Dengue fever cases hit 19,412 in Laos

Dengue fever cases in Laos have reached 19,412 since January, including 17 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
A report from the Center of Information and Education for Health under the Ministry of Health released on Sunday said the highest number of dengue patients were reported in Vientiane at 9,884.
A total of 2,430 cases were reported in Luang Namtha, 1,233 cases in Attapeu province, and 1,219 cases in Saravan province.

Source: Lao News Agency

Laos, U.S Companies Explore Business Opportunities

The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted the “U.S.-Lao PDR Business Roundtable: Exploring Business Opportunities” in Vientiane on Aug 17.
The Roundtable, organized in conjunction with the official visit to Laos by a delegation from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), aimed at assisting Lao and American businesses to expand trade and investment that benefit both countries.
This Roundtable was chaired by U.S. Ambassador to Laos Dr. Peter M. Haymond, and LNCCI President Mr. Oudet Souvannavong. The event provided a platform for leaders from major American corporations and more than 20 leading Lao companies to discuss and learn about potential business opportunities in their respective sectors in Laos as well as forge connections that could lead to enduring business partnerships.
At the event, Ambassador Haymond highlighted the efforts made by the Lao government and LNCCI to help improve Laos’ business environment. “This is a critical moment for the government and the private sector to work together to address barriers to investment, accelerate economic growth, and create employment opportunities for the modern economy,” said Ambassador Haymond. “Our goal is to assist the Lao PDR in helping its businesses thrive, recover from COVID-19, and create jobs in support of President Biden’s goal to help the world build back better after COVID.”
During his remarks, Mr. Oudet thanked the United States for continuous support to the Lao economy. He further highlighted the growth in trade between the two countries. “The Lao PDR trade with the United States has grown in the last decade following the implementation of the Bilateral Trade Agreement in September 2003 and the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in February 2016. During the first six months of 2022, trade between the United States and the Lao PDR amounted to $172 million USD and investment for the USA amounted to $2.4 million USD. Trade and investment figures look moderate, but they are growing in acceptable paths,” said Mr. Oudet.
The US-ABC delegation is the first to visit Laos since 2018. The group included representatives from leading U.S. corporations including Coca-Cola, Visa, RMA Group, Elanco Animal Health, Pernod Ricard, and Bower Group Asia. During the meeting, both Lao and American companies discussed a range of topics including investment promotion and regulations, the Lao government’s priorities, digital economy, business opportunities, and payment systems.
This event is one of the key initiatives that the United States, through the USAID Laos Business Environment Project, supports in order to promote international trade and investment in the Lao PDR. The USAID Laos Business Environment Project aims to assist the Lao government in improving the climate for investment and trade and enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Source: Lao News Agency

FAO releases rice-cum-fish seeds in Attapeu

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO) released 28,000 rice-cum-fish seeds (fingerlings) to 14 demonstration farms in 7 target villages in Sanamxay District and organized a handover ceremony in Donephai Village on Aug 16.
The ceremony is part of the rice-cum-fish activity implemented under the “Building Climate-Resilient and Eco-friendly Agriculture Systems and Livelihoods” (Climate REAL) project, funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Source: Lao News Agency

China begins shipment of high-speed trains to Indonesia

A high-speed electric passenger train and an inspection train, customized for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway in Indonesia, left the port of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province on Sunday, Xinhua reported on 21 Aug.
The trains were designed and manufactured by CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. for the landmark project under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The first trains will arrive in Jakarta by the end of August, and the delivery of the remainder will be completed in batches by the beginning of 2023, according to the company.
Relying on the advanced technology of the Fuxing bullet train, the trains have a maximum operating speed of 350 kilometers per hour and were designed and manufactured according to Chinese standards, and adapted to the local operational environment and line conditions in Indonesia, as well as to the local culture.
With a total length of 142 kilometers, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway connects Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, and Bandung, a famous tourist city in Indonesia.

Source: Lao News Agency

Study: Already Shrunk by Half, Swiss Glaciers Melting Faster

Switzerland’s 1,400 glaciers have lost more than half their total volume since the early 1930s, a new study has found, and researchers say the ice retreat is accelerating at a time of growing concerns about climate change.
ETH Zurich, a respected federal polytechnic university, and the Swiss Federal Institute on Forest, Snow and Landscape Research on Monday announced the findings from a first-ever reconstruction of ice loss in Switzerland in the 20th century, based in part on an analysis of changes to the topography of glaciers since 1931.
The researchers estimated that ice volumes on the glaciers had shrunk by half over the subsequent 85 years — until 2016. Since then, the glaciers have lost an additional 12%, over just six years.
“Glacier retreat is accelerating. Closely observing this phenomenon and quantifying its historical dimensions is important because it allows us to infer the glaciers’ responses to a changing climate,” said Daniel Farinotti, a co-author of the study, which was published in scientific journal The Cryosphere.
By area, Switzerland’s glaciers amount to about half of all the total glaciers in the European Alps.
The teams drew on a combination of long-term observations of glaciers. That included measurements in the field and aerial and mountaintop photographs — including 22,000 taken from peaks between the two world wars. By using multiple sources, the researchers could fill in gaps. Only a few of Switzerland’s glaciers have been studied regularly over the years.
The research involved using decades-old techniques to allow for comparisons of the shape and position of images of terrain, and the use of cameras and instruments to measure angles of land areas. The teams compared surface topography of glaciers at different moments, allowing for calculations about the evolution in ice volumes.
Not all Swiss glaciers have been losing ice at the same rates, the researchers said. Altitude, amounts of debris on the glaciers, and the flatness of a glacier’s “snout” — its lowest part, which is the most vulnerable to melting — all affect the speeds of ice retreat.
The researchers also found that two periods — in the 1920s and the 1980s — actually experienced sporadic growth in glacier mass, but that was overshadowed by the broader trend of decline.
The findings could have broad implications for Switzerland’s long-term energy sources, since hydropower produces nearly 60% of the country’s electricity, according to government data.

Source: Voice of America

Chinese Censors Change Ending of Latest ‘Minions’ Movie

Censors have altered the ending of the recent animated film “Minions: The Rise of Gru” for its domestic release in China, social media users across the country noticed over the weekend.

The editing is yet another example of Chinese authorities editing a popular Hollywood film to make it more politically correct, leading some viewers to lament the changes.

According to posts and screenshots from the movie shared on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, censors tacked on an addendum in which Wild Knuckles, a main character in the heist film, was caught by police and served 20 years in jail.

Gru, a co-conspirator of Wild Knuckles, “returned to his family” and “his biggest accomplishment is being the father to his three girls,” screenshots of the film showed.

In the international version, the film ends with Gru and Wild Knuckles, the story’s two thief anti-heroes, riding off together after Wild Knuckles faked his own death to evade capture from authorities.

Numerous online commentators mocked the addendum, saying it resembled a power-point presentation.

DuSir, an online movie review publisher with 14.4 million followers on Weibo, noted that the Chinese version of the film runs one minute longer than the international version and questioned why the extra minute was needed.

“It’s only us who need special guidance and care, for fear that a cartoon will ‘corrupt’ us,” DuSir wrote in a piece published Saturday.

Universal Pictures, the film’s U.S. distributor, did not respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.

Huaxia Film Distribution Co. and China Film Co., the film’s distributors in China, did not respond to a request for comment.

China places a quota on the number of overseas movies that can be shown in domestic movie theaters. Many Hollywood films that screen in the country have certain scenes omitted or altered.

At times, some viewers note, alternate endings to films diverge far from the original.

Last year, Chinese viewers of the classic 1999 film “Fight Club” noticed that the original ending, in which the protagonist and his alter ego detonate a set of skyscrapers, was not on the version shown on domestic streaming site Tencent Video.

Instead, an on-screen script said police “rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”

The changes were widely mocked among Chinese fans of the original film, and even elicited responses from the film’s director and the author of the novel it was based on. Tencent later restored the original ending.

Source: Voice of America