Bird flu has killed five people here, the only country where human infection has occurred despite infection in chickens in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Authorities believe the disease is contracted through contact with droppings from infected birds. There have been no cases of human-to-human transmission. Millions of chickens have died of the disease or been slaughtered as a precaution. The risk is minimal for anyone who doesn’t handle live birds or clean up after them.

On a different topic, petty corruption should come as no surprise, but it’s singling out overseas Vietnamese returning to their home country. Customs officials at Ho Chi Minh City’s international airport have been demanding bribes of about ten dollars for efficient entry to Vietnam, and the customs chief has urged visitors not to pay up. He encourages arriving passengers to talk to the customs manager if asked to pay a fee. Video cameras are being installed to discourage such extortion.