Bird flu breaks out AGIAN in Vietnam

http://www.bangkokpost.com/breaking_news/breakingnews.php?id=122965

Hanoi (dpa) – Vietnam has detected a new bird flu outbreak that has killed hundreds of ducks in a central province, the second outbreak found this month in the country, officials said Thursday.

More than 290 ducks were found dead at a small farm in Quang Tri province this month and tests were positive to H5N1, according to Hoang Van Nam, head of the National Animal Health Department.

The dead ducks were part of a flock of 600 five-day-old ducklings that had not been vaccinated, according to Nguyen Quang Vinh, head of the animal health department of Quang Tri, 580 kilometres south of Hanoi,

“We have culled all the other ducks in the flock, disinfected the farm, put a ban on poultry transport from the commune and vaccinated all the poultry in neighbouring farms,” Vinh said.

“However, we still fear that the outbreak may spread any time since the virus may remain out there somewhere,” he said.

Earlier this month, another bird flu outbreak was reported in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh after two ducks were found dead at a flock of 250. The outbreak in Tra Vinh was the first after more than two months of no reported cases of avian influenza in Vietnam.

Vietnam has been one of the country’s hardest hit by the deadly avian influenza virus known as H5N1, which has caused concern over its potential to infect humans.

At least 46 people have died from the virus, which can be passed to humans who come in contact with uncooked poultry or the poultry’s faeces.

The virus has not developed the ability to spread easily between people, but scientists worry that it could mutate to become a new human influenza strain, which could kick off a pandemic that might kill millions.

Vietnam’s aggressive poultry vaccination programme has been seen as key to controlling the disease in birds and deny it opportunity to jump to humans.

So far this year, Vietnam has vaccinated 62.6 million birds, including 39.4 million ducks and 23.2 million ducks.

Vietnam grants amnesty to prisoners

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070030375&ch=10/23/2007%202:34:00%20PM

Vietnam will release more than 8,000 prisoners as part of a regular presidential amnesty, officials said on Tuesday.

Those to be released include 13 foreigners convicted of various crimes, including drug trafficking, human trafficking and fraud.

Among them were eight Chinese citizens, two Singaporeans, one Laotian, one Malaysian and one Cambodian.

President Nguyen Minh Triet also granted amnesty to 11 unidentified Vietnamese citizens convicted of unspecified national security crimes.

In all, Triet approved the release of 8,066 inmates, said Giang Son, deputy head of the President’s Office.

They will be freed over the next two days.

”Vietnam’s policy toward criminals is a combination of severe punishment and leniency,” he said. ”The purpose of sentences is not only to punish criminals, but also to reform them to become useful citizens.”

Some 80,000 inmates have been released early under presidential amnesties since 2000, and 4.2 percent of them committed more crimes, said Vice Minister of Public Security Le The Tiem.

Vietnam ready to have religious dialogue with U.S.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-10/24/content_6934515.htm HANOI, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — Vietnam is ready to have dialogues on religious differences with the United States, local newspaper Vietnam News on Wednesday quoted Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as saying.

    The Vietnamese government is always willing to listen and enter into dialogues with the United States on the difference, Dung said while meeting with a delegation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Tuesday.

    As a UN member, Vietnam understands UN declarations on human rights. However, the issue should be based on the State Constitution and law that reflect the people’s aspirations, he said.

    Any Vietnamese citizen who violates law of the Vietnamese State will have to be treated in line with law, regardless of religious or ethnic identities, Dung emphasized.

    Dung has also pledged to create most favorable conditions for the U.S. religion watchdog delegation during their working visit in Vietnam. However, the delegation should conduct their study and have opinions about religion in Vietnam in an objective way, reflecting the truth and avoiding imposing lopsided viewpoints about religious freedom in the country.

    There are differences in concepts of culture, lifestyle, religious freedom, and legal system between Vietnam and the United States, because each nation has its own history and cultural tradition, he said.

    As for bilateral ties, Dung said the Vietnamese government always pursues a policy of looking towards to the future for the interest of the two nations. The government and people of Vietnam want and will do their utmost to further promote the bilateral relations in all fields.

