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Phuket Gazette World News: Aussie cruise tourists fall overboard; Boston bomber buried; Mega ATM cybercrime ring busted; Olympic sailor dies in America’s Cup mishap

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Phuket Gazette World News: Aussie cruise tourists fall overboard; Boston bomber buried; Mega ATM cybercrime ring busted; Olympic sailor dies in America’s Cup mishap | The Thaiger

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

Aussie cruise liner passengers fall overboard
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Australian emergency crews were searching on Friday for two people who fell overboard from a Carnival Corp cruise liner off the New South Wales coast.

Police said surveillance camera footage from the ship showed the 30-year-old man and 27-year-old woman, both Australian, fell from the mid-deck around 8:50 p.m. AEST (1150 GMT) on Wednesday.

The pair were reported missing when the Carnival Spirit docked in Sydney on Thursday after completing a South Pacific tour.

Search-and-rescue planes and boats were scouring an area covering about 500 square nautical miles off Australia’s eastern coastline.

“I must be honest, our hopes are fading because of the length of time but we are going full throttle to try find them,” NSW Police Marine Area Commander Mark Hutchings told Sky News television on Friday when asked if police believed the pair were still alive.

Hutchings said the couple had gone off the ship “one after the other”, but it was unclear whether they had jumped or fallen by accident.

Miami-based Carnival Corp, the world’s largest cruise operator, has been plagued by a series of high-profile problems in recent months.

In February, its Carnival Triumph cruise ship was adrift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine fire, stranding more than 3,000 passengers without electricity and adequate sanitation.

It is also coping with repercussions from the sinking of its Costa Concordia ship in Italy in January 2012, which claimed 32 lives.

Body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber entombed – police
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been entombed and is no longer in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, where it had been held at a funeral home, the Worcester Police Department said on Thursday.

The police did not disclose where the body had been moved.

“A courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance to properly bury the deceased,” said Worcester Police Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst.

The 26-year-old ethnic Chechen died in an April 19 gun battle with police, four days after he and his younger brother Dzhokhar are suspected of having set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264.

The question of where to bury the elder Tsarnaev had proven to be a thorny one, with city officials in Boston and in neighbouring Cambridge, where he lived, refusing to accept the body for burial.

His widow, Katherine Russell, had asked that Tsarnaev’s body be released to his family. An uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Maryland, said on Sunday he had wanted his nephew to be buried in Massachusetts.

Russell’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tsarni could not be reached.

A crowd had picketed outside the Worcester Graham Putnam & Mahoney funeral home where the body had been held since it was claimed from the medical examiner last week.

Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, who faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted on charges related to the April 15 bombings, is being held at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He was moved there on April 26 after nearly a week in a Boston hospital where he received treatment for wounds sustained in the gun battle that left his brother dead.

Tamerlan died of gunshot wounds as well as blunt trauma to the head and torso, which resulted from both an exchange of fire with police in Watertown, outside Boston, as well as injuries that resulted when his brother drove over him as he fled.

Separately on Thursday, the family of the youngest victim to die in the attack – 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was standing by the finish line when the bombs went off – said that their 7-year-old daughter Jane was showing improvement, with surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital closing the wound left when the blast tore off her left leg below the knee.

“By closing the wound, the incredible medical team at Boston Children’s Hospital laid the groundwork for Jane to take an important step forward on the long and difficult road ahead of her,” the family said in a statement. “We take today’s development as positive news.”

British sailing champ dies in America’s Cup training off California
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: British yacht-racing champion Andrew “Bart” Simpson, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, was killed on Thursday when his vessel capsized in San Francisco Bay during training for the America’s Cup, his team said.

Simpson, 36, a two-time Olympic medallist, had been sailing on the Artemis, Sweden’s entry in the America’s Cup, when the catamaran overturned, according to a statement posted on the Artemis racing website.

“The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened,” CEO Paul Cayard said in the statement. “Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”

The Artemis website said Simpson was part of an 11-member sailing team and that all other crew members had been accounted for following the mishap.

A U.S. Coast Guard officer, Pam Boehland, said support boats had pulled 12 crew members from the water, and that one was taken to a San Francisco hospital.

San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge confirmed that one male crew member had died in the accident and said he was estimated to have remained under water for 10 to 15 minutes before he was recovered.

She said one other sailor from the Artemis crew was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries and later released.

Boehland said the Artemis capsized at about 1 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. British time) northwest of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The crippled vessel remained in the bay, and the Coast Guard established a 100-yard (91-meter) safety zone around the boat, she said.

The wreck was at least the fourth major accident in just over a year off the California coast or involving California vessels.

In March, a crew member was killed when a 30-foot (9-meter) sailboat broke apart in rough seas during a race near San Clemente Island.

In April 2012, four crewmen in a race from Southern California to Mexico died after their yacht ran aground. Two weeks earlier, five sailors died in a racing accident near the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco.

The Farallon incident prompted the Coast Guard to temporarily suspend racing in the Pacific Ocean off northern California.

U.S. charges eight in $45 million cyber crime scheme
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Individuals employed around the world by a sophisticated cyber crime ring stole US$45 million from thousands of bank automated teller machines within a matter of hours, using hacked debit-card data, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

Members of the global criminal organization hacked into two credit card processors and used stolen data to make more than 40,500 withdrawals in 27 countries, duri

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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World

Johnson tells MPs that there is ‘no better outcome’ than his Brexit plan

The Thaiger

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Johnson tells MPs that there is ‘no better outcome’ than his Brexit plan | The Thaiger

British PM Boris Johnson is warning British MPs there was “no better outcome” to the tortuous Brexit process than his divorce deal, as he scrambles to get MPs behind the agreement ahead of today’s knife-edge vote in parliament (Saturday UK time).

Johnson is urging lawmakers to back the “fantastic” terms he struck with EU leaders and let Britain leave the bloc on October 31.

“There’s no better outcome than the one I’m advocating tomorrow.”

“I want colleagues on all sides of the House to think about a world tomorrow night in which we’ve got this thing done,” he added in a separate interview with ITV.

“I think the nation will heave a great sigh of relief.”

Johnson pulled off a major coup in agreeing a new divorce deal at a Brussels summit on Thursday, only a fortnight before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU. But the deal’s fortunes, and Britain’s immediate fate, rest in the hands of a few undecided MPs, who will vote in the first Saturday session of the Commons since the 1982 Falklands War.

Political pundits suggest the vote could be exceptionally tight. Johnson has no majority among MPs, every opposition party has come out against the deal and even his parliamentary ally, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), says it cannot support the terms.

Johnson requires the support of 319 other MPs to guarantee victory – and claims he is confident of getting the numbers, as he spent the day meeting and calling MPs.

He must convince diehard eurosceptics in his own Conservative ranks, former colleagues he expelled from the party for seeking to block a “no deal” departure, and main opposition Labour MPs from Brexit-backing constituencies to have any chance.

Labour is ordering its MPs to vote against the deal but threatening no punishment if they vote in favour. Several MPs spent yesterday wrestling with their consciences as the more than three years of turmoil since the June 2016 EU membership referendum came to a head.

Johnson is expected to deliver a speech to parliament from 0830 GMT on Saturday, kicking off a day of debate that could last well into the evening.

The turning of the screws

If the Commons rejects the deal, Johnson will be forced by law to ask the EU to delay Brexit, for what would be the third time. He has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch”.

French President Emmanuel Macron piled the pressure on MPs, saying he did not want a new delay now a deal was struck.

“The October 31 date should be respected. I don’t think that new deadlines should be given,” he said at the EU summit in Brussels.

“We need to end these negotiations and get on negotiating the future relationship.”

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel added: “There is no choice between Brexit or no Brexit: it’s a choice between deal or no deal.”

Johnson took office in July vowing to keep to the October 31 Brexit deadline, deal or no deal.

He pledged to renegotiate the most contentious elements of a divorce text agreed by his predecessor Theresa May with Brussels last year, which MPs rejected three times.

The compromise deal that was finally struck on Thursday has a new arrangement for keeping open the border between British Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

The DUP has said it cannot support the plans, as efforts to avoid checks on the Irish land border would lead to new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

Meanwhile…

Former Conservative prime minister John Major (1990-1997) and his Labour successor Tony Blair (1997-2007) pleaded with MPs to back a second referendum, ahead of a major rally by the “People’s Vote” campaign outside parliament on Saturday (UK time).

“Whatever is the outcome, no deal or bad deal, it should not pass without the final say resting with the people,” said Blair.

Major said Brexit was a “thoroughly bad idea” that risked breaking up the UK.

The Pound steadied around $1.29 yesterday as dealers took a breather at the end of a dizzying week.

ETX Capital analyst Michael Baker said the market was “really gambling” on the vote and had “not priced in fully all scenarios – so expect big moves”.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse | PHOTO: Associated Press

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Economy

Local investor sentiment dampened by Brexit woes and slump in Chinese economy

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Local investor sentiment dampened by Brexit woes and slump in Chinese economy | The Thaiger

The British pound fell today as investors fret over PM Boris Johnson’s chances of pushing his Brexit deal through the British parliament, while Asian markets were mostly down after data showed China’s economy expanded at its slowest pace in nearly three decades.

The pound rallied almost to US$1.30 yesterday following news that negotiators had hammered out an agreement that would avoid Britain leaving the EU without a divorce deal – a move many warn would be economically catastrophic. But the brief celebrations were soon tempered by the realisation that the British PM faces an uphill task in getting the deal past lawmakers, with opposition MPs and even some in his own Conservative party saying they won’t pass it.

Most importantly, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up Johnson’s government, said it was “unable to support these proposals”.

Forex traders sold sterling, pushing it back down below $1.29, and it extended losses in Asia. Focus is now on a crucial vote in London on the deal scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday).

“Much will depend on the PM’s ability to get some if not all DUP and (Scottish National Party) MPs onside, in addition to also getting the backing from the 21 ex-Conservative MPs he expelled from the party last month,” said National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril.

“Rejection of the deal might well see more political brinkmanship around a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, but the most likely scenario would be yet another extension of the 31 October Brexit date.”

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said whichever way the vote goes, “traders should prepare themselves for some severe volatility on Monday morning, with multiple big-figure moves a strong possibility”.

China growth slows again

Asian equity markets, meanwhile, were mostly lower after China said its economy expanded 6% in the third quarter, the slowest pace in 27 years, as leaders struggle to address weak domestic demand and the long-running US trade war.

The reading was a drop from the previous three months but in line with an AFP forecast and the government’s 6-6.5% target for the year.

While the National Bureau of Statistics said the economy “maintained overall stability”, it added that it “is under mounting downward pressure” from weakness at home and abroad.

Shanghai ended down 1.3% with Stephen Innes at AxiTrader saying traders were concerned the figures were not weak enough to prompt the Chinese central bank to embark on a big stimulus drive.

“With the People’s Bank of China, who arguably have plenty of policy ammunition to right the ship, probably unwilling to turn on the monetary taps, investors are taking risk off the table,” he said in a note.

Hong Kong was off 0.5% amid concern over the possibility of more violent protests over the weekend, while Sydney closed down 0.5 percent and Singapore eased 0.4%.

Seoul shed 0.8% and Wellington lost 0.7%, with Taipei and Manila also lower. But Tokyo closed 0.2 higher at a 10-month high, while Mumbai and Jakarta also edged up.

Hopes for the China-US trade talks were given a lift after Beijing’s commerce ministry said negotiators have “accelerated efforts” to hammer out details of last Friday’s mini-deal and were holding talks on moving on to the next phase of a wider agreement.

Donald Trump said Wednesday he hopes to sign the deal with President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Chile next month.

And the Turkish lira jumped more than 1% after Ankara said it would pause military operations in northern Syria for five days and US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington would not impose any fresh sanctions.

Key markets today…

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2857 from $1.2891 at 2050 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 86.48 pence from 86.31 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1122 from $1.1127

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.63 yen from 108.62 yen

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4% at 7,152.55

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2% at 22,492.68 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5% at 26,719.58 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.3% at 2,938.14 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: UP four cents at $53.97 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 22 cents at $59.69 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.1% at 27,025.88 (close)

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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