Freed by Russia, Ukraine’s ‘Joan of Arc’ may prove thorn in own leaders’ side

Ukrainian servicewoman Nadiya Savchenko sings the national anthem during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, May 27, 2016. Securing pilot Nadiya Savchenko's release from Russian captivity was a PR coup for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko but the outspoken woman feted as the nation's "Joan of Arc" may ultimately prove a thorn in his side. While in jail, Savchenko was named a lawmaker in what is now the main opposition party at a time of growing disillusion with the slow pace of reforms and tackling corruption. She has also condemned a key plank of Poroshenko's ceasefire deal with pro-Russian separatists granting them autonomy in eastern Ukraine. "She may just ask all those who are now in power - what did you actually do while I was sitting in a Russian prison? She can gather under her flags all who are dissatisfied with the authorities, and it is a direct threat to Poroshenko," an MP from Poroshenko's party told Reuters on Friday. Two years after being captured in the … [Read more...]

Encephalitis outbreak feared after 7 infant deaths in northern Vietnam

Children under 15 are more vulnerable of getting viral encephalitis. Photo: Nam Phuong/VnExpress At least seven babies in the mountainous province of Cao Bang died the past five weeks possibly due to viral encephalitis, raising concerns about an outbreak. The province’s health department said seven babies under six months died in one district between April 19 and May 25, and 12 others are under treatment with similar symptoms that include fever, cough and respiratory inflammation. Experts from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemeology who visited the children suspected that they suffer from viral encephalitis. It is a rare but acute condition that causes inflammation of the brain and usually starts with flu-like symptoms. The fatalities are very high compared to only three encephalitis deaths reported from all other places in the country this year. The exact virus and strain in these seven cases have not been identified. Tran Dac Phu, head of the Preventive Health … [Read more...]

Driver blamed for buses-truck collision that killed him, 12 others in Vietnam

The wreckage of one of the two sleeper buses that were burned down in a head-on collision in the central province of Binh Thuan on May 22. Photo: Que Ha Police in the central province of Binh Thuan have announced their initial findings about a crash between two buses and one truck that left 13 people dead last week, saying one of the drivers was responsible for the collision. Tran Cong Dinh, driver of a sleeper bus bound for the central province of Ha Tinh, was trying to overtake a truck when his vehicle collided head-on with another sleeper bus on Sunday, local media reported on Friday, citing the province's police. The collision caused the second bus, which was heading to Ho Chi Minh City, to catch on fire. The flames quickly spread to the other bus. The truck also crashed into the buses soon after the collision. Both Dinh and the other bus driver died on the spot along with 10 passengers when the buses were burned down. Forty others were evacuated and rushed to local hospitals. … [Read more...]

World Bank approves more financing to help Vietnam improve sanitation

The World Bank on Thursday approved US$119 million in additional financing for an ongoing project to respond to key urban development challenges focusing on assuring water supply and wastewater needs in Vietnam. The new funding for the Vietnam Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Project will mostly be used for a wastewater and drainage subproject for the southern province of Binh Duong, the Washington-based development bank said in a statement. It will also cover cost overruns due to the appreciation of the US dollar and provide technical support to the Ministry of Construction to prepare a new water supply investment in the Mekong Delta, according to the statement. Up to 65,872 households with 450,382 people are expected to be connected to clean water sources as a result of the financing, and up to 312,051 urban dwellers will benefit from improved sanitation. Achim Fock, the World Bank’s acting country director in Vietnam, said in the statement that with the additional … [Read more...]

Two arrested in drug bust, 17kg heroin seized

Cho Cha, 38, from Laos' Xiangkhouang Province, and Gia Tua Rua, 54, were arrested for alleged trading of drugs Two men, including a Lao national, were detained Thursday for allegedly trading nearly 17 kg of heroin, police in central Vietnam said. Cho Cha, 38, from Laos' Xiangkhouang Province, and Gia Tua Rua, 54, were arrested when they were trading the heroin in a hotel in Ky Son Dist., Nghe An Province, the police said. The police said that during the raid, the two suspects attempted to attack them with knives. No officers were injured. They are investigating further. Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is punishable by death. Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine also face the death penalty. … [Read more...]

Philippine arrests 10 Chinese fishermen in latest sea spat

File photo of members of the Philippine coast guard on a motorboat driving past one of the two decommissioned Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) vessels donated by the Australian government to the Philippines, docked at a bay in Manila August 9, 2015. Two Philippine coast guard vessels intercepted a Chinese fishing boat with 10 crew off northeastern Luzon after a two-hour chase, two local broadcasters said on Friday, accusing them encroaching into Philippine territorial waters. It was the latest in a series of similar clashes, with each side saying the other is in the wrong. China and the Philippines are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway where $5 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. Lieutenant Jeffrey Collado told broadcasters ABS-CBN and GMA the steel-hulled Chinese fishing boat, flying a Philippine flag, tried to escape after ramming the Coast Guard boat but another vessel … [Read more...]

Korean Air evacuates plane at Japan’s Haneda Airport after engine fire

Smokes rises from a plane of Korean Air Lines at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan, May 27, 2016. Korean Air Lines on Friday evacuated 319 passengers and crew from an aircraft preparing to take off from Japan's Haneda Airport in Tokyo after its left engine caught fire. The incident prompted authorities to temporarily close down Japan's busiest aviation hub. Three of the airport's four runways were reopened later in the day, but by 0630 GMT, 297 flights had been canceled with 57 planes diverted elsewhere. Haneda Airport, located on Tokyo Bay, handles around 550 flights a day, with around 75 million passengers passing through last year, making it one of the world's busiest airports. An NHK broadcast showed images of the Boeing 777 on a runway being sprayed with foam by fire trucks, with four of its emergency slides deployed. The aircraft, due to fly to Seoul in South Korea, was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. No injuries were reported, although about 30 passengers … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s agri ministry calls for rethink on hydropower project in protected forest

Vietnam depends largely on hydropower plants for its energy demand. Photo: Hong Anh Vietnam’s agriculture ministry has proposed canceling a hydropower project in the Central Highlands to preserve the environment and avoid threatening the existence of tigers and elephants. The ministry said in a statement that the project at Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak Province will robbed many wild animals of their habitat. Data showed that Vietnam has only five tigers left in the wild, mostly in the central region that borders Laos. Meanwhile, the number of elephants in Dak Lak, home to the largest wild elephant population in Vietnam, has fallen from 2,000 in the 1980s to around 60. The ministry said construction of a dam for the project on the Srepok River will also affect the river’s biodiversity. The rise of water at some parts may also facilitate the illegal transport of wood from the park, it said. The 26-megawatt plant, with a cost estimate of VND850-billion … [Read more...]

Another dead whale found in central Vietnam

A whale estimated to weigh 15 tons is stranded at a beach in Nghe An Province's Dien Thinh Commune on May 25, 2016. Photo: Pham Duc/Thanh Nien A whale weighing around seven tons was found dead this morning in Nghe An Province where another large whale drifted ashore and was rescued two days ago. Cao Hieu, chairman of Dien Thinh Commune in Dien Chau District, told Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper that he was informed by some locals of the dead whale after they saw its carcass floating around one kilometer from the shore. The fishers estimated that the whale was 10 meters long, he said. The whale will be brought ashore for burial, according to Hieu. Early on Wednesday, another whale estimated to weigh 15 tons washed ashore here. Residents found the mammal alive, struggling to return to the sea. More than 20 rescuers were sent to the site and they used two excavators to remove sand to help bring the beached whale back to the sea. Thousands of locals flocked to the site and watched the … [Read more...]

Vietnam banks jump on global list of biggest public fims

A file photo of a Vietinbank branch. Photo credit: Vietinbank Vietnam's top lenders BIDV, Vietinbank and Vietcombank have made huge leaps on Forbes' latest list of 2,000 biggest and most powerful public companies around the world. BIDV jumped 222 places from a year ago to rank at number 1,691. Its market value was estimated at US$2.6 billion and assets $37.8 billion. Vietinbank took the 1,808th position with the market value of $2.8 billion and assets of $34.7 billion, up 94 spots from last year. Vietcombank ranked 1,843rd with assets of $30 billion, up 142 spots. It had a much bigger market value of $5.5 billion, according to Forbes. This year Chinese banks -- ICBC, China Construction Bank, and Agricultural Bank of China -- remained on the first top positions, despite the economic slowdown in the country, according to Forbes. Featured companies from 63 countries around the world posted combined revenue of $35 trillion, profit of $2.4 trillion, assets of $162 trillion and market … [Read more...]

Vietnam banks jump on global list of biggest public firms

A file photo of a Vietinbank branch. Photo credit: Vietinbank Vietnam's top lenders BIDV, Vietinbank and Vietcombank have made huge leaps on Forbes' latest list of 2,000 biggest and most powerful public companies around the world. BIDV jumped 222 places from a year ago to rank at number 1,691. Its market value was estimated at US$2.6 billion and assets $37.8 billion. Vietinbank took the 1,808th position with the market value of $2.8 billion and assets of $34.7 billion, up 94 spots from last year. Vietcombank ranked 1,843rd with assets of $30 billion, up 142 spots. It had a much bigger market value of $5.5 billion, according to Forbes. This year Chinese banks -- ICBC, China Construction Bank, and Agricultural Bank of China -- remained on the first top positions, despite the economic slowdown in the country, according to Forbes. Featured companies from 63 countries around the world posted combined revenue of $35 trillion, profit of $2.4 trillion, assets of $162 trillion and market … [Read more...]

Korea’s corruption fight faces backlash for being too strict

Just months before South Korea implements its strictest-ever law against corruption and bribery, a backlash is brewing among critics who argue that tough limits on accepting meals and gifts may weigh on the economy. The anti-corruption law taking effect in September aims to end a wide-spread practice of pampering public officials with meals and presents, which at times has led to lax supervision or illicit favors. Calls for regulation rose after the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014, which exposed inappropriate connections between regulators and the shipping industry. While there is little debate on the need to increase transparency and ensure South Korean companies embrace ethical business practices, some economists suggest there are downside risks in the detail of the law, which will affect a wide range of professions and industries. Under the changes, government employees, teachers and journalists will be subject to fines if they are treated to meals worth more than 30,000 won ($25) -- … [Read more...]

Japanese firm plans to set up solid waste treatment plant in HCMC

A garbage site in Ho Chi Minh City where all will be buried. Photo: Hai Nam Japanese environment company Toyobo has expressed interest in building a plant to recycle and produce energy from solid waste in Ho Chi Minh City, given the city’s huge demand for waste treatment. Koji Koji Chiba, a Toyobo board member, said at a meeting in the southern metropolis Thursday that the company plans to treat waste using the same technology it has been developing in India, the Philippines and Singapore. The procedure includes fermentation using microorganisms and a drying process to separate metal and plastic from waste and keep the organic part for power generation, Saigon Times newspaper quoted him as saying. He said the technology does not require the waste to be segregated, and that it is an appropriate solution for Vietnam where segregation is not common yet. Ho Chi Minh City discharges around 7,000 tons of household waste every day, not to mention a huge amount of industrial waste, … [Read more...]

Company sues tax office for wrongfully appropriating money

A construction company based in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has filed a lawsuit against the local tax office saying the latter has unlawfully made a demand of over VND17 billion (US$751,000) in overdue land rent and fines. 720 Joint-stock Company decided to proceed against the city tax office after it deducted the money from its bank account and froze it last month, news website Dan Tri said, citing the company’s counsel, Nguyen Truong Thanh. The company has been refusing to pay the money since 2010 when the tax office unilaterally increased the land rent from VND316 million ($13,900) a year to nearly VND1.6 billion ($70,700). But an agreement the company had signed with the city natural resources department in 2005 said the rent would stay unchanged for 10 years. When the tax office first demanded the new rent, the company complained to the Can Tho People's Committee. In 2013 the committee rejected the company's complaint, but its decision was overturned by the city … [Read more...]

South Korea fires warning shots after boats from North cross sea border

South Korea's navy fired warning shots on Friday after a North Korean patrol boat and fishing boat crossed the disputed sea border off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea's military told Reuters. The two vessels from the North retreated about eight minutes after the South fired five 40 mm artillery shots at around 7:30 a.m. (6.30 p.m. ET), the officials said. The North Korean boats had crossed the Northern Limit Line, a border that the North disputes, near South Korean border island Yeonpyeong, according to the South Korean military. North Korean fishing boats occasionally stray into South Korean waters. Over the years, navy vessels from both sides have traded fire in sometimes deadly incidents in the area, including in 2010, when 46 South Korean sailors were killed when their ship sank in what the South says was a torpedo attack by the North. North Korea has denied responsibility. North and South Korea remain in a technical state of war since their 1950-53 … [Read more...]

Singapore property market may reach bottom before Hong Kong

Singapore’s property market may be closer to a bottom than Hong Kong, according to LaSalle Investment Management, which oversees more than $58 billion in real estate funds. Governments in Asia’s two most expensive residential markets have imposed curbs in recent years to tame prices and improve affordability. As demand has dropped amid a slowdown in the region’s economies, home prices in both cities are in the midst of a correction. "Hong Kong and Singapore are in a different cycle," LaSalle’s Chris Chow said in an interview. "Although Hong Kong also has government austerity measures for residential, that hasn’t really translated into actual price correction until recently even though the measures came in a couple of years before." In Hong Kong, prices surged 370 percent from their 2003 trough through a peak in September before the correction began, as fears of a slowing economy in China damped sales. Home prices in Hong Kong have dropped about 13 … [Read more...]

Microsoft, Facebook build undersea cable for faster Internet

Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. are teaming up to build an undersea cable in the Atlantic Ocean to deliver fast online and cloud services to customers of both companies. The cable, designed to have a bandwidth of as much as 160 terabytes per second, will be the highest capacity one of its kind under the Atlantic, the companies said in a statement Thursday. It will be operated by Telxius, a unit of Telefonica SA. It will stretch 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Bilbao, Spain. Microsoft is seeing increased demand for speedy and reliable access to services like Skype and its cloud-based Office programs while Facebook needs faster speeds as video plays a bigger role in social media. Microsoft purchased a stake in Facebook in 2007 and the two companies have worked together on initiatives like search in the past. Construction of the cable, called MAREA, the Spanish word for tide, will start in August 2016 and is expected to be completed in October 2017, … [Read more...]

Brexit would be serious risk to global economic growth: G7 leaders

Branded merchandise is seen in the office of pro-Brexit group pressure group 'Leave.eu' in London, Britain February 12, 2016. A British exit from the European Union would be a serious risk to global economic growth, Group of Seven leaders said in a summit declaration on Friday, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the issue had not been discussed. The statement will be welcomed by the British government, which has made a series of warnings about the domestic cost of leaving the bloc at a June 23 referendum on EU membership. "A UK exit from the EU would reverse the trend towards greater global trade and investment, and the jobs they create, and is a further serious risk to growth," G7 leaders said, in the only reference to the vote in a 32-page declaration. Brexit was listed alongside geopolitical conflicts, terrorism and refugee flows as a potential shock of a "non-economic origin". The issue was not formally on the agenda at the two-day summit in Japan, but British … [Read more...]

After sea spat, China pledges deeper defense ties with Indonesia

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan delivers a speech as he attends the 5th Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) in Moscow, Russia, April 27, 2016. China wants deeper military ties with Indonesia and will strengthen cooperation on bilateral and multilateral issues, China's defense minister told his Indonesian counterpart, after a recent diplomatic spat in the South China Sea. In March, Indonesia attempted to detain a Chinese trawler it accused of fishing in its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, prompting the Chinese coastguard to intervene. China has said its vessels were operating in "traditional fishing grounds". Indonesia is not embroiled in the rival claims with China over the South China Sea and has instead seen itself as an "honest broker" in disputes between China and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Meeting on the sidelines of a regional defense ministers meeting in Lao capital Vientiane, Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan said he … [Read more...]

World leaders ‘rattled’ by Trump presidency idea, Obama says

The prospect of Donald Trump being elected as the next U.S. president "rattles" leaders of the world’s largest developed economies, President Barack Obama said as he wrapped up his first day of meetings at the Ise-Shima Group of Seven leaders’ summit in central Japan. "I think it’s fair to say they are surprised by the Republican nominee," Obama told reporters Thursday. "They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements, but they are rattled by it." Obama commented after meeting with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K., adding to earlier concerns he’s shared about businessman Trump succeeding him in the White House. Trump has said that allies in Europe and Asia should finance more of their own defense, he would seek to improve relations with Russia and he would alter security agreements with South Korea and Japan. Trump has also suggested that Japan pay more for having U.S. troops stationed on its soil while … [Read more...]