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JERUSALEM – Israel reopened Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound Friday ahead of the weekly Muslim prayers, after a rare closure following clashes sparked by the killing of a Palestinian by police

The streets of east Jerusalem were calm ahead of the prayers at midday, following an Israeli clampdown on the shrine, which is holy for Muslims and Jews alike.

Clashes erupted when Israeli police on Wednesday night shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a Jewish hardliner.

The closure was the first for decades and prompted a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to condemn the move as an Israeli “declaration of war”.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that because of fears of unrest at the midday prayers, entry for Muslim men would be restricted to those over 50.

Additional police were deployed around the Al-Aqsa compound in the heart of the Old City, with local media reporting the presence of some 3,000 officers, three times more than usual.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound — known to Jews as the Temple Mount — is the third holiest site in Islam and Judaism’s holiest.

The clashes subsided late Thursday with a few sporadic confrontations between stone-throwing Palestinians and police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Three Palestinians were arrested, Samri said.

The funeral of the Palestinian passed off without incident, she added.

Jerusalem has been shaken by months of unrest sparked by the murder of a Palestinian teenager in July in revenge for the killings of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank.

A 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in July and August intensified protests and clashes in the Holy City.

Triple V allots B1.2bn for content upgrade

Posted by pakin On October - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

B300m given for broadcasting complex

Triple V Broadcast Co, the operator of Thairath TV, plans to invest 1.5 billion baht on content production and a broadcasting centre next year after its digital TV channel received growing interest from advertisers.

The broadcasting arm of Thai Rath newspaper is also confident its Thairath TV channel will generate 1.5 billion baht in revenue next year after recording high ratings.

The high-definition channel is among the top five of 24 digital TV channels, as ranked by Nielsen Thailand.

Jitsupa Vacharaphol, chief marketing officer of Triple V Broadcast, said that of the 1.5 billion baht, 1.2 billion will be used for content production for Thairath TV and 300 million for building a broadcasting complex inside the Thairath compound on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

The building will include a virtual studio that will use robotic broadcasting technology and be managed under a media asset management system.

Thairath TV channel has broadcast since April 25 and viewers have accepted the channel.

“We hope our channel’s revenue will exceed 500 million baht by the end of this year,” she said.

The five major sponsors for the channel are AIS, Bangkok Bank, Unilever, Isuzu and Tesco Lotus, as their sponsorship represents half of its revenue.

Miss Jitsupa said the strength of Thairath TV was news content and the channel expected to become the market leader in that category while staying among the top five in variety HD.

Thairath TV reaches 50% of total viewers. Thailand has 22.9 million households.

With its high TV rating, more advertisers are interested in the channel. The main ad customers are prominent automobile, IT and consumer product companies.

The chief marketing officer said three to four content providers are considering working with Thairath TV under a time-sharing system, up from two. The others still produce TV programmes under contracts.

The channel set a 1-billion-baht budget for content investment from its launch. It will adjust its programming schedule in January, adding more variety programmes and changing the proportion of news and variety content to 50:50.

Triple V Broadcast will use a cross-media marketing strategy to promote Thairath TV channel with support from Thai Rath newspaper, which has the country’s largest circulation. It will pool its resources from the newspaper, online and TV segments.

Miss Jitsupa said Thairath TV channel set its advertising airtime rate at 200,000 baht a minute for prime time.

Next year it wants to reach more viewers aged 15-30 by offering new content programmes.

“We’re sticking to our original goal of breaking even with our digital TV channel in seven years. We also expect to keep our top-five position among digital TV channels,” she said.

Pridiyathorn is richest cabinet minister

Posted by pakin On October - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

NACC releases list of cabinet ministers’ declared assets and liabilities

Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula is the richest person in the Prayut Chan-o-cha cabinet with 1.38 billion baht in debt-free assets, while the prime minister has declared 128 million baht in net assets and a little debt.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Friday published the declared assets and liabilities of ministers in the Prayut cabinet, covering 33 ministers holding 35 positions.

The list shows Gen Prayut has declared 128 million baht in net assets and 654,745.06 baht in debt. His assets include about 58 million baht in savings and 23 million baht in investments.

MR Pridiyathorn tops the wealth rankings with 1.38 billion baht in assets and he is debt-free. The second richest minister is PM’s Office Minister ML Panadda Diskul with 1.31 billion baht in assets. He is also without debt.

The poorest member the cabinet is Education Minister Narong Pipatanasai, who declared net assets worth 6.95 million baht and debt totalling 2.92 million baht.

Of the other ministers, Agriculture Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya declared 830.52 million baht in net assets, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul 305.19 million baht, Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee 283.71 million baht, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam 116.84 million baht, Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr 54.63 million baht, and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda 37 million baht in net assets.

The rate of new Ebola infections appears to be slowing in hard-hit Liberia, but the crisis is far from over, according to the World Health Organization.

“It appears that the trend is real in Liberia and there may indeed be a slowing of the epidemic there,” WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

“There is increasing evidence that these countries can get on top of this,” he said.

Aylward added, though, that he was “terrified that the information will be misinterpreted and that people will begin to think Ebola is under control.”

“That is like thinking your pet tiger is under control,” he warned, pointing out that the deadly outbreak had seemed to slow previously, only to come back with more virulence.

The Ebola outbreak that has been ravaging west Africa has claimed 4,922 lives, according to the latest update from the WHO. The vast majority of deaths were in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Washington has ordered a 21-day quarantine for all US troops returning from west Africa, as controversy raged over the US government’s attempts to prevent the spread of the disease.

Panic has gripped many Americans since a Liberian citizen brought the killer virus into the country and died on October 8 of the disease in a Texas hospital.

Members of the west African community in New York have complained that their children are being bullied at school and businesses are losing money because of the hysteria.

The quarantine move exposed a split between the US military and other government agencies, with civilian health workers subjected to less strict measures than American soldiers.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday hailed “heroic” US health workers battling Ebola, as he sought to reassure the public amid the controversy.

Speaking at the White House after meeting with returned health workers including Kent Brantly, an American doctor infected in Liberia, Obama said those who volunteer on the front lines “deserve our gratitude, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect.”

He defended the “sensible, scientific” guidelines set out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.

The CDC has urged active monitoring of those at risk, meaning they must be checked for fever daily for 21 days and must restrict their travel and public activities for the duration of the virus’s incubation period.

– 13,703 Ebola cases –

Aylward said that the number of Ebola cases registered worldwide had soared to 13,703 — up from just over 10,000 the WHO reported on Saturday — but he stressed the increase was mainly due to previously unreported cases being added to the statistics.

Liberia counted 6,535 cases, Sierra Leone had 5,235 and Guinea, where the outbreak began late last year, recorded 1,906, he said.

Neighbouring Mali, where a two-year-old girl died from Ebola following a long bus ride from Guinea, had not yet detected any new infections, he added.

Aylward said data from a range of different sources — including from funeral directors and treatment centres reporting lower Ebola patient admission rates — indicated a “downward trend” across much of Liberia.

A rapid scaling up of information to the community about the deadly virus, contact tracing and implementation of safe burial practices had likely contributed to the positive trend in Liberia, Aylward said.

His cautious optimism on Liberia came a day after Obama and the Red Cross offered hope that progress was being made in the battle against the killer virus.

Obama insisted the disease “will be defeated”.

– US quarantines troops –

There has been growing condemnation of Washington’s rush to quarantine people who have come into contact with those suffering from Ebola, amid fears such strict measures could dissuade much-needed healthcare workers and others from travelling to the region.

Only two people have been infected with the virus on US soil, and both have been declared cured.

Nonetheless, California announced a new 21-day quarantine for anyone travelling from Ebola-afflicted countries who has had contact with someone infected with the disease. The move comes after similar measures were adopted in New Jersey and New York.

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said the three-week quarantine for all US troops returning from west Africa was a “prudent” measure adopted partly at the behest of military families.

There are now about 1,100 US troops in Liberia and Senegal, with plans to boost the force to as many as 4,000.

World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim will visit the UN Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) headquarters in Ghana on Thursday for talks on the epidemic and its economic impact on the region.