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Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Thousands of Irish protest austerity cuts

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Thousands gathered in Dublin for a mass protest Saturday against savage cutbacks needed to obtain an international bailout for debt-ravaged Ireland, heaping more pressure on the embattled government.

An Irish policeman (L) is confronted by protestors as they break through the front gates of the Irish Prime Minister’s office in Dublin, Ireland.

Police said they expected about 50,000 people to join a march against the four-year austerity package announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Brian Cowen, aimed at slashing Ireland’s huge budget deficit.


Up to 3,000 people gathered at the start of the protest, holding placards saying “Eire not for sale, not to the IMF”.


“The cuts are not necessary. The banks are being rescued, not Ireland. The banks should take the hit — cut them loose,” said Marian Hamilton, 57, who was attending the protest with her seven-year-old grandson.


The demonstration will pile more pressure on Cowen the day after his Fianna Fail party suffered a humiliating by-election defeat which cut the FF/Green Party coalition’s parliamentary majority to just two.


Cowen has been fighting off calls from opposition lawmakers to quit, insisting he must see through the austerity package and a budget due on December 7 because they are pre-conditions for the bailout.


European Union heavyweights Germany and France are urging a rapid conclusion to negotiations on the EU and International Monetary Fund loans, reportedly worth up to 85 billion euros (113 billion dollars).


Sources in Brussels said the talks, aimed at shoring up Ireland and stopping the crisis spreading to other troubled eurozone countries, would likely wrap up Sunday in time for an announcement before markets open Monday.


Media reports suggest Ireland might be charged 6.7 percent interest on the nine-year loans, significantly more than the 5.2 percent rate charged to fellow eurozone country Greece when it was bailed out earlier this year.


The 15-billion-euro austerity package will cut the minimum wage and slash 25,000 public sector jobs as Ireland strives to bring its deficit under three percent of gross domestic product by 2014. It is currently at 32 percent.


Irish Congress of Trade Unions president Jack O’Connor, the head of Ireland’s biggest union SIPTU, said it was “the harshest budget since the foundation of the state”.


“This is the result of allowing speculators, bankers and developers to run riot, pillaging and ruining our economy,” he said.


Ireland’s national sovereignty was at stake, he said, adding: “We must not stand idly by while the final nail is driven into the coffin.”


Hundreds of police officers and a helicopter were mobilised for Saturday’s march through Dublin city centre to the General Post Office, the highly symbolic site of the declaration of Irish independence in 1916.


Cowen’s government has insisted that Ireland’s austerity plan and next month’s budget are crucial steps to show fellow members of the 16-nation euro area that it is putting its finances in order.


He refused to go to the polls until lawmakers have passed the measures, not likely before January, but opposition parties have said he no longer has a mandate to govern.


In Friday’s by-election in Donegal, the opposition socialist Sinn Fein party took what was once a stronghold of Cowen’s Fianna Fail party.


Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said the party “has neither the political mandate nor the moral authority to make the crucial decisions the country now faces.”


The Irish Times said the budget would probably go through given the pressure from the EU and the IMF, but added: “There is a general consensus that Mr Cowen’s days are numbered.”


Meanwhile Michael Noonan, finance spokesman for the Fine Gael main opposition party, described reports of the 6.7 interest rate on the bailout loan as “very disturbing”.


“This rate is far too high and is unaffordable on any reasonable projection of growth,” he said.


 

Source: SGGP

Egypt security on alert ahead of tense election

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Egyptian security forces were on high alert Saturday, on the eve of a general election, after activists clashed with police at the end of a campaign marred by violence and a crackdown on the opposition.

Egyptian protesters stand on a security fence under the watchfull eyes of the riot police during a demonstration organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in downtown Cairo, May 2010.

Thousands of activists demonstrated in support of their candidates throughout the Nile Delta and in the south of the country as campaigning for the vote came to an end on Friday night, said security officials.


Several of the rallies turned violent after supporters of rival candidates hurled stones at each other, they said.


Activists for the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group clashed with police in the southern Bani Suef governorate, and at least 15 protesters were arrested.


Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud, a lawyer for the Islamist group, said 22 of its members were arrested on Friday across the country.


The Brotherhood is expected to win far less than the fifth of parliamentary seats it captured in the last election in 2005, after at least 1,200 its supporters were arrested in the weeks before the vote.


