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Six Baltimore officers charged in death of Freddie Gray

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Six Baltimore officers charged in death of Freddie Gray
Reuters / Phuket Gazette


PHUKET: Baltimore’s chief prosecutor charged one police officer with murder on Friday and five others with lesser crimes in the death of a young black man who suffered a critical neck injury in the back of a police van, a case that fueled new anger over police conduct in black communities.

The swift decision by Marilyn Mosby, who has been in the position only since January, to charge the six officers in the death of Freddie Gray caught many by surprise in a city that experienced its worst civil unrest in decades on Monday night.

Mosby made her announcement hours after the Maryland state medical examiner had ruled the death a homicide and a day after police handed her office the findings of its internal review of Gray’s April 12 arrest.

Caesar R. Goodson Jr., a black officer who drove the police van, was charged with second-degree murder, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

All six officers – three black and three white, five men and one woman – posted bond after their arrest Friday and were released from custody. Their union rose to their defense.

“We are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded,” said Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police.

Mosby, a 35-year-old African American, whose family includes generations of law enforcement officers, rejected the union’s call for a special prosecutor.

After a convulsive week, thousands of demonstrators marched through the majority black city on Friday evening, with many believing their mostly peaceful protests over two weeks had prompted Mosby’s decision.

“It was the people, it was the people out in the streets that made this happen,” said Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, a civil rights activist.

Rioters burned buildings and looted stores in Baltimore on Monday night after Gray’s funeral, and protests spread to other major cities in a reprise of demonstrations set off by police killings last year of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Gray, 25, sustained his fatal injury while riding in a police van, the prosecutor said, citing the autopsy report. Gray succumbed to his spinal injuries in a hospital on April 19.

“To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man,” Mosby said at a news conference that quickly changed the tone in the city.

Gray’s family was shocked, said attorney William H. “Billy” Murphy, noting “it was a good shock that justice had been approached in this forthright and courageous manner by this prosecutor.”

CURFEW REMAINS IN FORCE

Officers cuffed Gray’s hands behind his back and shackled his legs but did not secure him with a seatbelt while the van was moving, a violation of police department policy, Mosby said. Then, with “depraved indifference,” officers ignored Gray’s repeated pleas for medical attention, she said.

While the charges brought joy and relief to the city of 620,000, residents cautioned that they needed to see justice served, not only in Baltimore but in other poor communities where young black men believe they are targeted by police.

While touring the city to assess the impact of the unrest, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he does not recommend the city lift its curfew just yet.

“We’re still expecting quite a bit of activity tonight and tomorrow,” Hogan told Reuters. “Hopefully, we’ll get back to normal in a couple of days.”

Police arrested at least several protesters who defied the curfew.

In Ferguson and New York last year, grand juries decided against charging officers who were involved in the deaths of two unarmed black men. The news triggered rioting in the St. Louis suburb and days of protest marches in New York and other cities.

Apart from the one murder charge, the officers faced charges ranging from manslaughter to assault and misconduct in office, which carry potential prison terms of between three and 10 years.

Goodson also faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, as do three others: Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer William G. Porter and Lt. Brian Rice. All six, including Officer Edward M. Nero and Officer Garrett E. Miller, face lesser charges.

President Barack Obama took the unusual step of commenting on charges in an open case, highlighting the importance that the issue of police conduct toward minority groups has assumed over the past year.

“It is absolutely vital that the truth comes out in what happened to Freddie Gray,” Obama said. “I think what the people in Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth. That’s what people in our country expect.”

The incident that has commanded national attention began on April 12, when officers on bicycles made eye contact with Gray in a high-crime neighborhood, police said. The man immediately fled with the officers in pursuit.

When they caught up to him, Gray was handcuffed behind his back and dragged by the arms, screaming, into a waiting van, a bystander’s video footage shows.

The prosecutor said Gray’s arrest was illegal. Officers had said that he was carrying a switchblade knife in violation of the law, but she said it was in fact a folding knife that was legal to carry.

Mosby said the fatal injury occurred after the van stopped to allow officers to shackle Gray’s legs and put him back inside. Officers failed to secure Gray in seat restraints at every stage of the ride, she said.

“Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon,” said Mosby.

Gray was no longer breathing when he was finally removed from the van, Mosby said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP

The Thaiger

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Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP | The Thaiger

The little south east Asian island nation of Singapore, which has always punched way above its weight, with the fourth largest economy, but the biggest GDP per capita in the region, is getting smaller. Both its economy and population. The population of the Republic of Singapore is shrinking for the first time since 2003. Border closures and, mostly, job losses, are forcing 10s of 1000s of foreign workers back to their home countries.

Singapore’s overall population dropped by nearly 20,000 people, or 0.3% of the population at the endow 2019, to 5.69 million people.

There’s been a sharp drop in expats, down 2% to 1.64 million, and a smaller drop in permanent residents. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a number of citizens to return from overseas, swelling the numbers of locals slightly.

The annual report of Singapore’s demographics notes that the transitions are nearly entirely due to the coronavirus outbreak. The report also says that there has already been an economic decline officially estimated between 5%-7% for 2020.

“These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions. The government has been raising barriers for foreign hiring to preserve jobs for locals.”

Singapore’s non-resident population has surged 200% over the last 2 decades, fuelling mega population growth in the city-state with one of the world’s lowest birth rates. If not for the influx of foreigners, Singapore would have been recording a net drop in population.

The rise of Singapore’s middle class, and the ‘trend’ to hire domestic help, has caused an influx of low-paid migrants to act as nannies, maids, cleaners, drivers and construction workers. Many of these have either voluntarily headed back to their countries, mostly the Philippines, or been sacked.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser notes that the decline in non-resident population is mostly due to the departure of work permit holders, who take up jobs which Singaporeans avoid in the first place. He says the trend probably signals some sectors of the economy are not doing well.

“The issue of foreigners in our midst cannot be addressed simply by cutting down their numbers, without negative consequences for our economy.”

Meanwhile, Japan says it has made an agreement with SE Nations Singapore and Brunei to reopen their borders for newly arriving expats from next Wednesday and and other long-term residents from October 8.

Those eligible to travel will be allowed in on condition they self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19.

Brunei and Singapore join 7 other ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and Thailand, with the new travel bubble with Japan. Japan still has a ban in place for the entry of travellers from 159 countries and regions. Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the government is seriously considering how to restart travel back to Japan, both for business and tourism.

“We see the resumption of new entries (of foreigners) to Japan as an extremely important issue.”

Japan already allows short-term business travellers from Singapore to enter the country without doing quarantine, on condition they take a test before they travel to Japan, then another when they arrive, can provide an itinerary of their stay and take preventative steps to actively socially distance during their visit.

SOURCE: trip.sg

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50%

Caitlin Ashworth

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50% | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Alexander Popov

The richest people in the world, who make up just 1% of the population, are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. A study shows that the “1 percenters” make up twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the world. Some say the poor are the least responsible for climate change, but have to deal with most of the negative consequences.

In a 25 year study led by Oxfam, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute found that wealthy countries were responsible for using up nearly a third of the Earth’s carbon budget. The study was conducted from 1990 to 2015, when annual emissions grew by 60%.

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

63 million people made up the richest 1% of the world. Since 1990, they have been responsible for 9% of the ‘carbon budget’. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can go into the air before temperature rises to catastrophic levels. 3.1 billion people make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The carbon emissions growth rate of the rich 1% was 3 times more than the poorest half of the world.

There’s not just an economic inequality between the rich and the poor, according to the head of policy, advocacy and research, Tim Gore. He told AFP the research shows the world’s “carbon inequality.”

“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction …But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption … And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible.”

Carbon emissions have decreased since the pandemic. But just a few months doesn’t take away the damage that has been done for years. Temperatures are still on track to rise several degrees this century. Although the 2015 Paris climate deal was set to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, emissions have continued to increase.

“It’s clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity… It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and fixing the climate crisis.”

Some say the global economy needs to prioritise “green growth.” If not, the decrease in pollution during the pandemic will have a very small and insignificant overall impact on climate change. Some say carbon emissions affect the poorest nations the most who don’t have enough resources to fight natural disasters possibly brought on by the rising temperatures, like wildfires and droughts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine

The Thaiger & The Nation

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine | The Thaiger

England’s self-quarantine rule breakers are receiving up to a 10,000 pound fine, starting September 28, according to British PM Boris Johnson. The fine will be handed down to anyone who tests positive for the virus or has been in contact with someone who has the virus and dodges the rules for self-quarantine.

For the first offence, rule breakers will receive a 1,000 pound fine and from there it will rise up to 10,000 pounds for those who repeatedly break the rules. Employers who threaten to fire staff over choosing to self-isolate instead of going to work will receive the maximum fine amount of 10,000 pounds. For those lower income workers, Johnson says they will receive a 500 pound support payment in addition to other benefits in which they may qualify.

Despite current British Covid-19 quarantine guidelines matching those of the rest of the world, there has reportedly been little enforcement of self-quarantine rules. Now, Britain is seeing a fast influx of Covid cases prompting the government to get the police involved in compliance checks.

Johnson has come under scrutiny after repeatedly being called to issue a lockdown nationwide with reports coming in that he is planning to reject calls from advisors to issue a 2 week lockdown to slow the virus’ spread.

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