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Phuket Gazette World News: Obama calls for calm in Zimmerman protests; Thein Sein in UK; Uganda fears refugee crisis; Italian lawmaker becomes monkey man; Aussie gored in Pamps bull run

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Phuket Gazette World News: Obama calls for calm in Zimmerman protests; Thein Sein in UK; Uganda fears refugee crisis; Italian lawmaker becomes monkey man; Aussie gored in Pamps bull run | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Obama calls for calm after Zimmerman acquittal; protests held
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: U.S. President Barack Obama called for calm on Sunday after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin, as hundreds of civil rights demonstrators turned out at rallies to condemn racial profiling.

Zimmerman, cleared late Saturday by a Florida jury of six women in the shooting death of the unarmed Martin, still faces public outrage, a possible civil suit and demands for a federal investigation.

In Washington, the U.S. Justice Department said it was evaluating whether it has enough evidence to support prosecution of Zimmerman in federal court after his acquittal in Florida.

Civil rights activists have been pressuring the Obama administration to bring civil rights charges in federal court.

Critics contend Zimmerman wrongly suspected 17-year-old Martin of being a criminal because he was black, making it a civil rights issue. At a rally in New York’s Union Square, more than 200 protesters turned out Sunday, chanting “No justice, no peace.” Some held signs calling for “Justice for Trayvon, Jail for Zimmerman.”

Similar rallies were held or expected to start later in other cities including Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.

Obama, who once said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” called for a peaceful response to a case that polarized the U.S. public from the beginning, raising issues of racial profiling and gun control.

“We are a nation of laws and a jury has spoken,” the first black U.S. president said in a statement. “I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.”

The jurors who deliberated for 16 hours over two days found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter. If found guilty of the most serious charge, Zimmerman could have faced life in prison.

Zimmerman’s lawyers argued he acted in self-defence the night of February 26, 2012, when he and Martin met inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford. They accuse civil rights advocates of wrongly injecting the issue of race.

“It was such a shame. The whole case nearly destroyed George from Day One … . That they put a racism spin on this prosecution just hurt him very deeply,” said John Donnelly, a close friend of Zimmerman who testified in the trial.

In Sanford at the largely black Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, pastor Valarie Houston dedicated a Sunday morning prayer service to Martin.

“I am hurt. I am sad. I am disappointed and my heart is overwhelmed with pains,” Houston said. “I thought in my heart that justice would be served.”

Civil rights leaders including Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), urged the Justice Department to pursue federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Jealous said Martin’s family may bring a civil suit against Zimmerman but said federal criminal charges should be filed because evidence suggests race was a factor in the case.

A Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday it would determine whether “the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”

We don’t get justice

The jurors, who were sequestered during the three weeks of testimony and remained anonymous by court order, have declined to speak with reporters since handing down the verdict in one of the highest-profile trials of the year.

Zimmerman, who showed little reaction when the decision was read, was unshackled from a monitoring device he had been wearing while on bail. He previously only left home in a disguise and body armour, his lawyer said.

His brother said he would remain out of public view for some time, but friends said the former neighbourhood watch volunteer had recently spoken about the possibility of entering law school.

The tense drama that climaxed with the verdict had been building for more than a year, since police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman for shooting Martin, whose gray hooded sweatshirt has become a symbol of injustice for many.

Zimmerman, 29, who is white and Hispanic, spotted Martin from his car and called police, believing Martin to be suspicious. The teenager, who was staying in the neighbourhood at the home of his father’s fiancee, was walking back from a convenience store where he had bought candy and a soft drink.

Minutes later, after Zimmerman got out of his car, the two engaged in a fight that left Zimmerman with a bloody nose and head injuries. The encounter ended when Zimmerman shot Martin once through the heart with a 9mm pistol.

Prosecutors had to prove that Zimmerman committed a crime in pursuing and killing Martin and that he did not act in self-defence, a bar they failed to clear with jurors.

The acquittal will weaken any wrongful death civil lawsuit that Martin’s family might bring. Zimmerman’s lead defence lawyer, Mark O’Mara, predicted Zimmerman would seek and win immunity from a civil suit.

Around Sanford, some residents expressed relief at the verdict, while others said they failed to see how Zimmerman could have been acquitted.

“You said he’s not guilty, but why would you say he’s not guilty?” said 28-year-old Robyn Miller. “It’s crazy.”

At rallies in Boston and New York, several hundred demonstrators expressed a similar sense of frustration. “I feel we don’t get justice when it’s needed,” said Kabrina Oliver, 18, a Boston high school student.

Myanmar leader visits Britain, may be challenged on human rights
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: President Thein Sein, the first leader of Myanmar to visit Britain in more than a quarter of a century, will hold talks on Monday with Prime Minister David Cameron, who is under pressure to confront him on human rights.

Sein is due to talk trade, aid and democracy with Cameron and his ministers during a two-day visit at a time when Myanmar is opening up its oil, gas and telecoms sectors to foreign investors, with further liberalisation likely.

Sein, a former military commander, is trying to get the West to help Myanmar’s economy recover from decades of military dictatorship, Soviet-style planning and international sanctions.

Western leaders have praised him for ending the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, releasing some political prisoners, and allowing the opposition to contest an election.

But they want him to loosen further the military’s grip on the mineral-rich state formerly known as Burma before a 2015 presidential election which the British-educated Suu Kyi hopes to contest.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, visited Britain last year.

Sein is also under pressure to act to protect Myanmar’s small Muslim minority from inter-ethnic violence.

“Prime Minister Cameron should not miss an important opportunity to press Burma’s president on justice for crimes against humanity committed against the country’s Muslims, the release of remaining political prisoners, or an end to repressive laws,” said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

At least 237 people have been killed in Myanmar in religious violence over the past year

— 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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Environment

Second death in China from virus concerns officials with the CNY holidays looming

The Thaiger

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Second death in China from virus concerns officials with the CNY holidays looming | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Five patients remain in serious condition in Wuhan - New York Times

“At least 41 people have now been diagnosed as being infected this latest flu-like strain.”

Medical officials in China’s Wuhan city have announced that another man had died after being infected by the new coronavirus strain. Thailand and Japan have now reported new cases of a the Chinese Coronavirus that has already killed two and infected at least 40 in China. There are growing concerns about the spread of the virus beyond Chinese ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays. Chinese New Year will be celebrated on January 25 this year but many Chinese, and people of Chinese ethnicity, travel before and after this date, including trips over seas.

The Chinese man, reported to be aged 69, was admitted to a Wuhan hospital on December 31 with “abnormal renal function”. The man died from pneumonia linked to the new strain of the coronavirus outbreak in the central China province.

Chinese scientists identified the illness as a new strain of coronavirus, which is in the same family as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Symptoms of coronaviruses can range from fever and coughing to kidney failure, and in some cases lead to death.

At least 41 people have now been diagnosed as being infected this latest flu-like strain, earlier called the “Wuhan Flu”, and now referred to as Chinese Coronavirus.

Five patients still remain in a serious condition. Chinese medical officials state that no cases of human-to-human transmission of the new viral strain have been confirmed so far.

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Crime

2 more alleged call centre scam suspects arrested in Japan

Greeley Pulitzer

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2 more alleged call centre scam suspects arrested in Japan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Japanese suspects arrested during a raid in Chon Buri in late March 2019

Two men arrested in Japan yesterday stand accused of operating a large-scale call centre scam based in Thailand, bringing the total number of arrests in the case to 28. Japanese police believe 36 year old Kengo Yasutake and 34 year old Shimpei Hirata operated a luxury home in Pattaya, where a team of Japanese men would call people across Japan and tell them their subscription fees for a website were overdue.

Police say the gang has tricked more than 200 people and collected a total of more than 55 million baht. Fifteen Japanese men have already been arrested by Thai police last March at another luxury house location, also in Chon Buri province, and Japanese investigators arrested more in May 2019 as they attempted to leave Thailand for Japan.

Investigators say the group had a well-organised division of labour conducting the scam, with individual members making phone calls, cashing swindled electronic gift cards and as managing the scam web site.

They were arrested on suspicion of scamming a woman and two others living in the city of Fukui, central Japan, alleging in an email that they had failed to pay website subscription fees, and coercing them into purchasing electronic gift cards worth a total 780,000 yen, or about 215,000 baht.

SOURCE: Japan Times
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Well-Being

First ‘China coronavirus’ case confirmed in Japan

Greeley Pulitzer

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First ‘China coronavirus’ case confirmed in Japan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The first case of the 'Wuhan Flu' identified in Japan - The Economist

As Thailand’s airports continue screening passengers arriving from China, Japan has confirmed its first case of the new China coronavirus that has killed one and attracted a travel alert from the US State Department. The patient, a man from Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, had recently visited the Chinese city of Wuhan, where an outbreak of a pneumonia strain is believed to be caused by the new coronavirus.

The US State Department issued a warning on Wednesday about travel to the Wuhan region in China, citing an alert by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention which urges citizens travelling in the region to avoid contact with animals, animal markets or animal products, among other precautions.

Health authorities in Thailand announced on Wednesday they are stepping up screening of passengers arriving by air ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, when 800,000 Chinese tourists are expected to head for the Kingdom.

Though there has been no known human-to-human transmission, the World Health Organisation says the new virus could spread and is warning hospitals worldwide. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, aka. SARS. Some of the virus types cause less serious disease, while some, like the one that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), are far more severe.

The Japanese patient returned from Wuhan and was hospitalised with a fever. He was released yesterday after the symptoms subsided.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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