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Phuket Gazette: Gunman kills 12 at Batman premiere

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

Gunman kills 12, injures 58 at Colorado movie theater
Phuket Gazette / News Wires


PHUKET: A gunman outfitted in complete ballistic gear entered a movie theater in Colorado yesterday and opened fire during the premiere showing of the new Batman movie, killing 12 people and injuring nearly 60 others in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

The incident began just after 12:35am local time when the suspect, identified by police as 24-year-old James Eagen Holmes, walked into an auditorium through a side door at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, a city which is part of the Denver Metropolitan Area. He appeared as a silhouette to moviegoers, some of whom first assumed he was part of a stunt for the movie.

“We believe that as part of this assault, Mr Holmes set off two devices to distract the crowd,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oate said during a news conference. The gunman, who initially came in with a ticket but later walked out of an emergency exit door unnoticed, then returned and opened fire on the crowd.

Holmes is believed to have been outfitted in complete ballistic gear, including a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat and groin protector, black tactical gloves, and a gas mask. He was able to fire dozens of rounds as the moviegoers tried to escape the theater.

“First officers were on scene within a minute and a half of the first 911 call,” a police spokesperson said. “They contacted Holmes outside of the theater by his car. He was arrested without incident. There were 4 guns recovered, one of which was in the theater.” The weapons included two .40-caliber Glock handguns, a Remington 870 single-barrel pump shotgun, a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault-style rifle, and as many as 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

Authorities said there were 70 victims in total, of whom 10 died in the theater while two later died at area hospitals. Fifty-eight others were injured and taken by police, ambulance and private vehicles to six area hospitals. Eleven of the injured remain in critical condition.

After Holmes was arrested and identified, officers immediately went to his Aurora residence where booby traps were discovered. “Our investigation determined that his apartment is booby-trapped with various incendiary and chemical devices and apparent trip wires,” Oate said. “It may be resolved in hours or days; we simply don’t know how we are going to handle that.”

There were four midnight showings of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at the theater, all of which were sold out. It was not immediately clear how many people were inside, but Oate said officers had interviewed close to 200 witnesses.

The motive remained unclear, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said there was no immediate evidence of terrorism.

According to the Wikimedia website, Holmes was raised in San Diego, California. He graduated from Westview High School in the Torrey Highlands community of San Diego in 2006 and obtained an undergraduate degree with honors in neuroscience from the University of California, Riverside, in 2010.

Holmes enrolled as a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora. In 2012, his academic performance declined, and he left school in June.

A California woman who identified herself as the mother of Holmes told ABC News her son was likely the culprit, saying, “You have the right person.”

President Barack Obama has extended his condolences to the victims and their families, addressing the tragedy in lieu of a scheduled campaign event. Both Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s election campaigns temporarily suspended television advertising in Colorado for the upcoming presidential election. Secretary Janet Napolitano also directed the Department of Homeland Security to offer support in the investigation. President Obama ordered that flags at government buildings be flown at half staff, in tribute to the victims, until July 25.

The movie’s director, Christopher Nolan, released a statement, as follows:

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.

“The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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United Kingdom approves new Covid-19 vaccine, first jabs start next week

Caitlin Ashworth

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United Kingdom approves new Covid-19 vaccine, first jabs start next week | The Thaiger

The United Kingdom approved the new Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech for emergency use and will start injections next week. The UK became the first country in the world to license the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which Pfizer says marks a historic moment in the fight against the coronavirus.

The UK purchased 40 million doses of the vaccine and 800,000 doses will be available next week, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. He says the most vulnerable people will get the first jabs. 50 hospitals are ready to receive the vaccine, he says.

“From early next week we will start the programme of vaccinating people against Covid-19 here in this country… It’s very good news.”

The new Covid-19 vaccine was authorised for emergency use by the private Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says the company applauds the agency for conducting a careful, yet timely, assessment of the vaccine.

“As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world.”

The vaccine has been shown to have a 95% efficacy in its final trials. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson says the approval of the vaccine follows months of rigorous clinical trials and experts have concluded that the vaccine meets strict safety, quality and effectiveness standards.

SOURCES: Reuters | Guardian

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Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon

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Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon | The Thaiger

The Chinese, like the rest of us, are mostly prohibited from travelling at the moment, but it hasn’t stopped them travelling to the Moon. A Chinese space probe has landed on the surface of the Moon to bring back the first lunar samples in nearly 5 decades. Since the US dropped its Apollo missions to the Moon in 1972, the Earth’s only natural satellite has been a bit lonely.

The Chinese space program has poured billions into its space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the Moon to establish an ongoing lunar base. No Chinese have been participating in the International Space Station.

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft adds to a string of successes for Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program. Chang’e is the name for the mythical Chinese moon goddess. The probe touched down on the near side of the Moon yesterday. It will spend a total of 48 hours on the surface of the moon before re-uniting with it’s mother-ship which will then bring the lunar probe back to Earth.

The unmanned Chang’e-5 probe will collect lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity, the first such collections since the 1970s when an unmanned Russian lunar probe conducted a similar mission. The probe is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.

If Chang’e-5 returns to Earth successfully, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

The probe was launched from China’s southern tropical island of Hainan last week and entered lunar orbit aver the weekend after a 112 hour journey. The probe will collect 2 kilograms of material in a previously unexplored area known as “Ocean of Storms”, a vast lava plain of grey rocks and dust.

The probe will collect samples from the surface and drill a 2 metre deep hole to gather soil and rock samples from beneath the lunar surface as well.

Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA official from the mission directorate, says the mission was no easy task.

“When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community. Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5.”

The Chang’e 5 flight is China’s third successful lunar landing. Its predecessor, Chang’e 4, was the first probe to land on the Moon’s lesser-explored far side which is perpetually facing away from the Earth.

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No evidence of voter fraud that would change election outcome – US Attorney General

Caitlin Ashworth

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No evidence of voter fraud that would change election outcome – US Attorney General | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

After repeated claims on voter fraud from United States President Donald Trump, and refusal to concede his loss to president-elect Joe Biden, the US Justice Department says they have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud “that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election”, according to US Attorney General William Barr.

President Trump has repeatedly posted on Twitter with comments such as “fake election results”, “impossible result” and “rigged election.” His posts are often flagged on Twitter with a warning saying “This claim about election fraud is disputed”, linking to a page with information from various news outlets.

US attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up on complaints and information on voter fraud, but nothing they uncovered impact the outcome of the election, Barr told the Associated Press.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome on the election.”

Before the election, Barr, who is considered to be one of Trump’s most loyal allies, said mail-in votes could be vulnerable to fraud this year since many Americans would rather vote from home rather than going to the polls due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With some states flipping from red to blue once all the mail-in ballots were counted, the Trump campaign has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to count illegal ballots and rig the election. The Trump campaign has been calling out problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks. But local courts have repeatedly thrown out the lawsuits saying the claims have not been backed up with any evidence.

AG Barr says government agencies have also looked into claims that machines were programmed to skew election results and says that, so far, there is no evidence to back the claim.

In response to Barr’s statements, Trump’s attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis wrote a statement saying the opinion doesn’t seem to be backed by their investigation into the matters.

“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation … with the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud.”

SOURCE: Aljazeera

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