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Archive for July 3rd, 2010|Daily archive page

The beach is that way

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The beach is that way

QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

The central province of Quang Binh is home to some of Vietnam’s most enchanting coastal areas with a string of beautiful beaches that could also help reverse the province’s economic fortunes.

With the pace of development comes a price. Popular beach destinations become too crowded, too built up, too much of a hassle. For those who like to flop around on a quiet beach and forget about the world, the most popular ‘holiday’ beaches become contradictions. Who can feel relaxed on a public holiday if you’re surrounded by thousands of screaming kids and perpetually hassled by vendors? Inevitably, you move on. You seek new horizons far from the madding crowds.

For now, my tip is Quang Binh province in the ‘north’ of Central Vietnam. South of Ha Tinh and bordering Laos, this is one of the country’s poorest provinces. The average annual per capita income is one of the lowest in Vietnam. But the province’s tourism industry might be the main key to boosting the local economy. The UNESCO heritage site of Phong Nha- Ke Bang cave has flown the flag so far.

Now the province is looking to the white sandy beaches with a great deal of justifiable expectation. The bewitching sight of Nhat Le would certainly convince any developer that this is a stretch of coast worth banking on. But for now, I am also delighted to bask in the peace and tranquility that remains on offer before the bulldozers and master builders roll in. It’s a breathtaking spot and in my humblest opinion one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Inspired by the prospect of discovering more unknown beaches, I recently decided to explore more of the coast by motorbike. And there is plenty to discover.

In Quang Trach district, I came across Quang Phu beach, which is popular with locals but yet to be tapped by the tourism moguls. It’s only five or 10 minutes drive from Nhat Le beach and utterly pristine. The water is refreshingly clear. As you swim around, you can see scallops beneath your feet. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a morning or afternoon lolling around in the sunshine, happily contemplating life.

Further along the coast, you will find Hai Ninh beach and fishing village. The views around are wonderful with imposing mountains to the west and a deep blue sea to the east. After arriving in the late afternoon, I decided to stay until sunset – yes, I’m an old romantic at heart.

The next morning I headed for Dong Hoi market to enjoy the bustling atmosphere. The fishermen, traders and customers convene over the catch of the day. The market might be the only hectic spot you will come across on the coastline.

There are already some resorts taking advantage of Quang Binh’s stunning shores and sweeping sea views. The Sun Spa Resort is leading the pack. Set on a picturesque peninsular the resort boasts 234 international standard rooms. The overall design is wonderfully harmonious and tranquil with fern-trunk thatching, private tropical gardens overlooking the ocean, private swimming pools and spacious, elegantly designed rooms.

Sun Spa Resort is the perfect gateway to discover the World Natural Heritage Site of Phong Nha – Ke Bang Reserve – though the resort is a natural wonder in its own right, set amidst a spacious 29 hectares of landscaped garden alongside the pristine white sands of Bao Ninh beach.

Further up the coast, there may be more to come. Development plans have been made for Da Nhay beach, another wonderful spot, 40km north of Dong Hoi. In Vietnamese ‘da nhay’ means ‘the rocks that jump’. As you might guess by that name, this is a rugged, rocky spot but there are also sandy coves for bathing on.

You can find more modest accommodation than the Sun Spa Resort with rooms available in family-run hotels for VND150,000 to VND200,00. Either way searching the coast for quiet spots to have a dip in the sea is a wonderful way to spend a couple of days (rather than being dragged around by a tour guide). Everywhere in Quang Binh people are hospitable, helpful and happy to share the incredible natural scenery with people from out of town. I guess they want the word to spread. 

Source: VNN

Source: QDND

More sets of remains of martyrs brought home from Cambodia

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm

More sets of remains of martyrs brought home from Cambodia

QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

PANO – The authorities of two Cambodian provinces of Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham have held a ceremony to hand over 83 sets of remains of fallen Vietnamese soldiers and specialists to Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh provinces in Vietnam.

These remains were discovered by a joint search by both Vietnamese and Cambodian provinces.

According to the Vietnamese Military Attaché Department in Cambodia, the authority of Cambodia’s Kratie province will also handed over 81 sets of remains found in their province to the Vietnamese authorities.

In early June, 9 sets of remains of Vietnamese soldiers and specialists who died while serving at Cambodia’s Mondonkiri province were brought home and reburied in the Dac Lac provincial Martyr Cemetery.

Translated by Duy Minh

Source: QDND

22.8 million new phone subscribers in H1

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm

22.8 million new phone subscribers in H1

QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

In the first half of 2010 Vietnam had an additional of 22.8 million phone subscribers, 12.2 percent up year on year, reported the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Of this number, there were 22.1 million mobile subscribers, an increase of 18.7 percent and 707,700 fixed phone subscribers, a fall of 58.7 percent in comparison with the corresponding period of 2009.

The number of new mobile users in the first half was 31-fold more than fixed phone users.

The total number of phone subscribers in Vietnam by the end of June 2010 reached 151 million, 48.5 percent over the same period of last year. Mobile subscribers accounted for over 80 percent.

The number of broadband Internet subscribers was estimated at 3.4 million by the end of June, up by 33.5 percent.

The total revenue from postal and telecom services in this period also grew by 33.7 percent year on year.

Source: VNN

Source: QDND

Thai ‘Yellow Shirt’ party picks leader

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

BANGKOK, July 3, 2010 (AFP) – The political wing of Thailand’s pro-royalist “Yellow Shirt” protest movement appointed a new leader on Saturday as the party gears up for a general election expected next year.

The New Politics party backed Somsak Kosaisuk, a former leader of the powerful Yellow Shirt group, whose protests helped to topple two governments allied to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

“We will discuss how to make our party a truly mass party and our place in Thai politics, as well as to map out our strategy for the next election,” Suriyasai Katasila, the party’s secretary-general told reporters.

Thailand recently saw two months of deadly demonstrations by the anti-government “Red Shirt” group, whose members are largely loyal to Thaksin.

Ninety people were killed and nearly 1,900 injured during the rallies, which ended in a bloody military crackdown in May.

Somsak was one of the main leaders for the Yellow Shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which helped to drive Thaksin out of office in 2006.

The group later launched an economically devastating siege at two airports in late 2008, stranding hundreds of thousands of tourists and eventually pushing Thaksin’s allies from government.

PAD was backed by the Bangkok-based elite and circles in the palace, military and bureaucracy who loathed Thaksin.

The group set itself up as a political entity in the guise of the New Politics party last year, vowing to take votes from the same support base behind current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Somsak, who was New Politics’ first interim leader, replaces Thaksin’s arch enemy Sondhi Limthongkul, after his resignation in May.

Source: SGGP

VOV’s traffic information to be televised at rush hours

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

VOV’s traffic information to be televised at rush hours

QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 21:1 (GMT+7)

VOVTV channel will broadcast traffic information presented by reporters from different locations in Hanoi at rush hours (6.30am-8am, 11am-12am and 4.30pm-6pm) as from July 10.

The people of Hanoi will be able to see the traffic flow and make a choice of the most suitable routes to avoid congestion on the road.

Vu Minh Tuan, Director of VOV Traffic Information Channel and Deputy Director of VOVTV, said there will also be other TV programmes showing Vietnamese film producers at work along with interesting stories about their shoots.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Gulf of Mexico now worst accidental spill on record

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A Taiwanese supertanker skimmed oil from the Gulf of Mexico Saturday as the months-long disaster became the worst accidental spill on record.

Oil cleanup workers try to remove thick oil that washed ashore in Gulfport, Mississippi. AFP

Rough seas and strong winds continued to delay clean-up efforts, displace protective booms and push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands, endangering wildlife preserves and the thousands of birds nesting there.

“This is going to be a very long and arduous clean-up operation in the days to come,” said Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft.

“I’m especially concerned with some of the wildlife habitats.”

An estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day has been gushing out of the ruptured well since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank on April 22, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

A containment system has captured about 557,000 barrels of oil, but rough seas have delayed the deployment of a third vessel which is set to increase capacity from 25,000 barrels to 53,000 barrels a day.

That means an estimated 1.9 to 3.6 million barrels — or 79.5 to 153 million gallons — of oil has now gushed into the Gulf.

Using the high end of that estimate, the spill has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels (140,000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

And it will likely be mid-August at the earliest before the Gulf well is permanently capped by injecting mud and cement with the aid of relief wells.

The Taiwanese supertanker dubbed “A Whale” could radically increase the amount of oil crews are able to recover.

“It ingests oil and oily water and then separates out the oil and expels the water,” BP spokesman Toby Odone told AFP.