Vietnamese seek Czech “Eden”

October 19th, 2007 http://www.praguepost.com/articles/2007/10/17/vietnamese-seek-czech-eden.phpBy Kimberly Ashton
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
October 17th, 2007

Phan Kien Cuong arrived in the Czech Republic in 1993 to join his father, who had studied electrical engineering here and owned a business. Now, Cuong says, “I don’t feel as if I am in a foreign country.” He’s fluent in the language, has studied at local schools and appreciates “Czech women, beer and historical buildings.” He works as a legal assistant and says he feels respected by his native colleagues. “I feel rooted and integrated into Czech society,” Cuong, 28, says. But as a growing number of Vietnamese immigrants move to the country, officials worry that fewer and fewer will have experiences similar to Cuong’s. “There is a difference between the applicants [then and now],” says deputy foreign minister Jaroslav Bašta. “Now there are Vietnamese who come [here] to do business … [But] also the phenomenon of recruiting unqualified Vietnamese people for labor and manual work is on the rise.” Before, he says, applicants were more likely to be educated and to have connections to the country. In recent years, there has been a crush of Vietnamese visa applicants. In 2001, about 900 Vietnamese citizens applied. So far this year authorities have received 10,041 applications from Vietnamese people, Bašta says. Since 2000, the local Vietnamese population has risen 73 percent; it has quintupled to about 46,000 since 1994, according to numbers provided by the Czech Statistical Office. Vietnamese are now the third-largest group of foreigners in country, behind Slovaks and Ukrainians. Bašta says he thinks the rise of Vietnamese applicants comes from a combination of a few factors: the fear that the Czech Republic will crack down on visas after it joins Schengen, organizations in Vietnam that promote visas as well as an image of the country as a good place for Vietnamese people to live. “Someone told them that the Czech Republic is Eden for them,” Bašta says. This “someone” is often a representative from an organization that sees a money-making opportunity in offering assistance to secure a visa. “Migration is a very similar business to smuggling drugs,” Bašta says. One common ploy people use to improve their chances at getting a visa is to join what Bašta calls “so-called cooperatives,” since membership in such groups is one criterion on which applicants are judged. The problem is that some of these organizations are charging upwards of 10,000 Kč [$500] — or ten times the average monthly salary in Vietnam — for this dubious membership, he says. Applicants have also been scammed by people who claim to be organizing queues outside the Czech Embassy in Hanoi and charge them $100 to stand in line, according to Bašta. Recently, he says, Vietnamese police has cracked down on this operation. He notes that the area in front of the embassy is not under the control of Czech authorities. Dismal prospects Despite these schemes, Vietnamese citizens in general have a worse chance of getting a visa today than they did a decade ago, when the visa-refusal rate hovered around 10 percent: Today it’s about 50 percent, Bašta says. He thinks this high refusal rate is reflective of the type of applicants who are applying. “I’m afraid that the people waiting for visas in Hanoi are people without a chance for success in the Czech Republic,” he says. Those who do make it here are still often “young, uneducated, have the wrong type of visa [to work] and have no money to return,” Bašta says. “It is now a big problem for the Vietnamese community … [and] it could be an economic and security risk for the Czech Republic in the future,” he says. What the country needs is a clearly defined immigration policy, he says. “In fact, we have no immigration policy,” and instead just react to pressure from applicants, according to Bašta. He says he hopes that the country’s inclusion in Schengen next year will help define immigration policy and that in any case the country will reduce the number of visas it grants. But those who work with Vietnamese immigrants say they are far from being a potential burden on the local economy: the country needs the labor new arrivals provide. “More and more people come here to work manually. Many factories struggle with the lack of manual workers and they impatiently await the arrival of Vietnamese workers,” says Eva Pechová, chairwoman of the Club Hanoi Civic Association in Prague. Also, she says, an increasing number of Vietnamese students are also coming here. The Vietnamese community overall, and in particular those who have lived here since infancy, is well-integrated into local society, she says. “This group of people is trying to improve the impression of the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic,” Pechová says.

— Naďa Černá and Hela Balínová contributed to this report.

Vietnam steps up relocation for dam reservoir

 http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gpWjwXkwxY2uW1HMXgXoHL-0QIFQ

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam has started relocating 14,000 more people to build the country’s largest hydro-electric dam reservoir in a northwestern mountain region near Laos, officials said Tuesday.

The group, many of them from the Hmong and Thai ethnic minorities, are the second large group to be resettled for the 2.6-billion-dollar dam project, set to start operating by 2015, after about 25,000 people were earlier moved.

Pham Thi Dao, a provincial official in charge of the relocation programme, said a ceremony was held in Son La province Monday to mark the start of the new resettlement phase, and that in total more than 90,000 people would be moved.

Construction for the dam project started in December 2005, and the reservoir area is set to be flooded in 2010. A 215-metre (700-foot) dam wall will create a reservoir covering 18,000 hectares (45,000 acres), officials say.

Critics have said the scheme will force tens of thousands of mostly poor people to change their lifestyles from rice growing along river banks to carving out a new living in villages on less fertile hillsides.

Environmental group the International Rivers Network said people living in two pilot resettlement sites were having trouble adjusting.

