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Flashermac

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Everything posted by Flashermac

  1. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Coronavirus: US accused of ‘piracy’ over mask ‘confiscation’ The US has been accused of redirecting 200,000 Germany-bound masks for its own use, in a move condemned as "modern piracy". The local government in Berlin said the shipment of US-made masks was "confiscated" in Bangkok. The FFP2 masks, which were ordered by Berlin's police force, did not reach their destination, it said. ... https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52161995 Wow, the US has the power to confiscate shipments in Bangkok and somehow redirect them to the USA. You don't suppose the Thai government had anything to do with it, do you? Nah, they wouldn't do that.
  2. Public transport to stop at 9.30pm Public transport services in the Bangkok area have been ordered to end their daily operations by 9.30pm from Friday, when the nationwide night curfew starts. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said public transport services would be closed from 9.30pm to 4am in accordance with the prime minister's declaration of a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 4am to curb the spread of coronavirus disease. ... https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1892440/public-transport-to-stop-at-9-30pm
  3. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Sorry to confuse you with the facts, but ... - 20 Jan 1st diagnosed case in USA - 26 Jan 1st deaths in USA. - 31 Jan US border CLOSED to Chinese! (WHO was still saying No - H2H transmission and closing border unnecessary.)- - 11 Mar WHO - declares it a pandemic. - 13 Mar US border closed to EU & others Yep, Trump really dropped the ball. WHO is great!
  4. All people in Thailand are banned from leaving home from 10pm to 4am starting Friday in the government’s latest move to contain the spread of coronavirus. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced the curfew on Thursday evening. Exempted from the curfew are medical and banking personnel, as well as logistic workers handling consumer products, farm goods, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and equipment, newspapers, petrol, postal parcels, or products to be imported or exported. Movements of people to quarantine places are also allowed. Other exemptions are people working normal night shifts or those heading to or from airports with necessary documents stating the purposes, or officials working by the announcements or orders and those allowed by officials to leave the house on emergencies. Violation will result in a jail term of not more than two years and/or a fine not more than 40,000 baht. Existing curfew orders or announcements in any province with stricter requirements shall remain in effect. For relief measures, Gen Prayut said three funds would be set up to help people affected by the mitigation measures. Centres will be set up to distribute face masks. “I won’t let anyone hoard the product and take advantage of people during this difficult time,” he said. More economic stimulus packages will be introduced such as financial aid, debt suspension, liquidity boost and debt restructuring. In terms of disease mitigation, a centre will be set up to manage travel in and out of the kingdom with strict screening, quarantine and monitoring measures. Gen Prayut also sought cooperation in delaying entry to Thailand until April 15. In terms of communication, a briefing will be held every day by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. Unauthorised people will not be allowed to give interviews. He again warned of the consequences of spreading fake news or sharing information from unknown sources. He urged everyone to cooperate for the ultimate goal of “zero”. Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, earlier explained the need for a curfew. "Past measures have slowed the daily number of new infections but still fail to reduce it. From the start, we intend to gradually impose measures, from soft to harsh ones," he said. http://thai360.com/index.php?/forum/11-news/&do=add So if you are a people, stay indoors during the curfew!
  5. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    WHO believes every word Xi says. Trump was already closing the borders while the WHO was still insisting there was no danger and it was unnecessary. Even Trump could see what was happening before the WHO did.
  6. 5,000 baht is survival money ... provided they have some place to live. If they have to figure rent into that, it is nowhere near enough to get by on, and their only hope is to return home. But remember that a bus conductor makes about 7,000 a month and sales people at the 7-Elevens aren't paid much more (maybe 9,000). Ordinary Thai working folks don't have much income at all, with taxi drivers often living day by day on their earnings. This is the reason women in the naughty nightlife went into it. They can make many times what they would as a waitress or working on the assembly line in a factory, which is about all their level of education qualifies them for. Unfortunately, few of the BGs have any plan to save money, spending it as fast as they can. (This applies to many Thais outside of the nightlife as well.) I commented about it on this board years ago, describing how some of the BGs I knew made fantastic amounts of money, but simply blew it all away by gambling or spent it on expensive clothes and other luxuries. Several board members promptly attacked me, saying what the BGs did with their money was none of my business and I should butt out. Fair enough, but then don't feel sorry for them when they end up broke and in trouble. It was their choice.
  7. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    China lied about the scope of its COVID-19 outbreak, US intelligence report claims In news that will shock absolutely no one, a classified assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies has reportedly concluded that China worked to conceal the exact scope of its novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak from the rest of the world, Citing three unnamed U.S. officials, Bloomberg News reports that the assessment — received by the White House last week — showed that the Chinese government's public reporting on positive COVID-19 cases and related deaths since the start of the country's outbreak in late 2019 was "intentionally incomplete." Chinese officials only publicly reported roughly 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and cited by Bloomberg News, levels recently eclipsed by the nearly 200,000 cases and 4,000 deaths seen in the United States. The Bloomberg News report does not offer any sense of China's absolute number of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had previously accused the Chinese government of censoring information regarding its COVID-19 outbreak back in February, arguing that the lack of transparency was putting the rest of the world at risk. "Censorship. It can have deadly consequences," Pompeo said at the time. "Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge." The accusation had sparked a war of words between U.S. and Chinese officials regarding which country bore ultimate responsibility for the spread of COVID-19, an exchange which saw the Chinese government accuse the U.S. Army of deliberately bringing the disease to the Wuhan province where it is thought to have originated. "China has been updating the U.S. on the coronavirus and its response since Jan. 3," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on March 19. "On Jan. 15 the U.S. State Department notified Americans in China U.S. CDC's warning about the coronavirus. And now blame China for delay? Seriously?" But on Tuesday, State Department immunologist Deborah Birx stated that China's public reporting had shaped assumptions among the international medical community regarding the nature of COVID-19 and its potential spread around the world — assumptions that now appear fundamentally flawed. “The medical community made — interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” Birx said on Tuesday, per Bloomberg News. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.” https://taskandpurpose.com/news/china-coronavirus-cases-lies?utm_content=buffere9afd&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR3R12cCWRBnCMEM_TIKM9ig7gBwIHznduihLZwAFfFIVpLO5e6zCX42MJo But surely President for Life Xi wouldn't do that. He is a truthful champion of human rights who is an inspiration for democratic leaders around the world.
  8. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    14 arrested in Phuket for partying Nine foreigners and five Thais were arrested in Phuket province on Wednesday (April 1) for allegedly using drugs and partying in violation of the emergency decree. Three British men, an American man, an Australian and a Ukrainian, along with three Ukrainian women and five Thai women were found at 10pm allegedly drinking alcohol and using cocaine along with marijuana while playing music from a DJ system. Patong Police Station charged all of them with gathering in a crowded place violating the emergency decree, violating an order from the Disease Control Department which might lead to the spread of Covid-19, and possessing two types of drugs. Police cracked down on the group after receiving a call that residents in the house were holding a party and disturbing the neighbours with loud music. https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30385263?utm_source=bottom_relate&utm_medium=internal_referral Virus? What virus? Trying for the Darwin Award.
  9. Super apps Grab and Get have been locked in competition over the food delivery market, which is thriving as the "lazy economy” grows. The two unicorn startups have claimed strong growth for their delivery services, but ride-hailing services may see a reshuffle after the government is expected to legalise the service in March next year. “This is an exciting year for Grab in Thailand as in the past 10 months we achieved over 120 million bookings across all services,” said Tarin Thaniyavarn, country head of Grab Thailand. GrabFood is a “service hero” that mainly contributed to this high volume of bookings, he said. “It is the largest, fastest and No.1 food delivery platform in Thailand.” GrabFood registered 4 million transactions or bookings in the first four months of this year, compared with 3 million throughout last year. According to market research unit Kantar, in the third quarter of this year, 54% of 599 consumers surveyed said GrabFood is often used for their food delivery. Mr Tarin said the hyper-competition among the players, which rolled out various promotions, played a part in boosting the use of food delivery apps. The lazy economy will present more opportunities for on-demand services, he said. Food delivery apps are in the early stage and only account for a small portion of the total food industry, said Mr Tarin. To boost the segment’s momentum, Grab will expand GrabFood service to 30 provinces from 14. He is aware of the declining revenue of Grab drivers, but more incentives will be provided to attract them, he said. Grab provides ride-hailing service in 20 cities of 18 provinces and aims to expand more in second-tier cities that have a high number of tourists. Grab has yet to make a profit from its operations because of intense competition, Mr Tarin said. Strategies for profitability, he said, have been hammered out but they cannot be disclosed now. Get Thailand, the local arm of Indonesia's ride-hailing app Go-Jek, indicated it has gained 10 million trips in Bangkok for all services since it was launched in February this year. “The major contributor of the growth is Get Food service as it uses artificial intelligence to provide menus that suit each customer,” said Wongtippa Wisetkasem, Get’s director of platform operation. Get’s major group of customers are millennials, a demographic cohort between Gen Z and Gen Y, aged around 23-39, who grew up in the era of technology development, she said. “In a month, GET has over 300,000 orders of bubble milk tea which indicates the continual rise of the bubble milk tea era. Apart from drinks and meals, snacking is a popular habit for Bangkokians,” Ms Wongtippa said.
  10. Globalisation has been one of the buzzwords of the past 25 years. It may seem a rather strange concept, since any economic historian will tell you that people have been trading across vast distances for centuries, if not millennia. You only have to look at the medieval spice trade, or the East India Company, to know that. But globalisation is really about the scale and speed of international business, which has exploded in the past few decades to unprecedented levels. Easier travel, the world wide web, the end of the Cold War, trade deals, and new, rapidly developing economies, have all combined to create a system that is much more dependent now on what is happening on the other side of the world than it ever was. Which is why the spread of coronavirus, or Covid-19 to be specific, has had such an immediate economic effect. Professor Beata Javorcik, chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, says that the pace of change in the global economy over just the past 17 years has been profound. "When we look back at 2003, at the Sars epidemic, China accounted for 4% of global output," she says. "Now China accounts for four times as much, 16%. So that means that whatever is happening in China affects the world to a much larger extent." Globalisation helps to explain while nearly every major car plant in the UK has shut down - they are dependent on sales and components from around the world. When both collapsed, they just stopped making cars. China's wealth and health therefore matter to us all far more than they used to, but this is not just a matter of scale - there is also a deeper problem with globalisation. Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, and author of "The Butterfly Defect, How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, And What To Do About It", says that "risks have been allowed to fester, they are the underbelly of globalisation". That, he says, can be seen not only in this crisis, but also in the credit crunch and banking crisis of 2008, and the vulnerability of the internet to cyber-attacks. The new global economic system brings huge benefits, but also huge risks. While it has helped raise incomes, rapidly develop economies and lift millions out of poverty; that has come at the increased risk of contagion, be it financial or medical. So what does this latest crisis mean for globalisation? For Prof Richard Portes, professor of economics at London Business School, it seems obvious that things will have to change, because firms and people have now realised what risks they had been taking. "Look at trade," he explains. "Once supply chains were disrupted [by coronavirus], people started looking for alternative suppliers at home, even if they were more expensive. "If people find domestic suppliers, they will stick with them… because of those perceived risks." Professor Javorcik agrees, and believes a combination of factors will mean Western manufacturing industry will start bringing work back home, or re-shoring it as it is called. "I think that the trade war [mainly between the US and China], combined with the Coronavirus epidemic, will lead companies to actually take re-shoring seriously," she says. "They will re-shore activities that can be automated, because re-shoring brings certainty. You do not have to worry about your national trade policy, and it also gives you an opportunity to diversify your supplier base." However, this is not all good news for Western economies, which may now believe they have become too dependent on globalisation. Instead this cuts both ways. A great deal of globalisation is not about moving manufactured goods around the world, but moving people, ideas and information; something that we in the UK and other Western economies are very good at. As David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy, points out: "The service sector must have fallen off a cliff, and just look [in particular] at tourism and universities. "There must be real concern about the number of new entries to Western universities this autumn. This is a huge export industry… many universities are dependent on Chinese students, for example." The idea that globalisation is just about moving manufacturing or supply chains to cheaper Asian countries is too simple. It has also led to massive increases in foreign students willing to pay to study at our colleges and universities, and a huge influx of wealthy tourists who want to spend money here, to name just two service sector businesses. Slowing or even reversing globalisation would hit those industries very hard indeed. But even so, Prof Goldin thinks that this pandemic marks a sea change and that "2019 was the year of peak supply chain fragmentation". Although, some factors such as 3D printing, automation, the demand for customisation, and quick delivery, as well as protectionism were already being felt; it seems that Covid-19 can only accelerate that process. The real concern is, however, not whether these changes happen, but how far they go, and how they will be managed? Prof Goldin has a simple and clear way of explaining the options - will the result be more like what happened after World War One, or after World War Two? We could, like after 1918, get weak or weaker international organisations, the rise of nationalism, protectionism and economic depression. Or, as followed 1945, more cooperation and internationalism, like Bretton Woods, the Marshall Plan, the UN and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Prof Goldin remains cheerful, but worries about who is going to take the lead. "We can be optimistic, but we are not seeing leadership out of the White House certainly," he says. "China can't step up to the plate, and Great Britain cannot lead in Europe." This is a worry shared by Prof Portes, who points out that: "The London G20 Summit of 2009 agreed a $1tn (£800bn) package of international cooperation, even Germany joined in. But now there is no leadership in the G20, and the USA is absent from the international scene." Will globalisation be reversed? Probably not, it is too important an economic development for that to happen, but it could well be slowed down. The bigger question is, however, have we learnt the lessons of this crisis? Will we learn to spot, control and regulate the risks that seem to be an integral part of globalisation? Because the cooperation and leadership necessary to make that happen seem to be in short supply. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52104978
  11. K-Pop star sorry for coronavirus April fool's joke K-pop star Kim Jaejoong has apologised for posting on Instagram that he was in hospital having contracted Covid-19, admitting it was an April fool's joke. The singer told fans he had caught the virus after "ignoring" government warnings and "living carelessly". In a subsequent post, he claimed he had simply wanted to raise awareness of the virus. But the now-deleted joke appears to have backfired with many of his 1.9m followers voicing their disapproval. "How can you pull a prank like this when the situation right now is so serious?" one fan responded. "It's really disappointing." South Korea was one of the first countries hit by coronavirus, and it is believed to have killed 165 people there so far. ... https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-52117797
  12. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    China may have prevented 95% of virus cases if it enacted measures after silenced whistleblower’s warning China could have prevented 95 per cent of coronavirus infections if its measures to contain the outbreak had begun three weeks earlier, research from the University of Southampton suggests. However, China only took vigorous action in late January – weeks after police silenced a doctor for trying to raise the alarm. First detected in Hubei, more than 146,000 people globally have now been infected with Covid-19, whilst over 5,500 have died from the SARS-like disease. The study published this week by population mapping group WorldPop measured the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical interventions. The researchers examined how China isolated ill persons, quarantined exposed individuals, conducted contract tracing, restricted travel, closed schools and workplaces, and cancelled mass gatherings. The analysis – which has yet to be peer-reviewed – found that early case detection and contact reduction were effective in controlling the virus and combined measures can reduce transmission. They can also delay the timing and reduce the size of the epidemic’s peak, and thus buy time for healthcare preparations and drugs research. Coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 66 per cent if the measures were taken a week earlier, the study suggested, or by 86 per cent if action began two weeks earlier. If action was taken three weeks later, then the situation could have worsened 18-fold. Dr Li Wenliang Most efforts to tackle the outbreak took place in late January, weeks after Wuhan ophthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang tried to warn about the mystery disease on December 30. He was among eight people who were punished by police on January 1 for spreading “rumours” about the virus. The Public Security Bureau made Li sign a letter stating that he had made “false comments” and had “severely disturbed the social order.” He died last month of the disease, aged 34, prompting widespread outrage in China. According to the New York Times, China also ignored offers of help in January from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Pandemic With the virus now classed as a global pandemic, the University of Southampton researchers concluded that social distancing measures should continue for the next few months and China’s approach should be adopted elsewhere as early as possible. https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/03/14/china-may-prevented-95-virus-cases-acted-silenced-whistleblowers-warning/
  13. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Chinese markets again selling bats -- likely source of deadly pandemic -- reporters say https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/30/-scene-british-reporters-say-chinese-markets-again/?fbclid=IwAR2VLch8tt_wtHwARSobGkYl2i3YBlgQYNrVv5eUa7MizIChSOqKTzi-nXQ
  14. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    'Talk like Doraemon': Malaysian ministry issues tips for wives during COVID-19 movement control order KUALA LUMPUR: Married women in Malaysia were briefly issued a set of recommendations on how to manage their households and husbands during the movement control order, including speaking in "Doraemon's voice" and giggling coyly. The Women and Family Ministry on Monday (Mar 30) posted several tips on social media on how to avoid domestic arguments between husband and wife. The posts, made public on both Facebook and Instagram, were taken down a day later. “If you see your husband carry out a task in a manner that clashes with your own method, avoid nagging,” the ministry said in a since-deleted infographic. In a separate image, the ministry said wives should instead use “humorous” words and phrases such as “this is the proper way to hang the clothes for drying, my dear (cara sidai baju macam ni lah sayangku)”. The ministry also recommended that women should “mimic the tone of Doraemon” and follow their statements with a coy and feminine laugh. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/coronavirus-malaysia-ministry-tips-wives-nagging-doraemon-mco-12593708
  15. More than 1,000 elephants face starvation in Thailand because the coronavirus crisis has slashed revenue from tourism, conservationists say. An almost total absence of visitors means that many caretakers are struggling to afford food for Thailand's 4,000 captive elephants. The animals can eat up to 200kg (440lb) of food a day. Thailand reported 127 new confirmed cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the country's recorded total to 1,651. Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, told the BBC: "If there is no support forthcoming to keep them safe, these elephants, some of whom are pregnant, will either starve to death or may be put on to the streets to beg." Alternatively, some elephants may be sold to zoos or they may be returned to the illicit logging business, which officially banned the use of elephants in 1989. "It's a very bleak outlook unless some financial help is received immediately," Lek Chailert adds. It's a challenge to keep the animals fed and healthy at the best of times but now it's the dry season, which makes the situation even more extreme. Kerri McCrea, who manages the Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary in Mae Chaem, in northern Thailand, said the villagers who live near her had brought approximately 70 elephants back to her area because they were not receiving any money from tourism anymore. "Feeding elephants is a priority but the issue is that there's not enough forest left to feed them," she explains. Ms McCrae, who originally comes from Northern Ireland and is also a co-founder of the sanctuary, has to drive up to three hours a day to find enough grasses and corn stalks to feed the five elephants in her care. She says local elephant caretakers are forced to do the same. The country, which normally relies on tourism for a large portion of its economic growth, has been forced to close its borders to all tourists and much of the country is in lockdown. Happy elephants, Kerri McCrae says, are usually swinging their tails or flapping their ears or even giving themselves dust baths to keep cool. But elephants get depressed when they're hungry, and none of that happy behaviour would be on display. "The worst case scenario is that owners will have to chose between themselves and their elephants," Ms McCrae says. "The people here don't have much, but they're doing what it takes to keep the elephants alive for now." https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52110551
  16. Thousands of Thai sex workers, estimated to be around 300,000, mostly out of work due to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis, will receive no labour protection from the government. Empower Foundation, an organisation for the rights and opportunities for sex workers across Thailand, has sent a letter to the government pleading for help. “Many are mothers and main family providers and carers. Due to Covid-19 the government has ordered closures of entertainment places which means that over 100,000 sex worker across Thailand are out of a job. In emergencies women are often the ones who do the work of caring for others. Yet this work is not recognised, nor compensated or supported.” “For example, even though entertainment places are reported to earn around 6.4 billion dollars per year and sex workers create 4-10% of the GDP. Sex workers are criminalized and left out of labour protection and social security. The closure order affects sex workers who now have no income at all. Sex workers are ready to help society, but also still must pay their rent, live and care for their family.” The organisation is yet to receive a response from the government, and it’s estimated the number of sex workers without a job across the country has now reached 300,000. Mai Janta, a community representative of sex workers in Chiang Mai working at Empower Foundation, told reporters that they were the first to be affected when the government declared all entertainment venues closed. “When the massage parlours, bathing venues, bars and karaoke closed we all agreed with and supported the government’s measures. Yet our kind of work means that we have zero chance of any income during this time. Also the government has shown no interest in helping at all. Now we can only follow the situation and check in on the women we know of, which is our 3,091 members across Chiang Mai. “This government has focused on arresting and enforcing, never supporting. The labour law has never protected these women even though we contribute greatly to the economy. There are some women who are under the social security scheme; those working for larger businesses who have proper working hours such as beer girls, karaoke girls and such. But freelancers and women working in bars are often left out in the cold,” according to Chiang Mai City News. “The government’s 5000 baht compensation, which is still not available and may not be for months, only applies to a few women, as most are migrant workers or tribal people with no Thai ID.” “These are the most vulnerable of all. They have nowhere to go and no resources at all. What we want is the nearly 500 million baht the government seized a few years ago from the human trafficking owners of Victoria Secret and Natalie massage parlors.” https://thethaiger.com/coronavirus/thai-government-screws-sex-workers-over-5000-baht-stimulus
  17. Phuket has stopped traffic across the bridge from the mainland. It's isolating itself from the rest of the world. Also, the news reports that more than 20,000 Russian tourists are stranded in Thailand. Would anyone like to adopt a Russian?
  18. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    It was reported in the news that the US rejected the Chinese test equipment since its accuracy was so low. Meanwhile ... a look at the past: 1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China, Historians Say Chinese laborers transported across Canada thought to be source. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/1/140123-spanish-flu-1918-china-origins-pandemic-science-health/
  19. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Governor Bans Booze Sale to Curb Coronavirus Spread SAKON NAKHON — Sakon Nakhon became the first province to ban the sale of alcohol in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, though a trade guild said the move may have the opposite effect. The order was issued by Governor Witthaya Chanchalong and effective from Tuesday until April 16, just as the province reported 12 confirmed cases of virus infection. Those caught selling alcohol during that time period face a maximum jail term of one year and a fine of up to 100,000 baht. The ban was imposed “in order to ensure that people are safe from the spread of communicable disease, coronavirus (COVID-19), Sakon Nakhon province must employ measures to guard, protect and control,” according to the order. ... https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/crimecourtscalamity/2020/03/31/governor-bans-booze-sale-to-curb-coronavirus-spread/ There you are, finally a governor with common sense. Ban alcohol and the virus will decide it's not fun to be there and go away. Out of 76 provinces, only the governor of Sakon Nakorn was smart enough to realise this.
