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Archive for January 15th, 2010|Daily archive page

Vietnam continues swine-flu vaccination despite charges of scam

In Vietnam Health on January 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

People wear face masks at a public place for fear to contract H1N1 virus. WHO is accused to exaggerate tje threat of swine flu to cause panic and sell vaccine

The Ministry of Health is continuing its vaccination campaign against swine flu since it has yet to hear officially from the World Health Organization about the accusations that drug firms are exaggerating the threat to cause panic and sell their vaccines, an official said.

The ministry has accepted vaccines supplied by the WHO, Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga, head of the ministry’s Preventive Medicine and Environment Department said at a meeting of the National Steering Committee on Human Flu Prevention on January 13.

While WHO has not formally responded to the accusation, some European nations have announced cancellation of vaccine orders.

WHO began an initiative to ensure several low- and middle-income countries get access to the vaccines. Of 35 nations seeking them, Mongolia was the first to get it and Thailand will vaccinate 2 million people this week.

Vietnam has so far reported 11,114 infections, including 53 deaths. In the past week some people have been taken to hospital with severe pneumonia but no deaths have been reported.

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HCMC hospitals admit children under 5 with dangerous Kawasaki disease

In Vietnam Health on January 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

Two Ho Chi Minh City pediatric hospitals reported January 14 they have admitted several children with suspected Kawasaki disease that could lead to heart-related complications.

A 14 month old child infected Kawasaki is treated at the city Children Hospital I

The exact cause of the disease is not known despite much research but the children have symptoms like redness and swelling of the lips, tongue, and oral mucous membrane, dark rings around the eyes, and high fever.

It typically affects kids below five.

The cardiac ward at Children Hospital I has up to three children to a bed. Most had been diagnosed with dengue fever by small clinics in their districts.

Doctors at the hospital said until five years ago there were around 20 cases a year. But the disease is in an uptrend, with the number going past 100 last year.

Medical experts said Kawasaki is a dangerous disease that can lead to serious complications of the heart.

The fatality rate is around 1 per cent and half of patients died during two first months.

The disease is named after Dr Tomisaku Kawasaki, the Japanese doctor who first identified it in 1967, Dr. Vu Minh Phuc, head of the cardiac ward at Children Hospital I, said.

Because the cause of the disease remains unknown, doctors treat the symptoms which are similar to those of dengue fever and bronchitis.

They try to reduce inflammation in the child’s body and prevent a coronary artery aneurysm from forming.

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Authorities raise alarm over cadmium-tainted Chinese jewelry

In Vietnam Health on January 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

A jewelry shop in Hong Kong

Following reports that some Chinese jewelry makers are using cadmium, a highly toxic metal, after being banned from using lead, the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality (STAMEQ) has ordered an immediate investigation.

It has instructed the Department of Goods Quality Management and other concerned agencies to destroy jewelry that are found to contain cadmium or other toxic substances.

Dr. Le Van Cat, head of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology’s Institute of Chemistry, said cadmium is a heavy and very toxic metal that is less dangerous than only lead and mercury.

Extended exposure to it can cause lung and prostate cancers.

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Experts discuss how Vietnam can boost its books abroad

In Vietnam Culture on January 15, 2010 at 9:21 am

Despite its abundance and rich history, Vietnamese literature is still unfamiliar to most foreign readers. The problem lies not with the quality of the country’s literary works or a lack of prolific authors, however. Instead, experts say Vietnam simply needs to launch a better marketing campaign to introduce the world to its diverse collection of writing.

Writer-translators learn about Vietnamese literary works at an exhibition outside the International Conference for Propagation of Vietnamese Literature.

A group of translators, writers and scholars made the suggestion during a recent conference on boosting Vietnamese literature abroad.

A hidden treasure

Conference participants said that for half a century, efforts have been made to present Vietnamese literature to foreigners, but only a small number of books have actually been introduced to other countries. 

Such works include translated versions of famous books like Ho Chi Minh’s prison diaries; a collection of novels by authors To Hoai and Nam Cao; and poetry by Ho Xuan Huong, Nguyen Binh, Che Lan Vien, and Nguyen Dinh Thi. Of these, however, only a small number of translated versions have been distributed in select areas.

