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Phuket Gazette World News: No more Greece bailouts; 7.0 quake strikes Peru; Allies probe Kenya mall attack; Hacker mercenaries in Asia

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Phuket Gazette World News: No more Greece bailouts; 7.0 quake strikes Peru; Allies probe Kenya mall attack; Hacker mercenaries in Asia | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Peru to rescue copper miners after 7.0 quake
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Authorities in Peru rushed to rescue miners reportedly trapped in copper pits on Wednesday after an earthquake shook the coast – causing landslides, injuries and possibly deaths in rural provinces, local officials said.

Officials in the southern Arequipa region said they were told that people died after collapses in make-shift copper mines, which operate largely outside of the law. A magnitude 7 quake, capable of widespread, heavy damage, struck near Peru’s southern coast a few minutes before midday on Wednesday.

However, they said they could not confirm the deaths.

“We have heard people have died near the mines Huarato and La Verde, which are small informal copper mines,” Juan Flores, an official with the Acari district government, told Reuters.

Police and government officials were travelling to the remote mining area to help people reportedly trapped, Flores said.

Sources with the regional government of Arequipa told Reuters there were reports that three people had died at the mines.

Details remained sketchy as darkness fell, but the quake also reportedly toppled houses in a sparsely populated province in Peru’s southern Arequipa region.

Large-scale mining operations in the region – at Southern Copper’s Toquepala mine, Freeport-McMoRan’s Cerro Verde mine, and Shougang Hierro Peru’s iron-ore mine – carried on as usual after the quake, union leaders and a company representative told Reuters.

The quake struck 29 miles (46 kilometres) deep in the Pacific Ocean, 29 miles south of the district of Acari in the southern Arequipa region, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said on RPP radio that around six people had been injured because of the earthquake, and that landslides and electrical blackouts had occurred.

Locals in Arequipa’s Caraveli province reported structural damage.

“Houses have fallen, walls have fallen, especially those made out of adobe,” Caraveli Mayor Santiago Neyra told RPP radio.

A local resident of Acari also told RPP radio that a landslide blocked a highway.

The quake shook buildings in the capital of Lima 313 miles (504 kms) away.

Peruvian authorities did not issue any tsunami alerts.

Onemi, Chile’s national emergency service, said the quake was also felt in northern Chile, but no damage was reported.

Greece does not need third bailout, seeks debt ‘reprofiling’
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Greece does not require a third bailout and can cover its needs without further burdening its current backers, by improving the terms of its debt and possibly returning to the bond market next year, the country’s deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.

Evangelos Venizelos, who is also foreign minister in a coalition government, is determined not to impose losses on Greece’s European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund, which have pulled the troubled country from the brink of bankruptcy with about 240 billion euros ($325 billion) so far.

“We understand very, very well how difficult it is for every government to accept debt relief. … Our demand is not debt relief. It is additional reprofiling without problem, without additional burden for our institutional partners,” Venizelos said in an interview with top editors at Reuters in New York.

His comments came days after elections in Germany, whose support to Greece came in exchange for waves of austerity measures that have created political and social turmoil across the Mediterranean nation.

The Greek debt crisis shook the euro zone and global financial markets and plunged the country into a recession, now in its sixth year. Unemployment hovers near 28 percent nationally and at about 60 percent for young adults.

“We are talking about the potential for a lost generation here,” Venizelos said, adding that the prospect of a social explosion if Greek citizens are forced to endure more fiscal austerity was the biggest risk for the country.

“It is not possible to implement new fiscal measures. It is not possible to impose new cuts on wages and pensions,” he said.

He said the rise of the far-right Golden Dawn party, which last year entered the 300-seat parliament for the first time, and won 18 seats in June elections, was a product of the crisis.

Hopes to return to markets

Since the sovereign debt crisis of 2009, Greece has been shut out of international capital markets, resorting only to short-term borrowings, and has relied on two bailouts and a major writedown of Greek debt held by private investors.

Despite punishing fiscal measures and cash injections, it is expected to need an additional 10 billion to 12 billion euros in the next two years. The euro zone is likely to decide on a third bailout for Greece in November after international inspectors finish an assessment of its reforms.

Venizelos, a constitutional law professor and former finance minister who negotiated the debt writedown, said Greece was not looking for any more handouts but could cover its needs by returning to the bond market as early as next year and by renegotiating the interest and maturity of existing debt.

“Our point is not to transform the adjustment program as a more loose program, but to implement through a clever manner the existing program,” he said.

Venizelos said Greece’s 330 billion euros of public debt was modest when compared with the multi-trillions of euros held by Germany, Italy and France, but that precludes the size of the overall economy, which is now one of the smallest in the EU.

Greeks often blame Germany for the tough austerity measures imposed on the country as a condition for the two prior bailouts, which have led to the economy shrinking by almost a quarter since 2008.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s landslide victory came with the rise of a more euroskeptic political movement that is hostile to euro zone bailouts.

But Venizelos said now that the elections were out of the way in Germany, there was the opportunity to talk strategically about Europe’s future, and what he deemed the “re-evaluation and the reassessment of our common European destiny.”

Allies launch probe into Kenya mall attack
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: U.S., British and Israeli agencies are helping Kenya investigate an attack claimed by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall that killed at least 72 people and destroyed part of the complex, officials said on Wednesday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday that troops had defeated the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group after a four-day siege at the shopping centre popular with prosperous Kenyans and foreigners. He declared three days of mourning.

The attack has highlighted the reach of al Shabaab and the capabilities of its crack unit which claimed responsibility for the bloodshed in the Westgate mall, confirming international fears that Somalia would remain a recruiting and training ground for militant Islam as long as it remained in turmoil.

The militants stormed the mall, known for its Western shops selling iPads and Nike shoes, in a hail of g

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

International travel slow to take off, Covid-19 restrictions evolving

Caitlin Ashworth

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International travel slow to take off, Covid-19 restrictions evolving | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jetstar

While Thailand is working on safely, and slowly, reopening its borders to foreign tourists after a 7 month border closure, other countries are also adapting to new, pandemic-induced, travel measures and restrictions. Now some are slowly lifting restrictions and resuming flights, while some remain grounded. What’s happening in your part of the world?

In all cases, check your local travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, if any. And if you leave a country, what paperwork or restrictions will await you when you return? Don’t book any flights until you’ve done your homework.

Australia

Qantas Airlines flights from Australia to the US will continue to be grounded until at least January 31, 2021 which includes the destinations New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu. The airline will also continue to ground flights to Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.

Singapore

Jetstar Asia, based in Singapore, will resume flights to major destinations in Southeast Asia with flights to Bangkok starting next month. Since flights are always changing due to uncertainties and travel restrictions, flights to select Southeast Asia cities are only being offered from October 25 to November 15. JetStar will then review flights again. Destinations include Clark in the Philippines, Jakarta in Indonesia as well as Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Singapore have agreed on a travel bubble schemed that will allow Hong Kong nationals and Singapore nationals to travel between the 2 countries without going through Covid-19 tests or quarantine periods. But the countries have not announced when the scheme will begin.

Maldives

All incoming tourists and short-term visitors must have a certificate declaring negative Covid-19 test result issued 96 hours before arrival, extending the window from the previous 72 hours.

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

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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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