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Archive for July 22nd, 2010|Daily archive page

City holds photo exhibition highlighting Hanoi’s fine art heritage

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

More than 100 photos of fine art, ancient architecture and sculptures of Thang Long – Hanoi are being displayed at Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum.

              A photo of stone-statues of the Lion

The pictures illustrated the beauty of the Mot Cot pagoda, built in 1049 during the Ly Dynasty; the Kim Lien pagoda, stone-statues of the Lion of the Ly Dynasty; many Buddhist statues and others.


The exhibition details just a part of the capital’s a huge art heritage, with nearly 1,500 temples and pagodas, more than 25,000 statues, sculptures and other ancient objects.


The display was co-organized by the HCMC Fine Arts Museum and Vietnam Fine Arts University to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of the university and Grand Celebration of the 1000th birthday of the capital. It will run through July 30.

Source: SGGP

20 dead in overnight clashes in north Yemen: tribal official

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

SANAA, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – Fighting overnight between Shiite rebels and army-backed tribes in northern Yemen killed 20 people on both sides, a tribal official told AFP on Thursday.


“Violent clashes took place overnight between Huthis and Bin Aziz tribes… leaving 20 dead from both sides,” the official said.


Yemeni forces deployed in the area intervened to break up the fighting, he added.


Fighting in the mountainous north between the two sides over the past four days had left at least 49 people dead, threatening a fragile truce, tribal and rebel sources had said on Wednesday.

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Source: SGGP

India interested in buying BP assets in Vietnam: reports

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

NEW DELHI, July 21, 2010 (AFP) – Energy-hungry India is interested in buying BP’s assets in Vietnam, an Indian government minister said Wednesday, as the country looks to obtain more energy supplies for its fast-growing economy.


“We are trying,” Oil Minister Murli Deora told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from Vietnam.


Deora said Indian state-run firms would hold talks with PetroVietnam — the largest oil producer and second-largest power producer in Vietnam — about acquiring BP assets, Dow Jones reported.


The Press Trust of India reported separately that India is pitching to buy the British energy giant’s stake in the 1.3-billion-dollar Nam Con Son gas project in Vietnam, one of the country’s biggest foreign investment projects.


The oil major operates the Nam Con Son gas project, which includes Lan Tay and Lan Do gas fields, as well as a pipeline and a gas-fired power plant.


India’s state-run ONGC already holds 45 percent of Nam Con Son’s Block 06.1, while BP has 35 percent and state-run PetroVietnam holds 20 percent.


The consortium produces about 12-14 million standard cubic meters of gas a day, supporting 30 percent of Vietnam’s power generation capacity, according to India’s oil ministry.


China’s CNOOC and Sinopec, as well as Thailand’s PTTEP may also be interested in BP’s stake in the Vietnam project, media reports said.


India relies heavily on overseas oil and gas — the nation imports 80 percent of its crude oil needs.


BP’s asset sale plans to help pay for damages stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster presents an investment opportunity for India.


“This is a great opportunity for us,” Deora told the Press Trust of India in Hanoi.


Deora travelled to Vietnam for a meeting of east Asia energy ministers. 

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Source: SGGP

Storm threat may imperil BP battle to plug Gulf well

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

BURAS, Louisiana, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – The threat of a new tropical storm forced crews to make preparations to protect the damaged Gulf of Mexico oil well, which could delay plans to permanently seal the leak that led to the environmental disaster.


The National Hurricane Center said Thursday a storm system over the Bahamas had a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone and would likely move westward into the Gulf of Mexico.

A pelican flies away from boom used to protect Queen Bess Island on July 21, 2010 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. AFP

The forecasting service Accuweather said the forecast track “takes the system near south Florida on Friday then into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by Saturday then into the Louisiana coast Saturday night or Sunday.”


“We are having to watch the weather very, very carefully now and adjust our plans accordingly,” BP senior vice president Kent Wells told reporters Wednesday.


Anxiously eyeing the bad weather brewing in the Caribbean to see if it could become a tropical storm and veer towards the Gulf, US and BP officials pored over data mulling whether to order an evacuation.


But in case it has to evacuate the area around the damaged well, which lies some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, BP early Wednesday placed a special plug inside the well’s casing.


The well has been capped since Thursday and the plug, dubbed “a storm packer,” was “another barrier, so that nothing can flow up or down past that plug… so that if we have to leave we have multiple barriers,” Wells said.


Depending on how the system develops, officials may have to issue evacuation orders for hundreds of support ships and engineers trying to finish drilling a relief well deep under the seabed.


“If we have to evacuate the area… we could be looking at 10 to 14 day gaps in our lines of operation,” warned retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of the US government response to the Gulf disaster.


President Barack Obama, who met with top officials including Allen on the oil spill response, “pushed his team to be prepared for any scenarios related to the potential development of a tropical storm in the Gulf,” the White House said.


Any storm would be a frustrating setback as the British energy giant may be within days of permanently plugging the well, which began leaking after an April 20 explosion.


Wells confirmed work had stopped Wednesday on the relief well still seen as the ultimate solution to killing the damaged well, until the weather forecast became clearer.


The final pieces of casing need to be placed on the relief well to protect it before a so-called “static kill” can begin.


Allen said earlier that depending on the weather the “static kill” could start as early as the weekend.


But BP has not yet been given permission to start the operation, and Wells was more cautious on the timing saying it would take three to four days to first finish the relief well casing.


The static kill would see BP try to drown the oil flow by pumping in mud and cement via the giant 30-foot (10-meter) cap which has prevented any oil from streaming into the Gulf for almost a week.


Local residents warned that efforts to choke off the well may be too late, with hundreds of miles of coastline in five Gulf states already fouled.


“There is a definite sense of doom here. Everyone seems just defeated. Every day they are being told about oiled marshes, where they grew up,” said Jessica Lass, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has set up a center in the small Louisiana town of Buras.


“This is their livelihood, because it’s not like the shrimp are going to come back this year. Knowing that your source of income could potentially be permanently gone, what are you supposed to do?”


A vast swath of the Gulf has been closed to commercial and sport fishing, a key economic lifeline for this impoverished area.


“It’s the uncertainty of what’s going to happen, creating this huge growth in stress levels here,” spokeswoman Lisa Becnel from volunteer group C.A.R.E told AFP.


BP has already spent close to four billion dollars on clean-up costs and compensation claims and has promised to set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay victims of the disaster along the US Gulf Coast.


In a sign of some potentially good news, Allen said hundreds of boats deployed to skim oil from the Gulf surface were having trouble finding any.


It is not known exactly how much oil has leaked into the sea, but if an upper estimate of over four million barrels is confirmed, the disaster would be the biggest accidental oil spill ever.

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Source: SGGP

Indonesia demands compensation for Timor Sea spill

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

JAKARTA, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday demanded compensation for an oil spill off northwestern Australia that campaigners say destroyed fishermen’s livelihoods.


“Certainly we will carry out our responsibility to solve this problem. We’ll propose a claim to the company causing the oil spill while maintaining good diplomatic relations with the governments of Australia and Thailand,” he told a cabinet meeting.


“What’s clear is the company must give something as accountability for the incident,” he said, adding that Indonesians affected should “receive decent compensation”.


The Thai-operated West Atlas rig dumped thousands of barrels of oil into the Timor Sea between the Indonesian archipelago and Australia after a leak began in August last year.


Yudhoyono did not specify how much compensation Indonesia would seek from the rig, which is operated by PTTEP Australasia.


But local non-governmental group the West Timor Care Foundation, which supports poor fishermen in eastern Indonesia, has called for a figure of around 15 billion dollars.


Environmental group WWF says more than 400,000 litres (over 105,000 gallons) of oil have been spilt, generating a slick spanning 10,000-25,000 square kilometres (up to 9,650 square miles).


The West Timor Care Foundation estimates the spill as even larger and says it has affected the livelihoods of some 18,000 fishermen.


“Fish, dolphins and sea turtles were killed and the pollution posed health problems to the community. We don’t know how long it will take to heal the ecosystem,” said the group’s head Ferdi Tanoni.


WWF earlier said the spill was “one of Australia’s biggest environmental disasters”.

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Source: SGGP

US resumes ties with Indonesian special forces: Pentagon

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

JAKARTA, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – The United States said Thursday it would resume ties with Indonesian special forces after a 12-year hiatus, as part of efforts by Washington to reach out to the world’s largest Muslim nation.


The announcement, made during a visit by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates to Indonesia, comes as Washington seeks to resume training for the Kopassus unit as part of growing anti-insurgency and intelligence cooperation.

Secretary of Defence Robert Gates (L) greets South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak (R) at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on July 21, 2010. AFP

“We will begin a gradual, measured process of working with Kopassus,” a senior US defence official said, referring to the elite Indonesian military unit with which Washington suspended ties in 1998.


The decision was made “in light of the progress that Indonesia and its military… has made in terms of reform and professionalisation since the fall of Suharto as well as recent pledges of reform,” he said.


The move is controversial as the Kopassus unit has been implicated in human rights abuses, including in East Timor, and some figures in the US Congress have opposed embracing the force before it has accounted for its past.


The United States broke off ties with the Kopassus under a law banning cooperation with foreign troops implicated in rights abuses.


The Indonesian special forces are accused of committing abuses in East Timor and Aceh under then dictator Suharto in the 1990s.


The senior US defence official played down fears that senior figures in the special forces had been implicated in past rights violations.


“Individuals who had been convicted in the past for human rights violations have in the past several months been removed from Kopassus,” he said.


The administration of President Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, sees the country as an increasingly important player in East Asia and key ally in the Muslim world.


Gates, who arrived from a visit to Seoul, was due to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro later Thursday.


Ernie Bower, a Southeast Asia expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the Obama administration needed to handle its relationship with the Indonesian military carefully.


“I think it’s the view of the Indonesian military that without the ability to engage and train Kopassus, the American engagement and normalisation of the military-to-military relationship would be incomplete,” he said.


“If you don’t have the relationship with the Indonesian military normalised, you can’t really participate and be the leading partner in this architecture,” he added. “Gates needs to get it right with Indonesia.”


However, the Pentagon needs to find an acceptable compromise to seal the deal without encountering too many objections in Washington.


“We’ve been working for some time both within the US government and with the government of Indonesia to try to figure out how and under what conditions we can pursue reengagement with Kopassus,” said one senior US defense official.


He noted improvements made by Jakarta since the end of the Suharto regime.


However, leading voices in Washington such as Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy as well as human rights groups have opposed a normalisation of military ties until Kopassus commanders have faced justice for past rights violations.


“Before resuming military cooperation with the Kopassus, Robert Gates must make sure that there’s no senior military officers implicated in the past abuse who hold a structural position in the military,” said activist Usman Hamid.


Hamid, a prominent rights activist from the Indonesian Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said any troops involved in abuses had to face trial.


“Those implicated in the rights violations should be removed from the Indonesian military and… should be tried in a public court or a special human rights crime court.”

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Source: SGGP

AIDS charity Life Ball raises 1.5 mln euros

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

VIENNA, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – Vienna’s glitzy AIDS charity Life Ball last weekend raised 1.5 million euros (1.9 million dollars) for international and national HIV and AIDS projects, organisers said Thursday.


This year’s event on the square in front of the Austrian capital’s neo-Gothic Town Hall and attended by former US president Bill Clinton and Hollywood actress Whoopi Goldberg was marred by heavy thunder storms and cloudbursts.


“If the weather had been better, the amount of money raised would probably have been even higher,” commented organiser Gery Keszler.


Nevertheless, tens of thousands of gays, lesbians, drag queens and their friends, all dressed in outrageous costumes, paid between 75-150 euros for a ticket to the 18th annual fashion-show-cum-party event, aimed as a brilliant and dazzling pendant to Vienna’s stiff and haughty Opera Ball much earlier in the year.

Picture shows new HIV protection gel for women on July 21, 2010 during the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.AFP PHOTO

Also in Vienna, the 18th World AIDS conference, which runs until Friday, is being attended by some 25,000 experts, health professionals and policy makers to discuss progress in fighting AIDS and look at ways to provide further prevention and treatment against the HIV virus which causes it.

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Source: SGGP

Naval exercises threat to global peace: N.Korea

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

HANOI (AFP) – Planned naval exercises between South Korea and the United States are a threat to global peace, and new sanctions reinforce a “hostile” policy towards Pyongyang, North Korea said Thursday.


“Such movements pose a great threat not only to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula but also to global peace and security,” said Ri Tong Il, spokesman for the North Korean delegation at regional security talks in Hanoi.

Ri Tong Il is interviewed at the main venue of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Hanoi on July 22, 2010. AFP

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his South Korean counterpart Kim Tae-Young announced the drills on Tuesday, saying they were designed “to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop”.


The manoeuvres begin on Sunday with tensions rising over the sinking in March of the South Korean warship Cheonan.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Seoul before heading to Vietnam for Friday’s ASEAN Regional Forum security talks, announced new sanctions against Pyongyang on Wednesday.


“If the US is truly interested in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, it must take the lead in creating an atmosphere (for dialogue) rather than hurting such an atmosphere by staging military exercises or imposing sanctions,” Ri said.


“The sanctions are a clear expression of an amplified and intensified hostile policy against the DPRK,” he added, referring to North Korea by its formal initials.


Washington has made a major show of support for its ally Seoul.


Ri said the US moves violated the spirit of a July 9 United Nations Security Council statement on the Cheonan sinking.


The UN condemned the attack as a threat to regional peace and called for “appropriate and peaceful measures” against those responsible.


The UN expressed deep concern at the findings of the multinational investigation team, but noted the North’s denial of responsibility and did not apportion blame.


Clinton said the new sanctions were directed at North Korea’s “destabilising, illicit and provocative policies”.


Ri spoke to reporters after North Korea’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun met Yang Jiechi, the foreign minister of China.


Pak refused to comment, and security guards shoved and manhandled a crowd of cameramen and reporters who surrounded him.


Yang also said nothing after the meeting.


The US called Wednesday for Beijing to look at additional steps to pressure North Korea.


Meanwhile, North Korea’s military will hold more talks Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom with the US-led United Nations Command about the sinking of the South Korean warship, the Command said.


The UN Command, which enforces the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war, said in a statement the colonel-level talks first held last week would resume at 10 am (0100 GMT).


At the previous meeting, the North demanded the right to send a high-level team to the South to inspect evidence dredged from the seabed, including what Seoul and other investigators say is part of a North Korean torpedo.


The South has already rejected the demand, saying the UN Command should handle the case as a serious breach of the armistice.


The colonel-level talks are intended to prepare for discussions between generals from the two sides.


But the North last week said US forces should press Seoul to accept its investigation team before any higher-level talks are held.

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Source: SGGP

Bear returns to Vietnam’s stock markets

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 7:16 am

Movements of VN-Index on July 22. (Photo: vietstock.vn)Stocks on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange fell the third day July 22, as global markets tumbled after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. economic outlook remains “unusually uncertain.”

The VN-Index, which tracks 247 companies and four mutual funds, slumped 1.01 percent, or 5.12 points, to finish at 500.28.


On the index, only 26 stocks advanced, 183 dropped, and 42 remained unmoved.


Trading volume on the market remained above 50 million shares, approximately VND1.46 trillion.


Pomina Steel Corporation (POM) declined 11.24 percent to VND37,900. The company will pay 2009 dividends in cash, with a ratio of 5 percent, on August 13, and by shares with a 15 percent ratio. It will issue 24.45 million additional shares, worth VND244.5 billion, increasing its chartered capital to more than VND1.87 trillion from VND1.63 trillion.


Techno – Agricultural Supplying Joint Stock Company (TSC), located in the Mekong delta city of Can Tho, lost 5 percent to VND26,600.


From July 22 to September 22, Pham Van Hung, brother of Pham Van Tuan – chairman of Techno – Agricultural Supplying Joint Stock Company (TSC), registered to buy 10,000 shares and sell 11,000 shares, sending his holdings to 5 shares, to balance his finances.


Dat Xanh Real Estate Service & Constructions Corporation (DXG) slipped 4.99 percent to VND40,000.


Vietnam Electricity Construction Joint Stock Corporation (VNE), which saw 2.36 million shares change hands, was the most active share in volume today.


Ocean Group Joint Stock Company (OGC) followed with 2.12 million shares.


Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) came in third with 1.87 million shares.


Among the few gainers, Ho Chi Minh City Metal Corporation (HMC) climbed for the second day, closing up 4.95 percent to VND23,300.


Between June 14 and July 7, Pham Thi Lien, deputy general director of Ho Chi Minh City Metal Corporation (HMC) sold 107,500 shares, reducing her assets to 7,000 shares, accounting for 0.03 percent of the company’s chartered capital, for personal needs.


Foreign Trade Development and Investment Corporation of Ho Chi Minh City (FDC) surged 4.86 percent to VND47,500.


Ha Tien Transport Joint Stock Company (HTV) prolonged its winning streak for the sixth consecutive day, adding 4.76 percent to VND28,600.


HNX-Index closed on a low note for the fourth straight day, eroding 1.29 points, or 0.81 percent, to 157.68. Liquidity fell sharply, to 37.93 million shares, worth VND1.1 trillion.


The UPCoM-Index also lost 1.33 points this morning. A total of 490,270 shares were traded, at VND9.62 billion, as of 11 am local time.

Source: SGGP