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Phuket Gazette World News: Nairobi shopping mall seige leaves 68 dead, may trigger tighter security at malls worldwide

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

Nairobi shopping mall seige leaves 68 dead, may trigger tighter security at malls worldwide
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The deadly attack on a high-end Nairobi shopping mall on Saturday put the safety of malls around the world into the spotlight and could trigger moves to improve security and make it more visible.

“They’re obviously going to ramp up security,” said Malachy Kavanagh, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, a U.S.-based trade group of mall and shopping centre owners, adding that he expected the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security to reach out to the heads of corporate security for all American malls following the events in Kenya.

Some of the changes that may be made include bringing in off-duty police officers into the mall, putting more non-uniformed security officers into uniform, and more closely coordinating with local police departments.

Islamist militants were holding hostages on Sunday at a shopping mall in Nairobi, where at least 68 people were killed and 175 wounded in an attack by Somalia’s al Shabaab group. Those killed included Kenyans, Dutch, British and Chinese citizens and diplomats from Canada and Ghana. Some U.S. citizens were wounded, though the final toll is still far from clear.

The Westgate mall has several Israeli-owned outlets and is frequented by prosperous Kenyans and foreigners.

“Shopping centres and retailers will have to spend more money on security,” Irwin Barkan, CEO of African mall developer BGI LLC, said in a phone interview from Ghana where he is based. BGI, based in the U.S., is developing properties in West Africa.

“I hope it doesn’t get to the point where it is like getting into an airport,” Barkan said ahead of a trip to Nairobi for the African Hotel Investment Forum this week.

Kavanagh said that U.S. shoppers have indicated they do not want to go through this type of security line with metal detectors and other security machines.

Following the attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, the trade group surveyed mall shoppers about their views on such ideas. “Unless there was an immediate threat, by and large they said ‘no’,” he said.

Fear of imitators

U.S. counter-terrorism officials and experts have privately expressed worries for years – since even before the September 11, 2001 attacks – that U.S. shopping malls and other public spaces, including public transport systems, were vulnerable to attacks.

Juan Zarate, a former White House counter-terrorism advisor and author of “Treasury’s War”, a new book on the subject, told Reuters that one of the major concerns for counter-terrorism officials is that there could be imitators of this type of “soft target” attack.

“Like the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, terrorist cells are learning that they can have strategic impact with dramatic terror focused on soft targets having significant psychological and economic effects,” Zarate said.

In November 2008, 10 gunmen went on a three-day killing spree in Mumbai, attacking two luxury hotels, a train station and a Jewish centre, among other places in the Indian city.

In the United States, a source at one of the biggest mall owners said that the company is constantly focused on safety and security, not just after events such as the one in Kenya. The source said that shoppers can see some elements of security, while others are not visible.

Dan Jasper, a spokesman for Mall of America, a large private mall in Bloomington, Minnesota, said in a statement that “We constantly monitor events and adjust plans accordingly. The safety and security of our guests remains a top priority.”

Westfield America declined comment, saying that it does not comment on security. Australia’s Westfield Group owns nearly 100 shopping centers in Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States. Simon Property Group, the largest owner of U.S. mall and outlet centers and owner of outlets in Canada, Malaysia, Japan, Korea and Mexico, also declined to comment.

— 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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World

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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