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Archive for January 18th, 2010|Daily archive page

China beat Vietnam in their last Asian Cup qualifier

In Vietnam Sports on January 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

China defeated 10-men Vietnam 2-1 Sunday in the final game of their Asian Cup qualifying campaign at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.

The Chinese, who were already qualified for next year’s Asian Cup in Qatar, scored twice in the first half during the moments the hosts lost concentration. Yang Xu fired for China in a middle of disorders in the 34th minute, and Zhang Linpeng beat Vietnam keeper Quang Huy with a cannon shot two minutes before the break.

Vietnam midfielder Pham Thanh Luong (L) competes for the ball against a China player in their Asian Cup qualifier in Hanoi Jan. 17 (Photo: SGGP)

Before the first goal, Vietnam midfield Phan Thanh Hung, a player from the U-23 team, challenged China keeper and captain Yang Zhi with a strong shot but Yang denied. 

Ten minutes after the break, Vietnam striker Nguyen Viet Thang was sent off with a red card due to his fault. However, the hosts started to play aggressively.

Midfielder Pham Thanh Luong, a shuttle in the home side, brought to the hosts a penalty in the 72nd minute. Striker Le Cong Vinh converted it to reduce the gap.

From that moment, Henrique Calisto’s 10-men side played rapidly and more aggressively. Both Luong and Vinh got some chances but failed to convert. Just a few minutes after the final whistle, China keeper Yang made a great save when denying a strong shot from midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang, another player from the U-23 team of Vietnam.

China coach Gao Hongbo said after the game, “Complacency hit my players in the second-half after we built up a two-goal lead.”

“The offensive and defensive lines couldn’t link with each other for a certain period.

Vietnam coach Calisto said his side did not show enough the necessary confidence and desire to win. He said his team looked scared in some moments.

China and Syria in Group D were qualified for next year’s Asian Cup in Qatar, while Vietnam and Lebanon said goodbye.

In the 2007 Asian Cup co-hosted by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, the Vietnamese were among the last eight teams.

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ACB bank reports better-than-expected gross profit

In Vietnam Banking Finance on January 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Customers at an ACB unit

Asia Commercial Bank said it posted 2009 pre-tax profit at almost VND2.82 trillion (about US$153 million), VND118 billion higher than the year target.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based banking group said in a statement issued Jan. 14 that one-fifth of the profit came from credits, a quarter from shares, equities and valuable papers, another quarter from investment and money business, and the balance from other activities.

ACB said lending soared by 81 percent in the end of last year, compared with the beginning of the year. The bank also reported bad debts at only 0.41 percent.

The banking group said its total assets reached VND171.95 trillion, increasing by 63 percent from 2008.

Last year, ACB was picked as the best bank of Vietnam 2009 by six banking magazines namely Asiamoney, FinanceAsia, Euromoney, Global Finance, The Asset, and The Banker.

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‘Avatar’ wins top honors at Golden Globes

In World on January 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Science-fiction blockbuster “Avatar” took top honors at the 67th Golden Globes here Sunday, winning best picture and director to cement its status as an Oscars front-runner.

The cast of Avatar which won the Best Motion Picture, Drama award at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 17.

The ground-breaking epic from “Titanic” director James Cameron — on course to become the highest-grossing film in history — was the big winner on a night when honors were largely spread across several films.

The movie has been hailed as a cinematic milestone for its use of state of the art 3-D cameras and motion capture technology which Cameron was instrumental in helping to develop.

“This is the best job in the world,” Cameron told a star-studded audience at the Beverly Hilton Hotel after accepting the best motion picture drama award. “What we do is we make entertainment for a global audience, and that’s what the Golden Globes mean.”

Since its release in December, “Avatar” has earned an astonishing 1.6 billion dollars worldwide and is rapidly closing in on the 1.8 billion dollar record of Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winner “Titanic.”

Accepting the best director award earlier, a delighted Cameron said he had been expecting to lose out to ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, who had been nominated for her powerful Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker.”

