‘It was inevitable’: Rahul Gandhi poised to take over from his mother as leader of India’s Congress party

Rahul Gandhi could be named head of India’s opposition Congress party within hours, a source said, shortly after he filed his candidacy for the role on Monday.
Speculation has been rife for months that the 47-year-old vice-president of the party would soon take over from his mother Sonia, who has led Congress for 19 years.
Elections for the post had been scheduled for December 16, but with hours to go before nominations close, no one else has yet come forward publicly as a candidate….

Man arrested trying to claim more than US$87k worth of drugs at Malaysian post office

By Avila Geraldine A man was arrested when he went to the Kota Kinabalu Pos Malaysia headquarters to pick up a parcel containing a whopping RM356,860 (US$87,866) worth of ecstasy pills. The parcel, delivered from the Netherlands, came in the form of a piece of luggage in which more than 10,000 ecstasy pills were hidden. State Customs Department director Datuk Hamzah Sundang said the drugs were discovered when enforcement officers conducted a scan on the baggage. “We detected…

Vietnam lauds its war heroes, so why are so many fighting for recognition?

Tran Thi Dong, 90, first answered her country’s call-to-arms in 1943 as a Viet Minh recruit to fight the Vichy French and Japanese. It was her first taste of wartime service, the first of three victorious fights against foreign powers.
“They called for a movement, a patriotic movement, and the young like me were very eager to join the forces,” recalled Dong at a house in Hanoi.
A veteran of the second world war, the anti-colonial war against France and the war against America…

Fears of Fukushima-type disaster forced Vietnam to ditch nuclear power plans, ex-president says

Vietnam last year abandoned plans to build the country’s first nuclear power plants with Japanese and Russian help due to heightened concern over nuclear energy in the wake of events such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to former president Truong Tan Sang.
In an interview in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday, Sang, 68, said, “The situation in the world had changed. Because of the fluctuations of the world situation, the Vietnamese people were very worried, especially the…

Japan rounds out UN Security Council term as president for meeting on N Korea’s missile launch

With one month of its two-year UN Security Council term remaining, Japan took up the rotating presidency on Friday ahead of a series of meetings to discuss the situation in North Korea.
On December 15, a ministerial-level meeting is expected to be held on the North’s non-proliferation activities, which is to be presided over by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Koro Bessho explained.
Among the high-ranking officials who are expected to…

Pope Francis wraps up Asia tour in solidarity with Rohingya ‘brothers and sisters’

Pope Francis wrapped up a high-stakes Asia tour on Saturday after meeting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in a highly symbolic gesture of solidarity with the Muslim minority fleeing violence in Myanmar.
The Catholic leader visited a hospital in Dhaka run by the order of Mother Teresa on the final day of a visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar that has been dominated by the plight of the Rohingya.
Pope Francis is known for championing the rights of refugees and has repeatedly expressed support for the…

Pope asks Rohingya for forgiveness in first public mention of stateless Muslim group during Asia trip

Pope Francis on Friday used the word “Rohingya” for the first time during his current trip to Asia to refer to refugees who have fled in large numbers from violence in Myanmar.
“The presence of God today is also called Rohingya,” he said in an improvised remark after meeting 16 refugees brought to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka from their camps in Cox’s Bazar near the border with Myanmar.
“In the name of all of those who have persecuted you, hurt you, I ask…