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Archive for November 16th, 2009|Daily archive page

International gong festival ends in Central Highlands

In Vietnam Culture on November 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

The sounds made by the gongs of different ethnic groups and countries are an invaluable treasure of the people, the chairman of the Gia Lai Province People’s Committee, Pham The Dung, said at the closing ceremony of the International gong festival at the March 17 Square in the city of Pleiku, the central highland province of Gia Lai, in the evening of November 15.

The Chu Se District’s gong troupe of Gia Lai Province perform at the closing ceremony of the 2009 International gong festival.

The ceremony featured special performances like “the Legend of Bien Ho (sea lake),” “The arms of Dam San (the heroic chieftain of E De group) and more.

The four-day event attracted more than 20,000 Vietnamese and international visitors and 400 journalists.

The festival, held to honor the gong culture in the Central Highlands, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, drew 63 troupes and gong troupes from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, and Myanmar.

Related articles:
Preservation of gong culture discussed
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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Vietnam’s resorts win international travel awards

In Vietnam Travel on November 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

Three resorts in the Coastal Central region are on the list of “Asia’s 25 Top Resorts,” as voted for by Conde Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards.

          Life Heritage Resort Hoi An

Life Heritage Resort Hoi An was placed 12th, followed by Evason Ana Mandara Six Senses Spa and Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa.

The awards reflect the opinions of more than 25,000 readers who evaluated the resorts on a variety of criteria, including activities and facilities, food and dining, location, overall design, rooms and service.

The US-based Condé Nast Traveler is one of the world’s foremost magazines on travel and lifestyle. It specializes in luxury travel and reviews of high-end hotels, products and services, as well as rates and rankings of hotels, resorts, cruises, islands and cities worldwide from the results of its Readers’ Choice survey.

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Hong Kong gold closes at new record high

In World on November 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

HONG KONG, Nov 16, 2009 (AFP) – Hong Kong gold closed at a new record high on Monday at 1,131.00-1,132.00 US dollars an ounce, up from Friday’s close of 1,106.00-1,107.00 US dollars.

It opened at 1,123.00 -1,124.00 dollars.

The latest closing price surpassed a high of 1,123.38 dollars per ounce reached in London Thursday, as the precious metal continues its steady advance buoyed by a mix of positive underlying fundamentals.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

BoJ chief warns low US interest rates pose risk

In World on November 16, 2009 at 9:17 am

TOKYO, Nov 16, 2009 (AFP) – Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa warned Monday that a prolonged period of highly stimulative monetary policy in the United States could pose a risk to the world’s largest economy.

“If the continuation of low interest rates leads to a substantial rise in long-term interest rates by raising inflation expectations or by generating expectations for a weak dollar, this may give rise to another problem.”

That is “the fiscal burden increases and in turn the need for adjustments in the government’s balance sheet arises,” he told a financial forum.

Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer (R) and his Japanese counterpart Masaaki Shirakawa attend the Paris Europlace financial forum at a Tokyo hotel on November 16, 2009 (AFP photo)

The US central bank has kept its benchmark lending rate at a range of zero to 0.25 percent since last December in an attempt to tackle the worst economic downturn in decades.

Governments and central banks around the world face the tricky task of deciding when to withdraw emergency measures aimed at shoring up their economies in the face of a brutal global slump.

The BoJ’s own key lending rate stands at 0.1 percent and the European Central Bank’s benchmark rate is at 1.0 percent. A handful of countries have hiked rates recently, including Australia, Israel and Norway.

Shirakawa said that assessing corporate balance sheet adjustments in the United States and Europe was “a key issue in determining the outlook for the global economy.”

“Given the growing inter-connectedness between economies around the world, what is important for the global economy is that advanced and emerging economies grow in a sustained and well-balanced manner,” he added.

Bank of France governor Christian Noyer, an ECB council member, told the same forum the risk of a deflationary spiral “has been considerably reduced.”

“Indeed, even when instant inflation turned negative in many countries for several months in a row, long-term inflation expectations remained remarkably stable,” he added.

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Japan hails bluefin tuna quota cuts

In World on November 16, 2009 at 9:17 am

A tuna fish

TOKYO, Nov 16, 2009 (AFP) – Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, hailed a 40 percent quota cut agreed in Brazil in hopes it will preempt a complete trade ban, a fisheries official said Monday.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has agreed to slash the total catch in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea from 22,000 tons this year to 13,500 tons for 2010.

Environmentalists warn that bluefin tuna faces the threat of extinction because of overfishing and want its trade banned by CITES, an international body that sets rules against illegal wildlife trade.

“Japan welcomes the outcome” of the Brazil meeting, said a Fisheries Agency official. “Now the (CITES) convention has become a hot topic this year. We want to control the fish population under the ICCAT, not anything else.”

“Japan has supported a policy on sustaining resources based on scientific data, so we can continue catching the fish sustainably in future,” said the official who spoke on a condition of anonymity.

ICCAT quotas are systematically exceeded by industrial fleets. That and illegal fishing have caused the bluefin tuna population to fall by more than 85 percent in the eastern Atlantic and over 90 percent in the western Atlantic.

Japan, which consumes more than 80 percent of tuna caught in the Mediterranean, endorsed the ICCAT proposal and agreed to reduce its own catch quota accordingly by 38.6 percent to 1,148 tons.

Environmental groups are now backing a call from Monaco for the issue to be taken before a March meeting of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, with the aim of declaring the fish endangered and putting a ban on catching it.

The Brazil meet also agreed to suspend all bluefin tuna catches in 2011 if its scientific committee shows stocks are continuing to decline.

ICCAT was set up in the late 1960s to conserve “tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas,” according to its website.

Forty-eight countries in every region of the world — from Algeria, Barbados, China and France, to Ivory Coast, Japan, the United States and Venezuela — are contracting parties to ICCAT.

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Japan’s economy posts strongest growth since 2007

In World on November 16, 2009 at 9:16 am

TOKYO, Nov 16, 2009 (AFP) – Japan’s economy grew at its strongest pace in more than two years in the latest quarter, smashing market forecasts and extending a recovery from the worst downturn in decades, data showed Monday.

Shoppers cross road at Tokyo’s Ginza district on November 16, 2009 (AFP photo)

The world’s second largest economy posted a second straight quarter of positive growth as it emerges from a severe year-long recession on the back of rebounding exports and the government’s massive stimulus spending.

The economy expanded 1.2 percent in July-September from the previous quarter — 4.8 percent on an annualised basis, the government reported. It was the best performance since January-March 2007 and about twice as fast as expected.

“Positive growth will continue in the fourth quarter,” said RBS Securities economist Junko Nishioka.

“As long as fiscal stimulus effects continue and overseas demand remains stable, we think the likelihood of a double-dip in the economy is low.”

Exports soared 6.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in July-September, while corporate capital expenditure rose 1.6 percent and household spending went up 0.7 percent.

The rebound follows a brutal contraction in Japan’s export-led economy, which suffered double-digit annualised contractions in both the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.

Analysts said the strong performance was also partly due to a temporary boost from corporate inventory restocking and warned the fourth quarter’s growth was unlikely to be so stellar.

“Although the GDP figure is really strong, we need to discount the positive contribution made by private inventories because it’s not sustainable,” said Kyohei Morita, chief Japan economist at Barclays Capital.

The upbeat report followed news Friday that Europe crawled out of recession in the third quarter.

Japan sank into recession in the second quarter of 2008 as the global economic downturn battered demand for its cars, electronics and other exports.

The economy returned to positive growth in April-June this year, expanding 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter, but there are concerns the recovery could lose steam as the boost from the government’s pump-priming efforts fades.

With the ageing and shrinking population dimming the outlook for consumer spending, Japan remains as dependent as ever on foreign markets to drive growth, although the new government has pledged to stimulate domestic demand.

Renewed deflation is seen as a threat to the recovery, with the central bank predicting three straight years of falling consumer prices.

Most data, however, have painted a picture of an economy that is slowly getting back on its feet, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.3 percent in September and factory output rising for a seventh straight month.

“Global financial markets have increasingly been showing signs of improvement, and the global economy has started to pick up,” Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa said in a speech to a financial forum Monday.

The BoJ announced last month it would wind down some of its emergency stimulus measures, but held its key lending rate at 0.1 percent and pledged to continue a highly stimulative monetary policy.

“Clearly, Japan will be the last major economy to raise interest rates,” said Societe Generale’s chief Asia economist, Glenn Maguire.

“It would be silly for the Bank to even consider raising rates over the course of 2010, unwise over the course of 2011, and most probably imprudent over the course of 2012,” he added.

