WHILE YOU SLEPT

Paris-to-Cairo Crash, Trudeau’s Elbow, Godspots

SPOTLIGHT: PARIS-TO-CAIRO FLIGHT CRASHES

An EgyptAir passenger jet has disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea during an overnight flight from Paris to Cairo. Greek aviation authorities believe the plane crashed off the Greek island of Karpathos in Egyptian airspace. Search and rescue operations are ongoing to try and find the wreckage and potential survivors. There are no immediate clues as to the cause of the crash, and authorities are not excluding terrorism as a possible culprit.

  • Flight MS804 was traveling with 56 passengers, as well as seven crew members and three security personnel. Among those on board were 30 Egyptians and 15 French, including one child and two babies. Egyptians and French officials exchanged condolences.
  • The Airbus A320 aircraft took off from Charles de Gaulle airport yesterday, shortly after 11 pm, local time in Paris. It went missing at around 2:30 am, 45 minutes before it was due to land in Cairo, and shortly after entering Egyptian airspace.
  • There was some confusion as to whether a distress signal was sent from the place. According to the BBC, the Egyptian army denied EgyptAir’s early claims that a distress call was sent. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail later explained there had been no "distress call" but that a "signal" was received from the plane.
  • It is too early at this time to say what caused the crash, but French Prime Minister insisted that “no theory could be ruled out.” If experts suggest a technical fault is “improbable,” some believe it might have been caused by a bomb, pointing to a terrorist attack as the “most likely scenario,” AFP reports.
  • France’s interior intelligence agency DGSI had warned only yesterday that France was “clearly the country the most under threat” by ISIS, six months after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and weeks before the country hosts the UEFA European championship. His comments came ahead of a planned vote in the lower house of Parliament today on whether to extend for a third time a state of emergency first introduced after the November attacks, Le Figaro reports.
  • In the days that followed the Paris attacks in November, investigators had uncovered the presence of potential Islamic extremists known to security services among employees of the Charles de Gaulle airport. Some of them even had access to planes and runways.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



VIOLENT PROTESTS IN VENEZUELA...

Anti-government protesters clashed with the police in Caracas yesterday for a third day this week, after increasingly unpopular President Nicolas Maduro announced a state of emergency for 60 days. The police tried to block the protesters and shot tear gas to disperse the crowds chanting “the government will fall.” For more about the ongoing troubles facing Venezuela, read this Worldcrunch wrap-up of Latin American coverage: Maduro Pushes Venezuela To The Brink.


… AND IN FRANCE

What started in France months ago as a mainly peaceful protest against proposed labor reform has escalated into violence and rioting. Young far-left activists attacked and torched a police car with officers in it in central Paris yesterday, while police forces were holding a protest of their own across town against “anti-cop hatred.” The public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation for voluntary manslaughter and five people have been arrested. In the western city of Rennes, 19 were also arrested this morning after attempting to sabotage the city’s metro, Europe 1 reports. More demonstrations, in Paris and across France, are planned for today.


â€" ON THIS DAY

Apple Stores, Lawrence of Arabia and a famous guitar player from a certain ge-ge-ge-generation: They’re all in your 57-second shot of history.


VERBATIM

“What kind of man elbows a woman? It's pathetic! You're pathetic!” Things got pretty heated in the Canadian House of Commons yesterday as MPs were about to vote on an assisted-dying bill, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was accused of elbowing opposition MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau, CBC reports. He later offered his “apologies for my behaviour and my actions, unreservedly.”


BAYER-MONSANTO MERGER

German drug and chemical giant Bayer has made a takeover offer for Monsanto, a move that, if it succeeds, would create the world's biggest supplier of seeds and pesticides, The Wall Street Journal reports. Monsanto’s current market capitalization stands at $42 billion.


3 SECONDS

Superbugs of the future will kill every three seconds and risk casting medicine “back into the dark ages,” a global review claims.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

What if the future of humanity was just a matter of arithmetics? In their quest to build the perfect city of the future, scientists are increasingly turning to applied mathematics, Paul Molga reports in Les Échos. “To predict the future city, they want to create the matrix of a new "urban physique," capable of writing the laws that govern the function of these "urban arrangements."

"The city is a complex form for which there exists no equivalent in nature,” explains Luis Bettencourt, a physicist who specializes in complex systems at the Institute of Santa Fe. He doesn't focus on population growth, but on the growth of connectivity between people. "All other properties â€" the roads we are building to reach each other, the density required to do so, the economic products and ideas we create together â€" stems from this," he says.” Read the full article: Applied Mathematics To Design The Perfect Future City.


GIRL RESCUED FROM BOKO HARAM, NOW MOTHER

Amina Alli, one of the 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram Islamists more than two years ago, was found with a baby, rescued and returned to her family. See more details and today’s front page from Lagos-based daily Vanguard.


THE RETURN OF A KING?

With the utter mess that have become Brazilian politics, Dom Bertrand, the heir to Brazil’s defunct throne, is patiently waiting for the republic to collapse from his two-bedroom flat in São Paulo. Financial Times has the story.


â€" MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH


BEHOLD THE WI-FI “GODSPOTS”

Germany’s Evangelical Church is planning to equip its 3,000 churches in Berlin and the Brandenburg state with Wi-Fi, to create what it calls “Godspots.”

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
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

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"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.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

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".

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