Case against ex-PM dropped
The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a case against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for ordering a crackdown on demonstrators protesting against his government in 2010. More than 90 people were killed in the unrest, one of the bloodiest episodes in more than a decade of turmoil stemming from rivalry for power between former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the conservative establishment. Abhisit and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, were accused of murder and attempted murder in connection with the crackdown on Thaksin’s Red Shirt supporters to end their two-month street protest in Bangkok.
North threatens reporters
North Korea yesterday vowed to execute reporters from two newspapers, saying they insulted the nation’s dignity while reviewing and interviewing the British authors of a book about life in the country. Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency carried a statement expressing anger over the descriptions of North Korean lives as increasingly capitalist. It also objected to the translated title of the South Korean edition as Capitalist People’s Republic of Korea and the book’s cover, which replaced the red star in the North’s official seal with the US dollar mark. The court also “sentenced to death” the presidents of the newspapers and said the North will “track down to the end and cut off the dirty windpipes” of those responsible for such provocations. The North did not directly threaten the British authors of North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors, but said the book “viciously defamed and distorted” the country’s realities. The book was written by Daniel Tudor, a former reporter for the Economist, and James Pearson, a Reuters correspondent.
Cancer treatment approved
Health officials have approved a breakthrough treatment that genetically engineers patients’ own blood cells into an army of assassins to seek and destroy childhood leukemia. The Food and Drug Administration called the approval “historic,” the first gene therapy to hit the domestic market. Made from scratch for every patient, it is one of a wave of “living drugs” under development to fight additional blood cancers and other tumors, too. Novartis Pharmaceuticals has set the price for its one-time infusion of so-called “CAR-T cells” at US$475,000, but said there would be no charge for those treated with it who did not show a response within a month.
Pete Frates honored
The man who inspired the ice bucket challenge has been honored by the Roman Catholic prep school he attended in Massachusetts. St Johns Prep on Wednesday announced Pete Frates as its distinguished alumnus for next year. The headmaster also announced the dedication of the school’s baseball diamond in Frates’ name and the retirement of his No. 3 jersey in football, ice hockey and baseball. Frates called it a “tremendous honor.” He graduated from the all-boys school in Danvers in 2003. Frates inspired the ice bucket challenge that has raised more than US$220 million for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — research since 2014. The former Boston College baseball star was diagnosed in 2012 with the disease.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”