Xieng Khuang speeds up Covid-19 vaccination in preparation for 11th National Games

Xieng Khuang province is speeding up its Covid-19 vaccination efforts to have at least 80% of its population given at least one dose of Covid-19, 70% given second dose and 30% administered with a booster dose to ensure it can open delayed 11th National Games by the end of this year.

“Our Covid-19 vaccination campaign is in line with the guidance of the government, the Ministry of Health in particular. So far our efforts have been focused on target villages without access to Covid-19 vaccines. We are paying attention to coordination among relevant authorities to make sure people understand and cooperate with us,” said Director of the Xieng Khuang Provincial Health Department Dr. Bouaphan Vongmachan.

Up to 73% of population in the northern province have been given at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Meanwhile those given second and booster doses currently represent 61% and 19.2% respectively.

Only 2.2% of population in the province have been given a fourth dose.

Realizing a relatively low vaccination coverage in the province, the Provincial Department of Health has launched a rigorous Covid-19 vaccination campaign this month to have 80% of population in the province fully vaccinated before the beginning of new school year.

As for the coming 11th National Games, to be held by the end of this year, the Health sector and relevant authorities will issue a notice urging local people and visitors to receive at least three doses of Covid-19 vaccine, have temperature check and Covid-19 test before they can be allowed to attend competition venues, according to Dr. Bouaphan.

This visit to Xiengkhouang follows after a briefing in June was held for senior news editor from the media on the current status of COVID-19 vaccination in Lao PDR and how the media can support the national vaccination efforts. This kind of media mission was organized in Savannakhet, Borikhamxay and Khammouane provinces in June and July 2022.

The visit was organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Health, with the support of UNICEF. International partners to Lao PDR’s COVID-19 response activities, including UNICEF have consistently provided support in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines since early 2021 through the COVAX Facility. COVAX is a partnership co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others stakeholders.

Source: Lao News Agency

Almost 100 foreign journalists take part in training programme in China

The China Public Diplomacy Association hosted a reception and opening ceremony for more than 90 journalists who are taking part in a training programme China International Press Communication Centre 2022 in Beijing, China on Aug 12.

The journalists represent 53 developing countries from ASEAN, Asia, Eurasia, Africa and Latin America.

Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying, President of the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) Wu Hailong and diplomatic officials were present at the event.

Since 2014 more than 370 journalists have taken part in the China International Press Communication Centre training programme. This year, on-site training programme was relaunched for the first time after two years of Covid-19 outbreak.

Extending warm welcome to foreign journalists, China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying said that since 2014, the CPDA has been dedicated to developing the China International Press Communication Centre – CIPCC – to build a platform for the media from Asia, Africa and Latin America to observe, understand and study China.

“In the past two years, due to COVID-19, the Centre had to suspend its in-person programmes, but it has never stopped its work on the “cloud”. The “cloud centre” has opened a virtual window for the media of developing countries to see and feel the pulse of China’s development,” said Hua Chunying.

Since June the foreign journalists have visited many places, from historic sites to high-tech firms and participated in practising Tai Chi and writing Chinese calligraphy and other cultural exchange events.

The six-month programme (Jul-Nov) will provide foreign journalists opportunities to attend lectures on China’s politics, diplomacy, economy, poverty reduction, culture, internships at Chinese media, and to cover major domestic and regional events in China and visit provinces, districts and villages well-known for socio-economic development, investment, technology and innovation, culture and tourism.

Source: Lao News Agency

Tehran Unveils Western Art Masterpieces Hidden for Decades

Some of the world’s most prized works of contemporary Western art have been unveiled for the first time in decades — in Tehran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric, rails against the influence of the West. Authorities have lashed out at “deviant” artists for “attacking Iran’s revolutionary culture.” And the Islamic Republic has plunged further into confrontation with the United States and Europe as it rapidly accelerates its nuclear program and diplomatic efforts stall.

But contradictions abound in the Iranian capital, where thousands of well-heeled men and hijab-clad women marveled at 19th- and 20th-century American and European minimalist and conceptual masterpieces on display this summer for the first time at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

On a recent August afternoon, art critics and students were delighted at Marcel Duchamp’s see-through 1915 mural, “The Large Glass,” long interpreted as an exploration of erotic frustration.

They gazed at a rare 4-meter (13-foot) untitled sculpture by American minimalist pioneer Donald Judd and one of Sol Lewitt’s best-known serial pieces, “Open Cube,” among other important works. The Judd sculpture, consisting of a horizontal array of lacquered brass and aluminum panels, is likely worth millions of dollars.

“Setting up a show with such a theme and such works is a bold move that takes a lot of courage,” said Babak Bahari, 62, who was viewing the exhibit of 130 works for the fourth time since it opened in late June. “Even in the West these works are at the heart of discussions and dialogue.”

The government of Iran’s Western-backed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and his wife, the former Empress Farah Pahlavi, built the museum and acquired the multibillion-dollar collection in the late 1970s, when oil boomed and Western economies stagnated. Upon opening, it showed sensational works by Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock and other heavyweights, enhancing Iran’s cultural standing on the world stage.

But just two years later, in 1979, Shiite clerics ousted the shah and packed away the art in the museum’s vault. Some paintings — cubist, surrealist, impressionist, even pop art — sat untouched for decades to avoid offending Islamic values and catering to Western sensibilities.

But during a thaw in Iran’s hard-line politics, the art started to resurface. While Andy Warhol’s paintings of the Pahlavis and some choice nudes are still hidden in the basement, much of the museum’s collection has been brought out to great fanfare as Iran’s cultural restrictions have eased.

The ongoing exhibit on minimalism, featuring 34 Western artists, has captured particular attention. Over 17,000 people have made the trip since it opened, the museum said — nearly double the footfall of past shows.

Curator Behrang Samadzadegan credits a recent renewed interest in conceptual art, which first shocked audiences in the 1960s by drawing on political themes and taking art out of traditional galleries and into the wider world.

The museum’s spokesperson, Hasan Noferesti, said the size of the crowds coming to the exhibition, which lasts until mid-September, shows the thrill of experiencing long-hidden modern masterpieces.

It also attests to the enduring appetite for art among Iran’s young generation. Over 50% of the country’s roughly 85 million people are under 30 years old.

Despite their country’s deepening global isolation, and fears that their already limited social and cultural freedoms may be further curtailed under the hard-line government elected a year ago, young Iranians are increasingly exploring the international art world on social media. New galleries are buzzing. Art and architecture schools are thriving.

“These are good works of art, you don’t want to imitate them,” said Mohammad Shahsavari, a 20-year-old architecture student standing before Lewitt’s cube structure. “Rather, you get inspiration from them.”

Source: Voice of America

Scotland’s Police Investigate Threat Made to JK Rowling After Rushdie Tweet

Scotland’s police said Sunday they are investigating a report of an “online threat” made to the author JK Rowling after she tweeted her condemnation of the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. The Harry Potter creator said she felt “very sick” after hearing the news and hoped the novelist would “be OK.”

In response, a user said, “don’t worry you are next.”

After sharing screenshots of the threatening tweet, Rowling said: “To all sending supportive messages: thank you police are involved (were already involved on other threats).”

A spokeswoman for Scotland’s police said: “We have received a report of an online threat being made and officers are carrying out enquiries.”

Rushdie, 75, was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom Friday in western New York when a man rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer, who has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” prompted Iran to urge Muslims to kill him.

Following hours of surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak as of Friday evening. The novelist was likely to lose an eye and had nerve damage in his arm and wounds to his liver.

The accused attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance Saturday.

Rowling has in the past been criticized by trans activists who have accused her of transphobia.

Source: Voice of America

Lao, Vietnamese embassies in Beijing celebrate Laos-Vietnam Friendship and Solidarity Year 2022

The Lao Embassy and Vietnamese Embassy in Beijing, China have jointly organized an exchange event and sport competitions to celebrate the Laos-Vietnam Friendship and Solidarity Year 2022 which marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two neighbours (Sep 5, 1962-2022) and the 45th anniversary of Laos-Vietnam Treaty for Amity and Cooperation (Jul 18, 1977-2022).

The events were participated by Lao Ambassador to China Khamphao Eunthavanh, her Vietnamese counterpart Pham Sao Mai, staff of the two embassies and journalists of the two countries.

Delivering remarks at the exchange event, held at the Vietnamese embassy on Sunday, Lao Ambassador Khamphao Eunthavanh and her Vietnamese counterpart highlighted the longstanding solidarity and mutual assistance between Laos and Vietnam, especially during their struggle against imperialists and feudalist administrations.

Under the clear-sighted leadership of then Indochina Communist Party, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Lao and Vietnamese people fought side by side in prolonged wars against common enemy and feudalist administrations to seize independence and sovereignty for their beloved motherlands.

Both ambassadors noted that after the two countries were fully liberated, the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Laos and Vietnam founded by President Ho Chi Minh, President Kaysone Phomvihane and President Souphanouvong have been nurtured and protected with blood and sweat of warriors and people of the two countries from one generation to the next, and have been deepened in all areas.

Ambassador Khamphao Eunthavanh expressed her appreciation on the socio-economic development achievements Vietnam has recorded over the past two years despite of challenges including Covid-19 pandemic, and Vietnam’s successful hosting of the 31st SEA Games in May 2022.

She also spoke highly of the priceless mutual assistance between the two countries both during the national liberation cause and the current time of national development as well as over the past two years of fight against Covid-19.

Source: Lao News Agency