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Thousands of police descend on Baltimore to enforce curfew after riots

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Thousands of police descend on Baltimore to enforce curfew after riots
Reuters / Phuket Gazette


PHUKET: As night falls on Baltimore on Tuesday, thousands of police and National Guard troops fanned out to enforce a new curfew and prevent further violence as the mayor fended off criticism that she responded sluggishly to a night of rioting, looting and fires.

More than 3,000 police from Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, and National Guard members in helmets, took up posts in front of businesses and hospitals in Baltimore a day after the worst rioting in the United States in years.

Shops were looted, buildings burned to the ground, 20 officers injured and police arrested more than 250 people in the violence that erupted following Monday’s funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died in a hospital on April 19 a week after sustaining injuries in police custody.

The death of Freddie Gray gave new energy to the public outcry that flared last year after police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri; New York City and elsewhere.

For nearly a week after Gray died from a spinal injury, protests in Baltimore had been peaceful and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she acted cautiously on Monday because she wanted to avoid a heavy-handed response that would incite more violence.

“It’s a very delicate balancing act, when we have to make sure that we’re managing but not increasing and escalating the problem,” said Rawlings-Blake, 45, an African-American and Democrat who grew up in the city 40 miles (64 km) from Washington, D.C.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he had called Rawlings-Blake repeatedly Monday but that she held off requesting the National Guard until three hours after looting started.

“The mayor of Baltimore had the city of Baltimore police on the ground. Quite frankly, they were overwhelmed. All the rest of the (boots) on the ground came from us,” the Republican governor said the day after declaring a state of emergency in the largely black city.

Rawlings-Blake imposed a one-week curfew but stressed the need to respond in a way that did not incite more violence.

Bars and restaurants were shutting down early since they did not expect clients due to the 10 p.m. curfew for all adults, which will last the rest of the week.

“We have no exceptions other than for medical or coming and going from work. We will be stopping people who are out after curfew. We are taking that seriously. We don’t want to engage in any forceful action,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters.

Peaceful protesters marched through some Baltimore streets on Tuesday, but there was no sign of the rock- and brick-throwing that set off a night of looting and arson that burned 19 buildings and left one person in critical condition.

“They tore the city down last night, and today we’re trying to rebuild it again,” said Perry Hopkins, who formed a line of men from the community separating police from the crowd in the afternoon.

Volunteers armed with brooms cleaned up debris from burned out and looted buildings in the city of 620,000 people, where schools, many businesses and some government offices closed until security improved.

The security crisis disrupted the city’s daily routines. In a rare move, the Major League Baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox will be played as scheduled Wednesday but closed to the public.

Acrid smoke hung over the streets and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was sending two teams to Baltimore to investigate the multiple blazes on Monday night.

Gray was arrested on April 12 while running from officers. He was taken to the police station in a van, with no seat restraint and suffered a spinal injury.

Six officers have been suspended, and the U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible civil rights violations.

DELICATE BALANCING ACT

“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday,” said President Barack Obama, who said he spoke to the governor and the mayor. “It is counterproductive.”

Obama also said at a news conference the problems in places such as Baltimore were not new and need to be addressed by everyone.

“We can’t just leave this to the police,” Obama said, adding that “we as a country have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.”

Almost a quarter of people in Baltimore live below the poverty line and decayed, crime-ridden areas of the city inspired the gritty television police drama “The Wire.”

Monday’s ransacking of stores, pharmacies and a shopping mall and clashes with police in riot gear was reminiscent of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after authorities declined to indict a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager.

Police in Ferguson came under intense criticism last year for quickly adopting a militarized posture, using armored vehicles, showing heavy weapons and using tear gas.

Baltimore police Captain John Kowalczyk told reporters that the city had prepared for protests by teenagers on Monday. But as the violence increased, older people were involved.

“When we deployed our officers yesterday, we were deploying for a high school event,” Kowalczyk said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the country that would expect us to deploy with automatic weapons and armored vehicles to an event with 13- 14- and 15-year-olds.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe

Maya Taylor

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France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas Selter on Unsplash

The leaders of France and Germany are once again having to introduce national lockdowns as the Covid-19 virus continues to surge across Europe. France is now recording over 36,000 (+36,437 yesterday) new cases a day, while Germany, which fared slightly better than other European countries during the first wave of the virus, is now seeing a dramatic rise in cases as winter approaches (+16,202 yesterday).

In announcing the new lockdown in France, President Emmanuel Macron warned that the country faces a second wave that could be worse than the first. Strict measures come into effect from tomorrow, with people not permitted to leave their homes unless it is to seek medical attention, purchase essential items, or to exercise for a maximum of an hour a day. However, schools remain open and people can still go to work if it is not possible for them to do their job from home.

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated. Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus. We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that from next Monday, November 2, to the end of November, all bars, restaurants, and theatres will close. Schools will remain open and shops will be permitted to operate under strict conditions. The chancellor warns that the measures are vital to protect the country’s healthcare system.

“We need to take action now. Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections, it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

Confirmation of lockdowns in Europe’s biggest economies caused stock markets around the world to plummet, with European markets closing at their lowest level since late May. The S&P 500, which measures the performance of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the US, was down 3%.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, with just 5 days to go before the presidential election, the US continues to set records with its rising numbers of virus cases. President Trump, however, remains undeterred, as he continues to hold public rallies, with many supporters not wearing masks.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: SBS News

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World

Son of Sultan of Brunei dies at the age of 38

Maya Taylor

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Son of Sultan of Brunei dies at the age of 38 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Scoop

The son of the Sultan of Brunei has died at the age of 38, the government of Brunei has confirmed. Prince Azim, who was 4th in line to the throne, passed away on Saturday morning. While the cause of death has not been confirmed, his Wikipedia entry says he succumbed to a long illness.

CNN reports that the prince had made a name for himself as a Hollywood film producer, where he was known for hosting extravagant parties with celebrity guests that included Mariah Carey, Pamela Anderson, and Janet Jackson, among others. His success in film came despite international condemnation of his father’s harsh rule in Brunei, where parts of Sharia law are in force and capital punishment involves death by stoning.

The nation of Brunei has entered a 7-day mourning period, with leaders from neighbouring countries expressing their condolences on the death of the prince. A statement from the Indonesian embassy in Brunei said Prince Azim, “will always be remembered fondly.” The prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, described him as someone who was, “known for his kind and generous spirit, and for his dedication to charitable, educational, and youth causes.”

SOURCE: CNN

 

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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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