Twin bombs kill 30 at pro-Kurdish rally in Turkish capital


An injured man hugs an injured woman after an explosion during a peace march in Ankara, Turkey, October 10, 2015. At least 30 people were killed when twin explosions hit a rally of hundreds of pro-Kurdish and leftist activists outside Ankara's main train station on Saturday in what the government described as a terrorist attack, weeks ahead of an election. A Reuters reporter saw bodies covered by flags and banners, including those of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), with bloodstains and body parts scattered on the road. The interior ministry said 30 people were killed and 126 wounded. Witnesses said the two explosions happened seconds apart shortly after 1000 am as crowds gathered for a planned march to protest over a conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants in the southeast. There were no claims of responsibility for the attack. But the NATO member has been in a heightened state of alert since starting a "synchronized war on … [Read more...]

Man arrested for impersonating police officer to steal iPhones


A photo taken from a security camera showing Chu Ngoc Hai wearing a police uniform in Tan Binh District A police imposter has been arrested in Ho Chi Minh City after he cheated several shops into bringing dozens of iPhones to him and then fled without paying. Chu Ngoc Hai, 36, is now investigated for fraud charges. Another man has also been seized for assisting him. Police said Hai often wore a police uniform to deceive others. On Monday, he allegedly went into a phone shop in Binh Thanh District and asked the shop to deliver two new iPhones to the district police department. When the shopkeeper brought the phones there, he appeared and loudly talked to visitors as if he were an officer. He took the phones but asked the shopkeeper to return later with a tax invoice to collect money officially from the department. The shopkeeper started having doubts and reported the case. Hai was arrested soon later when he was trying to flee with his accomplice on a motorbike. He later … [Read more...]

Overcrowded Tan Son Nhat Airport to have $283-million expansion


Tan Son Nhat Airport, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Doc Lap Vietnam's largest airport Tan Son Nhat, which is operating above its designed capacity, will be expanded over the next five years at a cost of VND6.4 trillion ($283.12 million), local authorities announced on Friday. Under the plan recently approved by the transport ministry, the airport in Ho Chi Minh City will be around eight hectares bigger. The expansion will allow 82 airplanes to be parked at the same time, twice the current number. With the exception of runways, many parts of the airport including its terminals will also be upgraded so that it can serve 25 million passengers a year in 2020. Tan Son Nhat Airport received more than 22 million passengers last year, compared to its designed capacity of 20 million passengers, Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Nhat said. The capacity of its goods terminal which handled 406,000 tons last year will also be increased to 500,000 tons a year. However, Nhat warned, even after … [Read more...]

Vietnam plans to sell short-term bonds again to drum up investor interest: report


Vietnamese government plans to issue short-term bonds again this November. File photo The Vietnamese government has announced its plan to issue short-term bonds again this November, as current bonds with maturities of five years or longer are not selling well, news website Saigon Times Online reported on Friday. The finance ministry will submit the plan to the National Assembly at its year-end session for approval. Once the plan is approved, the State Treasury will issue bonds with short terms between three to 12 months to give investors more choices, according to the report. Last November, Vietnam's legislature asked the government to stop issuing short-term bonds to offset the state budget's deficits. The lack of diversity has made Vietnamese sovereign debt unattractive to many investors. As of September 30, Vietnam sold nearly VND127.5 trillion (US$5.58 billion) worth of bonds, down 39 percent year-on-year and equivalent to only half of the annual target, according to the … [Read more...]

Southern police chase dog theft suspects, crash car into utility pole


A police car is damaged during a chase after dog theft suspects in Dong Nai Province early Saturday morning. Photo: Trung Nguyen A team of patrolling police officers in the southern province of Dong Nai crashed their car into a utility pole early Saturday morning when they were chasing two dog theft suspects. No one was injured in the crash. The officers said they caught two men trying to seize a dog on a road in Long Khanh Town. The duo sped up their motorbike to escape. They reportedly flashed a high-powered light into the face of the driver behind, causing him to crash the police car into a utility pole. But the motorbike also lost control and fell down. One of the two men ran away while the other was caught. Police then found a dog with some lassos used to catch dogs. In Vietnam, it is common that thieves steal dogs to sell for meat, at around VND150,000 (US$7) per kilogram. Local media have reported numerous clashes between thieves and angry mobs, many of which were … [Read more...]

Russia turns to backwater navy for Syria missile strikes

The sailors of Russia's Caspian fleet have seen little action over the last 300 years but now the war raging in Syria has thrust them into the forefront of Russia's largest military operation abroad since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Better known for oil drilling and sturgeon smuggling than strategic naval importance, the Caspian Sea bordering Central Asia and the Middle East was an unexpected place for Russia to launch a battery of cruise missile attacks against Islamic State targets in Syria on Wednesday. But the Caspian Flotilla, founded by Peter the Great in 1722 and headquartered in Astrakhan - a city on Russia's south coast celebrated for its watermelons and dried fish - was the only choice for Russian generals wanting to showcase their military reach in the Syrian conflict. Obtaining permission to fly missiles through the airspace of NATO-member Turkey was an unlikely prospect and a land-based attack was ruled out by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty … [Read more...]

6 railway officials to stand trial in bribery scandal linked to Japan-funded project


A railway on Long Bien Bridge that crosses the Red River in Hanoi. Part of the capital city's first urban railway, which has been suspended since last year over a bribery scandal, is designed to run parallel with the bridge. Photo: Ngoc Thang Six officials of Vietnam's railway operator will stand trial this month for allegations that they received 69.9 million yen (US$583,000) in bribes from a Japanese consultant of a major project funded by Japan. Local media reported Friday that the officials from Vietnam Railways' projects management unit RPMU have been charged with "power abuse," a crime punishable by a 15-year jail term. The two-day trial will start in Hanoi on October 26. According to the indictment, the officials started receiving the money from Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. (JTC) in September 2009, after they signed a contract on technical consultancy for Hanoi's first urban railway. Pham Hai Bang, 46, the then manager of the project and deputy chief of RPMU, … [Read more...]

Russian air strikes target western Syria: monitor


A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defence Ministry October 9, 2015, shows a Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber dropping a bomb in the air over Syria. Russian jets carried out air strikes on areas in western Syria on Saturday and an Islamic State stronghold in the north was rocked by a large explosion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. Russia, a top ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, started bombing in Syria on Sept. 30 saying it was targeting Islamic State militants, a campaign that has drawn Moscow deeper into Syria's more than four-year conflict. Rebels on the ground and Western states have said Moscow's air campaign, which has been combined with ground attacks by pro-government forces, have mainly targeted rebel groups not associated with Islamic State, including U.S.-trained fighters. Russian strikes hit northern areas of Latakia province, the coastal heartland of Assad's Alawite minority sect, as well as northern areas of Hama … [Read more...]

Patient attacks doctor in northern Vietnam after delay

A 31-year-old patient leapt out of a stretcher to attack a doctor at Hai Phong’s Viet Tiep Hospital after accusing the hospital staff of delaying his treatment. The incident occurred at around 9:30 on October 7 when Do Van Binh was admitted to the hospital with a painful condition that his family suspected was caused by kidney stones. He was being wheeled in while at the counter his father, Do Van Bach, was asked to pay the fees. In a CCTV clip, Bach can be seen arguing with a doctor. Suddenly, Binh jumped out of the stretcher, ran toward the counter and punched the doctor. His father quickly stepped along with the hospital security staff, who then reported to the police. Bach said he was angry with the hospital staff because his son had to wait for more than 30 minutes in pain before being examined. But a doctor, who wanted to remain unnamed, said procedures had been followed. "The whole thing has been recorded on CCTV and authorities can review it. We are willing to … [Read more...]

El Nino causing unusual dry spell across Vietnam’s Mekong Delta: expert


This farmer in the Mekong Delta’s Long An Province used to catch little fish from the Mekong’s autumnal flood for his fish farm, but there’s no flood this year and he has to buy the feed. Photo: Son Lam/Tuoi Tre The Mekong Delta, Vietnam's rice basket, is facing a historic dry period as intense El Nino conditions have changed rainfall patterns, an expert said. The delta usually saw very high rainfall during every monsoon season. But this year that is not the case, with water levels in many places dropping to record lows. Dang Van Dung, deputy director of the Southern Hydro-meteorology Forecast Center, told Tuoi Tre in an interview published Friday that due to the strong El Nino, there’s little rain both upstream and downstream of the Mekong. The water level recorded in the delta’s An Giang Province has hit the lowest in history, Dung said, adding that even the strong El Nino years of 1997 and 1998 were less dry. The current El Nino, which is expected … [Read more...]

