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Denmark further supports Mekong countries’ environmental protection

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

Denmark, the Mekong River Commission’s largest donor, has committed a grant of 10 million Danish Kroner (about US$1.9 million) to the MRC Environment Program to support Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.


MRC is an inter-governmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose countries members are the four nations.


“This grant symbolizes Denmark’s commitment to the sustainable development and protection of the environment and people’s livelihoods in the Lower Mekong Basin,” Mr. Jeremy Bird, CEO of the MRC Secretariat, said in a Dec. 14 statement.


“Denmark’s support will contribute directly towards improved basin management and will ensure that up‐to‐date information on environmental and social knowledge is produced and disseminated throughout the member countries,” he added.


The funding will go towards assisting the four nations achieve greater environmental protection through improved basin management, MRC said.

This file photo shows villagers catch fish from the Mekong River in the Siphan Don area, Champassak Province, southern Laos. The Mekong River Basin houses around 60 million people and a majority of the inhabitants are farmers and fishers. (Photo: Tuong Thuy)

The grant will further develop the body’s knowledge base, which enhances regional understanding of environmental health and climate change risks in the Lower Mekong Basin.


“Most importantly, Denmark’s support leads to the Environment Program’s continual trans-boundary capacity building and awareness raising activities,” Mr
Bird added.


“These activities stress the importance of the Mekong’s environment and how it provides ecological services which sustain Mekong people’s livelihoods.”


As the MRC’s largest donor, Denmark has continuously supported the body’s Environment Program since 2004.


The MRC says the Scandinavian country will support the program’s work over the next five years, in the implementation of the mechanisms, tools and water quality procedures as well as assist Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam in strengthening their proactive response to emerging environmental issues and climate risks.


Mr. Vithet Srinetr, MRC’s Environment Program coordinator, said in the Tuesday statement, “We anticipate that Denmark’s continued support will also contribute to improved capacity and ownership of the member countries in implementing environmental monitoring and reporting activities over the next five years.”


The environment program aims to assist the four countries in protecting the environment and maintaining the ecological balance of the Mekong Basin.


The lower part of the Mekong River Basin is home to approximately 60 million people and a majority of the inhabitants are farmers and fishers, depending directly on the natural resource base. The MRC says this is why the Environment Program is developing a river health management strategy to provide a framework for managing the Mekong River and a Mekong Environmental Report Card to inform the people of the basin about current environmental conditions.

Source: SGGP

UN rights envoy warns N.Korea further isolating itself

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2010 at 11:21 am


SEOUL, Nov 26, 2010 (AFP) – The UN human rights envoy for North Korea warned Friday that the country is isolating itself at a time when it badly needs humanitarian aid.


Marzuki Darusman was on his first mission to South Korea since taking the post this year but, like his predecessor, was denied entry to the country formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).


“The DPRK should not find itself in isolation at a juncture when it needs the support and cooperation of the international community the most, both to address the human rights situation and the humanitarian needs,” he said.


Darusman was speaking days after the volatile regime fired a deadly barrage of shells and rockets at a South Korean island near the disputed sea border, claiming it had acted in retaliation to a military exercise being staged there.

A North Korean soldier on a naval vessel on the banks of the Yalu River some 70 kms north of the North Korean border town of Siniuju which lies across the river from Dandong in northeast China’s Liaoning province on November 26, 2010. AFP

The UN envoy noted that, after devastating floods hit the North in August, South Korea had offered 5,000 tons of rice and 250,000 bags of cement in humanitarian aid for victims in the impoverished country.


All such aid shipments have been frozen since the North launched its strike on the island of Yeonpyeong, which killed two marines and two civilians and wounding 18 other people.


It was the first shelling of civilians since the 1950-53 Korean War.


Darusman said that despite the outbreak of hostilities, “it is important to continue to provide such humanitarian assistance”, while ensuring that all aid distribution “reaches the neediest population”.

d
Source: SGGP

“Bi, don’t be afraid” wins further international prize

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 at 12:59 am

UN commends Vietnam for further strengthening road safety

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm




UN commends Vietnam for further strengthening road safety


QĐND – Thursday, May 20, 2010, 20:58 (GMT+7)

PANO – The UN today, May 20th, praised the Government of Vietnam for their continued attention to strengthening road safety.


Taking effect today, Government Decree 34 addresses many important road safety issues including the requirement that children from six years of age wear helmets whenever they travel on a motorcycle.


With an estimated 4,000 children tragically killed and many thousands more serious injured each year, the vast majority of them related to travel on motorcycles, road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability of Vietnamese children.


This change in legislation comes about despite the misguided belief of many parents that wearing a helmet can increase the risk of injuries to the child’s neck.


“Parents must understand that there is no evidence to support rumors that helmet wearing is dangerous for children’s necks” said Dr Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Vietnam. “On the contrary, wearing a high-quality, properly strapped helmet is in fact the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and fatalities from motorcycle and bicycle crashes,” Dr. Olivé added.


National hospital statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that since the national helmet law took effect in 2007, more than 6,800 children under the age of 15 have been hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries resulting from road traffic crashes. 


“Much of this needless suffering could have been avoided had parents insisted that their children correctly wear a quality helmet whenever they travelled on a motorcycle” said Jesper Morch, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to Vietnam.


Parents and adults must be role models to all children and always wear helmets themselves.


“It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children. Helmets for children are widely available and have been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.” added Mr Morch.  “Under this new legislation, if a child is not correctly wearing a helmet then the adult who is carrying them will be fined VND 100,000-200,000.”


Vietnam is one of only three countries in the world where helmet standards have been developed specially with the requirements of children in mind. This should provide parents with confidence that it is both suitable and appropriate for children to wear a helmet each and every time they travel on a motorcycle.


 “We congratulate the Government on closing this last major loophole in the already successful national helmet legislation” “We are confident that this new legislation, when thoroughly and stringently enforced will boost the number of Vietnamese children wearing helmets in turn making their daily experiences on Vietnam’s roads safer”.  Dr Olivé added.


Mai Huong


Source: QDND

JBIC pledges further funding for Vietnam

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 3:21 am




JBIC pledges further funding for Vietnam


QĐND – Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 21:45 (GMT+7)

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will continue to provide capital to Vietnam, said its Senior Executive Director Fumio Hoshi at a meeting with the Minister of Finance Vu Van Ninh in Hanoi on April 27.


Mr Fumio said that JBIC’s operations focus on developing natural resources for Japan, sharpening the competitive edge of Japanese technology, coping with financial changes and carrying out global environmental protection projects.


JBIC is very keen to expand its investments in Asia including Vietnam, Mr Fumio emphasised.


Over the past few years, JBIC has funded a number of projects in Vietnam and provided capital for the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industry Group.


In the near future, JIBC will continue to invest in projects to build an International gateway port in Hai Phong, petro-chemical refineries in Nghi Son and Long Son. In addition, JBIC also wants to promote investment and trade links with Vietnam to help the country develop its capital market.


Mr Ninh thanked the Japanese Government for assisting Vietnam to develop its business operations and said that many Japan-funded projects in Vietnam have proved very effective and recorded satisfactory results.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

Saigon, Dong Nai rivers in jeopardy of further degradation

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 6:51 am

A group of General Assembly delegates from Ho Chi Minh City has inspected the degree of environmental pollution in the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers and has reported alarming results.

Saigon River

According to the head office of the Saigon Water Supply Company (SAWACO), the quality of water in the two rivers has deteriorated rapidly and will likely continue to seriously affect residents’ water used for daily activities.


Mr. Bui Thanh Giang, director of the Thu Duc water plant the city, said, “Pollution of the Saigon River directly impacts water treatment capacity at the Tan Hiep water plant in the city. In recent years, the quality of water in the Saigon River has been [very poor]. Turbidity, pH, and salinity have increased to high levels, hence the Tan Hiep water plant must increase levels of chlorine, alum, and lime for water treatment.”


Mr. Vo Quang Chau, deputy general director of SAWACO, said that according to regular water tests over the past five years, the quality of water in the Dong Nai River basin is also rapidly worsening.


Levels of bacteria, ammonia, and harmful organic matter have increased rapidly and now exceed permitted standards by dozens of times. This has created extra difficulties and expenses for water treatment plants. According to SAWACO, it now spends VND4.5 billion per year on salt-processing alone.


According to Tran Du Lich, deputy head of the General Assembly group of delegates, the Environmental Protection Committee of the Dong Nai River should enforce environmental protection regulations by setting a deadline for polluting enterprises  to adhere to environmental standards. If successful, then HCMC will launch a similar project in the future.


Mr. Bui Cach Tuyen, head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment said, “Nearly two years since its establishment, the Environmental Protection Committee is still slow in enforcing environmental regulations. Moreover, each of the committee members has numerous other commitments so it is difficult for them to carry out tasks in a concerted manner.”


Pham Phuong Thao, head of the group of General Assembly delegates, proposed that the Department of Natural Resources and Environment promptly ask the Government for more funding for the Environmental Protection Committee of Dong Nai River. Only when the Dong Nai River project is conceptualized as a national issue can the river’s environmental integrity be salvaged from further degradation said Ms. Thao.


 

Source: SGGP

New criticism of pope further clouds Easter Week

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:06 am

VATICAN CITY, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI faced new criticism Saturday after his preacher likened attacks on the Catholic Church over the paedophile priest furore to anti-Semitism, further marring Easter Week celebrations.


Jewish groups and those representing victims of abuse by Catholic priests denounced the remarks by the pope’s personal preacher during a Good Friday homily.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses faithful as he leads the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) on Good Friday on April 2, 2010 at Rome’s Colosseum. AFP PHOTO

Rome’s chief rabbi joined the chorus of criticism, saying in an interview published Saturday: “It’s an inappropriate parallel and of dubious taste.”


The comparison was not made on “any day, but on Good Friday, that is the saddest day in the history of relations between Christians and Jews,” Riccardo Di Segni told the Italian daily La Stampa.


The parallel was drawn in a letter that Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Papal Household, said he received from an unnamed Jewish friend.


“The stereotyping, the transfer of personal responsibility and blame to a collective blame reminds me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,” he wrote, according to Cantalamessa.


Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi later told AFP the comments were from “a letter read by the preacher and not the official position of the Vatican.”


The new woes for the 82-year-old pope came as he prepared to lead an Easter vigil in St Peter’s Basilica late Saturday.


Benedict made no mention of the child abuse controversy during a traditional procession later Friday at Rome’s Colosseum re-enacting Jesus Christ’s Passion.


But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the largest and most active of such groups in the United States, denounced the remarks, saying they insulted “both abuse victims and Jewish people.”


“The remarks are shameful, inaccurate and a complete distortion of history,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, demanding an apology from the pope himself.


The child abuse scandal has engulfed much of Europe and the United States, prompting harsh criticism of the Vatican’s handling of the scourge.


The pope himself faces allegations that, as archbishop of Munich and later as the Vatican’s chief morals enforcer, he helped to protect predator priests.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, meanwhile, told the BBC in a radio interview to be aired next week that the Irish Catholic Church had lost “all credibility” over its massive abuse scandal compounded by evidence of cover-ups by high-ranking prelates, the Times of London reported Saturday.


“An institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility — that’s not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland,” said Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of more than 70 million Anglicans.


The comments risk creating tensions with the Vatican ahead of the pope’s visit to Britain in September.


Predominantly Catholic Ireland was rocked by two reports in the last year detailing child sex abuse stretching back decades and Church leaders’ complicity in covering it up.


Leading prelates have rallied around the pope in the run-up to Easter, the most joyous day in the Christian calendar.


The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano on Friday published messages of support from around the world including a letter signed by a group of 70 leading French figures “paying homage to the pope’s will to shed light” abuse cases while expressing horror at paedophilia crimes and solidarity with the victims.


The letter, signed by writers, a philosophy professor and a Lutheran pastor among others, accused the media of unfair reporting.


The Osservatore also published messages of support for the pope from the Canadian bishops and from the Latin American Episcopal Conference, both of which attacked media coverage of the story.


But in Austria Friday, the Platform for Victims of Violence by the Church said it had received reports of 174 more cases of maltreatment and sexual abuse in Catholic institutions since creating a hotline two weeks ago.


And in New York, about 10 victims of abuse by paedophile priests demonstrated in front of Saint Patrick’s cathedral during the Good Friday service.


The pope celebrates Easter mass on Sunday, to be followed by his traditional “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

d
Source: SGGP

New criticism of pope further clouds Easter Week

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:06 am

VATICAN CITY, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI faced new criticism Saturday after his preacher likened attacks on the Catholic Church over the paedophile priest furore to anti-Semitism, further marring Easter Week celebrations.


Jewish groups and those representing victims of abuse by Catholic priests denounced the remarks by the pope’s personal preacher during a Good Friday homily.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses faithful as he leads the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) on Good Friday on April 2, 2010 at Rome’s Colosseum. AFP PHOTO

Rome’s chief rabbi joined the chorus of criticism, saying in an interview published Saturday: “It’s an inappropriate parallel and of dubious taste.”


The comparison was not made on “any day, but on Good Friday, that is the saddest day in the history of relations between Christians and Jews,” Riccardo Di Segni told the Italian daily La Stampa.


The parallel was drawn in a letter that Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Papal Household, said he received from an unnamed Jewish friend.


“The stereotyping, the transfer of personal responsibility and blame to a collective blame reminds me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,” he wrote, according to Cantalamessa.


Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi later told AFP the comments were from “a letter read by the preacher and not the official position of the Vatican.”


The new woes for the 82-year-old pope came as he prepared to lead an Easter vigil in St Peter’s Basilica late Saturday.


Benedict made no mention of the child abuse controversy during a traditional procession later Friday at Rome’s Colosseum re-enacting Jesus Christ’s Passion.


But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the largest and most active of such groups in the United States, denounced the remarks, saying they insulted “both abuse victims and Jewish people.”


“The remarks are shameful, inaccurate and a complete distortion of history,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, demanding an apology from the pope himself.


The child abuse scandal has engulfed much of Europe and the United States, prompting harsh criticism of the Vatican’s handling of the scourge.


The pope himself faces allegations that, as archbishop of Munich and later as the Vatican’s chief morals enforcer, he helped to protect predator priests.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, meanwhile, told the BBC in a radio interview to be aired next week that the Irish Catholic Church had lost “all credibility” over its massive abuse scandal compounded by evidence of cover-ups by high-ranking prelates, the Times of London reported Saturday.


“An institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility — that’s not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland,” said Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of more than 70 million Anglicans.


The comments risk creating tensions with the Vatican ahead of the pope’s visit to Britain in September.


Predominantly Catholic Ireland was rocked by two reports in the last year detailing child sex abuse stretching back decades and Church leaders’ complicity in covering it up.


Leading prelates have rallied around the pope in the run-up to Easter, the most joyous day in the Christian calendar.


The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano on Friday published messages of support from around the world including a letter signed by a group of 70 leading French figures “paying homage to the pope’s will to shed light” abuse cases while expressing horror at paedophilia crimes and solidarity with the victims.


The letter, signed by writers, a philosophy professor and a Lutheran pastor among others, accused the media of unfair reporting.


The Osservatore also published messages of support for the pope from the Canadian bishops and from the Latin American Episcopal Conference, both of which attacked media coverage of the story.


But in Austria Friday, the Platform for Victims of Violence by the Church said it had received reports of 174 more cases of maltreatment and sexual abuse in Catholic institutions since creating a hotline two weeks ago.


And in New York, about 10 victims of abuse by paedophile priests demonstrated in front of Saint Patrick’s cathedral during the Good Friday service.


The pope celebrates Easter mass on Sunday, to be followed by his traditional “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

d
Source: SGGP

Scientists stumped as bee population declines further

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2010 at 9:10 am

The decline in the US bee population, first observed in 2006, is continuing, a phenomenon that still baffles researchers and beekeepers.


Data from the US Department of Agriculture show a 29 percent drop in beehives in 2009, following a 36 percent decline in 2008 and a 32 percent fall in 2007.


This affects not only honey production but around 15 billion dollars worth of crops that depend on bees for pollination.


Scientists call the phenomenon “colony collapse disorder” that has led to the disappearance of millions of adult bees and beehives and occurred elsewhere in the world including in Europe.

Bees gather pollen in a rose in Los Angeles, California, in 2009

Researchers have looked at viruses, parasites, insecticides, malnutrition and other environmental factors but have been unable to pinpoint a specific cause for the population decline.


The rough winter in many parts of the United States will likely accentuate the problem, says Jeff Pettis, lead researcher at Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.


Winter figures will be published in April. But preliminary estimates already indicate losses of 30 to 50 percent, said David Mendes, president of the American Beekeeping Federation.


“There are a lot of beekeepers who are in trouble” he said.


“Under normal condition you have 10 percent winter losses.. this year there are 30, 40 to 50 percent losses.”


He said the phenomenon probably results from a combination of factors but that the increased use of pesticides appears to be a major cause.


“I don’t put my bees in Florida because the last couple of years there has been tremendous increase in pesticide use in the orange crop to fight a disease,” he said.


“It’s a bacterium and the only way to control this disease is to use pesticide… a few years ago they did not use any pesticide at all.”


He said that pesticide use “has changed dramatically” and has made beekeeping “more challenging.”


Research conducted in 23 US states and Canada and published in the Public Library of Science journal found 121 different pesticides in 887 samples of bees, wax, pollen and other elements of hives, lending credence to the notion of pesticides as a key problem.


Pettis said the finding of pesticide residue is “troubling.”


“It might not be the only factor but it’s a contributing factor,” he said.


The best thing to help bees, he said its “to try to limit habitat destruction,” leaving more natural areas in agriculture and in cities such so honey bees can have “a diverse natural environment.”


Ironically, he said the problem stems from expansion of agriculture to feed the world. But in destroying bee populations, that can hurt crop production.

“The world population growth is in a sense the reason for pollinators’ decline,” he said.

“Because we need to produce more and more food to feed the world and we grow crops in larger fields. A growing world means growing more food and to do that we need pollinators. And the fact that the world is continuing to grow is the driving force behind the habitat destruction.”

Source: SGGP

Cold weather spreads further in North

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 6:35 am

The spell of cold weather that hit the region during the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival is continuing to spread in Northern provinces, according to the national weather bureau.








This undated file photo shows motorcyclists during a cold spell in northern Vietnam

It says the lowest temperature could drop to 11-14 degrees Celsius in the northwest while mountainous areas in the northeast will see temperatures fall further to 7-9 degree Celsius.


In the capital city of Hanoi, the lowest temperature will be 10-13 degrees Celsius in the coming days.


Over the next few days, the northern region as a whole will receive rainfall and the cold weather will per, said the center.


In the southern region, meanwhile, the weather will be sunny with lowest temperatures of 22-25 degrees Celsius and the highest of 32-35 degree Celsius.


For the next three days, Ho Chi Minh City will have highest temperatures of 34-36 degree Celsius.





Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share