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Archive for November 23rd, 2009|Daily archive page

Russia wins Mrs. World 2009

In Vietnam Culture on November 23, 2009 at 10:23 am

Mrs. Russia Victoria Radochinskaya was crowned the winner of the 2009 Mrs. World Pageant on November 22, outshining 76 other international competitors. The first runner-up was American Andrea Robertson, while the second runner-up was host Vietnam’s Hoang Thi Yen.

Mrs. Russia Victoria Radochinskaya (R) is crowned the winner of the the 2009 Mrs. World Pageant on November 22 in Vung Tau City. (Photo: SGGP)

The pageant, held in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, attracted 76 candidates from countries and territories worldwide including two Vietnamese contestants, Hoang Thi Yen and Nguyen Thi Thu Ha.

More than 2,500 spectators came out to watch the pageant at the Sports Event Hall of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province and were treated to several performances by the competitors. During the opening of the final round, the women wore traditional Vietnamese costumes and sang a song accompanied by children.

American actor Alan Thicke and Miss World Vietnamese 2007 Ngo Phuong Lan served as the event’s masters of ceremonies.

In the pageant’s national costume and swimsuit portion, Vietnam’s Yen placed in the top 12 and then placed in the top six in the gala evening dress competition.

During a question-and-answer session, Yen was the first to answer a question posed by the judges, however, her translator exceeded the allowable time limit when speaking.

PR director Radochinskaya, married for one year, was awarded the crown worth US$150,000 and jewelry worth $20,000.

Mrs. Denmark won the Mrs. Friendly category, Hong Kong won the Traditional Costume Prize, and the best Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese tunic) performance went to Côte D’Ivoire.

Mrs. World 2010 is scheduled to be held in the Republic of Korea.

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UK troupe brings ‘Christmas Carol’ to Vietnam

In Vietnam Culture on November 23, 2009 at 10:22 am

Actors from Britain’s TNT Theater are set to delight Ho Chi Minh City audiences November 26-29 with performances of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.”

Actors from Britain’s TNT Theater perform Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Ho Chi Minh City Drama Theater ( Photo: U. Phuong)

The play tells the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who refuses to help anyone despite his or her misfortune. His frozen heart only begins to thaw on Christmas Eve when three ghosts visit him from the past, present and future. 

The drama will be performed at the Ho Chi Minh City Drama Theater in English with Vietnamese subtitles and uses live musical performances to connect with audiences.

The main actor, David Ahmad, lives in London and this is his second tour with TNT Theater.

Directed by Paul Stebblings and produced by Grantly Read Marshall, the play is presented by the local Le Quy Duong Company together with the Arts Performing Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The classic drama will be performed November 24 in Binh Dinh Province, and in the central cities of Hue and Da Nang, and capital Hanoi after November 29.

Through this international arts cooperation, the Le Quy Duong Company says it hopes to boost cultural exchange, diversify professional arts for the country and give Vietnamese audiences exposure to world literature and art masterpieces.

Tickets cost between VND150, 000-450,000 ($9-27) and can be purchased from the Ho Chi Minh City Drama Theater, 30 Tran Hung Dao St., District 1. Performances will begin at 20:00.

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Ancient bronze drum, holy cow displayed in Quang Tri

In Vietnam Culture on November 23, 2009 at 10:22 am

A 2,000-year-old bronze drum and statue of the sacred cow Nandin are being displayed at the Quang Tri Museum to mark the 64th anniversary of Vietnam Cultural Heritage Day (November 23, 1945).

2,00-year-old bronze drum is being displayed at the Quang Tri Museum.

The drum was recently unearthed in Tra Loc village, Hai Xuan Commune, Hai Lang District in the central province of Quang Tri.

The statue of holy cow Nandin was found in an ancient Champa tower in Kim Dau village, Cam An Commune, Cam Lo District in the province.

According to the ancient Champa people, the Nandin Bull was a pure white bull that the Hindu God Shiva rode on. The sacred cow was also considered a lord of the castle.

The two antiques are now being presented to the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism for recognition as national cultural heritage items.

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Hanoi student wins national fashion contest

In Vietnam Culture on November 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

Huynh Hai Long, a graduate of the Hanoi University of Theater and Cinema, November 21 won the top prize worth VND50 million (US$2,500) at the Viet Nam Collection Grand Prix 2009, the largest national fashion design competition.

Huynh Hai Long (2nd L)and his wining designs at the award ceremony of the 2009 Vietnam Collection Grand Prix

The award ceremony of the 11th annual contest for young, up-and-coming designers was held at the Quan Ngua Sporting Hall in Hanoi.

Other awards including “Future Designer” and “Best Material” went to Vo Thi Quynh Nhu, 19, of Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen Manh Hao, a graduate of the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts, won the “Fashion Designer of the Year” and “Impression” titles.

