Saturday, December 14, 2013

Last Minute Gifts That Keep On Giving! | | Queens Gazette

Last Minute Gifts That Keep On Giving!

With only 24 days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we an all find ourselves lost in the land of last-minute gift shopping.

If you are finding it hard to come up with unique gift ideas because of the short season, or if you are having trouble finding the right gift for that hard-to-please person, you might want to consider giving a membership to a health or sports club, or one of a variety of clubs that offer gift cards in a variety of choices, from wine and beer, to jams, cheeses, to "Fruit of the Month" baskets.

Consider giving a "green gift" that gives back to the environment or a gift that helps a favorite charity. There are dozens of websites that list gifts that give back in many ways - from helping to save the life of a child to rescuing an abandoned or abused pet by donating to a local shelter.

Gifts that keep giving can include computer lessons, gym membership or gift cards to help pay for medications. Let us help with these suggestions:

  • Personalize It! Everybody has a favorite photo of friends or family members that can be printed onto a calendar, blown up to poster size or mounted in a special frame to make the perfect holiday gift. Act now and there is still plenty of time to order personalized gifts.
  • Give a gift that grows. Potted plants are a terrific idea because they are a wonderful addition to interior decoration - and they help clean the air. With so many household plants readily available you are sure to find one that's perfect for the person who has everything.
  • Give an experience. Often, it's not what's in the box, but the memory that stays with friends and family, long after the holidays. Giving an experience can make a truly meaningful gift.

Just think about what interests the person has, or an activity they've enjoyed - like a hot air balloon ride or white water rafting. If the person loves to shop, arrange for them to accompany a personal shopper for a day and let them see what it's like to shop for the stars. If the person loves to cook, purchase a spot in a class taught by Bobby Flay, or another Food Network star.

  • ."Mommy and Me" aprons make a great gift for children and all proceeds benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, which provides life-saving treatment for youngsters with catastrophic illnesses. For information visit
  • Give your child a new pair of shoes and TOMS shoes will donate a matching pair for a child who has no shoes. For details visit
  • Help a family member support a pet by paying for a license or veterinary services. Give a gift card for pet food or buy toys for cats and dogs from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (barnardos christmas cards). All proceeds are used to help animals in need. For information visit
  • Give the gift of computer literacy. Pay for a course in computer instruction for any family member or friend - regardless of age.

Learning to master the Internet and other computer functions opens doors for seniors who live too far away for frequent visits.

    Give A Day Trip: If you are at a loss for just the right gift, consider buying tickets on a bus headed for Atlantic City.

You can purchase a package that includes transportation and lunch, which will also provide a voucher (in a predetermined amount) that can be exchanged at slot machines and tables at casinos.

  • Basketful of Cheer: If you are in the market for a gift for someone who is homebound or for a hard-to-please senior, consider buying a gift basket - wicker, felt, wire or other. Fill the basket with an assortment of post cards, greeting cards, thank you notes, pens, pencils, markers (different sizes and colors), wrapping paper, scotch tape, packing tape, gift tags, shipping labels, shipping paper, postage stamps and other items that can be used on a daily basis by those who love to stay in touch with friends and family without using a computer. Include a note in the basket - a reminder that mail carriers will pick up letters and parcels from people who can't get to a Post Office or a mailbox.
  • A membership to a local health club, aerobics or other class could be the perfect surprise for runners and sports enthusiasts on your list. And remember - today's seniors are more likely to run a race than rock themselves to sleep.
  • If you have an aspiring student (young or senior) on your gift list, consider prepaying for a course at a local college or specialty school. It's a thoughtful, unusual gift that might pave the way to a new beginning for someone special.
  • Consider giving a gift of your services to someone on your list who may need a little extra help.

Offer free child care to a single parent, so they can go out for an evening - or an afternoon, without worrying about the kids, offer your time to help clean out a closet, cook some meals or help with supermarket shopping or a trip to the doctor.

    You might also consider purchasing a Gift Card from a pharmacy or medical supply shop patronized by a senior friend or family member.

It's the perfect gift for seniors who are trying to meet the skyrocketing costs of prescription medications and other supplies.

Give a gift card from a hair or beauty salon, a beauty supply store or for a fill-up at a local gas station. Give a gift card for "Lunch For Two" at a local diner or restaurant, or for a year's worth of treats at a Baskin Robbins or Dunkin' Donuts shop.

Considering the current state of the economy, anyone would welcome a gift card that provides necessities - or plain good fun.

You might also consider purchasing gift cards from local supermarkets. The cards, sold in different denominations, are available at store courtesy desks. They make a perfect gift for friends and family members who are struggling to make ends meet.

The cards are available in a series of holiday designs, in denominations ranging from $10 to $100 at most major supermarkets.

One of the best gifts is still a free Library Card. It's an invitation to the world of books, free computer use, discussions and free classes.

Do something different, like purchasing a library book for just $25, in someone's name, that will be placed on the shelves of the local library. Go to for complete information.

And don't forget about the gift that keeps on giving - a subscription to the Queens Gazette. To purchase a Gazette gift subscription call 718-361-6161 or visit us online at

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IP investors to enjoy increased incentives - News VietNamNet

VietNamNet Bridge - New incentives to attract investment into industrial parks nationwide were announced by the Ministry of Planning and Investment last week.

Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park.- File Photo

Under the amended Corporate Income Tax Law, new tenants in the country's IPs (excluding special IPs in inner districts of big cities) will enjoy corporate income tax exemption for two years, and will only have to pay 50 per cent of this tax for the following four year.

Vu Dai Thang, Chief of MPI's Economic Management Department, said that 212 new IPs covering 120,000 - 130,000ha would be established by 2020.

As of November 2013, xo so kien thiet Nam had 289 industrial parks covering 81,500ha.

However, to ensure that the new IPs operate effectively, the Government issued Circular 164/2013 on 12 November 2013 under which provinces planning to develop new parks must have at least 60 per cent occupation in existing ones.

The new circular also stipulates the responsibility of related agencies in developing accommodation for workers in IPs, economic zones, and in creating favourable conditions for IP workers to enjoy health and cultural services in their respective localities.

It requires IP developers to add housing development plans.

IPs facing difficulties in developing accommodation for workers are allowed to adjust their zoning plans to use plots within the park for the purpose.

The ministry also has incentives to encourage manufacturers in existing IPs increase capital for expanding their facilities, according to Tran Duy Dong, deputy chief of the Economic Management Department.

Dong said Viet Nam's IPs were more competitive than other countries in the region in terms of workers salaries, and water and electricity fees.

In Ha Noi, a worker's salary was between US$145 - $148 per month, which was more competitive than Thailand, Dong was quoted by the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.

However, office and factory rentals were increasing in Viet Nam, exceeding those in the Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Dong said Viet Nam would further liberalise its investment environment and promote selective investment for development.

Local farmers run out of paddy as prices increase

After Viet Nam won the contract to export 500,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines, local exporters now have to be careful about signing other export contracts as local farmers do not have much paddy in reserve.

Viet Nam Food Association (VFA) Chairman Truong Thanh Phong said on Thursday that rice prices had been on the rise in the local market, with 5 per cent broken rice priced at VND8,750 (US$4,14) per kilo.

Farmers from the Mekong provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang and Soc Trang were selling dried paddy from the current autumn - winter at VND5,500 to VND6,000 per kg compared with less than VND5,000 per kg in the last winter-spring and summer-autumn crops.

Despite the higher prices, most farmers in the delta had very little autumn-winter paddy to sell.

Phong was quoted by Sai Gon Tiep Thi (Sai Gon Marketing) news magazine as saying "rice inventory levels are low."

Under the government-to-government agreement signed with the Philippines, Viet Nam will deliver 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes of rice to Filipino warehouses by 15 December 2013, followed by some 120,000 tonnes to reach the country between December 15 and 31.

These volumes will help the Filipino Government provide relief to over four million citizens affected by super storm Haiyan.

According to the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA), the remaining volume of rice under the contract will be shipped to the Philippines in next year's first quarter. Given the volume contracted earlier, the shipment to the Philippines will be 700,000 tonnes, far exceeding the amount shipped to this buyer in this year's first quarter.

Phong said the export price (of the contract for the Philippines) was "good."

Viet Nam had beaten Thailand in a competitive bidding round organised by the Philippines on November 26 to win the deal. Cambodia, the other competitor, dropped its bid at the last minute.

Customs data show that Viet Nam shipped 362,000 tonnes of rice worth US$160 million to the Philippines from January until October. It also exported 128,500 tonnes of the grain worth $75 million to Indonesia and over 400,000 tonnes worth $201 million to Malaysia.

VFA says on its website that Viet Nam has shipped 5.93 million tonnes of rice to foreign buyers with a total value of $2.55 billion.

Last year, Indonesia imported 930,000 tonnes of rice from Viet Nam, while the Philippines bought 1.1 million tonnes and Malaysia nearly 765,000 tonnes.

These three countries used to be the biggest buyers of Vietnamese rice before being overtaken by China, which imported nearly 2.1 million tonnes of rice from Viet Nam in 2012.

VFA estimates that the country will export 6.6-6.7 million tonnes of rice under official contracts this year. With an estimated 1.5 million tonnes sold to China under border trade (without customs declarations) Viet Nam's rice exports would exceed 8 million tonnes in 2013.

These figures back assertions that rice supply in the local market is nearly exhausted, experts say.

Illegal foreign factories damage local environment

Local residents in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have stepped up complaints about environmental problems caused by factories illegally built by foreign enterprises in the region.

Authorities in Ben Tre say at least 10 foreign investors have rented over 82ha of land illegally in the province. A report prepared by the Ben Tre Province People's Committee says three of the 10 foreign-invested enterprises are specialised in aquaculture and the other seven in coconut production and processing.

Ca Mau Province is facing the same problem.

Residents of Khanh Hoi Commune in the province's U Minh District have complained about the problems caused by the factory built by a 100 per cent Chinese-invested enterprise Hoi Nguyen Thang.

Residents living near Khanh Hoi Commune Market have to suffer bad odour and fishy smell from the seafood processing factory, owned by Chinese businessman Chen Zi Sheng.

Le Thi Ut, a commune resident, said the bad odour has caused many residents to suffer from rhinitis.

Nguyen Thi Hoang, another commune resident, said the smell suffocates her, especially at night.

The smoke and dust from the factory have also polluted the environment in the region, Hoang said.

Huynh Van Tieng, Deputy Head of U Minh District's Resources and Environment Division, said the owner of Hoi Nguyen Thang factory has paid fines of VND14 million for violations. He has been asked to deal with and settle the problems caused by the plant, including building a wastewater treatment system for it.

Vo Minh A, chief of the Cooperation and Investment Division under the Ca Mau Department of Planning and Investment, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that Chen Zi Sheng had signed a contract to lease 2,300 sq.m of agricultural land owned by local resident Bui Kim Xuyen and built the Hoi Nguyen Thang factory on it.

However, an official from the provincial investigation agency said the contract was illegal.

He said only provincial authorities were allowed to sign land-leasing contracts with a 100 per cent foreign-owned business.