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Autism-vaccine study was a ‘fraud’, journal says

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:14 am

A study that unleashed a major health scare by linking autism to a triple vaccine was “an elaborate fraud,” the British Medical Journal (BMJ) charged Thursday.


Blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children, the 1998 study was retracted by The Lancet last year.


Hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against these three diseases, said the BMJ.


In 2008, measles was declared endemic, or present in the wider population much like chicken pox, in England and Wales.

File photo shows a boy with autism at a Special Education and Training Center in Chengdu, China

After a long-running hearing by the General Medical Council, the study’s senior author, Andrew Wakefield was barred from medical practice in 2010 for conflict of interest and the unethical treatment of patients involved in the research.


But the BMJ, taking the affair further, on Thursday branded the study a crafted attempt to deceive, among the gravest of charges in medical research.


The findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine, the journal added.


And, said the BMJ, Wakefield had been confidentially paid hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros) through a law firm under plans to launch “class action” litigation against the vaccine.


“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” the BMJ said in an editorial, adding: “There are hard lessons for many in this highly damaging saga.”


It pointed the finger at Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastro-enterology at London’s Royal Free Hospital.


Wakefield and his team suggested they had found a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease among 12 children.


They linked it to the MMR vaccine, which they said had been administered to eight of the youngsters shortly before the symptoms emerged.


Other scientists swiftly cautioned the study was only among a tiny group, without a comparative “control” sample, and the dating of when symptoms surfaced was based on parental recall, which is notoriously unreliable. Its results have never been replicated.


The controversy unleashed a widespread parental boycott of the jab in Britain, and unease reverberated also in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


The BMJ, delving into the accuracy of the study as opposed to its ethics, said Sunday Times investigative journalist Brian Deer had “unearthed clear evidence of falsification”.


Not one of the 12 cases, as reported in the study, tallied fully with the children’s official medical records, it charged.


Some diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked in order to draw a convenient link with the MMR jab, it said.


Of nine children described by Wakefield as having “regressive autism,” only one clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all, it said.

Deer, in a separate piece published by the BMJ, compared the scandal with the “Piltdown Man” hoax of 1953, when a supposed fossil of a creature half-man, half-ape turned out to be a fake.

The Wakefield study “was a fraud, moreover, of more than academic vanity. It unleashed fear, parental guilt, costly government intervention and outbreaks of infectious disease,” he said.

Wakefield, who still retains a vocal band of supporters, has reportedly left Britain to work in the United States.

Wakefield and his publishing agent did not respond to calls and emails from AFP requesting comment.

Wakefield has previously accused Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) of seeking to “discredit and silence” him and shield the British government from responsibility in what he calls a “scandal.”

The Lancet told AFP it would not comment on the BMJ accusations.

Autism is the term for an array of conditions ranging from poor social interaction to repetitive behaviours and entrenched silence. The condition is rare, predominantly affecting boys, although its causes are fiercely debated.

Source: SGGP

Com – a green shade of deliciousness

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:13 am




Com – a green shade of deliciousness


QĐND – Sunday, January 02, 2011, 20:18 (GMT+7)




Much has been said of Vietnam’s obsession with rice. There are rice noodles, rice desserts, rice pancakes and just plain rice… and then, there is com.


Com is no ordinary com. It is freshly harvested sticky rice, with a natural subtle sweetness prized by connoisseurs and gourmet chefs worldwide.


The immature rice kernels are roasted over very low heat and then pounded into flat flakes you see in markets.


Com is most common in the northern region of Vietnam. Visitors to Hanoi often buy small packs of com as souvenir gifts for family and friends.


Com is a traditionally gift to newly-wed couples, and also given during Tet and the mid-autumn festival.


Though it is grown all over Vietnam, the com of Vong village (on the outskirts of Hanoi) is the most prized for its unique flavor and fragrance. Vong villagers closely guard their family secrets of growing, harvesting, and processing the best green rice.


The most important thing when harvesting com is to check the suitability of the rice kernels. The farmer bites into raw grains to check their sweetness. If the rice is as sweet as milk, they are ready for harvest.


