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US regulators approve ‘net neutrality’ rules

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:34 am

WASHINGTON, Dec 21, 2010 (AFP) – US telecom regulators, in a vote split on party lines, approved rules Tuesday that supporters said are needed to ensure an open Internet but opponents decried as unnecessary government intervention.

The five-member Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to the rules aimed at safeguarding “network neutrality,” the principle that lawful Web traffic should be treated equally, by a 3-2 vote at an open meeting here.

The three Democrats on the panel voted in favor of the rules, which are likely to face legal challenges and Republican opposition in Congress, while the two Republicans voted against them.

“Our action will advance our goal of having America’s broadband networks be the freest and fastest in the world,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

The FCC’s first-ever “net neutrality” rules met with a mixed reaction, with public interest groups and some Democrats saying they did not go far enough and Republicans condemning them as government meddling in the private sector.

President Barack Obama said the FCC move “will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet while encouraging innovation, protecting consumer choice, and defending free speech.”

Representative John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio who is slated to become speaker when the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January, said “the new House majority will work to reverse this unnecessary and harmful federal government power grab.”

The rules are a balancing act by the FCC between support for consumers and the cable and telephone companies that are the US Internet Service Providers.

One controversial rule saw the FCC endorse taking a different approach to fixed broadband and mobile broadband, giving wireless providers greater freedom to manage their networks because of spectrum issues.

Under the new rules, both fixed and mobile broadband providers are allowed to conduct “reasonable network management.”

The rules would prevent fixed broadband providers from blocking lawful content, applications or services, providing their own video content at a faster speed, for example, than that of a rival.

Wireless providers may not block access to lawful websites or applications that compete directly with their own voice or video telephony services but they could block other applications or services.

Fixed broadband providers can also charge consumers according to usage, a metered pricing practice already used by some wireless carriers.

Craig Aaron, managing director of public interest group Free Press, said the rules “don’t do enough to stop the phone and cable companies from dividing the Internet into fast and slow lanes, and they fail to protect wireless users from discrimination.

“No longer can you get to the same Internet via your mobile device as you can via your laptop,” Aaron said.

Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, said “net neutrality” is the “most important free speech issue of our time” and the rules fall “far short.”

“Mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon Wireless would be able to shut off your access to content or applications for any reason,” he said. “For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good.”

Verizon said it was “deeply concerned” by the split FCC vote.

“The FCC appears to assert broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband wireline and wireless networks and the Internet itself,” it said. “This assertion of authority without solid statutory underpinnings will yield continued uncertainty for industry, innovators, and investors.”

Michael Copps, one of the Democrats on the FCC, expressed regret that the rules — while discouraging — did not explicitly ban “paid prioritization,” the practice of a company paying for the faster delivery of its own content.

Robert McDowell, one of the Republican commissioners, described the vote as one of the darkest days in recent FCC history” and said it would open the door to “a global Internet regulatory pandemic.”

“The courts will easily sink it,” McDowell predicted.

“Nothing is broken in the Internet access market that needs fixing. Existing law and Internet structures provide ample protection to consumers,” he said.

The FCC drafted the rules after suffering a legal setback in April when a court ruled that it had not been granted the authority by Congress to regulate the network management practices of Internet service providers.

Source: SGGP

Seoul Reforms Marriage-Agency Rules After Bride’s Murder

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

Within three days, a man can meet and marry the Vietnamese bride of his dream, one typical marriage agency claims. The Vietnamese woman will be faithful, submissive, between the ages of 18 and 25 and a virgin, the agency promises.

Indeed, the potential bride’s background is much better vetted than the man’s: one popular Singapore-based marriage agency will medically exam the woman to ensure she’s a virgin – once by a doctor in Vietnam and a second time in Singapore – just to be sure. Until now, that’s been business as usual in an industry that has been facilitating thousands of marriages each year in Asia since the late 1990s, forever transforming the demographics of places like Taiwan and South Korea. But last month’s brutal murder of a Vietnamese bride has caused Seoul to rethink its approach to international-marriage brokers.

In July, just eight days after Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, 20, arrived in South Korea, her new 47-year-old husband beat and stabbed her to death. The man, it turns out, had been treated for schizophrenia at least 57 times in the past five years. He allegedly told police he had listened to a “ghost’s voice,” which had urged him to kill his wife. While men who go through marriage agencies have the opportunity to ask “an enormous number of questions” about the women they choose, the woman doesn’t get to ask questions about the man that selects her, says Andrew Bruce, a regional director at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). As a result, Ngoc was in the dark about the person she had agreed to marry. Her last words to her father were: “I will live happily,” according to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak in a radio address to the nation, in which he offered his “deepest sympathy to her family.” (Read about matchmakers in China.)

Asia’s private international-marriage agencies typically take men to meet their prospective brides on a seven- to 10-day trip in the bride’s country of origin, according to a report by DaniÈle BÉlanger, a sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario in Population & Societies journal. Some marriage agencies, however, advertise three-day itineraries that have men finding their wife on the day they arrive. The women are presented to the men, and the process of choosing a wife often takes less than an hour. In many cases, the woman can decline a proposal, but Bruce says it’s normal for these women to be held captive until they’re selected, giving them little real choice but to accept. The whole trip, which includes a full wedding, costs the groom between $5,000 and $10,000, while the local Vietnamese brokers that recruit the brides have started charging women between $1,000 and $3,000 to be matched with a prospective husband.

Marriage-brokerage reforms have an impact beyond the thousands of couples directly involved. Arranging foreign marriages is big business. In South Korea alone, there are some 1,253 registered marriage agencies. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, marriage migrants make up the second largest group of new immigrants behind temporary workers. In 2008, four out of every five naturalized residents in Taiwan were immigrant wives from Vietnam, and in 2009, 25,142 women went to South Korea as foreign wives. Though the number of marriages each year between a Taiwan man and a foreign spouse has decreased since Taipei cracked down on private marriage brokers in the mid 2000s, the island still had the highest proportion of marriages that involved a foreign spouse – 15% in 2009 – among countries where marriage brokers are popular. (Watch a video about Ireland’s last matchmaker.)

In South Korea, the men using these brokerages tend to be in their 30s and 40s, and are often from rural and working-class background. One survey show that more than 35% of fishermen and farmers in South Korea took foreign brides, but BÉlanger writes that societal pressure on Korean men “is so strong that it is difficult for them to remain single and childless,” and that these marriages are now starting to spread to the urban middle classes as well. And the numbers could rise. Due to sex-selective abortions in the 1980s and ’90s, the proportion of male births increased, and as this generation enters the marriage market, more men could opt for a foreign bride.

At the moment, Vietnam hasn’t made controlling this industry a priority. Though commercial marriage agencies in Vietnam are technically illegal, more than 70% of marriages between Vietnamese women and Korean men are arranged through brokers. Kang Sung Hea, the chief director of the Emergency Support Center for Migrant Women in South Korea, says the high costs of procuring a Vietnamese wife lead some Korean men and their families to feel “they have bought the women.” Kang says the primary problem with the brokerage process “is that the decision on marriage is more in the hands of Korean men rather than with the women themselves.”

In Seoul, Ngoc’s murder has spurred a flurry of reform. To give women more information, starting in November, Korean marriage brokers will need to provide the prospective brides in their own language the facts about the man’s marital status, occupation, health and criminal record. Another proposal would mandate that Korean men receive some form of pre-education before marrying. Lee Hye Kyung, a professor at Pai Chai University in South Korea, says this would give the government a chance to review the potential groom’s information in person, creating “an indirect screening system.” The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family says it will also set up a hotline for migrant women that will go live in November 2011, and that experts from the Multicultural Family Support Center will visit households with migrant wives to help the couple deal with any issues they may have.

But the debate in Korea isn’t over. Some within South Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family want to ban private marriage-brokerage firms altogether, according to Lee, though she fears this would only lead to black-market matchmaking. “If all such activities go underground, they would be more difficult to control,” Lee says, potentially opening a greater market for trafficking. Trafficking for the marriage market is already a problem in Asia. In June, South Korean authorities broke up a gang that used foreign marriages to smuggle in an estimated 240 women over the past two years. In March, Cambodia even went as far as to temporarily ban marriages between South Korean and Cambodian citizens to protect its women from trafficking.

Some experts, however, caution that there’s no evidence these marriages are any more prone to abuse than regular marriages or that human trafficking through fake marriages is widespread. “In terms of domestic violence, we don’t know if it’s more prevalent in these unions,” says BÉlanger. Though most of these women dislike the quick pace of the matchmaking process, she says these women do want to get married and migrate elsewhere: “It’s very easy to say this is the selling of women, but the women are not stupid. They have agency.” Moreover, in a country like South Korea with a relatively low birthrate, an aging population and an increasing number of women choosing to stay single, this new immigrant wave represents an important demographic shift, and new marriage laws could change the makeup of the country into the future. Says BÉlanger: “There’s a lot at stake. These women are literally birthing the next generation.”

Source: SGGP

New rules promote agriculture lending

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

New rules promote agriculture lending

QĐND – Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 21:0 (GMT+7)

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has decided to reduce the mandatory reserves maintained by commercial banks engaged in agricultural lending.

The new decision aims to encourage further lending for agricultural activities. State Bank Governor Nguyen Van Giau said at a conference held in HCM City last week to launch new credit policies for agricultural and rural development.

Giau said that the decision would take effect next month.

Banks that have at least 40 percent of their outstanding loans given for agricultural production will be allowed to reduce their reserves from the current 3 percent to 1.5 percent.

Those that have agriculture loans accounting for 60 percent or more of their total lending need to maintain reserves of just 1 percent.

The Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) will benefit from the new decision as its agriculture lending rate is already up to 70 percent.

Since compulsory reserves attracted no interest, reducing them would help banks cut capital costs and facilitate reduction of lending rates as well, Giau said.

He pledged that the central bank would use part of the money that it pumps into the market annually to help bank engaged in agricultural lending source long-term capital.

Under Decree No 41 issued recently by the Government, the amount of bank loans farmers and fishermen can get without collateral has increased five folds.

Those benefiting from the decree include: households and businesses in rural areas; farm owners and cooperatives in rural areas; organisations and individuals providing services for cultivation, animal husbandry, consumption and export of agricultural, forestry and fishery products and salt; and firms processing farm produce.

It also applies to enterprises involved in industry and trading and provision of non-agricultural services based in rural areas.

All the above-mentioned entities can borrow between 50 million VND (2,600 USD) and 500 million VND (26,000 USD) without collateral. These sums are five times higher than previous limits.

Firms engaged in agriculture, forestry, fishery and salt production can get bank loans of up to 50 million VND while cooperatives and farm owners can access loans worth 500 million VND.

Governor Giau also revealed at the conference that the Government was considering a pilot agricultural insurance programme by relevant ministries and other agencies.

The programme might provide financial support to farmers to help them pay premiums, he said.

Priority would be given to poor farmers, organisations and individuals engaging in large-scale production of main crops.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

IMF chief rules out double-dip global recession

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2010 (AFP) – IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Tuesday ruled out the immediate prospect of a double-dip recession scuttling the fragile global economic recovery, despite various risks.

The “recovery will go on without a double dip,” the IMF managing director said to a question at a forum hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (L) shakes hands with the Ambassador from South Korea Han Duk-soo (R) during a reception for Asian Ambassadors at the IMF Headquarters June 30, 2010 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO

Global markets went into a tailspin Tuesday as sagging American consumer confidence, weak Chinese economic indicators and European financial problems renewed fears the global economic recovery may falter.

The United States and many other key economies plunged into the worst recession in decades following an American home mortage meltdown in 2007 which triggered a financial crisis sending shockwaves across the globe.

But Strauss-Kahn said “the IMF hasn’t changed its views” on sustained global growth from the recession.

“It’s (double-dip) not in the baseline for us… but there are high tail-risks,” he said, citing as examples the “fiscal situation” in some countries and problems created by large credit flows to relatively fast-growing Asian and other emerging nations

“There are many possible triggers for a double dip,” he said, adding “it will be ridiculous to say there are no risks at all.”

Strauss-Kahn believed the much faster-growing Asian economies could make up for any slack in economic expansion afflicting the United States or Europe, where a mounting fiscal crisis has threatened to slam the brakes on growth.

Source: SGGP

New volcano ash flight rules bring hope for airlines

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

LONDON (AFP) – British aviation regulators bring in measures Tuesday to reduce the airspace closures fiercely criticised by airlines, as European skies were hit by new shutdowns caused by volcano ash clouds.

A view showing heavy clouds over dwellings set near the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland. AFP photo

Plumes of thick ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, which in April shut down much of Europe’s airspace for a week last month, drifted over the continent Monday, closing major airports and cancelling some 1,000 flights.

Britain, the Netherlands and Ireland closed airspace, with London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest air hub, and Amsterdam-Schiphol among those affected.

Airlines, which have lost millions of dollars due to the ash alerts, have expressed their fury with what they viewed as unnecessary restrictions introduced by overcautious safety watchdogs.

In a bid to keep the skies open for business, British aviation regulators introduce new measures from midday Tuesday that will to allow flights in thicker ash than previously permitted for a certain amount of time.

The new area — called a “Time-Limited Zone” — was created after discussions between regulators and manufacturers, said regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Experts believe high concentrations of volcanic dust can damage plane engines and even cause crashes.

But a CAA statement said: “Aircraft and engine manufacturers… have agreed that it is safe to allow operations in the new zone for a limited time.

“This means that areas of our airspace that would have previously been closed can safely open, further minimising disruption.”

To operate in the new zone, airlines must present regulators with a safety case which includes the agreement of the manufacturers, said the CAA.

This had already been achieved by British airline Flybe, which will be allowed in the zones from midday.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh led the attack on Monday’s flight restrictions, labelling them “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk.”

His criticism was echoed by KLM after the disruption to Dutch airspace.

“The closure was unnecessary. The flight control service should have first measured the concentration of ash and then took a decision,” said KLM spokeswoman Joyce Veekman.

Irish airline Ryanair attacked the computer-generated projections used by safety authorities to work out the no-fly zones, saying they were insufficiently detailed.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “It is frankly ridiculous that the flight plans of millions of air passengers across Europe are being disrupted on a daily basis by an outdated, inappropriate and imaginary computer-generated model and it is time that these charts were done away with.”

The international airline industry body, IATA, has estimated last month’s shutdown — Europe’s biggest since World War II — cost carriers some 1.7 billion dollars (1.4 billion euros).

Eurocontrol, the intergovernmental agency coordinating air traffic control, said around 1,000 flights in Europe were cancelled by Monday’s ash alert.

In the Netherlands, some 500 flights into and out of Amsterdam-Schiphol were axed after it was shut for seven hours until re-opening at 1100 GMT. Some 60,000 passengers were left stranded around the world by the closure.

London Heathrow and London Gatwick were also hit by a new round of delays and cancellations following a six-hour shutdown early Monday.

In Ireland, Dublin airport reopened at midday (1100 GMT) after a 17-hour shutdown as the cloud moved east. Almost 300 flights were cancelled, disrupting 36,000 passengers, The Irish Times newspaper said.

In Iceland, there was no sign of the volcano stopping.

The Eyjafjoell eruptions, which began on April 14, have peaked three times, with the latest surge of activity coming Friday.

“There is really no way of telling when it will stop… magma is still emerging,” Icelandic geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said.

Source: SGGP

Merkel rules out tax cuts ‘in foreseeable future’

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

BERLIN, May 10, 2010 (AFP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday ruled out tax cuts in Europe’s biggest economy, a key election pledge, “in the foreseeable future” following a “bitter defeat” in a key state poll.

“[In] my view no tax cuts will be possible in the foreseeable future,” Merkel told reporters, adding that this meant “at least two years — the budgets for 2011 and 2012.” Her current term runs until 2013.

In general elections in September, Merkel ditched the centre-left coalition partners in favour of a new alliance with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), promising voters billions of euros (dollars) in tax cuts.

A trader sits in front of a board displaying the German share index DAX on May 10, 2010 at the stock exchange in Frankfurt/M., western Germany. AFP photo

“Looking further ahead in politics is always very difficult because many things happen differently than one can predict with forecasts today,” Merkel said.

Merkel said that instead of cutting taxes, her government would focus on simplifying the taxation system.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) were also in an alliance with the FDP in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous, but voters threw out the coalition in an election on Sunday.

Experts said that the defeat was down in large part to Merkel’s decision to contribute to a massive bailout of Greece, and to squabbling in her new coalition.

“We have suffered a bitter defeat,” Merkel said.

“As regards the work of the federal government I will only say this: In the first months (of the new coalition) we did not provide any momentum to the government in NRW.

“On the contrary, we were a factor holding them back, and there were many avoidable disagreements.”

The election in NRW means Merkel’s coalition no longer has a majority in the upper house of parliament, making the passage of legislation harder. But she ruled out any cabinet reshuffle.

Source: SGGP

Stricter rules for commercial banks

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Stricter rules for commercial banks

QĐND – Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 21:2 (GMT+7)

The State Bank of Vietnam issued Circular No 09/2010/TT-NHNN on March 26, regulating the establishment of commercial banks.

The new regulation provides that founding shareholders may not contribute authorised capital in the form of loans and will be held responsible for the legality of the contribution.

Founding shareholders are subject to strict financial capacity requirements and must be an enterprise duly established under the Law on Enterprises or a Vietnamese citizen not prohibited under Article 13.2 of the Law on Enterprises.

Commercial banks must have at least 100 shareholders, at least three of which are enterprises that have operated for at least five years, have capital of at least 500 billion VND (26.32 million USD) for five consecutive years prior to the year of the application to establish the commercial bank.

A bank serving as a founding shareholder of another bank must have assets of at least 50 trillion VND (2.63 billion USD).

The circular takes place 45 days after its issuance.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

New rules on car use for representative offices issued

In policies on March 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm

New rules on car use for representative offices issued

QĐND – Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 20:55 (GMT+7)

Vietnamese ambassadors, charge d’affaires, and heads of missions to international organisations are allowed to use a car valued at less than 65,000 USD for business purposes, according to a new decision by the Prime Minister.

Those who hold the position of consulate general can use a car valued at no more than 60,000 USD.

A representative office of the country abroad can buy up to 10 cars, depending on specific circumstances and the nature of their work. Each office can buy one car valued at less than 45,000 USD, the remainder costing less than 35,000 USD.

With other Vietnamese offices abroad, those with less than four staff can buy a car, while those with more than four staff can buy two.

Cars for ambassadors, charge d’ affaires, and head of missions can be sold after at least five years of use.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

New rules issued on public takeovers

In Vietnam Economy on March 11, 2010 at 5:02 am

New rules issued on public takeovers

QĐND – Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 21:30 (GMT+7)

Public acquisition activities between domestic listed companies is booming, forcing market regulators to issue new rules on public takeovers.

The latest instruction, issued by the State Securities Commission early March, requires listed firms to implement bids through a negotiation system at stock exchanges, while unlisted firms will have to execute takeovers through the Vietnam Securities Depository Centre.

Under the new rules, bid participants must also meet minimum tax and bidding fees.

Public takeovers are commonplace in the global market although locally they have only started to appear since the bid between Hung Vuong and An Giang Fisheries Import-Export Co last year.

An official from the State Securities Commission was quoted as saying that the instruction on public acquisition bids is part of the regulators’ attempt to give more power to domestic enterprises for M&A activities.” The official added that the instruction would help ensure shareholders’ benefit from transparent bid implementation.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Injury rules Nigeria’s Yobo out of Nations Cup

In Vietnam Sports on January 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

BENGUELA, Angola, Jan 17, 2010 (AFP) – Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo was on Sunday ruled out of the Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a hamstring injury which will sideline him for at least two weeks.

Imorou Emmanuel (C) of Benin vies for the ball with Nigerian players Echiejile Elderson (L) and Yobo Michael (R) during their group C stage match at the African Cup of Nations 2010 in Benguela on January 16, 2010. AFP PHOTO

According to the official website of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Everton player tore his hamstring while challenging Benin striker Razak Omotoyossi in the 52nd minute of their Group C 1-0 win here on Saturday.

Yobo, who will undergo a scan on the injury on Monday, could be allowed to return to England for treatment.

Nigeria, second in Group C with three points from two matches, face Mozambique in Lubango in their final group game.

Group leaders Egypt, with six points, have already booked their place in the last eight.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share