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Phuket Media Watch: Paper defies party; Indian troops shoot Pakistani soldier; Cuban can leave

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Phuket Media Watch: Paper defies party; Indian troops shoot Pakistani soldier; Cuban can leave | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

How a feisty Chinese newspaper stood up for press freedom
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Journalists at the Beijing News were at home late one night last week when their mobile phones started ringing. Colleagues in the newsroom were telling them of a showdown between the newspaper’s management and propaganda department officials.

That afternoon, propaganda officials had come to see publisher Dai Zigeng and editor Wang Yuechun to demand that the paper heed a government directive to publish an editorial by the nationalist Global Times, denouncing protests against censorship at another paper, the Southern Weekly.

But the Beijing News was resisting.

In a country where newspapers usually toe the government line, the defiance by the Beijing News was remarkable. Not since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests had reporters banded together in such a dramatic way for the cause of press freedom.

The challenge by both the Southern Weekly and the Beijing News highlights a pivotal struggle between media increasingly pushing for independence and a Communist Party government that brooks no dissent to its rule.

That night at the Beijing News, Dai and Wu called a meeting with a small group of staff – mostly editors, though reporters who were close to the office rushed back. They asked for opinions about running the editorial criticising the Southern Weekly.

Everyone opposed it despite a threat from the authorities to shut their paper down, said a senior Beijing News editor who gave Reuters a detailed account of the turmoil in the newsroom.

“The Global Times’ definition of it was wrong, we all knew that it wasn’t true,” said the editor, referring to the editorial denouncing the Southern Weekend protests.

“To publish something like that at this time would be helping someone commit evil,” said the editor, who declined to be identified saying his newspaper’s management had ordered staff not to talk about the incident to other media.

The Global Times, owned by the party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, blamed overseas forces for inciting the Southern Weekly protests and said China was not ready for dramatic media reforms.

The talks between the Beijing News and the propaganda officials went on into the night.

Dai, who had built the Beijing News into a title known for feisty reporting and commentary, told the officials that he might as well resign if the government was forcing the paper to print something against its will.

But despite that, in the end, after resisting the government directive for two days, the Beijing News decided it had to obey.

Some journalists wept, the editor said: “Everyone’s emotions were running high, we all found it difficult to accept.”

But in an unusual deal hammered out between Dai and the propaganda officials, the Beijing News was able to cut the editorial down to 400 characters, bury it on page 20 and print it under a different headline.

It was an acceptable solution for both sides, said the editor. Neither Dai nor the Beijing propaganda department were available for comment

But the deal might just signal the end of the first round of a long struggle rather than a lasting peace.

The fate of both the Beijing News and the Southern Weekly, where the dispute was settled with a compromise, will be closely watched as a test of new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping’s commitment to political reform.

“Idealistic”
The challenges by the newspapers could set the stage for tighter restrictions. Although no one expects the protests to spread nationwide, the use of social media has amplified support for the press among many people.

In a sign of nervousness over the media protests, terms related to both incidents have been blocked on China’s Twitter-like microblogs, which would appear to show the government is a long way from loosening controls.

“My fear is that under Xi Jinping, the media will have to go through another round of tighter control because of the tendency of the propaganda department to do their own job of controlling the media,” said Bo Zhiyue, a professor of Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore.

In the end, Dai never resigned. At a forum in Beijing a day after his showdown with the authorities, he spoke forcefully about the mission of his newspaper.

“The people at the Beijing News are still pure, professional people with strong journalistic ideals,” Dai said. “We sincerely hope this newspaper … is able to be the voice of the people.”

The Beijing News was started in 2003 as a joint venture between the Southern Daily newspaper group – the owner of Southern Weekly – and the politically prominent Guangming Daily, which controls 51 percent of the paper. The Beijing News has a circulation of about 730,000.

Dai, 49, was one of two founders of the paper and a party member since 1986.

The editor at the Beijing News described Dai as idealistic and his defiance angered the authorities. “The higher-ups felt that certain media were being very stubborn in not republishing, and were annoyed.”

“The background to this is that a new leadership team to guide ideology had just been installed and they want to establish some authority.”

