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Phuket Gazette World News: NYPD rookie kills 14-year-old; Aussie PM calls Sept 7 election; Al Qaeda threat leaves US embassies closed; Spain and Britain spar over Gibraltar

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Phuket Gazette World News: NYPD rookie kills 14-year-old; Aussie PM calls Sept 7 election; Al Qaeda threat leaves US embassies closed; Spain and Britain spar over Gibraltar | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Australian PM Rudd calls September 7 poll
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called a September 7 general election on Sunday, barely six weeks after he toppled former leader Julia Gillard in a party-room vote, ending a turbulent three years in power for the minority Labor government.

Rudd, who was dumped by his centre-left party in June 2010, has generated a spike in public support since he returned but conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott is still the favourite to win power.

Rudd’s Labor government could fall with the loss of just one of the 150 seats in parliament. His government currently holds 71 seats, the opposition 72, with one Green and six independent cross benchers.

Abbott’s opposition has promised to scrap an unpopular 30 percent tax on coal and iron ore mine profits, as well as a A$24.15/tonne carbon tax, if he wins power.

Rudd returned as prime minister on June 26 after he toppled Gillard, with a third of Gillard’s cabinet also stepping down.

His party has been in power since late 2007 and helped Australia’s A$1.4 trillion economy avoid recession following the 2008 global financial crisis, aided by a prolonged mining boom fuelled by resources demand from China and India.

However, a budget update on Friday showed Australia’s economic growth is slowing as the mining investment boom ends, with unemployment rising and the manufacturing sector in particular shedding jobs.

AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver said the election campaign could usher in a quieter period in the economy because Australians usually restrain spending during elections.

“It would be good for confidence to see an end to minority government and to get the election out of the way,” Oliver said, adding a victory for the pro-business opposition parties could also boost business confidence.

Hell of a fight

Rudd announced the election date in an email to his supporters, telling them “it’s on”, after visiting Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who is Australia’ head of state, to dissolve the current parliament.

“We’ve got one hell of a fight on our hands,” Rudd said.

The latest polls show Rudd has lifted Labor’s support to give the government a chance of victory, although the respected Newspoll in late July still had Rudd’s Labor Party trailing the opposition by four percentage points, 48 percent to 52 percent.

Analyst Nick Economou said polls have not swung back to Rudd enough to put Labor in a winning position, particularly in marginal seats in the outer suburbs of Australia’s major cities.

“Rudd has undertaken a risky strategy. The polls indicate that Labor has achieved the recovery of previously strong Labor voters. But I’m not sure that Labor’s message is resonating in key marginal seats,” Monash University’s Economou told Reuters.

I can’t see that he can win

Online bookmaker Sportsbet.com, which takes bets in each of the 150 electorates, said current projections had Rudd winning 65 seats and Abbott’s conservatives 82.

Gillard introduced the price on carbon and the mining tax, and strengthened Australia’s defence ties with the United States, although her government was hamstrung by a lack of a parliamentary majority and party infighting.

Abbott has built a strong lead in opinion polls with his campaign to abolish the carbon tax, which he has blamed for pushing up electricity prices and for job losses.

He has also won support for his strong stance against asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat, with refugee policy set to play a leading role in the election.

Since returning to office, Rudd has announced Australia’s toughest measures to deter asylum seekers, announcing anyone who arrives by boat will be sent to either Papua New Guinea or Nauru in the Pacific for processing and resettlement.

The election date means Rudd will miss the G20 summit in St Petersburg on September 5-6, even though Australia will take over as chair of the G20 for the coming year.

Police shoot dead armed 14-year-old boy in New York City
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A police officer shot an armed 14-year-old boy in New York City early on Sunday after he did not drop his gun when ordered, police said.

After hearing gunshots, two officers came across the boy, whom police identified as Shaaliver Douse, chasing another male down a street in the South Bronx, shooting after him with a 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun as he ran, police said.

The uniformed officers identified themselves as police and ordered Douse to drop his gun, police said. He did not do so, and one of the officers shot a single round, hitting Douse in his lower left jaw, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both police officers, who joined the force in January, were taken to a hospital to be treated for tinnitus and trauma.

Spain spars with Britain over Gibraltar
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Spain is studying retaliatory measures against the British territory of Gibraltar in an escalating dispute over fishing grounds, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in an interview published on Sunday.

“The party is over,” Garcia-Margallo told ABC newspaper, referring to years of softer policy on Gibraltar under the previous Socialist government.

The minister said Spain was mulling a 50-euro border-crossing fee and tax investigations of thousands of Gibraltarians who own property in Spain. A border fee would affect tourists and Gibraltarians who cross the border for work.

Spain was also considering closing airspace to planes heading for the airport in Gibraltar and changing rules to wring taxes from on-line gaming companies based in Gibraltar, he said.

Spain disputes Britain’s three centuries of sovereignty over Gibraltar, a territory on the southern tip of Spain that is home to close to 30,000 people with an economy dominated by off-shore banking, Internet gambling operations and tourism.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo issued a statement attacking Garcia-Margallo’s reported comments. The British Foreign Office said it would seek explanations from Spain regarding the measures it might impose.

“The statements … are the most backward-looking and threatening since before the frontier closed and are clearly reminiscent of the politics and tactics on Gibraltar deployed by the fascist regime led by Franco in the ’50s and ’60s,” Picardo said in a statement. He called the Spanish foreign minister’s words “belligerent rantings.”

The 1.2-km frontier between Spain and Gibraltar was closed for most of the 1970s and the first part of the 1980s due to the dispute over the status of the territory.

Under the previous Socialist government Spain softened its stance, discussing other issues without bringing up sovereignty while agreeing to give Gibraltar a voice in any talks with Britain over its status.

But the centre-right government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has taken a harder line regarding its claim on the territory.

The latest tensions between Spain and the British territory began 10 days ago after Gibraltar boats be

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hong Kong partially locks down, forcing thousands to undergo Covid screening

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Hong Kong partially locks down, forcing thousands to undergo Covid screening | The Thaiger

Hong Kong’s government is forcing a partial lockdown until 10,000 residents of an area in the Kowloon peninsula, complete a Covid-19 test. The 2 day lockdown in the city’s poorest neighbourhood of Jordan, comes after a new strain of the coronavirus was identified, making it the 1st lockdown that the city has seen.

The area, which features many deteriorating buildings and 150 stacked housing blocks, has confirmed 162 confirmed cases of Covid-19 this month, with the ratio of virus detected in sewage samples from buildings there was higher than that of other areas.

Over the last 2 months the city has been hit by a 4th wave of infections with authorities struggling to bring the daily numbers down. Such clusters have hit the low-income neighbourhoods the most, which are notorious for cramped conditions in districts such as Yau Tsim Mong.

In recent days, health officials began mandatory testing in some 70 buildings in the area but the government has now decided to test everyone much to the confusion of local residents. As rumours of a lockdown were leaked to the local media, the government didn’t officially announce the measure until this morning. The area is also home to many ethnic minorities, mainly South Asian Hong Kongers, a community that often faces discrimination and poverty.

Earlier in the week a senior health official was criticised when he suggested ethnic minority residents might be spreading the virus more readily because “they like to share food, smoke, drink alcohol and chat together.”

The health official’s comments also came as a video was released of predominantly white migrants dancing at a packed brunch on the more affluent Hong Kong Island. But those who agreed with the health official pointed to cramped conditions, not race or culture, as being the cause of the virus spreading more easily.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Thai PM is ready to work closely with the US President

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Thai PM is ready to work closely with the US President | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PM and US President

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha sent a letter of congratulations to US resident Joe Biden. He says the Thai government is ready to work closely with the US government to promote cooperation in all aspects and all levels.

He also says that Thailand and the US have a long relationship that dates back over 200 years. And, as Thailand is the US’s longest standing ally in Asia, he hopes the US, under President Biden “will not turn its back on the country”.

He also called for cooperation between the 2 countries in handling the global pandemic together, saying “the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has taught all countries a lesson and that the world is facing historic changes, with the most important thing being “for all of us is to come together face to face and to cooperate with one another”.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Wuhan remembers Covid-19 lockdown on 1 year anniversary

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Wuhan remembers Covid-19 lockdown on 1 year anniversary | The Thaiger

Wuhan is remembering the Covid-19 lockdown that 11 million residents endured on today’s 1 year anniversary. The 76 day lockdown on January 23, 2020 saw public transportation shut down by 10am and a ban on anyone exiting the city, unless they were given special permission. In a city the size of London, locking down painted an eerily quiet landscape.

But such an anniversary today has been met with silence by Beijing as no lockdown commemorations have been planned, almost as though the lockdown never happened. A commentary in the Beijing News professed “mixed feelings,” praising the aggressive lockdown as a model for the world, while noting Wuhan’s sacrifices and the looming virus threat.

“We must not lose the hard-won results of the epidemic to negligence, and must not let the epidemic rebound. Pay tribute to Wuhan. Pay tribute to the strong and fearless Chinese people!”

Despite the government’s reluctance to acknowledge the anniversary, Wuhan’s lockdown ordeals remain fresh the memories of Chinese people, especially as localised Covid-19 clusters have spread across China. Such popups in Covid cases have prompted Beijing to implement mass testing and lockdowns in other areas.

76 year old Huang Genben, is one of those who remembers. He says he spent over 2 months in a hospital last year fighting the virus as he spit up blood, expecting to die, but agrees that such a lockdown was necessary.

“When I closed my eyes at night I didn’t know if I would open them again.”

“We can tell from the results that the policy of the government was correct, the cooperation of Wuhan citizens was correct. I feel pain seeing the epidemic all over the world.”

Today, the streets of Wuhan seem to be the stark opposite of what it was 1 year ago, with elderly dancers spinning in parks and crowded bars selling “Wuhan Stay Strong” craft beer, while the rest of the world is still dealing with the fallout of the pandemic.

But 58 year old street vendor Xu Jiajun, contradicts the somewhat merry street scenes as he says things have changed since the pandemic began.

“The situation is not good. I don’t have a stable income like I did before.”

As the Covid-19 virus is generally believed to have spread from a Wuhan wet market where exotic animals were sold as food, World Health Organisation experts are almost finished with a 2 week quarantine in Wuhan where they plan to investigate the coronavirus’ origins.

Worldwide, the virus has been responsible for killing at least 2 million people, but in China authorities have reported fewer than 5,000 deaths, with the vast majority coming from Wuhan when the pandemic most probably originated.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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