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Phuket Media Watch: North Korea defiant; Fires rage in Los Angeles; Sailor rescued 5 days after ship sinks off Vietnam

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Media Watch: North Korea defiant; Fires rage in Los Angeles; Sailor rescued 5 days after ship sinks off Vietnam | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

North Korea warns South Korea on ‘hideous crimes’
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: The North Korean military on yesterday said the South “will pay for its hideous crimes” during the mourning period for Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il, and warned it may launch a retaliatory strike to “smash the stronghold of the puppet forces.”

A statement from the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea) condemned the South Korean government for immediately putting its forces on alert and convening an emergency meeting following the announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death.

“When the whole nation is overcome with grief over the great loss, only the South Korean puppet group committed thrice-cursed crimes,” the Commission said in a long statement. “The DPRK National Defense Commission, above all, discloses before the world and the nation the truth about those crimes of the South Korean puppet group.”

The Commission said the South’s actions created the impression that a “golden opportunity” had arrived to lead the North to a system change. “The South Korean authorities put the three services of the puppet army on an emergency alert and ordered them to adopt combat posture, creating a war-like atmosphere,” it said.

North Korean state-run media published a series of articles yesterday which were critical of South Korea. While threats against South Korea have been made in the past, yesterday’s was the first since Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-un, took over as Supreme Leader.

The Commission said the statements yesterday were made to “clarify” its principles in regards to South Korea, mainly because of the events during the mourning period. “As already declared, the DPRK will have no dealings with the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors forever,” it said. “To keep company with them is a disgrace for the clear and honest-minded Korean nation as they are ignorant in politics, vulgar in morals and lack elementary human nature.”

The military warned: “We will surely force the group of traitors to pay for its hideous crimes committed at the time of the great national misfortune. The veritable sea of tears shed by the army and people of the DPRK will turn into that of retaliatory fire to burn all the group of traitors to the last one, and [turn our] wailing into a roar of revenge to smash the stronghold of the puppet forces.”

Police hunt arsonist after 20 fires hit Los Angeles overnight

Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: As many as twenty suspicious fires were set in Hollywood and the City of Los Angeles early yesterday morning, police said. One firefighter was injured while responding to one of the fires.

Sheriff’s officials said the first fire was set just after midnight in a car port in West Hollywood, a city in Los Angeles County. Over the next two hours, officials say, at least four other fires were started throughout the area in car ports. No residents were injured in any of the fires, but one firefighter was transported to the hospital after falling from a ladder.

At the same time, up to 15 other fires were started in the city of Los Angeles, which is within a two-mile (3.2 kilometer) radius of West Hollywood.

“The City of West Hollywood arson fires are definitely related to the LA City fires,” said Los Angeles County Police Detective Ed Nordskog.

Several of the fires raged in homes and other buildings, including the former home of U.S. musician Jim Morrison, according to the DPA news agency. Dozens of residents had to be evacuated from an apartment building after two fires were set shortly after 2am local time (5pm Phuket time). The last fire was started after 4am.

“We are very fortunate that these outrageous crimes didn’t result in injuries or death,” said Captain Kelley Fraser at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. “We are asking for the public’s help in the search for the arsonist(s). If you saw or see anyone or anything suspicious, please report it immediately.”

Vietnamese sailor found 5 days after shipwreck killing 22
Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A Vietnamese sailor was found alive on yesterday after his cargo ship sank off the coast of Vietnam on Sunday, killing nearly two dozen people, officials said.

The English MV London Courage ship found 31-year-old Dau Ngoc Hung adrift in a life boat, five days after the Vinalines Queen capsized after it passed the Phillipines island of Luzon, which is located east of Vietnam.

Nguyen Anh Vu, the director of the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Co-ordination Center, told the Vietnam News Agency that Hung is the only surviving crew member of the 23 people who worked aboard the ill-fated ship.

The accident occurred on Christmas Day when the Vinalines Queen went missing while transporting 54,000 tonnes of Nikel from Indonesia to China. The ship did not send out a distress signal, slowing down rescue operations.

Hung said the boat suddenly overturned and quickly sank, explaining that he was the only one of the crew who was able to reach a life boat. Search and rescue operations were carried out by different teams from the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan, as well as a number of other countries, which have already been informed of the rescue.

The cause of the accident remains unknown.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Thai women in Japan drug bust

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai women in Japan drug bust | The Thaiger

Japanese Police and Customs Officials at Fukuoka Airport reported the arrest of seven Thai women who smuggled in drugs weighing more than a kilogram into Japan. The women separated the drugs into tiny bags and hid them in random places on their bodies.

The women purchased tour tickets and tried to blend in as Thai tourists. When caught with the evidence, they admitted smuggling the drugs for foreigners living in Japan, alleging that they received orders from tourists to bring in the drugs.

Another recent arrest Thai women smuggling cocaine has prompted Japanese officials to consider tightening entry requirements for Thai tourists to protect against drug smuggling.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

The Thaiger

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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Johnson tells MPs that there is ‘no better outcome’ than his Brexit plan

The Thaiger

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Johnson tells MPs that there is ‘no better outcome’ than his Brexit plan | The Thaiger

British PM Boris Johnson is warning British MPs there was “no better outcome” to the tortuous Brexit process than his divorce deal, as he scrambles to get MPs behind the agreement ahead of today’s knife-edge vote in parliament (Saturday UK time).

Johnson is urging lawmakers to back the “fantastic” terms he struck with EU leaders and let Britain leave the bloc on October 31.

“There’s no better outcome than the one I’m advocating tomorrow.”

“I want colleagues on all sides of the House to think about a world tomorrow night in which we’ve got this thing done,” he added in a separate interview with ITV.

“I think the nation will heave a great sigh of relief.”

Johnson pulled off a major coup in agreeing a new divorce deal at a Brussels summit on Thursday, only a fortnight before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU. But the deal’s fortunes, and Britain’s immediate fate, rest in the hands of a few undecided MPs, who will vote in the first Saturday session of the Commons since the 1982 Falklands War.

Political pundits suggest the vote could be exceptionally tight. Johnson has no majority among MPs, every opposition party has come out against the deal and even his parliamentary ally, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), says it cannot support the terms.

Johnson requires the support of 319 other MPs to guarantee victory – and claims he is confident of getting the numbers, as he spent the day meeting and calling MPs.

He must convince diehard eurosceptics in his own Conservative ranks, former colleagues he expelled from the party for seeking to block a “no deal” departure, and main opposition Labour MPs from Brexit-backing constituencies to have any chance.

Labour is ordering its MPs to vote against the deal but threatening no punishment if they vote in favour. Several MPs spent yesterday wrestling with their consciences as the more than three years of turmoil since the June 2016 EU membership referendum came to a head.

Johnson is expected to deliver a speech to parliament from 0830 GMT on Saturday, kicking off a day of debate that could last well into the evening.

The turning of the screws

If the Commons rejects the deal, Johnson will be forced by law to ask the EU to delay Brexit, for what would be the third time. He has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch”.

French President Emmanuel Macron piled the pressure on MPs, saying he did not want a new delay now a deal was struck.

“The October 31 date should be respected. I don’t think that new deadlines should be given,” he said at the EU summit in Brussels.

“We need to end these negotiations and get on negotiating the future relationship.”

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel added: “There is no choice between Brexit or no Brexit: it’s a choice between deal or no deal.”

Johnson took office in July vowing to keep to the October 31 Brexit deadline, deal or no deal.

He pledged to renegotiate the most contentious elements of a divorce text agreed by his predecessor Theresa May with Brussels last year, which MPs rejected three times.

The compromise deal that was finally struck on Thursday has a new arrangement for keeping open the border between British Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

The DUP has said it cannot support the plans, as efforts to avoid checks on the Irish land border would lead to new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

Meanwhile…

Former Conservative prime minister John Major (1990-1997) and his Labour successor Tony Blair (1997-2007) pleaded with MPs to back a second referendum, ahead of a major rally by the “People’s Vote” campaign outside parliament on Saturday (UK time).

“Whatever is the outcome, no deal or bad deal, it should not pass without the final say resting with the people,” said Blair.

Major said Brexit was a “thoroughly bad idea” that risked breaking up the UK.

The Pound steadied around $1.29 yesterday as dealers took a breather at the end of a dizzying week.

ETX Capital analyst Michael Baker said the market was “really gambling” on the vote and had “not priced in fully all scenarios – so expect big moves”.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse | PHOTO: Associated Press

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