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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
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.

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Opinion

Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge

The Thaiger

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Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge | The Thaiger

OPINION: The Buddhist Times

Since its creation in 1996, Buddha-Bar Paris has been using the name and image of Buddha in it’s Bars and Hotels throughout the world. Typically the franchises use large statues of Buddha in their Bars and around dance floors and in restaurants similar to a Buddhist temple.

What makes the use of Buddha’s image in these bars most insulting to Buddhists around the world is that Buddhism does not support the consumption of alcohol. So to use the Buddha’s image as decoration to promote the consumption and sale of alcohol and as a prop on dance floors and in restaurants is especially disrespectful and hurtful to Buddhists.

Now comes a further insult with the Buddha-Bar franchise opening the Siddhartha Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. (Siddhartha Gautama being the full name of Buddha).

According to the Knowing Buddha Organisation in Thailand what the Buddha-Bar franchise is doing is not only disrespectful but it is immoral. The foundation points out that “Respect is Common Sense”.

Buddhists feel hurt by the misuse of the name and image of their father, as people of other faiths would be if the image of Christ or Mohammad were used to promote bars and nightclubs.

The Buddha–Bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by French-Romanian restaurateur Raymond Vișan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe, with its original location having opened in Paris, France in 1996.

Raymond Vișan, according to Wikipedia, had the idea of establishing the chain of restaurants and bars which came from his fascination with the Orient. However at the age of 60 Visan suddenly died of terminal cancer. The franchise was continued by co-founder Claude Challe and Vișan’s wife Tarja, who took over the reins of the Buddha Bar franchise upon Vișan death.

Critics of the Vișan’s and Claude Challe say that these self described artists and creators have created nothing but bad Karma and Sin for themselves. They suggest that Buddha-Bar franchise is a form of “grotesque Plagiarism ” which has merely hi-jacked a 2500 year old religion, using the name and image of Buddha, who imparts peace, compassion and loving kindness, for the purpose of selling alcohol and making money. As any case of plagiarism it is expected that Buddha-Bar and Waldorf Astoria will soon find them selves in the courts say Buddhims advocats.

Buddhist around the world are calling the Boycotting of Waldorf Astoria Hotels Hilton Hotels, Buddha-Bars and the music of Claude Challe, demanding that they stop using the image of Buddha and instead creat their own brand.

The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Thaiger or its staff

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Hong Kong

1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally

May Taylor

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1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally | The Thaiger

PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Last night, Chater Garden, located near government headquarters in the Central district of Hong Kong, was the scene of the city’s first approved rally since the face mask ban came into being about 10 days ago. So far, the face mask ban has been largely ineffectual.

A day after an explosive device was detonated during protests, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in the park. They were calling on Washington to approve proposed US legislation that could see some Chinese officials face sanctions.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act aims to review the territory’s special trading status and sanction those responsible for undermining the rights of Hong Kong citizens. It passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last month.

The Chinese Government has responded angrily, accusing the US of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” with the aim of harming its interests, and says the law will only serve to worsen the situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been the scene of often violent pro-democracy protests for over four months now, as its citizens call for greater democracy and less interference from Beijing.

SOURCE: The Nation

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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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