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Archive for November 28th, 2009|Daily archive page

Foreign arrivals multiply

In Vietnam Travel on November 28, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Vietnam welcomed 387,870 foreign arrivals in November, representing a many-fold increase over October.









The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) reported at a workshop on its strategy for 2020 with a vision for 2030 in Hanoi on November 27 that it is a positive sign for the hospitality industry after 10 months of gloom and doom due to the global economic downturn.

The governing agency said it expected continued growth in December to bring the total number of foreign arrivals for the year to some 4 million.


It attributed the success to a series of image promotion campaigns abroad and a discount program named “Impressive Vietnam!”


“The rally of the Vietnamese economy is another factor attracting foreign tourists,” said the VNAT.


The national strategy for 2020 and vision for 2030 called for welcoming 7-8 million foreign arrivals and serving 32-35 million domestic holiday-makers by 2015.


The targets for 2020 include 11-12 million international arrivals and 45-48 million domestic vacationers.


The hospitality industry is expected to post revenues of USD10-11 billion in 2015 and USD18-19 billion in 2020, which will double in 2030.


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Explosion heard in Kabul: witnesses

In World on November 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm

An explosion in a central Kabul neighbourhood on Saturday was caused by a “sound bomb” and appeared to have caused no casualties, an official said.


The blast happened around 10:20 am (0550 GMT) and was immediately followed by the sound of sirens as security forces rushed to the scene.


An official with the interior ministry told AFP that a “sound bomb” had been placed in a garbage skip on a main thoroughfare through the wealthy Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood.


“There are no casualties at all,” spokesman Zamarai Bashary said.


So-called “sound bombs” are aimed at causing noise and confusion, rather than death and injury.


Afghanistan is marking the Eid-al-Adha Muslim festival of sacrifice with a four-day holiday until Tuesday, with most businesses closed and very little traffic on the capital’s usually gridlocked roads.








Afghan police stand guard at a site of a blast in the center of Kabul, on November 28.

Wazir Akbar Khan is the location of the American and British embassies, as well as the residences of their employees. Many foreign firms also have offices in the nighbourhood, which is close to Kabul’s airport.


It is also near the headquarters of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the scene of a massive suicide car bomb attack in mid-August that killed at least three people and wounded dozens more.


The area, like the rest of the Afghan capital, was quiet as most people celebrate the holiday at home with family.


An AFP employee on the site said the explosive device had been put in a large rubbish skip on the roadside, and the blast had resulted in garbage being spread across a wide area.


Kabul, the most heavily-fortified part of war-torn Afghanistan, has been attacked by Taliban-linked insurgents at least five times in recent months with around 100 people killed and 300 injured.


Most have been suicide car bomb attacks that the Taliban have claimed responsibility for.


Most recently, on November 13, a suicide car bomber struck near a US military base in Kabul, Camp Phoenix. No one was killed.


Kabul has been on heightened alert since October 28 when Taliban-linked insurgents stormed a guesthouse occupied by staff of the United Nations, most of whom were in the Afghan capital for work associated with the recent presidential election.


The tragedy at the guesthouse resulted in the deaths of at least five UN workers and two Afghans, and saw the United Nations withdraw up to 600 staff from Afghanistan, many of them to be permanently relocated elsewhere.


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Russian train crash kills 39, nearly 100 injured

In World on November 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Rescue workers picked Saturday through the twisted wreckage of a Russian passenger train that derailed overnight killing at least 39 people, hunting for more survivors of what may have been an attack.


“In all there are 39,” Alexander Basulin, an official at Russia’s emergency situations ministry, was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. “There were 25 at the beginning, and 14 more were found outside the carriage.”


Separately, Interfax quoted an unnamed rescue worker as saying that the death toll had risen to 39 from the previous reported figure of 25.


Russian television showed footage of the mangled metal of four overturned wagons of the Nevski Express, which officials said came off the tracks Friday evening in the Novgorod region as it travelled between the capital Moscow and Saint Petersburg.








Passengers of a train which derailed in Russia’s Novgorod region as it travelled between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, arrive in St. Petersburg.

Ninety-five people were injured and hospitalised, she added.


A unnamed security official was quoted by the Interfax as saying that a one metre-diametre (three-foot wide) crater was found near the scene of the disaster.


“Witnesses say they heard a loud bang before the accident. This could be proof of an attack,” the source said.


The crater could have been caused by an “explosion from a device placed underneath one of the wagons,” Ria-Novosti quoted another security official as saying.


A railways official also told Itar-Tass that “an attack is one of the possibilities” being looked at by the police.


“That version must be carefully studied by law enforcement authorities,” Alexander Pirkov, an advisor to the president of the Russian railway company, was quoted as saying by Interfax.


In August 2007, a bomb on the same line derailed a train, injuring 60 passengers, with Chechen separatist or ultra-nationalist groups suspected.


Four wagons of the 14-carriage train, carrying around 660 passengers and nearly two dozen staff, derailed at 9:34 pm (1834 GMT), according to the emergencies ministry.


Emergency services rushed to the scene of the crash, and by 0100 GMT all the injured had been evacuated to local hospitals, Russia media reported.


Several medical teams and a mobile hospital were also dispatched to the area.


Rescue work continued through the night to free people believed trapped under the wreckage, said Itar-Tass.


“Two wagons were completely overturned … Several people were completely crushed under the metal. I heard screams, moaning,” said, Andrei Abramenko, a police officer who happened to be travelling on the train, on Vesti 24 television.


The station showed footage of rescuers working among the wreckage under powerful searchlights.


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the head of the FSB domestic security service, Alexander Bortnikov, and Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to lead the investigation into the causes of the derailment, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The country’s anti-terrorism committee dispatched units to the area to help with the rescue effort and the investigation, Interfax reported.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu held a crisis meeting in Moscow with Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Golikova, and was expected to visit the scene of derailment Saturday morning, the news agency reported.

In Washington, the White House said it was “deeply saddened by the terrible loss of life and injuries” from the railway accident, spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.


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Cadaver hunt in Philippines massacre ends: police

In World on November 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Police have ended a grisly search for corpses and mass graves from an election-linked massacre in the southern Philippines, with the known death toll standing at 57, officials said Saturday.


The authorities dismissed several news reports that quoted a police official saying he had counted 64 bodies from the slaughter just off a farming road in the province of Maguindanao on Mindanao island.


“We ended the search yesterday,” Senior Superintendent Bienvenido Latag, the police chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, told reporters by telephone.


“We have 57 bodies in our official list. Of course we are still checking and if there are reports of more bodies we will verify those. But so far, the information that we have is that the total has not changed.”








A general view of the shallow grave where the bodies of victims of massacre were found in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province.

Chief Superintendent Josefino Cataluna, the police chief of central Mindanao, also confirmed the toll.


The last 11 were pulled out from two adjacent mass graves on Wednesday, including five who were entombed along with three vehicles, police said.


The government has charged a local official in the area, Andal Ampatuan Jnr, with ordering and taking part in the killings. He surrendered to police Thursday and has been flown to Manila where he was detained.


On Friday Ampatuan Jnr was indicted of ordering his private militia of more than 100 gunmen to open fire on the group, which included relatives of rival Muslim politician, Esmael Mangudadatu, some journalists and passing motorists who had no known quarrel with the gunmen.


Ampatuan Jnr is a mayor in the southern Philippines who until this week was an ally of President Gloria Arroyo and a member of her ruling coalition.


Eight other members of the powerful Ampatuan clan have been invited for police questioning after witnesses also linked them to the killings.


The relatives and the journalists had been travelling to an election office to nominate Mangudadatu to run against Ampatuan Jnr for the post of provincial governor in next year’s elections.


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Hopes rise for climate talks as rich countries ante up

In World on November 28, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Hopes suddenly rose that a new global climate pact was within reach after rich nations attending a Commonwealth summit here offered to pay poorer countries to help seal the deal.


“Success in Copenhagen is in sight,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon stated, referring to the climate negotiations to take place in the Danish capital December 7-18.


He and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, both making exceptional appearances at the Trinidad summit despite not being Commonwealth members, stressed how encouraged they were by Britain and France offering to start a 10-billion-dollar fund for developing nations.


By showing willingness to meet “the need for money on the table,” it was now “realistic” to expect Copenhagen to result in the framework for a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012, Rasmussen said.


“Copenhagen will not be a talk shop,” Ban said. “We will come out with a very concrete foundation for a legally binding treaty.” Success in Copenhagen in sight: UN chief








(L-R) Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon chat during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Port of Spain,

The sudden optimism contrasted sharply with predictions of failure at the climate talks as recently as two weeks ago.


Much of that stemmed from a joint overture by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Commonwealth gathering, whose leaders represent two billion people, or a third of the planet’s population.


The two European leaders proposed to compensate developing countries for the economic disadvantages they would face in cutting carbon emissions.


Britain said it had already set aside 1.3 billion dollars to be paid into the Copenhagen Launch Fund over the next three years.


“Poorer countries must have an understanding that the richer countries will help them adapt to climate change and make the necessary adjustments in their economies,” Brown said on his website.


“We have got to provide some money to help that. Britain will do so, the rest of Europe will do so and I believe America will do so as well.”


Sarkozy, who was also specially invited by Brown to address the Commonwealth summit, did not say how much France would contribute.


But he told reporters the fund would operate for the next three years, beyond which an “ambitious mechanism” for continued payments would be established.


The willingness of developed countries to ante up bolstered other moves that suggested nations were determined to reach an accord.


Important among those were carbon cut pledges by almost all the nations most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.


China, the world’s biggest polluter, has vowed to reduce “carbon intensity” as measured by unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.


The United States, the other major contributor to global warming, is looking at curbing carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.


The European Union is unilaterally cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and is offering to go to 30 percent if other industrialised parties follow suit. The Commonwealth: facts

Brazil, the fourth-biggest greenhouse gas contributor because of deforestation, has offered a reduction of 36-39 percent based on its projected economic output in 2020.

India’s prime minister said on Saturday the country was willing to commit to “ambitious” carbon emission reduction targets as long as it was part of an “equitable” burden sharing framework.

Alone of the big polluting nations, India has not revealed any emission cut targets.

But after meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Trinidad, Sarkozy said that he was confident “they will put some figures on the table” within days.

Rasmussen said more than 85 heads of state and government had accepted invitations to attend the Copenhagen conference, effectively turning it into a big summit.

Among those who have publicly said they are going are US President Barack Obama, Britain’s Brown, France’s Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Sarkozy, however, criticized Obama’s decision to turn up for just one day at the beginning of the negotiations, on December 9, instead of the crucial final days of summit when all the other leaders would be crunching figures and concessions.

He added that, if an agreement eluded Copenhagen, “it will be a historic failure.”


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Japan launches 5th spy satellite

In World on November 28, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Japan launched its fifth spy satellite into orbit Saturday in a bid to boost its ability to independently gather intelligence, the government said.


The domestically developed H-2A rocket carrying the $565 million satellite lifted off from a space center on the southern island of Tanegashima, said Hisashi Michigami, an official at the Cabinet Office.


“The satellite will gather intelligence for our defense and diplomatic purposes,” Michigami said. “We hope to upgrade our ability to gather intelligence on our own. Intelligence gathering is vital to our national security.”


Michigami said the launch was successful.








An H-2A rocket carrying a spy satellite lifts off from a space center on the southern island of Tanegashima, on Saturday Nov. 28, 2009.

Japan has long relied on the United States for intelligence. But it launched its first pair of spy satellites in 2003, prompted by concerns over North Korea’s missile program.


North Korea shocked Tokyo in 1998 when it test-fired a missile over Japan. Since then, Japan has launched spy satellites primarily to watch developments in North Korea.


In April this year, a North Korean long-range rocket flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean.


Michigami said Japan has three working spy satellites. The fourth spy satellite became unresponsive in 2007 due to apparent electrical problems. Each spy satellite will last around five years, he said.


Japan has long been one of the world’s leading space-faring nations, having launched its first satellite in 1970. But it has been struggling to get out from under China’s shadow in recent years.


While China put its first men into orbit in 2003, Japan has yet to send astronauts on its own, though Japanese have joined U.S. space missions.


Last year, Japan’s parliament voted to allow the nation’s space programs to be used for defense for the first time as part of Tokyo’s push to give its military a greater international role.


In January this year, Japan launched its first satellite to monitor greenhouse gases, a tool to help scientists better judge where global warming emissions are coming from, and how much is being absorbed by the oceans and forests.


The country also plans to have a two-legged robot walk on the moon by around 2020.


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Labor export website launches

In Vietnam Society on November 28, 2009 at 3:18 pm

The Department of Overseas Labor unveiled a website on labor export, www.dolab.gov.vn, November 27 in Hanoi.









Department head Nguyen Ngoc Quynh said that the website aims to computerize State management as well as provide information on labor export.


People can log on to the site for information about markets, recruitment, policies, and procedures to work abroad.


Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, Ms.Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan praised the launch of the website and expressed hope it would improve efficiency of labor export matters.


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Vietnam falls short of labor export target

In Vietnam Society on November 28, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Vietnam has fallen short of its target to send 90,000 laborers to work abroad this year as a consequence of the global economic crisis.









Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, Director of Overseas Labor Management Department announced the information on Nov. 27, noting that the total number of Vietnamese laborers leaving to work abroad in 2009 is expected fall 22 percent short of the country’s plan to around 70,000.


However, Vietnam is pinning high hopes on signs of recovery in the world labor market from now to the end of the year, Mr. Quynh said, adding that the country is making efforts to make full use of the traditional markets of Malaysia, Libya, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the Middle East.


According to Mr. Quynh, the project to provide assistance in poor districts to help locals export their labor has been stepped up, with over 600 workers being sent abroad and nearly 3,000 others receiving vocational training to prepare to work in foreign countries.


The Department is deploying a pilot project on vocational training in some fields of high demand in the world including welding, tourism and hospitality, and construction.


The Department on Nov. 27 launched its website in a bid to increase the transparency of information on labor exportation, making it easier for laborers to work abroad and preventing them from being exploited.


Vietnam had by the end of October exported over 58,200 workers abroad with Taiwan (China) being the country’s largest labor importer, followed by the Republic of Korea , Japan , the United Arab Emirates , Macao  (China) and Malaysia.


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Tropical depression lingers, new storm forms

In Vietnam Weather on November 28, 2009 at 3:32 am

A tropical low-pressure system over the southern part of the East Sea continues to affect weather in the southern region while a new storm, Nida, is forming over the Pacific Ocean, the national weather bureau said.








A tropical low-pressure zone situated over the southern part of the East Sea on November 27 (Photo: National Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center)

The storm was at 15.4 degrees latitude and 139.9 degrees longitude on the afternoon of November 26 and is forecast to move northwest at a speed of 10 kilometers an hour. The storm has winds at level 13-14, or 134-166 kilometers an hour.


The tropical depression on November 27 was at 6.6 to 7.6 degrees latitude and 110.7 to 111.7 degrees longitude. The strongest winds near the depression’s eye reached level 6, or 39-49 kilometers an hour.


In the next 24 hours, the depression is forecast to move southwest at a speed of 5-10 kilometers an hour.


Le Thi Xuan Lan, deputy director of the Southern Regional Hydro Meteorological Center’s Forecasting Department said that the depression and northwesterly winds would cause heavy rains and flooding to some areas in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern region.


The southwestern region of the East Sea including Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands and the waters off the region between Binh Thuan to Ca Mau provinces will see level 6 winds with gusts up to level 7-8.

Related article:
Depression cools southern weather


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HCMC to host northern food festival

In Vietnam Culture on November 28, 2009 at 3:32 am

A northern food festival will be held in Ho Chi Minh City from December 11 to 13 to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of Hanoi.


The city Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism told the media November 26 it would organize the event at Van Thanh Tourist Area together with the Binh Quoi Tourist Village.


The festival will also recreate a countryside market in the northern area in old times and showcase folk arts, folk games, and traditional trades.


The event is expected to attract around 8,000 visitors.


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