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Archive for December 11th, 2009|Daily archive page

Doctors unhappy hospitals need foreign aid for liver transplants

In Vietnam Health on December 11, 2009 at 10:23 am

Doctors at Children Hospital II perform a liver transplant for baby Tang Ngoc Nhi on December 7 with the assistance of Belgian experts ( Photo: SGGP)

Though the seventh liver-transplant was successfully done last week in Ho Chi Minh City-base Children Hospital II, doctors participating in a conference in Ho Chi Minh City December 10 expressed doubts if Vietnamese hospitals can perform the operation without the assistance of foreign surgeons.

The recent surgery was done with the assistance of Belgian surgeons.

Speaking at the “Surgery for children and Anesthesia” conference, Dr. Truong Quang Dinh, deputy director of Children Hospital II, said Vietnamese doctors do not have the confidence to perform the surgery.

Doctors at his hospital are still practicing it on dogs and mice, he said.

A study he did found 100 babies affected every year with biliary atresia, a condition caused by the blockage or absence of the common bile duct between the liver and small intestine.

His hospital is currently treating 30 toddlers with the condition and half of them need liver transplants, he said.

The Director of the Hanoi-based Central Pediatrics Hospital, Nguyen Thanh Liem, said his hospital too receives hundreds of patients with liver diseases every year and there is a serious need to develop liver-transplant techniques.

Dr. Tran Dong A, former director Children Hospital II, expressed apprehension about the fact that foreign surgeons are still required to perform the surgery.

Related article:
Belgian, HCMC doctors perform city’s 7th liver transplant

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VN Fashion Week set HCMC style-philes

In Vietnam Culture on December 11, 2009 at 10:23 am

Twenty-two Vietnamese designers showcases over 1,000 fashions at the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City December 11-12.

   A design by Hoai Sang is presented in the fashion show.

Vietnam Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010 is the biggest fashion show in the country and the event marks Vietnam’s entrance into the Asian Fashion Federation.

The French Consulate General in HCM City, Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), and the Vietnam Fashion and Design Institute (Fadin) are organizing the event.

Local fashion designers Trong Nguyen, Thien Trang and Ngoc Dieu will present more than 100 fashions from top-name brands such as Sanciaro, Mahattan, T-up, and Viettien Smart Casual on December 11. New collections from many other Vietnamese designers including Quang Huy, Hien Le, and Minh Minh will also be exhibited on the day.

On December 12, Hong Vuong, Van Khoa and Bich Ha of the Viet Thang Textile Company; and Minh Hanh, Cuong Thinh, and Nhat Huy among others, will introduce their latest collections.

“Most designs are created using 3D technology,” said fashion designer Minh Hanh, director of Fadin in HCM City. “Designers learned the technique in courses which were held by the Paris Fashion Institute in the country.”

The event will open with a ballet performance by Linh Nga on a stage decorated with 8,000 yellow roses in the garden of the French Consulate General.

More than 40 models in Hanoi and HCM City will take part in the event.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Highlands tourism week celebrates elephants

In Vietnam Culture on December 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

A tourism and culture week themed “Legend of the Central Highlands Elephant” will be held in Buon Ma Thuot City in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak from December 16-20. Activities will also be held in the city’s districts of Krong and Buon Don (Don Village).

The  Buon Ma Thuot-Dak Lak tourism and culture week aims to honor elephants, the most important animal to the Highlands people.

The event aims to honor elephants, the most important animal to the Highlands people. The organization board said there will be around 20 elephants taking part in a race, swimming competition and more.

Visitors will also have the chance to try local techniques of taming elephants and hunting with them.

The event will feature a series of cultural activities including a fire festival, street fair, wood carving contest, food and trade fair, and folk games and music. A photo exhibition called ‘Central Highlands in the past and in the present’ will also be on display and the Ede ethnic minority group will hold a religious ceremony on a river.

The inauguration of the ‘Green Central Highlands Tourism’ program is set to be launched during the week along with a performance by an Asian theater group.

The tourism and culture week is an opportunity for the province to introduce its achievements, tourism potential, and socio-economic development. Officials aim for the event to help the province become the Highlands economic and cultural hub as well as celebrate the 105th anniversary of the establishment of Buon Ma Thuot City.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Tense talks as gunmen hold 57 Philippine hostages

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

Tense negotiations to free 57 people held captive by tribal gunmen wanted for murder in the volatile southern Philippines entered their second day Friday, amid signs of a breakthrough.

Philippine soldiers patrol Mindanao island (AFP Photo).

The gunmen, members of the indigenous Manobo tribe, said they were willing to free the hostages who spent the night in a mountain hideout surrounded by security forces, negotiator Josefina Bajade said.

“They are okay and alive,” Bajade said of the hostages, who were among 75 people, including school children, initially seized by the group from a village in Prosperidad town on Mindanao island Thursday.

“They said they were willing to give up and release their hostages. We are optimistic they will be freed soon, hopefully within today,” Bajade told AFP.

“They are receptive to the negotiations. Our communication lines are open.”

The mass kidnapping is part of an explosion of violence that has been stunning even for the southern Philippines, a lawless region where Muslim and communist insurgents mix with warring clans, pirates and corrupt officials.

Maguindanao province on Mindanao island remained under martial law Friday following a massacre last month of 57 people allegedly by the heads of a Muslim clan that had ruled that area since 2001.

And suspected Al Qaeda-linked militants on Thursday abducted a college professor from a nearby island where they had just a day earlier severed the head of another captive, according to government officials there.

Fuelling the violence, the majority of the estimated 1.8 million unlicensed firearms in the Philippines are estimated to be in the Mindanao region.

Bajade on Friday identified those behind Thursday’s mass kidnapping as members of the Perez clan, who belong to the indigenous Manobo tribe and are wanted for a string crimes including the murder of a member of a rival family.

She said the tribesmen launched the raid to prevent police from serving arrest warrants Thursday.

Police said the kidnap leader, Ondo Perez, has demanded that arrest warrants against them be lifted, and for police to also disarm members of their rivals, the Tubay clan.

Both clans have for years been locked in a bitter land dispute in Agusan del Sur province that had led to the killing, Bajade said.

“The main demand is for police to disarm the rival family. They feel they are being singled out,” she said.

Meanwhile, security forces pressed ahead with efforts to disarm thousands of militiamen loyal to the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province following the November 23 massacre of 57 people there.

The Ampatuans are accused of organising the massacre to stop a rival politician from challenging for the post of provincial governor in next year’s elections.

President Gloria Arroyo imposed martial law and accused the clan, whose patriarch had been governor since 2001, of rebellion.

Arroyo had used Ampatuans to help contain Muslim separatists, allowing them to maintain a well-armed private army that is being accused of having terrorised the public.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is the main Muslim rebel group in Mindanao, and their insurgency has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the late 1970s, according to the military.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

New Russian missile failure sparks UFO frenzy

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

Russia’s new nuclear-capable missile suffered another failed test launch, the defence ministry said Thursday, solving the mystery of a spectacular plume of white light that appeared over Norway.

An unusual light phenomenon above the Norwegian city of Skjeroy(AFP Photo)

The Bulava missile was test-fired from the submarine Dmitry Donskoi in the White Sea early Wednesday but failed at the third stage, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The pre-dawn morning launch coincided with the appearance of an extraordinary light over northern Norway that captivated observers.

Images of the light that appeared in the sky above the Norwegian city of Tromso and elsewhere prompted explanations ranging from a meteor, northern lights, a failed missile or even a UFO.

Describing the latest failure of the Bulava as a major embarrassment for the military, leading Russian defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the images were consistent with a missile failure.

“Such lights and clouds appear from time to time when a missile fails in the upper layers of the atmosphere and have been reported before,” he told AFP.

“At least this failed test made some nice fireworks for the Norwegians,” he joked.

The White Sea, which is the usual site for such missile tests by Russian submarines, lies close to Norway’s own Arctic region.

This was the 12th test launch of the Bulava and the seventh time the firing has ended in failure, the Interfax news agency said.

