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Thailand issues emergency decree to put an end to nationwide protests calling for Prime Minister’s resignation

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The government of Thailand has announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people under an emergency decree, and arrested several prominent protest leaders in a tight handed bid to stop pro-democracy protests that have gripped the country for more than three months.

The decree, which came into effect in the capital Bangkok at 4 a.m. local time Thursday October 15, was enforced after thousands of protesters marched from the city’s Democracy Monument and broke through a police barricade to camp outside Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s offices late Wednesday, calling for Prayut’s resignation and reform of the monarchy.

“As it has appeared that there have been several groups inviting, inciting and committing illegal assembly,” the decree read.

“There have been activities which affected the public’s peace and order.”

The government also revealed that another reason for the emergency decree was protesters obstructing a royal motorcade.

Footage from the scene showed police pushing back protesters who were shouting and making the defiant three-fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” movies as a car carrying Queen Suthida and King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s youngest son, Prince Dipangkorn, slowly drove past.

“Therefore, there are enough grounds to believe that violent acts have been committed. And this has affected the government’s stability, safety, property and staff. This is no longer a peaceful assembly as it should be warrant by the constitution,” the decree added.

The emergency decree also includes a nationwide ban on publishing and broadcasting news and information including online information that incites fear among the public.

The decree also permits officers  to implement new traffic rules and close certain premises to the public.

As much as 22 prominent activists including student leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, 21, was arrested on Wednesday according to Thai Police Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen.

Panusaya was searched by officers in plain clothes at a hotel near the protest site, then arrested in connection with a speech she made in August, according to Thai Lawyers For Human Rights.

Human rights lawyer and protest leader Arnon Nampa was arrested Thursday morning following a speech he made in the northern city of Chiang Mai on Wednesday.

On August 10, Panusaya, spokesperson for the student union group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration,
stood on a stage and publicly delivered a 10-point list of demands for reform to the monarchy.

Panusaya’s demands include revoking laws against defaming the monarchy, a new constitution, abolishing royal offices, ousting the military-led government and disbanding the King’s royal guards.

The Student-led protests have been ongoing across Thailand since July.
Thailand has some of the world’s strictest laws, and criticizing the King, Queen, or heir apparent can lead to a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

On Thursday morning, protest group ‘Free Youth’ said in a statement on Facebook that, “high school and university students, workers and general people have assembled peacefully and have not started any violence.”
“But it is clear now the government has intentionally used the monarchy as a tool to get rid of those who are calling out for their better future, the future with equality and no more disparity,” the group said.

Pro democracy and anti-police brutality protests have increased recently all over the world with the US, UK, Venezuela, Iran and most recently Nigeria, with people taking to the streets to make their demands known to the government .

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Kyrgyzstan president Jeenbekov resigns after days of clashes between protesters and security forces

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Kyrgyzstan President, Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned Thursday, October 15, after clashes between security forces and protesters following a disputed election.

The unrest caused by angry youths demanding his removal from office started since the Oct. 4 parliamentary election, which the opposition parties rejected after Jeenbekov’s allies were declared the election winners.

Jeenbekov is now the third president of the small Central Asian state to be toppled in a popular uprising since 2005.

In a statement released Thursday, Jeenbekov said he feared violence and loss of lives might occur if protesters carry out a threat to march on his compound.

“The military and security forces will be obliged to use their weapons to protect the state residence. Blood will be inevitably shed. I urge both sides not to fall for provocations,” he said.

“I do not want to go down in Kyrgyzstan’s history as a president who shed blood and shot at his own citizens.”

Jeenbekov announced last week that he would resign from office, but delayed his exit till this week saying he would stay in office until a new election was held.

On Wednesday, Jeenbekov accepted parliament’s choice of Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist whose supporters freed him from prison last week, to become the new prime minister.
In the past, Japarov and his followers have demanded Jeenbekov leave office.

Following Jeenbekov’s resignation, parliament speaker Kanatbek Isayev would assume presidential powers.

Scores of Japarov’s supporters rallied close to the presidential residence as news of Jeenbekov’s resignation reached them.

They started making chants of “Parliament must go!” and “Isayev must go!”

Dastan Bekeshev, a lawmaker who supports neither Jeenbekov nor Japarov, told Reuters: “The president couldn’t hold out. He’s very weak. No spirit. It’s not clear what happens next, nobody can tell what is going to happen.”

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Jeff Bezos becomes first person to cross $200 billion net worth, as Zuckerberg crosses $100 billion

The 56-year-old world’s richest man was worth $205 billion as at the close of trading on Wednesday.

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Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, has become the first person to ever cross $200 billion in net worth. This happened after Amazon’s stock edged up 2% on Wednesday.

According to Forbes, the edging increased Bezos’ net worth by $4.9 billion, making him the first person to ever amass a $200 billion fortune in the nearly four decades that Forbes has been tracking the net worths of the world’s richest individuals.

This happened in spite of the fact that Bezos recently donated 7,548 of his Amazon shares –worth about $26 million– to an undisclosed nonprofit organization, as contained in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

The 56-year-old world’s richest man was worth $205 billion as at the close of trading on Wednesday.

Why this matters

This development now puts Bezos almost $90 billion ahead of the world’s second-richest person, Bill Gates, who is currently worth $116.1 billion.

Gates was the first person in the world to ever cross the $100 billion in 1999 when Microsoft reached its then-peak.

Even after adjusting the figures for inflation, Forbes still estimates Bezos net worth to be over $200 billion, almost 80% up from the $115 billion he was worth on January 1, 2020.

This increase in net worth is said to be connected to the change in consumer habits resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown in major cities across the world. Since then, Amazon stock has gone up almost 80%.

Note that Bezos owns roughly 11% stake in Amazon which makes up more than 90% of his net worth, while his stakes in the Washington Post, aerospace company Blue Origin, and other private investments make up the rest.

Zuckerberg becomes a centibillionaire

In a similar development, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, at the end of trading on Tuesday, became a centibillionaire with $103.1 billion in net worth.

Sequel to Facebook’s stock gains, His fortune went up by $6 billion again on Wednesday putting his worth at $109.1 billion.

Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy, Bernard Arnault, has also claimed the position of the third-richest person, with net worth of $115 billion, recovering from the slip earlier in the year at the peak of the pandemic.

Backstory

In July 2019, Jeff Bezos parted away with 25% of his Amazon stake (now worth $63 billion), in what was tagged the “most expensive divorce settlement in history”. His ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, who was the beneficiary of this settlement, is currently the world’s 14th-richest person and second-richest woman, behind L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers; even after giving away $1.7 billion in charitable gifts earlier this year.

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