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Posts Tagged ‘time’

Time to find a second Earth, WWF says

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

PARIS (AFP) – Carbon pollution and over-use of Earth’s natural resources have become so critical that, on current trends, we will need a second planet to meet our needs by 2030, the WWF said Wednesday.

In 2007, Earth’s 6.8 billion humans were living 50 percent beyond the planet’s threshold of sustainability, according to its report, issued ahead of a UN biodiversity conference.

(AFP file) Beijing during a sandstorm in March 2010

“Even with modest UN projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption,” it warned.

If everyone used resources at the same rate per capita as the United States or the United Arab Emirates, four and a half planets would be needed, it said, highlighting the gap in “ecological footprint” between rich and poor.

The “Living Planet” report, the eighth in the series, is based on figures for 2007, the latest year for which figures are available.

It pointed to 71 countries that were running down their sources of freshwater at a worrying, unsustainable rate.

Nearly two-thirds of these countries experience “moderate to severe” water stress.

“This has profound implications for ecosystem health, food production and human wellbeing, and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change,” WWF said.

Signatories to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are to meet in Nagoya, Japan, from October 18-29 to discuss ways of addressing Earth’s dramatic loss of species.

The UN named 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. Under Target 7b of the Millennium Development Goals, UN members pledged to achieve by 2010 “a significant reduction” in the rate of wildlife loss.

Biologists say many species, especially mammals, birds and amphibians, are in headlong decline, their numbers ravaged by habitat loss, hunting or the likely impact of climate change.

Source: SGGP

US attends Hiroshima memorial ceremony for first time

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 7:19 am

HIROSHIMA, Japan, Aug 6, 2010 (AFP) – The United States on Friday for the first time attended a ceremony commemorating its atomic bombing of Hiroshima, 65 years after the Japanese city’s obliteration rang in the nuclear age.

Representatives from more than 70 nations joined tens of thousands at the emotional event, held under an azure sky as clear as that on the morning of August 6, 1945 when Hiroshima was transformed into a terrifying inferno.

Doves fly around the Atomic Bomb Dome at the Peace Memorial Park after their release during the memorial ceremony in Hiroshima, on August 6, 2010. AFP

The United States’ World War II allies Britain and France, both declared nuclear powers, also sent their first diplomats to the ceremony in the western Japanese city in a sign of support for the goal of nuclear disarmament.

The mournful toll of a temple bell marked the start of a one-minute silence at 8:15 am, when the US B-29 bomber Enola Gay had dropped a device that instantly killed tens of thousands in Hiroshima.

“The human race must not repeat the horror and misery caused by atomic bombs,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a speech after 1,000 white doves were released in a symbolic gesture for peace.

“Japan, as the only nation to have been attacked by the war-time atomic bombs, has a moral responsibility to lead the efforts toward realisation of a world without nuclear weapons,” he said.

“Little Boy”, the four-tonne uranium bomb detonated over Hiroshima, caused a blinding flash and a fireball hot enough to melt sand into glass and vaporise every human within a one mile (1.6 kilometre) radius.

An estimated 140,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima or succumbed to burns and radiation sickness soon after the blast, and over 70,000 perished as a result of another US atomic attack on the port of Nagasaki three days later.

Japan, a wartime ally of Nazi Germany, surrendered on August 15, ending the war in the Pacific after years of ferocious combat with US Marines on islands strung across the ocean.

The United States has never acceded to demands in Japan for an apology for the loss of innocent lives in the atomic bombings, which many Western historians believe were necessary to bring a quick end to the war and avoid a land invasion that could have been even more costly.

US ambassador John Roos laid a wreath to remember the victims, reflecting a shift in policy under Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Barack Obama.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that Obama “thought it appropriate” to recognize the anniversary as he vies to rid the world of nuclear arms.

Some saw Roos’s attendance as an indication that Obama would visit Hiroshima during a trip to Japan later this year, as the sides seek to improve ties following controversy over an agreement to relocate a US airbase in Okinawa.

“For the sake of future generations, we must continue to work together to realise a world without nuclear weapons,” the US ambassador said in a statement.

Hanako Nogami, 92, braved the hot weather to attend the ceremony to pray for the soul of her brother, who was in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, and whose remains were never found.

“I looked for him for days after the bombing, but he was nowhere to be found,” she told AFP.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also attended, becoming the first UN chief to take part in the annual event at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

“For many of you, that day endures, as vivid as the white light that seared the sky, as dark as the black rains that followed,” Ban said.

“For as long as nuclear weapons exist, we will live under a nuclear shadow.”

Two decades after the Cold War ended, the United States and Russia still have more than 22,000 nuclear warheads between them. France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan and Israel have a combined total of about 1,000, says the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

The global stockpile is equivalent to about 150,000 Hiroshima bombs.

Source: SGGP

US to attend Hiroshima atom bomb memorial for first time

In Uncategorized on August 3, 2010 at 7:19 am

HIROSHIMA, Japan, Aug 3, 2010 (AFP) – Sixty-five years after a mushroom cloud rose over Hiroshima, the United States will for the first time send an envoy this Friday to commemorate the bombing that rang in the nuclear age.

Its World War II allies Britain and France, both declared nuclear powers, will also send their first diplomats to the ceremony in the western Japanese city in a sign of support for the goal of nuclear disarmament.

Japan, the only country that has ever been attacked with atomic bombs — first on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima, and three days later in Nagasaki — has pushed for the abolition of the weapons of mass destruction ever since.

A Japanese couple prays before the altar for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park in western Japan on August 1, 2010. AFP

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who arrives in Japan on Tuesday, will be the first UN chief to attend the ceremony.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirsky said Ban wanted to draw attention to “the urgent need to achieve global nuclear disarmament”.

In Japan, a pacifist nation since its WWII surrender six days after the Nagasaki bombing, memories of the nuclear horror still run deep.

“Little Boy”, the four-tonne uranium bomb detonated over Hiroshima at 8:15 am, caused a blinding flash and a fireball hot enough to melt sand into glass and vaporise every human within a one mile (1.6 kilometre) radius.

An estimated 140,000 people died instantly as the white-hot blast turned the city centre into rubble and ash, and in the days and weeks afterwards from burns and radiation sickness caused by the fallout dubbed the “black rain”.

The death toll from the second bomb, the plutonium weapon dubbed “Fat Man” that hit Nagasaki on August 9, has been estimated at 70,000.

Japan surrendered on August 15, ending World War II in the Pacific.

The United States has never apologised for the twin attacks which, surveys show, most Americans believe were necessary to bring a quick end to the war and avoid a land invasion that could have been more costly.

Others see the attacks as unnecessary and perhaps experimental atrocities.

The US ambassador to Japan, John Roos, is due to attend and lay a wreath “to express respect for all of the victims of World War II”, the US State Department said.

Since the end of the Cold War, worries have grown about the nuclear ambitions of states such as North Korea and Iran, and the threat of “non-state actors” such as militant groups getting the bomb.

US President Barack Obama outlined his long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons in an April 2009 speech in Prague that was cited as a key factor in his winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War,” Obama said, stressing that “generations lived with the knowledge that their world could be erased in a single flash of light”.

Pointing to the danger of terrorist groups acquiring the deadly technology, Obama said that “in a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up”.

A year later, in April this year, Obama signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and hosted a 47-nation summit that pledged to stop militant groups from acquiring fissile materials.

Many in Japan expect Obama to become the first US president in office to visit Hiroshima when he travels to Japan in October for an Asia-Pacific summit, after he earlier signalled an intention to do so.

The group Mayors for Peace, which now counts 4,069 local governments worldwide, last week reiterated its call on nations to immediately start talks for an international treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.

Two decades after the Cold War ended, the United States and Russia still have more than 22,000 nuclear warheads between them, and France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan and Israel have a combined total of about 1,000, says the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

The global stockpile has a blast capacity of 150,000 Hiroshima bombs.

Source: SGGP

BP halts Gulf oil flow for first time since April

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 8:46 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, July 15, 2010 (AFP) – British energy giant BP says it has temporarily stopped oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in three months as it began key tests hoping to stem the spill for good.

Shortly after BP engineers shut down the last of three valves on a giant new cap placed on the blown-out well at around 2:25 pm (1925 GMT) Thursday, senior vice president Kent Wells announced no oil was leaking into the sea.

AFP/BP — This still image from a live BP video feed shows apparently no oil leaking in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I’m very excited to see no oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico,” Wells told reporters, but cautioned it was only the start of a painstaking testing process set to last 48 hours to analyze the condition of the underground wellbore.

The announcement was the first sign of real hope for desperate coastal residents who have had their livelihoods ravaged by the worst environmental disaster in US history, now in its 13th week.

Teeming fishing grounds have been closed and tourists have been scared away — two vital economic lifelines for the southern region still struggling to recover from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.

Endangered wildlife has also been increasingly threatened by huge ribbons of oil fouling the shores of five states — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The costly, massive clean-up is likely to last years.

US President Barack Obama, whose administration has led pressure on BP to stop the oil flow, welcomed the news of the capped well as “a positive sign,” but cautioned: “We’re still in the testing phase.” He said he would address the issue again Friday.

BP’s chief operating officer Doug Suttles also warned it was not yet time to celebrate, saying more time was needed as the tests are completed.

“I think it’s an encouraging sign. In a couple of more days it may even be more encouraging, but no celebrations,” Suttles told reporters. “If you go talk to these people that live here, celebration is the wrong word.”

The tests are intended to determine whether the wellbore, which stretches 2.5 miles (four kilometers) below the seabed, was damaged during an April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, which sank two days later.

BP is hoping to choke off the oil flow from the well, estimated at between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. But doing so from the top could force oil out in new leaks if the wellbore was damaged.

During the test, engineers will take multiple readings from the 30-foot (nine-meter) capping stack placed on top of the wellhead on Monday to monitor the pressure inside.

High pressure readings would allow the three valves to remain shut and the well would effectively be sealed, but low readings could mean there is a hole somewhere in the casing of the well where oil is escaping.

After 48 hours, the engineers will open up the system again and begin capturing the oil through two surface vessels to allow a new seismic survey to be carried out, said the official in charge of the US response, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.

A final solution to the leak is not expected before mid-August, when crews will complete the first of two relief wells, allowing the oil reservoir to be permanently plugged in a “kill” operation.

The Gulf disaster has so far cost BP some 3.5 billion dollars (2.78 billion euros) and compensation claims from devastated residents of the region could reach 10 times that.

Local officials who have seen their coasts sullied by the oil were cautious but hopeful.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu described the stoppage as “the first piece of good news the Gulf Coast has received in three months.”

Still “it is too early to declare victory and there is still a lot more work that needs to be done. The next 48 hours will be critical as they test the pressure of the well and ensure the cap is working properly,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal cautioned.

“We have been fighting a war against this oil for months now and we know our battles don’t end even when the well is capped. Millions of gallons of oil are still in the Gulf and some estimates show that oil will continue to hit our shores for many more months or maybe even longer.”

Meanwhile the Financial Times reported Friday that BP is speeding up the sale of up to 20 billion dollars (15.5 billion euros) of assets in a bid to boost funds after the Gulf oil spill.

BP is seeking to build up a disaster fund of 20 billion dollars to cover the clean-up costs for the disastrous oil spill.

Source: SGGP

AO – one of the worst inventions of all time

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

AO – one of the worst inventions of all time

QĐND – Saturday, June 05, 2010, 21:13 (GMT+7)

Agent Orange, the deadly herbicide that the US Army used in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971 to destroy the country’s thick canopy of foliage, which provided cover for Vietnamese troops, has been listed as one of the 50 worst inventions of all time by the US magazine Time.

Exposure to AO has “proved deadly to humans, causing cancers, birth defects and a slew of other disorders,” said the magazine, adding that “some 21 million gallons of it were dumped on Vietnam, resulting in hundreds of thousands of injuries and birth defects to Vietnamese citizens.”

Many US veterans were also exposed, said the newspaper, adding that they received a US$180 million settlement from the manufacturers of Agent Orange in 1984.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

US debt tops 13 trillion dollars for first time

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 10:11 am

US debt has reached 13 trillion dollars for the first time in history, the Treasury Department has said, stoking a political furor over government spending.

Amid vast government outlays designed to end the economic crisis, the debt reached a record 13,050,826,460,886.97 dollars on June 1, according to official figures.

The debt has more than doubled in the last 10 years and now stands at just under 90 percent of annual gross domestic product.

Against this backdrop, steaming the flow of red ink has become a contentious political issue in Washington, with Democrats and Republicans trading barbs about who is to blame.

Earlier on Wednesday President Obama assailed Republicans for leaving him with the type of spiraling short-term deficits that fuel longer-term debt.

The US Treasury building in Washington, DC. US debt has reached 13 trillion dollars for the first time in history, the Treasury Department has said.

The US government suffered its 19th consecutive month of budget deficit in April.

“By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over one trillion dollars and projected deficits of eight trillion dollars over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two major tax cuts skewed to the wealthy, and a worthy but expensive prescription drug program that wasn’t paid for,” Obama told an audience in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“I always find it interesting that the same people who participated in these decisions are the ones who now charge our administration with fiscal irresponsibility.

“Despite all their current moralizing about the need to curb spending, this is the same crowd who took the record 237 billion dollar surplus that president Clinton left them and turned it into a record 1.3 trillion dollar deficit.”

But Republicans have lambasted Obama for expanding government spending since he came to office through a massive reform of healthcare.

The debt has risen by around 2.4 trillion dollars since Obama took office in January 2009 and rose 4.9 trillion dollars in the eight years George W. Bush spent in office.

“Thirteen is certainly an unlucky number, especially for our children and grandchildren who will be left to dig out of trillions of dollars worth of debt,” said Republican Senator Judd Gregg, a frequent critic of Obama’s budget policies.

“This dangerous and unsustainable level of debt cannot continue without bankrupting our country, and I urge the majority to slow its explosion of spending and borrowing before it is too late.”

But economists are sharply divided over how quickly the US should move to rein in spending.

Some believe that a rapid tightening of government expenditure, or an increase in taxes could remove the one support that is keeping the United States from falling deeper into recession.

But as debt-contagion fears grip Europe others have warned that the United States has limited time to forge a credible plan to end its own fiscal woes.

Even the normally cautious Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that politically painful tax hikes or spending cuts could be needed to balance the budget.

Obama has launched a bipartisan debt commission to investigate ways of tackling the problem. It is expected to produce its findings by the end of the year.

Source: SGGP

Kayaking on Huong River for the first time

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Kayaking on Huong River for the first time

QĐND – Monday, May 31, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

PANO – Kayaking on the Huong River, for the first time in Hue City, has been organised to show tourists the real nature of the peaceful river and daily life of local people along the two banks. Along the journey, travelers have an opportunity to discover the Dong Ba Market, Bao Vinh Old Street and Hen Dune. After kayaking, tourists will take part in a three-hour trek, by bicycle, to Sinh Village to see artistic works by folk painters.

* A website,, has been launched recently by the National Tourism Administration to help stimulate the sector’s growth. Stimulating policies of the tourism sector, including promotion programmes for international and domestic tours, are available on the website.

Translated by Hoang Anh

Source: QDND

Euro rescue package ‘just buys time’: Merkel

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 10. AFP photo

BERLIN (AFP) – A trillion-dollar package to shore up ailing eurozone economies merely buys time until the deficits of certain members of the 16-member zone are cleaned up, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

Speaking at a conference of the Confederation of German Trade Unions, Merkel said that recent speculation against the euro “is only possible because of huge differences in the economic strengths and debt levels of member states.”

With the rescue package, “we have done nothing more than to buy time until we have brought order to these competitive differences and to the budget deficits of individual euro countries,” she said.

The giant fund of loan guarantees, for which Germany will have to make available up to around 150 billion euros (186 billion dollars), was agreed in emergency talks in Brussels last Sunday.

Dubbed “shock and awe”, the package briefly cheered markets and offered some respite to the plunging euro, but doubts quickly resurfaced about the ability of governments to push through crippling cuts to conquer their deficits.

Speaking a day after the joint agreement between the European Union and the International Monetary Fund was clinched, Merkel said it served to “strengthen and protect the common currency.”

The wider package followed a 110-billion-euro bailout deal for debt-wracked Greece, which was hugely unpopular in Germany and contributed to a shattering defeat for Merkel last Sunday in a key regional election.

“What happened in Greece, that is to say the year-on-year falsification of statistics, is completely unacceptable,” Merkel said.

Source: SGGP

Satsuki festival to take place in Hanoi for first time

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:42 am

The Japanese Satsuki festival will take place in the capital city of Hanoi for the first time.

The two-day event, starting on May 8, will include Yosakoi dances performed by four famous Japanese troupes and seven Vietnamese troupes, tea making, sword performances, Japanese cuisine and traditional games.

Several Vietnamese and Japanese firms in healthcare, foodstuffs and garments will also display their products at the festival.

The Happy Town Lap Joint Stock Company, the event organiser, said that it will hold the event annually in Vietnam and part of the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to disabled children in the Peace Village .

Previously, in 2007 and 2009, several Japanese dance troupes came to perform at cherry festivals in Hanoi.

Source: SGGP

Thai army warns protesters ‘time running out’

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 at 6:18 am

Thailand’s army warned Red Shirt anti-government protesters Thursday that “time is running out” to leave their rally site in Bangkok‘s commercial heart before a likely crackdown.

But the mostly poor and rural Reds, who have paralysed an area of the capital that is home to five-star hotels and major shopping centres, remained defiant and ruled out talks with the authorities until the military withdraws.

Tensions remained high in Bangkok after overnight scuffles between the red-shirted demonstrators, who are seeking immediate elections, and hundreds of rival pro-government protesters calling for the Reds to go home.

The supporters of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who include local residents and business owners, confronted the Reds and threw bottles, while some of the anti-government protesters hurled stones, bottles and firecrackers.

Red Shirt anti-government protester pictured next to bamboo barricades set up in Bangkok’s financial district, during a protest on April 21.

One foreign tourist was reported to have been slightly injured.

The red-clad movement has ruled out immediate talks with the government, despite the threat of “decisive” action by the army.

“We don’t want you to risk your lives. If there is a clash you could be hurt by stray bullets,” said army spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd. “Your time is running out. Please leave the area.”

Sunsern said there were currently 6,000 of the red-shirted protesters at the site, down from 14,000 Wednesday evening.

But there was no air of compromise as the protesters dug in, following street clashes in Bangkok earlier this month that left 25 people dead.

The Reds have fortified their rally base in central Bangkok with home-made barricades made from bamboo poles and piles of car tyres.

“When there are guns pointed at our heads, we cannot talk,” said a Reds leader, Weng Tojirakarn. “The easiest way (to resolve the crisis) is to dissolve parliament and then we will all go home.”

Piles of sharpened bamboo sticks and broken paving stones have been stockpiled, triggering fears of new confrontations with security forces who are threatening to use tear gas and live fire if necessary.

The Reds are seeking immediate elections to replace the government, which it accuses of being elitist and undemocratic.

The United States urged both sides to seek a peaceful resolution to the weeks-long crisis, which has shut down the Thai capital’s retail and hotel heartland, worsening the damage to the economy of the tourist destination.

“We would continue to encourage both sides to work out their disagreements peacefully,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. “We don’t believe that violence in any shape or form is a solution to this political challenge.”

Hundreds of members of the security forces and Red Shirts are now facing off at the perimeter of two zones in central Bangkok, separated by a long stretch of the makeshift barricade.

The political crisis has spread to the rural northeast, where protesters have blockaded a military train and forced busloads of troops to return to their bases.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said that although negotiations were the best way out of the crisis, there was little chance the two sides would sit down together.

“There have been several attempts to connect with the Red Shirts. I’m sure you are fully aware how difficult it is to talk to them in a unified manner,” he said.

Talks last month ended in failure after Abhisit’s offer of elections at the end of the year was rejected by the Reds, who insist on immediate polls.

The protesters are mainly supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and is living in exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.

The Reds say Abhisit’s government is illegitimate because it came to power in a parliamentary vote at the end of 2008 after a court ruling removed Thaksin’s allies from office.

Source: SGGP