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World News: Independence referendum for Scots, Obama leads – just; Gunmen murder 24

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World News: Independence referendum for Scots, Obama leads – just; Gunmen murder 24 | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Britain, Scotland sign deal for independence referendum
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday signed a historic agreement which will allow the Scottish government to hold a referendum to decide whether Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom.

Cameron and Salmond met at St. Andrews House in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, where the two leaders signed the so-called “Edinburgh Agreement” which grants the Scottish government special powers necessary for the independence referendum. It follows months of negotiations on the specific details of the agreement.

“What’s really important about this is, it sets out now, for the first time, an agreed process by which Scotland can become an independent country,” said Salmond, whose Scottish National Party (SNP) gained a majority with 69 of the 129 seats at Holyrood during the May 2011 elections and a mandate to govern until the next election in 2016.

The agreement grants the Scottish government the power to legislate a single-question referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2014. The referendum is expected to take place in the autumn of 2014, but referendum legislation to be introduced by the Scottish parliament in the coming months will determine the exact date.

“The governments are agreed that the referendum should meet the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety, informed by consultation and independent expert advice,” the agreement signed by Cameron and Salmond said, adding that referendum legislation by the Scottish parliament will also set out the exact working of the question, rules on campaign financing and other rules of conduct.

All those entitled to vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections will be able to participate in the referendum, but the referendum legislation is also expected to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote for the first time. “It will be for the Scottish Government to decide whether to propose extending the franchise for this referendum and how that should be done,” the agreement said on the matter.

“This marks the beginning of an important chapter in Scotland’s story and allows the real debate to begin,” said Cameron, who has vowed to keep the United Kingdom united. “It paves the way so that the biggest question of all can be settled: a separate Scotland or a United Kingdom? I will be making a very positive argument for our United Kingdom.”

Speaking in Edinburgh after Monday’s signing at St. Andrews House, he added: “It is now up to the people of Scotland to make that historic decision. The very future of Scotland depends on their verdict. It is that important. This agreement delivers the people’s referendum.”

But there are signs that support among Scots for independence is slipping. A survey released by pollsters TNS-BMRB last week indicates that only 28 percent of Scots are currently in favor of Scotland becoming an independent state, while 53 percent of those asked said they are not in favor of independence. About 19 percent said they were not sure.

Poll: Obama leading Romney 49% to 46% ahead of second debate
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: A day before the second of three presidential debates ahead of the November election, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday shows President Barack Obama leading Republican challenger Mitt Romney by three points – 49 percent to 46 percent.

Of the 1,063 registered voters and 923 likely voters interviewed for the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 93 percent said they are closely following the 2012 presidential race. The poll was was conducted by telephone between October 10 and 13, and the error margin is 3.5 points.

The race for the White House has been virtually tied for months, but Obama is under a massive amount of pressure from Democrats to step up his game after a lackluster performance during the first debate on October 3. Obama has been preparing at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, since Saturday with the help of his top advisers.

Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, during a briefing, that Obama is looking forward to answering questions from the American public during the second debate. “You should expect that he’s going to be firm but respectful in correcting the record and the times we expect Mitt Romney will hide from and distort his own policies. He’s energized and I expect he will also be making a passionate case,” she said.

Meanwhile, Romney has been practicing at his home in Belmont, Massachusetts. According to a report from POLITICO, the candidate and his advisers are struggling with how to replicate his successful performance during the first debate – focusing on stagecraft and body language.

Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is helping prep Romney for the second debate, told ABC’s This Week Sunday “they’ve (the Obama campaign) spent hundreds of millions of dollars around the country, including a lot in Ohio, mis-characterizing Governor Romney’s positions and misrepresenting him. And I think you’ll see that again at the debate.”

Gunmen attack central Nigeria village, 24 murdered
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: At least 24 people were murdered on Sunday when a group of gunmen stormed a village in central Nigeria, officials said on Monday.

The incident occurred early on Sunday morning at around 5:30am local time in the village of Dongo Dawa in the Gwari Local Government Area, which is in the state of Kaduna, when the gunmen, reportedly disguised in police uniforms, stormed the village.

Kaduna Police chief Olufemi Adenaike confirmed the death toll which stood at 24, while a local resident said the gunmen attacked a mosque just before sunrise, according to the Nation newspaper.

As the Police Mobile Force was deployed to the area, sealing off all the exits in order to search for the attackers, the local vigilance group in the area said four suspected gunmen were detained in the village of Kuyello.

The motive of the attack remains uncertain, but one army officer said it was a case of robbery. However, media reports also said the case could have been an act of revenge after locals had recently expelled a group of gunmen that had been operating in the village.

With a high number of robberies and sexual assaults against women, locals set up a vigilante group in the area, identifying assailants and expelling them one by one. A local leader said the attackers apparently regrouped and stormed the village, including the man suspected of identifying them. He was killed along with two of his children while his wife’s hands were cut off.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog”

The Thaiger

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Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog” | The Thaiger

The world’s Covid-19-related deaths has passed the 1 million mark overnight as the the cycle of the world’s lockdowns and re-openings are getting mixed results. As of this morning, Thai time, the number of total deaths has reached 1,002,389, with 4,000-6,000 deaths still being recorded, globally, every day. And rising. On a more positive note, the number of daily deaths continues to level off, even dropping some weeks, as treatments continue to improve and the virus is better understood. At this stage, officially, only 0.42% of the world’s population has so far been infected, according to worldometers.info.

The milestone comes in a week where another report from the UK catalogues the “brain fog” experienced by former Covid-19 sufferers.

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'
The current hotspots for the virus, now 9 months in circulation, of new daily cases is led by India. Yesterday, India added 82,000+ cases to the world total whilst the US is showing a resurgence in new cases after dropping the average down during August. There is also a resurgence in new cases in parts of Europe, including the UK, which is now recording more new cases than it was at its peak in the first wave in April and May this year. The following graphs records the top 10 countries for new Covid-19 cases recorded yesterday…

Covid-19 deaths surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Both South America and India are showing the highest rates of new cases, in pure numbers, whilst US health authorities are concerned about the latest surge in new cases as the country starts to head into its autumn and cooler weather.

Meanwhile, more former Covid-19 patients, even those who only suffered mild symptoms, continue to report about long-term effects from the coronavirus.

In Canada, some 130,000 Canadians have recovered but some patients report that they’re experiencing “debilitating side effects” months after their infection. Canadian scientists report that they are finding some of the long-term effects of Covid-19 include heart damage as well as neurological issues like “brain fog” and “difficulty thinking”. Other patients are reporting hair loss, fatigue and even painful lesions called “Covid toes,” many weeks or even months after infection.

One study based out of Italy reports that nearly 90% of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 reported at least one persistent symptom two months later.

39 doctors wrote about these “long-haulers” and their battle with Covid-19 and their persistent symptoms in a manifesto published in the British Medical Journal. Following the report, the doctors called on politicians, scientists and public health officials to conduct more research into chronic Covid-19 symptoms and to create additional clinical services.

“Failure to understand the underlying biological mechanisms causing these persisting symptoms risks missing opportunities to identify risk factors, prevent chronicity, and find treatment approaches for people affected now and in the future.”

The reports also defined the affected patients as not in the current list of “at risk” Covid-19 patients – usually elderly with underlying conditions – but instead representing a much wider demographic of younger and healthy patients who were experiencing the post-Covid symptoms.

SOURCE: BBC | CTV News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

IATA proposes Covid testing before travelling to replace quarantine on arrival

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IATA proposes Covid testing before travelling to replace quarantine on arrival | The Thaiger

The International Air Transport Association is proposing travellers to take a Covid test prior to departure to replace worldwide mandatory quarantines on arrival. The push comes after it announces that international travel is down by 92% this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many countries are imposing mandatory quarantines that can be not only expensive but up to 14 days long, the IATA is calling for all countries to work together to create a pre-flight testing requirement in all airports.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO says that Covid testing is getting faster, cheaper and more accurate, which is why it is urgent to help kick-start the world economy by doing away with mandatory quarantines.

“The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic Covid-19 testing of all travelers before departure. This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work.”

He says the removal of such quarantine requirements for nations like Canada and UK would also help those nationals to leave their countries confidently by knowing that accurate testing would be in place. IATA has also asked for feedback and says of those travellers polled, 65% agree that if a person tests negative for Covid-19, then they should not have to undergo a quarantine on arrival. 84% also agree that, instead, travellers should be required to get tested with 88% even agreeing that they would submit to testing as part of the travel process.

Over 5000 travel businesses have reportedly backed the IATA’s proposal after submitting an open letter to the president of the European Commission, demanding the EU to take action. However, testing and later vaccinating 7.8 billion people could prove to be a monumental task, one that may take months to devise a streamlined plan to carry out.

SOURCE: Travel Off Path

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

The Thaiger

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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