Kim, Trump impersonators draw ire of Vietnam’s authorities

Howard X, an Australian-Chinese impersonator of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Dennis Alan, who is impersonating US President Donald Trump, pose for a photo at Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on Friday, February 22. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Kim, Trump impersonators draw ire of Vietnam’s authorities

  • The duo has been making rounds of Hanoi, taking pictures with curious onlookers ahead of the second summit of the two leaders next week

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnamese authorities are not amused by the antics of two impersonators of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
The duo has been making rounds of Hanoi, taking pictures with curious onlookers ahead of the second summit of the two leaders next week.
However, on late Friday, a Kim lookalike, the Hong Kong-based impersonator who uses the name Howard X, posted on Facebook that about 15 police or immigration officers demanded a mandatory “interview” with them following a talk they gave at the state-run VTV1 channel.
“They then said that this was a very sensitive time in the city due to the Trump/Kim summit and that our impersonation was causing a ‘disturbance’ and ... suggested that we do not do the impersonation in public for the duration of our stay as these presidents have many enemies and that it was for our own safety.”
According to Howard X, there was a back-and-forth with an unnamed Vietnamese officer who “did not seem pleased with my answer” and threatened the impersonators with deportation, saying they were breaking immigration rules. Finally, he said they were driven back to their hotel and told to stay put until authorities decide how to treat them.
“Although I am not surprised that I got detained for doing my impersonation in Vietnam, it’s still pretty annoying. What it shows is that Vietnam has a long way to go before they will be a developed country and I wonder if they ever will under these conditions,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “If the Vietnamese authorities are willing to give this kind of harassment over something as trivial as an impersonation to a high-profile foreigner, imagine what all the Vietnamese artists, musicians, film producers and all the political activists have to endure for simply wanting to release a controversial film, songs or for simply speaking up about real injustices in this country.”
Vietnam is a tightly controlled communist country that tolerates no dissent.
Howard X was also questioned by Singaporean immigration authorities when he and his colleague appeared in the city-state for the first Kim-Trump summit last June.
The impersonator’s real name is Lee Howard Ho Wun.


How bonobo mothers help their sons find love

In this file photo taken on November 4, 2006 in the "Lola ya bonobo" parc near Kinshasa shows young bonobos, living only in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC). (AFP)
Updated 5 min 36 sec ago
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How bonobo mothers help their sons find love

  • Bonobo mothers did not go the extra mile for their daughters, nor did they help their daughters raise offspring

WASHINGTON: Anyone who’s experienced a mother pushing them to get a move on and produce grandkids might just sympathize with this.
A new study has described the outsized role bonobo moms play in their sons’ sex lives: from pulling rank to ensure their male offspring get to meet attractive ovulating females, to interfering with male rivals’ attempts to mate.
The paper was published Monday in the journal Current Biology and found that bonobo males whose mothers were alive and remained in their group were three times more likely to father children.
And the authors credited the success of the “wingmoms” on the nature of bonobos’ female-dominant societies, which have long been known for their altruistic and peaceful character, in contrast to more violent and patriarchal chimpanzees.
“This is the first time that we can show the impact of the mother’s presence on a very important male fitness trait, which is their fertility,” co-author Martin Surbeck, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany said in a statement.
“We were surprised to see that the mothers have such a strong, direct influence on the number of grandchildren they get.”
For the study, Surbeck and colleagues observed wild bonobo populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as wild populations of chimpanzees in Ivory Coast, Tanzania, and Uganda.
To verify paternity, they collected the primates’ droppings for DNA analysis.

They found that while both bonobo and chimpanzee mothers attempted to assist their sons, bonobos were far more successful because their communities’ highest ranks are dominated by females.
Chimpanzee communities on the other hand are dominated by males who compete for alpha status.
The two species together are humans’ closest relatives in the animal kingdom and share about 99 percent of our DNA.
“The bonobo moms act a bit like social passports,” Surbeck told AFP.
“The sons, in close proximity to their moms, are also very central in the group and access positions in the group that allow them to interact more with other females including copulation.”
“If there’s a female who’s very attractive, you see moms stick around them, and in the shadow of their moms are the males,” he added.
By contrast, they found that if a mother lost her high rank, her son also fell in rank and was subsequently less successful in his mating attempts.
In addition to intervening in their sons’ rivals attempt to mate, bonobo mothers also protected their own sons from the efforts of rivals to disrupt courting and sex.

Interestingly, bonobo mothers did not go the extra mile for their daughters, nor did they help their daughters raise offspring.
Surbeck believes that, since bonobo daughters leave the community and males remain behind, it may simply not be worth the mothers’ time and efforts from an evolutionary perspective.
One thing the team believes they may now have tentative evidence for is the so-called “grandmother hypothesis“: that a post-reproductive female can increase her own lifespan and continue her genes by ensuring her offspring’s reproductive success.
It is an idea that anthropologists have applied to humans and Surbeck believes it could also be the case for bonobo populations.
“The interesting thing now is in bonobos we have such a mechanism, apparently allowing the females to do that, but intriguingly not through their daughters but their sons,” he told AFP.
Moving forward, Surbeck said he would like to confirm through more long-term research the benefits of the behavior on the longevity of mothers, and find out whether mothers exhibit welcoming behavior to new female arrivals in the community who go on to become their sons’ mates.
More broadly, he said, studying the differences between gender egalitarian and largely peaceful bonobo societies, in which members practice both heterosexual and homosexual sex to strengthen social bonds; versus alpha-male led chimpanzee societies, could yield clues about our own evolutionary past.
“One has to be clear — we did not evolve from bonobos or chimpanzees but we share with them a common ancestry,” said Surbeck.
“Comparing us with our closest living relatives might give some idea about traits which could evolve under selective pressures.”