The submarine-launched missile is central to Russia’s plan to revamp its ageing weapons arsenal but is beset by development problems.

“The first two stages of the rocket worked but in the final and third stage there was a technical failure,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the problem was with the engine in the third stage, while in past launches the first stage had been faulty.

The problems with the Bulava have become an agonising issue for the defence ministry, which has ploughed a large proportion of its procurement budget into ensuring the missile becomes the key element of its rocket forces.

The previous failure in July forced the resignation of Yury Solomonov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology which is responsible for developing the missile.

Felgenhauer said that it had dealt a serious blow to Russia’s bid to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent.

“By the year 2030, Russia could lose its position as a global nuclear power if the problems are not solved. And it could be that these missiles will never fly properly.

“The Russian defence industry has disintegrated to such an extent that it simply cannot make such a complicated system work. Technology and expertise have been lost,” he said.

The problems are also a major political embarrassment, coming as Russia negotiates with the United States the parameters of a new arms reduction treaty to replace the 1991 START accord.

The treaty expired on December 5, and despite intense negotiations the two sides have yet to agree the text of a new deal.

In a separate development, a successful test-firing took place of Russia’s intercontinental surface-to-surface ballistic missile Topol RS-12M, news agencies quoted a statement from the strategic rocket forces as saying.

The missile — introduced to the rocket forces before the fall of the Soviet Union — was fired from the southern Russian region of Astrakhan and hit its target at a testing range in neighbouring Kazakhstan.

The Bulava, which can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads, has a maximum range of 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles).

It is the sea-based version of the Topol-M, Russia’s new surface-to-surface intercontinental missile, and designed to be launched from Moscow’s newest Borei class of submarines.

Defence analysts say that a further headache for the military is that the new submarines are designed to be compatible with Bulava and if the new missile fails to work the vessels will be virtually useless.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

19 workers killed in Turkish mine blast: report

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:20 am

Nineteen workers were killed when an explosion caused a coal mine to cave in in northwestern Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported on Friday, quoting Labour Minister Omer Dincer.

“Rescue teams have reached the accident area. Unfortunately, all the workers are dead,” Dincer said.

Officials had earlier said that the explosion late Thursday in the mine near the town of Mustafakemalpasa in the province of Bursa had killed six workers and trapped another 13.



Source: AFP

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Philippine tribal gunmen warn of killing hostages

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

Tribal gunmen in the southern Philippines warned Friday they would massacre dozens of hostages if police made a rescue bid, as hundreds of security forces surrounded their mountain lair.

An armed abductor (R) walks past a group of hostages on the outskirts of Prosperidad, a town in the province of Agusan del Sur on Mindanao island on December 11 during a visit by the media and negotiators to the area.

The two-day hostage drama was the latest unrest to hit the Philippines’ volatile Mindanao region, after a political massacre last month shocked the nation and triggered martial law in one province.

“I will kill the hostages if police attempt to rescue them,” the gunmen’s leader Ondo Perez told an AFP reporter who accompanied a government negotiator to the remote site.

But shortly afterwards Perez released 10 of his 57 hostages, according to the negotiator, Josefina Bajade. Nine of those released were women and the other was a boy, Bajade told AFP.

Authorities identified the gunmen as members of the Manobo clan, and said they were wanted on charges of murder and other crimes.

Perez, slinging an assault rifle and clad in rubber boots, shorts and a tattered shirt, gave police one week to meet his demands, including lifting arrest warrants issued against his 15-man group.

He also demanded that authorities disarm a rival clan engaged in a bitter land feud with the Manobos.

Seventy-five people were initially seized on Thursday morning from a school and neighbouring houses in a small farming village on the outskirts of Prosperidad, the capital of Agusan del Sur province.

Bajade secured the release of 18 hostages, all but one of them school children, within eight hours of the kidnapping.

The 47 still in captivity are mainly farmers and other residents of the raided village, plus the school principal, according to local officials.

They were being kept in an abandoned hut in a clearing of a thickly forested mountain about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from their village.

The hostages were made to sleep overnight on the ground.

At least 400 police and army personnel were deployed on the mountain and preparing to assault the lair if commanders gave the green light, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

Bajade said the Manobo tribesmen launched the raid to prevent police from serving arrest warrants against family members for the murder of four people belonging to the rival family.

The mass kidnapping was part of an explosion of violence that has been stunning even for the southern Philippines, a lawless region where Muslim and communist insurgents mix with warring clans, pirates and corrupt officials.

Islamic militants on Thursday abducted a college professor on Basilan island, which is part of the Mindanao region, a day after beheading another captive whom they kidnapped on November 10 from a logging company.

The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which specialises in kidnappings-for-ransom, were holding three people in total on Basilan, with the two others taken from the logging firm.

The Abu Sayyaf are a small group of militants on the US government’s list of wanted extremists who have been blamed for a string of abductions in the southern Philippines, as well as the country’s worst terrorist attacks.

Maguindanao province in Mindanao meanwhile remains under martial law following the massacre last month of 57 people, allegedly by the heads of a Muslim clan that had ruled the area since 2001.

Security forces pressed Friday with efforts to disarm thousands of militiamen loyal to the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao.

The Ampatuans are accused of organising the massacre to stop a rival politician from challenging them for the post of provincial governor in elections next year.

President Gloria Arroyo had used the Ampatuans to help contain Muslim separatists, allowing them to maintain a well-armed private army that activists say has terrorised the public.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is the main Muslim rebel group in Mindanao. Their insurgency has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the late 1970s, according to the military.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Australia shipping alert over massive iceberg

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

Australian authorities Friday issued a shipping alert over a gigantic iceberg that is gradually approaching the country’s southwest coast.

A NASA satellite image of iceberg B17B (C), floating southwest off the West Australian coast. (AFP Photo)

The Bureau of Meteorology said the once-in-a-century cliff of ice, which dislodged from Antarctica about a decade ago before drifting north, was being monitored using satellites.

“Mariners are advised that at 1200 GMT on December 9, an iceberg approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,054 miles) south-southwest of the West Australian coast was observed,” it said, giving the iceberg’s coordinates.

“The iceberg is 140 square kilometres in area — 19 kilometres long by eight kilometres wide.”

Experts believe the iceberg — known as B17B — is likely to break up as it enters warmer waters nearer Australia, creating hundreds of smaller icebergs in a hazard to passing ships.

“It’s still 1,700 kilometres away, so it’s quite a long way away, it’s not really on our doorstep yet but it’s been heading steadily towards us,” glaciologist Neal Young said Thursday.

Young earlier told AFP that an iceberg of that size had probably not been seen in the area since the days when 19th century clipper sailing ships plied the trade route between Britain and Australia.

The iceberg has been floating around Antarctica since shearing off the icey continent but had lately begun heading north because of ocean currents and weather conditions.

Its discovery comes after two other large icebergs were spotted further east, off Australia’s Macquarie Island, followed by more than 100 smaller chunks heading towards New Zealand.

Young described the icebergs as uncommon, but said they could become more frequent if sea temperatures rise through global warming.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

North Korea says six-party talks need to resume

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:18 am

North Korea said after a visit to Pyongyang by U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy that six-party talks on its nuclear program should restart.

Special envoy Stephen Bosworth’s visit to the secretive communist state saw the first direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea since President Obama took office.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry said Pyongyang would seek to work with Washington to clear up “remaining differences.”

“[North Korea] and the United States agreed to continue cooperation in order to narrow remaining differences,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by North Korean media.

“The two sides were able to deepen mutual understanding, narrow differences in views and find considerable common ground. A series of mutual understandings were also reached on the need to resume [six party talks]”.

Bosworth had earlier described the three-day talks as “useful” but said he did not know when talks would start again.

Six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, the U.S., Russia and Japan broke down in April when North Korea walked out of the negotiating process over U.S. condemnation of its missile tests. The North recently hinted that it was willing to return to six-party talks, but insisted it first negotiate directly with the U.S. to repair “hostile relations.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Lack of rescue resources plagues storm-struck VN

In Vietnam Society on December 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

A shortage of equipment and personnel to cope with the central region’s frequent storms has long afflicted Vietnam. Despite the heroic efforts of residents and officials to help storm-hit communities, experts say there remains a dire lack of resources. 

