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Phuket Gazette World News: South Africa prepares to say goodbye; US competence in question; Berlusconi guilty on sex charges; Nadal out

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Phuket Gazette World News: South Africa prepares to say goodbye; US competence in question; Berlusconi guilty on sex charges; Nadal out | The Thaiger

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

South Africans resigned over ‘critical’ Mandela
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: South Africans appeared resigned to the inevitability of one day saying goodbye to former president Nelson Mandela after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader’s condition in hospital deteriorated to critical.

Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa’s 53 million people as the architect of the peaceful 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.

However, with his latest hospitalisation – his fourth in six months – a realisation has set in that he will not be around for ever.

His deterioration this weekend, two weeks after being admitted in a serious but stable condition with a lung infection, has caused a perceptible switch in mood from prayers for recovery to preparations for a fond farewell.

“If it’s his time to go, he can go. I wish God can look after him,” said nurse Petunia Mafuyeka, as she headed to work in Johannesburg.

“We will miss him very much. He fought for us to give us freedom. We will remember him every day. When he goes I will cry.”

In a statement, President Jacob Zuma’s office urged South Africa and the world to pray for Mandela “during this difficult time”. But there was some concern among the public about doctors trying to prolong the life of one of the 20th century’s most influential figures.

“I’m worried that they’re keeping him alive. I feel they should let him go,” said Doris Lekalakala, a claims manager. “The man is old. Let nature take its course. He must just rest.”

Since stepping down in 1999 after one term as president, Mandela has stayed out of active politics in the continent’s biggest and most important economy and his passing is expected to have little political impact.

His last public appearance was waving to fans from the back of a golf cart before the final of the football World Cup in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium in July 2010.

During his retirement, he has divided his time between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, and Qunu, the village in the impoverished Eastern Cape province where he was born.

The public’s last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by Zuma and other senior officials of the ruling African National Congress.

At the time, the 101-year-old liberation movement, which led the fight against white-minority rule, assured the public Mandela was “in good shape”, although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair.

Analysis – Questions turn to U.S. competence in Snowden saga
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Obama administration has spent the past few weeks arguing it can wield power responsibly after Edward Snowden unveiled its sweeping spying programs. Now the administration must prove it can wield power effectively.

As the 30-year-old leads the world’s lone superpower on a global game of hide and seek, U.S. government officials faced questions about whether they had botched the effort to extradite Snowden from Hong Kong to face charges related to his leak of classified information.

The latest wrinkle in the Snowden saga poses a different set of questions for an administration that has spent weeks fending off questions about whether it has abused its power to collect taxes, investigate criminal activity and fight terrorism.

Yesterday, administration officials said they had done all they could to bring Snowden to justice. Chinese defiance, rather than bureaucratic bungling, had allowed the 30-year-old former contractor to slip out of Hong Kong as officials there weighed Washington’s request for extradition, they said.

“This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a briefing.

Carney said yesterday afternoon that it was the U.S. assumption that Snowden was still in Russia after fleeing Hong Kong for Moscow over the weekend.

Other administration officials tried to dispel any notion of foot-dragging since Snowden first went public on June 9, and dismissed suggestions that they could have taken other steps to detain Snowden, who had gained access to highly sensitive information as a contract systems administrator at a National Security Agency facility in Hawaii.

Snowden’s exact whereabouts were a mystery on Monday as Russia resisted White House pressure to stop him during his journey to escape U.S. prosecution.

Reporters staking out an Aeroflot flight to Havana from Moscow on Monday, saw no sign of Snowden. The captain told reporters on emerging from customs: “No Snowden, no.”

Ecuador said it was considering Snowden’s request for asylum, and advocates in the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks were also asking Iceland to take him in.

Snowden’s decision to go on the lam creates another headache for the Obama administration, which has seen priorities like immigration reform threatened by a string of scandals.

Republicans in Congress say the Obama administration has abused its power by targeting conservative groups for heavy-handed tax scrutiny and seizing reporters’ phone records in the process of investigating security leaks.

When it comes to the NSA revelations, most lawmakers were already aware of the surveillance program and few have raised objections. Republicans by and large have focused their criticism on Snowden and China rather than the administration.

That may change if the ordeal drags on. Republican Representative Peter King of New York on Monday said Obama should have taken a harder line with the Chinese authorities who ultimately control the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.

“I hate to be in the middle of a crisis second guessing the president, but where is he? Where is the president? Why is he not speaking to the American people? Why is he not more forceful in dealing with foreign leaders?” King said on CNN television.

There are also likely to be increasingly embarrassing questions about how Snowden managed to download and take many highly sensitive documents when he was working in Hawaii for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. The head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, said on Sunday that he did not know why the NSA did not catch Snowden before he left Hawaii for Hong Kong in May.

Berlusconi guilty on sex charges
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A Milan court sentenced former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday to seven years in jail and banned him from public office after finding him guilty of paying for sex with a minor and abusing his powers of office to cover up the affair.

The verdict adds to mounting complications facing Prime Minister Enrico Letta, whose fragile left-right coalition government is supported by Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.

Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with former teenaged nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known under her stage name “Ruby the Heartstealer”, during the now notorious “bunga bunga” sex parties at his palatial home near Milan.

The panel of three judges, all women,

— 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

The Thaiger

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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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