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Phuket Gazette World News: Dutch rally on royal ascension; Egyptian students in mass poisoning; Putin under fire; Virgin Galactic test launch

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Phuket Gazette World News: Dutch rally on royal ascension; Egyptian students in mass poisoning; Putin under fire; Virgin Galactic test launch | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Dutch party on streets as royals prepare for handover
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Willem-Alexander will become the first King of the Netherlands in more than 120 years when Queen Beatrix passes the crown to her eldest son on Tuesday morning.

“He’s ready, in every way,” Queen Beatrix said of her 46-year-old son, a water management specialist who is expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy, as she bid farewell to the nation in a subdued televised address on Monday night.

April 30, or Queen’s day, is always a day for partying in the Netherlands, although many Dutch took Monday off work and started celebrating in earnest from Monday evening with street bands and music.

But this year the city of Amsterdam is putting on a special show to celebrate the investiture of Willem-Alexander and the abdication of Beatrix, 75, who wants to retire after 33 years in the job.

The royals are broadly popular, with 78 percent of Dutch in favour of the monarchy up from 74 percent a year ago, according to an Ipsos poll.

But they have been stripped of their political influence, and no longer appoint the mediator who conducts exploratory talks when forming government coalitions.

Amsterdam is already awash with orange, the royal colour. Houses are covered in bunting and flags, shop windows are stuffed with orange cakes, sweets, clothes and flowers and many partygoers are decked out in the royal colours.

Nearly a million people are expected to join the street party with dancing to bands and DJs, helping create a carnival atmosphere. As always, there will be people on the pavements at dawn setting up traditional makeshift bric-a-brac stalls.

Britain’s Prince Charles and Japan’s Crown Princess Masako, who is making her first foreign trip since falling ill a decade ago, will be among 2,000 visitors at the official ceremony.

“There will be tears on Tuesday,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, paying tribute to “this formidable lady who has ruled this country for over 30 years”.

On Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m. British time) Beatrix will sign her abdication, whereupon Willem-Alexander immediately becomes king and his wife Maxima, a popular former investment banker from Argentina, becomes queen.

All three will appear on the palace balcony to wave and address the crowds in Dam Square.

They will then head from the palace to the 600-year-old Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, next door where the king will swear an oath to uphold the Dutch constitution before lawmakers.

The Dutch monarch is never crowned, since, in the absence of a state church, there is no cleric available to carry out the coronation. But there is a crown, which will sit on a table next to him throughout the ceremony, along with other regalia that constitute the crown jewels.

Willem-Alexander will wear a royal mantle that has been used for investitures since 1815, although it has been repaired and altered at least twice over the past century, for the investitures of his mother and grandmother.

The celebration will continue through the evening with a water pageant along the Ij, Amsterdam’s historic waterfront.

Egyptian students protest mass food poisoning at university
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Hundreds of students from Egypt’s top Islamic university protested on Monday to demand investigation and punishment of those responsible for a second mass food poisoning on campus this month.

Ninety Al-Azhar University students were hospitalized on Monday after eating at a campus cafeteria, the health ministry said. Earlier this month, some 460 Al-Azhar University students were hospitalised following a mass food poisoning on campus.

Students said the incident on Monday was a sign of neglect by officials at Al-Azhar, a thousand-year-old mosque and university in Cairo that draws students from across the Sunni world.

An initial investigation of the first food poisoning incident by the toxicology unit of Ain Shams hospital in Cairo blamed contaminated food.

“Those of you who are silent about this, why are you silent?” the students chanted on Monday. They blocked a road in front of university in the Cairo neighbourhood of Nasr City.

Protests on issues ranging from national politics to local grievances have become more common in Egypt since the overthrow two years ago of autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

Ibrahim El-Hodhod, the deputy-president for educational and student affairs at Al-Azhar, said a committee had been formed to investigate the incident, state news agency MENA reported. El-Hodhod visited the hospitalised students on Monday, MENA said.

An emergency meeting by the university’s management would be held on Tuesday to look into the case, MENA said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil visited the hospitalized students on Monday and ordered the interior ministry to immediately investigate the mass food poisoning, according to a statement from his office on Monday evening.

Russian law on NGOs comes under fire at U.N. rights forum
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Russia’s new law on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) came under fire at the United Nations on Monday from Western critics led by the United States calling for it to be rescinded.

Western powers and rights groups view the restrictive legislation and inspections as being aimed at intimidating activists and silencing criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

But the Kremlin says that law requiring NGOs with funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents” is needed to ensure transparency and the justice minister defended it during a debate on Russia’s record at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The Geneva forum examines the policies and practices of all U.N. member states every four years. The open debate and its non-binding recommendations are designed to train a spotlight on abuses and pressure governments to make democratic reforms.

“We’re concerned by laws which restrict civil society, including human rights activists, which have been used to justify the wave of unannounced inspections of civil society organisations,” U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said.

Washington recommended “the removal of legislation that restricts civil society from receiving international funding and (that Russian authorities) cease unannounced inspections aimed at intimidating civil society organisations”, she said.

Arbitrary arrests and “prosecutions of peaceful protesters and opposition leaders” were also of concern, she added.

Britain and Germany were among countries to speak out at the law on NGOs that engage in political activity, which came into force in November, but stopped short of demanding its removal.

“We are concerned by recent developments in Russia, particularly legislative steps taken to control civil society, restrict political opposition and marginalise minority groups,” British diplomat Robert Last said in a speech.

Russian’s main independent election watchdog and thousands of other non-governmental groups face fines or closure, the justice ministry said earlier this month.

A Moscow court handed a 300,000-rouble (6,128 pounds) fine last week to Golos

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New cases reported over the weekend are concerning health offficials - BBC.com

Another 139 new cases of a flu-like disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus in China has shocked health officials. There’s also been a third confirmed death reported today. Worse, the outbreak has now spread beyond Wuhan in central China where the virus was first identified. There have been cases reported in Beijing, a province next door to Shanghai and Shenzhen in southern China.

Health authorities in Beijing have now confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus today, while Guangdong authorities in southern China reported one new case in Shenzhen as well. The Shenzhen case is the first confirmation that the virus has spread domestically beyond Wuhan.

The Wuhan Health Commission announced today that 136 new patients had been diagnosed over the weekend – 1 person died from the virus, 2 remain in critical condition, 33 are in serious condition. All three patients that have died are believed to have visited Wuhan in the last month or so.

The new cases have brought the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in China to 201. That’s a big jump over numbers reported over the weekend.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, say they are monitoring eight patient. All eight have been quarantined for treatment. In coastal Zhejiang province, bordering Shanghai, authorities have now reported five new suspected cases who have been confirmed to have visited Wuhan. Last week, three cases were detected outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market at the centre of the pneumonia outbreak in he city of tWuhan has been closed for disinfection since January 1.

Meanwhile, Thai officials are stepping up screening efforts with many flights flying in from Wuhan over the next few weeks for the Chinese New Year holidays. Health officials say they’re confident that their screening efforts will detect any infected passengers getting off flights at Thai airports.

SOURCE: CNN

Coronavirus spreads north and south in China - 139 new cases reported | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Bangkok Post

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year

The Thaiger

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Conversation

Chinese medical officials have now reported four more cases of the viral pneumonia strain caused by a new coronavirus. The discoveries are causing rising concern that the disease is not fully understand and could spread during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

The new virus, originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan – the apparent epicentre of the outbreak – is believed to belong in the same class of coronaviruses that includes the deadly SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people around the world in 2002/03. That outbreak also started in China.

At this stage all signs are that the virus isn’t as lethal as SARS, but there is still little known about the coronavirus’ origins and how it is transmitted. But it has been established at this stage that it is not spread human to human.

Both Thailand and Japan have confirmed new cases of the virus. In Thailand the patient was detected when arriving on a flight from Wuhan. And Japan’s health ministry reported that a man who had visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan.

Both patients have fully recovered.

The new cases detected in China, and the cases detected overseas, are stoking global concerns as many of the 1.4 billion Chinese will head overseas during the Chinese New Year holidays that begin next week and run through to early February.

The Wuhan Health Commission reports that the the four new cases are now in stable condition. 45 cases have been reported in the city as of last Thursday. A second patient died on Wednesday this week. Nearly 50 people are now known to have been infected globally, but all of them either lived in Wuhan or have travelled to the city.

The London Imperial College’s MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis speculates that there are probably “substantially more cases” of the new coronavirus than currently declared by Wuhan authorities. Their modelling estimates that there would be 1,723 cases showing onset of related symptoms by the second week in January.

Meanwhile US authorities say they are now screening at three airports to detect passengers arriving via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan. And in Asia, authorities in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are stepping up monitoring of travellers from Wuhan at airports.

SOURCE: Reuters | Science Alert

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Thailand

Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released

Greeley Pulitzer

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Johan van Laarhoven walks free after serving six years of a 100 year sentence in Thai prison - The Chiang Rai Times

A Dutch citizen who was jailed for 100 years in Thailand, is now on his way home after years of campaigning for his release. His sentence was reduced to 75 years on appeal and later to 50 years by the Supreme court. Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis “coffee shops” in Holland, was jailed in Thailand for money laundering, along with his Thai wife, though the offences took place in The Netherlands.

Thai authorities began investigating Van Laarhoven in 2014 after a letter from a Dutch public prosecutor’s office, informing them that he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting their help. Last year, MPs called on the government to to extradite Van Laarhoven and his wife back to Netherlands. The Dutch justice minister even met with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin to discuss the case.

Even though cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, Dutch officials bungled a tax query to Thai authorities regarding the sale of the Dutchman’s cannabis cafe chain. This led to a criminal investigation and his televised arrest in Thailand.

Thai authorities seized the Dutchman’s assets and he was sentenced to 100 years in prison. His young Thai wife, Mingkwan, was jailed for 13 years as an accomplice. The Netherlands has an extradition treaty with Thailand, but it can only be implemented after a case has been ruled “definitive.” Van Laarhoven’s sentence was upheld late last year, clearing the way for a diplomatic solution. It’s unclear whether his wife will be allowed to join him in the Netherlands.

Once back, Van Laarhoven will spend two years in a Dutch jail to complete his sentence, and also face criminal investigation for money laundering. The investigation will focus on tax fraud, membership in a criminal organisation and laundering €20m (675 million baht) according to a Dutch public prosecutor.

SOURCE: The Chiang Rai Times | Dutchnews.nl

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