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South Sudan vote risks being derailed by organisers: SPLM

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

KHARTOUM, Aug 12, 2010 (AFP) – A referendum due early next year on south Sudan’s independence will be derailed unless the country’s electoral commission swiftly resolves an internal row, a southern leader warned on Thursday.

“If the referendum commission within the next two weeks is not able to resolve all the issues that they are facing now, the referendum will be killed off and the referendum commission will be responsible for that,” said Pagan Amum, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

South Sudan is set to hold a referendum on January 9, as part of a 2005 peace deal, which promises southerners the chance to choose independence or to remain part of a united Sudan.

Parliament ratified a key law at the end of last year setting up the vote and the commission responsible for organising it, after nothern and southern leaders overcame a dispute that threatened to jeopardise the peace deal.

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (C) gestures at the crowd during a gathering with supporters from Darfur in the capital Khartoum on August 7, 2010. AFP PHOTO

But the commission, which should have been formed at the beginning of 2010, was only nominated in June, and its members are still divided over who should head the commission.

“The commission now is paralysed, it is not working,” Amum said.

“I am afraid there may be elements within the referendum commission that are actually planning… a postponement, or in the worst case a total betrayal (of the right) to be exercised by the people of southern Sudan,” he added.

Under the referendum law, the final list of eligible voters should be drawn up by October 9, three months before the vote itself.

However, the commission has still not begun the laborious process of voter registration which is expected to take several weeks at least.

“We at the commission will begin the necessary measures to try to hold the referendum on time but we must warn the partners” there is not enough time, commission member Tarek Osman al-Taher told AFP on Monday.

His comments were condemned as “irresponsible” by the SPLM, the former southern rebel group that fought a devastating 22-year war with the north in which about two million people were killed before a power sharing deal was finally agreed in 2005.

“Sudan is entering a very dangerous and concerning moment,” Amum said, adding any postponement of the referendum would “not be in the interests of peace.”

Source: SGGP

‘Abducted’ Iranian denies being nuclear scientist

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 12:58 pm

An Iranian who claimed he was “abducted” by US spies last year denied upon his arrival in Tehran Thursday that he was a nuclear scientist, but said he was questioned by Israelis during his captivity.

Shahram Amiri, who vanished from Saudi Arabia in June 2009 while on a pilgrimage, arrived in Tehran on Thursday after surfacing in Iran’s Interest Section in Washington two days ago.

Immediately after his arrival he told reporters that he was just a “simple researcher”, refuting earlier claims by Iranian officials that he was a nuclear scientist.

“I had nothing to do with Natanz and Fordo sites,” Amiri said referring to Iran’s two uranium enrichment plants.

“It was a tool the US government brought up for political pressure. I have done no research on nuclear. I am a simple researcher who works in a university which is open to all and there is no secret work happening there.”

An image grab taken from a video broadcast by Iran’s state-run English-language Press TV shows Iranian Shahram Amiri giving an interview. Amiri, who claimed he was abducted by US spies last year, denied on Thursday that he was a nuclear scientist, but claimed he was interrogated by Israelis during his captivity

Amiri’s denial is the latest twist to a bizzare saga which has baffled the world media for months and which began with his mysterious disappearance, followed by conflicting video footages of a man claiming to be Amiri and talking of being abducted.

On Thursday, Amiri said during the initial two months of his captivity he was put through the “harshest mental torture”.

He said his kidnapping was a “psychological warfare against Iran and proving those lies that the US wanted to tell other countries about Iran”.

Amiri said that during his interrogations, “there were interrogators from Israel present in some sessions and it was evident that they had planned of moving me to Israel”.

Israel is Iran’s key regional foe and has not ruled out a military strike against Tehran to stop its gallopping nuclear programme.

Iranian officials claim Amiri was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, while US media has reported he defected to Washington. US officials have denied these claims.

Amiri told reporters that in due time he would talk and prove his point as certain issues were sensitive and could hurt national interests.

He also dismissed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments that he had freely come to the United States and was free to go whenever he wanted.

“I am really amazed by the US foreign minister who says I was free there and went there freely. I was not free there and I was under the control of armed people of the intelligence service,” he said.

Clinton said on Tuesday there was nothing to stop Amiri from leaving after he had surfaced in Washington.

