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Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: An Airbus operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings budget airline crashed in a remote area of the French Alps on Tuesday and all 148 on board were feared dead.

French President Francois Hollande said he believed none of those on board the A320 had survived, while the head of Lufthansa spoke of a dark day for the German airline.

“There were 148 people on board,” Hollande said. “The conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, lead us to think there are no survivors.”

French officials said there were 142 passengers and six crew on board and the plane issued a distress call at 0947 GMT, about 52 minutes after take-off.

Hollande said there was likely to be a significant number of Germans on the flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.

He added: “The accident happened in a zone that is particularly hard to access.”

It was the first crash of an airliner on French soil since the Concorde disaster just outside Paris in July 2000.

Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said it would be a “dark day” for the airline if the crash were confirmed.

“We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew,” Lufthansa said on Twitter, citing Spohr.

“If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors,” it said.

A spokesman for France’s DGAC aviation authority said the airliner crashed near the town of Barcelonnette about 100 km (65 miles) north of the French Riviera city of Nice.

French accident investigators were heading for the crash site in Meolans-Revel, a remote and sparsely inhabited commune in the foothills of the French Alps.

Airbus said it was aware of reports about the crash.

“We are aware of the media reports,” Airbus said on Twitter. “All efforts are now going towards assessing the situation. We will provide further information as soon as available.”

Officials at Barcelona airport said the flight took off at 0855 GMT.

The crashed A320 is 24 years old and has been with the parent Lufthansa group since 1991, according to online database airfleets.net

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

Saudi Arabia eases visa restrictions for US and European visitors

May Taylor

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Saudi Arabia eases visa restrictions for US and European visitors | The Thaiger

PHOTO: aawsat.com

American and European passport holders, along with those from most Asian countries, can now apply for Saudi Arabian tourist visas either online or on arrival, provided they meet certain criteria.

Prior to this, the only foreigners allowed to visit Saudi Arabia were usually those travelling on business, resident workers and their family members, or Muslim pilgrims on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

In an attempt to boost tourism and diversify the economy’s reliance on oil, the Kingdom has expanded the availability of tourist visas beyond what was initially 49 countries. Visitors from eligible countries no longer need to apply for a visa at an overseas Saudi embassy but can do so online or on arrival.

The multiple-entry visa costs approximately US$120, is valid for a year, and permits a stay of up to 3 months on each entry.

However, authorities in the Kingdom were quick to implement a public decency code following the visa announcement.

“Immodest dress and public displays of affection are banned, but foreign men and women may rent hotel rooms together without having to prove they are married.”

A strict ban on alcohol remains in place.

Last weekend the South Korean band BTS became the first foreigners to hold a solo concert in the Kingdom, allowing teenage and older woman to attend without a male escort and allowing them to dance and sing along (in Korean of course). The band, in turn, turned down some of their ‘ab flashing’ and physicality during their record-breaking “Love Yourself” stadium concert in Riyadh.

The septet were invited to perform in Saudi Arabia as part of the Kingdom’s attempts to become more open to foreigners and diversify their income away from oil production.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Opinion

Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge

The Thaiger

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Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge | The Thaiger

OPINION: The Buddhist Times

Since its creation in 1996, Buddha-Bar Paris has been using the name and image of Buddha in it’s Bars and Hotels throughout the world. Typically the franchises use large statues of Buddha in their Bars and around dance floors and in restaurants similar to a Buddhist temple.

What makes the use of Buddha’s image in these bars most insulting to Buddhists around the world is that Buddhism does not support the consumption of alcohol. So to use the Buddha’s image as decoration to promote the consumption and sale of alcohol and as a prop on dance floors and in restaurants is especially disrespectful and hurtful to Buddhists.

Now comes a further insult with the Buddha-Bar franchise opening the Siddhartha Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. (Siddhartha Gautama being the full name of Buddha).

According to the Knowing Buddha Organisation in Thailand what the Buddha-Bar franchise is doing is not only disrespectful but it is immoral. The foundation points out that “Respect is Common Sense”.

Buddhists feel hurt by the misuse of the name and image of their father, as people of other faiths would be if the image of Christ or Mohammad were used to promote bars and nightclubs.

The Buddha–Bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by French-Romanian restaurateur Raymond Vișan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe, with its original location having opened in Paris, France in 1996.

Raymond Vișan, according to Wikipedia, had the idea of establishing the chain of restaurants and bars which came from his fascination with the Orient. However at the age of 60 Visan suddenly died of terminal cancer. The franchise was continued by co-founder Claude Challe and Vișan’s wife Tarja, who took over the reins of the Buddha Bar franchise upon Vișan death.

Critics of the Vișan’s and Claude Challe say that these self described artists and creators have created nothing but bad Karma and Sin for themselves. They suggest that Buddha-Bar franchise is a form of “grotesque Plagiarism ” which has merely hi-jacked a 2500 year old religion, using the name and image of Buddha, who imparts peace, compassion and loving kindness, for the purpose of selling alcohol and making money. As any case of plagiarism it is expected that Buddha-Bar and Waldorf Astoria will soon find them selves in the courts say Buddhims advocats.

Buddhist around the world are calling the Boycotting of Waldorf Astoria Hotels Hilton Hotels, Buddha-Bars and the music of Claude Challe, demanding that they stop using the image of Buddha and instead creat their own brand.

The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Thaiger or its staff

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Hong Kong

1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally

May Taylor

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1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally | The Thaiger

PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Last night, Chater Garden, located near government headquarters in the Central district of Hong Kong, was the scene of the city’s first approved rally since the face mask ban came into being about 10 days ago. So far, the face mask ban has been largely ineffectual.

A day after an explosive device was detonated during protests, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in the park. They were calling on Washington to approve proposed US legislation that could see some Chinese officials face sanctions.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act aims to review the territory’s special trading status and sanction those responsible for undermining the rights of Hong Kong citizens. It passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last month.

The Chinese Government has responded angrily, accusing the US of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” with the aim of harming its interests, and says the law will only serve to worsen the situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been the scene of often violent pro-democracy protests for over four months now, as its citizens call for greater democracy and less interference from Beijing.

SOURCE: The Nation

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