  20. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Army of Communist Chinese Twitter bots peddle disinformation about coronavirus origins China has set up multiple fake bot accounts on Twitter using Radio Free Asia’s logo and descriptions to tweet fake news in recent months, including allegations that the coronavirus came from the U.S., a recent investigative report has found. The tweets are sent by accounts using the RFA logo, but named after various regions of China, for example “Radio Free Guangdong,” or “Radio Free Anhui.” They churn out tweets that reflect the official line of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, including the rumor that the coronavirus pandemic originated in the United States and not in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The public interest journalism website ProPublica said it had tracked more than 10,000 suspected fake Twitter accounts since August 2019 that have been part of a “coordinated influence campaign with ties to the Chinese government.” The report’s co-author Jeff Kao said the hijacking of visual identifiers from legitimate accounts to impersonate them is a hallmark of Beijing’s social media campaigns. “They changed one of the letters in the Twitter handle and they were posting political messages that were in line with the Chinese government’s views,” Kao told RFA. “They have very few real followers, but what they were tweeting would get like 100 likes or 20 retweets, and I think that was another tactic that they were trying out,” he said. For example, a recent post in English reported on aid the Chinese government recently provided to Italy, and was sent by the Twitter handle @RNA_Chinese. “[The account] appears to have been an attempt to fool the casual reader into believing it was coming from the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (@RFA_Chinese),” the report said. Hacked, repurposed accounts Other accounts tweeting pro-China propaganda were actually once genuine, but had been repurposed after they were hacked, the ProPublic report said. “They included a professor in North Carolina; a graphic artist and a mother in Massachusetts; a web designer in the U.K.; and a business analyst in Australia,” it said. “Suspected Chinese operatives have stepped up their efforts in recent days, according to private messages shared with ProPublica, offering influential Chinese-speaking Twitter users cash for favorable posts,” it said. The article said the fake accounts are tailored to different audiences, but the Chinese-language posts were likely aimed at influencing the “millions of ethnic Chinese” who don’t live in mainland China. In August and September, Twitter announced that it had suspended more than 5,000 suspected Chinese state-controlled accounts and banned around 200,000 accounts that hadn’t yet been fully activated. ProPublica said it wrote computer programs to document millions of interactions between the 10,000 suspected fake accounts and trace an interrelated network of more than 2,000. “The true scale of the influence campaign is likely much bigger; our tracking suggests that the accounts we identified comprise only a portion of the operation,” it said. “We found a pattern of coordinated activity among the fake accounts that appeared to be aimed at building momentum for particular storylines,” it said. Among the storylines were the smearing of the Hong Kong protest movement as “rioters” and “separatists,” and praise lavished on the city’s police as they used unprecedented amounts of violence to crack down on largely peaceful protesters. Yang Jianli, founder of the Washington-based human rights group Citizen Power, said he has been targeted by hackers backed and directed by the Chinese state, although their companies may be nominally listed as private. “The authorities use a lot of private companies to carry out operations like this, and many are willing to provide this service to the Chinese government,” Yang said. “Clearly these companies benefit from being under the aegis of government power and privilege,” he said. Efforts not effective Kao said the fake accounts aren’t convincing enough yet to be effective, however. “It’s hard to say that any minds will change … because the accounts look so fake,” he said. “But I think the message was definitely reaching the people that it was trying to reach.” There are strong links between the Chinese Twitter bots and a Beijing-based internet marketing company called OneSight, as many of the fake accounts had liked its tweets. The company recently won a U.S.$175,000 contract to boost the Twitter following of the state-run China News Service, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s outreach and influence arm, the United Front Work Department. On Jan. 29, OneSight announced a new app that tracked virus-related information, and tweeted that it would “transmit the correct voice of China” to the world, just six days after Beijing imposed a lockdown on Wuhan. “The influence network suddenly shifted its focus to the coronavirus epidemic,” ProPublica said. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment specifically when contacted by ProPublica. “Using technology and human review in concert, we proactively monitor Twitter to identify attempts at platform manipulation and mitigate them,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “If we identify further information campaigns on our service that we can reliably attribute to state-backed activity either domestic or foreign-led, we will disclose them.” https://americanmilitarynews.com/2020/03/army-of-communist-chinese-twitter-bots-peddle-disinformation-about-coronavirus-origins/?utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=alt&utm_source=militarymemes&fbclid=IwAR18ULLEq29HcMQT1yRjW30wFwFp_oHsZRczUQ0-iN7tx-3nqqvq1aM7_uE
  21. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    What It’s Like to Catch, and Survive, the Coronavirus in Thailand BANGKOK — Speaking from his condo, Singaporean expat Jay Feng asked other people currently in self-isolation at their homes to stay calm and not to panic. He knew a thing or two about the coronavirus; in fact, he survived it. Feng, who recovered several weeks after he first tested positive earlier this month, said he beat the virus by monitoring his symptoms early on, keeping a positive mindset even when he was in enormous physical pain, and relying on the sheer strength of his immune system. Plus a well-covered insurance plan. “The most important thing is to not panic. The Thai healthcare system is actually very good,” Feng said in a telephone interview. “The authorities are fairly decent. Even if you don’t speak Thai, communicate your symptoms and medical history very clearly.” Feng, 36, is the owner of Ohana Poke restaurant on Wireless Road, and leads what he describes as a very healthy, active lifestyle – he never smoked, exercised regularly, eats a very healthy diet, and gets lots of sleep. But on March 8, he woke up with a strange body ache. He bought a thermometer at a nearby pharmacy and stayed at home the whole day, but it didn’t go away. “Usually I get well quickly, even if I don’t get sick often,” he said. “But it was a body ache not like I bumped into something, but like my whole body crashed into something.” The next day, he decided to get checked out at Bangkok Christian Hospital, even though he didn’t have a fever. After about 20 or so tests for other diseases, the doctors asked if he would also like to get a test for COVID-19, but be admitted for the night. However, Feng did not meet the criteria for free coronavirus test, which include a fever over 37.5C, recent visit to a high-risk country, or close contact with a proven case. Still, he chose to get tested out of an abundance of caution. “I chose to pay out of my pocket because I see people every day have it. I just admit myself and do the test, lah,” he said. Feng was wheeled to the quarantine area and nurses stuck swabs about 20 centimeters down his nose and throat (“It’s a terrible feeling, very unpleasant. But you get used to it.”) as well as a blood sample. Feng was feeling relatively well – until 1am that night. He woke up, inexplicably cold, with a dull pain in his left lung. He got some paracetamol from the nurses. At 3am, he woke up dazed, incoherent, with his hospital gown drenched in sweat, with the pain increasing. He measured a 37.7C fever. He couldn’t sleep for the remainder of the night. Nurses came in at 5am to ask him questions relating to the virus that he had already answered, and at 7am, they informed him he had tested positive for the coronavirus. “This is when it hit me. I was completely, completely, shocked. I was lost for 30 seconds, don’t know how to react. I was completely dazed,” Feng recalled. “I started shaking because of the sickness and receiving this news and battling my emotions.” Life in ‘VIP Treatment’ While nurses were quickly packing his things, Feng mentally ran through the people he had been in close contact with. He called and messaged his family, loved ones, and employees. “I tested positive, you need to get tested and isolate yourself,” he said. He was whisked away on a wheelchair and saw all the nurses and medical staff in full protective gowns standing away from him, with someone taking photos of him. “I started to become really worried. There was uncertainty about how I will pay for treatment. Everything became a blur as I was very sick,” he said. Feng said he appreciated the “very brilliant” nurse wheeling him who tried to reassure him and calm him down. “This is despite being next to a confirmed COVID case. She made me as comfortable as possible.” eng was sent to the state-owned Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute on March 10, where “The VIP treatment continued. I was in a wheelchair, and all the lift and pathways were cleared for you,” he said. He would spend the next two weeks in a negative pressure isolation ward. “At that time I didn’t even know what hospital I was in. I couldn’t take in the news,” he said. His ward was separated from the corridor by a containment room where nurses would leave medicine and the mae baan would leave his food. He could only go in if there was no one else in it. The ward itself had his hospital bed, a sofa bed, three windows with blinds, a table, and a chair. The bathroom was spacious and the shower had a heater. “It was new equipment, excellent, and clean. High tech, with lots of motion sensors. There were few physical buttons to press,” Feng said. Doctors told him that he would get tested every two days for the virus. If he tested negative twice consecutively, then he would be discharged. The doctors could only treat his symptoms from now on – his immune system had to do the heavy lifting. “That took the weight of uncertainty off. It gave me encouragement, a final goal that was in my thoughts every night. That really helped a lot,” Feng said. Guilt Kicks In Feng kept very detailed public records of his medical journey and posted them online to his shop’s Facebook page as a show of transparency and public responsibility. His first post on March 10 on his admission day at Bamrasnaradura spoke about where he went in the days leading up to it. The post went viral, with over 9,000 likes and 6,000 shares. He received