Thailand revokes state of emergency after failing to quell massive pro-democracy protests



Thailand on Thursday rolled back an emergency decree aimed at ending months of protests against the government and monarchy that had only inflamed anger and brought tens of thousands of people onto Bangkok streets.

A government statement published in the official Royal Gazette said it would mean an end to measures that include bans on political gatherings of five or more people and publishing news that could affect security.

“The current violent situation that led to the announcement of the severe situation has eased and ended to a situation in which government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws,” the statement said.

The only specific incident given for the ban was one in which Queen Suthida’s convoy was jeered by protesters, but it came after protests that are the biggest challenge in years to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Protesters who have given Mr Prayuth a three-day deadline to quit said that withdrawing the measures was not enough.

“He’s still seeking to stay in power while ignoring all the people’s demands. The emergency decree shouldn’t have been issued in the first place,” Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat, one of the leaders, said.

Dozens of protesters – including many of the most high profile protest leaders – were arrested during the crackdown.

Among them was Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon, who was released on Thursday after being arrested a day earlier.

Ms Patsaravalee, 25, told reporters after being freed that the court had deemed the charges were not serious and that she still needed to attend classes and exams, so bail was granted without having to submit any guarantees.

Protesters say Mr Prayuth rigged an election last year to keep hold of power he seized in a 2014 coup.

He says the election was fair. Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling years of military domination and want to curb the king’s powers.

The palace has a policy of making no comment to media.



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Leeds 0-1 Wolves: Win a ‘massive result’, says defender Conor Coady


Raul Jimenez (left) scored his third goal of the season for Wolves

Wolves’ win at Leeds United, which moved them into sixth in the Premier League, was a “massive result” according to defender Conor Coady.

After losing their first two games of the season, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have now won their past three, although Coady said it was difficult to achieve this third victory, decided by a 70th-minute deflected Raul Jimenez strike.

“It was a massive result for us, we knew how tough it would be,” he said.

“They were fantastic last season and play at 100mph, but we stuck at our plan. It’s hard to get after them, you have to play with your brain.”

Although Leeds dominated the opening period, the visitors were in charge from the final minute of the half when Daniel Podence’s shot was saved.

“They were very attacking, we looked at that and then we got a bit of control in the second half,” Coady added to Sky Sports.

In only the second top-flight Elland Road meeting between these two famous old clubs since 1981, Wolves were well on top by the time Jimenez took the ball across field from the right flank after 70 minutes, before checking inside to shoot from the edge of the box.

Kalvin Phillips tried to block the Mexican’s effort but only succeeded in heading into the opposite corner, leaving goalkeeper Illan Meslier stranded and unable to stop Jimenez netting his third goal of the season.

Wolves thought they had scored earlier in the half when Roman Saiss lashed home Podence’s cross, but after taking guidance from VAR Michael Oliver, referee David Coote ruled it out for offside.

Though close, it was the right call. It certainly created far less controversy than the incident the pair were involved in on Saturday when – with Oliver in charge and Coote at Premier League HQ – they deemed Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford did not deserve a red card after injuring Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk with a reckless challenge.

Reality check for Leeds

Leeds have enjoyed an excellent start to their first top-flight season since 2004 and victory would have taken them into third, but this first home defeat since February was a bit of a reality check for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.

The Argentine’s deep thinking about the game has turned the West Yorkshire side into a tactical conundrum.

At different times they can have three, four or five players in defence depending whether Stuart Dallas is pushing up the left flank or Phillips is dropping deep.

And as they did in their thrilling draw with Manchester City in their last home game, Leeds enjoyed long periods when they were the better side.

Patrick Bamford has a goal ruled out
Patrick Bamford has a goal ruled out for offside in the first half

Luke Ayling had a shot blocked by Max Kilman and Patrick Bamford got to Jack Harrison’s cross but was unable to turn his first-time effort goalwards.

They rallied after Jimenez had broken the deadlock and Pablo Hernandez did have chance to level, but the effort was blocked and with it went Leeds’ hopes of avoiding a second defeat of the season.

Wolves in transition

Wolves will be delighted at three wins from their opening five games, particularly as manager Nuno is in the early stages of revolutionising his team’s style of play, changing them from a largely counter-attacking unit into one that is comfortable in possession.

However, with three of his new recruits on the bench, including £35.6m teenager Fabio Silva, the indications are Nuno has not quite settled on his preferred use of the talents at his disposal.

A first-half possession statistic of 31% underlined Wolves’ labours, as did their return of zero shots on target before Podence drove the best chance of the opening period straight at Meslier with virtually the final kick before the whistle.

Jimenez’s forward partnership with Podence will be the key to Wolves’ hopes of progress as Nuno’s rebuilding work continues.

The Mexican remains one of the Premier League’s most feared strikers – only Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have also scored 30 top-flight goals since the start of last season – and Podence is blossoming into a capable replacement for Diogo Jota.

‘They were so dynamic’ – reaction

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo speaking to BBC’s Match of the Day: “It was a good performance with some aspects to improve. We were better in the second half, but at the start it was very difficult for us.

“They broke us, created chances, they were so dynamic. We had to adjust and be more clinical in front. The goal was fortunate but we had chances.

“There was a proposal from [former Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger for daylight for offsides – VAR is fine margins and we want them to make good decisions. It is a challenge for referees to improve, to be better, be faster and let the game flow.

“Nobody likes to celebrate and then come back. VAR can go both ways, let’s try to help and make things better together.”

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa: “In the first half we should have established a difference. In the second half it was more even.

“We had the sensation that we could unbalance them. We created enough opportunities to establish a lead.

“I don’t think they were better than us, but they neutralised our game better. The game was very hard, very physical and there was a lot of interruptions.”

Jimenez hits milestone – stats

  • Leeds suffered their first home defeat in 12 games in all competitions (W8 D3), since a 0-1 defeat to Wigan in the Championship in February 2020.
  • Wolves have won four league meetings in a row against Leeds for the first time since February 1958 to April 1960 (a run of five).
  • Wolves have won three of their first five games (L2) of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1979-80.
  • This was Leeds’ first home defeat in the Premier League since April 2004 (1-2 v Portsmouth).
  • Jimenez has netted 33 goals in the Premier League for Wolves, 11 more than any other player Steven Fletcher managed, while only Joao Moutinho has more assists (14) than the Mexican (13).
  • Max Kilman registered his first goal involvement in his 14th game for Wolves in all competitions.

What’s next?

Leeds next play in the Premier League at high-flying Aston Villa on 23 October (20:00 BST), while Wolves entertain Newcastle on 25 October (16:30 GMT).

Player of the match

KilmanMaximilian Kilman

Leeds United

  1. Squad number1Player nameMeslier

  2. Squad number5Player nameKoch

  3. Squad number2Player nameAyling

  4. Squad number15Player nameDallas

  5. Squad number21Player nameStruijk

  6. Squad number43Player nameKlich

  7. Squad number20Player nameRodrigo

  8. Squad number19Player namePablo Hernández

  9. Squad number17Player nameHélder Costa

  10. Squad number22Player nameHarrison

  11. Squad number18Player nameRaphinha

  12. Squad number23Player namePhillips

  13. Squad number7Player namePoveda-Ocampo

  14. Squad number9Player nameBamford

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  1. Squad number49Player nameKilman

  2. Squad number16Player nameCoady

  3. Squad number9Player nameJiménez

  4. Squad number7Player namePedro Neto

  5. Squad number11Player nameRui Patrício

  6. Squad number10Player nameDaniel Podence

  7. Squad number15Player nameBoly

  8. Squad number27Player nameSaïss

  9. Squad number28Player nameJoão Moutinho

  10. Squad number32Player nameDendoncker

  11. Squad number8Player nameRúben Neves

  12. Squad number37Player nameTraoré

  13. Squad number22Player nameNélson Semedo

  14. Squad number5Player nameMarçal

Line-ups

Leeds

  • 1Meslier
  • 2AylingBooked at 15mins
  • 5Koch
  • 21StruijkSubstituted forHernándezat 75′minutes
  • 15Dallas
  • 23PhillipsBooked at 61mins
  • 17Hélder CostaSubstituted forPoveda-Ocampoat 71′minutes
  • 43Klich
  • 20Rodrigo
  • 22HarrisonSubstituted forDias Belloliat 82′minutes
  • 9Bamford

Substitutes

  • 7Poveda-Ocampo
  • 10Alioski
  • 11Roberts
  • 13Casilla
  • 18Dias Belloli
  • 19Hernández
  • 46Shackleton

Wolves

  • 11Rui Patrício
  • 15Boly
  • 16Coady
  • 49Kilman
  • 22Nélson Semedo
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 28João MoutinhoBooked at 66minsSubstituted forNevesat 82′minutes
  • 7NetoSubstituted forMarçal de Oliveiraat 89′minutes
  • 27Saïss
  • 9Jiménez
  • 10Castelo PodenceSubstituted forTraoréat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Hoever
  • 5Marçal de Oliveira
  • 8Neves
  • 17Soares Silva
  • 21Ruddy
  • 37Traoré
  • 54Otasowie

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States reporting massive turnout for early voting, mail-in ballots


FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2020, file photo, voters line up at an early voting satellite location at the Anne B. Day elementary school in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 8:33 AM PT – Saturday, October 17, 2020

Millions of voters have showed up at the polls and sent in their mail-in ballots in what’s being called an “unprecedented” early voting turnout. Concerns about the coronavirus and mail-in voting have been cited for the remarkable turnout.

According to recent reports, more than 21 million voters have cast their ballots either in person or through the mail so far. Around 1.4 million people had already voted by this time during 2016, accounting for more than 15 percent of the total votes during that election.

The Georgia state secretary said nearly 130,000 people cast ballots in the state Monday, smashing the nearly 91,000 votes cast on the first day of the 2016 election. One county said it saw a 484 percent increase from the first day of voting.

Georgia voters expressed a sense of urgency driving them to the polls, saying this election seems to be more complex due to the ongoing pandemic and the candidates.

“I would strongly recommend coming early and getting it done, that way you know it’s done,” stated Georgia resident Steve Butts. “It’s in the system, you don’t have to hear about it on the 6:00 o’clock news about ‘they found a burlap bag full of ballots’ in, you know, out in the woods somewhere.”

In Texas, where early voting started Tuesday, more than 1 million votes have already been cast in a record turnout. Nearly 17 million Texans registered to vote this year, which is up nearly 2 million since 2016.

In Ohio, nearly 200,000 residents cast early votes this week compared to around 64,000 during the same week in the last election.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, voters waited for up to three hours to cast their ballots in some areas when early voting started Thursday.

It’s a beautiful day, people are eager to vote,” said North Carolina resident Jason Roberts. ” If you wait and go next week, I think you’ll see the lines will not be nearly as long as they are today and it will be a much faster process for someone who doesn’t have the time to stand outside.”

According to reports, the number of first time voters choosing to vote early has more than doubled compared to 2016. More than 2 million infrequent voters have also cast ballots compared to 658,000 during the last election.

Officials said the steps taken by states to make it easier to register to vote and cast a ballot likely contributed to the increased turnout. In Virginia, for example, voters can now vote absentee without having to provide a reason and lawmakers have made Election Day a state holiday.

Registered Democrats are reportedly “significantly” outnumbering Republicans in this early turnout and have returned nearly 2.5 million more ballots. However, GOP officials said they are not concerned while pointing out a majority of Republican voters prefer to vote in person, especially on Election Day.

“This is a pattern we are seeing across other states as well — that Democrats in particular are very motivated to turnout, but they are also very motivated to either vote by mail or vote early,”stated Seth Masket, Director of the Center on American Politics, University of Denver. “There is a good deal of enthusiasm among Republicans as well, they are more interested in voting close to or on Election Day.”

One expert who tracks polling data said Democrats may be doing Republicans a favor by voting early thus clearing out polling places for Republicans to vote come Election Day.

RELATED: Thousands of Ohio voters receive the wrong mail-in ballot





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Independent and minor party candidates face ‘massive’ challenge to win ACT election seats


Two decades ago, the ACT Legislative Assembly was chockers with minor parties and independents.

But their ranks were thinned in 2001 (just one minor party candidate was elected) and there have been none since 2004.

Something changed the attitudes of ACT voters, who used to be much more inclined to veer away from the major parties.

In 1998, more than one in four Canberrans (25.4 per cent) wrote number one next to an independent or minor party candidate’s name (excluding the Greens).

In 2016, just one in seven first-preference votes (14.7 per cent) went to candidates outside the three main parties.

