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Ancient martial arts school under renovation

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:09 am

Ancient martial arts school under renovation

QĐND – Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 21:34 (GMT+7)

A 1-billion VND (50,000 USD) renovation project on the Xien Vo Temple in the ancient capital of Hue has been launched by the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre.

The project, which deals with the temple’s main compartment and two wings, is expected to be completed by October.

The building, also called Vo Ban Temple, was used as a martial arts teaching facility for children of high-ranking mandarins under King Minh Mang (1820-40).

Recognised as a provincial historical and architectural vestige in 2006, the temple presents features of a ruong house – a typical wooden house that once dominated the city.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

VN-Index sinks under selling pressure

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:37 am

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index, which tracks 273 companies and five mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, stumbled on December 20 as investors dumped shares heavily.

The gauge trimmed 1.44 percent, or 7 points, to close at 478.29 points.

Among the index members, 73 advanced, 155 retreated, while 50 remained unchanged.

Trading volume on the city bourse severely dropped over the previous trading session as around 66.94 million shares worth VND1.55 trillion changed hands.

Tan Tao Investment Industry Corporation (ITA) won the position of most active share by volume with 4.85 million shares changing hands.

It was followed by Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI), the country’s largest brokerage, with 4.44 million shares traded.

Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) came in third with 4.19 million shares.

Seafood Joint Stock Company No4 (TS4) eliminated 4.96 percent to VND23,000.

Petrovietnam – Idico Long Son Industrial Park Investment Joint Stock Company (PXL) resumed losing trend, contracting 4.92 percent to VND11,600.

Construction Joint Stock Company No5 (SC5) tripped 4.89 percent to VND38,900.

Meanwhile, Nam Viet Corporation (ANV), and Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ) edged up the daily maximum allowed limit of 5 percent to VND14,700 and VND35,700 respectively.

Vien Dong Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company (DVD) leaped forward the second day, gaining 4.99 percent to VND40,000.

Sieu Thanh Joint Stock Corporation (ST8) surged 4.98 percent to VND23,200.

The Hanoi’s HNX-Index plunged 2.51 percent, or 3 points, to close at 116.7 points. Trading volume dropped to 47.2 million shares worth VND920.35 billion.

The UPCom-Index slipped by 0.51 points to 40.88 points this morning. A total of 192,164 shares changed hands at a value of VND1.89 billion.

Source: SGGP

Cua Viet storm shelter under construction

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Cua Viet storm shelter under construction

QĐND – Friday, November 26, 2010, 20:40 (GMT+7)

The Quang Tri provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on November 25 began construction of Cua Viet storm shelter for ships and boats in Trieu Phong district with a total investment of over VND104 billion.

The construction is divided into two parts, a southern subdivision covering 34ha and a northern subdivision covering 6ha.   

Both areas will be installed with safety facilities such as independent anchor posts, drainage and drift signal systems, and embankments.

The project, being carried out by PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Company No 1, Thanh An Construction Joint Stock Company and Trang Sinh Company Limited, will be put into operation in 2012.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

British units ‘under scrutiny over Afghan attacks’

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

LONDON, Oct, 27 (AFP) – Three British military units in Afghanistan face questions about their conduct after details of their involvement in attacks on Afghan civilians emerged, a report said.

Of casualties caused by British forces, two-thirds involved troops from the three units, reported Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which obtained the information from the government through freedom of information legislation.

AFP file photo of Royal Marines taking part in a live-fire exercise on Salisbury Plain.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) released information about 21 incidents in response to the paper’s demands.

The information revealed that the Coldstream Guards shot four civilians in Kabul over four weeks, while the Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians eight times in six months.

And a third unit, The Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year.

Children were among the casualties and a man with mental health problems was attacked on one occasion, the information showed.

The attacks were among incidents mentioned in tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan, which were published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks in July.

Exact details of the attacks were not released at the time, said the Guardian.

Defence officials insisted protecting Afghan civilians remained a priority.

“We deeply regret all civilian casualties,” said an MoD spokesman.

“Protecting the Afghan civilian population is a cornerstone of [the NATO-led force] ISAF’s mission, and all British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement.”

He added this was in contrast to the insurgents, who “cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.”

Source: SGGP

US under pressure on WikiLeaks allegations

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

Washington on Sunday came under increasing pressure to investigate allegations in the leaked Iraq war documents published by WikiLeaks, which Britain’s deputy premier called “shocking”.

Governments and human rights organisations alike put the focus on answers to the allegations made against US, allied and Iraqi troops as the whistleblowing website released 400,000 classified US military documents.

The flood of material from 2004 to 2009 offers a grim snapshot of the conflict, especially of the abuse of Iraqi civilians by Iraqi security forces.

Iraqi soldiers from the Ministry of Defence sit along side blindfolded detainees in the back of a pick-up truck as they drive along a road in Baghdad.

The heavily redacted logs appear to show that the US military turned a blind eye to evidence of torture and abuse of civilians by the Iraqi authorities.

WikiLeaks claim the documents reveal around 15,000 more civilian deaths than were previously known about.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called the allegations “extremely serious” and said people would be wanting to hear “what the answer is”.

“We can bemoan how these leaks occurred but I think the nature of the allegations made are extraordinarily serious. They are distressing to read about,” he told BBC television.

“I’m assuming the US administration will want to provide its own answer.

“Anything that suggests that basic rules of war and conflict and of engagement have been broken, or that torture has in any way been condoned, are extremely serious and need to be looked at.

“People will want to hear what the answer is to what are very, very serious allegations of a nature which I think everybody will find quite shocking.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Barack Obama administration to the calls for an investigation, and little eagerness among Republicans to delve into the low points of a war that came to define the administration of George W. Bush.

Representative Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the document release “opens up old wounds.”

“If there is information about criminal activity, follow it up. If there is a systemic problems, follow it up,” he said on Fox television. “But let’s not create controversy where there isn’t any. There are enough problems in Iraq without going back over that ground.”

Australia joined Iraq war allies Britain and the United States in saying that the leaks could put troops’ lives at risk.

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith vowed a “painstaking” review of the documents.

Denmark’s military also said it would study the documents amid reports that the classified files reveal wrongdoings by Danish soldiers.

“We want to see the documents for ourselves and compare them to our own information,” Danish Defence Command spokesman Torben Kjedsen told AFP.

According to Danish media, the documents reveal how Danish troops had handed over 62 prisoners to Iraqi authorities, despite warnings they would likely face abusive treatment.

The files published Friday contain graphic accounts of torture, civilian killings and Iran’s hand in the Iraq war, documenting years of bloodshed and suffering following the 2003 US-led invasion to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

Other reports describe Iraqis beating prisoners and women being killed at US military checkpoints.

The files also show Iran waging a shadow war with US troops in Iraq, allegedly using militias to kill and kidnap US soldiers.

Human Rights Watch said Iraq should investigate reports that its forces systematically tortured and abused detainees.

“The US government should also investigate whether its forces breached international law by transferring thousands of Iraqi detainees from US to Iraqi custody despite the clear risk of torture,” it said.

Amnesty International called on Washington to investigate how much US officials knew about the alleged abuse.

Spokesman Malcolm Smart said the leaks fuelled concerns that US authorities “committed a serious breach of international law when they summarily handed over thousands of detainees to Iraqi security forces who, they knew, were continuing to torture and abuse detainees on a truly shocking scale.”

The rights ministry in Baghdad said the logs “did not contain any surprises”.

Supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the release was a plot to undermine his bid to stay in power following March elections.

“It is a media campaign against the state and the political process carried out by several groups like the Baathists, regional forces and the new political order,” said lawmaker Hassan al-Sinaid, who is close to Maliki.

WikiLeaks held a news conference in London on Saturday, at which the website’s founder Julian Assange defended the unauthorised release, saying it was intended to reveal the “truth” about the conflict.

“Most wars that are started by democracies involve lying,” he said.

“If there’s enough truth early on enough then perhaps we won’t see these kind of wars.”

Source: SGGP

British defence cuts to be kept under 10 percent: BBC

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Britain’s Ministry of Defence will only face cuts of under 10 percent in the government’s punishing spending review next week, compared to 25 percent for many other departments, the BBC reported Saturday.

Finance Minister George Osborne had told the MoD to prepare cuts of at least 10 percent despite strong resistance from Defence Secretary Liam Fox and military chiefs.

But Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in the row and the MoD is now likely to face cuts of between seven and eight percent, the BBC said, adding there would be no substantial cuts in army personnel numbers.

Britain will announce full details of the cuts in a strategic defence review being unveiled Tuesday, which will outline a long-term vision for the military.

That comes the day before an overall spending review Wednesday which Cameron has said will reveal details of cuts of up to 25 percent in most departments.

But there has been particular controversy over reductions to the defence budget.

Britain currently has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, the second largest contingent after the United States but Cameron has indicated they will be withdrawn from combat by 2015 in a process which may start next year.

The premier’s reported intervention came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the BBC Thursday she was worried that sharp spending cuts could damage the NATO military alliance.

The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that the new professional head of the British Army, General Peter Wall, had warned Cameron that operations in Afghanistan could be undermined by cuts in army numbers and training.

Wall plus Chief of the Defence Staff Jock Stirrup, the Navy’s head Admiral Mark Stanhope and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Stephen Dalton are all concerned about the potential impact of cuts.

Reports suggest that areas of defence expenditure under threat from the cuts include RAF bases, Harrier jets and navy frigates, although two promised new Royal Navy aircraft carriers will be delivered.

Source: SGGP

First Guantanamo trial under Obama opens

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 7:20 am

Guantanamo Bay’s youngest detainee, Canadian Omar Khadr, became the first person to face trial before a military tribunal since President Barack Obama took office.

Khadr, who was captured by US troops in Afghanistan at the age of 15, faces life in prison for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier during the siege of an Al-Qaeda compound in the eastern city of Khost in July 2002.

He denies throwing the grenade and his lawyers say the prosecution’s case is founded on confessions extracted by torture during eight years of detention, initially at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and later at Guantanamo.

Khadr appeared in the courtroom dressed in Western clothing and a tie, as deliberations began in choosing a jury of military officers to hear the case of the 23-year-old who has spent more than a third of his life in US detention.

Speaking after the hearing, Khadr’s Canadian civilian lawyer Denis Edney said his client had “glowed” when he glimpsed his reflection in a window. “It’s the first time in eight years he’s been able to feel human,” Edney explained.

Khadr, the last remaining Westerner at Guantanamo, is alleged to have been trained by Al-Qaeda and joined a bomb-making network organized by Osama bin Laden.

Seriously wounded in Afghanistan, including losing vision in his left eye, Khadr has so far refused Washington’s offer of 30 years in prison — including 25 in Canada — in exchange for a guilty plea.

His US military lawyer Jon Jackson and military prosecutors must select at least five officers for the jury in the trial, which is expected to last at least three weeks at the US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

On Monday, Jackson sought the withdrawal of statements that Khadr made at Bagram and at Guantanamo, insisting they were made under duress.

But military judge Patrick Parrish ruled in a pre-trial hearing that Khadr’s alleged confessions can be heard, angering the defense team which labeled the decision “disgraceful.”

At the start of Tuesday’s court proceedings, an official read out five charges against Khadr, including murder, espionage and material support for terrorism.

The judge instructed the 15 officers being interviewed that as jury members they should reach their conclusions “beyond a reasonable doubt” but that they would not need to rely on “mathematical certainty.”

Prosecutor Jeff Groharing then posed questions to the potential jurors, highlighting the legal controversies at the center of the Khadr case: “Does anyone consider it unfair to use statements the accused made?” he asked them.

“Does anyone find it inappropriate to try somebody eight years after the facts?” he went on. “Do you think it’s inappropriate to try a juvenile for a serious crime?”

Khadr’s attorney, a lieutenant colonel, stressed that he would “zealously” question officers during the trial and immediately sought to introduce doubt into the case against the defendant.

“Has anyone heard of an incident where somebody makes a statement to a law enforcement officer that turns out to be false?” Jackson asked. “It is a scientific fact that memory gets worse over time. Everybody agree with that?”

Khadr’s case was one of two underway Tuesday. A hearing to determine sentencing for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, 50, a former Bin Laden bodyguard who pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to provide material support to terrorism, began later in the day in a separate courtroom.

Khadr’s trial is the first to be heard since the tribunals, created by former president George W. Bush, were revamped last year by the Obama administration and Congress to give greater rights to defendants.

Since 2001, four men have been convicted of terrorism-related charges in Guantanamo trials, two of whom pleaded guilty, while US federal courts have sentenced some 200 extremists over the same period.

There are now about 180 detainees left at Guantanamo, but the administration has yet to lay out a definitive timetable for closing the controversial facility.

Obama came into office pledging to shutter the prison within a year, but was unable to meet that deadline amid difficulty repatriating some detainees and determining how and where to detain and prosecute others.

Source: SGGP

Moscow chokes under smog as travellers trapped

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 7:25 am

MOSCOW, Aug 8, 2010 (AFP) – Thousands of air travellers were stranded Sunday as Moscow choked in the worst smog in living memory from spreading wildfires that threatened a second Russian nuclear facility.

Iconic buildings like the Kremlin towers and the city’s wedding-cake Stalin-era skyscrapers were obscured by the acrid smoke, while Saint Petersburg and neighbouring Finland were also starting to feel the effects.

Moscovites wear gas masks to protect themself from the forest fire smog in Moscow on August 8, 2010. AFP

The wildfires have sparked a major crisis in western Russia, killing 52 people and sending authorities scrambling to protect strategic sites, including the country’s main nuclear research facilities.

Emergency response minister Sergei Shoigu ordered firefighters to redouble their efforts to put out a wildfire near the Snezhinsk nuclear research facility in the Urals, some 1,500 kilometres (925 miles) east of Moscow.

“As for Snezhinsk, I recommend you work through the night,” he said during a meeting with officials from regions hit by the blazes.

He said all of the fires around the city of Sarov in the Nizhny Novgorod region, site of another major nuclear centre, had been extinguished. Authorities had removed radioactive and explosive materials from the facility.

About 2,000 people were stranded at Moscow’s Domodedovo international airport when major delays hit their flights after they had crossed passport control to the departures area with food running short, state television said.

Domodedovo, in the south of Moscow, was the airport worst hit with dozens of flights delayed Sunday. “Passengers need to be warned that delays are unavoidable,” said Sergei Izvolsky of aviation committee Rosaviatsia.

The airport sent out requests to aviation companies to staff flight crews with pilots capable of flying in zero visibility conditions.

“We are located at the very epicentre of wildfires,” Domodedovo spokeswoman Elena Galanova told AFP. “We’re asking them to take complicated meteorological conditions into account.”

Moscow residents rushed to escape the smog-bound capital, with travel agents reporting package tours to destinations popular with Russians like Egypt, Montenegro and Turkey completely sold out.

“In the last week the demand for tickets from Moscow sold online has gone up by 20 percent,” Irina Tyurina, spokeswoman of the Russian Union of Tour Operators, told the Echo of Moscow radio.

“For this weekend there are no places on aircraft to resort destinations and next weekend very few. The smoke has prompted this desire of Muscovites to leave the city,” she said.

The Canadian embassy started evacuating some of its staff and their families from the capital, the foreign ministry in Ottawa said.

Moscow’s high-profile mayor Yuri Luzhkov, however, decided to return to the city after being ridiculed in the press for staying away during the crisis. His aides said he was interrupting treatment for a “sports injury”.

State air pollution monitoring service Mosekomonitoring said carbon monoxide levels in the Moscow air were 3.1 times higher than acceptable levels on Sunday afternoon. The previous day they had been 6.6 times worse.

Moscow residents and tourists tried to protect themselves by donning medical masks or even just clutching wet rags to their faces.

About 554 fires were still blazing, covering 190,400 hectares (470,500 acres), down just 3,000 hectares from the figure the previous day, the emergency ministries said.

Weather forecasters said Russia’s worst heatwave in decades would continue with temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit), although there would be a dip by Wednesday.

“The situation with the wildfires in Russia remains difficult but a trend of improvement is being recorded,” the emergencies ministry said on its website.

Source: SGGP

Stocks slump under selling pressure

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

Movements of VN-Index on August 5. (Photo: shares of 251 companies listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange dropped for a second consecutive day on August 5, amid unimproved demand and the dumping of shares by investors eager to cut losses.

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index slipped 0.1 percent, or 0.5 points, to close at 486.21.

Of the index, 67 stocks advanced, 127 fell, while 61 remained unchanged.

Although several stocks retreated to a price level considered reasonable for disbursement, investors neglected to act.

Trading volume was thin, with around 37.4 million shares changing hands, valued at VND1.16 trillion.

Vinh Son – Song Hinh Hydropower Joint Stock Company (VSH) won the spot of most active stock by volume with 1.34 million shares changing hands.

Pha Lai Thermal Power Joint Stock Company came in next, with 1.21 million shares, followed by Vinafco Joint Stock Corporation (VFC) with more than 965,000 shares.

Sao Mai Construction Corporation (ASM) and Chuong Duong Beverages Joint Stock Company (SCD) sank the daily maximum allowed limit of 5 percent to VND76,000, and VND28,500 respectively.

Sao Mai Construction Corporation (ASM) announced that its net revenue reached VND241.9 billion in the second quarter, up 28.41 percent year-on-year, while prime costs reduced by 29 percent, sending its gross profit to VND114.5 billion.

Pre-tax and post-tax profits were at VND104.54 billion and VND80.92 billion respectively.

From July 12 to 23, Le Ngoc Xuyen, sister of Le Thanh Tuan – chairman of Sao Mai Construction Corporation (ASM) sold all 22,200 of her shares for personal needs.

TMT Automobile Joint Stock Company (TMT) dropped 4.88 percent to VND27,300. The company registered to buy 500,000 treasury shares between August 6 and October 30.

Information and Networking Technology Joint Stock Company (CMT) and DESCON Construction Corporation (DCC) declined 4.86 percent to VND33,300 and VND23,500 respectively.

Viet Nhat Seafood Corporation (VNH) led the big gainers on the city bourse, adding up 4.95 percent to VND19,100.

Thien Long Group Corporation (TLG) increased 4.94 percent to VND34,000.

Ha Tien Transport Joint Stock Company (HTV) surged 4.92 percent to VND34,100.

Hanoi’s HNX-Index fell 0.41 points, or 0.28 percent, to 147.45. Trading volume dropped by 10 percent over the previous day to 27.8 million shares, worth VND754 billion.

The UPCoM-Index moved contrastingly, gaining 0.58 points to 51.12, as of 11 am local time. Around VND9.1 billion was spent on 470,000 shares.

Source: SGGP

Bangkok to stay under emergency rule after blast: PM

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 3:18 am

BANGKOK, July 27, 2010 (AFP) – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday that the authorities would maintain emergency rule in the capital following a deadly bombing over the weekend.

“I think Bangkok will remain under the state of emergency while the government will gradually lift the law in other provinces,” he told reporters after meeting security officials.

The bomb, which killed one person and wounded 10, exploded at a bus stop in the same commercial district occupied by anti-government “Red Shirt” protesters during a two-month-long rally that ended with an army crackdown in May.

The main opposition Puea Thai party accused government supporters of setting off the bomb, which shattered an uneasy calm in the capital since the army crushed the Red Shirts’ mass protests.

The government has come under pressure from the United States and rights groups to end a state of emergency still in place across one-fifth of the country.

Authorities have used the powers — introduced in Bangkok on April 7 — to arrest hundreds of Red Shirt suspects and silence anti-government media.

The protests by the Reds, many of whom back fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, attracted up to 100,000 people demanding immediate elections.

Ninety people died and about 1,900 were injured in a series of street clashes between armed troops and demonstrators.

Source: SGGP