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Phuket Gazette World News: India diplomat indicted, asked to leave U.S.

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

India diplomat indicted, asked to leave U.S.
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip-searching in New York caused a major rift between India and the United States was indicted for visa fraud on Thursday, and the U.S. government immediately asked her to leave the country.

A U.S. government official said Washington accepted a request by India to accredit the diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, at the United Nations and then asked New Delhi to waive the diplomatic immunity that status conferred. India denied the request, leading Washington to ask for her departure, the official said.

In a letter accompanying her indictment on Thursday, the prosecutor in the case, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, initially said Khobragade had left the country.

Shortly afterwards, a spokesman for Bharara said in a statement that she had not left.

A lawyer for Khobragade confirmed this.

“Despite Preet Bharara’s reports to the contrary, Devyani Khobragade has not left the country,” Daniel Arshack, her lawyer, said in a statement. “She is at home with her children.”

There was no immediate comment from the Indian embassy in Washington or its mission to the United Nations.

Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested December 12 and charged with one count of visa fraud and another of making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper.

Her arrest set off protests in India amid disclosures that she was strip searched on the day of her arrest. It also soured the broader U.S.-India bilateral relationship, leading to the postponement of two visits to India by senior U.S. officials and another by a U.S. business delegation.

Furious at Khobragade’s treatment, India has curtailed privileges offered to U.S. diplomats and ordered the U.S. Embassy to close a club for expatriate Americans in New Delhi.

The arresting authority, the U.S. Marshals Service, characterized the strip search as a routine procedure imposed on any new arrestee.

Underlying problems

Khobragade’s departure would remove the focus of current friction between New Delhi and Washington, but it is unclear how long it will take the anger to subside in the run up to national elections in India in May.

The case has exposed underlying problems in a bilateral relationship that has failed to live up to its billing by President Barack Obama in 2010 as “a defining partnership for the 21st Century.”

Critics accuse Obama of failing to pay sufficient attention to ties with a country viewed as a key strategic counterbalance to China and as an engine to boost the U.S. economy, while U.S. hopes of building a more robust business relationship with India have run into bureaucratic hurdles.

Frustration has grown among the U.S. corporate lobby. Indian sourcing rules for retail, information technology, medicine and clean energy products are contentious and U.S. firms complain about “unfair” imports from India of everything from shrimp to steel pipes. In June, more than 170 U.S. lawmakers signed a letter to Obama about Indian policies they said threatened U.S. jobs.

Daniel Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Khobragade case made it appear the Obama administration had taken its eye off the ball on the relationship with India.

“The question is why this wasn’t managed in a more sophisticated or subtle way, because things can be managed more effectively. This was always going to be an issue, but it could have been resolved more rapidly with less fanfare.”

Speaking at a seminar on Thursday, Ron Somers, president of the U.S.-India Business Council blamed “bumbling on both sides” for the Khobragade affair.

“We have to do some thinking on this side as to what has there been in the way of frustration that allowed this incident to provoke and spill over as it has,” he said.

“We really need now to be building trust and taking an introspective look at whether we really mean what we say when we talk about strategic partnership and how do we get there.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies

Caitlin Ashworth

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AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies | The Thaiger

A volunteer for a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial in Brazil has died. But he never actually received the experimental vaccine, although he was involved in the trial groups. He did, however, die of Covid-19.

But trials on the vaccine, being developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, are set to continue. The university says “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.” The vaccine is also planned to be produced in Thailand and be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021.

The 28 year old volunteer from Rio de Janeiro died from Covid-19 complications, according to CNN Brasil. He was apparently never injected with the experimental vaccine. If the volunteer had been given the Covid-19 vaccine and died, the trial would have been suspended, a source told Reuters, adding that the volunteer may have been part of the control group.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo is helping to coordinate the trials in Brazil and has also recommended the trials continue. So far, 8,000 volunteers have been injected with the first dose of the vaccine and some have already been jabbed a second time, a university spokesperson said.

“Everything is proceeding as expected, without any record of serious vaccine-related complications involving any of the participating volunteers.”

Thailand is set to be the Southeast Asia production site for the new vaccine. If the AstraZeneca trials are successful, the vaccine will be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021. For Thailand, the vaccine is seen as a lifeline to save the country’s struggling economy, allowing borders to safely reopen and revive the tourism industry.

The company Siam Bioscience will manufacture the vaccine in Thailand and provide injections for the Thai populations as well as the neighbouring countries Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by CNN Travel. Thailand’s coconut milk and potato-based curry (add the meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also featuring. The hot and spicy shrimp soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

Massaman curry, 1st place: Emphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Tom Yum Kung, 8th place: This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

Som Tam/Papaya salad, 46th place: To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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World

China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue

Maya Taylor

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China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bicanski on Pixnio

The Chinese government is to keep the current ban on inbound and outbound tour groups, amid fears that the winter months could bring a resurgence of Covid-19. The Bangkok Post reports that the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has confirmed on its website that the ban remains in place. After several months with very low case numbers, officials are wary of the virus surging back this winter.

The ban on outbound tours is severely impacting places like Thailand, where former tourist hotspots are already suffering devastating economic consequences from the closure of the country’s borders in late March. Earlier this week, Thailand welcomed its first group of Chinese tourists in 7 months, but the Kingdom has a long way to go to get back to the 10.99 million Chinese who visited last year – if it ever does.

As the Covid-19 virus made itself known at the start of 2020, China put a stop to both domestic and outbound tours in January. Since July, domestic tours have started up again as a result of a significant reduction in Covid-19 cases.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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