Mature grains do not produce the vivid green coloring, and grains that are too young fall apart when pounded.


Com-course meals


In the countryside, com is often steamed in lotus or banana leaf. In cities, it is most commonly used in banh com, a popular green rice cake peddled by street vendors and made in artisan kitchens.


To make the filling for banh com, steam pounded mung beans and caramelize it with sugar over very low heat.


Add shredded coconut, Vietnamese candied lotus seeds or candied winter melon to the caramelized mung beans. Stuff this filling in green rice cakes and wrap each cake in a banana leaf to make banh com.


Another popular green rice dish is cha com – fried ground pork with green rice.


To make cha com, ground pork is first mixed with green rice, fish sauce and pepper, steamed, and then fried until the meat turns brown and crispy.


Specialty restaurants use com in delicacies such as deep-fried shrimp or spring rolls coated with green rice.


Com is also used in the popular dish che com – green rice sweet soup. To make che com, green rice is cooked with arrowroot or Kudzu root powder, rock sugar, and drops of pomelo flower essential oil.


Other sweet com treats include green rice ice-cream and green rice fried with coconut.


Green rice delicacies are fast catching on in foodie circles across Vietnam. Several restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City also feature green rice dishes on menus now.

Source: thanhniennews/ Photo: ngoisao.net


 


Source: QDND

General Phung Quang Thanh pays a visit to General Vo Nguyen Giap

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:20 am




General Phung Quang Thanh pays a visit to General Vo Nguyen Giap


QĐND – Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 20:34 (GMT+7)

PANO – Politburo member and Defence Minister, General Phung Quang Thanh, yesterday visited and presented a gift to General Vo Nguyen Giap.


On behalf of the Military Central Commission, the Defence Ministry and the whole army, General Phung Quang Thanh congratulated General Vo Nguyen Giap on the 66th founding anniversary of Vietnam’s People’s Army and 21st anniversary of All-People National Defence Festive Day.


He also expressed deep gratitude of the entire army for the General’s remarkable contributions during the process of building and developing the army.


General Giap’s devotion to the nation and the revolutionary cause of the Vietnamese people has always been a bright example for the entire army to study and follow.


The Defence Minister also briefed General Vo Nguyen Giap on the progresses and outstanding efforts of the People’s Army and civil defence in the cause of defending national sovereignty and preserving peace for the cause of national development.


The Defence Minister also promised to work hard to further develop the nation’s heroism and to ensure that the army is the firm reliance of the Party, the State and people and wished General Vo Nguyen Giap, the eldest brother of the Vietnam’s People’s Army and armed forces, longevity and good health.


Translated by Mai Huong


Source: QDND

It’s not a good time to buy gold now, experts say

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

Gold traders were hesitate on investing more in the precious metal as the physical gold carried high risk of losses in the last two weeks, analysts said.

(Photo:thanhniennews)

The global gold price’s trading band fluctuated in low rates last week, closing at US$1,350 per ounce. The local price meanwhile remained unchanged at VND36 million per tael.


The gap was narrowed on the fact that Vietnam’s central bank has granted more quotas to import gold by year-end, in a bid to cool domestic gold prices and interest rate jumped to 16-18 percent per annum.


Gold experts expect the global gold price will reach the resistance level of $1,424 per ounce as it closed at $1,410 per ounce last weekend.


They also recommended that gold was overbought, so investors should be cautious in restructuring their investment portfolio.


Local gold price remained around VND300,00-400,000 higher than the global one. However, the local price will likely to retreat on imported gold tax rate of zero percent, interest rate of 16 percent per year and the recover of the stock market.


Gold traders expect the global price will make corrections this month, which is the festival season at many foreign countries around the world.


Experts also predicted that the yellow metal will remain the best asset class with high profit rate in the upcoming time as the global gold price will likely to hit the level of $1,600 per ounce.