A bespectacled man with floppy hair, Dai pushed the newspaper to write notable stories that included exposing how local governments were using loopholes in a land policy initiative to seize land from farmers in 2010. The reports prompted adjustments to the policy.

The latest incident was not the Beijing News’ first run-in with the government. In late 2005, authorities removed the newspaper’s chief editor in what observers said was a move to strengthen party control over the media.

Coded tribute?
On the same day the Beijing News had to publish the editorial, it ran a piece lauding “porridge from the south” in its lifestyle section, in what many saw as a tribute to their colleagues at Southern Weekly. In Chinese, “porridge” sounds like the first Chinese character in “weekend”.

“Just set upon the table, the porridge still writhes with heat,” the Beijing News wrote. “Perhaps it still has a heart of courage.”

Other newsrooms have been pushing back. When some papers published the editorial as directed, they issued disclaimers saying it did not represent their views.

At least two newspapers – the China Youth Daily and the Oriental Morning Post – did not carry the editorial. Representatives said they didn’t know whether the newspapers had received the order to do so.

Some of China’s biggest news websites arranged their headlines so the first Chinese character on each line spelled messages such as “Southern Weekly, onward!”

“This is the first time in China’s history, with the exception of June 4th, that there’s been such a large-scale collective protest by Chinese journalists against the central government’s propaganda department’s restrictions and suppression,” said Cheng Yizhong, who co-founded the Beijing News with Dai, referring to the Tiananmen Square protests.

But Cheng said he expected no improvement in freedoms, predicting authorities would try to pre-empt any direct challenges by strengthening controls over social media. Cheng was arrested in 2004 on embezzlement charges that his supporters said were politically motivated. He was later released.

The editor at the Beijing News said management had warned staff not to talk about the incident, especially to

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

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The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Koh Chang's Sea View Resort - Bookings.com

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, the story is now reaching way beyond Thailand’s borders, being reported in mainstream media around the world. Much of the media discussion has focused on whether it is appropriate to be able to sue people over a bad review with criminal defamation.

Defamation is a criminal offence in Thailand, and carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht fine.

Now it’s come to light that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri (below).

But let’s get up to speed…

“A US man is facing up to two years in jail in Thailand after posting negative reviews of a hotel he stayed in. He was sued by the resort under the country’s strict anti-defamation laws.” – BBC

“An American man is facing two years in prison in Thailand after posting negative online reviews of a hotel resort.” – The Guardian

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But the Sea View Resort, claims his criticism was “harsh”, untrue and damaging to the hotel’s reputation.

“The owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the TripAdvisor website.” – AFP

“Wesley Gene Barnes is an American citizen who worked as a teacher in Thailand while the world was battling against the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He made headlines after posting a negative review of a resort in the Southeast Asian country.” – Conan Daily

The incident started with an argument over Mr Barnes bringing his own bottle of alcohol while dining in the resort’s restaurant. Arguments over the corkage fee “caused a commotion”, later sorted out by an on-duty manager. Since his stay at the resort earlier this year Mr Barnes has posted negative reviews of the property. Then the hotel sued him for defamation.

Mr Barnes was detained and says he spent two nights in prison before he was released on bail.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against 34 year old Wesley G. Barnes, signed off by JEAN PETERS BAKER, the Prosecuting Attorney Jackson County, Missouri, in October 2017.

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang's Sea View Resort has a criminal record | News by The Thaiger

You can read the full complaint HERE.

A Kansas City man accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar and later at a convenience store told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident, prosecutors said.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker charged Wesley G. Barnes, 34, with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action.

Barnes is accused of firing shots from a gun after leaving Waldo Bar about 1 a.m. Wednesday. The bar is near 75th Street and Wornall Road.

Read the rest of the story from The Kansas City Star HERE.

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang's Sea View Resort has a criminal record | News by The Thaiger

For its part, the Sea View Resort says that, following the reviews, they had received cancellations and inquiries about employee treatment. The management claims that it had told Mr Barnes repeatedly they “would not go ahead with pressing charges if he stopped writing new false reviews”.

