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Putin Signs Deals With Vietnam In Bid To Shore Up Ties In Asia To Offset Moscow’s Growing Isolation

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HANOI, Vietnam — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed at least a dozen deals with his Vietnamese counterpart on Thursday and offered to supply fossil fuels, including natural gas, to Vietnam on a long-term basis during a state visit that comes as Moscow seeks to strengthen ties in Asia in response to its growing international isolation over its military actions in Ukraine.

Putin and Lam agreed to strengthen cooperation in education, research and technology, oil and gas exploration, sustainable energy, and health. The two countries agreed to collaborate on a road map for a nuclear scientific and technology center in Vietnam.

None of the 12 officially announced agreements specifically addressed defense. However, Lam stated that additional deals had not been made public.

Following their talks, Putin stated that the two countries are interested in “developing a reliable security architecture” in the Asia-Pacific region that does not allow for “closed military-political blocs.” Lam also stated that Russia and Vietnam wished to “further cooperate in defense and security to cope with non-traditional security challenges.”

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Putin | AP News Image

Putin Signs Deals With Vietnam In Bid To Shore Up Ties In Asia To Offset Moscow’s Growing Isolation

According to Nigel Gould-Davies, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and a former British ambassador to Belarus, the agreements between Russia and Vietnam were not as significant as the pact Putin signed with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the day before, which promised mutual aid in the event of an invasion.

Putin’s recent visits to China, North Korea, and Vietnam attempt to “break the international isolation,” according to Nguyen Khac Giang, an expert at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

Giang stated that Russia is vital to Vietnam for two reasons: it is the largest provider of military weapons to the Southeast Asian country, and Russian oil exploration technologies assist Vietnam in retaining its sovereignty claims in the disputed South China Sea.

Vietnam has also granted Russian state-controlled oil giant Zarubezhneft a license to develop an offshore block off its southern coast.

Putin landed in Hanoi on Thursday morning from North Korea after signing the strategic pact. The pact comes as both nations face rising standoffs with the West and may symbolize their deepest ties since the end of the Cold War.

According to the Vietnam News Agency, Putin also met with Vietnam’s most powerful politicians, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Putin drove to Vietnam’s Presidential Palace on Thursday afternoon, where he was met by schoolchildren waving Russian and Vietnamese flags.

Much has changed since Putin’s previous trip to Vietnam in 2017. Russia is now facing a slew of US-led sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. In 2023, the Foreign Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes, making foreign travel difficult for the Russian president. The Kremlin dismissed the warrant as “null and void,” emphasizing that Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

The U.S. Embassy in Vietnam sharply criticized Putin’s trip, stating that “no country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities.” Allowing Putin to travel freely “could normalize Russia’s blatant violations of international law,” according to a statement.

The United States and its allies have expressed growing concern about a potential arms deal in which North Korea provides Russia with much-needed munitions for use in Ukraine in exchange for Russian economic assistance and technology transfers, which could exacerbate the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Both countries dispute claims of weapons deliveries, which would violate many U.N. Security Council sanctions that Russia has previously supported.

According to Ridzwan Rahmat, a Singapore-based analyst with the defense intelligence business Janes, Vietnam is unlikely to give Russia major quantities of weaponry, putting at risk the progress it has made with NATO allies on military equipment, mainly the United States.

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Putin | AP news Image

Putin Signs Deals With Vietnam In Bid To Shore Up Ties In Asia To Offset Moscow’s Growing Isolation

“I would imagine Vietnam wouldn’t want to take a risk, inviting the wrath of Western countries by supplying the Russians,” Rahmat told reporters.

Hanoi and Moscow have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1950, and this year, they celebrate the 30th anniversary of a treaty that established “friendly relations” between Vietnam and Russia. According to Prashanth Parameswaran, a Wilson Center’s Asia Program fellow, Vietnam is “reinforcing” its partnership while diversifying with newer partners.

Evidence of the lengthy relationship and its effect may be found in Vietnamese cities such as the capital, where numerous Soviet-style apartment complexes have been replaced with skyscrapers. A statue of the Soviet Union’s founder, Vladimir Lenin, stands in a park where children skateboard every evening. Many of the Communist Party’s top leaders in Vietnam, including party boss Trong, attended Soviet universities.

In an article published in Nhan Dan, the official newspaper of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Putin thanked “Vietnamese friends for their balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis” and praised the country as a “strong supporter of a fair world order” based on international law, equality, and geopolitical non-interference.

Vietnam’s pragmatic stance of “bamboo diplomacy” — a term coined by Trong to describe the plant’s suppleness, bending but not breaking in the shifting headwinds of global geopolitics — is under growing scrutiny.

Vietnam, a manufacturing powerhouse and increasingly vital in global supply networks, will host US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2023.

