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Archive for July 21st, 2010|Daily archive page

Only 350 medical techniques, services to suffer soaring prices: MOH

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Of 3,000 medical techniques and services, only around 350 would have their fees soar, said Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MOH) at a press conference on July 20, in response to public outcry over the recently proposed draft on hospital fee increases.

If new draft on hospital fee increases approved, it would be burden for 14.7 million disadvantaged people whose monthly income is  meager

MOH said hospital fee adjustments have excluded machinery depreciation, staff wages and training expenditures.

However, the prices of examinations and sickbeds will see the highest increase in rates. For instance, the price of clinical exams will rise from VND3,000 to VND30,000. Meanwhile, patients will have to pay VND100,000 –VND150,000 per day for normal or first class sickbeds, as opposed to the current price of just VND4,000 and VND18,000.

The Ministry alleged that it would not affect many residents, citing that 62 percent of the country’s population has health insurance cards and the number of insured people continues to rise.

The new draft would badly affect 14.7 million people, mostly low income laborers, farmers, ethnic minorities and those suffering from chronic and incurable health conditions, who have bought insurance voluntarily. This group of people would be burdened by increases in the five to 20 percent fee they are accustomed to paying, because their monthly income is meager.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam’s stock markets continue marching south

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Movements of VN-Index on July 21. (Photo:’s benchmark VN-Index on July 21 continued to make corrections, despite a rally on international stock markets and positive macroeconomic news.

The shares of 247 companies and four mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange retreated 0.23 percent, or 1.16 points, to close at 505.4 points. The index slid as most blue-chips dropped, while investors sold penny-chips heavily to book profits.

82 stocks gained, 125 declined and 44 remained unchanged.

Liquidity on the southern market significantly improved, as around 50 million shares changed hands, at a value of VND1.47 trillion.

Vinh Son – Song Hinh Hydropower Joint Stock Company (VSH) topped the list of most active shares by volume with 1.75 million shares changing hands.

Vien Dong Investment Development Trading Corporation (VID) tagged along with 1.7 million shares, followed by Sao Mai Construction Corporation (ASM) with 1.52 million shares.

Nari Hamico Minerals Joint Stock Company (KSS) slumped 37.62 percent, falling to VND39,300. The company will sell 12.39 million shares to increase its chartered capital to VND241.9 billion, of which 11.8 million shares will be sold to current shareholders at a price of VND12,000 per share. The rest will be sold to its employees at a 1:1 ratio.

Chuong Duong Beverages Joint Stock Company (SCD) closed down 5 percent to VND30,400.

Lilama 10 Joint Stock Company (L10) sank 4.91 percent to VND38,700.

Ha Tien Transport Joint Stock Company (HTV) and My Chau Printing & Packaging Holding Company (MCP) advanced 5 percent to VND27,300 and VND14,700 respectively.

From July 23 to September 23, Tran Minh Huy, chief accountant of Ha Tien Transport Joint Stock Company (HTV), registered to sell all 3,000 shares to cover his children’s tuition fees.

Binh Duong Construction and Civil Engineering Joint Stock Company (BCE) added up 4.98 percent to VND23,200.

The Hanoi-based HNX-Index fell 1.18 points, or 0.74 percent, to 158.97 points. Trading volume reached 48.6 million shares, worth VND1.33 trillion.

The UPCoM-Index lost 1.34 points, or 2.36 percent, to 55.56, as of 11:05 am local time. Around VND11.3 billion was spent to trade 524,270 shares.

Source: SGGP

Central province hangs bronze bell to commemorate fallen soldiers

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Officials hung a six-ton bronze bell at the seventh-floor of the Dong Loc bell-tower at the historical Dong Loc T-junction in the central province of Ha Tinh on July 20, marking the 42-year anniversary of the Nga Ba Dong Loc (Dong Loc T-junction) Victory and the martyrdom of ten young female volunteers.

Artisan Nguyen Van Ung casting the 6-ton bell, which was hung in the bell tower of Dong Loc T- Junction Relic in Ha Tinh Province on July 20. (Photo: VNA)

The event also marks the 60th anniversary of Vietnam voluntary force’s traditional day (July 15) held by management board of the Dong Loc T-junction relic site and Lilama 5 Joint Stock Company.

