Reuters blog archive
from Global News Journal:
It was 2 a.m. on a Friday morning and we were stuck in the Reuters office on the 35th floor of the U Chu Liang Building. Thai anti-government protesters had begun rioting after their military strategist, a flamboyant major-general known as "Commander Red" was shot in the head as he was being interviewed by the New York Times at the "red shirt" protest encampment that occupies a huge chunk of expensive real estate in the Thai capital.
The protesters had swarmed into our parking lot, troops hot on their heels. One red shirt was shot dead, taking a bullet through his eye, outside our office. Our managers had ordered us to evacuate, but we had to wait until the violence died down outside. I strapped on a 10 kg flak jacket and helmet emblazoned with "press stickers", took a ride down the cargo elevator in a building under emergency power, and stepped carefully into the parking lot, looking around to see if it was safe for the remaining people in the newsroom to leave. It was quiet, as I crept around the parking lot, dodging from car to car, feeling slightly ridiculous. A taxi was parked just outside. I was beginning to understand what gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson meant when he said in his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
I was about to enter the taxi, when BOOM! The sound of a grenade maybe 50 metres away, followed by the rat-a-tat-tat of automatic gunfire. I jumped into the taxi, and told the driver to take me to my hotel. Quickly please. "Boom!", he said, and laughed. "Boom, boom,boom," he added, mimicking the act of firing a gun. And laughing once more we drove off into the terrifying night.
For the past four days, journalists have been moving out of their offices into hotels, and then out of their hotels into ones further from the combat zone, as violence escalated across the city of 15 million people in random urban warfare. The military was firing at groups of protesters setting up barricades of burning tyres, behind which they hurled petrol bombs and projectiles with slingshots. At least five journalists have been among the seven foreigners shot. One journalist took a bullet in the chest, but since he was wearing a heavy flak jacket, he just fell down and hurt his back.
from Our Take on Your Take:
The tense standoff in Bangkok continues to produce some memorable photos, including this one by Seila Montes of an injured anti-government "red-shirt" protester. The light captured in the man's eye gives the photo a focal point and a point of connection with the audience.
Hanoi Catholics held a ceremony last Friday to welcome the man who is expected to become their new archbishop, but for many on hand – priests and faithful alike – it was a moment of sadness. There were no flowers at the altar of Hanoi’s 124-year-old cathedral welcoming Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, to the role of coadjutor bishop. Outside on the steps, several dozen people brandished banners in protest of what his papal appointment represented.
(French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Europe 1 radio, 2 May 2010/Dailymotion)
France hasn't even presented its draft bill to outlaw Muslim face veils yet -- in contrast to Belgium, which has started voting on its ban -- but Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is already preparing for the wave of criticism from abroad it will provoke. He told Europe 1 radio on Sunday that he'd already warned the government at a cabinet meeting about what to expect.
from Global News Journal:
Punchai is arranging strings of flowers under the imposing statue of King Rama VI at the entrance of Lumphini Park in Bangkok. The statue overlooks one end of the sprawling "red shirt" encampment that occupies a 3 square-km area of downtown Bangkok.
An altar has been set up at the base of the statue of a king who ruled from 1910 to 1925 and is generally credited with paving the way for democractic reforms in the kingdom. He is also the creator of Lumphini Park.
About 3,000 people marched in Beirut on Sunday to demand a secular system in place of the Muslim-Christian sectarianism that permeates politics, employment and family status matters in Lebanon. "Civil marriage, not civil war" was among the banners carried by the mostly young, educated protesters who gathered in response to a campaign on Internet social networking sites. It was Lebanon's first such demonstration in favor of secularism.
Many wore white T-shirts with "What's your sect?" written on the front and "None of your business" on the back.
The New York Times has unearthed a startling paper trail of 25 letters and memos documenting the way a U.S. priest known to have abused up to 200 deaf boys from about 1952 to 1974 was quietly moved to another diocese and the Vatican resisted attempts to defrock him. Their story on the case of Rev. Lawrence Murphy is here, the paper trail here and our story on the Vatican reaction here. Here's another story from our Rome bureau on victims demanding that Benedict open all Vatican files on sex abuse cases and defrock all predator priests.
from Tales from the Trail:
The protests against healthcare reform took an ugly turn on Saturday. Black congressmen told reporters that demonstrators called them the N-word and one representative said he was spat upon.
"This is not the first time the congressman has been called the N-word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans," said a statement from the office of Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver.