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Phuket Gazette World News: 19 hurt in Mother’s Day shooting; SARS in France; Syria deaths hit 82,000; Mexico volcano alert



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

Nineteen shot in New Orleans Mother’s Day parade
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Nineteen people including two young children were shot on Sunday when gunfire erupted at a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans, police said.

Shots rang out at 1:45 p.m. local time as the second line of the parade passed the 1400 block of Frenchmen Street in the city, New Orleans Police Department spokesman Garry Flot said.

Ten men and seven woman were shot along with a 10-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy. The children were grazed and are in good condition, Flot said in a statement.

“Many of the victims were grazed, some by bullets that ricocheted,” he said.

Two victims are undergoing surgery, according to Flot.

New Orleans police superintendent Ronal Serpas told reporters at least one other person was injured as spectators fled the scene.

Emergency medical responders took 11 people to Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans, according to hospital spokesman Marvin McGraw. He said he could not discuss their conditions because he did not have their consent.

Officers saw three suspects running away, one described as dark-skinned male aged 18 to 22 with short hair, Serpas said. No arrests were made.

Photographs of the shooting aftermath in the Times-Picayune newspaper showed a man lying on his stomach beside a pool of blood, being helped by two bystanders.

Other photos showed a man in shorts sitting on a cobbled street, his calf bleeding and covered with a bandana.

The incident is not the first shooting involving multiple casualties in New Orleans this year.

In February four people were wounded in a shooting outside a nightclub in the city’s French Quarter as crowds gathered for Mardi Gras celebrations.

Italian PM Letta warns coalition allies as tension mounts
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta warned his centre-right coalition partners on Sunday that the future of the government was at risk following a furious row over Silvio Berlusconi’s attacks on magistrates in a rally at the weekend.

Simmering tensions between the partners in Letta’s uneasy coalition between traditional rivals on the right and left broke out into the open after the rally in the northern city of Brescia attended by ministers from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party.

Berlusconi accused magistrates of trying to eliminate him politically, after his appeal against a four-year jail sentence for tax fraud was rejected last week.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the PDL party secretary, was present at the demonstration, drawing accusations from members of Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) that he was endorsing the attack on the magistracy.

“Occasions like Brescia are unacceptable and they cannot be repeated because the negative effects are greater than the government’s ability to hold together,” Letta’s spokesman Gianmarco Trevisi told reporters late on Sunday.

“Letta repeated that he was not prepared to keep the government going at any cost,” he said, following a special meeting of the cabinet in a former abbey in Tuscany.

The two-day bonding session near the town of Sarteano was billed by Letta’s office as a chance to discuss some of the thorniest policy issues facing the government, formed after two months of wrangling in the wake of February’s inconclusive general election.

As well as major reforms to the dysfunctional electoral and parliamentary system, the cabinet must also find a way to reconcile differences over billions of euros worth of tax cuts promised by the centre-right but resisted by the left.

Sources close to the government said Letta and Alfano argued angrily during their trip from Rome to the conference centre set in idyllic rolling woodland near Siena where the meeting is due to run until Monday afternoon.


The fractious atmosphere has increased the problems facing Letta and raised doubts over the durability of his government, despite assurances from Berlusconi on Saturday that he does not intend to withdraw support.

In a bid to calm the tension, the coalition partners agreed that ministers would henceforth not take part in electoral rallies or television talk shows not connected with their portfolios.

But officials, who said Letta had told his ministers to concentrate on governing and avoid political conflict, made little attempt to conceal the tense climate in the meeting.

“The PDL is not going to lower its flags and hide its identity and I’m sure that’s true for the PD as well,” said Alfano’s spokeswoman Danila Subranni. “It will remain by Berlusconi’s side, that’s not up for discussion.”

Behind the barbs, the coalition faces wide differences over tax policy which must be resolved if Italy is to remain within the limits imposed by European Union budget rules.

Letta has pledged to focus on cutting youth unemployment of nearly 40 percent and restore growth to the sinking economy but he has little room for new spending given the huge burden of public debt, now around 130 percent of Italy’s economic output.

However Berlusconi’s legal woes are likely to continue to overshadow the government, with a hearing in his trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor set for Monday.

In a sign of the growing stakes, the 76-year old media tycoon’s own Canale 5 television station broadcast a special programme on Sunday night on the notorious “bunga bunga” evenings at his palatial villa outside Milan which were the scene of the alleged offences.

Both Berlusconi and Karima El Mahroug, the former teenaged nightclub dancer known as “Ruby the Heartstealer”, denied ever having sex while an array of witnesses said the evenings were no more than convivial dinners where the former prime minister would entertain guests by singing and telling stories.

Opinion polls continue to show the centre-right holds a lead, with a survey by the ISPO institute in the Corriere della Sera showing Berlusconi’s alliance on 35.6 percent ahead of the combined centre-left on 29.6 percent and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement on 24.1 percent.

Syrian war death toll rises to 82,000 – opposition group
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: At least 82,000 people have been killed and 12,500 others are missing after two years of civil war in Syria, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.

Most of the dead were killed by troops and militia loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and most of the missing are believed to have been detained by the government’s secret police and other loyalists, the monitoring group said.

“The vast majority of civilian victims were killed by the regime. Killings in unofficial jails are commonplace, and the conditions under which prisoners are held are horrific,” said Rami Abdulrahman, the Observatory’s president.

The Observatory, established by Abdulrahman in Britain seven years ago, said 4,788 children were among the 34,473 civilians killed. Another 12,916 anti-Assad fighters were killed, along with 1,924 army deserters, it said.

On the loyalist side, 16,729 troops and 12,000 militiamen and informers have been killed.

— Phuket Gazette Editors


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