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Archive for November 20th, 2009|Daily archive page

Market falls as investors track bearish global trend

In Vietnam Stock Market on November 20, 2009 at 10:50 am

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index, which now tracks 186 companies and four mutual funds on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, lost 0.75 percent or 4.21 points Friday induced by a bearish global market.

The index finished at 555.84 as trade volume dropped by 20 percent over Thursday. More than 53.2 million shares worth nearly VND2.67 trillion (US$149.4 million) changed hands.

Shares zigzagged several times during the session and most performed well until the first half before investors rushed to dump stocks. Among the index members, declines outnumbered gains by 127 to 38 and 21 shares were unchanged. Most blue-chips closed down.

Minh Phu Seafood Joint Stock Co. in the Mekong Delta Ca Mau Province was the biggest loser November 20, followed by Taya (Vietnam) Electric Wire and Cable Joint Stock Co. (TYA) in Dong Nai Province neighboring the city and the city-based Thanh Cong Textile Garment Investment Trading Joint Stock Co. (TCM).

The top three active stocks in volume saw Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI) top the list with more than 2.73 million shares traded on the city bourse. The country’s largest brokerage based in HCM City slid 1.12 percent to VND88,500.

Petrovietnam Transportation Corp. (PVT) in HCM City, which gained 4.89 percent to VND19,300, was next having more than 2.42 million shares traded, followed by Saigon Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) which saw 1.94 million shares change hands at VND27,200, down 0.73 percent over Thursday.

After the bell, petrol stocks saw robust growth as An Pha SG Petrol Joint Stock Co. (ASP), the bourse’s biggest listed liquefied petroleum gas importer and trader, rose 4.65 percent to VND17,200. The company has raised VND100 billion ($5.6 million) by selling 1 million five-year convertible bonds through private placement, it said in a statement filed on the exchange website Thursday.

Dong Phu Rubber Joint Stock Co. (DPR), Vietnam’s third-largest listed producer, dropped 0.83 percent to VND60,500 after reaching the highest since October 29 the day earlier. Rubber on Thursday climbed to the highest level in almost 14 months after shippers in Thailand, the world’s largest producer, raised prices to foreign buyers as heavy rain curbed output.

Tan Tao Investment Industry Corp. (ITA) lost 2.56 percent to VND42,900. The city-based company is going to list an extra 2.1 million shares on the exchange, according to a statement filed on the exchange website Friday.

Hanoi’s HNX-Index also stayed in the red, falling to 184.79, down 0.89 points or 0.48 percent. Around 24.4 million shares worth VND 986 billion changed hands.

UP-CoM index didn’t perform any better tumbling 1.56 percent or 1.02 points to 64.44. A total of 62,230 shares were traded at VND809.5 million.

In the US, signs of a subdued economic recovery sent investors out of stocks Thursday and in search of safer assets like the dollar. Major indexes including the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled about 1 percent. Energy and material stocks logged the biggest losses as a jump in the dollar sent commodity prices tumbling. Meanwhile, an analyst’s downgrade of the chip industry pulled technology shares sharply lower.

As stocks fell, investors flocked to the dollar and Treasurys.

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Australian university donates computers to needy kids

In Vietnam Education on November 20, 2009 at 10:49 am

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Vietnam has announced the donation of more than 250 computers to a range of different community organizations to assist in the education of young children.

RMIT Vietnam President Professor Merilyn Liddell (4th L) hands over computers to the Sai Gon Children’s Charity (Photo: Courtesy of RMIT)

The computers were presented November 19 to Mr. Nguyen Hoang Van, information technology manager and webmaster for Saigon Children’s Charity, and Mr. Ly Thanh from the Education Division, Binh Thanh District.
“We are delighted to be able to pass on many of the computers no longer being used by the university – as a result of our regular five-year upgrade program – to organizations which can pass them on to children who may not otherwise have access to this kind of equipment,” RMIT Vietnam President Professor Merilyn Liddell said today.
Receiving the first computers today, Saigon Children’s Charity Director Paul Finnis said the organization enjoyed a close working relationship with RMIT.
“We are delighted that we will now benefit from receiving these computers. They will be used at the Thang Long School for disadvantaged children and young people in District 4, and also for our own use in the office where we provide support to 3,500 disadvantaged children with school scholarships in Ho Chi Minh City and across southern Vietnam,” said Mr. Finnis.
Mr. Ly Thanh from the Education Division of Binh Thanh District thanked RMIT Vietnam and said the computers will be located in the Centres for Educational Community to assist in illiteracy eradication in Binh Thanh District.
Crown Worldwide Vietnam Ltd. is transporting the computers from RMIT free of charge. 

