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‘Flextension’ granted to Britain over the Brexit – new date January 31

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‘Flextension’ granted to Britain over the Brexit – new date January 31 | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Strained relations continue between the British PM and the French President – Daily Mail

European leaders say they have agreed to the request for a three-month Brexit extension for the UK to consolidate its position for exiting the EU. The EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted the new moments ago. The announcement ‘kicks the can down the road’ for an exit of the UK from the EU.

He noted that the “flextension”, could be shortened if Britain passes a deal in the meantime “and is set to be formalised soon”.

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to the three month Brexit delay after the British PM’s push for an election “eased fears in Paris”, according to a French diplomat.

“It comes after Johnson and Macron spoke over the weekend.”

The un-named French diplomat says that EU leaders were heading towards a delay until January 31 next year, as per the formal request from Britain. That formal announcement was made by European Council President Donald Tusk this morning (Belgian time).

The French President had reprised his role as the bad cop of the Brexit delay negotiations, earlier suggesting that an extension should not be given unless circumstances changed significantly.

A possible election has satisfied many in the EU who wanted some movement in the process to allow for wider debate beyond the gridlocked British parliament, but France says they are still opposed to renegotiating the withdrawal agreement, and expects the UK to name a candidate for the EU commission now that it will remain a member of the bloc, at least in the short-term.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Chinese propaganda flick released about the Wuhan lockdown

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Chinese propaganda flick released about the Wuhan lockdown | The Thaiger

A new, state-backed film marking the anniversary of the Covid-19 Wuhan lockdown, is using propaganda to praise the central Chinese city. The documentary “Days and Nights in Wuhan” chronicles the suffering that the city’s 11 million residents endured during the 76 day lockdown. 30 filmmakers contributed to the film which included footage of medical staff and front-line workers.

The film joins other documentaries centered on the Wuhan lockdown, including one that was produced by an activist artist that led to him fleeing the country after being harrassed by China’s Communist Party. “Coronation” was rejected by festivals, theatres, and streaming services in which the creator speaks about fears over the offending government which tightly controls what films can be shown inside the nation and abroad.

The new film was directed by Cao Jinling and has already debuted in Wuhan but the audience number were ‘underwhelming’. The film is set to be released to other cities across the weekend. But it is not clear if the Chinese government will allow it to be shown overseas.

“We wanted to record the journey of battling against the Covid-19 epidemic via motion picture. Some of the details, including the intense care, anxious waiting, heartbreaking farewells and hopeful rebirths, might strike a chord with viewers.”

The lockdown imposed on January 23 of last year, was eventually extended to surrounding areas in Hubei province, seeing some 56 million people unable to leave their homes. Hospitals and morgues became overwhelmed at the height of the crisis as Wuhan accounted for most of China’s 4,635 death toll.

Meanwhile, China has finally gave permission for the World Health Organisation to send a team of international experts to begin investigating the virus’ origins. Experts mostly agree that the coronavirus emerged from a Wuhan food market where live wild animals that carry the virus were sold. But China’s government has all but refuted the claim by insinuating that the virus was possibly brought into the country by US soldiers.

Other conspiracy theories are abound, but the notion that the virus was not from Wuhan has done well with many residents, who maintain the virus came from somewhere else. Such beliefs by those residents have also propelled them to view themselves as victims.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US President Biden jump starting Covid-19 strategy

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US President Biden jump starting Covid-19 strategy | The Thaiger

Newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden is jump starting his Covid-19strategy by signing more executive orders on his 2nd day in office. The orders include requiring Americans to wear masks for travelling in planes, ships, intercity buses and public transportation. The orders have fallen short of mandating the wearing of masks for everyone whilst in public spaces.

Such mask-wearing requirements have been applauded by the country’s airline unions. Travellers from abroad must also now produce a negative Covid-19 test before departing for the US and must quarantine upon arrival.

“We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and it will take months to turn this around. To a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point: Help is on the way.”

The promised help comes as deaths from Covid in the US have surpassed the 400,000 level, with Biden saying projections point to that number increasing to 500,000 in a month. But his efforts may be hampered if Republicans members of the government don’t help him pass a US $1.9 trillion economic relief and Covid response package.

Biden officials also say they’ve been hampered by a lack of cooperation from the Trump administration during the transition. They admitted they were confused about the former president’s actions on vaccine distribution which has attracted complaints from states saying that they are not getting enough vaccines on top of being asked to vaccinate more groups of people.

The new President says he is seeking to expand testing and vaccine availability, announcing a plan of 100 million shots in the first 100 days of him being in office. Some independent experts, however, are criticising the new president by saying his goal is disappointingly low. But the President responded…

“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible. Come on, give me a break, man.”

Biden has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up vaccination centres, aiming to have 100 running in a month. He’s also trying to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month, building on a plan devised by the Trump administration.

President Biden has also set a goal of having most K-8 schools reopen in his first 100 days, with states receiving aid from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to help get schools back open. But administration officials say reopening schools safely depends on increased testing.

The national vaccination strategy plan put forth by the new administration, requires $160 billion, and Biden says he wants an additional $170 billion to aid the reopening of schools and universities.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Politics

US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated

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US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated | The Thaiger

The US Ambassador to Thailand seems to have quit after only serving less than 1 year in office and moments after President Biden’s inauguration. Michael George DeSombre, who was appointed by President Trump in early 2020, made the announcement of his departure on the embassy’s official social media platform yesterday. A day before, he met with PM Prayut to “thank the Royal Thai Government” as is customary with departing ambassadors. DeSombre succeeded career diplomat Glyn T. Davies.

“It has been a privilege serving as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. I am exceedingly proud of all we have done to strengthen the US-Thai relationship. I am signing off now from this account and leaving it in the good hands of our Embassy staff.”

Now, as the US Embassy official website names Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath as its diplomatic mission leader, it is not known when a new ambassador will be chosen by the Biden administration.

Just last year in October, DeSombre wrote, on the same day that President Trump tested positive for the virus, that he was less than supportive of a full-blown shutdown.

“The evidence over the last six months shows that the costs of a really extreme shutdown are generally worse than the benefits and it is better to keep the economy running.”

According to Wikipedia, DeSombre co-founded Republicans Overseas for Americans abroad in 2013 in which the organisation focuses on tax reform. Upon his appointment as Ambassador, DeSombre stated that his office would primarily encourage the economic partnership between the two countries, with a focus on American investments and Thailand’s infrastructure projects and supply chains.

He has also said that US firms were interested in increasing investments in Thailand, including in areas under the 1966 Amity treaty. Thailand and the US established relations in 1818 and later formalised the ties in 1833.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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