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News Summary: August 2015

Bangkok Bombings
A bomb planted in the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok killed 22 – nearly half of them foreigners – and wounded over 120.

The Thai government states that the attack at the popular Hindu shrine is the heart of Bangkok was aimed at wrecking the economy, which depends heavily upon tourism.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the blast although a man was captured on CCTV dumping a bag and walking away. Police stated that they were considering the possibility of the ethnic Uighurs being behind the bombing in retaliation to Thailand forcibly returning 109 Uighurs to China last month.

Broken security cameras along with the chief suspect’s getaway route and a lack of sophisticated equipment have all hampered the investigation into the bombing.

The blast came at a sensitive time for Thailand which has included violent struggles for power between political fractions within the capital.

China Blasts
Two huge explosions took place in an industrial area in which toxic chemicals and gas were tried in China’s northeast port city, Tianjin. It killed 50 people, including a least a dozen firefighters, and injured over 700 in the surrounding area. More than 71 were seriously injured according to the Tianjin government.

The blasts were so large that they were seen by satellites in space and sent shockwaves through apartments kilometres away. Vast areas of the port – which is also the tenth largest in the world – were left devastated with shipping containers being thrown about and brand new cars being torched.

The cause of the blasts is not entirely clear however Xinhua, the official state news agency, said several containers caught fire beforehand.
Pictures on Chinese media websites showed residents and workers, some bleeding, fleeing their homes. Xinhua said people had been hurt by broken glass and other flying debris. Authorities told reporters they expected the blasts to have forced 6,000 people from their homes by nightfall.

Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China following three decades of rampant economic growth. Last year, a blast in eastern China killed 75 people when a room filled with metal dust exploded.

Virginia Shooting
Two television journalists were shot and killed in Virginia live on air whilst conducting an interview for their TV station.

The incident occurred during a live broadcast in Bedford County, when shots could be heard, sending the reporter and her source screaming and ducking for cover.

The station said that journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward died in the incident.

The suspect Vester Flanagan, 41, shot and wounded himself on a Virginia highway after police pursuit following the shooting.

He was a veteran anchorman with a history of workplace grievances who has previously sued a Florida station alleging discrimination because he was black and was told to “get help” when working at WDBJ7, the TV station which the two journalists were reporting for.

He has also previously stated that he has suffered from bullying and sexual harassment at work and was said to have described himself as ‘a human powder keg’.

Flanagan died later in hospital.

Ashley Madison Hack
Infidelity website, Ashley Madison which has over 34 million members worldwide has been hacked.

The website and its parent company have been sued in federal court in California by a man who claims that the company failed to adequately protect clients’ personal and financial information from theft, saying he suffered emotional distress as a result.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks class-action status along with unspecified damages and accused the site of negligence and invasion of privacy along with causing emotional distress.

The lawsuit follows the breach of Ashley Madison hacker group, The Impact Team, who threatened to release information if the site was not shut down.

The lawsuit claims that the data breach could have been prevented if the company had taken “necessary and reasonable precautions to protect its users’ information, by, for example, encrypting the data.”

Many personal details have been revealed by hackers and at least two people have consequently committed suicide.

Doping Claims

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is to begin an urgent investigation into allegations of widespread doping within athletics.

This comes after The Sunday Times published data from 5,000 athletes, which it says reveals “an extraordinary extent of cheating”.

Athletics’ governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said the claims were “sensationalist and confusing”.

WADA’s investigation will be led by its independent commission. Sir Craig Reedie, WADA president, said his organisation “deplores the manner in which the data was obtained” and had concerns over athlete confidentiality.

Lord Coe, an IAAF vice-president, said the introduction of blood passports had “chased some of the highest-named athletes out of our sport”.

Coe has said the allegations were a “declaration of war” on athletics and believes it is time to “come out fighting” to protect the sport’s reputation.

In a statement, the IAAF said it “warmly welcomed” WADA’S investigation and confirmed it has agreed to send its full database with pre-2009 data to the organisation.

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Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

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