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Focus on India as world meets to save tiger

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

As Russia hosts an unprecedented summit on saving the wild tiger, much of the attention is focusing on India, home to nearly half of the big cats but also a leading centre for poaching.

Experts here said that despite positive steps, India is struggling to deal with poaching, with poor villagers willing to kill and sell tigers for just 100 dollars and the rangers charged with protecting the animals under-paid and poorly equipped.

“Poaching is the major threat, number two is habitat destruction,” said Satya Prakash Yadav, an official with India’s environment ministry taking part in the summit of 13 nations in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

An Indian Royal Bengal tiger at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad in June 2010.

India is home to 1,411 tigers of the estimated 3,200 still living in the wild but also to 54 percent of poaching and trafficking cases. According to a recent report by the Traffic International non-governmental organisation, more than 1,000 tigers have been killed in the last decade in Asia.

“People living around the tiger reserves are always poor and if you come offering them a big price for the tigers they will take it,” said Sejal Worah, the director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Indian branch.

“The poacher gets only 100 dollars but the price of all the parts could be a 100 or 200 times more than that.”

Much of the poaching is fuelled by demand for tiger parts in Thailand, where there are far fewer of the wild cats, she said.

Good laws are in place to protect tigers in India, but enforcement has been lax, said Vivek Menon, the director for Southeast Asia for the International Fund for Animal Protection (IFAW), which has trained more than 7,000 rangers in India, a third of the country’s anti-poaching force.

“We have seven years in prison, not fines, if you kill a tiger…. What more do you want? India has very good laws. But the problem is the implementation in such a big country,” he said.

“For many years, nobody went to jail. Before, the judiciary never convicted. That has changed in the last five-six years and this is a good step.”

India’s federal government launched a tiger protection programme in 2007 with several million dollars allocated to urgent measures to cut down on poaching.

Among other efforts, the government recently began hiring retired soldiers to work on tiger reserves.

But Worah said the rangers are working in difficult conditions, hampering their efforts.

“It’s difficult and thankless work,” she said. “Often they are not paid for months and they are badly equipped. Sometimes they don’t even have boots or raincoats.”

Another effort has seen Indian authorities displace villages located in reserves to install tigers in the area. India is expected to commit during the summit to creating protected zones for tigers free of infrastructure, roads and people — a move that is likely to engender controversy.

“In a country like India it is difficult to reserve a zone and to say this is only for tigers and not for anything or anyone else. We don’t have the kind of space that Russia has,” Worah said.

“Social problems are competing with the tigers. It is a fight every day. But it is not a fight we are losing. We make two steps forward for every step back,” Menon said.

Animal-rights groups say the tiger population in India has fallen from 5,000 to fewer than 2,000 in the last five years, despite the allocation of 32,000 square kilometres (12,800 square miles) of sanctuary space.

Still, experts said India has scored some successes in its efforts to save the tiger and they hope the country is on the right track.

“Many of the success stories we talked about even here at the summit are from India,” Worah said.

“India is not a bad example, it’s just a realistic example,” Menon said.

Source: SGGP

Fishermen fear for livelihoods as Gulf focus shifts

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 7:19 am

US spill chief Thad Allen failed Thursday to reassure desperate fishermen about their Gulf of Mexico oil clean-up jobs, while BP began the legal wrangling in a massive civil trial.

As engineers prepared next week’s vital operations to permanently kill the capped BP well, Allen met with parish presidents and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in New Orleans to discuss how to safeguard local jobs going forward.

With little oil now floating in the Gulf, there are fears the popular “Vessels of Opportunity” program that employs fishing boats to skim crude off the surface of the sea might have to be scrapped.

Kerry Parfait, a skimming boat worker, stands near idle boats after they were forced to port because of Hurricane Alex in June 2010 in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

Allen pledged to redeploy as many skippers as possible to other tasks, but could give no firm indication of how many of the 1,500 boats would still be working in the Gulf after next month.

“Obviously as we transition into a point where there’s not the threat of a spill, the involvement of Vessels of Opportunity is going to necessarily change,” he said after the meeting.

Allen said that over the next 10 days he would work with parish presidents and the governor to hammer out a plan for the fishermen and what to do with the program through to the end of August.

A large portion of the Gulf waters remain closed to commercial and recreational fishing and with lingering doubts about seafood safety, fishermen could effectively end up losing their jobs for a second time.

“The fishermen have missed a year, and we don?t know what the impact is going to be next year, or the year after that,” said Marty O?Connell, an environmental scientist at the University of New Orleans.

Many are worried it could be months or even years before they can fish again, and there are no guarantees the fish will be there in the same numbers when they do, or that they will be safe to eat.

“If BP uses the capping of the well as an excuse to minimize its clean-up operations, then shame on them,” said Mike Frenette, whose five boats in Venice, Louisiana missed an entire summer’s fishing due to the disaster.

Frenette had to apply four times before getting two of his five boats onto the program, which pays between 600 and 3,500 dollars a day, depending on the size of the boat.

“All that our Vessels of Opportunity work is doing is counting against our compensation claim. We?re not making any money, here, we?re just trying to keep our heads above water.”

Many disgruntled fishermen are expected to seek compensation for lost earnings and personal injury in the courts, and in Boise, Idaho on Thursday lawyers for disaster victims opened the first stage in a massive civil trial.

The hearing brought together a wide array of people and players linked to the disaster triggered by an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

Plaintiffs range from the families of the 11 workers killed in the explosion to Gulf fishermen whose catch has been contaminated by the spill, threatening them with financial ruin.

A seven-judge panel will decide over the next few weeks whether to consolidate the litigation into one or several cases, and where the trial or trials should take place.

BP and other firms named in the claims argued for the venue to be the oil headquarters of Houston, Texas, but victims’ lawyers said it should be somewhere closer to those hit hardest by the disaster, like New Orleans. Joining BP in court were Transocean, which leased the rig to BP, Cameron International, which manufactured the blowout preventer, the device which should have shut down the well but failed to work properly, and Halliburton, the oil services company which had finished cementing the well only 20 hours before the rig exploded.

BP hopes to begin a “static kill” operation as early as this weekend to plug the capped well with drilling mud and cement. Five days later a “bottom kill” through a relief well should finish the job once and for all.

A cap stopped the flow on July 15 after between three and 5.2 million barrels (117.6 million and 189 million gallons) had gushed out, making it likely the disaster is the biggest ever accidental oil spill.

Source: SGGP

Efforts focus on stamping out cholera outbreaks

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan on July 14 told the health sector to focus on stamping out cholera outbreaks, and said there was no need to continue cholera bacterium tests.

Inspectors conduct an inspection to commune Duong Noi in Hanoi, where supply mostly dog meat for eateries

The health official made the announcement at a meeting of the Steering Committee for Influenza Pandemic Prevention, saying the sector needs to tighten the examination of unhygienic food and untreated canal water, and provide anti-bacterium chemical substances to families to help them treat small outbreaks.

During the past two weeks, 11 cities and provinces in the country have reported over 100 cases testing positive with cholera bacterium. However, the real number was believed to be much higher.

Nguyen Van Kinh, Director of the Hanoi-based Central Tropical Diseases Hospital said that since June 28, the hospital has received 183 patients with clinical signs of acute diarrhea, including 50 persons who tested positive for cholera bacterium.

On July 13, alone the hospital received six cases with clinical signs of acute diarrhea, including one person who tested positive with cholera bacterium.

Source: SGGP

Detox centres focus on vocational training for reformed addicts

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Detox centres focus on vocational training for reformed addicts

QĐND – Saturday, June 26, 2010, 21:17 (GMT+7)

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong has asked detoxification centres across the country to pay due attention to vocational training to help drug addicts reintegrate into the community.

“Only when reformed addicts receive community support to earn a living, will the rate of relapses fall,” Mr Trong said during a fact-finding tour of Social Labour and Education Centre No2 in Nghe An province on June 26.

He said drugs are a threat to humankind, for they erode morality, break up families and cause social disorder. He stressed that drug addiction is also one of the major causes of HIV/AIDS.

He shared challenges officials and staff of the centre face, noting that it’s difficult to help addicts detoxify, but it’s more difficult to prevent them from relapsing.

The Deputy PM asked centre teachers and staff to improve vocational training and help addicts stay away from drugs, reintegrate into community and become good citizens. He also asked the managers to expand production to improve 250 addicts’ daily meals at the centre.

Since 2003, the centre has received 1,656 drug addicts of whom 1,389 have been released back into the community. Most of them have been trained in welding, home electricity maintenance and handicrafts.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

G8 leaders to focus on international security

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

HUNTSVILLE, Canada (AFP) – Leaders of the industrial world were to shift their attention to Iran and North Korea Saturday as nuclear proliferation and other security issues take center stage at their summit.

“The session… is going to focus on peace and security, Iran and North Korea will be discussed” a senior US official told reporters at the Group of Eight (G8) summit being held north of the Canadian city of Toronto.

Police hold back demonstrators protesting against the G8/G20 summits in Toronto, Canada. AFP

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said US President Barack Obama also planned meetings with the leaders of South Korea on Saturday and of China and Japan on Sunday to discuss the security situation in East Asia.

The heads of eight powerful nations are set to debate North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship, with Japan pushing for an outright condemnation of the nuclear-armed state.

The outcome on Saturday, the final day of the two-day summit, will be watched closely by diplomats as it can set the stage for any UN action over the incident, in which 46 sailors died.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in talks at the summit sidelines Friday that “it is important for G8 to support South Korea and issue a clear message of condemnation” against North Korea.

Four of the five permanent UN Security Council members — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — are in the G8. The G20 meeting of developed and emerging nations takes place in Toronto later Saturday and on Sunday.

On Friday, Europe and the United States tried to bridge differences over how to sustain fragile global economic recovery and sought common ground on dealing with ballooning deficits.

All eyes at the summit in an exclusive lakeside resort were on a potential clash between European leaders bent on slashing spending and a Washington fearful of stifling growth.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel showed her hand early, insisting members must move fast to cut soaring public deficits and ensure financial stability — but both she and US officials stressed this did not represent a split with the United States.

“The discussion was not controversial, there was a lot of mutual understanding,” she told journalists.

“I have made it clear that we need sustainable growth and that growth and intelligent austerity measures don’t have to be contradictions,” Merkel said.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meeting had gone well and that Merkel and Obama had not fallen out over Germany’s call for immediate fiscal tightening.

“The president sees deficit reduction as part of a medium and long-term growth strategy. Coming to the G8 and G20 his main focus is these things are not exclusive,” the administration official told reporters.

The leaders — from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — held closed door talks among themselves and with a group of African leaders.

Europe has been spooked by a sovereign debt crisis that has pushed some eurozone members such as Greece to the brink of default — threatening the stability of the euro and of some European financial institutions.

Merkel has led the way in pushing for governments to rein in their record deficits, and has vowed to slash Germany’s own spending by 80 billion euros (98 billion dollars) over the next four years.

Britain’s new government this week announced the biggest cuts in decades.

But some other capitals, including Washington, fear a dramatic attack on spending could undermine jobs, consumer demand and even the strength of the global recovery — threatening a “double dip” recession.

In Toronto around 2,000 protesters — a loose coalition of leftist activists and anarchists — faced off against riot police, but there was no serious violence and no more than a handful of arrests.

Larger protests were planned for Saturday when delegates return to Toronto from the Huntsville resort to meet more world leaders under the G20 format..

Canada has spent a billion dollars to secure the summit behind a ring of steel and police reinforcements, hoping to avoid a repeat of the large-scale street violence that has marred previous global meetings.

Aside from moving closer to agreement on the economic challenge, the leaders announced a five-billion-dollar package of aid to help protect mothers in the developing world from illness.

Source: SGGP

Deputies focus on issues of major public concern

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Deputies focus on issues of major public concern

QĐND – Thursday, June 10, 2010, 21:1 (GMT+7)

National Assembly (NA) deputies have raised concerns over the Ministry of Finance’s role and responsibility over price controls, capital mobilisation and use for key national projects as well as building trademarks of agricultural products.

During the four-day question time, beginning from June 10, deputies will question four ministers, namely the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung will also take part.

NA Deputy Nguyen Huu Nhi from Nghe An said he was concerned over the high salaries of some leaders from State groups and corporations are paid. He said, “I want the Minister of Finance to clarify the regulations on the salaries of senior managers in State groups and corporations while farmers and other workers’ lives still face a lot of difficulties.”

In terms of agriculture and rural development, it is essential to consider the State’s management over the quality of plant varieties, fertilisers, pesticides and the application of advanced technologies in agricultural production, said Mr Nhi.

The Minister of Finance will respond to questions about measures to control inflation and market prices especially when there are increases in the prices of electricity, water, petro and other essential goods, greatly affecting low-income earners and poor farmers.

In the recent past, the collapse of the spans of Can Tho and Thanh Tri bridges made the media headline. The Minister of Transport will have to answer questions about the State’s responsibility for ensuring the quality of capital investment construction and transport projects as well as resolving traffic congestion and reducing traffic accidents.

NA deputy Danh Ut from Kien Giang province said that he was interested in the Ministry of Finance’s role in controlling the prices of petrol, fertiliser, steel and sugarcane.

The Ministry of Finance recently examined 17 businesses, of which 11 had not registered for price controls in a bid to drive up prices up which caused big losses to many farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development will then answer NA deputies’ queries about why creating trademarks for agro-fishery products is so slow.

NA deputy Nguyen Thuc Khang from Ba Ria-Vung Tau province underlined the need to discuss the capital sources for key national projects. Such issues should be carefully considered by the NA before approving key national projects, stressed Mr Khang.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Firms focus on energy efficiency

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Firms focus on energy efficiency

QĐND – Saturday, May 29, 2010, 20:52 (GMT+7)

Enterprises should focus on advanced technologies to save energy and costs for themselves and the country, a seminar in Ha Noi heard yesterday, May 28.

The symposium on energy efficiency in manufacturing was held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Energy Efficiency Centre.

Viet Nam faced an energy shortage which would be eased if enterprises and individuals were aware of the need to save energy, the seminar was told.

To raise the awareness, the Government had begun a national programme on energy efficiency, of which the seminar was part.

The ministry said that to generate US$1,000 GDP, Viet Nam must consume 600kg of oil equivalent, a unit of energy, one and a half times higher than that in Thailand and double the average rate of the world.

The energy consumption of Vietnamese manufacturing sector was also double or triple that of other nations in the region.

Schneider Electric Vietnam representative Do Manh Dung said: “The gap between energy supply and demand in Viet Nam tripled against a decade ago and the gap will continue to widen due to a sharp increase in demand.”

It was expected the demand on power would be 74 billion kWh while the supply would likely stay at about 64 billion kWh this year, he said.

Electricity prices in Viet Nam would increase amid rising demand and against the present low prices in comparison with other nations, he said.

“The Government had mapped out plans to invest $30 billion to generate an addition capacity of 33,200MW by 2015,” he said. “However, supply still failed to meet demand and energy saving was an indispensable and compulsory responsibility of enterprises.”

Dung pointed out four steps for energy efficiency in production: measuring and auditing energy consumption, using advanced technologies, applying automatic systems and maintaining management and consultancy on energy efficiency.

Ha Noi Technology University deputy rector Pham Hoang Luong said: “To manage energy saving effectively, the determination of CEOs plays a very important role and he or she must mobilise all workers to do it.”

Companies should also implement quality management, he said. These measures would help save energy, cut costs, reduce product prices and thus sharpen the competitive edge.

Luong said businesses should “boldly” renovate their technologies to improve quality and get higher sale prices.

Energy efficiency and cleaner production usually coincided, he said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade had composed a draft decree to encourage manufacturers to use renewable energy.

However, the ministry’s science and technology department deputy director Vuong Hoang Kim said: “We have to go step by step because the cost of applying renewable energy was higher than the financial capacity of Vietnamese firms.”

The seminar was part of the international fair and exhibition on energy efficiency and environment at the Giang Vo exhibition centre, that will end tomorrow, May 30.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Source: QDND

US security plan switches focus to homegrown terror

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm

7th NA session to focus on legislative programme

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm

7th NA session to focus on legislative programme

QĐND – Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

The 7th session of the 12th National Assembly will open in Hanoi on May 20, focusing on law building and other important issues during 30 days’ sitting.

The information was released by Vice Chairman of the NA Office Nguyen Si Dung at a press conference in Hanoi on May 17.

Mr Dung said during the session that the NA will adopt 10 draft laws, including the laws on the State Bank of Vietnam (amended), credit organisations (amended), housing and land taxes, child adoption, enforcement of criminal sentences, the efficient and effective use of energy, disabled people, postal service, trade arbitrator and food safety.

Six other draft laws will be submitted to the NA for consideration, including bills on environmental protection tax, inspection (amended), administrative procedures, employees, customers protection and minerals (amended), he added.

The NA will discuss changes to Resolution No. 66/2006/QH11 on national key projects and resolution on the law and ordinance building programme in 2011.

The legislative body will hear and discuss reports on the implementation of 2010 socio-economic development and State budget using plans in the first months of the year, he said, adding that the hearings will focus on a project to build the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City express railway and a master plan for construction of Hanoi by 2030 with a vision to 2050.

Source: VOV/VNA

Source: QDND

Fruit farm tourism in focus

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Fruit farm tourism in focus

QĐND – Thursday, April 22, 2010, 21:42 (GMT+7)

A national seminar held in Tien Giang province on April 21 focused on developing the agricultural sector by linking it closer with the tourist industry.

At the event, managers, entrepreneurs and researchers discussed garden tourism in the Mekong Delta. They exposed weaknesses such as poor infrastructure, uninteresting and lacklustre services, unprofessional staff, and accommodation and entertainments that lacked sufficient investment.

The model of fruit farm tourism has developed quickly in the Mekong Delta recently, with hundreds of eco-tourism sites set up in Tien Giang, Ben Tre, and Vinh Long.

Such locations offer tourists fresh air, tasty fruits, traditional cuisine, and the chance to go fishing or boating and listen to local musicians.

Participants in the seminar agreed that more attention should be given to planning, regional coordination, human resource development, and marketing investment from both domestic and foreign sources.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND