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Phuket Gazette World News: Egypt locked in standoff, millions protest; EU confronts US on spying; Aussies back Rudd; Iraq football bombing; Nigeria mass jailbreak

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Phuket Gazette World News: Egypt locked in standoff, millions protest; EU confronts US on spying; Aussies back Rudd; Iraq football bombing; Nigeria mass jailbreak | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Egypt locked in standoff after millions rally against Mursi
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Egypt was locked in a tense standoff on Monday after millions of protesters swarmed into the streets to demand the resignation of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and militants set the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters on fire.

Young revolutionaries united with liberal and leftist opposition parties in a massive show of defiance on the first anniversary of Mursi’s inauguration on Sunday, chanting “the people demand the fall of the regime”.

The demonstrations, which brought half a million people to Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and a similar crowd in the second city, Alexandria, were easily the largest since the Arab Spring uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Mursi, the most populous Arab state’s first freely elected leader, stayed out of sight but acknowledged through a spokesman that he had made mistakes while adding that he was working to fix them and was open to dialogue. He showed no sign of quitting.

The massive protests showed that the ruling Muslim Brotherhood has not only alienated liberals and secularists by seeking to entrench Islamic rule but has also angered millions of ordinary Egyptians with economic mismanagement.

Tourism and investment have dried up, inflation is rampant and fuel supplies are running short, with power cuts lengthening in the summer heat.

Dozens of militants attacked the Brotherhood’s national headquarters in Cairo with shotguns, petrol bombs and rocks, setting it on fire, and targeted offices of its political party across the country.

There was no sign of police or fire service protection for the Brotherhood’s head office, where witnesses said guards inside the building fired on the attackers. Two people died and 11 were injured in that clash, hospital sources said.

Protest organisers called on Egyptians to keep occupying central squares across the country in a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience until Mursi quits.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators stayed in Tahrir Square long after midnight, appearing to heed the call for a sit-in.

Spotlight on Army

That put the spotlight on the army, which displayed its neutrality on Sunday, making goodwill gestures to the protesters after urging feuding politicians last week to cooperate to solve the nation’s problems.

Some uniformed policemen marched among protesters in Cairo and Alexandria, chanting “the police and the people are one”, and several senior officers addressed the Tahrir Square crowd.

That cast doubt on whether Mursi could rely on the security forces to clear the streets if he gave the order.

Diplomats said the army, which ruled uneasily during the transition from Mubarak’s fall to Mursi’s election, had signalled it was deeply reluctant to step in again, unless violence got out of hand and national security was at stake.

While the main demonstrations were peaceful and festive in atmosphere, seven people were shot dead in clashes in the central cities of Assiut, Beni Suef and Fayoum and outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters. The Health Ministry said 613 people were injured in street fighting around the country.

Women’s activists said at least 43 women, including a foreign journalist, suffered organised sexual assaults by gangs of men during the Tahrir Square rally.

The opposition National Salvation Front coalition of liberal, secular and left-wing parties declared victory, saying the masses had “confirmed the downfall of the regime of Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood”.

Next move unclear

Opposition leaders, who have seen previous protest waves fizzle after a few days in December and January, were to meet on Monday afternoon to plot their next move.

Influential Qatar-based Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, visiting Cairo, appealed to Egyptians to show more patience with Mursi, while saying the president had made errors.

“How long has Mohamed Mursi ruled? One year,” Qaradawi said in a television address. “Is one year enough to solve the problems of 60 years? That’s impossible… We must give the man a chance and help him. Everyone must cooperate.”

The United States and the European Union have urged Mursi to share power with the opposition, saying only a national consensus can help Egypt overcome a severe economic crisis and build democratic institutions.

Mursi and his Brotherhood supporters have so far rebuffed such pressure, arguing that he has democratic legitimacy and the opposition is merely seeking to achieve on the streets what it failed to secure at the ballot box.

Poll shows strong shift to Australian PM Rudd, new ministry named
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rewarded backers who helped him reclaim power from Julia Gillard with places in the new ministry, he announced on Monday, while a new poll showed a strong bounce for his Labor Party before national elections.

Rudd included 11 women in his ministry, potentially helping him counter a backlash from female voters after he defeated Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, in a party leadership vote on Wednesday.

Labor reinstalled Rudd, who was prime minister from late 2007 until mid-2010, after dire opinion polls indicated the government would suffer an overwhelming defeat under Gillard.

An influential Newspoll in The Australian newspaper on Monday found Rudd’s return had given the Labor Party a significant boost, lifting the party’s vote by six percentage points from 43 percent to 49 percent over the past week.

The poll showed the conservative opposition was still ahead on the key two-party vote after the distribution of preferences from minor parties, although its support fell from 57 percent to 51 over the past week.

Rudd has also overtaken opposition leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, with 49 percent support compared with 35 percent for Abbott. Gillard had consistently trailed Abbott as preferred prime minister.

“Rudd’s resurrection has changed the political dynamic and shifted the pressure to Abbott,” wrote The Australian’s political editor Dennis Shanahan.

Rudd can call an election for any time from mid-August, but is considering delaying the vote until October to give his government time to review key policies. The government could lose power if it drops just one seat in the 150-seat parliament.

Rudd rewarded supporters in his new ministry, with former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon returning to Cabinet as agriculture minister and former industry minister Kim Carr back as minister for innovation and higher education.

Last week, Rudd appointed his key supporter Chris Bowen as treasurer to replace Gillard loyalist Wayne Swan. Finance Minister Penny Wong, who backed Rudd in the leadership vote, retained her portfolio.

Rudd rejected suggestions the appointments were political and said all of his ministers were chosen on merit.

Bomb kills 12 soccer players, fans in Iraq – police and medics
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A bomb planted near a yard where people were playing soccer in Iraq killed 12 people

— 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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