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Posts Tagged ‘Severe’

Japan faces ‘more severe’ security situation: PM

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

TOKYO, Oct 24, 2010 (AFP) – Japan is facing growing security challenges due to China’s flexing of its military might and North Korea’s missile development programme and nuclear status, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday.

Kan’s comments come amid heightened tensions with China over disputed islands and growing military activities by the rapidly developing Asian giant and follow a report that North Korea may be preparing for a third nuclear test.

Troops of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) attend an inspection parade at the Asaka military base in suburban Tokyo on October 24, 2010. AFP

Ties between Tokyo and Beijing were badly strained after Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain near the island chain in the East China Sea last month, sparking a barrage of protests from Beijing.

“The security situation surrounding Japan is becoming more severe, seen in concerns over North Korea’s missile and nuclear arms development and in China’s increasing naval activity along with its military modernisation,” Kan said at an inspection parade of troops in suburban Tokyo.

“The Self-Defence Forces need to be poised to deal with various situations effectively,” Kan said, using the official name of the Japanese troops.

Kan also stressed the importance of strengthening the decades-long alliance with the United States, saying: “I’d like to deepen the alliance into an appropriate form for the 21st century.”

The prime minister attended the parade for the first time as the premier of the government led by the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan, which ousted a conservative government last year.

In the latest development in the bitter spat between China and Japan, Tokyo on Sunday urged Beijing to normalise rare earth exports that are crucial for high-tech Japan after shipments were blocked last month.

Japanese trade minister Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata said he had urged Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Yaoping to “make improvements so that exports of rare earths will be carried out smoothly,” amid continued interruptions caused by strict inspections by Chinese customs officials.

The Chinese navy has increasingly been deployed to areas near Japanese territorial waters in a show of force by China.

In an incident in April this year, a large Chinese flotilla ventured near a group of Japanese islands in the East China Sea and sent out a helicopter that buzzed Japanese navy ships monitoring their movement.

The increased Chinese activity in its southern waters has sparked a defence rethink in which Japan plans to deploy more forces to its scattered southern islands and away from Cold War-era locations in the north near Russia.

Beijing’s increased assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea, has caused jitters among other neighbouring nations as well as the United States, which is also at odds with China over trade and currency issues.

Meanwhile Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest-selling newspaper, reported Thursday that North Korea appeared to be preparing for a third nuclear test, citing an unidentified government source.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek said Friday the chances of another nuclear test by the communist North could not be ruled out, although the likelihood was low.

Source: SGGP

Severe heat to continue in central and northern Vietnam

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

The sweltering weather will continue in the central and northern regions in the next four to five days with temperatures forecast to top 40-Celsius degrees.


A woman takes her buffalo to search for water in the Cuoi Riverbed in the northern central province of Quang Tri (Photo: SGGP)

According to the National Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Center, the northern provinces continue to be affected by a westerly hot low-pressure system as arid winds move through the central region. Both areas will experience high temperatures hovering around 35-38 degrees.

The northern central region will suffer the worst heat with some places due to see the mercury level surpass 40 degrees.

Meanwhile, the Central Highlands and southern regions will be sunny in daytime. In late afternoon and nighttime, sparse showers will roll in with thunderstorms forecast to occur in some places.

The highest temperatures in the two regions will touch 33 degrees.

Sunday was the third day that central and northern regions suffered through the latest heat wave. Residents in provinces like Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An reported they felt as if in a “fire pan” with temperatures touching 38-40 degrees.

Source: SGGP

Britain to unveil severe austerity plan

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

(AFP file) A woman walks past a vacant shop in Cheshire, north-west England.

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s new coalition government is expected to unveil big cuts in public spending and significant tax increases in its first budget due Tuesday, after inheriting a record public deficit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will deliver the Conservative-Liberal Democrats’ budget to parliament at 1130 GMT after the coalition took power following last month’s general election.

Osborne confirmed Sunday that his emergency budget would include a levy on banks.

“What I’m determined to do is to make sure that the measures are tough but they’re also fair,” Osborne told BBC television.

“What we’re clear about is that all parts of society are going to have to make a contribution.”

Meanwhile, preparing millions of public sector workers for savage cuts, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “fair” that they should face a squeeze on pay and pensions.

“There is no way of dealing with an 11 percent budget deficit just by hitting either the rich or the welfare scrounger,” he said in a weekend interview with The Times newspaper.

Osborne was reportedly ready to announce a freeze in welfare benefit payments.

But the opposition Labour party, ousted at the May 6 general election after 13 years in power, warned moving too swiftly to make cuts could endanger a fragile economic recovery.

“We have to be very cautious about the rate at which money is taken out of the British economy,” said the party’s finance spokesman Alistair Darling.

Osborne is seeking to save tens of billions of pounds as state borrowing is forecast to reach 155 billion pounds (230 billion dollars, 185 billion euros), or 10.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), in the year to March 2011.

Britain’s public deficit had rocketed to a record-high of 156 billion pounds in the 2009/10 fiscal year which ended in March, as severe recession hit tax revenues and as the government spent billions of pounds on bailing out banks.

Reports late Monday meanwhile said Osborne’s announcement will include a sweetener in a bid to draw some of the poison from the toughest budget in decades, with the rate at which people start paying tax rising by 1,000 pounds.

The move, which was heavily trailed in the British media, will mean that nearly 900,000 people earning less than 7,475 pounds a year will pay no tax, said the BBC.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned in a message to his Liberal Democrat supporters the day before the budget that it would be “one of the hardest things we will ever have to do.”

“But I assure you, the alternative is worse: rising debts, higher interest rates, less growth and fewer opportunities.”

The government said last week that it had decided to axe or suspend projects planned by the former Labour government that would have cost about 11.0 billion pounds.

The coalition had already announced plans in May to cut spending by about 6.2 billion pounds in 2010/11.

Osborne is also expected to unveil tax increases in Tuesday’s budget. Media reports suggest that he will raise VAT — a tax on goods and services — to 20 percent from 17.5.

The chancellor is also set to raise capital gains tax — or profits from the sale of assets such as second homes — and introduce a levy on banks.

Britain’s economy is predicted to grow by only 2.6 percent in 2011 as it recovers from a record recession that ended late last year, according to the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), an independent fiscal watchdog set up by the new government.

That compared with a 3.25-percent expansion forecast by the previous Labour government.

Source: SGGP

Lai Chau suffers severe damage from hail, wind storm

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 at 9:35 am

A woman walks past a razed house in northern Lai Chau Province after a hail storm and high winds struck the area on April 16 (Photo: SGGP)

A hail storm and high winds wreaked havoc in the northern province of Lai Chau on April 15 and 16, razing homes and destroying property and crops over a wide area.

The province, which has been experiencing drought conditions for the last several weeks, was hit suddenly in the morning with rain, thunder, hail and whirlwinds, lasting around 30 minutes.

Around 300 rooftops were blown off the homes of Dao and Mong ethnic minority people in the district of Phong Tho and according to some locals, the wind and hailstones were the strongest the community had seen in at least 50 years.

The hail alone caused hundreds of millions of dong in damages to hectares of rice and vegetable crops in the area, while some cattle and water-fowl also died.

The storm also blew off the rooftops and destroyed parts of the Lan Nhi Thang junior high school, also in Phong Tho District.

Vu Xuan Tinh, deputy head of the province’s Irrigation and Storm Prevention Department, said that officials in storm-hit localities would provide support to affected families.

Source: SGGP

Severe nurse shortage plaguing Vietnam

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

According to the Ministry of Health, the country currently lacks around 40,000 nursing staff while just 6 percent of all nurses hold a university degree. This severe shortage puts even more pressure on Vietnam’s overloaded healthcare system.

A nurse treats a patient at Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital in HCMC (Photo: SGGP)

Most who finish nursing programs choose to enter other fields soon after graduation due to the high stress and demands of the job in addition to low pay and poor social recognition. 

It is commonplace in hospitals for stressed patients and their families to take out their frustrations on nursing staff, often accusing them of giving priority to others or not taking responsibility for problems that are beyond their control. The nurses say they have little option but to accept such tirades.

Having insults hurled their way is also common for emergency room nurses in particular, said Vu Thi Thanh Huong, a senior nurse in Ho Chi Minh City. Patients’ relatives often don’t understand the job of nurses and are anxious about the condition of their loved ones, she added.

Ms. Huong said that many young nurses simply can’t bear the demanding work loads and outbursts from patients’ families. They are often brought to tears and end up resigning in spite of preferential treatment given by some hospitals to nursing staff.

Furthermore, Vietnamese society does not fully appreciate the role of nurses. In 2007, Thai Thi Kim Nga, a senior nurse at HCMC’s Cho Ray Hospital, was the first to be awarded for excellence on the job after 20 years of work.

Ms. Nga said the job was extremely difficult and the low income pushed many nurses to leave for other fields of employment. Nurses working at State hospitals, meanwhile, often choose to leave and work for private clinics where the work load is less and the pay is better.

HCMC’s Cho Ray Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the country, sees large numbers of emergency room nurses leave each year due to job stress. The hospital was shocked in 2008, however, when 30 experienced emergency room nurses resigned and asked to transfer to other departments.

The situation is even worse at HCMC’s Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, which struggles to keep nurses despite offering bonuses and shorter working days of around seven hours.

A nurse with 10 years’ experience at the HCMC-based Children Hospital II said that in order to keep nursing staff, better preferential policies, wages, and working conditions are needed.

Source: SGGP

Severe drought damages Central Highlands crops

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Severe drought damages Central Highlands crops

QĐND – Sunday, April 04, 2010, 22:52 (GMT+7)

A long bout of sweltering weather in the Central Highlands is creating havoc for residents as crops are dying and freshwater levels in rivers are being depleted at an alarming rate.

According to provincial agriculture and rural development departments, drought conditions are affecting large areas in the region. Geologists say that underground water sources are also severely declining as the days go by.

In Gia Lai Province’s eastern districts of Kong Chro, Krong Pa, Dak Po and Kbang, the parching conditions have put thousands of farmers’ crops in danger.

In Mang Yang District, the water dearth is threatening 1,000 hectares of rice.

Water levels at most irrigation works and rivers have slumped and are now one to two meters lower than last year during the same period.

Dinh Xuan Duyen, head of the Krong Pa District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that thousands of hectares of tobacco, fruit and vegetables in the district are dying from a lack of water.

The daily activities of locals are also suffering. Residents have been transporting water each day in containers from the Ba River, as all wells have now dried up, he said.

Meanwhile, as of March 31, Dak Lak Province had 5,000 hectares of rice, coffee and maize suffering drought conditions, with 780 hectares in danger of dying off completely.

According to the Central Highlands’ Hydro Meteorological Center, this year’s rainy season will come late compared with previous years, which means all water sources could continue drying up in the coming months.

Experts have said the Central Highlands should reduce areas used to cultivate coffee and instead increase areas to grow forests, as this will help the area retain more water in the future.

Source: SGGP

Source: QDND

Severe weather threatens rice crops nationwide

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 6:32 am

Harsh weather conditions that have manifested over the first two months of this year are creating many problems for residents of all regions, experts say.

Water level in the Red River in Hanoi at an alarming 10 centimeters on Feb. 25, 2010 (Photo:SGGP)

They caution that the conditions pose some risks to human health and agricultural production.

According to the National Hydro-Meteorological Forecast Center, from January until now, it is still winter season in the northern region, but temperatures have been higher than the average for many years, with the northwest region seeing the mercury go up to 33-34 Celsius. In fact, temperatures nationwide have been higher than the average by one to two degrees Celsius degrees, the center says.

Residents of the north and central regions as well as some parts of the south are facing fresh water shortages because rivers are drying up and there has been little or no rain to provide any respite.

Drought conditions are also posing a serious threat of forest fires in many localities.

Meanwhile, Bui Minh Tang, director of the National Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center, said temperatures until May will continue to remain at higher levels than the average of many years.

Tang said hot spells will appear in the beginning of March, and rainfall is likely to fall by 20-50 percent, causing water levels in most rivers to fall drastically.

In the north, water level in the Red River has been around 10 centimeters over the past two months, an alarming low.

Water levels have also fallen at many reservoirs created by hydroelectric power plants.

Tang said the dry weather conditions were a result of climate change as well as the El-nino phenomenon.

Crops at risk

According to Bui Sy Doanh, deputy head of the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development’s Plant Protection Department, a survey of some rice samples from the northern provinces of Lai Chau, Dien Bien and Thai Binh have shown most of them were afflicted with diseases.

In addition, many kinds of insects and pests have appeared in many rice fields in the Red River Delta, including Nam Dinh and Hai Phong City.

As of now, rice diseases have been seen in 18 provinces and cities in the north-central coastal region, Red River Delta and north mountain provinces, affecting over 30,000 hectares.

The area for transplanting rice seedlings this year will decrease by 9,000 hectares compared to the last year because of drought, and rice output will decrease by 70,000 tons, according to the agricultural ministry’s Cultivation Department.

Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has held a meeting to discuss ways to address the problem of hot weather and drought facing many parts of the country.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has agreed to provide financial support from the State budget to implement measures for preventing rice diseases from spreading further.

The State will fund purchases of buy insecticides and plant protection drugs to exterminate diseases in the rice fields.

It will also provide 12 kilos of rice per person per month to help households affected by insect-damaged crops for a maximum of six months.

The department has said that farmers in the south will receive financial support of VND4 million (US$210) per hectare for rice crops ruined by diseases.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share