Most of them have been released, but the group says more of its supporters are rounded up each day as they put up posters and hand out fliers.


The Brotherhood is fielding 130 candidates for the 508 elected seats after more than a dozen of its candidates were disqualified by the election committee.


The public prosecutor is investigating complaints by the ruling National Democratic Party that more of the Islamists should be disqualified because they are misrepresenting themselves as independents.


The group registers its candidates as independents to circumvent a ban on religious parties.


Several administrative courts have ordered the cancellation of elections in 24 of 254 districts after court orders to reinstate disqualified candidates, many of them Brotherhood members and other independents, were ignored.


Rights groups say the election has already been compromised by the arrests of opposition members and campaign restrictions on their candidates.


Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to safeguard the rights of voters in the election.


“The Egyptian authorities must uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and ensure that peaceful protesters are not arbitrarily arrested and detained,” the London-based rights group’s Middle East director, Malcolm Smart, said in a statement last week.


Voter turnout is expected to be low as usual in Egypt, where elections are often marred by violence and ballot fraud, according to rights groups.


The government insists the election will be fair and the electoral committee says it granted more than 6,000 permits to local civil society groups to monitor the vote and the ballot counting.


The NDP, which has dominated parliament for more than three decades, is expected to gain seats in parliament at the expense of the Brotherhood. It is running about 800 candidates.


Campaign restrictions on the remaining Brotherhood candidates and a low voter turnout amid fears of violence and widespread suspicion about the election’s integrity are expected to reduce the Islamists’ share.



 

Source: SGGP

N.Korea says ‘no-one can predict consequences’ of US drill

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea state media warned on Saturday that “no-one can predict the ensuing consequences” if a US carrier group goes ahead with a planned drill with the Republic of Korea (RoK) in the Yellow Sea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (C) visits the newly-built Soy Sauce Shop at the Ryongsong Foodstuff Factory in North Korea in this undated picture released by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency on November 24, 2010

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) statement came days after the hardline communist regime sharply heightened regional tensions with an artillery attack that killed two marines and two civilians on a RoK border island.


The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS George Washington and its battle group plans four days of exercises from Sunday with a flotilla of RoK warships in a show of force meant to deter Pyongyang.


The KCNA report labelled the United States “the arch-criminal who orchestrated the recent military clash”, in which RoK on Tuesday returned artillery fire at the North.


The report repeated Pyongyang’s claim that it attacked in response to RoK conducting a military exercise that lobbed shells into waters that the North regime regards as its own.


The KCNA report argued that its own “counter-shelling” was “a resolute and proper retaliation against the reckless military provocation of the enemy”, and argued that the US was then quick to take advantage of the clash.


“No sooner had the Yeonpyeong incident occurred than the US announced that it would stage joint naval exercises with the RoK puppet forces with nuclear-powered carrier George Washington,” the report said.


It went on to warn: “If the US brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences”, using the Korean term for the Yellow Sea.


KCNA also said two civilian deaths from its artillery strike on the South were “if true… very regrettable” but also charged they had been used as “human shields” by being placed near artillery positions.



 

Source: SGGP

World braces for WikiLeaks flood of US cables

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Governments around the world on Saturday braced for the release of millions of potentially embarrassing US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks as Washington raced to contain the fallout.

A screengrab of the Wikileaks page, taken in October.

The whistle-blower website is expected to put online three million leaked cables covering US dealings and confidential views of countries including Australia, Britain, Canada, Israel, Russia and Turkey.


US diplomats skipped their Thanksgiving holiday weekend and headed to foreign ministries hoping to stave off anger over the cables, which are internal messages that often lack the niceties diplomats voice in public.


“WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents,” said James Jeffrey, the US ambassador to Iraq.


“They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here,” he told reporters.


The top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, meanwhile urged WikiLeaks to stop its “extremely dangerous” release of documents, according to a transcript of a CNN interview set to air Sunday.


State Department spokesman Philip Crowley also condemned WikiLeaks’ plans.


“It will place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible,” he said.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had contacted leaders in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, France and Afghanistan over the issue, he added.


Russia’s respected Kommersant newspaper said that the documents included US diplomats’ conversations with Russian politicians and “unflattering” assessments of some of them.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed the impending file dump on “little thieves running around the Internet,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.


WikiLeaks has not specified the documents’ contents or when they would be put online, but Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said officials were expecting a release “late this week or early next week.”


The website has said there would be “seven times” as many secret documents as the 400,000 Iraq war logs it published last month.


Turkish media said the planned release includes papers suggesting that Ankara helped Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq and that the United States helped Iraq-based Kurdish rebels fighting against Turkey — potentially explosive revelations for the two allies.


Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey did not know what the documents contained.


“This is speculation,” he said on CNN Turk. “But as a principle, tolerating or ignoring any terrorist action that originates in Turkey and targets a neighboring country, particularly Iraq, is out of the question.”


Israel has also been warned of potential embarrassment from the latest release, which could include confidential reports from the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Haaretz newspaper said, citing a senior Israeli official.


The US ambassador in Canada telephoned Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon about the leak, a ministry spokeswoman said, adding that the Canadian embassy in Washington was “engaging” with the State Department on the matter.


Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told parliament that US diplomats informed him “that the person responsible for leaking the information has been arrested.”


The government meanwhile said that it was alarmed about “possible negative repercussions for Italy” from the release of the cables.


Officials in Australia, Britain, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden also said they had been contacted by US diplomats regarding the release.


Australia on Saturday condemned the whistle-blower website, saying the planned release could be a national security risk.


“The reckless and large-scale exposure of classified material by WikiLeaks could put at risk individuals named in these documents and harm the national security interests of the United States and its partners,” an Australian foreign affairs spokesman said.


US officials have not confirmed the source of the leaked documents, but suspicion has fallen on Bradley Manning, a former army intelligence agent.


He was arrested after the earlier release of a video showing air strikes that killed civilian reporters in Baghdad.


Wired magazine said Manning confessed to the leaks during a webchat in May. He was quoted as saying he acted out of idealism after watching Iraqi police detain men for distributing a “scholarly critique” against corruption.


WikiLeaks argues that the first two document dumps — US soldier-authored incident reports from 2004 to 2009 — shed light on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, including allegations of torture by Iraqi forces and reports that suggested 15,000 additional civilian deaths in Iraq.


WikiLeaks is the project of Australian hacker Julian Assange. Sweden recently issued an international warrant for his arrest, saying he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual molestation.


 

Source: SGGP

Bird flu discovered in flood hit central provinces

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Bird flu H5N1 virus was discovered in northern provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh that were affected by floods this month, said health officials on Friday.

Poultries are breeded in Nam Dinh Province. (File photo)


In Nghe An Province, nearly 600 poultries infected H5N1 virus in Dien Chau District were burnt.


Province health officials sterilized breeding facilities and isolate epidemic areas.


In Ha Tinh Province, the bird flu outbreak has hit Cam Xuyen District.

currently, because of high demand for chicken farmers have expanded capacity of their farms. 


Cold whether and density of poultry farms have caused the disease be spread widely, said health officials.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam to establish university of oil and gas

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

PetroVietnam Oil & Gas logo

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has recently decided to establish the Vietnam University of Oil & Gas, which will be invested by Vietnam National Oil & Gas Group.


The university, located in Vinh Yen City, northern province of Vinh Phuc, will be managed by the Ministry of Education and Training.


The university is expected to supply high quality human resource to the country’s oil industry.


Most of high quality experts working in the country’s oil industry have been trained in foreign countries such as Russia, the US, the UK…

Source: SGGP

Lawyer gives free legal assistance to tortured baby

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

A lawyer of Binh Duong Province’s lawyers delegation on Friday agreed to provide free legal assistance to a three-year-old maltreated baby in Thuan An District, Binh Duong Province.


Thai Thanh Hai, deputy chairman of the lawyers delegation will help Ho Thi Thuy Ngan’s family draft denouncement paper and will institute proceedings against baby sister Tran Thi Phung.


She may be prosecuted according to Clause 10 of the Criminal Law for torturing the child, the lawyer said.


Hoang Ho Linh, director of the Binh Duong Legal Assistance Center said Phung’s behavior was enough to constitute a crime.


Related articles:
Baby sister arrested for child maltreatment
Baby sister maltreats three year old girl

Source: SGGP

Exhibition on Hanoi, the city in art

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

A three-part exhibition entitled “Hanoi-The city in art” featuring paintings, etchings, engravings, photography, video works and installations is being held at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi from November 25 until December 30.

A painting by Bui Xuan Phai is on display

The first part focusing on nostalgia, utopianism, romanticism and idealization series shows a collection of works by artists such as Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Bao Toan, Vuong Thao, Brian Ring, Do Phan und Tran Nguyen Hieu who have a great love for the capital on November 25 to December 3.


