A string of anti-government protests in Bangkok yesterday resulted in at least one fatality, numerous others injured, and the temporary closure of several foreign embassies in Thailand.
Philip Crowley, a spokesperson for the US State Department, announced early Thursday morning that the US embassy would be closed to the public due to its location near the violence.
The embassy will be operating with a reduced staff and will not offer American citizens services until the conflict is resolved. The British and Dutch embassies in Thailand also halted their services after the Thai government said that it would seal off the area.
The leader of the protests was fugitive Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol, the radical leader of the militant Red Shirt movement. While giving interviews with foreign journalists, Sawasdipol appeared to have been shot in the head by a sniper. He was later taken to a local hospital for emergency treatment. Read More…
Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head yesterday while talking to a New York Times newspaper reporter and just as Schearf approached him to ask a question.
Seconds later, protest security guards yelled at journalists and on-lookers to stay back as they tried to help the general – also known as Seh Daeng – into a van and to the hospital. After he was driven away, explosions rang out and the protesters, called the Red Shirts, scattered.
One protester, who was trying to get people to leave the area, says soldiers fired a grenade and used live ammunition. The protester said, “A soldier, Thai soldier, he shoot M16 and M79 to Thai people, Red Shirts.” But his claims could not be verified in the ensuring chaos. Read More…
Harrods was sold to the Qatar royal family for £1.5 billion with chief executive Al Fayed planning to retire. Al Fayed will be given the role of “honorary chairman” though will have little day-to-day involvement with the store.
The sale was concluded in the early hours of 8 May and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani was sent to London to finalise the deal, saying that the acquisition of Harrods would add “much value” to the investment portfolio of Qatar Holdings while his deputy, Hussain Ali Al-Abdulla, called it a “landmark transaction”.
A spokesman for Fayed said “in reaching the decision to retire, [Fayed] wished to ensure that the legacy and traditions that he has built up in Harrods would be continued.” Read More…
The first blast occurred at 20:55 Moscow Summer Time (16:55 UTC) with the second at 01:00 MST (21:00 UTC). The explosions were confirmed by investigators to have been caused by methane gas.
A secondary explosion was reported approximately four hours later, with 20 rescue workers now among those missing. The second explosion caused a collapse of the mine’s ventilation shaft, drastically reducing the flow of fresh air into the mine.
Rescue efforts were suspended after the second blast. As of 10 May 2010, 30 people were confirmed to have died, at least 71 injured and up to 80 remained trapped underground.
The Russian emergencies minister confirmed that rescue efforts were ongoing, saying “There is always a chance of recovery.” Rescue work resumed late on 9 May after methane levels had dropped below safety limits and, at the peak of the operation, 560 people were involved with aid being sent from other parts of Russia.
Presidential aides and state television announced yesterday that the Nigerian president, Umaru Yar’Adua, died.
Yar’Adua ascended to the presidency in 2007, but was later taken ill, and had not been publicly seen for the last few months.
He was hospitalised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to get inflammated tissue around his heart treated; it was later diagnosed as acute pericarditis.
According to the BBC, Nigerian reports indicated the president died between 21.00 and 22.00 local time (20.00 to 21.00 UTC) in Abuja, the capital.
Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president, became the acting president this February; under the constitution, he is to now be sworn in formally and will appoint a new vice-president.
The Nigerian Television Authority broadcast the news, saying: “The president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, died a few hours ago at the presidential villa. Security aides notified the national security adviser, General Anou Bissou, who immediately called the acting president. The late president has been ill for some time.” Read More…
Expo 2010 Shanghai China is being held on both banks of the Huangpu River in the city of Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, from May 1 to October 31, 2010.
It is a World Expo in the tradition of international fairs and expositions. The theme of the exposition is “Better City – Better Life” and signifies Shanghai’s new status in the 21st century as the “next great world city”.
More than 190 countries and more than 50 international organizations have registered to participate in the Shanghai World Expo, the largest ever. Read More…
A top United Nations official has called the Democratic Republic of the Congo the “rape capital of the world”.
The UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom, said that the UN Security Council needs to “punish the perpetrators in DR Congo”.
Data collected by the UN shows that 200,000 cases of sexual assault have been reported in the last 14 years, 8,000 of which occurred last year and 1,244 of which occurred in the first three months of 2010.
The UN’s mission has been trying to combat the problem by escorting women when they go to market and working closely with the local officials. Read More…
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now at the centre of controversy when a live microphone caught him describing a voter he had talked to as being a “bigoted woman”.
The incident occurred after Brown, encouraged by his advisors to interact with ordinary people more often before next week’s parliamentary elections, went for a walkabout in the town of Rochdale, located near Manchester.
There, he spoke with Gillian Duffy, aged 65, who challenged him on topics such as health and education, before asking about immigration: “All those Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?” she asked him.
Brown responded by saying that “[a] million people come from Europe, but a million people, British people, have gone into Europe.” The prime minister, upon finishing the discussion, said it was “very nice to meet you” and returned to his car.
Unbeknownst to him, however, the Sky News microphone attached to his lapel was still turned on and picked up the conversation that followed inside the vehicle: “That was a disaster … they should never have put me with that woman,” Brown said. “Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous.” When an aide asked what Duffy had said, Brown responded: “Everything, she was just a bigoted woman that said she used to be Labour […] I don’t know why Sue [an aide] brought her up towards me.”
The PM, upon being informed what had happened, returned to Duffy’s home to personally apologise. “Sometimes you do make mistakes and you use wrong words, and once you’ve used that word and you’ve made a mistake, you should withdraw it and say profound apologies, and that’s what I’ve done,” he said. During an interview with the BBC, Brown is seen with his head in hands as the comments were replayed.
Duffy, speaking to reporters immediately after having talked with the PM, described Brown as being “very nice”, but later said she was “very upset” when informed what Brown had said off-camera. “Why has he come out with words like that? He’s supposed to be leading the country and he’s calling an ordinary woman who’s come up and asked questions that most people would ask him,” she said in an interview with the BBC.
“[…] It’s going to be tax, tax, tax for another twenty years to get out of this national debt, and he’s calling me a bigot,” later adding: “I want to know why – them comments I made there – why [sic] I was called a bigot.”
A spokesman for Brown said: “Mr Brown has apologized to Mrs Duffy personally by phone. He does not think that she is bigoted. He was letting off steam in the car after a difficult conversation. But this is exactly the sort of conversation that is important in an election campaign and which he will continue to have with voters.”
Some political analysts have said the gaffe may hurt Labor’s chances in the upcoming elections; the party had managed to narrow the Conservatives’ lead in recent opinion polls.
The Conservatives responded to the incident — dubbed by some media outlets as “Bigotgate” — with Shadow chancellor George Osborne saying that “general elections […] do reveal the truth about people.”
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, meanwhile said: “You should always try to answer the questions as best you can. He has been recorded saying what he has said and will have to answer for that.”
Andrew Russell, a politics lecturer for Manchester University, commented on the situation. “A politician in a stronger position could recover from this. What we know is that Gordon Brown is not in that position.”