TIME Vietnam

Vietnam Cat Owners Must Live With Fear of Pets Getting Stolen and Eaten

VIETNAM-FOODS-ANIMALS
A cook prepares a dish with cat meat at a restaurant in Hanoi on This picture taken on May 13, 2014. AFP/Getty Images

"It’s sweeter and tenderer than dog meat"

In Asia, there’s a growing demand for quirky cat cafés where customers can enjoy tea or coffee in the company of domesticated felines. But in Vietnam, the concept of cat cafés would likely take on a very different meaning — one that any cat lover would find abominable.

Despite an official ban on eating cats, restaurants in the Southeast Asian nation still offer the forbidden meat on their menus, reports Agence France-Presse. In fact, the consumption of felines appears to be rising, prompting cat owners to fear for their pets’ safety.

“Eating cat meat is better than eating dog as the meat is more sweet, more tender than a dog,” said chef Le Ngoc Thien.

According to AFP, at one central Hanoi restaurant the cats are drowned, shaved and burned to remove their fur before being butchered and fried with garlic. A snack of cat meat is colloquially known as little tiger, and typically served with beer and eaten at the beginning of the lunar month.

Thien says the demand for cat meat grows each year. “When I first started working here, I was surprised so many people ate cat,” he said. “But now, fine, they like it.”

It’s this growing demand that has pet owners worried. Cats sell for $50 to $70, depending on the size — a hefty sum for many in the impoverished nation. While cat traders claim to breed the animals legitimately, there are hardly any regulations in place to verify this, opening the proverbial cat-flap for pets to be stolen to keep up with demand.

“My family is sad because we spend a lot of time and energy raising our cats,” cat owner Phuong Thanh Thuy, who keeps the animals to catch rats and regularly loses some to thieves, told AFP. “When we lose a cat, we feel pain.”

[AFP]

TIME celebrities

Arya Stark Dons Spider-Man Mask at Comic-Con

And no one seemed to notice

Arya Stark’s covert wandering in HBO’s Game of Thrones may be rubbing off on 17-year-old actress Maisie Williams, who took to the floors of this year’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego while wearing a Spider-Man mask in order to go unnoticed.

Williams posted an Instagram picture of her incognito stroll on Sunday.

TIME Campaign Finance

Hank Aaron Swings for Democrat Michelle Nunn in Fundraising Plea

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves
Former Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron speaks during a ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of his 715th home run at Turner Field, Atlanta, on Apr 8, 2014 Daniel Shirey—USA Today Sports

Hank Aaron calls the fundraising push a “money bomb”

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron has stepped up to the plate for Michelle Nunn, a Democratic candidate running for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat.

Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home-run record in 1974, emailed Nunn’s supporters urging them to contribute more money to the campaign. The email, unsurprisingly, was laced with baseball references from the 80-year-old.

The Huffington Post had some of the details from the message:

The 755 home runs I hit in my time mean a lot to me, but there’s another record that I’m proud to hold, the all-time record for runs batted in (RBI).

You see, games aren’t won or lost on the efforts of one person, they rest on the shoulders of team. And every RBI is a result of teammates working together to achieve one common goal — victory.

If each one of us steps up to the plate and contributes during this 24-hour fundraising effort called a “money bomb,” I know we can bring home the single-biggest fundraising day of Michelle’s campaign.

Now that’s an RBI, I’d like to add to my records. Will you help me do it?

Aaron joins Vice President Joe Biden as another high-profile supporter of Nunn. A political newcomer, Nunn will vie for the open Senate seat with new Republican nominee and businessman David Perdue in November. The result of the Georgia race could have a bearing on control of the Senate, which currently comprises 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two independents.

[Huffington Post]

TIME Transportation

Southwest Airlines Kicked Family Off Plane After Dad Tweets Complaint

Southwest Airlines Reveals New Destinations For Dallas Travelers
A Southwest Airlines plane sits at a gate at Dallas Love Field Airport on Feb. 3, 2014 Ben Torres—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Southwest apologized — but Duff Watson says he's never flying with the airline again

A Minneapolis father claims that he and his two daughters were booted from their Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to the Twin Cities after he tweeted a complaint against a “rude” agent.

Duff Watson said the Sunday episode began while trying to board a priority line with his daughters, who are 9 and 6 years old.

“I have been traveling with Southwest for a few years now, and I’m an A-list member,” Watson told ABC News on Wednesday. “You can board the plane early.”

A gate agent said he wasn’t allowed to board with his children — leading Watson to ask her if there was a new policy in place. But he says she didn’t give him a direct answer and told him that she wasn’t going to change her mind.