Professor Ahn Chung Hwan from the Republic of Korea said that in his country, three Vietnamese masterpieces including “Uc Trai Thi Tap” (Collection of poems by Uc Trai -Nguyen Trai), “Kieu” by Nguyen Du, and “Diary in Prison” by Ho Chi Minh have been translated into Korean.

Vietnamese ancient literature has been attractive to Korean translators because of the similarities in culture, ideals and style, he added.

According to Prof. Hwan, even ancient books like “Chinh Phu Ngam,” “Linh Nam Chich Quai,” and “Truyen Ky Man Luc,” which are relatively unknown in Vietnam, have been introduced in the RoK.

Nevertheless, this is just a fraction of the plethora of valuable yet unknown Vietnamese literature, he said.

Better promotion strategies needed

Professor Chuc Nguong Tu from China said that Vietnamese literature is unfamiliar to Chinese people, but not because it lacks quality.

“Vietnamese literature is unique and has modernized over a long period. It is rich, diverse, and not inferior to others,” he said. 

However, when a work is translated, it must be done in such a way as to appeal to the other culture, said Prof. Tu.

“For example, I have translated ‘Chi Pheo’ (named after the main characteristic) by Nam Cao and ‘Đat nuoc dung len’ (Country Rises Up) by Nguyen Ngoc into Chinese, but they cannot be published. It does not mean they are not good, and my translations are not bad either. It is because publishers cannot find readers,” he said.

“When I translated ‘Mr. Consultant’ into Chinese, I changed the name of the book to ‘Top Secret: the largest spy case in the Vietnam War,” and it then became attractive to Chinese readers,” said Prof. Tu.

“The Vietnamese Government should set up a fund to finance Vietnamese literary translations, aimed at sponsoring translators, publishers and writers to introduce more Vietnamese literature to the world,” he added.

In addition to the fund, the Vietnamese Government should establish an award to praise literary translators and seek closer ties between Vietnamese and Chinese writer-translators, Prof. Tu said.

To introduce Vietnamese literary works published in Chinese, books should be sold at tourist destinations where Chinese travelers often visit, like Ha Long Bay, he added.
Nguyen Van Tho, a Vietnamese writer-translator living in Germany, said Vietnam could learn how to introduce its literature abroad by following the examples of other embassies.

These organizations have funds to sponsor the translation and publishing of literary works from their countries, and they know how to attract Vietnamese readers, he said. 

If Vietnamese embassies take responsibility for promoting the country’s literature and plan good strategies to do so, the situation could improve dramatically, he said.

“This is an official way [of disseminating local literature]. In another informal way, every writer, poet and translator should be a cultural ambassador while traveling abroad,” Prof. Tu added.

Readers crave authentic Vietnamese content

Several Vietnamese literary works by Nguyen Hong, Nam Cao translated into Russian language are displayed at an exhibition outside the conference.

Lady Borton, who has translated works by Ho Chi Minh for decades, said that publishers around the world prioritize books with the best financial potential. They want to publish best-sellers, she added.

“Accordingly, writers should know what today’s readers are looking for. Readers around the world certainly don’t want the same, tired books they have already read. They want something new and different,” said Ms. Borton.

“Vietnamese authors should thus write so that readers see Vietnam in their works,” she said.

Other translators agreed with Ms. Borton that people are looking for fresh and interesting books. Foreign readers would therefore be attracted to Vietnamese literature, which offers a unique perspective about a different culture, they said.

Editor Anna Gustafsson Chen of publisher Tranan, which distributes foreign literary works for children in Sweden, said that many countries already have an overwhelming number of quality books. Such nations, therefore, have no need for literary works in other languages unless they can offer something original.

What we look for are works that promote the exploration and enjoyment of different cultures in the world, she said.

Ms. Chen said that two Vietnamese books for children including “De Men Phieu Luu Ky” (The Adventure of Cricket) by To Hoai and “Vua Nham Mat Vua Mo Cua So” (Opening Window While Closing Eyes) by Nguyen Ngoc Thuan have been warmly welcomed in Sweden.

During the conference, 50 foreign translators from Russia, the US, India, the RoK, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic and China among others, were awarded with the Campaign Medal for Vietnamese Literature and Art.

The Association of Vietnamese writers also signed cooperation agreements with the US-based William Joiner Center; India-Vietnam Friendship Solidarity Association; the  friendship associations of Laos-Vietnam and Russia -Vietnam; Hungary-based Diary Magazine; Philippines’ Aria and Swedish Tranan Publisher; translators Ahn Chung Hwan from the RoK, Dashtvel form Mongolia, and Chuc Nguong Tu from China.

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Foreign-adapted TV struggles to find foothold in Vietnam

In Vietnam Culture on January 15, 2010 at 9:21 am

With the exception of a few standouts, Vietnamese versions of world-famous TV series have struggled with success.

One of the most recently anticipated series, “Ngoi nha hanh phuc” (Full House), a Vietnamese version of the Korean TV series “Full House,” ultimately failed to win over domestic viewers, and it was not an isolated case.

A scene from “Co nang bat dac di” (An unwilling girl), a Vietnamese remake of the Argentinian series “Lalola.” The series was forced to stop after 100 episodes instead of 150 as outlined in an original contract, due to a lack of viewer interest. (Photo: SGGP)

An experienced local scriptwriter says one problem is that Vietnamese producers lack expertise and purchase foreign scripts that are simply not adaptable for domestic audiences.

Vast differences in foreign culture and lifestyle pose a headache for producers trying to rewrite scripts for Vietnamese viewers, often with poor results.

Another reason that foreign-inspired series have failed to take off here, according to the screenwriter, is that local script-editors are often inexperienced and have little time to do a good job of translating and adapting the program.

Others have suggested that the core ability of some Vietnamese directors may be lacking. The skill of the director, especially when it comes to adapted series, can make or break a program.

Most foreign-adapted series that have failed to find success in Vietnam, have been directed by those who are young and inexperienced. 

Local actors and actresses also play a pivotal role in how successful an adapted series is. Most of them fail to truly understand the characters and their situations due to the stark difference in culture and lifestyle. This comes across onscreen in many ways, including overdramatizing by actors.
The longer running time of most foreign series is also an obstacle to both Vietnamese directors and actors.

Most local directors are only familiar with short-running series, and find it difficult to adjust their approach. Many actors are former models and singers, and have only a little acting experience. This is not lost on frustrated viewers who complain that adapted versions are of poor quality and nothing like the originals. 

However, a few foreign-adapted series, including “Co gai xau xi” (Ugly Betty), “Nguoi me nhi” (A Mother’s Soul in a Child’s Body), and “Gia dinh phep thuat” (A Family With Charm) have proved successful in Vietnam.

Co gai xau xi” was based on the Colombian series “Yo soy Betty, la fea” (I am Betty, the Ugly). The popular show was also adapted by several other countries around the world and enjoyed huge success.

Despite stark differences between the original script and the Vietnamese version, the sitcom was well-adapted and attracted a large local audience. The script-editors were credited with successfully maintaining the original characteristics of the show that made it so popular while adding a distinctly Vietnamese flavor.

The triumph of “Co gai xau xi” where others have failed, thus appears to lie in the expertise of the translators, editors and those who re-scripted the original. Doing a good job also requires a considerable amount of time.

Reworking a foreign script can take even longer than writing a new one.
Scriptwriter Thuy Linh, who worked on the translation of “Yo soy Betty, la fea” into Vietnamese, said: “We need almost a year to read and translate the original scripts into Vietnamese.

The work is as difficult as writing a new script. Vietnamese society has several unique characteristics, so we need to change the profiles and lifestyles of some of the characters in accordance with the Vietnamese style.”

As evidenced by the failure of many hastily purchased TV series, Vietnamese producers need to carefully consider which foreign programs will work in Vietnam and which will not. Just because a show is successful in other countries, it is not necessarily a recipe for success locally unless it is compatible with Vietnamese taste.

What the country needs most is more local scriptwriters producing creative, interesting shows designed specifically for domestic audiences. But even though many adapted shows have failed, local script-editors say they have gained valuable experience working with foreign scripts.

Thus, adapting foreign programming should not be abandoned entirely at the moment, but should be carried out in moderation until Vietnamese producers begin turning out more quality shows. 

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Australia, ADB to grant $1.3 mln for Mekong delta efforts in climate change

In Vietnam Environment on January 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

Vietnam will get technical assistance grants totaling US$1.3 million from the Australian Government and the Asian Development Bank to carry out a full assessment of the climate change threats posed to the Mekong Delta, the bank announced Wednesday.

An ADB statement from the bank’s headquarters in Manila said the grants would also help Vietnam take actions in the face of an expected sea-level increase and more frequent and severe floods.

The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is home to a fifth of the 83-million population, and the main producer of rice. But it is the country’s most vulnerable region to climate change.

A brackish forest map of Ca Mau Province (map by the Vietnam Environment Administration)

Preliminary studies show that up to 31% of the total land used for agriculture and aquaculture in the delta is at risk from a potential one meter rise in the sea level by 2100. This would have severe effects on the lives of about 4.8 million people, including over a million and a half poor.

 “Effective climate change adaptation measures urgently need to be developed and integrated into the region’s development planning to enhance the physical and economic climate-resilience of the region and to protect poor and rural households,” Yongping Zhai, lead professional energy specialist in the ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in Wednesday’s statement.

The areas selected for detailed analysis and piloting under the technical assistance project are the coastal provinces of Kien Giang and Ca Mau, while the sectors chosen are energy, transport and agriculture, with the latter at the center of the Vietnamese government’s national action plan for climate change adaptation, according to the ADB.

The total cost of the project is US$1.63 million equivalent, with the Australian Government providing an US$800,000 grant, which will be administered by the ADB. The bank is supplying US$500,000 from its Climate Change Fund, while the Vietnamese Government will provide the remaining US$330,000, the bank said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is the executing agency for the project which will be carried out from January 2010 to April 2011.

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Japan ends refuelling mission for Afghanistan war

In World on January 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

Japan on Friday ended a naval refuelling mission that has supported the US-led military effort in Afghanistan since 2001 as the centre-left government flexes its muscle in its ties with Washington.

Japan’s naval forces refuel a Japanese destroyer (left) in the Indian Ocean to support coalition ships assisting in the US-led war in Afghanistan on January 14.

The move fulfils a pledge by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government which ousted the long-ruling conservatives four months ago pledging a less subservient relationship with the United States.

It comes days before Washington and Tokyo mark the 50th anniversary of signing their security alliance, which has been strained by a row over the relocation of a US military base on the southern island of Okinawa.

Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa ordered the two naval ships and their 340 personnel to return home after eight years of helping supply oil and water to vessels used by international forces that are engaged in Afghanistan.

“The defence minister issued an order … today to the fleet commander to end refuelling activity in the Indian Ocean at 12:00 p.m. (1500 GMT) on January 15 and to send the troops home,” a ministry statement said.

With the end of the refuelling mission, Hatoyama has pledged that Japan would instead step up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Tokyo has offered five billion dollars over the next five years to help rebuild the war-torn nation.

Hatoyama, whose coalition includes the strongly pacifist Social Democrats, has stressed Japan would not deploy troops to Afghanistan.

Under its post-war pacifist constitution, Japan is barred from sending armed forces overseas for combat, although Tokyo has deployed soldiers abroad for peacekeeping and military support missions in Iraq and elsewhere.

Japan’s ties with the United States, its closest security ally, have been strained by the row over the base in Okinawa, an island where more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan are stationed.

Both countries agreed in 2006 that the locally unpopular Futenma Marine Corps Air Station would be moved from a crowded urban area to a quieter coastal region by 2010, but Hatoyama’s government is now reviewing the deal.

Many local residents on the island, which was the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of World War II, have opposed the heavy US troops presence and complained of aircraft noise, pollution and crimes committed by US troops.

Hatoyama has said his government would decide by May where to relocate the base as it is considering alternative sites, with various options including moving it off Okinawa altogether, to Washington’s chagrin.

This week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed her Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada to stick by the original deal on moving the base, but got no commitment from Tokyo during the Hawaii meeting.

She reiterated the US view that the 2006 base deal known as the realignment road map is “the way forward” for the long-time allies.

The US-Japan security treaty, signed on January 19, 1960, has been the bedrock of the post-war alliance, under which pacifist Japan relies on a massive US military presence to guarantee its security.

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World scrambles rescue teams, aid to quake-hit Haiti

In World on January 15, 2010 at 9:19 am

Rescue teams, doctors and soldiers rushed by land, sea and air Thursday to help drag survivors of Haiti’s devastating earthquake from the rubble and bring its people life-saving food and medicines.

People line up to receive water from a firetruck in Port-au-Prince.

US President Barack Obama promised Haitians they would not be forgotten, offering 100 million dollars to buy life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine, and every element of US power to help them.

“This investment will grow over the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy,” he pledged.

But more than two days after disaster struck there was no sign of desperately needed heavy-lifting equipment as anger and despair mounted along with the stench of decomposing bodies.

Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude quake, which flattened much of Port-au-Prince, may have killed more than 100,000 people, while the Red Cross put the number at between 40,000 and 50,000.

A giant US aircraft carrier was expected to drop anchor off the stricken Caribbean island nation on Friday and serve as a landing pad for a fleet of helicopters to bring emergency teams and vital supplies to quake victims.

The USS Carl Vinson is outfitted with dozens of hospital beds, three operating rooms and water-purifying equipment that can make 400,000 gallons of urgently needed drinking water a day.

An Obama administration official said the president had spoken Thursday with French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy “about ongoing US and French relief efforts, and the need for coordination of immediate and long-term international efforts to assist the people of Haiti.”

In Paris the presidency said Sarkozy and Obama, along “with Brazil, Canada, and other countries directly concerned,” would organize an international conference on the reconstruction of the former French colony.

Nations from all corners of the globe joined the vast relief operation, as hundreds of thousands of homeless, injured and traumatized people awaited help on the corpse-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince.

Planes began arriving at the capital’s airport bringing surgeons, field hospitals, water and emergency medical supplies, while search and rescue teams with sniffer dogs started to pick through the debris.

But little aid trickled down onto the streets and an AFP video showed scuffles breaking out as a helicopter dropped food over part of the city.

The US had to take over air traffic control at the overwhelmed Port-au-Prince airport, where authorities at one point asked for no more flights to be authorized as the facility was “saturated.”

Governments and aid organizations unlocked millions of dollars and launched appeals for more to help survivors and reconstruct ruined homes, schools and hospitals in one of the world’s poorest nations.

A US army spokesman said the first members of a brigade of 3,500 US troops had begun arriving in Haiti Thursday, while a Chinese aircraft also brought relief workers.

The US Air Force said it had flown five air missions so far, delivering 59 tons of supplies, carrying out seven rescues and transporting 113 rescue and aid workers.

Planeloads of rescue teams and relief supplies were also sent from countries including Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

The Red Cross launched a 10-million-dollar appeal for donations, the World Food Programme offered 15,000 tons of food and the World Bank pledged an extra 100 million dollars in aid. The International Monetary Fund also offered 100 million dollars, its head Dominique Strauss-Kahn announced.

“We are entering a critical period. There must be massive humanitarian aid arriving this evening,” said Olivier Bernard, president of the medical relief organization Medecins du Monde.

European development ministers will hold emergency talks in Brussels on Monday to discuss how best to help Haiti.

The European Commission has already pledged three million euros in aid with other offers in cash or kind coming from individual member states.

Britain said it would donate close to 10 million dollars, as a rescue team it sent touched down to help the hunt for survivors. Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the disaster as “a tragedy beyond imagination”.

Aid group Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) dispatched an inflatable field hospital including two operating theaters, 100 beds and medical staff to Haiti where it should be up and running by the weekend.

The International Red Cross said that it was sending 40 tons of medical supplies while the International Organization for Migration called for “tents, tents and more tents” to shelter the homeless.

To make it easier to help the urgent aid effort in Haiti several organizations have launched SMS campaigns enabling people to donate money by sending text messages.

The US State Department said the Red Cross alone had raised 5.9 million dollars in the first two days after the quake from people donating 10 dollars a time by texting HAITI to the number 90999.


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Possible peacekeeping role looms for US troops in Haiti

In World on January 15, 2010 at 9:19 am

The US relief mission in Haiti remains focused on saving lives but American troops could be called on to help keep order if security deteriorates, officials said.

Members of a Dominican rescue team attempt to save a victim trapped amid the rubble of a destroyed building in Port-au-Prince. (AFP Photo)

With more than 5,000 US ground troops bound for Haiti this week as part of a major relief effort after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, US and international officials were watching closely for signs of potential rioting or unrest.

“At this time we’re not seeing any security concerns,” a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

“The focus of the US troops on the ground will be providing humanitarian assistance and relieving the suffering of the Haitian people.”

But he added: “Soldiers and Marines are trained to conduct security operations if they need to.”

Haiti has no army, and its police forces have all but collapsed in the aftermath of the country’s worst earthquake in over a century.

Security has fallen almost entirely to the UN peacekeeping mission, whose force of 7,060 troops and 2,091 police have been deployed since 2004 to help stabilize the impoverished Caribbean nation of nine million.

Amid looting and scenes of chaos, some rescue crews in the Haitian capital said they faced dangerous conditions that forced them to stop work at nightfall.

“Our biggest problem is insecurity. Yesterday they tried to hijack some of our trucks. Today we were barely able to work in some places because of that,” said Delfin Antonio Rodriguez, civil defense chief and rescue commander for the Dominican Republic, whose teams worked to rescue victims trapped under rubble in Port-au-Prince.

Mounting tensions in the street could complicate international plans to pour in aid and assistance but US officials said they were not alarmed over the state of security at the moment.

The Pentagon said a 3,500-strong brigade from the 82nd Airborne ordered to deploy to Haiti — with an advance corps of 100 arriving late Thursday — would be charged in part with maintaining a “safe environment” for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

More than 2,00 Marines heading to Haiti over the weekend also could be asked to carry out a similar role, officials said.

Ensuring safe conditions was crucial for a steady flow of international aid and urgent medical care, the US State Department said.

“Obviously, in those situations, one of the keys is maintaining law and order,” spokesman PJ Crowley said. “So far it’s been pretty good.”

He said US efforts were designed “not only to provide life-saving support to the Haitian people, but to rebuild the capacity of the Haitian government.”

US officials are anxious to avoid a breakdown in order that could trigger a mass exodus from the impoverished country as in years past, with desperate Haitians on rickety boats trying to flee to US soil.

But diplomats and military officers were cautious in discussing the sensitive issue, stressing that Americans were not out to assert control in the Caribbean nation and would work to support the Haitian authorities and the UN peacekeepers.

“I’m confident that this government (in Haiti) is not looking for the US to take over,” said State Department counselor Cheryl Mills.

“They are looking for a partner, and we will be their partner and provide the kind of leadership that is necessary… but we have no intention of supplanting the leadership of Haiti,” she said.

In natural disasters elsewhere, armed US combat troops have provided security for engineers or other expert teams.

But US officers said their military sometimes has to tread lightly to avoid antagonizing the population they are trying to help.

Mindful that a heavy military presence could backfire, some US Marines helping with humanitarian efforts in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami operated without weapons, helmets or flak jackets.

General Douglas Fraser, head of the US Southern Command, said Wednesday that the situation in Haiti was “calm” and that it was too early to speculate about possible security operations.

The general praised the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and said the peacekeeping force had performed a “significant job in sustaining and maintaining stability and security within the country.”

“So we will work with MINUSTAH and get assessments and figure out what the security situation is and then decide what to do from there,” he said.


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US reports December budget deficit at 91.85 billion dollars

In World on January 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

The US government budget deficit hit 91.854 billion dollars in December, sharply higher from the same month a year earlier, Treasury figures showed Wednesday.

The budget shortfall for last month compared with 51.754 billion dollars in December 2008, the figures showed. But it was less than 120.289 billion a month earlier.

In the first three months of the US fiscal year, the accumulated deficit is 388.5 billion dollars, up from 332.5 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The White House is forecasting a deficit for the full fiscal year of some 1.5 trillion dollars, which would eclipse the record of 1.416 trillion in the fiscal year ended September 30.


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