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Phuket Gazette: Obama visits shooting victims; Calls for gun law reform

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Phuket Gazette: Obama visits shooting victims; Calls for gun law reform | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Obama visits families of Colorado shooting victims
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: President Barack Obama travelled to Colorado on Saturday to meet with families of the victims who were shot by the gunman at the Denver-area movie theater on Friday.

The massacre occurred when the gunman walked into an auditorium at the Century 16 cinema in Aurora and opened fire, killing twelve people and injuring 58 others in what was one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. It happened during the midnight premiere of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, the third installment in the Batman film series by movie director Christopher Nolan.

In his weekly radio address, Obama promised to stand by the people of Colorado during this difficult time. “Even as we come to learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings,” he said. “Such evil is senseless – beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes that life worth living.”

President Obama also called for a period of reflection and prayer.

Police arrested 24-year-old James Eagen Holmes of Aurora as a suspect in the massacre shortly afterwards.

Police are discovering more details about Holmes since entering his residence on Saturday, after booby traps connected to explosives had been dismantled.

Police said the suspect had acted with “calculation and deliberation”, taking ammunition deliveries for months.

Last month, Holmes had tried to join a Colorado gun club. However, owner Glenn Rotkovic told AP he declined the application, informing his staff not to accept him after hearing a “bizarre – guttural, freakish at best” message from Holmes.

Holmes is due to appear in court today, charged with 12 counts of first-degree murder.

The county coroner, Michael Dobersen, has released the names of the victims, who included a 6-year-old-girl and two US serviceman.

Calls for gun law reform

In this campaign year for the USA, the big question is whether or not gun control will become an issue for the American voters.

According to an ongoing tally kept by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the United States is experiencing an average of around 20 mass shootings each year.

The Aurora massacre is believed to be one of the worst since a rampage at Virginia Tech in 2007 left 32 people dead. The Fort Hood, Texas massacre two years later also ended with massive bloodshed, as well, with 13 people losing their lives in that event.

The Bradley campaign, which brands itself with the slogan “Sensible gun laws save lives,” says the Aurora incident is already the sixth mass shooting in the month of July alone.

“Children are becoming victims in more and more in these communities,” Rev Taharka Robinson, founder of the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition, told the Huffington Post after the NYC mass shooting a weeks ago. “If you can have an individual spray bullets where children are playing nearby, there’s something wrong. We need to get to the root of the problem.”

It’s been a sentiment echoed countless times in recent years, especially after the 1999 Columbine, Colorado massacre reintroduced mass shootings as a mainstream issue. Despite continuing pleas, though, the Brady Campaign’s statistics seem to suggest that little is being done to curb the crime.

According to Brady, the number of homicides in America that occurred in 2012 as a result of mass shootings totaled 50, even before Friday’s massacre in Colorado.

The Guardian newspaper states the tragic event has prompted greater attention on the gun law stance of the two men fighting it out to lead the US. It cites New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who has challenged President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney over America’s loose restrictions on gun ownership.

“Maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

The Guardian continues in its report that Romney signed a ban on assault weapons as Massachusetts governor, but as the presumptive Republican nominee, he now bills himself as the candidate who will protect gun owners’ rights.

Obama called for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons during his 2008 presidential campaign. But since the election he hasn’t sought to get that done or pushed other gun control proposals.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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United Kingdom approves new Covid-19 vaccine, first jabs start next week

Caitlin Ashworth

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United Kingdom approves new Covid-19 vaccine, first jabs start next week | The Thaiger

The United Kingdom approved the new Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech for emergency use and will start injections next week. The UK became the first country in the world to license the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which Pfizer says marks a historic moment in the fight against the coronavirus.

The UK purchased 40 million doses of the vaccine and 800,000 doses will be available next week, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. He says the most vulnerable people will get the first jabs. 50 hospitals are ready to receive the vaccine, he says.

“From early next week we will start the programme of vaccinating people against Covid-19 here in this country… It’s very good news.”

The new Covid-19 vaccine was authorised for emergency use by the private Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says the company applauds the agency for conducting a careful, yet timely, assessment of the vaccine.

“As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world.”

The vaccine has been shown to have a 95% efficacy in its final trials. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson says the approval of the vaccine follows months of rigorous clinical trials and experts have concluded that the vaccine meets strict safety, quality and effectiveness standards.

SOURCES: Reuters | Guardian

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Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon

The Thaiger

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Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon | The Thaiger

The Chinese, like the rest of us, are mostly prohibited from travelling at the moment, but it hasn’t stopped them travelling to the Moon. A Chinese space probe has landed on the surface of the Moon to bring back the first lunar samples in nearly 5 decades. Since the US dropped its Apollo missions to the Moon in 1972, the Earth’s only natural satellite has been a bit lonely.

The Chinese space program has poured billions into its space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the Moon to establish an ongoing lunar base. No Chinese have been participating in the International Space Station.

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft adds to a string of successes for Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program. Chang’e is the name for the mythical Chinese moon goddess. The probe touched down on the near side of the Moon yesterday. It will spend a total of 48 hours on the surface of the moon before re-uniting with it’s mother-ship which will then bring the lunar probe back to Earth.

The unmanned Chang’e-5 probe will collect lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity, the first such collections since the 1970s when an unmanned Russian lunar probe conducted a similar mission. The probe is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.

If Chang’e-5 returns to Earth successfully, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

The probe was launched from China’s southern tropical island of Hainan last week and entered lunar orbit aver the weekend after a 112 hour journey. The probe will collect 2 kilograms of material in a previously unexplored area known as “Ocean of Storms”, a vast lava plain of grey rocks and dust.

The probe will collect samples from the surface and drill a 2 metre deep hole to gather soil and rock samples from beneath the lunar surface as well.

Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA official from the mission directorate, says the mission was no easy task.

“When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community. Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5.”

The Chang’e 5 flight is China’s third successful lunar landing. Its predecessor, Chang’e 4, was the first probe to land on the Moon’s lesser-explored far side which is perpetually facing away from the Earth.

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No evidence of voter fraud that would change election outcome – US Attorney General

Caitlin Ashworth

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No evidence of voter fraud that would change election outcome – US Attorney General | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

After repeated claims on voter fraud from United States President Donald Trump, and refusal to concede his loss to president-elect Joe Biden, the US Justice Department says they have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud “that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election”, according to US Attorney General William Barr.

President Trump has repeatedly posted on Twitter with comments such as “fake election results”, “impossible result” and “rigged election.” His posts are often flagged on Twitter with a warning saying “This claim about election fraud is disputed”, linking to a page with information from various news outlets.

US attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up on complaints and information on voter fraud, but nothing they uncovered impact the outcome of the election, Barr told the Associated Press.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome on the election.”

Before the election, Barr, who is considered to be one of Trump’s most loyal allies, said mail-in votes could be vulnerable to fraud this year since many Americans would rather vote from home rather than going to the polls due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With some states flipping from red to blue once all the mail-in ballots were counted, the Trump campaign has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to count illegal ballots and rig the election. The Trump campaign has been calling out problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks. But local courts have repeatedly thrown out the lawsuits saying the claims have not been backed up with any evidence.

AG Barr says government agencies have also looked into claims that machines were programmed to skew election results and says that, so far, there is no evidence to back the claim.

In response to Barr’s statements, Trump’s attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis wrote a statement saying the opinion doesn’t seem to be backed by their investigation into the matters.

“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation … with the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud.”

SOURCE: Aljazeera

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