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Abbas calls Holocaust ‘most heinous crime’ against humanity

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Abbas calls Holocaust ‘most heinous crime’ against humanity
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Nazi Holocaust “the most heinous crime” against humanity in modern times in a statement released on Sunday, an apparent bid to build bridges with Israel days after troubled peace talks collapsed.

Abbas has condemned the mass killings of Jews in World War Two before and challenged allegations, stemming from a 1983 book he authored, that he is a Holocaust denier.

But the timing of the publication of his latest comments gave them extra significance, a day after he signalled he remained committed to the peace talks and said a future Palestinian unity government would recognise Israel.

The message, in Arabic and English, coincided with Israel’s annual remembrance day for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, and included an expression of sympathy for the families of the victims.

Israel suspended U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians on Thursday in response to Abbas’s unexpected unity pact with the rival Islamist group Hamas – a movement which has vowed to destroy Israel.

On Sunday, Israeli leaders showed little interest in responding to Abbas’ apparent olive branch.

Abbas, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, made the comments at a meeting with an American rabbi last week.

“What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era,” Abbas told Rabbi Marc Schneir, president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which promotes relations between racial and ethnic communities.

The Palestinian people, he added, “are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while not referring directly to Abbas’s statement, accused the Palestinian leader of forging a partnership with Holocaust deniers.

“Hamas denies the Holocaust while trying to create another Holocaust by destroying Israel,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at the weekly meeting of his cabinet. “It is with this Hamas that Abu Mazen chose to create an alliance last week.”

A spokesman said Netanyahu’s comments were not a direct response to Abbas’s statement but the Israeli leader was aware of what the Palestinian president had said.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an Israeli monitoring group, says both Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement have engaged in Holocaust denial. On its website, PMW cites a Hamas TV documentary which it said alleged Jewish leaders planned the Holocaust to eliminate the “disabled and handicapped”.

But the website also mentions a statement issued by Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in January condemning the Holocaust and the targeting of Jews.

Abbas has long been accused by some Israeli politicians of being a Holocaust denier over his book, “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism”, which was based on his doctoral dissertation where he questioned the number of Jewish Holocaust victims.

In an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper in 2003, Abbas said he had quoted an argument between historians in which various numbers of casualties were mentioned.

“One wrote there were 12 million victims and another wrote there were 800,000,” he said in the interview.

“I have no desire to argue with the figures. The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind,” he told Haaretz.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

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Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic has officially caused 3 million deaths around the world, and outbreaks are still surging. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises. The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals are much higher, pointing at government cover-ups and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when the virus was still in its infancy. Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

The World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday. Only 1.1% of the populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. But the UN’s Covax vaccination program, which delivers doses to poorer parts of the world was dependant on India, their biggest vaccine supplier. Covax has distributed about 40 million vaccines in over 100 countries so far, but this worsening situation may prevent shots from being received in up to 60 countries until June.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs

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Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs | Thaiger
Stock photo of Pfizer vaccine via Flickr

The CEO for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines says it is likely that people will need a 3rd dose of the vaccine and to receive it annually. Albert Bourla, told CNBC, that the booster, or 3rd dose, will be needed less than a year after being fully vaccinated.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a 3rd dose, somewhere between 6 and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”

Bourla’s comment echoes that of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO when he stated in February, that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Both statements reflect the fact that since the vaccine is new, and testing periods are shorter than most vaccines in the past, researchers are still unclear about how long the vaccine will protect against the virus.

Pfizer says that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe diseases up to 6 months after the 2nd dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at 6 months.

Just yesterday, the Biden administration’s Covid response chief science officer, David Kessler, noted that new Covid variants could “challenge” the effectiveness of the shots.

“We don’t know everything at this moment. We are studying the durability of the antibody response. It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”

Late last month, the National Institute of Health started testing a new Covid vaccine from Moderna in addition to the one it already has, designed to protect against a problematic variant first found in South Africa. The variant is similar to that of the UK one that has recently made landfall in Thailand.

Recent findings, by The Lancet, however, have stated that the UK variant, known as B117, has a higher reproductive rate than other strains, and it’s more transmissible. However, it refuted earlier reports that the strain is more severe. Meanwhile, Thailand’s health minister is confirming his commitment to making AstraZeneca the nation’s chosen vaccine.

SOURCE: CNBC

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Economy

China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020

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China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020 | Thaiger
PHOTO: China - the second largest economy, and only major economy to grow last year.

China’s economy set a record for growth in Q1, 2021, marking an 18.3% jump in year-on-year figures, the biggest quarterly growth in almost 30 years. China only started publishing growth statistics in 1992, and this drastic increase is the fastest growth recorded since then.

The figures, however impressive, are mainly due to what is called a “low base effect” where the change from a low starting point translates into big percentage statistics. Because of the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Q1 2020 figures were dismal, allowing the big gain over the last year.

Quarter to quarter, the last 3 months saw only a 0.6% growth, but in the last quarter of 2020 China recorded an economic boom of 6.5% according to the Chinese government. Still, the figures are admirable, as China was the only major economy in the world to achieve growth in 2020. Most of the planet struggled to contain global Covid-19 outbreaks, crippling economies across the globe. But China, now the second-largest economy in the world, managed a 2.3% overall expansion. Even Chinese officials called the impressive statistics “better than we had expected.”

China has been growing in terms of imports and exports as well, with exports expanding nearly 31% and imports up 38% by price over last years.

SOURCE: CNN

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