Yet that is still a lot of votes in the ACT system, where a quota — the amount of votes needed to win a seat — is just 16.7 per cent.

So what will it take for a non-aligned voice to get elected this time around?

The ACT Legislative Assembly was once chockers with minor parties and independents, but Canberrans haven’t elected an MLA from outside one of the major parties this century.(ABC News)

Winning over preferences and ‘exhausted’ voters

Elsewhere in Australia, parties and candidates hold secret negotiations to reach preference-swapping deals.

“Preference whisperer” Glenn Druery has used these arrangements for years to help his minor-party clients get into parliaments.

But this does not happen in the ACT, because only voters can decide how preferences flow — Canberrans have complete control over their vote’s journey throughout the count.

They have other freedoms, too: while the ACT Electoral Commission urges voters to number “at least five boxes”, Canberrans can number every box or even just one if they want.

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Yet some Canberrans may wrongly interpret this freedom and the commission’s advice to mean that only five preferences count — and fear that any preferences beyond number five are “wasted”.

At the last election, 7.4 per cent of votes were “exhausted” (stopped being counted) before all five members had been elected.

If independent candidates could convince some of these voters that a vote for them is better than a vote for no one, they would be a small step closer to victory.

But that’s just one of several hurdles.

Getting recognised, and trusted, without a party

One in seven Canberra voters may have turned to an independent or minor party in 2016, but that does not mean these voters liked all non-mainstream candidates.

Even the best-performing of those candidates only gained a fraction of the whole non-major-party vote before they were eliminated from the count.

In other words, they need to win more than just votes that might otherwise have been exhausted: they need a lot of voters to actually know and trust them.

Former teacher and businessman Michael Moore spent 12 years in the Assembly as an independent MLA, and even became health minister in Liberal chief minister Kate Carnell’s government.

He said the challenge for non-party candidates was massive.

A man with a grey beard.
Michael Moore says winning office is a massive, but doable, challenge for independents.(ABC News)

Mr Moore believes this year’s candidates have it even tougher than he did.

“There are two big challenges: one is the pandemic but the second one is the use of social media … it’s absolutely fundamental in how you campaign,” he said.

He says candidates outside the major parties need to be extremely well prepared, have clear policies and principles, and an army of supporters willing to chip in.

But it is possible, he says, and he nominates two potential winners.

“I think the Belco Party has a chance in Belconnen [Ginninderra], and David Pollard in Yerrabi.”

The ex-Liberals targetting Belconnen ‘neglect’

A man with glasses smiles at the camera.
Belco Party founder Bill Stefaniak attracted a very large personal vote when he was last in politics.(ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

One of Mr Moore’s two picks, Belco Party founder Bill Stefaniak, is better known for being a Liberal MLA than an independent voice.

Mr Stefaniak spent 17 years in the Assembly before retiring in 2008, when he quit the Liberals to join the ACT’s administrative tribunal.

He now leads a motley team “of very colourful and very competent people”, most of whom are ex-Liberal members like himself.

However, he denies his new party is simply a means of helping the Liberals win office, saying he no longer feels an affiliation with his former colleagues.

Mr Stefaniak’s priorities are very local — “derelict buildings, uncut grass, potholes” — and he wants the next government to spend “sufficient money, regularly, on just keeping the suburbs neat and tidy”.

He says he has struggled to gain media attention and has relied instead on prolific use of road signs with the old Australian Democrats slogan “keep the bastards honest”.

There are sound reasons for believing Mr Stefaniak may poll well: his personal support among voters at his last election in 2004 was so strong that he was one of only four candidates in the ACT to be elected without needing any preferences.

He says he is “fairly pessimistic” this time around but will be “delighted” if his expectations are proved wrong.

Campaigning to capture the political middle ground

A woman stands next to a sign reading 'Fiona Carrick independent'.
Fiona Carrick is one of the independents vying for a seat in Saturday’s ACT election.(ABC News: Adam Kennedy)

Another candidate undergoing the toil of a campaign without major-party support is Fiona Carrick, who is running in the south-west electorate of Murrumbidgee.

Ms Carrick, as a former president of the Woden Valley Community Council, is relatively well known but acknowledged the long odds of winning a seat.

“To cover the ground is difficult: responding to emails at night, writing policy, it’s very tough without the major [parties] behind you.”

