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Phuket Gazette World News: Drone strikes killing civilians; Brazil sugar blaze paralysis; South Africans demand justice for child murders; Aussie wildfire kills one

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Phuket Gazette World News: Drone strikes killing civilians; Brazil sugar blaze paralysis; South Africans demand justice for child murders; Aussie wildfire kills one | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Pakistan tells U.N. at least 400 civilians killed by drone strikes
Reuters/Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Pakistan has confirmed that of some 2,200 people killed by drone strikes in the past decade, at least 400 were civilians and an additional 200 victims were deemed “probable non-combatants,” a U.N. human rights investigator said on Friday.

Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, also urged the United States to release its own data on the number of civilian casualties caused by its drone strikes.

Emmerson said Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry told him it had recorded at least 330 drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan’s largely lawless region bordering Afghanistan, since 2004.

Clearing out militant border sanctuaries is seen by Washington as crucial to bringing stability to Afghanistan, particularly as the U.S.-led combat mission ends in 2014. Most, but not all, attacks with unmanned aerial vehicles have been by the United States. Britain and Israel have also used them.

In an interim report to U.N. General Assembly released on Friday, Emmerson said Pakistani government records showed that drone strikes had killed at least 2,200 people and seriously wounded at least 600 since 2004.

He said Pakistan had confirmed that “at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of remotely piloted aircraft strikes and a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants.”

“Officials indicated that, owing to underreporting and obstacles to effective investigation, those figures were likely to be an underestimate” of civilian deaths, Emmerson said.

Emmerson, who visited Pakistan in March, noted that principal media monitoring organizations had recorded a “marked drop” in reported civilians casualties from drone strikes in the tribal areas during 2012 and the first half of 2013.

The tribal areas have never been fully integrated into Pakistan’s administrative, economic or judicial system. They are dominated by ethnic Pashtun tribes, some of which have sheltered and supported militants over decades of conflict in Afghanistan.

“The involvement of CIA in lethal counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan and Yemen has created an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency,” Emmerson said.

“One consequence is that the United States has to date failed to reveal its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft in classified operations conducted in Pakistan and elsewhere.”

YEMEN, AFGHANISTAN

During his Senate confirmation process in February, CIA director John Brennan said the closely guarded number of civilian casualties from drone strikes should be made public. The U.S. government, without releasing numbers, has sought to portray civilian deaths from these strikes as minimal.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said at the time that she had been trying to speak publicly about the “very low number of civilian casualties” and to verify that number each year has “typically been in the single digits.” However, she said she was told she could not divulge the actual numbers because they were classified.

In May, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a document that he said codified guidelines for the use of force against terrorists. He said before drone strikes were taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians would be killed or wounded.

Emmerson urged the United States to declassify to the maximum extent possible information “relevant to its lethal extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations; and to release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft, together with information on the evaluation methodology used.”

He reported that in Afghanistan, the U.N. mission said while casualties were likely underestimated, it had assessed that in recent years drones strikes appeared to have inflicted lower levels of civilian casualties than other air strikes.

Emmerson said “the United States appears to have succeeded in avoiding the infliction of large-scale loss of civilian life in Yemen” when carrying out drone strikes. “Nonetheless, there have been a number of incidents in which civilians have reportedly been killed or injured,” he said.

“The most serious single incident to date was a remotely piloted aircraft attack on 2 September 2012 in which 12 civilians were reportedly killed in the vicinity of Rada’a,” Emmerson said.

Brazil fire destroys one of world’s biggest sugar terminals
Reuters/Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A fire ravaged Copersucar’s sugar terminal in Brazil on Friday, paralyzing operations of the world’s biggest sugar trader and putting 10 million tonnes of export capacity offline for six months or more.

The fire hit all of Copersucar’s warehouses at the Santos port, igniting 180,000 tonnes of sugar – roughly 10 percent of Brazil’s monthly sugar exports – and driving prices of the sweetener to a one-year high on global markets.

The loss of nearly all of its port capacity will send Copersucar scrambling to lease or rent terminal space to cover its obligations to global buyers and exchanges in the coming months. Copersucar says nearly a fifth of the world’s sugar exports flows through its trading desks.

“A conservative estimate would be six months to get this in operational form (again),” said a U.S. trader. “The jewel in their crown has been effectively destroyed.”

Copersucar’s rivals in Brazil will likely pick up some of the slack left by the fire and benefit from the extra export volume and improved sugar prices. The fire did not affect terminal operations at other exporters at Santos, such as Cosan SA, Sao Martinho SA or Noble.

The disaster adds one more bend to the tortuous path that Brazilian agricultural products must take to global markets. Potholed roads, scarce rail transport and backed up ports already undercut margins of Brazilian sugar and grain producers and cause headaches for global commodity markets.

Santos port authority Codesp, which manages day-to-day operations at Brazil’s main port, said the fire started in the conveyor system, which transports sugar through Copersucar’s warehouses, around 6 a.m. Brasilia time (0900 GMT).

Television footage showed a three-story high mountain of sugar engulfed in flames inside a warehouse that had lost most of its siding and roof to the flames. Some of the overhanging conveyor belts that transport sugar between the warehouses and eventually to waiting ships appeared to have toppled over or were lying on the pavement alongside some of the warehouses.

Firefighters eventually contained the blaze, which could keep smouldering for another two days, said Codesp, noting that “facilities involved in the accident are totally destroyed.”

International sugar markets reacted quickly. ICE March raw sugar prices rose more than 6 percent to a one-year high on news of the fire before paring gains. The March contract settled up 2.5 percent at 19.48 cents per lb.

Copersucar officials said they had no additional information about the cause or containment of the blaze beyond what the fire department and port authority Codesp reported.

COUNTING ON STOCKPILES

Analysts at investment bank Credi

— 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.

World

Sir Sean Connery dies at 90 years of age

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Sir Sean Connery dies at 90 years of age | The Thaiger

Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90. The Scottish actor was best known for his portrayal of British spy 007 “Bond… James Bond”, doing his first Bond movie in 1962 in “Dr. No”. According to his son, Jason Connery, he died peacefully in his sleep in the Bahamas.

He was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in 2000. He also received the Kennedy Centre Honour, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Scottish newspaper The Sunday Herald called him “The Greatest Living Scot” while People Magazine didn’t just vote him “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1989 but “Sexiest Man of the Century” a decade later.

He was the first to bring the role of James Bond to the big screen , appearing in 7 of the Bond franchise films, and the first of 7 actors that have played the role. Sir Sean was often voted the best actor to have played 007 in the long-running franchise in many polls.

His acting career spanned 5 decades and he eventually won an Oscar in 1988 playing an Irish cop in “The Untouchables”.

Sir Sean’s other films included The Hunt for Red October, Highlander (a Thaiger favourite), Entrapment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

Jason Connery said many of his family were with him and around when he died peacefully in his sleep.

“We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time.”

“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”

Sir Sean was also a long-time supporter of Scottish independence, saying in interviews in the run-up to the 2014 referendum that he might return from his Bahamas home to live in Scotland if it voted to break away from the rest of the UK.

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Weather

This year’s most powerful typhoon will hit Philippines tomorrow

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This year’s most powerful typhoon will hit Philippines tomorrow | The Thaiger

Typhoon Goni continues to bear down on The Philippines in one of the South China Sea’s busiest storm years. 220,000 people have now been evacuated as of today.The typhoon, packing “destructive winds’, is expected to reach the south-east of the Philippine’s main island of Luzon tomorrow morning with the eye of the storm passing over during Sunday afternoon. Forecasters are expecting wind speeds of over 200 kilometres per hour.

Typhoon Goni is known locally as “Rolly”.

A warning has been issued “moderate to high risk” of storm surges up to 3 metres high along the east coast over the next 2 days.

On Wednesday this week Typhoon Molave smashed into Vietnam’s central coast, killing up to 35 people and flooding low-lying villages and then dropping heavy rain on southern Laos and Central Thailand. Molave killed 20 people as it passed over The Philippines.
This year's most powerful typhoon will hit Philippines tomorrow | News by The Thaiger
GRAPHIC: Typhoon Goni will reach Philippine’s island of Luzon tomorrow.

Schools are being used as emergency shelters as well as government-co-ordinated evacuation centres and gymnasiums. Authorities are ramping up preparations in the Bicol region southeast of Philippine capital Manila, readying rescue vehicles, emergency response teams and relief goods ahead of the storm.

The Philippines averages around 20 storms and typhoons every year, wiping out harvests, infrastructure and homes. The deadliest storm on record for The Philippines was Typhoon Haiyan, which dumped huge wave surges on the central city of Tacloban killing over 7,300 people in 2013.

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Economy

Dow and S&P 500 take a breath after an ugly week, tech stocks lead the way down

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Dow and S&P 500 take a breath after an ugly week, tech stocks lead the way down | The Thaiger

US stocks closed lower yesterday to end an ugly week downbeat with ‘uncertainty’ remaining the overwhelming sentiment. Tech stocks led the march downwards. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped in its biggest monthly collapse since March with investors reacting to rising Covid-19 cases in the US and Europe, peppered by nervousness ahead of next Tuesday’s US presidential election. The increased volatility forced all three major indexes seeing their biggest weekly declines since the worst of the coronavirus-inspired selloff 8 months ago.

The Dow fell around 157 points, to end near 26,502, according to preliminary figures, while the S&P 500 lost around 40 points, or 1.2%, to finish near 3,270. The Nasdaq Composite gave up around 274 points, or 2.4%, closing near 10,912. The Dow had a 6.5% weekly fall and a 4.6% monthly drop. Friday’s decline saw the Nasdaq negative for the month of October, falling 2.3%. The Nasdaq was down 5.5% for the week.

The Dow dropped more than 500 points at its session low with tech stocks – primarily Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook – leading the market decline.

A number of stocks were on the move, down, following a slew of earnings, including from the tech giants. Twitter sank more than 20% on slowing growth, while Exxon reported its 3rd straight quarter of losses.

Key moments yesterday…

  • Dow closed down 0.59% for its 5th negative day out of 6
  • S&P 500 closed down 1.21% for its 4th negative day in 5
  • Dow closed down 6.47% this week for its worst week since March 20
  • S&P closed down 5.64% this week for its worst week since March 20 when the S&P lost 14.98%
  • S&P closed down 2.77% this month for its second-straight negative month
  • Nasdaq closed down 5.51% this week for its worst week since March 20 when the Nasdaq lost 12.64%

Dow and S&P 500 take a breath after an ugly week, tech stocks lead the way down | News by The Thaiger

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