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Cold weather remains unabated for next ten days

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:15 am

A bitter cold wave covered northern Vietnam on Sunday, lashing it with rain and cold northeasterly winds. The National Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Center predicted these conditions would last for a further ten days.

The temperature has dropped to less than 8-9 degrees Celsius in Hanoi and remained below 0 degree Celsius in the mountainous provinces of Lang Son and Cao Bang.

The northern provinces of the central region have also suffered bitter cold winds.

It is expected that the biting cold weather will prevail over northern Vietnam on January 11 and 14 and icy and snowy conditions may cover the Mau Son mountaintop and also other places in the mountainous region.

The entire belt from Da Nang to the southern part of the central region has been affected by this bitter cold wave.

Meanwhile, the Central Highlands and southern regions will continue to experience extreme cold at night and during the early hour of morning. The prevailing temperatures will hover around 18-20 degrees Celsius.

Source: SGGP

Japan eco-fair seeks to reach next generation

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

TOKYO, Dec 16, 2010 (AFP) – Japanese schoolchildren in yellow scarves, blue hats and red caps buzzed through an eco-products fair — a green show-and-tell for high tech companies seeking to enthuse a new generation.

Educational workshops and corporate booths at Eco-Products 2010, one of the country’s largest environmental exhibitions, last week showed off ways to save and sustain the planet that these youngsters will soon inherit.

“Do you know how we can separate different plastics used in a refrigerator after it is crushed?” asked an engineer from Mitsubishi Electric, one of more than 700 exhibitors that filled the large trade fair hall.

A lot of blank faces stared back — but soon the children tried the process for themselves, shaking up clear plastic bottles filled with water and a mixture of scraps of different plastic components.

“If we put the plastic scraps in the water, some float and others sink, so you can make an initial separation,” said the engineer, explaining the concept behind Mitsubishi Electric’s industrial-scale recycling processes.

In the next stage of the experiment, the children spun the remaining scraps in a second, dry bottle, with some bits sticking to the side because of static electricity and others sliding to the bottom.

The theme of the exhibition — held at Tokyo Big Sight, a futuristic harbourside conference centre topped by a giant inverted pyramid — was “Green x Clean Revolution! Expand the power to connect lives to the world”.

The fair drew a record of more than 180,000 visitors in three days, including some 20,000 students from in and around Tokyo, organisers said.

To stay true to its green message, the fair was powered by wind, solar and biomass energy sources, and paper entry tickets were replaced with bar-codes emailed to guests’ cellphones and scanned on the way into the fair.

On display were eco-products from home appliances to hybrid and electric cars, but also energy and chemical applications, and sustainable and non-polluting methods of making paper and other materials.

Also pushing eco-education with games and quizzes were other electronics giants such as Sony, Fujitsu and Toshiba, which showed off green products from mini-wind farms to solar-powered toy cars.

Many of the stands also featured manga and anime cartoons — including hugely popular “future cat” Doraemon — as well as pictures and pronunciation guides for tech jargon to teach their impressionable young audience, many of whom embraced the message.

“The Earth is being degraded and we must fix it,” said one of the students, nine-year-old Ryunosuke Takagi.

“Coming here, I can really learn about new energy sources, and I am really amazed at the techniques that have been devised to better preserve the environment. It’s frankly very interesting,” he said.

Nature, the need to preserve it and, occasionally, its destructive wrath, are ever-present in Japan — a volcanic island-nation that is regularly battered by earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons.

With precious few energy and mineral resources of its own, Japan was hard hit by the 1973 oil crisis, which sent its companies and citizens scrambling for ways to save on oil, water and electricity.

They have helped make Japan a leader in green technology — from hybrid and electric cars, to light emitting diodes, solar cells, new power systems, and even water-saving electronically-controlled toilets.

Companies have found that ecology sells.

“Our goal is to sell products that are less polluting — in the production phase, during use and when they are recycled,” said Machiko Miyai, director of Panasonic’s green electronics and appliances division.

Another student, Genki Watanabe, 10, said he was captivated by the cutting-edge environmental technologies: “It’s awfully nice to be here, we are taught so many things. I want to come every year.”

Source: SGGP

NA adopts State budget estimates for next year

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 6:57 am

Experts warn of 10mln TB deaths in next five years

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

AFP – A mother and her son wait for anti-tuberculosis pills at a clinic on October 13, 2010 in Alexandra township

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Ten million people will die of tuberculosis in the next five years if global funding to fight the disease is not increased, the Stop TB Partnership warned.

The Partnership, a coalition of governments, non-profits, companies and international organisations, said 47 billion dollars (34 billion euros) are needed to save five million lives between now and 2015, including two million women and children.

“We need a plan to stop these completely unnecessary deaths,” said Rifat Atun, chair of the Partnership’s coordinating board, at the launch of the coalition’s 2011-2015 “Global Plan to Stop TB”.

“If we are able to carry out this plan, we will treat 32 million people and save five million lives,” Atun said.

Each year, nine million people contract TB, which hits hardest in the developing world. Most cases occur in Asia (55 percent) and Africa (30 percent), with India and China alone accounting for 35 percent of all cases, the Partnership said.

Close to two million people die of the contagious lung infection each year — most from treatable cases, it said.

“Tuberculosis is an ancient disease. It should have been eliminated by today,” said Mario Raviglione, director of the World Health Organisation’s Stop TB department.

“The pandemic is slowly declining, but far too slowly.”

The Partnership called for renewed efforts to help the most vulnerable patients — the more than one million HIV positive people who contract TB each year and the 400,000 to 500,000 people who develop multi-drug resistant TB.

Half a million HIV positive people die from TB each year, a quarter of all AIDS deaths, said Paul de Lay, deputy executive director of UNAids.

“There is a terrible link between HIV and TB,” he said.

The coalition said 10 billion dollars are needed to fund research to develop a vaccine, new medications and faster and more effective testing. It said its goal by 2015 is to have three new drug regimens and four vaccines in Phase III clinical trials, the final step before drugs go to market.

It said funding to fight the disease has lagged in the past five years, adding that it needs to make up a funding shortfall of nine billion dollars from the last five-year cycle amid limited private-sector interest in the disease.

“Pharmaceutical companies don’t invest enough in TB because it’s not a profitable market,” said Christian Lienhardt, senior research advisor for the Partnership.

“It’s a poor people’s disease, so TB medication will never be a blockbuster.”

The Partnership said affected countries would not be able to fully fund the fight against TB, and called on international donors in high-income countries to kick in 2.8 billion dollars a year over the next five years to make up the funding gap.

Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that spreads by air. An infected person can spread the disease to about 15 other people per year.

Source: SGGP

Russia: Iran’s nuclear plant to get fuel next week

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

Russia announced Friday it will begin the startup next week of Iran’s only atomic power plant, giving Tehran a boost as it struggles with international sanctions and highlighting differences between Moscow and Washington over pressuring the Islamic Republic to give up activities that could be used to make nuclear arms.

Uranium fuel shipped by Russia will be loaded into the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21, beginning a process that will last about a month and end with the reactor sending electricity to Iranian cities, Russian and Iranian officials said.

“From that moment, the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear energy installation,” said Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency.

In this photo released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), the reactor building of Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is seen, just outside the port city of Bushehr 750 miles (1245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, in this Nov. 30, 2009 file photo.

If Russia carries out its plan, it will end years of foot-dragging on Bushehr. While Moscow signed a $1 billion contract to build the plant in 1995, its completion has been put off for years.

Moscow has cited technical reasons for the delays. But Bushehr has also been an ideal way to gain leverage with both Tehran and Washington.

Delaying the project has given Russia continued influence with Tehran in international attempts to have it stop uranium enrichment — a program Iran says it needs to make fuel for an envisaged reactor network but which also can be used to create fissile warhead material. The delays also have served to placate the U.S., which opposes rewarding Iran while it continues to defy the U.N. Security Council with its nuclear activities.

After Russia said in March that Bushehr would be launched this year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that until Iran reassures the world it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon, “it would be premature to go ahead with any project at this time.”

Formally, the U.S. has no problem with Bushehr.

Although at first opposed to Russian participation in the project, Washington and its allies agreed to remove any reference to it in the first set of Security Council sanctions passed in 2006 in exchange for Moscow’s support for those penalties. Three subsequent sanctions resolutions also have no mention of Bushehr.

The terms of the deal commit the Iranians to allow the Russians to retrieve all used reactor fuel for reprocessing. Spent fuel contains plutonium, which can be used to make atomic weapons. Additionally, Iran has said that International Atomic Energy Agency experts will be able to verify that none of the fresh fuel or waste is diverted.

Still, the U.S. sees the Russian move as a false signal to Tehran as Washington strives to isolate Iran politically and economically to force it to compromise on enrichment.

A senior diplomat from an IAEA member nation said Friday the Americans had “raised those concerns with the Russians” in recent weeks. The diplomat, who is familiar with the issue, spoke on condition of anonymity because his information was confidential.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Bushehr “does not represent a proliferation risk. … However, Bushehr underscores that Iran does not need its own indigenous enrichment capability. The fact that Russia is providing fuel is the very model the international community has offered Iran.”

Russia, in turn, argues that the Bushehr project is essential for persuading Iran to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog and fulfill its obligations under international nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

Crowley added: “Our views on the Bushehr project should not be confused with the world’s fundamental concerns with Iran’s overall nuclear intentions, particularly its pursuit of uranium enrichment, and Iran’s willful violation of its international obligations.”

Russian officials did not say why they had decided to move ahead with loading fuel into the Bushehr plant now. But the move could have been triggered in part by Moscow’s desire show the Iranians it can act independently from Washington after its decision to support the fourth set of U.N. sanctions in June and its continued refusal to ship surface-to-air missile systems that it agreed to provide under a 2007 contract to sell the S-300s.

The sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles would significantly boost Iran’s ability to defend against airstrikes. Israel and the United States have strongly objected to the deal.

Russia has walked a fine line on Iran for years. One of six world powers leading international efforts to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, it has strongly criticized the U.S. and the European Union for following up with separate sanctions after the latest U.N. penalties — which Moscow supported — were passed.

Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who also heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying that the country had invited IAEA experts to watch the transfer of fuel, which was shipped about two years ago, into the Bushehr reactor.

“Fuel complexes are sealed (and being monitored by IAEA). Naturally, IAEA inspectors will be there to watch the unsealing,” ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.

Russia has said the Bushehr project has been closely supervised by the IAEA. But the U.N. watchdog has no monitoring authority at the plant beyond ensuring that its nuclear fuel is accounted for, and U.S. and EU officials have expressed safety concerns.

They note that Iran — leery of opening up its nuclear activities to outsiders — refuses to sign on to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, making it subject to international monitoring of its atomic safety standards.

“We expect Iran to meet established international norms and practices to ensure the safe operation of the reactor under full safeguards monitoring” by the IAEA, Crowley said.

Source: SGGP

Next legislative session scheduled

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Next legislative session scheduled

QĐND – Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 20:58 (GMT+7)

The eighth session of the National Assembly will run from October 20 to November 26.

At the meeting, the NA will discuss and approve nine draft laws and one resolution. Lawmakers will also debate 10 other legal documents and comment on the draft documents that will be presented at the 11th National Party Congress in January.

On the results of June’s meeting, Tran Dinh Dan, chairman of the NA Office, said 10 laws and two resolutions were successfully passed.

In addition, he said legislators held useful talks on the proposed Hanoi – HCM City railway and the development master plan for Hanoi up until 2030.

“Generally speaking, the quality of the National Assembly’s last session was much better than previous ones,” Dan said.

“The deputies truthfully reflected the ideas expressed by voters in their constituencies, particularly on the country’s socio-economic situation, the Hanoi-HCM City railway, Hanoi ‘s master plan up to 2030 and its vision for the following twenty years up to 2050.”

However, Dan said reports had failed to single out which organisations or individuals should take responsibility for performance failures.

“During plenary discussions on the express railway, deputies made some valuable comments,” said Nguyen Xuan Phuc, minister and chairman of the Government Office.

Nguyen Van Pha, vice president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, said the National Assembly’s decision to temporarily delay the implementation of the North-South Express Railway was highly appreciated by voters.

NA Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong said the last meeting had been a great success.

“A key feature of the meeting was the atmosphere of democracy among the deputies,” Trong said.

Also in the morning, members of the NA Standing Committee discussed a plan to celebrate the 65th founding anniversary of the Vietnam National Assembly (January 1, 1946-2011) and a plan to review the performance of the 12th National Assembly, which ends in the middle of next year.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Northern region braces for season’s next tropical storm

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Northern region braces for season’s next tropical storm

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

The National Hydro-Meteorological Forecast Centre on July 20 said the second storm of this year, Chanthu, would be 210 km northeast of China’s Hainan Island at 7pm on July 21.

