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Phuket Gazette: Good news for US economy; Texas executes baby killer; Another dead Russian in a suitcase

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Phuket Gazette: Good news for US economy; Texas executes baby killer; Another dead Russian in a suitcase | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.S. jobless claims lowest since in four years
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the United States dropped to 359,000 in the week ending March 24, which is the lowest in four years, the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) reported yesterday.

The DOL report showed that the weekly numbers, which represent a decrease of about 5,000 when compared to the previous week, is the lowest since April 2008. In addition, the week’s release also reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors from 2007 forward.

The 4-week moving average was 365,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 382,500, the report said, also showing that the number of unemployed with unemployment insurance for the week ending March 17 was 2.6 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percent compared to the previous week.

There was also a decrease of 41,000 in the number of workers who claimed benefits under regular state unemployment programs, totaling 3,340,000 during the week ending March 17, according to the latest DOL report. The 4-week moving average was 3,387,750, a decrease of 21,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,409,500.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 17 were in Alaska (6.0), Pennsylvania (4.6), Rhode Island (4.4), Montana (4.3), Oregon (4.3), Wisconsin (4.3), New Jersey (4.2), Puerto Rico (4.2), Idaho (4.1), Connecticut (4.0), Illinois (4.0), and Michigan (4.0).

Texas executes man who beat baby to death
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: A Texas man was executed late Wednesday for using a flashlight to beat a 10-month-old boy to death. The murder occurred in Dallas, Texas in 2001 when he was babysitting the boy, officials said. He is the twelfth person to be executed in the United States so far this year.

Jesse Joe Hernandez, 47, was pronounced dead at 6:18pm local time in Huntsville, Texas. The execution by lethal injection took place about two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal in which Hernandez’s attorneys argued that the victim would have survived if he had not been taken off life support.

The boy, Karlos Borja, and his 4-year-old sister had been left in the care of Hernandez, who was living along with his wife of six years in the same house in Dallas as the two children and their 22-year-old mother who worked as a waitress.

Hernandez and his wife, who had moved into the house several days earlier, were supposed to watch the children when their mother was at work. When the crime took place on April 11, Hernandez’s wife had left the house to run some errands and was later told by Jesse that the children were sleeping.

Hours later, when the young mother returned from her work, the 4-year-old girl complained her head was hurting as a result of injuries to her face and head and was taken to a hospital by her mother. While the girl was being taken to the hospital, Hernadez’s wife discovered Karlos’ injuries and called paramedics to the house.

Karlos, who had a skull fracture and bruises to his head, thigh and abdomen, died a week after the attack when he was taken off life support. His sister survived the beating with swelling and bruises on her forehead, eyes and behind her ears.

After the boy’s death, his mother lost legal custody of her daughter because prosecutors said she made a mistake by entrusting the care of her children to Hernandez, who had previously been sentenced to three years in prison for one count of indecency with a child and possession of cocaine.

During the trial, prosecutors described Hernandez, who was linked to the fatal beating through traces of his DNA mixed with the boy’s blood on a pillowcase and a jumper, as a “baby-killing, child-molesting, woman-beating ex-con.” The jury took approximately 90 minutes to decide to sentence him to death in 2002.

Hernandez had initially denied any role in the brutal attack, but he later admitted that he walked into the children’s room with a flashlight and beat them for ‘crying too much for nothing’. He said he ‘exploded’ in anger when the children continued to cry, after which he started hitting them.

Elderly woman’s found dead in a suitcase at Russian playground
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Police in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg have launched a murder investigation after the body of an elderly woman was found stuffed inside a suitcase at a local playground, officials said.

A spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee said the suitcase was discovered early yesterday morning. “The suitcase contained the body of an unidentified elderly woman with no visible signs of a violent death,” the spokesperson said.

Investigators believe the victim was about 70 years old, but no documents were found in the suitcase which could help identify the woman. It was not immediately known how long the suitcase had been at the playground, when the woman may have died, or what was the cause of death.

Thursday’s discovery comes just days after a street cleaner found a suitcase containing a woman’s body near a garbage container in northern Moscow. The woman had been decapitated, her hands tied behind her back, and police later arrested her ‘friend’ on suspicion of committing the murder.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Survey shows growing acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines in some countries

Maya Taylor

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Survey shows growing acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines in some countries | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pixabay

A survey of 6 countries shows that the number of people willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 is on the rise. The poll, conducted by the international consultancy KekstCNC, indicates that the number of people willing to be vaccinated has risen since last year. The countries that took part were the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Sweden, with all reporting a similar trend.

