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Phuket Gazette: Owen’s return; F1 for Thailand; AFC champions

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Phuket Gazette: Owen’s return; F1 for Thailand; AFC champions | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ferguson says returning Owen can help United push for the title
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: A fit-again Michael Owen could play a key role in Manchester United’s push for the Premier League title, according to manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The 32-year-old striker is on the verge of a return after five months out through injury.

Ferguson believes the former England international can be an important member of the squad for the remaining seven matches.

“If you think about ever needing a player to score an important goal for you, is there anyone better than Michael Owen?” Ferguson asked United’s official website.

“He will be a really welcome addition to our squad, even if it were to be for the last few games of the season.”

Ferguson revealed that Owen had been due to return sooner but suffered a set-back in training.

“He came back into our training a couple of weeks ago and then after one of the sessions he did some physical work with the sports science team and overdid it,” Ferguson said.

“So it knocked him back a few days, but he should be joining us this week.”

F1 for Thailand – interview with Red Bull’s team principal
Phuket Gazette / News Wires


PHUKET: Red Bull Racing’s team principal Christian Horner, accompanied by chief technical officer Adrian Newey, visited Thailand this week as guests of Singha Beer, team Red Bull’s official partner.

The Nation‘s Jintana Panyaarvudh talked to Horner about the challenges the world champions face, as well as the possibility of a Thai Grand Prix.

Why are you visiting Thailand this time?

It’s an opportunity to see our friend, Singha, an important partner. We have three days here. I got to see a vineyard and elephant race in Hua Hin.

Can you tell us what you discussed with Singha?

We talked about partnership and a longer-term relationship. They have been a very good and important partner of the team since 2008. So we looked to extend the relationship and look forward to the future.

Singha’s contract with Team Red Bull will end in November – do you plan to extend it?

Yes, hopefully.

It seems that Thai authorities want a Thailand Grand Prix; do you think we have the potential to host a Formula One race?

I think you will be very excited to have a Grand Prix in Thailand [judging by] how successful the race is in Singapore and India. So, it would be great one day to see Formula One here.

Where is our best racing circuit, Bangkok or Phuket?

Bangkok would be an obvious place to have the race.

What is the most important aspect to qualify as a Grand Prix host?

I think they need to talk to Mr [Bernie] Ecclestone [president and CEO of Formula One] [laughing].

This is a hot issue here as we have seen the success of Singapore and Malaysia’s F1 races and watched Red Bull unleash an F1 car on Rajdamnoen Avenue in 2010…

Yes, a hundred thousand people attended the [Bangkok] event. I wasn’t here at that time but I saw the media coverage, which was fantastic.

How popular is F1 in Thailand when compared to other Asean countries?

You can see the support of Formula one in Thailand is growing. It’s great to see the Red Bull team are being followed.

Is it because Red Bull is so familiar to Thais?

Yes, we looked for red bulls [gaur] yesterday in the forest but couldn’t find them.

Do you plan to put a rising Thai star behind the Red Bull wheel?

I think we have a very good young British-Thai driver, Alexander Albon. He is in our Red Bull junior programme at the moment and we are interested to see how he will perform in Junior Formula. We will see in the next couple years how he develops.

How often do you come to Thailand?

Unfortunately, not too often. Thailand is such a beautiful country. It’s a great opportunity [I have a chance to visit Thailand] between [the races in] Australia and Malaysia. Probably at the end of the season and the Singapore Grand Prix we will come back again.

Do you enjoy your stays here?

Yes. This is my first time in Hua Hin. It’s very beautiful location. We went to a National Park yesterday. The scenery is stunning … to see many elephants in the wild is sensational. Thai people are very nice and friendly. The food is fantastic! The Singha beer is very good.

Will Red Bull strike back after the Australian Grand Prix?

We can always improve and develop. We have had some parts flown in from England. There will be development all the way to the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of the year. So I am sure all the teams are pushing very hard.

What do you expect for the rest of the season?

I think it’s gonna be a good season. McLaren have started the year looking strong. Mercedes is looking in good shape. Red Bull has a lot of things in the pipeline. I think from circuit to circuit it will change. I hope we can be competitive in China.

After two years in a row as world champions, do you expect another triumph this year?

Our goal is to try and win the title for the third year. It’s a massive challenge. But our target is trying to defend both our [drivers’ and constructors’] titles.

Are you confident defending champ Sebastian Vettel will win his hat-trick this year?

I think it’s gonna be tough but we will fight very hard to retain both titles. But this year McLaren looks strong, Mercedes are fast. I think it will be a great season for F1.

Who is your fiercest rival?

I think it will change from track to track. But at the moment the McLaren look very strong.

Do you think Vettel, now 24 and already a double title winner, will break Michael Schumacher’s record of World Championship wins?

Schumacher is quite unique. It’s unimaginable to think that record could be broken.

Are you looking for a new driver, with Mark Webber’s contract set to end this season?

No, we are not looking for anybody at the moment. We are very happy with what Mark is doing.

Buriram lights up AFC Champions League
Phuket Gazette /The Nation
PHUKET: Thailand Premier League champions Buriram United’s red-hot start in the AFC Champions League, the continent’s elite club competition, has come as a perfect tonic for Thai fans, who became disillusioned with the national team’s disappointing campaign in the World Cup qualifiers.

The national team’s qualifying campaign ended with a whimper when they went down tamely to Oman 2-0 in Muscat last month, a result that consigned them to the bottom of the group. It was a disappointing end to a campaign that looked promising early on when they claimed four points in the first three games. If the Thais had no chance to make it to the final qualifying round, the public would have found it much easier to take it on the chin. But, the team, surprisingly, stayed in contention for a place in the last-10 team stage ahead of the Oman fixture.

However, the Thai side performed poorly, as if there were nothing at stake in the fixture. After going behind to an early strike, there was not a moment in the game thereafter that the Thais threatened to stage a fight-back to claim the win required of them to stand any chance of squeezing into the next round.

The fact that Thailand woul

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Vaccines are no magic bullet” – World Health Organisation

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“Vaccines are no magic bullet” – World Health Organisation | The Thaiger

“Vaccines will be no magic bullet for the coronavirus crisis as nations gear up for a massive rollout to tackle surging infections.”

The warning of caution comes from the World Health Organisation on the day the US United States recorded a record number of Covid-19 cases for a second day in a row. President-elect Joe Biden is already describing the time ahead as a “dark winter”. The US recorded 235,272 new infections on Friday, the second daily record in a row for the world’s worst-hit nation.

Large-scale public vaccinations are expected to roll out within weeks. But the WHO is warning against ‘vaccine complacency’ saying that exists an erroneous belief that the Covid-19 crisis will be over after people are vaccinated.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan, says that not everyone will be able to receive the medicine early next year.

“Vaccination will add a major, powerful tool to the tool kit that we have. But by themselves, they will not do the job. Vaccines do not equal zero Covid.”

The WHO also announced yesterday that 51 candidate vaccines are currently being tested on humans… 13 have reached Phase 3 mass testing and headed towards approval.

Meanwhile in the US, the Centres for Disease Control is now recommending “universal face mask use” indoors for the first time and President-elect says he will “ask all Americans to wear a mask for 100 days”.

Britain became the first Western country to approve a vaccine from the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate, for general use, adding additional pressure for other countries and pharmaceutical giants to swiftly follow suit. Businesses and logistics companies specialising in cold storage and insulating containers are preparing for the Pfizer and BioNTech injection as their vaccine needs to be stored and transported at -70 degrees Celsius.

In the US, Belgium, France and Spain inoculations will begin later this month and January for the most vulnerable, then broader community groups.

In south east Asia, Singapore Airlines will prioritise freight capacity to ship the new vaccines and will conduct test flights soon to trial the transport into south east Asian hubs. The airline says that Boeing 747-400 freighters, and some specially-purposed passenger aircraft, will be ready to boost capacity where needed.

The logistics of a successful vaccine rollout are challenging enough, but the vocal rump of vaccine sceptics, aka. anti-vaxxers, peddling misinformation and mistrust, continue to colour public discourse on the topic. Social media platforms have recently been active in removing much of this misinformation but admit that they will never be able to intervene with all comments.

To counter this President-elect Joe Biden, WHO director-general Tedros and former US presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, have all said they will be inoculated publicly to help build confidence. Other world leaders are throwing their support behind positive promotions of the new vaccines offering their arms for the first jabs in their countries.

SOURCES: AP | Reuters | WHO

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Protests

US senators introduce resolution in support of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement

Maya Taylor

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US senators introduce resolution in support of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Getty Images

The US Senate has called on the Thai government to end violence against political activists, as it introduced a resolution in support of the pro-democracy movement. 9 members of Congress introduced the resolution, including Thai-American senator Tammy Duckworth, who has previously served in the US military.

“As a Thai-American who fought to protect the right to peacefully protest here at home, I know that both the longstanding, strong relationship between the US and Thailand as well as every individual’s inalienable democratic rights are critically important to uphold and defend. Thailand is a strong partner with the US, both in terms of our shared national security priorities and economic relations, and the Thai people have a proud history of democratic reform. I urge Thai leadership to listen to the people and respect the democratic principles at the heart of the government they’ve worked so hard to form.”

A press release from the Senate says the resolution, “underscores the United States’ commitment to human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Thailand. The senators’ resolution follows recent demonstrations by Thailand’s pro-democracy movement, which have been met with violence and repression by the country’s monarchy and government.”

The resolution says the military-drafted 2017 Constitution is at the root of the problem, accusing it of eroding democracy and the protection of citizens’ rights in the Kingdom. It points out that in the 2019 election, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha managed to maintain his grip on power through the support of an unelected Senate appointed by the military. The election is seen by many independent monitoring groups as having been deeply flawed and skewed in favour of the PM and his administration.

The resolution also criticises the dissolution of the opposition party, Future Forward, saying that process too was flawed and based on spurious accusations. It also claims the Thai government has not done enough to investigate the enforced disappearances and killings of Thai political activists elsewhere in Asia.

The government’s response to the ongoing political protests has also come in for criticism, with the resolution saying it consists of, “intimidation tactics, surveillance, harassment, arrests, violence and imprisonment”, prompting UNICEF to voice concern over the risks to children attending political rallies.

Meanwhile, Senator Bob Menendez says pro-democracy activists in Thailand are only seeking what’s fair.

“Thailand’s reformers are not seeking a revolution. They are simply yearning for democratic changes to their country’s political system, for freedom of speech and assembly, and for Thailand to be a part of the community of democratic nations.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Technology

Chinese probe heads back to Earth after spending 2 days on the Moon

The Thaiger

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Chinese probe heads back to Earth after spending 2 days on the Moon | The Thaiger

A Chinese space probe, Chang’e 5, is now on its way back to earth after having flown to the Moon, landed, explored, collected soil samples and taken off again. It will bring the first lunar rock and soil samples back to Earth in over 4 decades. The probe is bringing a payload of some 2 kilograms of rocks back for testing and investigation.

The landing hardware included a powered descent system, which is now remaining on the Moon’s surface after last night’s blast off.

The Chang’e-5 Chinese developed and built probe, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, look off from the Moon at 11.10pm Beijing time last night. Everything was described as ‘routine’ by the mission control staff following the probe’s 2 days motoring around the lunar surface and collecting samples.

The probe was launched from China’s Hainan island, south of Hong Kong in the South China Sea. It will land in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region after its journey back to earth and the perils of an earth atmosphere re-entry. The arrival back at earth is at least a week away.

Scientists hope the samples will help unravel more about the moon’s origins and volcanic activity on its surface. The Chinese have poured billions of Yuan into its military-run space program. The program’s stated ambitions is to have a crewed space station by 2022, and eventually sending humans to the moon and establishing the first colony.

China is only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon, following the US and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and early 70s. The last time a mission headed to the Moon was the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 unmanned mission in 1976.

The spacecraft was due to collect 2kg (4.5lbs) of material in a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms), a vast lava plain, according to the science journal Nature.

Beijing is looking to finally catch up with the US and Russia after years of belatedly matching their space milestones.

Another Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon in January 2019 in a first that boosted Beijing’s aspirations to become a space superpower. The mission of Chang’e 5 was on the side of the Moon that always faces the earth.

Chinese probe heads back to Earth after spending 2 days on the Moon | News by The Thaiger

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