The eye of the storm would be positioned over Hainan, with wind gusts near the eye of the storm reaching up to 117 kph and the dangerous wind gust area spread over 250 km.

The storm was forecast to travel northwest at between 10 -15 kph towards China ’s Guangdong province in the next two days.

The storm would bring strong winds and rough seas to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago and heavy rain-fall across the country.

Between the next 48 and 72 hours, the storm would continue moving northwest and weaken into a tropical low.

The Ministry of Health on July 20 sent an urgent message to health departments in coastal areas from central Da Nang city to Khanh Hoa province to promptly evacuate patients at storm-prone hospitals and clinics, especially in low-land areas to safety.
Hospitals and health clinics were asked to prepare for emergencies and free of charge first aid provision.

Ministry agencies have been asked to prepare medicine, disinfectants and other medical facilities to support localities to deal with the storm.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Troop pullout in Afghanistan set for next summer

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

The Obama administration reaffirmed Sunday that it will begin pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan next summer, despite reservations among top generals that absolute deadlines are a mistake.

President Barack Obama’s chief of staff said an announced plan to begin bringing forces home in July 2011 still holds.

“That’s not changing. Everybody agreed on that date,” Rahm Emanuel said, adding by name the top three officials overseeing the policy girding the war: Gen. David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.

Petraeus, the war’s top military boss, said last week that he would recommend delaying the pullout if conditions in Afghanistan warranted it. Days after the date was announced in December, Gates pointedly said it was not a deadline.

An Afghan policeman stands at the scene of a blast in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 20, 2010.

Emanuel’s remarks reflect the White House view that Obama must offer a war-weary American public and Congress a promise that the nearly nine-year war is not open-ended. The problem, congressional Republicans and some military leaders say, is that a fixed date encourages the Taliban-led insurgency and undermines U.S. leverage with Afghan leaders.

Gates pledged Sunday that some troops would begin to leave in 13 months, but he was more cautious.

“We clearly understand that in July of 2011, we begin to draw down our forces,” Gates said. “The pace with which we draw down and how many we draw down is going to be conditions-based.”

Uniformed and civilian defense leaders accepted the announcement of a date to begin leaving as a condition of Obama’s major expansion of the war. Obama ordered an additional 30,000 troops, the last of whom are arriving now, with a mission to squeeze the Taliban on its home ground, build up Afghan security forces and improve chances that local people would swing behind the U.S.-backed central government.

With little progress apparent in the critical Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan, the split between politics and tactics is again on display. As Gates acknowledged Sunday, it is taking longer than he hoped to gain an enduring edge over the Taliban in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

Gates asked for time and patience to demonstrate that the new strategy is working. He lamented that Americans are too quick to write off the war when Obama’s revamped strategy has only just begun to take hold.

“It is a tough pull,” Gates said. “We are suffering significant casualties. We expected that; we warned everybody that would be the case last winter.”

At least 34 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this month, making June among the deadliest months of the war. Casualties are expected to rise through the summer and fall as fighting expands in Helmand and Kandahar.

Earlier this month, Gates said the United States and its partners must demonstrate progress this year or risk the collapse of already dwindling public support for the war.

Petraeus told Congress last week that he would recommend postponing the start of the withdrawal if security conditions and the capability of the Afghan government could not support it.

That does not mean Petraeus is opposed to bringing some troops home, and he said repeatedly that he supports Obama’s strategy. His caution, however, is rooted in the fact that the uniformed military — and counterinsurgency specialists in particular — have always been uncomfortable with fixed parameters for an inexact process of persuasion.

The war strategy Obama adopted is based on the success of Petraeus’ counterinsurgency tactics in the Iraq war. It combines a short-term “surge” of forces to blunt rising violence and a longer-term project to persuade locals to help uproot a homegrown insurgency.

Emanuel did not dispute quoted remarks from Vice President Joe Biden that “a whole lot” of forces would come home in July 2011. Biden, who argued within the administration for a narrower mission in Afghanistan involving fewer troops, was interviewed for the book “The Promise,” by Jonathan Alter.

Gates, however, said he had never heard Biden say such a thing, and that the evaluation by the on-the-ground war commander will largely determine the scope of the withdrawal.

“That absolutely has not been decided,” Gates said. “I’m not accepting, at face value, that … he said those words.”

Emanuel spoke on ABC’s “This Week.” Gates appeared on “Fox News Sunday.”

Source: SGGP

Sports festival for the disabled to open next month

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Sports festival for the disabled to open next month

QĐND – Saturday, June 19, 2010, 20:51 (GMT+7)

The fourth National Festival of Sports and Arts for People with Disabilities will take place in the central city of Da Nang from July 18-26.

the General Department of Physical Training and Sports told a press briefing in Hanoi on June 16 that disabled athletes from cities and provinces nationwide will compete in seven sports events, including track and field, swimming, badminton, table tennis, weightlifting, tennis, and chess.

Art troupes will take part in such categories as solo, duet, group singing, instrumental solo, concert and dancing.

The organising board will present flags of merit and gold, silver and bronze medals to those who record outstanding achievements during the festival.

The festival not only represents the attention of the Party, State and whole society to people with disabilities but also is an activity marking the nation’s important events, including the 63 rd anniversary of War Invalids and Martyrs’ Day (July 27).

It also aims to maintain and develop sports movements among the disabled in the country and provides a chance for them to exchange experiences and strengthen solidarity.

The opening ceremony of the festival will be held on July 22.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Droughts and floods threaten next rice crop

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Droughts and floods threaten next rice crop

QĐND – Friday, June 04, 2010, 21:19 (GMT+7)

Experts have warned of difficult times for the upcoming rice crop, from now to the end of the year, with serious droughts threatening the crops on the front end and severe flooding looming on the back.

Director of the Central Hydro-meteorology Forecasting Centre Bui Minh Tang made the above statement at a meeting to review the results of the winter-spring rice crop and to launch plans for the summer-autumn crop.

He also said that other obstacles, including the threat of the black dwarf stunted disease and shortages of hybrid rice varieties, would seriously affect the productivity of crops from now to the end of the year.

According to Tang, the average rainfall from the beginning of this year to present had decreased 20 to 30 per cent in some areas compared to last year, while it had increased from 60 to 70 per cent in other areas.

Rain in some areas couldn’t meet both the demands for agriculture production and irrigation work. Currently, water levels in the Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang and Son La irrigation lakes were at dead levels.

In the future, the sunny weather would continue, especially in some northern and central provinces. It was forecast that the average temperature for this year could reach a record high.

However, due to the long-lasting drought, storms and tropical low pressure zones would come later than in other years, near the end of the harvest.

Central and north-central provinces would have to take measures to cope with the lack of water at the beginning of the crop and with flooding at the end of the crop, Tang said.

Regarding measures to cope with diseases, director of Red river delta Thai Binh Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Huu Rong said that the province would plant 45,000ha of rice, an increase of 6,000ha compared to the winter-spring crop.

All seeds will be treated with chemical substances before being sowed.

Director of the Department of Cultivation Nguyen Tri Ngoc said that for rice crops in low-lying areas that could be affected by flooding, or for those with unstable productivity, farmers should shift to other kinds of crops.

For the Song Hong (Red River) Delta, where 70,000 to 80,000ha of rice were planted in low-lying areas, farmers should plant rice varieties with high trunks and good water resistance.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said that provinces needed to be well-prepared to carry out preventative measures against the black dwarf stunted disease and to protect against floods near the end of the harvest.

Apart from proper conduction of irrigation systems in order to have effective solutions for drought and flood prevention, provinces needed to ensure that they had enough water pumps at pumping stations, and extra pumps to cope with severe flooding, Phat said.

Despite difficulties such as drought and black dwarf stunted disease outbreaks, the winter-spring crop still harvested 5.5 million tonnes of rice, equal to last year’s same crop, according to deputy director of the Cultivation Department Pham Dong Quang.

Many provinces had started to plant hybrid rice varieties, which accounted for the good yields, including central Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces.

The hybrid rice variety had a high quality and could adapt to a wide range of conditions. It also gave high productivity rates.

MARD has targeted foster rice production for the coming crops to fulfil the year’s goal of producing 38 tonnes of rice.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News


Source: QDND