WHILE YOU SLEPT

Hacking, From Submarines To A News Bureau

Although conventional warfare makes headlines, a more insidious conflict also warrants attention. Cyber warfare, in its many forms, is arguably still in its infancy. But the new-age combat is a growing concern â€" so much so that the latest NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, chose to focus on cyber defense.


The list of government agencies, companies and even news organizations targeted by hackers gets longer everyday. Today is no exception: The Australian reports that DCNS, a submarine company mostly owned by the French government, suffered a massive leak that exposed in detail the ­entire secret combat capability of its Scorpene submarines.


This has enormous implications, not least in Asia. DCNS built a fleet of these submarines for India, meaning it would be an "intelligence bonanza" for rivals like Pakistan and China to obtain the 22,400 pages of leaked documents, the newspaper reports. Other countries that use similar submarines, from Malaysia to Chile, could also be affected. Reuters cited a DCNS spokeswoman as calling the hack "tools in an economic war" even as she said the information had yet to be authenticated.


This is not the only breach to be reported this week. In Russia, the Moscow bureau of The New York Times said it had been targeted, though unsuccessfully, by hackers. The announcement came days after hacking tools were apparently stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency in what whistleblower Edward Snowden said might be a "warning." Technology has, undeniably, brought us great benefits. But the truth is, we’re all much more vulnerable as a result. These hacks are just the beginning.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



EARTHQUAKE ROILS ITALY

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake killed at least 37 people and left 150 others missing after it struck about 65 miles northeast of Rome earlier today. “Half of the town isn’t there anymore,” Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice, told Italian daily Il Messaggero. Follow live updates from BBC.


FRENCHMAN KILLS WOMAN IN AUSTRALIA SHOUTING "ALLAHU AKBAR"

The 29-year-old Frenchman stabbed to death a British woman, 21, while apparently shouting the Arabic phrase for "God is great" at a backpackers’ hostel in Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland yesterday. A man was also seriously injured and a dog was killed in the attack. Australian police are investigating whether the killer, who has since been taken in custody, has any links to terrorist groups.


â€" ON THIS DAY

From the printing of the Gutenberg Bible to Stephen Fry, here’s your 57-second shot of History.


TURKEY SENDS TANKS INTO SYRIA

The move is an effort to remove terror group ISIS from the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Al Jazeera reports. Turkey and the U.S.-led coalition have also been carrying out artillery and airstrikes in the area.


315 MILES

Elon Musk unveiled a new battery that extends Tesla’s Model S range to 315 miles, the first time an electric car exceeded 300 miles of range. It will also make the sedan the world’s fastest production car, going from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, Bloomberg reports.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Capital flows in Latin America suggest Brazil's economic free fall may have stopped. For America Economia, Marío Epstein writes: "Brazil's economy shrank 4% in 2015. A similar negative figure is expected this year. In keeping with cyclical theories, things are likely to bottom out soon. Analysts predict that its growth rate could stabilize in the third quarter of 2017 and gain momentum in the fourth. Nothing to celebrate, perhaps, but it will at least signal a turning point for producers and consumers to regain confidence."

Read the full article, Can Latin America’s Economy Rebound? Keep An Eye On Brazil


NORTH KOREA FIRES MISSILE

South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine early this morning, in what South Korean officials described as an "apparent protest" of the annual military drills between Seoul and Washington.


â€" MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD

Wish Upon A Line â€" Colombo, 1992


BRAIN SCANS SHOW EXTENT OF ZIKA EFFECTS

A study published in the journal Radiology suggests that the damage caused by Zika infection during pregnancy on the brains of fetuses could go beyond microcephaly. The study, led by neurologists in Boston and doctors in northeastern Brazil, says that babies born with a normal-size head may present serious brain abnormalities as they grow up.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

CHILL GUARD

Nils Olav has been promoted to the rank of brigadier by the King of Norway's Guard. Oh, small detail: Nils is a penguin at Edinburgh Zoo.

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Geopolitics

How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.


But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Activist in front of democracy monument in Thailand.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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