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Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios

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Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.

The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.

Here are some possible scenarios ahead…

A technical extension

Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.

Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

More delays

Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.

Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.

A longer delay could also allow for a general election.

A crash and burn exit

The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.

Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.

Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.

Another general election

Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.

Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.

Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.

Another referendum

Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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Coronavirus

Coronavirus UPDATE: S Korean cases exceed 2,000, cases in 15 European countries

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: S Korean cases exceed 2,000, cases in 15 European countries | The Thaiger

The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has now killed at least 2,858 people worldwide as the focus of the outbreak now moves away from China and to outbreaks in central South Korea, northern Italy and other parts of Europe.

83,379 people are now infected but, notably (and increasingly), 36,562 people have fully recovered. At least 15 European countries now have confirmed cases of coronavirus, some of which have been traced back to Italy.

The South Korean Centres for Disease Control did not report any new deaths, meaning that the national death toll remains at 13. 2,022 people are now confirmed as infected in South Korea. Among the 256 new cases, 182 are from Daegu, the epicentre of the outbreak in central South Korea – many involved in or connected with a church congregation. A total of 1,314 cases since the beginning of the outbreak have come from Daegu, according to the KCDC.

South Korea has the most confirmed coronavirus cases outside of mainland China.

In Thailand, the Office of Private Education Commission ordered the closure of an international school in Don Mueang district, north of Bangkok’s city area, as a precautionary measure after learning that more than 500 students and teachers had returned from a country hit by the Covid-19 virus.

The secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, Attapon Truektrong, says the school’s management had instructed the group, which includes 60 teachers, to stay at home and self-quarantine following their return on February 23. The Office also asked the school’s management to close the school and switch to online classes.

“A school break is coming, but I’m concerned about international schools that have different break intervals and organise overseas field trips on a regular basis. They are being urged to postpone their trips especially to Covid-19-hit countries.”

He said his office was monitoring the situation at the Phraharuthai Donmuang School in Don Mueang district after an 8 year old pupil tested positive for coronavirus this week. Tests on pupils and teachers who had close contact with the boy have so far been negative.

Meanwhile, a privately-run school in Rayong, a province east of Bangkok, will also close today for “cleaning” as a precautionary measure to allay concerns after it was rumoured that a pupil who returned from a trip to Japan had fallen ill.

The acting director of Anuban Taksin Rayong International School, says the child has tested negative for the virus but is staying at home for self-quarantine. Despite this, the school’s management has decided to suspend classes today for “disinfection”.

South Korea and Israel have asked the Thai government to suspend the travel of workers until the situation returns to normal. Cases in Thailand remain at 40 with 22 fully recovered.

In other coronavirus snippets…

Fears of the spread of coronavirus has forced Saudia Arabia to temporarily suspended entry for Muslims seeking to perform the “umrah” or “haj” – the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Prasarn Sricharoen, a representative from Thailand’s Office of the Chularatchamontri, says the office is checking with the Saudi Arabian Thai embassy for more details about the temporary suspension of visas for visits to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. He says the office is checking if those who already have visas can travel and that it is waiting for a reply from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry. It is not known if the suspension will affect the annual haj pilgrimage due to start in late July. Moreover,

Meanwhile, the vice president of the Medical Council of Thailand, says people who have travelled to overseas destinations with a high rate of coronavirus infection “must be socially responsible and be truthful to medical personnel to prevent its further spread in Thailand”.

Professor Dr Prasit Wattanapha, made the appeal at a conference in Bangkok yesterday.

“One of the main contributing factors in the outbreak is the lack of knowledge about healthcare and the prevention of communicable diseases among people who are at risk of exposure to the virus. If you travel to areas with a high infection rate such as China, Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Iran or Italy, you must quarantine yourself at home for 14 days upon returning and avoid crowds.”

“Anyone with a fever, cough or troubled breathing should seek medical treatment immediately and tell the staff if they have travelled abroad recently. It is simply socially responsible to disclose all relevant information, since failure to do so might jeopardise your own safety and that of your family and the public.”

“During the 14 day home quarantine, it’s also advisable to avoid shared rooms like the bedroom and bathroom and stay isolated as much as possible, preferably in properly ventilated room.”

“Stay alert to changes in body temperature (it should be no higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius when checked orally and 37C at the armpit), and any abnormalities in breathing. Symptoms that appear abruptly such as coughing, a runny nose, a sore throat or increased respiration rate are signals that you should immediately contact the nearest hospital or call the Department of Disease Control Hotline at 1422”.

World Health Organisation head, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, says the coronavirus outbreak has reached a “decisive point” and has “pandemic potential”. He noted, when speaking yesterday, that for a second day, more cases have been reported outside than inside China.

“Iran and Italy have become major centres of infection, with people travelling from there spreading the virus further afield.

