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Posts Tagged ‘stays’

S.Korea stays on guard despite N.Korea concessions

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

A wary South Korea stayed on alert Tuesday despite North Korea’s failure to retaliate for a live-fire drill, as the United States expressed scepticism about Pyongyang’s reported nuclear concessions.


Hours after the South defied North Korea’s threats to stage the exercise near the disputed sea border, the North’s military announced Monday it “did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation”.

South Korean marines patrol on the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong

The comments eased fears of war on the peninsula, following almost a month of high tensions.


The North used a similar artillery drill on Yeonpyeong island on November 23 as a pretext for a bombardment of the island which killed four people including civilians and damaged dozens of homes.


Pyongyang had threatened an even deadlier attack if Monday’s drill went ahead, only to change tack with an unusual display of restraint, which came after China blocked efforts at the UN Security Council to condemn the North.


The South’s military, accused of responding feebly to last month’s attack, said it would keep its guard up.


“This is the most serious crisis in our national defence since the (1950-53) Korean War,” Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin told parliament Tuesday.


“We are maintaining thorough military readiness at sea including Yeonpyeong island against possible provocations by the North,” Kim said, promising strong retaliation for any future attack.


The North’s softer stance coincided with apparent concessions on its nuclear programmes to visiting US politician Bill Richardson.


The New Mexico governor, a veteran troubleshooter with the North, said it had offered to re-admit UN nuclear inspectors and to negotiate the sale of fuel rods — capable of producing bomb-making plutonium — to a third party.


The North, Richardson said, had also proposed a military commission grouping the two Koreas and the United States to prevent conflicts in disputed areas of the Yellow Sea, and to reconnect a crisis hotline.


North Korea in April 2009 pulled out of six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and ordered US and UN nuclear inspectors out of the country. It staged its second nuclear test a month later.


The US State Department expressed scepticism.


“North Korea talks a great game. They always do. The real issue is what will they do,” said spokesman Philip Crowley.


“If they are agreeable to returning IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors to their country, they have to tell the IAEA that.


“We’ve seen a string of broken promises by North Korea going back many, many years.”


The South, deploying warships and jet fighters to guard against any counterstrike, went ahead with its artillery drill Monday after the UN Security Council failed to agree a statement to ease the crisis.


China blocked moves to criticise its ally the North for last month’s attack, diplomats said.

A senior Seoul government official said the North’s decision not to retaliate was partly swayed by diplomatic concerns.

“I think North Korea does not want to be diplomatically isolated and targeted by all (key) members of the Security Council,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The official said recent provocations were linked to North Korean efforts to strengthen the status of Kim Jong-Un as eventual successor to his father, leader Kim Jong-Il.

Similar attacks were staged in the 1980s when Kim Jong-Il was trying to bolster his own status as a strong and capable future leader, he said. “This is the same situation, different people.”

The official also said the North may not have attacked on Monday because the South’s military was fully prepared. “North Korea has already implied it might be tempted to make another strike or provocation — we have to watch.”

Source: SGGP

BP cap stays on as ‘static kill’ idea floated

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, July 20, 2010 (AFP) – The US government allowed the BP cap stemming the oil flow in the Gulf of Mexico to remain in place Tuesday as plans for a “static kill” were discussed to seal off the source of the ecological disaster.


US disaster response commander Admiral Thad Allen said engineers had found seepage and other anomalies, but said none were “consequential” enough to stop the well integrity test, now in its fifth day.

Thad Allen points to an illustration of the well cap stack and where leaks have been spotted during a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services July 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. AFP

“At this point there is not any reason to believe that we have anything that’s a major issue in relation to the well’s integrity from the seepages we’ve located,” said Allen.


“We have agreed that we will go forward with another 24-hour period” through Tuesday


Despite his optimism, Allen ordered BP to produce a “detailed timeline” for restarting operations to contain the oil with a fleet of surface vessels if the cap had to be opened again.


The announcement on Thursday that BP had stopped the oil flow completely for the first time since April raised hope among devastated communities along the Gulf Coast that a three-month nightmare may soon be over.


Measuring devices on BP’s cap have given steadily increasing high-pressure readings, which would indicate there are no major leaks in the well bore that stretches an astonishing 2.5 miles (four kilometers) below the seabed.


BP wants to keep the valves on the cap closed continuously until operations to permanently seal the well can begin in less than two weeks time, meaning no more toxic crude would stream into the Gulf.


Allen is more cautious and insists that keeping the cap on until the relief well operation is not a done deal as there are still too many uncertainties to know it has been shut in safely.


“We will make decisions on the well integrity test on a day-by-day basis knowing that events could present themselves that would require us to go to a containment system,” he said.


Both Allen and BP floated the idea of a new operation to plug the well called the “static kill” — very much like the “top kill” operation that failed almost two months ago.


BP said the idea would be to send down heavy drilling mud as before through the giant blowout preventer valve that sits on top on of the well and then inject cement to seal it.


“We’re still very much in the design and planning phase,” said senior BP vice president Kent Wells. “We’ve got some real experienced teams working on this over the next couple of days.”


Planning was still in initial stages, Allen said, stressing that the relief well was still the ultimate fix.


The latest estimate for when the relief well will intercept the leaking well is July 29 and the plugging operation would then take place by mid-August.


Gulf residents, who have seen the crude tarnish their shorelines and cripple the local economy since a rig leased by BP exploded and killed 11 workers on April 20, are desperate for a permanent fix so they can clean up and start to rebuild.


Kenneth Feinberg, who manages BP’s 20-billion-dollar compensation fund, said capping the well would allow compensation claims to move forward more quickly as the extent of the damage becomes clearer.


He urged fishermen, oyster gatherers and hotel owners and other businesses to come forward with claims, including emergency payments to cover the first six months of damages.


Residents face a tough choice: whether to accept compensation from the fund or pursue legal action against BP or the other companies involved.


“I’ll be much more generous than any court will be, and at the same time you won’t need to pay lawyers’ costs,” said Feinberg.


Oil has washed up on the coasts of all five Gulf states — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22, two days after the explosion.


The crude oil has killed birds, closed fishing grounds, decimated the tourism industry and done untold environmental damage.


If the upper estimate of over four million barrels are confirmed, the disaster would be the biggest accidental oil spill ever.

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Source: SGGP

VN-Index corrects but stays below 500

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Movement of VN-Index on July 8. (Photo: Vietstock.vn)Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index recovered on July 8 as global stock markets rallied. However, it did not surpass the 500 mark over concern that global markets would make sharp correction after big gains.

The shares of 246 companies and four mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange finished at 498.55 points, climbing 1.64 points, or 0.33 percent.


Low buying demand pushed down liquidity on trading floor to 42.4 million shares, worth VND1.16 trillion.


On the index, 100 stocks gained, 87 fell, and 63 were unmoved.


Sugar producer Société De Bourbon Tay Ninh (SBT), with 1.97 million shares changing hands, took the top spot with most active shares in volume, replacing Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB), which came in second today with 1.59 million shares.


PetroVietNam Transportation Corporation (PVT) followed with 1.28 million shares traded.


Construction and Materials Trading Joint Stock Company (CNT) advanced for second consecutive day, gaining 4.95 percent to VND33,900.


From July 9 to September 9, Tran Cong Quoc Bao, deputy general director of Construction and Materials Trading Joint Stock Company (CNT), registered to sell 20,000 shares, reducing his holdings to 15,610 shares, claiming personal financial need.


Godaco Seafood Joint Stock Company (AGD) rose 4.94 percent, going from VND38,500 to VND40,400.


Electronic consumer products manufacturer Son Ha International Corporation (SHI) added 4.9 percent.


Ha Tien Transport Joint Stock Company (HTV) capped its winning streak of seven straight trading sessions, losing the maximum allowed limit of 5 percent to fall to VND22,800.


Dinh Vu Port Investment & Development Joint Stock Company (DVP) fell 4.89 percent to VND38,900.


Cao Thi Thuy Van, wife of Pham Hong Minh – member of Board of Directors of Dinh Vu Port Investment & Development Joint Stock Company (DVP), sold 2,000 shares between May 5 and June 5 without making an announcement.


Danang Construction Building Materials and Cement Joint Stock Company (DXV) gave up 4.87 percent.


Hanoi’s HNX-Index gained 0.49 points, or 0.32 percent, to end at 155.58. Trading volume was just around 27.12 million shares, worth VND851.22 billion.


The UPCoM-Index of the unlisted shares shrunk 1.81 points to 54.99 as of 11 am local time. A total of 468.557 shares were traded at a value of VND8.36 billion.

Source: SGGP

Hanoi launches tour to encourage longer stays

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm




Hanoi launches tour to encourage longer stays


QĐND – Tuesday, June 01, 2010, 22:13 (GMT+7)

A new tour taking visitors to eco-tourism, cultural and historic sites in the Ba Vi district of Hanoi will be launched in July this year in an effort to attract more tourists to the capital on its 1,000th birthday.


The tour, put together and run by Hanoi’s Tourism Promotion and Information Centre will take in famous and popular sites such as BaViNational Park, Hai Spring, VaTemple, Khoang Xanh and Dam Long.


It is hoped that the new tour will encourage visitors to extend their stay in the capital.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

North gets warmer, south stays hot

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 6:34 am

Temperatures in the northern region of Vietnam have begun moving up since Monday (February 22). Experts forecast it is going to be sunny and warm in middle of this week after the cold Tet days.








The southern region continues to be hot in the next ten days (Photo: SGGP)

The region experienced severe cold weather over the last few days due to a cold front coming in from the north.


The National Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center February 21 said that the region would experience another cold front towards the end of this month.


In the southern provinces, meanwhile, the hot weather is sent to continue over the next 10 days, with no rain and temperatures likely to surge to 34-35 Celsius degrees.





Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Cost of dining out stays high

In Politics-Society on March 17, 2010 at 2:46 am




Cost of dining out stays high


QĐND – Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 20:43 (GMT+7)

Prices for meals at restaurants and small eateries have not dropped since Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, despite lower prices for essential items at groceries and wholesale markets.


Nguyen Thanh Ha, deputy director of Thu Duc District’s Tam Binh wholesales market, said prices of many essential foods, including fruits, vegetables, chicken, pork and others, had all dropped since Tet, when prices surged.


To increase sales after the heavy buying period during Tet, wholesalers had cut prices on rice, sugar, cooking oil, meat, poultry, eggs, processed foods, fruits and vegetables.


But prices at local eateries remain the same. For example, the price of pho, vermicelli and rice at cafes and restaurants in HCM City ‘s district 3 and Phu Nhuan district is 30,000VND-35,000VND per bowl, or even up to 45,000 VND.


Nguyen Thi Oanh, an owner of an eatery in District 3’s Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Street , said she was concerned that the recent drop in prices would be temporary.


“I would not lower the prices until I see that essential food prices are stable,” Oanh said.


Some restaurant and cafe owners said if the price of meat, beef, vegetables and others fell by 10-15 per cent, the price of a meal should drop by 1,000 VND-1,500 VND.


In addition, the price of drinks made from fruit has yet to fall. For example, a glass of carrot or tomato juice is selling for 20,000 VND or 25,000 VND.


Many family-owned shops are also maintaining high prices.


For example, the wholesale price of pork pies has fallen about 5,000 VND per kilogramme, but family-owned food shop owners continue to charge high prices.


Nguyen Thanh Cong, owner of a pork-pie processing shop in district 5, said the retail price should be about 80,000 VND per kilo.


But at many family-owned shops on Nguyen Thien Thuat and Hai Ba Trung streets in district 3, the retail price of pork pie is as high as 120,000 VND– 140,000 VND per kilo.


Beef pies are selling for about 140,000 VNDper kilo and shredded meat for 135,000VND per kilo.


The city People’s Committee has asked authorities at the district and ward level to closely review and check the market, and strictly supervise prices at restaurants, eateries and small food shops.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Australian Open: Kuznetsova stays low-key

In Vietnam Sports on January 21, 2010 at 12:56 am

MELBOURNE, Jan 20, 2010 (AFP) – Low-key Russian world number three Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a minimum of fuss on Wednesday, and that’s the way she likes it.


The reigning French Open champion was far too good for teenage countrywoman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, winning 6-2, 6-2 in just over an hour.








Kuznetsova hits a return during her victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in their women’s singles second round match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2010. AFP PHOTO

The understated 24-year-old became the first player in the tournament through to the third round and in doing so continued a remarkably consistent run in Grand Slam matches.


Kuznetsova, who also won the 2004 US Open, has now reached the third round in 17 successive majors.


She put her consistency down to a combination of experience and motivation.


“I have played for plenty of years already in Grand Slams and even though I’m 24, it feels like I’ve been here for a while,” she said.


“I just get extra motivation when I play Slams, this is for what I work for, what I play for. You just enjoy it so much.”


Although two appearances in the quarter-finals are her best effort at the Australian Open, a confident Kuznetsova said her game was in better shape than ever, as she had been working on becoming a player with more variety.


“I have worked on coming a little bit more into the court, because I had the defensive game, but then I want to come and play inside,” she said.


“I want to come to the net because I think I can play different games and come outside, play outside, inside, come to the net.


“I want to be an all-zones player and I think I have a potential to do that.”


Kuznetsova showcased her improved net game by winning 12 points that way, as well as reeling off 29 winners, to just seven from her opponent.


She admitted to expecting a little more opposition from the 39th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova, the pair having met in Beijing last year, with the promising 18-year-old reaching the third round of last year’s French Open.


Nevertheless, she was pleased with her own game, although a little disappointed to have her serve broken twice.


“I was aggressive and I think I played well,” she said.


“The only thing, I lost two serves in the first set and I had very low percentage around 40 per cent. I don’t think that is good enough.”


She will play either 26th seed Aravane Razai or qualifier Angelique Kerber in the third round.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

US Fed stays course, sees record low rates for ‘extended’ time

In World on December 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm

 The US Federal Reserve extended its record low interest rates Wednesday and reaffirmed this policy would remain in place “for an extended period” to support a still-precarious economic recovery.


The central bank, concluding a two-day policy meeting, maintained the federal funds base rate of a range of zero to 0.25 percent, which has been in place for the past year under a plan to revive economic activity.


The Federal Open Market Committee headed by chairman Ben Bernanke did acknowledge some improvement in economic conditions, notably in the troubled labor market, but indicated this was not enough to shift away from a massive stimulus effort.








The US Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC.

The FOMC statement said that recent data “suggests that economic activity has continued to pick up and that the deterioration in the labor market is abating.”


It noted that the housing sector “has shown some signs of improvement over recent months” and that consumer spending is growing “a moderate rate” but is constrained by a weak labor market and tight credit.


The FOMC did reaffirm that some special programs to help restore credit would expire as scheduled and that the central bank would proceed with its trillion-dollar effort to pump money into housing and credit markets.


The text of the US Federal Reserve statement


“The Fed has a slightly more upbeat tone on the economy, but there is no hint that it is preparing to raise interest rates,” said Sal Guatieri, economist at BMO Capital Markets.


Others said the Fed is moving slowly to execute its so-called exit strategy from a massive effort to jolt the US economy out of recession.


“No rate hike should be expected at least through the first part of next year. But the Fed is remaining flexible,” said Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors.


“The members are adjusting their outlook to the evolving economy and are starting to remove some of the crutches, such as the purchases of mortgage-backed securities.”


The FOMC said it sees “substantial resource slack likely to continue to dampen cost pressures: and predicted that “inflation will remain subdued for some time.”


These conditions “are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period,” the FOMC statement said.


A series of programs to restore credit flows are likely to be allowed to expire in 2010, the statement said, confirming the timetable announced earlier this year.


These include efforts to guarantee commercial paper and asset-backed securities used for short-term corporate funding.


The FOMC said it remains in the process of pumping over one trillion dollars into financial markets to support the housing sector and other types of credit, but said these will be concluded as planned in early 2010.


“In order to promote a smooth transition in markets, the committee is gradually slowing the pace of these purchases, and it anticipates that these transactions will be executed by the end of the first quarter of 2010,” the statement said.


John Silvia, economist at Wells Fargo, said the Fed is showing confidence in the economic recovery by allowing the extra programs to run their course.

This path is “a little stronger than some of the regional presidents had predicted,” he added.

Silvia said the Fed may face political pressure as it withdraws some of the stimulus even with unemployment still close to 10 percent.

“You still have a lot of people issuing mortgage securities that no one is buying,” Silvia said.

With the Fed exit, Silvia said “mortgage rates will rise” and the economy will still be far from a full recovery, with unemployment still high.

“A lot of politicians are going to get angry,” he said.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

US embassy in S.Africa stays shut after ‘threat’

In World on September 23, 2009 at 11:30 am

 US government facilities in South Africa remained closed for a second day Wednesday, after the State Department said it had received a “credible” threat against the embassy.


The US embassy in Pretoria, consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, as well as aid and development offices have been closed since Tuesday due to the threat, which neither the embassy nor South African officials will discuss.


US facilities will stay closed at least until Friday, due to a public holiday on Thursday in South Africa.








The US Consulate in the Sandton area of Johannesburg. US government facilities in South Africa

In a Washington press briefing, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the closure was a precaution.


“The embassy received information about a possible threat against the embassy, and so as a precaution the State Department decided to close US Government facilities in South Africa,” he said.


“We’ve notified the American community in South Africa to remain vigilant when they’re… in the vicinity of US government facilities,” he said.


“The embassy will reopen as soon as we’ve completed our assessment of the security posture.”


Kelly would not be drawn on what the specific threat was, but said US officials were in close contact with South African authorities on the matter.


The closure highlighted the broader concerns about security in South Africa, ahead of the 2010 football World Cup, less than nine months away.


South Africa’s national police chief said on Tuesday the situation was “under control.”


On August 7, 1998, suicide bombers targeted the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in one of the most devastating attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks.


A total of 213 people, including 12 Americans and 34 local embassy staff, died in the Nairobi bombing. Another 11 died in the Tanzania blast.


The blasts sparked an enormous effort to bolster security at US embassies around the world, and particularly across Africa.


 


Source: SGGP