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Phuket Gazette: Good news for US economy; Texas executes baby killer; Another dead Russian in a suitcase

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Phuket Gazette: Good news for US economy; Texas executes baby killer; Another dead Russian in a suitcase | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.S. jobless claims lowest since in four years
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the United States dropped to 359,000 in the week ending March 24, which is the lowest in four years, the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) reported yesterday.

The DOL report showed that the weekly numbers, which represent a decrease of about 5,000 when compared to the previous week, is the lowest since April 2008. In addition, the week’s release also reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors from 2007 forward.

The 4-week moving average was 365,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 382,500, the report said, also showing that the number of unemployed with unemployment insurance for the week ending March 17 was 2.6 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percent compared to the previous week.

There was also a decrease of 41,000 in the number of workers who claimed benefits under regular state unemployment programs, totaling 3,340,000 during the week ending March 17, according to the latest DOL report. The 4-week moving average was 3,387,750, a decrease of 21,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,409,500.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 17 were in Alaska (6.0), Pennsylvania (4.6), Rhode Island (4.4), Montana (4.3), Oregon (4.3), Wisconsin (4.3), New Jersey (4.2), Puerto Rico (4.2), Idaho (4.1), Connecticut (4.0), Illinois (4.0), and Michigan (4.0).

Texas executes man who beat baby to death
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: A Texas man was executed late Wednesday for using a flashlight to beat a 10-month-old boy to death. The murder occurred in Dallas, Texas in 2001 when he was babysitting the boy, officials said. He is the twelfth person to be executed in the United States so far this year.

Jesse Joe Hernandez, 47, was pronounced dead at 6:18pm local time in Huntsville, Texas. The execution by lethal injection took place about two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal in which Hernandez’s attorneys argued that the victim would have survived if he had not been taken off life support.

The boy, Karlos Borja, and his 4-year-old sister had been left in the care of Hernandez, who was living along with his wife of six years in the same house in Dallas as the two children and their 22-year-old mother who worked as a waitress.

Hernandez and his wife, who had moved into the house several days earlier, were supposed to watch the children when their mother was at work. When the crime took place on April 11, Hernandez’s wife had left the house to run some errands and was later told by Jesse that the children were sleeping.

Hours later, when the young mother returned from her work, the 4-year-old girl complained her head was hurting as a result of injuries to her face and head and was taken to a hospital by her mother. While the girl was being taken to the hospital, Hernadez’s wife discovered Karlos’ injuries and called paramedics to the house.

Karlos, who had a skull fracture and bruises to his head, thigh and abdomen, died a week after the attack when he was taken off life support. His sister survived the beating with swelling and bruises on her forehead, eyes and behind her ears.

After the boy’s death, his mother lost legal custody of her daughter because prosecutors said she made a mistake by entrusting the care of her children to Hernandez, who had previously been sentenced to three years in prison for one count of indecency with a child and possession of cocaine.

During the trial, prosecutors described Hernandez, who was linked to the fatal beating through traces of his DNA mixed with the boy’s blood on a pillowcase and a jumper, as a “baby-killing, child-molesting, woman-beating ex-con.” The jury took approximately 90 minutes to decide to sentence him to death in 2002.

Hernandez had initially denied any role in the brutal attack, but he later admitted that he walked into the children’s room with a flashlight and beat them for ‘crying too much for nothing’. He said he ‘exploded’ in anger when the children continued to cry, after which he started hitting them.

Elderly woman’s found dead in a suitcase at Russian playground
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Police in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg have launched a murder investigation after the body of an elderly woman was found stuffed inside a suitcase at a local playground, officials said.

A spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee said the suitcase was discovered early yesterday morning. “The suitcase contained the body of an unidentified elderly woman with no visible signs of a violent death,” the spokesperson said.

Investigators believe the victim was about 70 years old, but no documents were found in the suitcase which could help identify the woman. It was not immediately known how long the suitcase had been at the playground, when the woman may have died, or what was the cause of death.

Thursday’s discovery comes just days after a street cleaner found a suitcase containing a woman’s body near a garbage container in northern Moscow. The woman had been decapitated, her hands tied behind her back, and police later arrested her ‘friend’ on suspicion of committing the murder.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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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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World

Nigerian astronaut needs $3 million to get home

The Thaiger

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Nigerian astronaut needs $3 million to get home | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Lost In Space? Or lost in reality? Maybe someone will fall for it – Lost in Space’s Jupiter 2

The Nigerians have somewhat of a reputation for scams and scammers. Who hasn’t received an email offering loads of cash in return for your bank account and a moderate deposit? But this letter takes the famous Nigerian Scam to another level. Or perhaps it’s true (we don’t think so…)?

Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde – Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Plot 555, Misau Street, PMB 437
Garki, Abuja, FCT NIGERIA

Dear Mr. Sir,

REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.

In the 14 years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.

Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.

Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.

Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-XXXX only.

Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
XXXX@nasrda.gov.ng

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Thousands of Japanese rescuers looking for survivors of Typhoon Hagibis

The Thaiger

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Thousands of Japanese rescuers looking for survivors of Typhoon Hagibis | The Thaiger

Thousands of rescue workers are searching for survivors from the fury of Typhoon Hagibis, two days after the storm slammed into Japan. As of the time of this post, the storm had killed at least 35 people.

(Video from Sky News below…)

Hagibis crashed into the country Saturday evening, but brought hours of torrential rains before it made landfall, causing landslides and filling rivers until they burst their banks.

More than 110,000 rescuers, including 31,000 troops, worked through the night searching for people trapped by the disaster. Local media report at least 35 people have been killed, with the Kyodo news agency reporting nearly 20 people were missing. Government figures from Sunday night were lower, though updates were expected throughout today.

While Hagibis, one of the most powerful storms to hit the Tokyo area in decades, packed wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hours (134 miles per hour), it was the heavy rains that caused most damage, with 21 rivers bursting their banks.

Thousands of Japanese rescuers looking for survivors of Typhoon Hagibis | News by The Thaiger

In central Nagano, a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor. Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations, but in Fukushima one operation went tragically awry when a woman died after falling while being rescued.

The destruction forced the Rugby World Cup being hosted by Japan to cancel several games, but the “Brave Blossoms”, as the national team is known, lifted spirits with a stunning 28-21 victory over Scotland on Sunday that put them into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.

Rescue efforts have been continuing this morning, with local television showing soldiers rowing a rubber rescue dingy through floodwaters in Fukushima, while elsewhere workers removed dirt with a digger.

Thousands of Japanese rescuers looking for survivors of Typhoon Hagibis | News by The Thaiger

The death toll mounted throughout yesterday as bodies were recovered from flooded homes and cars, buildings caught in landslides, and swollen rivers.

The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and at least five Chinese crew members aboard a boat that sank in Tokyo Bay on Saturday night.

As of this morning, some 57,500 households remained without power, with 120,000 experiencing water outages. The disaster left tens of thousands of people in shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.

But most subway trains have resumed service, along with many bullet train lines, and flights had also restarted.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse PHOTOS: AFP

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong property investors turn to SE Asia

The Thaiger

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Hong Kong property investors turn to SE Asia | The Thaiger

From luxury Singapore apartments to Malaysian seafront condos, Hong Kong investors are shifting cash into Southeast Asian property, demoralised by increasingly violent protests as well as the China-US trade war.

Millions have taken to the streets during four months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the southern Chinese city, hammering tourism while also forcing businesses to lay off staff – and the property sector is feeling the pain. Property stocks in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets have plummeted since June, with developers being forced to offer discounts on new projects and cutting office rents.

Hong Kong businessman Peter Ng bought a condominium on the Malaysian island of Penang – which has a substantial ethnic Chinese population and is popular among Hong Kongers – after the protests erupted.

A 48 year old stock market and property investor told AFP he was worried about long-term damage to the Hong Kong economy if the unrest persists.

“The instability was a catalyst for me. Investors will always look at things like that, political stability.”

And Derek Lee, a Hong Kong businessman who owns a Penang apartment, said he knew others in the semi-autonomous city who were considering investing in south east Asian property because of the unrest.

“People are thinking about how to quicken their ideas, how to make a more stable life,” the 55 year old told AFP. Part of the allure of Malaysia is its relative affordability and prices much lower than Hong Kong.

The Malaysia site of Southeast Asian real estate platform Property Guru has seen a 35 percent increase in visits from Hong Kong, according to its CEO Hari Krishnan.

China-fuelled boom

While Hong Kong’s protests are primarily pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability, the summer of rage has been fuelled by years of simmering anger towards Beijing and the local government over falling living standards and the high costs of living.

Hong Kong’s property market is one of least affordable in the world with sky-high prices fuelled, in part, by wealthy mainlanders snapping up investments in a city which has failed for years to build enough flats to meet demand.

But now mainland Chinese, who traditionally viewed property in Hong Kong as a safe investment, are opting for rival financial hub Singapore as a result of the protests and the US-China trade war, according to observers.

There has been a jump this year in sales of luxury apartments in the city-state, which like Hong Kong is known for pricey property, driven partially by mainland Chinese buyers, according to the consultancy OrangeTee & Tie.

“The protests in Hong Kong have made some of the (mainland Chinese) based there… (more concerned) about investing in Hong Kong real estate, so they carry that investment to Singapore,” said Alan Cheong, executive director of the research and consultancy team at Savills.

As well as hitting China’s economy, trade tensions may have discouraged some Chinese from investing in the West and pushed them towards Singapore, with its mostly ethnic Chinese population.

“I think they don’t want to go to the West.”

Singapore is “the closest country culturally to China other than Hong Kong and I think they feel more comfortable with that”. There are further signs the stable, tightly ruled city is benefiting from the Hong Kong turmoil. Goldman Sachs last week estimated as much as $4 billion flowed out of Hong Kong to Singapore this summer.

And analysts warned there was little hope of Hong Kong’s property market recovering soon.

“Hong Kong property share prices have corrected by about 15 to 25% since July,” said Raymond Cheng, head of Hong Kong and China property at CGS-CIMB Securities International.

Residential sales were still holding up but only when developers offered discounts, office rents were expected to fall by as much as five percent and shop rents were also badly affected, he said.

But despite the unrest, businessman Ng, who will rent his Penang property and has no plans to move there permanently for now, was still hopeful about Hong Kong’s long-term prospects.

“The problem may not be solved in the short term but it is not so serious as pessimists think. Everything is still in the government’s control.”

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

PHOTO: newlaunches.sg

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