RMIT will also offer computers to HCM City’s Children Hospital I, the General Hospital in the central city of Da Nang, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation and Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam.

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Blind teacher’s songs give hope to kids

In Vietnam Education on November 20, 2009 at 10:49 am

Audiences were touched by a song written by blind music teacher Nguyen Van Thanh which he performed recently at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the blind in Ho Chi Minh City. He wrote the song as a special gift for his students.

Nguyen Van Thanh (standing) helps a student at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu school for the blind in Ho Chi Minh City ( Photo: SGGP)

The song incites students to believe in a happy future despite the hardships of being blind, he says. “I just lost the light but I still have the opportunity to study and teach, and I have friends around who love me,” said Thanh.

Born in 1970, Thanh lost his vision after suffering a serious illness at the age of three. He was sent to study at Nguyen Dinh Chieu School and later went on to study at Pedagogy College.

Upon graduation, Thanh applied for a teaching position at his old school for the blind, hoping to pass on his experiences to a new generation and honor his former teachers.

Fellow teacher Thanh Xuan said, “Students … become absorbed in Thanh’s music and quickly learn his songs by heart.”

The teacher has been honored with several awards for his performances in musical festivals over the years. And with Thanh’s unwavering dedication, several of his students have also gone on to win top prizes for singing at annual music competitions held by the education sector.

Thanh’s songs have even been performed at the Pacific Asia Music Festival for disabled people in Thailand, Japan and China and lauded by the international community.

Some songs, including “Teachers’ words,” have now been translated into English. He sings his songs with a fervor and love for life, inspiring hope in others.

Thanh wakes up early each day to catch a bus from his house in Cu Chi District and heads to Nguyen Dinh Chieu school where he works until 8PM. Despite the grueling schedule and hard work, he says he never thinks about quitting. “I [think about] my beloved pupils on the way to school and hear the laughter of my wife and baby on the way back home,” he says.

“Owing the old school … I spend my whole life repaying it,” Thanh sings from his song “In debt,” written when he first came to teach at Nguyen Dinh Chieu school.

On November 18 Thanh received the coveted 2009-2010 Vo Truong Toan Prize for excellence in teaching.

Related article:
Crowds hail teachers at annual ceremony

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HCMC sees rash of measles victims

In Vietnam Health on November 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

Children’s hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City said November 19 said the incidence of measles among kids is rising.

Children Hospital II has admitted 158 toddlers with the disease since the beginning of November, with one of them, a 10-month-old baby from Go Vap District, dying.

It has treated 881 patients so far this year.

The city’s Tropical Diseases hospital received more than 50 children with measles on November 19.

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Bomb attack kills Pakistan police: official

In World on November 20, 2009 at 8:38 am

A bomb ripped through a Pakistan police vehicle, killing two policemen and wounding five people on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar early Friday, officials said.

“It was a remote-controlled bomb packed with steel pellets, which was planted on the roadside,” senior police official Mohammad Karim Khan said.

Doctor Attaullah Arif at the city’s main Lady Reading Hospital said two policemen were killed and five people wounded, including three police.

The left side of the patrol vehicle, which can seat around six policemen in the back of the cabin, was badly damaged with four or five berets discarded next to splashes of blood, said an AFP correspondent.

The attack came around 14 hours after a suicide bomber struck a court in Peshawar killing 19 people, the sixth attack on the northwestern city in 11 days as Pakistan presses a major offensive against the Taliban.

Pakistani army troops patrol at the site following a suicide bomb blast in Peshawar.

The sprawling city of 2.5 million people lies on the edge of Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt, where US officials say Al-Qaeda militants are plotting against the West.

Attacks in the northwest have soared as 30,000 Pakistani troops press into Taliban strongholds in the hostile terrain near the border with Afghanistan, where 100,000 NATO and US troops are fighting a deadly insurgency.

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Copenhagen summit will be ‘success’: UN climate chief

In World on November 20, 2009 at 8:38 am

Efforts to craft a comprehensive climate treaty in Copenhagen next month will certainly “yield a success,” the UN’s top climate official pledged on Thursday.

“There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that it will yield a success,” said Yvo de Boer, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UN Climate chief Yvo de Boer attends a press conference on November 2.

“I’ve seen some recent reports that said that Copenhagen has failed even before it starts and I must say that those reports are simply wrong,” he insisted ahead of the December 7-18 meeting in the Danish capital of negotiators from 192 countries.

“Almost every day now we see new commitments and pledges from both industrialized and developing countries,” de Boer said, citing announcements from Brazil and South Korea on national plans to reduce emissions “in a very, very significant way.”

Japan has also tabled a “very generous offer of upfront financing to help developing countries on mitigation and adaptation” to climate change, he said.

“The political leadership that so many leaders promised at the UN climate change summit in September is alive, it is well and it will lead to success in Copenhagen,” de Boer added.

US President Barack Obama, he said, has demonstrated “incredible courage and leadership” and wants a “strong” policy agreement on the issue.

“I am confident that the president of the United States can come to Copenhagen with targets and a financial commitment,” he said.

The UN climate chief framed the summit positively following the meeting of 44 environment ministers from key countries in Copenhagen that aimed at laying the groundwork for a political agreement at next month’s conference.

Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard described the preparatory talks as “very constructive.”

Obama earlier this week, meanwhile, said China and the United States wanted the Copenhagen summit to culminate in a global accord that had “immediate operational effect.”

We “agreed to work toward a successful outcome in Copenhagen,” Obama told journalists after talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

China and the United States together account for 37.5 percent of global emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Their positions are seen as key to the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, a two-year process that aims at building a post-2012 planet-wide treaty on tackling climate change to replace Kyoto, which remains the only international agreement limiting the output of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases.

Late last month, de Boer signalled caution ahead of the summit, saying it is “physically impossible under any scenario to complete every detail of a treaty in Copenhagen.”

Developing nations have called for wealthy economies to cut their emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, and to provide around one percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) per year, or around 400 billion dollars, in finance.

So far, no rich country has come anywhere close to meeting such a demand.

De Boer has also recalled, however, that it took eight years to negotiate, sign and ratify Kyoto.

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Ireland asks FIFA for France World Cup replay

In World on November 20, 2009 at 8:37 am

Angry Ireland called on FIFA Thursday to allow its World Cup playoff with France to be replayed, as a dispute over Thierry Henry‘s blatant handball threatened to become a diplomatic row.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he supported the Football Association of Ireland’s request, and promised to raise the issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at an EU summit.

Video replays showed Henry used his hand to stop the ball going out of play in extra-time of Wednesday’s match, before he passed to William Gallas to head the goal for a 2-1 aggregate win which sent France to South Africa.

TV grab shows French forward Thierry Henry touching the ball during the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland

“The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport,” the FAI said in a statement.

“We now call on FIFA, as the world governing body for our sport, to organise for this match to be replayed.”

As he arrived in Brussels for the meeting to choose two top EU jobs, Cowen said: “Our minister of sport actually will write to FIFA in support of that complaint and look for a re-match.”

He said he and Sarkozy “will probably have a chat about it away from the table,” but added that he wanted football’s authorities to resolve the row and ensure “that fair play is upheld here.”

But as the fallout intensified, the French prime minister said the Irish government should not get involved in FIFA business.

“Neither the French government nor the Irish government should interfere in the functioning of the international federation,” Francois Fillon said.

FIFA confirmed it had received a letter of complaint from the FAI, but refused to say when any decision would be made.

Ireland’s chances of forcing a replay appear slim.

The match in Paris was one of four playoffs on Wednesday which finalised the 32-nation line-up for South Africa.

The draw for next year’s finals is due to be made in Cape Town on December 4, leaving little time in a calendar already crowded by club matches.

Who’s saying what about Henry handball

The Irish football body pointed to a precedent: a FIFA decision in 2005 to invalidate the result of a World Cup qualifier between Ukbekistan and Bahrain on the basis of “a technical error by the referee of the match”.

But a FIFA spokesman said that was a “very different” case, because the referee in the match “saw the incident in question and simply failed to apply the proper rules”.

FAI chief executive John Delaney said his organisation had also written to the French Football Federation (FFF) asking for the playoff to be replayed, and urged FIFA to take action.

“If FIFA believe in fairplay and integrity… this is their opportunity to step forward,” a clearly agitated Delaney said.

“From the French FA’s point of view, they need to look at themselves and look at this situation.

“Thierry Henry’s their captain, he’s a wonderful footballer, but does he want to be remembered like Maradona was in 1986, does he want his legacy to be this handball?” he asked, referring to Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal for Argentina against England at the 1986 World Cup.

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said he did not believe FIFA would grant a replay.

“It is impossible to repeat the game,” the experienced Italian said.

He urged FIFA to explain how Swedish referee Martin Hansson, who failed to spot the incident, had been chosen for such a high-profile match, saying: “For this important game we needed a stronger referee, an important referee.”

Henry himself admitted handling, but said the responsibility for seeing the incident fell to the match official.

Trapattoni refused to blame the player, saying: “It wasn’t up to Henry to say ‘I touched it with my hand’.”

The Irish press were unanimous in their condemnation.

“We were robbed” said the Irish Star, “Le Cheat” added the Irish Mirror, while the Irish Sun splashed with the “Hand of the Frog”.

A Facebook page entitled “We Irish hate Thierry Henry (the cheat)” also drew hundreds of comments, including a call for an Irish boycott of French goods.

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Russia, Ukraine reach gas compromise deal: Putin

In World on November 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced late Thursday a compromise deal with Ukraine on the thorny issue of gas supply, lessening the threat of multibillion-dollar fines that might cripple Ukraine’s economy.

Speaking after several hours of talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko, he said Russia had agreed to allow Ukraine to buy less gas next year and it would now be up to the two countries’ energy companies to put that agreement in writing.

Gazprom and Naftogaz will agree on new volumes,” Putin said, referring to the two countries’ energy firms after talks.

“We deemed it possible to meet Ukraine halfway and tweak several of our earlier agreements,” Putin said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) exchanges documents with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Moscow in April 2009.

Earlier this year, Russia also agreed to reduce the volume of gas Kiev must acquire this year without imposing fines. That agreement however has yet to be put in writing.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz has said it is meant to buy 52 billion cubic metres of Russian gas next year but may only need 27 bcm.

It could have faced potentially crippling multibillion-dollar fines if it did not pay for all the gas it had contracted.

Russia has repeatedly warned of Ukraine’s financial problems in the past weeks.

Putin also said Moscow agreed with Kiev’s decision to boost the tariffs Russia pays for the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine by 60 percent from next year.

The two premiers took pains to allay fears in Europe where officials are concerned that a new gas dispute between the two ex-Soviet nations would lead to a new cut in energy supplies.

Both Putin and Tymoshenko stressed that their countries would fully meet their obligations.

“I sincerely hope that all the agreements that have been previously reached will be implemented,” Putin said. “It would be good to meet the New Year without any calamities.”

Tymoshenko played down the prospect of gas disruptions, saying: “We will very carefully and precisely carry out our functions of transit of Russian gas.”

“Ukraine pays and will pay on time” for Russian gas, she said at the talks.

In January, a row between the two countries resulted in Russian gas being cut to much of Europe for two weeks amid freezing temperatures.

Earlier in the day Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko warned Russian gas supplies to Europe are under threat. He said in a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that current gas contracts between Moscow and Kiev had to be revised.

“Potential risks will appear for the security of gas deliveries to Ukraine and its transit to other European countries,” he said ahead of the talks.

While relations between Russia and the pro-Western Yushchenko have reached crisis point, Putin and Tymoshenko have boasted of their cordial relationship.

The meeting in Yalta was also a chance for Putin and Tymoshenko to flaunt their strong relations ahead of presidential polls in Ukraine in January in which the Ukrainian premier is a frontrunner.

Putin’s foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said ahead of the meeting that Putin and Tymoshenko would most likely discuss the presidential vote, set for January 17, even though the issue was not on the official agenda.

In the polls, Tymoshenko will compete with Yushchenko and more pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich, whom Russia supported during the 2004 election.

The talks were held at the Livadia Palace in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, the venue for the 1945 conference where the Big Three, Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, redrew the postwar map of Europe.

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Google-powered netbooks to debut next year

In World on November 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

 Google on Thursday provided a peek beneath the hood of its new Chrome operating system, making the software public and promising it will run netbooks by the end of next year.

Google-crafted Chrome OS will be tailored exclusively for applications hosted as services in the Internet “cloud” and debut on low-cost bare-bones netbooks that have been a booming segment of the laptop computer market.

“We believe there is a better model of computing we can give users,” vice president of Chrome OS Sundar Pichai said while demonstrating the in-progress software at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

“That is what Chrome OS is. Speed, simplicity and security. We want Google Chrome OS to be so blazingly fast… We think it should be like a TV, you turn it on and you are in the application.”

Google is working with computer makers to build Chrome OS into netbooks to be available in stores in time for holiday shopping at the end of 2010.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin meets with the press in Mountain View, California.

