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Singapore gripped by Hello Kitty frenzy

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Tempers flared and police had to be called in Thursday as anxious Singaporeans rushed to McDonald’s outlets to buy Hello Kitty plush toys being sold by the fastfood chain as a promotion.

Hundreds had begun queueing from Wednesday night to get their hands on a kitten in a skeleton outfit, depicting a character from the German fairy tale “The Singing Bone”.

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It was the last of a series of six limited-edition Hello Kitty characters dressed in different outfits from popular fairy tales which were being sold by McDonald’s this month.

In some outlets, chaos broke out amid rampant queue jumping as supplies of the toys ran out soon after the stores opened for business on Thursday.

One video uploaded on YouTube showed police officers mediating between two customers in front of a McDonald’s counter.

Another showed an irate man asking an agitated crowd “Is he Singaporean? Is he educated?”, apparently in reference to someone who had gotten a queue ticket ahead of others.

Some customers took to Facebook to register their anger after they went home empty-handed, while others immediately put the toys — sold for Sg$4.60 ($3.62) with set meals — up for sale online at far higher prices.

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Some Singaporeans are obsessed with completing the entire collection.

“This is absolutely ruining the Singapore reputation. Poor management and irresponsible,” wrote Catherine Ong on McDonald’s Singapore’s Facebook page.

Others voiced their annoyance at compatriots who had let their Hello Kitty mania run out of control.

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Singapore last went into a Hello Kitty frenzy in 2000, when McDonald’s sold a series of the toys in wedding outfits to usher in the new millenium.

Hello Kitty, which started in 1974 in Japan as a moon-faced cartoon cat on a coin purse, has developed into a global cultural phenomenon.

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Sanrio, the Tokyo-based company behind the Hello Kitty industry, says it now has around 50,000 different products on sale in 109 nations and territories.

Kitty mania is also well established in Hong Kong where both men and women line up for hours outside McDonald’s outlets during promotional schemes.

In 2008, Japan appointed the character as its goodwill tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong.

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2020 Election

The FDA repeatedly stood up to Trump on coronavirus — and even won some victories: NYT

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President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly tried to undermine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) and now, with just two weeks until Election Day, the world is learning more about the behind-the-scenes battles that have shaken these governmental entities to the core.

Approximately two weeks after Trump's release from Walter Reed Medical Center, there is no "cure," as the president stated, and he is not "immune." No one is immune - and there is no successful vaccine, regardless of how much Trump claims one will arrive before Nov. 3. The F.D.A. published the guidelines in briefing materials to an advisory committee that will discuss them on Thursday, effectively making them official. To be clear, the F.D.A.has not approved Trump's miraculous cure of a cocktail - even though he has claimed differently.

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Lawmakers more optimistic on COVID stimulus as election day looms

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Chances for approving a new spending package to support the US economy improved dramatically on Tuesday after the senior Democratic lawmaker said a bill is in the works and the top Senate Republican said he would bring it to a vote.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Bloomberg TV that legislators are starting to commit the measure to paper and she is optimistic it can win bipartisan support.

Whether policymakers can complete the negotiations in time for Congress to approve the package before the November 3 presidential election, however, remains a question mark.

"Our economy needs it. Hopefully by the end of the day today, we will know where we are," she said in an interview. "We are starting to write the bill."

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2020 Election

America is on pace for record-shattering early voter turnout — including in critical states: report

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On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that voters are casting early ballots in numbers on track to set a historic record — including in some critical battleground states.

"Early-voting counts suggest a record level of civic participation before Election Day. The tens of millions of ballots already cast show highly enthusiastic voters are making sure their votes are counted amid a pandemic," said the report.

15.8 million people in battleground states have already voted, and in some states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, more people have voted early so far than did in the entire early voting period of 2016. In North Carolina, meanwhile, 2 million ballots have been cast — more than double the same amount at this point in 2016.

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