Ho Chi Minh City cracks down on massage parlors providing sex services


Two masseuses at Anh Duong Hotel and Massage Parlor in Tan Phu District. Photo: Ngoc Tho Ho Chi Minh City has started a crackdown campaign on hotels and massage parlors that offer sex services despite a legal ban on prostitution. On October 7, inspectors raided Anh Duong Hotel and Massage Parlor in Tan Phu District and found two masseuses having sex with their clients. The masseuses said that each of the clients paid VND150,000 for sex, not including a tip of at least VND200,000. The women said they worked without a contract or salary and their income came from the tips. Earlier on September 24, inspectors raided another massage parlor, Anh Duong, in District 2 and found similar violations. On October 7, inspectors also found sex workers at Sai Gon Moi Hotel in District 3 and Linh Giang Hotel in District 10. Penalties for these hotels and massage parlors are being considered. Sex work is prohibited in Vietnam. … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s banks positive about year-end results amid strong credit growth


A bank employee counts Vietnamese dong banknotes in the northern province of Vinh Phuc. Photo: Reuters A survey conducted by the State Bank of Vietnam has found that 77.7 percent of commercial banks in the country are expecting good business results this year, with strong increases in both loans and deposits. Findings of the quarterly survey were posted on the central bank's website on Thursday. The number of respondents was not revealed but the central bank said the survey covered both local and foreign lenders in Vietnam. The banks have forecast a profit growth of 9.73 percent for the whole sector, up from their previous projection, 8.89 percent, in the second quarter. Big commercial banks are more optimistic, expecting an average increase of 16 percent in revenues from lending. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents think external factors related to business environment are quite stable, while about 34 percent say they have been improved. According to the survey, loans in the … [Read more...]

Japan hits out as UNESCO archives Nanjing massacre documents


File picture shows Chinese soldiers looking at a painting depicting the Nanjing massacre, at an exhibition about World War II in Beijing Japan on Saturday lashed out at UNESCO's decision to inscribe documents related to the Nanjing massacre in its Memory of the World register, describing it as "extremely regrettable" and calling for the process to be reformed. On Friday the UN's cultural and scientific body agreed to 47 new inscriptions, including a request by Beijing to mark documents recording the mass murder and rape committed by Japanese troops after the fall of the Chinese city of Nanjing in 1937. The massacre, often referred to as the "Rape of Nanjing", is an exceptionally sensitive issue in the often-tense relations between Japan and China, with Beijing charging that Tokyo has failed to atone for the atrocity. Japan had called for the Nanjing documents not to be included and accused UNESCO Saturday of being politicised. "It is extremely regrettable that a global … [Read more...]

Three Vietnamese missing from fishing boat off Japan: report

The Japanese coast guard are searching for three missing Vietnamese crewmen who reportedly fell overboard from a Taiwanese fishing boat off the Japanese island of Hokkaido on Thursday night, according to Taiwanese media. The Hsiang Fuh Far from Kaohsiung had sailed into waters near Tomakomai in search of safety due to the approaching Typhoon Mujigae, a CNA report quoted the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency as saying. Its captain on Friday morning notified the Kaohsiung Fishermen's Association that six Vietnamese crew members fell overboard from the vessel the night before, according to the report. The boat was trying to avoid heavy winds when the incident occured, he said without specifying how the crew members were propelled overboard. His boat and other ships in the area managed to find three of the men, but the others are still unaccounted for, the report said. The 985-ton boat had a 61-man crew, consisting of three Taiwanese, 21 Vietnamese, 14 Indonesians, and 23 Filipinos, … [Read more...]

Leading economies agree plan to fight corporate tax avoidance


(L-R) French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, Mexico's Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria attend a Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G20 group news conference at the 2015 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru, October 9, 2015. The Group of 20 major economies have endorsed a package of measures to tackle corporate tax avoidance, but questions remain about whether countries will follow through on the plans or leave loopholes multinationals can exploit. G20 finance ministers agreed to back proposals drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which aim to shake up rules dating back almost a century that govern taxation of profits from international commerce. The ministers reached the agreement against a backdrop of concern about weak economic … [Read more...]

Six killed in Gaza as Israeli-Palestinian violence widens


Palestinians clash with Israeli border police during clashes at a checkpoint between Shuafat refugee camp and Jerusalem October 9, 2015. Israeli troops shot dead six Palestinians in protests in Gaza and a knife-wielding Jewish man wounded four Arabs in southern Israel on Friday in a wave of violence that has fueled talk of a new uprising against Israel. The soldiers shot across the border into Gaza after the Palestinians came too close to the Israeli frontier, throwing stones and rolling burning tyres, an army spokeswoman said. Gaza medics said six people were killed and 50 wounded. The protests were in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where tensions have surged in 10 days of violence in which four Israelis and at least eight Palestinians have been killed. Palestinians have been angered by events at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City and fear Israel wants to change the status quo at the holy site, revered by Muslims as … [Read more...]

U.S. warns governments, bankers Iran sanctions still in place


A money changer displays U.S. and Iranian banknotes at the Grand Bazaar in central Tehran October 7, 2015. The Obama administration has privately reminded foreign governments and U.S. bankers that sanctions against Iran remain in effect, cautioning against a rush by Western companies to invest in Iran's oil industry and other businesses until the country fully complies with the July nuclear agreement. The U.S. State Department recently cabled a message, known as a demarche, to embassies around the world to reiterate that sanctions on Iran are still in place, diplomatic and government sources told Reuters on Friday. The demarche stressed that sanctions on Iran would not be lifted until the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Tehran has complied with the terms of the deal. "The United States wants to tell governments not to get ahead of themselves when dealing with Iran," said a London-based diplomatic source. It is uncertain exactly when the layers of Western sanctions … [Read more...]

Lockheed F-35s finish at-sea test flights as U.S. Navy warms to new jet


A Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35C Joint Strike Fighter is shown before landing on the deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, while off the coast of California. Two Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets wrapped up a second round of successful test flights off the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier on Friday, a key milestone toward operational use of the jets by the U.S. Navy in coming years. The flight tests took place about 100 miles off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, in crosswinds of about 40 knots, and included the first night flights at sea with a redesigned helmet made by Rockwell Collins Inc and Israel's Elbit Systems. The high-risk flights also tested the jets' ability to take off with less airspeed, with after-burners and with heavier loads of simulated weapons. During normal F-35C launches, a jet goes from zero to 150 miles per hour, traveling the 310-foot length of the catapult in about two seconds. The results will set the standards for fleetwide F-35C catapult … [Read more...]

Indonesia’s trade minister calls for TPP membership in two years


Indonesian Trade Minister Tom Lembong chats with members of the media during a visit to Rangkasbitung, Banten province, near Jakarta September 24, 2015. Indonesia's trade minister on Friday appealed for widespread support for the government's belated bid to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within two years. Tom Lembong said firms would continue to invest in Southeast Asia's largest economy as long as there was certainty that it would eventually be part of the TPP free trade agreement and conclude a similar pact with the European Union. "If the government can give that, in 2-3 years we would have TPP and the European (agreement), they will keep on investing in Indonesia," he said. But Lembong added that agriculture, industry and other ministries would have to overcome stiff resistance from "narrow interests" that would resist trade liberalization. Twelve Pacific Rim countries earlier this week reached an agreement for the most ambitious trade pact in a generation, … [Read more...]

Islamic State closes in on Syrian city of Aleppo; U.S. abandons rebel training effort

Islamic State fighters have seized villages close to the northern city of Aleppo from rival insurgents, a monitoring group said on Friday, despite an intensifying Russian air-and-sea campaign that Moscow says has targeted the militant group. News of the advance came as the United States announced it was largely abandoning its failed program to train moderate rebels fighting Islamic State and would instead provide arms and equipment directly to rebel leaders and their units on the battlefield. The Obama administration is grappling with a dramatic change in the four-year-old Syrian civil war brought about by Moscow's intervention in support of President Bashar al-Assad. The Pentagon said on Friday it expected to hold new talks with Russia's military on pilot safety in Syria's war as soon as this weekend, as the former Cold War foes seek to avoid an accidental clash as they carry out rival bombing campaigns. The Russian defense ministry said stepped-up air strikes on rebel positions … [Read more...]