According to former ambassador Gould-Davies, Putin’s visit is significant diplomatically for Hanoi.

“Perhaps for Vietnam it’s a matter of just showing that it’s able to maintain this very agile balance of its bamboo diplomacy,” the foreign minister suggested. “Already in the course of a year they’ve hosted visits by the heads of state of the three most powerful countries in the world, which is pretty impressive.”

He believes Russia’s visit was more about optics than anything else, as Moscow strives to interact and influence other countries, particularly those in the so-called Global South.

“Since the war began, Putin has not been able to travel much or very far, and he’s made very few trips beyond the countries of the former Soviet space,” he told reporters.

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Putin | AP News Image

Putin Signs Deals With Vietnam In Bid To Shore Up Ties In Asia To Offset Moscow’s Growing Isolation

Vietnam has remained neutral about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But neutrality is getting difficult.

Parameswaran stated that Vietnam requires US assistance to pursue its economic objectives and diversify its defense relationships. “It has to carefully calibrate what it does with Russia in an environment of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.”

Bilateral commerce between Russia and Vietnam was $3.6 billion in 2023, compared to $171 billion with China and $111 billion with the United States.

Since the early 2000s, Russia has supplied over 80% of Vietnam’s arms imports. This has been dropping over the years as Vietnam strives to diversify its supply. However, according to Giang, weaning itself completely from Russia would take time.

Given Putin’s international isolation, Vietnam is doing him a “huge favor and may expect favors in return,” wrote Andrew Goledzinowski, the Australian ambassador to Vietnam, on the social networking platform X.

“Vietnam will always act in Vietnam’s interests and not anyone else’s,” he said in the letter.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

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Political jokes: is it too soon?

Many quarters responded with a loud yes at midweek, days after an assassination attempt on Republican former President Donald Trump shook the nation over decades of political violence in the United States.

Several late-night shows that rely on political humor instantly modified their plans, with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” canceling its Monday show and intending to broadcast from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week. Its host, Jon Stewart, and his guests gave sad monologues.

By Tuesday, the comic rock duo Tenacious D, comprised of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, had canceled the remainder of their global tour “and all future creative plans” after Gass proclaimed onstage his birthday wish: “Don’t miss next time.” Gass apologized.

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Democratic President Joe Biden, no stranger to criticizing Trump, contacted his wounded competitor, paused his political advertisements and messaging, and urged the country to “cool” the rhetoric.

So, if comedy is tragedy plus time, when is joking acceptable again? And who gives a thumbs up, given that the shooter who targeted Trump also killed former fire chief Corey Comperatore while protecting his family?

The attempted assassination on Saturday, or any of the bloodshed that has afflicted the United States since its inception, is not funny. Trump was smacked in the ear while speaking to rallygoers in Pennsylvania. A Trump supporter and the gunman were dead, while two onlookers were injured. The attack sparked severe concerns about security shortcomings. It was the most recent example of political violence in America, where attacks on politicians date back to at least 1798 when two legislators from opposite parties brawled in the United States House.

Other examples abound in history texts, but the list from this century is particularly striking. Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords, D, was shot in the head in 2011. Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current House majority leader, was shot and badly injured in 2017. On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol, preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s election. Paul Pelosi was bludgeoned at his home in 2022 by a guy looking for his wife, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In addition to that, unwavering fears about Biden’s fitness for office following his catastrophic debate performance, Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, and American politics in 2024 appear anything but hilarious.

However, political comedy is as old as politics and administration.

It softens the impact of democratic decisions and is a powerful tool for politicians aiming to alleviate or increase concerns about themselves or their opponents. And in recent years, Trump has been the focus of more jokes than anyone else. According to a 2020 study by George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, late-night hosts made 97% of their jokes about Trump.

“It’s never too soon, unless it’s not funny,” Alonzo Bodden, a 31-year-old stand-up comedian, said in a phone interview Wednesday. He is not a Trump supporter but stated that comedians “will always make it funny no matter what happens.” That is what we do. “It is how we communicate.”

“In this case, Donald Trump is such a character and the fact that he wasn’t killed, the jokes started immediately,” said Bodden. “And I don’t believe he minds. He’s one of those persons who is always happy to be mentioned.”

Humor humanizes large figures.
Perhaps most effectively, political humor can make arrogant leaders appear more human or at least self-conscious.

Consider “covfefe,” Trump’s strange middle-of-the-night tweet in 2017 that went viral, prompting Jimmy Kimmel to despair that he’ll never write something funnier. “Make the Pie Higher,” a poem by late Washington Post cartoonist Richard Thompson, was composed solely of President George W. Bush’s botched words and was published for his inauguration in 2001.

“It is a very complicated economic point I was making there,” Bush said with a smirk at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner a few months later. “Believe me, what this country needs is taller pie.”

Before the debate, Biden attempted to use humor to bring the age issue to the forefront, but it became evident that the concern was more about his cognitive ability. “I know I’m 198 years old,” Biden declared, to wild laughter and clapping.

 

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Humor is such an effective campaign tactic that candidates flock to guest appearances on late-night shows, which have risen in political prominence. However, following the assassination, a pause settled over everything, as indicated by Stewart’s serious address on Monday.

“None of us knows what’s going to happen next other than there will be another tragedy in this country, self-inflicted by us to us, and then we’ll have this feeling again,” Stewart told the crowd.

“The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert recalled his astonishment at the attack, joy that Trump had survived, and “grief for my great country.”

“Though I could just as easily start the show moaning on the floor,” he laughed, “because how many times do we need to learn the lesson that violence has no role in our politics?”

As is customary for social media, it was acting more freely. “I think it’s ironic that Trump almost died from a gun today because he was too far right-leaning,” comedian Drew Lynch remarked on YouTube. “Alright. That’s all I have. I believe my neighbors might be listening.”

SOURCE | AP

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After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

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The Mirage | AP News Image

LAS VEGAS — The Mirage will disappear from the Las Vegas Strip.

The famed tropical island-themed hotel-casino opened in 1989 with a fire-spewing volcano outside and Siegfried & Roy’s lions and dolphins within, will close its doors on Wednesday.

Frenzied final days have seen standing-room crowds wagering to win $1.6 million in slot machine progressive jackpot winnings that state regulations need to be distributed before the lights go off and the site is transformed completely.

The guest rooms are already unoccupied. The Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show “Love” ended its 18-year run earlier this month. When the gamblers go, only memories of former casino mogul Steve Wynn’s hotel, which revolutionized the casino resort sector, will remain.

After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

“Las Vegas always reinvents itself,” said Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose father dealt blackjack for decades at casinos such as the now-demolished Stardust and Showboat. “The Mirage is no longer state-of-the-art.”

New Operators Hard Rock International and Florida-based Seminole Gaming intend to add 600 rooms to 3,044 in a bright new guitar-shaped hotel where the sidewalk volcano rumbles and gushes nightly. Renderings show guitar string-like beams rising from a purple 660-foot (201-meter) tower into the night sky.

“The Mirage was a transcendent property, changing the landscape of Las Vegas,” said Joe Lupo, The Mirage’s president, who will remain at the new resort. “We are confident that Hard Rock Las Vegas will do the same in 2027.”

There won’t be a demolition show like the now-demolished Tropicana casino hotel several blocks down the Strip. That 22-story building will be demolished later this year and replaced before 2028 by a baseball stadium that will serve as the home field for the relocated MLB Oakland A’s.

Some of the 127 employees who have worked at The Mirage since its inception planned to mark its end with Lupo; Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming; and Alan Feldman, a longtime MGM Resorts casino executive who is now a fellow at the gambling institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Feldman was Wynn’s initial spokesperson for the new resort.

“The doors opened to a crush of humanity, and it stayed like that for days,” Feldman recalled in an interview. “It’s difficult to describe how The Mirage transformed. One of the things was that Las Vegas expanded beyond Elvis, showgirls, round beds, and gambling.

It was more than just a gambling hall; it cost $630 million. It was the world’s biggest hotel at the time. Guests were greeted with a piña colada smell and two bronze mermaid statues on their way to the check-in desk, which featured a large shark and reef fish tank.

It boasted glamorous boutiques, celebrity-chef restaurants, and theater-sized showrooms featuring performers such as Johnny Mathis, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton.

“Instead of neon, a garden of dozens of rich Canary Island palm trees and a cool refreshing waterfall,” Wynn said in a statement posted on Monday by his Las Vegas attorney, Donald Campbell. Wynn entitled it “An Homage to Lady Mirage.”

Despite competition from casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the expansion of tribal gaming in California, Wynn stated that The Mirage was the first new hotel built in Las Vegas in years. Its completion resulted in a virtual doubling of resort capacity over the next decade, with more than 30,000 hotel rooms, making Las Vegas one of the fastest-expanding towns in America.

“To call The Mirage a catalyst would be an understatement,” Wynn said.

New resorts 2000 included Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Venetian, and Paris Las Vegas. Many were funded using Wall Street bonds. Wynn purchased and demolished the 50-year-old Desert Inn to construct and operate his eponymous Wynn Resort in 2005.

Wynn, now 82 and residing in Florida, paid a $10 million punishment to Nevada casino authorities last year and severed connections with the business he helped define to resolve a years-long legal battle sparked by newspaper revelations in 2018 that he sexually harassed or abused several women at his hotels. He has consistently refuted the claims against him.

After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

Feldman described The Mirage’s architecture as “an unusual and unexpected place, where people wondered, ‘How do you have all this in the middle of the desert?'”

Bo Bernhard, head of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute, investigates the emergence of the “fun economy” worldwide. He claimed that the Mirage provided Las Vegas with an exportable commodity, similar to Detroit automobiles, and established a precedent for resort building in Singapore and Sydney.

The Seminole Tribe purchased the Hard Rock brand in 2007, becoming the first Native American operator in the lucrative and competitive Las Vegas Boulevard sector. The tribe also runs seven casinos in Florida and controls the Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos chain, which has locations in 76 countries. 2016, it obtained the naming rights for Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

An off-strip former Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas was owned independently. In 2018, a company led by billionaire Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin Company, paid approximately $500 million to buy the hotel-casino from a Toronto investment behemoth. It underwent renovations and reopened in 2021 as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

SOURCE – (AP)

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China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

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China | AP news Image

Chinese divers won seven of eight gold medals at the previous Olympics in Tokyo, making it one of the best performances in Olympic history.

More is predicted this time in Paris.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

China has dominated diving for decades. However, it has never completed the elusive gold medal sweep at the Games. In a recent article, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official publication, called this lapse “regrettable”.

How is that for pressure?

“I hope that all of us can stand on the top of the podium,” Tokyo gold medalist Quan Hongchan said in an interview with state media.

They might, and the evidence is already startling.

China has won 47 out of 64 gold medals, dating back to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when it earned its first diving gold. Add to that 23 silver and 10 bronze. If you start counting from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has won 27 of 32 gold medals.

That’s almost perfect, but someone always spoils the party, such as American David Boudia, Australian Matthew Mitcham, British Tom Daley, or Russian Ilya Zakharov.

The People’s Daily called the team to “launch an all-out bid this time for gold medals in all diving events.”

Three years ago, at 14, Quan won gold on the 10-meter platform. Teammate Chen Yuxi, who won gold in synchro on the platform, was only 15. Both have returned and are most likely in separate classes.

Wang Zongyuan, the silver medalist on the 3-meter springboard in Tokyo behind teammate Xie Siyi, is expected to be the favorite in Paris.

The American Challenge
Drew Johansen will coach the United States diving team for the fourth consecutive Olympics. Wenbo Chen, the University of Minnesota’s Chinese-born coach, assists the head coach at Indiana University. Purdue coach David Boudia, who won an Olympic gold medal on the platform in 2012, is also on the staff.

Three Tokyo silver medalists are back: Andrew Capobianco, Jessica Parratto, and Delaney Schnell. They all reached the podium in synchronized events, which may provide the best opportunities for Americans and others.

Parratto will dive again with Schnell on the 10-meter synchronized platform while Capobianco is on the 3-meter springboard. He did not qualify for synchronized. Schnell and Daryn Wright will compete on the platform.

“The world has been catching up to the Chinese in all the events except for women’s platform,” Johansen told reporters. “Chinese women on the tower are still way ahead of the world.”

Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook have a chance in the 3-meter synchronized springboard, while Bacon and Alison Gibson should compete as soloists.

Carson Tyler is the new name to watch in both the 10-meter platform and the 3-meter springboard, a rare in both disciplines and reminiscent of Greg Louganis’ double-double gold medals in 1984 and 1988.

“Carson has shown up as a great mental performer,” Johansen added.

“We’ve managed to beat China in certain events over the years and I feel like some parity has come to the sport,” he said afterward. “We have been hovering around those gold medals and points away from getting them.”

According to Johansen, part of the objective is to create pressure on the Chinese by attempting more difficult dives that, if completed successfully, will earn them more points.

“It’s a risk-reward game,” he explained.

The Mental Game
Johansen praises Xu Yiming, who taught Chinese Olympic divers from the mid-1980s to the 2000s, for sharing his technical expertise with the rest of the globe. Johansen considers Xu a mentor from their time together while Johansen was coaching at Duke University.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

“He taught me a lot of their physical techniques right after he retired,” she said.

After incorporating this knowledge, the next plateau is mental conditioning.

“I physically couldn’t train them any better,” he told me. “I didn’t know anyone who was doing it better. The only way I could help my athletes succeed was to mentally prepare them, which I didn’t know how to do.

Johansen says he’s lately started creating a “performance think tank” to educate mental focus and sports psychology. Without naming names, he stated that the team comprises a Navy SEAL, a book author, and others who practice executing under pressure.

The program was launched only a few months ago and includes Paris, but the primary focus is on the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

“We acquired China’s physical skills, but if we want to beat them, we must also overcome them intellectually. “I’m convinced of that,” Johansen stated. “We have an advantage over the Chinese if we can be mentally stronger and better performers.”

SOURCE | AP

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