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World News: Jerusalem fired upon as Israel preps for possible Gaza incursion

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World News: Jerusalem fired upon as Israel preps for possible Gaza incursion | The Thaiger

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

Israel authorises more reservists after rockets target cities
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Israel’s cabinet authorised the mobilisation of up to 75,000 reservists late yesterday, preparing the ground for a possible Gaza invasion after Palestinians fired a rocket toward Jerusalem for the first time in decades.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial centre, also came under rocket attack for the second straight day, in defiance of an Israeli air offensive that began on Wednesday with the declared aim of deterring Hamas from launching cross-border attacks that have plagued southern Israel for years.

Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for firing at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israel said the rocket launched toward Jerusalem landed in the occupied West Bank, and the one fired at Tel Aviv did not hit the city. There were no reports of casualties.

The siren that sounded in Jerusalem stunned many Israelis. The city, holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, was last struck by a Palestinian rocket in 1970, and it was not a target when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq fired missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a four-hour strategy session with a clutch of senior ministers in Tel Aviv on widening the military campaign, while other cabinet members were polled by telephone on raising the mobilisation level.

Political sources said they decided to more than double the current reserve troop quota set for the Gaza offensive to 75,000. The move did not necessarily mean all would be called into service.

Hours earlier, Egypt’s prime minister, denouncing what he described as Israeli aggression, visited Gaza and said Cairo was prepared to mediate a truce.

Officials in Gaza said 29 Palestinians – 13 militants and 16 civilians, among them eight children and a pregnant woman – had been killed in the enclave since Israel began its air strikes. Three Israeli civilians were killed by a rocket on Thursday.

The Israeli military said 97 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel yesterday and 99 more were intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system. Dozens of Israeli bombing raids rocked the enclave, and one flattened the Gaza Interior Ministry building.

In a further sign Netanyahu might be clearing the way for a ground operation, Israel’s armed forces announced that a highway leading to the territory and two roads bordering the enclave of 1.7 million Palestinians would be off-limits to civilian traffic.

Tanks and self-propelled guns were seen near the border area yesterday, and the military said it had already called 16,000 reservists to active duty.

Netanyahu is favourite to win a January national election, but further rocket strikes against Tel Aviv, a free-wheeling city Israelis equate with New York, and Jerusalem, which Israel regards as its capital, could be political poison for the conservative leader.

“The Israel Defence Forces will continue to hit Hamas hard and are prepared to broaden the action inside Gaza,” Netanyahu said before the rocket attacks on the two cities.

Asked about Israel massing forces for a possible Gaza invasion, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “The Israelis should be aware of the grave results of such a raid, and they should bring their body bags.”

Solidarity visit
A solidarity visit to Gaza by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, whose Islamist government is allied with Hamas but also party to a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, had appeared to open a tiny window to emergency peace diplomacy.

Kandil said: “Egypt will spare no effort … to stop the aggression and to achieve a truce.”

But a three-hour truce that Israel declared for the duration of Kandil’s visit never took hold.

Israel Radio’s military affairs correspondent said the army’s Homefront Command had told municipal officials to make civil defence preparations for the possibility that fighting could drag on for seven weeks. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

The Gaza conflagration has stoked the flames of a Middle East already ablaze with two years of Arab revolution and a civil war in Syria that threatens to leap across borders.

It is the biggest test yet for Egypt’s new President Mohamed Mursi, a veteran Islamist politician from the Muslim Brotherhood who was elected this year after last year’s protests ousted military autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are spiritual mentors of Hamas, yet Mursi has also pledged to respect Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, seen in the West as the cornerstone of regional security. Egypt and Israel both receive billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to underwrite their treaty.

Mursi has vocally denounced the Israeli military action while promoting Egypt as a mediator, a mission that his prime minister’s visit was intended to further.

A Palestinian official close to Egypt’s mediators told Reuters Kandil’s visit “was the beginning of a process to explore the possibility of reaching a truce. It is early to speak of any details or of how things will evolve”.

Hamas fighters are no match for the Israeli military. The last Gaza war, involving a three-week long Israeli air blitz and ground invasion over the New Year period of 2008-2009, killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Thirteen Israelis died.

Tunisia’s foreign minister was due to visit Gaza on Saturday “to provide all political support for Gaza” the spokesman for the Tunisian president, Moncef Marzouki, said in a statement.

The United States asked countries that have contact with Hamas to urge the Islamist movement to stop its rocket attacks.

Hamas refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist. By contrast, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who rules in the nearby West Bank, does recognise Israel, but peace talks between the two sides have been frozen since 2010.

Abbas’s supporters say they will push ahead with a plan to have Palestine declared an “observer state” rather than a mere “entity” at the United Nations later this month.

