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Phuket Gazette World News: China’s Xi in Russia; Myanmar riot; Damascus blast; Sarkozy probe; US poll for migrants; Gillard survives

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Phuket Gazette World News: China’s Xi in Russia; Myanmar riot; Damascus blast; Sarkozy probe; US poll for migrants; Gillard survives | The Thaiger

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

Curfew in Myanmar town after 10 killed in riots
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A central Myanmar town declared a curfew for a second night yesterday after clashes killed 10 people, including a Buddhist monk, and injured at least 20, authorities said.

Riots erupted in Meikhtila, 540km north of Yangon, on Wednesday after an argument between a Buddhist couple and the Muslim owners of a gold shop escalated into a riot involving hundreds of people, police said.

“We can’t say the situation is under control. The police force is not strong enough to control the situation,” Win Htein, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy party, told Reuters.

Relations between Buddhists and minority Muslims have simmered since sectarian violence last year in western Rakhine state in which 110 people were killed, according to official sources, and 120,000 people made homeless.

Such violence could endanger democratic reforms undertaken since military rule ended in 2011, the United Nations warned this month.

The Meikhtila clash raises concern that religious unrest could spread in Myanmar, a Buddhist-dominated country where about five percent of the 60 million population are Muslim.

Riots also broke out in the commercial capital Yangon last month after Buddhists attacked what they said was an illegal mosque.

In Meikhtila, at least one mosque, an Islamic religious school, several shops and a government office were set alight, said a fire service official who declined to be identified.

Senior government officials said they were monitoring the situation while roads linking Meikhtila to other major cities in the region had been temporarily closed.

The U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, said he was “deeply concerned” about the violence.

A former dissident who heads a civic group said the response of the security forces to unrest was often questionable.

“They don’t make enough effort to control the situation,” Min Ko Naing, of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society group told reporters in Yangon on Wednesday.

An independent team that has conducted an investigation into the Rakhine State violence is due to release its much-delayed report this month. Its recommendations on the sensitive topic of what to do with 800,000 mostly stateless Rohingya Muslims could further inflame tension.

Damascus mosque blast kills 42 including senior Syrian imam
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: An explosion at a mosque in the Syrian capital yesterday killed at least 42 people, including a senior pro-government Muslim cleric, and wounded 84, the Syrian health ministry said.

State television and anti-government activists earlier had reported 15 dead. The television said a “terrorist suicide blast” hit the Iman Mosque in central Damascus, and Mohammed al-Buti, imam of the ancient Ummayyad Mosque, was among the dead.

“The death toll from the suicide bombing of the Iman Mosque in Damascus is 42 martyrs and 84 wounded,” the health ministry said later in a statement.

While attacks in the capital during Syria’s two-year-long rebellion have become almost commonplace, an attack on a mosque was deeply shocking to both sides in the conflict.

Buti, a government-appointed cleric reviled by the Syrian opposition movement, delivered the official weekly Friday mosque sermons on state television.

In one of his televised speeches, Buti described those fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as ‘scum’. He also used his position to call on Syrians to join the armed forces and help Assad defeat his rivals in the rebellion.

Rebel spokesman Loay Maqdad said units associated with the opposition’s Free Syrian Army were not behind the attack.

“We in the Free Syrian Army do not take any responsibility for this operation. We do not do these types of suicide bombings and we do not target mosques,” he told Al Arabiya television.

Video released by Syria’s al-Ikhbariya channel showed dozens of limp bodies lying on the bloodied carpet of the mosque, as emergency workers rushed in to give survivors first aid. Mangled limbs lay among the wreckage.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists across Syria, said earlier that around 15 people died in the blast in central Damascus.

The Observatory said it was unclear if the explosion was caused by a car bomb or a mortar shell. Dozens more were wounded in the attack it said.

The Iman mosque is next door to the offices of Assad’s ruling Baath party, as well as other government compounds.

Locals were panicked after the blast and described seeing ambulances rushing to the area while traffic came to a standstill. Residents near the mosque said the strong, acrid smell of gun powder still hung in the air.

Buti, 84, led the funeral prayers for Assad’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad.

The imam’s critics saw him as a religious mouthpiece in support of Assad. When the revolt started in March 2011, he quickly threw his support behind the Assad family, which has ruled Syria for more than four decades.

Buti was a Sunni Muslim, the sect which makes up the majority of Syria’s population.

Sunnis have led the revolt against Assad, a movement that began as peaceful protests but devolved into bloody civil war that has sparked sectarian bloodshed between Sunnis and Assad’s minority Alawite population.

It was unclear who was behind the Damascus blast, although Syria TV immediately accused “terrorists,” a term frequently used to described rebels. If opposition fighters were responsible, it would signal the ease with which they are able to strike in the heart of the capital compared to a year ago.

Some opposition activists argued the rebels could not have been behind the attack, and called it a government plot. They said it was unlikely that rebels, many of whom are deeply religious, would target a mosque.

“The regime eliminated Buti,” said Leena al-Shami, a Damascus activist speaking on Skype. “One of the last things he said is that Assad is the prince of Muslims and Syrians fight with him, as in jihad (holy war).

“I don’t think Buti could have done more, his role was over. Now the regime wanted to make a martyr of him.”

Some locals recalled one of Buti’s more memorable sermons from early on in the revolt, in which he told President Assad he had a vision that Syria would ‘receive God’s wrath’, but would survive.

France’s Sarkozy investigated in party-funding affair
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation yesterday for “abuse of weakness” in a 2007 party funding case involving elderly L Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the public prosecutor said.

The risk for Sarkozy, unseated May last year but considered a potential conservative candidate in the 2017 presidential race, is that he may end up plagued by suspicion for months or years, even if his lawyer says there is no case against him.

Under French law, a formal investigation is the final step before a suspect is accused of a crime. Sarkozy, who only this month hinted he could make a political comeback, repeatedly has denie

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis.

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People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis. | The Thaiger

If history is anything to go on people’s current fears about the Boeing 737 MAX jets will be short-lived.

The make0ver of the venerable 737 plane, the most popular passenger jet in history, was supposed to set Boeing on a path to success. Airlines said it was the plane they wanted – perfect for short-haul, cheap to run, new efficient engines.

Boeing didn’t go down the path of coming up with a new single-aisle jet to compete with the new Airbus 320 Neo series, instead they decided to come up with a revised 737. The revised plane has slightly larger and more powerful engines, is a little higher off the ground, features some new hi-tech construction materials making it lighter, upgraded avionics and, importantly, new software that was meant to make it even safer.

You can identify a 737 MAX because of the two-spoke winglets at the end of the wings.

Now two of the new series 737 MAX have crashed within six months with investigators speaking about ‘similarities’ in the early days of the crash investigation.

Travel site Kayak even added an option to screen out flights using the 737 Max jets.

If panic persisted, the media kept writing stories about it and airlines were unwilling to buy it, the future of Boeing would be in jeopardy.

That’s the current situation. But it also reflects a similar time during a four-month period in late 1965 and early 1966 when four new Boeing 727 jets crashed. Three of the crashes occurred while the planes were attempting to land at US airports. Two of them happened within three days of each other in November 1965. The 727 was the first commercial jet to fly with less than four jet engines.

Like the 737 MAX crashes, the US regulator, the FAA, defended the planes’ safety and refused to ground the 727s at the time. It issued a statement the day after the third fatal 727 crash, saying that it could find no pattern in the crashes. It declined to ground the jet.

At the time Boeing was still riding on its reputation built around the Boeing 707 jet, the first successful commercial passenger jet (the British Comet was the first commercial passenger jet in 1952 but had a series of catastrophic crashes from which it never recovered profitable sales).

Eventually the Civil Aeronautics Board, which was created in the wake of the crashes, cleared the 727 and blamed pilot error for the accidents. Pilots were not prepared to fly the 727, and that led to the crashes. The new wings of the revolutionary (for the time) 727 made the plane descend much faster than was possible in the past, giving pilots the chance to slow the planes down faster and land on much shorter runways than the jets of the time, a big selling point.

But the pilots at the controls of the four doomed jets in the 60s were apparently unprepared for how quickly the planes would descend with the new wings.

But Boeing did get past the 727 crisis. Increased training led to safer operation of the plane, and these kinds of crashes ended. Customers soon forgot.

The 727 went on to become the bestselling jet of its time for Boeing. It eventually sold 1,831 of the jets, a lot when flying in jets was still mostly reserved for the ‘jet set’ and people able to afford the expensive ticket prices of the time.

“I don’t know that people will care that much for very long,” says Shem Malmquist, a Boeing 727 and 777 Captain.

“They only worry about the price of the ticket.”

People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis. | News by The Thaiger

The Boeing 727 suffered four high-profile crashes in the mid 60s and went on to become a flying favourite.

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Preliminary data suggests ‘similarities’ to Lion Air incident – Ethiopian Airlines crash

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Preliminary data suggests ‘similarities’ to Lion Air incident – Ethiopian Airlines crash | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The ‘black box’ data recorder arrived in Paris last week

Preliminary data analysis from the black boxes of last week’s Ethiopian Airlines plane crash has revealed “similarities” to last October’s Lion Air incident.

Ethiopian Minister of Transport, Dagmawit Moges, says that investigators recovered all relevant data from the data recorders on board the fateful final flight of the Boeing 737 MAX jet.

He did not provide additional details about the alleged “similarities” between the two crashes saying they were “subject to additional investigation. The black box recorders are being evaluated in France after the Ethiopian aviation authorities said they didn’t have the facilities to analyze the data. The recovered recorders were sent to Paris last Thursday.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on March 10, just six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. It mimics characteristics of the other Boeing 737 MAX crash six months ago in Jakarta where the pilot and crew reported problems with the flight controls before plummeting to the ground (or the sea in the case of the Jakarta crash).

Similarities between the two incidents, both of which remain under investigation, led aviation authorities around the world to ban the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 model aircraft.

Investigators suspect the Lion Air crash may have been caused by a combination of software, pilot education of new flight systems (introduced by Boeing), and a faulty angle-of-attack sensor on the outside of the plane that could have transmitted incorrect data.

Boeing’s new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, special software designed for the new MAX model jets, may have been responsible for forcing the plane’s nose down, over0riding the pilot’s corrections.

The Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a statement saying the company “continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available.”

He added the company is “finalising its development of a previously announced software update that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs.

Boeing may apply for special permits to flight-test modifications of newly assembled 737 MAX aircraft in U.S. airspace during the worldwide commercial-flight ban of all 737 MAX-family jets.

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Accused Australian killer appears in Christchurch court charged with murder

The Thaiger

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Accused Australian killer appears in Christchurch court charged with murder | The Thaiger

A 28 year old Australian man smirked as he walked into the Christchurch District Court in New Zealand’s South Island this morning, charged with murder after a carefully planned mass shooting at lunchtime prayers at two mosques.

The public was banned from the courtroom for the proceedings, but an angry crowd waited outside the court building.

Brenton Tarrant was brought to court by armed prison officers into the heavily secured central city courtroom, packed with local and international journalists.

According to reporters, the man kept turning towards the media and ‘smiling’. They report the man was ‘eerily calm’ during his appearance.

He has initially appeared on one charge of murder but is expected to face further charges. In New Zealand a murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Press from all over the world gathered in the courtroom, but the general public was banned.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Daniel John Burrough of Christchurch has been charged with intent to excite hostility or ill will against any group of persons on the ground of the colour, race or ethnic or national origins.

The alleged mass slaughter of Muslim worshippers at Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, in central Christchurch, left 49 dead and more than 20 injured.

41 people died at Al Noor Mosque, seven at the Linwood Mosque and another died after being rushed to hospital.

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