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Phuket Gazette World News: Bachelet wins in Chile; EU suspends trade talks with Ukraine; Peter O’Toole is dead

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Phuket Gazette World News: Bachelet wins in Chile; EU suspends trade talks with Ukraine; Peter O’Toole is dead | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Bachelet wins Chile election in a landslide, plans reforms
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Michelle Bachelet was elected as Chile’s president again on Sunday in a landslide victory that hands the centre-leftist the mandate she sought to push ahead with wide-reaching reforms.

Bachelet won with about 62 percent support, the highest proportion of votes any presidential candidate has obtained since Chile returned to holding democratic elections in 1989.

Evelyn Matthei, the conservative candidate of the ruling Alianza coalition, conceded defeat after capturing just 38 percent of the vote, the right’s worst performance in two decades.

Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female leader, will look to capitalize on her resounding win to make changes aimed at redressing persistent inequality in the world’s top copper exporter.

“Today we embark on a new era … Chile has decided it is the moment to begin deep transformation,” she told crowds of cheering supporters waving flags and sounding horns outside the La Moneda presidential palace as dusk fell on a warm summer evening.

A physician by training, Bachelet is a moderate socialist and has promised 50 reforms in her first 100 days, once she takes office in March.

Her flagship policy is a hike in corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent, to pay for social reforms that include a gradual move to free higher education.

Yet she is a long way from the hard-left radicalism that has shaped Venezuela and Argentina in recent years, and is closer to the pragmatic, business-friendly stance of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

Bachelet has committed to stick to the path of fiscal prudence that has characterized the economy of the Andean country in recent decades.

“There are two things we know that don’t change in Chile,” said political scientist Patricio Navia. “One is that we always have earthquakes. And the other is that since 1990 governments are fiscally responsible. That goes without question.”

Relief, but not a surprise

Bachelet’s large margin of victory will come as a relief to her, if not a surprise.

Loved by many Chileans for her warm and personable style, her approval ratings were sky-high at the end of her first term. Constitutionally barred from seeking immediate re-election in 2009, she was the runaway favourite to win this year’s vote since before she even launched her candidacy.

But it has not all been plain sailing. Her campaign suffered a setback last month, when the presence of eight other candidates fractured the first round vote and left her just short of the majority needed to seal the election outright.

Her opponent, Matthei, a brusque former labour minister, was a last-minute choice for Alianza in July and struggled to gain traction against Bachelet.

Hailing from the more conservative branch of the governing coalition, Matthei was tainted in the eyes of many Chileans by her association with the repressive 1973-1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Her father was a general in the ruling junta and she supported Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite.

Dissatisfaction with President Sebastian Pinera’s government also weighed on Matthei’s campaign. Despite solid economic growth and plaudits for its fiscal responsibility, the government was seen as out of touch and slow to respond to demands for change.

Chile’s free-market economy and copper-fuelled growth have made it a Latin American success story in the last two decades. However, there are still sharp social divisions, illustrated by Sunday’s vote in Santiago’s upscale Las Condes district, where only 24 percent voted for Bachelet.

A single mother who was a victim of torture during Pinochet’s rule, Bachelet is seen as a “people’s candidate”.

“This triumph is a small step towards the changes that are coming to Chile,” said 19-year-old education student Beatriz Jorquera as she joined the crowds outside La Moneda.

Bachelet returned to Chile earlier this year to run for the presidency after a spell heading the United Nations’ gender equality body, U.N. Women.

Politically naive when she was elected eight years ago, she is now a more sophisticated operator and is in a better position to get things done, those close to her say.

Top of her list is reforming education. Good quality schooling is generally only available in Chile to those who can pay, and sometimes violent student protests demanding change have hurt the Pinera administration.

Bachelet also plans to change the Pinochet-era constitution and electoral system.

But her power will be constrained by a divided Congress. Despite losing seats in November’s Congressional elections, Alianza still has a large enough majority to block at least electoral and constitutional changes.

There are some indications that they will be willing to bargain, but the price may be watered-down reforms.

The wide majority in Sunday’s vote “will give her momentum going into government,” said political scientist Kenneth Bunker. “But she’s still going to have to negotiate in Congress.”

The president-elect also faces high expectations from those who voted her in, and she is not likely to be given much of a honeymoon once her four-year term starts.

Central African Republic leader sacks three government ministers
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Central African Republic’s interim leader Michel Djotodia dismissed three members of the transitional government on Sunday in the wake of Christian-Muslim clashes this month, a presidential spokesman said.

They include Finance Minister Christophe Mbremaidou, Rural Development Minister Joseph Bedounga and Security Minister Josue Binoua, who is accused of stockpiling weapons at his home, Guy Simplice Kodegue said.

More than 500 people died and 189,000 have been displaced in the capital Bangui alone since mainly Christian militias attacked the city, which is controlled by Muslim former rebels once loyal to Djotodia, on December 5.

Irish PM says bailout exit restores national pride
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Ireland’s exit from its EU-IMF bailout has restored national pride and set the stage for a swift recovery, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said in a televised address on Sunday to mark the end of three years of economic policy dictated from abroad.

The first euro zone country to leave a bailout, Ireland’s exit has been hailed by EU leaders as a sign the worst of the continent’s debt crisis is over. Kenny forecast growth could allow the national debt to be cut by a quarter in seven years.

“Our lives won’t change overnight. But it does send out a powerful signal internationally, that Ireland is fighting back,” Kenny said. “Your patience and resilience have restored our national pride.”

Three years after a property crash forced the government to go cap in hand to international lenders to avert bankruptcy, Ireland officially leaves its 85 billion euro (71.7 billion pounds) bailout programme at midnight on Sunday.

Unemployment has fallen below 13 percent, from a 15.1 percent peak in 2012, and property prices have started to rebound prompting the government to forecast gross d

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Malaysian PM called to quit, criticised for “abuse of power” during Covid-19 crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Malaysian PM called to quit, criticised for “abuse of power” during Covid-19 crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Muhyiddin Yassin

While protesters in Thailand are calling on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, the Malaysia PM Muhyiddin Yassin is experiencing similar calls after he attempted to declare a state of emergency amid a rise in Covid-19 infections, but the request was rejected by the Malaysian King.

Some say the prime minister’s attempt to impose the order was intended to suspend parliament and “curb the government process”. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim recently claimed he had the majority of support in parliament and challenged the prime minister. He suggested the call for a state of emergency was to avoid a vote on the annual supply bill which he may have lost, effectively a vote of no confidence in the current PM and his government.

When Muhyiddin requested a state of emergency, Anwar said the Malaysian PM was trying to “curb the parliamentary process.” He said using the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to suspend sessions is an “abuse of power” and called the state of emergency request a “descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism.”

“A state of emergency is declared when there is a threat to our national security. But when the government is itself the source of that threat, then a state of emergency is nothing more than the descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism. I strongly advise Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to consider the legacy of these actions he is taking out of self interest and selfishness.”

Anwar released another media statement after the Malaysian King’s refusal saying it “affirms the strength of the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.”

King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected the emergency order request yesterday. The prime minister holds a slim majority in parliament, but with his request rejected by the King, his hold on power is now palpably weaker. Now some leaders are calling on Muhyiddin to resign.

Ahmad Puad Zarkashi, a senior leader in the United Malays National Organisation made a Facebook post calling on the prime minister to resign.

“Thankfully, His Majesty the King was not influenced by the political game that could drag the country into more critical territory… The people’s wellbeing is more important. By right, Muhyiddin should step down.”

Opposition lawmaker Wong Chen calls the proposal for a state of emergency “malicious” and says the prime minister should resign or fire ministers who proposed the emergency orders.

SOURCES: Reuters | Twitter: Anwar Ibrahim

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours

The Thaiger

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UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | The Thaiger

Both the rate of new infections and deaths from the coronavirus has begun to spike in the worldwide totals again with some countries and locations having to go back into lockdowns for a second or third time. In the US and parts of Europe a major new surge of cases is concerning health authorities, especially as these countries are now heading into cooler weather, and people gathering indoors.

As of Saturday morning, Thai time, a total of 42,462,925 people have been infected worldwide with Covid-19, 1,148,698 have died and 31,417,499 have recovered.

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

The following graph shows today’s top ten countries with the most new infections in the past 24 hours…

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Here’s a summary of some of the main world Covid-19 headlines…

ITALY

Italy has recorded another record with 19,143 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. That’s up from Thursday’s record of 16,079 new coronavirus cases. 91 coronavirus deaths were also reported on Friday. The governor of Campania in Vincenzo De Luca has made a formal request for a national lockdown and says he will close his region “for 30 to 40 days” to try and control the recent surge.

The governor of Lombardy lamented that it is a “dramatic situation.” Lombardy was the epicentre of one of the first, and most dangerous. clusters in the world after the virus first spread out of China.

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

GRAPH: New cases surging across Italy – worldometers.info

US

A study from the Covid-19 forecasting team at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reports that… if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from Covid-19 over the next 4 months.

In a survey done in September, only about 49% of US residents reported that they “always” wear a mask in public.

The study calculated that, if the current extent of mask-wearing were to continue, and states continue with removing social distancing mandates, the death toll across the US from Covid-19 could reach about 1 million deaths by the end of February.

“The study had some limitations, including that the findings are only forecast projections from models and not definitive of what the future holds.”

The IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray maintains that the study still helps offer insight into how mask-wearing can make a difference.

URUGUAY

Uruguay is closing its borders during the summer season as a program to help curb the spread of Covid-19. Uraguay’s President Luis Lacalle Pou says that it will be “a restricted summer”.

“The borders will be basically closed, with exceptions that are already known and perhaps some more.

“Because today there are many cases, or several cases, in the education sector, we have decided to suspend face-to-face classes for two weeks.”

“Public safety measures will be enforced… avoid large gatherings and parties. We will be very strict when it comes to the topic of parties.”

Uruguay, with a total population of 3.5 million, has reported at least 2,701 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 and 53 deaths as of Friday morning and shares borders with Argentina and Brazil, both heavily impacted with a rise of Covid cases.

FRANCE

The head of infectious diseases at Tenon Hospital in Paris, Gilles Pialoux, says France is paying the price for ending the coronavirus lockdown too quickly.

On Thursday, France announced 41,622 new cases, and on Friday 42,032.

It will be “really difficult to avoid a second lockdown given the circulation of the virus.”

Gilles says local lockdowns or lockdowns “by population group” could be the solution. The doctor added the circulation of the virus among the “20-30 year old age group was far beyond the rest of the population”.

EUROPE

5 countries with the highest rate of new Covid infections, when measured against population, are all in Europe.

They are the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. The number of new infections has risen sharply since the start of October, and continues to surge as the European autumn sets in.

As of last Thursday, the Czech Republic had a rolling daily average (across five days) of 10,579 new cases, meaning 988 new infections a day per 1 million population, a four-fold increase since the start of October. Belgium, was in the same situation with an average of 891 new infections per million residents as of last Thursday. The two countries have by far the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections.

UK

The UK has seen a sharp increase in its rolling averages during October, from 9,729 new cases to 19,290 per day. And the situation in Spain is less dramatic “but the daily average remains stubbornly high”. Infections per million are lower in other European countries, but they are still rising.

In comparison, the rolling averages of new cases in India and Brazil continue to fall, while the US is seeing a gradual but persistent rise. Its rolling average has risen from 43,089 at the start of October to 59,387 this week, representing 179 new cases a day per million population.

The UK’s economic recovery after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has now flattened out and threatens to reverse and trigger a double-dip recession. The government has announced new restrictions to tackle the second wave which are expected to stifle business activity.

A new survey of business activity indicates private sector growth in the UK falling back as hospitality and transport companies struggled to cope with regional lockdown measures.

US

As autumn spreads across North American, 25 states in the US are reporting rising Covid-19 infections. White House Coronavirus Taskforce officials say there are “early signs of deterioration in the Sun Belt and continued deterioration in the Midwest and across the Northern States”.

Last Wednesday, at least 14 states had recorded their highest seven-day average of new daily cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Including Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Meanwhile, more than 41,000 people are currently hospitalised with the coronavirus across the country, according to the CovidTracking Project. Missouri and Idaho health officials say they’ll “soon be facing a crisis if hospitalisations continue to surge”.

The US reported the highest daily death toll in more than a month, with more than 1,100 new deaths.

UPDATE: World Covid cases surge again, US reports 81,000+ cases in past 24 hours | News by The Thaiger

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World

The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble Thai massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by the CNN Travel team. Thailand’s smooth coconut milk and potato-based curry (add meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at Number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also making it into the World’s Best food list.

The hot and spicy shrimp/prawn soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at Number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck, Penang Assam laksa, Malaysia and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

First Place, Massaman curryEmphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Eighth Place, Tom Yum Kung

This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

46th Place, Som Tam/Papaya salad

To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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