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Arizona gunman in court as Obama leads mourning

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

The man accused of trying to assassinate a congresswoman in an Arizona shooting spree that left six dead appeared in court but said nothing to shed light on his motive.

President Barack Obama led the American nation in a somber minute of silence to honor the 20 people gunned down in Tucson — where he will attend a memorial service on Wednesday, the White House announced.

Flags were at half-staff at the Capitol in Washington, where hundreds of aides and lawmakers crammed the storied steps of Congress to pay silent tribute to the victims, including one of their own.

Democratic lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords, 40, was shot through the head at point-blank range before the gunman sprayed a crowd of constituents with bullets, a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge among six who died.

Jared Loughner, who faces the death penalty for the murder of the judge, appeared, his head shaven, amid tight security around the federal court in Arizona state capital Phoenix.

Dressed in a brown prison jumpsuit for the less than 15 minute hearing, 22-year-old Loughner appeared to follow proceedings closely, but said little beyond answering “Yes” to basic questions from Judge Michael Anderson.

The judge agreed to his request to have Judy Clarke, who represented the Unabomber — an anarchist serving life without parole for a 20-year mail bombing spree — and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, as his attorney.

No plea of guilty or not guilty was entered during the hearing and a preliminary court appearance was scheduled for January 24. A mug shot released by police showed the gunman with a haunting smile.

In an update on Giffords’ condition Monday, doctors said she was still responding to basic commands such as squeezing medics’ fingers, fueling growing hope for her recovery, though she remains in a critical condition.

People wait in line to sign condolence books for the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting in Arizona in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill

Authorities said Loughner, a troubled young man booted out of a community college last year, fired a full clip of 31 shots.

He was reloading another clip into his 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol when bystanders, including a 74-year-old retired colonel whose head had just been grazed by a bullet, brought him to the ground.

Obama praised the “extraordinary courage” of those who tackled the gunman, including a young Giffords aide and a woman who helped disarm him.

At the Capitol, Democratic representative Emanuel Cleaver recited a prayer: “We ask blessings on the spirit of this nation… help us move from this dark place to a place of sunshine… we ask that you help keep our hearts pure.”

Outside the Tucson hospital where Giffords clung to life with part of her skull removed, tearful well-wishers gathered, praying and hoping.

A search of Loughner’s home on Saturday unearthed a trove of evidence in a safe, according to the criminal complaint.

A letter from Giffords thanked Loughner for attending one of her earlier public meetings, in August 2007.

Also in the safe they found an envelope with the hand-written notes, “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords,” the affidavit said.

Officials declined to assess Loughner’s motives or mental state. He wrote a stream of barely coherent postings on the Internet that showed an interest in developing a new currency and criticism of “illiterate” fellow residents.

A US senator meanwhile said he plans to present legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition clips of the type used by the Tucson gunman.

“The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly. These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market,” said Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg.

Giffords, who narrowly won re-election last year over a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, is a centrist Democrat who supports increased border security and, incidentally, loose restrictions on gun ownership.

Lawmakers of the rival Republican Party, which made huge gains in November midterm elections, denounced the attack and suspended proceedings of the House of Representatives whose new leadership had taken over just three days earlier.

Source: SGGP

Chaos leads to cars-only rule for Thang Long Highway

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:08 am

Chaos leads to cars-only rule for Thang Long Highway

QĐND – Saturday, January 01, 2011, 21:5 (GMT+7)

Only cars will be permitted to use the main lanes of the Thang Long Highway from January 8, due to safety reasons.

Road maintenance workers and vehicles can use the road, providing they do not affect traffic. The Transport Ministry has also banned the construction and installation of advertising boards.

The municipal Department of Transport has been instructed to establish a traffic management office for the highway to manage and handle traffic problems.

Guards would be assigned around the clock to ensure traffic order and safety along the road is maintained and to deal with any accidents that may occur, said the department’s deputy chief inspector Hoang Van Manh.

“Those who steal, remove or damage the road or tamper with traffic signals or barriers that threaten traffic safety will be liable to administrative punishment or take legal responsibility depending on the level of the infringement,” he said.

Thang Long Highway, beginning at the intersection of Lang-Hoa Lac Road and Belt Road III and ending at the intersection between Lang-Hoa Lac Road , National Highway No 21 and Ho Chi Minh Road , is the longest dual carriageway in the country at about 30km.

It is 140-170 metres wide with six express lanes and two additional lanes for motorcycles and bicycles.

The highway was opened to traffic on October 3 and traffic violations have been steadily increasing ever since. Motorbikes, self-modified vehicles, and buses are driven in car-only lanes and local residents have been driving against the traffic flow to shorten journey times.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

VN leads SEA in student enrollments in US

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Vietnam leads regional Pencak Silat tournament

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Vietnam leads regional Pencak Silat tournament

QĐND – Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 21:12 (GMT+7)

Vietnam won the championship title with 14 gold, five silver and three bronze medals at the third Southeast Asian Pencak Silat tournament which took place from August 5-10 in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

In the final rounds, Nguyen Van Hoang, Nguyen Thai Linh and Bui Van Doan in the men’s 55 kg, 60 kg and 65 kg, and Bui Thi Phi Nga and Nguyen Thi Phuong Thuy in the women’s 50 kg and 65kg categories won gold medals.

Malaysia ranked second with six gold, nine silver and five bronze medals, followed by Brunei with two golds, one silver and seven bronzes.

 The event provided a good opportunity for the Vietnamese team to prepare for the world’s Pencak Silat 2010 to be held in Indonesia by the end of this year.

The tournament attracted the participation of over 100 martial artists from Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore , Timor Leste and host Vietnam. The martial artists competed in 16 weight categories in both performance and combat events.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Sony leads Japan’s electronics makers back to black

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2010 at 11:19 am

TOKYO, July 29, 2010 (AFP) – Japanese electronics giant Sony on Thursday said it returned to the black in the fiscal first quarter thanks to strong sales in televisions, its PlayStation 3 console and computers.

The maker of Bravia televisions and Cyber-shot cameras reported a profit of 25.7 billion yen (293 million dollars) compared with a 37.1 billion yen loss a year ago.

Under chief executive and president Howard Stringer, the Japanese company has been streamlining operations and cutting costs to trim back the sprawling group, which was battered by the global downturn.

The electronics giant has been forced to undergo major restructuring — slashing thousands of jobs, selling facilities and turning to suppliers for parts — after seeing losses pile up as the financial crisis hit demand.

On Thursday Sony also upwardly revised its annual profit forecast by 20 percent to 60 billion yen in the year ending March 2011 despite worries over the yen’s strength versus other major currencies, which could erode profits.

The company warned that “further appreciation of the yen against the euro is expected for the remainder of the year” and revised its exchange forecast to 110 yen versus the euro, compared with 125 forecast in May.

It maintained its previous forecast of 90 yen to the dollar.

Japanese exporters remain anxious about the recent strength of the safe-haven yen versus the euro and the dollar amid ongoing uncertainty over the eurozone economy and doubts over the durability of a US recovery.

If sustained, a stronger yen could erode repatriated overseas profits and make goods more expensive overseas.

In the quarter ended June, Sony posted an operating profit of 67 billion yen compared to a loss in the same period a year ago.

The company is also banking on the mounting popularity of products that enable three-dimensional viewing.

In April it released a software update enabling the PS3 to support 3D games. Televisions showing 3D images went on sale in Japan last month.

Shares in Sony closed 0.03 percent lower in Tokyo Thursday before the earnings announcement.

Separately Toshiba Corp. said Thursday that it barely returned to the black for the first quarter on strong demand for flash memory chips used in laptops, smartphones and other gadgets.

Toshiba reported a net profit of 466 million yen, reversing a net loss of 57.8 billion yen a year earlier. Its sales for the three months rose 9.7 percent to 1.47 trillion yen.

Toshiba, whose business spans across consumer electronics, industrial components and nuclear power plants, maintained its forecast for a net profit of 70 billion yen on sales of 7.0 trillion yen for the current financial year.

Rival Sharp Corp. also said it returned to the black in the first quarter to June with a net profit of 10.7 billion yen (123 million dollars) on strong sales of liquid crystal display screens and mobile phone handsets.

It had posted a net loss of 25.2 billion yen a year earlier.

Japan’s top manufacturer of liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs, marketed under the AQUOS brand, said it expected a net profit of 50 billion yen for the current financial year to March 2011, unchanged from its previous forecast.

Source: SGGP

Host Vietnam leads int’l Taewkwondo tournament

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Host Vietnam leads int’l Taewkwondo tournament

QĐND – Sunday, July 25, 2010, 21:3 (GMT+7)

Host Vietnam ranked first at the Vietnam Open International Taekwondo tournament, which closed in Ho Chi Minh City on July 23, after its three teams won 26 golds in both the official and junior championships.

The Vietnam national team 2 made the biggest success with 15 gold medals, seven silvers and 13 bronzes.

The Vietnam national team 1 also recorded an excellent achievement, winning 11 golds, four silvers and four bronzes. The Vietnam national team 3 bagged three golds, eight silvers and eight bronzes.

Young artists from the Republic of Korea has managed to showcase their power in the art by winning five golds, six silvers and 14 bronzes, ranking second in the tally.

Thailand, also sending three teams to the event, ranked third with six golds, 12 silvers and eight bronzes while three teams from Taiwan-China brought home three golds, three silvers and 18 bronzes.

The three-day tournament, the 18 th of its kind so far, drew 200 artists from the RoK, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, France and Monaco, plus host Vietnam.

They competed in demonstration and combat with 16 categories in the official championships and 20 categories for the junior event.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

US aircraft carrier leads drills with South Korea

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

A nuclear-powered U.S. supercarrier led an armada of warships in exercises off the Korean peninsula on Sunday that North Korea has vowed to physically block and says could escalate into nuclear war.

U.S. military officials said the maneuvers, conducted with South Korean ships and Japanese observers, were intended to send a strong signal to the North that aggression in the region will not be tolerated.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been particularly high since the sinking in March of a South Korean naval vessel. Forty-six Korean sailors were killed in the sinking, which Seoul has called Pyongyang’s worst military attack on it since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The military drills, code-named “Invincible Spirit,” are to run through Wednesday with about 8,000 U.S. and South Korean troops, 20 ships and submarines and 200 aircraft. The Nimitz-class USS George Washington was deployed from Japan.

“We are showing our resolve,” said Capt. David Lausman, the carrier’s commanding officer.

U.S. helicopter hovers above the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington leaving for joint military exercises from Busan port in Busan, south of Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, July 25, 2010

North Korea has protested the drills, threatening to retaliate with “nuclear deterrence” and “sacred war.”

The North routinely threatens attacks whenever South Korea and the U.S. hold joint military drills, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for an invasion. The U.S. keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea and another 50,000 in Japan, but says it has no intention of invading the North.

Still, the North’s latest rhetoric carries extra weight following the sinking of the Cheonan.

Capt. Ross Myers, the commander of the carrier’s air wing, said the exercises were not intended to raise tensions, but acknowledged they are meant to get North Korea’s attention.

The George Washington, one of the biggest ships in the U.S. Navy, is a potent symbol of American military power, with about 5,000 sailors and aviators and the capacity to carry up to 70 planes.

“North Korea may contend that it is a provocation, but I would say the opposite,” he said. “It is a provocation to those who don’t want peace and stability. North Korea doesn’t want this. They know that one of South Korea’s strengths is its alliance with the United States.”

He said that North Korea’s threats to retaliate were being taken seriously.

“There is a lot they can do,” he said. “They have ships, they have subs, they have airplanes. They are a credible threat.”

The exercises are the first in a series of U.S.-South Korean maneuvers to be conducted in the East Sea off South Korea’s east coast and in the Yellow Sea closer to China’s shores in international waters. The exercises also are the first to employ the F-22 stealth fighter — which can evade North Korean air defenses — in South Korea.

South Korea was closely monitoring North Korea’s military but spotted no unusual activity Sunday, the Defense Ministry said.

North Korea, which denies any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan, warned the United States against holding the drills.

“Our military and people will squarely respond to the nuclear war preparation by the American imperialists and the South Korean puppet regime with our powerful nuclear deterrent,” the North’s government-run Minju Joson newspaper said in a commentary Sunday headlined, “We also have nuclear weapons.”

The commentary was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The North’s powerful National Defense Commission issued a similar threat Saturday, saying the country “will start a retaliatory sacred war … based on nuclear deterrent any time necessary in order to counter the U.S.”

The country’s Foreign Ministry separately said Saturday that Pyongyang is considering “powerful physical measures” in response to the U.S. military drills and sanctions.

Though the impoverished North has a large conventional military and the capability to build nuclear weapons, it is not believed to have the technology needed to use nuclear devices as warheads.

North Korea has been in increasingly difficult diplomatic straits since the Cheonan incident.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Wednesday, after visiting the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, that the U.S. would slap new sanctions on the North to stifle its nuclear ambitions and punish it for the Cheonan sinking.

On Friday, the European Union said it, too, would consider new sanctions on North Korea.

The George Washington had been expected to join in exercises off Korea sooner, but the Navy delayed those plans as the United Nations Security Council met to deliberate what action it should take over the Cheonan sinking.

The council eventually condemned the incident, but stopped short of naming North Korea as the perpetrator.

Source: SGGP

Robin Hood leads Cannes charge against the rich

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm

CANNES, France, May 9, 2010 (AFP) – Hollywood blockbusters that take aim at greed provide the razzmatazz at Cannes this year as the French Riviera braces for its annual film frenzy mixing megastars with more obscure arthouse movies.

Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” starring Russell Crowe as the medieval English archer who robs the rich to help the poor, and fellow Australian Cate Blanchett as his love interest Maid Marian, opens the festival on Wednesday.

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood

Later in the week Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” sees Michael Douglas reprise his 1987 role as rogue stockbroker Gordon Gekko now getting out of jail and warning Wall Street of impending financial doom.

Gekko was the man who coined the phrase “Greed is good” back in the avaricious 1980s, but he has now seen the error of his ways.

Denouncing greed is a theme that runs through the notoriously extravagant festival this year, with the documentary “Inside Job” probing the financial crisis of 2008 that brought the world to the brink of economic collapse.

“Cleveland vs. Wall Street” meanwhile stages a mock trial in which small-town victims of the subprime crisis fight it out with bankers and mortgage brokers.

Douglas, Crowe and Blanchett will be among the A-list celebrities sashaying up Cannes’ fabled red carpet, along with stars like Sean Penn, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Javier Bardem.

They will be on La Croisette to attend gala premieres of films by Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Japan’s Takeshi Kitano, veteran US director Woody Allen and New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard.

Fears of a real-life drama rippled along the Riviera last week when a freak storm hit Cannes, sending giant waves crashing over cafes and festival installations on the beachfront La Croisette, causing millions of euros’ (dollars’) worth of damage.

But organisers say the show will go on.

The show that first began in 1946 this year sees “Alice in Wonderland” director Tim Burton preside over a jury that will present the coveted Palme d’Or top award to one of the 18 films in the main competition.

This year’s crop is marked by austerity and a distinct lack of frivolity.

It includes works from the likes of Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami, who makes his first foray into European cinema with “The Certified Copy,” starring French actress Juliette Binoche.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “The Screaming Man” brings Chad for the first time to the Palme competition, whose results will be announced on May 23, while Ukraine also makes a debut in the main category with Sergei Loznitsa’s “My Joy.”

Asia has a strong showing, with two entries for the Palme from South Korea — “Poetry” by Lee Chang-dong and Im Sang-soo’s “The Housemaid” — and China, Japan and Thailand also represented.

France has three films in the main race that last year was won by Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon.”

The United States has just one.

“Fair Game,” by “The Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, looks at the bid by former US president George W. Bush’s administration to discredit CIA agent Valerie Plame.

The prestigious Directors’ Fortnight competition, taking place in parallel to the race for the Palme d’Or, promises some lively fare, with documentaries on disabled Congolese street musicians and ageing rockers The Rolling Stones.

But Cannes would not be Cannes without a controversy and this year a row has already started over a film about France’s colonial past in Algeria, “Outside Of The Law” by Rachid Bouchareb.

Far-right groups said they will protest outside the film’s screening and a French member of parliament condemned it as a “negationist” rewriting of history.

Around 10,000 movie industry types, 4,000 press and thousands of film lovers and celebrity watchers are due to attend the 12-day gig whose heady cocktail of commerce, glamour and high art makes it the top film event of the year.

“In Cannes you have both a major film from a (Hollywood) studio for the opening, and a totally unknown Ukrainian filmmaker with an experimental film in the competition,” said festival director Thierry Fremaux, summing up the event’s diversity.

Source: SGGP

Pope says he leads a ‘wounded and sinner’ church

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 3:44 am

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI admitted to world cardinals Monday that he led a “wounded and sinner” Church, as he marked five tumultuous years in charge, most recently mired in paedophile priest scandals.

The pontiff “evoked the sins of the Church”, describing it as “wounded and sinner” to some 50 cardinals gathered for his anniversary, the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano said.

Pope Benedict XVI addreses a gathering of cardinals as he marks the fifth anniversary of his pontification at the Vatican. AFP photo

He “feels very strongly that he is not alone”, the paper reported the pontiff as saying, he “has at his sides the whole college of cardinals who are sharing with him vicissitudes and reassurance”.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi defended the embattled pope, telling Radio Vatican the priorities Benedict had defined after his election were being “pursued with coherence and courage” despite “tensions” and “obstacles”.

Waves of allegations sweeping the Church in Europe and the Americas had also been the backdrop to a tearful meeting between the pope and abuse victims on Sunday in Malta, one of the latest countries to be hit by sex abuse scandals.

In his third meeting with victims of child-molesting priests — the other two were during trips to Australia and the United States in 2008 — Benedict had expressed his “shame and sorrow” over the scourge.

Lawrence Grech, one of eight Maltese abuse victims who met the pope, told AFP: “He listened to us individually, and prayed and cried with us.”

Little fanfare accompanied the pope’s five-year milestone.

At a gathering of religious officials in Jerusalem, the head of the Pontifical Institute of Notre-Dame, Juan Solana, said “this year the Holy Father is attacked and his Church too”.

But while the Vatican and senior bishops have rallied around the pope, he has come under increasing pressure over allegations that the Vatican hierarchy, himself included, helped protect predator priests.

The paedophilia crisis has also shifted the focus away from other flashpoints that have marked Benedict’s papacy so far.

The pope found himself in his first full-blown crisis in September 2006 when he unleashed fury in the Muslim world with a speech in which he appeared to endorse the view of an obscure 14th-century Byzantine emperor that Islam is inherently violent.

It is with Judaism, however, that Benedict has had the most frequent brushes, notably when he lifted the excommunication of traditionalist bishop Richard Williamson, who has insisted that there were no Nazi gas chambers.

In 2008, Benedict allowed the revival of a Good Friday prayer “for the conversion of the Jews”, which had been thrown out by Vatican II in the 1960s.

Catholic-Jewish relations improved with a series of fence-mending statements and gestures by the Vatican and the pontiff, notably Benedict’s trip to Israel in May last year during which he prayed at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall.

But in December, Jews were up in arms once again when the pope moved his World War II-era predecessor pope Pius XII a step closer to sainthood with a decree bestowing the title “venerable”.

Ill-advised remarks dealing with the paedophilia priest scandals by officials close to the German pontiff have inflicted collateral damage on relations both with Jews and with gays.

Early this month the pope’s personal preacher evoked a parallel between anti-Semitism and the drumbeat of criticism against the Church for its handling of the paedophilia crisis.

And Benedict’s right-hand man, Cardinal Tercisio Bertone, sparked worldwide condemnation by linking paedophilia and homosexuality.

Vatican watcher John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter told AFP: “In terms of business management, this pontificate goes from one crisis to the other.”

Source: SGGP

Heat wave leads to bumper kumquat harvest in Ben Tre

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Heat wave leads to bumper kumquat harvest in Ben Tre

QĐND – Monday, April 19, 2010, 21:31 (GMT+7)

The prolonged hot weather has helped farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre reap a bumper harvest of kumquat fruits for export.

Farmers in the province said the fruit was being exported to many regional countries including Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.

The hot weather has created favourable conditions for large quantities of kumquat in the districts of Mo Cay Bac, Mo Cay Nam , Chau Thanh and Cho Lach.

Traders are buying the fruit from farmers for 6,000 VND – 8,000 VNDper kilo, double last year’s prices. At local markets, kumquats are being sold at 9,000 VND – 10,000 VND per kilo and at 15,000 VND – 17,000 VND per kilo for the best quality, an increase of 3,000 VND – 4,000 VNDper kilo over last year.

Kumquat farmers in the province say they have been able to earn profits of more than 200 million VND (11,000 USD) from each hectare.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND