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World News: Destruction in Syria is reaching ‘catastrophic proportions’: UN envoy Brahimi

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World News: Destruction in Syria is reaching ‘catastrophic proportions’: UN envoy Brahimi | The Thaiger
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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

UN envoy says destruction in Syria is reaching ‘catastrophic proportions’
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: The new Joint Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) and the Arab League on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, yesterday said the death toll as a result of the ongoing civil war is “staggering” and the destruction is reaching “catastrophic proportions.”

Brahimi made the comments to the UN General Assembly in New York in his first formal speech since assuming the role on August 17. “The death toll is staggering. The destruction is reaching catastrophic proportions, and the suffering of the people is immense,” he said in the brief statement.

The Algerian diplomat, who has served the UN in various high-level roles over the past two decades, said he is looking forward to visit the Syrian capital of Damascus later this week. “And also, when convenient and possible, to all the countries who are in a position to help the Syrian-led political process become a reality,” he said.

Brahimi said such a political process should lead to a transition that respects the “legitimate aspirations” of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future. “The future of Syria will be built by its own people and none other,” he said. “The support of the international community is both indispensable and very urgent.”

In his own speech to the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the conflict is intensifying. “The longer it goes on, the more difficult it will be to contain. The more difficult it will be to find a political solution. The more challenging it will be to rebuild the country and the economy,” he said.

Ban also said UN agencies need to expand their presence in Syria. “The humanitarian situation is grave and deteriorating, both in Syria and in neighbours affected by the crisis,” he said. “However, we are constrained by underfunding. The US$180million Humanitarian Response Plan is only half-funded. Some critical sectors have received almost no funding at all, while overall needs are growing.”

Ban said the most pressing needs are water and sanitation, shelter, essential items such as blankets and hygiene kits, as well as emergency medical assistance. The UN now estimates more than 2.5 million people in Syria need assistance, including Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. More than 1.2 million people are displaced inside the country.

The call for additional funding to address the humanitarian situation comes as the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR confirmed that the number of refugees fleeing Syria rose sharply in August, with more than 100,000 people seeking asylum in surrounding countries – the highest monthly total of the Syria crisis to date.

“The number of Syrian refugees registered in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq is now more than 225,000 and rising,” Ban said. “These Governments have generously opened their borders and accepted their responsibility to shelter those who have sought refuge. They urgently need support. Just this weekend Jordan increased its appeal for funding to meet the growing demands.”

The crisis in Syria began in March 2011 as a pro-democracy protest movement, similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa. The Syrian government violently cracked down on the protests, setting off an armed conflict between pro-Assad forces and anti-government forces.

The United Nations estimates that more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and more than 1.2 million have been displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began 1.5 year ago. The opposition believes the number of deaths has already surpassed 20,000.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Politics

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup

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Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup | The Thaiger

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to the military coup, which has received major international backlash. As a major donor to Myanmar, Japan joins other advanced nations in condemning the coup which has seen security forces using violence against peaceful protesters.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying in a phone call that “Japan will strongly urge the Myanmar military to release Suu Kyi and other detained individuals, and to swiftly restore democratic government.”

But it may not impose sanctions like the rest of the other developed countries as its longtime ties with the armed forces, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy and investment promoting policy in the country may serve as a barrier in doing so. Britan and the United States have imposed sanctions in recent days which include the US freezing military funds.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official says stopping its support of building projects would give China a chance to move in, increasing its clout in Myanmar. Around 450 Japanese companies operate in Myanmar with Japan being the 5th largest investor in the Southeast nation. Singapore has the most companies, followed by China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry says Japan spent about US $1.8 billion in official development assistance in the fiscal year of 2019, making it the largest among the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But it is unknown what China has poured into it as it has refused to disclose its expenditures.

The Japanese government plans to continue coronavirus emergency assistance to Myanmar through international organisations and non-governmental organisations. The World Bank, however, has stopped payments to projects in the nation indefinitely, after the coup on February 1, which disrupted the democratic elections last November and saw the arrest of top leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, the National League for Democracy, won the elections in a landslide victory.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Law

Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants

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Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants | The Thaiger

In a landmark decision, Australia is now requiring global digital giants, such as Facebook and Google, to pay for using local news content on their websites. The move sets a precedent that many global companies have been anticipating.

The law passed yesterday after Facebook and Google reached an agreement to pay local Australian news organisations for using their stories on their websites. 1 week ago, Australians woke up to a blackout after Facebook temporarily banned local news, which included emergency notifications. The blackout was in response to the legislation being put forth for approval, with Facebook spokespeople saying it seemed to be their only choice at the time.

The new law sets the stage for other countries worldwide to gain more revenue for local media companies by making such social media giants pay to use content. Google’s “Showcase” product will now feature paid local news with Facebook showing such paid news under its “News” category.

Companies like Google and Facebook pushed back against the legislation, saying such a law could threaten their companies’ business models, with Google saying it could make their search engine website “unworkable.”

But local news organisations have rebuked the reasoning, citing that social media giants claim a large percentage of online advertisin, leaving local news companies out of the revenue game. Citing that news is gathered by reporting and fieldwork, the companies say it is unfair for social media companies to profit largely off of the work of local, smaller companies.

The law, called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, aims to protect such local companies and to sustain public interest journalism. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs over the past decade as local media outlets have seen the bulk of their advertising revenues flow to digital companies’ sites after using their content.

Australia’s competition watchdog says that for every $100 invested by Australian advertisers, $49 is sent to Google and $24 to Facebook. Now, both online businesses say they will each invest around US $1 billion in local news content globally in the next 3 years. Facebook and Google now have 2 more months to reach solid agreements before being subjected to binding arbritations.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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World

Lady Gaga offers US $500,000 reward for stolen bulldogs

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Lady Gaga offers US $500,000 reward for stolen bulldogs | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Instagram/Lady Gaga

Who knew that finding 2 french bulldogs would earn US $500,000? That is the case for the lucky person that finds Lady Gaga’s equally lucky stolen dogs. The dogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen in Los Angeles, California while out on a walk with their dog walker.

But that’s not all. The employee in charge of keeping the dogs healthy was shot and wounded by a gunman who left the scene in a car, but not before allegedly shooting another man in this 30s. That man was hospitalised according to LA police.

Asia, Gaga’s 3rd dog was luckily found by police at the scene and was taken home by the singer’s staff. It isn’t clear if the frenchies were targeted due to their owner’s famous status or if they were taken simply because they were an expensive pedigree breed that can be sold for thousands of dollars.

Gaga, however, has offered the hefty reward for their return with “no questions asked.”

SOURCE: CNN

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