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Phuket Gazette World News: U.N. wants inquiry into strikers’ deaths in Cambodia

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.N. wants inquiry into strikers’ deaths in Cambodia
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The U.N. human rights agency urged Cambodia to launch an investigation into the “disproportionate” use of force by security forces last week against garment factory workers striking over pay.

Military police opened fire on workers protesting outside a factory in Phnom Penh on January 3 and a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said five people were killed, with 20 wounded by gunfire and beatings.

“We are following the situation in Cambodia with serious concern and are deeply alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in responding to demonstrations,” the spokesman, Rupert Colville, said in a statement dated January 7.

“We urge the Cambodian authorities to launch a prompt and thorough investigation and to ensure full accountability of members of security forces found to have used disproportionate and excessive force,” Colville added.

He said the whereabouts of 23 people detained following the clashes, including one minor, were unknown and that full access should be granted to their families and legal representatives.

Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said three people had been killed and 26 injured in the clashes for which he said the police were sorry.

“We would like to pay condolences to those injured and dead from the clashes aimed at protecting national security,” he said.

He said 10 people had been arrested under security laws and did not know if the government would investigate the violence.

The U.N Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi, is due to visit the country from January 12 to 17, his first visit since a general election last July that returned long-serving premier Hun Sen to power.

Garment makers concerned

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) says the election was stolen by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party and has demanded a re-run.

The garment workers who went on strike in December supported the CNRP, which had promised to double the minimum wage in their sector to $160 a month if it won power.

The day after the police fired on the striking workers, the authorities dismantled a CNRP camp in a city park and the party effectively ended its protest aimed at forcing a new election. Its leader has said it will resume at an unspecified date.

About 350,000 garment workers had gone on strike, threatening to cripple the country’s main export industry, with more than $5 billion in revenue a year coming in from big international brands such as Adidas AG, Gap Inc and H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB.

In an open letter to the government, unions and garment makers dated January 7, those three brands plus Inditex SA, Puma SE, Levi Strauss & Co and Columbia Sportswear Company expressed “deep-felt concern over the tragic events”.

“We strongly oppose all forms of violence. It is with great concern that we have observed both the widespread civil unrest and the government’s use of deadly force,” they said.

They were concerned for the security and safety of the workers at their suppliers and the long-term stability of the industry, urging all sides to return to negotiations, exercise restraint and refrain from the use of force.

They said they supported government efforts to “implement a robust minimum wage review mechanism based on international good practices, using objective criteria and data”.

The government has offered workers a 25 percent increase in the minimum wage to $100 a month. Most of the strikers have returned to work.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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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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Crime

Thai police to verify “Boss” whereabouts with UAE embassy

Maya Taylor

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Thai police to verify “Boss” whereabouts with UAE embassy | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Following recent reports that the elusive Red Bull heir, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, is living in Dubai, Thai police say they’re writing to the UAE embassy to verify the claims (the embassy is in Witthayu road… we can send you the address if you need so you can ‘drop in’ and have a chat).

Boss is wanted in relation to a 2012 hit-and-run incident that claimed the life of Wichian Klanprasert, a 47 year old Bangkok policeman. Wichian died after his bike was dragged 100 metres by a Ferrari which then fled the scene. The vehicle was allegedly being driven by Boss.

Incredibly, Boss managed to flee Thailand in 2017. Charges that were initially dropped against him in July this year have recently been re-instated following an independent inquiry. Recently, rumours began circulating that due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the wanted Red Bull heir is currently living in Dubai. Assistant National Police Chief Jaruwat Waisaya says Thai police are submitting a letter to the embassy of the United Arab Emirates to enquire as to his whereabouts.

“We want to confirm with the local authorities whether he is in the UAE or not. If he is, we will coordinate with them to extradite him to Thailand so he can face trial.”

A red Interpol notice has been issued for Boss, meaning if he enters a country that is a member of Interpol, officials should inform the Royal Thai Police. However, enforcement of the notice is at the discretion of individual countries. The United Arab Emirates is an Interpol member country.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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