“We waited, which was fine,” Watson said. “I thought she was very rude and wanted to complain to customer service.”

So Watson asked for her last name and took to Twitter to blast the experience after boarding the plane with his daughters.

@SouthwestAir and then I get to the gate!!! C39!!! Rudest staff? Kimberly S.

-Duff Watson, @DuffWatson

Shortly afterward, an announcement asked Watson to disembark from the plane and was received by the same gate agent. Watson said she asked him to delete the tweet and threatened to call the police if he didn’t.

“She said I was a safety threat,” Watson told ABC News. “I was shocked. There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made. How was I a safety threat?”

Watson soon relented, deleted the tweet, and reboarded the plane — though not without disavowing Southwest. “I’m not going to fly them again,” he said. Watson has also since made his Twitter account private.

Southwest issued a statement to a CBS Minnesota affiliate on the incident. WCCO reported:

In an email to Watson, Southwest apologized for the incident. Because of confidentiality concerns, they could not disclose any disciplinary actions taken.

Watson says he’s not satisfied with their response. All three received $50 vouchers, but Watson says he won’t fly Southwest Airlines again.

[ABC News]

TIME Theater

“Bullets Over Broadway” to Shut Down Next Month

"Bullets Over Broadway" Opening Night Celebration - Arrivals And Curtain Call
Brooks Ashmanskas, Nick Cordero, Zach Braff, Marin Mazzie and Helene Yorke during the Broadway opening night performance curtain call for ''Bullets Over Broadway" at the St. James Theatre on April 10, 2014 in New York City. Walter McBride/Getty Images

The musical is likely to take a $14 million hit

The curtains will close on “Bullets Over Broadway” next month. The show, about the struggles of pulling off a Broadway production whilst casting members of the mob, was the first Woody Allen film to be adapted into a stage musical.

Producers of “Bullets” announced on Tuesday that the final St. James Theatre show will be on Aug. 24.

While the film version was feted with seven Academy Award nominations, the musical adaption failed to impress critics and theatregoers. It was left empty handed at this year’s Tony Awards and audience attendance slumped following the April 10 opening – filling only 67 percent of the house seats.

The $14 million musical’s poor attendance and early exit is likely to cost most or all of its capitalization, reports the New York Times.

Lead producers, Letty Aronson (Woody Allen’s sister) and Julian Schlossberg, said in a statement on Tuesday, “We are tremendously proud of this show and every single person involved with it. It has been a true pleasure, and we know that ‘Bullets Over Broadway’ will have a long life in future productions to come.”

Zach Braff took on the lead role as David Shayne, the playwright who makes a deal with the mob to get his play produced. John Cusack played the on-screen version of the writer in the 1994 film.

[LA Times]

TIME Basketball

Clippers CEO: Doc Rivers Will Quit as Coach if Sterling Stays

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks during a press conference prior to a game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, on April 29, 2014 Kelvin Kuo—USA Today Sports/Reuters

Interim Clippers CEO Richard Parsons described the possible departure of Doc Rivers as "a disaster"

Doc Rivers, coach of the L.A. Clippers, will leave if Donald Sterling remains owner, according to interim Clippers CEO Richard Parsons.

Parsons’ comments were made as he testified in a court case that will determine whether Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly Sterling had the right to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

Donald Sterling faced NBA banishment after he made racist statements in April this year.

“Doc is troubled by this maybe more so than anybody else,” said Parsons. “If Mr. Sterling continues as owner, he does not want to continue as coach.”

Doc Rivers, who has coached the Clippers for just over a year, has been key in trying to sustain calm within the team’s camp.

“If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster,” said Parsons. “Doc is the father figure, the one who leads.”

In a related development, Donald Sterling filed a new lawsuit on Tuesday against Shelly Sterling and the NBA commissioner Adam Silver. He is seeking damages for their allegedly defrauding him, violating corporate law and attempting to sell the Clippers.

TIME China

China Food Scandal Hits Starbucks

McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut have already taken action over claims that a food supplier used expired meat

Starbucks is the latest global chain to be pulled into a recent food scandal in China, involving Shanghai Husi Food Co.

The food-processing company came under fire after a TV report showed factory staff using expired meat, as well as meat that fell on the floor, in food products that had been supplied to chains including, McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.

In a statement on Weibo — the Chinese version of Twitter — Starbucks said that while it had no direct business ties with Husi, the chicken used for its chicken apple-sauce panini came from a supplier that purchased its poultry from Shanghai Husi. The sandwich had been on sale in 13 different provinces and major cities, but the coffee chain added that it has since been pulled from cafés.

The TV report on Shanghai Husi showed a factory-quality manager telling investigators, “Our company policy allows us to add expired raw materials to produce beef patties.” The report also found that processed chicken parts had been expired for nearly half a month.

McDonald’s and Yum! Brands Inc., the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, both issued apologies on Monday to Chinese customers.

The parent company of Husi, U.S.-based OSI Group, also apologized for the scandal and said it was cooperating with authorities. Shanghai food regulators shut down the Husi factory on Sunday, pending an investigation into the allegations.

Food safety is a hot-button issue in China, where scandals over toxicity and hygiene are commonplace.

TIME South Korea

A Body Found in South Korea Is That of the Fugitive Sewol Ferry Owner

Passersby watch TV news showing Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive owner of the sunken ferry Sewol, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on July 22, 2014.
Passersby watch TV news showing Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive owner of the sunken ferry Sewol, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on July 22, 2014. Ahn Young-joon—AP

The hunt is over

South Korean police said on Tuesday that a body found on June 12 is that of Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive businessman with ties to Chonghaejin, the company that operated the Sewol ferry.

The heavily decomposed body was found in the southern part of the country. Tests indicated that it matched the DNA of Yoo’s elder brother — and police believe this indicates it is the body of the billionaire. The cause of death is not yet known.

“We do not know yet whether it was a homicide or a suicide,” Woo Hyung-Ho, a local police chief, said to reporters.

The 73-year-old patriarch of the family that controlled Chonghaejin had been on the run since just after the ferry tragedy occurred on April 16 this year. A reward of 500 million won ($487,000) was offered for information leading to Yoo’s arrest.

The Sewol ferry went down killing most of the 476 on board, of whom 325 were high school students. So far, 294 bodies have been recovered while another 10 are missing.

The ferry’s captain and 14 surviving crew members are currently on trial. Four are charged with homicide and face the death penalty if convicted. Others are accused of abandoning ship and safety offenses.

[AFP]

TIME National Security

The NSA Shared Sexually Explicit Photographs, Says Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden Gives First Interview In Russia
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview in an undisclosed location in December 2013 in Moscow. Barton Gellman/Getty Images

For some agents, Snowden says, the racy images were one of the "fringe benefits of surveillance positions"

Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower, claims that “incredibly weak” oversight of U.S. surveillance programs enabled military personnel to obtain sexually explicit photos of people under surveillance and to sometimes share them with others.

In an interview with the Guardian, Snowden talked about the impact of poor auditing systems within the NSA. He claimed many people sifting through monitored communications were 18 to 22 years old and suddenly put in a position of extraordinary responsibility that was sometimes abused.

“In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work, for example an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation but they’re extremely attractive,” said Snowden.

“So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says: ‘Oh, hey, that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way,’” he said.

Snowden, who lives in Moscow after being granted temporary asylum last year, added that this information is never reported and nobody knows about it because of inadequate oversight.

He said the interception of intimate images was “routine enough” and described it as “sort of the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.”

He added, “The mere seizure of that communication by itself was an abuse. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from the intended recipient, and given to the government without any specific authorization, without any specific need, is itself a violation of your rights.”

NSA spokeswoman Vaneé Vines gave a comment to the New York Times on the allegations. The Times paraphrased her as saying that “the agency had zero tolerance for willful violations of authority or professional standards, and that it would respond as appropriate to any credible allegations of misconduct.”

[The Guardian]

TIME U.K.

British PM David Cameron Culls Old Men for New Women in Cabinet Reshuffle

Britain's Prime Minister Cameron arrives to officially open the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives to officially open the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, in southern England, on July 14, 2014 Kieran Doherty—Reuters

The move is seen as an attempt to diversify the ruling Conservative Party's image ahead of next year's general elections

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has shaken up his Cabinet in what is being seen as a bid to freshen the image of the ruling Conservative Party ahead of next year’s polls.

The ousted ministers are men, middle-aged and white — the so-called male, pale and stale. Their replacements are likely to be selected from several female MPs tipped for Cabinet roles.

The BBC’s political correspondent Chris Mason said that Britons could expect “more ministers who are women and more ministers with regional accents, in more prominent roles,” in an attempt to improve the diversity of Team Cameron.

However, opposition figures say the reshuffle is a ploy to oust centrist figures. Michael Dugher, a Labour MP, said, “Four years of failure to promote women and now we have the massacre of the moderates.”

Monday’s most significant departures came from William Hague, who resigned as Foreign Secretary, and Ken Clarke, a veteran of two previous Conservative governments.

[BBC]

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