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Republicans retake US House, target expenses

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:14 am

 A day after retaking the House of Representatives, US Republicans moved Thursday to make good on a campaign vow to slash spending with a mostly symbolic vote to cut lawmakers’ office budgets.

President Barack Obama’s Democrats were expected to join Republicans to pass a bill to slice five percent from House expenses, a 35-million-dollar drop in the roughly 3.6-trillion-dollar bucket of annual US government outlays.

Republicans also planned to read aloud from the US Constitution — but omit sections later amended, such as the original language defining black slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of apportioning congressional seats.

The symbolic moves aimed to please arch-conservative “Tea Party” activists who powered Republicans to regain control of the House of Representatives and slice deep into the Democratic Senate majority in November 2 elections.

Republicans aimed to set the tone ahead of Obama’s annual “State of the Union” expected January 25, a high-profile chance to retool his presidency in the wake of what he has called a ballot-box “shellacking.”

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged Obama by telephone Wednesday to unveil new plans for spending cuts including a ban on pet project “earmarks” and sweeping tax code reforms and said Republicans were “hopeful that we can work together.”

As a tense new era of power-sharing dawned in Washington, newly minted Republican House Speaker John Boehner warned lawmakers they faced “great challenges” as his party readied a fresh assault on Obama’s agenda with an eye on thwarting his 2012 reelection bid.

“Hard work and tough decisions will be required” at a time when the US economy is struggling to emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, Boehner said in his inaugural address.

The Ohio lawmaker choked back tears and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief as he took his new office’s symbolic gavel from Nancy Pelosi, the first woman US speaker and now Democratic minority leader.

Fired-up Republicans also enjoyed a stronger Senate minority thanks to a pack of new conservative members who won office on November 2, when voters angry at the sputtering US economy and high unemployment routed Democrats.

Republicans have vowed to slash spending, scrap “job-killing” government regulations, overhaul the tax code, crack down on undocumented immigration, cut diplomatic and foreign aid funds, and investigate the administration.

And Republicans set a January 12 vote on repealing Obama’s signature overhaul of US health care — a purely symbolic step because the Democratic Senate majority can block it and the president can veto it.

Senate Democrats, captained by Majority Leader Harry Reid, planned to push ahead with rules changes that complicate the minority party’s efforts to kill legislation by delaying it or to anonymously block key nominees.

And they warned Republicans would have to break their lockstep opposition to White House-backed initiatives over the past two years in favor of bipartisan compromise in order to deliver on their campaign pledges.

“We have to do even more to help middle-class families, to create jobs, to hasten our energy independence, to improve our children’s education and to fix our broken immigration system,” Reid said.

At the White House, Obama held the traditional post-transition telephone call with Pelosi and Cantor and press secretary Robert Gibbs quipped that the president hoped for a round of golf with Boehner, an avid player.

Gibbs also warned House Republicans against using their newfound powers to investigate the administration to engage in “partisan, ideological, political witch hunts.”

Obama was also re-jigging his inner circle, as Gibbs announced he was leaving amid talk that Clinton-era commerce secretary William Daley, a free-trade champion, could step in as the new White House chief of staff.

The president was also expected to soon name a new chief for his National Economic Council following the departure of Lawrence Summers last year.

Some observers said Obama would seek the political center, knowing that his 2012 reelection hopes may rest with independent voters who could be alienated if Republicans appease the radical right.

Republicans, meanwhile, signalled they were pulling back from a campaign pledge to find 100 billion dollars in savings their first year, saying the actual figure would run closer to half that amount.

Source: SGGP

VN approaches target of all rural households getting access to power

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

VN approaches target of all rural households getting access to power

QĐND – Friday, December 10, 2010, 20:52 (GMT+7)

Vietnam is likely to reach the target of 100 percent of rural households to get access to electricity for rural households.

World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa made the statement at a seminar to assess the impact of Vietnam’s rural electrification (RE) and the announcement of the result of a survey on the benefit of RE in Hanoi on Dec. 9.

All of the nation’s districts have connected to the national grid and had on-the-spot electricity and 97.78 percent of communes and 95.4 percent of rural families now have electricity, Kwakwa said.

She spoke highly of the joint efforts of the Vietnamese Government, enterprises and people and various resources for rural development, hunger eradication and poverty reduction in the field.

Together with the impact of the education universalisation programme, RE has helped rural people improve their health and income through increasing their families’ production capacity, she added.

However, she said, authorities need to make thorough calculations and give priority to use resources in the context of limited finance and technology to help the remaining five percent of rural families access electricity.

The result of the survey that was conducted in seven provinces of Vietnam in 2002, 2005 and 2008 within the framework of the RE project is an important foundation for WB to consider the decision to provide continued assistance and coordinate with the Vietnamese Government to carry out more power projects, said the seminar.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong, the government is striving to have 100 percent electricity access for rural households by 2020 as planned.

The comprehensive assessment of the impact of rural electrification and the potential for on-the-spot distribution will help the Government, enterprises and people select the most effective investment in network power projects or use on-the-spot power sources.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

NA sets high target for 2011 GDP growth

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

Ministry asks for universities enrollment target

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 11:52 am

Students submit files on expectation No. 2 of studying at Ton Duc Thang University in HCM City.

The Ministry of Education and Training has asked institutes, universities and colleges to send their reports of the enrollment targets in the school years 2010- 2011 and 2011-2012.

The reports have to be divided into two points faculties and training methods.

The deadline for sending reports is the 30th day of April.

The ministry has collected opinions to improve the way of student enrollment in the school year 2011 and further.

The requirement was announced after several problems happened in the enrollment season for the 2010-2011 academic year when universities could not enroll enough students, causing the cancel of several faculties.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam’s 2010 GDP outstrips target

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 7:51 am

Vietnam’s GDP growth rate in 2010 is expected to reach 6.7 percent, topping the target of 6.5 percent, the government reported Saturday during the 35th session of the National Assembly (NA)’s Standing Committee.

Workers at a garment company in HCMC. Vietnam’s GDP growth is expected to attain 6.7 percent in 2010 (Photo: SGGP)

The consumer price index (CPI) is possible to be curbed below 8 percent, higher than the NA’s target of 7 percent but much lower than forecast by international organizations in the beginning of the year.

The export-import turnover eyes to rocket by 19 percent, triple the target while the State budget’s expenditure is about to be 5.95 percent, beating the NA’s norm of 6.2 percent.

According to the NA Economics Committee, the government administration has not only presented encouraging achievements in the economic but also in social fields.

Specifically, the poor ratio dropped by 1.8 percent while the lending rate for agriculture and rural development rocketed by 25 percent compared to last year.

Over expenditure and trade deficit

Although obtaining positive achievements, the quality of economic growth is not high, said Ha Van Hien, head of the NA’s Economics Committee.

The import turnover attained its target of 20 percent lower than export turnover, the expected number still tops US$13.5 billion, an increase of 5 percent as against 2009. If not including exports of precious metal and stones, the trade deficit will exceeds 22 percent.

The economics committee thus proposed the general target in 2011 should give priority to macroeconomic stability and economy reconstruction to bolster the growth quality.

In addition, several members of the NA standing committee said that a revise on national goal programs should be launched to end some ineffective ones.

In response, Cao Viet Sinh, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, said that the government has selected only 15 of 23 programs proposed by localities to carry out, aiming to obtain millennium goals that Vietnam has undertaken.

In addition, the government would synthetize data on the rate of poor households nationalwide to better measures on poverty alleviation, he said.

Closing the debate, NA Deputy Chairman Nguyen Duc Kien, proposed the government to revise the whole norms to eliminate vague ones.

Over expenditure should be taken to normal level as before the economic crisis and national goal programs should be combined with socioeconomic programs to balance the investment capital from the outset, he said.

Power shortage

According to a statement the government submitted the NA, the electricity consumption demand would rocket by 15 percent next year with the expected GDP of 7.5 percent.

With the current condition of the electricity system, if one power project falls behind schedule or the drought continues, the power blackout will repeat.

It is forecast that the electricity shortage will be worse in 2013 and 2014. As a result, construction of power projects should be hastened right now and the state should have measures to lure private sector in building electricity plants.

NA deputy chairman Huynh Ngoc Son said that the power shortage would be a “hot” issue of the NA.

Source: SGGP

City expected to reach target of three million international visitors this year

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Ho Chi Minh City, the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracted 1.5 million foreign visitors in the first six months of the year, producing revenue of over VND40 trillion (US$2 billion), making the target of achieving three million foreign tourists a promising prospect, said Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism on July 8.

Ho Chi Minh City welcomes 1.5 million foreign visitors in the first six months of the year, producing revenue of over VND40 trillion (US$2 billion). (Filed photo)

A ceremony was held in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam’s tourism sector and 35th anniversary of establishment and development of the city tourism.

Speaking at the ceremony, Thang lavishly praised the city’s efforts to make tourism a key sector, attracting a large of international visitors each year.

Seven out of country’s ten top-ranking travel companies are in Ho Chi Minh City, said Thang.

The Vietnamese tourism now contributed to about 5 per cent of GDP but its actual contribution to the society was far greater. The industry now ranks 5th among ASEAN countries with 3.7 million international visitors in 2009.

Vietnam is expected to welcome 4.2 million international visitors this year, Thang said.

The country has signed 43 international tourism treaties with countries in the region and globally, many of which represent Vietnam’s key markets, such as China, South Korea, Japan, ASEAN nations, France, Spain, Italy and India, the Vietnam Administration of Tourism (VNAT) deputy director Nguyen Manh Cuong said.

Vietnamese enterprises have entered partnerships with more than 1,000 travel agencies in over 60 countries and territories.

By the end of 2009, there were nearly 800 Vietnamese international travel companies in operation, including 70 State-owned enterprises and more than 10,000 others providing inbound tours.

On the same day, the city’s Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism opened an exhibition named “Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Industry – 35 years of Establishment and Development,” at Lam Son Park.

The exhibition will run through July 16.

Source: SGGP

Taliban militants target Afghan peace talks

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 2:09 am

KABUL (AFP) – A Taliban suicide squad armed with rockets on Wednesday targeted a landmark Afghan peace conference hosted by President Hamid Karzai in a bid to seek a consensus on how to end nearly nine years of war.

Afghan policemen arrive at a checkpoint near a sign promoting the ‘peace jirga’ in Kabul. AFP photo

At least five explosions, believed to be caused by rockets, and gunfire erupted near the giant air-conditioned tent where 1,600 delegates from across the country and Western diplomats attended the opening of the “peace jirga”.

One of the jirga organisers said suicide bombers dressed in women’s burqas targeted the event, which was being protected by 12,000 security personnel, but that the attack was unsuccessful.

“Three suicide bombers wearing burqas entered a house which was under construction. They fired one RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) towards the tent,” Ghulam Farooq Wardak told delegates.

“Thank God, two of them were killed, paying for their crimes. The third has been captured,” he said.

The Taliban claimed it had dispatched four suicide bombers armed with guns and rockets who were threatening the jirga from a nearby rooftop.

Two blasts were heard as Karzai delivered his opening address in which he condemned the Taliban for bringing suffering and oppression, while a third took place later about 200 metres (yards) away from the venue, AFP reporters said.

Karzai left the jirga on schedule after his address, driven away in his customary armoured convoy.

Intensifying gunfire rattled the vicinity of the tent in the southeastern Kabul suburbs, where the interior ministry said that Afghan police had surrounded a “terror” cell holed up in a house nearby.

“There is terrorist activity going on in a house in Afshar. The house has been surrounded by police,” said interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary.

Sayed Kabiri, chief doctor at a Kabul hospital, said two people had been admitted with injuries caused by the rocket attacks.

The Taliban’s nine-year insurgency against Karzai’s government and 130,000 US-led foreign troops is now at its deadliest and the group last month vowed to unleash a new campaign of attacks on diplomats, lawmakers and foreign forces.

The militant group — which is opposed to peace talks until the US-led troops leave Afghanistan — had dismissed the conference as a propaganda stunt.

“We have four suicide attackers placed on the top of a tall building near the jirga tent. They are threatening the jirga tent,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“They are using rockets, they have small arms and have strapped explosives to their bodies,” he said.

Karzai had appealed to the jirga delegates to advise him on how to bring the poverty-stricken country, blighted by three decades of war, out of the latest conflict and encourage the Taliban to disarm.

“We need a national consultation, a peace consultation all over Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

“The Afghan nation is looking at you. They await your decisions, your advice so that you can show the Afghan nation the way to reach peace, to rescue Afghanistan from this suffering and pain.”

The meeting is the third such conference uniting Afghanistan’s complex mix of ethnic, tribal, religious, geographical and gender interests since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.

Hundreds of bearded men in tribal dress and turbans sat in rows and the estimated 300 women delegates were mostly seated in a separate section.

Critics have warned that the outcome is likely to prove limited and ordinary Afghans have been divided about the possible results.

Karzai’s Western allies, led by the United States, have expressed support for the jirga as a milestone in Afghanistan’s political maturity.

Western public appetite is waning for a war that has killed almost 1,800 foreign troops and shows no sign of abating.

The number of US and NATO troops will peak at 150,000 by August as part of a strategy designed to reverse Taliban momentum and boost government authority in southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

US President Barack Obama has said he wants to start drawing down troops from mid-2011.

After the election of a chairman and two deputies, delegates will be divided into 28 groups, each with a spokesman to present their ideas to the general forum.

The jirga is expected to end on Friday with a declaration on what steps should be taken to end the insurgency, what groups should be included in the process and how they should be approached.

Source: SGGP

Graduation rate at high schools tops 80 percent target

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Graduation rate at high schools tops 80 percent target

QĐND – Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

Nearly 83 percent of people between the age of 18 and 21 in HCM City completed the 12th grade last year, which exceeded the target set by the city’s People’s Committee by 8 percent, according to the city’s Department of Education and Training.

Huynh Cong Minh, director of the education department, said the ministry was encouraging all students nationwide to complete junior and senior high school, although compulsory school attendance was only through the fifth grade.

He said many students in low-income families continued to drop out of school, forgetting what they learned during primary school.

To make education available to everyone, HCM City has built more schools and community learning centres, in addition to offering tuition support to needy students via scholarships or monthly allowances to families.

Between 1999 and 2009, the city built 12,964 new classrooms. The number of junior high schools in HCM City increased to 150 and vocational schools to 41, Minh said.

However, many of them had failed to meet national standards, and vocational schools still were not attracting a sufficient number of students, he added.

Minh said the ministry had encouraged provinces and cities to set ambitious targets for school attendance with an aim to universalise primary, junior high school and high school education throughout the country.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Thai protesters target Bangkok’s tourist centre

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:04 am

BANGKOK, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – Tens of thousands of red-shirted Thai protesters overran the streets of Bangkok Saturday, swarming into the capital’s tourist heartland in a renewed bid to overthrow the government.

Red shirts supporters parade during anti-government protests in Bangkok on April 3, 2010. AFP photo

Bemused foreign visitors looked on as the supporters of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra occupied a key intersection close to a clutch of five-star hotels, shopping centres and the famous Erawan Shrine.

Despite sweltering temperatures, police estimated that by late morning about 60,000 people had joined the rally, the latest in a series of demonstrations since mid-March against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The push into the capital’s tourist centre came a day after representatives of the hotel and leisure industries mounted their own counter-rallies urging an end to turmoil they fear is scaring away visitors.

Saturday’s protest snarled traffic and forced some shopping malls to close, but tourists caught up in the peaceful rallies seemed largely unfazed.

“I understand what they’re doing. It doesn’t scare me because I come here every year and know it won’t be serious,” said Adolf Gutounik, a 57-year-old visitor from Germany.

Thailand has been wracked in recent years by a string of protests by the Red Shirts and their rival Yellow Shirts, whose campaign in 2008 led to a crippling nine-day blockade of the country’s airports.

“I don’t think most tourists will like it when they come to Bangkok and face this,” said Selina Poh, a 30-year-old from Singapore.

But she added: “I’m not scared of them. I have no idea what is red and what is yellow. I want to visit places in Bangkok.”

The military has mounted a heavy security response involving 50,000 personnel for the protests.

Police were trying to negotiate with protesters to ease traffic gridlock.

“The longer they close the road the more it will dissatisfy people and businesses,” said government spokesman Panitan Wattanaygorn.

The Reds oppose the coup that toppled Thaksin in 2006 and say Abhisit’s government is undemocratic because it took office through a parliamentary vote after a court stripped Thaksin’s allies of power.

Oxford-educated Abhisit has offered to hold elections a year early, at the end of 2010. But the Red Shirts, who accuse the government of being elitist and army-backed, want polls called immediately.

“Our patience is running out, but because of our patriotism we must adhere to non-violence,” said Red Shirts leader Jatuporn Prompan.

The Reds said in the run-up to Saturday’s demonstration that it would be the biggest since the rallies began with more than 100,000 protesters on March 14.

Authorities, however, expected fewer rural Reds to attend the gatherings as the Songkran water festival, which celebrates the traditional Thai new year, approaches on April 13-15.

But Nat Jantakat, a 38-year-old lychee farmer from the north, vowed to keep up the fight, making light of the 37 degrees Celsius (99 Fahrenheit) temperature.

“I’ve been here since the first day and I’ll be here until we achieve democracy. I don’t mind about Songkran. We have this festival every year… but democracy can’t wait.”

The Reds have staged a series of dramatic stunts to press their demands, including throwing their own blood at Abhisit’s offices.

Hailing mainly from the rural poor north, they seek the return of twice-elected Thaksin, a former telecoms tycoon who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for graft at home.

The Reds rioted in Bangkok in April last year, leaving two dead and scores injured.

While their recent protests have been peaceful, a series of small explosions have hit politically significant sites and army buildings, injuring more than a dozen people.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam falls short of labor export target

In Vietnam Society on November 28, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Vietnam has fallen short of its target to send 90,000 laborers to work abroad this year as a consequence of the global economic crisis.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, Director of Overseas Labor Management Department announced the information on Nov. 27, noting that the total number of Vietnamese laborers leaving to work abroad in 2009 is expected fall 22 percent short of the country’s plan to around 70,000.

However, Vietnam is pinning high hopes on signs of recovery in the world labor market from now to the end of the year, Mr. Quynh said, adding that the country is making efforts to make full use of the traditional markets of Malaysia, Libya, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the Middle East.

According to Mr. Quynh, the project to provide assistance in poor districts to help locals export their labor has been stepped up, with over 600 workers being sent abroad and nearly 3,000 others receiving vocational training to prepare to work in foreign countries.

The Department is deploying a pilot project on vocational training in some fields of high demand in the world including welding, tourism and hospitality, and construction.

The Department on Nov. 27 launched its website in a bid to increase the transparency of information on labor exportation, making it easier for laborers to work abroad and preventing them from being exploited.

Vietnam had by the end of October exported over 58,200 workers abroad with Taiwan (China) being the country’s largest labor importer, followed by the Republic of Korea , Japan , the United Arab Emirates , Macao  (China) and Malaysia.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share