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Phuket Gazette World News: 45 dead in Iraqi bombings; Mandela family feud twist; Wikileaks trial update; Outsiders are in – Tennis

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Phuket Gazette World News: 45 dead in Iraqi bombings; Mandela family feud twist; Wikileaks trial update; Outsiders are in – Tennis | The Thaiger

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

Nearly 50 killed in Iraq bombings
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: At least 45 people were killed in bomb attacks across Iraq yesterday, most of them in busy markets and commercial areas of the capital Baghdad, police and medics said.

The deadliest assault took place in the predominantly Shi’ite Shaab neighbourhood of northern Baghdad, where two car bombs killed eight people. There were also explosions in the mainly Shi’ite districts of Abu Dsheer, Kamaliya, Tobchi and Shula.

“A blast hit near a crowded market full of people shopping,” said Ali Sadoun, a policeman whose patrol was stationed in Shula. “When police and people gathered to help the wounded, a second bomb went off, tearing through bodies.”

Sunni Muslims were the apparent targets of blasts in Amriya and Abu Ghraib, on the city’s western outskirts.

A sustained campaign of attacks since the start of the year has increased fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.

Insurgents including al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate have been recruiting from the country’s Sunni minority, which resents Shi’ite domination since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Intercommunal tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which is increasingly been fought along sectarian lines, drawing in Shi’ite and Sunni fighters from Iraq and elsewhere to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.

Outside Baghdad, a bomb blast near a funeral tent in the city of Baquba killed six people.

Further south, a car bomb in Amara province killed four people and in the city of Basra, three blasts hit a hotel frequented by foreigners working in the oil industry, wounding three guards.

Violence is still well below its height in 2006-07, but Sunni insurgents are striking on a daily basis, seeking to destabilise the Shi’ite-led government and provoke further confrontation.

On Monday, attacks targeting Shi’ites left at least 27 people dead. The number of people killed in militant attacks across Iraq in June reached 761.

Iraqi military forces are now better equipped and trained, but lack the comprehensive intelligence resources and air cover to track insurgents that they enjoyed before U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011.

South African police investigating Mandela grandson in grave dispute
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: South African police opened an investigation into Nelson Mandela’s grandson on suspicion of illegally exhuming the bodies of three of the ailing anti-apartheid hero’s children, a police spokesman said.

The investigation is the latest twist in an unedifying family feud that has drawn global attention as the 94-year-old Mandela lies in a Pretoria hospital in a critical condition.

Sixteen members of the Mandela family have already won a court order forcing Mandla Mandela – officially chief of the Mandela clan – to return the bodies that he dug up two years ago from the village of Qunu, where Nelson Mandela grew up.

Mandla had the remains moved 20 km to his Eastern Cape village of Mvezo. He has not commented on why he moved the bodies but Mvezo is where Mandela was actually born and where many South Africans believe Mandla wants South Africa’s first black president to be buried.

The three Mandela children buried in Mvezo are an infant girl who died in 1948, a boy, Thembi, who died in a car crash in 1969, and Makgatho, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005. In all, Mandela fathered six children from his three marriages.

“We have started our investigation and we will send the case to the senior prosecutor for a decision on whether to prosecute or not,” Eastern Cape police spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela told Reuters.

Nelson Mandela has spent more than three weeks battling a lung infection, forcing South Africans to accept that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who helped end white-minority rule will not be around forever.

Prosecution wraps up case in U.S. WikiLeaks court-martial
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Court-martial prosecutors wrapped up their case yesterday against the soldier charged with providing a trove of secret material to WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified files in U.S. history.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, faces 21 charges, including espionage, computer fraud and, most seriously, aiding the enemy. Manning could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Judge Colonel Denise Lind allowed the final prosecution witness, Daniel Lewis, a counterintelligence adviser at the Defence Intelligence Agency, to testify in a closed session. An unclassified summary of his testimony – largely about the value of the material Manning provided to WikiLeaks – will be read into the record.

Lewis was the government’s 28th in-person witness since the trial started on June 3. More than 50 written statements from witnesses have also been submitted by prosecutors.

Lind set a court recess starting today until Monday, when “we will proceed with the Defence case,” she said.

The Defence has listed 46 potential witnesses and the trial is scheduled to run to August 23.

Lawyers for Manning have described him as naive but well-intentioned in wanting to show the American public the reality of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army prosecutors contend U.S. security was damaged when the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website published classified information supplied by Manning. They say Manning obtained more than 700,000 classified files, combat videos and diplomatic cables while he was a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

Among the accusations of harm to the United States, the former head of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has testified that the leaking of details of prisoners held there threatened “serious” damage to national security.

Dressed in a dark uniform, the slightly built Manning has sat silently throughout the trial so far, dwarfed by his taller Defence attorneys and listening with a chin on his fist or slumped in his chair.

WikiLeaks returned to headlines last month when it helped organize the departure of fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow.

Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the past year to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Assange, an Australian, says the charges are reprisal for WikiLeaks’ publication of information embarrassing to the U.S. and other governments.

Opportunity knocks as outsiders reach semis
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The leading ladies have exited stage left but the understudies kept this most volatile of Wimbledon scripts bubbling along yesterday to ensure a new name will be engraved on the trophy come Saturday.

Emerging from a quarter-final line-up featuring women from eight different nations and with just two grand slam titles between them

— 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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Chiang Rai

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin

Greeley Pulitzer

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Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | The Thaiger

An 49-year-old Italian has been charged with drug smuggling after arriving at Perth Airport from Chiang Mai. He allegedly had about 300 grams of heroin, worth about 135,000 Australian dollars, hidden inside his body.

After trace technology during a baggage examination showed positive for narcotics, Australian Border Force officers referred him to the Australian Federal Police for an internal exam.

The man was taken to hospital where 63 pellets of heroin were allegedly found in his stomach. X-Rays also revealed three more pellets of heroin had been internally inserted into his rectum.

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | News by The Thaiger

Photo: Australian Border Force

He was charged with importing a controlled drug and faces 25 years in prison.

A spokeman for the Australian Border Forcesaid the ABF is fully aware of the lengths people are willing to go to bring drugs into Australia.

“They not only risk lengthy jail time, but are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and health,” he said.

“Smuggling drugs internally is an incredibly stupid endeavour. Furthermore there is a risk that stomach acid will eat through the wrapping of the heroin, consequently risking a fatal drug overdose,” according to federal police.

SOURCE: chiangraitimes.com

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World

Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios

The Thaiger

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Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios | The Thaiger

Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.

The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.

Here are some possible scenarios ahead…

A technical extension

Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.

Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

More delays

Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.

Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.

A longer delay could also allow for a general election.

A crash and burn exit

The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.

Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.

Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.

Another general election

Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.

Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.

Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.

Another referendum

Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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