Trump goes on offensive against Biden with trip to New Hampshire - CNA
President Donald Trump will go on the offensive against Democratic rival Joe Biden on Sunday with a campaign trip to New Hampshire, a state he narrowly lost in 2016 but is trying to reclaim in this year's White House race.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: President Donald Trump will go on the offensive against Democratic rival Joe Biden on Sunday (Oct 25) with a campaign trip to New Hampshire, a state he narrowly lost in 2016 but is trying to reclaim in this year's White House race. With nine days left until the Nov 3 US elections, the Republican president is storming his way through top battleground states in a late push to make up ground against Biden, who leads in national opinion polls. Advertisement Advertisement Opinion polls in many of the most vital swing states that will decide the election show a closer race. New Hampshire, which Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 3,000 votes in 2016, has not been considered a top-tier battleground, and most polls show Biden with a comfortable edge in the New England state. But Trump is running out of time and opportunities to change minds and shift the race in his favor. More than 56.5 million Americans have already voted in person or by mail, a pace of early voting that could lead to the highest voter turnout rate in more than a century, according to data from the US Elections Project. Advertisement Advertisement After voting early in his home state of Florida on Saturday, Trump raced through rallies in three states - North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin - where he promised the end of the coronavirus pandemic was in sight and said Biden would threaten jobs by pushing for more COVID-19 restrictions. In Ohio, Trump said his campaign was doing well and he was not worried about the public opinion polls. "We have 10 days, and nothing worries me," he said. On his visit to New Hampshire, Trump will hold a rally in Manchester. He has suggested he might hold five rallies a day down the final stretch before the election. Biden, who made two campaign stops in Pennsylvania on Saturday, has no public schedule for Sunday, although the former vice president often makes a trip to church. Advertisement During his swing through Pennsylvania, Biden renewed his criticism of Trump for not taking the health crisis seriously enough and warned of a resurgence during the winter months of the virus, which has killed more than 224,000 Americans and is on the rise in several battleground states. "It's going to be a dark winter ahead unless we change our ways," he said of Trump's attempts to contain the coronavirus. The United States set a single-day record of more than 84,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, with the spike in infections hitting election swing states Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Late on Saturday a spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence disclosed that Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Pence and his wife tested negative earlier in the day and the vice president will not alter his schedule, the spokesman said. Concern about the health risks of voting in crowded polling places on Election Day has helped drive the stampede to vote, as many states have increased early voting and vote-by-mail opportunities. In New York state, voters jammed polling places and stood in line for hours to cast ballots on the state's first day of early voting on Saturday. Long lines formed before polls opened across New York City and Long Island, videos on social media showed.
Clean conscience: South Korea offers alternative to conscription - CNA
SEOUL: As a devout Jehovah's Witness, Jang Kyung-jin was ready to be jailed rather than serve in South Korea's military. After a landmark court ruling he will be heading for prison on Monday (Oct 26) - but as a civilian administrator, not a convict.
SEOUL: As a devout Jehovah's Witness, Jang Kyung-jin was ready to be jailed rather than serve in South Korea's military. After a landmark court ruling he will be heading for prison on Monday (Oct 26) - but as a civilian administrator, not a convict. The South remains technically at war with the North and maintains a compulsory conscription system to defend itself against Pyongyang's 1.2 million-strong army. Advertisement Advertisement All able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to serve for 18 months before they turn 30, in a rite of passage that - while sometimes resented - can form lifelong bonds with fellow soldiers. Avoiding the duty in a conformist society faced with the world's last remaining Cold War conflict can bring with it employment consequences and lifelong social stigma, akin to the "white feather" campaign in First World War-era Britain. But over the decades tens of thousands of conscientious objectors, many of them Jehovah's Witnesses, have been willing to pay that price - and a prison sentence of 18 months or more - to adhere to their religious or moral beliefs. Advertisement Advertisement "As a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, I believe it is my duty to interpret the Bible as it is written and follow the teachings of Jesus," Jang, a father of three, told AFP. A soft-spoken practitioner of traditional medicine, he cited Matthew 26:52, where Jesus tells his disciples not to use force to defend him as "All who take the sword will perish by the sword". "It would have been the highest form of honourable act to defend the son of God but Jesus told his disciples not to ... I have come to a conclusion that violence could never be justified under any circumstances." For years the idea of a civilian alternative to military service for conscientious objectors was highly controversial. Advertisement But current President Moon Jae-in - who served in the special forces when he was a conscript in the 1970s - promised to create one during his 2017 election campaign. The following year the South's Supreme Court ruled that moral and religious objections were valid reasons for refusing military service. The alternative service scheme goes into effect on Monday, when Jang and 62 other conscientious objectors will report to a training centre in Daejeon, south of Seoul, for three years of duties as correctional facility administrators. They will be entitled to the same pay as regular conscripts and the justice ministry described the scheme as a "first step towards the balance of conscience and military duty". 36,000 YEARS Aside from Olympic medallists and Asian Games champions, along with the winners of some international classical musical competitions, the military obligation applies to all healthy men, and can mean career interruptions and delays. It currently looms over the seven members of the global K-pop sensation BTS, who are estimated to bring in billions of dollars to the world's 12th-largest economy. Steve Yoo, a hugely popular chart-topping singer in the 1990s, took US citizenship shortly before he was due to be called up, automatically forfeiting his Korean nationality and with it the obligation to serve. The move prompted widespread public fury and authorities swiftly banned him from entering the country, a measure that remains in place to this day. Around the world, the Jehovah's Witnesses are perhaps best known for enthusiastic members preaching on street corners and knocking on doors in efforts to procure converts, and a refusal to receive blood transfusions. But in the South it is their refusal to serve in uniform or pledge allegiance to a national flag that most marks them out. No fewer than 19,353 church members have been punished for refusing to serve since 1950, spending a combined total of more than 36,000 years behind bars, according to the church. Among the former inmates is Jang's fellow congregation member Lee Bit-nam, who was jailed in 2015 but, like all other conscientious objectors, has had his conviction record expunged as a result of the court ruling. A 30-year-old car mechanic, he said he was repeatedly ridiculed by guards and fellow prisoners for refusing to serve, but never doubted his decision. "In the Bible, one of the most important things God teaches us is love," he said. "I realised God doesn't want us to engage in practising for war or war itself. "My faith only got stronger the more and more I read the Bible."
Samsung's Lee: Tainted titan who built a global tech giant - CNA
SEOUL: In February 1993, five years after taking over from his father at South Korea's Samsung Group, 51-year-old Lee Kun-hee was frustrated that he wasn't making his mark.
SEOUL: In February 1993, five years after taking over from his father at South Korea's Samsung Group, 51-year-old Lee Kun-hee was frustrated that he wasn't making his mark. He summoned a group of Samsung Electronics executives to a Best Buy store in Los Angeles for a reality check on the Samsung brand. Covered in dust, a Samsung TV set sat on a corner shelf with a price tag nearly US$100 cheaper than a rival Sony model. Advertisement Advertisement After a tense nine-hour follow-up meeting, Lee kick-started a strategic shift at Samsung - to gain market share through quality, not quantity. Lee, who died aged 78 on Sunday (Oct 25) after being hospitalised for a heart attack in 2014, was driven by a constant sense of crisis, which he instilled in his leadership teams to drive change and fight complacency. In the mid-1990s, Lee personally recalled around US$50 million worth of poor quality mobile phones and fax machines, and set fire to them. This focus on crisis, and his often abrasive manner, helped Lee grow his father Lee Byung-chull's noodle trading business into a sprawling business empire with assets worth 424 trillion won (US$375 billion) as of May 2020 in dozens of affiliates stretching from electronics and insurance to shipbuilding and construction. Samsung Electronics developed from a second-tier TV maker to the world's biggest technology firm by revenue - seeing off Japanese brands Sony, Sharp and Panasonic in chips, TVs and displays; ending Nokia Oyj's handset supremacy and beating Apple in smartphones. Advertisement Advertisement In a 1997 essay, Lee recalled his frustration at management inertia. "The external business environment was not good ... but there was no sense of anxiety within the organisation, and everyone appeared to be eaten up with self-conceit ... I needed to tighten them up a bit and repeatedly reminded managers of the need to have the sense of crisis." In 2013, Forbes named Lee as the second most powerful South Korean, ranked only behind United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. FEARED AND REVERED Four months after the Los Angeles meeting, Lee called his lieutenants to a Frankfurt hotel conference room, where he laid out his "New Management" plan, exhorting executives to "change everything except your wife and children". Advertisement Executive meetings proved brutal, often stretching to 10 hours, with participants afraid to even drink water as they didn't want to have to interrupt Lee's flow by visiting the washroom. Lee's business acumen made him the object of endless fascination and speculation in Korea, but he and the empire he built have also been vilified by critics and activist shareholders for wielding such economic clout, hierarchical and opaque governance, and dubious transfers of the family wealth. In 2008, Lee was accused of managing a political slush fund and of helping his children buy Samsung company shares on the cheap. Prosecutors failed to prove either charge, but Lee was convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement. He apologized and stepped down, only to return within two years following a presidential pardon. He had since kept a lower profile and delegated to an army of managers, while promoting his son, Jay Y Lee, to vice chairman, a grooming post for the eventual transfer of power. As his health deteriorated - Lee needed help in walking and was susceptible to respiratory diseases following lung cancer treatment - he was a less frequent presence at Samsung's headquarters, spending long winter vacations in Japan or Hawaii. But his hold over the group remained undimmed. Whenever he travelled overseas, at least four of Samsung's top executives, along with company crew and security, would be at the airport to see him off. At Samsung's human resources development center, the tens of thousands of employees attending training sessions pay a silent vigil to a mock-up of the drab Frankfurt hotel conference room - with furniture specially imported from Germany. As most of Samsung's staff members are in their 20s and 30s and didn't experience Lee's managerial heyday first-hand, this homage serves to remind them of the need to 'think crisis," several people who have been trained at the center said. JAPAN EXPOSURE Lee was born in 1942 in the southern Korean village of Uiryeong, the third son of Samsung's founder. He was sent to Japan at the age of 11, just after the Korean war ended. His father wanted his sons to learn how Japan was rebuilding from the ashes of World War II. He has admitted to being a loner and found it tough to make friends when he returned home to a country riven with anti-Japanese sentiment. He went back to Japan to study economics at Waseda University, and then business management at George Washington University in the United States. His early exposure to Japan's advanced technology led him to establish the basis of Samsung Electronics by forming alliances with the likes of Sanyo, and adopting chip making and TV manufacturing technologies. Lee began his Samsung career in broadcasting, working his way up to group chairman by 1987, breaking with the traditional Confucian practice of the eldest son taking over the reins. His older brother, Lee Maeng-hee, was initially chosen to lead Samsung in 1967 when his father retired, but his aggressive management style caused friction with the founder's confidants, according to several books about Samsung. The second son, Lee Chang-hee, severed family ties by telling the presidential office that his father had a US$1 million slush fund overseas. Lee senior exiled Chang-hee to the United States and returned as chairman himself. In 1976, diagnosed with cancer, he handed the business down to Kun-hee. Chang-hee died in 1991. Kun-hee's hunched posture, due to a traffic accident, soft voice, round eyes and often bemused expression were atypical for such a powerful character. Married to Hong Ra-hee, who runs a Samsung-affiliated art gallery called the Leeum - a combination of Lee and museum - Lee had a son and three daughters. His youngest daughter died in New York in 2005, which Samsung said at a car accident but media reports said was a suicide. Lee had been a member of the International Olympic Committee between 1996 and 2017.
As COVID-19 hits swing states, Biden and Trump show sharp contrast - CNA
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio: United States President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden gave starkly contrasting messages on Saturday (Oct 24) about the COVID-19 pandemic, taking their campaigns for the White House on the road to swing states where COVID-1…
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio: United States President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden gave starkly contrasting messages on Saturday (Oct 24) about the COVID-19 pandemic, taking their campaigns for the White House on the road to swing states where COVID-19 cases are surging again. Trump addressed a few thousand supporters at a tightly packed, in-person, outdoor rally in North Carolina, one of the battleground states in the Nov 3 election. He again said America was turning the corner in the fight against COVID-19 and mocked Biden's more cautious campaigning style. Advertisement Advertisement Biden, a former vice president, addressed supporters in vehicles at two drive-in rallies in Pennsylvania and warned of a grim winter ahead unless the Trump administration did a better job of halting the disease, which has killed 224,000 Americans. Opinion polls show Biden leading Trump nationally, but the race is much closer in the battleground states that will decide the election. Advertisement Advertisement In Lumberton, North Carolina, he told supporters he was offering a fast recovery from the economic damage wrought by virus lockdowns, which have devastated small businesses and put millions out of work. "It's a choice between a Trump super boom and a Biden lockdown," the Republican president said. "We are rounding the turn," he said, repeating a claim he has been making for months that America is close to getting the better of the virus. By contrast, Biden warned that the cold months ahead could be even harsher due to a resurgence of the virus, which has killed more people in the United States than anywhere else and is on the rise in several battleground states. "It's going to be a dark winter ahead unless we change our ways," he said of Trump's attempts to contain the coronavirus. Advertisement Biden was addressing supporters in the town of Bristol who had gathered in pickup trucks or cars, many with their windows or sunroofs down, to avoid possible coronavirus infection. Biden's campaign limited each vehicle to a maximum of four passengers. At one point, Biden called out a group of Trump supporters who were shouting into microphones nearby. "We dont do things like those chumps out there with the microphone are doing. The Trump guys. It's about decency." At his event in Lumberton, Trump made fun of the Biden rally, which he said he had seen on television. "There were so few cars. I've never seen an audience like that," he said. "It was a tiny, tiny little crowd. You could hear the cars: Honk honk." COVID-19 SURGING The United States set a single-day record of more than 84,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, with the spike in infections hitting election swing states Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. North Carolina reported 2,584 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, down from a record high of 2,716 the day before. Many states have expanded in-person early voting and mail-in ballots as a safer way to vote during the pandemic. Trump voted in his adopted home of Florida on Saturday, joining more than 56 million Americans who have cast early ballots at a record-setting pace. Trump cast his ballot at a library in West Palm Beach, near his Mar-a-Lago resort, after switching his permanent residence and voter registration last year from New York to Florida, a must-win battleground for his re-election bid. In New York state, voters jammed polling places and stood in line for hours to cast ballots on the state's first day of early voting on Saturday. Long lines formed before polls opened across New York City and Long Island, videos on social media showed. With 10 days to go in the campaign, the pace of early voting could lead to the highest voter turnout rate in more than a century, according to data from the US Elections Project. Trump has regularly condemned mail-in voting without evidence as prone to fraud, even though experts say it is as safe as any other method. The large number of early voters is a sign of the intense interest in this year's election, as well as concerns about avoiding crowded polling places on Election Day and reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. In Pennsylvania, polls show Biden narrowly leading. A Reuters/Ipsos survey released earlier this week showed Biden with a four-percentage point advantage over Trump in the state, down from seven points the week before. Apart from the coronavirus, the candidates sparred over energy policy, an important issue in Pennsylvania which is the nation's second-largest producer of natural gas after Texas. Biden denied Trump accusations that he plans to ban fracking, a process to extract natural gas from shale. "I will not ban fracking, period," he said in Dallas, Pennsylvania at his second rally of the day. "I don't think big oil companies need a handout from the federal government. We're gonna get rid of the US$40 billion fossil fuel subsidies, and we're going to invest it in clean energy and carbon capture," Biden said. At an outdoor, in-person Trump rally in Circleville, Ohio, the crowd booed at a video Trump played showing various times when Biden said he would like to move away from fossil fuels. Biden got some help from former President Barack Obama, who held a drive-in rally in Miami and delivered a blistering attack on Trump's leadership. "This pandemic would've been tough for any president because we haven't seen something like this in 100 years, but the idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is nonsense," Obama said. 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For F&B outlets, COVID-19 is a wake-up call. Here are seven changes they can make - CNA
A bloated restaurant scene and a risky business model were among the things that had gone wrong with the pre-pandemic F&B sector. The programme For Food’s Sake! finds out how businesses can turn things around now.
SINGAPORE: Businessman Ashok Melwani calls it a Darwinian extinction event. Between January and July, 1,242 food and beverage (F&B) outlets in Singapore were permanently shuttered, according to data from the Department of Statistics. Advertisement Advertisement Its like a meteor that came along, and I think any of us who were fragile got crushed, says Melwani, whose 23-year-old dining fixture, Modestos, was one of them. The meteor was, of course, COVID-19. But there had been indications of the fragility of the F&B scene before then with two forces that have worked so strongly against us in the past few years, he says. Labour costs have gone up exponentially, cites the 62-year-old. Rent also has gone up, like, (by) double. When you talk to the Reit (Real Estate Investment Trust), its always no. Theyre totally not interested to hear the words rent decrease. And theyd rather take the risk of leaving a place empty than to give a sitting tenant a break. Advertisement Advertisement Restaurants were taking a risk too. While many businesses may have four to six months of cash flow, restaurants usually operate on two, which means trouble if a restaurant does not turn in a profit for two months. We were too big, Melwani says of his own restaurant. Turnover is vanity, profit is reality, but cash flow is the only necessity. Advertisement Singapore is not alone, however, in having its deficiencies exposed. For the first time, restaurants round the world are going through the same challenge. The restaurant industry is obviously destroyed, says legendary chef and New York-based restaurateur Eric Ripert. This COVID-19 crisis its something that weve never seen. The pandemic is proving to be a wake-up call for the global food industry, with change needed for things to take a turn for the better. So how can the F&B sector become more resilient and sustainable? There could be seven ways, highlighted on the programme For Foods Sake! WATCH: Shattered fragility? What COVID-19 revealed about the restaurant industry (4:03) 1. CALL TIME ON EXPANSION Running a successful restaurant can be a costly affair. Consistently executing great food with amazing service means hiring great cooks and well-trained staff which is more than 30 per cent of revenue. The cost of raw ingredients can approach 30 per cent. Rent can come up to 25 per cent. Then there are equipment, utilities and marketing costs. In 2018, the average profit margin in Singapores restaurants was 5.5 per cent, reported the Singapore Business Review. Even for the very best in the industry, profits can be less than 10 per cent, says programme host, chef and restaurateur Ming Tan. Despite the thin margins, tight cash flow and long hours, an average of 808 new restaurants enter the market every year. And 22-year industry veteran Beppe de Vito, the owner of the il Lido Group of restaurants, believes the restaurant scene is oversaturated. Weve seen way too big of an expansion over the past few years. The entry level to operate in this business is too low, says the man with a Michelin star under his belt. Theyll all increase your average rental, theyll have to pay your staff a little bit more to steal them from you, and they end up setting up something that may not last even five years. Today, however, there is the pandemic to be reckoned with. During this period, plenty of restaurants are going to shut their doors. And as a chef, this is tough to see, says Ming. But maybe its about time. 2. RELY MORE ON AUTOMATION For years, the government has called for the F&B industry to rely less on manpower and more on automation. Incentive schemes have been offered, while foreign labour restrictions and levies have been a direct hit to restaurants. It is hard to find Singaporeans willing to work in F&B, but the industrys labour-intensive ways are also costly and, compared to other industries, really inefficient, acknowledges Ming. Having enough staff for key peak periods each in a specific role, from floor manager to waiter to sommelier often means being overstaffed in the least busy period. So it was an eye-opener to him to meet Ella, a state-of-the-art robotic barista with a sleek, metallic arm. According to its creator, it can make around 200 cups of coffee per hour. She makes exactly the same quality as our top barista, but at four times the speed, says Crown Digital founder and chief executive officer Keith Tan. In a speed test, Ella made two cappuccinos and one latte five minutes faster than Ming. But in a blind test on taste, a panel of three coffee lovers all preferred his coffee. In future, Ella could be repurposed and made more versatile. We might want to turn her into cooking some food, suggests Tan. With its price tag of S$150,000, however, not all restaurants would be able to afford Ella right now. 3. RETHINK LOCATION One hawker who recently took a gamble is Fishball Story owner Douglas Ng, whose stall used to be in Timbre+, a food court in Ayer Rajah catering mostly for office workers. After the pandemic started, his sales dropped by 80 per cent as there was less and less of an office crowd. So he moved to MacPherson, an area with an older demographic, where he is surrounded by residential blocks instead. He saves S$6,000 on his annual rent, and he has double the space he had previously. It was a calculated risk, and he is so glad to have taken it because business has been better with people working from home. I was in Timbre+ for four years, very happily there, says the 29-year-old. But then again, you have to be realistic. Its not (about) whether the place is nice or the customers there are very nice to you. COVID-19 wont disappear so quickly. The environment has changed, the whole food industry will change, and people calling for delivery all this is here to stay. In the F&B industry, location is one way to ensure a steady flow of customers, but at a price, with rents that are sometimes up to 60 per cent higher than in less desirable locations. What makes a great location, however, and how does it help with financial sustainability? Ngs advice for those in the industry who are looking to relocate is that they need not look for a very luxurious place. You never know if youre going to succeed or not. But its less painful if the investment is smaller, he says. 4. BE COMMUNITY-CENTRIC Positioning is an important part of staying sustainable, thinks DP Architects director Ng San Son. But he suggests that this can be done by establishing a new norm, namely by forming a relationship with the community, be it through events or bespoke dishes for that particular district. He cites the Home Team NS clubhouse in Khatib, deep in the heartlands, as an example of a space for F&B where people can get excited and engaged in activities. Its about contributing back to the community, he says. In a nutshell, he advocates that restaurants should be a bigger part of the local community so that in times of need, the community can rally round to ensure that restaurants in their area stay in business. 5. VENTURE INTO THE CLOUD Some businesses are going in the opposite direction, venturing away from the community and into cloud kitchens. These are large, shared facilities where many different restaurants can prepare food for takeaway and delivery. Ian Lins company, the Dynasty Group, runs 21 outlets selling salad bowls and Thai food, among other things. But his newest brand, Lady Boss Mala, is unlike the others: A virtual one created just for GrabKitchen. The rent's much lower, he says. At the same time, when you run a virtual brand, you dont need a front counter. Theres no cashier, theres no waiter or someone to clear the plates. There are over 20 F&B brands at GrabKitchen Hillview, which is Grab Singapores first central kitchen, and 18 brands at its second GrabKitchen, in Aljunied. Dine-in or takeaway customers at the kitchens can order from any of the brands there. Not only does GrabFood Singapore senior director Dilip Roussenaly think cloud kitchens are here to stay, he also calls it the future of dining, under a less volatile model. Labour isnt going to be as intensive Youre only focusing on what you do best you cook, and thats it. And that benefits all the merchants, he says. Even though we have a dine-in (area), its not optimised for dine-in, so the rent is low. With this, we de-risk the venture for merchants. Thats exactly what it is. 6. SELL MEAL KITS But what if owners do not want to give up their shop front? They could draw inspiration from one restaurant owner who took a leap forward with his crispy pork belly. Amid the pandemic, Dylan Ong of The Masses managed to sell more than 10,000 pieces in two months, without having customers come to the restaurant. His is a vacuum-packed frozen dish that customers can make at home anytime they want, as it can keep for up to a year. All that is needed is to roast it for 25 minutes in the oven, an air fryer or a toaster. And it is created to taste no different from the restaurants typical fare convenience food taken to another level. Roasted pork belly is a well-loved dish But it takes about three days to cook a perfectly (good) pork belly, says Ong, 33. What we did was minimise all the things that you need to do. According to a 2018 Nielsen report, the proportion of Singaporeans who had purchased restaurant deliveries or a meal-kit service online was 11 percentage points higher than the global average. So pre-cooked gourmet meals can be a new revenue stream for restaurateurs here, and they can also utilise their teams better. This was the case for Ming when he released his first gourmet DIY meal kit: Damn Easy Hokkien Mee. It was more difficult to make than he expected, as it must be able to keep for up to a week in the fridge. But it helped to bump up his sales by 30 per cent. 7. HOW ABOUT MINI-GREENHOUSES? Although safe distancing is still bad news for revenue, since restaurants cannot accommodate as many diners as before, one restaurant in Amsterdam found an opportunity to embrace this new situation and stand out from the rest. A lot of Dutch restaurants are tiny places full of gezelligheid, which means cosiness and conviviality. But the restaurant Mediamatic Eten reinvented cosiness when it conceived of quarantine greenhouses in April, when Amsterdam was still in lockdown. The vegan-friendly restaurant has a greenhouse where it grows most of the produce it serves, hence the mini-greenhouses for its customers to dine in as a safe, creative solution. Even the staff cannot enter these mini greenhouses. Instead, they serve the food balanced on a wooden plank. Is this the future of dining too, or a new normal? Its good to create those possibilities and see where they can lead to, says Mediamatic Eten chef Giulia Soldati, adding that if other restaurants copy the concept, it would be a nice message that we could inspire other people. Dutch chef and television host Rene Pluijm describes his experience of dining at the restaurant as safe but also very comfortable. And you have complete privacy. Its a fantastic idea, he says. What these guys at Mediamatic are doing right now is theyre turning something terrible into something positive, into a new concept. So what I learnt here is that new concepts are born based on something thats maybe negative. This is completely new, and it might work. Or as Ming puts it, Theres no way forward unless were flexible and we evolve. Watch this episode of For Food's Sake! here.
Bucking the trend, some F&B businesses open new outlets despite COVID-19 downturn - CNA
SINGAPORE: It was a lively scene at a new eatery in a Telok Ayer Street shophouse.
SINGAPORE: It was a lively scene at a new eatery in a Telok Ayer Street shophouse. A man in a red polo T-shirt walked in, declaring he was craving a sandwich. The same man told a story about getting a heart attack two years ago outside the shop, as other customers listened in awe. Meanwhile, four employees at work yelled over one another behind the counter. Advertisement Advertisement Curry Boom Boom opened for business earlier this month, sharing the space of a ground-floor unit with Cuban sandwich restaurant Porkypine, which launched in September. The two food concepts are run by a co-op team members get equity on top of their salary. Owner Abhishek C George said he decided during the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" to open the place as a way of keeping cash flowing even during hard times. Advertisement Advertisement As an organization, we have a little bit more runway. So the obvious choice is: Do we use the runway to cut costs and be conservative, or do we use the runway to make sure that the revenue base increases, so that by the time the runway is about to expire, we will have cash from the other revenue base, said Mr George, who also runs The Spiffy Dapper, Sago House and Oriental Elixir. Getting a huge discount on the rent for the first 12 months was what sealed the deal. He said he went around lowballing about 50 properties around June and July when many restaurants began to close, and the opportunity to open up a joint at Telok Ayer Street came up. He is not the only one opening a food and beverage outlet despite COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout. Vacancies around town have allowed Brewerkz to move forward with its expansion plans. Advertisement The microbrewery will open a new restaurant at One Fullerton in November, taking over from The Pelican. Mr Tan Wee Tuck, who acquired Brewerkz with his two brothers about four to five years ago, said they had always been on the lookout for sought-after locations. When a spot opened in the Marina Bay area, they jumped at the opportunity. We have been looking at it for years in a normal environment, it would have been difficult (to rent it) because nobody wants to get out, he said. For other players, plans to open a restaurant were already set in stone before the pandemic hit Singapore. Dumpling Darlings second branch opened in September at Circular Road. The tenancy agreement was signed in the beginning of the year, said co-owner June Tan. Collins founder Collin Ho said the company was locked in on their Great World City and Jurong Point outlets in December. They opened in the third quarter of this year. Both Collins restaurants - their 10th and 11th - have been doing well so far, Mr Ho said, particularly because they are in suburban neighbourhoods where many of their customers are working from home. It is the four downtown outlets that have taken a hit. Similarly for Ms Tans Circular Road outlet, business has not been doing as well as they had envisioned because of COVID-19. The restaurant made a loss in September - "but barely so" - although she thinks they will break even in October. The outlet changed its opening days from Monday to Saturday, to Tuesday to Sunday, to draw the weekend crowd. For these establishments, having favourable rental conditions were helpful. All of them did not want to reveal how much they were paying in rent, but Ms Tan said her landlord gave her a substantial rent-free period. Mr Ho said that they got a preferential rate for their lease at Great World City as the mall developer was trying to draw tenants after the shopping centres renovation. Arrangements to launch Japanese tempura chain Tenyas first Singapore branch had also been in the works since last year, said Bhakt Yap, its administration manager. Its 68-seater outlet at Orchard Central has been reduced to a capacity of 50 people after taking into consideration safe distancing measures. We are adapting as we go and finding the best way to maximise the space, Mr Yap said. While there are concerns about what business would be like amid COVID-19, such as worries over whether it can make enough to pay the rent, Brewerkzs Mr Tan said his new venture is part of an investment to the brand. Weve taken a calculated risk we are prepared to lose money, he said. Avenue 87, which opened along Amoy Street in September, has not been profitable so far. But its head chefs Glen Tay and Alex Phan said they would be satisfied if they can break even. Opening a restaurant has always been a dream for both of them. (COVID-19) is here to stay, so (you just) have to move on and work around it, Mr Phan said. Preparations are under way to re-launch Neon Pigeon, a restaurant previously at Keong Saik Road under hospitality group The Dandy Collection. The restaurants lease ended during the circuit breaker, and it was not a good time to renew it as dine-ins were banned then, said Mr Rohit Roopchand, the co-founder and chief executive of The Dandy Collection. They had also been thinking of moving it to a bigger space. The past few months have indeed been challenging for the industry but since going into Phase 2 we have witnessed an upward trend in dining out across the board so we felt it is now a perfect time bring Neon Pigeon back, Mr Roopchand said. He declined to reveal the opening date. F&B STILL IN THE DOLDRUMS Despite some optimism, figures show that Singapores F&B scene is nowhere near the end of the tunnel. Latest data from the Singapore Department of Statistics showed that overall F&B sales fell by 28.6 per cent year-on-year in August. Year-on-year sales in restaurants fell by 32.2 per cent, while turnover at cafes, food courts and other eateries declined by 17.6 per cent. High-profile closures recently include the iconic 43-year old Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant and local patisserie chain Bakerzin. Restaurant bookings provider Chope said that so far, 30 per cent more restaurants have delisted from its platform year-on-year due to closures. From January to September, there were 180 restaurants that delisted as they had shut down, compared to 139 restaurants in the same period in 2019. At the same time, 105 new eateries listed on Chope from Jun 18 to Sep 30, compared to 163 in the corresponding period last year. Chope noted that these might be new to the platform and not necessarily a new restaurant. At the current moment, businesses are still affected due to the reduction of seating capacity in order to adhere to safe distancing measures, said a spokesperson from the Restaurant Association of Singapore, an organisation that represents 5,000 F&B outlets. Many have also tried to compensate for this loss of dine-in revenue through food delivery which has hollow margins as F&B operators still have to pay full fixed rentals as well as high commissions to delivery platforms. Clearly, this is not sustainable or tenable in the medium to long run. Overall, observers were a bit more optimistic, although they noted that recovery has been uneven. Chopes Singapore general manager Jean Wee said that based on its reservation numbers for Singapore, it is seeing a rebound that matches pre-COVID-19 numbers. But this pick up has not been equally distributed among all restaurants, she said. The app had 1,521 outlets using its reservation services. Some restaurants, such as those with alfresco seating, are doing well, while the likes of those that cater to large dining groups or depend on tourists continue to suffer. Mr Alan Goh, the chief revenue officer of food ordering app Oddle said his system found some F&B groups launching virtual eateries where the menu is available only online and the food is either delivered or for pick-up since Phase 2 started. These include Tigerlily Patisserie by the Ebb & Flow Group and Grammi by the ilLido Group. It is a new concept not seen before the circuit breaker, Mr Goh said. Oddle has 1,399 Singapore restaurants subscribed to its system. Instead of permanently closing their outlet, some F&B operators have chosen not to renew their downtown lease and relocate to a suburban site, the RAS spokesperson added. The performance of a restaurant is dependent on many factors. One of the most important factors is naturally location, he said. As working from home continues to be the prevalent mode of work, F&B outlets in the once sought after central business district are generally suffering a greater loss of revenue as compared to those outlets in the sub-urban areas which are now performing (at) 50 per cent to 80 per cent of pre-COVID sales. For the F&B stalwarts who opened new outlets, starting a business has always been about taking risks, and there is no turning back now. The circuit breaker was basically a big hole. And we realised that to get out of the hole, the best way was to dig deeper, said Mr George. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Inmate stressed by long sentence, family's disappointment finds comfort in supportive prison officer - CNA
SINGAPORE: Ethan (not his real name) keeps his days busy by exercising regularly, mingling with friends and playing board games like Scrabble and chess.
SINGAPORE: Ethan (not his real name) keeps his days busy by exercising regularly, mingling with friends and playing board games like Scrabble and chess. The 38-year-old also plans and conducts basic English, information technology as well as arts and music courses for his peers. The days go by gradually, and sometimes not quickly enough. Advertisement Advertisement Ethan has been in prison for the past five years. With the current remission system, he still has seven years left of the 16-year sentence he was handed for trafficking methamphetamine. "The challenges Im facing are my own emotions, like thoughts about the remainder of my sentence," he told CNA on Thursday (Oct 22) in a phone interview from Changi Prison. "Im almost halfway through, but theres still a considerable amount of time left. So this sometimes can be quite stressful. It can be a challenge to me." Advertisement Advertisement Ethan is thankful for anything that keeps him busy. For instance, his job as a trainer to other inmates requires him to plan courses in advance and review them. He is also grateful for prison officers who are willing to listen to his problems. "In the environment Im in, the inmates are facing quite long sentences also, so the officers show concern to us and our family," he said. "I remember RO Sherman telling me that when Im out of prison, Im still young and will have a good future ahead. So, I should cherish my life and live it purposefully." Ethan was referring to Rehabilitation Officer (RO) Sherman Kwang, a housing unit officer in Institution A1 of the Changi Prison Complex. Advertisement HELPING INMATES CHANGE ROs are uniformed officers who ensure safe and secure custody of inmates, establish order and discipline, and create a suitable environment for rehabilitation. The latter involves getting inmates to come up with an action plan for their time in prison and beyond, asking them about their well-being and needs, monitoring their progress, and proactively engaging them regarding their challenges. RO Kwang, 28, also appears in a video released last week by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), where he supports an "inmate" who is stressed about his family and an upcoming examination in prison. The video is part of SPS' latest Captains of Lives campaign, which aims to showcase the work prison officers and staff do to rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates. RO Kwang, who joined SPS two-and-a-half years ago after he studied criminology in university and was intrigued by theories behind prison and rehabilitation, counts Ethan as one of 15 inmates he is in charge of. The two meet once a week, where RO Kwang asks Ethan about his family and how he is coping in prison, as well as the goals he set for after his release. Officers meet inmates who need more help more frequently. While the interviews with Ethan and RO Kwang were facilitated by SPS, there were moments when the genuineness of their relationship shone through. Ethan remembers one occasion earlier this year before the start of the "circuit breaker", when RO Kwang helped him out of a dark place. Ethan said he had just come out of a visit with his family and was feeling downtrodden. "During the visit, my parents actually expressed their heartache and disappointment over me, and it affected me badly because after the visit, I got upset and angry with my myself for disappointing my parents," he said. RO Kwang noticed Ethan's body language and asked him what happened. "Im willing to share because I can sense that hes really willing to help me, and hes patient in listening to my problems," Ethan said. "He gave me very good and positive advice, and said I was the one who has done wrong to my parents, so I should be patient with them. "Ultimately, Ive hurt them for so many years, so I cant expect them to believe me and not be disappointed. So, I should give them the time to see the changes in me." RO Kwang said he was not trying to tell Ethan what to do or what is right or wrong, but to ask him to reflect on things. "That's the least we can do," he told CNA in a separate phone interview. This episode reinforced Ethan's impression of RO Kwang as someone who is empathetic and willing to go the extra mile to support inmates. For instance, when Ethan needed to print out some grammar exercises as part of his course materials, RO Kwang helped him out even though he did not need to. "Hes always willing to help and hes always on the ground interacting with the inmates," Ethan said. "There are many ways where he shows compassion to us." A FINE LINE Ethan believes it is "vital" to have supportive officers around. "If I dont have anybody to prove myself to (in prison), why do I need to change? So when I see the officers making the extra effort to find out about our problems, counsel and encourage us, it really helps us a lot in our rehabilitation," he added. "However, I also recognise that in a prison environment, supportiveness and strictness cant sustain without each other. There are still instances where discipline needs to be instilled." While RO Kwang said he wants to show inmates he is willing to help and listen to them, he tries to "draw a fine line" in their relationship. "I do not want to be too friendly with them as if we are buddies," he said, adding that fist bumps or hugs are not part of the equation. RO Kwang acknowledged there are particularly difficult inmates to deal with, including those who get angry and argue with other inmates. In these cases, he usually gives them time to cool off before talking to them again. "We have to spend more time, not just a few minutes or hours, but maybe days letting them calm down," he said. "We are all trained to deal with difficult inmates." RO Kwang recalled one occasion more than a year ago when an inmate sat on the floor and refused to leave his cell to go out for work in prison. It turned out that the inmate's wife had filed for divorce. "When I checked with him, he was very angry and disappointed and even raised his voice when he replied me," RO Kwang said. "I could see his frustration and disappointment and I dont think he wanted to work that day. So I gave him some time to cool down in his cell. And then I engaged him again after a while." RO Kwang said he was heartened that the inmate eventually apologised and was receptive to what he had to say, noting that officers have to be patient when dealing with inmates. "We know that he raised his voice or showed bad attitude not on purpose, but due to other reasons," he said. "So for me, I try to put myself in his shoes and ask how I would feel if my wife wanted to divorce me. So from there, I think we can act accordingly and rationally." "NO ONE INMATE IS THE SAME" RO Kwang said the ability to recognise when an inmate is acting differently and pre-empt problems is one of the more challenging aspects of the job. "We need to be very observant and vigilant, and learn to expect the unexpected," he said. "No one inmate is the same. They come with their own sets of stories and difficulties. We need to sense that, check with them and guide them accordingly. If there is a dispute, we need to stop them immediately and accordingly." In fact, when RO Kwang was new to the job, he had heard that Ethan used to be a "very angry kind of person" who had disputes with fellow inmates. "But I see that he has changed and toned down a lot, and become more responsible," he said. "Now hes working as a trainer; the job allows him to be more responsible and set a good example. I see a lot of changes in him and I see hes quite motivated, looking forward to life outside, how he can do better." While Ethan said he cannot avoid agonising over his long sentence and whether he is wasting his life, he is thankful he is learning new skills in prison, through computer and public speaking courses. It is something he plans to continue doing even after he is released, as he vowed to also volunteer as a prison counsellor to help other inmates turn over a new leaf. "I believe that with my circumstances and past crime, if I can change my life for the better, anyone can change too," he said. BREAKING THE STIGMA But most of all, Ethan said he longs every day to reunite with his family over his mum's home-cooked food. "Its been a long time since I had a good meal at home with my family," he lamented. "Its not the food but the company that counts; the family that I can sit down together with to share a meal and bond." When asked if he feared the stigma of being an ex-offender, Ethan admitted that "there will still be some challenges in society". "I know I have my shortcomings. The most important thing is to stay out of drugs and to live a life that does not put drugs and money as a priority," he said. "I cannot avoid how people will look at me or my sentence. But it is my responsibility to change myself and live my life in the right way." RO Kwang said he is especially pleased when inmates are motivated to change for the better in prison, stating that he knows it is not easy for them. "I will feel proud as well that they have managed to persevere and and open a new chapter in their lives," he said. RO Kwang also agreed to appear in the SPS short film as he thought it was a good way for the public to see offenders in a different light and hopefully give them a second chance. "I hope that family members of ex-offenders and also our community most importantly can embrace them and give them a second chance when they work hard towards it," he added.
Thai protesters' deadline passes, but PM Prayut says he won't quit - CNA
Tensions remain high between Thai government and protesters
BANGKOK: Thailands government and the countrys pro-democracy movement appeared no closer to resolving their differences on Saturday (Oct 24), as the protesters' evening deadline for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down came and went with no new action from either side, and no backing down. After the 10pm deadline passed, protesters called another rally for central Bangkok on Sunday, at a major intersection in the capital's main shopping district where they have gathered before. Advertisement Advertisement Prayuth told supporters Saturday evening as he left a Buddhist temple where a prayer session was held for national peace and prosperity that he would not quit. The government is sincere in solving the problem and committed to following the law in doing so, he told reporters. Prayuts office issued a statement earlier in the day repeating his plea to resolve differences through Parliament, which will discuss the political situation in a special session starting Monday. Although the ongoing political situation comprises many opposing views among different groups, we should rather take this as an opportunity for Thais to consult each other on what is best for the nation, said the statement. Advertisement Advertisement Prayut this past week issued a call to allow Parliament to seek a solution to the crisis, and in a gesture to appease the protesters, revoked a state of emergency for Bangkok he had imposed a week earlier that made protest rallies illegal. If all parties are committed to exercise full restraint and flexibility, the circumstances would be more conducive to de-escalating the current tense political conflict and reaching an outcome that is acceptable to all stakeholders, said Saturdays statement, quoting government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri. The protesters, however, said they were sticking to a deadline of 10pm Saturday for Prayuth to meet their demands that he resign, and that their arrested comrades be released from jail. Advertisement One of the protest leaders, Jatupat Pai Dao Din Boonpattararaksa, told a crowd outside Bangkok Remand Prison that protesters should gather there Saturday and consider their next step as they wait for a response from Prayut. Protesters had rallied outside the prison on Friday to press for their comrades release. They welcomed the release of Jatupat, who called for seven others still imprisoned to be freed. However, three prominent protest leaders were denied release on bail Saturday morning. In addition to calling for Prayut's resignation, the protesters core demands also include a more democratic constitution and reforms to the monarchy. The protesters charge that Prayut, who as then-army commander led a 2014 coup, was returned to power unfairly in last years general election because laws had been changed to favor a pro-military party. The protesters also say that a constitution written and passed under military rule is undemocratic. The implicit criticism of the monarchy, which protesters believe wields too much power, has irked conservative Thais because it traditionally has been treated as sacrosanct and a pillar of national identity. There is concern that the situation may become more volatile, because in the past week there has been a mobilisation of forces who claim to be defenders of the monarchy. Royalists held rallies in several cities, in many cases led by local civil servants. On Wednesday, a small counter-protest held in Bangkok turned violent when a few attendees attacked anti-government students. King Maha Vajiralongkorn made a rare appearance Friday night as he and Queen Suthida and other members of the royal family walked through a crowd of ardent royalists who had gathered on a street to cheer him as he passed by. The king, in an unusually informal manner, was seen on a widely circulated video giving thanks to an onlooker who earlier in the week had held up a sign supporting the monarchy in the midst of anti-government supporters. The video showed the queen pointing out the man to the king. Vajiralongkorn also spoke briefly with Suwit Thongprasert, a royalist activist who had been part of a group whose violent protests in 2014 put pressure on an elected government that helped trigger the coup led by Prayuth. Suwit was a Buddhist monk known as Buddha Issara when he was a leader of the right-wing Peoples Democratic Reform Committee during the 2014 protests.
MOE will continue working with schools to 'tighten processes where needed': Sun Xueling on NUS dismissal of professor - CNA
SINGAPORE: The Education Ministry will continue to work closely with institutes of higher learning (IHLs) to "tighten processes where needed", said Minister of State Sun Xueling following the dismissal of National University of Singapore (NUS) professor Dr Je…
SINGAPORE: The Education Ministry will continue to work closely with institutes of higher learning (IHLs) to "tighten processes where needed", said Minister of State Sun Xueling following the dismissal of National University of Singapore (NUS) professor Dr Jeremy Fernando. Dr Fernando, who was a Tembusu College professor, was recently sacked by NUS after he was found to have had an intimate association with an undergraduate. NUS also filed a police report. Advertisement Advertisement In a Facebook post on Saturday (Oct 24), Ms Sun said there had been "much public discussion" about the dismissal. She noted how NUS had "responded with a timeline of events and their investigations", adding that "at a press conference yesterday, NUS also acknowledged that they could have done better in handling the matter", she said. "Now that a police report has been filed, we will let the police investigations run its course," Ms Sun added. Advertisement Advertisement Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is following up with NUS and other universities to ensure the safety and protection of students. "One question we have asked the university leadership: What more can they do to prevent instances like these from happening in future?" said Ms Sun. She said the ministry recognises that IHLs "must give space for academic pursuit and ideas to flourish". Advertisement "But the issues around this case lead us to question: How can we better guard against educators and other individuals who cross the line, and how can we collectively strengthen campus safety? "At the end of the day, our IHLs have a duty of care to their students. There must be zero-tolerance in our campuses for any form of sexual misconduct, harassment or violence," said Ms Sun. "On MOE's part, we will continue working closely with all our IHLs to tighten processes where needed, to ensure the safety of the student community at all times," she added. Earlier in the week, Dr Fernando, who was a Tembusu College professor, was sacked by NUS after he was found to have had an intimate association with an undergraduate. NUS also filed a police report. On Friday, the colleges rector Professor Tommy Koh said NUS had "fallen short". Prof Koh said: The university can learn from the Singapore Government from the way it dealt with SARS in 2003 and COVID-19 in 2020...The policy is to be open rather than closed, to be transparent rather than opaque, to give timely information to your stakeholders rather than withhold such information. So using these two, three criteria, in my view, NUS has fallen short.
Trump votes in Florida a day after worst US COVID-19 spike - CNA
President Donald Trump cast his vote Saturday in Florida ahead of another punishing day with three campaign rallies as he works to close the gap with Joe Biden and pull off a 2016-style upset win on November 3.
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump cast his vote on Saturday (Oct 24) in Florida ahead of another punishing day with three campaign rallies as he works to close the gap with Joe Biden and pull off a 2016-style upset win on Nov 3. "I voted for a guy named Trump," he said, flashing a smile after removing his black mask upon emerging from a polling station in balmy West Palm Beach, not far from the Mar-a-Lago resort he officially made his home last year. Advertisement Advertisement He thus became one of nearly 55 million Americans to cast early ballots in a year when the coronavirus has made in-person voting problematic. "It was a very secure vote. Much more secure than when you send in a ballot, I can tell you that," said Trump, who insists without giving evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud. Continuing his frenetic pace, the president was to hop-scotch later in the day from North Carolina to Ohio to Wisconsin - returning to the White House only minutes before midnight - as he works furiously to make up lost ground. Advertisement Advertisement But the president's efforts have been inescapably overshadowed by a grim reality seized on by Biden: the US set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases on Friday, at nearly 83,000, with a further surge expected as cold weather arrives. "President Trump knew the severity of this virus and failed to tell the American people the truth," the former vice president said in a statement Saturday. He said Trump was "unwilling and unable to do the hard work to get it under control." Advertisement Biden, who has been more restrained - and pandemic-conscious - in his campaigning, planned two drive-in events in Pennsylvania, another key state. The Biden campaign was also deploying a key surrogate, former president and former Biden boss Barack Obama, to speak later in the day in Miami. With nearly 55 million people having already cast early ballots, Biden has a firm lead in national polls, and narrower leads in many battleground states like Florida that typically decide the winner of US presidential elections. The drama of the final Trump-Biden televised debate on Thursday was thought unlikely to move the needle significantly. But Democrats are not about to forget the stunning upset Trump pulled off in 2016 when he defeated the favorite Hillary Clinton. The president's current grueling travels aim to repeat that feat. On Friday, Trump targeted the politically powerful seniors' vote in Florida, telling a crowd at the retirement community The Villages that all Biden talks about is "Covid, Covid, Covid" to "scare people." "We're going to quickly end this pandemic, this horrible plague," he said. In fact, the virus has claimed more than 224,000 American lives, with no end in sight. Referring to Biden's warning of a "dark winter" ahead, Trump insisted the country is instead "approaching the light at the end of the tunnel." He then pivoted to his own scare tactics, claiming that Biden would let in hordes of illegal immigrants including "criminals and rapists and even murderers." LACK OF LEADERSHIP While Biden has waged a lower-key campaign, even the 77-year-old Democrat is ramping up activity in the final stretch. In his home state of Delaware on Friday, he gave a speech about economic recovery from the pandemic, slamming Trump's record and vowing - as Trump has - that he would provide a safe coronavirus vaccine to all who want it. "We are more than eight months into the crisis and the president still doesn't have a plan," Biden claimed. "He's given up. He quit on you, on your family, on America. PIVOT TOO LATE? Trump's campaign has been turned upside down by the coronavirus crisis, which a majority of voters say he has handled poorly. In addition to the national disaster, Trump's reelection bid has been hampered throughout by his own erratic and often bad tempered behavior. At Thursday's final televised debate in Nashville, the president pivoted to the more even-keeled leader that aides have long been hoping Americans will see. But whether this shift from the usually bruising diet of insults, grievances and conspiracy theories will be enough at this point is an open question. Trump seized during the debate on Biden's vow to "transition" away from the heavily polluting oil industry -- potentially a wounding admission in petroleum-producing states like Pennsylvania and Texas. But Biden himself scored points by raising questions about Trump's holding of a bank account in China and his failure to publish his tax returns. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram