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Phuket Gazette World News: Li voted China premier; Italy election gridlock; Pope cited in ‘dirty war’ book

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Phuket Gazette World News: Li voted China premier; Italy election gridlock; Pope cited in ‘dirty war’ book | The Thaiger

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

China’s Li formally picked for premier
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: China’s legislature elected Li Keqiang as premier today, installing an English-speaking bureaucrat as the man to lead the world’s second-largest economy and combat pressing woes like a frothy housing market and an over-reliance on investment.

The largely rubber-stamp National People’s Congress, as expected, chose premier designate Li, 57, to replace Wen Jiabao.

Nearly 3,000 delegates gathered in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People to vote on Li’s appointment, putting the final stamp of approval on a generational transition of power.

Xi Jinping was elected president by the legislature yesterday.

Saudi Arabia executes 7 men by firing squad
Phuket Gazette / News wires
PHUKET: Seven Saudi men were executed Wednesday after being convicted of carrying out an armed robbery and breaking into jewellery stores, the country’s interior ministry said. The executions were carried out by firing squad, not beheading as is customary.

A statement from the Saudi Interior Ministry said the executions took place in Abha, the capital of southern Asir province, on early Wednesday morning. Witnesses said the executions happened at a public square and were carried out by firing squad, just days after local news reports suggested that authorities were considering to move away from the customary beheadings.

The group of men, who were all in their early 20s when they were executed on Wednesday, were arrested in 2006 and charged with organizing a criminal group, armed robbery and raiding and breaking into jewellery stores in 2005. They were sentenced to death by a court in Abha in August 2009.

Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, said the men had previously claimed they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to confess. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their confessions.

“We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but this case has been particularly shocking,” Luther said. “It is a bloody day when a government executes seven people on the grounds of ‘confessions’ obtained under torture, submitted at a trial where they had no legal representation or recourse to appeal.”

The executions took place despite an urgent appeal from the United Nations (UN) to the Saudi government just hours earlier, expressing concern about the trials. It is believed the defendants only made made brief appearances before court and were not allowed to speak or give adequate opportunities to conduct their defense. The defendants also said they were not allowed to attend any of the appeal stages and had no defense counsel representing them.

“These serious failings in the process, if confirmed, would constitute violations of international safeguards in the use of death penalty, especially those related to the right to a fair trial and the right to appeal,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Thursday.

It is believed at least two of those executed were juveniles at the time of the alleged crime, raising further concern. “These executions are yet another example of Saudi Arabia’s complete disregard of international human rights standards,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi authorities need to uphold their human rights obligations and cease these horrifying executions of juvenile offenders.”

Saudi authorities had initially scheduled the executions for March 5, but they were postponed earlier this year after an international outcry over the circumstances of the case. The government had said the royal court would review the allegations of the defendants, but it is unclear if such a probe took place or what the outcome was.

In January 2012, the United Nations (UN) expressed alarm over Saudi Arabia’s increasing use of capital punishment. At least 82 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 76 people were executed in 2012, a significant increase from the 27 executions reported in 2010. The actual figure is believed to be much higher.

At least 24 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia so far this year. The kingdom applies the death penalty for a large number of crimes, including drug offences, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft. Both witchcraft and sorcery are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia, but human rights organizations say such charges have previously been used to prosecute people for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion.

Italy parliament convenes to seek way out of election gridlock
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Italy’s parliament convenes today, almost three weeks after last month’s inconclusive election, with the parties still deadlocked over how to form a government in the euro zone’s third-largest economy.

The first task of the 630 lower house deputies and 315 senators will be to elect the speakers of the two houses. The outcome of the votes for these influential roles could give an indication of the prospects for a stable administration.

The election produced a hung parliament, with the centre-left winning control over the lower house Chamber of Deputies but not of the Senate, which has equal legislative powers.

If the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which holds the balance of power, agrees to do a deal over the parliamentary speakers with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) it may pave the way to a broader agreement on the formation of a government.

Since the election 5-Star, led by comedian Beppe Grillo, has rebuffed repeated invitations by PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani to govern together.

Despite doing better than expected in the vote, Silvio Belusconi’s centre-right has been politically sidelined because both Bersani and Grillo rule out any deal with the former prime minister who has also been beset by legal problems.

However, this could still change if Bersani and Grillo fail to come to terms and President Giorgio Napolitano tries to broker another broad, right-left coalition like the one that backed outgoing technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Napolitano will begin consultations with party chiefs over the new government on March 19.

While the election failed to produce a clear result, it did yield what has been hailed as a positive change of direction in terms of the relative youth of the parliamentarians elected and a big increase in women.

It will be by far the youngest parliament in Italy’s history, thanks largely to 5-Star’s 163 deputies and senators, none of whom have any previous parliamentary experience.

Overall, the lawmakers’ average age of 48 is still lower than that of their counterparts in Germany, France, Spain, Britain and the United States, while the proportion of women has jumped to around 31 percent from 20 percent previously.

Voting for the two speakers begins at 0930 GMT in the lower house and 1000 in the Senate. The majority required diminishes after each inconclusive ballot.

France, UK push EU to end Syria arms ban
Reuters / Phuket G

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Opinion

Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge

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Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge | The Thaiger

OPINION: The Buddhist Times

Since its creation in 1996, Buddha-Bar Paris has been using the name and image of Buddha in it’s Bars and Hotels throughout the world. Typically the franchises use large statues of Buddha in their Bars and around dance floors and in restaurants similar to a Buddhist temple.

What makes the use of Buddha’s image in these bars most insulting to Buddhists around the world is that Buddhism does not support the consumption of alcohol. So to use the Buddha’s image as decoration to promote the consumption and sale of alcohol and as a prop on dance floors and in restaurants is especially disrespectful and hurtful to Buddhists.

Now comes a further insult with the Buddha-Bar franchise opening the Siddhartha Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. (Siddhartha Gautama being the full name of Buddha).

According to the Knowing Buddha Organisation in Thailand what the Buddha-Bar franchise is doing is not only disrespectful but it is immoral. The foundation points out that “Respect is Common Sense”.

Buddhists feel hurt by the misuse of the name and image of their father, as people of other faiths would be if the image of Christ or Mohammad were used to promote bars and nightclubs.

The Buddha–Bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by French-Romanian restaurateur Raymond Vișan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe, with its original location having opened in Paris, France in 1996.

Raymond Vișan, according to Wikipedia, had the idea of establishing the chain of restaurants and bars which came from his fascination with the Orient. However at the age of 60 Visan suddenly died of terminal cancer. The franchise was continued by co-founder Claude Challe and Vișan’s wife Tarja, who took over the reins of the Buddha Bar franchise upon Vișan death.

Critics of the Vișan’s and Claude Challe say that these self described artists and creators have created nothing but bad Karma and Sin for themselves. They suggest that Buddha-Bar franchise is a form of “grotesque Plagiarism ” which has merely hi-jacked a 2500 year old religion, using the name and image of Buddha, who imparts peace, compassion and loving kindness, for the purpose of selling alcohol and making money. As any case of plagiarism it is expected that Buddha-Bar and Waldorf Astoria will soon find them selves in the courts say Buddhims advocats.

Buddhist around the world are calling the Boycotting of Waldorf Astoria Hotels Hilton Hotels, Buddha-Bars and the music of Claude Challe, demanding that they stop using the image of Buddha and instead creat their own brand.

The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Thaiger or its staff

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Hong Kong

1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally

May Taylor

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1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally | The Thaiger

PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Last night, Chater Garden, located near government headquarters in the Central district of Hong Kong, was the scene of the city’s first approved rally since the face mask ban came into being about 10 days ago. So far, the face mask ban has been largely ineffectual.

A day after an explosive device was detonated during protests, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in the park. They were calling on Washington to approve proposed US legislation that could see some Chinese officials face sanctions.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act aims to review the territory’s special trading status and sanction those responsible for undermining the rights of Hong Kong citizens. It passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last month.

The Chinese Government has responded angrily, accusing the US of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” with the aim of harming its interests, and says the law will only serve to worsen the situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been the scene of often violent pro-democracy protests for over four months now, as its citizens call for greater democracy and less interference from Beijing.

SOURCE: The Nation

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World

Nigerian astronaut needs $3 million to get home

The Thaiger

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Nigerian astronaut needs $3 million to get home | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Lost In Space? Or lost in reality? Maybe someone will fall for it – Lost in Space’s Jupiter 2

The Nigerians have somewhat of a reputation for scams and scammers. Who hasn’t received an email offering loads of cash in return for your bank account and a moderate deposit? But this letter takes the famous Nigerian Scam to another level. Or perhaps it’s true (we don’t think so…)?

Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde – Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Plot 555, Misau Street, PMB 437
Garki, Abuja, FCT NIGERIA

Dear Mr. Sir,

REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.

In the 14 years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.

Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.

Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.

Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-XXXX only.

Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
XXXX@nasrda.gov.ng

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