Her main focus is on improving city planning, and she says Canberra needs independent MLAs who are “issues-based and evidence-based, and can hold the government to account”.

She also says people are “looking for change but they won’t go to the Liberals”.

“I’m hoping that I can get in, shake it up in the Legislative Assembly and get a better deal for southsiders.”



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Shopping frenzy starts with massive deals


The much-anticipated annual online shopping event is here.

Amazon Prime Day kicked off at midnight, offering Prime members two days of deals.

The deals will run for 48 hours until Wednesday October 14.

Prime Day deals from the US will also be available through Amazon until 6pm AEDT on Thursday October 15, extending the sale to 66 hours.

People who aren’t Prime members can access the deals with a free 30-day trial.

This year’s Prime Day offers more deals than previous events, with

tens of thousands of products at discounted prices from big brands including Bosch, Huggies and Samsung, Barbie, Havaianas and Nintendo.

Amazon Australia is also supporting small local businesses with its Shop Local store featuring products from hundreds of Australian small businesses and local brands.

RELATED: Full round up of Prime Day discounts

RELATED: Best Prime Day beauty buys

“We are thrilled to be able to share the great deals that will be available to Prime members in Australia this year. With huge savings across the store, we hope that there will be something for everyone,” Amazon Australia Country Manager Matt Furlong said.

Deals will be available across all categories including Amazon devices, consumer electronics, pantry food and drink, toys, fashion, beauty and more.

BIG DEALS ON ELECTRONICS

There are big savings off Amazon devices, including $80 off the retail price of the Kindle Paperwhite, $100 off the Echo Show 8 and up to 30 per cent off select Ring Home Security.

RELATED: Best Amazon Prime Day sale tech deals

Shoppers can save up to 40 per cent on select Panasonic cameras, as well as savings on Fitbits and Nikon cameras.

There are also big savings on the Bose Soundbar 700 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20, and Lenovo laptops are 30 per cent off.

Select DVDs and Blu-rays are up to 50 per cent off, and there’s up to 25 per cent off selected 2020 movie releases and 4K movies on DVD and Blu-ray.

Selected PlayStation 4 video games are 15 per cent off and you can get a PlayStation 4 Pro console for $399, which is almost 30 per cent off the retail price. PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers are more than half price.

There are also deals on select Nintendo Switch consoles and select Nintendo Minecraft games.

The Oculus Rift S PC-Powered VR gaming headset is also discounted.

FASHION SAVINGS

There are great savings on fashion. Customers can buy select Puma clothing starting from $15 and Cotton On clothing starting from $10.

There are deals on clothing from Rip Curl, Champion, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

For shoe lovers, customers can buy a pair of Crocs sandals starting from $30 and Skechers shoes starting from $67.

RELATED: Fashion buys to complete your summer wardrobe

There are also deals on select shoes from Hush Puppies, Clarks, Julius Marlow and Wild Rhino.

New Balance Men’s 624 cross training shoes can be snagged for just $68.

There are great bargains on select watches from Fossil, Diesel, and Skagen starting from $149.

A men’s stainless steel Seiko watch can be picked up for $99.

There are also great savings on select Samsonite, Knomo, Victorinox suitcases and bags.

HOME AND KITCHEN BUYS

There are big savings on home and kitchenware, including around 30 per cent off instant pot pressure cookers and Dremel tools.

Shoppers can save up to 15 per cent off a range of cookbooks.

There’s also a 30 per cent saving on pantry items when you spend $50 on select everyday essentials from brands such as Carmans, Heinz, Finish, Pine O Cleen, Dilmah tea.
Select T2 tea bags and San Pellegrino, Perrier and Evian are 50 per cent off.

For sugar lovers, bags of Starburst and Skittles are half price and Coca-Cola 36-packs are only $20 or 56 cents per can.

BABY, CHILDREN, PETS AND BEAUTY MARKDOWNS

Prime members pay just $40 for a one-month supply of Huggies and can save an additional 15 per cent on scheduled deliveries through Subscribe and Save.

There’s also up to 25 per cent off select Philips Avent.

Some children’s books are discounted by 15 per cent.

Shoppers can also save on select pet treats from Greenies, Pedigree, Schmackos, Bow Wow, WAG and more.