“People were moved from the river valleys to higher ground where there is no land for rice farming and where they have to learn new methods for growing tea, coffee or raising dairy cows,” the group said in a statement. “The change in farming practices has proven extremely difficult for them to adjust to.”

Dao, the resettlement official, said “our target for the end of 2008 and early 2009 is to resettle a total of more than 90,000 people for the project.”

She told AFP that the relocation had affected the lives and agricultural practices of some people, many from ethnic minorities, but said that most of them were gradually adapting to their new lives.

“Some of them have gone back, for farming and cattle raising, to the areas of their former houses, but they are a minority,” she said. “In the long run, I see no problems for this large resettlement scheme.”

The dam is projected to generate 2,400 megawatts of power. Vietnam’s energy needs are projected to grow 15 percent a year, or about twice the pace of gross domestic product growth, the Asian Development Bank has estimated.

U.S. ambassador to Vietnam calls human rights a priority

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-ambassador16oct16,1,3602561.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

By My-Thuan Tran, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 16, 2007

Speaking in the heart of the nation’s largest Vietnamese American community, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Vietnam warmed up the crowd by saying that he would push for human rights as he took a critical look at Vietnam’s Communist regime.

But, he warned, substantial changes in the country would not happen overnight.

Michael Michalak’s message of patience to 300 people in a town hall meeting in Westminster on Sunday runs contrary to the sentiment of some Vietnamese Americans who want the U.S. government to increase pressure on the Vietnamese government before engaging in more trade.

Michalak said his priorities — boosting Vietnam’s economy by encouraging foreign investment and strengthening the education system — would be the key to human rights and political reform in Vietnam.

“There are some things in an open society that are needed to attract large amounts of investment in Vietnam,” Michalak said. “The Vietnamese government will be forced to be more transparent.”

The ambassador said he believed that the Vietnamese government had been more open to dialogue in recent years, but that more could be done on increasing labor rights and religious freedom.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), who organized the meeting at Coastline Community College’s Le-Jao Center, said human rights abuses in Vietnam had not changed since the country joined the World Trade Organization this year.

Many in the crowd asked Michalak to focus on political reform and human rights abuses while he pushed for economic development. Some urged him to help free political dissidents detained in Vietnam, such as religious leader Father Nguyen Van Ly and lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who was arrested in Vietnam after finishing a National Endowment for Democracy fellowship in Washington, D.C. Both were found guilty of being national security threats.

Others agreed with Michalak’s strategy of increasing trade to bring higher quality of life to Vietnam.

“Human rights will follow when people have a better life, and that comes from a better economy,” said Peter Duong, president of Westminster-based Vietnamese Federation of Labor in Overseas.

Michalak, who was appointed in August, told the audience that overseas Vietnamese will play an important role in building Vietnam.

“Working with the Vietnamese American community will be an important source of ideas,” he said.

my-thuan.tran@latimes.com

Who will take care of poor farmers?

 

The rich gets richer,  the poor battles harder… the jobs that does not pay well, but is essential – everyone needs to eat! My heart goes out to all the poor farmers back home – they work hard, sell their best harvest keep the worst for themselves, and do anything just to survive…

 
H7

http://www.thanhniennews.com/commentaries/?catid=11&newsid=32339

State-owned bank’s equitization next year without a replacement likely to hit borrowing farmers badly

The Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) has, for some time now, been very supportive of farmers. Its equitization, planned for next year, will be a body blow for them if no other financial institution takes its place, the head of one of the bank’s branches says.

He brings up the point after expressing indignation over a report about two foreigners choosing a wife from a lineup of 65 girls from the Mekong Delta.

Poverty forced the girls to subject themselves to that, the outraged 20-year Agribank veteran says. “Despite living in the country’s granary, most farmers in the Delta are too poor. That’s why some of them swallow their pride and queue up to be ‘shopped’ by foreigners,” he says. Low and unsustainable farm incomes have driven many young people into abandoning their lands to find work in big cities. There they take low-paid, unskilled jobs that barely help make ends meet. Many young rural women are willing to consider marrying any foreigner in hope of a better life.

He says if Agribank sticks to its plan to privatize in 2008, farmers’ lives will become even worse.

The bank has loaned to 85 percent of the country’s farmers and current regulations allow for rescheduling them if poor people default on payment.

He says this provision will almost certainly be enacted post-equitization, with the bank then prioritizing profits and business effectiveness.

He has not heard of any plan to set up an institution to replace the bank that would continue to support impoverished farmers.

The bank’s equitization is eventually unavoidable if it is to adapt to the market economy, but abruptly cutting off support will doom farmers, he says.

An appropriate roadmap to phase out this support for farmers and help them stand on their own feet is absolutely imperative, he says.

By Hoang Phuong