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Phuket Gazette World News: British soldier beheaded in London attack

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

British soldier beheaded in suspected Islamist attack
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A British soldier was hacked to death by two men shouting Islamic slogans in a south London street on Wednesday, in what the government said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

A dramatic clip filmed by an onlooker just minutes after the killing showed a man with hands covered in blood, brandishing a bloodied meat cleaver and a knife.

“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day,” the black man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a wool jacket and jeans and speaking with a local accent, shouted in the footage obtained by Britain’s ITV news channel.

“This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

The attack was the first apparent Islamist killing in London since suicide bombers struck transport in July 2005. The capital was shocked by the bizarre scene of a killer covered in gore, declaring his motive to onlookers.

Police shot the two suspects while trying to arrest them, and the wounded men were taken into custody. No information was immediately released about the identity of the suspects, but two sources familiar with the investigation told Reuters authorities were investigating a possible link to Nigeria.

“I apologize that women had to witness that, but in our lands our women have to see the same thing. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you,” the videotaped man said before crossing the street and speaking casually to the other attacker.

Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to France to return to London and chair an emergency national security meeting.

“The police are urgently seeking the full facts about this case but there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident,” Cameron said before cutting short talks with French President Francois Hollande to return home.

“We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country and we never buckle in the face of them,” he said.

The attack happened on the edge of London’s sprawling Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, a south London working class district which has long-standing historic links to the military.

In signs of a backlash after the attack, more than 100 angry supporters of the English Defense League, a far-right street protest group, took to the streets, some wearing balaclavas and carrying England’s red and white flag. They were contained by riot police.

Separately, two men were arrested in connection with separate attacks on mosques outside London. No one was hurt.

Help for heros

The authorities did not immediately confirm the identity of the slain man, but a source told Reuters the man may have been a member of the military. The British government normally withholds the identities of slain servicemembers until their families are informed.

The victim was wearing a T-shirt saying “Help for Heroes”, the name of a charity formed to help wounded British veterans. Britain has had troops deployed in Afghanistan since 2001 and had troops in Iraq from 2003-2009.

Before he was stabbed to death, the victim was knocked over by a blue car which then rammed into a lamppost. The attackers pounced on him in broad daylight in a busy residential street.

Witnesses said they shouted “God is greatest” in Arabic while stabbing the victim and trying to behead him.

“I am afraid it is overwhelmingly likely now to be a terrorist attack, the kind the city has seen before,” London mayor Boris Johnson said. Police said in a statement late on Wednesday that the murder investigation was led by the Counter Terrorism Command, a specialist branch within the London force.

Fred Oyat, a 44-year-old local resident, said he witnessed the attack on the soldier from the window of his high-rise apartment overlooking the scene.

“The victim was white,” he told Reuters. “I was in my house when four shots rung out. I went to the window I saw a man lying on the ground with a lot of blood.”

London was last hit by a serious militant attack in July 2005, when four young Islamists set off suicide bombs on the public transport network, killing 52 people and wounding hundreds. A similar attempted attack 2 weeks later was thwarted.

British counter-terrorism chiefs have recently warned that radicalized individuals, so-called “lone wolves” who might have had no direct contact with al Qaeda, posed as great a risk as those who plotted attacks on the lines of the 2005 bombings.

The bombing attacks on the Boston Marathon last month, which U.S. authorities blame on two brothers, have raised the profile of the “lone wolf” threat in the West. A French-Algerian gunman killed three off-duty French soldiers and four Jewish civilians on a rampage in southern France last year.

Britain’s involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past decade has often stirred anger among British Muslims and occasionally made soldiers a target at home. British police have foiled at least two major plots in which Islamist suspects were accused of planning to kill off-duty troops.

Ahmed Jama, a 26-year-old Woolwich resident, laid flowers down at the scene as a sign of respect to the families involved.

“This has nothing to do with Islam, this has nothing to do with our religion. This has nothing to do with Allah,” he said “It has nothing to do with Islam. It’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Covid-19 projected to reduce Americans’ life expectancy – USC/Princeton study

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Covid-19 projected to reduce Americans’ life expectancy – USC/Princeton study | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TRT World

With Covid-19 linked to more than 336,000 deaths in the United States, American’s life expectancy will decline, especially among black and latino people, according to researchers from the University of Southern California and Princeton University.

The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that life expectancy at birth for Americans will shorten by 1.13 years to 77.48 years, while blacks and latinos life expectancy is expected to shorten by more.

For blacks, their life expectancy would shorten by 2.10 years to 72.78 years, and for Latinos, by 3.05 years to 78.77 years. This is said to be the lowest life expectancy estimated since 2003. The disproportionate impact on the 3 groups of populations is believed to relate to social and economic advantages.

The study author Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, says that why the study analyses the number of deaths and how it affects the life expectancy at birth, it also shows the consequences for marginalized groups.

“The Covid-19 pandemic’s disproportionate effect on the life expectancy of Black and Latino Americans likely has to do with their greater exposure through their workplace or extended family contacts, in addition to receiving poorer health care, leading to more infections and worse outcomes.”

The researchers say life expectancy is an important indicator of a population’s health and a tool for examining the impact of COVID-19 on survival.

SOURCE: USA Today | University of South California

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Indonesia

UPDATE: At least 34 dead and 600 injured after Indonesia earthquake

Caitlin Ashworth

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UPDATE: At least 34 dead and 600 injured after Indonesia earthquake | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Soumyajit Pattnaik via Twitter

UPDATE: At least 34 people were killed after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight today. As of this evening, reports say more than 600 people were injured during the earthquake which caused buildings to collapse and residents to flee their homes in the dark.

Original story below…

Indonesian island Sulawesi was shook by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake shortly after midnight today, toppling over buildings and injuring hundreds. Reports are continuously being updated as rescuers search through rubble. As of early this afternoon, at least 10 people were killed.

Thousands evacuated their homes in West Sulawesi. The earthquake impacted the coastal city Majene where at least 3 people died and neighbouring Mamuju where at least 7 people died. Several buildings, including hotels, were severely damaged and many homes were flattened. A hospital was partially damaged and reports say more than a dozen patients and staff were trapped under the rubble. Others are trapped in rubble after their homes collapsed. A rescuer says “We are racing against time to rescue them.”

Videos have been released of those crying for help. A father crying, calling out for help to save his children under their home’s wreckage. In another, a girl’s voice cried out from a collapsed home, saying “please help me, it hurts.” The video was released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Rescuers say they need an excavator to say the girl and other people who are trapped under the collapsed buildings.

The area was first hit by a 5.9 magnitude undersea quake on Thursday. It damaged several buildings, but no deaths were reported.

Since the most recent earthquake is inland, the district’s disaster agency chief says it does not have the potential to cause a tsunami, but people in coastal areas ran to higher ground just to be safe.

The vast archipelago is located on the “Ring of Fire” of volcanoes and fault lines, prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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World

US President Trump impeached for a second time, releases video | VIDEO

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US President Trump impeached for a second time, releases video | VIDEO | The Thaiger

US President Donald Trump has been impeached for “incitement of insurrection” relating to last week’s Capitol Hill insurgency. Armed National Guard troops guarded both the inside and outside the Capitol building following the riotous mob that invaded the hallowed halls of America’s democracy, almost precisely one week before the impeachment vote.

Wednesday afternoon, Washington DC time, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach the President by 232 votes -197 votes. Donald Trump is the first president in the US to be impeached twice. Notably, 10 Republicans crossed the floor to vote with the Democrats to support the impeachment vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of the vote… “We know that the president of the United State incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

President Trump will now face a formal trial in the US Senate. If convicted he will face being barred from holding executive office ever again. With less than a week to go before President-elect Joe Biden takes over as the next president, the Senate won’t have time to reconvene. So the trial will be undertaken by a Senate controlled by the Democrats.

President Trump was defeated in the election on November 4, 2020, losing to to Democrat Joe Biden.

Shortly after the vote to impeach him President Trump released a video (below) calling on his followers to “remain peaceful”. He also broadly mentioned his banning from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, among other social media platforms, but didn’t refer to the impeachment proceedings or show any contrition to his alleged role in inciting the rioters over the past 2 months since the presidential election.

“Violence and vandalism have no place in our country. No true supporter of mine would ever endorse political violence.”

The President read the prepared speech in a calm tone and avoided his usual rancorous rhetoric.

The president was accused by the US Congress of inciting the storming of the Capitol with his January 6 speech to a huge rally of Trump supporters outside the White House. He urged his supporters to “fight like hell” against an election that he repeatedly told them had been “stolen”, a similar message he had been falsely claiming since the election. His supporters then marched to the Capitol, broke into the building, forced lawmakers to suspend the certification of the Presidential election results and seek shelter. Five people died in the melee and many more were injured in the violent insurgency.

The impeachment charge is political, not criminal. The articles read that Mr Trump “repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were fraudulent and should not be accepted”. It says the President then repeated these claims and “wilfully made statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol”, leading to the violence and loss of life.

Donald Trump now makes history as the first US president to be impeached twice. A year ago, the move was opposed by the Republican Party in the Senate. This time, a handful of conservatives backed the move. The falling out with some members of his own party and senior staff, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s private support for the impeachment, is indicative of the President’s declining influence in the fading light of his administration.

Mr McConnell said in a note to colleagues that he had not made a final decision on how he would vote in the forthcoming Senate debate. No US president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Mr Trump was impeached by the House in 2019 but acquitted by the Senate. Same with Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868.

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