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Phuket Gazette World News: 13 dead in Myanmar Muslim school fire; US-Korea tensions rise; Sex attacks hurt India tourism; Death penalty sought for Dark Knight shooter

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Phuket Gazette World News: 13 dead in Myanmar Muslim school fire; US-Korea tensions rise; Sex attacks hurt India tourism; Death penalty sought for Dark Knight shooter | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

13 children die in fire at Muslim school in Myanmar
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: An electrical fire at an Islamic school in Myanmar’s biggest city killed 13 children early on Tuesday, authorities said.

The children, all boys, died of suffocation in the fire at a dormitory of a school next to a mosque in Yangon at about 2:40am, neighbours and officials said.

“A total of 13 boys were killed in the fire caused by overheating of a transformer. They died of suffocation after inhaling too much smoke,” a Central Fire Service duty officer said.

The fire could raise tensions following Buddhist-led mob violence against Muslims elsewhere in the country, including fire bombings of mosques and Muslim homes. Since 43 people were killed in violence that erupted in Meikhtila town on March 20, unrest has spread to at least 15 other towns and villages.

Neighbours and witnesses said it appeared the crowded Yangon dormitory locked its doors due to heightened security concerns.

“It seemed the boys didn’t get a chance to get away because the doors were locked because of the unstable situation,” a resident said.

According to official records, electrical faults and overheating are major causes of fires in Yangon.

South Korea vows fast response to North; U.S. positions destroyer
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: South Korea’s new president vowed on Monday to strike back quickly if North Korea stages any attack, but the United States said it has seen no worrisome mobilization of armed forces by the North Koreans despite their bellicose rhetoric.

“If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye told the defence minister and senior officials at a meeting on Monday.

The United States, in the latest step taken in response to rising tensions, positioned in the waters off the Korean peninsula a Navy guided-missile destroyer used for ballistic missile defence.

In another development, North Korea appointed a reformer and career technocrat to the reclusive and impoverished communist country’s ceremonial prime minister’s job.

The appointment of former premier Pak Pong-ju, a key confidant of the leadership dynasty, to the post from which he was fired in 2007 appeared to further tighten the ruling family’s grip on power. Pak previously was ousted from the job for failing to implement economic reforms.

North Korea says the region is on the brink of a nuclear war in the wake of U.N. sanctions imposed in response to its February nuclear test and a series of joint U.S. and South Korean military drills that have included a rare U.S. show of aerial power.

In Washington, the White House has said the United States takes seriously North Korea’s war threats. But White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday: “I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we are hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture, such as large-scale mobilizations and positioning of forces.”

North Korea further escalated its rhetoric on Saturday by saying it was entering a “state of war” with South Korea in response to what it termed the “hostile” military drills being staged in the South.

Tardy and weak

South Korea has changed its rules of engagement to allow local units to respond immediately to attacks, rather than waiting for permission from Seoul.

Stung by criticism that its response to the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010 was tardy and weak, Seoul has also threatened to target young North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and to destroy statues of the ruling Kim dynasty in the event of any new attack, a plan that has outraged Pyongyang.

South Korea and its ally the United States played down Saturday’s statement from the official KCNA news agency as the latest in a stream of tough talk from Pyongyang.

“We haven’t seen actions to back up the rhetoric,” Carney told reporters.

A South Korean defence ministry official also said last week there have been no signs of unusual activity in North Korea’s military to suggest imminent aggression.

North Korea stepped up its rhetoric in early March, when U.S. and South Korean forces began annual military drills that involved the flights of U.S. B-2 stealth bombers in a practice run, prompting the North to puts its missile units on standby to fire at U.S. military bases in South Korea and in the Pacific.

The United States also deployed F-22 stealth fighter jets on Sunday to take part in the drills. The F-22s were deployed in South Korea before, in 2010.

The Pentagon said it was the fourth time F-22s were deployed to South Korea. They were on display at the Osan Air Base, in part to provide senior South Korean military leaders an “orientation to the aircraft,” the Pentagon said.

Prudent move

A U.S. defence official said the USS McCain, an Aegis-class guided-missile destroyer used for ballistic missile defense, was being positioned to operate off the south-western coast of the Korean peninsula.

“This is a prudent move that provides greater missile defense options should (they) become necessary,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The ship was not expected to participate in any exercises, the official added.

North Korea has cancelled an armistice agreement with the United States that ended the Korean War and has cut all hotlines with U.S. forces, the United Nations and South Korea.

Park’s remarks followed a meeting of North Korea’s ruling Workers Party Central Committee where leader Kim Jong-un rejected the notion that Pyongyang was going to use its nuclear arms development as a bargaining chip.

“The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are … (not) to be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the (North) to disarm itself,” KCNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Songun is the Korean word for the “Military First” policy preached by Kim’s father who used it to justify the use of the impoverished state’s scarce resources to build a 1.2-million strong army and a weapons of mass destruction programme.

At the meeting, Kim appointed a handful of personal confidants to the party’s politburo, further consolidating his grip on power in the second full year of his reign.

The most surprising move was the re-appointment of Pak as premier. Pak, believed to be in his 70s, is viewed as a key ally of Jang Song-thaek, the young Kim’s uncle and also a protégé of Kim’s aunt and is viewed as a pawn in a power game that has seen Jang and his wife re-assert power over military leaders.

Pak is a career technocrat who took the post of premier in 2003 to implement an ambitious economic reform policy that allowed autonomy in farm production and pricing liberalisation, introduced in July 2002.

He was removed in 2007 when it became clear the steps aimed at boosting the North Korean economy, gripped by devastating famine in the 1990s, were not producing desired results and the North’s military began protests at the cabinet, wielding greater power on state matters.

Jang, Kim’s uncle, was also purged and has since been rehabilitated.

Analysts said the move would not likely change North Korea’s appro

— 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.

Crime

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands

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Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sky News

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin is under arrest in the Netherlands after years of authorities chasing him worldwide. 57 year old Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested by Dutch police acting on a request by Australia’s federal police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime named him as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines worldwide. Tse is commonly compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Sam Gor is suspected of laundering billions in drug money through businesses such as casinos, real estate and hotels in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest came after a 2012 operation that arrested 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The groups was accused of importing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia, according to police.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.”

The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost 10 years after that operation’s launch is a major break for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China. The production of methamphetamine, either in tablet form or the highly potent crystalised “ice” version, take place in Myanmar’s eastern north Shan state. Ketamine and fentanyl are also produced there as well, mostly in ‘portable’ labs that hide underneath the thick rainforest canopy.

In 2018 alone, Thailand netted more than 515 million methamphetamine tablets, a number 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region 10 years ago. Traffickers are constantly finding more creative ways to ship their products as drug busts are featured daily on the news in those regions.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Czech ‘Covid’ sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 with a 95% success rate

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Czech ‘Covid’ sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 with a 95% success rate | The Thaiger

Czech dog trainers say canines can sniff out Covid-19 with an astonishing 95% success rate. The team of trainers in Renda, a Czech mountain village, are working in their own time to teach the dogs to tell the difference between fake samples of Covid and real ones by sniffing pieces of cloth. Lenka Vlachova, a trainer who works at Prague’s fire brigade, says the cloths either feature a scent from patients with Covid-19 or from those that tested negative for the virus. They also say they there are cloths with fake samples of the virus that are part of the testing group.

The project head, Gustav Hotovy, says the study is designed to verify dogs’ ability to detect the virus and generate a method enabling the use of training dogs in combatting the pandemic.

“The method should also work with other diseases, even more lethal than Covid-19. In the end, we should be able to detect a huge number of people in a very short time with a trained dog.”

Hotovy, who is a retired cynologist, whose team started training the dogs last August, says the first study confirming that dogs are able to detect tissue attacked by a virus was conducted in the United States about 10 years ago.

“The virus changes the human tissue, affecting the scent signature of the person.”

He says that the signature changes so much that it is immediately picked up on by the dogs. The samples are gathered by rubbing a piece of cotton against the patient’s skin and then the team has to make sure the sample is virus-free to keep the dogs from catching the virus.

A Finnish team has also been using dogs to detect the virus at Helsinki airport, reporting its dogs can detect the virus with close to 100% accuracy.

SOURCE: Reuters

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World

Talk show king, Larry King, dies at 87 | VIDEO

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Talk show king, Larry King, dies at 87 | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Larry King, the longtime CNN stalwart and talk host has died. He was 87 years of age. He is survived by 3 sons.

“Larry King Live” was a staple on the the young cable TV network for over 25 years, interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes and high-profile personalities. He retired in 2010 after taping more than 6,000 episodes of the show before moving his voice onto a fledgling streaming service.

His son, Chance, confirmed King’s death yesterday morning, US time, on his Facebook page.

“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.”

“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.”

King had recently spent time in hospital with Covid-19 at Cedars-Sinai. He had been battling a number of other health problems over the years, suffering several heart attacks. In 1987, he underwent quintuple bypass surgery, inspiring him to establish the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to provide assistance to those without insurance.

With all his health challenges, he continued to forge one of the great talk show careers in US entertainment history.

In 2017 King revealed that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and successfully underwent surgery to treat it. He also underwent another procedure in 2019 to address angina.

King also suffered personal loss last year when 2 of his adult children died within weeks of each other: Andy King, 65, suffered a heart attack and daughter Chaia King, 52, died after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

With an affable, easygoing demeanor that distinguished him from more intense TV interviewers, King perfected a casual approach to the Q&A format, always leaning forward and listening intently to his guests, rarely interrupting.

Tim Newton from The Thaiger met Larry King in the early 90s whilst working on the ‘Australia Overnight’ program with the Macquarie Network, using King’s ‘Larry King Show’ radio format as a broad framework for the new radio networked program in Australia, the first of its kind.

“Larry was as affable in personal dealings as he was on air. He was very keen to help a young Aussie at the time who was trying to carve out a similar program to the famous Larry King Show of the 1980s that he hosted. I was happy to get a 30 minute meeting with him after flying to LA to meet him. He took me out to dinner and I walked away with a roadmap for our new radio show and a thousand other tips for the legendary talk show host.”

Jeff Zucker, CNN’s President, acknowledged King’s role in raising the network’s profile around the world.

“We mourn the passing of our colleague Larry King. The scrappy young man from Brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television. His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him. We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage. From our CNN family to Larry’s, we send our thoughts and prayers, and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work.”

SOURCE: CNN

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