Global gold on a rise
The global gold price opened at $,353-1,357 per ounce and closed higher at $1,414 per ounce last week on a job report. Statistics showed the number of non-agriculture jobs last month increased only 39,000, much lower than the expectation of 140,000-155,000 jobs, while unemployed rate rose unexpectedly to 9.8 percent.


Gold steadied on Monday after rising nearly 2 percent in the previous session to above $1,400 an ounce, with a struggling U.S. dollar that pushed silver to its highest since early 1980 likely to spur more buying from investors, according to Reuters.


Any signs of a weaker U.S. economy or heightened tensions between the two Koreas could also bolster gold, while worries about euro zone sovereign debt remain on investor minds.
South Korea started live-fire naval exercise on Monday, despite Pyongyang’s warnings against conducting the drills in disputed waters off the west coast of the peninsula.


Spot gold rose to $2.15 an ounce to $1,416.50 by 0709 GMT, having hit a low around $1,408. Gold had risen as high as $1,415.36 on Friday as the dollar tumbled following disappointing jobs data in November.


Bullion hit a record high around $1,424 an ounce in November.

Source: SGGP

Deadline for banks to raise capital pushed back a year

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has accepted a proposal from the State Bank of Vietnam to extend the deadline for banks to raise their chartered capital to VND3 trillion (US$141.7 million) by one year to December 31, 2011, said the bank on December 14.

Transaction conducted at an Asia Commercial Bank branch in Ho Chi Minh City.

The proposal was sent to the Government when it was found that commercial banks faced a looming December 31 deadline to meet stricter minimum capital requirements.


Earlier, the central bank had been adamant that if they failed to meet the deadline, banks would face closure, or be forced into mergers with other institutions. The bank said that the deadline was ‘hard-and-fast’ as the banks had had four years to prepare for the capital increase.


The Government issued Decree 141/206/NĐ dated on November 22, 2006, requiring banks to raise their chartered capital to at least VND3 trillion by December 31, 2010.
 
The Decree was aimed at eliminating any weak banks and strengthening the financial capacity and security of the banking system. 
 
The banking system has quickly developed during the past years of renovation. However, most of banks are small-sized and may be vulnerable to the ups and downs of the market.
 
Additionally, objective reasons like the global financial crisis and economic downturn have prevented foreign partners from pouring money in the banking system and the Vietnamese banks themselves from raising capital through issuing shares.
 
Besides, the Government has required the State-owned enterprises to focus on their main business lines, so they have withdrawn money from banks, causing difficulties for the banks.


By the end of October, all 22 commercial banks not yet in compliance had received the Central Bank’s approval to increase registered capital from an average of nearly VND1.6 trillion ($75.57 million) to an average of VND3.5 trillion ($165.32 million).
 
Eleven of these banks had received the State Securities Commission approval to raise additional funds by offering shares. However, because of the gloomy state of the market during the last several months, these plans were derailed.


The State Bank previously extended deadlines for commercial banks to meet higher capital requirements. Commercial banks were required by law to registered capital of at least VND1 trillion (US$47.23 million) by the end of 2008, but only 28 banks had met the requirement by the deadline. Another 10 managed to meet it only as late as the end of 2009, with the central bank granting permission for delaying the compliance.

Source: SGGP

Giving a boost to rural economic development

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:33 am




Giving a boost to rural economic development


QĐND – Saturday, December 11, 2010, 21:8 (GMT+7)

The development of the rural economy is still far from matching its potential. To stimulate their growth, Vietnam needs new practical solutions.


With more than 70 percent of the population living in rural areas, developing the rural economy is considered vital for the country. In recent years, the Party and State have issued many policies to improve the rural economy. The resolution No. 26-NQ/TW on agriculture, farmers and rural areas, enforced 2 years ago, has remarkably changed the structure of economy and labour force providing the basis for building a new model for rural areas.


Despite comprehensive promulgation of the policies, especially those related to bank credit, the imperfect implementation still limits the development of rural economy.


According to Nguyen Phong Quang, a member of the Party Centre Committee and Deputy Head of the Southwestern Steering Committee, it is crucial to have a plan for the rural economic development because it is the fundamental for the region’s sustainable development.