“Despite our multiple efforts to contact him to resolve the matter in an amicable way for well over a month, he chose to ignore us completely. He only replied to us when he had been notified of our complaint by the authorities,” according to the BBC story.

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World

The world’s Top 10 languages, spoken by native speakers

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The world’s Top 10 languages, spoken by native speakers | The Thaiger

I battle to speak one language, English, and can barely order my lunch in Thai. And, whilst studying French for 7 years at school, I can only ask a French-speaker for the time or order coffee. Sacre Bleu! The world’s most common languages changes over time and a world interlinked on the internet and aviation, like never before, is making profound changes to the way we communicate, as a species..

You can be sure the ‘conversation’ will stir some heated debate over which is the most spoken languages, generally, and natively. But the numbers win (which we have updated from statistics in recent years).

For pop culturalists, we’re sad to report that neither ‘Klingon’ (used by the Star Trek foes) or ‘Minionese’ have made it into the top 10 most spoken languages in the world.

 

When tallied, according to number of native speakers only, the following are the most spoken languages in the world, the languages people learn as their primary spoken tongue. When you count the Top 10 most spoken languages – the total number of people who actually speak them natively and as a second or third language, English is just slightly ahead of Chinese as the most spoken language in the world.

But here are the Top 10 languages, as spoken by native speakers…

1. Chinese, 1.3 billion Native Speakers

1.3 billion native speakers, roughly 918 million of whom speak Mandarin Chinese. It’s definitely the most spoken language in the world with 1 in 6 of the world’s population being a native Chinese speaker. Seeing as Chinese is a tonal language that uses thousands of logograms, it will certainly keep you busy. Even if you only count the speakers of Mandarin Chinese, it still has more than twice the number of native speakers than the second most spoken language. China’s other main dialect is Cantonese, generally the lingua franca of southern Chinese.

2. Spanish, 460 million Native Speakers

Looking at native speakers, Spanish is just ahead of English with about 460 million native speakers. If you want a language that will open up entire continents to you, Spanish is considered a good choice. It is certainly the main language of the majority of South and Central America, Spain, and even large swathes of the US.

3. English, 380 million Native Speakers

You may have already noticed that this article is written in English, so you’re one of the 380 million native English speakers. An additional 754 million people speak English as a second or third language, not necessarily fluently. English has had success as the lingua franca (common language) of business, trade, travel, aviation and international relations. The pervasive cultural power of the US in the second half of the last century means that English still dominates the world stage, for now anyway. For people in developing nations, ‘English’ means ‘opportunity’ and a ‘better quality of life’.

4. Hindi, 340 million Native Speakers

To complicate matters, India has 23 official languages, with Hindi and Urdu leading the way. It is widely debated if these two dialects are separate or just one big language, Hindustani. It is spoken mainly in northern India and parts of Pakistan. At the moment there are moves to have Hindi displace English in the southern Indian states as the primary language of official communication. You probably didn’t know it, but you already speak Hindi when you use the words bungalow, shampoo, jungle, bandana, pyjamas, cashmere, punch (the drink) and jodhpurs.

5. Arabic, 317 million Native Speakers

Arabic, like Chinese, is again broken up into numerous dialects that some could even describe as separate languages just lumped together the sake of convenience. Modern Standard Arabic is a primarily written form, closely related to the Classical Arabic of the Quran.

6. Bengali, 228 million Native Speakers

Huh, what? That’s a language? Yep, and it’s number 6 on the list. People who speak Bengali are principally in the western parts of today’s India and Bangladesh. The Partition of Bengal by the British in 1947 separated West Bengal, now part of India, from its counterpart East Bengal, now Bangladesh. Bengali is the language of Kolkata, the Andaman Islands and 160 million Bangladeshis. The country is almost completely surrounded by Indian territory and faces the Bay of Bengal.

7. Portuguese, 220 million Native Speakers

Thanks to some intrepid explorers in the 15th century, Portuguese is spoken in a few colonial outposts and not just in Portugal. Portuguese traders and conquerors brought their language to Africa, Asia and the Americas. Apart from Portugal, the language is natively spoken in Brazil, Goa, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bisseau, São Tomé, Príncipe (all former Portugues colonies) and, interestingly, Macau.

8. Russian, 154 million Native Speakers

Russian remains one of the 6 languages spoken in the United Nations, and responsible for the literary classics of Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Chekhov, Gogol and Tolstoy. Not a lot of Russian words have become commonly used in English, except maybe ‘Vodka’. Hmmmm.

9. Japanese, 128 million Native Speakers

Japanese speakers mostly live in Japan, one of the most ethno-centric cultures in the world. Japanese boasts two distinct written forms – hiragana and katakana, and makes extensive use of Chinese Kanji characters. Some Japanese speakers also live in the US, the Philippines and Brazil.

10. Lahnda, 118 million Native Speakers

Lahnda (Western Punjabi), is a Pakistani language that primarily includes Western Punjabi. The Punjab was sliced in two by the British when they left, and millions of people were forced to abandon their homeland. But they’re slowly taking their revenge, Bollywood-style. Punjabi music now account for 50% of Indian chart-toppers.

French? German? Indonesian? You get a chance in this next list, the most commonly spoken languages by the total numberof people who speak them.

1. English, 1.134 billion total speakers

2. Mandarin Chinese, 1.118 billion total speakers

3. Hindi, 615 million total speakers

4. Spanish, 534 million total speakers

5. French 280 million total speakers

6. ‘Standard’ Arabic, 274 million total speakers

7. Bengali, 265 million total speakers

8. Russian, 258 million total speakers

9. Portuguese, 234 million total speakers

10. Indonesian, 199 million total speakers

The world's Top 10 languages, spoken by native speakers | News by The ThaigerSOURCE: Babbel.com

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog”

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Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog” | The Thaiger

The world’s Covid-19-related deaths has passed the 1 million mark overnight as the the cycle of the world’s lockdowns and re-openings are getting mixed results. As of this morning, Thai time, the number of total deaths has reached 1,002,389, with 4,000-6,000 deaths still being recorded, globally, every day. And rising. On a more positive note, the number of daily deaths continues to level off, even dropping some weeks, as treatments continue to improve and the virus is better understood. At this stage, officially, only 0.42% of the world’s population has so far been infected, according to worldometers.info.

The milestone comes in a week where another report from the UK catalogues the “brain fog” experienced by former Covid-19 sufferers.

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'
The current hotspots for the virus, now 9 months in circulation, of new daily cases is led by India. Yesterday, India added 82,000+ cases to the world total whilst the US is showing a resurgence in new cases after dropping the average down during August. There is also a resurgence in new cases in parts of Europe, including the UK, which is now recording more new cases than it was at its peak in the first wave in April and May this year. The following graphs records the top 10 countries for new Covid-19 cases recorded yesterday…

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Both South America and India are showing the highest rates of new cases, in pure numbers, whilst US health authorities are concerned about the latest surge in new cases as the country starts to head into its autumn and cooler weather.

Meanwhile, more former Covid-19 patients, even those who only suffered mild symptoms, continue to report about long-term effects from the coronavirus.

In Canada, some 130,000 Canadians have recovered but some patients report that they’re experiencing “debilitating side effects” months after their infection. Canadian scientists report that they are finding some of the long-term effects of Covid-19 include heart damage as well as neurological issues like “brain fog” and “difficulty thinking”. Other patients are reporting hair loss, fatigue and even painful lesions called “Covid toes,” many weeks or even months after infection.

One study based out of Italy reports that nearly 90% of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 reported at least one persistent symptom two months later.

39 doctors wrote about these “long-haulers” and their battle with Covid-19 and their persistent symptoms in a manifesto published in the British Medical Journal. Following the report, the doctors called on politicians, scientists and public health officials to conduct more research into chronic Covid-19 symptoms and to create additional clinical services.

“Failure to understand the underlying biological mechanisms causing these persisting symptoms risks missing opportunities to identify risk factors, prevent chronicity, and find treatment approaches for people affected now and in the future.”

The reports also defined the affected patients as not in the current list of “at risk” Covid-19 patients – usually elderly with underlying conditions – but instead representing a much wider demographic of younger and healthy patients who were experiencing the post-Covid symptoms.

SOURCE: BBC | CTV News

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