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S.Korea to go ahead with fire drill despite N.Korea threat

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

South Korea’s military said Saturday it would go ahead with a live-fire drill on a border island bombarded by North Korea last month, despite the North’s threat to strike back again with deadlier firepower.

A South Korean Navy vessel berths at a Movement Sea Base (MSB) off the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 17, 2010.

But an AFP photographer on Yeonpyeong island said the atmosphere was calm and a media report said the one-day training exercise — scheduled for sometime between Saturday and Tuesday — may be delayed till next week.

“There is no change in our stance with regards to the live-fire exercise,” a defence ministry spokesman told AFP. “We cannot confirm… whether we will carry out the exercise today.”

The North threatened Friday to “deal the second and third unpredictable self-defensive blow” if the artillery exercise goes ahead.

“It will be deadlier than what was made on November 23 in terms of the powerfulness and sphere of the strike,” it said.

Pyongyang disputes the Yellow Sea border drawn after the 1950-53 war and claims the waters around Yeonpyeong and other frontline islands as its own maritime territory.

The November 23 bombardment killed two marines and two civilians and damaged dozens of homes. It came after a firing drill into the sea by South Korean marines based on the island.

The North’s latest warning sharply raised the stakes in the regional crisis.

Russia urged South Korea not to go ahead with the exercise and China, the North’s sole major ally, said it opposed any action that would raise tensions.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned South Korea’s ambassador Yu Woo-Ik Friday afternoon to express concern at the planned drill, Yonhap news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

South Korea, outraged at the first shelling of civilian areas since the war, has fortified Yeonpyeong with more troops and artillery and vowed to use air power against any future attack.

Its military has said artillery will be aimed away from the North as usual during the upcoming drill, but it would respond strongly if provoked.

But a military source quoted by Yonhap said the firing might be delayed a day or two.

“Weather conditions are the most important factor in deciding the time for a drill. Early next week will be the most likely time to hold it because the weather should improve,” the source said.

Asked why weather was a factor, a military spokesman cited comments by a government source in Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

“The live-fire exercise itself will end in 1-2 hours, but since we have to prepare for North Korea’s provocation afterwards, there is a good possibility the exercise will be delayed to when the weather is good all day long,” the source was quoted as saying.

“It is highly likely that the drill will be held early next week.”

The South’s close ally the United States plans to send some 20 US soldiers to play a supporting role in the drill.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley Friday again defended the South’s right to hold the drill in the face of North Korea’s “ongoing provocations”.

But he said Washington trusts that the South “will be very cautious in terms of what it does”.

Pyongyang’s disclosure last month of an apparently working uranium enrichment plant — a potential new source of bomb-making material — has also heightened regional security fears.

The North’s website Uriminzokkiri said the drill could spark nuclear war.

“It is clear if war breaks out again in this land, a grave nuclear disaster will take place which will bear no comparison to the Korean War.”

US troubleshooter Bill Richardson said he urged North Korean officials during his current visit to Pyongyang to let the South go ahead with the drill.

“I’m urging them extreme restraint,” the New Mexico governor told CNN, saying he was “very, very strong with foreign ministry officials” during a dinner on Friday.

“I think I made a little headway,” Richardson said. “My sense from the North Koreans is that they are trying to find ways to tamp things down.”

Analyst Andrei Lankov said that for the first time in decades, a new war appeared to be a distinct probability.

Lankov, a professor at Seoul’s Kookmin University, said the Pyongyang regime seemed determined to escalate provocations, and South Korean society was in “unusually bellicose mood” after the last Yeonpyeong attack.

But in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, Lankov said “the hard truth is that restraint is the only option for South Korea”.

Source: SGGP

Experts suggest construction should go ‘green’

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Experts suggest construction should go ‘green’

QĐND – Friday, December 17, 2010, 20:53 (GMT+7)

It is high time for Vietnam to focus on development of green buildings, an academic and architect told a seminar in HCM City on Dec. 16.

