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Phuket Media Watch: Head found near Hollywood Sign; White House shooting; Canadian spy

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Phuket Media Watch: Head found near Hollywood Sign; White House shooting; Canadian spy | Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Severed head, other body parts found near Hollywood sign

Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Detectives in Los Angeles were looking for clues this morning after a human head and several other body parts were found below the Hollywood sign, police said.

The first body part was found at around 2:30am Phuket time when two women were walking with nine dogs in the Hollywood Hills area, close to the famous sign. “Two of the dogs started playing with an object in a bag,” police said. “When they looked at the object, they realized it was a human head.”

A dozen detectives conducting a grid search of the area discovered two human hands and two feet. “The head appears to be that of a male victim that did not appear to have been there long,” police said, adding that the victim is likely between 40 and 60 years old.

Investigators said the cause of death is still unknown, but the head appeared to have been severed just below the chin. There were no signs of significant decomposition, a spokesperson said.

Police were knocking on doors, hoping to find potential witnesses. One resident on Canyon Drive said police were interested in whether body parts might have been dumped in trash cans along the road, the Los Angeles Times said.

White House shooting suspect indicted for attempted assassination of Obama

Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a 21-year-old man with the attempted assassination of U.S. President Barack Obama after he fired two shots at the White House in November 2011. He faces life in prison.

The jury returned a 17-count indictment against Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez which charges him with attempting to assassinate the President of the United States, assaulting officers of the United States with a deadly weapon, injury to U.S. property, and related firearms charges.

The incident happened on November 11 when gunshots were heard in the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue, about 700 to 800 yards (640 to 730 meters) from the White House. Several days later, authorities discovered damage to an exterior window of the White House.

“A round was stopped by ballistic glass behind the historic exterior glass,” a U.S. Secret Service spokesman said in November. “One additional round has been found on the exterior of the White House.”

Within five minutes of the shots being heard on November 11, officers located a vehicle in the 2300 block of Constitution Avenue. Evidence in the vehicle led to U.S. Park Police obtaining an arrest warrant for 21-year-old Ortega-Hernandez. He was arrested on November 16 at a hotel in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

“On or about November 11, 2011, in the District of Columbia, the defendant, Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, did knowingly attempt to kill the President of the United States, Barack Obama,” the indictment alleges. It adds that damage to the White House was in excess of US$1,000.

Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in California at the time of the shooting, but prosecutors previously said Ortega-Hernandez was “deadly serious about eliminating the president” and viewed Obama as “the devil” or the “anti-Christ.” He also believed the federal government was ‘conspiring against him’.

Ortega-Hernandez has denied the charges and claimed his car had been stolen and that he never owned a gun, even though his fingerprints were found on ammunition magazines in the vehicle. His federal public defender said his client expects to enter a not-guilty plea.

If convicted, Ortega-Hernandez could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Canadian naval officer accused of spying for Russia

Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: A Canadian naval and intelligence officer is accused of sharing classified information with a foreign entity, prosecutors announced on Tuesday. He is believed to have provided the information to Russia.

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, 40, joined the Canadian Forces Reserves in 1996 and entered regular forces in 2001. He currently worked at HMCS Trinity, where he would have had access to sensitive information about Canada’s weapons systems and those of partners such as the United States and other NATO member states.

According to court documents, Delisle is believed to have shared classified information with a foreign entity since July 2007 until his arrest. He is believed to have shared the information from various cities in Canada, depending on his place of work at the time.

In violation of the Criminal Code of Canada, Delisle “did commit a breach of trust in connection with the duties of his office,” a court document stated, adding that he “did, without lawful authority, communicate to a foreign entity information that the Government of Canada is taking measures to safeguard.”

Delisle, a Royal Canadian Navy sub-lieutenant and intelligence officer, was arrested over the weekend after he was caught sharing classified information last week. CBC News cited sources as saying that the foreign entity is believed to be Russia.

Other details were not immediately released by the court. Observers said it is likely that the trial will take place behind doors with few, if any, details released to the public. Delisle could face up to life in prison if found guilty.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

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Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic has officially caused 3 million deaths around the world, and outbreaks are still surging. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises. The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals are much higher, pointing at government cover-ups and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when the virus was still in its infancy. Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

The World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday. Only 1.1% of the populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. But the UN’s Covax vaccination program, which delivers doses to poorer parts of the world was dependant on India, their biggest vaccine supplier. Covax has distributed about 40 million vaccines in over 100 countries so far, but this worsening situation may prevent shots from being received in up to 60 countries until June.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs

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Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs | Thaiger
Stock photo of Pfizer vaccine via Flickr

The CEO for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines says it is likely that people will need a 3rd dose of the vaccine and to receive it annually. Albert Bourla, told CNBC, that the booster, or 3rd dose, will be needed less than a year after being fully vaccinated.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a 3rd dose, somewhere between 6 and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”

Bourla’s comment echoes that of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO when he stated in February, that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Both statements reflect the fact that since the vaccine is new, and testing periods are shorter than most vaccines in the past, researchers are still unclear about how long the vaccine will protect against the virus.

Pfizer says that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe diseases up to 6 months after the 2nd dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at 6 months.

Just yesterday, the Biden administration’s Covid response chief science officer, David Kessler, noted that new Covid variants could “challenge” the effectiveness of the shots.

“We don’t know everything at this moment. We are studying the durability of the antibody response. It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”

Late last month, the National Institute of Health started testing a new Covid vaccine from Moderna in addition to the one it already has, designed to protect against a problematic variant first found in South Africa. The variant is similar to that of the UK one that has recently made landfall in Thailand.

Recent findings, by The Lancet, however, have stated that the UK variant, known as B117, has a higher reproductive rate than other strains, and it’s more transmissible. However, it refuted earlier reports that the strain is more severe. Meanwhile, Thailand’s health minister is confirming his commitment to making AstraZeneca the nation’s chosen vaccine.

SOURCE: CNBC

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Economy

China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020

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China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020 | Thaiger
PHOTO: China - the second largest economy, and only major economy to grow last year.

China’s economy set a record for growth in Q1, 2021, marking an 18.3% jump in year-on-year figures, the biggest quarterly growth in almost 30 years. China only started publishing growth statistics in 1992, and this drastic increase is the fastest growth recorded since then.

The figures, however impressive, are mainly due to what is called a “low base effect” where the change from a low starting point translates into big percentage statistics. Because of the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Q1 2020 figures were dismal, allowing the big gain over the last year.

Quarter to quarter, the last 3 months saw only a 0.6% growth, but in the last quarter of 2020 China recorded an economic boom of 6.5% according to the Chinese government. Still, the figures are admirable, as China was the only major economy in the world to achieve growth in 2020. Most of the planet struggled to contain global Covid-19 outbreaks, crippling economies across the globe. But China, now the second-largest economy in the world, managed a 2.3% overall expansion. Even Chinese officials called the impressive statistics “better than we had expected.”

China has been growing in terms of imports and exports as well, with exports expanding nearly 31% and imports up 38% by price over last years.

SOURCE: CNN

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