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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Entertainment

‘Game of Thrones’ finale rates high, fails the landing

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‘Game of Thrones’ finale rates high, fails the landing | The Thaiger

WARNING: GOT Spoiler alerts!!

“This final season has obviously been divisive, and a good deal of the criticism, especially of the penultimate episode, was justified.”

by Brian Lowry

After eight seasons, 73 episodes and a much-debated flurry of plot developments, that signature first-season line proved the key to unraveling the “Game of Thrones” finale, which, after a season that was at various times exhilarating, exhausting and aggravating, came as something of a relief.

Given the passions ignited (somewhat literally, given all that dragon fire) by the penultimate chapter, the finale couldn’t possibly please everyone. While there was validity in many of the criticisms, a degree of silliness crept into the discussion, starting with those who actually signed a petition petulantly demanding some kind of cosmic do-over.

From Mash to Friends to Seinfeld, the most watched series finals HERE.

“Flaws and all, ‘Game of Thrones’ rewrote the rules for a TV epic, providing a brilliantly cast serialised storyline, produced with a scope and scale that rivaled theatrical blockbusters.”

In the final analysis, the first half of the last episode, both written and directed by show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, was strong, logical and satisfying. Overall, it wasn’t a one-for-the-ages finale, held up against the best examples of them and the abundant hype, but it wasn’t an unworthy one either.

Read the rest of the CNN review from Brian Lowry HERE

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Technology

Google cut off Huawei’s access to some Android apps and services

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Google cut off Huawei’s access to some Android apps and services | The Thaiger

In a surprise response to the ongoing Huawei vs Trump administration spat, Google has halted its business operations with Huawei.

Huawei is one of the leading mobile phone manufacturers in the world. The Google ‘pull out’ is effective immediately, according to a report from Reuters. The halted business streams include anything in relation to the transfer of hardware and software products except the open source ones. If the reports end up being fully rolled out, it would send shockwaves across the world and massively impact Huawei users and businesses.

Huawei was posed to overtake Samsung soon as the largest seller of Android phones in the world.

According to Reuters…

“Huawei Technologies Co Ltd will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system, and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app,”

Google have responded…

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

Reuters first reported the news via unnamed sources on Sunday afternoon, and The Verge followed up a couple hours later with — again, anonymously sourced — confirmation.

Last Thursday, the US Trump administration added Huawei to their trade blacklist and owing to that it will be extremely difficult for Huawei to do business with US companies. Google is one of the US companies with the highest number of consumers in the world using its open-source operating system Android.

The move will put the users of Huawei smartphones in limbo. They won’t be able to get any new Android updates, security patches and even will lose access to Google Play Store which makes a huge portion of Android phone experience. The list of smartphones includes the recently launched high-end flagships of Huawei including P30, P30 Pro, Mate 20 Pro, and the list continues.

Huawei, in just the recent quarter of 2019, shipped more than 59 million smartphones which makes a huge chunk of devices powered by Android Operating System. A source closer to the matter mentions that Google was forced to end ties with Huawei as a result of trade blacklisting of Huawei in US. Otherwise, Huawei was expected to become the biggest seller of Android-powered devices in the world beating Samsung and other Chinese smartphone manufacturers by a good margin.

Huawei will continue to have access to the licensed open source version of the Android operating system, which is available for everyone to use.

Huawei has not yet commented on the development. But in a recent interview to a Japenese publication Nikkei, Huawei’s CEO Ren had mentioned, “Huawei’s growth might slow under the U.S. restriction, but only slightly.”

The recent move by Google is going to change the power game between different smartphone manufacturers but only time will tell how Chinese smartphone companies and Chinese establishment will react and respond over this.

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Technology

Twitter and Facebook work to block anti-vax misinformation

The Thaiger

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Twitter and Facebook work to block anti-vax misinformation | The Thaiger

If you search for the word ‘vaccines’ in Twitter, the first thing you see from today is a post from the US Department of Health and Human Services pointing you to reliable health information instead of misinformation from the anti-vax adherents.

Twitter says it now has a new tool in ‘search’ prompting users to head to vaccines.org, which is run by informed officials and health professionals. Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are facing intense pressure from lawmakers to remove anti-vaccination propaganda from their platforms. The push-back is coming from officials and netizens.

The tool shows up on Android, iOS, Twitter’s mobile site, and on the newly designed desktop site in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Korea – more countries soon.

Twitter has used a similar tool that prompts users who search for terms related to suicide to contact a hotline for help. According to the blog post, Twitter intends to extend this tool to other health-related search terms in the future.

Last week, it was announced that Instagram would hide search results for anti-vax hashtags on its platform, effectively blocking any associated content. Two months ago Facebook announced it would also work to curb vaccine misinformation.

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