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Phuket Gazette World News: US deal today – maybe; Russian police round up 1600 migrants; Major quake hits Philippines, no tsunami threat

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Phuket Gazette World News: US deal today – maybe; Russian police round up 1600 migrants; Major quake hits Philippines, no tsunami threat | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.S. senators hint at possible fiscal deal today
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A month of combat in the U.S. Congress over government spending showed signs of giving way to a Senate deal to reopen shuttered federal agencies and prevent an economically damaging default on federal debt.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, ended a day of constant talks with optimistic proclamations, as details leaked out of the pact they were negotiating.

“We’ve made tremendous progress,” Reid said at the end of a Senate session during a federal holiday, underscoring the urgency of settling a fiscal crisis that was nearing a Thursday deadline. The U.S. Treasury Department estimates it will reach a $16.7 trillion borrowing limit on October 17.

“We hope that with good fortune … that perhaps tomorrow will be a bright day,” Reid said, hinting at the possible announcement of a bipartisan Senate deal.

McConnell, who has been a fierce critic of Reid all year instead had a smile on his face and upbeat words. “We’ve had a good day; had a good day yesterday,” he said of his work with Reid.

The plan under discussion would promptly end a partial government shutdown about to enter its third week. It also would raise the debt ceiling by enough to cover the nation’s borrowing needs at least through mid-February 2014, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Government operations would be funded through the middle of January, keeping in place the across-the-board “sequester” spending cuts that took effect in March, though government agencies would have more latitude to ease their impact. It would also set up a new round of budget talks that would try to strike a bargain by year’s end.

With the Reid-McConnell talks continuing, these details were subject to change, according to Senate aides.

Democrats look to have fended off any major changes to President Barack Obama’s signature health law, something that could fuel resistance, particularly by conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives who had insisted on delaying “Obamacare” as a condition of continued government funding.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters that Republican lawmakers will hold a closed-door meeting today “to discuss a way forward, so stayed tuned.”

House Speaker John Boehner could face an insurrection that could threaten his position as Washington’s top Republican if he tries to advance a bill over the objections of rank-and-file conservatives in that chamber.

Boehner has not publicly commented on the Senate negotiations. A spokesman said the House would review whatever the Senate passes.

Mixed reaction

In an early sign of Republican opposition, Representative Joe Barton of Texas told reporters: “No deal is better than a bad deal,” as he downplayed the impact of an historic credit default if the U.S. limit on borrowing is not quickly raised.

But Republican Representative Peter King of New York said it would be hard for the House not to put it to a vote if it gets strong support from Senate Republicans.

“For the (Senator) Cruz wing of the party who say we should get a better deal, I say we would have gotten a better deal if we had not shut the government down and gotten right to debt negotiations,” said King, a moderate who has criticized the tactics of the conservative Tea Party faction.

Republicans have taken a hit in opinion polls since the standoff began and some in the party worry it could hurt their chances to win control of the Senate in next year’s midterm elections.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday found that 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans have handled the standoff, compared with a 53 percent disapproval rating for Obama.

Deadline looms

Even if a deal is reached today, it was unclear whether Congress can pass legislation to avert the October 17 default deadline. Hard-liners such as Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz might be able to exploit Senate rules to delay a vote for several days.

Confronted by a throng of reporters yesterday, Cruz responded to repeated questions about his intentions by only saying, “We’ll have to wait to see what the details are” of any pact.

Because of the uncertainty over U.S. finances, banks and money market funds are already shunning some government securities that are often used as collateral for short-term loans and to facilitate many other transactions.

Though some Republicans have argued that the government could avoid serious consequences by prioritizing interest payments over other types of spending, that view is not widely held by the public.

A Reuters/IPSOS poll released found that only 25 percent believe the debt ceiling issue is “overblown.”

U.S. stocks were buoyed by prospects of a deal. The S&P 500 Index closed up 0.41 percent while the Nasdaq Composite Index ended 0.62 percent higher.

The government shutdown is beginning to weigh on the economy. The hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been temporarily thrown out of work are likely to get back-pay when the standoff is resolved. But they aren’t getting paid now, forcing many to dial back on personal spending and cancel holiday travel plans.

The crisis is only the latest in a series of budget battles in recent years that have spooked investors and consumers. The uncertainty has weighed on the economy and boosted the unemployment rate by 0.6 of a percentage point, or the equivalent of 900,000 jobs since late 2009, according to a new estimate by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a think tank.

Republicans in the Senate are pushing to include slight modifications to the Affordable Care Act. One would toughen income verification for those seeking health insurance subsidies under the law. Another could delay a reinsurance fee included in the law that otherwise would start in 2014, according to a labour-union source.

Throughout the shutdown, Obama has said Republicans must agree to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling before the two sides can begin talks on spending or tweaks to his Affordable Care Act.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s world news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for international news updates.

Over 1,600 migrants rounded up after ethnic riots in Moscow
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Russian police rounded up more than 1,600 migrants yesterday in Moscow after rioting swept through a southern neighbourhood over a fatal stabbing of a Russian that many residents blame on a man from the Caucasus region.

Advocacy groups warned migrants from Russia’s mainly Muslim Caucasus region and Central Asia of an increased risk of attacks in the worst ethnic disturbance in Moscow in three years. Authorities stepped up police patrols in the capital.

Some 200 residents rallied in the Biryulyovo district last ni

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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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