Over the past years, Vietnam has become a large exporter of rice, coffee and aquatic products. However, the farmers still face many problems and remain the poorest group of the society.


The average income of the urban residents remains two times higher than those of rural dwellers. The poverty rate in the countryside is 18.1 percent while it is only 3.1 percent in the urban areas.


Recent surveys show that farmers now want to change their occupations because it brings very low income. How to create jobs for young people in the rural areas is also a thorny issue.


There are several reasons for the problem. Firstly, the amount of agricultural land has been reduced sharply. The country now has 70 million ha of agricultural land but only 4 million ha is used for rice cultivation.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) estimated that every year, about 73,300ha of agricultural land is taken back affecting nearly 2.5 million people. Over the past five years, the amount of agricultural land taken back reached more than 154,000, which means that the land used for rice cultivation has reduced by 7.6 percent.


Meanwhile, the policies for agricultural land have numerous problems and are outdated. MARD Deputy Minister Diep Kinh Tan said that besides these issues, the policies for agriculture development need to focus on transferring new knowledge and technology to farmers. They should also concentrate on how to use the state budget more efficiently to upgrade infrastructure in the rural areas.


At the last conference on comprehensive implementation of solutions to boost rural economy, the organisations and provinces across the country agreed that the ministries, departments, businesses and credit institutions should all engage in carrying out the already enforced policies. They should also join hands to work out new methods to help transform these policies into the reality.


The Minister of Industry and Trade, Vu Huy Hoang, said that the government needs to reorganise the production to meet the current conditions of the rural areas. It should also provide farmers with information on the markets and consumption.


Nguyen Van Giau, Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, stressed that the conference provides a forum to tackle the problems of rural development.


Conference attendants also discussed ways to increase farmers’ access to banks credit and strengthen the linkage between farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and bankers. They also debated on the role of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union. Many administrative agencies and economic institutes proposed to expand the outlet and export of agriculture products, minimise risks in production, encourage the farmers to apply new technologies and provide them with training courses.


Also at the conference, the banks, the unions and associations signed 7 cooperation agreements to develop rural economy.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

Vietnam to build a lifelong learning society

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:29 am




Vietnam to build a lifelong learning society


QĐND – Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 21:14 (GMT+7)

PANO – Vietnam always values learning and it is the basic foundation for Vietnam to eliminate poverty and hunger.


Deputy-Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan made the statement at the Vietnam Forum: Lifelong Learning-Building a Learning Society, held on December 6th in Hanoi by the Ministry of Education and Training, the UNESCO Office in Hanoi and the ASEM Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning.


The forum has drawn the participation of more than 300 key policy-makers and leading educators from Vietnam and other countries. During the three-day event, participants will share experiences and viewpoints in order to enhance the understanding on the role of lifelong learning and support in Vietnam in building a national strategy.


At the forum, the Deputy PM pointed out that in 1945 more than 90 percent of Vietnam’s population was illiterate. At that time, President Ho Chi Minh introduced “Wiping out illiteracy” as a policy. In 2010, Vietnam has completed the universal secondary education and the GDP per capita has reached US $1,000. There are 200 students out of every 10,000 people. 


Lifelong learning, according to the Deputy PM, is institutionalised in Education Law. Accordingly, education for adults and irregular education have been main concerns. People at all ages and all levels have been given favourable conditions for learning. Moreover, every organisation has been made responsible for learning and actively participating in the cause of building a learning society.


There are two open universities offering distance training programs with more than 85,000 trainees and nearly 10,000 community learning centers in Vietnam. The learning-encouragement society has more than 7 million members, giving assistance to numerous students facing adversity.


The Deputy PM also stressed that Vietnam strongly pledged to cooperate with other organisations, such as ASEM and UNESCO, to promote the learning in Vietnam and build a learning society.


Related to educational achievements in Vietnam, Katherine Muller-Marin, Head of the UNESCO Office in Hanoi, expressed her admiration for them. On behalf of the UNESCO, she committed to keep giving assistance to the educational system in Vietnam and work with the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training to promote learning, such as proposals to improve regional training center under the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) in Vietnam.