thousands of messages, including from concerned customers about if they will catch the disease if they ate at his shop. The next few days were the worst, Feng recalled. His lungs were in pain, he was chronically tired, he was incoherent. “I had a dry cough, not like the scratchy kind or the kind with phlegm. It was like coughing my lungs out. I couldn’t sleep because of the aches,” he said. COVID-19 also came with a mental burden of guilt. “I felt so guilty because I may have inadvertently passed it onto someone. That part was the worst. It was my main motivation for sharing the post. I want people to know as soon as possible and quarantine themselves,” he said. Days four to seven, Feng was feeling slightly better but still very lethargic. Nurses took his vitals every four hours. He remembered high-tech equipment that would digitally capture his stats and send them online to the cloud, while doctors monitoring from afar would speak to him via speakerphone with excellent English. Feng started devising a routine to help him get through the day: wake up, shower, change clothes, breakfast, take medicine, reply to messages on his Facebook for two hours, update his condition on social media, lunch, Netflix, read (“If I could focus”), a nap, dinner, read the news, reply to more messages, and sleep. He watched on the news as the coronavirus numbers shot up worldwide – but it only gave him more motivation to beat the disease. “Yes, it was depressing. But watching it, I knew I needed to survive this thing. Instead of having it put me down I wanna help people and give people hope, so they can say that someone they know survived this thing,” he said. Missing the Human Touch Although he made many video calls, reassuring his family that the healthcare standards in Thailand were “very, very decent” he still missed the human touch. “It’s different than having someone be there,” he said. As the nurses came along each day in their protective PPE suits, he tried to chat to them with his limited Thai. It struck him how much the nurses have on their plate – not only do they have to treat him, they also did his laundry, took out his trash, cleaned his room, and disinfected his toilet. “They did that because most of the mae baan are senior, so contracting the virus would be more dangerous for them. So they are doing this so mae baan don’t have to be in the room. It’s very heartwarming,” he said. By day nine, Feng had replied to every single one of the thousands of messages he received, and he was beginning to severely miss the sun on his face and wind in his hair. Staff moved him to a regular ward because he was already self-sufficient and his X-rays came back without lung damage. Most alarmingly, however, the hospital needed the room to admit a pregnant lady with coronavirus who needed the oxygen supply equipment. “My heart sank from hearing that. The importance of social distancing and flattening the curve really struck me. I was clearly in a better position than that pregnant lady and older people. This could be their last fight,” he said. Bad News and Good News Meanwhile, he received word that two of his staff at the restaurant had also contracted the virus and were undergoing treatment as well. None of the family and friends of the three tested positive for the disease, however, so he posits that they contracted it from a customer. Feng was very disappointed on days 9 and 10 when he continued to test positive, even though he had no more symptoms. “The isolation really kicked in. You didn’t see anyone or the outside world, the air, the sun. I was mentally looking forward to going back to my regular life,” he said. “I felt lousy about it.” Fortunately, he tested negative on Day 11. “Just one more, and I can go home,” he told himself. And he did on Day 12. “I felt happy, but there were many mixed feelings coming together. I felt happy this episode was over, but cautious,” he said. He went home on Day 13, with instructions to self-quarantine for a week. He’s been home since. Money Matters After a negotiation with his insurance agent at Krungthai Axa, the entirety of his 147,000 baht medical costs were covered by the firm. It would have been a considerable bill otherwise. His one day stay at Bangkok Christian Hospital alone amounted to 50,000 baht, and his 12-day stay at Bamrasnaradura cost about 97,000 baht. His close contacts also received free coronavirus tests due to their history of coming in close proximity with Feng. Feng is looking forward to putting this episode behind him, and finding a way to keep his shop going after a month of no income. “At the end of the day, your own immune system has to do everything,” he said. “So please practice social distancing. This episode is not about you, but who you may affect that cannot afford to catch this – the old, the weak, and the vulnerable. https://www.khaosodenglish.com/featured/2020/03/30/what-its-like-to-catch-and-survive-the-coronavirus-in-thailand/
  22. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    BANGKOK — Speaking from his condo, Singaporean expat Jay Feng asked other people currently in self-isolation at their homes to stay calm and not to panic. He knew a thing or two about the coronavirus; in fact, he survived it. https://www.khaosodenglish.com/featured/2020/03/30/what-its-like-to-catch-and-survive-the-coronavirus-in-thailand/
  23. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Prayut has announced that Thailand is buying medical equipment and supplies from the PRC. Maybe he can buy back those masks that a deputy minister sold to China. Meanwhile, life goes on.
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