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Phuket Gazette World News: N Korea warns of war; China bird flu cull; UN broke; Spanish royals exposed

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Phuket Gazette World News: N Korea warns of war; China bird flu cull; UN broke; Spanish royals exposed | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

North Korea moves missiles, calls for embassies to withdraw; markets roiled
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: North Korea has placed two of its intermediate range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them on the east coast of the country in a move that could threaten Japan or U.S. Pacific bases, South Korean media reported on Friday.

The report could not be confirmed, but any such movement may be intended to demonstrate that the North, angry about joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the imposition of U.N. sanctions, is prepared to demonstrate its ability to mount an attack.

The North has said nuclear conflict could break out at any time on the Korean peninsula in a month-long war of words that has prompted the United States to move military assets into the region.

North Korea has asked embassies to consider moving staff out and warned it cannot guarantee the safety of diplomats after April 10, Britain said, amid high tension and a war of words on the Korean peninsula.

“The current question was not whether, but when a war would break out on the peninsula,” because of the “increasing threat from the United States”, China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted the North’s Foreign Ministry as saying.

It added that diplomatic missions should consider evacuation. North Korea would provide safe locations for diplomats in accordance with international conventions, Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying in a notification to embassies.

Britain’s Foreign Office denounced the move. “We believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the U.S. poses a threat to them,” the Foreign Office said.

It said it had “no immediate plans” to evacuate its embassy and accused the North Korean government of raising tensions “through a series of public statements and other provocations”.

The tension with North Korea has roiled South Korean financial markets and top finance officials in Seoul warned they could have a long-term impact on markets.

In North Korea itself, there was no intensification of the strident rhetoric about impending war as the country marked a national holiday. Some analysts said the tone of recent statements, however bitter, was most probably aimed at securing concessions and was unlikely to lead to armed conflict.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting a senior military official familiar with the matter said: “Early this week, the North moved two Musudan missiles on a train and placed them on mobile launchers.”

There were unconfirmed media reports on Thursday that the North had moved missiles to the east coast, although it was not clear what kind of missiles had been deployed.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry declined to comment.

Speculation centred on two kinds of missiles neither of which is known to have been tested.

One was the so-called Musudan missile which South Korea’s Defence Ministry estimates has a range of up to 3,000 km (1,865 miles, the other is called the KN-08, which is believed to be an inter-continental ballistic missile, which is again untested.

Market jitters

In Seoul, officials from economic ministries, the central bank and regulatory agencies held emergency talks and promised swift and strong action should the markets lose stability. News of the talks and the central bank involvement boosted investors’ expectations of an interest rate cut next week.

South Korean shares slid, with foreign investors selling their biggest daily amount in nearly 20 months, hurt after aggressive easing from the Bank of Japan sent the yen reeling, as well as by the tension over North Korea.

“In the past, (markets) recovered quickly from the impact from any North Korea-related event, but recent threats from North Korea are stronger and the impact may therefore not disappear quickly,” Vice Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho told a meeting.

North Korea threatened to strike U.S. military bases, including those on the American mainland, and to shut down a joint industrial complex with the South while denying entry to the complex by South Korean workers this week.

The South’s new unification minister said the government was willing to pull out workers from the Kaesong industrial complex if it became dangerous, though he said the situation was not that serious for the moment.

The threats from North Korea’s 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-un, though not unusual from the reclusive state, have followed the imposition of new U.N. sanctions in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test in February. Reaction to the threats in markets has until now been muted.

The increasingly tense standoff with North Korea could not happen at a worse time for the government of the South’s new president, Park Geun-hye, whose first steps in office included a sharp cut in growth forecasts.

Park, in office for just over a month, has ordered her cabinet to draw up what is likely to be a large supplementary budget to lower budget revenue projections and add new spending plans aimed at jump-starting faltering domestic demand.

“The market usually doesn’t get jittery over North Korea threats. But this time is different, because they look willing to sacrifice Kaesong, which has never happened before,” said Park Hyung-joon, macroeconomics team leader at Meritz Securities.

Some U.S. analysts expressed a degree of alarm over the intensification of the threats.

“The rhetoric is off the charts,” said Victor Cha, former director for Asian affairs at the White House National Security Council and now senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Washington.

“We don’t understand this new guy at all. And if the North Koreans move to provoke the South, the South is going to retaliate in a way we haven’t seen before.”

Other analysts said a degeneration into conflict was unlikely.

“We do not believe that North Korea intends to attack South Korea, pre-emptively or otherwise, in the current cycle of threat projection,” the U.S.-based Nautilus think-tank said in a study published on Thursday.

“Rather, these statements are opportunistic, and express its authentic strategy which is extortionate. The North’s nuclear forces are intended to compel their adversaries to change their policies towards (North Korea), not to deter unprovoked external attack—except when such an attack might actually be in motion.”

China culls birds as flu deaths mount; airline shares fall
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Chinese authorities slaughtered over 20,000 birds at a poultry market in Shanghai on Friday as the death toll from a new strain of bird flu mounted to six, spreading concern overseas and sparking a sell-off in airline shares in Europe and Hong Kong.

The local government in Shanghai said the Huhuai market for live birds had been shut down and 20,536 birds had been culled after authorities detected the H7N9 virus from samples of pigeons in the market. Other live poultry markets in the city will be closed down from Saturday, it said.

All the 14 reported infections from the H7N9 bird flu strain have been in eastern China and at least four of the dead are in Shanghai, a city of 23 million people and the showpiece of China’s vibrant economy.

The latest death was of a 64-year-old man in Zhejiang province, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, adding that

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travel Daily

A travel pass for passengers inoculated against Covid-19 or who have tested negative will be piloted on flights for Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. With the travel pass issued by the International Air Transport Association, passengers can keep control of their data and share their test results with airlines and authorities for travel.

The travel pass will be offered on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter, and will expand the pass to other destinations of the trail is successful. Emirates is going to implement phase 1 of the travel pass in April for flights departing from Dubai.

Recently, the IATA travel pass programme has been also tested in International Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines.

SOURCE: Reuters

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World

Australia might keep borders closed throughout 2021

Caitlin Ashworth

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Australia might keep borders closed throughout 2021 | The Thaiger
Stock photo by Josh Withers for UnSplash

It might be a while until tourists can visit Australia. Borders might not be fully reopen until at least 2022. Australia is rolling out its immunisation program next month, but even if most of the population is vaccinated against Covid-19, the Australian government says it will probably wait to make sure the vaccine prevents the transmission of the virus before fully reopening borders.

Australia’s borders are only open for citizens, residents, those with family in Australia and travellers who have been in New Zealand for the previous 14 days. All incoming travellers must quarantine for 14 days unless they come from an area classified as a “green safe travel zone.”

There are currently 1,881 active Covid-19 cases in Australia, according to Worldometers. No local Covid-19 cases were reported today. Since the start of the pandemic, Australia has reported more than 22,000 local cases and 909 deaths related to Covid-19.

The state of New South Wales is a main focus for Covid-19 prevention measures at this stage and some neighbouring states have imposed travel restrictions on those from the state. NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian floated the idea about allowing venues in the area to ban entry to those who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Already airlines have indicated that if you’re not vaccinated you can’t travel overseas and I think that’ll be an incentive to a lot of people… We’ll also consider whether we allow venues … make up their own rules if they have a business or run a workplace about what they feel is Covid safe.”

SOURCE: Aljazeera

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Politics

Companies pull out from Trump brand after storming of Capitol incident

The Thaiger

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Companies pull out from Trump brand after storming of Capitol incident | The Thaiger

Corporate America is adding its weight in response to the insurgency at the Capitol building on January 6, and are pulling out from any association with the Trump brand after the storming of the capitol incidentwhich economists say will have a profound medium and long-term effect on his business interests. Recently, Signature Bank closed Trump’s personal accounts and the PGA of America stopped plans to hold its 2022 championship at Mr. Trump’s New Jersey golf course.

Such a parting of ways signals the business community’s weariness in being associated with a political figure that has attracted worldwide attention and is indicative of what may happen to the Trump brand. The president’s role in the incident, confirmed by his impeachment by the House this week, has gained criticism from the Business Roundtable to the AFL-CIO labour federation.

Michael D’Antonio, the author of a Trump biography, says the capitol incident has been a game-changer for the support of extreme politics.

“Trump’s name is really an albatross. He is the most disgraced president in history. This is a person who’s synonymous with a mob attacking the US Capitol. I just think this went a step too far.”

Other experts like Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, say Trump’s brand will inevitably suffer long-term.

“Before his term, Trump stood for wealth, success and over-the-top luxury. Now the brand has associations with anti-government views, racism and extremism. This makes the brand fairly toxic.”

Deutsche Bank, to which Trump reportedly owes around $400 million, is also planning to stop engaging in business with him. But the president dismissed any business challenges in an October 15 televised event by saying that the $400 million he owed was “a tiny percentage of my net worth.”

It appears true that some of Trump’s properties have benefitted from his presidency as taxpayer revenue has continuously flowed into his golf courses and clubs where he stays with his family, the secret service and the White House staff.

In fact, CREW estimates that Trump’s properties took in over $100 million from more than 500 visits by the president, according to a report in September 2020. But even that business transaction has received widespread criticism as many say Trump should not have mixed politics with his personal businesses.

D’Antonio predicts that Trump may sell current assets to pay off his Deutsche Bank debt, which means there could be fewer to none Trump hotels, golf courses or towers in the next 10 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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