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Tay Ninh Province reveals the wild beauty of the South

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:16 am

Tay Ninh Province reveals the wild beauty of the South

QĐND – Sunday, January 02, 2011, 20:18 (GMT+7)

Being a citizen of the North, I’ve always been curious about people, life and the countryside in the South, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I had the chance to visit one of the most popular tourism destinations in Tay Ninh Province – Dau Tieng Lake.

The lake, which is located in Phuoc Minh Commune, 20km from the provincial centre, covers 27,000ha and has a capacity of 1.5 billion cu.m, irrigating Tay Ninh Province as well as neighbouring localities. 

Dau Tieng Lake is famous firstly because it is the largest man-made irrigation reservoir in Viet Nam and secondly, given its remote location, for its breathtaking landscape of mountains and mysterious islets. The crystal-like lake provides clean water and a fresh, pure atmosphere that visitors can relax in.

Rising majestically out of the lake, Mount Cau dominates the landscape, covered in a thick primeval forest. Scattered across the lake are a number of islets and the green banks offer inviting camping and fishing spots.

Mt Cau is 198m high and boasts diverse flora and 1,600ha of protected forest. At the top of the mountain stands the Thai Son Pagoda, which attracts many pilgrims at full moon.

Next to the mountain buried deep in the rubber plantation is Cau Nom Lake, where the combination of the clean water and fresh air create a tranquil atmosphere.

In my opinion, the area around the two lakes is a great place for tourists who either want to relax after a hard days work, go camping with family and friends or try out water sports.

However, despite its beauty, a shortage of basic infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants and services mean this is a day trip at most (unless you decide to camp).

From Dau Tieng Lake, my friends and I walked for about 5km through the rubber plantation and reached Truc (small bamboo tree) Stream, which runs down from Mt Cau into Binh Duong Province’s Dau Tieng District. 

The name of the stream originates from its source further up the hill in a small bamboo forest, and my friends and I decided to try and find it.

The first thing I saw were huge flat rocks that nature had arranged into stairs leading to a shelter for a giant, according to a legend told by local residents.

Passing through the huge shelter was like walking through a stone maze, with millions of small stones arranged in all sorts of different shapes.

One friend had the bright idea of stopping there for a picnic lunch, so we made makeshift chairs and a table out of the rocks, and spent a leisurely couple of hours enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

The fresh air and cool atmosphere enhanced by the murmuring stream and twittering birds were like something out of a fairy tale.

Promenade: Dau Tieng Lake is one of Tay Ninh Province’s most well-known locations, although it needs more investment to improve facilities. (Photos: VNS)

Leaving the maze, we reached the giant’s stone bed which covers an area of about The ‘bed’ is covered with natural wrinkles that local residents say were made by the giant as he tossed and turned in his sleep.

A beautiful staired waterfall was awaiting us ahead, where visitors, including ourselves, did not miss the chance to take photos.

“I have been taking photos here for a long time but it wasn’t until 2003 that the area becoming a popular tourist destination for local residents and those from neighbouring Tay Ninh Province,” said Nguyen Van Den, a photographer.

Den said it was a beautiful setting and it was a shame that not many people from other cities and provinces knew about it. He added that only a small number of visitors were from HCM City and other localities although the number had increased recently.

Den said Truc Stream was a popular destination all year round but it was most beautiful during the sixth to tenth months of the lunar calendar. He said it was because the area had remained relatively untouched by humans that it retained its wild and natural beauty.

Den also showed us one of three small ponds around the stream where he said not many people could refuse the inviting waters on a hot summers day.

“Some of them even enjoy skinny dipping. It looks funny but it feels great to escape the hot weather in the cool water,” Den said and laughed.

Departing the stream at sunset, my friends promised they would return soon when it was a bit quieter, to enjoy a once in a lifetime naturalist experience.

Source: VietNamNet Bridge

Source: QDND

WHO list reveals pandemic flu advisors with industry ties

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

GENEVA, Aug 11, 2010 (AFP) – Five of the 15 experts that advised the World Health Organisation about swine flu pandemic alerts had received support from the drugs industry, including for flu vaccine research, the WHO revealed on Wednesday.

This handout screen capture provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on August 10, 2010 in Geneva shows WHO Director General Margaret Chan speaking during a televised press release annoucing the end of the swine flu pandemic. AFP

The agency released for the first time a list of the 15 members of the Emergency Committee headed by Australian tropical diseases professor John Mackenzie, who was the only member publicly named during the outbreak.

They came from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and North America, the list posted on the WHO’s website showed.

Most were scientific researchers and epidemiologists, along with a Senegalese diplomat, public health officials from Thailand and Chile as well as two specialists on international air travel and health. The list can be seen at

Critics had raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest that might have helped the drugs industry influence decisions on huge orders for special vaccines against A(H1N1) flu.

The WHO has repeatedly denied those claims, underlining that it had vetted members and maintained secrecy over their identities to protect them from undue pressure while the outbreak of swine flu was underway.

Six people declared interests to the UN health agency, including five researchers who disclosed past or current support from pharmaceutical firms, according to the WHO list.

Nancy Cox, from the US Centers for Disease Control, disclosed financial support from a drugs industry group, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) for flu vaccine research and work on viruses in her unit.

US professor Arnold Monto declared current and past consultancies on pandemic or seasonal influenza research for GSK, Novartis, Roche, Baxter and Sanofi Pasteur.

He also declared a grant from Sanofi for a clinical trial in 2007-2008 related to influenza vaccines.

John Wood’s research unit at Britain’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), had undertaken research for Sanofi Pasteur, CSL, IFPMA, Novartis and Powdermed on influenza vaccine.

Professor Maria Zambon’s laboratory at the UK Health Protection Agency Centre for Infection received funding from several vaccine makers, including Sanofi, Novartis, CSL, Baxter and GSK.

British professor Neil Ferguson, an advisor to the committee, had acted as a consultant for Roche and GSK Biologicals until 2007, according to the list.

The WHO said those interests “do not give rise to a conflict of interest such that the experts concerned should be partially or totally excluded from participation in the Emergency Committee.”

The panel provided expert advice to the WHO Director General Margaret Chan about the new swine flu virus, allowing her to raise the alert when it was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April 2009.

It was also instrumental in the declaration of a pandemic with global spread of the disease in June 2009, triggering a chain of public health precautions including development and production of an influenza vaccine.

However, swine flu turned out to be less severe than feared.

As the virus petered out in North America and Europe in late 2009, governments sought to offload costly and huge stocks of unused vaccines and some European parliamentarians claimed the scare was unjustified.

Chan announced on Tuesday that the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic was officially over after more than 18,500 people died.

The WHO estimated that about 300 million people had been vaccinated worldwide.

Source: SGGP

Slow show reveals crisis impact on Abu Dhabi property

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 at 9:40 am

A subdued opening to the “Cityscape Abu Dhabi” property show on Sunday underlined the impact of the global financial crisis and a shift in emphasis to the completion of projects already launched.

“All projects are under construction” read a gigantic billboard put up by a major property developer on the road leading into Abu Dhabi — to give the impression of business as usual.

The four-day show has drawn 250 exhibitors from 35 countries.

But business has changed dramatically from the pre-crisis era, when property developers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), mainly Dubai and later Abu Dhabi, would sell massive projects off plan within hours of their being announced.

Visitors look at a model of the Capital City District project displayed at the Cityscape exhibition in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

No new projects appear likely to be announced at the show, which features dozens of glitzy models of projects announced during the Dubai-led property boom, which burst spectacularly in autumn 2008.

Among them stands a huge scaled-down model of Abu Dhabi as it would look in 2030, if the government’s masterplan keeps to schedule.

“A lot of the schemes announced over the past four to five years have been slowed down,” said Mark Morris Jones of research firm CB Richard Ellis, noting that developers have been looking at balancing delivery times with demand.

“We had to look into some projects as the demand in the market has changed,” said Ousama Ghannoum, marketing manager at ALDAR Properties, Abu Dhabi’s largest developer by market value.

He said developers are now focusing on “affordable housing” with less emphasis on the high-end market.

Due to Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth and a lack of newly developed property, the crisis has not hit hard like in Dubai, where prices have halved as investors vanished and thousands of new units went on the market.

Only nine projects, worth 491 million dollars, have been cancelled in Abu Dhabi, while 42 others, valued at 6.8 billion dollars have been put on hold, according to a study by Proleads research company, published at the show.

The study, which counts only projects with budgets of more 10 million dollars, said 307 projects, with a combined value of 153.9 billion dollars, have reached the execution stage.

Another 104 projects worth 73.97 billion dollars are at a pre-execution phase, it said.

The wealthy government of the emirate, which sits on almost all the oil reserves of the UAE, plays a major role in sustaining the pace of construction as it stands behind several landmark developments.

The projects include building state-of-the-art branches for the Louvre and Guggenheim museums.

Abu Dhabi, which is the Emirati capital, is also splashing out heavily on infrastructure, which is in turn helps the economy to overcome the impact of the global crisis.

The strong financial footing of Abu Dhabi, mainly as oil prices have recovered, allows its government-linked developers to feel more comfortable than troubled Dubai firms.

“I don’t foresee that we will face any problems in financing our projects,” said Carlos Obeid, chief financial officer at Mubadala, which is involved in grandiose projects in Abu Dhabi.

He pointed out that Mubadala was in the final stages of securing a two-billion-dollar syndicated loan.

“Abu Dhabi has strong fundamentals … Mubadala is owned by the Abu Dhabi government,” Obeid said, underscoring the comfortable position of the developer.

Jones also said that Abu Dhabi “has been insulated,” like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in contrast to debt-laden Dubai and other property markets, thanks to their high liquidity levels.

He also pointed out the level of property supply has not been as high as in Dubai, which has also been rife with speculative investments, while demand in the capital has been less volatile.

“It is a question of supply. They (Abu Dhabi) are in a different point of development compared to Dubai, which is delivering huge amounts” of units, said Jones of the CB Richard Ellis research firm.

“They are at a different place in the cycle” of market development, since Abu Dhabi launched its major property schemes later than Dubai, whose market was opened to foreign property investors in 2002, he said.

Source: SGGP

German paper reveals match-fixing details

In Vietnam Sports on November 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

The beautiful game is still reeling from the allegations (AFP photo)

BERLIN, Nov 22, 2009 (AFP) – A German paper said Sunday it had obtained details of some of the 200 matches under investigation in the match-fixing scandal that has rocked European football.

According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s website, the matches involved were generally lower profile matches and the gambling crooks bribed players to lose by a certain amount.

The paper listed a sample of matches from Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia and Turkey.

For example, investigators are reportedly probing a match in the Swiss second division that took place between Yverdon Sport and FC Thun on April 26, 2009.

Players from the away team were reportedly bribed 15,000 euros (22,000 dollars) to make sure they lost by a four-goal margin. The match ended 5-1.

In another match in the Belgian second division, players from UR Namur allegedly received backhanders to lose by two goals. Namur duly lost 2-0.

The beautiful game is still reeling from the allegations on Thursday that a gang of around 200 people have been rigging games in Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Austria and Switzerland.

“Without doubt this is the biggest scam there has ever been in European football,” UEFA’s match-fixing specialist Peter Limacher said at a news conference on Friday in Germany, where the probe was organised.

By bribing players, coaches, referees and officials to influence matches, the gang is thought to have earned as much as 10 million euros in huge bets with bookmakers in Europe and Asia, primarily in China.

Around 300 police carried out around 50 raids on Thursday in Germany, Britain, Switzerland and Austria, arresting 15 people in Germany and two in Switzerland. More than a million euros in cash and property were seized.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Few jobs for few teachers, survey reveals

In Vietnam Education on September 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

The country’s education sector is facing the paradox in which it badly lacks teachers while graduates struggle to find teaching jobs, a recent survey by Sai Gon Giai Phong found.

The shortage of teachers has been seen for the past few years.

For example, in the 2008-09 school year the average rate of teacher per class at high school level is just 1.98 compared to the required 2.25. Similarly, the number of primary teachers is just 86 percent of total needs, according to statistics of the Ministry of Education and Training.

In the new school year, many provinces and cities are still struggling with the chronic shortage of teachers.

In Ho Chi Minh City, to ease the serious lack of teachers, many pre-school teachers have had to assume teaching at the primary level.

In Hanoi, urgent recruitment of hundreds of teachers has been made recently to meet the needs of the school year.

Meanwhile, a good deal of graduates from the teachers’ university and colleges cannot find a job.

Students in a science lab at HCM City Teachers’ Training University. To make it easier for graduates to find a teaching job, experts said the education sector must re-examine actual demand for teachers and then set up proper training plans. (Photo: SGGP)

Phan Thi Lieu, from the central Nghe An Province, is an example. She has not found a teaching job since she graduated from the Hue Teachers’ Training University in 2008.

Failing to find a job in Hue, she and her husband left for Ho Chi Minh City, with the hope that she could became a teacher. But after she submitted applications, including private and international schools, the only answer she have so far received is “to wait and see.”

“To make a living, I have had to take a job as a worker for a South Korean garment company, getting paid VND1.5 million per month, most of which is spent on rent,” Ms Lieu said.

Similarly, Nguyen Thi Thom, from the northern Tuyen Quang Province, a graduate from Hanoi Teachers’ Training University, has been working as an insurance agent for the past four years after failing to find a job as a literature teacher.

Many graduates have also complained that they are required to spend a lot of money in securing jobs as teachers, said Prof. Dinh Quang Bao, the former head of the Hanoi Teachers’ Training University.

For instance, Ms. Thom said, “At every school I visited, I was asked to pay US$5,000 to be accepted. Where can I get such money?”

Besides this problem, many students have had to resort to social relationships to secure a job. Specifically, they must rely on influential people’s help when they want to be accepted at certain schools.

Training must fit demand

To make it easier for graduates to find a job, some educational experts told Sai Gon Giai Phong that the sector must re-examine national demand for teachers so that they can map out proper plans for teachers’ training.

In practice, there has long existed a paradox, in which the line-up of teachers is both insufficient and redundant, Prof. Bao said.

As compared to actual demand, it is not enough, while “redundancy” meant that many teachers are not included in list of regular teachers at schools, he explained.

Some schools have plenty of teachers for some subjects, while lacking teachers for some others, he added.

Except for some provinces and cities in need of teachers, many others have seen their demand saturated but recruitment has continued, leading to too many teachers, said Tran Xuan Mau, the deputy head of the Department for Teachers and Educational Administrators, under the Ministry of Education and Training.

Meanwhile, as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thien Nhan put it, “mountainous areas and areas with disadvantaged conditions are badly in need of teachers.”

The fact that teacher graduates face difficulty in finding a job partly comes from the inadequate forecast of demand for teachers at all educational levels, he added.

To improve the situation, all education and training departments must re-consider their demand for teachers and organize training at the request of potential employers within the next three years, he instructed.  

To ease the lack of teachers, particularly in remote and disadvantaged areas, incentive policies, including those on salaries, should be applied for teachers in such areas, said Prof. Dr. Tran Trung, the principal of the Hung Yen Technical Teachers’ Training University.

Related article:

Low pay, few jobs hinder education sector

Source: SGGP

Auditor reveals success for four State-owned firms

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2008 at 12:46 pm

HA NOI — Four State-owned corporations, Vinalines, Viet Nam Multimedia Corporation (VTC) and Khatoco and Resco, have recorded profit in 2007 and not violated any major Government regulations, according to audit results unveiled by the State Audit Office of Viet Nam on Wednesday.

Audits of the four corporations’ financial reports showed that in 2007 nine of VTC’s 13 parent and subsidiaries recorded profits, and all parent and subsidiary units of the other three corporations also recorded profits.

Total pre-tax profit was more than VND1 billion (US$60,000) for Viet Nam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines), VND34.67 million for VTC, VND185.77 million for Khanh Viet Corporation (Khatoco), and VND280.74 million for Sai Gon Real Estate Corporation (Resco), according to the State Audit Office’s report.

Regarding investment separate from their primary businesses, only Vinalines invested VND62 billion to set up two real estate trading companies and VND29.7 billion to open two securities companies.

Le Minh Khai, deputy head of the audit office, said that return on equity for the corporation was a reasonable criterion to define the effectiveness of their business because if they made profit and didn’t undergo any deficit, their return on equity would be quite high.

Return on equity was 13.6 per cent for Vinalines, 17.3 per cent for VTC, 25 per cent for Khanh Viet and 20 per cent for Resco.

The audit concluded that the four corporations operating under the parent-subsidiary mode have transparent finances and effective operations, especially considering the challenges of the economy.

However, the office report pointed out that the four corporations violated some regulations on accounting, business results, and management of assets, capital, revenue, income and expenditure.

The office said it plans in 2008 undergo 135 auditing courses, an increase of 15 per cent over 2007, including an audit of the State budget, money and assets of 35 provinces and cities controlled by the central authorities and 20 ministries and central offices.

It also plans to produce financial reports on 23 groups, corporations and financial and banking organisations. By August 22, the office finished 49 audits and produced 35 audit reports. —