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Found 60 results

  1. Briton survives three days in the jungle after Samui waterfall plunge Image: Sanook KOH SAMUI:-- A British man who fell at a Koh Samui waterfall was found yesterday after being missing for three days. Gerrard Paul Greenhoff, 38, (name transliterated) broke his right leg and could not move. He survived by drinking stream water. He was only found after a local in Mae Nam saw a motorbike parked near a path leading down to the Khun Sri falls. Police checked the plate of the bike with rental shops and found it had been rented to the missing man. It still took several hours to locate him in the seldom visited and isolated area. He was found totally exhausted by a stream. He had eaten nothing for three days. Medics in the search party immediately put him on a drip as he was carefully carried out of the area via a steep path. It took more than two hours to bring him up and ferry him to International Koh Samui Hospital. Doctors said he was in a serious condition but responsive. Sanook reported that it was lucky that a local had seen his bike or the tourist may have died at the scene. Though the falls are small the area is not monitored or look after by any officials. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-13
  2. Tears flow, charges fly over schoolgirl denied her home By Thanapat Kijjakosol The Nation SA KAEW: -- Participants in a closed-door meeting over housing for a stateless girl in Sa Kaew suspect that local administrative officials were merely looking for excuses in the fiasco that resulted. Wattana Nakhon district chief Natthapong Pattanarat on Tuesday called the meeting of all parties involved in the dispute over registering the girl’s donated house. The 11-year-old student’s schoolteacher had earlier posted on social media and had scolded the local administration for not helping the girl and, allegedly as a result, was threatened with a transfer out of the district. The girl was later granted Thai nationality. Critics who attended Tuesday’s meeting complained that the teacher and other supporters of the girl had had no chance to prepare for the debate that ensued with local officials. They said the teacher ended up weeping in frustration. Army troops built a one-bedroom house for the girl and her 84-year-old adoptive father. It was completed on June 25, but the two couldn’t move in because they were denied house registration and have had to remain in the derelict shack where they’ve been living. Critics allege that the authorities were bullies and had also refused to hook the new house into the power supply. The schoolgirl had earlier told reporters in tears that she’d heard her teacher might be transferred as punishment for helping her. “Take the house back,” she said. “I don’t want to lose my teacher.” Sa Kaew Governor Klanarong Pongcharoen directed Natthapong to resolve the matter, leading to Tuesday’s closed meeting. Natthapong afterwards said it was all a misunderstanding and expressed confidence that the teacher would not be transferred. Tambon Tha Kwen assistant village headwoman Jiranan Phromsuwan said Natthapong wanted only to have all sides reconciled. Although the teacher would not admit being at fault, insisting she’d done no wrong, everyone agreed to set aside their differences. Jiranan said local administrators had behaved appropriately in the meeting and had promised to take no action against the teacher. She said the administrators claimed they were not involved in an inquiry launched at a Basic Education area office regarding the teacher’s online tirade and insisted that matter is entirely up to education officials. Source: -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-07-12
  3. Wanted Red Bull heir has left Singapore after abandoning private jet BANGKOK (Reuters) - An heir to the Red Bull fortune wanted in Thailand for his alleged involvement in a deadly hit-and-run has left Singapore after abandoning his private jet and disappeared, Thai police said on Thursday. Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya left Thailand for Singapore on April 25, two days before he had been ordered to report to prosecutors to be formally charged in court, police said. He faces charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death over an incident in 2012 when he allegedly crashed his Ferrari into a policeman on a motorcycle in Bangkok and fled the scene, dragging the officer's body for several dozen meters with his car as he did so. It was the eighth time he has missed a summons since legal proceedings against him began in 2016. The case is being closely watched in Thailand where it has fuelled complaints that the justice system favours the rich and famous, allowing them to break the law with impunity. Police said Vorayuth had travelled to Singapore on his private jet and stayed there for two days. "Vorayuth left Singapore on April 27. The private jet he arrived in is still there," senior police official Apichat Suriboonya, who heads Thailand's Interpol bureau, told Reuters. "We have no further details." Apichat said his team was working with Singapore police to try to determine where Vorayuth had gone. Singapore police confirmed he had left the city state and said they would do what they could to help their Thai colleagues. A Thai court issued an arrest warrant for Vorayuth last Friday and police said they had asked the Foreign Ministry to revoke his passport. The ministry said it would do so as quickly as possible. "Having his passport revoked will pressure Vorayuth to travel back to Thailand, as no country would allow him to enter without it," another senior police official, Sarawut Detsri, told Reuters. Vorayuth is a grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the Kratin Daeng, or red bull, energy drink. Chaleo, 88, was listed as the third richest person in Thailand at the time of his death in 2012, with an estimated net worth of US$5 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Vorayuth has spent much of the past five years abroad, including in London, where his family owns a home, and Singapore, according to social media posts. He has previously cited work commitments abroad as a reason for not showing up in court. (Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat in BANGKOK; Additional reporting by Fathin Ungku in SINGAPORE; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Robert Birsel) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-04
  4. Authorities fire back over Koh Tao ‘Death Island’ label By THE NATION IN A BID to clear the name of Koh Tao, dubbed “Death Island” where some foreigners have died and gone missing, Surat Thani authorities yesterday held a press briefing to detail all the deaths and cases of missing people there, saying most of the cases were not crime related and were solved. The briefing took place as the Koh Tao district chief filed criminal charges against a local news website, samuitimes, for allegedly giving the popular beach destination that name. Attending the press briefing were Pol Lt-General Thanet Pin-ngammuang, the assistant national police chief overseeing the region; Surat Thani Governor Uanchai Intanak; and Surat Thani police chief Pol Maj-General Apichart Boonsrirote. Thirawat Pitpayan from the Belgium Embassy in Bangkok was also present. Surat Thani police chief Apichart said investigation into all the deaths – Briton Nick Pearson, 25 (January 1, 2014), French Dimitri Povese, 24 (January 1, 2015), British Christina Annesley, 23 (January 21, 2015), British Luke Miller, 26 (January 9) – were already concluded as not being related to crime and their families had agreed with the conclusion. The case of Russian Valentina Novozhyonova, 24, who went missing in February this year on the island, is still open because her body was not found, while the death of Elise Dallemagne, 30, a Belgian, has been reopened despite the autopsy concluding that she had committed suicide. Only the deaths of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, on September 15, 2014, were crimes and the killers were sentenced to death by the First and Appeals courts. Speaking at the same briefing, Surat Thani Governor Uanchai said that tourists and people could be confident of safety on the island as all the local authorities have made their best efforts to take care of people and tourists. The governor said he had already instructed the district chief to file criminal charges against the local online news outlet Samui Times, after it ran an article last month that questioned the police account of Dallemagne’s death and referred to Koh Tao as “Death Island”. AFP reported that the island authorities are now suing the online news site for violating the Computer Crime Act, which outlaws uploading false information online. Koh Tao Mayor Chaiyan Thurasakul said the website is accused of “damaging Koh Tao’s reputation by calling it Death Island”. The charges were filed on Thursday by local district chief Krikkrai Songtanee, who said the report had caused “panic” in tourists and many had cancelled their bookings”. Samui Times, which said it had yet to be contacted about the charges, defended its reporting in an online post. “The Samui Times believes that it is in the best interests of any visitor to the island to be aware of the numerous tourist deaths and the fact that many families of those who died on the island are not satisfied with police investigations,” it said. Source: -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-07-08
  5. Scandal brewing as 100 of Thailand's new NGV buses are held by customs Picture: Thairath NGV buses stuck in the port: were they made in Malaysia or China? BANGKOK: -- A potential mega scandal is brewing as the chief of the company that won a huge contract to supply eco-friendly buses to the BMTA has complained to the treasury department. The first lot of 100 NGV buses in a total consignment of 489 vehicles are still parked in a lot at the Laem Chabang port as customs refuse to let them into the country amid "irregularities". Customs say there are problems in the paperwork and they are investigating whether the buses were really made in Malaysia or whether they were in fact manufactured in China, reports Thairath. The container ship carrying them to Thailand originated in China and went via Malaysia. Because of Asean trade agreements the difference in tax payable on the vehicles could be as much as 1.2 million baht per bus were they actually made in China. Khanit Sriwachiraprapha of Bestrin Co Ltd that won the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority contract is furious that the vehicles are stuck in the port. They are meant to be on the capital's roads by 21st December in a PR show that is expected to feature Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha. But at the moment they are going nowhere fast. Khanit said he was being charged 300,000 baht a day to park the vehicles at the port and it had cost his company 900,000 so far. In addition a second lot of 145 vehicles was due to arrive today and there was no where to park them as the lot was full with the first consignment. Khanit said: "Customs have told me that they can't say what the problem is. Why can't they say?" Thai Rath quoted a customs spokesman as saying that the problem has arisen because of doubt as to where the vehicles were produced and this was under investigation. Source: Thairath -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-12-07
  6. U.S. Supreme Court breathes new life into Trump's travel ban By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung People walk out after the U.S. Supreme Court granted parts of the Trump administration's emergency request to put his travel ban into effect immediately while the legal battle continues, in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by reviving parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that he said is needed for national security but that opponents decry as discriminatory. The justices narrowed the scope of lower court rulings that had completely blocked key parts of a March 6 executive order that Trump had said was needed to prevent terrorism in the United States, allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties such as family or business to the United States. [] The court issued its order on the last day of its current term and agreed to hear oral arguments during its next term starting in October so it can decide finally whether the ban is lawful in a major test of presidential powers. In a statement, Trump called the high court's action "a clear victory for our national security," saying the justices allowed the travel suspension to become largely effective. "As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive," Trump added. Trump's March 6 order called for a blanket 90-day ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees while the government implemented stronger vetting procedures. The court allowed a limited version of the refugee ban, which had also been blocked by courts, to go into effect. Trump issued the order amid rising international concern about attacks carried out by Islamist militants like those in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities. But challengers said no one from the affected countries had carried out attacks in the United States. Federal courts said the travel ban violated federal immigration law and was discriminatory against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Critics called it a discriminatory "Muslim ban." Ahmed al-Nasi, an official in Yemen’s Ministry of Expatriate Affairs, voiced disappointment. "We believe it will not help in confronting terrorism and extremism, but rather will increase the feeling among the nationals of these countries that they are all being targeted, especially given that Yemen is an active partner of the United States in the war on terrorism and that there are joint operations against terrorist elements in Yemen," he said. Groups that challenged the ban, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said that most people from the affected countries seeking entry to the United States would have the required connections. But they voiced concern the administration would interpret the ban as broadly as it could. "It's going to be very important for us over this intervening period to make sure the government abides by the terms of the order and does not try to use it as a back door into implementing the full-scale Muslim ban that it's been seeking to implement," said Omar Jadwat, an ACLU lawyer. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump campaigned for "a total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. The travel ban was a signature policy of Trump's first few months as president. 'BONA FIDE RELATIONSHIP' In an unusual unsigned decision, the Supreme Court on Monday said the travel ban will go into effect "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." A lack of a clearly defined relationship would bar from entry people from the six countries and refugees with no such ties. Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, who successfully challenged the ban in lower courts, said that students from affected countries due to attend the University of Hawaii would still be able to do so. Both bans were to partly go into effect 72 hours after the court's decision. The Department of Homeland Security promised clear and sufficient public notice in coordination with the travel industry. Trump signed the order as a replacement for a Jan. 27 one issued a week after he became president that also was blocked by federal courts, but not before it caused chaos at airports and provoked numerous protests. Even before the Supreme Court action the ban applied only to new visa applicants, not people who already have visas or are U.S. permanent residents, known as green card holders. The executive order also made waivers available for a foreign national seeking to enter the United States to resume work or study, visit a spouse, child or parent who is a U.S. citizen, or for "significant business or professional obligations." Refugees "in transit" and already approved would have been able to travel to the United States under the executive order. A CONSERVATIVE COURT The case was Trump's first major challenge at the Supreme Court, where he restored a 5-4 conservative majority with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, who joined the bench in April. There are five Republican appointees on the court and four Democratic appointees. The four liberal justices were silent. Gorsuch was one of the three conservative justices who would have granted Trump's request to put the order completely into effect. Fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion in which he warned that requiring officials to differentiate between foreigners who have a connection to the United States and those who do not will prove unworkable. "Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding - on peril of contempt - whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country," Thomas wrote. The state of Hawaii and a group of plaintiffs in Maryland represented by the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the order violated federal immigration law and the Constitution's First Amendment prohibition on the government favouring or disfavouring any particular religion. Regional federal appeals courts in Virginia and California both upheld district judge injunctions blocking the order. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Andrew Chung and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa, Yemen; Editing by Will Dunham and Howard Goller) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-06-27
  7. Belgian troops shoot suspected bomber in Brussels station - police By Francesco Guarascio and Philip Blenkinsop Belgian troops take up position following an explosion at Central Station in Brussels, Belgium, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian troops shot a suspected suicide bomber in Brussels Central Station on Tuesday but there were no other casualties and the situation was brought under control after people were evacuated, officials said. A Reuters correspondent at the scene an hour after the incident - in which police said the man set off a small explosion - said the area was quiet, with police manning a cordon and a few bystanders calmly watching security forces. Amid conflicting accounts of what happened, it was still unclear if the man had died. Paul de Vries, a Dutchman working in Brussels, told Reuters he saw police taking away a prisoner. Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a station employee, told public broadcaster RTBF that he saw a man shouting in a lower level of the 1930s station, which serves lines running under the city centre. He then appeared to yell "Allahu Akbar" in Arabic and to detonate something on a luggage trolley. People standing within three metres of the trolley were unhurt, Herrewegen said. Authorities were investigating whether it was a terrorist incident, a spokesman for the national Crisis Centre said. The national alert level was maintained at its second highest level. The Belgian capital, home to the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State cell launched an attack that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015. Associates of those attackers, four months later, killed 32 people in their home city, including with bombs loaded on trolleys at Brussels Airport. Combat troops have been a fixture at transport hubs and in the main public areas ever since the Paris attacks. A series of further attacks in neighbouring France and Germany in the past year, as well as recent bloodshed in London and Manchester, have added to anxiety. TOURISTS EVACUATED Stationmaster Jean-Michel Michel was quoted by DH newspaper saying: "We heard the explosion. My colleague thought it was a bomb. The explosion was on the mezzanine level. The man went down to platforms 3 and 4. He said 'Allahu Akbar'... "I would put him at about 35 years old." The station and adjacent historic downtown area, including the baroque Grand Place city square, had been packed with tourists and locals on a hot summer evening before they were evacuated. The police spokesman said: "There was an incident at Central Station. There was an explosion around a person. That person was neutralised by the soldiers that were on the scene. "At the moment, the police are in numbers at the station and everything is under control." Prime Minister Charles Michel and the interior minister were in the national crisis centre monitoring developments. (Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Robert-Jan Bartunek and Jan Strupczewski; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by Gareth Jones) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-06-21