The bell, four meters high and 1.95 meters wide, was cast by the artisan Nguyen Van Ung from Hoa Mai workshop in Ngu Xa village of Hanoi and was funded by donations from individuals, organizations and businesses nationwide.

The Dong Loc T-junction, which played a vital role in the transport of necessities and ammunition from the north and the south, is well-known for the story of 10 young unmarried female volunteers, who sacrificed their lives to ensure transport on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (July 24, 2010).

From 1965-1968, the US army dropped nearly 50,000 bombs and fired tens of thousands of missiles at T-junction, in the hope of cutting off the transport route to the southern front.

Dong Loc has become a historical symbol for the nation’s patriotic traditions.

Source: SGGP

Vedan continues bargaining over compensation for farmers

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

A section of Thi Vai River is polluted by Vedan factory. (Photo: SGGP)Taiwanese MSG producer, Vedan, continued to haggle over the compensation for farmers in Can Gio District, in a meeting on July 20 with the Ho Chi Minh City Association of Farmers, Can Gio District People’s Committee, and the Institute for Environment and Natural Resources.

Earlier, Vedan said that it would pay VND7 billion as compensation for economic damages it caused farmers in Can Gio District. At the meeting, the company raised the payment to VND12 billion.

However, Doan Van Son, deputy chairman of Can Gio District People’s Committee, said that it was unreasonable to base on the density of 14 tons of aquatic products per square kilometer in Hong and Mekong rivers, in calculating the damages to the Thi Vai River.

According to his analysis, the figure of 14 tons of aquatic products per square kilometer means that a farmer only catches 2 kilograms of aquatic products per month.

Meanwhile, Can Gio District evaluated damages of more than VND32 billion for an area of 2,100 hectares with a production of 77 tons of aquatic products per square kilometer.

Farmers in Can Gio District would sue Vedan if the company refused to pay the compensation, Mr. Son said.

A representative of the Institute for Environment and Natural Resources said the cost of economic losses caused by Vedan to Can Gio District’s farmers was more than VND45 billion, adding that Vedan would likely to compensate for environment, ecosystem, and people’s health if the case was brought to court for trial.

Related article:

HCMC farmer association proposes advance of $116,000 to sue Vedan

Source: SGGP

Traditional medicine preservation project to bring new breath to Cham village

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

It is surprising to learn that residents of two 1,200-household villages in the central province of Ninh Thuan’s district Ninh Hai are herbalists, although Cham people are well known for their traditional medicine.

An herbalist examines a patient by feeling her pulse (Photo: SGGP)

A majority of the Cham population are living in villages Phuoc Nhon and An Nhon in Xuan Hai commune in district Ninh Hai. Most of Cham herbalists have knowledge of medicinal vegetation, including 300 species of 97 plant families.

Their age-old medicine has been influenced by herbalists of China and India, according to herbalist Nguyen Xuan Tuyen, chairman of the province Herb Association.

Of around 800 members of the association, over 640 have been trained to make drugs from plants found in nature. They net their living on the traditional medicine.

Some 13 shops selling drugs said around one ton of herbal medicine is consumed daily and most herbs are taken from the jungle, making precious herbs at risk of extinction, causing concern to experienced herbalists.

It is for this reason that the traditional medicine preservation project, funded by Global Environment Facility, has operated this year in An Nhon and Phuoc Nhon. The local government is satisfied with the project, providing one hectare of land for planting herbs with 30 households being selected to grow vegetation in their garden.

Tran Ngoc Phan, Xuan Hai commune People’s Committee Chairman, said herbalists in the two villages struggle hard to make their living in faraway districts or even in Laos, Cambodia and China; but when the village’s herb has its own brand name, they would not need to travel far from their houses, rather people would come to them to receive examinations.

Moreover, tour guides can take travelers to the village as part of sightseeing tours. Perhaps a “cure tour” to the traditional medicine village can be combined with visiting other craft villages like Bau Truc ceramic – one of the two oldest ceramic villages in Southeast Asia- Chakleng – My Nghiep weaving center with diversified well-known products in Ninh Thuan, Mr. Phan proposed.

If the plan goes well on, herbs of the Cham ethnic minority would become widely famous and lives of residents improved, said Mr. Phan.

The project brings hope that villages there will be covered with herbs and most residents could be both herbalists and tour guides and that the next generation will continue the work to ensure the two villages are prosperous in the future.

Source: SGGP

Clinton, Gates in South Korea to show support

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

The US diplomatic and military chiefs paid an unprecedented joint visit Wednesday to the border with North Korea in a show of support for South Korea after a deadly naval attack blamed on Pyongyang.

Watched through the window by a curious North Korean soldier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates entered a meeting room straddling the borderline and briefly set foot on the North’s side of the room.

Clinton and Gates are leading a high-powered US delegation to the South as a gesture of solidarity following the sinking of a warship in March that killed 46 sailors.

South Korea, its US ally and other countries, citing findings of a multinational investigation, accuse the North of torpedoing the Cheonan warship near the disputed sea border — a charge it denies.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at Seoul Air Base on July 21, 2010.

The incident has sharply raised tensions on the peninsula. Gates and his South Korean counterpart Kim Tae-Young Tuesday announced a major joint naval exercise starting this Sunday as a deterrent to the North.

The South’s defence ministry said it would be the first in a series of about 10 joint naval drills in coming months.

Clinton and Gates, visiting the border truce village of Panmunjom in heavy rain, talked to US and South Korean soldiers posted there.

Unlike the rest of the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) bisecting the peninsula, the border at Panmunjom between communist North and capitalist South is marked only by a low line.

“It struck me that although there may be a thin line, these two places are worlds apart,” Clinton told reporters.

“The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has made extraordinary progress. In contrast, North Korea has not only stagnated in isolation, the people of the North have suffered for so many years.”

It was Clinton’s first visit to the DMZ area, which her husband — then-president Bill Clinton — described during a 1993 visit as “the scariest place on earth”.

“We continue to send a message to the North that there is another way,” she said, referring to US pledges of major aid if Pyongyang scraps its nuclear weapons programme.

“Until they change direction the US stands firmly on behalf of the people and government” of South Korea.

Gates also noted that the South continues to grow and prosper.

“The North, by contrast, stagnates in isolation and deprivation. And as we saw with the sinking of the Cheonan, it continues its history of unpredictable and at times provocative behaviour.”

He said the Panmunjom visit was intended to show appreciation to US and South Korean troops maintaining the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war, “but also to send a strong signal to the North, to the region and to the world that our commitment to South Korea’s security is steadfast”.

The top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, also voiced concern at Pyongyang’s perceived unpredictability during a visit to US troops at Camp Red Cloud, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the DMZ.

The DMZ, whose approaches are guarded by minefields and razor wire, has bisected the peninsula since the war. The US has stationed troops in the South ever since the conflict, and currently has 28,500 there.

“We are all concerned, all the neighbours, concerned about what happens in Pyongyang, and where this leadership goes. He’s a pretty unpredictable guy,” Mullen said, referring to leader Kim Jong-Il.

“The last thing in the world that I want to see happen, that anybody wants to see happen, is to have conflict break out.”

The man nominated to head the US spy community told US senators in Washington Tuesday that he fears a possible “dangerous new period” of direct attacks by the North on its southern neighbour.

James Clapper was making a written response to questions by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Clinton and Gates later visited the War Memorial in Seoul to pay tribute to the war dead and the sailors killed in the Cheonan.

They were to hold “two plus two” talks Wednesday afternoon with South Korean counterparts, and issue a joint statement expected to touch on ways to strengthen the alliance and deal with North Korea.

Source: SGGP

Obama, Cameron navigate Lockerbie, BP rows

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama sidestepped political minefields over the BP oil spill and the Lockerbie bomber and insisted Afghan war strategy was working.

In their first White House talks, the two leaders also pledged fealty to the “special relationship” between Britain and America, and sought to forge a personal connection in a White House press conference.

In fact, the visit appeared planned by both sides to ensure that the first real chance for the two to bond — after brief previous meetings — was not spoiled by political rows neither could control.

Obama hosted Cameron for talks in the Oval Office, served a lunch of wild striped bass, and gave his guest a tour of the White House living quarters. Cameron even remarked on the Obama daughters’ tidy bedrooms.

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) exit after holding a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC

Cameron had arrived in Washington amid signs that his visit could be overshadowed by still simmering political fury here over a mass casualty terror attack two decades before he took office.

Scotland’s devolved government last year released Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi — the only man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing — on compassionate grounds after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But Megrahi, the only man convicted over the downing of the Pan Am jumbo jet, which killed 270 people, is still alive in Libya, sparking fury among Americans who believe he should never have been released.

Cameron’s strategy was to forcefully condemn the release of Megrahi, and to offer sympathy to enraged Americans. But he also rebuffed US calls for a British government inquiry.

“I said this a year ago… it was a bad decision, it shouldn’t have been made,” said Cameron in the East Room press conference with Obama.

“He showed his victims no compassion. They were not allowed to die in their beds at home, surrounded by their families; so, in my view, neither should that callous killer have been given that luxury.”

However, he added, “I don’t need an inquiry to tell me what was a bad decision.”

Cameron did tell his top civil servant to go back over the paperwork on the decision, and to see whether more should be released.

In return, Obama stopped short of calling for an official British government inquiry, stating his own personal anger at the Megrahi release, but expressing confidence Cameron could produce the facts of the case.

Cameron also defended British-based BP, following claims by US lawmakers that the energy giant — already a pariah in America over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — lobbied for Megrahi’s release to ease business ties with Libya.

“That wasn’t a decision taken by BP — it was a decision taken by the Scottish government,” Cameron said.

The British leader, carefully noting US anger over BP’s role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, said he fully agreed with Obama that BP needed to seal the ruptured well, clean up the spill and compensate victims.

But with an eye on the British-based firm’s role as a provider of thousands of jobs in the US and British economies, Cameron said the energy giant must be kept “strong and stable.”

Obama and Cameron also paid mutual tribute to US and British soldiers killed in the Afghan war, and insisted their military plan was working.

“We have the right strategy. We’re going to break the Taliban’s momentum. We’re going to build Afghan capacity, so Afghans can take responsibility for their future,” Obama said.

Obama, who mandated a surge of US forces last year, has said he wants to start bringing home at least some troops in July 2011. Cameron wants British combat troops home within five years.

But critics have expressed doubts that the newly trained Afghan army will be in any shape to keep the peace by 2014.

“I think it is realistic,” Cameron insisted on NPR Tuesday. “Remember, 2014 is four years away, so there’s quite a lot of time to train up that Afghan army, and that, to me, is the most important thing.”

Obama and Cameron also discussed the case of Gary McKinnon, a Briton with Asperger’s syndrome whom the United States wants to extradite for hacking into US military computers.

Cameron has previously condemned the extradition request, which could see Mckinnon serve decades in US jail.

Obama said he could not get involved in such legal complexities but added his team was working on the case, and both sides expressed hope of finding a way forward.

Source: SGGP

Two die in Russia power plant ‘terror act’: firm

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Two people were killed and another two wounded on Wednesday during a “terror act” at a hydroelectric power plant in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, state-run power group RusHydro said, citing preliminary information.

File photo of the Baksanskaya hydroelectric power plant in Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria region

“An explosion took place on the premises of the Baksanskaya hydroelectric power plant” early Wednesday, the company said in a statement. “Two guards died, two people were hospitalized.”

As a result, the power plant’s engine room was on fire, it said.

The power plant is located on the Baksan river in Kabardino-Balkaria, part of the North Caucasus region where Russian authorities are battling a Muslim insurgency.

Source: SGGP

Relief tunnel should reach Gulf well by weekend

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Three months into the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government’s spill chief says a relief tunnel should finally reach BP’s broken well by the weekend, meaning the gusher could be snuffed for good within two weeks.

After several days of concern about the well’s stability and the leaky cap keeping the oil mostly bottled up, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Tuesday that engineers concluded the risk of a bigger blowout was minimal and were getting closer to pumping mud into the column to permanently seal it.

“We continue to be pleased with the progress,” Allen said in Washington, giving the go-ahead to keep the well cap shut for at least 24 more hours and possibly longer.

Oil booms are seen in Breton Island, Louisiana, as oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead continues to spread in the Gulf of Mexico in this May 3, 2010 file photo

BP vice president Kent Wells said crews hope to drill sideways into the blown-out well and intercept it at the end of July. The relief well is necessary to plug the well permanently.

After it’s done, crews will begin the kill procedure, pumping mud and cement into the hole a mile underwater to seal it, which BP said could take anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks.

“Everything’s looking good,” Well said. “The relief well is exactly where we want it. It’s pointed in the right direction, and so we’re feeling good about that.”

Engineers are also considering shooting drilling mud down through the cap to increase the chances that the attempt to kill the well succeeds.

News that a solution is near cheered Jeff Hunt who scans the waves daily for telltale tar balls in Pensacola Beach, Fla.

“It makes me very happy, after nearly three months, that they finally have gotten to a pinnacle point of closing it,” said the co-owner of a hair salon. “We need to plug the thing.”

BP wants to leave the cap on in the meantime. At one point, Allen wanted instead to relieve the pressure by opening up the cap and siphoning oil up to ships on the surface, but he has relented in the past few days. Opening the cap would have required allowing millions of gallons oil to gush into the sea again for a few days while the plumbing was hooked up.

Seepage detected from the seafloor briefly raised fears that the well was in danger, but Allen said that another well is to blame.

The seepage is closer to the older well than to the one that blew out, Allen said.

There are two wells within two miles of BP’s blowout, one that has been abandoned and another that is not in production. Around 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf aren’t checked for leaks, an Associated Press investigation showed this month.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and touching off one of America’s worst environmental crises. The well has spewed somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons into the Gulf. BP said the cost of dealing with the spill has now reached nearly $4 billion.

Source: SGGP

Nations pledge clean energy amid treaty stalemate

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

 Nations pledged to work together to improve the efficiency of energy-guzzlers from televisions to cars, showing practical cooperation on climate change despite a deadlock on sealing a treaty.

Senior officials from economies that make up more than 80 percent of global gross domestic product agreed on 11 initiatives during talks in Washington, which betrayed none of the sharp divisions typical of climate negotiations.

A factory chimney in a residential area emits smoke as haze casts a blanket over Bangalore, India.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who led the meeting, said Tuesday that the clean energy projects would eliminate the need for more than 500 mid-sized power plants around the world over the next 20 years.

“This is about taking concrete action and concrete steps. This is not about philosophical positioning,” Chu said after two days of talks among 21 nations including key emerging economies China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

“Yes, we have to deal with international agreements, but we can’t wait for those to move,” Chu said. “We know the energy challenge won’t wait, and we won’t wait either.”

While the two-day talks were not designed to pledge funds, Chu said that the nations together have invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in developing green energy, and several states said they were boosting resources in research.

One key initiative will look at ways to improve the energy efficiency of home appliances such as televisions, which the US Energy Department estimated would reduce the need for about 80 power plants by 2030.

A number of nations will participate in the appliance research, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, India and European nations.

In another initiative, Britain and Australia promised to take the lead in accelerating work on so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) — which lowers the output of carbon, which is blamed for global warming, from power plants.

CCS is considered crucial for the future of coal, which provides more than one quarter of the world’s energy supply and is politically sensitive in major polluters such as Australia, China and the United States.

“We have literally only 10 years to scale up and deploy CCS globally,” said Chris Huhne, Britain’s minister for energy and climate change.

“Each year of delay will lock in an increased amount of old technology which we won’t get rid of,” he said.

Another project, which includes major governments and corporations, will look at ways to collaborate in design efficiency standards for large buildings including factories — which account for more than half of global energy use.

Nations also agreed to exchange notes on one another’s pilot programs to develop electric vehicles, as well as to coordinate in designing so-called “smart grids” that manage community power consumption.

The United Arab Emirates said it would host follow-up clean energy talks in early 2011, with Britain holding a third meeting at a later date to be determined.

The talks, an offshoot of the US-led Major Economies Forum, include both rich and emerging nations but not smaller states such as Sudan and Venezuela whose strident criticisms dominated parts of December’s Copenhagen summit.

Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the UN Industrial Development Organization which champions the economic uplift of the world’s poor, said rich nations still needed to follow through on commitments at Copenhagen to offer 30 billion dollars through 2012 to help poorer nations cope with climate change.

But he said that the Washington meeting should offer hope to developing countries.

The world’s energy demand is estimated to jump by nearly half in the next 20 years, fueled by the developing world.

“If they decide to produce, use and consume energy the same way as the US and OECD (developed) countries have done, we will not be able to deal with climate change,” Yumkella told AFP.

“What this meeting does is to send a message that there are things we know already how to do. They are practical and we can deploy them now.”

Source: SGGP