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Thailand Attack: Country Mourns After 37 Killed, Mostly Children

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Getty Images: The mother of a victim standing outside the daycare centre on Friday

Thailand is mourning a gun and knife attack at a childcare centre where a man killed children as young as two while they slept.

Parents gathered outside the centre on Friday morning, weeping and clutching their children’s favourite toys.

The attack on Thursday left 37 people, including 23 children dead. The perpetrator was an ex-policeman.

Flags across Thailand are flying at half-mast as the country grapples with the tragedy.

Police say the 34-year-old attacker killed himself and his family after a manhunt. The motive for the attack is not yet known. But police said the attacker was fired from his job in June for drug use.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, together with the Queen, are expected to visit the community in Nong Bua Lamphu province later on Friday.

IMAGE SOURCE, GETTY IMAGES Image caption: Rescue personnel count coffins carrying victims bodies at the hospital morgue in Udon Thani

Overnight, pink and white coffins adorned with gold, bearing the bodies of the children, were brought to a hospital morgue in Udon Thani and laid out in rows.

Rescue workers had earlier brought the victims’ bodies to the police station, where families of the dead had gathered. Distraught relatives had also waited outside the daycare centre well into the night.

‘I don’t know what to do next’

Police said the armed attacker broke into the building just after lunch time on Thursday, shooting his way past a teacher and parent outside.

Witnesses said he first shot staff – including a teacher who was eight-months pregnant- before forcing his way past teachers into a room where children were napping.

Police said he stabbed most of his victims before fleeing.

Headteacher Nanticha Panchum told the BBC she had just sent the children off for their nap when she heard gunshots.

Usually the centre looked after 92 children on site but because of poor weather and a bus breakdown, there were only 24 there at the time.

Only one child survived, Ms Nanticha said.

“This is something I never dreamed of… I don’t know what to do next. I really can’t think of anything at the moment,” she told the BBC.

The attacker’s son went to the centre but hadn’t been attending for a month, she said. He was recognised by one of her colleagues when he burst in.

Soon after news of the attack emerged, Thai Police published an online manhunt appeal – identifying the man as Panya Kamrab, a local man. He was a former officer who had been fired in June for drug use, police later said.

IMAGE SOURCE, REUTERS Image caption: The daycare centre on Friday morning 

Officers who rushed to the nursery were confronted with the bodies of adults and children, some of them very young, lying inside and outside the building.

“We found that the perpetrator tried to break in and he mainly used a knife to commit the crime by killing a number of small children,” said Police Chief Damrongsak Kittiprapat.

“Then he got out and started killing anyone he met along the way with a gun or the knife until he got home.

“We surrounded the house and then found that he committed suicide in his home.”

Police said Kamrab returned home, killing his wife and son before taking his own life.

He had appeared in court the morning of the attack on charges related to the use and possible sale of methamphetamine. He had been due to face a verdict on Friday.

Mass shootings in Thailand are rare, although gun ownership rates are relatively high for the region. Illegal weapons are also common in the south-east Asian country, according to the Reuters news agency.

The nursery attack comes less than a month after an army officer shot dead two of his colleagues at a base in Bangkok.

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Indonesia Passes New Law To Criminalize Sex Outside Of Marriage

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GETTY There were protests against the new code on Monday

Indonesian lawmakers passed a sweeping new criminal code on Tuesday that criminalizes sex outside marriage, as part of a tranche of changes that critics say threaten human rights and freedoms in the Southeast Asian country.

The new code, which also applies to foreign residents and tourists, bans cohabitation before marriage, apostasy, and provides punishments for insulting the president or expressing views counter to the national ideology.

“All have agreed to ratify the (draft changes) into law,” said lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto, who led the parliamentary commission in charge of revising the colonial-era code. “The old code belongs to Dutch heritage … and is no longer relevant.”

The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia has seen a rise in religious conservatism in recent years. Strict Islamic laws are already enforced in parts of the country, including the semi-autonomous Aceh province, where alcohol and gambling are banned. Public floggings also take place in the region for a range of offences including homosexuality and adultery.

A previous draft of the code was set to be passed in 2019 but was postponed after nationwide protests prompted Indonesian President Joko Widodo to intervene. In a televised address at the time, Widodo said he decided to delay the vote after “seriously considering feedback from different parties who feel objections on some substantial content of the criminal code.”

In the lead-up to Tuesday’s vote, rights groups and critics warned that the new code would “disproportionately impact women” and further curtail human rights and freedoms in the country of more than 270 million people.

Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono said the laws are “a setback for already declining religious freedom in Indonesia,” warning that “non-believers could be prosecuted and jailed.”

“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide an avenue for selective enforcement,” he said.

Under the laws, sex outside marriage carries a potential one-year prison term, and the crime of blasphemy, already on Indonesia’s books, could now lead to a five-year prison sentence.

Rahmat Purnama, from the University of Indonesia’s law faculty, said the laws would be implemented after a transitional period of three years.

Source: CNN

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Elon Musk Hopes to Test a Brain Implant in Humans Next Year

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In this still image from the Neuralink presentation video on YouTube, a presenter, lower left, described how a monkey used a wireless transmitter to “type” characters on a keyboard.Credit...Neuralink

Neuralink, the startup Elon Musk founded to link our brains directly to computers, showed progress Wednesday in two medical areas: helping blind people to see and helping people with spinal cord injuries to walk or use their hands.

The company, one of five that Musk leads, is working on technology to drop thousands of electrodes thinner than a hair into the outer surface of human brains. Each electrode is a tiny wire connected to a battery-powered, remotely recharged, quarter-sized chip package that’s embedded into a spot that once held a circle of skull. The chip, called the N1, communicates wirelessly with the outside world.

The technology is still far from the initial medical uses, much less Musk’s ultimate vision of using Neuralink to hang out with superintelligent AIs. But the company is making significant progress, including applying with the Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials it hopes to start within six months, the company said at a “show and tell” event lasting more than two hours.

“Our goal will be to turn the lights on for someone who’s spent decades living in the dark,” said Neuralink researcher Dan Adams, who’s working on the effort to repackage camera data into a brain-compatible format and pipe it directly to the visual cortex.

Musk has some cred when it comes to revolutionary tech. His electric-vehicle company Tesla is profoundly changing cars and his SpaceX outfit is transforming space access with reusable rockets. His reputation as a tech genius has taken a beating, though, with the chaos at Twitter after his $44 billion acquisition. Musk’s Boring Company, which aims to revamp auto transportation with tunnels, also hasn’t lived up to its promises yet.

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US President Joe Biden turns 80 Today: New Generation’ of Democratic Leaders Takes Control in Congress

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President Joe Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday, marking the first time a sitting president has reached that milestone while in office and fueling speculation about how his advancing age will affect his political future.

Biden — who was the oldest person to assume the presidency in January 2021, just 61 days after his 78th birthday — has said he intends to make another White House bid, even as his age-adjacent peers, including 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have made the decision to step away from leadership in order to make way for a younger generation.

“My intention is that I will run again. But I’m a great respecter of fate and this is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run but we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry one way or the other to make that judgment.” he said last week, after helming what many say is the most successful midterm election for a sitting president’s party in decades, though noting that those results would not have an impact on his decision to run again.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden greets guests before speaking at an event at the White House complex, Nov. 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biden is the oldest person to serve as commander in chief in the nation’s history. Should he seek reelection in 2024 and win, the president would be 86 by the end of his second term. He has said he’ll talk over his future with his wife and the rest of his family over the holidays.

Biden has said he is hoping that he and his wife “get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around between Christmas and Thanksgiving” and that his decision to run for reelection will likely “be early next year we make that judgment.”

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