Zimbabwe calls for extradition of Cecil the lion’s killer

Piper Hoppe, 10, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. The American dentist who killed Cecil the lion was a "foreign poacher" who paid for an illegal hunt and he should be extradited to Zimbabwe to face justice, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said on Friday. In Harare's first official comments since Cecil's killing grabbed world headlines this week, Muchinguri said the Prosecutor General had already started the process to have 55-year-old Walter Palmer extradited from the United States. Muchinguri, a senior member of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, described Cecil - a black-maned lion well-known to foreign tourists in the Hwange National Park - as an "iconic attraction". "The illegal killing was deliberate," she told a news conference. "We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to … [Read more...]

Actress to go to court for for slapping, insulting cops

If convicted, Tran Thi Trang will face up to 3 years in jail for resisting officers. File photo. An actress will appear in court in August for resisting officers and verbally and physically abusing them in an incident early this year, the prosecutor's office of Hanoi said today. If convicted, Tran Thi Trang, 30, will face up to three years imprisonment. Better known as Trang Tran, the model-turned-actress was detained February 27 for insulting and attacking traffic police officers who had flagged down a taxi she was in for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Later, after being taken to the police station for questioning, Trang was seen hurling insults at officers in a video clip that went viral online. She was released on March 2 apologizing in writing, admitting she had been so drunk that she could not control herself. Trang is known in the entertainment industry for being very outspoken. She told the media in 2012 that many models she knew had worked as prostitutes to … [Read more...]

Families of MH370 victims renew talk of compensation after debris find

A family member cries as she and other relatives pray during a candlelight vigil for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the early morning, at Lido Hotel, in Beijing April 8, 2014. The discovery of plane debris washed up on a remote island in the southern Indian Ocean has rekindled efforts by family members of passengers on board a missing Malaysia Airlines flight to seek greater compensation, aviation lawyers said. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared in March last year en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. No trace of the plane has been found yet but the appearance of an object, identified by aviation experts as part of a wing, on Reunion island east of Madagascar could offer the first real clue. Most of those on board were Chinese. Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer representing the families, told Reuters more than 30 family members in China have already agreed to sue if the debris is confirmed to be a part of the … [Read more...]

Deadly rains deluge Vietnam mines, spark contamination fears

A woman tries salvage coal after heavy rainfall flooded coal mines in Quang Ninh Province. Photo: Ngoc Tang Heavy rainfall in northern Vietnam has killed 17 people and inundated major coal mines, causing concern among environmentalists about contamination of local communities and the waters of a top tourist attraction, Ha Long Bay. Six days of rain in Quang Ninh province have displaced thousands of people, with houses and roads deluged by floodwater that environmental groups said is filled with potentially hazardous coal dust. Hal Long Bay, with its floating villages, vast caves and green-tinged limestone rocks, is a UNESCO World Heritage site visited by millions of tourists each year. Many take boat trips for several days and often swim in its waters. The region is also a major source of coal, thousands of tonnes of which were swept away in the floods, according to the country's top mining firm, state-owned Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Corporation … [Read more...]

Ministry wants to borrow from central bank as revenues lower than estimates

An employee places Vietnamese dong banknotes in a money-counting machine for an arranged photograph inside a Ho Chi Minh City Housing Development Commercial Joint-Stock Bank (HDBank) branch in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bloomberg To make up for lower-than-expected government revenues, the Ministry of Finance is planning to take loans of VND30 trillion (US$1.35 billion) from the central bank in addition to measures to boost the revenues. The media reported the plans even as the ministry is having problems with its effort to name and shame hundreds of tax defaulters into paying a total of VND12.65 trillion (US$573.38 million) in alleged back taxes. Dozens of businesses were found wrongly accused after their names were publicized on July 20. According to the plans, the ministry will issue bonds worth VND15 trillion ($678.33 million) to the government’s sovereign wealth fund SCIC to refinance its 2013 bonds that mature this year. It also seeks to ensure state-owned companies fully … [Read more...]

Hanoi taxi companies steer clear of cab-hailing app GrabTaxi amid branding concerns

GrabTaxi has become a popular cab-hailing app in Vietnam. Photo: T.Luan Many taxi companies in Hanoi have ordered their drivers to stop picking up passengers via GrabTaxi, a cab-booking mobile application that has gained popularity in Southeast Asia in recent years. News website Saigon Times Online reported on Wednesday that the companies are worried about losing their own brand values if passengers keep using the booking service that does not let them choose any particular cab companies. The passengers do not care which company is serving them and they identify all the taxis collectively as GrabTaxi. Some "dubious" drivers in the GrabTaxi's network can hurt the reputation of their companies too, they said. Thanh Cong was the latest company to order its drivers to stop using the service, even after its passenger number surged 15 percent in eight months, the website reported. Previously, Sao Hanoi and Ba Sao companies severed ties with GrabTaxi, threatening to fine drivers VND10 … [Read more...]

Nusra Front attacks Western-backed rebels in northern Syria

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front gesture as they drive in a convoy touring villages, which they said they have seized control of from Syrian rebel factions, in the southern countryside of Idlib, December 2, 2014. Picture taken December 2, 2014. The al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front attacked Western-backed rebels in northern Syria on Friday, rebel groups and an organization monitoring the war said, escalating tension between rival insurgents near the Turkish border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the monitoring group, also reported that warplanes believed to be part of a U.S.-led alliance had bombed Nusra Front positions in the area near the town of Azaz, north of Aleppo city. The fighting, which the Observatory said had killed at least 13 people on both sides, points to one of the major complications facing U.S. and Turkish plans to jointly sweep Islamic State militants from northern Syria. The Nusra Front, one of the most powerful insurgent groups in northern Syria, has a … [Read more...]

Vaccine success holds hope for end to deadly scourge of Ebola

A doctor displays collected samples of the Ebola virus at the Centre for Disease Control in Entebbe, Uganda on August 2, 2012, following an outbreak that killed 16 people. The world is for the first time on the verge of being able to protect humans against Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as data from a trial in Guinea showed a vaccine was 100 percent effective. Initial results from the trial, which tested Merck and NewLink Genetics’ VSV-ZEBOV vaccine on some 4,000 people who had been in close contact with a confirmed Ebola case, showed 100 percent protection after 10 days. The results were described as "remarkable" and "game changing" by global health specialists. "We believe that the world is on the verge of an efficacious Ebola vaccine," WHO vaccine expert Marie Paule Kieny told reporters in a briefing from Geneva. The vaccine could now be used to help end the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, which has killed more than 11,200 people in West … [Read more...]

300 stranded tourists rescued from northern island as weather improves

A soldier helps a boy get ashore after being stranded on Co To Island in Quang Ninh Province due to bad weather since July 26. Photo credit: Tien Phong About 300 out of 1,500 tourists stranded on Co To Island due to bad weather have been transported safely ashore on Thursday evening on a naval ship in Quang Ninh Province. The ship reached the island at 2:30 p.m. and brought the tourists back to Van Don District at around 9 p.m. Do Van Tung, deputy director of Quang Ninh Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said each tourist was offered light snacks, bus fares and VND200,000 (US$9). Earlier, hotels on Co To had been ordered to reduce room rates for the stranded tourists, he said. The ship resumed its mission today to bring other tourists from the island to the mainland. Bad weather and rough seas have cut off the island over the past few days. The rain has eased but boats are still banned. At least 17 people were killed in floods and landslides triggered by Quang … [Read more...]

Vietnamese woman burned by husband dies after three days

Nguyen Thi Oanh Dam and Tran Van Giang in their wedding photo in 2011. A woman in the central province of Nghe An died on Thursday, three days after her husband set her on fire and burned their son alive. Family of Nguyen Thi Oanh Dam, 22, said she died at a local hospital during treatment. Dam suffered severe burns almost all over her bodies after her husband poured gasoline and set her on fire Monday night, after she complained about him coming home drunk. She was breastfeeding their 9-month-old baby. The child caught on fire and he died soon after that. The family had rushed Dam to the National Burns Institute in Hanoi but doctors said she would not survive. They then brought them back to their hometown. Police in Nghe An have arrested the 25-year-old husband Tran Van Giang. He will be investigated for murder. … [Read more...]

Many Ho Chi Minh City residents use carcinogen-laden water: lawmakers

Ho Chi Minh City vice mayor Nguyen Huu Tin inspects water in an outlying district. Photo credit: VnExpress More than 358,000 households in Ho Chi Minh City do not get tap water while water samples from wells many use have tested positive for a carcinogen, according to the HCMC Preventive Health Centre. Le Van Nhan, the center’s deputy director, said a majority of 1,400 samples obtained from wells in seven outlying districts failed to meet safety criteria due to low pH ,high iron concentration and others. "Some samples contain microorganisms. But more dangerously, 110 samples contained ammonia." "Most of these wells are shallow and near polluted sources," Nhan said Wednesday at a session of city People’s Council, the legislature. Nguyen Thanh Chung, director of the city Department of Transport, said many families in District 12 use well water containing ammonia: "The samples were taken directly from these wells without any treatment. "We will install pipes to [supply … [Read more...]

Vietnamese park ranger arrested for illegally destroying forest for coffee farming

Police escort the arresttees to the forest for investigation into illegal deforestation accusations. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Police in Lam Dong Province have arrested five men accused of destroying a pine forest in an attempt to take over the land for coffee farming near the resort town of Da Lat. Vu Van Thanh, 44, a park ranger of An Nguyen Forestry Company in the Central Highlands province, hired the other four suspects to clear 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres) of forest, police said. At the police station, Thanh said he had worked for the company since 2012. Last April, he hired Vu Tuan Chung – one of the arrestees – to kill the trees with chemicals. Chung was paid VND5 million (US$230) and then hired three others to do the job. Together they have managed to clear 2.6 hectares of pine forest. Thanh also hired an unidentified man to dig 3,000 holes for planting coffee trees and promised to pay him VND30 million. Earlier, local police had bust three similar cases of illegal … [Read more...]

China, Southeast Asia to set up hotline for South China Sea issues

An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015 China and Southeast Asian nations have agreed to set up a foreign ministers' hotline to tackle emergencies in the disputed South China Sea, a senior official of the ASEAN grouping told Reuters on Friday. China claims most of the potentially energy-rich sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and rejects the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. With the region having become Asia's biggest potential military flashpoint, the United States has urged claimants to settle differences through talks, saying its Pacific Fleet aims to protect sea lanes critical to U.S. trade. But China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute, and its more assertive approach recently, including land reclamation and … [Read more...]

Russian Navy destroyer arrives in Da Nang for port call

The Russian Navy destroyer Admiral Panteleyev docks at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang. Photo: Nguyen Tu The Russian Navy destroyer Admiral Panteleyev on Friday arrived in Tien Sa Port of Da Nang City on a three-day visit. The Udaloy-class destroyer was accompanied by tugboat SB-522 and oil tanker Penchega. After a welcome ceremony at Tien Sa Port, the Admiral Panteleyev crew paid courtesy visits to Da Nang’s city hall and the Vietnam Navy's 3rd Regional Command stationed in Da Nang’s Son Tra District. Part of the Russian Pacific Ocean Fleet, Admiral Panteleyev was deployed in 2009 as part of operations to combat piracy off the Somalian coast. The total crew of the flotilla visiting Vietnam is 482 officers and sailors. … [Read more...]

Why the trail of clues to Flight 370 now leads to France

A mystery that began with the disappearance of a Malaysian plane en route to China that detoured to the waters off Australia’s coast has now spread across the Indian Ocean close to Africa. Next stop: France. Reunion, an island east of Madagascar where an aircraft part washed up on shore and has been taken into police custody, is a territory of France that sends eight legislators to France’s National Assembly. The piece will be dispatched from Reunion Friday and arrive on the French mainland Saturday to be examined near Toulouse, France’s Europe1 radio reported on its website. "It’s a bit difficult when something lands in the great white oceans, because you don’t own the ocean more than 12 miles off your coastline," Brian O’Keefe, a former vice president of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s general assembly, said by phone from Canberra. "It’s an unusual case where the wreckage is found in a different jurisdiction to the … [Read more...]

Japan’s 7-Eleven coming to Vietnam: report

A 7-Eleven store in Tokyo. Photo: AFP Seven & i Holdings, which operates Japan's biggest convenience store chain 7-Eleven, will open its first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City in 2017, Japanese media reported on Thursday. The company's US subsidiary has reportedly signed a license agreement with Seven System Vietnam, a new firm founded by a Vietnamese restaurant chain. Although the US subsidiary manages most overseas 7-Eleven stores, Seven & i Holdings plans to apply its home business model in Vietnam, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. Japanese employees will be dispatched to help local staff develop products like lunch and prepared foods, choose store locations, and develop a distribution network allowing products to be shipped at optimal temperatures, the report said. Seven & i Holdings was quoted as saying in Kyodo News that it planned to open 100 stores within three years after the first one's opening, and expand the number to 1,000 in 10 years. Before Vietnam, the … [Read more...]

Japan’s 7-Eleven to open outlets in Vietnam in 2017: report

A 7-Eleven store in Tokyo. Photo: AFP Seven & i Holdings, which operates Japan's biggest convenience store chain 7-Eleven, will open its first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City in 2017, Japanese media reported on Thursday. The company's US subsidiary has reportedly signed a license agreement with Seven System Vietnam, a new firm founded by a Vietnamese restaurant chain. Although the US subsidiary manages most overseas 7-Eleven stores, Seven & i Holdings plans to apply its home business model in Vietnam, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. Japanese employees will be dispatched to help local staff develop products like lunch and prepared foods, choose store locations, and develop a distribution network allowing products to be shipped at optimal temperatures, the report said. Seven & i Holdings was quoted as saying in Kyodo News that it planned to open 100 stores within three years after the first one's opening, and expand the number to 1,000 in 10 years. Before Vietnam, the … [Read more...]

Tusk thieves threaten Vietnam’s fast dwindling domesticated elephants

Thoong Ngan had it right tusk cut by thieves on July 14. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Several mahouts have been taking turns to look after a 20-year-old male elephant around the clock since it had a tusk almost cut off by some thieves on July 14. "We used to be worried about elephants accidentally getting caught in traps set by poachers in the forest. Now, we have a new concern – tusk thieves," Y Vi Xien, a mahout who takes care of the elephant called Thoong Ngan in Dak Lak Province, said. The population of domesticated elephants in Dak Lak, which has plummeted from 500 in the 1980s to 43 now due to overwork from serving tourists and lack of food, now faces a new threat of being attacked by thieves for their tusks. Xien said his work used to be easy before the recent theft attempt. "I took it out to carry tourists in the morning and chained it in the forest for foraging at night," Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted him as saying. "Now, I don’t want to leave it for a moment, day or … [Read more...]

Many foreigners eager to buy homes in Vietnam, gov’t urged to clarify funding rules

A woman walks past the Vinhomes Central Park project in Ho Chi Minh City's Binh Thanh District. Homes in Binh Thanh and District 2, which are near the first metro line project, are more attractive than elsewhere, CBRE says. Photo: Le Phong While a new law allowing foreign ownership of property in Vietnam has aroused plenty of interest among foreigners, analysts are calling for greater clarity with regard to bank mortgages and sending money into Vietnam. Amendments to the Law on Housing, which took effect July 1, allow foreigners with valid visas and international organizations operating in Vietnam to buy up to 30 percent of an apartment building or 250 houses in a ward -- a subdistrict-level administrative area -- that can contain thousands of properties. The old law restricted ownership to foreigners married to Vietnamese and those foreigners deemed to have made significant contributions to the nation’s development. Even they could only buy apartments, not landed … [Read more...]

4-yr-old ‘birdgirl’ struggles with skin condition

A little girl with black hairy back at her home in Gia Lai Province. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre A four-year-old girl from an ethnic tribe in the Central Highlands has thick black skin and hair covering almost her entire back, but her parents are too poor to have her condition diagnosed or treated. Many children her age in the Ja Rai village in Gia Lai Province go to kindergarten, but Ro Mah Suih stays at home because people are uncomfortable near her. The black hair in her back seems to be spreading to her buttocks and belly and there are new back dots on her neck and chin. Her neighbors call her "birdgirl." "We are too poor to know what to do," her mother Ro Mah Suyn told Tuoi Tre newspaper. The only thing they can do is to scratch her back, which she needs all the time. "Whenever we’re at home, she would roll up her shirt and have us scratch her back," her mother said, scratching her daughter’s back as the little girl drank rice water as a cheap alternative to … [Read more...]