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Phuket Gazette World News: Rudd sworn in as Australian PM; Snowden still at Moscow Airport; Mursi talks Turkey changes; Gay marriage gets US push

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Phuket Gazette World News: Rudd sworn in as Australian PM; Snowden still at Moscow Airport; Mursi talks Turkey changes; Gay marriage gets US push | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Rudd sworn in as Australian PM
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Kevin Rudd was sworn in as Australian prime minister for the second time on Thursday, a day after toppling Julia Gillard and three months out from scheduled elections with polls suggesting the ruling Labor Party is staring at a devastating defeat.

Rudd’s resurrection as prime minister comes after three years of bitter infighting within the Labor leadership and as the world’s 12th largest economy faces challenges from a slowdown in top trade partner China.

Late on Wednesday Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, highlighted the difficulties associated with “the end of China’s resource boom” and said he would work to rebuild the government’s strained relations with the business community.

He made no mention of whether he would change policy or bring forward elections due on September 14.

Australian business was scathing of the political instability and called on Rudd to abandon laws which strengthen trade union access to the workplace and which tighten rules for temporary skilled immigration.

“Our tolerance factor with instability in the leadership of Australia’s government is at breaking point, matched only by a swathe of anti-business policies which have brought business frustration to boiling point,” said Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson.

“The economic challenges facing Australia, especially our declining competitiveness, high cost structure and low confidence, are serious.”

Rudd’s first task will be a major cabinet reshuffle after a string of senior ministers loyal to Gillard resigned from the cabinet, including former deputy prime minister and treasurer Wayne Swan, Trade Minister Craig Emerson and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was sworn in as Treasurer and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was sworn in as deputy leader on Thursday, after Rudd won an internal party ballot to oust Australia’s first female prime minister.

Financial markets see few implications for the $1.5 trillion economy, which is struggling to cope with the end of a historic mining boom as commodity prices fall and a record pipeline in resource investment starts to falter.

Manufacturing has been hurt by a strong Australian dollar and other sectors of the economy are struggling to pick up the slack as the mining bonanza fades.

“While some bounce in the polls and possibly confidence is expected, the political games will be largely a sideshow to deeper issues in the Australian economy,” Nomura interest rate strategist Martin Whetton said of Rudd’s re-appointment.

Voters welcome Rudd

Rudd’s return is the latest chapter in a three-year battle with Gillard, his former deputy who rolled him in 2010 and led a minority government. Gillard announced she was quitting politics at the next election after losing the party ballot.

Rudd is likely to test his support in Australia’s hung parliament, but he has commitments of support from the Greens and three independents, making it likely he will be able to control a majority.

The shift back to Rudd came after a series of polls found Labor is facing electoral annihilation in September, losing up to 35 seats and handing a massive majority to the conservative opposition.

Rudd, always among the most popular of politicians with the electorate, was welcomed back by voters.

“I am glad that we’ve now been given the opportunity to have the prime minister we voted in several years ago,” said Peter Mayson, a building industry employee in Sydney.

Analysts said the dramatic leadership change should help lift Labor’s standing in opinion polls, although the initial boost might not last until the elections and Labor was still likely to lose power.

“I think Kevin Rudd will probably do better than Gillard would have done,” Nielsen pollster John Stirton told Australian radio on Thursday. “Where it could come unstuck is that the initial burst of support simply may not last.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called on Rudd to call an election for early August to end the instability and to let voters decide who should be prime minister.

Snowden still at airport, Ecuador asylum decision could take months
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Edward Snowden, a former U.S. spy agency contractor facing charges of espionage, remained in hiding at a Moscow airport on Wednesday while the prospect grew of a protracted wrangle over his fate.

Ecuador, where Edward Snowden has requested asylum, said a decision could take months and asked Washington to argue its case for extradition. Russia said Snowden, whose flight is proving a growing embarrassment for President Barack Obama, was still in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport.

A leading U.S. senator sought to raise pressure on Ecuador by saying he would seek to end preferential access for its goods to the United States if it gave asylum to Snowden, while Quito denied it had given him any travel document.

Snowden fled the United States to Hong Kong this month after leaking details of secret U.S. government surveillance programmes, then flew on to Moscow on Sunday.

He has not been seen in the transit area – the zone between the departure gate and formal entry into the country – since his arrival, although a receptionist at a hotel in the transit zone said he looked at the prices there on Sunday, then left.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Snowden was being interviewed by Russian intelligence and called any U.S. accusations that Moscow was aiding him “ravings and rubbish”.

There was no sign of Snowden registering for onward flights out of Russia on Wednesday.

“They are not flying today and not over the next three days,” an Aeroflot representative at Sheremetyevo said when asked if Snowden and his legal adviser, Briton Sarah Harrison, were due to fly out. “They are not in the system.”

Serious security breach

U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday that Snowden’s leaks to news media had been a “serious security breach” that damaged U.S. national security. He repeated calls for Moscow to hand him over.

“I would hope that the Russians do the right thing here,” Hagel told a Pentagon news conference, adding that Moscow evidently had not made a final decision since Snowden reportedly was still at the airport.

Putin has said he will not extradite Snowden. By declaring that he is in the transit area, Russian authorities maintain the position that he has not formally entered Russia – a step that would take the dispute to another level.

Russian law requires travellers who spend more than 24 hours in the airport’s transit area – as Snowden has done – to obtain a transit visa, which in some cases is valid for three days.

It is unclear whether Snowden has sought or received a visa, and if so when it would expire. The United States said on Sunday it had revoked Snowden’s passport.

Several people, mainly refugees, have been able to stay in Moscow’s airports for months.

What is clear is that the longer the situation remains unresolved, the more it could fray U.S.-Russian ties.

The former Cold War-foes are already at odds over human rights and Putin’s treatment of opponents and have squared off over t

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Norway adjusts advice after 28 possible vaccine-related deaths of elderly people

The Thaiger

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Norway adjusts advice after 28 possible vaccine-related deaths of elderly people | The Thaiger

The deaths of 23 elderly people are being investigated after dying a short time of receiving their first Covid-19 vaccine in Norway. Apart from the 23 deaths, medical officials are also reporting several people falling ill after receiving their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

At this stage there has been no direct correlation between the people’s deaths and inoculation wit the Pfizer vaccine, but medical officials report that 13 out of 23 people who died showed “common side effects of mRNA vaccines” such as “diarrhea, nausea and fever”.

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies – cdc.gov

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has taken the action of cautioning against vaccinating elderly people above 80 years of age saying “those with a short life span may not benefit much from the jab”.

“For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences.”

“The agency listed fever and nausea as side effects which may have led to the deaths of some frail patients.”

Earlier this week, the Public Health authority noted that “any side effects of the vaccine will be outweighed by a reduced risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 for elderly, frail people.”

Steinar Madsen, the medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, says that it may be a coincidence, “but we aren’t sure”.

Pfizer and BioNTech are actively working with the Norwegian authorities to investigate the death.

“The regulator discovered the number of incidents so far is not alarming and in line with expectations.”

But experts are of “the strong opinion” that doctors need to exercise caution in vaccinating people in the wake of the deaths of the 23 elderly people. The Norwegian Medicines Agency also reported that 21 women and 8 men reported side effects. Apart from the 23 deaths, 9 people have reported “serious side effects” without fatal outcomes such as “allergic reactions, strong discomfort and severe fever. Seven people reported less serious side effects such as severe pain at the injection site”.

Norwegian medical staff had administered at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines to approximately 33,000 people as of the end of December.

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World

Covid-19 projected to reduce Americans’ life expectancy – USC/Princeton study

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Covid-19 projected to reduce Americans’ life expectancy – USC/Princeton study | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TRT World

With Covid-19 linked to more than 336,000 deaths in the United States, American’s life expectancy will decline, especially among black and latino people, according to researchers from the University of Southern California and Princeton University.

The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that life expectancy at birth for Americans will shorten by 1.13 years to 77.48 years, while blacks and latinos life expectancy is expected to shorten by more.

For blacks, their life expectancy would shorten by 2.10 years to 72.78 years, and for Latinos, by 3.05 years to 78.77 years. This is said to be the lowest life expectancy estimated since 2003. The disproportionate impact on the 3 groups of populations is believed to relate to social and economic advantages.

The study author Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, says that why the study analyses the number of deaths and how it affects the life expectancy at birth, it also shows the consequences for marginalized groups.

“The Covid-19 pandemic’s disproportionate effect on the life expectancy of Black and Latino Americans likely has to do with their greater exposure through their workplace or extended family contacts, in addition to receiving poorer health care, leading to more infections and worse outcomes.”

The researchers say life expectancy is an important indicator of a population’s health and a tool for examining the impact of COVID-19 on survival.

SOURCE: USA Today | University of South California

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Indonesia

UPDATE: At least 34 dead and 600 injured after Indonesia earthquake

Caitlin Ashworth

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UPDATE: At least 34 dead and 600 injured after Indonesia earthquake | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Soumyajit Pattnaik via Twitter

UPDATE: At least 34 people were killed after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight today. As of this evening, reports say more than 600 people were injured during the earthquake which caused buildings to collapse and residents to flee their homes in the dark.

Original story below…

Indonesian island Sulawesi was shook by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake shortly after midnight today, toppling over buildings and injuring hundreds. Reports are continuously being updated as rescuers search through rubble. As of early this afternoon, at least 10 people were killed.

Thousands evacuated their homes in West Sulawesi. The earthquake impacted the coastal city Majene where at least 3 people died and neighbouring Mamuju where at least 7 people died. Several buildings, including hotels, were severely damaged and many homes were flattened. A hospital was partially damaged and reports say more than a dozen patients and staff were trapped under the rubble. Others are trapped in rubble after their homes collapsed. A rescuer says “We are racing against time to rescue them.”

Videos have been released of those crying for help. A father crying, calling out for help to save his children under their home’s wreckage. In another, a girl’s voice cried out from a collapsed home, saying “please help me, it hurts.” The video was released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Rescuers say they need an excavator to say the girl and other people who are trapped under the collapsed buildings.

The area was first hit by a 5.9 magnitude undersea quake on Thursday. It damaged several buildings, but no deaths were reported.

Since the most recent earthquake is inland, the district’s disaster agency chief says it does not have the potential to cause a tsunami, but people in coastal areas ran to higher ground just to be safe.

The vast archipelago is located on the “Ring of Fire” of volcanoes and fault lines, prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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