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US Congress passes contentious Obama tax deal

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

AFP file – US President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US lawmakers gave final approval to President Barack Obama’s contentious deal with Republicans to avert a New Year’s tax hike and extend aid to the jobless, despite a Democratic rebellion.

A day after the Senate passed the package by an 81-19 margin, the House of Representatives followed suit 277-148, sending the measure to Obama to sign and reap a restorative bipartisan victory six weeks after an elections rout.

The 858-billion-dollar measure was expected to give the US economy a much-needed boost while digging the country’s deficit and debt deeper, as the world’s richest country emerges from the worst downturn since the 1930s.

Obama, seeking a restorative bipartisan victory six weeks after Republicans routed his Democrats in November 2 elections, had stressed the package extends middle-class tax cuts for two years and jobless benefits for 13 months.

But angry Democrats from the party’s left flank opposed the plan for including an identical extension for the richest sliver of US earners and rolling back the inheritance tax that affects only the wealthiest estates.

“This measure does not create a single job or stimulate the economy in any way,” said number-three Democratic Representative James Clyburn, who urged lawmakers to “restore some fairness to the tax code.”

Immediately prior to passage, which came shortly before midnight, lawmakers defeated a Democratic amendment to toughen the estate tax provisions in the package by a 194-233 margin.

The White House compromise sets the inheritance tax rate at 35 percent and exempts estates under five million dollars, compared to 45 percent and 3.5 million dollars in a House-passed bill earlier this year.

Obama — who campaigned on a vow to let tax cuts lapse on income over 250,000 dollars for families or 200,000 dollars for individuals — dropped that insistence after the elections and urged fellow Democrats to do the same.

Right after the Senate passed the plan, Obama called on skeptical Democrats in the House to pass the bill unchanged, in one of their last acts before Republicans take control of the chamber in January.

Republican House speaker-designate John Boehner said “failing to stop all the tax hikes would have destroyed more jobs and deepened the uncertainty in our economy” and called the bill “a good first step.”

“But much more needs to be done, including cutting spending, permanently eliminating the threat of job-killing tax hikes, and repealing the job-killing health care law,” he said.

At the same time, the US Senate forged ahead on Obama’s top foreign policy, the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, as Republicans worked to kill the nuclear arms control accord or at least put off a final vote until next year.

Top US military officials rebuffed Republicans charges that the pact will cripple US missile defense plans, as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for a likely ratification vote next week.

“We need START and we need it badly,” General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters, stressing the treaty included “no prohibitions to our ability to move forward in missile defense.”

“This treaty in no way limits anything we have in mind or want to do on missile defense,” agreed Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “I think that there were some legitimate concerns. But, frankly, I think they’ve been addressed.”

The agreement — which has the support of virtually every present and past US foreign policy or national security heavyweight — restricts each nation to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30 percent from a limit set in 2002, and 800 launchers and bombers.

The accord would also return US inspectors who have been unable to monitor Russia’s arsenal since the treaty’s predecessor lapsed in December 2009.

Obama won a critical victory when lawmakers voted 66-32 Wednesday to take up the pact, showing Democrats within striking distance of the 67 votes needed to ratify START if all 100 Senators are present.

Source: SGGP

NA deputies passes resolution on completion of Dung Quat Oil Refinery

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

NA deputies passes resolution on completion of Dung Quat Oil Refinery

QĐND – Friday, November 26, 2010, 20:40 (GMT+7)

The NA deputies passed a resolution on completion of Dung Quat oil refinery at the 8th session of the 12th National Assembly which closed in Hanoi on November 26. 

The resolution states that the Dung Quat Oil Refinery Factory Project No 1 has been basically completed and is producing initial results.

The resolution asks the government to continue with a package of measures aimed at ensuring raw materials for the factory to operate steadily in the long-run, and improving the project’s socio-economic efficiency as well as its impact on the key economic zone in the central region.

It also asks relevant agencies to ensure absolute security and safety for the factory under the legal regulations and pay due attention to training hi-tech human resources for the oil refinery industry as well as stabilizing the people’s production activities in the surrounding areas. More importantly, it is necessary to implement the audit of the whole project under the legal regulations.

The same day, NA deputies approved another resolution on the results of supervising the implementation of administrative reform in areas related to citizens and businesses under an overall programme on state administrative reform in the 2001-2010 period.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Central Highlands singer Y Moan passes away

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Y Moan, the Central Highlands singer who dedicated his life to panegyrising his homeland, died after a long fight with intestinal cancer at his house, Buon Ma Thuot City in the Central Highlands of Dac Lac Province on October 1.

Singer Y Moan has died after a long fight with stomach cancer at his home in Buon Ma Thuot city in the Central Highlands of Dac Lac Province.

He suffered from intestinal cancer which has spread to other parts of his body during the four months.

Thousands of people came to see him for the last time at the house.

Earlier, he failed to turn up for a live show last month in his native Dac Lac Province because of his sickness.

He was conferred the title of People’s Artist by President Nguyen Minh Triet on September 14.

It is the highest honour given by the State for artists.

He was gifted 2,000 copies of his DVD titled Back to the Old Village, his only album in an illustrious career spanning three and a half decades, at the ceremony to confer the title.

Y Moan, born in 1957 in a poor ethnic E De family in Buon Ma Thuot, was discovered in 1976 after reunification. He left his home in the mountains of Central Highlands and headed for Ha Noi when he was recruited for the Song and Dance Troupe.

He studied at the then Ha Noi Conservatory of Music from 1979 until 1986.

He is noted for singing songs about the Central Highlands’ mountains and forests written by people like Nguyen Cuong, Tran Tien, Linh Nga Nie K’dam, and Ama No, making sure the land became well-known to millions of people both within and outside the country.

He is widely considered to be the most successful artist to ever emerge of the Central Highlands.

His funeral will be held in the Central Highlands city of Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak Province on October 5.

Source: SGGP

Honored veteran journalist passes away

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Veteran journalist Hoang Tung, former member of the Viet Nam Communist Party Central Committee and editor-in-chief of Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper, passed away in Hanoi on June 29 at the age of 91.

                        Veteran journalist Hoang Tung

The journalist whose given name was Tran Khanh Tho was born in the northern province of Ha Nam in 1920.

He was Party Committee Secretary of Hanoi and Hai Phong and held many other important positions.

He was awarded the Order of the Golden Star, the nation’s highest honor, the Ho Chi Minh Order, the First-class Independence Medal and the First-class Resistance War Medal for his contribution to the country’s independence and development.

He was also granted the Freedom Order (Itsala) by the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos (LPDR).

The body of the former member of the Vietnam Communist Party Central Committee is being kept at the National Funeral House at 5 Tran Thanh Tong Street in Hanoi for people to pay their respects, and will be buried at Mai Dich Cemetery on July 2.

Source: SGGP

Leading director passes away

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 10:25 am

People’s Artist Duong Ngoc Duc, senior veteran of the Vietnamese stage sector, passed away in Hanoi on June 3 at the age of 81.

               People Artist Duong Ngoc Duc

The director was born in the capital in 1930. He graduated from the Director Department of the Leningrad State University of Theatre, Music and Cinematography in 1964.

He was Party Committee Secretary and Secretary-general of the Vietnam Stage Artists Association, and Director of Vietnam Drama Theater in 1978.

He was known as one of the leading directors of the country from 1960-1970.

The director used stage names including The Lu, Tran Hoat, Dinh Quang, Nguyen Dinh Nghi, Tran Bang and Ngoc Phuong for his popular plays such as “Masa”, Doi mat (Eyes), Nguoi cong dan so 1 (The citizen No.1), Tien tuyen goi (The call of the Front), and more.

Services for the director will take place at the funeral house of the Ministry of Defense, 55 Tran Thanh Tong Street in Hanoi, from now until June 8.

Source: SGGP

US Congress passes historic health care bill

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 5:21 am

US President Barack Obama (C), standing with US Vice President Joe Biden, delivers a statement to the nation following the vote in the House of Representatives on health care reform in Washignton, DC, March 21, 2010. AFP photo

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Congress passed an historic health care overhaul, handing President Barack Obama a landmark win and taking the United States closer than ever to guaranteed coverage for all Americans.

The Democratic-held House of Representatives voted 219-212 to approve a Senate-passed bill aimed at extending coverage to 32 million Americans who currently lack it in the most sweeping social policy shift in four decades.

“Tonight we answered the call of history as so many Americans have before us. We did not avoid our responsibility we embraced it. We did not fear our future, we shaped it,” Obama said in brief remarks shortly after the vote.

The president, who was expected to sign the bill into law within days, praised lawmakers for defying the predictions of pundits that the mammoth bill must collapse in the face of political setbacks and unyielding partisan rifts. Related article: History of US health care reform battle

Tired after a week in which he met or spoke to nearly 100 lawmakers, but evidently savoring a hard-fought triumph on his top domestic goal, Obama told the US public: “This is what change looks like.”

As the vote count crept past the 216 needed to ensure passage, Democrats clapped, cheered, hugged, high-fived, and called out Obama’s “Yes, we can” 2008 campaign slogan.

All 178 Republicans and 34 conservative Democrats opposed the measure, spurred on by hundreds of protesters who chanted “Kill the bill” during a loud day-long vigil outside the Capitol.

With Vice President Joe Biden at his side, Obama acknowledged Republican warnings that Democrats would pay a steep political price in November mid-term elections that will decide control of the US Congress.

“I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people. But it was the right vote,” said the president, who has vowed to help Democrats in swing districts win reelection.

The Senate was now to take up a free-standing packages of changes, which the House approved 220-211, as early as Tuesday in a bid to complete its work on the overhaul. Facts: Obama health care plan

Together, the Senate bill and changes would remake US health care a century after then-president Teddy Roosevelt called for a national approach, extending coverage to 95 percent of the under-65 population.

The bill bans insurance company practices like denying care for preexisting conditions, imposing lifetime caps on coverage, while providing subsidies to buy private insurance in newly-created marketplaces called “exchanges.”

It also raises some taxes on the wealthy while expanding a government-run program for needy Americans.

“This trillion-dollar overhaul will take the America we know and love in the wrong direction,” said Representative Eric Cantor, the number two House Republican, who noted 34 Democrats joined all 178 Republicans in voting “no.”

Republicans also vowed to keep up the fight in the Senate — the next battleground — and repeal the broadly unpopular bill if they win back majorities in November.

After a year of often bitter debate, Obama cleared the way to his victory with an 11th-hour deal to sign an executive order reaffirming a longstanding US ban on government funding for abortions, winning support for the bill from a group of conservative Democratic holdouts. Analysis: Obama claims new place in history

“I’ve always supported health care reform,” said the group’s leader, Democratic Representative Bart Stupak, flanked by other anti-abortion lawmakers. “This bill is going to go through.”

The Senate was expected this week to take up the changes and approve them separately, under rules that prevent Republicans from using a parliamentary tactic, the filibuster, to indefinitely delay and therefore kill the measure.

Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans “will now do everything in our power” to fight the bill, while another top Republican described plans to besiege the legislation with “hundreds of amendments.”

Opinion polls have painted a confusing picture, with respondents expressing strong support for individual elements of the bill, but with large numbers saying they oppose the overall measure.

Democrats have highlighted the independent Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the bill would cost 940 billion dollars over the next 10 years, while cutting 143 billion dollars from the bloated US deficit through 2019 and 1.2 trillion over the following decade.

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Djokovic feels the heat but passes test

In Vietnam Sports on January 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

MELBOURNE, Jan 21, 2010 (AFP) – Former champion Novak Djokovic believes he can only improve after overcoming an early stumble to get past dogged Marco Chiudinelli to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The Serbian third seed needed four sets and almost three hours to wear down the world number 58 Swiss, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 as the heat cranked up on Rod Laver Arena.


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Djokovic hits a return against Marco Dhiudinelli of Switzerland in their men’s singles second round match on day four of the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 21, 2010. AFP photo

He dropped the opening set but eventually dominated Chiudinelli to set up a third round encounter with Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.

Djokovic has painful memories of his ill-fated Australian Open title defence last year when he retired during his quarter-final with Andy Roddick through cramping and heat fatigue.

He was wary of the potential pitfalls in the early rounds and was at odds with himself in the opening set as he struggled to find rhythm and form.

“There are some things that I obviously have to improve in order to play better,” Djokovic said.

“But the opening rounds, especially at Australian Open, are tricky and where a lot of surprises happen.

“You’re playing against the players who really have nothing to lose and have played a more matches than you.

“I kind of feel that little pressure. This is what I felt a little today.”

Djokovic was off his game in the opening set, conceding two service breaks and hitting double the number of unforced errors of Chiudinelli.

“I was frustrated, especially at start of the match, because he was really giving it to me,” he said.

“He was very aggressive and stepping in and using ever opportunity that has been given to him.

“I automatically just became too defensive and didn’t really make too much. Just waiting for his mistakes.”

Djokovic said he made the transition to being offensive and gradually took control, breaking the Swiss twice in the second, four times in the third and in the eighth game of the final set.

“I try not to put too much pressure on myself. I try to take one match at a time,” he said.

“I really had some bad experiences last year. Unfortunately it finished the way I did.

“So I’m just trying to focus on my own matches and put in the best possible effort. I believe that I can even play better.”

It was an erratic performance from the 2008 Australian Open champion, offering 17 break point opportunities on his servce and committing 52 unforced errors.

Chiudinelli, making only his fourth Grand Slam appearance, dropped serve in six consecutive games during the second and third sets and needed constant running repairs on a troublesome right ankle.

Djokovic looked affected by the heat and resorted to an ice pack draped around his neck during changeovers late in the match.

Djokovic’s quarter of the draw has opened up following the first round elimination of French Open finalist and eighth seed Robin Soderling and the highest-ranked seed left in his section is Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

He beat Tsonga in the 2008 Australian Open final for his first career Grand Slam title.

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US House passes historic financial sector overhaul

In World on December 13, 2009 at 4:06 am

The US House of Representatives approved the most sweeping regulatory overhaul of the financial sector since the Great Depression of the 1930s, one of President Barack Obama’s key goals.

Lawmakers voted 223-202 to pass the 1,300-page legislation, a package of measures Obama’s Democratic allies crafted in response to the global financial meltdown of 2008, which has left the US economy still sputtering.

The US Senate was expected to take up the plan — which faces stiff opposition from the financial industry and its Republicans allies, not one of whom voted in favor of the plan — in 2010.

Obama hailed the vote in a statement, adding: “I urge both houses of Congress to pass this necessary reform as quickly as possible on behalf of the American people. I look forward to signing a strong bill.”

“The crisis from which we are still recovering was born not only of failure on Wall Street, but also in Washington. We have a responsibility to learn from it,” said the US president.

Obama has hit out at Wall Street “fat cats,” expressing anger that banks bailed out by the government again plan huge bonuses as millions of Americans battle poverty and unemployment.

“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” Obama said Friday in excerpts of an interview with CBS television to be aired on Sunday.

With unemployment still hovering at around 10 percent, amid a recession triggered in part by the excesses of financial institutions, Obama voiced frustration that “some people on Wall Street still don’t get it.”

Obama told CBS he believed some banks had paid back all the bailout funds in order to escape government controls regulating such things as bonuses.

