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US sues BP, eight others over Gulf oil spill

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

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States filed suit for the first time against BP and eight other companies for uncounted billions of dollars in damages from a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst in US history.


The complaint was filed by the Justice Department with a federal court in New Orleans, where thousands of individuals and small businesses have already sued the oil giant.

AFP file – A photo taken in April 2010 shows fire boat crews battling the blazing remnants of the BP operated off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the complaint alleges that “violations of safety and operational regulations” caused the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sent nearly five million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf.


“We intend to prove… that the defendants are therefore responsible under the Oil Pollution Act for government removal losses, economic losses, as well as environmental damages,” he said.


“We’re also seeking civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the unauthorized use of oil in the waters,” he added.


Holder went on to list a series of failures that led to the disaster.


He said necessary precautions weren’t taken to secure the well, the safest drilling technology was not used to monitor its condition, continuous surveillance was not maintained and safety equipment was faulty.


The defendants named in the suit were BP Exploration and Production Inc; Transocean Deepwater Inc; Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc; Transocean Holdings LLC; Anadarko Exploration and Production LP; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; and QBE Underwriting Ltd/Lloyd’s syndicate 1036.


QBE/Lloyd’s, an insurer, was not being sued under the Clean Water Act and can be held liable only up to the amount of Transocean’s insurance policy coverage, the Justice Department said.


BP said in a statement that it would “answer the government?s allegations in a timely manner and will continue to cooperate with all government investigations and inquiries.”


The world’s third largest oil company has defended its response to the spill, which has included selling off assets around the world to raise 30 billion dollars to cover both clean-up and compensation costs.


It has estimated its exposure at nearly 40 billion dollars.


“Alone among the parties, BP has stepped up to pay for the clean-up of the oil, setting aside 20 billion dollars to pay all legitimate claims,” the company said.


“We took these steps before any legal determination of responsibility and will continue to fulfil our commitments in the Gulf as the legal process unfolds.”


BP owns 65 percent of the ruptured Macondo well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. owns a 25 percent share, and MOEX Offshore, a unit of Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, owns 10 percent. Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon rig itself.


Justice Department lawyers have been conducting parallel civil and criminal investigations since the fiery explosion, which killed 11 workers and toppled the giant rig into Gulf of Mexico.


The rig’s collapse ruptured underwater risers, unleashing a torrent of oil that fouled environmentally fragile Gulf coasts and disrupted local fishing and tourism industries for three months before it was sealed in September.


Among the losses listed in the US complaint were “hundreds of miles of coastal habitats, including salt marshes, sandy beaches, and mangroves; a variety of wildlife, including birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.”


In the Gulf itself, the potential damage extended to “various biota, benthic communities, marine organisms, coral, fish, and water-column habitat,” it said.


And it said the spill resulted in lost opportunities for “fishing, swimming, beach-going, and viewing of birds and wildlife.”


Holder said the Justice Department would continue to investigate the disaster and ways of preventing future spills, adding that the legal action taken Wednesday “is not a final step.”


“As our investigations continue, we will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to hold accountable those responsible for this spill,” he said.


“The full extent of potential injuries, destruction, loss and loss of services is not yet fully known and may not be fully known for many years.”

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Source: SGGP

Yuan gains good for some, bad for others

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm

China’s central bank dropped its US dollar central parity rate to its lowest point in five years on June 22, making clear its commitment to flexible currency policies. 

A teller counts yuan banknotes at a China Merchants Bank branch in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, June 21, 2010 (Photo: Reuters)

The move to 6.7980 yuan per dollar from 6.8275 yuan the previous day, a change of 0.43 percent, is likely to benefit some sectors, while acting as a detriment to others.
 
Economists said that a strong yuan will affect global economies with imports into China becoming cheaper and higher import demand expected in the country.
 
Chinese domestic consumption would be the biggest beneficiary of the move, said strategists at Deutsche Bank.
 
Chinese airlines including Air China and China Eastern Airlines will benefit from a stronger yuan since a large portion of their debt accrued buying airplanes and importing fuel is denominated in US dollars.
 
According to the bank’s estimation, every one percent rise in the yuan will boost Air China’s 2010 net profit by around 10 percent and China Eastern’s by 15 percent.
 
In addition to airlines, other winners from a yuan appreciation are car makers such as Volkswagen and BMW, luxury goods, consumer goods and technology traders.
 
Vietnam trade imbalance with China might fall
 
Dr. Ho Dieu, deputy principal of Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics, said the yuan gain will affect bilateral trade of the two countries, but Vietnam’s US dollar central parity rate will remain unchanged.
 
