By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Pracha Hariraksapitak BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's military rulers detained former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday, a senior officer said, after summoning her for talks a day after the army overthrew her caretaker government in a coup. As the army moved to consolidate its grip on the country, its chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, set out his plans for the country, saying reforms were needed before an election. But some Thais defied martial law to protest against the takeover. Prayuth launched his coup after rival factions refused to give ground in a struggle for power between the royalist establishment and Yingluck's populist government that had raised fears of serious violence and damaged the economy. "We have detained Yingluck, her sister and brother-in-law," a senior military officer told Reuters. The two relatives have held top political posts. "We will do so for not more than week, that would be too long. We just need to organize matters in the country first," said the officer who declined to be identified. He declined to say where Yingluck was being held, but media said she was at an army base in Saraburi province, north of Bangkok. Soldiers detained politicians from both sides on Thursday after Prayuth announced the military takeover, which drew swift international condemnation. In what appeared to be a coordinated operation to neutralize possible opposition to the coup, the military summoned the ousted Yingluck to a meeting and then banned her and 154 others, including politicians and activists, from leaving Thailand. Yingluck is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon turned politician who won huge support among the poor but the loathing of the royalist establishment, largely over accusations of corruption and nepotism. He was ousted as premier in a 2006 military coup. Responding to the summons, Yingluck arrived at an army facility at noon along with other politicians. Prayuth was there at the same time but there was no confirmation they met. After Prayuth had left, nine vans with tinted windows were seen leaving, but it was not clear if Yingluck was in one of them or where they were going. An aide to a minister in the ousted government who declined to be identified said some people, including his minister, had been detained. A former aide to Yingluck said she had been out of telephone contact for hours. Yingluck was forced to step down as prime minister by a court on May 7 but her caretaker government, buffeted by more than six months of protests against it, had remained nominally in power, even after the army declared martial law on Tuesday. Prayuth also summoned hundreds of civil servants and told them he needed their help. "We must have economic, social and political reforms before elections. If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people," he said. The military has censored the media, dispersed rival protesters and imposed a nationwide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The armed forces have a long history of intervening in politics - there have been 18 previous successful or attempted coups since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. "GET OUT DICTATORS" Bangkok was mostly calm and life appeared normal, but there was some opposition to the takeover. Several hundred people, including students, gathered in a central shopping district despite a ban on protests by five or more people to voice their opposition to military rule. Some held signs saying "No coup" and "Get Out Dictators". About 200 soldiers lined up across a road to contain the protesters and eventually dispersed them. There was no serious trouble but at least one person was detained, a Reuters witness said. About 80 protesters also gathered in the northern city of Chiang Mai, Thaksin's hometown and power base, to denounce the putsch and call for an election, a Reuters witness said. Several policemen watched the protesters, who vowed to gather every day. The former education minister in Yingluck's government criticized the coup in a posting on Facebook. "A coup will only make the situation worse. Seizing power is not a way out," Chaturon Chaisang said. The military suspended television and radio broadcasts on Thursday and made channels broadcast its material, but six free-to-air channels came back on the air late on Friday. Several satellite channels, including partisan ones on both sides, remained banned. International news channels were off the air and the military threatened to block provocative websites. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday there was no justification for a coup, which would have "negative implications" for ties with its ally, especially military ones. Washington is reviewing its aid to Thailand and on Friday the U.S. State Department said it had already suspended about $3.5 million in military aid, including a portion for training. "We are reviewing all programs to determine other assistance which we may suspend," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. The U.S. Army's top general, Raymond Odierno, had spoken by phone with Prayuth, in the first contact between Prayuth and a U.S. military official since the coup, the Pentagon said on Friday. The U.S. Defense Department said the call was constructive and that Odierno had "made it clear that we certainly expect a return to democratic principles in Thailand just as soon as possible," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said. The State Department also recommended that U.S. citizens reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to the unrest. The Thai military briefed diplomats on Friday though some declined the invitation, apparently as a gesture of disapproval. Prayuth is a member of the royalist establishment generally seen as hostile to the Shinawatras, although he tried for months to keep the army out of the strife and to appear even-handed. The army chief, who is 60 and due to retire later this year, has taken over the powers of prime minister, but it was not clear whether he intended to hold on to the position. An undercurrent of a crisis that is dividing rich and poor is causing deep anxiety over the issue of royal succession. King Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, is 86 and spent the years from 2009 to 2013 in hospital. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn does not command the same devotion as his father, but some Thaksin supporters have recently been making a point of their loyalty to the prince. MARKET REACTION MUTED The anti-Thaksin protesters had demanded electoral changes that would end the Shinawatras' success at the ballot box. Thaksin or his parties have won every election since 2001. Thaksin's "red shirt" supporters were angry but said they had no immediate plans for protests. Many political analysts predicted tension and violence. Mass protests by Thaksin's well-organized loyalists would be a major test for the military. In 2010, more than 90 people were killed in clashes, most when the army broke up protests against a pro-establishment government that had taken office after a pro-Thaksin administration was removed by the courts in 2008. Investors have generally taken Thailand's upheavals in stride, and the market reaction to the coup was muted. The baht traded at about 32.60 per dollar, firmer than its low point on Thursday of 32.70. The stock market opened down 2 percent but rallied to end 0.6 percent lower. Thailand's economy contracted 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014 largely because of the prolonged unrest, which has frightened off tourists and dented confidence, bringing fears of recession. (Additional reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat, Aukkarapon Niyomyat and Bangkok bureau and David Brunnstrom and Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Robert Birsel and Alan Raybould; Editing by Alex Richardson, Andrew Hay and Ken Wills)
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's first calls to foreign leaders went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a strained moment for the U.S. relationship with its North American neighbors. Mexico's president said Saturday that Biden told him the U.S. would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — nations whose hardships have spawned tides of migration through Mexico toward the United States.
- The Telegraph
Exclusive: Notorious Albanian gangster smuggles mobile phone into British prison cell to post birthday wishes to family
An Albanian gangster jailed for 27-years for smuggling huge quantities of heroin and cocaine into Britain has been making a mockery of justice by running a social media account from his prison cell. Posing with fellow gang members, Valjet Pepaj, has even used Instagram to flirt with women on the outside, boasting that he expects to be free in four years. The 31-year-old was given a lengthy sentence in April 2018 after admitting three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed alongside two other men following a six month undercover police operation which resulted in the seizure of 50 kilograms of heroin and cocaine, worth in excess of £2 million.
America may not have won World War II and landed on the moon later if not for the contributions of a brilliant Chinese scientist named Qian Xuesen. Fearing communist presence after the war, the U.S., however, deported Qian to China, clueless that he would eventually spearhead programs that would target American troops and eventually propel China into space. Born to well-educated parents in 1911, it was evident from an early age that Qian had superior intellect.
- The Week
Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request
When President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, there was no chief usher to greet them. He had been fired at about 11:30 a.m., half an hour before Biden was sworn in as president, The New York Times reports. Former first lady Melania Trump had hired the chief usher, Timothy Harleth, from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2017, after the previous chief usher, Angella Reid, was dismissed a few months into Donald Trump's term.The White House chief usher is in charge of the first family's residence, overseeing everything from personnel issues to budgets. It is typically an apolitical job, and ushers typically stay through several administrations. Reid, hired in 2011, was only the ninth chief usher since 1885, though she was the first woman hired for the job. The Bidens had communicated to the White House counsel that they intended to bring in their own chief usher, a person familiar with the process told the Times. A Biden White House official told CNN that Harleth "was let go before the Bidens arrived," though CNN reports it was the Bidens who gave him the ax.Harleth was already in hot water with Trump's team, though. He "had found himself in an untenable position" since the election, "trying to begin preparations for a new resident in the White House, even as its occupant refused to concede that he would be leaving the premises," the Times reports. And Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was "unhappy" with Harleth "for trying to send briefing books about the residence to the Biden transition team in November." Harleth "had worked with Jill Biden's staff for weeks to organize the move of household belongings," The Washington Post adds.The absence of a chief usher was one manifestation of the chaotic transition period, but it doesn't entirely explain the curious breach in protocol where nobody opened the doors for the BIdens when they arrived at the White House, the Times notes. The doors, which awkwardly stood closed for about 10 long seconds as the Bidens watched, are typically opened by Marine guards.Once the Bidens passed through the doors into the newly sanitized White House, things got better, the Post reports. "Awaiting Biden in a room adjacent to the Oval Office were two trays stacked with chocolate chip cookies, each one in plastic wrap with a gold presidential seal."More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- The Telegraph
The alleged ringleader of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate and one of the world’s most wanted men has been arrested in the Netherlands, with Australian authorities pushing for his extradition to face trial. Police had been chasing alleged drug kingpin Tse Chi Lop, 57, for years until his arrest by Dutch police on Friday acting on a request from Australia’s federal police. In a statement on Sunday, Australian authorities said a man "of significant interest" to law enforcement agencies had been detained. A police spokeswoman confirmed his name as Tse Chi Lop. Tse is expected to be extradited after appearing before a judge, Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said, adding that his arrest by national police took place without incident at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. "He was already on the most-wanted list and he was detained based on intelligence we received," Aling said. The Chinese-born Canadian citizen has been compared to Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. He has been named by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as "Sam Gor", a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines globally. Sam Gor is believed to launder its billions in drug money through businesses springing up in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region – including casinos, hotels and real estate. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest followed an operation that in 2012-2013 nabbed 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The group were accused of importing "substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine" into Australia, long a lucrative market for drug traffickers. "The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime," the Australian police said. As part of the 2012-2013 raids across Melbourne, police seized AUS$9 million (US$7 million) worth of assets, including cash, designer handbags, casino chips and jewellery. The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost a decade after that operation’s launch is a major breakthrough for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial. Most of Asia’s meth comes from "Golden Triangle" border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China which are pumping unprecedented quantities of synthetic drugs into global markets. A study by the UNODC says Southeast Asia’s crime groups are netting more than $60 billion a year. The production of methamphetamine – either in tablet "yaba" form or the highly potent crystallised "ice" version – as well as ketamine and fentanyl, take place primarily in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state, but much of the precursor chemicals needed to cook them flows across the border from China. Thailand in 2018 netted more than 515 million yaba tablets, 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region a decade ago, said the UNODC. Drug hauls feature near daily in headlines across the region, with traffickers finding more creative ways to ship out their illicit products.
- National Review
Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic representative from Hawaii, on Friday expressed concern that a proposed measure to combat domestic terrorism could be used to undermine civil liberties. Gabbard’s comments came during an appearance on Fox News Primetime when host Brian Kilmeade asked her if she was “surprised they’re pushing forward with this extra surveillance on would-be domestic terror.” “It’s so dangerous as you guys have been talking about, this is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends,” Gabbard said. She continued: “When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with or heard from appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements similar to the insurgencies they’ve seen overseas, that in his words, he says make up this unholy alliance of religious extremists, racists, bigots, he lists a few others and at the end, even libertarians.” She said her concern lies in how officials will define the characteristics they are searching for in potential threats. “What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? Where do you take this?” Gabbard said. She said the proposed legislation could create “a very dangerous undermining of our civil liberties, our freedoms in our Constitution, and a targeting of almost half of the country.” “You start looking at obviously, have to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally,” Gabbard said. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 was introduced in the House earlier this week in the aftermath of rioting at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that left five dead. “Unlike after 9/11, the threat that reared its ugly head on January 6th is from domestic terror groups and extremists, often racially-motivated violent individuals,” Representative Brad Schneider (D., Ill.) said in a statement announcing the bipartisan legislation. “America must be vigilant to combat those radicalized to violence, and the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act gives our government the tools to identify, monitor and thwart their illegal activities. Combatting the threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacy is not a Democratic or Republican issue, not left versus right or urban versus rural. Domestic Terrorism is an American issue, a serious threat the we can and must address together,” he said.
- The Independent
Sean Hannity denounces Biden’s first week as ‘disastrous’ before the president completed a full day of work
‘The Biden administration is off to a very rocky start,’ Fox News host says
- Associated Press
The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department has said three teens, who are Black, were wrongly detained at a Target store in Westlake Village during a grand theft investigation last week. The teens — a 17-year-old and two 16-year-olds — from Thousand Oaks were walking home Jan. 17 after attending church with friends when they decided to stop at Target to buy snacks, the Ventura County Star reported. The teens said they were the victims of racial profiling by Target staff and county deputies.
- NBC News
Biden's acting attorney general signed off on reassigning prosecutor who objected to family separations
The incident would have made Wilkinson aware families were being separated long before the Texas pilot program for zero tolerance was known to the public.
- The Week
Majority of House GOP reportedly supports removing Liz Cheney from leadership after impeachment vote
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney is facing an internal resistance after splitting from her party on former President Donald Trump's impeachment.Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, was one of only a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the Capitol riot. More than a majority of GOP House members have since indicated they'd support ousting Cheney from her leadership spot, while at least two other Republicans have lined up to replace her, Politico reports.At least 107 House members — more than half the caucus — privately support removing Cheney from power, multiple GOP sources involved in the effort told Politico. Meanwhile New York Reps. Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin, who defended Trump during both of his impeachments, are reportedly looking to replace her.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have said they don't intend to remove Cheney. But McCarthy also echoed Republicans' reported anger that Cheney voiced her support of impeachment the day before the House vote, giving Democrats time to use her views in their own arguments. "Questions need to be answered," such as the "style in which things were delivered," McCarthy told reporters Thursday.Many other Republicans, including some who voted against impeachment, meanwhile don't want Cheney removed just for "vot[ing] her conscience," as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) put it. Others argue removing Cheney would fly in the face of the party's unification message in the post-Trump era — something Cheney herself is trying to counter by making "making calls to all corners of the conference to hear lawmakers out," Politico reports.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- Miami Herald
It’s been said of Abraham Lincoln that he had a “mystical” devotion to the idea of Union. His conviction that the American states were united in an indissoluble bond is what braced him through the monstrous burdens he bore. It’s not too much to say that the very existence of this country owes in large part to the stubborn faith of that sorrowful man. He held to Union even when military reversals, political reality and common sense all counseled against it.
- Associated Press
Someone in Michigan bought the winning ticket for the $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which is the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The winning numbers for Friday night’s drawing were 4, 26, 42, 50 and 60, with a Mega Ball of 24. The winning ticket was purchased at a Kroger store in the Detroit suburb of Novi, the Michigan Lottery said.
- Architectural Digest
“The materials and colors took center stage,” said David Lucas when it came to the design of the home.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Week
It's not unusual for China to conduct military flights between the southern part of Taiwan — which it claims as its territory — and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, Reuters reports. In fact, the flights have occurred on a daily basis in recent months. But what happened Saturday does appear out of the ordinary.Eight nuclear-capable Chinese bombers and four fighter jets entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan's air defense identifications zone, Taiwan's defense ministry said. Normally, China deploys just one or two reconnaissance aircraft at a time, so Saturday's event was somewhat startling. Taiwan's air force was able to warn the aircraft away and deployed missiles to monitor them.While there's been no word from Beijing yet, the seemingly aggressive move comes at a time when tensions between China and the United States are rising, with Washington's strengthening support for Taiwan playing a significant role. The Trump administration, which left office last week, was particularly committed to a closer relationship with Taiwan, and the Biden administration doesn't appear likely to reverse course on the issue, at least not drastically. Read more at Reuters.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
- The Independent
‘We’re not packing our bags at 100 million’: Biden press secretary hits back at complaints Covid vaccine plan not enough
‘When we reach that goal, and we’re confident we will, we’re going to build from there,’ says Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary
- NBC News
A woman has been arrested and charged with murder after the dismembered remains of her missing roommate, Talina Galloway, were found in a freezer in the woods of Polk County, Arkansas last week. Talina, 53, was reported missing by her roommate, Kore Bommeli on April 17, 2020. Talina’s remains were found in the freezer on January 14, 2021. Bommeli, who has been a person of interest throughout the investigation, was located in Wisconsin and faces charges of murder and desecration of a corpse. Th
Freshman Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is facing calls to resign after a resurfaced Facebook post revealed that she agreed with a 2018 Parkland shooting conspiracy. The tragic shooting, which occurred in Parkland, Fla., at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead, including 14 schoolchildren. Screenshots provided by liberal watchdog Media Matters for America reveals Taylor Greene, who was elected in November to represent Georgia’s 14th congressional district, agreed with a comment that called the shooting a “false flag,” a long-peddled conspiracy theory that the shooting was set up or that it was carried out by another individual or group, CNN reports.
- Associated Press
The U.S. has reaffirmed support for Taiwan following China’s dispatch of warplanes near the island in an apparent attempt to intimidate its democratic government and test American resolve. The State Department on Saturday said it “notes with concern the pattern of ongoing (China's) attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan.” “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives," spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement.
- The Week
President Biden reeled in a record-breaking $145 million in so-called dark money from anonymous donors during his presidential campaign, topping the $113 million that went to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) before his failed presidential bid in 2012, Bloomberg reports.It's not surprising that Biden set the mark given that the $1.5 billion he hauled in overall was the most ever for a challenger to an incumbent president, but it's notable in large part because Democrats have been at the forefront of a movement to ban dark money in politics since it means that supporters can back a candidate without scrutiny. Plus, Bloomberg notes, anonymous donors "will have the same access to decision makers as those whose names were disclosed, but without public awareness of who they are or what influence they might wield." As Meredith McGehee, the executive director of campaign finance reform advocacy group Issue One, told Bloomberg, "the whole point of dark money is to avoid public disclosure while getting private credit."Still, it seems the Democratic Party was willing to embrace the strategy in the hopes of defeating former President Donald Trump, who only brought in $28.4 million from anonymous donors. Read more at Bloomberg.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says