Mentally ill teen strangled to death in Vietnam as mom tries to cure him with resurrection


Huynh Lan Thao, mother of a teen boy who died as she let others strangled him to death to prove that a god lived inside his body. Photo credit: Tien Phong Police in Ho Chi Minh City have arrested four people who admitted to strangling a mentally ill teenager to death during a resurrection ritual that his mother orchestrated to "bring out the god inside him". Huynh Son Vy, 15, died at his family’s apartment in District 5 early in the morning of February 19. Two men and two women, aged between 31 and 55 years old, have been arrested for his death. Their relationships to the victim have not been disclosed. The mother, Huynh Lan Thao, 41, has not been arrested. Police said at first the family reported to authorities that the boy died after a slip and fall accident in the toilet. Officials however found suspicious marks on his neck. They refused to grant a death certificate and informed the police. The four suspects later said that Vy tied around his own neck a cloth string … [Read more...]

China military official booted from parliament in anti-graft drive

China has booted a senior military official who is embroiled in a corruption scandal from its parliament, state media reported on Saturday. The development, which comes as China's leadership pursues a campaign to weed out corruption and excess in its armed forces, is significant because it means Liu Zheng has been stripped of immunity from prosecution as a member of parliament, state media reported, citing a statement from the standing committee of the National People's Congress, the largely rubber-stamp legislature. Liu, a former deputy director of the powerful General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army, is under investigation, the Ministry of Defense said in January, accused of "seriously violating party discipline" - a common euphemism for graft. Serving and retired Chinese military officers have said graft in the armed forces is so pervasive it could undermine China's ability to wage war. China's campaign to rid its military of corruption has ensnared several … [Read more...]

Assad or no Assad, West asks, as IS rises and conflict rages


People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters stand on a hill at sunset on February 26, 2015, after they retook parts of the town of Tal Hamis, southeast of the city of Qameshli, after six days of clashes with Islamic State (IS) group jihadists Faced with a seemingly unending bloody conflict in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State group, is President Bashar al-Assad the lesser of the country's evils and should the West re-engage with him? While world powers such as the United States, France and Britain refuse to have anything to do with a leader the French prime minister described as a "butcher", the question is increasingly being raised within these countries. Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, echoed this feeling this month when he said Assad was "part of the solution" to end a conflict that has killed more than 210,000 people, displaced nearly half the country's population and spilled over into neighbouring nations. And this week, a private trip to Damascus by French … [Read more...]

Here’s your first look at Ho Chi Minh City’s subway train


Ho Chi Minh City has announced that the model of its first-ever subway train locomotive will be put on a three-month display next month in order to collect public opinion. The exhibition will be organized at the construction site of the subway line’s depot in District 9. According to the the city's railway management agency, the locomotive, produced by Japanese-owned Hitachi, has four doors on each side and a total of 45 seats, including those for the disabled. Initially the train will have three cars that can carry a total of 930 passengers. More cars will be added later. The train will run at 40 kilometers per hour, so it will take about half an hour to finish the 19.7 kilometer long line that starts at District 1’s Ben Thanh Market and ends at District 9’s Suoi Tien Theme Park. The subway line was planned with a total investment of $2.49 billion, more than 88 percent of which came from Japan’s official development assistance and the rest covered by the … [Read more...]

Leonard Nimoy, Spock in ‘Star Trek’ series, dies at 83


Leonard Nimoy appears as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode: "Plato's Stepchildren," which originally aired on Nov. 22, 1968. Source: CBS via Getty Images) Leonard Nimoy, the actor behind one of pop culture’s most famous and distinctive fictional characters, the half-human, half-alien Mr. Spock in the "Star Trek" television series and films, has died. He was 83. He died Friday at his home in Los Angeles, according to an e-mailed statement from the actor’s representative, the Gersh Agency in Beverly Hills, California. The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he attributed to the cigarette habit he had quit 30 years before. As the Vulcan science officer Spock, Nimoy was part of the "Star Trek" crew of the fictional U.S.S. Enterprise on its five-year mission in the 23rd century "to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." The show, which aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969 before being canceled after 79 episodes, became … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s Phu Quoc named among top honeymoon places


British popular travel site Rough Guides has named Vietnam’s biggest island Phu Quoc among the world’s best honeymoon destinations. The top-20 list describes the country’s southern island as one of the most appealing honeymoon islands among abundant candidates in Asia. Tourism development has not made significant impacts on the island and tourists still can fully enjoy soft sand beaches and warm waters under palm trees, it said. The site suggested visitors to go beyond Phu Quoc to the "unspoilt" An Thoi islands to the south which have ideal waters for snorkeling. Others honeymoon paradises listed include Treasure Beach of Jamaica, Santorini of Greece, Buenos Aires of Argentina, KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa, Venice of Italy, and Bagan of Myanmar. … [Read more...]

Congress averts security agency shutdown with one-week spending fix


The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval on Friday to a one-week stopgap spending bill for the domestic security agency, averting a partial shutdown with just hours to spare before a midnight deadline. After a chaotic day that featured an embarrassing rebuke to Republican House Speaker John Boehner from angry conservatives, the House voted 357-60 to keep the lights on at the Department of Homeland Security for at least one more week. The Senate had already passed the one-week extension a few hours earlier. President Barack Obama was expected to quickly sign it. The dizzying twists and turns in the days-long political battle raised fresh questions about Boehner's ability to manage his caucus of restive conservatives and the prospects for legislative achievement in the new, Republican-run Congress. Earlier on Friday, the House rejected a three-week funding extension for the agency when conservatives rebelled because the bill did not block Obama's executive orders on … [Read more...]

U.S. begins vetting Syrian rebels for military training: Pentagon

The U.S. military has begun vetting a group of Syrian rebels eligible for training and assistance in the fight against Islamic State militants, a step that paves the way for training to begin in weeks, the Pentagon said on Friday. Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said about 100 moderate Syrian rebels had been vetted to participate in the training and assistance effort, with no derogatory information uncovered to weigh against their involvement. Kirby said 1,500 other potential candidates had been identified and were awaiting more rigorous screening before being admitted to the program. "Our assessment is we could be ready sometime within the next four to six weeks to begin actual training," Kirby told a Pentagon briefing, noting that the vetting was "an important first step." A week ago, the United States and Turkey signed an agreement to use a site in Turkey for the effort. Turkey agreed to provide a new facility for the training, which would be conducted by … [Read more...]

Authorities seek to legalize non-permitted villa of Russian couple in central Vietnam


Authorities in Binh Thuan Province said they will help a Russian couple complete legal procedures to turn their villa into a legitimate tourist site, after finding that they built and operated it without licenses. Ngo Minh Chinh, director of the province’s tourism department, was quoted as saying in Tuoi Tre newspaper on Friday that authorities have discovered violations at the villa near the resort town of Phan Thiet, but they will not force the owners to end the services they have been providing to Russian tourists. Instead, Zhigulev Eduard, 45, and his wife Kyrstya Ekaterina, 36, will be assisted to turn the villa into a tourist destination, he said. The official, however, did not mention how local authorities will deal with the fact that the couple’s temporary residence cards have reportedly expired. Eduard said he and his wife came to Vietnam 15 years ago and rented the land from a Vietnamese to build the villa. He said they opened a gallery, displaying old bank … [Read more...]

Obama struggles with Wall Street to woo Democrats over broker rules


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington February 9, 2015. The Obama administration is battling Wall Street to win the support of dozens of Democrat lawmakers over rules that could rein in brokers who handle trillions of dollars in retirement accounts. President Barack Obama on Monday called on the Department of Labor to write new rules for brokers that seek to reduce conflicts of interest and "hidden fees" the White House says cost Americans $17 billion from their retirement plans every year. He portrayed the reform as a central tenet of middle-class economics that would help Americans "retire with dignity." What Obama didn't mention is that more than 100 current and former Democrats in the U.S. House of Representative and Senate have raised concerns in the past about attempts to draft such rules, either through comment letters or by voting for legislation that would delay such a reform. They've warned that overly strict rules could limit retirement … [Read more...]

N. Korea vows ‘merciless’ war against US


This handout photo released by South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff on February 4, 2013 shows South Korean and US warships during a joint naval exercise in the East Sea North Korea vowed to wage a "merciless, sacred war" against the United States on Thursday, days before the launch of annual joint South Korea-US military exercises that have incensed Pyongyang. "Nuclear weapons are not a monopoly of the US," the ruling party's official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, warned in an editorial carried by the state KCNA news agency. "The US is seriously mistaken if it thinks its mainland is safe," the editorial added. North Korea "will wage a merciless sacred war against the US now that the latter has chosen confrontation", the Rodong Sinmun said. North Korea regularly ramps up the bellicose rhetoric before the start of the annual joint military exercises that always see a sharp surge in tensions on the divided peninsula. Seoul and Washington insist they are defensive in nature, but they are … [Read more...]

Famous Vietnamese actress under criminal investigation for insulting police


Model-turned-actress Trang Tran is being under a criminal investigation for allegedly insulting, attacking police in Hanoi on February 27 Police in Hanoi said that they have launched an investigation into a famous model-turned-actress following allegations that she insulted and even physically attacked police officers after an escalated argument. Tran Thi Trang, better known as Trang Tran, was arrested Friday on charges of resisting officers on public duty. She had been temporarily detained earlier, after arguing with local traffic officers about a taxi driver’s violation on Thursday night. The taxi, which was carrying Trang and a friend, was flagged down for driving on a one-way street in the wrong direction. Police said they ordered the driver to follow them to a station for further questioning, but the actress interfered and started insulting them. She also reportedly kicked one of the officers. In the end, the actress was taken to a police station where she continued … [Read more...]

Google submits plans to expand Silicon Valley headquarters


An artist's rendering of the proposal to re-develop part of Google Headquarters North Bayshore campus in Mountain View, California is shown in this handout provided by Google February 27, 2015. Google Inc submitted plans on Friday for a vastly expanded headquarters at the Silicon Valley city where the tech giant is based, presenting a bucolic vision of movable structures to be built under curving and translucent canopies. The submission of the plan to the City Council in Mountain View, California, which the company chose for its headquarters 15 years ago, marks the first step in what city officials describe as a long review process. The new headquarters would give the Internet company the room for an additional 10,000 employees, compared to the 20,000 Google staffers that currently work in the city, a Google spokeswoman said. Google's blueprint for new headquarters in the city's North Bayshore district has gathered widespread attention because the design is seen as architecturally … [Read more...]

Former pop star Gary Glitter sentenced to 16 years for child sex offences

Former British pop singer Gary Glitter, who shot to fame in the 1970s as a "glam-rock" star but was later convicted of child sex crimes, was sentenced to 16 years in prison after being found guilty of indecently assaulting three girls. Glitter, 70, whose real name is Paul Gadd, rose to prominence with the hit song "Rock and Roll", and became renowned for his figure-hugging shiny silver jump suits and platform shoes. But his reputation was destroyed after he served two months in jail in 1999 for possession of child pornography, the first of several convictions. Earlier this month, he was found guilty in a London court of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one of having sex with a girl under the age of 13, all in the 1970s. Sentencing Glitter on Friday, Judge Alistair McCreath said the star had abused his fame and caused deep harm to his victims. "It is difficult to overstate the depravity of this dreadful behaviour," he said at Southwark Crown Court. Glitter was … [Read more...]

Eight people reported dead in murder, suicide in Missouri

Eight people were found dead overnight in an apparent mass murder and suicide in rural southern Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said on Friday. Seven people were thought to be victims of one man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a statement by the highway patrol. One elderly woman was found dead of what appeared to be natural causes during an investigation. The events unfolded around 10 p.m. Thursday night when the Texas County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about a disturbance involving a weapon at a residence in Tyrone. A girl called authorities, saying she had fled to a neighbor's house after hearing gunshots in her home. Deputies found two dead in the residence. After further investigation, authorities said they found five other victims and one person who was wounded in three other homes in Tyrone. A 36-year-old man from Tyrone, considered the suspect in the case, was found dead in a vehicle in nearby Shannon County. It … [Read more...]

Chinese diplomat tells West to consider Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine


A convoy of Ukrainian armed forces including armoured personnel carriers, military vehicles and cannons prepare to move as they pull back from the Debaltseve region, in Paraskoviyvka, eastern Ukraine, February 26, 2015. Western powers should take into consideration Russia's legitimate security concerns over Ukraine, a top Chinese diplomat has said in an unusually frank and open display of support for Moscow's position in the crisis. Qu Xing, China's ambassador to Belgium, was quoted by state news agency Xinhua late on Thursday as blaming competition between Russia and the West for the Ukraine crisis, urging Western powers to "abandon the zero-sum mentality" with Russia. He said the "nature and root cause" of the crisis was the "game" between Russia and Western powers, including the United States and the European Union. He said external intervention by different powers accelerated the crisis and warned that Moscow would feel it was being treated unfairly if the West did not change … [Read more...]

California couple, married 67 years, die holding hands


A California couple, married 67 years, died hours apart while holding hands this month, their daughter said on Thursday. Floyd Hartwig, 90, and wife Violet, 89, died on Feb. 11 in their home in Easton, California, outside Fresno, their family said. The couple had known each other since they were children and married in 1947 while Floyd was on leave from the Navy, going on to settle in a ranch in Easton. "They enjoyed working side by side their entire lives," said daughter Donna Scharton. "They were very loving. Very hard-working. Not into materialistic things." Each had battled illnesses in recent years. Violet had dementia and had suffered strokes. Floyd, who survived bladder and colon cancer, had been diagnosed with kidney failure, family said. Floyd and Violet had been given hospice care in the last weeks of their lives, and with the end near, family members pushed their beds together, Scharton said. Floyd died first, holding Violet's hand. She passed away five hours later, … [Read more...]

Asia-Pacific women better educated yet lag behind men in leadership roles: index


Women in the Asia Pacific region lag behind men in securing leadership roles in business and politics despite being better educated, an annual gender equality index revealed on Friday. Female university students outnumber male students in 10 of the 16 countries surveyed, including China, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Women are also fast becoming as active in the workplace as men in most countries in the region, according to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women's Advancement. It ranked New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines and Singapore as the best countries for women, while India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka performed the worst. "Companies with more women in leadership outperform those who do not, so the male dominance of leadership roles should be concerning," said Georgette Tan, MasterCard spokeswoman for the Asia-Pacific region. "They are beginning to understand why integrating talented women into leadership structures is imperative for sustainable economic growth and innovation in … [Read more...]

Islamic State under pressure as Kurds take Syrian town


Volunteers from the Yazidi sect who have joined the Kurdish peshmerga forces to fight against militants of the Islamic State, take part in a training on the outskirts of the town of Sinjar, February 3, 2015. Kurdish forces dealt a blow to Islamic State by capturing an important town on Friday in the latest stage of a powerful offensive in northeast Syria, a Kurdish militia spokesman said. Islamic State has been forced into retreat across parts of the strategic region, a land bridge between territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, even as its fighters have mounted new raids this week on Assyrian Christian villages, abducting more than 200 people. The capture of Tel Hamis was announced by the Kurdish YPG militia and confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country's civil war. "The flag is flying over Tel Hamis. We are now combing the city for terrorists and mines," militia spokesman Redur Xelil told Reuters. The British-based Observatory said Kurdish … [Read more...]

Reckless motorcyclist cheats death in front of high-speed car in Vietnam

A short video has gone viral on the Internet, showing the moment when a reckless motorcyclist narrowly escaped death in front of a moving car on a highway in southern Vietnam. The incident happened on the National Highway 1A in Dong Nai Province's Xuan Loc District at 10:37 a.m. on February 21, the third day of the Lunar New Year. In the 25-second video, the young man was showed driving his motorbike near the roadside. He suddenly swerved to cross the road, without signaling and apparently without observing other vehicles. The car, completely caught off guard, swerved to the left and luckily evaded the motorbike. It almost hit another car moving in the opposite direction. The car then managed to return to its lane. … [Read more...]