“I’m unprepared. Frankly I thought Kathryn was going to get this,” Cameron said. “But make no mistake I’m very grateful.”

Part of Cameron’s speech was also made in Na’vi — the language spoken by the blue-skinned peace-loving alien heroes of “Avatar.”

The Golden Globes are seen as a key staging post in the sprint towards the ultimate prize of the Oscars, which take place on March 7 this year, and often help shape the field of likely best picture contenders.

However Hollywood awards shows rarely honor fantasy films, and “Avatar” was expected to face stiff competition from Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”, “Precious” and “Up In the Air.”

“Up In the Air” had started the night as one of the hot favorites with six nominations but in the event had to settle for one — best screenplay.

Another big loser on the night was musical “Nine”, which started the night with five nominations but finished empty-handed. “Nine” was pipped for best musical or comedy by the raucous “The Hangover.”

The acting awards saw popular honors going to veterans Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock.

Bridges, 60, won the best drama actor prize for his portrayal of a washed up country singer in “Crazy Heart.”

Bridges, who had been nominated for a Golden Globe on three previous occasions but never won, has earned widespread acclaim for the role and received a lengthy standing ovation as he walked to the stage.

“You’re really screwing up my under-appreciated status,” he quipped before dedicating the award to his wife and family.

Bullock took best drama actress prize for her portrayal of an inspirational mentor in “The Blind Side.”

The 45-year-old veteran beat out fellow nominees Emily Blunt (“The Young Victoria), Helen Mirren (“The Last Station”), Carey Mulligan, (“An Education”) and Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”).

Elsewhere, Hollywood icon Meryl Streep scooped a record seventh Golden Globe win for her portrayal of television chef Julia Child in “Julie & Julia.”

The 60-year-old won in the best comedy actress category, where she was also nominated for “It’s Complicated.”

The best comedy actor prize was taken by Robert Downey Jr for his performance in “Sherlock Holmes” as the legendary Victorian super-sleuth.

The supporting acting awards went to Austria’s Christoph Waltz for “Inglourious Basterds” and Mo’Nique for “Precious.”

Australian screen icon Nicole Kidman had got Sunday’s awards under way with an appeal for donations to the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

“I just want to say on a serious note a lot of people are wearing ribbons tonight in support of the people of Haiti, and you can go to to make your personal contribution,” Kidman said.

List of selected winners at 67th Golden Globe Awards here Sunday:

Best Motion Picture — Drama

– “Avatar”

Best Director

– James Cameron “Avatar”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama

– Jeff Bridges “Crazy Heart”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

– Sandra Bullock “The Blind Side”

Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

– “The Hangover”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

– Meryl Streep “Julie & Julia”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

– Robert Downey Jr “Sherlock Holmes”

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

– Christoph Waltz “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

– Mo’Nique “Precious”

Best Foreign Language film

– “The White Ribbon”


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Taliban launch attacks on central Kabul

In World on January 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

A massive explosion shook Kabul on Monday as fighting between Taliban militants and security forces raged in the centre of the Afghan capital, witnesses said.

Canadian soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stand guard during a patrol in Panjwayi district, some 30 Kms to the west of Kandahar province, in 2008. (AFP Photo)

The Taliban have launched a wave of gun and bomb attacks on the Afghan capital, saying it had sent in 20 suicide bombers to strike government buildings in the heart of the city.

The attacks have hit at the height of the morning rush hour, but there has been no immediate information about possible casualties.

“It is our work, the targets are the (presidential) palace, the finance, justice and mines ministries, and the central bank,” a purported Taliban spokesman told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“Twenty of our suicide bombers have entered the area and fighting is ongoing,” the spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, adding that one militant had detonated a suicide vest at the entrance to the presidential palace complex.

Insurgents also stormed a five-storey shopping mall and were exchanging gunfire with security forces surrounding the building, witnesses said.

Army and police snipers took positions on buildings around Pashtunistan Square in the centre of the capital after attacks, whnich appeared to be well-coordinated and involve a large number of gunmen.

“I heard the blast then we started running, but we happened to be running towards the explosions,” said witness Bahram Sarwary.

“I saw smoke coming from a building near the central bank and the presidential palace and I saw at least one person injured,” he said.

The central business district of the Afghan capital is the nexus of political, business and diplomatic life.

Attacks on the capital are infrequent, thanks say military and government officials to better intelligence, which is supplemented with a surveillance balloon that hovers over the city.

The attacks came a day after the government said President Hamid Karzai was to announce a new plan aimed at forging peace with the Islamist Taliban and other militants fighting to topple his administration.

The plan would be announced ahead of a key international conference on Afghanistan’s security and development due to be held in London on January 28, Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omar said.

“The scheme we are proposing this time is taking all those into consideration and learning from the past and trying to come up with a proper programme where we have all the necessary ground to allow those joining the programme to have a peaceful life,” he said.

Karzai has long called for peace talks with the Taliban — even offering government posts to its leaders — but the militia has refused dialogue until the withdrawal of international troops on which Kabul relies for security.

Rockets were also fired into the heavily fortified diplomatic area of Wazir Akbar Khan on Saturday night, coinciding with visits by the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

The last major attack on the capital was on December 15, when a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle outside the homes of former senior government officials, killing eight people and injuring more than 40.

On October 28, a guesthouse occupied by United Nations employees was overrun by Taliban militants, who murdered six UN workers. The incident prompted the organisation to evacuate most of its Kabul-based staff.

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Ukraine vote heads for tense run-off

In World on January 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovich won the first round of presidential elections in Ukraine and was set to head for a nail-biting runoff with Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko who came in second, results showed with half the votes counted Monday.

Ukrainian opposition leader and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych speaks to the media during his news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010. (AFP Photo)

Yanukovich was about 12 points ahead of Timoshenko with 36.86 percent to her 24.31 percent, according to the results after 50.31 percent of the votes had been counted.

Third place went to ex-banker Sergiy Tigipko who had around 13 percent.

Discredited Orange Revolution hero President Viktor Yushchenko was eliminated after coming in fifth with a mere 4.87 percent of the vote.

Yanukovich was the man accused of rigging 2004 elections which sparked the Orange Revolution uprising that swept the old order from power.

Tymoshenko, a former Orange Revolution comrade of Yushchenko, subsequently fell out with the president and adopted a more pragmatic tone on relations with Russia.

As Yanukovich failed to win a majority in Sunday’s first round, the election will go to a second round on February 7 with all to play for between the two old foes who have savaged each other’s reputation in the campaign.

Yushchenko’s miserable score was a reflection of Ukraine’s frustration that the Orange Revolution failed to realise the dreams of those who protested in 2004.

Turnout was 66.68 percent, the central electoral commission said.

Related article: Row over Georgian ‘observers’ inflames Ukraine vote

“If Tymoshenko is less than 10 percent behind then her chances of winning in the second round climb sharply,” said analyst Igor Zhdanov of the Open Policy think tank.

Businessman Tigipko made a late campaign surge and his electorate will now prove crucial in determining the second round outcome, as the two frontrunners bare their teeth.

“Yanukovich, who represents criminal circles, has no chance” in the second round, said the prime minister at her post-election news conference, resplendent in a pure white costume.

Her opponent snapped back that Ukrainians had voted for change and said that Tymoshenko was “in despair”.

The second round promises to be a gloves-off affair and analysts have warned of the risk of the result being taken to the courts and even once more sparking street protests.

The bitter campaign has already seen the shady pasts of the candidates once again dredged up.

Yanukovich was jailed twice in the Soviet era for theft and assault, though the convictions were erased in the late 1970s. Tymoshenko herself was briefly detained in 2001 on smuggling charges that were later quashed.

