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World News: All eyes on Ohio in frantic final day of campaigning

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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World News: All eyes on Ohio in frantic final day of campaigning | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Obama, Romney focus on swing states in late campaigning
Phuket Gazette / Reuters
PHUKET: President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney engaged in frantic get-out-the-vote efforts and made final pleas to voters in a sprint through battleground states that will determine who wins their agonizingly close White House race.

Both candidates sought to generate strong turnout from supporters and to sway independent voters to their side in the last hours of a race that polls showed was deadlocked nationally. Obama had a slight lead in the eight or nine battleground states that will decide the race.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos national poll of likely voters, a daily tracking poll, gave Obama a slight edge, with 48 percent support compared to Romney’s 46 percent. The difference was within the 3.4 percentage point credibility interval, which allows for statistical variation in Internet-based polls.

Obama was up 4 percentage points in must-win Ohio, 50 percent to 46 percent, and held slimmer leads in Virginia and Colorado. Romney led in Florida by 1 percentage point, the poll found.

The president, with a final-day itinerary that included stops in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, urged voters to stick with him and trust that his economic policies are working. He travelled with rocker Bruce Springsteen.

“Ohio, I’m not ready to give up on the fight. I’ve got a whole lot of fight left in me and I hope you do too,” Obama told supporters in Columbus, Ohio.

Romney’s final day included stops in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire. He pledged that he would handle the economy better than Obama and jabbed his opponent for blaming Republican predecessor George W. Bush for the weak economy.

“When I’m elected, the economy and the American job market will still be stagnant, but I’m not going to waste any time complaining about my predecessor,” Romney said in Columbus.

“I’m not just going to take office on January 20. I’m going to take responsibility for that office,” he said.

The candidates are seeking to piece together the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory in the state-by-state battle for the presidency. Despite the close national opinion polls, Obama has an easier path to victory: If he wins the three states he was visiting yesterday – Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa – then he would likely carry the day.

Ohio could be decisive
All eyes were on the Midwestern state of Ohio, whose 18 electoral votes could be decisive. Romney, looking for any edge possible, planned last-second visits to both Ohio and Pennsylvania, aides said.

The visits to the areas around Cleveland and Pittsburgh would be aimed at driving turnout. And the Pittsburgh stop could be as much about Ohio as Pennsylvania, since many in eastern Ohio watch Pittsburgh television.

Romney’s path to the White House becomes much harder should he lose Ohio. The state has been leaning toward Obama – its unemployment rate is lower than the 7.9 percent national average and its heavy dependence on auto-related jobs meant the bailout to auto companies that Obama pursued in 2009 is popular.

Both campaigns expressed confidence that their candidate would win, and there were enough polls to bolster either view.

There were clear signs that Obama held an edge. A CNN/ORC poll, for instance, showed him up in Ohio by 50 percent to 47 percent.

The close margins in state and national polls suggested the possibility of a cliff-hanger that could be decided by which side has the best turnout operation and gets its voters to the polls.

Whoever wins will have a host of challenges to confront. The top priority will be the looming “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases that would begin with the new year.

The balance of power in Congress also will be at stake, with Obama’s Democrats now expected to narrowly hold their Senate majority and Romney’s Republicans favoured to retain control of the House of Representatives.

In a race where the two candidates and their party allies raised a combined $2 billion, the most in U.S. history, both sides have pounded the heavily contested battleground states with an unprecedented barrage of ads.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP

The Thaiger

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Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP | The Thaiger

The little south east Asian island nation of Singapore, which has always punched way above its weight, with the fourth largest economy, but the biggest GDP per capita in the region, is getting smaller. Both its economy and population. The population of the Republic of Singapore is shrinking for the first time since 2003. Border closures and, mostly, job losses, are forcing 10s of 1000s of foreign workers back to their home countries.

Singapore’s overall population dropped by nearly 20,000 people, or 0.3% of the population at the endow 2019, to 5.69 million people.

There’s been a sharp drop in expats, down 2% to 1.64 million, and a smaller drop in permanent residents. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a number of citizens to return from overseas, swelling the numbers of locals slightly.

The annual report of Singapore’s demographics notes that the transitions are nearly entirely due to the coronavirus outbreak. The report also says that there has already been an economic decline officially estimated between 5%-7% for 2020.

“These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions. The government has been raising barriers for foreign hiring to preserve jobs for locals.”

Singapore’s non-resident population has surged 200% over the last 2 decades, fuelling mega population growth in the city-state with one of the world’s lowest birth rates. If not for the influx of foreigners, Singapore would have been recording a net drop in population.

The rise of Singapore’s middle class, and the ‘trend’ to hire domestic help, has caused an influx of low-paid migrants to act as nannies, maids, cleaners, drivers and construction workers. Many of these have either voluntarily headed back to their countries, mostly the Philippines, or been sacked.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser notes that the decline in non-resident population is mostly due to the departure of work permit holders, who take up jobs which Singaporeans avoid in the first place. He says the trend probably signals some sectors of the economy are not doing well.

“The issue of foreigners in our midst cannot be addressed simply by cutting down their numbers, without negative consequences for our economy.”

Meanwhile, Japan says it has made an agreement with SE Nations Singapore and Brunei to reopen their borders for newly arriving expats from next Wednesday and and other long-term residents from October 8.

Those eligible to travel will be allowed in on condition they self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19.

Brunei and Singapore join 7 other ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and Thailand, with the new travel bubble with Japan. Japan still has a ban in place for the entry of travellers from 159 countries and regions. Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the government is seriously considering how to restart travel back to Japan, both for business and tourism.

“We see the resumption of new entries (of foreigners) to Japan as an extremely important issue.”

Japan already allows short-term business travellers from Singapore to enter the country without doing quarantine, on condition they take a test before they travel to Japan, then another when they arrive, can provide an itinerary of their stay and take preventative steps to actively socially distance during their visit.

SOURCE: trip.sg

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50%

Caitlin Ashworth

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50% | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Alexander Popov

The richest people in the world, who make up just 1% of the population, are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. A study shows that the “1 percenters” make up twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the world. Some say the poor are the least responsible for climate change, but have to deal with most of the negative consequences.

In a 25 year study led by Oxfam, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute found that wealthy countries were responsible for using up nearly a third of the Earth’s carbon budget. The study was conducted from 1990 to 2015, when annual emissions grew by 60%.

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

63 million people made up the richest 1% of the world. Since 1990, they have been responsible for 9% of the ‘carbon budget’. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can go into the air before temperature rises to catastrophic levels. 3.1 billion people make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The carbon emissions growth rate of the rich 1% was 3 times more than the poorest half of the world.

There’s not just an economic inequality between the rich and the poor, according to the head of policy, advocacy and research, Tim Gore. He told AFP the research shows the world’s “carbon inequality.”

“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction …But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption … And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible.”

Carbon emissions have decreased since the pandemic. But just a few months doesn’t take away the damage that has been done for years. Temperatures are still on track to rise several degrees this century. Although the 2015 Paris climate deal was set to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, emissions have continued to increase.

“It’s clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity… It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and fixing the climate crisis.”

Some say the global economy needs to prioritise “green growth.” If not, the decrease in pollution during the pandemic will have a very small and insignificant overall impact on climate change. Some say carbon emissions affect the poorest nations the most who don’t have enough resources to fight natural disasters possibly brought on by the rising temperatures, like wildfires and droughts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine

The Thaiger & The Nation

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine | The Thaiger

England’s self-quarantine rule breakers are receiving up to a 10,000 pound fine, starting September 28, according to British PM Boris Johnson. The fine will be handed down to anyone who tests positive for the virus or has been in contact with someone who has the virus and dodges the rules for self-quarantine.

For the first offence, rule breakers will receive a 1,000 pound fine and from there it will rise up to 10,000 pounds for those who repeatedly break the rules. Employers who threaten to fire staff over choosing to self-isolate instead of going to work will receive the maximum fine amount of 10,000 pounds. For those lower income workers, Johnson says they will receive a 500 pound support payment in addition to other benefits in which they may qualify.

Despite current British Covid-19 quarantine guidelines matching those of the rest of the world, there has reportedly been little enforcement of self-quarantine rules. Now, Britain is seeing a fast influx of Covid cases prompting the government to get the police involved in compliance checks.

Johnson has come under scrutiny after repeatedly being called to issue a lockdown nationwide with reports coming in that he is planning to reject calls from advisors to issue a 2 week lockdown to slow the virus’ spread.

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