June 26, 2008
June 26, 2008
|23% Vietnamese surf Internet|
|03:18′ 17/06/2008 (GMT+7)|
VietNamNet Bridge – By the end of May 2008, Vietnam’s average teledensity was 67 phones per 100 residents. The total number of phone subscribers was 58 million. The country also had 6 million Internet subscribers, equivalent to 19.5 million Internet users, reaching a ratio of 23% of the population.
The figures were announced by Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang at the Vietnam Telecom International Summit in Hanoi on June 12-13.
Since 2005, the annual number of new mobile subscribers in Vietnam is equivalent to the total number of subscribers of the previous years. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest telecom growth rate in the world in recent years.
Thang said that this year’s end the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) will allow some telecom firms to implement 3G mobile information technology in Vietnam.
Le Thi Ngoc Mo, Vice head of the MoIC’s Telecommunications Department, said Vietnam encourages healthy competition among mobile operators and the application of new technology and services, especially advanced technologies like 3G, Wimax, etc.
She also said that the MoIC’s plans to boost foreign investment in the fixed telecom network and support Internet Service Providers that don’t have network infrastructure and develop global broadband services in Vietnam.
According to Deputy Minister Le Nam Thang, in its commitments to the WTO, Vietnam will open its telecom market. Accordingly, foreign investors can make joint ventures with local telecom firms to provide telecom services in Vietnam. Foreign investors’ capital in these joint venture must not exceed 49% for services that require network infrastructure and 50% or even no-limited capital for services that don’t require network infrastructure.
|Student film gives Vietnam vets a much-belated welcome home|
|Written by Paul Rossman, Gazette Staff Writer|
|Monday, 16 June 2008|
|NORTHERN CAMBRIA — The auditorium was pitch-black at Northern Cambria Middle School when a film lit up the movie-sized screen. Moments in, the first voice heard was that of Herman L. Fisher, who had a simple message for the nearly 140 people in attendance: “We never got a welcome home.”
More than 30 years after the Vietnam War ended, veterans received a welcome home of sorts Sunday night when a documentary titled “We Never Got the Welcome Home” premiered.
The project was written, produced and edited by 14 Northern Cambria students and was funded by a $10,000 grant from The History Channel. The students worked on the project since September and finished the documentary for the premiere minutes before the showing.
The documentary, which ran a little over one hour, featured interviews with more than 25 Vietnam veterans from western Pennsylvania, stories which were intertwined throughout the film with footage of the war from the Department of Defense.
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The project focused on the veterans’ backgrounds, their experiences in Vietnam and post-war re-adjustment period.
After placing advertisements in the local papers, the students traveled to Clymer, Ebensburg, Johnstown and Northern Cambria to conduct interviews with veterans who wished to tell their stories. The students also made two separate trips to Washington, once interviewing U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, and the other to get footage of Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit organization whose main purpose is to publicize missing-in-action and prisoner-of-war issues.
“The knowledge I gained from this — you can’t get it in the classroom,” said Casey Contres, who served as one of the producers of the documentary.
Dr. Paul Douglas Newman, a professor of early American history at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown who served as a project adviser, said the students put in “thousands of hours” in producing the film.
The project essentially began after some of these same students were finishing a book last summer titled “As the Dust Settles: Revealing Those Seldom Seen,” which documented seven main issues of coal mining.
“It worked out great,” said Newman, who also served as adviser on the book. “We did it in six months.”
It was then that Deacon Ann Staples, the executive director of the Northern Cambria Coal Country Hangout, found a “Save Our History” grant from The History Channel.
“I thought, ‘This is for us,’” Staples said.
Staples approached Newman about the grant. Coincidentally, Newman had just learned of the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. combat death in Vietnam, Harry Cramer, who was from Johnstown.
“I thought, ‘Well, where’s their welcome home? Where’s their gratitude and all that kind of stuff?’” Newman said. “And there isn’t. These guys were ignored when they came home, and here we’re coming up on this anniversary and still nothing.”
With this in mind, they applied for the grant and received $10,000, the highest award. Newman said the money was used to buy computer and video editing equipment, and was used to fund the various expenses of the project.
Karen Bowman, a history teacher at Northern Cambria who also served as an adviser, said she didn’t handpick these students; rather, they volunteered to be on the project.
“This is a true team-building collaboration,” Bowman said. “They have figured out what their strengths are, they learned to rely on each other for their strengths, and it is a true professional-grade collaboration.”
After Newman initially meet with the students in September, and after watching several documentaries, the students decided on the format for the film.
“What they came up with was to come up with a series of questions we would ask every vet and allow them to tell their story,” Newman said. “The movie would have no narration, no text, no editing on our part other than fitting the interviews together and making a coherent story out of it — letting them tell their story.”
The next showing will be 7 p.m. July 16 at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center at Pitt-Johnstown. Admission is free.
But the students aren’t limiting themselves to only local showings. Contres said they plan to enter the documentary into several national film festivals, ranging from Los Angeles to New York City.
“We’re not done,” Newman said. “This is just the beginning of this story.”
HANOI: How quickly Asia’s newest “Tiger Economy” has stopped roaring.
A year ago, the Vietnamese stock market was one of the hottest on earth, the real estate market was soaring and economic growth blazed at 8.5 percent a year. Exports were booming and foreign investment was flooding in, helped by the country’s admission to the World Trade Organization.
Millions across the Communist country celebrated the marvels of capitalism.
Today, inflation has hit 25 percent, pinching incomes, and workers have been striking for higher wages. Property prices are falling and the stock market has plummeted to a two-year low, dashing the hopes of many people who expected to strike it rich.
Like thousands of other first-time investors in China and India, where shares also have plunged, Vietnamese are getting brutal lessons in the down sides of capital markets.
“My son and my husband are so angry at me,” said Doan Kim, a retired nurse who lost 70 percent of her $20,000 nest egg in the stock market. “My life is not the same.”
Many of the strengths that lured a record $20 billion in foreign investment to Vietnam last year remain in place. The nation has a rapidly emerging middle class and has adopted many economic changes in recent years. Half of its 84 million citizens are under the age of 30.
Economically isolated by years of war, the nation has a pent-up demand for consumer goods, making it an attractive destination for retailers.
Leading Vietnamese growth were the telecommunications, manufacturing and construction industries, as well as exports of clothing, shoes, rice and coffee.
For now, foreign investment pledges are still rising, reaching $5.1 billion in the first quarter, up 36 percent from the period a year ago.
But the government has lowered its growth target to 7 percent from as much as 9 percent, and the prevailing mood has soured drastically.
Like economies around the world, Vietnam has been buffeted by soaring food and oil prices, and the authorities are trying to rein in surging inflation. The jump in food prices is hitting the poor especially hard.
The Vietnamese government, eager to modernize the country, has also been spending freely on big infrastructure projects, incurring a large fiscal deficit.
State-owned banks in Vietnam have been extending easy credit to the massive state-owned companies that still dominate the economy. Credit growth last year exceeded 50 percent, according to Jonathan Pincus, chief economist at the United Nations Development Program.
The central bank has raised interest rates and the authorities have taken other steps to slow inflation. But it has not been moving quickly enough, hindered by a collective decision-making style and well-connected pressure groups with an interest in the status quo, Pincus said.
Pervasive corruption has also undermined economic efficiency.
The Vietnamese economy has been among the world’s fastest growing since it began accelerating free-market changes a decade ago. But like many developing countries, it has found it difficult to restrain inflation while capital has flowed into the country.
“All of us gathered here today are only too aware of spiraling costs and the negative effect that inflation is having on the business environment in Vietnam,” Michael Pease, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi, said at a forum last week.
At the same meeting, Benedict Bingham, the Vietnam country chief for the International Monetary Fund, called on the government to curtail spending, raise interest rates and tighten credit to state-owned companies.
Despite its short-term difficulties, Vietnam is likely to continue making significant economic progress, Bingham said.
He added: “The longer-term economic reform story that made Vietnam such an attractive destination for foreign direct investment in recent years remains a compelling one.”
The plunge in the country’s stock market has been as stunning as its ascent. The benchmark VNindex surged 144 percent in 2006 and an additional 56 percent last year. Giddy new investors flocked to securities companies that sprung up in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s two biggest cities. People swapped stories about freshly minted millionaires.
“Everybody made money,” said Nguyen Tra Lan, an analyst with Thang Long Securities.
But many new investors had little, if any, knowledge about stocks. People engaged in “word of mouth” investing, often acting on rumors and tips from family and friends, Lan said.
And as they did, the market quickly became overvalued, said Dominic Scriven, director of Dragon Capital Group in Ho Chi Minh City. “Share prices were much higher than they should have been.”
Since hitting a high of 1,179 in March 2007, the key index has sunk by more than 60 percent, sinking to a two-year low of 370.45 last week.
Kim had a friend who quickly tripled her $6,200 investment in stocks in 2006. So Kim tried to cash in as well, investing her entire $20,000 in savings and another $20,000 she borrowed from friends.
But she got in too late, just as the stocks of major state-owned companies started to plummet, including such giants as Refrigeration Electrical Engineering, Vinamilk and Sacombank.
“If everything had worked out they way it did for my friend,” Kim said, “I would have been a billionaire.”
Instead, she lost $28,000 and has no idea how she will pay off her debts. She spends her days at a Hanoi securities firm, where she watches the ticker and waits to see if stock prices will rise.
June 26, 2008
HOUSTON (KTRK) — In the past two years, hundreds of Vietnamese orphans have been given happy homes by American families. But in two weeks, that adoption process will end.
Eighteen-month-old Tiffany is adjusting to life in Houston. The little Vietnamese girl was adopted by Melanie Powell about a year ago.
“I never did get to see her,” said Melanie. “They just showed me a little tiny picture and gave me her medical report.”
Powell, who is already a mother to a teenage daughter, always wanted a bigger family. But as a single mother, her options were limited. That’s one reason she looked to Vietnam, where the process was easier.
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But for the second time in six years, the adoption agreement between Vietnam and the U.S. is ending. The U.S. embassy in Hanoi believes there is too much corruption and baby-selling going on in the Vietnam adoption system.
“It’s going to be disastrous for the children of Vietnam,” said Jackie Harrah, who opened an adoption agency in Houston 13 years ago.
Jackie opened her adoption agency after adopting her three daughters from China and seeing thousands of children stuck in Asian orphanages.
“There are children who are languishing in orphanages, special needs children who need surgeries, who need to have somebody care enough to provide them with the medical care they need,” she said.
Vickie Lai agrees. She’s a Vietnamese-American living in Houston. Vickie went back to Vietnam armed with a video camera in January. She visited and filmed footage at two orphanages. What she saw was heartbreaking.
“The children, to the point that they have to wear several clothing. And some children caught my attention. They don’t even have socks to wear,” she said.
Vickie says it’s rare for orphaned children to be adopted by other Vietnamese. So now with the suspension of U.S. adoptions, she believes most of these children will remain in orphanages forever.
Currently, there are six applications for Vietnamese adoptions in the system at Jackie’s agency. She’s working quickly to get them processed before the July 1 suspension begins. And maybe a few more Vietnamese orphans will get a chance for a better life, like baby Tiffany and her new mom.
Vietnamese babies who are matched with American families before July 1 will be allowed to continue with the adoption process.
June 26, 2008
|Vietnamese photographer wins international contest|
Vietnamese photographer Dao Tien Dat has won the silver medal for his photo “Thirsty” at the 9th International Photography Competition recently held in Shanghai, China.
Dat was the only Vietnamese winner in the competition and his work was also awarded the jury board’s special prize for digital photography.
The competition was co-sponsored by the International Art Photography Federation, the US Photography Association and the British Royal Photography
|Vietnamese doctor receives award from US oncology society|
|12:07′ 19/06/2008 (GMT+7)|
VietNamNet Bridge – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has granted the 2008 International Development Education Awards (IDEA) to 20 medical doctors from developing countries, including Vietnamese doctor Nguyen Van Cau, in Chicago, USA.
The awards provided the doctors with scholarships to participate in ASCO’s annual conference in early June and to receive training on professional skills, as well as establishing close relations with ASCO officials.
After the conference, ASCO assigned Mr Cau to meet and work with the Lineberger Centre under the North Carolina Hospital. Mr Cau met Prof. Richard M. Goldberg and joined in various scientific and clinical activities there.
Mr Cau, lecturer at the Cancer and Tumour Faculty of the Hue Medicine and Pharmacy College, is now a third-year research student at the Jules Bordet Cancer Institute, Brussels Liberation University, Belgium. He is also a member of ASCO.
Cindy McCain says she would make Myanmar human rights a priority as US first lady
HANOI, Vietnam: Cindy McCain blasted Myanmar’s military junta Thursday and vowed to make improving human rights there a priority if she becomes America’s next first lady.
She traveled to Asia this week, far from the U.S. presidential campaign trail and her husband, Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain, to showcase her charity work and get a close-up look at relief efforts for victims of last month’s devastating cyclone in Myanmar.
She said she didn’t even bother trying to get a visa to Myanmar, knowing it would likely be denied by the secretive government. Instead, the U.N. World Food Program in Thailand will brief her Friday about its work.
Cyclone Nargis killed more than 78,000 people and left another 56,000 missing, according to the government, which has turned away some assistance offered by the United States and other countries.
“It’s just a terrible group of people that rule the country, and the frightening part is that their own people are dying of disease and starvation and everything else and it doesn’t matter,” she said in Vietnam, while working with a charity that helps children born with facial deformities. “I don’t understand how human life doesn’t matter to somebody. But clearly, it doesn’t matter to them.”
Current first lady Laura Bush also has been a sharp critic of human rights abuses in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Cindy McCain said she would continue that push if she winds up in the White House. She has visited Myanmar twice, including once when her husband met with pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention for more than 12 of the past 18 years.
She also visited the Vietnamese coastal town of Nha Trang where about 100 children born with cleft palates and cleft lips were awaiting free surgery provided by the U.S. charity Operation Smile. The procedures will take place offshore on one of the U.S. Navy’s hospital ships, the USNS Mercy.
She has made several trips to Vietnam, where her husband was shot down during the Vietnam War and held for more than five years as a prisoner of war.
“This is what I do, and this is what revitalizes me, personally,” she said. “The campaign is extremely important, of course, but this is also important to me, and so you try to balance everything.”
She has been actively involved with Operation Smile since 2001 and is a member of its board of directors.
She has a special connection to Vietnam because she and her husband first helped a baby, Phuoc Thi Le, receive reconstructive surgery on her cleft palate and cleft lip in 1997 after a chance meeting with the girl’s uncle in Arizona. Cindy McCain reunited with Le, now 11, during her one-day visit.
The McCains later adopted a daughter from Bangladesh who also was born with a facial deformity.
“When you see a child anywhere, say a child that doesn’t have food or a child with a cleft palate who’s been kept in a back room because the family is embarrassed or whatever it may be, it takes you back to really what’s basic and what’s really important,” Cindy McCain said.
She also plans to visit Cambodia to participate in charity work there.
Separately, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview aired Thursday that she believes Democrat Barack Obama “is a fine man” and his wife, Michelle, is “a fine woman,” but the presidential election “is about who would be better and I think my husband would be better.”
Cindy McCain caused a stir in the presidential race when she took exception to Michelle Obama’s February comment that for the first time in her adult life she was proud of the United States. She pointedly told reporters at the time: “I have, and always will be, proud of my country.”
But Cindy McCain softened her tone when asked by ABC about the remark. “It wasn’t about being insulted at all. I don’t know why she said that — everyone has their own experience. I don’t know why she said what she said. All I know is that I’ve always been proud of my country.”
June 26, 2008
Vietnamese families finally find homes
Local association sponsors refugees after nearly 20 years stranded in the Philippines
Jennifer Yang, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, June 19
EDMONTON – Nearly two decades after they climbed into boats on the coast of Vietnam and pushed off for freedom, three families found a new home Wednesday in Canada.
After escaping persecution at the hands of Vietnam’s Communist regime, they had been living in the Philippines without status for up to 20 years.
“I feel like my dream really has come true,” said Vinh Luong, moments after stepping off the airplane with his wife and eight-year-old son. “It has been 20 years and this is the only date I’ve been waiting for.”
Luong’s family were among the millions of so-called Vietnamese “boat people,” many of whom landed in the Philippines. Some were able to move on and find citizenship in new countries, but 2,500 became stranded when camps were shut down and refugee screening procedures tightened.
The Philippines government allowed them to stay, but only as stateless people.
“It’s like they have been on this boat for 18 years and they’ve finally found a harbour,” said Lisa Nguyen, executive director of VOICE, a non-profit organization that worked with the Vietnamese Canadian Federation to bring families to Canada.
“It’s incredible. It really is incredible.”
VOICE has been helping stateless Vietnamese people find new homes in recent years, and has resettled 2,300 in Australia, Norway and the United States. In 2007, the Canadian government announced a program to help them move here, as long as they had a Canadian sponsor.
For Luong and the other families, their sponsor was Edmonton’s Vietnamese community.
Despite a five-hour flight delay, members of the Edmonton Viets’ Association and Truc Lam monastery anxiously awaited Wednesday at the International Airport, clutching Canada flags and big yellow signs that read Freedom at Last! Welcome to Edmonton.
“They’ve been looking for a place to settle down,” said Edmontonian Dan Ngo, who came to Canada as a boat person in 1986. “It was harsh for them because they could not see their future.”
Edmonton’s Vietnamese community raised nearly $50,000 through fundraisers and dinners. They want to bring at least five more families from the Philippines.
Vietnamese businesses in Edmonton have already lined up jobs for some of Wednesday’s arrivals, who will live temporarily at Truc Lam monastery.
For Ngo, it is only right that the Edmonton community should throw them a lifeline.
“It’s our Canadian duty to help another immigrant,” Ngo said. “To be here to see them, it’s like deja vu when I put my first step on Canadian soil.”
|Ebay signs e-commerce deal with Vietnamese PeaceSoft|
EBay has signed an agreement with Vietnam-based online content management software provider PeaceSoft targeting e-commerce in the country. According to the deal, the Vietnamese online trading forum chodientu.vn is to select the eBay trading name and connect with other eBay websites across the world. The initiative enables local individuals and organisations to conduct online transactions inside and outside the country.
The chodientu.vn website features 64,000 items with 120,000 members in 40 provinces and cities in Vietman. Almost 60,000 customers access the website daily.