A special jazz evening with Thärichens Tentet and Vietnamese jazz musicians was also held in the courtyard of the Goethe-Institute in the opening ceremony of the display.


The second part called “Hanoi: Dystopian, realistic, and in a state of change” will introduce works by Do Minh Tam, Vu Bich Thuy, Nguyen The Son, Vu Dan Tan und Nguyen Nhu Y among others from December 7 to 13.


In the last display titled “Hanoi Private/Public” of “The city in art” from December 16 to 30, the Hamburg photographer André Lütze will present his research work on the blurred border between private and public life in the Vietnamese capital.


The event aims to celebrate 35 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Germany

Source: SGGP

Nearly 20 guitarists take part in special guitar gala

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

A guitar gala celebrating the 30th anniversary of HCM City-based Phu Nhuan Classic Guitar Club will be held at the Phu Nhuan District Cultural Center on November 30.

Guitarists practice before the concert (Photo: Tuoitre)

The special concert includes big names such as like Duong Kim Dung, Tran Hoai Phuong, Nguyen Tri Doan, Nguyen Thanh Huy, Pham Thanh Loc, Huynh Ba Tho, Tran Phuong Quang, etc.


Music lovers will have a chance to enjoy solo, duo, trio performances and classical and modern music. As special treat, all guitarists will be onstage to play the “Carmen” by G. Bizet together.


Proceeds from tickets will be donated to flood victims in the central region.


The show previously was oragnized on November 23.

Source: SGGP

Investors trapped with market reports, stock experts say

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 11:20 am

Many securities companies and institutional investors were trying to trap investors with their inaccurate analysis and unreliable recommendations, experts say.

Investors watch share prices at the Ho Chi Minh Securities Corporation (Photo: Minh Tri)


 


The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange’s VNIndex may climb as high as 700 “at some point during this year,” and return within two years to the 1,000 level that it last touched in 2007, Kevin Snowball, chief executive of PXP, said in an interview in July.


 


But financial experts said the fund’s analysis was unreliable as the gauge of 270 companies and five mutual funds listed on Vietnam’s biggest stock market remained gloomy, closing at 439.85 points on Thursday.


 


PXP Vietnam Emerging Equity Fund Ltd. is among the big sellers this month. According to the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange’s website last week, the fund failed to sell its shareholding in Southern Seed Corporation (SSC), Binh Thanh Import Export Production and Trade Joint Stock Company (GIL) and Transforwarding Warehousing Joint Stock Corporation (TMS) because of plunging share prices.


 


VN Direct Securities Ltd. last week warned in its report that the market was experiencing “a short-term panicky time” due to increasing interest rates and pressures on repaying loans against shares. Therefore some brokers and investors will sell shares strongly, the Hanoi-based broker said.  


 


“There is no way to know which amounts of money flowing on the market are individual investments or loans against shares. So how could VN Direct be sure that the market is under pressure on repaying loans against shares?” a stock market analyst, who wants to be unnamed, said.


 


He also said securities firms shouldn’t release incorrect analysis, which could hit the market’s sentiment.  


 


Some big shareholders in listed companies announced on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange that they would buy back shares as share price is pretty low, according to the exchange’s website.


 


But financial experts said some listed companies’ directors tried to restore investors’ confidence by negotiating with big shareholders, buying back shares from to sell shares at low prices and then sell out when the market recovers.


 


Investor confidence was also anxious by market analysis of brokers, which are run by listed companies.


 


Petro Vietnam Securities Incorporation (PSI) early last week recommended investors to buy PFL shares of the PetroVietnam Finance Land JSC, which was predicted to increase to VND18,559 per share. The construction firm, listed on the Hanoi Stock Exchange, remained unchanged at VND12,000 on Thursday.


 


Many investors however didn’t buy the broker’s recommendation as they were afraid it was trying to help PFL shareholders to sell out in the recent slumping market. “Both PSI and PFL are subsidies of the gasoline maker Petro Vietnam, which sold its holdings in listed subsidies recently. So I think there will be a strong selling of PFL shares soon,” said an individual investor in Ho Chi Minh city.   


 


A director of a HCMC-based broker disclosed many securities firms tended to release optimistic market reports in an attempt to keep their clients.  

Source: SGGP