Professor Nguyen Huu Dung explained that the country was in the process of becoming industrialised by 2020 and its rapid rate of urbanisation would mean the population in cities would rise to around 45 percent then from the current 30 percent.

“The construction and real-estate industries need to develop greener alternatives for the current architectural models that require large investments and energy supply but increase pollution,” he told around 200 delegates representing property developers and design and consulting firms.

Many projects overlook the climatic conditions and neglect energy efficiency while choosing construction materials.

The World Green Building Council has said that the construction sector consumes around 40 percent of the world’s energy and generates 30 percent of carbon emissions.

Green architecture refers to building designs that will conserve resources, including energy, land, water, and construction materials, limit pollution, protect the environment, help safeguard the health of consumers and communities, use space logically and efficiently, and ensure a harmonious relationship between human and nature.

Philippe Perruchot, general director of Vina Megastar Land and a consultant in LEED —Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (an internationally recognised green building certification system) said green buildings also help improve the corporate image, asset value, risk mitigation and management, worker productivity, and social benefit.

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association (HoREA), said the city has several projects such as the Phu My Hung New Urban Area and Kenton complex project in District 7 that satisfy green building standards with their low construction density and large green and water spaces.

Vietnamese construction regulations on effective energy use in construction released in 2005 is set to be amended early next year to suit the evolving conditions.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Rice prices go up but enterprises commit to meeting domestic demand

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Rice prices go up but enterprises commit to meeting domestic demand

QĐND – Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 22:14 (GMT+7)

The information about the rice price increases in the world market has promptly pushed the domestic prices up. Meanwhile, enterprises have been told to get ready to stabilize the market, in case the “price fever”, the thing that once occurred in 2008, returns.

Sales agents in HCM City have raised the retail prices by 3,000-10,000 dong per kilo for every five-kilo bag. Especially, Thai sticky rice is now selling at over 30,000 dong per kilo, or 8,000 dong per kilo higher than previously. Scented sticky rice is being sold at 60,000 dong per kilo, an increase of 12,000 dong per kilo.

Huynh Cong Thanh, Director of Foocosa Company in HCM City, said that the domestic prices have increased because of the higher input materials. For example, first class rice (5 percent of broken rice), which was traded at 7,000-7,100 dong per kilo, is being sold at 7,450 dong. Meanwhile, it is now the time for Vietnamese exporters to deliver products to importers. Some countries are pushing up rice purchases, including Iraq (60,000 tons) and Cuba (200,000 tons).

Thanh said the demand has increased sharply recently. Previously, the shops of Foocosa chain sold 12-15 tons a day, while they sell 25 tons a day now.

Chair of the Vietnam Food Association Truong Thanh Phong said the world market seems to be stable but the imbalance in supply and demand can be seen in some regions. It is now clear that some countries plan to import rice in big quantities, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and African countries.

The sharp rice price increases have raised the worry that the “rice fever” which once occurred in 2008, may return. At that time, people, fearing that the rice supply would become short since enterprises boost exports, rushed to purchase rice to store up. As the result, some big cities seriously suffered from the lack of rice, while enterprises could not carry rice from other provinces at once.

“You should learn the lesson from the 2008 rice price fever. Not only the enterprises in Hanoi and HCM City but also the ones in rural areas have to get ready to stabilize the market when troubles occur,” said Phong.

Thanh has reassured the public that Foocosa is still selling normal rice at no more than 8,000 dong per kilo as it has committed, while scented rice price is being at 10,500 dong per kilo. Foocosa still has 5,000 tons of rice in stocks to be provided to the shops in the city. If troubles occur, Foocosa will carry rice from other provinces to HCM City.

Nguyen Thanh Nhan, Deputy General Director of Saigon Co-op, said the prices of food and necessities available at Saigon Co-op chain remain stable. The prices of some products such as canned food, drinks have just increased slightly.

Le Ngoc Dao, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said the city’s authorities are following a plan to stabilize the market. To date, the prices of the most essential goods remain stable, while the supply remains profuse.

Source: VNN

Source: QDND

More pupils to have chance to go to school

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

More pupils to have chance to go to school

QĐND – Thursday, August 05, 2010, 20:47 (GMT+7)

During its third term, from 2005 to 2010, the Vietnam Study Encouragement Association raised funds of more than VND1 trillion to help nearly 4 million poor pupils with their schooling.

The association granted tens of millions of scholarships to poor pupils who wanted to drop out, and presented thousands of textbooks, notebooks, hundreds of tonnes of food and clothing to pupils affected by accidents or by natural disasters.

Disabled children received wheelchairs and study aids, while pupils in remote areas were presented with thousands of bikes.

The association encouraged local people to construct bridges, repair downgraded schools, and make furniture for pupils. Branches of the association also launched a movement to build facilities for study.

The association also worked with local authorities to carry out meaningful extracurricular activities for pupils.

Source: Dan Tri

Translated by Duy Minh

Source: QDND

Ethnic minorities go green

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Ethnic minorities go green

QĐND – Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 21:1 (GMT+7)

Ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong have agreed to work together to fight against climate change.

More than 5,500 people, who were primarily from the Co Ho ethnic group, along with 24 interlocutors from the United Nation Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme) are currently working together on a sustainable development plan, after 78 village meetings.

The REDD programme aims to establish projects that provide a financial incentive to locals who preserve the forest for carbon credits. The programme was established during the 11th Convention of the Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that was held in Montreal , Canada , in 2005. Viet Nam has been the first UN-REDD pilot country.

The local residents of Di Linh district’s Bao Thuan commune are hosting one of UN-REDD’s two pilot projects in the country. Participating locals have already received educational material about climate change, REDD and UN-REDD activities that will be implemented in the area.

“It is not easy to make people here understand the UN-REDD programme and the benefits that they will reap from the project,” said K’ Bril, deputy chief of Bao Thuan commune.

“We are people of the forest, we have loved the forest for our entire lives, but now we really understand the importance of the ecosystem,” said K’ Breoh, a local resident.

“The forest is like our lungs that provides us with cool air and a fresh environment,” said K’ Breoh. “Without it, we will suffer from hot weather and flooding.”

K’ Breoh suggested that the programme managers and government leaders pay more attention to the locals’ concerns.

Living in the Central Highlands, most of ethnic communities grow coffee and corn, which often leads to illegal deforestation.

Local communities have been instructed to begin reforesting the area, which might have an adverse effect on their income.

“We have agreed to take part in the programme, but we also hope that our leaders will bring more jobs here,” said K’ Breoh. “A regular and stable income will allow us to reforest the area with a peaceful mind because we won’t have to worry about feeding our family.”

“The results that we have pocketed are not considerable because it is the very first step of the programme so we still need help from the local government leaders,” said Pham Minh Thoa, UN-REDD national programme director.

If the pilot programme in Lam Dong province is effective then UN-REDD plans to continue working in the area.

“People understand the importance of the forest because it provides sustenance to the communities that live there,” said Hua Duc Nhi, deputy minister of the Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

“UN-REDD is a new programme in Viet Nam and I hope it will support people to improve their living standards.”

Viet Nam has recently received 4.5 million USD from the Norwegian government for the programme which are being implemented by MARD in collaboration with three UN agencies, UNDP, FAO and UNEP.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Vaccination plan set to go despite lack of outbreaks

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 4:41 am

No new influenza A (H1N1) swine flu patients have been reported in Vietnam for more than one month, but the Vietnamese Ministry of Health is still planning to implement a vaccination plan for vulnerable people including medical workers and pregnant women.

The H1N1 flu emerges  in April, 2009 but has  showed a decrease while  WHO still asks countries to stay vigilant against the pandemic

Deputy Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine Nguyen Van Binh said only one person in the central province of Quang Tri had caught the swine flu last month, and that patient has been discharged from the hospital.

