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Traditional handicrafts threatened by oblivion

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:12 am

Traditional handicraft products sold during Tet holidays such as fruit jams, flowers and ceremonial bronze incense burners have not yet gained popularity with people in Ho Chi Minh City.

Workers are casting incensories in Thong Tay Hoi handicraft village in Go Vap District. (Photo: SGGP)

The village of Thong Tay Hoi in Go Vap District which is famous for bronze casting of incense burners is usually busy at this time of year. However, the village is gradually witnessing a disappearance of this hundred year old craft. Most artisans have closed their workshops and moved on to other careers.


More than a decade ago Go Vap village was reputed for its seasonal flowers. Nowadays, most of the local people have switched to growing the more profitable ornamental flowers and bonsai trees. Besides, bonsai do not require much land to grow and farmers earn a substantial income from an area of only 100 sqm. Go Vap village currently provides a large variety of bonsai throughout the country even though bonsai trees only sell to those who can afford their high price.


Duong Sat (Railway) housing estate on Ly Thai To Street in District 3 which was once a jam manufacturing village is also facing hard times. Once a cottage industry it now has hundreds of its households switching to other businesses compelled by  increasing  raw material prices and lack of funds to modernize their units.


Old traditional handicrafts have lost their appeal in the new urban society of high-rise buildings. The question remains, should local authorities make efforts in restoring and preserving craft villages for future generations in Vietnam?

Source: SGGP

Australia’s Brisbane besieged by major flood crisis

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan 12, 2011 (AFP) – Australia’s third-biggest city Brisbane was besieged Wednesday by once-in-a-century floods that could hit up to 20,000 homes, as fears grew up to 25 people were killed by raging torrents.


Thousands of people took refuge with friends and central districts were eerily quiet as the river city of two million prepared for its worst deluge since 1893, as floods spread across vast areas of Australia’s northeast.

Friends and family members transfer their belongings into a boat from their flooded home after rainwaters the day before inundated the city of Ipswich, some 40 kms southwest of Brisbane on January 12, 2011. AFP

Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman confirmed that the number of homes expected to be hit by waters breaching river systems around the city had risen from 6,500 to 19,700, as he opened more evacuation centres for victims.


“We are bracing for a one-in-a-hundred-year flood,” said state premier Anna Bligh. “We are bracing for a massive amount of water coming into this river system and it will flood thousands of properties.”


Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the number of homes under threat was “mind-boggling”, but urged people in the city, bisected by the winding Brisbane River, to help neighbours deal with what is shaping up as a major emergency.


“If there’s someone in your street you’re worried about, maybe an older Australian that you haven’t seen for a while, maybe give them a knock on the door and make sure they’re okay,” she added.


Brisbane, the cosmopolitan state capital and economic hub, is the latest and biggest victim of a crisis caused by months of rains that have turned three-quarters of Queensland into a disaster zone twice the size of Texas.


Dozens of suburbs and roads are under water with the Brisbane River bursting its banks in some places and expected to swamp the city centre when it peaks on Thursday. Power will be cut to about 100,000 properties as a safety precaution.


Some 900 people spent the night in evacuation centres in nearby Ipswich, upstream of Brisbane, while two entire small towns were evacuated in the neighbouring state of New South Wales.


Some of the inundation is related to flash floods that smashed through towns high in the Great Dividing Range to the city’s west on Monday, leaving at least 10 dead as rescuers search wrecked communities for more bodies.


State premier Bligh said the toll was expected to rise sharply, warning that the number of people missing had been upgraded to 90.


“Police are anticipating or have very, very grave fears for at least 15 more people,” Bligh said. “This is a potentially gruesome day for our rescue workers and a heartbreaking day for families,” she added.


Meanwhile Melbourne, about 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) from Brisbane in Australia’s southeast, was on alert for flash-floods following incessant downpours also blamed on the disruptive La Nina weather system.

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Source: SGGP

Apricot and peach blossoms to be transported by air

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:15 am




Apricot and peach blossoms to be transported by air


QĐND – Friday, January 07, 2011, 21:31 (GMT+7)

The national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, has launched a service to transport apricot and peach blossoms of passengers for Tet holidays.


Each passenger can only bring one bunch of apricot or peach blossoms, at a surcharge of between VND100,000 – 300,000 depending on different routes. This service should be booked beforehand otherwise they will be treated as part of the passenger’s luggage.


In addition, the air carrier also transports apricot, peach and kumquat trees for passengers as cargo.


The new service of transporting branches of apricot and peach blossoms will be available on domestic flights, using Boeing B777, Airbus A330, A321 and A320.


Source: HNM


Translated by Duy Minh


Source: QDND

Tax cut by up to 6 percent on 1,000 imports

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:10 am




Tax cut by up to 6 percent on 1,000 imports


QĐND – Thursday, January 06, 2011, 21:17 (GMT+7)

Nearly 1,000 goods items would enjoy an import tax cut of 1-6 percent in 2011, according to the Ministry of Finance’s Taxation Policy Department.


Director of the department Vu Van Truong said the items would mainly include agricultural produce, seafood, construction materials and electrical appliances.


The average drop for most items would be 2-3 percent, said Truong.


The cut, part of Vietnam’s commitment to the World Trade Organisation, was expected to benefit domestic consumers, giving them a wider choice of reasonably priced imported goods, Truong said.


However, he warned that the cut would also place pressure on Vietnamese goods that would face fierce competition from imported products.


Trade experts were also concerned about a predicted surge in the country’s trade deficit next year in the wake of the import tax cut.


The country imported 84 billion USD worth of goods last year, up 20 percent over the previous year with a trade deficit of 12.3 billion USD.


This year, the country plans on restricting the trade deficit to 14.18 billion USD with an import value of roughly 92 billion USD.


Last year, roughly 2,000 goods including food, animal feed, construction materials and steel also enjoyed an import tax cut of 1-6 percent, which cost the State budget roughly 1 trillion VND (51.28 million USD).


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Toxic pesticides used by vegetable farmers

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:04 am

Verdant veggies  farms in an outskirt district in Hanoi. However, many containers of pesticides found discarded in fields, canals, ditches and ponds in the vicinities of farms.( Photo: SGGP)

Bitter cold weather in northern parts of the country has badly affected agricultural produce, leading to a shortage of supply of fresh vegetables as demand increases for the oncoming Tet holiday season (Lunar New Year). 


This has led some farmers to take advantage of the situation and toxic stimulants and pesticides are being added to increase farm produce, regardless of their affect on the health of people.


Mindless of the weather, many farmers in the outskirts of Hanoi in areas like Tay Tuu, La Ca, La Tinh, Thinh Liet, and Van Canh seemed to use excessive pesticides.


Many containers of pesticides with Vietnamese and Chinese labels were found discarded in fields, canals, ditches and ponds in the vicinities of farms.


Ms. Hanh in Tu Liem district said that farmers used artificial growth stimulants made in China for insect control, as insects devastated crops and along with this they used nitrate fertilizer to grow longer leaves in veggies as well as speed up quick growth. This resulted in veggies growing within a short time and giving an artificial and lush appearance.


Hanh revealed that her colleagues used excessive pesticide to grow swamp morning-glory, which was once an exclusive summer seasonal vegetable but now farmers grew it round the year.


Normally it takes 15-20 days to harvest swamp morning-glory but farmers now harvest the veggie in just a few days by spraying fertilizers and stimulants every two or three days. 

A kind of artificial growth stimulant farmers usually spray in their vegetable fields (photo: SGGP)

Farmers used these artificial growth stimulants from China instead of the permitted ones allowed on the list issued by agriculture authorities because they were so much cheaper. Farmers can net more profit by growing swamp morning-glory than paddy (rice).


Ms. Hoat, a farmer in La Ca village which is famous for growing this special vegetable believes farmers began planting swamp morning-glory instead of  rice five years ago because they could earn more money.


She also revealed a separate piece of land where she grew veggies for her family on which she did not spray pesticide or growth stimulants.


The government certainly needs to step up action to stop such rampant use of pesticides and growth stimulants. People face a health risk and even though farmers understand the consequences of excess use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in vegetable they continue to be lured by enormous profits.

Source: SGGP

85 percent road accidents caused by drivers’ faults

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:03 am

Eighty five percent of traffic accidents occurred due to drivers’ carelessness, Transport Minister Ho Nghia Dung told Sai Gon Giai Phong newspapers at a conference on traffic accidents.

A laden vehicle travels  in streets ( Photo: SGGP)

Mr. Dung said that the authorities have tried to reduce road accidents by raising residents’ awareness of traffic safety issues, and by imposing heavier penalties for violating traffic laws.


However, there are many causes of traffic accidents, but most happened due to the carelessness of drivers.


Drivers travel at high speed along streets and encroach onto opposite lanes on the road. This has clearly showed that all efforts to educate people, regarding traffic laws have failed, said Mr. Dung.


The minister admitted that the use of textbooks, at drivers’ training classes for obtaining a license, has not concentrated on raising awareness of motorcycle hazards on the road. Therefore, the transport authorities have made some minor adjustments in the textbooks.


These adjustments include three additional chapters, which include predictions of dangerous situation in streets, knowledge on how to prevent traffic accidents and how to protect oneself, and first aid knowledge about road injuries.


Transport authorities may cancel and revoke a driver’s license, if a driver has violated traffic laws many times.


For Tet (lunar New Year) holidays, authorities will try to further reduce road accidents by way of prohibiting unsafe vehicles, from traveling on streets, and by controlling boats without lifebuoys.


Street wardens will impose harsh penalties on those drivers that violate law regulations. These traffic violations include vehicles that travel at high speed, vehicles who encroach onto opposite lanes, driving while drunk and over laden vehicles.


The National Traffic Safety Committee, the Ministry of Transport and local government’s officials will work to ensure that all drivers on the road adhere to traffic regulations from January 24 to February 7.


The National Traffic Safety Committee in Hanoi held the conference.

The number of traffic accidents in 2010 in Vietnam is 14,442, an increase of over 1,788 cases. Although the road crash fatalities have dropped by 47 cases, it is still high with 11,449 people dying on the roads.

The injury toll is also up by 2,500 cases, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee’s statistics.

The northern province of Lai Chau, the highlands province of Kon Tum and the Mekong delta province of Bac Lieu have witnessed a high number of traffic-related deaths.

The National Traffic Safety Committee plans to further reduce road accidents and traffic death by at least 3 percent.

Source: SGGP

Chavez seeks power to rule by decree for 1 year

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asked congress Tuesday to grant him special powers to enact laws by decree for one year, just before a new legislature takes office with a larger contingent of opposition lawmakers.


The measure, which quickly received initial approval from the overwhelming majority of pro-Chavez lawmakers, would give the president the authority to bypass the National Assembly for the fourth time since he was first elected almost 12 years ago.


Vice President Elias Jaua made the request on Chavez’s behalf, saying the president will use the authorization to ensure fast-track approval of laws aimed at helping the nation recover from severe flooding and mudslides that left thousands homeless and in government shelters.


“The measures we have to take are deep. Almost 40 percent of the country was affected” by the heavy rains, Jaua said.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez carries a baby as he waits for the arrival of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa at the Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010.

Only five of the assembly’s 165 lawmakers voted against the proposal Tuesday. The legislature, which is dominated by Chavez allies, is expected to give final approval to the measure before the end of the week.


Chavez’s opponents accuse him of using the natural disaster to impose socialist-inspired measures and undermine the power of newly elected opposition lawmakers.


Hundreds of Chavez opponents protested outside the legislature Tuesday, saying Chavez is violating democratic principles and objecting to other planned laws that could impose regulations on the Internet and endanger Globovision, the country’s last stridently anti-Chavez television channel.


Decrees planned in the next two weeks include laws to speed construction of housing and roads and increase the value-added tax, Jaua said.


“The situation continues to be critical, and we need to tend to it with a set of laws,” Chavez said while visiting a Caracas military base along with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador.


Chavez said he has yet to determine how much to raise the value-added tax, which is now 12 percent. He said the government estimates damage from the heavy rains at about $10 billion.


A draft of the law says Chavez is also seeking powers to issue decrees in areas including the country’s “socio-economic system,” telecommunications, the banking system, information technology, the military, rural and urban land use, and a “new geographical regionalization of the country.”


“All of these laws will be within the framework of the constitution,” Chavez said on state television.


Newly elected opposition lawmaker Julio Borges said the measures being taken up by the National Assembly in its final days go against the will of the voters.


“As elected deputies, we’re asking for a meeting between the new assembly and the old one, so that people are respected — the voters and the constitution,” Borges told reporters.


Chavez announced the plan to seek decree powers Friday, and some critics suggested he intended to push through controversial measures during the holidays while many Venezuelans are focusing on their families.


Opposition newspaper editor Teodoro Petkoff called it a “Christmas ambush,” writing in his daily Tal Cual that Chavez is preparing totalitarian measures that amount to “a brutal attack … against democratic life.”


In his nearly 12 years in office, the leftist Chavez has been granted temporary decree powers three times by lawmakers, in 1999, 2001 and 2007.


The last time, he enjoyed special legislative powers for 18 months and used them to seize control of privately run oil fields, impose new taxes and nationalize telecommunications, electricity and cement companies.

Chavez supporters have dominated the National Assembly since the opposition boycotted 2005 elections, but the opposition gained ground in September elections.

Starting Jan. 5, Chavez will face 66 opponents among the 165 lawmakers, a group large enough to challenge some government measures and prevent him from holding a two-thirds majority — the threshold needed to approve some laws, such as granting the president decree powers.

Source: SGGP

Eight fishermen rescued after boat hit by cargo vessel

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:32 am


Eight fishermen were rescued after their boat was hit by an cargo-boat which run away after the accident offshore the central province of Thua Thien Hue on November 28.

Fishing boats in Thua Thien Hue Province’s Thuan An seaport. (File photo)


The accident took place at around 11 pm, when the boat was fishing in the sea. The boat carrying eight fishermen, including captain Nguyen Cong Duyen, 50, was hit by cargo vessel 195 Ha Minh from Hai Phong.


Chairman of Vinh Thanh Commune  Dao Duy Phuong said it involved 20 fishing boats in the local in rescuing the fishermen and fishing the sinking boat out of the sea.


The authorities are also looking for the cargo-boat.


In related news, authorities from the central province of Quang Ngai on November 29 sent workers to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago area in an effort to salvage 16 fishermen on a sinking boat.


Fishing boat QNg 96020 from Quang Ngai Province’s Ly Son Island sank after its water pumping system broke November 26.


The fishermen on board sent SOS signals while bailing out seawater from the boat.
Local sea police plan to either fix the boat or tow it home as soon as possible.


 

Source: SGGP

Vietnam to have own fleet for flight inspection for Navaids and Surveillance equipment by 2015

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm




Vietnam to have own fleet for flight inspection for Navaids and Surveillance equipment by 2015


QĐND – Saturday, November 27, 2010, 21:42 (GMT+7)

According to the Vietnam Air Traffic Technical Company (ATTECH), Vietnam will have its own fleet for flight inspection for Navaids and Surveillance equipment by 2015.


So far, Vietnam’s aviation industry has been trying to fulfill the goal of its own flight inspection for Navaids and Surveillance equipment by 2010, said Mr. Trinh Van Hai, ATTECH’s Director.


Vietnam has been preparing, studying and implementing several practices in flight inspection as well as upgrading it to meet the strict requirements by the aviation industry.


Previously, Vietnam had to commission flight inspection from foreign companies. Because Navaids and Surveillance equipment did not meet ICAO’s standards, causing increases in flight inspection fees, USD 800.000 to 1 million each flight.


Flight inspection for Navaids and Surveillance equipment have already been carried out at northern airports, it is projected at airports in central and southern regions in the near future.


Vietnam is expected to have its own fleet of flight inspection for Navaids and Surveillance equipment to meet international standards.


Reported by Song Ha/ Photo: vasco.com.vn


Translated by Duy Minh


Source: QDND

Hanoi plans to increase its annual GDP growth rate by 12 – 13 percent

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm