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Phuket Gazette World News: Real chance for nuke deal; Police hunt gunman in Paris; US Midwest tornado survivors start recovery

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Phuket Gazette World News: Real chance for nuke deal; Police hunt gunman in Paris; US Midwest tornado survivors start recovery | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Putin tells Iran’s leader of ‘real chance’ for nuclear deal
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Russian President Vladimir Putin told Iran’s Hassan Rouhani there was a “real chance” for a nuclear deal, two days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers, hoping to end a decade-long standoff over its atomic programme.

Russia is one of six world powers negotiating a proposal that would ease sanctions on Tehran if it suspends some parts of a programme that many countries, particularly in the West, fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability.

“Vladimir Putin underlined that at the moment a real chance has appeared to find a solution to this long-running problem,” the Kremlin said after Putin telephoned Rouhani, elected president in June vowing to mend Iran’s international relations.

Israel opposes any deal to lift sanctions and France, one of the world powers at the talks, has said it would not back any such deal unless it were certain Iran has renounced any nuclear weapons programme.

Iran denies it is seeking weapons. But its refusal so far to curb its programme and lack of full openness with U.N. inspectors have drawn several rounds of U.N. sanctions and much harsher measures from the United States and Europe.

Two of the steps Western powers want Iran to take in the initial phase of any deal are to stop producing uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 percent – a relatively short step from weapons-grade material – and to produce less 3.5 percent enriched uranium.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested Iran was prepared to do both.

“Quite substantial”

“The steps that Iran is prepared to set out as its commitments are quite, quite substantial and go in the direction of the demands of the international community at a much faster pace, in fact, than had been expected,” Lavrov said, according to Russia’s official gazette, Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

“This applies primarily to suspending enrichment above 5 percent and restricting capacity for 5 percent enrichment within certain parameters,” he said.

Russia, which built Iran’s first nuclear power plant, backs Iran’s desire for recognition of its right to enrich uranium and opposes any additional sanctions.

Rouhani, in a likely reference to French and Israeli demands for more concessions, struck a cautious tone.

“Good progress has been made in the Geneva nuclear talks, but excessive demands could put a win-win agreement in jeopardy,” he told Putin, according to Rouhani’s website.

“In our view, conditions must not be created that give rise to damaging the will to achieve an agreement and reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the nations talking to Tehran – Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany – said her aim for the talks was: “to see whether we can find a way to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

She said the group of six was “united in our determination to see if it can be done and united in our determination that if we do any kind of agreement it must be a good agreement.”

Police hunt gunman in Paris after newspaper, bank shootings
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police were hunting a lone gunman on the loose in Paris yesterday after he opened fire with a shotgun at the offices of a left-wing newspaper and a major bank before hijacking a car to take him to the Champs-Elysees avenue.

The assailant burst into the office of the Liberation daily in central Paris, shooting and seriously wounding a photographer’s assistant before fleeing, police and staff at the newspaper said.

About 90 minutes later, he fired at least three shots into the lobby of the suburban headquarters of Societe Generale in the La Defense business district 10 km (6 miles) west of the centre, the prosecutor said. A window was shattered but none of the dozen or so workers standing nearby was hit.

President Francois Hollande, speaking from Jerusalem, said he had asked his interior minister to use all possible means to to find the gunman, “who tried to kill and could still do so”.

“Freedom of the press is being targeted,” Hollande told French media from Israel.

A police helicopter hovered over the Champs-Elysees area where the gunman had vanished into the crowd, having hijacked a car and forced the driver to drop him there.

A Paris prosecutor released two photographs said to show the suspect from surveillance footage and urged the public to call in any tips to a hotline.

One man wearing different outfits is suspected to have fired shots at the bank and the newspaper, hijacked a car and threatened people with a gun on Friday at a 24-hour news channel, BFMTV, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

“Given the similarities between these four cases… we are favouring the hypothesis that there is one author,” Molins told journalists. “The suspect is of European type, with salt-and-pepper hair and possibly 2 or 3 days of stubble.”

Shotguns found

The suspect – who was photographed in a baseball cap with a sling bag, green sneakers with white soles, and either a puffy vest or long green coat – had not claimed the shooting or given any indication of his motive.

The victim of the shooting at Liberation, wounded close to the heart, was fighting for his life, Molins said.

Investigators had found two types of 12-gauge shotgun cartridges at the Liberation offices and in BFMTV’s lobby where the gunman had fired shots. They were testing the shells for possible DNA evidence, Molins said.

Liberation managing editor Fabrice Rousselot said witnesses had described the assailant as a short-haired man in his 40s. Police said he was “of European type”.

“He walked in, fired twice and left,” Rousselot told reporters.

Deputy editor-in-chief Fabrice Tassel said in a tweet that the young male victim was fighting for his life in hospital.

Police deployed outside the offices of other media outlets in the French capital.

The mid-morning incidents came days after an armed intruder entered the offices of the BFM TV channel, threatening journalists before disappearing. Police said video surveillance footage showed it was the same man.

Liberation’s offices near the Place de la Republique in east-central Paris were cordoned off as forensics experts investigated.

Survivors of deadly U.S. Midwest tornado sift through wreckage
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: When a powerful tornado bore down on the small city of Washington, Illinois, on Sunday, Ryan Bowers took his wife’s advice and sheltered in the basement with their 2-1/2-month-old daughter and their dogs.

Winds of up to 200 miles per hour leveled their home, along with a large swath of the city of 15,000 people east of Peoria, but the Bowers survived, as did almost all of their neighbors.

The twister, part of a fast-moving storm that hammered much of the Midwest, killed eight people in Illinois and Michigan, but many survived thanks to quick reactions like Bowers’s and because their homes had basements to flee to.

“I have to believe that 90 percent of those peo

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

International travel slow to take off, Covid-19 restrictions evolving

Caitlin Ashworth

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International travel slow to take off, Covid-19 restrictions evolving | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jetstar

While Thailand is working on safely, and slowly, reopening its borders to foreign tourists after a 7 month border closure, other countries are also adapting to new, pandemic-induced, travel measures and restrictions. Now some are slowly lifting restrictions and resuming flights, while some remain grounded. What’s happening in your part of the world?

In all cases, check your local travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, if any. And if you leave a country, what paperwork or restrictions will await you when you return? Don’t book any flights until you’ve done your homework.

Australia

Qantas Airlines flights from Australia to the US will continue to be grounded until at least January 31, 2021 which includes the destinations New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu. The airline will also continue to ground flights to Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.

Singapore

Jetstar Asia, based in Singapore, will resume flights to major destinations in Southeast Asia with flights to Bangkok starting next month. Since flights are always changing due to uncertainties and travel restrictions, flights to select Southeast Asia cities are only being offered from October 25 to November 15. JetStar will then review flights again. Destinations include Clark in the Philippines, Jakarta in Indonesia as well as Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Singapore have agreed on a travel bubble schemed that will allow Hong Kong nationals and Singapore nationals to travel between the 2 countries without going through Covid-19 tests or quarantine periods. But the countries have not announced when the scheme will begin.

Maldives

All incoming tourists and short-term visitors must have a certificate declaring negative Covid-19 test result issued 96 hours before arrival, extending the window from the previous 72 hours.

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million

The Thaiger

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Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ipsos

“We were really hoping to crater the cases in preparation for a bad winter. We’ve done basically the opposite.”

New Covid-19 cases are again surging in many countries. Globally, the number of infected people exceeded 40 million as of last night with new infections starting to accelerate again. Today the total number of confirmed cases around the world is 40,323,461. The number of total deaths remains at 1,118,826 and recovered patients at 30,135,040 (as of 4pm Thai time).

Covid19 - US infections

Notably, the death rate from Covid-19 is not rising as treatment for complicated cases continues to rapidly improve. The US, India, Russia, Brazil, the rest of South America, and parts of Europe and the UK, are the current ‘hot spots’ (below).

Regionally, the surge of cases in Myanmar is causing headaches for Thai border officials in the north west of the country. The Governor of Tak decided to close the border checkpoints this morning. But the 2,000 kilometre long land border between Thailand and Myanmar has many unofficial “Natural” crossing points.

In the US, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says following public health measures is the way out of the crisis that has hobbled the economy, claimed thousands of lives and sickened millions.

“The predicted fall surge is here, and rising cases across the US appear to bear that out.”

The US is averaging more than 55,000 new cases a day, and 10 states reported their highest single-day cases counts last Friday. As of this morning, US time, there were more than 8.5 million cases and 219,674 coronavirus deaths, according to Worldometers.info

“The Covid-19 crisis would have to be ‘really, really bad’ to implement a national lockdown. Despite the climbing totals, a nationwide lockdown is not the way forward unless the pandemic gets “really, really bad.”

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University says the worst fears of rising cases, leading into winter, are being realised.

“We were really hoping to crater the cases in preparation for a bad winter. We’ve done basically the opposite.”

After hitting an all-time high in July, cases did drop significantly, but the US never reached a level where the public health system could truly get a handle on the outbreak or describe it as ‘contained’.

Now infections are on the rise again, driven by ballooning outbreaks across the country’s interior, especially in the Midwest, the Great Plains and the West.

Contributing to the rise is the return of students to schools and campuses across the country, puzzling resistance to social distancing and mask wearing recommendations, and more people spending time in restaurants and other indoor settings as the weather starts to cool down.

SOURCE: worldometers.info | nor.org

Covid19 - US infections

TABLE: worldometers.com

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 Covid vaccine trials halted in phase 3 over safety concerns

Maya Taylor

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2 Covid vaccine trials halted in phase 3 over safety concerns | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Medical Xpress

After Johnson & Johnson paused phase 3 of its Covid vaccine trials due to safety concerns, a second pharmaceutical company has followed suit. Eli Lilly has halted phase 3 trials of a lab-produced antibody treatment, 24 hours after the Johnson & Johnson decision. The Bangkok Post reports that an unspecified incident led Eli Lilly to call a temporary halt to the trials. The day before, Johnson & Johnson paused its phase 3 trials after a participant fell ill. A spokesperson for J&J says the hiatus is temporary.

The 2 delays follow a similar incident with phase 3 trials of a vaccine being jointly worked on by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, which was briefly delayed last month due to an unexplained illness in one participant. Trials of that vaccine have now resumed globally, with the exception of the US, for reasons unknown. Such snags are par for the course in the final phase testing of vaccine development, particularly as the number of participants is increased significantly to see if very rare side-effects are presented.

A spokesperson for Eli Lilly says the company backs the Data Safety and Monitoring Board in calling a temporary halt to phase 3 trials.

“Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study.”

Eli Lilly’s trial began in August, aimed at recruiting 10,000 participants, across 50 sites, including the US, Denmark and Singapore, using a lab-produced antibody treatment, similar to that developed by Regeneron and used to treat US President Donald Trump recently. Eli Lilly has not given any further information about the safety concern which has paused phase 3.

Meanwhile, a J&J spokesman says such breaks are to be expected in large-scale trials and that reported illnesses or side-effects may be unrelated to the vaccine.

“It’s not at all unusual for unexpected illnesses in large studies over their duration. In some cases, serious adverse events may have something or nothing to do with the drug or vaccine being investigated.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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