Chrome OS will only be available pre-loaded on netbooks that are compatible with the software, according to Pichai.

“We are really focused on making a netbook that is lean and mean and runs the Internet really well,” said Chrome OS engineering director Matt Papakipos.

Chrome OS will eventually expand to other computing devices, but the priority is to have it in netbooks within a year, according to Pichai.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin brushed off questions about whether Chrome OS will challenge the long-time dominance of Microsoft Windows operating systems in the global computer market.

“Call us dumb businessmen, but we really focus on user needs rather than on strategies related to other businesses,” Brin said. “There is a real need to use computers easily. We believe the Web platform is a much simpler way.”

Google made the Chrome OS code available Thursday to outside developers so they could start crafting software or applications to work with the system.

The operating system builds on a Chrome Web browser which has won more than 40 million users since it was released about a year ago, according to Pichai.

Chrome OS is being built to act as a door to the Internet, where people are increasingly spending time on Web-based applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Gmail, and Flickr.

“If you look at the last five years, most interesting applications for computers are Web-based,” Pichai said. “It is the most successful platform out there.”

Users’ data will reside in the cloud at the online services they use, meaning that if a netbook breaks or is lost people can reconnect with their online worlds from other machines.

The netbooks will rely on flash memory, meaning they will be lightning fast as compared to machines that boot data up from spinning hard drives.

“You punch a button and are on the Web as soon as possible,.” Papakipos said.

Google has set Chrome OS netbook criteria including ample keyboards and larger screens.

Chrome OS software will be free and Google is not asking netbook makers for any of the revenue, according to Brin.

“The more people that use the Internet, the better it is for our business generally,” Brin said. “We believe in supporting this ecosystem.”

Google is the proven king of pumping cash from online advertising connected to Internet searches or services. If a netbook maker wants to use the Google brand on a device, “we will have to talk,” Brin said.

Google expects that “early adopters” who opt for Chrome OS netbooks will use them to connect to the Internet, but will have other machines for working with proprietary software not available online.

Brin sees Google’s Android and Chrome software merging over time as netbooks, laptops, tablets and smartphones converge on the hardware side.

He declined to speculate as to what a cloud computing trend might mean to Microsoft, which built its empire on packaged software.

“I’m not an expert on Microsoft. I just believe in this simple system where you work in the cloud and you are not individually tweaking each thing on each individual machine,” Brin said. “I think it is a more efficient way to work. Maybe Microsoft will adopt that model and maybe it will not.”

Microsoft has been building more cloud capabilities into its software in what it refers to as a “software plus services” strategy.

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1 conjoined twin talking after separation surgery

In World on November 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

 A Bangladeshi toddler separated this week from her conjoined twin sister was talking and behaving normally Thursday after waking from a medically induced coma, the head of the surgery team said.

Trishna is already doing well enough that she could leave intensive care, said Wirginia Maixner, director of neurosurgery at Royal Children’s Hospital.

“She looks brilliant, she is talking, she is being Trishna, she is behaving the way she always has,” Maixner told reporters. “She’s phenomenally good.”

Her sister, Krishna, will be slowly brought out of the coma later Thursday, Maixner said. Krishna will have a longer period of adjustment as the separation brought more changes to her body and brain’s blood circulation.

Krishna, is seen at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne in Australia.

Maixner said they hoped to have an indication Thursday night or early Friday about how Krishna’s brain was responding. MRI scans Wednesday showed no signs of brain injury.

Maixner said there may be minor changes to the girls from where their brains were separated but that overall the brains looked good.

“I can tell you that it’s not until I saw that scan that I had my first breath of relief,” she said, revealing she did a short “chicken dance” when she saw the positive images. “The scans look great. I believe we’ve brought them through safely. I believe that the girls will come out really, really good.”

The twins, who turn 3 next month, had been joined at the top of their heads and shared brain tissue and blood vessels. They were separated Tuesday after 25 hours of delicate surgery, and then underwent an additional six hours of reconstructive work.

Maixner said after the girls have recovered, their next hurdle will be learning to walk.

“There will be a process before the girls start walking and they have gone through so much in the last two years that it will take a bit of time — but they will get there,” she said.

Doctors had earlier said there was a 50-50 chance that one of the girls could suffer brain damage from the complicated separation.

An aid worker first saw Trishna and Krishna in a Bangladeshi orphanage in 2007 when they were only a month old, and arranged for them to be brought to Australia.

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