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Weird World News: You never know what you’ll get, from a baby to false gold

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Forrest Gump famously said, “My Mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'” In honor of Mrs Gump’s timeless wisdom, this week’s Phuket Gazette Weird World News roundup is popping out a baby, drilling for gold and counting its carats in diamonds all in the name of getting more, or less, than bargained for.

British soldier gives birth to ‘surprise’ baby in Afghanistan

A BRITISH soldier on active service in Afghanistan brought new life into the world on her tour of duty by giving birth to a “surprise” baby at Camp Bastion field hospital, reported Reuters.

A “Pediatric Retrieval Team” was dispatched from Britain to provide logistical support for the soldier and her newborn son – unconfirmed reports circulated he was named Sebastian – on the long flight home, said the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

“It is not military policy to allow servicewomen to deploy on operations if they are pregnant. In this instance, the MoD was unaware of her pregnancy,” the ministry said.

Not only was the MoD in the dark on this one, but also it appears the mother was unaware of the situation – as if the baby were the only person in the know until it was time to move out.

Maternity experts and midwives have started to squelch many peoples’ immediate doubts: how do you not know you’re pregnant?

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the parenting charity NCT, said it could be easier to miss a pregnancy in a highly stressful situation, like being on the front line in Afghanistan, reported the Huffington Post.

“When you’re a soldier, it’s a life-or-death situation, in that situation, your body priorities your own survival, not that of the baby. Your body thinks ‘I need to keep you alive first and foremost’.

“And you can be so focused on yourself you don’t realize the pregnancy. Quite often people under that much stress will miscarry,” she explained.

The Royal Artillery gunner had conceived before her six-month stint in Afghanistan began. Her pre-deployment training included a 13km march and an 8km run. Her job in the field involved providing covering fire for troops fighting insurgents, reported Reuters.

“I am pleased to report the mother and baby are doing well and we are all delighted at the outcome,” said Lt Col Andrea Lewis, commanding officer of the field hospital were the child was born.

Some commanders are now pushing for compulsory pregnancy tests before deployment for female soldiers, reported The Mail.

Manhattan gold, only skin deep

CAVEAT emptor: one glimmer of hope in side-stepping failing banks has for time immemorial been investing in gold, but recently a midtown Manhattan jewelry shop was found to have sold fake gold bars, reported Fox News.

Ibrahim Fadl bought a gold bar worth an estimated 550,000 baht from a merchant who had sold him solid gold bars in the past, but there was an elemental difference this time – the bar was only the shell of what it once was, a shell filled with tungsten, not gold.

Due to recent rumors circulating about fake gold bars working their way through the market, Mr Fadl took a drill to almost 3 million baht’s worth of 10-ounce gold bars.

The glister of gold quickly turned gray as the drill hit tungsten.

“I really got sick. It’s a large amount of money and I could not believe that somebody was so professional and clever, it’s perfect,” Mr Fadl said.

Fox News went on to explain why even a reputable jewelry merchant in Manhattan could be fooled:

What makes it so devious is a real gold bar is purchased with the serial numbers and papers, then it is hollowed out, the gold is sold, the tungsten is put in, then the bar is closed up. That is a sophisticated operation.

The “sophisticated operation” may be global in scope: gold bars filled with tungsten showed up in England earlier this year, Yahoo News reported.

With the value of a 10-ounce gold bar dropping from about 550,000 baht to about 110,000 baht if it’s filled with tungsten, investing 1,000 baht in a drill might just be worth it.

Russia looks to double-up with diamonds

RUSSIA is poised make a serious withdrawal from a 62-mile-wide asteroid crater in Siberia, which is home to a source of diamonds bigger than the entire world market, reported The Mirror.

“We are talking about trillions of carats, bigger than all known world reserves,” Scientist Nikolai Pokhilenko said.

The Popigai crater inside the Arctic Circle has lain untapped because the old Soviet Union put all its efforts into making synthetic gems, claimed The Mirror.

“The diamonds can overturn everything and it is not clear what will happen to prices in the market,” said diamond expert Gennady Nikitin.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Pakistan goes dark after electrical fault causes nationwide blackout

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Pakistan is slowly recovering after the entire country experienced an electrical blackout today. Power minister Omar Ayub Khan tweeted that this latest blackout was caused by a fault in southern Pakistan at 11:41pm local time yesterday, which was at 3:41am today here in Thailand.

“The fault tripped the transmission system of the country… leading to the shutdown of power plants.”

The blackout darkened all of Pakistan’s cities, including the capital Islamabad, its economic hub of Karachi and the 2nd largest city of Lahore.

“The breakdown took place when frequency tripped from 50 to 0 in the electricity distribution system. However, electricity is gradually being restored across the country.”

There were no immediate answers as to whether hotels experienced a disruption as they often rely on back-up generators. Power has been restored to some parts of the country but many areas in Lahore and Karachi were still waiting according to a water and power ministry spokesman.

The same spokesman says an investigation is underway to find out the cause of the blackout, which also saw the internet connectivity nationwide to collapse. Netblocks, which monitors internet outages said on Twitter that the blackout caused a dip in levels.

Connectivity was at “62% of ordinary levels.”

Pakistan’s electricity distribution system is a “complex and delicate” web, and a problem in 1 section of the grid can lead to a domino effect in breakdowns nationwide.

In 2015 a rebel attack on a key power line sent about 80% of Pakistan into darkness. That blackout, which was one of the worst in Pakistan’s history, caused major cities, including Islamabad, to go dark, even affecting one of the country’s international airports.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Songkhla

Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Nude Panda? Rude Panda? Or NoodPanda? A man working as a food delivery driver in the southern province of Songkhla, has been filmed riding his motorbike while naked. 24 year old Botsin Dueanchamroon later handed himself in to police, explaining that he’d taken his clothes off due to “a personal problem”. The nature of the problem is not known, and police let Botsin go with a 500 baht fine.

The incident came to light after a video was posted on social media, showing a naked Botsin hurtling along on his motorbike, which had a food delivery bag on the back. The video has now been deleted. According to a 66 year old motorbike taxi driver, Bai Aumaoom, Botsin parked his bike in front of a local temple, removed his clothes, then got back on the bike and drove off.

He later returned and strolled around before putting his clothes back on. One woman who witnessed the spectacle says she was “sickened by the sight” and would not want to eat any food delivered by the man.

Social media response was mixed with most just inquisitive about his motives to ride “commando” with little (actually no) protection.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket

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Divers in the Strait of Malacca have reportedly found what they believe to be a 77 year old US Navy wrecked submarine in what is seemingly the concluding piece in a tale from World War II. The divers are currently awaiting confirmation of the finding from the United States Naval History and Heritage Command for verification after sending photos and other evidence to be reviewed. Over a five month time period, the divers gathered evidence over six separate dives to substantiate their claims that the shipwrecked submarine is that of the USS Grenadier, one of the 52 American submarines lost during the conflict.

The Grenadier, weighing 1,475 tonnes and measuring 307 feet long, was found about 150 km south of Phuket, Thailand in the Strait of Malacca. Singapore-based Jean Luc Rivoire, Frenchman Benoit Laborie, Australian Lance Horowitz, and Belgian Ben Reymenants-all who live in Phuket made the discovery. Reymenants was also one of the divers who helped in the dangerous rescue mission of the 12 Thai young football players who became trapped in a cave with their coach 2 years ago.

The Belgian has made a habit out of searching for sunken vessels over the years and would enlist Rivoire’s help in underwater searches as he had a suitable boat.

History of the submarine’s sinking details the story of the boat’s crew abandoning ship after Japanese bombs nearly killed them undersea. However, the sailors were lucky as all 76 of its personnel reportedly survived the bombing and subsequent sinking, but their luck soon took a dark turn. After Japan took the crew as prisoners, they were allegedly tortured, beaten and nearly starved for more than 2 years with 4 reportedly succumbing to the ordeal.

Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | News by Thaiger

In this image taken from video, the top hatch of a conning tower can be seen from a submarine wreck somewhere in the Strait of Malacca on March 4, 2020. Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of a U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II. (Jean Luc Rivoire via AP)

The Belgian says he has been researching possible locations of shipwrecks for many years. When they dived to look at one captivating object, they found it was much larger than they had originally expected. Horowitz says once confirming the object’s size, they searched archives to find out which vessel it could be.

“And in the end, we took very precise measurements of the submarine and compared those with the naval records. And they’re exactly, as per the drawings, the exact same size. So we’re pretty confident that it is the USS Grenadier.”

However, the confirmation could take anywhere from 2 months to up to 1 year to complete. But its 77 year old history may make it well worth the wait.

The Grenadier set sail from Pearl Harbor on Feb 4, 1942 embarking on multiple missions while sinking 6 ships and damaging 2. Then, it took to the waters again on March 20, 1943 from Australia, on its 6th patrole to the Malacca Straight and Andaman Sea. One month later, a plane was sighted causing the ship to be ordered to crash dive. But it was too late. Blasts from 2 bombs attacked the sub, leaving important parts of the ship damaged.

Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | News by Thaiger

This Dec. 27, 1941, photo released by U.S. Navy shows USS Grenadier (SS-210) off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of the U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II. Photo: United States Navy via AP

The next morning, the crew made plans to scuttle the submarine but was captured by an armed merchant ship and hauled off to Penang, a major port town in Malaysia. Fitzgerald says the crew landed in a Catholic school turned Japanese prison where they then began to become the recipients of alleged abuse.

“The rough treatment started the first afternoon, particularly with the (enlisted) men. They were forced to sit or stand in silence in an attention attitude. Any divergence resulted in a gun butt, kick, slug in the face or a bayonet prick. In the questioning room, persuasive measures, such as clubs, about the size of indoor ball bats, pencils between the fingers and pushing of the blade of a pen knife under the finger nails, trying to get us to talk about our submarine and the location of other submarines.”

He says after a few months, the sailors were transferred to camps in Japan where they saw 4 of their compatriots die from a lack of medical attention. Such a tale that has spurned from the Grenadier has Horowitz enthralled in its history and significance.

“This was an important ship during the war and it was very important to all the crew that served on her. When you read the book of the survivors, that was, you know, quite an ordeal they went through and to know where she finally lies and rests, I’m sure it’s very satisfying for them and their families to be able to have some closure.”

 

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