“He’s free to go. He was free to come. These decisions are his alone to make,” she said.

Amiri said US officials had even offered him “50 million dollars” if he changed his mind and decided to stay in the United States. They also assured him they would get his family out of Iran, he said, but added that during his captivity there were “threats issued against my family”.

Before jetting out of Washington, Amiri gave an interview to Iranian state televisions which was broadcast Wednesday in which he said he had been abducted at gunpoint in Saudi Arabia.

He said he had been approached by besuited Farsi-speaking men in a car in the Saudi city of Medina and offered a ride to the mosque.

“As I opened the door, one of the passengers pulled out a gun and told me to be quiet. They gave me an injection and when I came around I was in a big plane. I was blindfolded. It was likely a military plane,” he said.

The speculation over Amiri’s mysterious disappearance was further compounded when a man claiming to be him was shown in two different videos on June 7 — one saying he was kidnapped by US agents and the other that he was studying in Tucson, Arizona.

These videos were followed by a third one a few weeks later in which the man said he had escaped from the custody of US spies in Virginia.

US officials consistently denied Amiri’s kidnapping but on Tuesday Crowley confirmed that Washington had been in touch with him.

“The United States government has maintained contact with him,” he said, adding that Amiri “has been here for some time, I’m not going to specify for how long.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi meanwhile denied Amiri’s return would lead to a prisoner swap with the United States.

“Amiri’s freedom has nothing to do with the (exchange of) Americans,” he said referring to three American hikers arrested in Iran when they strayed into the country last year.

Source: SGGP

Access to essential medicines far from being achieved: WHO

In Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm

The government has consistently given pharmaceutical issues top priority within its development agenda. However, access to essential medicines, especially for the poor has not yet become a reality. Ways to improve the situation were discussed at a meeting held on June 23 in Hanoi titled: “Strengthen the capability of accessing essential medicines.”

Dr. Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Vietnam

The meeting was co-ordinated by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Vietnam, said increasing access to pharmaceuticals has been a major facet of significant government policies, such as the Social Economic Development Plan, and is one of the pillars of the five-year National Health Plan.

WHO recognize the government’s programs for essential medicines, especially the keen attention given to the implementation of quality programs and good practices for the manufacturers, distribution and supply of medicines.

The question that you may raise is simple – there are more than 20,000 pharmaceutical products registered in the market – but why do we say that people, especially the poor, cannot access the medicines they need? Dr. Olivé added.

The WHO representative pointed out that the prices of medicines are high and people cannot afford them. Recent comparative data shows that medicines in Vietnam, which are used to treat diseases with the highest burden, are priced higher than they are listed on the international reference index.

Dr. Olivé stressed that the poor do not have adequate resources to buy them. A study done in 2008 on the treatment of diabetes showed that people insulin costs patients an average of US$17 a month (US$204 per year). 

Medicines are also continually over-prescribed and used irrationally, wasting both government and the patient’s resources, said Dr. Olivé. When the government spends much of its budget paying for expensive medicines, resources are lost, and less people are served. On the other hand, irrational usage and sale of antibiotics, often without prescription, risks the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance, which will make treatment of infectious diseases more difficult and more expensive.

Dr. Truong Quoc Cuong, chief of the Vietnam Drug Administration, said that the total payment for medications in Vietnam last year was up to US$1.5 trillion, an increase of 19 percent. An average person spends US$19.77 on drugs yearly. Profits from drugs produced domestically reached US$831 million in 2009.

Mr. Cuong said more pharmaceutical firms in the country have strengthened production, but few of them manufactured specific drugs for new diseases.

Dr. Olivé prescribed that concerted action be taken to overcome the barriers to access. It is time that Vietnam and WHO think of different approaches and reassess our programs and policies to make sure that they meet the fundamental public health objective of ensuring access to safe, quality-assured, affordable medicines.

He advised the Vietnamese government to consider developing a comprehensive policy for generic medicines and ensure universal coverage for health that makes provisions for the poor. He proposed that medicines for children and mothers should be made available at all times in health communes and in public health facilities.

At the same time, prescription and use of essential medicines should be monitored and that inappropriate incentives in the selection and procurement of medicines should be eliminated, he stressed.

