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HCMC university makes robot that recognizes human emotions

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:07 am

Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology on December 28 announced that it has made successful robot recognize human emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger.


Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh and partners at the university’s Electrical – Electronics Department made the robot.


The robot’s leg has three wheels, a roving camera, various software and sensory equipment.


Because of the equipment, the robot can move, locate human faces and recognize human emotions. In particularly, the robot will move towards the human if it recognises the human as sad. However, if the robot recognises the human as happy, it will stay back.

Source: SGGP

Storm that smacked Northwest moves to Utah, Idaho

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

A ferocious storm that crippled much of the Pacific Northwest barreled into the Rockies on Tuesday, causing whiteout conditions on one of the busiest travel days of the year.


The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Utah, where Interstate 84 and Interstate 15 were temporarily shut down in northern Utah because of windy, snowy conditions that led two tractor-trailers to jackknife and block traffic. Even once the roads were reopened, visibility was still very limited there and elsewhere in the state as many commuters made their way home on snow-covered roads.


Numerous schools, governments and businesses in Utah closed hours earlier than normal Tuesday because of the storm, with state traffic officials warning the evening commute could take four times longer than usual.

U.S. Army Spc. Ron Washington walks from his Humvee and past stuck cars on the Alaskan Way Viaduct to check on the gridlock on the highway Monday, Nov. 22, 2010,

Of nearly 300 flights scheduled to take off from Salt Lake City International Airport Tuesday evening, nine had been canceled, although it wasn’t immediately clear if all of those were caused by the storm.


Highway officials told holiday travelers earlier in the day to get out of town now or risk being stranded on Thanksgiving.


In the western part of Utah, empty eastbound semitrailers on Interstate 80 were being held near the Nevada line to prevent them from tipping over in the windy salt flats.


At least three deaths in Washington state have been blamed on the storm, including a man struck and killed outside his car Monday night on snowy Interstate 5 in Tacoma. Officials in Portland, Ore., also were investigating whether a man whose body was found along the Willamette River died from the cold.


Thanksgiving travel was dicey throughout the region, with many highways too dangerous to drive. In Seattle, icy roads kept airline crews from getting to the airport, and people who missed their flights because of the dangerous drive were trying to rebook on already crowded planes.


The weather service said 2.5 inches of snow fell at the airport Monday, breaking the old record for the date of 1.5 inches in 1977.


The tiny central Washington town of Waterville became a refuge when the blizzard blasted across the scattered wheat fields and sagebrush along U.S. Highway 2.


“We got sideways snow. We’ve got snow that’s going up, stuck up under things. Snow is everywhere, because it’s been so windy,” Dave Lundgren, owner of the Waterville Historic Hotel, said Tuesday. “We’re definitely going to be looking for inside things to do.”


Even cold-hardened Alaskans were complaining about the weather, with freezing rain making travel hazardous if not impossible. Fairbanks was among the hardest-hit; schools closed and most government agencies and military bases told nonessential workers to stay home.


“I don’t think the roads can get much worse,” said David Gibbs, emergency operations director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.


Andy Haner, a weather service meteorologist in Seattle, said the storm blew down from Alaska before turning toward the Northern Rockies.


“Sometimes we call them ‘inside sliders’ because they slide down the Inside Passage from Alaska,” he said.


Citrus growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley prepared to fight off crop-damaging frost as a cold front moves into the region.


The storm reached the Salt Lake City area during the evening commute.


That’s what happened Monday night in Washington. Slick roads, blowing snow and temperatures in the mid-20s turned rush hour in Seattle and nearby cities into an hours-long crawl. Some motorists gave up after being stuck for five hours or more and returned to their offices or just left their cars at the side of the road.


Winds gusting to 65 mph made matters worse by cutting off power for tens of thousands of utility customers in Western Washington. Puget Sound Energy said it was doing all it can to restore electricity to tens of thousands of customers who lost power in the Monday night storm, but some could still be in the cold and dark on Thanksgiving.

Spokane and Eastern Washington were hit with even stronger winds and colder temperatures, staying well below zero overnight.

Tuesday dawned bright, sunny and cold over much of the state as crews hurried to plow and deice roads. Most schools closed, including the University of Washington’s three campuses.

Annie Wicken, an employee at a Seattle supermarket, said her boss practically begged her to make the hours-long, multi-bus journey to work.

“I hope people will still try to shop and get their Thanksgiving stuff,” she said while waiting at a bus stop.

Emergency shelters opened throughout the region to warm the homeless. In Olympia, the Volunteer Center of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties scrambled to find people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to deliver more than 400 Thanksgiving meals to homebound seniors.

“We feel like these people get shortchanged enough in life. We’re bringing them a meal no matter what happens,” said the center’s Emma Margraf.

Two people were killed Monday when their car slid on a snowy road at Cowiche near Yakima and collided with another car, the Washington State Patrol said. Another man died when he was struck outside his car Monday night on snowy Interstate 5 in Tacoma.

The patrol Tuesday launched a plane equipped with a heat-seeking camera to look for stranded motorists from Seattle south to Olympia. It said that in the 24 hours ending at 10 a.m., troopers had responded to 1,557 collisions and 1,274 disabled motorists statewide.

Much of Northwest will get a cold but brief break to dig out and maybe brave travel for the Thanksgiving holiday before more snow that could arrive by Wednesday night.

Source: SGGP

Abbas rejects settlement freeze that excludes Jerusalem

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

U.N. council gets Sudan report that infuriated China

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2010 at 9:23 am

The beach is that way

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm




The beach is that way


QĐND – Monday, July 05, 2010, 21:27 (GMT+7)

The central province of Quang Binh is home to some of Vietnam’s most enchanting coastal areas with a string of beautiful beaches that could also help reverse the province’s economic fortunes.


With the pace of development comes a price. Popular beach destinations become too crowded, too built up, too much of a hassle. For those who like to flop around on a quiet beach and forget about the world, the most popular ‘holiday’ beaches become contradictions. Who can feel relaxed on a public holiday if you’re surrounded by thousands of screaming kids and perpetually hassled by vendors? Inevitably, you move on. You seek new horizons far from the madding crowds.


For now, my tip is Quang Binh province in the ‘north’ of Central Vietnam. South of Ha Tinh and bordering Laos, this is one of the country’s poorest provinces. The average annual per capita income is one of the lowest in Vietnam. But the province’s tourism industry might be the main key to boosting the local economy. The UNESCO heritage site of Phong Nha- Ke Bang cave has flown the flag so far.


Now the province is looking to the white sandy beaches with a great deal of justifiable expectation. The bewitching sight of Nhat Le would certainly convince any developer that this is a stretch of coast worth banking on. But for now, I am also delighted to bask in the peace and tranquility that remains on offer before the bulldozers and master builders roll in. It’s a breathtaking spot and in my humblest opinion one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Inspired by the prospect of discovering more unknown beaches, I recently decided to explore more of the coast by motorbike. And there is plenty to discover.


In Quang Trach district, I came across Quang Phu beach, which is popular with locals but yet to be tapped by the tourism moguls. It’s only five or 10 minutes drive from Nhat Le beach and utterly pristine. The water is refreshingly clear. As you swim around, you can see scallops beneath your feet. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a morning or afternoon lolling around in the sunshine, happily contemplating life.


Further along the coast, you will find Hai Ninh beach and fishing village. The views around are wonderful with imposing mountains to the west and a deep blue sea to the east. After arriving in the late afternoon, I decided to stay until sunset – yes, I’m an old romantic at heart.


The next morning I headed for Dong Hoi market to enjoy the bustling atmosphere. The fishermen, traders and customers convene over the catch of the day. The market might be the only hectic spot you will come across on the coastline.


There are already some resorts taking advantage of Quang Binh’s stunning shores and sweeping sea views. The Sun Spa Resort is leading the pack. Set on a picturesque peninsular the resort boasts 234 international standard rooms. The overall design is wonderfully harmonious and tranquil with fern-trunk thatching, private tropical gardens overlooking the ocean, private swimming pools and spacious, elegantly designed rooms.


Sun Spa Resort is the perfect gateway to discover the World Natural Heritage Site of Phong Nha – Ke Bang Reserve – though the resort is a natural wonder in its own right, set amidst a spacious 29 hectares of landscaped garden alongside the pristine white sands of Bao Ninh beach.


Further up the coast, there may be more to come. Development plans have been made for Da Nhay beach, another wonderful spot, 40km north of Dong Hoi. In Vietnamese ‘da nhay’ means ‘the rocks that jump’. As you might guess by that name, this is a rugged, rocky spot but there are also sandy coves for bathing on.


You can find more modest accommodation than the Sun Spa Resort with rooms available in family-run hotels for VND150,000 to VND200,00. Either way searching the coast for quiet spots to have a dip in the sea is a wonderful way to spend a couple of days (rather than being dragged around by a tour guide). Everywhere in Quang Binh people are hospitable, helpful and happy to share the incredible natural scenery with people from out of town. I guess they want the word to spread. 


Source: Timeout/VietnamNet


 


Source: QDND

The beach is that way

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm




The beach is that way


QĐND – Saturday, July 03, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

The central province of Quang Binh is home to some of Vietnam’s most enchanting coastal areas with a string of beautiful beaches that could also help reverse the province’s economic fortunes.


With the pace of development comes a price. Popular beach destinations become too crowded, too built up, too much of a hassle. For those who like to flop around on a quiet beach and forget about the world, the most popular ‘holiday’ beaches become contradictions. Who can feel relaxed on a public holiday if you’re surrounded by thousands of screaming kids and perpetually hassled by vendors? Inevitably, you move on. You seek new horizons far from the madding crowds.


For now, my tip is Quang Binh province in the ‘north’ of Central Vietnam. South of Ha Tinh and bordering Laos, this is one of the country’s poorest provinces. The average annual per capita income is one of the lowest in Vietnam. But the province’s tourism industry might be the main key to boosting the local economy. The UNESCO heritage site of Phong Nha- Ke Bang cave has flown the flag so far.


Now the province is looking to the white sandy beaches with a great deal of justifiable expectation. The bewitching sight of Nhat Le would certainly convince any developer that this is a stretch of coast worth banking on. But for now, I am also delighted to bask in the peace and tranquility that remains on offer before the bulldozers and master builders roll in. It’s a breathtaking spot and in my humblest opinion one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Inspired by the prospect of discovering more unknown beaches, I recently decided to explore more of the coast by motorbike. And there is plenty to discover.


In Quang Trach district, I came across Quang Phu beach, which is popular with locals but yet to be tapped by the tourism moguls. It’s only five or 10 minutes drive from Nhat Le beach and utterly pristine. The water is refreshingly clear. As you swim around, you can see scallops beneath your feet. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a morning or afternoon lolling around in the sunshine, happily contemplating life.


Further along the coast, you will find Hai Ninh beach and fishing village. The views around are wonderful with imposing mountains to the west and a deep blue sea to the east. After arriving in the late afternoon, I decided to stay until sunset – yes, I’m an old romantic at heart.


The next morning I headed for Dong Hoi market to enjoy the bustling atmosphere. The fishermen, traders and customers convene over the catch of the day. The market might be the only hectic spot you will come across on the coastline.


There are already some resorts taking advantage of Quang Binh’s stunning shores and sweeping sea views. The Sun Spa Resort is leading the pack. Set on a picturesque peninsular the resort boasts 234 international standard rooms. The overall design is wonderfully harmonious and tranquil with fern-trunk thatching, private tropical gardens overlooking the ocean, private swimming pools and spacious, elegantly designed rooms.


Sun Spa Resort is the perfect gateway to discover the World Natural Heritage Site of Phong Nha – Ke Bang Reserve – though the resort is a natural wonder in its own right, set amidst a spacious 29 hectares of landscaped garden alongside the pristine white sands of Bao Ninh beach.


Further up the coast, there may be more to come. Development plans have been made for Da Nhay beach, another wonderful spot, 40km north of Dong Hoi. In Vietnamese ‘da nhay’ means ‘the rocks that jump’. As you might guess by that name, this is a rugged, rocky spot but there are also sandy coves for bathing on.


You can find more modest accommodation than the Sun Spa Resort with rooms available in family-run hotels for VND150,000 to VND200,00. Either way searching the coast for quiet spots to have a dip in the sea is a wonderful way to spend a couple of days (rather than being dragged around by a tour guide). Everywhere in Quang Binh people are hospitable, helpful and happy to share the incredible natural scenery with people from out of town. I guess they want the word to spread. 


Source: VNN


Source: QDND

The five decisions that defined President Obama’s first year

In World on January 22, 2010 at 10:46 am

These are the five decisions that garnered the most news and the most controversy in President Barack Obama‘s first year – and had the largest effect on the country. As Tuesday’s stunning GOP win in Massachusetts shows, we don’t yet know how each choice will end up. But we do know each is poised to define Obama’s legacy:


5. The “Closing” of Gitmo Throughout his campaign for office, Barack Obama vowed to close the American military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, arguing that it harms America’s reputation and violates our fundamental principles. 


Upon taking office, he almost immediately signed an order to close the prison within one calendar year. Conservatives howled in protest and accused the new president of being “soft on terror.” But the order was a central part of Obama’s generally successful effort to rehabilitate America’s global reputation after the unpopular Bush presidency.








US President Barack Obama

With the deadline looming, however, the administration has conceded that, in the words of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, ”the logistics of it have proven more complicated than we anticipated.” The Pentagon is reportedly ready to release at least 100 of the 200 total prisoners, but it has found few countries willing to take them.  And with reports now connecting former Gitmo detainees with the Christmas Day “underwear bomber” and Al Qaeda in Yemen, the challenges are greater than ever.


This decision embodied what happens when Barack Obama’s high hopes meet the complicated, harsh realities of the so-called “War on Terror.”


4. Supreme Court Justice Sonia SotomayorSome presidential historians would argue that a president’s most significant lasting impact is made through their appointments to the Supreme Court.  The sudden and surprising retirement of Justice David Souter offered Obama his first chance to make his mark on the land’s highest court.


His choice of Sonia Sotomayor was simultaneously highly controversial and not. While Hispanic groups were thrilled at the prospect of having one of their own on the Supreme Court, conservative Republicans were outraged by the Bronx native’s off-the-bench expressions of cultural pride. They railed against her infamous claim that a “wise Latina” would come to better legal decisions by virtue of her experience and argued that what Obama called her admirable “empathy” was truly a liberal double-standard.


But her relatively moderate judicial record and cool demeanor during the hearings allowed her to sail through confirmation. She was confirmed by the full Senate on August 6, 2009, by a vote of 68 to 31. In his brief remarks following her confirmation, President Obama hailed the moment for “breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union.”


3. Taking on health care reformAlthough the outcome of the current effort to reform America’s health care system is still unknown, Barack Obama has gotten closer to passing a final bill than any previous president.


President Obama’s core decision in pursuing reform was to leave the drafting of the bill to leaders of Congress. Many attribute President Clinton‘s failure to succeed in 1993 to his administration’s choice to lay out its own plan and demand that Congress pass it. The president’s only specific requests were that costs be contained and that any bill provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans.


The road through Congress, though, has been bumpy. Throughout the summer and fall public battles were fought over the public option, abortion, “death panels,” and total cost. With the exception of a major address in September, President Obama remained mostly behind the scenes, pushing House and Senate leaders to gather enough votes for passage. The House narrowly passed a bill on November 7, the Senate on Christmas Eve.


While the Democrats losing their 60th seat in the Senate will make it difficult, President Obama hopes to be able to sign a reconciled version of the two in the coming weeks.


2. Two surges in AfghanistanWhen he moved into the White House, Barack Obama inherited something no other incoming president ever had: two major wars overseas. Throughout his presidential campaign, Obama stressed the importance of shifting the focus of America’s military effort from the now-stabilizing Iraq to Afghanistan.


“If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned,” he said in a speech last summer. “And yet, today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan.”


So, not surprisingly, within the first month of his presidency, Obama ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to support the 38,000 already there. That proved insufficient, however, and in August General Stanley McChrystal, the newly appointed U.S. commander in Afghanistan, made a rather startling announcement: The Taliban had gained the upper hand, and the eight-year war in the region was rapidly failing. To salvage the operation, McChrystal wanted at least 40,000 additional troops.


On December 1, 2009, President Obama, after a period of prolonged deliberation that led right-wing critics like former Vice President Dick Cheney to accuse him of “dithering,” ordered an additional 30,000 troops to report to the region within six months. Their mission would be to counter the expansion of the Taliban and to help train the Afghan security forces to control the country on their own. The president hopes to begin removing U.S. troops from the region by the end of 2011, but no concrete timetable beyond that has been offered.


1. The economic stimulus packageComing into office with the economy in the throes of recession, and many believe on the verge of a much deeper crisis, President Obama’s first major initiative was to pass a massive economic stimulus package in the hopes of jolting the economy back into gear. The $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included federal tax cuts, an expansion of unemployment benefits, and money for state governments and public works projects focused on health care, energy, and education.


The bill was viewed by conventional wisdom-makers like the Washington Post’s Dan Balz as a “bold” beginning to the Obama presidency. The administration wasn’t afraid of its price tag or the fervency of those opposed to the idea of government spending in moments of economic crisis. The president’s supporters, including some conservative economists, believe the bill prevented the recession from becoming worse.

But the bill’s passage did not come without a price. No Republicans in the House, and only three in the Senate voted for its passage, and the fight led to an immediate erosion of whatever goodwill existed between the opposition party and the new president. Outside of Washington, the bill polarized Americans’ opinions of the new president and helped give birth to what became the Tea Party movement.

In the months since the passage of the bill, the country remains in what many define as a recession. Many argue that the president must take up a second stimulus bill in the form of a “jobs bill” to fight continuing unemployment.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share