Like other countries, Vietnam’s trade with China will benefit from the move as Vietnam’s exports to China will increase while trade gap will reduce.
 
But Dr. Tran Hoang Ngan, member of the National Advisory Council for Financial and Monetary Policies, said that while imports of Chinese consumer goods into Vietnam will drop, that doesn’t mean that the trade gap will fall.
 
Dr. Ngan explained that the value of imports from China might rise if the imports are essential goods whose prices will rise.
 
Heads of some commercial banks said that yuan appreciation against the US dollar will prompt more pressure on Vietnam to adjustment the dong-US dollar rate.
 
In addition, they said Chinese goods will become more expensive so the country will face export difficulties, and in result, the volume of Chinese goods exported illegally into Vietnam will rise.
 
A Vietnamese economist said the Chinese central bank’s announcement that it would allow its currency to gradually move against the U.S. dollar will raise demands for gold by investors.
 
According to the World Gold Council, central banks have continuously increased gold reserves in recently, doubling reserves over the first quarter.
 
The world gold price dropped to USD12,237 per ounce at 14:30 on June 22, a decrease of US$29 over the last session.
 
On the same day, the buying price of domestic gold went down to VND28.29 million per tael, a fall of VND400,000 per tael compared to a day ago.
 
Vietnam’s stock indexes fell too, with the VN-Index closing at 512.63, down 2.12 points, and HNX-Index falling by 2.09 points to 161.92.

US dollar-yuan exchange rates:
 
– July 2005:       US$1 = 8.1080 yuan
– July 2006:       US$1 = 7.9732 yuan
– July 2007:       US$1 = 7.5737 yuan
– July 2008:       US$1 = 9.8388 yuan
– July 2009:      US$1 = 6.8323 yuan
– June 2010:     US$1 = 6.7980 yuan

Source: SGGP

Students refuse to sit exams, others cheat

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm




Students refuse to sit exams, others cheat


QĐND – Saturday, June 05, 2010, 23:18 (GMT+7)

Approximately 5,000 of Vietnam’s one million high school students failed to take their graduation exams this week due to illness and traffic accidents, while scores of others cheated their way through the tests. 


In Ho Chi Minh City, some 540 students fell ill, 52 students had traffic accidents on the way to their exams and 35 learners showed up too late to take their tests, said the Ministry of Education and Training, adding that 62 graders were not allowed to take the exam after they violated test regulations.


Senior high school students underwent in literature and chemistry tests on June 2 and geography, history, mathematics and foreign language on June 3. The weather was cool after it rained in some parts of the country on June 3, creating favorable conditions for students to take their tests.


But students were found to have thrown various sized cheat sheets into trash bins outside classrooms and restrooms after the examinations.


Some Hanoian students were caught writing details about historic events on their hands so they could cheat in the exams.


Dinh Ngoc Binh, deputy chairman of the examination council at Phan in HCMC, said that although it was against the rules, it was normal that students brought cheat sheets because supervisors couldn’t search the students. Dang Luu High School


Binh’s counterpart Le Hong Son said a supervisor found a student carrying a mobile phone on him the Thu in HCMC’s district Thu Duc. The twelfth grader was then prohibited from taking the exam. Khoa Huan High School


Many students have complained that the history test is too difficult because it is too long and they are given too much information to memorize. Of the six compulsory subjects, foreign language and chemistry are administered in a multiple-choice format.


The Department of Education and Training of the central province of Quang Nam said that more students failed to take the exams this year because they were ill.


Ministry regulations allow students with good records to obtain exemptions from taking the tests if they are confirmed to be ill by a local hospital.


The Red Cross Society of the central province of Thua Thien – Hue provided free meals for over 500 poor students from remote districts who participated in the examination in the City Hue on June 3.


The Department of Education and Training in the Mekong delta province praised student Tran Thanh Lien who tried to sit for geography and history tests on June 3 although her right hand, thigh and hip were burned and blistered in an accident that morning. of Soc Trang


Source: VNN


Source: QDND

Students refuse to sit exams, others cheat

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

Approximately 5,000 of Vietnam’s one million high school students failed to take their graduation exams this week due to illness and traffic accidents, while scores of others cheated their way through the tests.


In Ho Chi Minh City, some 540 students fell ill, 52 students had traffic accidents on the way to their exams and 35 learners showed up too late to take their tests, said the Ministry of Education and Training, adding that 62 graders were not allowed to take the exam after they violated test regulations.

Various siized examination floats or cheat sheets scattered in school ground, rest room and roads after the examination

Senior high school students underwent in literature and chemistry tests on June 2 and geography, history, mathematics and foreign language on June 3. The weather was cool after it rained in some parts of the country on June 3, creating favorable conditions for students to take their tests.


But students were found to have thrown various sized cheat sheets into trash bins outside classrooms and restrooms after the examinations.


Some Hanoian students were caught writing details about historic events on their hands so they could cheat in the exams.


Dinh Ngoc Binh, deputy chairman of the examination council at Phan Dang Luu High School in HCMC, said that although it was against the rules, it was normal that students brought cheat sheets because supervisors couldn’t search the students.


Binh’s counterpart Le Hong Son said a supervisor found a student carrying a mobile phone on him the Thu Khoa Huan High School in HCMC’s district Thu Duc. The twelfth grader was then prohibited from taking the exam.


Many students have complained that the history test is too difficult because it is too long and they are given too much information to memorize. Of the six compulsory subjects, foreign language and chemistry are administered in a multiple-choice format.


The Department of Education and Training of the central province of Quang Nam said that more students failed to take the exams this year because they were ill.


Ministry regulations allow students with good records to obtain exemptions from taking the tests if they are confirmed to be ill by a local hospital.


The Red Cross Society of the central province of Thua Thien – Hue provided free meals for over 500 poor students from remote districts who participated in the examination in the City Hue on June 3.


The Department of Education and Training in the Mekong delta province of Soc Trang praised student Tran Thanh Lien who tried to sit for geography and history tests on June 3 although her right hand, thigh and hip were burned and blistered in an accident that morning.

Source: SGGP

Young philanthropists help others overcome adversity

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 8:30 am

Vietnam’s young citizens are becoming increasingly upwardly mobile, yet few have lost sight of what’s most important in life – helping others.


On the occasion of Youth Month in March, Sai Gon Giai Phong profiles some shining examples of young philanthropists from around the country.


Fostering a sense of community


Dang Ngoc Lien, an electricity company employee, decided to quite his job in Ho Chi Minh City and return to his hometown in the south-central coastal province of Quang Nam to help improve the lives of young people.

Dang Ngoc LienMany who knew Lien were surprised that he would leave a stable job and salary in HCMC, while some even suggested that perhaps he had run into trouble in the city.

Ignoring the rumors, Lien began meeting with young people in his hometown of Phuoc Hoa commune, by helping them do business.


The commune is very poor and Communist Youth Union activities are disconnected and scattered in the region, said Lien.


Thus, he decided to take matters into his own hands and increase the number of meetings with young people from the local union from one to five times per month.


Lien knew many young people wanted to invest in starting up their own businesses, but they lacked the capital. So he decided to ask the local People’s Committee and bank to set up special accounts for young people.


In addition, he persuaded his parents to mortgage their house in order to loan more money to the community’s youth.


Lien was successful in his endeavors and as a result, many young people are now borrowing capital to raise cows.


His actions have helped local youth improve their lives and have brought the community closer as a result.


Promoting peace through example


Sam Thi Hoa from northern Lao Cai province, meanwhile, is one of this year’s 79 outstanding secretaries of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.

Sam Thi Hoa

She has been a member of the local union for seven years now.


Hoa said 80 percent of the population in Khanh Yen Trung commune, Van Ban District, Lao Cai Province are Tay ethnic people, while the remainder are Kinh people.


She said youth from the two groups often fought over territory, and she felt compelled to help the residents work out solutions.


Hoa began organizing Youth Union activities in the area and told the groups stories about the moral examples set by late President Ho Chi Minh. 


Results have been positive so far, said Hoa, who has also organized a movement to help young people do business and improve their lives.


Through her efforts, Hoa has brought the two communities closer together and has fostered several business partnerships.


Redemption through helping others


Vo Thi Truc Linh dropped out of school at an early age. She made many mistakes when she was young, and wound up in a drug rehabilitation center for several years.

Vo Thi Truc Linh

During her time there, she saw many people the same age as her die from HIV/AIDS. The experience made Linh realize the value of life and she resolved to take action to redeem her past mistakes.


After completing her rehabilitation program, Linh volunteered to become an educator in the Community Support Department of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5 Preventive Health Center.


She now travels throughout the city, talking to drug addicts on the street about how to prevent HIV/AIDS.


In addition, Linh also distributes condoms, clean needles, and pamphlets on HIV/AIDS prevention.


She also visits HIV/AIDS patients in their homes and advises family members on how to care for them.



Source: SGGP