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World News: WWII bomb closes airport; Storm update; Syrian airforce attacks

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World News: WWII bomb closes airport; Storm update; Syrian airforce attacks | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Discovery of WWII bomb forces closure of Japanese airport
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Nearly 100 flights were canceled yesterday after an unexploded bomb believed to be from World War II was found near the runway of a major airport in northeastern Japan, local authorities said. Flights are expected to resume on Wednesday morning.

The 250-kilogram (550-pound) bomb was discovered late Monday evening when construction workers were carrying out restoration work at a site close to a taxiway at Sendai Airport, which is located in Natori city of Miyagi prefecture. The airport was badly damaged by the earthquake and tsunami last year.

Although airport authorities believe the risk of a detonation is small due to an eroding blasting fuse, all 92 inbound and outbound flights scheduled for yesterday were canceled as a precaution. Flights are expected to resume this morning after the military bomb squad piled mounds around the bomb to prevent fragments from scattering in the event of an explosion.

The complete disposal of the bomb, which is about 110 centimeters (43 inches) long and has a diameter of approximately 35 centimeters (13.7 inches), is expected to take several days. Local authorities said the explosive was found buried about 50 centimeters (19.6 inches) under the ground, and army experts have determined it is a bomb dropped by the U.S. military during World War II.

The United States heavily bombed major Japanese cities during World War II, and it is not unusual for unexploded bombs to be found. Just last week, hundreds of people were evacuated in central Tokyo, the country’s capital, after the discovery of a 220-kilogram (485-pound) bomb.

U.S. East Coast reels from Frankenstorm
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Millions of people faced epic flooding and lengthy power outages yesterday after the massive storm Sandy wreaked havoc in much of the eastern United States with high winds and heavy rains.

The storm killed at least 45 people, including at least 18 in New York City, and insurance companies started to tally billions of dollars in losses.

The storm hit with just a week to go to the November 6 presidential election, disrupting campaigning and early voting and raising questions about whether polling stations in some hard-hit communities would be ready to open by next Tuesday.

Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds on Monday near the New Jersey gambling resort of Atlantic City, was the biggest storm to hit the country in generations.

It swamped parts of New York’s subway system and lower Manhattan’s Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day.

Businesses and homes along New Jersey’s shore were wrecked and communities were submerged under floodwater across a large area. More than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity as trees toppled by Sandy’s fierce winds took down power lines.

Across the region, crews began the monumental task of restoring power for anxious customers and getting transportation up and running could take time after the storm caused nearly 16,000 flight cancellations.

Cellphone service outages were widespread in many states and even some emergency call centers were affected.

The storm reached as far inland as Ohio and parts of West Virginia were buried under 3 feet (1 meter) of snow, a boon for ski resorts that was one of the storm’s few bright spots.

Some cities like Washington, Philadelphia and Boston were spared the worst effects of the storm and were ready to return to normal by Wednesday. But New York City, large parts of New Jersey and some other areas will need at least several days to get back on their feet.

“The devastation is unthinkable,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said after seeing pictures of his state’s shore.

Seeking to show he was on top of the aftermath of the storm in the nation’s most densely populated region, the White House said President Barack Obama planned to tour damaged areas of New Jersey on Wednesday accompanied by Christie.

The New Jersey governor, who has been a strong supporter of Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, praised Obama and the federal response to the storm.

“New Jersey, New York in particular have been pounded by this storm. Connecticut has taken a big hit,” Obama said during a visit to Red Cross headquarters in Washington.

Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that “major disasters” existed in both states.

Area ‘completely leveled’
Power outages darkened large parts of Manhattan and a fire destroyed more than 80 homes in New York City’s borough of Queens, where flooding hampered firefighting efforts.

“To describe it as looking like pictures we’ve seen of the end of World War Two is not overstating it. The area was completely levelled. Chimneys and foundations were all that was left of many of these homes,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg after touring the area.

Neighborhoods along the East and Hudson rivers bordering Manhattan were underwater and expected to be without power for days, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood.

“I’m lucky to have gas; I can make hot water. But there is no heating and I’m all cold inside,” said Thea Lucas, 87, who lives alone in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Further north, though, many retail stores, restaurants and bars reopened in neighborhoods that did not lose power.

In Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, runners, dog-walkers and children were out and about among fallen trees.

Organizers of Sunday’s New York City Marathon were left scrambling. The world’s largest 26.2-mile footrace typically has over 47,000 entrants from around the world, deploys thousands of volunteers, and winds through all five boroughs.

One disaster modelling company said Sandy may have caused up to $15 billion (9 billion pounds) in insured losses. That would make it the third-costliest hurricane on record, behind hurricanes Katrina, which laid waste to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, and Andrew, which devastated parts of Florida in 1992.

While damage was still being assessed, federal authorities made $13 million in “quick release” emergency relief funds available to New York and Rhode Island.

Campaigning on hold
Obama and Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day, but Romney planned to hit the trail again in Florida today and Obama seemed likely to resume campaigning on tomorrow for a final five-day sprint to Election Day.

Obama faces political danger if the government fails to respond well, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush’s botched handling of Katrina. Obama has a chance to show not only that his administration has learned the lessons of Katrina, but that he can take charge and lead during a crisis.

All along the East Coast, residents and business owners found scenes of destruction.

“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean,” said evacuee Peter Sandomeno, one of the owners of the Broadway Court Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. “That’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been there for 11 years.”

Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record s

— 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

The Thaiger & The Nation

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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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