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Nigeria gunmen abduct 8 more girls

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Gunmen abduct 8 more girls in northeast Nigeria
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight girls from a village near one of the Islamists’ strongholds in northeastern Nigeria overnight, police and residents said on Tuesday.

The abduction of the girls, aged 12 to 15, follows the kidnapping of more than 200 other schoolgirls by the militant group last month, whom it has threatened to sell into slavery.

Lazarus Musa, a resident of the village of Warabe, told Reuters that armed men had opened fire during the raid.

“They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village,” Musa said by telephone from the village in the hilly Gwoza area, Boko Haram’s main base.

A police source, who asked not to be identified, said the girls were taken away on trucks, along with looted livestock and food.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened in a video released to the media on Monday to sell the girls abducted from a secondary school on April 14 “on the market”.

The kidnappings by the Islamists, who say they are fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria, have shocked a country long inured to the violence around the northeast.

They have also embarrassed the government before a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting on Africa, the annual gathering of the wealthy and powerful, in Abuja from May 7-9.

Nigerian officials had hoped the event would highlight their country’s potential as Africa’s hottest investment destination since it became the continent’s biggest economy from a GDP recalculation in March, but the forum has been overshadowed by the crisis over the girls, whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

That has thrown the government’s failings on national security into the spotlight just when it sought to parade its achievements such as power privatisation and economic stability to top global business people and politicians.

Boko Haram, the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer, is growing bolder and appears better armed than ever.

“Many people tried to run behind the mountain but when they heard gun shots, they came back,” Musa said. “The Boko Haram men were entering houses, ordering people out of their houses.”

In a separate attack early on Monday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen shot or hacked to death at least 13 people in a raid on a market town in the northeast, a survivor said.

April’s mass kidnapping occurred on the day a bomb blast, also claimed by Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja, the first attack on the capital in two years. Another bomb in roughly the same place killed 19 people last week.

NIGERIA ACCEPTS U.S. OFFER OF HELP

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan welcomed a U.S. offer to send an American team to Nigeria to support the government’s efforts to find the girls, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

The United Nations warned Boko Haram that if they carried out their leader’s threat to sell the girls, they would forever be liable to prosecution for war crimes, even decades after the event.

“We warn the perpetrators that there is an absolute prohibition against slavery and sexual slavery in international law. These can … constitute crimes against humanity,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in Geneva.

The military’s inability to find the girls in three weeks has led to protests in the northeast, Abuja and Lagos, the commercial capital. More are expected on Tuesday in Abuja, just as delegates will be collecting their badges to allow them entry to the hotel where the WEF will take place.

British Foreign Minister William Hague reiterated an offer of help to Nigeria on Tuesday, after calling the abductions “disgusting and immoral”.

Worsening violence so close to the capital has also put the spotlight on security arrangements for the WEF, with a few delegates cancelling, though organisers still expect most to arrive as planned.

Police and military units were deployed outside the Sheraton hotel, where delegates picked up credentials for the forum. A black pick-up truck carrying four men dressed in black with sub-machine guns patrolled, then sped off.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus UPDATE: Tokyo faces climbing case numbers, makers of ‘Corona’ beer suspend production

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: Tokyo faces climbing case numbers, makers of ‘Corona’ beer suspend production | The Thaiger

The international toll has reached 1,097,810 and deaths 59,140 with no sign of a slowdown at this stage (7.30am Thai time). The world will be adding 100,000+ new case every 24 hours within the next few days unless we start to see a flattening of the curve.

The US has had another day of burden for its health system – 32,000 new cases identified and 1,320 deaths. The Covid-19 virus also continues to spread at pace throughout key European countries with Italy and Spain hit particularly hard with with death rates around the 10% mark. Iran stands out amongst Middle East countries with the worst problem by far, having amassed 53,000+ cases and 3,294 deaths. Saudi Arabia still sits at just over 2,000 cases but is seeing a small and steady rise.

Here’s the latest stats from Worldometers.com this morning…

Coronavirus UPDATE: Tokyo faces climbing case numbers, makers of 'Corona' beer suspend production | News by The Thaiger

Snippets of news from around the world…

THAILAND

Covid-19 coronavirus cases in Thailand rose to 1,978 yesterday with 103 new cases confirmed and another 4 patients dying from Covid-19 complications. Total deaths nationwide now stand at 19.

Yesterday’s numbers reinforce a hopeful trend in Thailand of new cases levelling off as restrictions tighten across the country this week. In Pattaya, and the province of Chonburi, provincial leaders are considering a full lockdown to outsiders after the rise of new coronavirus infections this week, almost half of them in and around Pattaya.

Pattaya City is ordering all hotels to alert their guests about the plan and check their numbers in the next three days before the lockdown is announced. Restrictions will include curfews, hotel closures and restrictions on employees leaving the province. Phuket added 13 new cases, reaching 100 cases in total. As with many new cases over the week, most were centred around Patong’s entertainment zone of Bangla Road.

JAPAN

In Tokyo, the daily count of new coronavirus cases has doubled over the past 7 days, from about 40 in the final days of March to 97 last Thursday and 89 yesterday. If the current trend continues, the outlook is bleak, according to an infection control specialist from Kobe University, Kentaro Iwata. He has repeatedly warned that Japan isn’t doing enough to halt the spread of the virus.

“Japan needs to have the courage to change, when we are aware we are on the wrong path. We might see the next New York City in Tokyo.”

US

Health authorities in the US have modified their position on the widespread application of non-medical masks for citizens. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending the general public wear non-medical, cloth masks in public places to help blunt the spread of the virus. The move comes after new research highlights a significant number of people who are not showing symptoms may still have the virus and are spreading it unknowingly amongst the US community.

US President Donald Trump, who remains guarded about the recommendations from his leading Covid-19 scientific advisers, said of the recommendation to wear masks… “So it’s voluntary, you don’t have to do it. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

Federal emergency workers in New York say they are now working quickly to meet demand for medical supplies in the increasingly deadly Covid-19 outbreak.

MEXICO

Mexico’s largest brewing exporter, Grupo Modelo, says it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries after its business activities were declared ‘non-essential’ under Mexican government orders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The brewer says the suspension will go into place from Sunday.

“If the federal government considers it appropriate to issue some clarification confirming beer as an agro-industrial product, at Grupo Modelo we are ready to execute a plan with more than 75% of our staff working from home and at the same time guaranteeing the supply of beer.”

CHINA

A group of Chinese mountaineers have started an expedition to climb Mount Everest while the site remains closed to foreign climbers because of coronavirus. Only Chinese climbers are permitted to join the climbs this spring season because of the pandemic.

The highest mountain in the world straddles the borders of China and Nepal and can be climbed from both sides. Nepal cancelled all expeditions already whilst China has closed its side to all foreign climbers.

Two dozen+ Chinese climbers tackling the Mount Everest challenge are expected to reach the advanced base camp at an altitude of 6,450 metres today. Mount Everest’s peak is 8,848 metres.

ITALY

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy continued to rise steeply yesterday with another 766 fatalities . Over 6,000 patients remained in a critical condition. Italy’s overall death toll now stands at 14,681 leaving Italy as the country worst hit by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

But experts believe the real toll from the virus in Italy is likely far higher. Matteo Villa is a researcher at the Italian Institute for Political Studies and author of a new study titled ”Coronavirus: Lethality in Italy, between appearance and reality”. He claims that the death toll may have been underestimated by up to 6,000, or a third of the official total.

“For sure, the figures are wrong.”

Here’s yesterday’s ‘Thailand News Today program…

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Google will publish user location data to aid in the fight against Covid-19

Anukul

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Google will publish user location data to aid in the fight against Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: threatpost.com

Today in Paris, Google has announced that it will start publishing location data from its users located in 131 countries, starting today. This will be done to allow the governments to indicate the performance of social distancing to help in the combat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reports of users’ movement will be recorded on a special website and will ‘chart movement trends over time by geography’. Trends will be displayed as ‘a percentage point increase or decrease in visits’ to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work.

Leader of Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo says…

“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”

Similar to the measurement of traffic on Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymised” data from users who have activated their location history. No “personally identifiable information,” such as a person’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available. To ensure this the reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Train engineer attempts to destroy USNS Mercy hospital ship

Sean Kelly

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Train engineer attempts to destroy USNS Mercy hospital ship | The Thaiger

US Federal prosecutors report an engineer deliberately ran a train off the tracks at high speed near the Port of Los Angeles in an attempt to destroy the USNS Mercy hospital ship. The Pacific Harbour Line train derailed yesterday off the end of the track and crashing through multiple barriers, eventually coming to rest about 227 metres from the docked naval medical ship.

Federal prosecutors allege 44 year ol train engineer Eduardo Moreno, of San Pedro California intended to hit the ship, saying he believed it was “suspicious” and did not believe “the ship is what they say it’s for.'”

Moreno allowed the train to steam past the end of the track, crashing through a concrete barrier designed to prevent just such a mishap. The train continued on to smash through a steel barrier and a chain-link fence, slid through one parking lot and then a second gravel-filled lot, careening through a second chain-link fence. It came to rest after passing under a ramp leading to the Vincent Thomas Bridge where it leaked hazardous fule. The train remained in that position Wednesday.

No one was injured in the derailment, but the fuel leak required a hazmat response.

Authorities say Moreno admitted to crashing the train intentionally but said he did not plan it in advance. It is believed that he acted alone however an FBI investigation has found Moreno is a member of a Facebook group that studies train crashes.

He allegedly made statements to a California Highway Patrol officer that included “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”

Officials say video from inside the train’s cab shows Moreno holding a lighted flare during the incident. Speculation is that he had hopes of igniting the fuel after the spill from the crash.

The ‘Mercy’ hospital ship arrived at the Port of Los Angeles this weekend. The Navy’s hospital vessel was brought in to handle non-coronavirus patients, to help ease the burden of local hospitals that are surging with current Covid-19 cases. The ship has about 1,000 hospital beds.

SOURCE: CNN

Train engineer attempts to destroy USNS Mercy hospital ship | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: USNS Mercy – NBC Los Angeles

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