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Phuket Gazette World News: Ukraine’s Yanukovich defies protesters to meet Putin; France enters CAR; Clashes in Athens; Japan enacts state secrets act

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Phuket Gazette World News: Ukraine’s Yanukovich defies protesters to meet Putin; France enters CAR; Clashes in Athens; Japan enacts state secrets act | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Clashes break out in Athens
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police and protesters clashed in Athens on Friday on the fifth anniversary of the killing of a teenager by police, an incident that sparked Greece’s worst riots for decades.

Thousands of protesters, many dressed in black, marched through the streets chanting “Cops, Pigs, Murderers” and holding banners reading “Alexis lives”, in tribute to 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed on the streets of Athens and around parliament, as lawmakers debated the 2014 budget plan, which inflicts a new wave of austerity cuts as the country struggles to exit the crisis.

The march was peaceful, but fighting later broke out in the bohemian Exarchia district, the site of the shooting. Police fired teargas at protesters hurling petrol bombs and stones at them and setting garbage containers on fire.

Earlier in the day, police arrested 10 youths after a separate march by 1,500 students earlier in the day.

On December 6 2008, hours after Grigoropoulos was shot dead, thousands took to the streets of the Greek capital, torching cars and smashing shop windows.

Fuelled by anger at unemployment and economic hardship in the prelude to Greece’s worst financial crisis in decades, the riots lasted for weeks, turning central Athens into a no-go area and helping topple the then-conservative government.

In 2010, two policemen were convicted for the murder.

The anniversary of the student’s killing in recent years has become a focal point for anti-austerity protests, though demonstrations against the government this year have largely fizzled out amid a sense of resignation among Greeks.

Tensions have risen again in recent months after anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death by a supporter of the far-right Golden Dawn party.

Less than two months later, two Golden Dawn members were gunned down outside a local party office, in Athens. An anti-establishment guerrilla group that claimed the attack said it was to avenge the rapper’s death.

French launch Central African Republic mission but deaths mount
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: France rushed troops to Central African Republic on Friday but violence between Muslim and Christian militias continued unabated, spiralling into widespread killings of civilians.

Hundreds of soldiers started arriving in CAR from neighbouring countries, hours after Paris was given a U.N. green light for the mission to restore order. French troops patrolled the main roads and warplanes flew low over town.

But residents and rights groups reported waves of killings in neighbourhoods despite major gunbattles easing off. The Red Cross said it had collected 281 bodies from two days of violence in Bangui, but many more had been killed.

The former French colony has slipped into chaos since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March, leading to tit-for-tat violence with “anti-Balaka” militia formed by the Christian majority. The violence that began on Thursday was the worst the capital has seen during the crisis.

“This horrific cycle of violence and retaliation must stop immediately,” a United Nations spokesperson said, citing cases of rival Seleka and “anti-Balaka” militias raiding homes and killing adults and children. “Civilians must be protected.”

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande told a meeting of African leaders that the CAR crisis proved the urgent need for the continent to create its own regional security force.

“Africa must be the master of its own destiny and that means mastering its own security,” he said.

France, which halted an advance by al Qaeda-linked rebels on the Malian capital Bamako this year, began assembling a new 1,200-strong force for CAR just hours after winning U.N. backing. The operation was codenamed Sangaris, after a red butterfly found in the country.

Fireman France

“We are grateful to France but it’s not normal that it’s forced to intervene to save us, like a fireman, 50 years after independence,” Guinean President Alpha Conde told the Paris conference, urging the creation of an ‘African NATO’.

“What’s happening in Bangui, coming so soon after Mali, should make us all reflect and I hope that here we will … give ourselves the means to resolve conflicts in Africa.”

Earlier this year, France launched a huge operation to dislodge al Qaeda-linked fighters from northern Mali. But Paris is keen to distance itself from the system of ‘Francafrique’ where, for decades after independence, it supported authoritarian regimes in return for business contracts.

Despite the French intervention, Friday saw fighting between Seleka Muslim former rebels now in charge of the country and a mix of local Christian militiamen and fighters loyal to ousted president Francois Bozize give way to reprisals in Bangui neighbourhoods and a mounting tally of the dead.

Joanna Mariner, part of an Amnesty International team in Bangui, said she had reports of pillaging and killing in the 3rd district. “The French are patrolling on the main axes, but the city isn’t yet secure,” she added.

A Reuters correspondent saw 26 bodies in the streets and in courtyards of houses in the 1st district, close to the centre of Bangui.

Officials at Bangui’s Hopital Communautaire said wounded people had been streaming in all day. Dozens of bodies had been delivered to the morgue, which was now so full that corpses were being stored in other parts of the hospital.

Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo, head of the Red Cross in CAR said staff had to stop work as night fell on Friday but the toll was likely to rise significantly when they resumed work.

“Tomorrow is going to be a monster of a day. We’re going to work tomorrow and I think we’re going to need a fourth day too,” he said.

An aid worker in Bossangoa, about 300 km (200 miles) north of the capital, said at least 30 people had been killed there.

Central African Republic is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium but decades of instability and spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbours have kept it mired in crisis.

Gunmen door to door

A resident in the PK12 neighbourhood said Seleka fighters were “going door-to-door”. “They are looting and they are killing people. They are calling everyone “anti-Balaka”,” he said, asking not to be named for his own safety.

Under France’s long-term plan, Paris committed to train 20,000 African soldiers in five years and provide military advisers to the West and Central African regional blocs – where most member states are its former colonies.

But French forces are under pressure to act immediately in CAR. They are due to be at full-strength by Sunday and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said they would initially focus on securing Bangui and roads leading to Chad and Cameroon.

They would also deploy with African forces to other towns including Bossangoa, where an African peacekeeper was killed after coming under attack by Seleka.

Highlighting the extent of the challenge facing French forces, the aid worker in Bossangoa, where tens of thousands of people, mainly Christians have fled their homes, said fighting between communities continued there on Friday.

Dieudonne Yanfeibona, a priest at the mainly Catholic mission said: “S

— 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

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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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