The giant ship, which has cuts in its sides, is some 300 yards (275 meters) long and can suck up 21 million gallons of oily water a day.

The small skimming boats which have been patrolling the Gulf for the past 10 weeks have only collected 28.2 million gallons of oily water to date.

The tanker began initial skimming operations Friday, with crews testing whether it could safely handle and dispose of the oil, but it will take several days before a final deployment decision is made, Odone said.

Rough seas caused by the first hurricane of the Atlantic season have kept the thousands of ships hired to skim oil, lay boom, carry out controlled burns, and move equipment in harbor since Tuesday.

Skimmers had been collecting about 12,000 barrels of oil a day before they were sent back to port while about 8,000 barrels of oil was being burned off the surface.

Around 450 miles (725 kilometers) of US shorelines have now been oiled as crude spews into the sea at an alarming rate, 73 days into the worst environmental disaster in US history.

A third containment ship aimed at doubling the amount of oil captured from a rupture well in the Gulf of Mexico should hopefully be working by Wednesday, said Admiral Thad Allen, who oversees operations.

The deployment of the Helix Producer is set to increase capacity from about 25,000 to 53,000 barrels of oil per day.

Officials will have a better estimate on the actual flow rate once the Helix Producer is attached “just by the visual evidence of how much oil is actually coming out around that cap,” Allen said.

They will then have to decide if the existing system should stay in place, or if it would be best to undergo a risky procedure to replace the cap with another system capable of capturing up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

“The decision window associated with that would be sometime in the next I would say seven to 10 days,” Allen said in a conference call Friday.

A key advantage of the new system is that it would greatly reduce the amount of time oil would be gushing freely into the sea if crews had to evacuate the spill site due to a bad storm.

“All of this is being weighed very, very carefully,” Allen said.

Meawhile, a US government agency warned the Florida Keys and resort beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale were at high risk from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used a computer model to estimate the likelihood that toxic crude will ride the Loop Current into the Gulf Stream, which whips around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern US seaboard.

The study found that much of Florida’s western coastline along the Gulf “has a low probability (one to 20 percent) for impact,” while the Florida Keys, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale areas “have a greater probability (61 to 80 percent).”

Source: SGGP

Acute diarrhea recurs in Hanoi

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Acute diarrhea recurs in Hanoi

QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 21:1 (GMT+7)

Many people in Hanoi have been diagnosed with acute diarrhea over the past week.

The Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases received and treated 36 patients infected with the disease, 18 of them tested positive for Vibrio cholera. Most patients were from Hanoi’s inner districts, including Hoang Mai, Cau Giay, Hai Ba Trung and Thanh Xuan.

Doctor Nguyen Hong Ha, Deputy Director of the Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said that unsafe food is the main cause of the disease. It is essential to ensure strict management of food hygiene and safety, and people should eat cooked food and drink boiled water, and maintain good personal hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease, she said.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

PM spells out measures to combat drought

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

PM spells out measures to combat drought

QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 21:1 (GMT+7)

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sent a dispatch July 2 to related provinces, cities and ministries, outlining urgent measures to fight against the major drought affecting Northern Central and Southern Central Coastal areas.

The measures are aimed to help farmers cultivate the upcoming summer-autumn crop as scheduled, ensure production and stabilize people’s lives.

These provinces and cities are currently affected by a severe drought that has caused the loss of vast areas of rice fields. The drought is menacing the cultivation of the summer-autumn crop, so there is a high risk of crop failure on a mass scale.

The PM asked people’s committees of affected provinces and cities and local administrations of all levels to synchronously implement measures on fighting against drought, including dredging irrigation canals, installing more water pumping stations, monitoring and using effectively and economically water sources and ensuring sufficient water for paddy fields.

To ensure cultivation, PM Dung asked localities to use their standby budgets allocated for natural disasters and other funds.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was asked to order people’s committees and related agencies to visit severely affected localities to keep track of the situation and instruct people how to deal with the drought.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade was asked to order the Electricity of Vietnam Group to prioritize power to the cause and cooperate with localities to make a plan for letting out water from reservoirs to dried areas.

PM Dung also asked the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to instruct the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting to follow the situation closely and keep the public informed of upcoming weather conditions.

Source: SGGP


Source: QDND

200 dead after DR Congo tanker truck explosion – Red Cross

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

KINSHASA, July 3, 2010 (AFP) – At least 200 people died and dozens were injured when a tanker truck filled with oil exploded and set fire to a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Red Cross said Saturday.

“So far, the accident has left 200 dead. It is a provisional toll. We have people on the spot and the search (for victims) is continuing,” the Red Cross official in charge of Sud-Kivu province, Leonard Zigade told AFP.

AFP – A map locating the town of Bukavu in eastern DR. Congo.

Earlier local officials said at least 100 people had been killed, while a security source in the United Nations mission in DR Congo (MONUC) gave a toll of “223 dead and 110 injured.”

“What is certain is that the toll will get higher. It seems that what happened was truly horrible,” the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that the search was still going on “for more charred bodies.”

The accident happened late Friday.

“A tanker truck coming from Tanzania overturned in the village of Sange. There was a crush (of people) and a petrol leak, there was an explosion of fuel oil which spread through the village,” regional government spokesman Vincent Kabanga told AFP.

The village is located around 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of the Sud-Kivu county town of Bukavu, close to the border with Burundi.

Dozens of mostly earth and straw constructed homes in Sange were engulfed in the blaze after the accident, which a police officer based in Bukavu said had been caused by the truck’s “excessive speed.”

The officer, who asked not to be named, added that many of those who surrounded the vehicle before it exploded were children.

He said the village was now “in total mourning.”

MONUC has made available three helicopters to evacuate villages and has alerted hospitals at Uvira and Bukavu, a source in the mission told AFP.

Source: SGGP

Foreign exchange market remains in control: central bank

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

In response to the rising demand for US dollars, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) asserted last week that the foreign exchange market remains stable and is under control. 

A teller counts US dollar banknotes at a bank in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: SGGP)

US dollar credits on the rise
It has not just been in July alone, as trade of US dollars has been soaring since early this year.
At banks, due to a difference between interest rates of loans in Vietnam dong and US dollars, sometimes up to 7-8 percent and the general stability of dong-US dollar ratio, most of enterprises have preferred borrowing loans in dollar than dong.
According to SBV, loans offered in dong only increased by 3.51 percent, while those in dollar surged by 20.23 percent in the first five months.
Dollar transactions hiked sharply during the last week of June when trading volume in the interbank market soared over US$500 million. Overnight and one-week-term interest rates also increased slightly.
However, the rate for six-month-term loans rose unusually, from 0.99 percent to 3 percent per year.
On the free market, purchase of dollars has increased.
The dong-US dollar rate has been high at commercial banks in recent days, over VND19,000 per dollar, and the gap between buying and selling prices has been over VND100 per dollar.
Financial experts said the country’s trade gap in the first half of the year, which accounted for 21 percent of the total export turnover, has caused worries for people and enterprises.
They have worried that the rate would rise further and have bought dollars to save and pay their loans, experts added.
In addition, they said, companies have issued a considerable volume of bonds in foreign currency, and this has led to a high demand for dollars and a hike in Vietnam’s US dollar central parity rate.
The change of exchange rate yet to cause concern
The Central Bank said its foreign currency reserves are still safe because the interbank average exchange rate remains unchanged at VND18,544 per US dollar; it has bought dollars at a price of VND18,980 per dollar, commercial banks have pushed to sell dollars to the Central Bank, and the supply of US dollars has been abundant on the foreign currency market.
According to SBV, dollar sources from overseas remittance, FDI disbursement and tourism have likely increased, with overseas remittance reaching US$3.6 billion in the first six months.
Therefore, the US dollar supply and demand is unlikely to see the unusual change many people expected.
However, the Central bank has asked credit organizations to control the growth of loans offered in dollars and keep them at reasonable rates that are appropriate to the mobilizing capacity of banks.
Dr. Tran Huy Hoang, head of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics’ Banking Faculty, said the current dong-US dollar rate shows a proper parity between the two currencies and represents a healthy economy.
Therefore, he said, SBV has not yet needed to adjust the rate, adding that the rate will help facilitate business and production, especially exports, and limit the trade gap.
To balance supply and demand of US dollars, relevant agencies need to strengthen their management on imports and exports, and limit or ban the importation of luxurious commodities and products that are also produced in Vietnam, he said.
In addition, SBV and commercial banks need to monitor tightly enterprises’ loan usage, he added.

Source: SGGP