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Phuket Gazette: US jobs soar; Russians rally for fair polls; Syrian massacre; Cambodia jails jailer

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Phuket Gazette: US jobs soar; Russians rally for fair polls; Syrian massacre; Cambodia jails jailer | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

U.S. unemployment rate drops to lowest in 3 years

PHUKET (News Wires): The United States unemployment rate for the month of January dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest number in nearly three years, the U.S. Labor Department (DoL) announced.

In its January 2012 Employment Situation report, released on Friday, the DoL said the country’s labor market posted strong gains, adding approximately 257,000 private sector jobs during the single month. The statistics also show that the U.S. private sector has created 3.7 million jobs over the last 23 months.

The numbers well exceed overall expectations, dropping the national unemployment rate from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent, the lowest since February 2009.

“January’s job growth was the strongest in nine months,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said, noting that the national unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percent in the last five months as employment gains have remained constant.

She added that the growth in jobs is seen across almost every industry. “More products are rolling off the assembly line marked ‘Made in the USA.’,” she said.

Tens of thousands rally across Russia for fair elections

PHUKET (News Wires): Tens of thousands of Russians on yesterday participated in rallies across the country, both for and against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, local news agencies reported.

Protesters gathered in downtown Moscow to express their opposition to Putin’s expected return to the Kremlin next month, despite the Artic-like cold that has gripped the capital. The protests came exactly a month before the March 4 presidential polls.

A crowd, estimated at approximately 120,000 by organizers, but given as a about 35,000 by police, chanted “Russia without Putin!” People of all ages and political affiliations protested against Putin, who was barred by the Constitution from standing for a third consecutive term in 2008 and handed over power to his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev.

Rallies also took place in about 30 other Russian cities. Police estimated that 5,000 people rallied against Putin in St. Petersburg, but local organizers put the number at more than 20,000.

Opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny, the man who instigated the current protests, attended the rally but did not speak. No arrests were reported on Saturday amid a heavy police presence, RIA Novosti reported.

Syrian army ‘massacres hundreds’ in Homs, activists say

PHUKET (News Wires): Syrian security forces have killed more than 200 people in the city of Homs, opposition groups claimed yesterday. The killings occurred on the thirtieth anniversary of the Hama massacre which left thousands dead.

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) said at least 260 civilians were killed after government forces bombarded the city. However, Syrian state-run media denied the accusations, saying the reports were part of a media campaign to cover “the crimes and aggressions of the armed terrorist groups in Syria.”

“During the attack, residential buildings and homes were randomly and heavily bombed,” the SNC said. An activist identified as Danny said the assault on Homs started after a few dozen members of the Syrian army defected and fled to another part of the city.

“The civilians went down to welcome (the defectors) to thank them for their bravery,” Danny said, as quoted by CNN. “When the army found out, it started randomly bombarding with tank shells, mortar bombs. It’s like they’re killing animals.”

For its part, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SABA) said the reports were part of “the ongoing distortion, falsification and instigation media campaigns by some satellite channels.”

“Such campaigns are viewed by many observers and analysts as a sinister bid to negatively affect the ongoing UN Security Council discussions about Syria,” it added.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the “brutal killings” and urged the international community to protect the Syrian people.

“Thirty years after his father massacred tens of thousands of innocent Syrian men, women, and children in Hama, Bashar al-Assad has demonstrated a similar disdain for human life and dignity,” Obama said.

“Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now,” he added in a statement released by the White House. “He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately.”

According to the most recent figures released by the United Nations in January, at least 5,400 people have been killed as a result of violence during the uprising. Syrian human rights and opposition activists say the figure has since surpassed 7,000 and includes hundreds of children.

Khmer Rouge jailer sentenced to life in prison

PHUKET (News Wires): The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia has increased the sentence of a former Khmer Rouge jailer to life in prison, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday.

Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known by his alias ‘Duch’, had appealed to reduce his 35-year sentence which he was given in 2010, although he was slated to serve only about 19 years behind bars. Instead, the prison chief at the notorious S-21 detention facility had his jail sentence increased to life.

The 69-year-old was found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture. He pleaded guilty and asked for forgiveness, arguing that he was just following the orders of senior leaders.

“In the Supreme Court Chamber’s view, [Duch’s] leadership role and particular enthusiasm in the commission of his crimes are aggravating factors that should be given significant weight in the determination of his sentence,” Supreme Court Chamber president Kong Srim read from a summary of the judgment.

He added that the “particularly shocking and heinous character” of his crimes over an “extended period of time … undoubtedly place this case among the gravest before international criminal tribunals.”

The court ruled that Duch has served 12 years and 269 days of his sentence so far, including time he was illegally detained by the Cambodian Military Court from May 1999, as his detention there was for “broadly similar” reasons as his ultimate conviction. The ruling signals the conclusion of the tribunal’s landmark first case.

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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Technology

Paris Airshow overshadowed by Boeing’s woes

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Paris Airshow overshadowed by Boeing’s woes | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The new, single-aisle Airbus A321NeoXLR, extra-long-range version

Boeing suffered more setbacks whilst Airbus launched an update to their single-aisle line up. Day one at the Paris Airshow.

Boeing’s latest creation the 777X will have to wait for General Electric’s specially-constructed new jets to arrive following another delay in testing.

The long delay is a blow to Boeing, already struggling to cope with the crisis in its single-aisle 737 MAX jet program. It will likely postpone the new 777’s entry into service, planned for the middle of next year, and will hit both Boeing’s airline customers and the downstream supply chain.

GE Aviation say they’ve found unexpected wear in a component for the new GE9X engine it is making for Boeing’s latest version of the 777, the world’s largest twin-engined jet, forcing a delay of several months while it redesigns and tests the part.

Boeing commercial airplanes boss Kevin McAllister told Reuters it was premature to predict any delays to the 777X program. The planemaker says they’re still targeting a maiden flight this year and entry into service the next.

This year’s Paris Airshow, usually a slug-fest between the US and European plane manufacturers, is being over-shadowed this year by the problems the US Seattle-based company is facing, on many fronts.

Meanwhile, Airbus has used the show to launch a long-range version of its A321neo jet, which will allow airlines to carve out new routes with smaller planes.

The Airbus chief salesman Christian Scherer says the new single-aisle A321 variant will be able to economically fly “from north-eastern Asia into south Asia, from the Middle East to Bali or from Japan deep into Australia, and so on”.

The new A321 variant is a direct competitor to the troubled Boeing 737 make-over, the MAX 8 & 9 series, which has become embroiled in controversy since the crash of two of the new planes, in October last year and March this year. The model remains grounded around the world as airlines moot cancellations of orders and court cases are being mounted by families of the dead passengers from the two disasters.

Sources at the Paris Airshow says Airbus was trying to assemble close to 200 orders or conversions to the new A321 model as it chases deals with carriers including American Airlines, JetBlue, Cebu Air and Frontier Airlines owner Indigo Partners.

Paris Airshow overshadowed by Boeing's woes | News by The Thaiger

The new Boeing 777X model is facing further delays with an announcement that GE have to do further testing of the jet’s new engines.

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Politics

Thailand to sit on UN committee from 2020

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Thailand to sit on UN committee from 2020 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Don Paramudwinai

Thailand has been selected as a member of the UN Economic and Social Council from 2020 to 2022 on behalf of Asia and the Pacific region, alongside China, South Korea and Bangladesh.

Thailand won 186 votes in the selection process. Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Don Paramudwinai also participated in the session. Last time Thailand was an ECOSOC member was from 2005 to 2007.

ECOSOC is one of six major UN organisations which is in charge of proposing and reviewing international policy toward economic, social and environmental development. ECOSOC has supported the world’s goal of achieving sustainable development by 2030.

From among a total of 54 ECOSOC member countries worldwide, Thailand will have the opportunity to take part in proposing international policy toward partnerships for sustainable development cooperation.

Besides, Thailand can share their own experiences in sustainable development under the guidance of the ‘Sufficiency Economy’, championed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej during his time as Thailand’s King.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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Bangkok

Bangkok and Singapore jump in rankings for world living costs

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Bangkok and Singapore jump in rankings for world living costs | The Thaiger

Bangkok is now the 63rd most expensive location in a new cost of living survey for expats. Singapore has experienced a big rise in the rankings, becoming the 12th most expensive location in the world for expatriates.

Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International says that Bangkok has risen 100 places in just the last five years.

“We have seen the cost of living in Thailand increase over several years now. It’s now the 63rd most expensive location in our list.”

“The city is now significantly more expensive than regional capitals including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. Meanwhile, Singapore’s rise in our rankings is largely due to another strong year for the Singapore dollar.”

Singapore has overtaken Beijing (China), Busan (South Korea) and Yokohama (Japan) compared to a year ago.

The ECA’s Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in 482 locations worldwide.

ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years. Hong Kong is now the fourth-most expensive location in the world for expatriates, up from 11th last year, and the second most expensive location in Asia. After being ranked in 28th place just five years ago, Hong Kong now sits only behind Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and the Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva.

Prices in Hong Kong rose at a faster rate in the past 12 months compared to Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul. Shanghai was the only mainland Chinese city to feature in the global top 10, staying in 10th place.

“The Chinese yuan has been very stable compared to other currencies during the survey period.”

The location with the highest cost of living in the world was Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, which rose 110 places from last year. Quane said that although the rise of Ashgabat in the rankings may be a surprise to some, those familiar with the economic and currency issues experienced by Turkmenistan over the past few years may have seen this coming.

“Ever-escalating levels of inflation, coupled with a prominent illegal black market for foreign currencies have pushed up the cost of imports. This implies that the costs for visitors in Ashgabat, at the official exchange rate, have increased enormously – putting it firmly at the top of the rankings.”

Bangkok and Singapore jump in rankings for world living costs | News by The Thaiger

Singapore, now the 12th most expensive place in the world

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