Entries in Vietnam (7)


Agent Orange Victims Get Scientology ‘Detox’ Treatment

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HANOI, Vietnam) -- The Vietnamese government is turning to a “detoxification” method developed by the founder of the Church of Scientology to treat victims of Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant the U.S. military used during the Vietnam War.

According to local media reports, 24 patients from the central city of Da Nang were admitted to the Hanoi 103 Military Hospital last week to begin a free, month-long treatment to rid the body of dioxins that have been linked to birth defects, cancers and other diseases.

The “Hubbard Method,” named after L. Ron Hubbard, requires taking vitamins and minerals, exercising and sweating in saunas. Scientologists have used it to treat alcoholism and drug addiction in the past, and offered similar services to  New York City’s first responders who were exposed to toxins in the 9/11 terror attacks.

Vietnam is the first country to apply the method on Agent Orange victims, according to Hoang Manh An, the director of the hospital carrying out the detoxification.

“I hope my wife and I will recover completely and will not suffer after-effects to pass on to my descendants,” Nguyen Dai Sang, one of the patients, told the Viet Nam News Daily.

American troops doused the jungles of Southeast Asia with 20 million gallons of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to deny Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops cover. The herbicides contaminated about 5 million acres of forest, which is roughly the size of Massachusetts.

The U.S. launched its first major effort to clean up the soil at a former air base in Da Nang last month, more than 40 years later, but spokesman Christopher Hodges at the American Embassy in Hanoi said the U.S. had not provided any funding for detoxification programs in Vietnam.

“We are not aware of any safe, effective detoxification treatment for people with dioxin in body tissues,” Hodges said in a statement. “The best way to reduce health risks associated with dioxin is to prevent human exposure to dioxin, and the best way to do that is to clean up areas where dioxin exists in the environment at potentially hazardous levels.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Vietnamese Airline Fined for In-Flight Bikini Show

VietJet Air(NEW YORK) -- On a recent VietJetAir flight, there was a featured bonus that consisted of an in-flight service that passengers on this discount airline company did not expect. Clad in string bikini tops and sarongs that flaunted the company colors of red and yellow, young, beautiful women filed down the plane’s aisles last Friday for a bikini show.

The plane was on its way from Ho Chi Minh City to the coastal tourist city of Nha Trang. As passengers pulled out their smart phones and video cameras in order to archive their unique airline experience, the young women sashayed up and down the plane, batting their eyelashes at the passengers and handing out toys to children, while the plane was at cruising altitude.

Once the plane had landed safely on the ground, the short clips of the beauty show, called a Hawaiian dance performance by the airline, were circulated among popular social networks such as YouTube and Facebook.

Consequently, the budget airline was slapped with a $1,000 fine by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), as reported by the Vietnamese news website, Vietnamnet.

The chief inspector of CAAV, Nguyen Trong Thang, said the fine was administered not because the airline conducted a beauty show but because it had held an “unapproved show” on the plane. Otherwise, because the plane had reached its safe altitude and the passengers who were recording the show had their phones in movie mode, Vietnamnet reports, Thang did not believe that the three minute show violated any local aviation regulations.

A VietJetAir official told the Daily Mail that the dancing girls in bikinis was a way to “make passengers happy and to improve our customer service.”

ABC News was unable to reach VietJetAir for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vietnam Holds First-Ever Gay Pride Event

HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GettyImages(HANOI, Vietnam) -- Just a few years ago, the Vietnamese government considered homosexuality a "social evil."  But on Sunday, 100 gays and lesbians gathered in Hanoi for the country's first-ever gay pride event.

They rode on bicycles and motorbikes -- the only way to get around in the capital -- while trailing rainbow-colored streamers.

Many in the country still consider homosexuality taboo, but there are signs that things are beginning to loosen up.

There has been talk of Vietnam's Justice Ministry changing laws that would allow same-sex couples to legally wed -- a first for Asia.  Such action might show that the country is trying to improve its human rights record, regarded as one of the world's worst.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Visits Vietnam

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(CAM RAHN BAY, Vietnam) -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta traveled to Vietnam on Sunday, marking the first trip by an American defense secretary there since the Vietnam War ended.

Panetta visited a former U.S. Navy base in Cam Rahn Bay, and called his visit "an important symbol of how the relationship between the United States and Vietnam has improved."

Panetta said the U.S. and Vietnam have "come a long way, particularly with regard to our defense relationship."  The two countries signed an agreement in 2011 for defense cooperation, and Panetta’s two-day visit will focus on working out the details of the agreement.

Speaking aboard a navy ship docked in the bay, Panetta again laid out part of the new U.S. defense strategy he presented to a gathering of Asia's military leaders in Singapore this past weekend.

The defense secretary said the U.S. Navy would be shifting the majority of its ships to the Pacific by 2020 as part of the new U.S. strategic focus on Asia. 

Panetta said on Sunday the U.S. was "going to refocus on the Pacific because this is an area where we confront many challenges."  As part of that focus, the defense secretary is calling for continued access to harbors in countries that border the South China Sea.

The secretary of defense also stated that he hoped his visit to Vietnam would encourage efforts to locate and identify more U.S. soldiers who are missing in action.

Panetta’s visit to Vietnam is part of a week-long tour of Asia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CDC Asked to Investigate Mysterious Illness in Vietnam

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HANOI, Vietnam) -- Vietnamese health officials asked the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate a mysterious skin disease which has killed 19 people in central Vietnam.

At least 171 have been sickened by the unidentified illness whose symptoms begin with a high fever then a rash and eventually organ failure. The illness first appeared in April last year however more people have been infected this year with 68 new infections and eight deaths.

State health officials visited the Ba To district in Quang Ngai province but could not identify the illness and asked WHO and the CDC for assistance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vietnam: Bus Driver Takes Cop on Wild Ride

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Vietnamese traffic cop who would stop at nothing to issue a bus driver a ticket, and a bus driver who would do anything to avoid a ticket, combined for a wild ride in Hanoi.

Traffic police Second Lt. Nguyen Manh Phan pulled over a 39-seat passenger coach on Monday and ordered the driver to show his paperwork, according to Thanh Nien Daily.

The bus driver, identified as Phung Hong Phuong, refused to show his paperwork and then attempted to drive off.  His plans to flee were thwarted, however, when Phan jumped onto the front of the bus and clung onto the windshield as oncoming traffic whizzed by.

The wild episode was captured on video, reportedly shot by another officer, and posted on YouTube. The video shows Phan hanging on for dear life and yelling as the bus travelled for more than half a mile.

A chase brought on by other traffic cops and bystanders eventually forced Phuong to bring the bus to a stop.

He told police that he fled because he was afraid of being fined.  He later confessed that he had an earlier conviction for fatally running over someone and served nearly four years in prison, before being released in 2010.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Diplomat Attacked by Police in Vietnam

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of State(HANOI, Vietnam) -- An American diplomat was attacked by Vietnamese police Thursday while on his way to meet a prominent dissident, ABC News has confirmed.

Christian Marchant, a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Hanoi who won a State Department award for his work on human rights, was on his way to meet with a dissident Catholic priest, Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, when police attacked him.  The extent of his injuries is unknown, but he is expected to make a full recovery.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner blasted Vietnam for the attack.

"We are aware of and deeply concerned by the incident and have officially registered a strong protest with the Vietnamese government in Hanoi," Toner said.  "We plan to raise the issue with Ambassador Phung in Washington as well.  Diplomats are entitled under international law to special protection against attack.  The government of Vietnam has a responsibility to take appropriate steps to prevent any attack on the person, freedom, or dignity of diplomats."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio