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Vietnam breaks up anti-China protests over rival claims to the oil and gas-rich South China Sea

© Reuters
Police move anti-China protesters to a bus during a protest in Hanoi.
Police disperse demonstrators as tensions rise over communist neighbours' claims to South China Sea

Vietnamese police broke up anti-China protests in two cities on Sunday and detained 20 people in the first such demonstrations since tensions between the communist neighbours flared anew over rival claims to the oil and gas-rich South China Sea.

Any sign of popular anger in tightly controlled Vietnam causes unease among the leadership, but anti-Chinese sentiment is especially sensitive. The country has long-standing ideological and economic ties with its giant neighbour, but many of those criticising China are also the ones calling for political, religious and social freedoms at home.

Police initially allowed about 200 protesters to march from the Opera House in Hanoi through the streets, but after 30 minutes ordered them to disperse. When some continued, police arrested about 20 demonstrators and put them into a large bus that then drove quickly from the scene. It was unclear where they were taken, but in the past people detained at anti-China protests have been held briefly then released.


U.S. calls on Russia to lift restrictions and accept its toxic meat

© RIA Novosti. Alexandr Kryazhev
US Calls on Russia to Lift Meat Restrictions
The United States called on Russia on Sunday to lift restrictions on American meat imports, saying the new requirement on American beef and pork supplies contradicted Russia's obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Russia, which joined the world trade club as its 156th member in August 2012 after 18 years of negotiations, announced on Friday beef and pork imports from US producers using ractopamine must be tested and certified free of the feed additive.

The move came a day after the US Senate repealed the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik restrictions on trade with Russia and simultaneously passed the Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian officials deemed by Washington to have violated human rights.


Chavez names successor ahead of new surgery

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on national television late on Saturday he was flying to Cuba for a new cancer surgery and named Vice-President and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his possible successor.

"If something were to happen that would incapacitate me in some way, in that situation, Nicolas Maduro should not just complete, as the constitution requires, the term, but my firm opinion, full like a full moon, absolute and total, is that in that situation that would require new presidential elections to convene, as the constitution requires, you should elect Nicolas Maduro as president," he said.

Chavez, 58, who has ruled Venezuela for 13 years, underwent three operations for cancer in the pelvic area and four courses of chemotherapy in Cuba and Venezuela within a year.

Bizarro Earth

2012 Mayan apocalypse rumors have dark side, NASA warns

Nibiru, Planet X
© gilderm/sxc.hu
Artist's conception of the rogue planet Nibiru, or Planet X.
NASA scientists took time on Wednesday (Nov. 28) to soothe 2012 doomsday fears, warning against the dark side of Mayan apocalypse rumors - frightened children and suicidal teens who truly fear the world may come to an end Dec. 21.

These fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. On the 21st, the date of the winter solstice, a calendar cycle called the 13th b'ak'tun comes to an end. Although Maya scholars agree that the ancient Maya would not have seen this day as apocalyptic, rumors have spread that a cosmic event may end life on Earth on that day.

Thus NASA's involvement. The space agency maintains a 2012 information page debunking popular Mayan apocalypse rumors, such as the idea that a rogue planet will hit Earth on Dec. 21, killing everyone. (In fact, astronomers are quite good at detecting near-Earth objects, and any wandering planet scheduled to collide with Earth in three weeks would be the brightest object in the sky behind the sun and moon by now.)

"There is no true issue here," David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, said during a NASA Google+ Hangout event today (Nov. 28). "This is just a manufactured fantasy."


Mayan apocalypse: Panic spreads across China and Russia as December 21 nears

Mayan Apocalypse
© AFP/Getty
Cubans participate in a Mayan ritual at Bacuranao beach in eastern Havana.
Fears that the end of the world is nigh have spread across the world with only days until the end of the Mayan calendar, with doomsday-mongers predicting a cataclysmic end to the history of Earth.

Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year "Long Count" Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

The precise manner of Armageddon remains vague, ranging from a catastrophic celestial collision between Earth and the mythical planet Nibiru, also known as Planet X, a disastrous crash with a comet, or the annihilation of civilisation by a giant solar storm.

In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode.

"We've gone from one a month to one a day," he said. "I don't have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but, when astrophysicists come to me, buy my shelters and tell me to be prepared for solar flares, radiation, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) ... I'm going underground on the 19th and coming out on the 23rd. It's just in case anybody's right."

In the French Pyrenees the mayor of Bugarach, population 179, has attempted to prevent pandemonium by banning UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mount Pic de Bugarach.


North Carolina family claim 55-year-old man was paralyzed due to police brutality

© ABC News
Donald Lee discusses his brother's case.
Gregory Lee-Bey, 55, was arrested and charged with burglary at a Fayetteville, N.C., bar two weeks ago. Today he's paralyzed and on life support after suffering a stroke.

What took place in between is where his family and the police have drastically different stories. The arresting officers say that Lee-Bey simply fell and hit his head while trying to escape, but relatives -- who are speaking for him, since he can't do it for himself -- say they don't believe that version of the events for a minute.

"We're angry, confused, scared, and more than anything, we want answers," Lee's niece Alexandria Lee told The Root. "Police are telling us that he tripped and fell while interacting with police. But the doctors told us that his injuries are consistent with a severe beating. He had a stroke while they beat him and had to be flown to Chapel Hill for two emergency brain surgeries. For weeks he hasn't been able to say a word."

Evil Rays

Man charged in subway rider's death blames voices in his head

Naeem Davis
© William C Lopez
Naeem Davis
The homeless man charged with fatally shoving a Queens father into the path of a subway train said he couldn't drown out the voices in his head.

"I heard, 'Naeem he's coming again. He's coming again. You got to do something.' I kept hearing voices like that," Naeem Davis told The Post of his alleged victim, Ki Suk Han, in a jailhouse interview at Rikers Island.

"From the depths of my heart, I didn't mean to kill him."

Davis, 30, wearing an orange jumpsuit and slippers, said he diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his 20s but wasn't taking any medication to treat his condition -- though he was high when Han, 58, was killed.

"I was under the influence [of marijuana]. It wasn't my intention to kill him. I just wanted him to get away from me," he said.

Davis, who was staying at Bronx shelter on 136th Street, was headed to W. 28th Street to pick up some merchandize to peddle in Midtown.

Davis said an intoxicated Han first approached him near the 49th Street subway booth at 11:30 a.m. -- and threatened him, he said.

"He grabbed my arm. He said, 'I'm gonna kill you,'" he said. "I yelled at him, "I don't know you. Get away from me."


Mayan apocalypse 2012: 'Noah's Ark' prepared for doomsday

© RocketNews24
Remember that awesome disaster flick 2012 starring John Cusack? Inspired by the Mayan prophesy, the movie depicts the end of the world, December 21, 2012, and celebrates mankind's will to survive. In the end [SPOILER ALERT], Cusack's character and his family, a geophysicist, and the President's daughter make their way onto an enormous Chinese vessel known as an "Ark" and survive the epic destruction of Earth as we know it.

While the incredible special effects are certainly impressive, the movie has caused a man in China to take the Mayan apocalypse a bit too literally. Lu Zhenghai pooled his life savings to building his very own "Noah's Ark."

Interestingly, Lu, a master ship builder, lives in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uighur. The farthest location on Earth from any ocean, Lu's home town is the most landlocked area on Earth. An interesting occupation, what drives Lu Zhenghai to believe a ship is the answer to the apocalypse when many of his fellow neighbors have never even seen a body of water in their whole lives?

Nevermind the flawed logic - Lu Zhenghai is probably certified. A long-time enthusiast of ancient myths and legends, Lu first heard of the Mayan prophecy in 2010. Convinced of its validity, Lu set out to prepare for his survival by getting started on the ark. To date, Lu has already spent 1 million yuan, or $160,500, on building his vessel.

Cell Phone

Girl, 9, attacked, robbed by woman after just stepping off school bus

Philadelphia - She's just 9-years-old and the victim of an attack all over a cell phone.

It's a case that left even the seasoned investigators just shaking their heads.

The victim, Neidy Rojas, told Eyewitness News, "It felt bad and sad. I was scared."

Rojas says she was sprayed with a burning substance on her lips then pushed to the ground, scraping her knees.

Police confirm the motive was robbery as the suspect appeared to be after the 3rd grader's cell phone, a black Samsung Galaxy S2.

Rojas recalled, "She asked if she could use my phone and I said it doesn't work."

It was true. Rojas says the phone is missing the "Home" button and she could only use it to play some games.


Bizarre scenes at Westmeath rape trial

Ireland - There were bizarre scenes in the Central Criminal Court today during the conviction of a Westmeath man for rape and false imprisonment.

The 46-year-old was found guilty on all counts despite protestations by his defence counsel that the jury foreman had lost control of the jury and didn't understand questions asked by the court registrar.

The defence counsel also expressed concern about a question asked by a jury member after they had returned three out of the four guilty verdicts.

The juror, who was not the foreman, asked the judge about the count of making threats to kill. He asked whether the prosecution had to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt or whether they should decide the case based "on what we believe."

Defence counsel Bernard Condon SC said it was concerning that the jury had asked such a question after already finding the accused guilty of rape, sex assault and false imprisonment because they may have approached those verdicts on the basis of a lack of understanding of the requirement to prove guilt "beyond reasonable doubt."

After being told they must believe the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury resumed their deliberations and returned shortly afterwards with another guilty verdict.

It is highly unusual for a juror other than the foreman to ask questions of the court but the juror said he had been delegated to ask it.