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

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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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Thailand

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

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The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Koh Chang's Sea View Resort - Bookings.com

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, the story is now reaching way beyond Thailand’s borders, being reported in mainstream media around the world. Much of the media discussion has focused on whether it is appropriate to be able to sue people over a bad review with criminal defamation.

Defamation is a criminal offence in Thailand, and carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht fine.

Now it’s come to light that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri (below).

But let’s get up to speed…

“A US man is facing up to two years in jail in Thailand after posting negative reviews of a hotel he stayed in. He was sued by the resort under the country’s strict anti-defamation laws.” – BBC

“An American man is facing two years in prison in Thailand after posting negative online reviews of a hotel resort.” – The Guardian

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But the Sea View Resort, claims his criticism was “harsh”, untrue and damaging to the hotel’s reputation.

“The owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the TripAdvisor website.” – AFP

“Wesley Gene Barnes is an American citizen who worked as a teacher in Thailand while the world was battling against the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He made headlines after posting a negative review of a resort in the Southeast Asian country.” – Conan Daily

The incident started with an argument over Mr Barnes bringing his own bottle of alcohol while dining in the resort’s restaurant. Arguments over the corkage fee “caused a commotion”, later sorted out by an on-duty manager. Since his stay at the resort earlier this year Mr Barnes has posted negative reviews of the property. Then the hotel sued him for defamation.

Mr Barnes was detained and says he spent two nights in prison before he was released on bail.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against 34 year old Wesley G. Barnes, signed off by JEAN PETERS BAKER, the Prosecuting Attorney Jackson County, Missouri, in October 2017.

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang's Sea View Resort has a criminal record | News by The Thaiger

You can read the full complaint HERE.

A Kansas City man accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar and later at a convenience store told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident, prosecutors said.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker charged Wesley G. Barnes, 34, with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action.

Barnes is accused of firing shots from a gun after leaving Waldo Bar about 1 a.m. Wednesday. The bar is near 75th Street and Wornall Road.

Read the rest of the story from The Kansas City Star HERE.

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang's Sea View Resort has a criminal record | News by The Thaiger

For its part, the Sea View Resort says that, following the reviews, they had received cancellations and inquiries about employee treatment. The management claims that it had told Mr Barnes repeatedly they “would not go ahead with pressing charges if he stopped writing new false reviews”.

“Despite our multiple efforts to contact him to resolve the matter in an amicable way for well over a month, he chose to ignore us completely. He only replied to us when he had been notified of our complaint by the authorities,” according to the BBC story.

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World

The world’s Top 10 languages, spoken by native speakers

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The world’s Top 10 languages, spoken by native speakers | The Thaiger

I battle to speak one language, English, and can barely order my lunch in Thai. And, whilst studying French for 7 years at school, I can only ask a French-speaker for the time or order coffee. Sacre Bleu! The world’s most common languages changes over time and a world interlinked on the internet and aviation, like never before, is making profound changes to the way we communicate, as a species..

You can be sure the ‘conversation’ will stir some heated debate over which is the most spoken languages, generally, and natively. But the numbers win (which we have updated from statistics in recent years).

For pop culturalists, we’re sad to report that neither ‘Klingon’ (used by the Star Trek foes) or ‘Minionese’ have made it into the top 10 most spoken languages in the world.

 

When tallied, according to number of native speakers only, the following are the most spoken languages in the world, the languages people learn as their primary spoken tongue. When you count the Top 10 most spoken languages – the total number of people who actually speak them natively and as a second or third language, English is just slightly ahead of Chinese as the most spoken language in the world.

But here are the Top 10 languages, as spoken by native speakers…

1. Chinese, 1.3 billion Native Speakers

1.3 billion native speakers, roughly 918 million of whom speak Mandarin Chinese. It’s definitely the most spoken language in the world with 1 in 6 of the world’s population being a native Chinese speaker. Seeing as Chinese is a tonal language that uses thousands of logograms, it will certainly keep you busy. Even if you only count the speakers of Mandarin Chinese, it still has more than twice the number of native speakers than the second most spoken language. China’s other main dialect is Cantonese, generally the lingua franca of southern Chinese.

2. Spanish, 460 million Native Speakers

Looking at native speakers, Spanish is just ahead of English with about 460 million native speakers. If you want a language that will open up entire continents to you, Spanish is considered a good choice. It is certainly the main language of the majority of South and Central America, Spain, and even large swathes of the US.

3. English, 380 million Native Speakers

You may have already noticed that this article is written in English, so you’re one of the 380 million native English speakers. An additional 754 million people speak English as a second or third language, not necessarily fluently. English has had success as the lingua franca (common language) of business, trade, travel, aviation and international relations. The pervasive cultural power of the US in the second half of the last century means that English still dominates the world stage, for now anyway. For people in developing nations, ‘English’ means ‘opportunity’ and a ‘better quality of life’.

4. Hindi, 340 million Native Speakers

To complicate matters, India has 23 official languages, with Hindi and Urdu leading the way. It is widely debated if these two dialects are separate or just one big language, Hindustani. It is spoken mainly in northern India and parts of Pakistan. At the moment there are moves to have Hindi displace English in the southern Indian states as the primary language of official communication. You probably didn’t know it, but you already speak Hindi when you use the words bungalow, shampoo, jungle, bandana, pyjamas, cashmere, punch (the drink) and jodhpurs.

5. Arabic, 317 million Native Speakers

Arabic, like Chinese, is again broken up into numerous dialects that some could even describe as separate languages just lumped together the sake of convenience. Modern Standard Arabic is a primarily written form, closely related to the Classical Arabic of the Quran.

6. Bengali, 228 million Native Speakers

Huh, what? That’s a language? Yep, and it’s number 6 on the list. People who speak Bengali are principally in the western parts of today’s India and Bangladesh. The Partition of Bengal by the British in 1947 separated West Bengal, now part of India, from its counterpart East Bengal, now Bangladesh. Bengali is the language of Kolkata, the Andaman Islands and 160 million Bangladeshis. The country is almost completely surrounded by Indian territory and faces the Bay of Bengal.

7. Portuguese, 220 million Native Speakers

Thanks to some intrepid explorers in the 15th century, Portuguese is spoken in a few colonial outposts and not just in Portugal. Portuguese traders and conquerors brought their language to Africa, Asia and the Americas. Apart from Portugal, the language is natively spoken in Brazil, Goa, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bisseau, São Tomé, Príncipe (all former Portugues colonies) and, interestingly, Macau.

8. Russian, 154 million Native Speakers

Russian remains one of the 6 languages spoken in the United Nations, and responsible for the literary classics of Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Chekhov, Gogol and Tolstoy. Not a lot of Russian words have become commonly used in English, except maybe ‘Vodka’. Hmmmm.

9. Japanese, 128 million Native Speakers

Japanese speakers mostly live in Japan, one of the most ethno-centric cultures in the world. Japanese boasts two distinct written forms – hiragana and katakana, and makes extensive use of Chinese Kanji characters. Some Japanese speakers also live in the US, the Philippines and Brazil.

10. Lahnda, 118 million Native Speakers

Lahnda (Western Punjabi), is a Pakistani language that primarily includes Western Punjabi. The Punjab was sliced in two by the British when they left, and millions of people were forced to abandon their homeland. But they’re slowly taking their revenge, Bollywood-style. Punjabi music now account for 50% of Indian chart-toppers.

French? German? Indonesian? You get a chance in this next list, the most commonly spoken languages by the total numberof people who speak them.

1. English, 1.134 billion total speakers

2. Mandarin Chinese, 1.118 billion total speakers

3. Hindi, 615 million total speakers

4. Spanish, 534 million total speakers

5. French 280 million total speakers

6. ‘Standard’ Arabic, 274 million total speakers

7. Bengali, 265 million total speakers

8. Russian, 258 million total speakers

9. Portuguese, 234 million total speakers

10. Indonesian, 199 million total speakers

The world's Top 10 languages, spoken by native speakers | News by The ThaigerSOURCE: Babbel.com

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog”

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Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog” | The Thaiger

The world’s Covid-19-related deaths has passed the 1 million mark overnight as the the cycle of the world’s lockdowns and re-openings are getting mixed results. As of this morning, Thai time, the number of total deaths has reached 1,002,389, with 4,000-6,000 deaths still being recorded, globally, every day. And rising. On a more positive note, the number of daily deaths continues to level off, even dropping some weeks, as treatments continue to improve and the virus is better understood. At this stage, officially, only 0.42% of the world’s population has so far been infected, according to worldometers.info.

The milestone comes in a week where another report from the UK catalogues the “brain fog” experienced by former Covid-19 sufferers.

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'
The current hotspots for the virus, now 9 months in circulation, of new daily cases is led by India. Yesterday, India added 82,000+ cases to the world total whilst the US is showing a resurgence in new cases after dropping the average down during August. There is also a resurgence in new cases in parts of Europe, including the UK, which is now recording more new cases than it was at its peak in the first wave in April and May this year. The following graphs records the top 10 countries for new Covid-19 cases recorded yesterday…

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Both South America and India are showing the highest rates of new cases, in pure numbers, whilst US health authorities are concerned about the latest surge in new cases as the country starts to head into its autumn and cooler weather.

Meanwhile, more former Covid-19 patients, even those who only suffered mild symptoms, continue to report about long-term effects from the coronavirus.

In Canada, some 130,000 Canadians have recovered but some patients report that they’re experiencing “debilitating side effects” months after their infection. Canadian scientists report that they are finding some of the long-term effects of Covid-19 include heart damage as well as neurological issues like “brain fog” and “difficulty thinking”. Other patients are reporting hair loss, fatigue and even painful lesions called “Covid toes,” many weeks or even months after infection.

One study based out of Italy reports that nearly 90% of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 reported at least one persistent symptom two months later.

39 doctors wrote about these “long-haulers” and their battle with Covid-19 and their persistent symptoms in a manifesto published in the British Medical Journal. Following the report, the doctors called on politicians, scientists and public health officials to conduct more research into chronic Covid-19 symptoms and to create additional clinical services.

“Failure to understand the underlying biological mechanisms causing these persisting symptoms risks missing opportunities to identify risk factors, prevent chronicity, and find treatment approaches for people affected now and in the future.”

The reports also defined the affected patients as not in the current list of “at risk” Covid-19 patients – usually elderly with underlying conditions – but instead representing a much wider demographic of younger and healthy patients who were experiencing the post-Covid symptoms.

SOURCE: BBC | CTV News

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