Vietnam joins Cobra Gold military exercise as observer

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Military officers joining the Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand on February 9. Photo credit: Dan Tri Vietnam has sent army personnel to join the Cobra Gold military exercise being held Thailand – Southeast Asia’s biggest drill. The 35th annual military exercise was launched Tuesday in Chonburi Province with 27 participating countries and a total of 8,564 military personnel. Seven countries joining full exercises include the US, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia. Host Thailand sent 4,286 officers to the event, the largest number among the participating countries, followed by the US with 3,288 officers. Nine countries joined the drill as observers, including Vietnam, Laos, Chile, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brunei, the Netherlands and UAE. The nations invited to be part of the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team include Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mongolia and the Philippines. Two … [Read more...]

4 nabbed for stabbing man to death over traffic dispute in Nha Trang

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Truong Minh Hung (left) at the police station. Photo: Nguyen Chung Police in the central province of Khanh Hoa on Thursday arrested four people for allegedly stabbing a car driver to death a week ago after a traffic dispute. Truong Minh Hung, 26, Nguyen Thanh Huy, 25, Tran Trong Khai, 17, and Nguyen Thi Hong, 24, will be investigated for murder, police said, adding that they are searching three other suspects, who also belong to this group. According to the police, a 34-year-old man, whose name was withheld, was driving his car on To Hien Thanh Street in Nha Trang Town at midnight on February 4 when he repeatedly honked as a group of seven people on four motorbikes blocked his way. The car driver and Hung’s group then got into a verbal dispute. As he drove ahead, Hung’s group pursued and forced him to stop at the curb on Ly Tu Trong Street. They later used their crash helmets and rocks to break the car’s window before Hung stabbed the driver with a knife in his … [Read more...]

Hanoi car driver arrested after crash that kills 3

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The collision occurred on National Highway No. 6 in Chuong My District’s Dong Phuong Yen Commune on Tuesday afternoon. Photo credit: CAND Hanoi police have taken a car driver into custody following a collision that killed three people and injured five others on Tuesday, local media reported on Thursday. Ngo Van Vuong, 39, was reportedly driving a car on National Highway No. 6 in Chuong My District’s Dong Phuong Yen Commune on Tuesday afternoon when he lost control and crashed head-on into three motorcycles. Three people, identified as Nguyen Dac Son, 34, and his two daughters, aged 1 and 9, died at the scene. Son’s wife and 16-year-old son, who rode pillion with Son, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The accident also made Nguyen Quoc Vinh, 34, and Cao Van Quang, 18, the riders of another motorcycle, sustain major injuries. Nguyen Huu Tuyen, 41, who rode the third motorcycle, suffered minor injuries. Vuong was not hurt in the collision. … [Read more...]

China turns a glut of oil into a flood of diesel

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An oil pump is seen at sunset in an oilfield outside Daqing, Heilongjiang province, China. Fuel producers from India to South Korea are finding that rising refined products from China are cutting the profit margins they’ve enjoyed from cheap oil to the lowest in more than a year. Worse may be coming. China’s total net exports of oil products -- a measure that strips out imports -- will rise 31 percent this year to 25 million metric tons, China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s biggest energy company, said in its annual research report last month. That comes after diesel exports jumped almost 75 percent last year. "If China dumps more fuel into the market, international prices will crash," said B.K. Namdeo, director of refineries at India’s state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp. "It will be similar to what happened to crude prices due to the oversupply. If international prices of oil products come down, then it will hurt margins of all refiners." A … [Read more...]

With TPP advancing, India pins hopes on China-backed trade bloc

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures while disembarking his plane after arriving at the Ottawa International Airport in this April 14, 2015 file photo. India, concerned at being sidelined from the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is stepping up efforts to reach agreement with an alternative trade bloc centred around China, and hopes to reach a deal this year. New Delhi has long been seen by many countries as an intransigent player at the World Trade Organization (WTO), a multilateral forum that has struggled to find the consensus it needs to move forward. Now, after 12 advanced economies accounting for 40 percent of the global economy signed a TPP deal this month, India's trade negotiators feel they need to get a move on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has backed an export-focused 'Make in India' drive as the path to prosperity for Asia's third-largest economy, where per capita output is $1,688 a year, one fifth that in China. With TPP out of reach - India was not … [Read more...]

IMF threatens to cut Ukraine aid over corruption

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IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaking during a press conference at IMF headquarters in Washington, DC The International Monetary Fund threatened to cut crucial financial aid to cash-strapped Ukraine Wednesday because of the country's "slow progress" in fighting corruption. "Without a substantial new effort to invigorate governance reforms and fight corruption, it is hard to see how the IMF-supported program can continue and be successful," Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, said in a strongly worded statement. Lagarde's comments followed the shock resignation one week ago of Ukraine's reformist economy minister, Aivaras Abromavicius, in protest against alleged influence-peddling and state graft. Lagarde last week said the reasons for his resignation were troubling, and she went much further Wednesday. "I am concerned about Ukraine's slow progress in improving governance and fighting corruption, and reducing the influence of vested interests in policymaking," … [Read more...]

Yahoo announces first round of layoffs as it trims 15 percent of workforce

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Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo, participates in a panel discussion at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California November 3, 2015. Yahoo Inc announced Wednesday it will lay off 107 employees in the first of what is expected to be more than 1,500 job cuts. The layoffs take effect April 11 and affected employees received 60-day advance notice of the move, Yahoo said in a notice filed with the California Employment Development Department. The layoffs were spread across a range of departments and job titles. Yahoo shares closed up 1 percent at $27.10 on Wednesday and are down about 18.5 percent so far this year. Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer said during the company's fourth quarter earnings call this month it will cut roughly 15 percent of its workforce as part of a strategy to revamp its core Internet business. Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014, total of about 12,500 full-time … [Read more...]

Russia, pressed to end Syria bombing, proposes March truce

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Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main Syrian opposition group at the Geneva peace talks, attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, January 31, 2016. World powers pressed Russia on Wednesday to stop bombing around Aleppo in support of a Syrian government offensive to recapture the city and a Western official said Moscow had presented a proposal envisaging a truce in three weeks' time. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a ceasefire and more aid access to Aleppo, where rebel-held areas are being cut off and the United Nations has warned a new humanitarian disaster could be on the way. Aid workers said on Wednesday the water supply to Aleppo, still home to two million people, was no longer functioning. Kerry is hoping for agreement at a meeting in Munich on Thursday between Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other powers, aimed at trying to revive peace negotiations that foundered earlier this month. Syrian … [Read more...]

Kurds, allies seize key air base in north Syria: monitor

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A fighter from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) walks between sandbags on the front line in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh on September 4, 2015 Kurdish forces backed by Arab rebel groups captured a strategic air base and the adjacent town in northern Syria from rival anti-government factions overnight, a monitoring group said early Thursday. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and its Arab allies expelled Islamist and other rebel fighters from the Minnigh air base and adjacent town, north of Syria's second city Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP. The advance comes after days of fierce clashes that saw YPG forces advance east from the Kurdish stronghold of Afrin and take over a series of villages before reaching Minnigh. "With the defeat at Minnigh, Islamist fighters lost the only military airport they held in Aleppo province," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said. "Minnigh airport lies between two key roads that lead from Aleppo … [Read more...]

With fewer U.S. troops in Afghanistan, pressure grows for more air strikes

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U.S. soldier Nicholas Dickhut from 5-20 infantry Regiment attached to 82nd Airborne points his rifle at a doorway after coming under fire by the Taliban while on patrol in Zharay district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan in this April 26, 2012 file photo. Pressure is growing on the U.S. military to do more to help Afghan forces repel the threat posed by Taliban militants, and commanders in Washington and Kabul agree that enhanced air power may be where it can make the most difference. With fewer American soldiers on the ground and their rules of engagement limited, the outgoing commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, believes broader authorization of force is the best way of supporting stretched local troops. That includes attacks from the air, which dropped sharply in 2015 after NATO, whose presence in Afghanistan is dominated by U.S. armed forces, formally ended combat operations to switch to training and assisting local troops. Some senior … [Read more...]

Pope unleashes ‘super confessors’ to tackle special sins

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Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his weekly general audience on February 10, 2016 at St Peter's square Dubbed 'super confessors', for one year only they can absolve sins usually only pardoned by the pope himself. And on Wednesday over 1,000 of these "missionaries of mercy", handpicked by Pope Francis, were sent forth to win back the hearts of those who have left the Catholic Church and open the door to repentant sinners across the world. There are certain evils the Vatican ranks above other sins, from attempting to assassinate the pope to defiling the Eucharist -- the rite of consuming consecrated bread and wine in Church -- by spitting it out or using it in a Satanic ritual. Since the 12th century, those guilty of these so-called "reserved sins" had their cases evaluated by a secret tribunal in the tiny Vatican city state before they were sent before the pope, who would determine an appropriate penance. Now, 1,142 priests and monks from around the world have be … [Read more...]

Wild elephant goes on rampage in Indian town

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The wild elephant 'knocked down nearly 100 houses and vehicles' as it ran loose on the streets of Siliguri, on February 10, 2016 A wild elephant went on an hours-long rampage in a town in eastern India on Wednesday, damaging about 100 homes, shops and other buildings, a state minister said. Photos showed the bewildered animal wandering around Siliguri, about 577 kilometres (360 miles) north of Kolkata, crashing into structures, as people scurried out of the way. "The elephant strayed from its herd and lost its way from a nearby forest into Siliguri, creating panic in the town for nearly five hours," West Bengal state forest minister Binay Krishna Barman told AFP by phone. "The animal knocked down nearly 100 houses and vehicles as it ran loose on the streets," he said. People threw stones to try to drive away the elephant, before forest officials fired tranquillizer darts to bring it under control. "It was transported to Sukna forest bordering Siliguri town," the minister … [Read more...]

Researchers find new Zika clues to birth defect in fetus study

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Daniele Santos holds her son Juan Pedro who is 2-months old and born with microcephaly at their house in Recife. Researchers on Wednesday reported new evidence strengthening the association between Zika virus and a spike in birth defects, citing the presence of the virus in the brain of an aborted fetus of a European woman who became pregnant while living in Brazil. An autopsy of the fetus showed microcephaly or small head size, as well as severe brain injury and high levels of the Zika virus in fetal brain tissues, exceeding levels of the virus typically found in blood samples, researchers in Slovenia from the University Medical Center in Ljubljana reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings help "strengthen the biologic association" between Zika virus infection and microcephaly, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, wrote in an editorial that accompanied the paper. Researchers in Brazil are scrambling … [Read more...]

NATO agrees Russian deterrent but avoids Cold War footing

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels. NATO agreed on Wednesday its boldest steps yet to deter Russia from any attack in the Baltics or eastern Europe, setting out ways to rapidly deploy air, naval and ground forces without resorting to Cold War-era military bases. In an effort to dissuade Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO defence ministers will rely on a network of new alliance outposts, forces on rotation, warehoused equipment and regular war games, all backed by a rapid-reaction force. "Russia is a threat," Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told Reuters at an alliance meeting in Brussels. "It is Moscow's actions in Crimea, their support for separatists in Ukraine and their snap exercises that concern us". The measures, which British Defence Minister Michael Fallon said proved that "NATO means what it says", showed a unity the West has not been able to muster against … [Read more...]

Sanders,Trump ride U.S. anti-establishment tide to New Hampshire win

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Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders smiles after winning at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Concord, New Hampshire February 9, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders coasted to victory on a wave of voter anger in the New Hampshire presidential nominating contest, thrashing traditional U.S. politicians in a display of anti-establishment power. Sweeping wins by Trump, a New York billionaire, and Sanders, a democratic socialist, on Tuesday testified to the sizable share of American voters upset at U.S. economic conditions and willing to send a shockwave to Washington in the Nov. 8 presidential election. New Hampshire's verdict sets up a tough fight for Republicans in South Carolina on Feb. 20 and for Democrats there on Feb. 27. Some of the most monumental campaign battles in elections past have been fought in the state that holds the first primary election of the American South. For Trump, New … [Read more...]

China confirms first case of Zika virus: Xinhua

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Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Paulo Whitaker China has confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in a man who had recently travelled to South America, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The virus, which is causing international alarm after spreading through much of the Americas, was detected in a 34-year-old man from Ganxian county in the eastern province of Jiangxi, Xinhua said, citing China's National Health and Family Planning Commission. Chinese health authorities downplayed the risk of the mosquito-borne virus spreading because of the winter cold, Xinhua added. Hong Kong's Department of Health said in a statement that the man, who had travelled through the city on his return to China, worked in Dongguan, a bustling manufacturing city in the neighbouring southern province of Guangdong. Hong Kong's Port Health Office has stepped up inspections at the airport in response and reinforced … [Read more...]

U.S. & India consider joint patrols in South China Sea – U.S. official

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A USS Boxer LHD travels at an offshore location in Goa in this October 29, 2006 file photo. Photo: Reuters/Prashanth Vishwanathan/Files The United States and India have held talks about conducting joint naval patrols that a U.S. defense official said could include the disputed South China Sea, a move that would likely anger Beijing, which claims most of the waterway. Washington wants its regional allies and other Asian nations to take a more united stance against China over the South China Sea, where tensions have spiked in the wake of Beijing's construction of seven man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago. India and the United States have ramped up military ties in recent years, holding naval exercises in the Indian Ocean that last year involved the Japanese navy. But the Indian navy has never carried out joint patrols with another country and a naval spokesman told Reuters there was no change in the government's policy of only joining an international military effort under … [Read more...]

In Hoi An’s favorite steamed cakes, the perfect taste of simplicity

The cakes are done after three minutes.

Bánh bèo Bà Mỹ (Steamed rice cakes of Mrs. My) is one of the most loved culinary brands in the central town. The owner started her shop in a bid to earn enough money to raise her children. The shop is now run by one of them, Du Tan Ha. Ha, 56, said he is faithful to the recipe that his mother created decades ago. He said he is still using his mother's millstone to make rice flour every day. The milky rice flour mixture is poured into tiny bowls and then steamed. The soft cakes will be served with toppings such as shrimp floss and beef sausage, and a lightly sweetened fish sauce. A serving of 20 cakes costs only VND15,000, or less than 75 US cents. The small shop is located at the end of Tran Phu Street, around 70 meters from the Bridge Pagoda. It opens from 2 p.m. every day. … [Read more...]

Fermented bee larvae: a gift of the Mekong Delta’s cajuput forest

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Fermented bee larvae is often served with vegetables in the Mekong Delta. Photo: Gia Bach Cajuput trees blooms in November, feeding large numbers of honey bees in the Mekong Delta’s U Minh Forest. As local hunters plunder the hives of honey, they often grab a few larvae to eat as a prized source of protein. Traditionally, the larvae are gifted to relatives and friends during Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) in Ca Mau Province. Nguyen Van Trang, a honey hunter with more than 50-year experience, said he often leaves a certain number of larvae behind, after harvesting honey to maintain the hive. "In cajuput blooming season, bees lay countless eggs that grow into larvae. People used to wrap them in leaves for baking or eating raw with salad." "After getting bored with these dishes, they tried to ferment the leftover larvae and a new dish was born," he said. Larvae are boiled before being separated from the comb. Then, they're salted and dried in the sun. Eventually, the resulting … [Read more...]

North Korea may get plutonium from restarted reactor in weeks: U.S.

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A passenger walks past a TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea's long range rocket launch at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, February 7, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji North Korea, which conducted its fourth nuclear test last month and launched a long-range rocket on Saturday, could begin to recover plutonium from a restarted nuclear reactor within weeks, the director of U.S. National Intelligence said on Tuesday. James Clapper said that in 2013, following its third nuclear test, North Korea announced its intention to "refurbish and restart" facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, to include the uranium enrichment facility and its graphite-moderated plutonium production reactor shut down in 2007. "We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor," Clapper said in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We further assess … [Read more...]