Dr Nguyen Quoc Trieu, Minister of Health, promised to rearrange the index of essential medications that home enterprises can manufacture and concentrate on producing important materials, including antibiotics, as well as to adopt measures that would stabilize the price for drugs not yet produced in Vietnam.

Source: SGGP

Hubble catches planet being devoured by its star

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2010 at 5:20 am

Dairy products being checked for safety

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2010 at 10:35 am

Throughout March, health inspectors have been conducting an investigation into the safety of dairy products in Hanoi and several provinces, a health official said.

Health inspectors will check milk quality in March

Nguyen Van Nhien, inspection chief of the Vietnam Food Administrator – a subdivision of the Ministry of Health – said that each month in 2010, investigators will carry out inspections on a particular group of essential foods.

Milk-product quality was tested this month after inspectors took samples of both imported and domestically made powdered and liquid milk.

The samples were taken from Hanoi and northern Bac Ninh, Thai Nguyen, Lang Son and Ha Nam provinces. In April, investigators will check dairy products in three other provinces.

Head of the Vietnam Food Administrator, Nguyen Cong Khan, said milk quality is not the same for all Vietnamese brands because many small companies produce their own products, especially in Ho Chi Minh City.

Mr. Khan added that a draft measure on Food Hygiene and Safety has proposed to shut down food manufacturers that have committed four or more violations.

Truong Quoc Cuong, head of the Drug Administration of Vietnam, said March 28 that a check of drug prices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is also planned to be conducted from March 29 to April 15.

Supervisors will investigate pharmaceutical companies and foreign representative companies in Vietnam following reports that the US’s SP Pharmaceutical Company was encouraging doctors to promote two kinds of drugs to treat viral hepatitis and giving them up to VND500 million (US$26,300) monthly as commission. 

The administration has also ordered the pharmaceutical company to provide a report on the issue.

Source: SGGP

Environmental taxes about to come into being

In policies on March 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Environmental taxes about to come into being

QĐND – Monday, March 15, 2010, 20:55 (GMT+7)

Environmental taxes will be imposed on five lines of goods, if the Draft on environmental tax law is passed by the National Assembly in October this year.

According to the Draft that was introduced at a recent seminar held by the Tax Policy Agency under the Finance Ministry in coordination with USAID, the five lines will include oil products such as fuels, hydro-chloro-fluoro-carbon liquids, coal, plastic bags and pesticides.

The Chief of the agency, Vu Van Truong said that the law aims to improve individuals’ and organisations’ awareness of environmental protection in life and production, reduce environmental pollution, support economic development and generate sources for environmental problems solutions.

Source: baocongthuong

Translated by Thu Nguyen

Source: QDND

100 bronze drums being cast for millennial anniversary

In Vietnam Culture on December 23, 2009 at 11:34 am

The casting of 100 bronze drums for the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi kicked off in Dong Tien Commune, Dong Son District in the northern province of Thanh Hoa on December 22.

One of Dong Son drums. Dong Son drums are found in many provinces nationwide.

The work began with a ceremony held by the Lam Kinh Thanh Hoa Heritage Association in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Association of Vietnam, Vietnam History Science Association, and Vietnam Young Business Association.

At the ceremony, artisans will use ovens to cast four drums, which are reproductions of the traditional Ngoc Lu, Hoang Ha, Song Da and Quang Xuong drums.

The 100 drums will then be cast by four famous craftsmen in Thanh Hoa Province including Nguyen Minh Tuan, Le Van Bay, Thieu Quang Tung and Dang Ich Hoan using traditional methods.

Ninety-nine of the 100 drums, which will measure 60 centimeters in diameter and 48 centimeters in height, will be cast in Dong Son District, believed to be the home of bronze-drum casting in Vietnam. 

Chairman of the Lam Kinh Thanh Hoa Heritage Association Ho Quang Son said the finished pieces will be decorated with words and dragon patterns.

A final drum will be adorned with 1,000 dragon images and cast in the Hung Temple dedicated to Vietnam’s founders, the Hung Kings on the 10th of the Third Month, 2010 of the lunar calendar.

The 100 bronze drums are expected to be completed on August 15, 2010 and ready for presentation at the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share