SPOTLIGHT: EXPLOSIONS IN THAILAND, QUESTIONS OF LABEL
Thailand was hit by a series of coordinated blasts across the country last night and early this morning, leaving four people dead and 34 injured. The Bangkok Post reports that the heaviest damage was in the resort town of Hua Hin, where explosions killed two and injured dozens, including foreign tourists. The popular island of Phuket was also targeted in the string of attacks that struck at least five cities on a public holiday marking the queen's birthday.
Tensions were running high in Thailand after last weekend's vote on a new constitution and in the run up to the anniversary of a bombing that killed 22 people in Bangkok last year. "The bombs are an attempt to create chaos and confusion," said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
What is unclear is who was behind the explosions. "It's too soon to jump to any conclusion," deputy police spokesman Poll Col Krisana Pattanacharoen was quoted as saying by the newspaper. "But what we know for sure is that the incidents are not linked directly to any kinds of terrorism, in fact it's local sabotage and we are trying to identify those responsible behind the scenes."
As we get endless news of attacks from different corners of the world, it's worth taking a step back before jumping to labels of any kind — especially when the motive remains unknown. An article by Süddeutsche Zeitung's Joachim Käppner, translated exclusively into English by Worldcrunch, says that societies often dismiss bombers and terrorists as "insane" and "crazy" but argues that these labels hide an uncomfortable truth: According to forensic experts cited by Käppner, pathologizing such crimes only blurs the culprit's responsibility and stigmatizes those who are truly mentally ill.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY (& WEEKEND)
- International Youth Day focuses on poverty eradication and sustainable consumption.
- World Alternative Games open in Wales. They include bog snorkelling, wife carrying, husband dragging, gravy wrestling, Russian egg roulette, backward running and worm charming.
- Fidel Castro turns 90 on Saturday.
TENSIONS RISE BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
Russian president Vladimir Putin announced counter-terrorism measures and naval training exercises in the Black Sea, a day after he accused Ukraine of sending saboteurs to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. Ukraine, worried about Russia ramping up fighting in the war between Kiev and pro-Russia separatists, put all troops near Crimea and in eastern Ukraine on high alert, Reuters reports.
— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
No Bumps In Translation — Reykjavik, 2001
Scientists have discovered that Greenland sharks are the longest-living vertebrates known on earth. Their lifespan is believed to be at least 400 years, and they reach sexual maturity around the age of 150.
COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA TO PARTIALLY REOPEN BORDER
Colombia and Venezuela have agreed to partially reopen the border between the two countries, almost a year after President Nicolas Maduro closed it on security grounds. El Espectador reports that Maduro and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed on other bilateral measures including fighting transnational crime.
— ON THIS DAY
Happy birthday to the "Sultan of Swing," turning 67 today! That, and more, in your 57-second shot of History.
POLIO CASES IN NIGERIA
Two new cases of polio were reported today in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, marking the return of the disease to the country after two years of being polio-free. According to local daily Vanguard, Nigerian authorities will launch a drive to immunize 5 million children to prevent the virus from spreading.
Cuban illustrator Edel Rodriguez turned up the heat on Donald Trump in TIME magazine's latest issue. Check it out here.
PHELPS MATCHES ANCIENT GREECE'S LEONIDAS
American swimmer Michael Phelps shattered yet another Olympic record yesterday, winning his 12th individual medal and matching the tally of another famous Olympic athlete — albeit one from ancient Greece. Leonidas of Rhodes, a runner, had won 12 solo medals at four Games between 164 and 152 BC, possibly one of the world's oldest records.
MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Mexico's Problem Goes Beyond Trump, Straight To The American People — America Economia
- Iran's Divorce Rate, A State Secret? — Arman-e Emrooz
- The Other Rio — Glaucio: I've Saved Some Kids, Lost Some Too — Essay
FIJI CELEBRATES FIRST OLYMPIC MEDAL
Fiji's rugby sevens team won a gold — a first for the South Pacific archipelago. Fiji Times reports that Aug. 22 was declared a public holiday to celebrate the team's victory. From the stands in Rio de Janeiro, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama expressed hope that the country's "GDP would go up in the next couple of weeks" after days of "nil productivity" as citizens breathlessly followed their team's success.
STAR WARS STRIKES BACK
And obviously, stop everything you're doing, to watch the new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.