VIETNAM: Writer faces increasing
official harassment, fears imprisonment
IMPORTERS SEEK QUOTA BREAK FOR VIETNAM
22 December 2004
Women's Wear Daily
WASHINGTON -- Vietnam, which is not yet a World Trade Organization member, will be left out in the cold when the group's 148 nations drop quotas on textiles and apparel on Jan. 1.
Seeking to increase the Southeast Asian nation's prospects, the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel on Tuesday called on the U.S. government to consider lifting Vietnam's quotas next year. The European Union and Canada have already decided to do so.
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, the USA-ITA asserted that maintaining quotas on Vietnam when its largest competitors, such as China and India, face none, "undermines the ability of American firms to do business in Vietnam."
Vietnam is the U.S.'s sixth-largest supplier of textiles and apparel, shipping $2.61 billion worth of those goods through the year ended Oct. 31. It is applying for WTO membership.
The only country that will be covered by U.S. quotas next year will be Belarus, which shipped $48.1 million in goods, for a ranking of 69.
Foreigners to enjoy single price for electricity supply in Vietnam
23 December 2004
Xinhua News Agency
HANOI, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Foreign organizations and individuals in Vietnam will enjoy the same electricity prices as Vietnamese citizens from January 1, 2005, Vietnam News Agency reported on Thursday.
In comparison with 2004, the application of a single-price mechanism for electricity will help foreign organizations and individuals in Vietnam save around 300 billion VND (nearly 20 million US dollars), Minister of Industry Hoang Trung Hai was quoted as saying.
The move is part of a roadmap to apply a single price mechanism and slash a number of public service charge rates for complete elimination of the dual pricing system in 2005, the minister added.
Since early this year, a single price has been applied to both Vietnamese and foreigners for airfares on domestic routes, according to Ministry of Planning and Investment, which is in charge of executing the roadmap.
Additionally, ports and telecommunication rates, especially the Internet service charge, have been slashed substantially. Investors have also been given financial support for ground clearance to help reduce projects'cost as well, the ministry reported.
Vietnam's courts ditch infamous striped pyjamas
Fri Dec 24, 2004
HANOI (AFP) - Accused criminals in Vietnam have been given a reprieve from the infamous government-issue green-and-white pyjamas that have long marked them out at trial, state media reported.
After a heated debate that lasted half a day, a parliamentary committee has decided all defendants can from now on wear civilian garb in court, report said.
The decision changes an old practice under which defendants in detention had to wear prison clothes while those out on bail were able to dress as they wished.
While detainees might welcome the ruling, law enforcement agencies are not so sure.
"If we allow (defendants) to wear ordinary clothes, they can easily escape," Deputy Minister of Public Security Le The Tiem said in the Phap Luat Ho Chi Minh (Law) newspaper.
In reply, National Assembly chairman Nguyen Van An said it was the responsibility of authorised agencies to ensure security at the court, regardless of the defendants' clothing.
Tarboro college student to help in Vietnam visit
Thursday, December 23, 2004
After hearing stories about a country overseas, one Tarboro resident decided she will make conclusions for herself.
Wake Forest University senior Vicky Mooring, 21, will be venturing to the Lam Dong province of Vietnam to help build a school with 11 other students and three advisers.
Through the university's Peacework Ambassadors Program, which is part of Peacework Development Fund a nonprofit organization that arranges international volunteer service projects Mooring had an option of going to Costa Rica, Honduras, Vietnam or India. She picked Vietnam.
"The one to Vietnam was most interesting to me because my father used to live there," she said. "So he talked a lot of its culture when | was growing up. I thought this would be a great opportunity to experience it firsthand."
Mooring's father, Issac Mooring Sr., 63, spent 35 years in the Foreign Services Branch of the Department of Defense and said he got to spend a large portion of his career overseas. Issac agrees that the trip will be a great opportunity for his daughter.
"She's heard quite a bit from me," said Issac, who lived in Vietnam for three years. "She'll get to see how the children there live different from children in the U.S. And it will give her a chance to experience the difference between Vietnam and other places she has lived. It'll be a learning experience for her."
The graduating biology major and Tarboro High School graduate is not foreign to travel. Born in Washington, D.C., Vicky has lived in Maryland and in Turkey for five years before settling in Tarboro.
"I don't think it will be a culture shock because I've somewhat been exposed to cultures much different than mine," she said. "But it might be. I've never experienced extreme poverty before.
"I think this trip will definitely open my eyes to the inequalities, and make me more appreciative of what I have now."
The trip will last two weeks two weeks during Vicky's Christmas break from college. She will leave Monday and return on Jan. 10.
"I'm excited to go," Mooring said. "We're leaving from Greensboro and flying into Atlanta. From there we will fly to Los Angeles and from there to Seoul, South Korea. We will go from there to Ho Chi Minh City and from there to Dalat, where the school is."
Mooring said other than looking forward to touring places like a Buddhist orphanage and engaging with college students in Ho Chi Minh City, she is also looking forward to helping build the school.
"The schools there don't look like schools," she said. "They have dirt floors, barred windows and walls that are peeling apart. Just knowing the conditions is horrible. So this is a great opportunity to help them out."
Safe Haven: Family brings home early Christmas present from Vietnam
Dec 24, 2004
By Kaylea Hutson, Of The Press Staff
The Shepherd family of rural Carthage will celebrate Christmas tomorrow with a special Christmas present.
The present did not come wrapped in ribbons or bows, and does not contain the latest gizmo or gadget.
Instead, the special package came with a bright smile and an outgoing personality in the form of a now-21-month-old girl, known as Haven Faith.
In November, Shelly and Rob Shepherd decided to accompany their friends, Randy and Pam Cope of Neosho, to Vietnam in order to bring home a 19-month-old youngster in need of medical treatment.
An explosion involving the young girl and her parents left her an orphan. It also left her without legs from the knees down.
Shelly Shepherd said at first, Haven Faith was going to live in a recently established Vietnamese orphanage for handicapped children.
Then the Copes, through their ministry "Touch A Life" decided to explore bringing her to Missouri for medical treatment.
"It's a process that usually takes several months or years," Shelly said. "We got the whole thing done in six weeks.
"God just moved. It was amazing."
Initially, Shelly and Rob planned to travel to Vietnam with the Copes to learn more about the ministry and to help bring Haven Faith back to Missouri.
It was love at first sight for both the Shepherds and Haven Faith.
"We fell in love with her," Shelly said. "It was amazing. God prepared her heart for us before we came.
"I put my arms out and she came right to me, 'like where have you guys been?'"
Rob agreed with Shelly's assessment.
"We went over to bring her back," he said. "But we fell in love with her."
They named her Haven because they always want her to know that she has a "safe haven" with their family.
Medical visa details
In order to bring Haven Faith to the United States on a medical visa, the Shepherds and Copes had to show proof that donated medical treatment was available.
Numerous doctors and dentists in the four-state area, along with Freeman Hospital, volunteered to treat the youngster at no cost.
Haven Faith's medical team includes Dr. Ganesh Gupta, an orthopedic surgeon at Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City; Dr. Benjamin Rosenburg, Dr. Melvin Karges, Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Stuart and Dr. Frank Kerd.
"It was amazing, when people heard about her story, I don't think anyone turned [requests for treatment] down."
When the Shepherds arrived in Vietnam, questions still remained about Haven Faith's true medical condition.
The youngster lived in the remote Danang mountains, away from major medical
"Once we flew into Saigon [Ho Chi Minh City], we drove four hours into the mountains," Shelly recalled. "Then we had to get on motorcycles to drive up to where she was.
"It was really just a path."
At that time, Haven Faith was living with her grandmother. Because of limited financial resources, the elderly woman had decided to place the youngster into the care of the Americans.
Shelly said options are limited for orphans with disabilities, and many become street beggars.
Since their return in Mid November, Haven Faith has been examined by numerous doctors.
Her surgeon, Dr. Gupta, expected to find problems with her amputations.
"He said it was miraculous," Shelly said. "He expected to do more surgeries.
"But he said her scars are beautiful. The [other doctors] did wonderful work."
Beyond needing to have some dental work completed, Haven Faith has been given a clean bill of health.
In January, she will be fitted for her first set of prosthetic legs. Physical therapy will follow as she learns to get around using her new limbs.
For now, the Shepherds and their other children, are spending this Christmas rejoicing with their newest family member.
"She may be black-headed and dark-eyed, and the rest [of the children] are blondes, but she just fits in to the family amazingly," Shelly said. "I love her just like my other six kids, which is amazing, because you are just passionately in love with your children."
Because Haven Faith was walking before the accident, she remains quite mobile.
The youngster walks around, using her knees as feet. She also gets into numerous things--like a typical toddler.
"She still tries to put shoes on," Shelly said with a grin, as she watched Haven Faith play on the floor.
In addition to Haven Faith, the Shepherds have six children.
Zac, 21, and his wife Sara, are students at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan.
Hannah, 19, resides in Carthage and works in the family's business.
Haley, 17, and Ivy, 12, are students at Carthage High School and Junior High, respectively.
Chloe, 10, and Sawyer, 8, are both students at Steadley Elementary School.