The highest percentage in favour of vaccination was in the UK, where mass vaccination is well underway. 89% of those surveyed say they’re in favour of being vaccinated, an increase on December’s figure of 70%.

Sweden’s percentage of those in favour of vaccination rose to 76%, from 53% in December. In the US, it was 64%, up from December’s 58%, in Germany, 73% favour vaccination, up from 63%, and in Japan, the percentage is 64%, up from 50% in December.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the numbers were lowest in vaccine-sceptical France, with 59% in favour of the vaccine. However, this is a significant rise from December’s 40%.

In some countries, people were critical of the vaccine rollout, but 76% of people in the UK feel the government has done well. In the US, only 32% are happy with the vaccine rollout, in Germany and Japan it’s 28%, 22% in France and just 20% in Sweden. Both the UK and Israel are seen as having the most success with the rollout of their vaccine programmes.

Covid-19 has now killed 2,543,285 people and infected 114,686,933 around the world since the start of the pandemic in December 2019. The US has recorded the highest number of deaths, at 525,776.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup

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Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup | The Thaiger

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to the military coup, which has received major international backlash. As a major donor to Myanmar, Japan joins other advanced nations in condemning the coup which has seen security forces using violence against peaceful protesters.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying in a phone call that “Japan will strongly urge the Myanmar military to release Suu Kyi and other detained individuals, and to swiftly restore democratic government.”

But it may not impose sanctions like the rest of the other developed countries as its longtime ties with the armed forces, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy and investment promoting policy in the country may serve as a barrier in doing so. Britan and the United States have imposed sanctions in recent days which include the US freezing military funds.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official says stopping its support of building projects would give China a chance to move in, increasing its clout in Myanmar. Around 450 Japanese companies operate in Myanmar with Japan being the 5th largest investor in the Southeast nation. Singapore has the most companies, followed by China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry says Japan spent about US $1.8 billion in official development assistance in the fiscal year of 2019, making it the largest among the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But it is unknown what China has poured into it as it has refused to disclose its expenditures.

The Japanese government plans to continue coronavirus emergency assistance to Myanmar through international organisations and non-governmental organisations. The World Bank, however, has stopped payments to projects in the nation indefinitely, after the coup on February 1, which disrupted the democratic elections last November and saw the arrest of top leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, the National League for Democracy, won the elections in a landslide victory.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Law

Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants

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Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants | The Thaiger

In a landmark decision, Australia is now requiring global digital giants, such as Facebook and Google, to pay for using local news content on their websites. The move sets a precedent that many global companies have been anticipating.

The law passed yesterday after Facebook and Google reached an agreement to pay local Australian news organisations for using their stories on their websites. 1 week ago, Australians woke up to a blackout after Facebook temporarily banned local news, which included emergency notifications. The blackout was in response to the legislation being put forth for approval, with Facebook spokespeople saying it seemed to be their only choice at the time.

The new law sets the stage for other countries worldwide to gain more revenue for local media companies by making such social media giants pay to use content. Google’s “Showcase” product will now feature paid local news with Facebook showing such paid news under its “News” category.

Companies like Google and Facebook pushed back against the legislation, saying such a law could threaten their companies’ business models, with Google saying it could make their search engine website “unworkable.”

But local news organisations have rebuked the reasoning, citing that social media giants claim a large percentage of online advertisin, leaving local news companies out of the revenue game. Citing that news is gathered by reporting and fieldwork, the companies say it is unfair for social media companies to profit largely off of the work of local, smaller companies.

The law, called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, aims to protect such local companies and to sustain public interest journalism. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs over the past decade as local media outlets have seen the bulk of their advertising revenues flow to digital companies’ sites after using their content.

Australia’s competition watchdog says that for every $100 invested by Australian advertisers, $49 is sent to Google and $24 to Facebook. Now, both online businesses say they will each invest around US $1 billion in local news content globally in the next 3 years. Facebook and Google now have 2 more months to reach solid agreements before being subjected to binding arbritations.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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