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Found 42 results

  1. France's Macron appears set for Elysee in runoff with Le Pen By Ingrid Melander and Pascale Antonie REUTERS Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, waves hand during in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier PARIS (Reuters) - Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a May 7 runoff for the French presidency after coming first and second in Sunday's first round of voting, according to multiple projections. Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, opinion polls in the run-up to the ballot have consistently seen him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen. Sunday's outcome spells disaster for the two mainstream groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years, and also reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote last June to quit the EU and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. (For a graphic on french presidential election, click The euro currency was quoted higher immediately after the first projections were issued, with banks quoting around $1.092 versus $1.072 on Friday evening, according to Reuters data. In a race that was too close to call up to the last minute, Macron, a pro-European Union ex-banker and economy minister who founded his own party only a year ago, was projected to get 24 percent of the first-round vote by the pollster Harris, and 23.7 percent by Elabe. Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-EU National Front, was given 22 percent by both institutes. At least three further pollsters all projected broadly similar results. Macron's supporters, gathered at a Paris conference centre burst into singing the national anthem, the Marseillaise, a few seconds after results came through. Many were under 25, reflecting some of the appeal of a man aiming to become France's youngest head of state since Napoleon. Le Pen, who is herself bidding to make history as France's first female president, follows in the footsteps of her father, who founded the National Front and reached the second round of the presidential election in 2002. Jean-Marie Le Pen was ultimately crushed when voters from right and left rallied around the conservative Jacques Chirac in order to keep out a party whose far-right, anti-immigrant views they considered unpalatably xenophobic. His daughter has done much to soften her party's image, and found widespread support among young voters by pitching herself as an anti-establishment defender of French workers and French interests. "RAMPANT GLOBALISATION" "The great issue in this election is the rampant globalisation that is putting our civilisation at risk," she declared in her first word after results came through. Nevertheless, Le Pen seems destined to suffer a similar fate to her father. Defeated Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and defeated right-wing candidate Francois Fillon all urged voters to rally behind Macron in the second round. Harris gave both Fillon, badly damaged by allegations that his wife had been paid from the public purse for work she did not do, and far-left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon 20 percent in the first round. "This defeat is mine and it is for me and me alone to bear it," Fillon told a news conference, adding that he would now vote for Macron. The result will mean a face-off between politicians with radically contrasting economic visions for a country whose economy lags that of its neighbours and where a quarter of young people are unemployed. Macron favours gradual deregulation measures that will be welcomed by global financial markets, as well as cuts in state expenditure and the civil service. Le Pen wants to print money to finance expanded welfare payments and tax cuts, ditch the euro currency and possibly pull out of the EU. Whatever the outcome on May 7, it will mean a redrawing of France's political landscape, which has been dominated for 60 years by mainstream groupings from the centre-left and centre-right, both of whose candidates faded. Macron ally Gerard Collomb said the defeat of the mainstream centre-left Socialists and the centre-right Republicans showed a "deep malaise" in French society. The final outcome on May 7 will influence France's standing in Europe and the world as a nuclear-armed, veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council and founding member of the organisation that transformed itself into the European Union. (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Bate Felix, Michaela Cabrera, Michel Rose, Geert De Clercq, Mathieu Rosemain, John Irish, Andrew Callus, Sarah White in Paris, and Ilze Filks in Henin-Beaumont; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Richard Balmforth) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-04-24
  2. Blasts hit Borussia Dortmund team bus, leaving player hurt By Kai Pfaffenbach Football Soccer - Borussia Dortmund v AS Monaco - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany - 11/4/17 The Borussia Dortmund team bus is seen after an explosion near their hotel before the game Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach Livepic DORTMUND (Reuters) - German police said "an attack using serious explosives" was launched on the Borussia Dortmund soccer team's bus on Tuesday, leaving one player injured. Defender Marc Bartra was taken to hospital. The bus was hit by three blasts from devices planted in bushes at the roadside close to the team's hotel, as the vehicle made its way to a quarter-final first leg Champions League game at home to AS Monaco. The match was called off and rescheduled for Wednesday. "The bus turned into the main street, when there was a huge boom, a real explosion," Sky television quoted Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki as saying. "I was sitting in the back row next to Marc Bartra, hit by fragments ... after the bang, we all ducked." Dortmund police said in a message on Twitter: "After the initial investigation, we assume that this was an attack using serious explosives." The stadium, which is the largest in Germany and holds more than 80,000 spectators, emptied quickly and without incident. "The explosive devices were placed outside the bus. Several windows were broken," a police spokesman said. The incident was in the Hoechsten district in the south of the city of Dortmund. Bartra, 26, joined Dortmund for eight million euros ($8.5 million) last year from Barcelona, after coming through the Catalan club's youth system. He has made 12 appearances for the Spanish national team. Borussia Dortmund's managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke was quoted as telling Sky: "The whole team is in a state of shock." Police added: "Currently there is no evidence of a threat to the visitors at the stadium." AS Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic told Croatian newspaper 24sata: "We are currently in the stadium, in a safe place, but the feeling's horrible." Dortmund and UEFA later said that the match would go ahead on Wednesday at 1645 GMT (1845 local time). (Additional reporting by Brian Homewood, Ed Dove, Toby Davis, Tom Hayward, Pritha Sarkar and Paul Carrel; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Andrew Roche) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-04-12
  3. U.S. unleashes 'mother of all bombs' for first time in Afghanistan By Idrees Ali REUTERS The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb is pictured in this undated handout photo. Elgin Air Force Base/Handout via REUTERS WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States dropped "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed in combat, on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, the military said. President Donald Trump touted the bombing as evidence of a more muscular U.S. foreign policy since he took office in January after eight years of President Barack Obama. Graphic - U.S. drops massive bomb in Afghanistan: The 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GBU-43 bomb, which has 11 tons of explosives, was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said. The GBU-43, also known as the "mother of all bombs," is a GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003. It is regarded as particularly effective against clusters of targets on or just underneath the ground. Other types of bombs can be more effective against deeper, hardened tunnels. It was the first time the United States has used this size of conventional bomb in a conflict. Trump described the bombing as a "very successful mission.” It was not immediately clear how much damage the device did. During last year's presidential election campaign, Trump vowed to give priority to destroying Islamic State, which operates mostly in Syria and Iraq. He flexed U.S. military muscles last week by ordering a cruise missile attack on a Syrian government airbase in retaliation for a poison gas attack. "If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really to what’s happened over the last eight years, you’ll see that there’s a tremendous difference," Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. The security situation remains precarious in Afghanistan, with a number of militant groups trying to claim territory more than 15 years after the U.S. invasion which toppled the Taliban government. So far, Trump has offered little clarity about a broader strategy for Afghanistan, where some 8,400 U.S. troops remain. LONG AFGHAN WAR Last week, a U.S. soldier was killed in the same district as where the bomb was dropped while he was conducting operations against Islamic State. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the bombing "targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area." Spicer said the bomb was dropped at around 7 p.m. local time and described it as "a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon." U.S. forces took "all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage," he said. Afghan soldiers and police, with the aid of thousands of foreign military advisers, are struggling to hold off a resurgent insurgency led by the Taliban, as well as other groups like Islamic State. The U.S. government's top watchdog on Afghanistan said earlier this year that the Afghan government controls less than 60 percent of the country. Foreign policy experts said that it appeared the use of a specialized weapon like the GBU-43 had more to do with the type of target -- tunnels -- than the United States sending any message to other countries by using such a powerful weapon. "This is a very specialized weapon, we don't have very many of them, you can only use them in a very narrow set of circumstances," said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. Cancian added that while sending a message to Syria or North Korea could have been among the secondary factors considered, they would not have been the main reason for using this type of weapon. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the use of this bomb was a sign that the United States was committed to Afghanistan. But Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Democrat who was the only "no" vote for authorization for use of military force in Afghanistan in 2001, said the move was unprecedented and asked for an explanation. "President Trump owes the American people an explanation about his escalation of military force in Afghanistan and his long-term strategy to defeat ISIS," she said in a statement. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said recently that he needed several thousand more international troops in order to break a stalemate in the long war with Taliban insurgents. U.S. officials say intelligence suggests Islamic State is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighbouring Kunar province. Estimates of its strength in Afghanistan vary. U.S. officials have said they believe the movement has only 700 fighters but Afghan officials estimate it has about 1,500. The Afghan Taliban, which is trying to overthrow the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, are fiercely opposed to Islamic State and the two group have clashed as they seek to expand territory and influence. (Reporting by Idrees Ali. Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle and Will Dunham.; Editing by Alistair Bell) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-04-14
  4. British workers encouraged to retire to Thailand after Brexit and snap up a £60k 20-year residency permit - just watch out for your state pension being frozen A Thai official claims Brexit offers UK expats a 'good opportunity' to move Government agency Thailand Elite offers 5, 10 and 20 year packages What the officials don't mention is that your state pension could be frozen By Jane Denton For Thisismoney LONDON: -- The UK's divorce from the EU offers pensioner-age Britons a 'good opportunity' to up sticks and move to Thailand, a Thai official has claimed. With the value of the pound faltering against European currencies and ongoing uncertainty about the rights of Britons living within the EU after Brexit, a residency permit for further afield destinations like Thailand could be the answer. But, before dumping scarves and jumpers and grabbing some sandals and shorts for the next flight to Thailand, it pays to assess the costs and pitfalls involved in getting a residency pass. In three words, it's not cheap. Full story: -- This is MONEY 2017-04-07
  5. Pick-up seating ban a slap in the face for Thailand's poor! Image: Thai Rath BANGKOK: -- Thai Rath commented strongly on the story on everyone's lips this week: the government's ban on travelling in the back of pick-ups. Though PM Prayut has said that the implementation of the ban will be delayed until after the Songkran holidays Thai Rath said that the ban was effectively a slap in the face for the nation's poor who are obliged through one reason or another to travel in this way. In reality the law banning travelling in the cargo bay of pick-up has existed for a long time and is known to the people, they said. But everyone has accepted that it is not enforced. To suddenly announce that it would be enforced is unfair, especially to the poor. The influential Thai media group said that 35 million people are expected to be on the move next week in buses, planes, trains, minivans and cars. There are thought to be more than 7,000 bus and van trips per day alone with upwards of 180,000 passengers per day using that mode of transport. But they said that many poor people cannot afford to go in buses and vans. They choose to club together with friends and travel in the back of pick-ups by splitting money for gas and thus saving cash on expensive bus travel. While accepting that this has its own dangers there are also dangers travelling in vans and buses. They said that poor driving of overtired and badly trained bus and van drivers was also very risky. This was known to all Thais as was the habit of fleecing the public for transport costs during times like Songkran. So this is why the poor are prepared to suffer the blazing sun, the wind and the rain by sitting in the back of a pick-up. Everyone always knew it was illegal but now it is to be enforced they demanded of the government: "What are the poor to do now?" "Poor families whose only asset is their pick-up used to transport goods and people - vehicles bought in good faith - what are they going to do now?" People have got used to using pick-ups as multi-utility vehicles and to expect them to suddenly change was unfair and a slap in the face from the authorities to the poor. Thai Rath looked at accident statistics and quoted experts who identified areas where compromises to the enforcement of the law could be made. One of the main problems, they said, was that people in the back of a pick-up changed the stability characteristics especially if there were more than seven. In this case there was two times more likelihood of an accident. If people were standing in the back of a pick-up this further increased to four times more likely that an accident would happen. The more people that were carried the more chance of an accident. Thai Rath proposed that several measures could be made in the short term to "meet the law half way". These included making it law to put a roof on the back of pick-ups, limiting the number of occupants in the back to just seven and focusing on being strict in enforcing the law on fast roads such as highways, motorways and toll ways. Source: Thai Rath -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-06
  6. Breaking News: PM Prayut orders Phuket Governor transfer, effective immediately Chutharat Plerin Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan has been transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, effective immediately. Photo: PR Dept PHUKET: -- Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan to be transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, effective immediately. The special order, enforced under the special powers provisions of Article 44, was signed today, along with the transfers of 14 other provincial Governors. No specific reason was given for Phuket Governor Chockchai's transfer, though he is to take up the position of Special Inspector at the Prime Minister's Office. Full story: -- © Copyright Phuket News 2017-04-05
  7. President Trump signs order to build Mexico border wall Alasdair Sandford WASHINGTON: -- The new US President Donald Trump has signed executive orders to build a wall along the border with Mexico – as pledged during the election campaign – and to crack down on US cities shielding illegal immigrants. One directive dealt with building a wall along the 3,200-kilometre US-Mexican border. Earlier on Wednesday Trump said that construction of the wall could begin within months, and repeated that Mexico would pay for its construction – an assertion that has been challenged by critics as unenforceable. “A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders,” Trump said during a ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security. “I just signed two executive orders that will save thousands of lives, millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars.” However, many details remain uncertain, and the man charged with putting the scheme into practice – the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly – told congressional hearing recently that physical borders alone could not stop illegal immigration. The second order envisages stripping federal grant money from “sanctuary” states and cities that harbour illegal immigrants. In some cities such as San Francisco local officials, often Democrats, refuse to cooperate with federal authorities on actions against people in the country illegally. As he did during his election campaign, Donald Trump again linked illegal immigrants to crime. “We’re joined here this afternoon by parents whose children were horribly killed by individuals living here illegally. Pundits talk about how enforcing immigration laws can separate illegal immigrant families, but the families they don’t talk about are the families of Americans – for ever separated from the people they love,” the president said. Wednesday’s moves show that the president intends to proceed quickly on sweeping and divisive plans to curb immigration and boost national security. Commentators have pointed out that deportations of illegal migrants had been stepped up even under the Obama administration. But Trump’s order is expected to cover a wider range of people. Donald Trump is also expected to take steps in the coming days to limit legal immigration – including executive orders restricting refugees and blocking visas being issued to people from several Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa, according to Reuters. -- © Copyright Euronews 2017-01-26
  8. U.S.-Israeli teen arrested in Israel for Jewish center bomb threats By Jeffrey Heller and Joseph Ax REUTERS An U.S.-Israeli teen who was arrested in Israel on suspicion of making bomb threats against Jewish community centres in the United States, Australia and New Zealand over the past three month, is seen before the start of a remand hearing at Magistrate's Court in Rishon Lezion, Israel March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner JERUSALEM/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A teenager with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The suspect, whose identity remains sealed pursuant to a court order, is 18, Jewish and a dual U.S.-Israeli national, a police spokesman said. The teenager's alleged motives were not immediately clear. At a court hearing near Tel Aviv, the suspect's defense attorney, Galit Bash, said the young man has a growth in his head that causes behavioral problems. She later told Reuters he has a brain tumor, which "may affect his behavior, his ability to understand right and wrong," and said the teen's father had also been held in connection with the case. U.S. federal authorities have been investigating a surge of threats against Jewish organizations, including more than 100 bomb threats in separate waves over the past three months targeting Jewish community centers (JCCs) in dozens of states. The threats prompted criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump for what some Jewish groups saw as an inadequate response from his administration. He condemned the incidents in a major speech to Congress in February. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said the arrest reflected the government's determination to prosecute those who perpetrate hate crimes. "... we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs," Sessions said in a statement. Israeli police said the teenager is believed to be responsible for most of the threats, though the precise number was not immediately clear. The suspect, who is accused of targeting centers in Australia and New Zealand as well as the United States, began making the calls in January using advanced masking technologies to hide his identity, police said. Authorities also said he was responsible for a previous bomb threat against a Delta Airlines flight in January 2015 at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which took part in the probe, confirmed the arrest but declined to offer further details. The threats forced the evacuation of many JCCs, including some with day care and school facilities for infants and young children. Coupled with other incidents such as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, they have stoked fears of a resurgence in anti-Semitism in the United States. In a statement, the president of the JCC Association of North America said JCC leaders were "troubled" the teenager appears to be Jewish. The Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism in the United States, said the alleged perpetrator's actions mattered more than his background. "While the details of this crime remain unclear, the impact of this individual's actions is crystal clear: these were acts of anti-Semitism," the organization said in a statement. Bash said her client was home-schooled and incapable of holding down a job. She added he had been found medically unfit for Israel's compulsory military service. A judge ruled that he be held for at least eight more days. U.S. authorities previously made one other arrest in connection with the threats. Juan Thompson, a former journalist from St. Louis, is accused of making several threats to Jewish organizations while posing as an ex-girlfriend as part of a revenge plot against her. (Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Joseph Ax in New York; Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Baz Ratner and Rami Amichay in Rishon Lezion; Editing by Daniel Wallis and James Dalgleish) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-03-24
  9. Trump signs revised travel ban in bid to see off legal challenges By Steve Holland and Julia Edwards Ainsley REUTERS Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (L), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, deliver remarks on issues related to visas and travel after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new travel ban order in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday banning citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from travelling to the United States but removing Iraq from the list, after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts. The new order, which takes effect on March 16, keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It applies only to new visa applicants, meaning some 60,000 people whose visas were revoked under the previous order will now be permitted to enter. Immigration advocates said the new ban still discriminated against Muslims and failed to address some of their key concerns with the previous order. Legal experts said it would, however, be harder to challenge because it affects fewer people living in the United States and allows more exemptions to protect them. Trump, who first proposed a temporary travel ban on Muslims during his presidential campaign last year, had said his original Jan. 27 executive order was a national security measure meant to head off attacks by Islamist militants. It sparked chaos and protests at airports, where visa holders were detained and later deported back to their home countries. It also drew criticism from targeted countries, Western allies and some of America's leading corporations before a U.S. judge suspended it on Feb. 3. "As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters after Trump signed the new order. PELOSI: BAN STILL IMMORAL Democrats, a minority in Congress, quickly signalled fierce opposition to what they called a discriminatory ban. "The Trump administration’s repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional and dangerous goals of their Muslim and refugee ban," House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group in Washington, said the Trump administration had "doubled down on anti-Muslim bigotry. "It’s crystal clear this is a Muslim ban," she told reporters on a conference call. But some Republicans who had been critical of Trump's original order were more positive on the new one. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was "very encouraged" by the approach and pleased that Iraq was removed from the list. Trump's original ban resulted in more than two dozen lawsuits in U.S. courts. The Justice Department estimated 60,000 people had their visas revoked by the first order but senior administration officials said on Monday those visas were now valid again for entry into the United States. "By rescinding his earlier executive order, President Trump makes one thing perfectly clear: his original travel ban was indefensible — legally, constitutionally and morally," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington state, which succeeded in having the previous ban suspended. His office would likely decide this week on whether to proceed with litigation over Trump's new executive order, he said, and would consult with state universities and businesses to understand what harm they may suffer due to the new order. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he expected the revised order to have the same uphill battle in the courts as the original version. "A watered down ban is still a ban," he said in a statement. "Despite the administration's changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited, and un-American. It must be repealed." HARDER TO CHALLENGE But the fact the ban affects fewer people already in the United States means it will be more difficult for opponents to find plaintiffs who have been harmed by the order and thus have legal standing to challenge it, legal experts say. "They dotted their I's and crossed their T's in trying to anticipate what litigation might result," said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell Law School professor. The revised order means that tens of thousands of legal permanent U.S. residents - or green card holders - from the listed countries will no longer be affected. The original order barred travellers from the seven nations from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were to be banned indefinitely but under the new order they are not given separate treatment. Iraq was taken off the banned list because the Iraqi government has imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants, a senior White House official said. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who along with several other senior Cabinet members had lobbied for Iraq's removal, was consulted on the new order and the updated version "does reflect his inputs," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said. Thousands of Iraqis have fought alongside U.S. troops for years or worked as translators since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Many have resettled in the United States after being threatened for working with U.S. troops. Refugees "in transit" and already approved would be able to travel to the United States under the new order. "There’s going to be a very orderly process," a senior official from the Department of Homeland Security said. "You should not see any chaos so to speak, or alleged chaos at airports. There aren’t going to be folks stopped tonight from coming into the country because of this executive order." (Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Doina Chiacu, Tim Ahmann and Idrees Ali in Washington, Mica Rosenberg in New York and Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Bill Trott and Nick Tattersall) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-03-07
  10. Over 30 killed as gunmen dressed as medics attack Afghan military hospital By Mirwais Harooni REUTERS Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers descend from helicopter on a roof of a military hospital during gunfire and blast in Kabul, Afghanistan March 8, 2017.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail KABUL (Reuters) - Gunmen dressed as medics attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital on Wednesday and battled security forces for hours, killing more than 30 people and wounding dozens in an assault claimed by Islamic State. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the rear of the 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital, across the road from the heavily fortified U.S. embassy, providing the signal for three attackers with automatic weapons and hand grenades to open fire inside the complex, according to witnesses. Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the attack was suppressed by mid-afternoon, with all three gunmen killed. As security forces swept the hospital buildings, another ministry spokesman said they found more than 30 dead and 50 wounded, including doctors, patients and hospital staff. Earlier, a spokesman for the public health ministry said three dead and 66 wounded had been taken to other hospitals in the city. The gunmen, dressed as medical personnel, had taken up positions on the upper floors of the hospital and engaged special forces sent to the scene, officials said. Security forces blocked off the area around the hospital, near a busy traffic intersection, and special forces soldiers descended on to the roof of the main building from helicopters. Sporadic gunfire could be heard for several hours and, as fighting went on, there was a second explosion, which a spokesman said was caused when a car inside the hospital complex blew up. A statement from Islamic State's Amaq News Agency said its fighters had attacked the hospital, while an Afghan Taliban spokesman denied responsibility, saying the Islamist insurgency had "no connection" with the attack. The raid on the hospital followed warnings by government officials that high-profile attacks in Kabul were likely to escalate this year. With U.S. President Donald Trump yet to announce his policy for Afghanistan, where the top U.S. commander has said thousands more international troops may be needed to maintain stability, the attack also pointed to Islamic State's growing threat. The movement, whose local branch is called Afghanistan Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - Khorasan province (ISIS-K) is opposed to both the Western-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban. The movement is based in the Middle East but has established a solid presence on the border with Pakistan. It has also mounted several high-profile attacks on civilians in Kabul over the past year, including several on prominent Shi'ite targets. HIDDEN WEAPON The attack on a hospital that treats military casualties from around Afghanistan drew wide condemnation and President Ashraf Ghani said it "trampled on all human values". "In all religions, a hospital is regarded as an immune site and attacking it is attacking the whole of Afghanistan," he said in impromptu remarks during a speech for International Women's Day in Kabul. General John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, praised Afghan forces which he said had responded "swiftly and professionally." "We are committed to help our Afghan partners destroy ISIS-K in Afghanistan," he said in a statement. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said the attack on hospital staff and patients not involved in the conflict amounted to a war crime. Witnesses inside the hospital said they were caught by surprise as a gunman dressed in a white doctor's coat took out a concealed AK-47 assault rifle and opened fire, killing at least one patient and one hospital worker. "Suddenly gunfire broke out and a gunman was shooting at everyone," said Zahir Khan, who hid under a table and later escaped. "He was shooting at doctors, patients and visitors." As the fighting went on, some patients climbed out of the building and could be seen sheltering on window ledges high above the ground. Patient Zia Zabuli was lucky to escape. In hospital with a leg wound, he and three others hid in a room and barricaded themselves in when they saw one of the gunmen approaching. "Together we put beds, chairs and whatever there was behind the door," he told Reuters after the siege ended late in the afternoon. At one point, one of the assailants tried to break in. "He came up to our door and kicked it several times but it did not open. Then he left," said Zabuli, as he limped away from the scene supported by a relative. "We stayed quiet and prayed for our safety." The attack came just a week after dozens of people were killed and wounded in coordinated attacks on a police station and an office of the intelligence service in Kabul. That attack was claimed by the Taliban, who are seeking to expel foreign troops, defeat the U.S.-backed government and reimpose Islamic law after their 2001 ouster. Away from Kabul, dozens of people have been killed over the past few days in fighting across Afghanistan, from Kunduz and Baghlan in the north to Farah in the southwest and Helmand and Kandahar on the Pakistan border in the south. (Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi, Mohammad Ismail, Mohammad Aziz and Omar Fahmy in CAIRO; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie and Mike Collett-White) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-03-09
  11. Crazy queue at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s immigration causes travelers to miss flights Foreign tourists were stranded in a long line at the immigration checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi International Airport yesterday morning. Morning News showed a video of a paranoia-inducing long line of travelers queuing at the immigration checkpoint to leave Thailand as only six out of eighteen counters were open for service around 8am on Sunday. The influx of travelers caused the line to stretch from the immigration checkpoint all the way to the check-in area, according to government radio channel JS100. Full story: -- © Copyright Coconuts Bangkok 2017-02-27
  12. Bomb scare grounds Phuket-bound flight from Sweden Phuket Gazette Thai Airways flight TG963 was due to take off from Stockholm Arlanda Airport last night. Photo: Andreas Trepte STOCKHOLM: Swedish officials are investigating a bomb threat against a Phuket-bound Thai Airways flight at Stockholm Arlanda Airport last night. The flight was grounded and all 300 passengers safely evacuated, reports Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. The threat was specifically directed toward flight TG963, which was due to take off at 8:45pm, said Sven-Erik Olsson of the Stockholm Police. A relative of one of the passengers said police arrived as the plane was taxiing toward the runway. A bomb disposal squad arrived shortly after to investigate. “We sat on the plane for hours,” said passenger Ulrika Sten, who was heading to Thailand with her family. Full story: -- © Copyright Phuket Gazette 2017-03-03
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  14. Chiang Mai Hotel Deal of the Week: Book by Feb 27 for an extra 10% discount Thaivisa Exclusive Hotel Bookings work with a select group of hotels in Thailand on the premise of negotiating the lowest prices and also only hotels which consistently score well among its guests. Book by February 27th to receive an extra 10% discount on our already great prices! For an extra 10% discount on Chankam Boutique Hotel in Chiang Mai by following this link In all instances you must type ‘thaivisa’ into the green promo box on the Thaivisa Hotel Booking site in order to get a minimum 5% discount on all hotels listed.
  15. Bangkok Hotel Deal of the Week: Book by Feb 27 for an extra 10% discount Thaivisa Exclusive Hotel Bookings work with a select group of hotels in Thailand on the premise of negotiating the lowest prices and also only hotels which consistently score well among its guests. Book by February 27th to receive an extra 10% discount on our already great prices! For an extra 10% discount on Abloom Exclusive Serviced Apartments in Bangkok follow this link In all instances you must type ‘thaivisa’ into the green promo box on the Thaivisa Hotel Booking site in order to get a minimum 5% discount on all hotels listed.
  16. U.S. appeals court upholds suspension of Trump travel ban By Daniel Levine REUTERS Ann Carey protests outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse in San Francisco, California February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court on Thursday unanimously upheld a temporary suspension of President Donald Trump's order that restricted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling came in a challenge to Trump's order filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely determine the case's final outcome. The White House said it had no immediate comment. Trump's Jan. 27 executive order barred entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and imposed a 120-day halt on all refugees, except refugees from Syria who are barred indefinitely. U.S. District Judge James Robart suspended Trump's order last Friday. The ruling from the 9th Circuit, which follows a hearing on the case on Tuesday, does not resolve the lawsuit, but relates instead to whether Trump's order should be suspended while litigation proceeds. Two members of three-judge panel that ruled were appointed by former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and one was appointed by former President George W. Bush. Either side could decide to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump had said the order was vital for national safety and criticized Robart, the Seattle judge, for suspending it. Critics have called Trump's ban discriminatory against Muslims and have questioned its value as a security measure. National security veterans, major U.S. technology companies and law enforcement officials from more than a dozen states backed a legal effort against the ban. Ultimately the courts will have to address questions about the extent of the president's power on matters of immigration and national security. Traditionally, judges have been extremely cautious about stepping on the executive branch’s authority in such matters, legal experts say, though some note that the implementation of this order presents unique issues. INTENSE SCRUTINY The appeals court panel subjected Trump's order to intense scrutiny during Tuesday's oral argument.[nL1N1FS03X] During the oral argument, the judges asked a government lawyer whether the Trump administration's national security argument was backed by evidence that people from the seven countries posed a danger. Judge Richard Clifton posed equally tough questions for an attorney representing Minnesota and Washington. Clifton asked if Robart's suspension of Trump's policy was "overbroad." Clifton is an appointee of former President George W. Bush, a Republican like Trump. August Flentje, representing the Trump administration as special counsel for the U.S. Justice Department, told the panel on Tuesday that "Congress has expressly authorized the president to suspend entry of categories of aliens" for national security reasons. "That’s what the president did here," he said. When the 9th Circuit asked Flentje what evidence the executive order had used to connect the seven countries affected by the order with terrorism in the United States, Flentje said the "proceedings have been moving very fast," without giving specific examples. He said both Congress and the previous administration of Democrat Barack Obama had determined that those seven countries posed the greatest risk of terrorism and had in the past put stricter visa requirements on them. Noah Purcell, solicitor general for the state of Washington, began his argument urging the court to serve "as a check on executive abuses." Curbing entry to the United States as a national security measure was a central premise of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, originally proposed as a temporary ban on all Muslims. He has voiced frustration at the legal challenge to his order. "I actually can't believe that we're having to fight to protect the security, in a court system, to protect the security of our nation," he said at an event with sheriffs on Tuesday. U.S. presidents have in the past claimed sweeping powers to fight terrorism, but individuals, states and civil rights groups challenging the ban said his administration had offered no evidence it answered a threat. (Reporting by Daniel Levine; Editing by Peter Cooney) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-02-10
  17. Immigration police stepping up checks on foreigners in Hua Hin and Cha Am Image: File photo Have you received an unexpected home visit from Immigration recently? This is why. HUA HIN: -- Immigration police are stepping up checks on foreigners living in Hua Hin and Cha Am. The checks involve officers visiting foreigners at home to ensure they have not overstayed their permission to stay in Thailand. Officers also want to ensure a compliance of the TM30, which requires all homeowners to register with Immigration any foreigners living in their property. Thaivisa understands that earlier this month Immigration police were ordered to increase the number of visits made to foreigners at home in the run up to high season. Multiple reports have since surfaced on social media of Immigration police visiting foreigners at home unannounced. An official from immigration who spoke to Thaivisa on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to officially comment on such matters said that Immigration police and officials from the Labour Department are also making visits to foreign owned businesses in the area. In recent weeks, bars, restaurants and the offices of property developments have been targeted to check that all foreigners employed have valid work permits and to ensure that they are only working at the address listed on their work permit. The news comes a day after the Thai government approved a new 10 year visa for foreign tourists. The criteria for applicants includes: - Over 50 years of age - Monthly salary of 100,000 baht or 3 million baht in the bank, which cannot be withdrawn within the first year of receiving new visa - Health insurance that covers hospital stays and provides at least USD$10,000 in annual coverage While no date of when the new visa will be implemented has been announced, officials hope it will help to promote Thailand as a hub for medical tourism. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-11-23
  18. British police used a Taser on a black man they thought was a robber. He was their race-relations adviser By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. The Washington Post BRISTOL: -- Judah Adunbi has spent the greater part of a decade trying to improve relations between police in southwestern England and the members of his Afro-Caribbean community. Still, all the advocacy and the meetings with police were ineffective in getting the 63-year-old dreadlocked man out of the predicament he was in earlier this month — staring at the business end of a police officer's Taser. Adunbi had been out walking his dog in Bristol, about 120 miles west of London, when officers mistook him for a robbery suspect, according to the Guardian. They didn't know him — or that he was a founding member of the police department's Independent Advisory Group, an organization formed to improve police-community relations. Full story: -- The Washington Post 2017-01-23
  19. "ASEAN's most wanted drug lord" taken down at Bangkok airport Picture: Daily News BANGKOK: -- A Laotian man that Thai police say is the region's most wanted drug lord was arrested at Suvarabhumi airport yesterday. Chaichana Kaewphimpha, 41, was apprehended by a force of 100 drugs suppression officers and police as he attempted to leave the departure lounge after returning from a trip to Phuket. Also arrested were a male friend and two females in his party. Sommai Kongwisaisuk of the drugs suppression division said it had taken five years for the cops to get their hands on the kingpin who is the most wanted drugs dealer in ASEAN, reports Daily News. Sommai said that he is the figure behind 50 other arrests of drug mules in cases totally the importation into Thailand of 5 million Ya Ba tablets. He is in the same league as Thai muslim drug lord Usaman operating in the southern border provinces and Laotam Saenlee who was arrested in the far north along with many family members last year. Sommai said that no one had managed to get near the suspect before and that he was a master at avoiding detection and capture. The suspect has no known convictions for drugs. He is believed to have entered Thailand in a border crossing in the north east before taking a holiday in Phuket. There is expected to be a press conference about the capture in which more details will be given. Source: Daily News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-20
  20. Nobel no-show: Dylan not coming to Stockholm to get prize COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Bob Dylan won't be coming to Stockholm to pick up his 2016 Nobel Prize for literature at the Dec. 10 prize ceremony. The Swedish Academy said Wednesday that Dylan told them "he wishes he could receive the prize personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible." The 75-year-old American singer-songwriter was awarded the prize on Oct. 13 "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." The literature prize and five other Nobel Prizes will be officially conferred upon winners in Stockholm next month on the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896. Details about who would accept the award on Dylan's behalf were unclear — more information on that was expected Friday. Permanent Secretary Sara Danius told Swedish news agency TT the academy received "a personal letter" from Dylan and that he "underlined that he feels extremely honored by the Nobel Prize." The Academy said it "respects Bob Dylan's decision," adding that not travelling to the Swedish capital to personally pick up the prestigious award was "unusual, but not exceptional." In 2004, Austrian playwright and novelist Elfriede Jelinek stayed home, citing a social phobia. "The award is still theirs, as it now belongs to Bob Dylan," the Academy said. "We are looking forward to Bob Dylan's Nobel lecture, which he must hold, according to the requirements, within six months" from Dec. 10. Dylan at first was silent after the Nobel announcement but eventually said getting the award left him "speechless." Dylan has accepted numerous awards over the years, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he picked up at a White House ceremony in 2012. A year later, he became the first rock star voted into the elite American Academy of Arts and Letters, which made him an honorary member. In 2000, Dylan traveled to Stockholm to collect the Polar Music Prize from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf. -- © Associated Press 2016-11-17
  21. Murderer who killed man just for his iPhone arrested in Bangkok Picture: Daily News BANGKOK: -- The man who murdered a graduate student in a Bangkok street for his iPhone has been arrested. He had just been let out of jail on December 14th. The attack was part of a crime spree committed Wednesday night in the Lat Prao area with another man who remains at large. Kittikorn (Tom) Wikaha, 26, repeated stabbed Wasin Leuangjaem, 26, in a horrific attack caught on CCTV, reports Daily News. The victim is a former student of Srinakharinwirot Univesity who had worked at Suvarabhumi airport and was training to be a pilot. He is the son of a doctor. A smirking Kittikorn was paraded for the press at Khok Khram police station in the early hours of this morning. He said about his victim: "If he hadn't fought back he'd still be alive". He told police that he had seen the victim playing with his iPhone about 10pm on Wednesday night and decided to rob him. He pretended to ask him the way somewhere and when he turned he made a grab for the phone but the victim resisted. So he stabbed him repeated to stop him fighting back. He said he was not high on drugs and asked for justice. He said there were two sides to the story and people should not just take one side from social media. "I didn't mean to stab him in the neck or kill him," he said. He had been in jail eight times and was recently let out on December 14th. He had tried selling fruit near where he lived in Wat Koo, Pak Kret, but he couldn't escape from debt. Police arrested him at that location, last night. Head of the metropolitan police Sanit Mahathavorn told reporters that Kittikorn and his accomplice had been involved in an extensive crime spree on Wednesday night. Firstly, they had tried and failed to steal a bag from a woman at 10pm in Sukhonthasawat Soi 27. Then twenty minutes later in the same soi came the murder incident. Picture: Daily News But that was not the end of it. At 1.45 am they stole an iPhone 5 from a woman in Sukhonthasawat Soi 9 in the Chok Chai area of Lat Prao. Finally at 2.30 am they stole a bag containing 5,000 baht from another woman. Much of the evidence from the robberies was on show last night. Sanit said that Kittikorn had been jailed for various offences including drugs, distributing pornographic material and assault. His latest spell inside was for offences related to krathom leaves. He has been in and out of custody since age 13, he said. He has initially been charged with armed robbery causing death and carrying a weapon. Source: Daily News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-06
  22. Berlin: Police detain suspect after several killed in deadly Christmas market truck crash BERLIN: -- German police have detained the suspected driver of a truck that ploughed into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing at least nine people and injuring up to 50. A police spokesperson confirmed the arrest and said the truck’s co-driver died during the crash. According to Polish media reports, the truck had a Polish numberplate and was registered to a company in Poland. The company’s owner, Ariel Żurawski, was quoted on television as saying he had the utmost confidence in the driver, who he says is his cousin. The driver’s wife reportedly lost contact with him during the afternoon ahead of the crash. “The person who jumped out of the truck, it’s not my driver,” Żurawski told Polish news channel TVN24. “The driver told me only that he was stationed in front of the company. Our conversation ended on this.” TVN24 reports the truck was on its way from Italy and was supposed to be unloaded in Berlin on Tuesday morning at 8-o-clock. It claims this means the vehicle was fully loaded, with some 20 tonnes of steel. It is not clear why the vehicle veered off the road into the market. However, Wolfgang Bosbach, an MP with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, told the press: “Although there is a host of unanswered questions, indications are it was a deliberate attack, carried out not just with the greatest brutality and disastrous consequences, but also with deliberate symbolism. “Just a few days before Christmas, in the middle of the German capital and amidst happy, peaceful people. The message is clear: no matter where, no matter how, we can pounce at any time.” Police are urging local residents to remain at home. The Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, said: “What we’re seeing here is dramatic and a shock to us all. We hope that our fears that this is an attack won’t prove true. Our thoughts are with the families of the injured and dead.” A government spokesperson confirmed Merkel is being briefed on the situation by Müller and the Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere. German police have tweeted that there are currently no indications of an imminent threat near the Berlin square. The incident occurred in the west of the city, on Breitscheidplatz, which is one of Berlin’s busiest shopping areas. Eyewitnesses report hearing a loud noise, before chaos ensued. It evokes memories of the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, in July this year, when a Tunisian-born man drove a truck into crowds who had been watching a firework display on the beach front. Eighty-six people were killed in that incident, which was claimed by the ISIL militant group. The market in Berlin has since been cleared of people. A police spokesperson initially expressed fears the crash could have caused a gas leak. -- © Copyright Euronews 2016-12-20
  23. ISIL claims responsibility for Berlin Christmas market attack Alasdair Sandford BERLIN: -- The Berlin Christmas market attack has been claimed by ISIL. German prosecutors say a Pakistani asylum seeker who had been detained has been released. The Chief Federal Prosecutor’s office said it did not have enough evidence. “The investigation up to now did not yield any urgent suspicion against the accused,” it said in a statement. The 23-year-old had made extensive statements during a police hearing, but had denied the offence, it added. A dozen people were killed and 48 injured, 18 of them seriously, when a lorry ploughed into stalls serving mulled wine and sausages in the heart of the German capital. “It is possible that there is still a dangerous perpetrator on the run and of course people are worried. I believe people who live in this city should be vigilant,” Berlin’s police chief Klaus Kandt said during a news conference on Tuesday lunchtime. He said police also thought it possible there might be more than one suspect. The prosecutor’s office said in its later statement that it had been impossible to track the truck driver by eye-witnesses following the attack, and the investigation had not been able to prove that the suspect was in the truck’s cab at the time of the attack. Police say a man found dead in the lorry was a Polish national, adding that he had not been in control of the vehicle. He is believed to be the original truck driver. Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière said a pistol believed to have been used to kill him had not yet been found. Security measures are now being tightened around Christmas markets and other seasonal events in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany. Police with machine guns will patrol Christmas markets in the capital. In Dresden concrete blocks were put in place to prevent vehicles from entering the market. As Germany mourns, flags have been flying at half mast. The authorities say people should not give in to terrorism by changing their plans – and should still attend seasonal events to celebrate Christmas. -- © Copyright Euronews 2016-12-21
  24. Who is western woman tourist found unconscious on Lonely Beach, Koh Chang? Picture: Thairath KOH CHANG: -- Authorities have drawn a blank as mystery surround the identity of a western woman found unconscious near Lonely Beach, Koh Chang on Tuesday. The woman, fully clothed, aged about thirty, was found on a grassy area near the beach by a member of the public who immediately contacted medics, reports Thairath. After more than 12 hours had passed the woman was still unconscious and was on a respirator though her heartbeat was normal. There was no evidence of alcohol or signs that she had been attacked. She was initially rushed to the international clinic on the island but yesterday was transferred to the mainland in Trat. Police are mystified - there was no identification on the woman and enquiries at resorts and of transport in the area have all turned up nothing. Nobody knows who she is or when she arrived in the area. Meanwhile the woman remains on a respirator in Trat still unconscious. Police said she was dressed in a white t-shirt with an orange and black skirt. Source: Thairath -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-12-08