AP News in Brief 02-09-19

Thai princess’ political bid sunk by her brother, the king

BANGKOK — Thailand’s chaotic politics took two astonishing turns Friday when the sister of the king made a historic bid to become prime minister, only to have him shut down her effort as “inappropriate” because it violated tradition and the constitution, which keep the monarchy from getting involved in politics.

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The royal order from King Maha Vajiralongkorn was read on national television late Friday night, effectively scuttling the move by his older sister, Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, to become a candidate for the prime minister’s office after parliamentary elections scheduled for March 24.

It was the latest event to roil Thailand, which has been buffeted by coups, political comebacks and street violence for more than a decade.

Ubolratana’s registration as a candidate was a stunning move, not only because it would have broken a taboo on a senior royal running for public office, but also because it would have allied her with the Thai Raksa Chart Party, considered by many royalists to be unsympathetic to the monarchy.

It is one of several parties linked to the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications billionaire who roared to power in 2001 with populist policies that made him practically unbeatable. The army eventually ousted him from the prime minister’s office in a 2006 coup.

Blackface scandal doesn’t surprise people of color

DETROIT — In the brightly lit Vintage Barbershop in northwest Detroit, Thomas Carter carefully trimmed the graying hair of a customer as he was asked about photos that depict whites wearing blackface.

He paused and slowly scanned the shop where about a half-dozen black men of various ages awaited their turn. “It’s not funny to me. It’s not funny to me at all,” he said.

From police shootings of black men, to white supremacy rallies, to efforts to remove Confederate Civil War monuments, the nation has lurched from one racial controversy to another in recent years. The latest is blackface — in which someone darkens their face and adds bright red lipstick to create stereotypes and caricatures. The disclosures have angered and frustrated many black people, who say it is mocking and demeaning.

The practice took hold in New York City in the 1830s and became immensely popular among post-Civil War whites. In fact, the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the South took their name from a character played by blackface performer Thomas Dartmouth Rice. He said his act “Jump, Jim Crow” (or “Jumping Jim Crow”) was inspired by a slave he saw.

Rare tiger kills prospective mate in London at first meeting

LONDON — For ten days, the London Zoo kept its newly arrived male Sumatran tiger Asim in a separate enclosure from Melati, the female tiger who was supposed to become his mate.

Zoologists gave them time to get used to each other’s presence and smells, and waited for what they felt would be the right time to let them get together. On Friday, they put the two tigers into the same enclosure — and Asim killed Melati as shocked handlers tried in vain to intervene.

It was a tragic end to hopes that the two would eventually breed as part of a Europe-wide tiger conservation program for the endangered Sumatran subspecies.

“Everyone here at ZSL London Zoo is devastated by the loss of Melati and we are heartbroken by this turn of events,” the zoo said in a statement.

It said the focus now is “caring for Asim as we get through this difficult event.”

From wire sources

On the first day of Black History Month a week ago, a photo emerged from Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page that showed someone in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Dreams to tragedy: Fire kills 10 at Brazilian soccer academy

RIO DE JANEIRO — A fire early Friday swept through the sleeping quarters of an academy for Brazil’s popular professional soccer club Flamengo, killing 10 people and injuring three, most likely teenage players, authorities said.

Firefighters were called just after 5 a.m. to the sprawling Ninho de Urubu training grounds in Rio de Janeiro’s western region. Overhead images captured by an Associated Press drone showed a smoky, charred area of the complex.

“We are distraught,” Flamengo President Rodolfo Landim said outside the complex, where friends, fans and neighbors gathered, some in prayer. “This is the worst tragedy to happen to the club in its 123 years.”

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He did not take questions from reporters who also were outside the complex but added: “The most important thing right now is to minimize the suffering of these families.”

The cause of the fire was not known, but Claudio Castro, vice governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, said authorities were looking at the possibility of a short circuit in an air conditioning unit. It is currently summer in Brazil.

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