There are also savings on select GHD hair appliances.

SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS

Amazon Australia has also launched the Shop Local store featuring products from hundreds of Australian small businesses and local brands, including Sydney-based Zenify, local organic skincare brand Willow by the Sea, Gold Coast-based coffee brewer Scenic Brew and Perth mums’ business 123 Nourish Me.

“We are proud to put small Aussie businesses front and centre through our Shop Local store in one of our busiest shopping events,” Mr Furlong said.

“Amazon’s Prime Day is such an important moment of the year for us as a small business,” Zenify founder Andonis Sakatis said. “Prime Day gives us the opportunity to offer Prime members some amazing deals and historically it’s been one of our biggest days of sales for the whole year.

“We’re really excited that Amazon Australia has put small businesses at the heart of this year’s Prime Day through their Shop Local store, as we know our customers are increasingly interested in shopping from Aussie businesses.”



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Dry grass fire leads to massive explosions at artillery shells warehouse in Russia’s Ryazan region



As many as 13 people were hurt as a result of massive explosions that took place in the Ryazan region of Russia. Earlier, it was reported that eight people suffered in the incident.

Ryazan warehouse explosions

Ten people are reported to be in intensive care, three others remain in moderate condition.

The Russian EMERCOM is taking more effort to protect local settlements: a total of 392 EMERCOM officers and 81 pieces of equipment, including 36 tank trucks, will be concentrated in the emergency area.

Explosions occurred as a result of grass fire that broke out on the territory of the warehouse where ammunition was stored. The warehouse is part of the Western Military District, it is located near the settlement of Zheltukhino, the Ryazan region. Gusts of wind caused the fire to spread quickly and it eventually reached the area, where artillery shells were stored.

A representative of the regional emergency services said that residents of the neighbouring village of Kuzminka-2 were evacuated. No casualties were reported, but it as said that ammunition was exploding every 5-10 seconds. Because of the explosions, traffic on the Caspian Highway was blocked. A group of rescuers (40 people) and 14 pieces of hardware were sent to the site of the explosions.

Later, the EMERCOM reported the evacuation of ten settlements within a radius of five kilometers from the warehouse.



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Storm-weary U.S. offshore energy firms prep for massive hurricane



FILE PHOTO: The Petronius oil platform is seen from the air, located 100 miles (161 km) off the coast of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico June 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

October 7, 2020

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Oil and gas workers withdrew en masse from U.S. offshore production facilities and onshore refineries began preparations on Wednesday as Hurricane Delta was forecast to grow into a powerful storm over the Caribbean on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Delta’s winds declined to 105 miles per hour (169 kph) as it tore across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula early Wednesday. It is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico and intensify into a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

Oil producers had evacuated 57 production facilities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico by Tuesday and halted 540,000 barrels per day of oil and 232 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production. The region accounts for about 17% of U.S. oil output.

Onshore energy facilities and export ports began securing operations. Royal Dutch Shell Plc was preparing three refineries in Convent, Geismar and Norco, Louisiana, for Delta’s arrival. Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the sole deep water port on the Gulf of Mexico, halted seaborne exports and imports.

Energy prices were mixed. Natural gas futures were up 8% this week on storm shut-ins and the potential disruption to exports from coastal processing plants. U.S. crude oil and gasoline futures each fell about 3%.

Delta is expected to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast on the weekend as the 10th named storm to make a U.S. landfall this year, eclipsing a record that has held since 1916.

After weakening over the Yucatan, Delta is expected to restrengthen and grow into a massive storm. The “significant increase in the size of Delta’s wind field while it is over the Gulf of Mexico” will drive a broad storm surge and wind threats to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the NHC said.

Oil companies have had to evacuate workers repeatedly during this storm season. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the departures and returns, with some workers required to quarantine ashore and be tested for the virus before returning.

Delta’s evacuations are at least sixth time that some companies have had to remove staff and curtail production since June.

W&T Offshore Inc , one of the smaller Gulf of Mexico producers, estimated the storms cost it 9,000 barrels of oil and gas per day in the latest quarter, more than a fifth of its targeted output.

