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Phuket Gazette World News: North Korea warns foreigners to leave South

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette World News: North Korea warns foreigners to leave South | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

North Korea warns foreigners to leave South
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: North Korea intensified threats of an imminent conflict against the United States and the South on Tuesday, warning foreigners to evacuate South Korea to avoid being dragged into a “merciless, sacred, retaliatory war”.

The North’s latest antagonistic message belied an atmosphere free of anxiety in the South Korean capital, where the city center was bustling with traffic and offices operated normally.

Pyongyang has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threat could be partly intended to bolster Kim Jong-un, 30, the third in his family to lead the reclusive country.

None of the embassies in Seoul appeared to have issued any directives to their nationals after the warning and airlines reported no changes in their schedules. Schools catering to foreign pupils worked without interruption.

The warning, read out on North Korea’s state television in a bulletin that interrupted normal programming, was the latest threat in weeks of high tension following U.N. sanctions slapped on Pyongyang for its latest nuclear arms test.

It followed the North’s suspension of activity at the Kaesong joint industrial park just inside North Korea, all but closing down the last remnant of cooperation between the neighbors. North Korean workers failed to turn up on Tuesday.

North Korea had said South Korea was trying to turn the Kaesong complex into a “hotbed of war”.

The warning to foreigners, reported by the KCNA news agency said once war broke out “it will be an all-out war, a merciless, sacred, retaliatory war to be waged by (North Korea).

“It does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war,” the agency quoted the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee as saying.

“The committee informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners, including tourists… that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety.”

Last week, North Korean authorities advised embassies in Pyongyang to consider pulling out in case of war, though none appeared to have taken any such action.

Speculation over missile launch, nuclear test

Speculation has grown that the North would launch some sort of provocative action this week – perhaps a missile launch or a fresh nuclear weapons test.

A government source in Seoul said a North Korean medium-range missile, reported to have been shunted to the east coast, had been tracked and was believed to be ready for launch.

“Technically, they can launch it as early as tomorrow,” the source said.

But a U.S. embassy official in Seoul said a directive issued last week saying there was no imminent threat to Americans in South Korea remained valid. “Our workers are in all our offices today,” he said. “We have not evacuated anyone.”

A Philippine foreign ministry spokesman quoted diplomats at its Seoul embassy as saying the situation “remains normal and calm”.

Stocks, which had fallen 4% over the previous four days, edged higher on Tuesday despite the warning to foreigners. The won currency moved little, dipping slightly after the North Korean statement.

Employers at the Kaesong complex faced uncertainty as the 53,000-strong North Korean workforce stayed away. A spokesman for textile company Taekwang Industrial and at least two other firms said production had stopped.

About 475 South Korean workers and factory managers remain in Kaesong, which generates $2 billion in trade for the impoverished North. The Seoul government said 77 would return on Tuesday.

North Korean workers at the park have appeared increasingly agitated in recent days, refusing to talk to their colleagues.

Many Southerners connected with the park bedded down at budget hotels in a nearby South Korean town in the hope that an order would come from the North to re-open.

“I have been feeling anxious now and then. Now it’s really preposterous facing this,” said Shing Dong-chul, 55, a South Korean worker who transports wire made in Kaesong.

“North Korean workers didn’t talk a lot, but they appeared to have complaints about Kaesong being closed. They worried whether they would be working or not.”

Addressing a cabinet meeting, South Korean President Park Geun-hye described the suspension of Kaesong as “very disappointing” and said investors would now shun the North.

Few experts had expected Pyongyang to jeopardize Kaesong, which employs more than 50,000 North Koreans making household goods for 123 South Korean firms.

Last vestige

The zone is practically the last vestige of the “Sunshine Policy” of rapprochement between the two Koreas and a powerful symbol that the divided country could one day reunify.

South Korean companies are estimated to have invested around $500 million in the park since 2004.

World leaders have expressed alarm at the crisis and the prospect of a conflict involving a country claiming to be developing nuclear weapons.

China, the North’s sole diplomatic and financial ally, issued a new call for calm and restraint, though Beijing’s leaders have shown increasing impatience with Pyongyang.

“We ask all the relevant sides to bear in mind regional peace and stability and earnestly protect the legal rights and safety of citizens,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a briefing.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman, in a statement on the ministry’s website, said Moscow was in solidarity with all G8 industrialized countries “as regards the rejection of Pyongyang’s current provocative and bellicose line of conduct”.

The North is also angry at weeks of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises off the coast of the peninsula, with B-2 stealth bombers dispatched from their U.S. Bases.

But the United States announced the postponement last weekend of a long-planned missile launch, a move officials said was aimed at easing tensions on the peninsula.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Seoul this week and the North holds celebrations, and possibly military demonstrations, next Monday to mark the birth date of its founder, Kim Il-Sung – the current leader’s grandfather.

In Washington, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter urged China to use its influence with the North and said Moscow wanted similar action from Beijing.

But Chinese criticism of North Korea is unlikely to mean tough new action against Pyongyang because China would see any collapse of its troublesome neighbor as a disaster.

— 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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