News on 8 August 2016

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1) Vinh shoots to Olympic fame, winning first gold ever for VN

After six decades of competing in the Olympics, Việt Nam boasts its first ever gold medal thanks to shooter Hoàng Xuân Vinh who won the men’s 10m air pistol at the summer games in Rio de Janeiro. Col. Vinh, 42, scored 202.5 points in the final round, breaking the previous Olympic record. Felipe Almeida Wu of host Brazil won the silver medal, scoring 202.1 points, and China’s Pang Wei got the bronze, with 180.4 points. Wu was the leading contender for the gold in the event, having won two gold medals in the ISSF World Cup held in Bangkok and Baku. Wei bagged a gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “This gold medal is a big achievement not only for me but for the whole country and the Vietnamese people. I hope my victory will encourage young Vietnamese to love this sport,” said Vinh. “I am proud of being a soldier. I thank my fans, coaches and family who are always side by side with me,” Vinh added. Vinh contemplated his last bullet longer than usual, earning an additional 10.7 points to surpass Wu’s result and gain the medal

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2) Experts divided on Vietnam elephant-watching tour

Experts were divided over a draft plan to begin elephant-watching tours in the central province of Quang Nam when they met last week at the launch of the 1st Elephant Conservation Week. The plan by the Forestry Administration, is to launch a tour in Quang Nam’s Nong Son District in the first stage. Conservationists estimated six to 10 wild elephants live in a forest of nearly 17,500 hectares (43,240 acres) in the district. A herd of around six was seen by some locals last month. “It is too early to say that the plan is too risky” Cao Chi Cong, deputy director of the administration, said. The Forest Planning and Investigation Department would study the elephant numbers and their habitats in Nong Son for better conservation and promoting tourism, he said. The number of wild elephants in Vietnam has fallen from 2,000 in the 1980s to around 100 now in 15 forests, including in Nong Son. However, some experts were skeptical about the plan’s feasibility and effectiveness, especially since there have been frequent cases of elephant-human clashes. Phan Tuan, director of the Quang Nam Forest Protection Agency, said he is afraid the wild elephants in the province are too dangerous.

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3) Global hit Pokemon Go officially launched in Việt Nam

The long awaited Pokemon Go is officially launched in Vietnam today (August 8). Android and iOS users can start downloading the Pokemon Go on the application store since this morning. Players will have full access to the game’s digital locations like the PokeStops and Gyms on a real-time Vietnam’s GPS map. Before the sensational game officially comes to Vietnam, local Pokemon catchers as well as from other countries had to hack accounts from Australia and New Zealand where Pokemon Go was first released to play the game. Yet Niantic Labs, the game’s distributor, soon blocked the IP hacking and left millions of global players growing restless in months to wait for the game’s official launch in their own countries.

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4) Emperor Akihito of Japan Raises Possibility of Leaving Throne

It has been something of an open secret in Japan that Emperor Akihito would like a privilege most people take for granted: At 82, he wants to retire. The question is whether the Japanese and their elected leaders will let him. In an extraordinary televised address on Monday (August 8), the popular emperor spoke publicly about the issue for the first time. Though his words were characteristically vague — he discussed his age, his rigorous daily schedule and what he called his increasing physical limitations — the message was unmistakable. “I am concerned that it will become more and more difficult for me to fulfill my duties as a symbolic emperor,” he said in a pre recorded address that lasted about 10 minutes and was broadcast on multiple Japanese television networks. If Akihito steps down, the move could redefine Japan’s royal family, the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. While the emperor now has only symbolic power, an abdication could also resurrect a contentious issue in Japan: the debate over allowing a woman to occupy the throne. First reported in banner headlines by the Japanese news media in July, Akihito, who has been treated for cancer and heart problems, was said to want to retire and pass the title to his son Crown Prince Naruhito, 56. Prince Naruhito appears to share his father’s quiet temperament and wish to keep the monarchy apolitical. But abdication is complicated because of Japanese law, which says an emperor serves until death. Parliament would have to change the law for Akihito to step down. In a short response, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested that his government was open to changing the law, though he stopped short of making a specific commitment to do so. “Considering His Majesty’s age, the burden of his official duties and his anxieties, we must think carefully about what can be done,” he said. Japanese emperors define eras in the country. Its unique calendar is based on their reigns: 2016 is expressed as Akihito’s 28th year on the throne, and when his successor takes over, the date will reset to Year One.

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5) From Syrian Rubble to German Concert Halls With a Piano, a Mission and Survivor’s Guilt

The pianist starts his show abruptly, with a wail. The words and music are Arabic, but the pain is clear in any language. “How, God?” he sings, “How could God bring you this scourge?” He is performing for a German audience in a quiet German town with fairytale spires. But Aeham Ahmad is thinking of his pulverized, starving neighborhood in Syria, where a few years ago, before coming to Germany as a refugee, he embarked on a strange career by playing concerts in the rubble. He jumps up, bobs his head in an impish little bow, and says by way of introduction: “I’m sorry, I’m not a good piano player. I learned in Syria. It’s not like Mozart and Bach, but this is the way we play it.” In a German deeply torn between embracing and fearing the million migrants who have arrived in the past year, Mr. Ahmad, 27, has set himself the task of putting a human face on his fellow refugees. His aim is to ease their integration and maybe even help the millions more, not least his wife and children, whom he left behind. That mission has become more urgent lately, after Germany was shocked by two separate attacks in which refugees linked to the Islamic State tried to kill civilians. Only the assailants died, but the attacks have left many Germans angry, anxious and ready to slam the door shut. There is already talk of accelerated expulsions. Onstage, Mr. Ahmad flatters his listeners, reassures them, owns them. He tells of his flight from bombs, hunger and repression. He sings of minarets and church bells “calling for peace.” He declares that “terrorism has no religion,” and that refugees come “to build Germany,” not to harm it. “History will remember that Germany has taken in the Muslims,” he declares, then leads them in a singalong of “All My Little Ducks,” the German equivalent of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” He leaves the hall, as usual, in a shower of hugs and selfies. But the next day in his tiny room in the town of Wiesbaden, he lacerates himself over the role he has honed so well: He is “the good refugee,” making “good Germans” feel good about themselves. He cannot help seeing a touch of minstrel show in his act. He imagines how he might look through German eyes: a charity case, a trained animal dancing for treats.

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(All the above News Items have been sourced from: Reuters, ThanhNien News, Vietnam Net, Tuoitre News, Vietnam News, New York Times, BBC)

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