Shell, the largest Gulf of Mexico offshore oil producer by volume, evacuated staff from nine facilities and is preparing to shut production at several. Chevron Corp was evacuating and shutting production on all its Gulf of Mexico platforms, along with BP Plc , BHP and Occidental Petroleum Corp.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)





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Essendon’s Adam Saad officially requests AFL trade to Carlton in massive blow for Bombers


Dashing Essendon defender Adam Saad is set to join his third AFL club after nominating Carlton as his destination of choice.

Saad, who has played 61 games for the Bombers after 48 at Gold Coast, is out of contract and is in the process of informing Essendon of his wish to leave.

The 26-year-old averaged a career-high 18.9 disposals per game this season despite the shortened game length, and his likely departure is another big blow to Essendon’s hopes of turning around a poor 2020.

The Bombers have already lost fellow rebounding defender Conor McKenna to retirement, while free agent Joe Daniher and forward Orazio Fantasia could also be on the move.

Daniher has been heavily linked to the Brisbane Lions, while Fantasia could return home to South Australia despite being contracted for 2021.

Saad is set to earn a five-year deal at Carlton, assuming a trade with Essendon can be done.

The Bombers are likely to request Carlton’s first-round draft pick.

“We put forward a significant offer to Adam and we are disappointed in his decision to pursue a playing future elsewhere,” Essendon’s recruiting manager Adrian Dodoro said

“Although we wish Adam all the best, he is not a free agent and therefore a suitable trade will need to be forthcoming from Carlton. Clearly, there is an expectation of compelling compensation for a player of Adam’s calibre.”

Essendon missed finals in 2020 and will have serious gaps to fill before 2021.(AAP: Darren England)

Saad’s decision is another big boost for the Blues, who have also attracted GWS free agent Zac Williams.

Meanwhile, Jackson Hately is the latest player to want out of the Giants, with the midfielder requesting a trade to Adelaide.

Taken at pick 14 in the 2018 draft, Hately is determined to return to his home state and has picked the Crows as his desired club.

AAP



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Mega art finds a home in Ravensthorpe’s Farm Gate Art Trail with giant echidna, massive bull


If you’re driving the wheatbelt route into the town of Ravensthorpe on WA’s remote south coast, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a 2-metre-tall echidna and a bull as tall as a truck.

It sits about 20 kilometres out of town, with spines spiking high atop a bulbous body and two beady eyes peering out from behind a silver nose.

“We call it I-Chid-You-Not,” its creator Cat Tink said, who built the massive marsupial using old trampoline and car parts.

Mega artwork dots the region

I-Chid-You-Not is one of several larger-than-life landmarks dotted around this isolated community on the road to Esperance.

Here, deep in farming country, a half-day’s drive from Perth and in the shadow of the Ravensthorpe Range, you might expect you are more likely to see kangaroos than quirky crafts.

But sights like an a giant echidna or a two-storey watering can are not as rare as hen’s teeth in this community.

Sights like a two-storey watering can can be found along the trail.(Supplied: Sue Leighton)

There is also a rusted bull as tall as a truck and a teapot the size of a water tank.

These are just a sample of the 15 new works on the Farm Gate Art Trail, a tourist route through a region so dominated by farming that stations can stretch from horizon to horizon.

It is hoped the art trail, created by local families, helps Ravensthorpe become more than just a pit-stop for travellers driving through the region.

"Pa-bull Picasso" is made out of recycled metal
Sue Leighton hopes works like “Pa-bull Picasso” help Ravensthorpe become more than just a pit-stop town.(Supplied: Sue Leighton)

Community plans ‘interactive’ online tour

As a small town, nearly three hours drive from Albany, Ravensthorpe does not get many tourists.

Sue Leighton manages the Farm Gate Art Trail and is preparing to launch an online self-guided tour of the trail.

She hopes the quirky attractions might help bring some more visitors to town and says with the guided tour, plus extra upcoming works, visitors might choose to spend more time exploring the region.

A musical art display made out of an old staircase
Ravensthorpe locals are pinning their hopes on the art trail raising visitor interest in the region.(Supplied: Sue Leighton)

“You can spend your time ducking down from one length [of the trail] to another, then you might go to the beach and have a look there, or go into the Fitzgerald National Park,” Ms Leighton said.

Only time will tell whether the art trail consistently generates the extra tourism the town is hoping for, but there has been promising signs.

“A lot of people are stopping,” she said.



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