For her part, Rie Vejs- Kjeldgaard, ILO Director in Vietnam, confirmed that laborers’ skill needs improving to meet the growing development and changes of technology and science worldwide.


Also at the forum, several shortcomings of Vietnam, including poor awareness of local people, infrastructure and management competence, were also mentioned.


Some of the speeches also focused on the real state of education, impacts of policies and global trends to be considered to build a lifelong learning society.


Also on this occasion, Vietnam and Denmark signed an agreement on educational cooperation.


Translated by Mai Huong


Source: QDND

A musical night for charity

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm




A musical night for charity


QĐND – Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 20:33 (GMT+7)

At 8pm November 24th, a musical evening, “Vietnamese hearts”, will start at the 126 stage in the Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.


The night will be divided into two separate types, pop songs and country songs, which will be performed by famous Vietnamese singers such as Ngoc Son, Cam Ly, Quoc Dai, Luong Bang Quang, Bao Thy, Dong Nhi, Khong Tu Quynh, Noo Phuoc Thinh, Chi Thien and the V.Music and Nhat Nguyet bands, to name a few.


All money from the sale of tickets will be donated to the flood victims in the Central provinces.


Source: TTO


Translated by Van Hieu


Source: QDND

PM answers NA deputies’ queries at the Q & A session

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm




PM answers NA deputies’ queries at the Q & A session


QĐND – Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 20:31 (GMT+7)

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung answered NA deputies’ queries at the 8th session of the 12th National Assembly on November 24.


The PM presented six major issues including the bauxite exploitation project in the central highlands, the restructuring of Vinashin and the development of the electricity sector.


Regarding the Tan Rai and Nhan Co bauxite exploitation projects, PM Dung said that during the project’s pilot phase, he directed relevant ministries, the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Group (Vinacomin) and localities to strictly implement the Party and State policies. He also directed the construction, evaluation, processing and use of bauxite ore in the 2007-2015 period.


Vinacomin is the main investor of both projects Tan Rai and Nhan Co. China Aluminum Group is the EPC contractor and will hand over the factory to Vinacomin when construction is completed in two years’ time.


PM Dung added that the exploitation of bauxite will create favourable conditions to improve soil for commercial crops and forests in the central highlands.


After the red mud incident in Hungary, the PM asked relevant ministries and agencies to supervise the project’s construction and solutions for red-mud reservoirs.


The government has also asked Vinacomin to employ foreign consultants to re-evaluate the project and perfect the design of its red-mud reservoirs. At the same time, he also directed the Ministry of Industry and Trade to send a team to conduct a survey at the red-mud spill in Hungary.


The PM said that the survey team has delivered a report which says that technological and management solutions at Tan Rai red-mud lake have been assessed as very modern and safe. He will make a decision on how to go ahead with project once environmental safety is confirmed by foreign consultants.


Regarding the Vinashin Group, the PM said, the government inspectors are urgently trying to complete a comprehensive conclusion on Vinashin. Independent auditors are checking this year’s business results and the group’s leaders are also supervising and updating the group’s financial accounts and assets, related data to ensure accuracy.


The government has also reviewed and analyzed reasons and responsibilities of related agencies and mapped out a detailed plan to create favourable conditions for Vinashin to stabilise and recover production and business activities. The government also focused on perfecting a mechanism for increasing the responsibility and efficiency of State management for state-owned enterprises to avoid such incidents as Vinashin.


As head of the government, the PM is responsible for Vinashin’s shortcomings and he is seriously considering every responsibility for clarification along with his deputies and other ministers involved.


The PM also said that it is difficult to implement a restructuring plan for Vinashin and the government needs the support and supervision of NA deputies.


To strengthen management and improve the efficiency of economic groups and state corporations, the PM will continue to improve the management mechanism for investment and the use of State capital and property to help businesses take responsibility for their activities.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

More than a million Atlantic sharks killed yearly: study

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:07 am