The 2004 Orange Revolution raised hopes of a new era free of Kremlin influence for the country of 46 million that would set a precedent for other former Soviet states.

Related article: Ukrainians brave snow, cynicism to vote

But although Ukraine now boasts improved freedom of speech, steps to implement reform and end corruption were forgotten as government became paralysed in a bitter power struggle between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, famed for her peasant-style blonde hair braid, is seen as more in favour of EU integration than Yanukovich but has also played up her close ties to Russian strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Since 2004, Yanukovich has sought to reinvent himself with the help of Western PR strategists and to show he is not a servant of the Kremlin but a defender of Ukrainian interests.

He has also sought more support in the country’s Ukrainian-speaking west — traditionally the heartland of Tymoshenko and Yushchenko supporters — while holding on to his powerbase in the Russian-speaking east.

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Philippine truck accident kills 19

In World on January 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Nineteen people were killed after the truck they were riding turned over in the southern Philippines, a police official said on Monday.

The dump truck was carrying 56 people back from a wedding when it turned over while driving through V. Sagun town in the southern island of Mindanao on Saturday, said Senior Superintendent Ramon Ochotorena.

Thirteen people died at the scene while the others died in hospital, he added.

Ochotorena, who is the regional police chief, said the driver of the truck was in police custody and could face charges of reckless driving leading to multiple deaths.

Heavy rain may have made the road slippery, Ochotorena said, but he also said that witnesses reported the driver was drinking heavily before the accident.

Source: AFP

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N.Korea says no nuclear talks until sanctions are lifted

In World on January 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

North Korea said Monday it will not return to international nuclear disarmament negotiations unless sanctions are lifted, and reaffirmed its call for talks on a pact to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Any nuclear talks held while sanctions remain in force would be akin to those between a “defendant” and a “judge”, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in its second statement on the issue in a week.

“The dignity of the DPRK (North Korea) will never allow this to happen,” it said.

The North quit the long-running six-nation talks last April, a month before

staging a second nuclear test, which attracted tougher United Nations sanctions.

The communist state said Monday it “is not opposed to the six-party talks and has no ground whatsoever to delay them”.

But it said they would collapse again without confidence-building measures such as talks on a peace treaty.

“There will be a starting point of confidence-building only if the parties concerned sit at a negotiating table for concluding a peace treaty,” it said.

The war — in which a US-led United Nations force supported the South and China the North — ended only in an armistice, leaving the parties still technically at war.

The United States and South Korea have rejected the call for early discussions on a peace treaty. They say the North must first return to the six-party talks and show it is serious about scrapping its atomic programmes.

The US also rejects any lifting of sanctions before negotiations resume.

“We’ve made clear, going back several months, we’re not going to pay North Korea for coming back to the six-party process,” a State Department spokesman said last week.

South Korean ministers have voiced suspicions the talk of a peace pact is aiming at stalling any progress on nuclear disarmament.

They also suspect the North wants to exclude it from any peace talks and to deal solely with the United States.

In an angry statement Friday, the North’s National Defence Commission threatened to break off all dialogue with South Korea unless it apologises for an alleged contingency plan to handle regime collapse in the communist state.

The commission, which is headed by leader Kim Jong-Il, denounced the alleged plan as a “crime” and said it would stage a “holy war” against those who drew it up.

North and South Korea will go ahead with scheduled talks this week, Seoul officials said Monday, despite threats by the North of a halt to dialogue and a possible attack.

The two-day talks on economic cooperation will begin Tuesday at a joint industrial estate just north of the border, the unification ministry said.

A spokeswoman told AFP the North on Monday afternoon approved the cross-border visit by Seoul’s delegates.

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Wall Street sell-off hits Asian shares

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Wall Street’s worst performance so far in 2010 hit Asian stocks Monday amid fresh concerns over the pace of recovery, while Japan Airlines (JAL) sank to a new low ahead of its expected bankruptcy.

Traders are seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AFP Photo)

A dive in oil prices also hit sentiment, as crude tumbled after the International Energy Agency (IEA) last week predicted “sluggish” demand this year in the developed world, with emerging markets accounting for increases.

Doubts about the strength of recovery in the United States, the world’s biggest energy user, were raised earlier last week when it reported that crude reserves had increased despite a severe cold snap across much of the country.

In Singapore, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery fell 34 cents to 77.66 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for February delivery was down 34 cents at 76.77 dollars.

New York crude has slid from a 15-month high of 83.95 dollars earlier last week.

“Oil is under pressure primarily from economic considerations,” said Victor Shum, a Singapore-based analyst with energy consultancy Purvin and Gertz.

“Some of the economic data out of the US were not really robust and so these data raised doubts about the health of the US consumer and the strength of the US economy.”

Tokyo was off 1.16 percent, or 127.02 points, at 10,855.08.

JAL plunged 28.6 percent to an all-time low of five yen (five cents) a day before it is expected to file for bankruptcy as it struggles under enormous debts. It is also widely thought JAL will delist its stock.

The carrier’s market value is now just 150 million dollars, less than the cost of one new jumbo jet.

While Tokyo has said it will try to ensure its survival during restructuring, investors are expected to lose most or all of their money if it files for bankruptcy.

In the meantime, many short-term speculators are trading the shares to try to make a quick profit, dealers said.

“This has become a pure money game,” said Masatoshi Sato, strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities. “There is really no meaning to the level of the shares.”

The firm’s stock has plunged 95 percent over the past three months. Its highest share price since it began merging operations with small domestic carrier Japan Air Systems was 366 yen, seen in 2003.

Hong Kong was 0.33 percent lower at the break.

Shanghai was 0.32 percent off in early afternoon trade as investors remained cautious ahead of the release of key economic indicators for 2009 later in the week.

However, many markets moved off their morning lows as bargain hunters moved in.

Sydney closed 0.23 percent or 11.5 points higher at 4,911.1 on gains in the financial sector which offset falls among the big miners.

BHP Billiton dropped 0.48 percent to 43.44 Australian dollars (40 US dollars) and Rio Tinto shed 0.38 percent to 78.32.

Seoul added 0.59 percent, or 9.98 points, to 1,711.78.

Singapore was also up, rising 0.31 percent in the afternoon.

Dealers in the region were also absorbing a 0.94 percent fall in New York, the biggest drop this year, where strong earnings data from chipmaker Intel and bank giant JP Morgan failed to lift spirits.

Chinese and Hong Kong stocks were also dented by growing concerns Beijing will further tighten monetary policy to keep a lid on the nation’s soaring economic growth.

Analysts said the focus this week will likely turn to upcoming Chinese economic data Thursday “in order to judge whether more tightening measures are required to keep the China economy from overheating.”

However, China launched the CSI Cross-Straits 500 Index Monday in a bid to boost financial cooperation in the Greater China region.

The China Securities Index Company said on its website that the market, which covers 500 firms listed in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, was down 0.98 percent.

Taipei lost 0.23 percent, or 19.07 points, to 8,337.82.

The drop came despite three memoranda of understanding with China going into effect Saturday.

A lead cause of the fall was because financial authorities said they would allow a total of 500 million US dollars worth Chinese institutional investments in the local market, lower than the previously expected one billion dollars.

The euro slid to 1.4378 dollars in Tokyo afternoon trade from 1.4385 in New York late Friday. It rose to 130.77 yen from 130.55. The dollar gained to 90.94 yen from 90.82.

And in Hong Kong gold opened slightly lower at 1,130.30-1,131.30 US dollars an ounce, from Friday’s close of 1,135.00-1,136.00 dollars.

In other markets:

— Manila dropped 0.39 percent, or 12.17 points, to 3,106.30.

“There’s nothing in the local front to move the market,” Joseph Roxas of , Eagle Equities said, adding the market was likely to look for overseas cues.

— Wellington fell 0.33 percent, or 10.85 points, to close at 3,247.10.

Leading stocks were the main losers, with Fletcher Building falling 20 cents to 8.11 dollars and Contact Energy down eight cents at 6.10.


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Injury rules Nigeria’s Yobo out of Nations Cup

In Vietnam Sports on January 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

BENGUELA, Angola, Jan 17, 2010 (AFP) – Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo was on Sunday ruled out of the Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a hamstring injury which will sideline him for at least two weeks.

Imorou Emmanuel (C) of Benin vies for the ball with Nigerian players Echiejile Elderson (L) and Yobo Michael (R) during their group C stage match at the African Cup of Nations 2010 in Benguela on January 16, 2010. AFP PHOTO

According to the official website of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Everton player tore his hamstring while challenging Benin striker Razak Omotoyossi in the 52nd minute of their Group C 1-0 win here on Saturday.

Yobo, who will undergo a scan on the injury on Monday, could be allowed to return to England for treatment.

Nigeria, second in Group C with three points from two matches, face Mozambique in Lubango in their final group game.

Group leaders Egypt, with six points, have already booked their place in the last eight.

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Mancini won’t write off Robinho despite latest flop

In Vietnam Sports on January 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

LIVERPOOL, England, Jan 17, 2010 (AFP) – Roberto Mancini is adamant Robinho still has a future at Manchester City despite hauling off the Brazil star soon after sending him on as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat at Everton.

Mancini has only started Robinho once in his five matches since replacing Mark Hughes as City manager and is clearly struggling to find a way to motivate the under-performing former Real Madrid forward.

Roberto Mancini reacts during the English Premier League football match against Blackburn Rovers at The City of Manchester stadium, Manchester on January 11, 2010. AFP PHOTO

Robinho, who cost City a club record 32 million pounds, was at his lacklustre worst after coming on as a first half replacement for Roque Santa Cruz at Goodison Park on Saturday and Mancini showed his disgust by taking him off soon after the interval.

Mancini’s hardline stance failed to spark City into life and they lost for the first time under the former Inter Milan coach, dropping out of the Premier League’s top four in the process.

But Mancini won’t write off Robinho for good and insisted the attacking options at his disposal mean he would always be willing to rotate the team at the expense of even his biggest stars.

“I had (Craig) Bellamy, Benjani (Mwaruwari), (Carlos) Tevez, Robinho – all strikers – so I decided to take one off,” Mancini said. “I needed a different kind of player.

“Is it the end of the line for Robinho? No. He is a good player. Like everyone in the squad he needs to work hard and play well.”

First half goals from South African midfielder Steven Pienaar and French striker Louis Saha, who converted a penalty, gave Everton a deserved victory and dented City’s hopes of clinching a Champions League place.

Mancini admits City need time to adapt to his tactics but he may make a move in the transfer market before the window shuts on February 1.

“I am not a magician. I am a manager and I do not think I can change the situation in a month,” he said. “But I believe we can improve game after game. That is possible. It is a long season.”

Pienaar made the breakthrough in the 36th minute with a free-kick from 20 yards that evaded Shay Given at the goalkeeper’s near post.

Everton stepped up the pace and Saha extended their lead in first-half stoppage time with his 13th goal of a productive season.

He coolly slotted home a penalty after having his shirt tugged outside and inside the box by Micah Richards.

Everton manager David Moyes could not hide his delight at securing the three points after accusing City in his programme notes of “breaking the rules” and having “no class” in their pursuit of Joleon Lescott.

The England defender moved to Eastlands in August following a protracted transfer but sat out the match because of a knee injury.

Moyes said: “I think you enjoy wins when you feel you have not been treated right. I will do that but it has all gone now and I will try and move on.

“I think this performance has been coming. It is getting back to the standard we want to see.

“We have started getting one or two players back. There is a bit more confidence now and a bit of competition for places.”

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