  8. Gulf rift threatens air travel disruption across region and beyond By Hadeel Al Sayegh and Saeed Azhar REUTERS A Qatar Airways Airbus A350 XWB aircraft is displayed at the Singapore Airshow at Changi Exhibition Center February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files DUBAI (Reuters) - Air travel across the Gulf region and beyond faces major disruption following the move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to sever ties with Qatar, accusing the tiny oil rich state of supporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia on Monday banned Qatari airlines from its airspace, while Abu Dhabi's state-owned Etihad Airways and Dubai's Emirates Airline said they would suspend all flights to and from Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice. Qatar is home to global airline Qatar Airways and many airports in the Gulf region are major hubs for international connecting flights. Qatar's main Hamad International Airport, for example, served around 9.8 million passengers in January-March, according to its website. "There is a wider impact than Qatar Airways not being able to land in markets like Saudi and UAE since those markets are significant sources for transfer traffic," said Will Horton, a senior analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation in Melbourne. "A Riyadh passenger may not be able to connect to Bangkok via Doha and a Dubai passenger could not get to London via Doha." The harshest restrictions came from Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), which banned all Qatari planes from landing at the kingdom's airports and stopped them from crossing Saudi airspace. It also banned Saudi commercial and private air operators from serving Qatar. Bahrain's civil aviation authority, meanwhile, announced flights to and from Qatar had been suspended, according to state news agency BNA. Among airlines, EgyptAir, flydubai and Bahrain's Gulf Air joined Etihad and Emirates in saying they would suspend all flights to and from Doha. Qatar Airways said on its official website it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia. Saj Ahmad, the UK-based chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, warned of disruptions in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as further afield. "Airspace will be impacted ‎by flights being re-routed, especially for Qatar Airways who will no longer be allowed to use the expansive airspace of Saudi Arabia on flights to Europe and North America," he said. "Equally, the litany of narrowbody jets that Qatar Airways has to park which can't be used for intra-GCC flights will hit operations at Doha since ramp space will be at a premium - this could lead to flight delays and incur more costs." Qatar Airways does not break down revenue figures for the Gulf region. Last year, its parent company published financial results for the first time. These showed a net profit of 1.6 billion riyals ($439 million) for the year to March 31, 2016, up from the 374 million riyals in the previous year. The row between Gulf states is a fresh challenge for the region's airlines at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to restrict the travel of passengers to the United States from some Muslim-majority countries. U.S. authorities have also banned the use of most electronic devices on board aircraft from some Middle Eastern origins. The restrictions on Qatar are more severe than during a previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups. At that time, travel links were maintained. ($1 = 3.6407 Qatar riyals) (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Hadeel Al Sayegh, Tom Arnold in Dubai and Katie Paul in Riyadh; additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Writing by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Mark Potter) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-06-06
  9. Dual passport holders lose Malaysian citizenship automatically KUALA LUMPUR: -- Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Tuesday that a Malaysian who holds dual citizenship will automatically lose his/her Malaysian citizenship, according to New Straits Times Online report on Wednesday. He cited the Constitution which clearly states that a Malaysian would lose his/her citizenship once he becomes a citizen of another country. His comment was in response to a reporter’s question about the Sarawak legislative assembly disqualifying Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon of the DAP for allegedly having Australian citizenship. Full story: -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-05-17
  10. Holiday Villa Rental Service Launched By Thaivisa Thaivisa continues to develop its role on being all things to all people interested in Thailand with the launch of its new Thailand holiday villa rental service Thailand's beauty and diversity continues to attract record numbers of tourists each year and finding the right accommodation really helps gives the very best experience when discovering this country. "Thaivisa is determined to offer a first rate, all round service for foreigners with an interest in Thailand and be a one stop destination for all things Thailand specific - from immigration and visa information, to Thai news, comparison car insurance sites for expats, to hotel and now villa booking services." quotes Managing Director Dan Cheeseman. Alternative accommodations (Homestay) are on the rise as there are lots of advantages for choosing a villa for a holiday in Thailand. They offer an exotic experience, a home away from home feel with a unique atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else. They boast an unmatched level of intimacy, comfort and freedom. Not only do they come with a private pool for our guests to enjoy with their families and friends far from the crowd, but also with a wide range of high class facilities that are generally included such as a fully equipped kitchen, Jacuzzi, private garden, parking and BBQ. All villa rentals come with a daily maid service, and a wide range of handy services are available such as airport transfer, private chef, babysitter, car rentals, food delivery and excursions, that can all be tailor made to fulfill our guests’ needs including locally employed customer support staff that speak Thai and English. Office staff can also assist in Russian, French and German. Given all those advantages, holiday villas are a great value for money as on a per bed basis, the price breakdown of staying in a villa can be cheaper than staying in a comparable hotel or versus the cost of multiple hotel rooms for groups. Check out Thaivisas new Villa Booking service and see for yourself
  11. British police say 22, including children, killed in suicide attack at concert REUTERS Forensic police search the Manchester Arena in Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - British police said 22 people including some children were killed in a suicide attack carried out by one man after a Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday. "We believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man," Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said. "The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network. "The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity." (Writing by Paul Sandle; editing by Guy Faulconbridge) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-23
  12. Islamic State supporters celebrate Manchester attack online, no official claim REUTERS (REUTERS) Islamic State supporters celebrated on social media on Tuesday after a blast at a concert venue in the north of England killed at least 19 people, although the militant Islamist group has not formally claimed responsibility. British police have said they are treating the blast at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande as a "terrorist incident". More than 50 people were wounded. Twitter accounts affiliated to Islamic State have used hashtags referring to the blast to post celebratory messages, with some users encouraging similar attacks elsewhere. Some messages described the attack as an act of revenge in response to air strikes in Iraq and Syria. "It seems that bombs of the British airforce over children of Mosul and Raqqa has just came back to #Manchester," one user named Abdul Haqq said on Twitter, in reference to the Iraqi and Syrian cities held by the militants where a U.S.-led coalition, of which Britain is a member, is conducting air strikes. Supporters posted messages encouraging each other to carry out "lone wolf" attacks in the West and shared Islamic State videos threatening the United States and Europe. One user said he hoped Islamic State was responsible for the attack, although no claim has appeared on any of the militant's group's official social media channels. "We hope that the perpetrator is one of the soldiers of the caliphate," he wrote on a channel affiliated to the group hosted by messaging network Telegram. Others posted banners saying "the beginning is in Brussels and Paris, and in London we form a state," in reference to previous similar "lone wolf" attacks in Belgium and France for which the group has claimed responsibility. ALSO IN ENTERTAINMENT NEWS Nineteen killed in suspected suicide attack at Ariana Grande concert in Britain Ariana Grande says she is 'broken' in tweet after Manchester attack British Prime Minister Theresa May said the blast was being treated as a terrorist attack. If confirmed, it would be the deadliest militant assault on Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London's transport system in July 2005. U.S. officials drew parallels between the blast and the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives. Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast. (Reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-23
  13. Factbox: What do we know about the attack at Ariana Grande concert in Britain? REUTERS Vehicles are seen near a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - At least 22 people, including children, were killed and 59 wounded by a suicide bomber as thousands of fans streamed out of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester on Monday. Following is a Reuters summary of what we know and do not know about the incident. * Death toll: British police said 22 people, including children, were killed and 59 people had been treated in hospital. A total of 60 ambulances attended the incident. Many of the fans at the concert were young people. The explosion sparked panic as thousands of people rushed for the exits, witnesses told Reuters. * Police said they were called at 10:33 p.m. (2133 GMT) just after a man detonated explosives among fans. "We believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man," Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said. "The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network. "The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity." More than 400 officers were involved in the operation overnight. Police appealed for the public to upload images and footage to assist them in their investigation. * U.S. singer Ariana Grande had just finished the concert at the Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe with capacity for 21,000 people, when the bomber set off his device. Grande, 23, later said on Twitter: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words." * Parents hunted for missing children after the blast. Many turned to social media to seek loved ones. "Everyone pls share this, my little sister Emma was at the Ari concert tonight in #Manchester and she isn't answering her phone, pls help me," said one message posted alongside a picture of a blonde-haired girl with flowers in her hair. * Transport police said they believed the attack had taken place just outside the Manchester Arena near a public foyer which linked to the train station. * Prime Minister Theresa May said authorities were working to establish the full details of what police were treating as "an appalling terrorist attack". She said her thoughts were with the victims and the families of those who have been affected. She will hold a meeting of the government's emergency response committee. * What about the June 8 election? Major British parties have all suspended campaigning. * No militant group has claimed responsibility so far but Islamic State supporters celebrated on social media. Twitter accounts affiliated to the jihadists have used hashtags referring to the blast to post celebratory messages, with some users encouraging similar attacks elsewhere. * The blast occurred on the anniversary of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death on a London street on May 22, 2013. Rigby's murder gained international notoriety when Michael Adebolajo was filmed by passers-by standing in the street with blood-soaked hands trying to justify the attack. (Additional reporting by David Milliken, Alistair Smout, Kate Holton and Michael Holden in London, Mark Hosenball and John Walcott in Washington and Mostafa Hashem and Ahmed Aboulenein in Cairo; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Louise Ireland) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-23
  14. Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians - sources By Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel FILE PHOTO: - U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. on January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters. The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak and Trump advisers, including Flynn, the president's first national security adviser, three current and former officials said. Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said. In January, the Trump White House initially denied any contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. The White House and advisers to the campaign have since confirmed four meetings between Kislyak and Trump advisers during that time. The people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far. But the disclosure could increase the pressure on Trump and his aides to provide the FBI and Congress with a full account of interactions with Russian officials and others with links to the Kremlin during and immediately after the 2016 election. The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Flynn's lawyer declined to comment. In Moscow, a Russian foreign ministry official declined to comment on the contacts and referred Reuters to the Trump administration. Separately, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington said: “We do not comment on our daily contacts with the local interlocutors.” The 18 calls and electronic messages took place between April and November 2016 as hackers engaged in what U.S. intelligence concluded in January was part of a Kremlin campaign to discredit the vote and influence the outcome of the election in favor of Trump over his Democratic challenger, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Those discussions focused on mending U.S.-Russian economic relations strained by sanctions imposed on Moscow, cooperating in fighting Islamic State in Syria and containing a more assertive China, the sources said. Members of the Senate and House intelligence committees have gone to the CIA and the National Security Agency to review transcripts and other documents related to contacts between Trump campaign advisers and associates and Russian officials and others with links to Putin, people with knowledge of those investigations told Reuters. The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday it had appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Mueller will now take charge of the FBI investigation that began last July. Trump and his aides have repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia. 'IT'S RARE' In addition to the six phone calls involving Kislyak, the communications described to Reuters involved another 12 calls, emails or text messages between Russian officials or people considered to be close to Putin and Trump campaign advisers. One of those contacts was by Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch and politician, according to one person with detailed knowledge of the exchange and two others familiar with the issue. It was not clear with whom Medvedchuk was in contact within the Trump campaign but the themes included U.S.-Russia cooperation, the sources said. Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk’s daughter. Medvedchuk denied having any contact with anyone in the Trump campaign. "I am not acquainted with any of Donald Trump's close associates, therefore no such conversation could have taken place," he said in an email to Reuters. In the conversations during the campaign, Russian officials emphasized a pragmatic, business-style approach and stressed to Trump associates that they could make deals by focusing on common economic and other interests and leaving contentious issues aside, the sources said. Veterans of previous election campaigns said some contact with foreign officials during a campaign was not unusual, but the number of interactions between Trump aides and Russian officials and others with links to Putin was exceptional. “It’s rare to have that many phone calls to foreign officials, especially to a country we consider an adversary or a hostile power,” Richard Armitage, a Republican and former deputy secretary of state, told Reuters. FLYNN FIRED Beyond Medvedchuk and Kislyak, the identities of the other Putin-linked participants in the contacts remain classified and the names of Trump advisers other than Flynn have been “masked” in intelligence reports on the contacts because of legal protections on their privacy as American citizens. However, officials can request that they be revealed for intelligence purposes. U.S. and allied intelligence and law enforcement agencies routinely monitor communications and movements of Russian officials. After Vice President Mike Pence and others had denied in January that Trump campaign representatives had any contact with Russian officials, the White House later confirmed that Kislyak had met twice with then-Senator Jeff Sessions, who later became attorney general. Kislyak also attended an event in April where Trump said he would seek better relations with Russia. Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, also attended that event in Washington. In addition, Kislyak met with two other Trump campaign advisers in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention. Trump fired Flynn in February after it became clear that he had falsely characterized the nature of phone conversations with Kislyak in late December - after the Nov. 8 election and just after the Obama administration announced new sanctions on Russia. Flynn offered to testify to Congress in return for immunity from prosecution but his offer was turned down by the House intelligence committee. (Additional reporting by John Walcott in Washington, Natalia Zinets and Alessandra Prentice in Kiev and Christian Lowe in Moscow; Editing by Kevin Krolicki and Ross Colvin) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-18
  15. Motorist crashes into Times Square crowd, killing one person, injuring 22 By Daniel Trotta and Jonathan Allen REUTERS A vehicle that struck pedestrians in Times Square and later crashed is seen on the sidewalk in New York City, U.S., May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy veteran ploughed his car into pedestrians in New York City's packed Times Square on Thursday, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 people. The city's mayor said there was no indication it was an act of terrorism. Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along for more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the car hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan. Police who took the driver into custody identified him as Richard Rojas, 26, of the New York City borough of the Bronx. They said he had been arrested twice for drunken driving in 2008 and 2015, and once earlier this month on a charge of menacing. There was no indication it was an act of terrorism, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the scene. Initial reports of the incident brought to mind vehicle attacks on pedestrians in recent months in Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Sweden. Security camera footage showed the car slam into pedestrians who moments earlier were ambling along, some carrying shopping bags and others pushing baby strollers. The incident took place close to noon ET (1600 GMT) on a bright, sunny day. "People were being hit and rolling off the car," said Josh Duboff, who works at the nearby Thomson Reuters headquarters. He leaped out of the way to avoid being struck. Shoes were scattered on the sidewalk. A woman's body lay covered with a bloodstained blanket. A police officer kept vigil nearby, sadly shaking his head. The dead woman was named by police as Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old who was on vacation with her family from Michigan. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through Times Square, the heart of the Broadway theatre district. The bustling streets are heavily patrolled by police, some on horseback. Many, but not all, sidewalks are lined with barricades and planters for fear of vehicle attacks. A bouncer from the Planet Hollywood restaurant and a ticket agent were among onlookers who helped police subdue the suspect when he tried to flee the scene, media reports said. Broadway shows would go ahead as planned on Thursday evening in the many theatres in the area, organizers said in a statement. 'MOWED EVERYONE DOWN' Navy records show that Rojas enlisted in September 2011 and was based in Illinois and Florida, working as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. He was arrested a year later at a naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, where officials said he attacked a cab driver, shouted "my life is over," and threatened to kill police, according to court records. Rojas was charged with misdemeanour battery and resisting an officer without violence, but it was unclear how the case was resolved. Navy records show he spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013, but did not say why. He left the Navy in May 2014. Quoting unnamed police sources, ABC News said Rojas had apparently been high on synthetic marijuana when he crashed into his victims on Thursday. Initial tests came back negative for alcohol, the law enforcement sources told ABC News. After the incident, authorities cordoned off an area from 41st to 47th streets and from Sixth to Eighth avenues for several hours, effectively shutting down one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest cities in the world. The crash occurred outside the headquarters of the Reuters news agency, 3 Times Square. Building foreman Rodney Muir said he heard what sounded like a big bang and crunching metal. He said he looked out and saw what appeared to be a body in the street. One of the injured, Cheryl Howard, had blood dripping down her right arm and a bruise above her left eye. She and her daughter were shopping when the car sped toward them. "I'm so freaked out!" Howard's daughter said. "They mowed everyone down." Times Square was evacuated in May 2010 when a car bomb that failed to explode was found in an SUV. Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American and Taliban-trained militant, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Six months ago the city completed a $55 million, nearly six-year renovation of Times Square that turned roadways into pedestrian zones. It aimed to improve congestion and safety, but not all sidewalks were fitted with safety bollards. For a graphic on Times Square car crash, click - (Additional reporting by Daniel Bases, Andrew Chung, Grant McCool, Jonathan Spicer, Barbara Goldberg, Joseph Ax, Hilary Russ, Peter Szekely, Letitia Stein, Colleen Jenkins and Emily Flitter; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Howard Goller and Jonathan Oatis) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-19
  16. Big bombs explode in Pattani PATTANI: -- Bombs exploded at parking lot of a department store in the middle of deep southern province of Pattani on Tuesday afternoon, injuring many people. Number of casualties are still unknown. The blast caused fires at the Big C store in Muang district and firefighters are trying to extinguish it. Initial reports said that the first bomb went off inside the store, sending people running out in panic before the second bomb exploded at the parking space in front of the store. Source: -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-05-09
  17. In shock move, Trump fires FBI Director Comey By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason REUTERS FILE PHOTO: FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey in the fallout over Comey's probe of Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails last year, saying Comey was no longer able to effectively lead the law enforcement agency. Comey had been leading an FBI investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign. His dismissal will likely fuel concerns about the integrity of the probe and renew calls for an independent investigation. The FBI director had been embroiled in a controversy surrounding his probe into whether Clinton's use of a private email server while U.S. secretary of state during President Barack Obama's first term compromised national security. "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission," Trump said in a letter to Comey released by the White House. Trump told Comey in the letter he accepted the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he could no longer provide effective leadership. Comey's term was to run through September 2023. The decision, announced by White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a brief appearance before reporters, caught Washington off guard. Comey had said in July the Clinton email case should be closed without prosecution, but then declared - 11 days before the Nov. 8 election in which Clinton was the Democratic nominee - that he had reopened the investigation because of a discovery of a new trove of Clinton-related emails. Clinton and other Democrats say they believe Comey's decision help cost her the election. The White House released a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that provided the administration's justification for firing Comey. "I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken," Rosenstein wrote. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin went to the Senate floor on Tuesday to urge the White House to clarify whether the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the presidential campaign would continue now that Comey has been fired. "Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues," Durbin said. "We await clarification by the White House as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue." Trump, in his letter to Comey, said: "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau." There are several Russia probes ongoing in Congress. The U.S House of Representatives’ main investigation has been stymied in recent weeks by partisan squabbles, while the Senate’s parallel probe has been slow-moving and equipped with a much smaller staff than previous high-profile congressional investigations. (Additional reporting by Dusin Volz and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Peter Cooney) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-10
  18. Despite crackdown, people-smuggling across Thai-Myanmar border has risen By Amy Sawitta Lefevre MAE SOT, Thailand (Reuters) - People smuggling across the border from Myanmar to Thailand is on the rise despite a crackdown by authorities in both countries that has made it more expensive and dangerous, Thai immigration police say. Thailand said earlier this year that it hoped its efforts against smuggling would be recognised by the United States in its annual Trafficking in Persons report expected next month. But while fewer migrants appear to be braving hazardous journeys by sea, figures from immigration police on the land border show an increase in people smuggled from Myanmar since 2014, when Thailand's military government seized power and vowed to crack down on human smuggling and trafficking rings. "We've applied a lot of pressure so they have to find a new way to come," Sompong Saimonka, deputy superintendent of Border Immigration Police in Thailand's western Tak province, the main land gateway from Myanmar, told Reuters. "We can't keep tabs on it all." While Myanmar's economy has been booming - the World Bank forecasts annual growth will average 7.1 percent over the next three years - wages remain among the lowest in the region. Migrants from Myanmar often do work Thais shun in sectors such as construction, agriculture and fishing, forming the backbone of Southeast Asia's second largest economy. The two countries signed an agreement last year to allow migrants from Myanmar to legally work in Thailand. But many are unwilling to wait up to six months for identity documents and take their chance with the smugglers instead. CRACKDOWN ON SMUGGLERS Thailand's crackdown on human smuggling and trafficking syndicates reverberated around the region in 2015 and drew global attention to the abuses suffered by some of those seeking a better life. Boatloads of migrants, many of them Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state, were turned away by regional governments from Bangladesh to Malaysia after being abandoned at sea by smugglers. Dozens of bodies of suspected migrants were discovered in jungle camps along the Thai-Malaysian border. Thai police say the focus on sea routes to Thailand and Malaysia has prompted smugglers to resume overland trails where it is easier to avoid checkpoints. Data from immigration police at Mae Sot, the main entry point into western Thailand, shows the number of people smuggled from Myanmar rose from 20,323 in 2014 to 24,962 in 2016. Those were just the recorded cases, so the increase could partly be due to greater enforcement efforts. Few of those recently smuggled were Rohingya, police in Mae Sot said. "At present Thailand is very conscious about human rights when it comes to labourers and we have opened for labourers from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar to come and work in Thailand," government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd. "Thailand needs overseas labour. We just ask that it is correct." Overall figures on illegal entry into Thailand were not available. 'ANYONE CAN BE A BROKER' The 2015 crackdown led to the trial of some alleged human traffickers. But police in Mae Sot say the network of people willing to act as brokers is wider than previously thought. "Anyone can be a broker. The problem is more widespread than we think. A Burmese factor worker in Mae Sot with a mobile phone can be a broker," said a former border police officer based in Mae Sot, who declined to be named because he said he feared for his safety. Last year, in its closely watched report that ranks countries based on anti-trafficking efforts, the U.S. State Department upgraded Thailand's status a notch to its Tier 2 "Watch List". Thailand had been downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest level that could trigger sanctions, after the 2014 coup. The report, which usually comes out in June, matters to Thailand's junta as it tries to fully normalise relations with Washington and to show it is tackling tough issues better than previous civilian administrations. The Thai-Myanmar border in Tak province is approximately 500 km (300 miles) long, and includes the 327 km Moie River. During the dry season, which typically begins in March and ends in May, parts of the river are low enough to cross by foot. Since 2015, many brokers won't risk transporting migrants in large groups, said the former border police officer. Checkpoints have become more stringent, prompting smugglers to charge more. Migrants typically pay up to 15,000 Thai baht (332.51 pounds) to be smuggled from the border area to Bangkok and other cities and towns in Thailand. "Supply has gone down but demand for workers is still there so the fee for smugglers has gone up," Yunus, a Myanmar Muslim broker in Thailand, told Reuters in a telephone interview. (Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Alex Richardson) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-11
  19. Phuket Police search for missing 11-year-old boy Phuket Gazette Anyone with information about the case can call the Mirror Foundation Missing Person Center at 080-775 2673. Photo: Supplied PHUKET: -- Police are searching for an 11-year-old boy who was reported missing by his family on Tuesday night. Panaphat Chumrak ('Nong Nu') disappeared from his home in Soi Pasak 4, Don Chom Tao Road in Cherng Talay at about 8:30pm. “Nong Nu is about 132cm tall, weighs 30kg and has short hair. He was last seen wearing a red and white shirt with the number ‘60’ on the back, as well as red shorts and black sandals,” the Missing Persons Center of the Mirror Foundation posted on their Facebook Page yesterday. Full story: -- © Copyright Phuket Gazette 2017-05-05
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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