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.