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Phuket Media Watch – journalist killed; radioactive metal in Moscow

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Founder of political newspaper shot dead in Russia’s Dagestan
Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A leading Russian journalist and the founder of a local political newspaper was killed by a gunman on late Thursday evening, officials said on Friday. Human rights organizations are calling for a full investigation.

Khadzhimurad Kamalov, the founder of the weekly political newspaper ‘Chernovik’ (Rough Copy), was shot by an unidentified gunman on late Thursday evening in front of the newspaper’s editorial offices in central Makhachkala, the capital city of the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan.

According to witnesses, Kamalov had been working late and was accompanying a friend to the door when at least one masked gunman fired 14 times shots before fleeing the scene in a black Lada car. Emergency services were quick to respond, but Kamalov died in an ambulance while en-route to a local hospital.

A spokesman for the local investigation committee said an investigation has been launched, and a group of investigators have been put on the case. No arrests were made as of late Friday evening, but officials said they are working on the assumption that the murder is linked to Kamalov’s work as a journalist.

Several organizations immediately expressed their concern about the killing, including Reporters Without Borders which urged authorities to conduct a swift, complete and impartial investigation. “The impunity with which journalists are murdered in Dagestan and the rest of Russia is intolerable,” the organization said. “Kamalov’s murder will have a major intimidatory effect on all of Dagestan’s journalists.”

Tanya Lokshina, senior Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch, also condemned the murder. “This is a tremendous blow for the independent press in Dagestan,” she said. “There is hardly any doubt that Kamalov was killed because he was doing his job, in a region that is now known as Russia’s most unstable.”

Dunja Mijatovic, the Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), urged authorities to ensure the safety of all journalists. “Daghestan and the Northern Caucasus are known to be among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists,” she said. “I am confident that the Russian authorities will not only investigate Kamalov’s killing and bring the perpetrators to justice but they will also take pre-emptive measures to ensure that journalists working in the region can carry out their professional duties safely and without fear.”

Kamalov was well known for his investigative coverage of sensitive subjects in Dagestan, including corruption, enforced disappearances and abuses against civilians by police and soldiers. Because the newspaper has frequently accused elements within the security forces of helping to destabilize the republic, prosecutors have accused it of supporting rebels.

In 2009, Kamalov was on an anonymous list of journalists, human rights activists and well-known figures which accused them of killing policemen by supporting the rebels. “Kamalov had not been the target of any particular threats of late,” Chernovik editor Biyakay Magomedov told Reporters Without Borders. “It is hard for me to say which article in particular might have prompted his tragic death. But Chernovik has always had many enemies.”

Magomedov said Kamalov’s murder will result in journalists losing their motivation to do investigative and independent journalism. “Our many appeals to Moscow have received no response,” the editor said. “The federal security forces and authorities have shown no interest in solving the murders of journalists in Dagestan.”

The volatile region of Dagestan neighbors Chechnya where around 50 percent of all militant attacks in Russia last year took place. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a total of 20 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 2000. Seven of those were in the North Caucasus, all which remain unsolved.

Russia seizes Iran-bound radioactive metal at Moscow airport
Phuket Gazette

Russia’s Federal Customs Service on Friday said it has seized radioactive material from the luggage of a man who was preparing to take a commercial flight from Moscow to Tehran. His whereabouts are unknown.

A statement issued by the customs service said it discovered 18 pieces of radioactive metal which were packaged in individual steel casings. The material was found in the luggage of an Iranian citizen who was planning to fly from Sheremetyevo International Airport in the Russian capital of Moscow to the Iranian capital of Tehran.

The agency said the radiation levels of the material, Sodium-22, were 20 times higher than normal background radiation. But nuclear experts and Russia’s atomic agency Rosatom said the radioactive isotope of sodium is primarily used for medical equipment and scientific research, and cannot be used as a weapon.

In addition, Sodium-22 can be produced in a particle accelerator and is available to medical and educational institutions across Russia. Rosatom said the material seized at the airport is not highly radioactive.

The man who attempted to transport the radioactive material from Moscow to Tehran had not been arrested. The customs service said a criminal case has been opened, but it did not say if it knows where the man is or if he had been questioned.

International concerns have been increasing for years regarding Iran’s nuclear activities. While Iran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear program is for the peaceful purpose of providing energy, many countries contend it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Violent clashes in Kazakh oil town leave 10 dead, scores injured
Phuket Gazette
At least ten people were killed on Friday during violent clashes between police and striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan, officials said. Scores of others have been injured.

The clashes erupted as the Central Asian nation marked the 20th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union. Police moved in to clear the main square in the town of Zhanaozen for independence celebrations but were charged by the oil workers, who have been demanding higher wages for months.

An eyewitness told the BBC that she witnessed how police officers opened fire on unarmed protesters, and that one man died in her arms after being shot. However, authorities denied reports that police had opened fire on unarmed protesters.

Kazakh Prosecutor General Askhat Daulbayev claimed rioters had attacked civilians who were gathering for the celebrations. “Refusing to give themselves up, the hooligans attacked law enforcement officers,” he said, adding that the rioters took down a Christmas tree, destroyed a stage and set a police bus on fire.

“Besides, they also beat the civilians and demolished the cars which were parked near the square,” Daulbayev said at a news conference. “The town administration, hotel buildings and the administrative building of Ozenmunaigas were set on fire.”

Daulbayev confirmed at least ten people had been killed while an unknown number of people were injured, including police officers. He did not say if all of the fatalities were protesters, or if police officers and civilians were among those killed.

The Kazakh opposition

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Malaysian PM called to quit, criticised for “abuse of power” during Covid-19 crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Malaysian PM called to quit, criticised for “abuse of power” during Covid-19 crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Muhyiddin Yassin

While protesters in Thailand are calling on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, the Malaysia PM Muhyiddin Yassin is experiencing similar calls after he attempted to declare a state of emergency amid a rise in Covid-19 infections, but the request was rejected by the Malaysian King.

Some say the prime minister’s attempt to impose the order was intended to suspend parliament and “curb the government process”. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim recently claimed he had the majority of support in parliament and challenged the prime minister. He suggested the call for a state of emergency was to avoid a vote on the annual supply bill which he may have lost, effectively a vote of no confidence in the current PM and his government.

When Muhyiddin requested a state of emergency, Anwar said the Malaysian PM was trying to “curb the parliamentary process.” He said using the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to suspend sessions is an “abuse of power” and called the state of emergency request a “descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism.”

“A state of emergency is declared when there is a threat to our national security. But when the government is itself the source of that threat, then a state of emergency is nothing more than the descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism. I strongly advise Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to consider the legacy of these actions he is taking out of self interest and selfishness.”

Anwar released another media statement after the Malaysian King’s refusal saying it “affirms the strength of the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.”

King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected the emergency order request yesterday. The prime minister holds a slim majority in parliament, but with his request rejected by the King, his hold on power is now palpably weaker. Now some leaders are calling on Muhyiddin to resign.

Ahmad Puad Zarkashi, a senior leader in the United Malays National Organisation made a Facebook post calling on the prime minister to resign.

“Thankfully, His Majesty the King was not influenced by the political game that could drag the country into more critical territory… The people’s wellbeing is more important. By right, Muhyiddin should step down.”

Opposition lawmaker Wong Chen calls the proposal for a state of emergency “malicious” and says the prime minister should resign or fire ministers who proposed the emergency orders.

SOURCES: Reuters | Twitter: Anwar Ibrahim

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours

The Thaiger

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UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | The Thaiger

Both the rate of new infections and deaths from the coronavirus has begun to spike in the worldwide totals again with some countries and locations having to go back into lockdowns for a second or third time. In the US and parts of Europe a major new surge of cases is concerning health authorities, especially as these countries are now heading into cooler weather, and people gathering indoors.

As of Saturday morning, Thai time, a total of 42,462,925 people have been infected worldwide with Covid-19, 1,148,698 have died and 31,417,499 have recovered.

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

The following graph shows today’s top ten countries with the most new infections in the past 24 hours…

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Here’s a summary of some of the main world Covid-19 headlines…

ITALY

Italy has recorded another record with 19,143 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. That’s up from Thursday’s record of 16,079 new coronavirus cases. 91 coronavirus deaths were also reported on Friday. The governor of Campania in Vincenzo De Luca has made a formal request for a national lockdown and says he will close his region “for 30 to 40 days” to try and control the recent surge.

The governor of Lombardy lamented that it is a “dramatic situation.” Lombardy was the epicentre of one of the first, and most dangerous. clusters in the world after the virus first spread out of China.

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

GRAPH: New cases surging across Italy – worldometers.info

US

A study from the Covid-19 forecasting team at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reports that… if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from Covid-19 over the next 4 months.

In a survey done in September, only about 49% of US residents reported that they “always” wear a mask in public.

The study calculated that, if the current extent of mask-wearing were to continue, and states continue with removing social distancing mandates, the death toll across the US from Covid-19 could reach about 1 million deaths by the end of February.

“The study had some limitations, including that the findings are only forecast projections from models and not definitive of what the future holds.”

The IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray maintains that the study still helps offer insight into how mask-wearing can make a difference.

URUGUAY

Uruguay is closing its borders during the summer season as a program to help curb the spread of Covid-19. Uraguay’s President Luis Lacalle Pou says that it will be “a restricted summer”.

“The borders will be basically closed, with exceptions that are already known and perhaps some more.

“Because today there are many cases, or several cases, in the education sector, we have decided to suspend face-to-face classes for two weeks.”

“Public safety measures will be enforced… avoid large gatherings and parties. We will be very strict when it comes to the topic of parties.”

Uruguay, with a total population of 3.5 million, has reported at least 2,701 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 and 53 deaths as of Friday morning and shares borders with Argentina and Brazil, both heavily impacted with a rise of Covid cases.

FRANCE

The head of infectious diseases at Tenon Hospital in Paris, Gilles Pialoux, says France is paying the price for ending the coronavirus lockdown too quickly.

On Thursday, France announced 41,622 new cases, and on Friday 42,032.

It will be “really difficult to avoid a second lockdown given the circulation of the virus.”

Gilles says local lockdowns or lockdowns “by population group” could be the solution. The doctor added the circulation of the virus among the “20-30 year old age group was far beyond the rest of the population”.

EUROPE

5 countries with the highest rate of new Covid infections, when measured against population, are all in Europe.

They are the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. The number of new infections has risen sharply since the start of October, and continues to surge as the European autumn sets in.

As of last Thursday, the Czech Republic had a rolling daily average (across five days) of 10,579 new cases, meaning 988 new infections a day per 1 million population, a four-fold increase since the start of October. Belgium, was in the same situation with an average of 891 new infections per million residents as of last Thursday. The two countries have by far the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections.

UK

The UK has seen a sharp increase in its rolling averages during October, from 9,729 new cases to 19,290 per day. And the situation in Spain is less dramatic “but the daily average remains stubbornly high”. Infections per million are lower in other European countries, but they are still rising.

In comparison, the rolling averages of new cases in India and Brazil continue to fall, while the US is seeing a gradual but persistent rise. Its rolling average has risen from 43,089 at the start of October to 59,387 this week, representing 179 new cases a day per million population.

The UK’s economic recovery after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has now flattened out and threatens to reverse and trigger a double-dip recession. The government has announced new restrictions to tackle the second wave which are expected to stifle business activity.

A new survey of business activity indicates private sector growth in the UK falling back as hospitality and transport companies struggled to cope with regional lockdown measures.

US

As autumn spreads across North American, 25 states in the US are reporting rising Covid-19 infections. White House Coronavirus Taskforce officials say there are “early signs of deterioration in the Sun Belt and continued deterioration in the Midwest and across the Northern States”.

Last Wednesday, at least 14 states had recorded their highest seven-day average of new daily cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Including Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Meanwhile, more than 41,000 people are currently hospitalised with the coronavirus across the country, according to the CovidTracking Project. Missouri and Idaho health officials say they’ll “soon be facing a crisis if hospitalisations continue to surge”.

The US reported the highest daily death toll in more than a month, with more than 1,100 new deaths.

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

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World

The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble Thai massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by the CNN Travel team. Thailand’s smooth coconut milk and potato-based curry (add meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at Number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also making it into the World’s Best food list.

The hot and spicy shrimp/prawn soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at Number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck, Penang Assam laksa, Malaysia and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

First Place, Massaman curryEmphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Eighth Place, Tom Yum Kung

This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

46th Place, Som Tam/Papaya salad

To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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