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Phuket Gazette World News: Ukraine leader pledges government reshuffle ahead of more rallies

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

Ukraine leader pledges government reshuffle ahead of more rallies
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, in what appeared to be an offer of concessions to the opposition amid violent protests against his rule, pledged on Friday to reshuffle the government next week and to amend sweeping anti-protest laws.

Yanukovich made his offer in comments to church leaders as the protesters erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building in Kiev ahead of what is expected to be another hot weekend of anti-government rallies.

The president’s Party of the Regions confirmed reports that two months of protests had spread to other parts of Ukraine, particularly to pro-European Union western regions, where it said “extremists” had seized administrative buildings.

Yanukovich, who hails from the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, said key decisions would be made at a special session of parliament scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

“I as president will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team,” he said in comments carried on his website.

He gave no indication of how wide the government reshuffle would be and it was by no means certain Prime Minister Mykola Azarov or any other key figures would have to step down.

The dismissal of the Azarov government has been one of the main demands of the opposition and Yanukovich’s words were clearly intended to look like a concession to opponents who have voiced frustration at his stalling tactics in talks until now.

The promise to reconsider anti-protest legislation, which was rail-roaded through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists, also appeared to be a concession, which may take some steam out of fresh protest rallies planned for the weekend.

Radical troublemakers

The mass rallies against Yanukovich’s rule erupted last November after he pulled out of a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Russia, Ukraine’s former Soviet overlord.

They have since spiralled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine’s leaders and officials and there have been violent clashes with police in Kiev city centre in which three protesters died this week, two from gunshot wounds.

The protesters control key parts of the city centre, including its main Independence Square. On Friday, they occupied the main agricultural ministry building after talks stalled on Thursday night between Yanukovich and the opposition.

Commenting on the spread of protests to other cities, the Party of the Regions said in a statement: “The situation has grown sharper throughout the country.” It urged Ukrainians to ignore the calls of “radical troublemakers” to join the rallies.

Thousands stormed regional administration headquarters in Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky in western and central Ukraine, as well as parts of the northeast, the Party of the Regions said.

More than 100 people have been detained in the unrest, including 24 formally arrested, according to police.

But though some protesters lit tyres at the main flashpoint area near Dynamo Kiev football stadium, they generally appeared to have heeded an opposition call to maintain a truce.

In other conciliatory comments on Friday, Yanukovich said he would bring opposition leaders into an anti-crisis team and he said people who had been detained so far and had not committed serious crimes would be amnestied.

“I will do all I can to stop this conflict, to stop this violence and establish stability,” he told the church leaders, according to his web site.

But, referring to radicals who have bombarded riot police with petrol bombs and cobblestones, he said: “If we do not succeed, we will use all legal methods provided for by law.”

There was no immediate reaction from opposition leaders to Yanukovich’s comments on Friday.

International mediatio?

Earlier, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said the only way out of the impasse lay now with international mediation.

“Instead of shifting to solving the situation by common sense, Yanukovich has declared war on his own people. He is trying to hold on to power at the price of blood and de-stabilisation of the situation in the country. He has to be stopped,” the former world heavyweight boxing champion said.

In Vienna, Europe’s main human rights and security body said it stood ready to mediate in the crisis after its current chairman, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, met Azarov on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Burkhalter told Azarov the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to which Ukraine belongs, “could offer its expertise to facilitate dialogue between the government and opposition”, the OSCE said in a statement.

The crisis in the ex-Soviet republic of 46 million people has rung alarm bells in the West, while Russia has warned against Western interference in the crisis.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden phoned Yanukovich on Thursday and warned him that failing to de-escalate the standoff could have “consequences”, the White House said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have both called for dialogue.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies

Caitlin Ashworth

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AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies | The Thaiger

A volunteer for a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial in Brazil has died. But he never actually received the experimental vaccine, although he was involved in the trial groups. He did, however, die of Covid-19.

But trials on the vaccine, being developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, are set to continue. The university says “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.” The vaccine is also planned to be produced in Thailand and be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021.

The 28 year old volunteer from Rio de Janeiro died from Covid-19 complications, according to CNN Brasil. He was apparently never injected with the experimental vaccine. If the volunteer had been given the Covid-19 vaccine and died, the trial would have been suspended, a source told Reuters, adding that the volunteer may have been part of the control group.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo is helping to coordinate the trials in Brazil and has also recommended the trials continue. So far, 8,000 volunteers have been injected with the first dose of the vaccine and some have already been jabbed a second time, a university spokesperson said.

“Everything is proceeding as expected, without any record of serious vaccine-related complications involving any of the participating volunteers.”

Thailand is set to be the Southeast Asia production site for the new vaccine. If the AstraZeneca trials are successful, the vaccine will be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021. For Thailand, the vaccine is seen as a lifeline to save the country’s struggling economy, allowing borders to safely reopen and revive the tourism industry.

The company Siam Bioscience will manufacture the vaccine in Thailand and provide injections for the Thai populations as well as the neighbouring countries Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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World

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by CNN Travel. Thailand’s coconut milk and potato-based curry (add the meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also featuring. The hot and spicy shrimp soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

Massaman curry, 1st place: Emphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Tom Yum Kung, 8th place: This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

Som Tam/Papaya salad, 46th place: To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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World

China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue

Maya Taylor

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China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bicanski on Pixnio

The Chinese government is to keep the current ban on inbound and outbound tour groups, amid fears that the winter months could bring a resurgence of Covid-19. The Bangkok Post reports that the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has confirmed on its website that the ban remains in place. After several months with very low case numbers, officials are wary of the virus surging back this winter.

The ban on outbound tours is severely impacting places like Thailand, where former tourist hotspots are already suffering devastating economic consequences from the closure of the country’s borders in late March. Earlier this week, Thailand welcomed its first group of Chinese tourists in 7 months, but the Kingdom has a long way to go to get back to the 10.99 million Chinese who visited last year – if it ever does.

As the Covid-19 virus made itself known at the start of 2020, China put a stop to both domestic and outbound tours in January. Since July, domestic tours have started up again as a result of a significant reduction in Covid-19 cases.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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