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Russia seeks inspiration from high-tech Singapore

In World on November 16, 2009 at 9:16 am

SINGAPORE, Nov 16, 2009 (AFP) – President Dmitry Medvedev Monday made the first ever official visit by a Russian leader to Singapore to forge stronger ties with the high-tech island as he seeks to modernize Russia’s economy.

The Russian delegation includes business chiefs such as Russia’s former richest man and owner of aluminum giant UC Rusal Oleg Deripaska and Alexander Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas firm.

Singapore President S.R. Nathan (C) delivers a speech at a dinner during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s (L) official visit to Singapore on November 15, 2009, after the APEC summit. AFP PHOTO

Russia — which joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 1998 — has in recent years sought to bolster its relationship with states such as Singapore to diversify its trade base.

With Medvedev seeking to limit Russia’s dangerously high dependence on oil exports and transform it into an innovative, high-tech economy, relations with Singapore have taken on a new importance.

Medvedev met late Sunday with Singapore President S.R. Nathan after the country hosted the APEC summit, telling him “that the system of economic and technical education in your country is of great interest for us.”

The Russian president said agreements were reached at the talks on long-term investment, financial projects and exchange of technologies, Russian official media reported.

Medvedev also met with post-colonial Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who is credited with masterminding its rapid growth since independence and now holds the title of minister mentor in the cabinet of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

On Monday he was due to meet with the Singaporean premier.

Moscow and Singapore forged ties in 1968 under the Soviet Union. Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister for almost three decades, twice visited the USSR and has been to post-Soviet Russia three times.

With Russia importing Singaporean high-tech goods and cars and Singapore importing Russian natural materials and engine oils, total trade in 2008 rose to 1.64 billion US dollars.

And despite the economic crisis which has hit Russian trade with other big Asian economies, trade rose 62.2 percent in the first eight months of the year to 1.1 billion US dollars.

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Marathon bid to separate conjoined Bangladeshi twins

In World on November 16, 2009 at 9:16 am

MELBOURNE, Nov 16, 2009 (AFP) – A team of Australian doctors began marathon and risky surgery on Monday to separate a pair of Bangladeshi twins who are joined at the head, giving only a one in four chance of both surviving.

The 16-strong team was on “tenterhooks” over the delicate bid to separate Trishna and Krishna, aged two, which will take about 16 hours, plastic surgeon Tony Holmes told reporters at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

Plastic surgeon Tony Holmes (C) gives the gathered media an update as a team of Australian doctors begins risky and highly complex operation separate the pair of Bangladeshi twins on Nov. 16 (AFP photo)

“It is a stressful time for any group of surgeons with this sort of case, they only come along really once in a lifetime and I think everybody has been on tenterhooks,” he said.

Doctors had already started cutting through the bone which joins the girls via the top of the head and will then separate the connected section of brain and blood vessels, Holmes added.

“The unknown … is what actually happens when you separate finally the cerebral circulations, because that is a change in haemodynamics (blood movement) so the pressures will be different in each twin,” Holmes said.

“It’s over those few early minutes when the pressures equilibrate in the brain, they’re the things that we’re worried about.

“But the children are prepared as well as could possibly be and we’re cautiously optimistic that everything is going particularly well.”

Krishna was close to death when the twins arrived in Australia in January last year but both are now thriving and have undergone a series of preparatory operations.

The Children First Foundation (CFF) flew the girls to Australia in January 2008 because of poor separation survival rates in their native Bangladesh, where only two children have survived four operations in recent years.

Holmes said the children’s legal guardian, Moira Kelly, looked “relatively distressed” as Trishna and Krishna were wheeled into the operation.

“When the children went into the operating theatre … Moira was there giving them, you know, a farewell kiss and good luck,” he said.

“She was relatively distressed as one would be if it was your child. The kids were fine, OK, they looked as healthy and happy as anything but they were sedated.”

The girls should be apart by 6:00 pm (0700 GMT) and plastic surgeons will then replace the missing bone and skin. The whole procedure is expected to finish at around midnight.

Separating conjoined twins is a notoriously difficult procedure with attempts in Britain and Bangladesh both failing over the past year, although Saudi doctors successfully divided a pair of Egyptian brothers in February.

In one of the best known cases, Singapore doctors in 2003 failed in an attempt to separate adult twins — Iranian law graduates Laleh and Ladan Bijani, 29 — who died from severe blood loss after 52 hours of surgery.

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Study in Australia exhibition returning to Hanoi, HCM City

In Vietnam Education on November 16, 2009 at 9:15 am

The Australian Vocational and Higher Education 2009 will be held in Hanoi on Nov. 21 and Ho Chi Minh City the next day, the Australian Consulate General in the city has announced.

RMIT Universty’s Saigon South campus in Ho Chi Minh City. RMIT is among the exhibitors in the Australian Vocational and Higher Education 2009.

It said more than 50 Australian universities and colleges will travel to Hanoi and seventy to Ho Chi Minh City to participate in the largest Australian education exhibition in Vietnam. The event will run at the Daewoo Hotel in the capital and the Sheraton Saigon Hotel in HCM City.

Organised by the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), this will be the fifth annual exhibition in Vietnam. As usual, it will provide students and their families with access to a growing range of education programs, curriculum and education pathways, as well as practical information about the benefits of living and studying in Australia.

In addition to meeting with representatives from the participating institutions, the exhibition’s seminar program will provide visitors with information about the student experience and visa requirements from the Australian Government, an overview of Australia’s education system, the benefits of studying vocational education and profiles of specific fields of study and study destinations.

The exhibitors will include the Melbourne Institute of Technology, RMIT University, Curtin University of Technology, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, Swinburn University of Technology, Victoria University, Griffith University, and University of Queensland, to tell some.

According to Austrade, more than 21,000 Vietnamese students are currently enrolled in courses in Australia, a five-fold increase since 2005.

List of exhibitors

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Young literature talents blossom

In Vietnam Education on November 16, 2009 at 9:15 am

Sai Gon Giai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Education and Training (DoET) November 15 gave awards to pupils at the 10th annual “Prudential – Good Essay, Good Writing” contest.

After ten years, the contest has drawn much inspiration from schools and learners.

The deputy head of Nguyen Du Junior School in Go Vap District, said the school tried to encourage pupils to take part in the contest because “Prudential – Good Essay, Good Writing” is a “helpful playground.”

Ms Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, head of the Organizing and Personal Department of the city’s Party Committee, gives an award to seventh grader Nguyen Hoang Xuan Chieu from Tran Quoc Toan Secondary School, District 9 ( Photo: SGGP)

At the contest, teachers and pupils were eager to listen to the results. An influx of parents, teachers and friends of winners November 15 brought teddy bears, flowers and presents to the HCMC-based Youth Cultural House to congratulate those on stage.

Audiences seemed speechless on seeing dances performed to illustrate the quality of the winning essays, especially given the age of the writers.

Tran Nguyen Linh, a teacher from Binh Quoi Tay Primary School, Binh Thanh District, took two of his students to the ceremony, saying that taking part in the award ceremony, he felt the contest’s message of humanity.

Deputy Editor-in-chief of SGGP, Le Thanh Dai, stressed in an era of technology, writing skills seemed to receive less attention but the contest proved schoolers were still interested in literature.

Meanwhile, deputy head of DoET, Nguyen Hoai Chuong, thanked the support of Prudential Vietnam over the past ten years.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, head of the Organizing and Personal Department of the city’s Party Committee, said the contest had contributed to the education sector in training pupils literature and writing skills. It helps create good conditions for contest winners – “precious treasures of the country” – to develop further.

In the 8th and 9th grade category: Ninth grade student Nguyen Thi Thao Ngan of Hong Bang Secondary School, District 5, won first prize; Le Thuy Khanh of Saigon Practice High School, District 5, won second prize; Le Truc Anh and Tran Ngoc My Linh from the high schools of Nguyen Du, Go Vap District, and Le Quy Don, District 3, shared third place.
‘Encouragement’ prizes went to Pham Hong Ngoc from Phuoc Binh Junior School, District 9; Tran Le Minh Truc of Le Van Tam, Binh Thanh District; and Le Phuc Duy An of Dang Tran Con, Tan Phu District.
In the 6th and 7th category: The top prize went to seventh grader Nguyen Hoang Xuan Chieu, from Tran Quoc Toan Secondary School, District 9; followed by Nguyen Ngoc Kim Phung from Doc Lap High School.
Phan Thi Thanh Tuyen and Tran Vu Thu from the high schools of Nguyen Du, Go Vap District, and Colette, District 3, captured third prize.
Three encouragement prizes were given to Nguyen Hoang Xuan Nhi of Nguyen An Khuong Secondary School in Hoc Mon District; Vu Nguyen Dan Vy of Le Quy Don Junior School, District 3; and Pham Thu Giang Huong of Nguyen Huu Tho Junior School, District 7. 

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