Thai woman handed 43-year prison term over Facebook and YouTube posts deemed critical of the monarchy

A court in Thailand has sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country’s strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, officials say.

The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

The sentence, which comes amid an ongoing protest movement that has seen unprecedented public criticism of the monarchy, was swiftly condemned by rights groups.

“Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said.

Violating Thailand’s lese majeste law – known widely as Article 112 – is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count.

During Thailand’s last 15 years of political unrest, use of the law has frequently been seen as a political weapon.

Public criticism of the monarchy has increased over the past year, when young protesters demanding reform of the royal family, which has long been regarded as an almost sacred institution by many Thais.

Since November authorities have arrested about 50 people and charged them with lese majeste.

“Thai authorities are using lese majeste prosecution as their last-resort measure in response to the youth-led democracy uprising that seeks to curb the king’s powers,” Sunai said.

“Thailand’s political tensions will now go from bad to worse.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights identified the woman sentenced on Tuesday only by her first name, Anchan, and said she was in her mid-sixties.

The court initially announced her sentence as 87 years, but reduced it by half because she pleaded guilty in the hope the court would have sympathy for her actions, because she had only shared the audio, not posted or commented on it, she told local media on her arrival at court.

“I thought it was nothing. There were so many people who shared this content and listened to it,” Anchan said.

What is believed to have previously been the longest lese majeste sentence was issued in 2017, when a military court sentenced a man to 35 years for social media posts deemed defamatory to the monarchy.

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Stocks fall for back-to-back sessions, S&P 500 posts weekly loss of more than 1%

Stocks dipped as traders considered details of President-elect Joe Biden’s newly unveiled stimulus proposal and weighed the likelihood of the package getting advanced quickly through Congress. COVID-19 concerns also flared anew as stay-in-place restrictions tightened across parts of Europe, and new data showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell for a third straight month in December.

The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq traded lower Friday, extending declines from a day earlier. The S&P 500 posted a weekly loss of about 1.5%, unwinding some of its gains from the previous week.

Late Thursday, Biden outlined his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, which included a host of additional relief measures to add to the provisions included in the $900 billion package Congress passed in December.

Biden’s proposal, designated the American Rescue Plan, seeks to offer stimulus payments of $1,400 to most Americans, increase enhanced federal unemployment benefits by $100 to $400 per week and extend these through the end of September, and provide $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, which had been excluded from Congress’s latest package. It also seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and provide additional funds to schools and to ramp up COVID-19 testing and vaccination, among other provisions.

The overall size of the package was largely in line with what investors had been anticipating from the proposal, and would be rivaled only by the $2.2 trillion relief from the CARES Act last spring. Whether or not the package will actually get advanced in the near-term is the next key question for markets, some pundits noted.

“We’ve got to distinguish between willingness and ability. I have no doubt in my mind that the incoming Biden administration wants to go big. They want to go big on relief, they want to go big on infrastructure, they want to go big on local and state government, and for good reason,” Mohamed El-Erian, president of Queens College at Cambridge University and chief economic adviser to Allianz, told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. “But they have a razor thin majority in Congress, razor thin in the Senate. And getting that through is not going to be easy. Add to that, there’s questions about the impeachment process, there’s questions about nominations, there’s COVID.

“So the market, I think, has priced in a big package. That is consistent with what the Biden administration wants to do. The question that the market is going to have to cope with is, is it able to do so given what else the Senate has to look at in the next few weeks and months,” he added.

Still, support to financial markets and the economy has come from multiple fronts during the pandemic, and many members of the Federal Reserve, for their part, have recently doubled down on their commitment to keeping crisis-era policies in place for the time being. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said during a webinar on Thursday that he believed the U.S. economy was still “far from our goals,”and that “now is not the time to be talking about exit” when it came to considering the Fed’s thinking around its massive, pandemic-era asset-purchase program.

4:02 p.m. ET: Stocks end session, week lower

Here’s where the major indexes ended Friday’s session:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -27.29 (-0.72%) to 3,768.25

  • Dow (^DJI): -177.26 (-0.57%) to 30,814.26

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -114.14 (-0.87%) to 12,998.5

2:35 p.m. ET: U.S. crude oil prices drop 2% to $52.36 per barrel, end the week roughly flat

U.S. crude oil prices settled lower at the close of Friday’s session, shedding some of their recent gains as renewed lockdowns in Europe reignited fears of weak demand for travel and fuel.

West Texas intermediate crude oil was down 2.3% to $52.36 per barrel as of Friday’s settlement, and was little changed over last week. Crude oil prices are still down about 10% over last year, but have come back significantly after a tough spring of 2020.

Energy was the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 intraday on Friday.

12:41 p.m. ET: IRS delays start of 2020 tax-filing season to February 12 amid COVID-19 stimulus payments

The IRS said in an announcement Friday that the 2020 tax-filing season would begin February 12, marking a delay from the usual late-January start to the season. The agency said it would require additional time to do additional programming work amid the latest COVID-19 relief payments.

“This programming work is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly. If filing season were opened without the correct programming in place, then there could be a delay in issuing refunds to taxpayers,” the IRS said in a statement. “These changes ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return.”

The IRS expects more than 150 million tax returns to be filed this year, with most taking place before the April 15 deadline.

12:05 p.m. ET: Stocks hold lower

The three major indexes remained pressured in intraday trading Friday and headed for weekly losses.

The cyclical energy, financials and industrials sectors lagged in the S&P 500 on Friday, giving back some of their recent advances amid bets on a strong post-virus economic recovery. Dow Inc. (DOW) and Chevron (CVX) underperformed in the Dow. The 30-stock index shed 0.5%, or 150 points, around noon in New York.

The real estate, utilities, communication services and health-care sectors remained in positive territory in the S&P 500 intraday on Friday.

10:00 a.m. ET: Consumer sentiment drops more than anticipated in January: U. Michigan

Consumer sentiment dropped further than expected in January, as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases political turmoil were only partially offset by hopes for the coronavirus vaccine roll-out and supportive policies under the incoming Biden administration.

The headline index for consumer sentiment fell to 79.2 in January from 80.7 in December, according to the University of Michigan’s preliminary monthly survey. Consensus economists were looking for the consumer sentiment index to come in at 79.5, according to Bloomberg data.

“Two offsetting shifts helped narrow the January loss in sentiment: the COVID-19 vaccines and a partisan shift in expectations due to the anticipated impact of Biden’s economic policies,” Richard Curtin, chief economist for the University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers, said in a statement. “Importantly, covid’s threats to physical and mental health were seen in January as more important than its financial repercussions.”

“The most critical task for Biden is to not only accomplish his promised vaccination of 100 million in his first 100 days, but to accelerate on that pace for the balance of the population,” he added.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open lower

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -12.83 (-0.34%) to 3,782.71

  • Dow (^DJI): -187.88 (-0.61%) to 30,803.64

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +11.99 (+0.11%) to 13,126.68

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.76 (-1.42%) to $52.81 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$10.70 (-0.58%) to $1,840.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -3 bps to yield 1.099%

8:58 a.m. ET: Retail sales miss suggests ‘the next few months are still likely to be difficult’: Economist

The disappointing December retail sales report, which showed a surprise third straight month of declines, underscores the ongoing pain the economy is enduring amid the pandemic. And fiscal stimulus, while offering some support to businesses and individuals, will likely not be enough to completely offset weakening economic trends at the beginning of this year, according to some economists.

“The further slump in retail sales in December confirms that the continued surge in coronavirus infections is now weighing heavily on the economy and illustrates that, despite the building optimism over fiscal stimulus, the next few months are still likely to be difficult,” Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics, said in a note Friday.

“The economic hit from the current wave of virus cases won’t be nearly as large as that seen last spring, but GDP growth is likely to have been muted in the fourth quarter and looks set to slow further – albeit remaining in positive territory – in the first quarter too, even when we allow for the $600 stimulus checks, which could be raised to $2,000,” he said.

8:37 a.m. ET: Producer prices tick up only slightly in December as inflation stays muted

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly producer price index (PPI) increased just 0.3% in December after a 0.1% rise in November, missing expectations for a 0.4% monthly rise, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

A 0.1% drop in prices for final demand services weighed on the index, while goods prices increased 1.1% during December for the largest rise since May. Much of that increase came, in turn, from a jump in prices for energy, which firmed at the end of the year. Excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the PPI rose just 0.1% month-over-month and 1.2% year-over-year, with both coming in slower than anticipated.

8:30 a.m. ET: Retail sales unexpectedly drop for a third straight month

U.S. retail sales unexpectedly dropped in December as consumer spending lost steam during the final months of the year.

The total value of retail sales dropped 0.7% in December from November after a downwardly revised 1.4% drop in November, the Commerce Department said Friday. Still, retail sales were up 2.9% year-over-year.

The drop came as non-store retailers – largely comprising e-commerce stores – dipped 5.8% in December, giving back some recent monthly gains. Non-store retailer sales were still up 19.2% year-over-year, however.

Electronics and appliance store sales also fell sharply, dropping 4.9% during the month. Food services and drinking places saw sales down another 4.5%, extending a stretch of weakness amid tougher lockdown restrictions.

7:25 a.m. ET: Stock futures dip

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:25 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,775.25, down 16 points or 0.42%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,762.00, down 147 points or 0.48%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,877.75, down 23.25 points or 0.18%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.74 (-1.38%) to $52.83 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$3.80 (-0.21%) to $1,847.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +2.5 bps to yield 1.104%

7:16 a.m. ET: JPMorgan Chase posts record quarterly profit as trading, investment banking activity jumps

JPMorgan Chase (JPM), the largest U.S. bank by assets, posted record fourth-quarter profit that topped estimates as trading and investment-banking activity helped boost overall results yet again at the end of last year.

Earnings totaled $3.79 per share, growing from the $2.57 the company reported in the same period last year, and beating the $2.62 consensus analysts expected, according to Bloomberg data. Adjusted revenue of about $30.2 billion grew 3% over last year, and was driven by a 15% jump in fixed-income trading revenue and 32% surge in equities sales and trading revenue. Investment banking revenue increased 37% to more than $2 billion.

JPMorgan’s profits during the quarter also benefited from a release of reserves for credit losses, with virtually all the big banks last year having set aside additional capital to brace for potential customer defaults.

“While we reported record profits of $12.1 billion, we do not consider the reserve takedown of $2.9 billion to represent core or recurring profits,” CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement. “While positive vaccine and stimulus developments contributed to these reserve releases this quarter, our credit reserves of over $30 billion continue to reflect significant near-term economic uncertainty and will allow us to withstand an economic environment far worse than the current base forecasts by most economists.”

6:01 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures open higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:03 p.m. ET Thursday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,794.75, up 3.5 points or 0.09%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,932.00, up 23 points or 0.07%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,918.75, up 17.75 points or 0.14%

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street on January 12, 2021 in New York City. – US stocks on January 11, 2021 retreated from records set last week as political uncertainty, including efforts to remove President Donald Trump from power, has finally shaken investors. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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Postmedia posts first-quarter net earnings of $52.8 million amid pandemic headwinds

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Postmedia Network Canada Corp. continued to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in its fiscal first quarter, but nonetheless posted net earnings of $52.8 million for the three months ended Nov. 30, 2020, up from a loss of $3 million in the same period a year earlier.

The swing was largely due to a number of items unique to the quarter, including a non-cash settlement gain related to employee benefit plans of $63.1 million, and gains on derivative financial instruments and foreign exchange.

Revenue in the quarter declined by 25.4 per cent to $116.9 million, as advertisers responded to government-mandated shutdowns to try to control the spread of COVID-19.

“With the effects of the global pandemic continuing to weigh on our communities and our people, our focus remains on the safety of our teams, preserving liquidity, constraining costs, maximizing revenue and pursuing government support,” said Andrew MacLeod, president and chief executive of Postmedia.

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Christensen social media posts ‘putting Qlders at risk’: MP

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to rein in Dawson MP George Christensen over his “conspiracy theory” social media posts about Trump and COVID-19.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert is the latest politician to call out Mr Christensen’s recent activity on Facebook and far-right social media platform Parler. 

It comes after the Dawson MP launched a campaign to pressure the federal communications minister to further restrict the powers of social media companies.

“We’re at a crucial time in fighting this pandemic in Queensland and yet the Federal Member for Dawson continues to mock public health advice, putting the safety of Queenslanders at risk,” Mrs Gilbert posted on her official Facebook page on Monday.

“People here aren’t stupid – they know the devastating consequences this virus can have; we only have to look at new figures which show that more than 80,000 people in the United Kingdom have died within 28 days of getting a positive test for COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, all the Federal Member for Dawson is interested in is sharing countless conspiracy theory posts saying Trump was cheated and the US election was rigged.

“Is this what we want from our elected parliamentarians?”

In recent months, several of Mr Christensen’s social media posts about Donald Trump and the pandemic have been flagged as ‘false information’.

In response, the Dawson MP attacked Mrs Gilbert’s Queensland Labor Government, saying it was “apparently going to fine Brisbanites for not wearing masks while driving their cars, even if driving alone”.

Mr Christensen went on to say this rule deserved to be ridiculed.

“They’ve now recognised how stupid that rule was and abandoned it, so I’m not sure why (Mrs) Gilbert is maintaining the rage other than maybe she still supports it,” he said.


Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert’s Facebook post about George Christensen. Picture: Facebook

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The Mackay MP’s comments follow a wave of criticism against Mr Christensen and Liberal MP Craig Kelly.

Late last week, Labor Senator Kristina Keneally called on the Prime Minister via Twitter to “deal with the dangerous and extreme views” of both Mr Christensen and Mr Kelly.

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Victorian Liberal frontbencher Bernie Finn posts Trump election conspiracy theories to Facebook

A conservative Victorian MP has published pro-Trump conspiracy theories on his private Facebook page, falsely claiming the United States’ President has been “improperly” removed from office.

On the morning of chaotic scenes at the US Capitol, the private Facebook page of Western Metropolitan region Liberal MP Bernie Finn also shared a quote from former United States president Ronald Reagan that calls on citizens to fight for freedom.

Mr Finn is a supporter of Mr Trump and his private page, from which the two recent posts were published, often shares conspiracy theories supporting him.

As riots unfolded across the Capitol campus, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pulled down social media posts by Mr Trump, in which he repeated his baseless claims of election fraud.

On Wednesday, before the planned congressional confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden, Mr Finn wrote on his private Facebook page that Donald Trump would make history within the next 12 hours for one of two reasons.

He would either “fight off a concerted effort by globalists, big corporations, big media, the Washington Establishment and the mad Left to improperly remove him from the Oval Office”, or he would “succumb to … Deep State forces — but not before exposing the massive corruption undermining the American political system”.

Mr Finn wrote that Mr Trump had set a “wonderful example” of leadership during his presidency.(Supplied)

The Braybrook-based MP, who holds shadow ministerial positions and is the Liberal whip in the Victorian Upper House, ended the post by saying Americans would be grateful to the President.

“He set a wonderful example to every other national leader by putting America first,” Mr Finn said.

On Thursday morning, while Trump supporters were storming the congressional building in Washington, the Capitol, Mr Finn took to his private Facebook page again urging his followers to read a quote of former Republican president Ronald Reagan.

“The people of the United States would be well advised to remember these words of a very wise man and great President,” he wrote above a picture of Reagan and an excerpt from a speech delivered at a party convention in 1964.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” the quoted extract begins.

Bernie Finn posts an image of Ronald Reagan with a quote about fighting for freedom to his Facebook page.
Mr Finn shared the words from Ronald Reagan on Thursday morning, as Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.(Supplied)

“We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

The ABC is not suggesting Mr Finn supported the violence or rioting at the Capitol.

Mr Finn has been contacted for comment.

Colleagues slam Mr Finn’s ‘fruitcake’ commentary

Senior Liberal sources suggested Mr Finn was irritating swathes of his own party with his social media posts and questioned whether Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien could continue to support him.

“Instead of pushing and pursuing wild conspiracy theories, Bernie should go back into his office and try and help us in the western suburbs,” one senior Liberal source said.

Another Liberal colleague described him as “a fruitcake”.

When asked about his comments at an Opposition press conference, Shadow Minister for Tourism Cindy McLeish said she had not seen the posts but made clear she did not support baseless conspiracy theories about the “fair and square” US election result.

“I haven’t seen Bernie’s post today, the situation that we have in the USA is just … there’s no words for it, it’s an appalling situation,” she said.

“I think it’s very embarrassing for America … Biden needs to just, you know, take hold of the White House.”

