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Phuket Gazette World News: Gorbachev still alive; Israel-Palestine peace talks; Chile blunder; Top Mafioso arrested in London

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Phuket Gazette World News: Gorbachev still alive; Israel-Palestine peace talks; Chile blunder; Top Mafioso arrested in London | The Thaiger

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

Gorbachev denies false reports of his death after hacker attack
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Mikhail Gorbachev announced to the world he was alive and well after hackers broke into microblogs run by a news agency late on Wednesday and posted false reports of his death.

“I’m alive and well. I understand that some people are trying to use their sites to catch people’s attention or are fulfilling the orders of some authority or another,” the former Soviet president, 82, said in a statement on newspaper Novaya Gazeta’s website.

He said the hackers had been “hoping in vain”, and used a Russian profanity to describe them.

Gorbachev is disliked by many Russians for what they see as his role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was followed by political and economic chaos in the 1990s.

The state-run RIA news agency removed the bogus posts from its Twitter blogs within minutes and said it had launched an internal investigation and requested an investigation by the Federal Security Service.

The spokesman for the last president of the Soviet Union said in June Gorbachev had been taken to hospital for tests. Rumours about his health spread online.

Gorbachev has maintained his interest in politics and criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin last year.

The hacked sites included Twitter accounts of RIA’s German-language service and its International Multimedia Press Center.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to resume August 14 – U.S
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume peace talks in Jerusalem on August 14, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

“Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians will be resuming August 14 in Jerusalem and will be followed by a meeting in Jericho (in the West Bank),” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told a briefing.

The sides held their first peace negotiations in nearly three years in Washington on July 30 in U.S.-mediated efforts to end the conflict of more than six decades.

Chilean President Pinera seeks forgiveness for census blunder
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: President Sebastian Pinera asked Chileans to forgive him on Thursday for a 2012 census that a review panel found to be so flawed it should be thrown out, a political embarrassment for his government months before a general election.

An independent panel appointed by the government of conservative Pinera to review the census recommended on Wednesday that it be discarded and held again with fewer questions in 2015.

Pinera said the government will now seek a second opinion from international experts before deciding whether to discard the census and do it over from scratch or try to correct its errors.

“Mistakes were made in the census and I want to humbly ask Chileans for their forgiveness,” Pinera said at a public event.

His plea comes as Chile’s right-wing bloc jostles to bolster former Labour Minister Evelyn Matthei as its presidential candidate, before a November election that is widely expected to see ex-President Michelle Bachelet make a comeback to the presidential palace.

Pinera is constitutionally barred from serving two consecutive terms.

The panel found that 9.3 percent of Chile’s estimated 17.4 million population were not surveyed in the census, an omission rate some three times higher than other recent census carried out in the region.

“The 9.3 percent omission (rate) is a national average, but it may be higher in certain municipalities,” the panel said. The omission rate could exceed 20 percent in a fifth of the country’s municipalities, it added.

Additionally, the panel recommended that the 2012 census not be used for official data or public policy purposes, but that for “transparency’s” sake the data be made available to interested public and investigators.

In May, the government’s INE statistics agency started an internal audit of its information gathering for the national census after complaints by some of its senior officials about the accuracy of inflation and census data.

That came after nearly a dozen department heads at the INE sent the government body’s then-chief, Francisco Labbe, a letter expressing their concern about “errors” in the way the census was carried out and an unwillingness to implement methodological improvements they recommended to the CPI.

Labbe has since quit his post at the head of the INE and has been replaced.

Senior Mafia member arrested in London after 20 years on run
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A senior member of an Italian mafia clan, wanted by the Italian authorities for almost 20 years, has been arrested in London where he had been running a travel agency, British police said on Thursday.

Domenico Rancadore, 64, who had been sentenced to seven years in jail while on the run, was detained in west London under a European arrest warrant on Wednesday, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

The Italian Interior Ministry said he was a leading member of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra group and was accused of mafia association, extortion and other serious crimes.

Rancadore, nicknamed “U profissuri” (the professor), is the son of Giuseppe Rancadore, the former head of the mafia clan in Trabia near Palermo, who is serving a life sentence in jail.

In Britain, Domenico Rancadore ran a travel agency and lived a comfortable life, the Italian Interior Ministry said.

British media reported Roncadore, a qualified physical education teacher, had been living with his British wife and two children at a suburban house in west London using the name “Marc Skinner”.

Rancadore appeared on Thursday at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court, where his lawyer said he had lived a “blameless life” in Britain, the BBC reported.

The judge overseeing his case said there were concerns over the validity of his arrest warrant and he was remanded in custody to reappear in court again on Friday.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Chiang Rai

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin

Greeley Pulitzer

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Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | The Thaiger

An 49-year-old Italian has been charged with drug smuggling after arriving at Perth Airport from Chiang Mai. He allegedly had about 300 grams of heroin, worth about 135,000 Australian dollars, hidden inside his body.

After trace technology during a baggage examination showed positive for narcotics, Australian Border Force officers referred him to the Australian Federal Police for an internal exam.

The man was taken to hospital where 63 pellets of heroin were allegedly found in his stomach. X-Rays also revealed three more pellets of heroin had been internally inserted into his rectum.

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | News by The Thaiger

Photo: Australian Border Force

He was charged with importing a controlled drug and faces 25 years in prison.

A spokeman for the Australian Border Forcesaid the ABF is fully aware of the lengths people are willing to go to bring drugs into Australia.

“They not only risk lengthy jail time, but are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and health,” he said.

“Smuggling drugs internally is an incredibly stupid endeavour. Furthermore there is a risk that stomach acid will eat through the wrapping of the heroin, consequently risking a fatal drug overdose,” according to federal police.

SOURCE: chiangraitimes.com

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World

Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios

The Thaiger

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Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios | The Thaiger

Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.

The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.

Here are some possible scenarios ahead…

A technical extension

Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.

Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

More delays

Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.

Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.

A longer delay could also allow for a general election.

A crash and burn exit

The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.

Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.

Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.

Another general election

Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.

Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.

Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.

Another referendum

Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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