“Several high-profile Iranian officials have become infected, the latest being Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar.

“It’s what’s happening in the rest of the world that’s now our greatest concern.”

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Coronavirus

More virus cases reported outside of China than within

Greeley Pulitzer

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More virus cases reported outside of China than within | The Thaiger
PHOTO: - Getty Images

For the first time ever, more COVID-19 coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China yesterday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The US is urging travellers to delay or cancel travel to South Korea after that country’s confirmed cases passed the 1500 mark. New cases were found around the world, from Pakistan to Brazil.

The Iranian government said yesterday that 19 people have died there so far and 139 people have been infected, but the true numbers are expected to be much higher. A WHO team will travel to Iran this weekend to evaluate the situation. In a move sure to cause shudders in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia has put a halt on religious travel to its holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.

Authorities in the US say they’ve identified their first coronavirus case with no ties to a known outbreak. The news comes after President Donald Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the outbreak, and appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the country’s response to the virus.

More virus cases reported outside of China than within | News by The Thaiger

Key Developments

Global deaths: 2,801, with 82,084 cases worldwide

China death toll: 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433

More virus cases reported outside of China than within | News by The Thaiger

For live updates on coronavirus statistics courtesy of gisanddata, click HERE

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | gisanddata

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Expats

World’s best street food, top 30 cities rated

The Thaiger

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World’s best street food, top 30 cities rated | The Thaiger

Where in the world is the best street food? Those living in Thailand will bet Bangkok is going to come out on top, right? Well, not according to research, the Street Food Index, conducted by My Late Deals. In their current surgery, Hong Kong came out on top as the city with the best street food. The city topped the Street Food Index, beating tasty competition from Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

The annual Street Food City Index ranks the top 30 street food cities in the world for food obsessed travellers. Cities on 4 parameters: number of street food vendors, affordability, number of street food experiences/tours and sanitation.

Hong Kong was followed by Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, Mumbai, Rome, Tel Aviv, Sydney, Mexico City, with Portland, Oregon, rounding out the top 10.

Hong Kong topped the ranking thanks to its high number of street food stalls and street food experiences and high levels of sanitation. Street food is also reasonably cheap in Hong Kong costing around £5 (205 baht). Some of the food you can try in Hong Kong includes dim sum, curry fishballs and cheung fun (a rice noodle roll is a Cantonese dish from Guangdong Province southern China and Hong Kong, commonly served either as a snack).

Bangkok came second (we’re considering an official protest) on the list as its home to the cheapest street food (with an average cost of just £1.61 (66 baht) and the second highest number of street food experiences available in the list. It also scored high marks in number of street food vendors. Some of the food you can try in Bangkok includes the ubiquitous pad thai, khao niao mamuang and tom yum goong (spicy!).

World's best street food, top 30 cities rated | News by The Thaiger

Sitting in third place is the Vietnamese southern city of Ho Chi Minh which gets top marks for number of street food experiences and high marks for affordability (with an average cost of just £1.77 (73 baht) and number of vendors but like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh lost marks for sanitation. Some of the food you can try in Ho Chi Minh includes pho, banh mi and goi cuon.

Singapore takes fourth spot thanks to its high levels of sanitation and number of street food experiences. It also scores highly on number of vendors but loses points on affordability. Some of the food you can try in Singapore includes char kway teow, kaya toast and laksa.

In fifth place is Mumbai. The city scored top marks in street food vendors with the highest number on the list. It also scored well on affordability and street food experiences. It scored lower on the sanitation aspect. Some of the food you can try in Mumbai includes vada pav, bhelpuri and pav bhaji.

The current top 30 street food cities…

1 – Hong Kong

Score: 93

2 – Bangkok

Score: 90

3- Ho Chi Minh

Score: 89

4 – Singapore

Score: 86

5 – Mumbai

Score: 78

6 – Rome

Score: 76

7 – Tel Aviv

Score: 73

8 – Sydney

Score: 72

9 – Mexico City

Score: 70

10 – Portland

Score: 69

11 – Seoul

Score: 68

11 – Beijing

Score: 68

13 – Berlin

Score: 67

14 – Paris

Score: 66

15 – Istanbul

Score: 65

16 – Palermo

Score: 65

16 – Penang

Score: 63

18 – Tokyo

Score: 61

19 – New Orleans

Score: 60

19 – Kuala Lumpur

Score: 60

21 – Cartagena

Score: 59

22 – Port Louis

Score: 58

22: Honolulu

Score: 58

24 – Taipei

Score: 49

25 – Marrakech

Score: 48

26 – Rio

Score: 45

27 – New York

Score: 43

27 – Durban

Score: 43

29 – Kingston

Score: 39

30 – Dakar

Score: 27

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