Central residents say they need more rescue vessels to save lives during storms. (Photo: SGGP)

During Typhoon Mirinae in early November, Binh Dinh Province Steering Committees for Flood and Storm Prevention banned fishermen from going out to sea, but some residents ignored the warning.

At 5am on November 2, Ho Ky Thoi from Quy Nhon town and three other fishermen rowed their small wicker boats out to the ocean in hopes of catching fish.

Later that morning, the storm’s winds intensified and blew Thoi’s boat far from the shore. Local residents, police and army officials watched helplessly as he floated farther and farther away.

Despite the desperate pleas of his wife, Nguyen Thi Anh Nguyet, rescue boats were simply unable to help Thoi due to the violent weather. Two days later, the fisherman’s body was found 2 km away at Quy Hoa Beach.

The typhoon also led to floods along the province’s Ha Thanh River valley causing severe damage.

Binh Dinh Province’s People’s Committee reported that on the night of November 2, it mobilized motor boats and armored cars together with 1,000 officials, soldiers and police to help residents.

The Committee said they were unable to reach many flooded areas, however, due to the large volume of swift-flowing water. Unable to save many lives, officials learned of heart-wrenching stories of death and destruction for weeks after the natural disaster.

Resident Nguyen Loi family’s from Tran Quang Dieu Ward was marooned by the floods and had to subsist on uncooked instant noodles and rainwater for two days straight.

On November 4, Loi attempted to row his wife and daughter to the foot of a mountain for fresh water. But their boat capsized and he was the only survivor.

Earlier in Quang Ngai Province, Typhoon Ketsana was forecast in late September not to make landfall. Authorities only evacuated some households and did not prepare thoroughly. As a result, the storm left 27 dead and caused VND5 trillion (VND270 million) in damage.

Residents left to their own devices

A man in Thua Thien-Hue Province struggles to stay afloat during a flood in Vietnam’s storm-battered central region. (Photo: SGGP)

During Typhoon Mirinae, An Ninh Tay Commune in Tuy An District, Phu Yen Province asked for a motorized rescue boat but the district said it couldn’t afford one.

The commune was forced to build its own vessel and saved 50 people in a single night.

Bien Minh Tam, deputy head of the provincial Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention and Search and Rescue, said rescue forces have met with many difficulties.

Tam said there was a lack of modern equipment and facilities, and that these failed to meet requirements. Rescue operations were further complicated by the region’s challenging terrain, Tam added.

Search and rescue operations in the neighboring province of Binh Dinh also struggle to carry out work in poor weather.

The Government on November 6 gave the province two more modern motor boats, but they are able to carry just 10 people each and can only operate in level-7 winds or less. Meanwhile, the central region usually sees storms with winds at level 12 or higher.

Thua Thien-Hue, one of the most flood-prone provinces in the region, has asked the National Steering Committee for Search and Rescue for two additional rescue vessels, five motor boats and 4,000 life-jackets.

However, to date the province has only received 1,000 round floating devices.

Residents have relied so far on the army, with its 14 motor boats and 2,000 floating devices, to carry out rescue operations.

But the army’s resources are far from meeting demand for the area’s eight districts and Hue City with 1.1 million residents on an area of 5,100 square kilometers.

Director of the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center based in Danang City, Tran Van Long, said that his rescue vessels could not head for sea with winds over level 10.

In addition, the center has just three vessels operating on a wide area from Quang Binh to Ninh Thuan provinces, and thus it is very difficult to save residents in remote areas, he said.

Whenever there’s a storm, each central province sets up a steering committee for flood and storm prevention, which usually disbands after the disaster is over.

The Flood and Storm Prevention Center for the central and Central Highlands regions mainly compiles and reports conditions to the central Government.

The center’s director Van Phu Chinh stressed that human resources for storm and flood prevention are lacking while rescue equipment is extremely inadequate.

Related article:
Storm-hit residents face uphill battle

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