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Germanwings crash pilot was psychiatric patient, planned big gesture

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Germanwings crash pilot was psychiatric patient, planned big gesture | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Germanwings crash pilot was psychiatric patient, planned big gesture
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing an airliner, killing 150 people, had told his girlfriend he was planning a spectacular gesture so “everyone will know my name”, a German daily said on Saturday.

The Bild newspaper published an interview with a woman who said she had had a relationship in 2014 with Andreas Lubitz, the man French prosecutors believe locked himself alone in the cockpit of the Germanwings Airbus on Tuesday and steered it into the French Alps, killing all on board.

“When I heard about the crash, I remembered a sentence… he said: ‘One day I’ll do something that will change the system, and then everyone will know my name and remember it’,” said the woman, a flight attendant the paper gave the pseudonym of Maria W.

“I didn’t know what he meant by that at the time, but now it’s obvious,” she said. “He did it because he realised that, due to his health problems, his big dream of working at Lufthansa, of a having job as a pilot, and as a pilot on long-distance flights, was nearly impossible.”

“He never talked much about his illness, only that he was in psychiatric treatment,” she told the paper, adding they finally broke up because she was afraid of him.

“He would suddenly freak out in conversations and yell at me,” she recalled. “At night he would wake up screaming ‘we are crashing’ because he had nightmares. He could be good at hiding what was really going on inside him.”

The woman also told Bild: “We always talked a lot about work and then he became a different person. He became upset about the conditions we worked under: too little money, fear of losing the contract, too much pressure.”

A Lufthansa spokesman declined to comment. The company and its low-cost subsidiary Germanwings took out full-page advertisements in major German and French newspapers on Saturday, expressing “deepest mourning”.

Lufthansa and Germanwings offered condolences to the friends and families of the passengers and crew and thanked the thousands of people in France, Spain and Germany it said had helped since the crash.

German officials said there would be a ceremony on April 17 in Cologne Cathedral attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior officials from other countries including France and Spain.

Also on Saturday, relatives of the Germanwings captain whom Lubitz locked out of the cockpit before the crash visited a memorial to the victims in the French Alps, while a special mass was held at the small cathedral in nearby Digne-les-Bains.

OVERSTRESS SYMPTOMS

German authorities said on Friday they had found torn-up sick notes showing the co-pilot had been suffering from an illness that should have grounded him on the day of the tragedy. Germanwings, the budget airline of the flag carrier Lufthansa, has said he did not submit a sick note at the time.

German newspaper Welt am Sonntag quoted a senior investigator as saying the 27-year-old “was treated by several neurologists and psychiatrists”, adding that a number of medications had been found in his Duesseldorf apartment.

Police also discovered personal notes that showed Lubitz suffered from “severe subjective overstress symptoms”, he added.

The New York Times on Saturday quoted officials as saying Lubitz had also sought treatment for vision problems that may have jeopardized his ability to work as a pilot.

German state prosecutors and police spokesmen declined to comment on the media reports, adding there would be no official statements on the case before Monday.

Investigators have retrieved cockpit voice recordings from one of the plane’s “black boxes”, which they say show that Lubitz locked himself alone in the cockpit, as his fellow pilot desperately tried to break in, and caused the airliner to crash.

A chief French investigator said on Saturday it was too early to rule out other explanations for the crash.

“There is obviously a scenario that is well known to the media and which we are focusing on,” French investigator General Jean-Pierre Michel told French media.

“But we have no right today to rule out other hypotheses, including the mechanical hypotheses, as long as we haven’t proved that the plane had no (mechanical) problem,” he added, pointing out that a second black box containing flight data had not been found yet.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

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.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Crime

Thai women in Japan drug bust

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai women in Japan drug bust | The Thaiger

Japanese Police and Customs Officials at Fukuoka Airport reported the arrest of seven Thai women who smuggled in drugs weighing more than a kilogram into Japan. The women separated the drugs into tiny bags and hid them in random places on their bodies.

The women purchased tour tickets and tried to blend in as Thai tourists. When caught with the evidence, they admitted smuggling the drugs for foreigners living in Japan, alleging that they received orders from tourists to bring in the drugs.

Another recent arrest Thai women smuggling cocaine has prompted Japanese officials to consider tightening entry requirements for Thai tourists to protect against drug smuggling.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

The Thaiger

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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