisis we have experienced over the last two years should never again come at a cost to the taxpayer.

“This means a transformation of the way the financial sector is policed, with banks themselves and not the taxpayer made to pay for bank failings.”

Darling told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that bankers must start seeing themselves as “fellow citizens” and said some of the bonuses they had received were viewed by the public as “ludicrous”.

The new rules will come into effect next year if the Bill completes its passage through parliament before the election — which must be held by June 3.

The rules would affect all new contracts and would apply to all British banks, including RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC as well as the British operations of global investment banks like Goldman Sachs.

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Japan says no progress on territorial row with Russia

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (L) shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) prior to their talks during the APEC Summit in Singapore on November 15 (AFP photo)

SINGAPORE, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama indicated he made little headway in talks Sunday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on a decades-old territorial row.

The two nations have yet to sign a peace treaty ending World War II because of the dispute over a chain of Pacific islands seized by Soviet troops in 1945, known as the South Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan.

“I told President Medvedev that the Japanese people cannot understand the proposal of returning two islands (out of four), and that we are expecting that (Russia) would offer a proposal beyond that,” Hatoyama told reporters.

The Japanese leader said Medvedev told him it was meaningless to be stuck in Cold War-era thinking.

“This time our discussion ended here,” Hatoyama said. “There was no concrete proposal. He showed only a way of thinking.”

“I believe that this issue has to be resolved at the leaders’ level,” he added. “President Medvedev and I agreed that we could make telephone calls at any time to discuss the issue.”

Medvedev had said at the start of the meeting, held on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore, that he hoped to discuss a range of issues including “the most difficult ones that we inherited.”

In October, Japanese Land Minister Seiji Maehara became the first cabinet minister in five years to view the disputed islands when he surveyed them from the sea.

Maehara said afterwards that Japan should keep demanding that Russia return them and called their seizure an “illegal occupation”, provoking an angry response from Moscow.

Hatoyama, who has a history of personal ties with Russia, said Sunday he planned to build “new Japanese-Russian relations”.

His late grandfather, former prime minister Ichiro Hatoyama, visited Moscow in 1956 and signed a joint declaration reopening dialogue after the war. The new prime minister’s son also teaches at Moscow State University.

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US, Russia expect missile treaty deal by year-end

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Russia and the United States said Sunday after talks between their leaders that they expect to agree on the text of a new missile cuts treaty by the end of the year.

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during meetings in Singapore. (AFP photo)

“I expect that we can have a final text of the agreement by December,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, referring to a successor to the Cold War-era START agreement.

Medvedev said there were “technical” issues that need to be resolved.

White House advisor Mike McFaul said that while an agreement was expected in December, it could not be ratified by the legislatures in both countries by December 5 when START elapses.

“What I do know for sure is that we will not have a ratified treaty in place by December 5. It still has to go through the US Senate and the Russian Duma,” he told reporters.

“What is for sure is that we do need a bridging agreement.”

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APEC leaders vow new economic model after crisis

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

SINGAPORE, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – Asia-Pacific leaders including the US and Chinese presidents Sunday vowed to remake the world economy after the worst financial crisis in decades, rejecting protectionism and old models of growth.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum leaders, who together steer more than half the global economy, also said they would persist with hefty stimulus spending “until a durable economic recovery has clearly taken hold”.

US President Barack Obama pressed Asian leaders at the weekend summit in Singapore to retool their export-led economies and rebalance world growth, or risk a “drift from crisis to crisis”.

A general view shows leaders including US President Barack Obama (C) attending the ASEAN-US leaders meeting at a hotel in Singapore November 15, 2009, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. (AFP photo)

But Obama was subject to much criticism in Singapore over his perceived neglect of free trade, with Congress and powerful Democratic barons in the trade union movement clamouring to protect US industry as joblessness soars.

In a concluding declaration, the leaders said: “We firmly reject all forms of protectionism and reaffirm our commitment to keep markets open and refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services.”

“We cannot go back to ‘growth as usual’,” they added. “We need a new growth paradigm. We need a fresh model of economic integration.

“We will pursue growth which is balanced, inclusive and sustainable, supported by innovation and a knowledge-based economy, to ensure a durable recovery that will create jobs and benefit our people.”

The summit’s chairman, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, explained that “sustainable” growth meant working for an “ambitious outcome” at Copenhagen climate talks next month.

But a hastily convened climate discussion in Singapore among key leaders — including Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, representing the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases — failed to yield any breakthrough.

If thin on specifics, the APEC declaration was a nod to Obama’s demand that US consumers must no longer bear the brunt of stoking world demand, and that Asians must start to spend and not hoard their export earnings.

The president noted that voracious US consumerism had for decades fuelled the growth of regional economies. But when crisis struck last year, the “demand for Asian goods plummeted” and the global recession deepened.

“We cannot follow the same policies that led to such imbalanced growth,” Obama said in summit remarks released by the White House, highlighting the sky-high deficits run up by the United States during the boom years.

“If we do, we will continue to drift from crisis to crisis, a failed path that has already had devastating consequences for our citizens, our businesses, and our governments,” he said.

In one development welcomed by APEC allies, Obama said the United States was interested in exploiting a four-country Pacific trade pact as the nucleus for a massive free-trade zone covering the entire group’s 2.6 billion people.

The APEC leaders instructed their officials to start exploratory work on the so-called Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, although analysts warn that the giant undertaking is years if not decades from fruition.

More immediately, the heads of government pledged to try to conclude the World Trade Organization’s stalled Doha round of negotiations next year.

At the Singapore meetings, President Hu played up China’s role in shoring up world growth after the crisis engulfed the United States, and vowed to “vigorously expand” its domestic market.

However, criticism that China keeps an artificial lid on its currency to gain an unfair trade edge flared anew at APEC. Obama is expected to press Hu on the exchange-rate row when the two leaders meet in Beijing next week.

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APEC leaders douse hopes on climate pact

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

SINGAPORE, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – Asia-Pacific leaders on Sunday buried hopes a key UN meeting next month would forge a binding pact to combat climate change, saying talks would drag on well past the Copenhagen meeting.

Instead they backed a face-saving proposal from Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen — who jetted in for hastily arranged talks in Singapore — aimed at forging a political statement of intent at the December meeting.

World leaders leave after the declaration statement at the Presidential Palace during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Singapore on November 15, 2009. (AFP photo)

Complex negotiations towards a legally enforceable successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012, would then continue to work out differences between rich nations and developing countries including China.

At Sunday’s talks attended by leaders including US President Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit, there was broad consensus this was the best option for the climate negotiations, officials said.

“There was an assessment by the leaders that it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally-binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days,” US Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Froman told reporters.

Froman said Rasmussen told the meeting “he would seek to achieve a politically binding agreement that covered all the major elements of the negotiations” during the December 7-18 conference.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mexican Prime Minister Felipe Calderon had convened the Singapore talks before the closing session of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

In a final declaration, APEC called for “an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen” but dropped a proposal included in earlier summit drafts to slash their greenhouse gas emissions to half their 1990 levels by 2050.

Environmental group WWF said the leaders had “missed a great opportunity to move the world closer to a fair, ambitious and binding agreement” in Copenhagen and that they should start solving the issue rather than merely discussing it.

“This does not look like a smart strategy to win the fight against climate change,” spokeswoman Diane McFadzien said in a statement.

China’s Hu told fellow APEC leaders that he hoped for “positive results” in Copenhagen and vowed his government was “ready to work together with all parties to achieve this goal.”

The president repeated Beijing’s position that the developed world must bear the brunt of emissions cuts and provide technology and financial help to poor countries to try to mitigate climate change.

He said developing countries should “explore a path of sustainable growth suited to their own conditions and development stages.”

Arkady Dvorkovich, chief economic adviser to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said the leaders “are ready to strike a political agreement which would give an impetus to the negotiations process.”

Medvedev called for a “roadmap” to govern negotiations in 2010-2011 for a new treaty, he said.

Japanese leader Yukio Hatoyama told reporters he hoped to attend the Copenhagen talks and said he had pressed the other leaders gathered in Singapore to do the same.

Obama, speaking to fellow APEC leaders before the summit wrapped up, acknowledged the concerns of developing nations.

“We must seek a solution that will allow all nations to grow and raise living standards without polluting our atmosphere and wreaking havoc on our climate,” he said.

“Such a solution cannot be possible without the participation of the APEC economies,” he said.

Industrialised nations are pressing emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil, which are now huge emitters, to strengthen promises to tackle their own greenhouse gas output, but developing nations fear drastic cuts would impede their economic progress.

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Germany’s football stars honour tragic Enke

In Vietnam Sports on November 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

BERLIN, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – German football stars past and present joined tens of thousands of fans in Hanover on Sunday to pay their last respects to tragic goalkeeper Robert Enke who committed suicide last week.

Enke, 32, who had been set to travel with the Germany squad to next June’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa, flung himself under a busy commuter train at a small town near Hanover last Tuesday evening having suffered from depression.

Candles and a photo of deceased German international goalkeeper Robert Enke lie in front of the stadium in Hanover, northern Germany on November 13, 2009 (AFP photo)

The tragedy has thrown football-mad Germany into mourning and the national team’s planned friendly against Chile on Saturday was called off as a mark of respect.

A public memorial service will be held at 11:00 am (1000 GMT) in the Hanover 96 stadium, attended by the entire Germany squad — led by captain Michael Ballack — before Enke is buried in a private ceremony.

Representatives from Enke’s former clubs — Spanish giants Barcelona and Portugal’s Benfica — will attend while many former German football greats are also expected.

Hundreds of candles, messages and football shirts were placed Sunday outside the Hanover 96 stadium by fans, many with tears in their eyes as they remembered a popular, and successful, player.

A tribute on behalf of the Germany squad was printed in several newspapers here on Sunday.

“Robert inspired and moved many people both with his life story and his career,” said the text signed by Germany coach Joachim Loew, team manager Oliver Bierhoff and Ballack.

“Robert was both an exceptional sportsman and a wonderful human being.

“People like Robert are like stars. They shine brightly, even in the darkest night. They do not die but live in our hearts forever.”

Enke had been treated for depression since 2003 and had an acute fear of failure.

He leaves his wife Teresa, 33, and eight-month-old daughter Leila, whom the couple adopted in May after their two-year-old daughter Lara died from a heart infection. Enke will be buried next to his daughter.

With more than 50,000 mourners expected at the memorial service, the club’s 45,000-seater stadium is expected to be packed and two giant video screens will be erected outside for those who do not get in.

Two hours before the service was due to begin, thousands of fans were already streaming into the club’s AWD Arena.

Many fans began gathering outside the stadium in the early hours of Sunday morning, as Germany prepared for what rolling news channel NTV described “the biggest memorial service in decades.”

“We will see how much Robert Enke meant to some people and what a great personality he was,” said Hanover 96 president Martin Kind.

“The scale of the sympathy is overwhelming – not only in Hanover, but in all of Germany and even abroad.”

The service will be screened live on five German television channels and Enke’s coffin will be in the centre circle at the Bundesliga club before six of his former Bundesliga team-mates will carry him to his final resting place.

“We will all never forget Robert,” concluded his team-mates’ moving tribute, summing up the feelings of many of the grieving fans.

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