“They’re still puzzled why it is that people are mad at the banks. Well, let’s see. You guys are drawing down 10, 20 million dollar bonuses after America went through the worst economic year… in decades and you guys caused the problem.

“These same banks who benefited from taxpayer assistance who are fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists… up on Capitol Hill, fighting against financial regulatory control,” Obama added.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has described the measure, a centerpiece of Obama’s response to the 2008 global financial meltdown, as a clear warning to Wall Street that “the party is over.”

“American families will no longer be at the mercy of Wall Street in terms of their jobs, their homes, their pension security, the education of their children,” Pelosi said Thursday.

Lawmakers had faced votes on several amendments, defeating one that would have scrapped a central provision, the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to oversee mortgages and credit cards.

The bill, which may help Democrats harness simmering voter anger ahead of the 2010 mid-term elections, has drawn fierce opposition from the financial sector and its Republican allies as stifling innovation with weighty new rules.

The number two House Republican, Representative Eric Cantor, said the legislation “frightens people and creates uncertainty in the American economy, preventing job growth.”

The bill notably tackles the issue of firms deemed “too big to fail,” which received hundreds of billions of dollars in US government “bailout” cash because their collapse would have dealt crippling blows to the economy.

The legislation gives regulators the power to dismantle such giants, and lays out a systematic way to unwind them in case of collapse that ensures shareholders and unsecured creditors, not taxpayers, bear the losses.

It also reinforces the powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission to detect irregularities that could provide an early warning of fraudulent investment schemes, like the fraud perpetrated by Wall Street swindler Bernie Madoff.

The measure also includes a first-of-its-kind plan to regulate the vast market in arcane financial products called derivatives.

It would give the Federal Reserve broader powers to oversee large at-risk firms, but also give the Government Accountability Office — the investigative arm of the US Congress — more oversight power over the Fed itself.

Amid US public anger at lavish bonuses paid out at firms the government saved from collapse, the measure provides for shareholders to hold non-binding annual votes on executive compensation, including severance packages known as “golden parachutes.”

The House and Senate must approve identical legislation in order to send it to Obama to sign into law.

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Comedian passes away

In Vietnam Culture on December 3, 2009 at 10:44 am

Meritorious Artist and renowned comedian Trinh Mai passed away in Hanoi December 1 after a long struggle with cancer. He was 76.

                     Comedian Trinh Mai

He is remembered for his roles in plays like Buc tranh mua gat (Picture of the Harvest Season), Hoa va co (Flower and Grass), Tien tuyen goi (The call of the Front), and others.

The actor also became renowned for appearances in movies like So do (Fortunate), Khong phai chuyen cuoi (It’s No Laughing Matter) and more.

Mr. Mai, who was born in Hanoi, acted in dramas at his village in Chuong My District in his younger days, honing his dramatic talent.

His body is being kept at his house and will be moved to the Hanoi Funeral House on December 5 for people to pay their tributes. He will be buried in Chuong My.


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Cai luong stalwart passes away

In Vietnam Culture on September 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Veteran cai luong actress Thanh Thanh Hoa died in Ho Chi Minh City on September 20 at the age of 67.

Veteran cai luong actress Thanh Thanh Hoa

Ms. Hoa, real name Nguyen Thi Anh, was born in 1943 in Sai Gon, as HCMC was then known. She was introduced to cai luong at age of 12.

She was well-known for her roles in plays like Cat Dung Phuong Tu, Cay quat lua hong (Pink silk fan), Tieng trong sang canh (Announced drumbeat of time), and won cai luong‘s most prestigious honor, the Thanh Tam golden medal, in 1961.

She spent the last years of her life in peace and quiet, taking care of her grandchildren and ornamental plants, said her daughter and meritorious cai luong actress, Thanh Thanh Tam.

Her body is being kept at Truong Thanh Pagoda in HCMC’s District 1 and a burial ceremony will be held at the Artists’ Pagoda in Go Vap District on September 22.


Source: SGGP

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