Ms McLeish said she wanted to see Mr Finn’s posts for herself and the party would be able to speak to him about the matter “at the appropriate time”.

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LinkedIn saw a massive influx in user posts and violations in 2020

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Samsung deleted posts where it mocked Apple for not adding a charger, following the probability that the Galaxy S21 will be sold in the same way

It is said that the South Korean technology company will not add the charger inside the box, at least in the markets of Europe and Brazil.

3 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Among all the criticisms received of the iPhone 12 , the most prominent were the cancellation of the power adapters and headphones in its acquisition. On the other hand, Samsung and Apple are close rivals, without a doubt every step will be criticized between them. That being said, when the iPhone 12 went on sale and no one found the accessories inside the box Samsung made jokes about this. However, everything seems to indicate that the South Korean company will follow the same steps as its archrival.

Taking the above into account, the publications about the ridicule towards the Cupertino-based company seem to have been eliminated, given the possibility that the new Galaxy S21 lacks such accessories, according to some specialized technology platforms.

When the American company unveiled its new smart device, it argued that certain accessories had been eliminated due to the attempt to reduce the environmental impact of its products, these included something as basic as the charger. Therefore, the South Korean company took the opportunity to launch messages that overshadowed its competition.

“Your Galaxy gives you what you want. From a charger, to the best camera, battery, performance, memory and even a 120 Hz screen on a smartphone, ”Samsung mentioned in one of its posts on its Twitter account for Latin America.

Image: @SamsungLatin via Twitter

Similarly, the Korean company also joked that Apple is late for 5G. In a tweet, Samsung states “Some are saying Hello! at speed, we’ve already been friends for a while. Get your Galaxy 5G device now. ”

Image: @SamsungMobileUS

Since then it has been thought that Samsung would bring a 120Hz screen, including the charger, but everything seems to indicate that it will not.

It should be noted that the tweet is no longer available, in the same way as other company publications related to this matter. With the above in mind, it has become strong evidence of his decision to go Apple’s way. It is important to mention that the European market and Brazil will face this situation, although it is not yet clear that other markets will continue with this decision.

The features of the Galaxy S21, S21 + and Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung plans to present the new series on January 14, it consists of three devices, the first is the Galaxy S21, the second Galaxy S21 + and the last, but more exclusive, Galaxy S21 Ultra.

According to the Android Police portal, the three smart devices will consist of a Snapdragon 875 or Exynos 2100 processor with 5G support, Bluetooth 51.1 and will have One UI 3.1 software based on Android 11.

Among the features that are confirmed with the Samsung Galaxy S21 + , are the expected flat screen, the symmetrical and extremely thin frames, triple rear camera with a new design that helps to better protect the lenses and long-lasting battery.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is expected to include a 108 MP main camera, periscope camera, apart from a conventional telephoto lens, as well as an S-Pen mount, for the first time. In addition to a glass cover and 6.8-inch LTPO screen, capable of going from 120 to 1 hertz, an advantage that helps to save battery, which could have a capacity of 5,000 mAh.

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Prithvi posts cryptic Instagram message, Ricky Ponting, prediction, dropped

Indian opening batsman Prithvi Shaw has posted a defiant message on Instagram after failing in both innings of the first Test, leading to speculation he will be dropped for the next match in Melbourne.

Shaw was bowled by Mitchell Starc for a duck in the first innings, then had his stumps rattled by Pat Cummins for just four in the second dig as India was rolled for 36 — it’s lowest ever Test total.

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Shaw’s technical flaw against the ball coming back in to him between bat and pad was picked apart in Adelaide and sparked calls for him to be axed.

However, the 20-year-old appeared to hit back at the haters on social media, writing: “If sometimes people demotivate you for something you try to do, that means you can do that but they can’t.”

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has said he can’t see how India can continue to open with the young gun given the nature of his two dismissals in Adelaide, while fellow great Ricky Ponting — who has coached Shaw in the Indian Premier League — identified his gap between bat and pad as a major issue before he was out in the first innings.

Ponting predicted in commentary for Channel 7 Starc would look to swing the ball back in and rattle the pegs — and that’s exactly what happened seconds later.

Ponting also told The Unplayable Podcast Australia’s right-arm fast bowlers would look to seam the ball back into Shaw, which is how Cummins dismissed him in the second dig.

“The problem, the worry is that his front foot is not planted. His front foot is still in the air,” Ponting told Seven after Cummins bowled Shaw.

“He’s late on the ball, he’s late moving his weight into it.

“You see his foot is off the ground and you have another look at that because he makes about three movements with his front foot. His front foot doesn’t actually go anywhere.”

RELATED: Ponting reveals real ‘disgrace’ in Indian humiliation

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Indian media reports claim the tourists are going to make a swath of changes after the humiliating eight-wicket loss in Adelaide. There will be at least two forced swaps because fast bowler Mohammed Shami is out with a broken arm and captain Virat Kohli is flying home for the birth of his first child, while Shaw and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha are also on the chopping block.

Reports suggest KL Rahul and Shubman Gill are in line to replace Kohli and Shaw, while Rishabh Pant is tipped to take Saha’s place behind the stumps.

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Japan posts record run of export declines on soft U.S., China demand

December 16, 2020

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s exports fell in November, dashing expectations for an end to the two-year run of declines, largely due to weaker U.S.- and China-bound shipments and suggesting a slower pace of recovery for the world’s third-largest economy.

The trade data is likely to be of some concern for policymakers counting on solid external demand to boost factory output and broader corporate activity to revive the economy.

Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Wednesday showed exports fell 4.2% in November from a year earlier, defying the economists’ median estimate of a 0.5% increase in a Reuters poll. It was the 24th straight month of decline, the longest stretch on record, and follows a 0.2% drop in the previous month.

“Overall exports won’t return to pre-virus levels until the middle of next year,” said Tom Learmouth, Japan economist at Capital Economics.

By destination, shipments to the United States contracted for the first time in three months, losing 2.5%, as weak demand for aircraft equipment helped offset higher car exports.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose at the slowest pace in five months, growing 3.8%, driven by communication devices.

Shipments to Asia as a whole fell back into contraction for the first time in two months, losing 4.3%, while those to the European Union dropped 2.6% in November.

Imports shed 11.1% in November compared with the same month a year earlier, versus the median estimate for a 10.5% decrease, bringing a trade surplus of 366.8 billion yen ($3.54 billion), versus the median estimate for a 529.8 billion yen surplus.

Japan’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a third supplementary budget to fund a fresh $708 billion stimulus package, which includes about 40 trillion yen in direct fiscal spending and focuses on investment in new growth areas such as green and digital innovation.

Data last week confirmed the economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter from its biggest postwar slump in April-June.

($1 = 103.6300 yen)

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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The FDA posts recall of erectile dysfunction and antidepressant drugs

The Food and Drug Administration has posted a voluntary recall issued by AvKARE, a Tennessee-based pharmaceutical and infection control company. The issue? AvKARE discovered that two of their generic medications had a packaging mix-up. Those medications are sildenafil, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction, and trazodone, an antidepressant.

The two medications were inadvertently packaged together during the bottling phase of production at an unnamed third-party bottling facility. Needless to say, any medication switch can be dangerous. The fear with this one is especially geared toward people thinking they are taking the antidepressant, while actually taking sildenafil, the active ingredient in the brand-name Viagra. As the FDA makes clear:

Unintentional consumption of sildenafil may pose serious health risks to consumers with underlying medical issues. For example, sildenafil may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) lowering blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease often take nitrates.

Yet the unintentional intake of trazodone while a person thinks they are taking sildenafil can also cause problems, including “somnolence/sedation, dizziness, constipation, and blurred vision. These adverse events may be more concerning in elderly patients due to a subsequent increased risk for falls and driving impairment,” the FDA says.

The affected lots of medicines involved in the mix-up include:

  • 100 mg tablets of sildenafil with a lot number of 36884, and an expiration date of 03/2022.
  • 100 mg tablets of trazodone hydrochloride with a lot number of 36783 and an expiration date of 06/2022.

AvKARE says consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact the company at 1-855-361-3993 Monday-Friday (8 a.m.-4 p.m. CST). They also note that consumers should contact their doctor immediately if they experience adverse symptoms from taking the mixed-up products.

We’ve reached out to AvKARE to ask for additional comment on the matter.

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