The judging panel comprised well-known domestic and foreign designers including Francine Pairon, creative director at the French Mode Institute; Leslie Davis Burns, chair of the Design and Human Environment Department at Oregon State University (OSU); Valerie Bannister of the London College of Fashion (UK); and Minh Hanh, director of the Vietnam Fashion Design Institute (FADIN).

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HCMC, delta provinces to show off tourism potential in Cambodia

In Vietnam Travel on November 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

Angkor Wat

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta provinces of Kien Giang and An Giang will organize a tourism promotion program in Cambodia from December 7 to 9.

The event, to be held in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, will showcase the images of the two provinces and HCM City and highlight HCM City’s tourism destinations.

Vietnamese travel firms will also have a chance to meet Cambodian authorities to seek investment in transportation, real estate, and tourism.



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Khmer Rouge jail chief accused of crocodile tears

In World on November 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

File photo of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch (AFP photo)

PHNOM PENH, Nov 23, 2009 (AFP) – Lawyers for Khmer Rouge victims Monday accused the regime’s jailer of duping Cambodia’s war crimes court with “crocodile tears” as he faces final arguments over “Killing Fields” atrocities.

Former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav — better known as Duch — has apologised repeatedly for his role in the horrors of the hardline communist regime, which killed up to two million people three decades ago.

But civil lawyers representing 93 victims of the Tuol Sleng prison at the UN-backed court argued that Duch had failed to acknowledge the full extent of his guilt, as his trial entered its closing week.

Attorney Kong Pisey told judges that Duch had sought “to cleverly evade responsibility when it suits him” and wept “crocodile tears” in the dock.

“The cooperation with the court and his pretended truthful admissions is half-hearted,” Kong Pisey said, speaking through an official translator.

“However the accused’s defence strategy of denying any personal involvement of torture, killing and arrest is unsuccessful.”

Lawyers used part of the day’s hearings to recount how Tuol Sleng prisoners were beaten, electrocuted and then executed.

“Your honours must objectively, we say, review the evidence to determine whether or not what has been accepted by the accused amounts to full disclosure and the full truth,” lawyer Karim Khan told judges.

The prosecution is scheduled to begin presenting its arguments Tuesday.

Duch, who wore a white turtleneck sweater as he watched Monday’s proceedings from the dock, is expected to apologise again this week as his defence bids to lessen his sentence.

Since his trial began in February, Duch, 67, has repeatedly asked for forgiveness for overseeing the murders of around 15,000 men, women and children at the S-21 or Tuol Sleng prison, a former high school.

He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder, and faces a maximum term of life in prison by the tribunal, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

A verdict is expected early next year.

Hundreds of Cambodians attended the specially built courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Monday to watch Duch, who sat behind a huge bullet-proof screen to prevent possible revenge attacks.

This week’s proceedings will be broadcast live by all Cambodian television stations, court officials said.

Tuol Sleng prison was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and inmates were taken from there during Duch’s tenure for execution at nearby Choeung Ek, an orchard now known as the “Killing Fields”.

Led by “Brother Number One” Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for one of the worst horrors of the 20th century, wiping out nearly a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork and execution.

Rising to power as a tragic spin-off from the US conflict in Vietnam, the movement emptied Cambodia’s cities to take society back to a rural “Year Zero”, purging city dwellers, intellectuals and even people who wore glasses.

The four-year Khmer Rouge reign of terror ended in 1979. Pol Pot died in 1998.

Duch has been detained since 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle, and was formally arrested by the tribunal in July 2007.

The court has faced controversy over allegations of interference by the government and claims that Cambodian staff paid bribes for their jobs.

The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011.

The court is also investigating whether to open more cases against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres after a dispute between the international and Cambodian co-prosecutors over whether to pursue more suspects.

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Gold hits record high past 1,160 US dollars per ounce

In World on November 23, 2009 at 10:20 am

HONG KONG, Nov 23, 2009 (AFP) – The price of gold soared to a record close of 1,166.00-1,167.00 US dollars an ounce in Hong Kong on Monday as dealers moved into the safe haven commodity due to the weak greenback, analysts said.

It opened at 1,158.00-1,159.00 US dollars.

The precious metal was up from Friday’s close of 1,145.00-1,146.00 dollars as stocks on Wall Street suffered a third straight loss and as the US unit continues to struggle due to super-low interest rates.

“We closed on the day’s high Friday, so that prompted more buying this morning,” Anderson Cheung, director of precious metals at Mitsui Bussan in Hong Kong, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“People are talking about buying gold long-term exposure, as a safe haven,” Cheung said.

The price of gold has soared 11.5 percent since India’s central bank at the start of November bought 200 tonnes from the International Monetary Fund.

“We might see some early profit taking on the London opening, but a real bull trend has formed. It’s very easy to push the price higher right now. The sentiment in the gold market really changed since the IMF gold sale to India’s central bank,” said Wallace Ng, chief gold dealer at Fortis in Hong Kong.

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Japan, China, S.Korea sign first memorandum on food safety

In World on November 23, 2009 at 10:20 am

TOKYO, Nov 23, 2009 (AFP) – Health ministers from Japan, China and South Korea agreed Monday to step up efforts to ensure food safety following concerns over pesticide-tainted Chinese-made dumplings.

Health ministers from China, Chen Zhu (L), Japan, Akira Nagatsuma (C) and South Korea Jeon Jae-Hee (R) join hands as they hold a meeting in Tokyo on November 23, 2009 (AFP photo)

Japanese Health Minister Akira Nagatsuma, his Chinese counterpart Chen Zhu and South Korean health chief Jeon Jae-Hee signed their first joint memorandum on food safety after a meeting in Tokyo, a statement said.

The move came as Tokyo seeks further investigation by Beijing authorities over pesticide-tainted Chinese-made frozen dumplings, which made 10 people ill in Japan in January 2008.

“The food was highly possibly poisoned in China,” Nagatsuma said in the meeting. “Japan hopes China deals with the case in a sincere manner.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama advocates better ties with China but has also repeated since taking office in September that concerns over the safety of imported Chinese food were an “obstacle” between the nations.

Under the memorandum, the three nations agreed to immediately notify each other if a food safety problem surfaces and to clarify the process of investigation, the statement said.

The three health ministers also issued a joint statement in which they agreed to step up cooperation in the fight against swine flu.

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Over 100 icebergs drifting to N.Zealand: official

In World on November 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

File photo shows an iceberg pictured off the New Zealand Coast (AFP photo)

SYDNEY (AFP) – More than 100, and possibly hundreds, of Antarctic icebergs are floating towards New Zealand in a rare event which has prompted a shipping warning, officials said on Monday.

An Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist said the ice chunks, spotted by satellite photography, had passed the Auckland Islands and were heading towards the main South Island, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) northeast.

Scientist Neal Young said more than 100 icebergs — some measuring more than 200 metres (650 feet) across — were seen in just one cluster, indicating there could be hundreds more.

He said they were the remains of a massive ice floe which split from the Antarctic as sea and air temperatures rise due to global warming.

“All of these have come from a larger one that was probably 30 square kilometres (11.6 square miles) in size when it left Antarctica,” Young told AFP.

“It’s done a long circuit around Antarctica and now the bigger parts of it are breaking up and producing smaller ones.”

He said large numbers of icebergs had not floated this close to New Zealand since 2006, when a number came within 25 kilometres of the coastline — the first such sighting since 1931.

“They’re following the same tracks now up towards New Zealand. Whether they make it up to the South Island or not is difficult to tell,” Young said.

New Zealand has already issued coastal navigation warnings for the area in the Southern Ocean where the icebergs have been seen.

“It’s really just a general warning for shipping in that area to be on the alert for icebergs,” said Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson.

The icebergs are smaller remnants of the giant chunks seen off Australia’s Macquarie Island this month, including one estimated at two kilometres (1.2 miles) and another twice the size of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium.

Young earlier told AFP he expected to see more icebergs in the area if the Earth’s temperature continues to increase.

“If the current trends in global warming were to continue I would anticipate seeing more icebergs and the large ice shelves breaking up,” he said.

When icebergs last neared New Zealand in 2006, a sheep was helicoptered out to be shorn on one of the floes in a publicity stunt by the country’s wool industry.

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Lochte ends Phelps’s reign as swimmer of year

In Vietnam Sports on November 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

Ryan Lochte poses for photos on the red carpet during the 2009 USA Swimming Foundation Golden Goggles Awards on November 22, 2009 at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California (AFP photo)

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Ryan Lochte beat out superstar Michael Phelps and veteran Aaron Peirsol for male swimmer of the year Sunday at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles awards.

Rebecca Soni nabbed female swimmer of the year honors, while Phelps, who earned a leading six nominations, was honored for delivering the men’s race of the year and for a world championship relay performance.

Lochte ended Phelps’ two-year reign as male swimmer of the year, thanks to world record-setting triumphs in the 200m individual medley and 4x200m freestyle relay at the world championships in Rome.

He earned five medals, including four golds in Rome.

“I just want to say thank you to my parents. They’ve been 100 percent with me my entire swimming career,” Lochte said. “Aaron Peirsol and Michael Phelps, you guys have pushed me to limits I didn’t even know, and I wouldn’t be here without you.”

Lochte also shared the relay performance of the year award, for the 4x100m free relay in Rome in which he, Phelps, Matt Grevers and Nathan Adrian defeated Russia as favorites France flopped.

Phelps was honored for his scintillating 100m butterfly triumph in Rome. He smashed the 50-second barrier with a time of 49.82sec and handed Milorad Cavic a bigger defeat than the one the Serbian suffered by a fingertip at the Beijing Olympics.

Soni set a world record and won gold in the 100m breaststroke in Rome.

The award-winners were decided by fans in online voting.

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