But he said the World Health Organization (WHO) had asked countries to stay vigilant against the pandemic despite few new ports of new cases of the disease in several nations around the world. Vietnam is currently awaiting vaccines from WHO to implement the program.

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Representative in Viet Nam Dr Jean-Marc Olive has also rejected claims that the WHO had exaggerated the dangers of the H1N1 outbreak, which emerged in April last year.

He said WHO’s warnings of the pandemic were based on scientific evidence, adding that outbreaks of the disease widely known as swine flu were still considered to be at the phase 6 level on the WHO’s pandemic scale.

While the number of cases of swine flu has reduced, other fatal epidemics have increased, he said.

Health experts in Vietnam have also been fretting about cholera, which infected hundreds of people in the Northern provinces in 2008 and 2009. The severe bacterial infection has been reported in several other provinces and cities this year, including Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The occurrence of cholera in many parts of the country has been difficult to oversee, experts said. Moreover, recent research has showed that the virulent vibrio cholera virus in Vietnam has mutated and is showing signs of transforming into more lethal forms.

Furthermore, acute diarrhea has killed six children in the northern Vietnamese province of Cao Bang since May 19, according to the provincial Preventive Health Center.
Some 140 people in Lung Man Village, which was the hardest hit area in Duc Hanh Commune, were infected with the disease, the center said. Duc Hanh is a mountainous commune with a majority ethnic Mong population.

The pandemic has revealed that district medical clinics are still too slow and weak to react to serious threats, experts have said.

Source: SGGP

Surgical aid banned after patients go blind

In Uncategorized on June 8, 2010 at 10:36 am

Following a series incidents that left more than a score of people blind, the Ministry of Health has banned the use of trypan blue, a surgical aid used to stain the retinal membrane during cataract surgeries.

A representative of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health (L) visits  a patient who turn blind after eye surgery. ( Photo: Lao Dong)

The ministry decided to ban the drub following reports that twenty-two patients went blind earlier this year after undergoing cataract surgeries at the Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital.

Tests of equipment samples and drugs showed that the blindings were caused by infections that resulted from the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (pink-red rods) present in trypan blue made by the Indian Khosla Pharmaceutical Company.

The drug is imported and provided by Viet My Medical Equipment at 572/4 Le Quang Dinh Street , Go Vap District.

The ministry also asked the Indian Khosla Pharmaceutical Company to withdraw all products nationwide as well as cooperate with relevant agencies to verify the cause of the problem and assume responsibility.

In addition, Khosla must report on the quality and quantities of the drug distributed in Vietnam.

The hospital’s director Tran Thi Phuong Thu said three more patients had been discharged from the hospital following intensive treatment after the incidents. However, one or two of those patients are expected to go blind as strong antibiotics have not made their situation any better.

Other patients in the southern provinces of Dong Nai and An Giang have also recently gone blind due to infections from the pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria caught at eye hospitals.

Related article:
Patients turn blind after eye surgery

Source: SGGP

Colorful, traditional Hue festival on the go

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2010 at 10:19 am

Hue Festival 2010 kicked off in the central city of Hue on June 5 with a grand, colorful ceremony at Ngo Mon Square and an artistic performance rich of traditional musical genres.

A performance during the Hue Festival 2010 opening ceremony on Saturday night (Photo: Vietnam News Agency)

The festival began with a dance with flags by more than 100 children and artists, featuring impressively the voyage of the transfer of the capital city from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Thang Long (now Hanoi). It was a celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi and the 50th anniversary of the sister cities of Hanoi – Hue – Saigon.

The opening ceremony, which saw the attendance of Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, included performances by artists from France, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Belgium.

With the theme “Cultural Heritage with Integration and Development”, the Hue Festival this year, from June 5-13, will have a wide range of large-scale, impressive cultural shows.

It will see re-enactments reviving royal rituals such as the Nam Giao Offering Ritual, Dem Hoang Cung – the Royal Place by Night—a colorful blend of food and wine served at a royal banquet and a spectacular lights show.

Highlights of the festival will include the Kham Pha Huyen Thoai Song Huong programme, which offers snapshots of the river’s history, legends and beauty, and “Hanh Trinh Mo Coi” which presents the nation’s journey to reclaim the lands in the south of the country from the 10th century to 1945.

The Naval maneuvers of Lord Nguyen Phuc Lan, will also be re-enacted on the Huong River to celebrate the 375 years since Lord Lan chose Kim Long as the capital city. Close to 1,000 people and 72 warships are expected to take part in the event.

In particular, the three forms of traditional Vietnamese arts that have been recognized by UNESCO as world cultural heritages – Nha Nhac (royal music), Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) and Quan Ho (love duets ) and other traditional types of music like Cheo (traditional opera) and folk songs will be performed together in a programme called “The Breath of Water.”

Dem Phuong Dong (Oriental night) will spotlight the charming and unique beauty of several Asian costumes, including the Vietnamese Ao Dai (traditional long dress).

According to the organizers, the festival will see the participation of over 1,500 artists and performers from 48 foreign troupes from 28 countries around the world, and 17 local troupes.

First held in 2000, the biennial Hue Festival has been a tremendous success. In 2008, the festival attracted nearly 2,000 domestic and foreign artists and 180,000 visitors, including 30,000 from overseas.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Source: SGGP

That’s the Hue to go!

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

That’s the Hue to go!

QĐND – Saturday, June 05, 2010, 21:13 (GMT+7)

Hue Festival 2010 promises to be a spectacular event showcasing the city’s unique heritage as well as culture and arts from Vietnam and abroad.

With such rich architectural heritage, Hue is one of the more delicate flowers on Vietnam’s well-pounded tourist trail. During his trip to Hue in 1981, the former General Secretary of UNESCO regarded Hue as “a masterpiece of urban poetry”. Back then the notion of tourism was just a pipedream. The country first had to pull itself back from economic oblivion.

In 1986 as part of the economic policy called doi moi, Vietnam opened its doors to international trade and subsequently tourism. Now the country is caught in a curious quandary – balancing growth and development with preservation. Unlike Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, tourists will not come to the former Imperial Capital to go shopping or dancing. This is still a quiet provincial city, but one that is making the most of its gifts.

Thanks to ongoing projects with UNESCO and other international groups Hue’s architectural heritage is now blossoming – tourists flock here throughout the year to see the citadel, An Dinh palace and the Nguyen kings’ tombs.

Hue’s natural beauty is another massive boon – one stroll along the leafy banks of the Huong river is enough to make any visitor fall in love with Hue. And there is wonderful local cuisine. Visitors should always sample specialties such as banh beo or banh khoai (Plus as a Buddhist-centric town there is an excellent vegetarian food scene).

It is also building its reputation as a venue for arts and culture. In recent years the Hue Festival has become central to Thua Thien- Hue province’s efforts to put the city on the map – not just as a ‘historic’ destination but as a culturally exciting one.

The seed that was planted by the inaugural festival in 2000 has grown steadily. Now after four more festivals, each one bigger than the last, the city is ready to celebrate its most vibrant and spectacular festival yet.

Hundreds of thousands of domestic and international visitors will descend on the city from June 5 to 13. The last festival in 2008 attracted 150,000 domestic and 30,000 international visitors from 75 nations and territories and organisers certainly hope to surpass those figures this time around.

A Royal Affair

As previously there will be a number of re-enactments of royal rituals such as the Nam Giao Offering Ritual, a solemn and sacred event. The Royal Palace by Night is a more colourful affair with food and wine served at a royal banquet and a spectacular lights show.

Another favourite is the Legend of Huong River which offers snapshots of the river’s history, legends and beauty. There will be historical showpieces too – such as a re-enactment of when Nguyen Phuc Lan Lord selected Kim Long (Hue’s former name) as the capital city. Also, worth catching is the re-enactment of Navy manoeuvres under the Nguyen Dynasty on the Huong river.

While the festival’s centrepieces are undoubtedly reflecting the feats, accomplishments and style of Vietnam’s old royal culture, the event is increasingly diverse with painting exhibitions, fashion shows, installations, photography displays, theatrical and musical shows, street performances, and a whole lot more besides.

There will be 40 art groups and artists from 31 nations spread across five continents participating. Some of Vietnam’s most prestigious theatre companies will also be coming to town. There will also be a number of competitions with kite flying contests, a traditional martial arts gathering, human chess matches and sampan racing.

Hue Festival 2010 will also do its bit to promote the environment. The Ao Dai festival is titled Natural Wishes and accordingly, all long dresses are made out of natural silk and dyed with pure organically made colours. Accessories and jewellery decorating the long dress are also made out of natural substances. Another message on environment will be made by an art installation named For a Green Planet which will be held on World Environment Day on June 6.

Besides the official performances and activities during the Hue Festival, there are various cultural performances and art exhibitions by local artists.

Nguyen Duy Hien has created around 3,000 oil, acrylic, laquer and mixed material paintings about Hue and its people. His paintings will be displayed along the Le Ngo Cat street running from Nam Giao Esplanade to Tu Duc Tomb. There will also be two 25-metre long blank canvases with brushes and colours for passers-by to try and add their own artistic touches to the exhibition.

Hue Festival 2010 Highlights

The Grand Opening Ceremony starts at 8pm on June 5 at Ngo Mon Square

A reenactment of a Navy manoeuvre under the Nguyen Dynasty takes place on the Huong River, in front of Kim Long communal house in Kim Long Ward in the evening of June 7.

The Ao Dai Grand Show takes place at 8pm in Ham Nghi Yard, Thuong Tu Gate.

The sacred Nam Giao Offering Ritual will take place in the evening of June 9 at Nam Giao Esplanade

A multimedia show called Voyage to Reclaim the Country’s Land begins at 8pm on June 10 on the Huong River, in front of the Flag Tower (Ky Dai)- Phu Van Lau.

The Perfume River’s Legends programme on the Huong River at 5pm on June 6 and 12.

A special show The Oriental Night will be held on June 5 (directly after the opening ceremony) and June 12 (from 7pm) in the Imperial City

The folk music and drama programme The Breath of Water will be held on June 6, 9 and 11 at Tinh Tam Lake from 7pm.

Royal Palace by Night – an evening of performances, exhibitions, dancing and dining – will be held from 9pm on June 5 (without royal banquet) and from 7.30pm on June 8 and June 11 (with royal banquets) in the Imperial City.

The Closing Ceremony will be held near Gia Hoi Bridge in the evening of June 13 from 8pm.

Source: VNN

Source: QDND

EU helps make small enterprises go green

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

EU helps make small enterprises go green

QĐND – Friday, April 23, 2010, 21:24 (GMT+7)

A project entitled ‘Sustainable product innovation in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia’ was launched in Hanoi on April 22 to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get oriented toward green growth.

The EUR 2.3 million project is funded by the SWITCH-in-Asia Programme under the European Union that benefits 500 SMEs operating in food packaging, apparel, footwear, handicrafts and furniture in the three countries.

Sean Doyle, Ambassador and Head of the EU mission in Vietnam, said he expects the project to help boost sustainable production and consumption in Vietnam and make practical contributions to legislation when the Vietnamese Government is drafting its socio-economic strategy for the 2011-2020 period.

Under the project, a representative office will be opened in Hanoi in connection with assistance offices in Vientiane (Laos), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).

The offices will serve as a stable network to provide SMEs with assistance in managing and conducting relevant research and supplying information toward environmentally-friendly products and marketing.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND