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Vietnam's Investigation Agency under the Ministry of Public Security have proposed that 17 people, including referees and officials of soccer clubs, should be prosecuted for receiving or giving bribes, local media reported Friday.

Of the 17 men, five have been detained, including the FIFA-recognized referee Truong The Toan, Young People newspaper reported. Toan is the sole Vietnamese referee having acted as a referee in a match at 2004 Athens Olympics.

The bribery scandal case was first investigated in August 2005, when local police found that a local referee named Luong Trung Viet and three assistants received a bribe of 130 million Vietnamese dong (nearly 8,200 U.S. dollars) from the management board of the Dong A-Pomina Steel Club so that they would fix a first-division game in April 2005 in the club's favor.

Since then, the police have found more referees and club officials had been involved in fixing games over the past two years. More than 40 local people, including referees, coaches and sports officials, have been convened to the agency for match rigging allegations.

The corrupt referees received bribes from coaches and managers of clubs to rule in favor of the bribe-giving teams, helping them have better results or not to be relegated in national tournaments.

Source: Xinhua

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Stores are taking notice as buying power approaches an estimated $579 billion in 2010.

By HANG NGUYEN
The Orange County Register

 
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COUNTY COUNTS
California counties with the top Asian population
1. Los Angeles: 1,289,934
2. Santa Clara: 463,268
3. Orange: 462,716
4. Alameda: 337,680
5. San Diego: 277,737
Source: Census 2004
 

Cayleen Ong calls it luck when she stumbles upon sunglasses and clothes that fit her well.

But she isn't always fortunate.

None of the 15 stylish sunglasses she owns, including her Kate Spades, sits perfectly on her face. They hit her cheekbones. And they often slip down her nose because like many Asians, her nose bridge isn't high enough to hold the shades in place.

So the 20-year-old Filipino must constantly "push, push, push" her sunglasses up, she said. "It's pretty frustrating."

Standing 4 feet 8 inches tall, Ong views buying clothes as another chore. She stopped shopping at Gap because its outfits didn't hug her body right. And her mom must hem up most of her pants.

Gap, one of the world's largest specialty retailers, and Oliver Peoples, a high-end sunglasses company, recently fixed these nuisances for Ong and other Asian-Americans.

In the past few years, more retail businesses have moved beyond marketing to grab Asian-American consumers, whose buying power is among the fastest growing of any ethnic group in the U.S. The companies offer Asian-Americans products such as sunglasses, skin-whitening cream, jade jewelry and petite clothing.

Companies cater to Asian-Americans because experts expect their buying power to reach $579 billion in 2010.

About one-third of that will occur in California. That's the biggest slice of any state, according to statistics from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at The University of Georgia.

And Orange County could significantly benefit; nearly a half-million Asian-Americans call the county home.

Selig predicts the Asian-American buying power will balloon about as fast as that of Hispanics over five years. But until several years ago, many retail businesses focused on Hispanics and ignored Asians.

Census 2000 statistics changed that when it depicted Asians as a powerful presence. "It was a wake-up call for companies," said Jeffrey Humphreys, Selig director.

ACCESSORIESStarting two months ago, Oliver Peoples began carrying Asian plastic frames at its South Coast Plaza store.

The company flattened the lenses' curve so they don't hit Asians' cheeks. It extended the nose bridge to give more support.

These modifications thrill Ong, who recently checked out the company's Costa Mesa store. "I'll probably shop here more," she said.

Oliver Peoples now talks about putting the Asian frames in Neiman Marcus stores in San Francisco and Honolulu.

"Stores have been requesting it because no one really caters to that customer right now," said Patty Perreira, vice president of design and product development for Oliver Peoples.

Luxury companies such as Oliver Peoples want to capitalize on the fact that Asian-Americans have the highest median household income of any ethnicity, experts say. Oliver Peoples sells some Asian frames for about $300.

But until a few years ago, companies devoted most of their attention on Asians in Asia. Oliver Peoples unveiled its first Asian frame in 1989 in Japan.

Foothill Ranch-based Oakley, which recently bought Oliver Peoples, began selling Asian sunglasses in Asia four years ago. About six months ago, it put them in some Hawaiian stores.

Later this year, the company will roll out three new Asian frames in Asia that will only be available in the U.S. on the Web.

Oakley says it isn't selling them in more U.S. stores because the online option satisfies domestic demand.

Still, "it's kind of infuriating" that companies give higher priority to Asians who live in Asia, said Julia Huang, chief executive for InterTrend Communications in Long Beach. InterTrend is an Asian marketing company whose clients include JCPenney.

Asians in Asia can also easily find businesses selling jade jewelry.

That accessory trickled into the U.S. last fall and became trendy this spring, said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for The NPD Group, a retail information company. Stores carry jade jewelry because it's fashionable and appeals to Asians, he said.

Players include Macy's and Bloomingdale's, Cohen added. Macy's Web site describes jade this way: "In some cultures, it has been used as a cure for kidney ailments."

Many people in China and Vietnam believe the stone holds the power to ensure good health and good fortune for those who wear it as an amulet.

SKIN CAREAnny Chen of Irvine visited family and friends in Taiwan last fall. Her relatives drooled over her white complexion. Taiwanese treasure the stark white skin tone so much that they wear long sleeves even in hot weather so their arms won't tan, she said.

The 22-year-old recently noticed how the sun slightly toasted the top of her arms because she wears short-sleeve shirts while driving. So she may buy a skin-whitening cream, a product that's been popular in Asia for generations.

Carolyne Lai, 22, whose skin looks light brown, said: "I'm really dark for a Chinese person."

So the Costa Mesa resident picked up a skin-whitening cream in Hong Kong last year because she couldn't find it in the U.S.

Lai and Chen may soon discover that their skin-whitening choices in the U.S. have multiplied.

After selling skin-brightening merchandise in Asia since 1992, last month Clinique placed Derma White on select shelves in the U.S., including Macy's at South Coast Plaza and Westminster.

Clinique is reacting to a "growing demand from the Asian population that was looking for products to address dark spots," said Beth Spruance, vice president of global treatment marketing for the beauty company.

Sephora.com also advertises a new product, DiorSnow Pure whitening skin gel, for $85.

Asian-Americans are boosting demand for the popular product that really only entered the U.S. last year, retail expert Cohen says.

Until recently, the "U.S. market was all about tan skin," he added. In January, Gap joined a growing group of companies offering petite clothing. It rolled out smaller sizes at its namesake online store for those standing 5 feet 4 inches tall and under. And it may later put them in Gap shops.

Petite sizes start at extra small for tops and 0 for bottoms. Gap also shortened shirt sleeves and narrowed shoulders.

"Petite female consumers have traditionally been underserved by the apparel market," Gap said in a statement.

While many races buy petite clothing, Asians are purchasing them at the fastest pace.

American retailers sold $485 million worth of petite clothing to Asian women in the year that ended in April. That's up by more than one-third from a year ago, according to NPD.

Experts point out other ways to cater to Asian-Americans.

NPD's Cohen highlights the small shoe as an example. Many Asians have tiny feet.

But the search for small shoes remains a "large frustration for Asian consumers," because few companies offer sizes smaller than 5, Cohen said.

Ong, the petite Filipino woman, agrees. She wears a size 4½. But her hunts uncover few brands and retailers that cater to her small feet.

She sighs and says shoe shopping "is hard."

WHERE THE MONEY IS

  Asian Hispanics
U.S. buying power, 2010 $579 billion $1.1 trillion
Buying power growth, 2005 to 2010 46 percent 48 percent
U.S. population, 2010 15.3 million 49.4 million
Population growth, 2005 to 2010 16 percent 17 percent
U.S. household income, 2004 $58,000 $34,000

Sources: Census and Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

 
   

Thousands of Vietnamese women, mostly poor and uneducated, are illegally leaving the country to marry foreigners, a senior police official said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City Saturday.

Nguyen Viet Thanh, deputy head of police, said, however, he was not concerned with legitimate “love” marriages with foreigners. But many of the so-called marriages were actually cases of human trafficking in disguise.

 

“Those illegally leaving Vietnam and marrying foreigners often fall prey to prostitution rings and are sometimes sold as commodities,” said Thanh who is attending a two-day meeting in Ho Chi Minh City to consider toughening laws to prevent such marriages.

 

“There are cases in which a Vietnamese woman has to be the wife of many members of the same family. She is treated very badly.”

 

According to information presented at the conference organized by the Vietnam’s Women’s Union, since 1998 nearly 87,000 Vietnamese women have married foreigners. Of them, 10,700 left the country illegally for the purpose.

 

Vietnamese nationals are free to travel abroad but if they plan to get married the law requires them to first register. It is also illegal to leave on a tourist visa and not return.

 

Endemic poverty in rural areas makes Vietnamese women particularly vulnerable to dubious marriage offers. Many who go abroad are forced into prostitution.

 

Others end up essentially as unpaid scullery maids for their new families. Their problems are made worse because they are unable to speak the language and do not understand their adopted country’s culture or laws. Very often, they have a difficult time seeking help or returning home.

 

Police in Vietnam say many of the marriages are being arranged through illegal brokerage services and websites. Most of the women go to the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and China.

 

Between 2003 and the first quarter of 2005, there had been 31,800 cases of whom 70 percent had gone to Taiwan, the conference also heard.

 

“These women are from poor rural areas and they have limited access to education,” Thanh said. “They go abroad hoping to change their life for the better.”

 

Vietnam has now set up marriage support centres in five urban areas to provide advice on married life, including information on the pros and cons of being a Vietnamese bride abroad.

 

–>

Viet Act, News Report, Staff, Jun 10, 2006

The annual "Trafficking in Persons" (TIP) report examines trafficking problems in 150 countries. The report is focused on raising public awareness of the global trafficking problem and encouraging governments to combat the problem. This year's TIP Report includes more coverage of labor slavery, especially internal labor trafficking, forced labor, and involuntary servitude. Regarding Vietnam, the TIP report states “Women from Vietnam are trafficked to Taiwan through fraudulent marriages for sexual exploitation and labor.” It also states that “the government of Vietnam does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” and that “Vietnam has not made sufficient efforts to combat trafficking.”

The 2006 TIP Report also recognizes Reverend Hung V. Nguyen, a founding member of VietACT, as a “Hero Acting to End Modern Day Slavery” for his efforts with the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office to rescue, shelter, and rehabilitate victims of both labor and sex trafficking. This is good news especially to the newly formed Vietnamese Alliance to Combat Trafficking (VietACT) whose most recent efforts have been focused on working collaboratively with Father Peter Nguyen Van Hung, director of the Taiwan ACT office, to help the plight of thousands of Vietnamese brides as well as migrant workers in Taiwan.

Formed in August 2004 by a group of concerned students and young professionals, VietACT is a grassroots organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking of Vietnamese victims through collaboration, advocacy, and education, for the purpose of supporting, protecting and empowering victims. The organization has work with numerous volunteer and student organizations including the Union of North American Student Associations, Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Cambodia Family, St. Anselm's Cross Cultural Center, Union of Vietnamese Students Association of Southern California, Denver Vietnamese Women Association, Vietnamese Professional Society, Asian American Women Alliance, Loyola University School of Social Work, and Illinois Vietnamese Student Union. VietACT will continue to work collaboratively to bring greater awareness to the issue combating human trafficking and support for the victims.

For more information on VietACT and its efforts or to see the full TIP Report, visit VietACT’s homepage at http://www.vietact.org.

 
 
A get-together of Vietnamese community in Italy  

The Italian capital Rome will host for the first time a festival on contemporary Vietnamese culture beginning next week.

The Italian embassy in Hanoi said the month-long festival, themed Dragons and Butterflies would feature photography, movies, arts, fashion, travel, and food.

 

Dragons represented power and butterflies, charm and delicacy, an Italian journalist explained.

 

Rome’s Mayor Enrico Gasbarra said the festival was part of a spring festival comprising over 600 cultural events.

 

It was an opportunity to promote trade between Vietnam and Italy.

 

“We are convinced the Roman public will receive the Vietnamese Cultural Festival with great interest.”

 

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture Le Tien Tho will be present at the opening ceremony June 16.

 

Vietnamese films will be shown at the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuelle II, the largest public square in Rome, and paintings at the Vittoriano Museum Complex.

 

The museum curator Alessandro Nicosia said it was an opportunity to popularize Vietnamese arts in Europe.

 

“The exhibition is really interesting and suggestive. It is an art that has not been very well-known in Europe and we are proud to be the first to showcase it,” he added.

 

Valentini Palace will host a photographic exhibition of Alfredo Matacotta Cordella, Italy’s ambassador to Vietnam, comprising splendid images depicting daily life in Vietnam and reflecting the country’s natural beauty, places, and people.

 

There are over 3,000 people of Vietnamese origin living in Italy.

EVACUEES COPE, MISS HOME

By Connie Skipitares and HongDao Nguyen
Mercury News

Half a continent from his home in Buras, La., Nam Nguyen is struggling to start over. He misses his old friends and the afternoons spent after they hauled in the day's fishing catch — a life taken from him by Hurricane Katrina.

Today he sits in a sparsely furnished apartment amid a neighborhood of Vietnamese emigres in San Jose, with very little but the chatter from a small portable radio to keep him company.

“There are some Vietnamese people in my apartment building,'' the quiet 56-year-old disabled man said through an interpreter recently, “but they're all busy with work. You meet people and doors slam shut. No one looks at anyone.''

The isolation Nguyen feels and the culture shock he suffers are common among the 3,000 evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi who settled in the Bay Area. Today, the 400 or so who remain in Santa Clara County are having mixed success finding their way.

Some, such as Charles Emery of San Jose and Lindell Slater of East Palo Alto, embrace the change and hope to stay.

Many, however, are like Nguyen — grappling with loneliness, trying to find jobs and cope with the region's sky-high cost of living.

Those daunting factors contributed to the exodus of some 8,000 people — Bay Area hurricane evacuees who returned to the Gulf Coast or scattered to other states or to California's less-expensive Central Valley.

“Most of them had never left their parish, let alone New Orleans or Louisiana,'' said Tim Quigley, who heads the Volunteer Center of Silicon Valley and chairs a broad committee assisting evacuees. “To be beamed into Oz was a trauma upon a trauma.''

About 60 percent of the evacuees, say county officials, are African-American. Thirty-two percent are Vietnamese-American.

Although many feel like they're living on another planet, some are managing well and forging new and productive lives.

Slater, a 25-year-old former bottled-water salesman from New Orleans, hopes to make the Bay Area his permanent home. He doesn't want to think about going back, now that he has settled in East Palo Alto with his wife, Amber, and 2-year-old daughter Liniah.

“I always wanted to come to California. I thought it was the land of opportunity,'' he said. “It seemed like a great place to raise a family.''

Last fall, while staying in a shelter in Texas, Slater met a volunteer from Mountain View who drove him and two other evacuees back to California to start a new life. At first, he landed a job with the same water company he'd worked for in New Orleans and, with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, found a two-bedroom apartment in East Palo Alto.

Slater isn't sure he can last. “The rent is killing me,'' he said. “I'm giving myself 12 months to make it here.''

He recently lost his job, but he remains optimistic that something else will turn up, largely because he's young and sees California as a chance to start all over.

“I like the way of life here,'' he said. “The community is cleaner, you feel safer and you don't have five murders a day like you do in New Orleans.''

Nguyen's isolation is further complicated by vision problems and a bad leg — both injuries from the Vietnam War. The disabilities force him to stay close to home. He can't see well enough to cross the street to a big Vietnamese market and other nearby shops that he would like to visit. Back home, his friends helped him shop and run errands.

When he turns on his radio, he listens to a Vietnamese news station. “It eases the sadness,'' he said.

Last fall, Katrina, which killed 2,000 people and left most of the New Orleans area under water, tore apart Nguyen's modest trailer and destroyed all his belongings, leaving him nowhere to go. He took a bus to Michigan, but it was too cold. So he bought a one-way ticket and flew to San Jose to join a brother.

Now he's on his own, in a government-subsidized apartment near McLaughlin Avenue and Story Road. It is simply furnished with items donated by volunteer groups — a couch, bed and wooden dining chairs. Whether he's happy or not, this is home. Nguyen no long entertains thoughts of going back to Louisiana.

“There is no one there anymore,'' he said. “It's been destroyed and my friends have scattered. I'll live a few more years and die anyway, because where else am I going to go?''

Emery and his family from New Orleans came to San Jose because a relative lives here. The 39-year-old restaurant owner and caterer left behind his ravaged home and restaurant and a successful catering business and hopes to start over. Since he, his fiancee, their children and his niece arrived in September, he's taken on catering jobs, doing birthday parties, weddings and other special events. He hopes to build a catering business and some day open a Cajun-soul food restaurant here.

“I'm homesick, but it's hard to think of going back,'' said Emery, who lives with his fiancee and their children in a pleasant ranch-style home near McLaughlin Avenue.

Emery and his fiancee, Simone Barabino, 36, evacuated New Orleans before Katrina struck. A day later, they returned to find their home intact, but it soon was overtaken by floodwaters and they lost everything.

“I got out with just the clothes on my back — a shirt, shorts, rubber boots and a baseball cap,'' he said.

Using savings and a subsidy from the federal Section 8 program, the couple and their kids moved into a home on Albanese Circle in San Jose.

Emery's family is embracing the change. His children say they're a little homesick, but happy with their new school and friends. “I miss the things I lost, like my new bedroom set, but it's a better life here,'' said Tyronikia Barabino, 11. “I just wish they'd stopped asking me questions about it at school,'' she said, referring to the hurricane.

Emery misses hanging out on his front porch, stoking up the barbecue and visiting with his neighbors.

“It's hard not knowing people and being 2,500 miles away from family and friends,'' he said, though things are going well for him in the Bay Area. “Life will never be the same.''


Contact Connie Skipitares at cskipitares@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5647.

 
15:03' 09/06/2006 (GMT+7)

Vietnam needs 50,000 more hotel rooms in the next five years so as to cater to 31mil tourists expected in 2010, states a plan by the national tourism authority.

Last year, the country's tourism industry catered to around 19.5mil tourists.

Under the plan presented by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), in 2010 the tourism industry will expectedly cater to 31mil tourists, comprising six million international arrivals and 25mil local tourists.

The current capacity of 130,000 hotels rooms therefore will not be sufficient, and the country needs to have an additional 50,000 rooms.

Pham Tu, deputy head of VNAT, said at a recent meeting that the tourism industry was facing a severe shortage of hotel rooms despite quick development in the past few years.

"We have increased the number of hotel rooms from 57,000 in 1998 to 130,000 last year, but that will not be enough," he said, adding the country was calling for more investment into this industry.

VNAT envisions huge demand for investment that amounts to billions of U.S. dollars. The tourism watch-dog will launch many investment promotions to call for more local and foreign investors to build more hotels in the country.

According to the plan, VNAT will organize tourism investment conferences to introduce potential projects to investors, and conduct investment survey trips for investors.

The authority will also coordinate with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to bring out special preferential investment policies.

Last year, the country's tourism industry catered to around 19.5mil tourists, including 3.43mil international visitors.

VNAT expects total revenue of the tourism industry in 2010 to reach US$4-5bil, or twice the 2005 figure.

(Source: SGT)