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Phuket Gazette World News: 4 dead in Swiss shooting; Pope farewell; Jihad Jane extradition; Syria aid

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Phuket Gazette World News: 4 dead in Swiss shooting; Pope farewell; Jihad Jane extradition; Syria aid | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Death toll from Swiss shooting rises to four
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A fourth person has died in hospital from injuries sustained in a shooting at a Swiss wood processing plant near the city of Lucerne, police said on Thursday.

A 42-year-old factory worker opened fire on co-workers with a Sphinx AT 380 pistol on Wednesday, killing two colleagues and wounding seven others. The gunman was also found dead at the scene but police have given no details on how he died.

Police said they were still investigating how the weapon came into the man’s possession and the motive for the attack.

Among the victims was 26-year-old Benno Studer, a well-known athlete in the Swiss sport of Schwingen, also known as Swiss wrestling, the Swiss wrestling association said in a statement.

A police spokesman confirmed that the gunman originally came from Kosovo and had a Swiss passport.

Police have not released the gunman’s name. But Swiss newspapers reported that the man, identified by newspaper Blick only as Viktor B., was a former kick boxer and father of three.

The country’s second mass shooting this year has reignited debate about Swiss firearm laws that allow men to keep guns after their mandatory military service. A gunman killed three women and injured two men in January in the village of Daillon.

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said it was clear that gun law legislation needed to be improved.

There is no national gun register in Switzerland, and some estimates indicate that at least one in every three of the country’s 8 million inhabitants keeps a gun, many stored at home.

Citizens outside the military can apply for a permit to purchase up to three weapons from the age of 18 in a country where sharp shooting and hunting are popular sports.

Poland finds horse DNA in beef at three warehouses
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Polish authorities found evidence of horse DNA in beef stored at three storage facilities after several countries pointed to Poland as one of the sources of tainted meat that has shaken the European food industry.

Poland’s General Veterinary Inspectorate said in a statement late on Wednesday it found three tainted samples from 121 tested, with 80 more to be examined.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Polish arm of furniture giant IKEA said the company stopped buying meatballs from its Polish supplier on concerns they could contain horsemeat.

“Our Polish supplier informed us that there are some concerns,” said Karolina Horoszczak, adding that the supplier had asked IKEA to stop using its products in its restaurants.

“These are preemptive actions and we are still waiting for test results,” she added.

Officials in Ireland, Britain, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic have reported that products such as burgers and lasagne containing horsemeat originated from facilities in Poland.

Polish officials had previously said they found no signs of horse meat at all abattoirs tested.

A European scandal erupted last month when tests in Ireland revealed some beef products contained horse meat, triggering recalls of ready-made meals in several countries and damaging confidence in Europe’s vast and complex food industry.

Poland exports 330,000 tonnes of beef products annually, or more than three-quarters of its total production, mainly to other European Union members.

Pope Benedict quits Vatican with promise to obey successor
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Pope Benedict left the Vatican on Thursday after pledging unconditional obedience to whoever succeeds him to guide the Roman Catholic Church at one of the most crisis-ridden periods in its 2,000-year history.

The first pope in six centuries to step down, Benedict flew off in a white Italian air force helicopter for the papal summer villa south of the capital where he took up temporary residence.

Bells rang out from St Peter’s Basilica and churches all over Rome as the helicopter circled Vatican City and flew over the Colosseum and other landmarks to give the pontiff one last view of the city where he is also bishop.

“As you know, today is different to previous ones,” he told an emotional, cheering crowd in the small town of Castel Gandolfo in his last public remarks as pope.

“I will only be the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church until 8pm and then no longer. I will simply be a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this Earth.”

He turned and went inside the villa, never to be seen again as pope.

In an emotional farewell to cardinals on Thursday morning in the Vatican’s frescoed Sala Clementina, Benedict appeared to send a strong message to the top echelons of the Church as well as the faithful to remain united behind his successor, whoever he is.

“I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you are fully accepting of the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new pope,” he said. “May the Lord show you what he wants. Among you there is the future pope, to whom I today declare my unconditional reverence and obedience.”

The pledge, made ahead of the closed-doors conclave where cardinals will elect his successor, was significant because for the first time in history, there will be a reigning pope and a former pope living side by side in the Vatican.

Some Church scholars worry that if the next pope undoes some of Benedict’s policies while his predecessor is still alive, Benedict could act as a lightning rod for conservatives and polarise the 1.2 billion-member Church.

Before boarding the helicopter, Pope Benedict said goodbye to monsignors, nuns, Vatican staff and Swiss guards in the San Damaso courtyard of the Holy See’s apostolic palace. Many of his staff had tears in their eyes as the helicopter left.

As the helicopter took off, he sent his last message on Twitter: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives”.

Benedict will spend the first few months of his retirement in the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, a complex of villas boasting lush gardens, a farm and stunning views over Lake Albano in the volcanic crater below the town.

Man dragged by South Africa police dies in custody
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: South African police were caught on video dragging a man hundreds of metres from the back of a pick-up truck, hours before he died in custody, drawing a storm of protest against a force accused of routine brutality.

The 27-year-old Mozambican taxi driver, Mido Macia, was found dead in detention with signs of head injuries and internal bleeding, according to an initial post mortem report released by the country’s police watchdog.

The incident, videotaped on Tuesday and broadcast nationwide on Thursday, was condemned by President Jacob Zuma and opposition politicians.

“The visuals of the incident are horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner”,

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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Tourism

Travel’s dynamic changes – A personal perspective

The Thaiger

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Travel’s dynamic changes – A personal perspective | The Thaiger

by Andrew J Wood – President SKÅL International Bangkok

With the dramatic announcement of the sale of retail travel giant Thomas Cook following the loss of £1.5 billion brings the blight of the travel agent community into the news once more. Last week Wall Street bank Citigroup advised investors to sell shares in the travel company.

Confidence that travel agents can survive in the age of DIY bookings online is paper thin.

The sheer convenience and ease of being able to book flights and holidays online, with loved ones participating in the process AND at a time and place convenient to yourself, is very attractive to most of us.

Gone are the days when you make a trip to the travel agent on the high street during office hours.

It was the only way to book a holiday in the bad old days. Booking travel online then was a complex, mystical and stressful experience with lots of jargon we didn’t understand. On top of that booking a flight was only possible on airline-backed computer systems using special codes and trained staff. Most of us didn’t know where to start.

Now it’s out with the laptop, sitting in bed in your pajamas at home, or on the settee with a cup of tea and it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

My family own a travel company. Business is nothing what it used to be. My friends work in DMCs – they certainly aren’t what they used to be.

Travel’s dynamic changes - A personal perspective | News by The Thaiger

A high-profile BBC journalist speaking at a travel industry event, recently warned the travel industry that large, well-established brands no longer have the trust they once enjoyed. That is certainly true.

“We are living through a crisis of trust,” the journalist warned.

Today instead of listening to ‘experts’ or ‘institutions’, we now now put more faith in the opinions of our colleagues, or friends on Facebook.

The BBC journalist also said, “We live in an age where feelings resonate more than facts. People now value empathy over expertise. We all need to work out what this means about how we should talk to customers.”

So it’s clear that selling travel has fundamentally changed, as was forecast more than 10 years ago. I fear during this time that this advice has largely been brushed under the carpet and as an industry, we have been largely unsuccessful in making these changes. The example of Thomas Cook demonstrates that even big travel hasn’t worked it out neither. We all need to talk to our customers in a way that appeals to them. There’s a danger for any industry that doesn’t adapt quickly enough to new audiences — remember Kodak?

Thomas Cook looks like the latest failure.

In the last 18 months there have been more retail failures than since the start of the century. Many brands have lost the art of communicating with the marketplace. They don’t know how to engage with customers.

My family are already talking about diversifying and moving into other areas of tourism and travel. I hope it’s not too late.

SOURCE: Travel Daily News – Asia Pacific

 

Andrew J Wood

English born Andrew J Wood, is a freelance travel writer and for most of his career a professional hotelier. Andrew has over 35 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a Skal member and a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is also a former member of the Executive Committe of Skal International (SI), National President SI THAILAND, Club President of SI BANGKOK and is currently SI Asia Area a.VP Southeast Asia (SEA), and Director of Public Relations Skal International BANGKOK. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.

Travel’s dynamic changes - A personal perspective | News by The Thaiger

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Business

“Very dangerous” Huawei could be part of a US-China trade deal

The Thaiger

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“Very dangerous” Huawei could be part of a US-China trade deal | The Thaiger

President Donald Trump has reiterated his complaints against China’s Huawei Technologies but conceded that they could be resolved as part of a negotiated US-China trade deal. Without providing evidence, he went on to call the Chinese telecommunications giant “very dangerous.”

The US has virtually banned firms from conducting business with Huawei, the world’s largest telecom manufacturer, citing unspecified national security concerns.

Despite the rhetoric President Trump predicts a quick end to the trade war with China. His bold prediction is not supported by any high-level talks being scheduled between the two countries since talks stalled two weeks ago.

Earlier yesterday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the CEO of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, of lying about his company’s lack of ties to the Beijing government. Pompeo claimed the alleged ties “represented a security risk” to the US without providing any details.

Meanwhile, again without providing any specific examples or evidence, President Tump said Huawei was “very dangerous”.

“You look at what they’ve done from a security standpoint, from a military standpoint, it’s very dangerous. If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form or some part of it.”

“The company is deeply tied, not only to China, but to the Chinese Communist Party. And that connectivity, the existence of those connections puts American information that crosses those networks at risk,” he is quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services. But tech companies around the world continue to fall in line with US curbs on the company. Japanese conglomerate Panasonic says it had stopped shipments of some Huawei components, a day after British chip designer ARM did the same, potentially crippling the Chinese company’s ability to make new chips for smartphones.

Meanwhile the US government is aiming to provide about $700 million in grants to help telecom providers with the cost of removing Huawei equipment from their networks, and to block the use of equipment or services from Huawei and Chinese telecoms firm ZTE in next-generation 5G networks.

They’ve also announced a $16 billion aid program to help US farmers hurt by the ongoing spat. The Agriculture Department says some funds will be used to open markets outside China to US products. Farmers have been among those hardest hit by the trade war.

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Technology

US temporarily ease restrictions on Huawei

The Thaiger

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US temporarily ease restrictions on Huawei | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei and Chinese President Xi Jinping – SCMP

The US has temporarily eased some of the restrictions on China’s Huawei, the world’s largest phone and telecom equipment maker, to minimise disruption to its customers. But Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei,  says it means little because the company was well prepared for any US restrictions to their trading.

The US government has blocked Huawei Technologies from buying US goods last week, claiming the firm was involved in activities contrary to national security.

The targeted spat aimed at the one Chinese telecom company comes amid the escalating dispute over trade practices between the US and China.

But yesterday the Commerce Department granted Huawei a license to purchase US goods until August 19 to maintain existing Huawei-based networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphone customers. The reprieve is intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei equipment time to make other arrangements.

Speaking about the matter, Huawei’s founder says the reprieve meant little for the telecom manufacturer as it had been making preparations for such a scenario.

“The U.S. government’s actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities.”

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