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Vietnam chooses new President

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Vietnam chooses new President

Vietnam has chosen a new president after an anti-corruption drive and power struggle within its leadership.

Vo Van Thuong takes over from Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who stepped down in January.

With its long tradition of collective leadership, the party’s senior figures since Ho Chi Minh have rarely had much of a profile outside the country.

Mr Thuong, 52, is no exception, standing out largely for his relative youth in a party which usually gives top jobs to much older officials.

He is also noteworthy for having a career almost entirely inside the party, and being steeped in its Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy.

That might seem a very conservative choice, in a country which has embraced breakneck economic growth and is also juggling delicate relationships with the US and China.

But it is also a safe choice for party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong, arguably the most powerful leader Vietnam has had since the end of the war with the US in 1975.

Of the “four pillars” at the top of Vietnamese politics, Mr Trong’s post is the most influential – although the president also holds significant authority. The other two are the prime minister and the chairman of the National Assembly.

Like Mr Thuong, who is widely seen as his preferred successor, Mr Trong is also a communist ideologue who has launched a series of campaigns against official corruption.

It was allegations of corruption in the government’s response to the Covid pandemic which forced out Mr Phuc in January.

But the Communist Party, which holds a monopoly on power in Vietnam, still faces two difficult challenges.

Can it curb corruption, while still maintaining the high economic growth levels which underpin its legitimacy?

And can it engineer a smooth succession to Nguyen Phu Trong, who at 78 years old is in fragile health, yet was given an unusual third term as secretary-general in 2021 largely because the party could not agree on an alternative.

(BBC News)

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Biden test positive for COVID-19, White House says

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Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 and is suffering mild symptoms, the White House has said.

Karine Jean-Pierre, his press secretary, said the president is vaccinated and boosted. He has had Covid twice before.

Mr Biden, 81, was seen earlier on Wednesday visiting supporters in Las Vegas and speaking at an event. He has cancelled a campaign speech in the city tonight.

The illness comes as he faces increasing pressure to step aside because of his age following a poor debate performance at the end of June.

(BBC)
(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by bbc.com has not been edited by SLM staff) 

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Cyanide found in blood of all 6 that died in luxury hotel suite in Bangkok

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Cyanide has been found in the blood of all six people who died in a luxury hotel suite in Bangkok, say doctors after examining their bodies.
Based on the initial post-mortem examination, they say there is “no other cause” that would explain their deaths “except for cyanide”.

But further tests are being carried out to determine the “intensity” of the deadly chemical and to rule out any other toxins.

Forensic investigators had earlier found traces of cyanide on the teacups used by the victims, all of whom are of Vietnamese origin including two with dual US citizenship. Police suspect that one of the dead was behind the poisoning and was driven by crushing debt – but have not said who.

The victims’ lips and nails had turned dark purple indicating a lack of oxygen, while their internal organs turned “blood red”, which is another sign of cyanide poisoning, said Professor Kornkiat Vongpaisarnsin of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Chulalongkorn University.

Doctor Chanchai Sittipunt, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine, said they still needed to find out how much cyanide was in the blood of the deceased.

“But from what we have detected – from observation, from internal organ check, from finding cyanide in the blood during the screening test – there is no other cause that would be the factor that would cause their deaths, except for cyanide,” he told reporters.

The deceased were found by housekeepers at the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel in the Thai capital late on Tuesday.

Investigators believe they had been dead for between 12 and 24 hours by then.

The mystery around the shocking discovery made international headlines.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin ordered an urgent investigation into the case, stressing that the deaths were the result of a “private matter”, and there was no suggestion of public danger.

Police have since begun to piece together what might have happened.

Two of the six victims had loaned “tens of millions of Thai baht” to another of the deceased for investment purposes, authorities said. Ten million baht is worth nearly $280,000 (£215,000).

(BBC News)

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Nat Thaipun wins MasterChef Australia 2024 (Video)

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Victorian barista Nat Thaipun clinched the title of MasterChef Australia 2024, winning $250,000 and a residency at Crown Melbourne’s ALUMNI restaurant.

In a gripping finale, Thaipun triumphed over Tasmanian butcher Josh “Pezza” Perry, scoring 71 points to Pezza’s 68.

The competition featured a high-stakes ingredient challenge, where Nat’s innovative scotch egg with Northern Thai flavors wowed the judges. 

In the pressure test, Nat maintained her lead, despite some textural flaws, while Pezza delivered a commendable dish missing a key element.

Third-place finalist Savindri Perera, a Sri Lankan-born contestant, showcased her heritage with a unique take on chicken curry, inspired by her mother’s recipes. 

She shared her emotional journey, including struggles with body dysmorphia, in hopes of encouraging others.

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