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Phuket Gazette World News: Ex-CIA man nabbed in Panama; Safety alert grounds Dreamliner; 6 new MERS cases in Saudi

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Phuket Gazette World News: Ex-CIA man nabbed in Panama; Safety alert grounds Dreamliner; 6 new MERS cases in Saudi | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ex-CIA official, convicted of kidnapping in Italy, held in Panama
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, convicted in Italy of kidnapping an Egyptian Muslim cleric, has been arrested in Panama, Italian and Panamanian officials said on Thursday.

Italy’s top court last year upheld a guilty verdict against Seldon Lady for the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr.

Seldon Lady was originally sentenced in the first trial of its kind against “rendition” flights practiced by the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Panamanian police official said Seldon Lady had been arrested by Panama’s border authorities and handed over to Interpol.

Earlier on Thursday, Italian judicial sources also said that Seldon Lady had been captured in Panama.

The CIA declined to comment.

Osama Nasr was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation, where he says he was tortured for seven months. The imam, also known as Abu Omar, was a resident of Italy at the time of the abduction.

Prosecutors alleged the CIA flew the imam from northern Italy via Germany to Egypt, where he says he was tortured with electric shocks, beatings, rape threats and genital abuse.

In 2009, an Italian judge sentenced 23 Americans, including Seldon Lady, in absentia for the abduction of the cleric. Seldon Lady was handed a nine-year jail term, the heftiest sentence.

The rendition flights by the Bush administration have been condemned by human rights groups, and prompted investigations into the procedure in countries allied to the United States.

Dreamliner returns to Boston after mechanical alert, shares fall
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner plane operated by Japan Airlines Co Ltd returned to Boston’s Logan International Airport on Thursday after a mechanical indicator alert came on, driving Boeing shares 1.7 percent lower.

“The pilot decided to turn back out of an abundance of caution,” airport spokesman Richard Walsh told Reuters.

Carol Anderson, a spokeswoman for Japan Airlines, confirmed the move but offered no further details.

“As a standard precautionary measure due to a maintenance message indicator, JL007 bound for Tokyo-Narita is returning to Boston Logan for checks,” she said.

The after-hours share fall reflected lingering concerns about Boeing’s newest plane, which remains under investigation after a fire on board a parked 787 at Heathrow Airport in London last week.

Six new MERS cases in UAE, Saudi
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have reported six new cases of the SARS-like coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

The latest infections of four women and two men aged between 26 and 42 bring the global total to 88 cases, including 45 deaths, the United Nations agency said in a statement.

Five of the six new cases were health workers and the other was a man who came in close contact with someone who had been infected with the disease, which is known as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS, WHO said.

Millions are expected to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in October for the haj pilgrimage. Saudi authorities have cut the number of visas this year, citing safety concerns over expansion work at the main mosque site.

The WHO is drawing up advice on travel in relation to coronavirus, to be issued in coming days.

It urged health care providers to be vigilant for severe acute respiratory infections and test any recent travellers from the Middle East suffering from such infections for MERS.

The global health body has set up an emergency committee of independent experts on MERS, who said on Wednesday it was not a “public health emergency of international concern” for the time being.

The committee can make recommendations on travel and trade restrictions, increased disease surveillance and exchange of data.

Two of the new coronavirus cases in Abu Dhabi and both cases in Saudi Arabia displayed mild symptoms. The other two in Abu Dhabi had no symptoms of the disease.

Cases have also been found in Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Britain, France, Italy and Germany.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down

Caitlin Ashworth

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Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down | The Thaiger
Screenshot via The Independent

Violence broke out in the Netherlands and a Covid-19 testing centre was burnt down after a nationwide curfew was imposed over the weekend to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In Eindhoven and Amsterdam, riot police deployed water cannons to disperse the crowds of anti-lockdown protesters.

The Netherlands has been under a tough lockdown since mid-December, leading to clashes between anti-lockdown protesters and police. Just last week, police in Amsterdam used the water cannon on hundreds of protesters. Local officials say the riot police had been called to break up the crowd because people weren’t abiding by social distancing measures.

On Saturday, a new 9pm to 4:30am curfew was imposed, tightening the already tough restrictions. As the curfew went into effect that night, rioters set fire to a portable coronavirus testing facility by a harbour in Urk, a fishing town around 80 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam. That night and early the next morning, 3,600 people in the Netherlands were fined for breaching the new curfew. Police say 25 people were arrested for breaching the curfew and violence.

Local officials say the riots in Urk were a “slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk.”

The next day, in the southern city Eindhoven, rioters threw rocks at police and set fires in the centre of the city. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to break up the crowds. Rocks and shattered glass littered a central square in the city. At least 55 people were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

In the capital of Amsterdam, police used a water cannon to break up a group of anti-lockdown protesters. The Associated Press says more than 100 people were arrested.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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Crime

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands

The Thaiger

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Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sky News

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin is under arrest in the Netherlands after years of authorities chasing him worldwide. 57 year old Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested by Dutch police acting on a request by Australia’s federal police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime named him as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines worldwide. Tse is commonly compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Sam Gor is suspected of laundering billions in drug money through businesses such as casinos, real estate and hotels in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest came after a 2012 operation that arrested 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The groups was accused of importing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia, according to police.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.”

The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost 10 years after that operation’s launch is a major break for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China. The production of methamphetamine, either in tablet form or the highly potent crystalised “ice” version, take place in Myanmar’s eastern north Shan state. Ketamine and fentanyl are also produced there as well, mostly in ‘portable’ labs that hide underneath the thick rainforest canopy.

In 2018 alone, Thailand netted more than 515 million methamphetamine tablets, a number 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region 10 years ago. Traffickers are constantly finding more creative ways to ship their products as drug busts are featured daily on the news in those regions.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Czech ‘Covid’ sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 with a 95% success rate

The Thaiger

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Czech ‘Covid’ sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 with a 95% success rate | The Thaiger

Czech dog trainers say canines can sniff out Covid-19 with an astonishing 95% success rate. The team of trainers in Renda, a Czech mountain village, are working in their own time to teach the dogs to tell the difference between fake samples of Covid and real ones by sniffing pieces of cloth. Lenka Vlachova, a trainer who works at Prague’s fire brigade, says the cloths either feature a scent from patients with Covid-19 or from those that tested negative for the virus. They also say they there are cloths with fake samples of the virus that are part of the testing group.

The project head, Gustav Hotovy, says the study is designed to verify dogs’ ability to detect the virus and generate a method enabling the use of training dogs in combatting the pandemic.

“The method should also work with other diseases, even more lethal than Covid-19. In the end, we should be able to detect a huge number of people in a very short time with a trained dog.”

Hotovy, who is a retired cynologist, whose team started training the dogs last August, says the first study confirming that dogs are able to detect tissue attacked by a virus was conducted in the United States about 10 years ago.

“The virus changes the human tissue, affecting the scent signature of the person.”

He says that the signature changes so much that it is immediately picked up on by the dogs. The samples are gathered by rubbing a piece of cotton against the patient’s skin and then the team has to make sure the sample is virus-free to keep the dogs from catching the virus.

A Finnish team has also been using dogs to detect the virus at Helsinki airport, reporting its dogs can detect the virus with close to 100% accuracy.

SOURCE: Reuters

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