– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Initial models of where potential debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet might
first wash up had incorrectly identified Indonesia as the most likely location, the Australian body leading the search said on Wednesday.
Flight MH370 disappeared without a trace in March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board and search efforts have focused on a broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Western Australia.
A piece of aircraft debris that washed up on the French island of Reunion last week roughly 3,700 km (2,300 miles) from the expected crash zone was consistent with where the plane went down, based on analysis of ocean currents, winds and waves, Australian officials and independent oceanographers said last week.
But the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search, said initial debris drift modelling undertaken in June 2014 had mistakenly indicated that the first possible landfall of debris would be on the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, in the first weeks of July 2014.
Models run by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in November last year and updated last month found, however, that an Indonesia landfall was highly unlikely.
The mistake did not affect the extensive international surface search for the missing plane off the west coast of Australia, ATSB said. That search was called off in April, more than a month after the plane went down.
“While this error in that model had no impact on the way the surface search was conducted, it was important in order to understand over the course of time where debris might wash up and help verify or discount the various items found on beaches, particularly on the west coast of Australia,” the ATSB said in a statement on Wednesday.
Australia has sent an expert to Toulouse, France, to examine the debris – a wing surface known as a flaperon – on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said in a statement.
“Work is being undertaken by the Malaysian and French authorities to establish whether the flaperon originated from MH370,” Truss said.
“Malaysian and French officials may be in a position to make a formal statement about the origin of the flaperon later this week.”
— Phuket Gazette Editors
Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin
An 49-year-old Italian has been charged with drug smuggling after arriving at Perth Airport from Chiang Mai. He allegedly had about 300 grams of heroin, worth about 135,000 Australian dollars, hidden inside his body.
After trace technology during a baggage examination showed positive for narcotics, Australian Border Force officers referred him to the Australian Federal Police for an internal exam.
The man was taken to hospital where 63 pellets of heroin were allegedly found in his stomach. X-Rays also revealed three more pellets of heroin had been internally inserted into his rectum.
Photo: Australian Border Force
He was charged with importing a controlled drug and faces 25 years in prison.
A spokeman for the Australian Border Forcesaid the ABF is fully aware of the lengths people are willing to go to bring drugs into Australia.
“They not only risk lengthy jail time, but are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and health,” he said.
“Smuggling drugs internally is an incredibly stupid endeavour. Furthermore there is a risk that stomach acid will eat through the wrapping of the heroin, consequently risking a fatal drug overdose,” according to federal police.
Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios
Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.
The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.
Here are some possible scenarios ahead…
A technical extension
Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.
European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.
Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.
Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.
Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.
A longer delay could also allow for a general election.
A crash and burn exit
The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.
Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.
Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.
Another general election
Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.
Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.
Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.
Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women
Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.
Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.
In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.
There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.
In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.
According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.
The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.
Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.
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