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Thai Pro-Democracy Protesters Rally Outside Army Base

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BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s indefatigable pro-democracy activists took to Bangkok’s streets again Sunday, this time to protest the army as they push forward with their campaign for sweeping reforms, including to the nation’s monarchy.

Around 800 protesters gathered in the afternoon and in early evening marched to the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment, which is closely associated with the country’s royal palace. Their number grew to well over 1,000 as they settled in for speeches by protest leaders.

An advance group of protesters had already pulled away two decrepit buses that had been used to block the entrance to the base and removed strands of razor wire. A large contingent of riot police, several rows deep, stood their ground in front of the gate but there didn’t appear to be an imminent chance of a clash.

The protesters believe that the army undermines democracy in Thailand, and that King Maha Vajiralongkorn wields too much power and influence in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.



Protesters carry inflatable yellow ducks, which have become good-humored symbols of resistance during anti-government rallies, while marching towards the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment on Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

The student-led protesters for months now have been demanding reforms to make the monarchy more accountable, even though criticism of the institution has long been considered taboo and comments judged defamatory of the king and key royals are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“People should be able to criticize the king. People should be able to inspect what he does. In this way, people will respect and love him more,” said activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who served seven years in prison for defaming the monarchy and is facing criminal charges in connection with this year’s protests.

The protesters also want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down and the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic.

As the army chief in 2014, Prayuth led a coup ousting an elected government. His military junta oversaw the rewriting of the constitution, which shifted power from elected politicians to unelected bodies, and Prayuth was returned to power after elections held under the new rules last year.

The site of Sunday’s protest was symbolic for several reasons.

Last year, the 11th Infantry Regiment was shifted from the army’s chain of command and made part of the Royal Security Command, answerable directly to the king. The action was one of several denounced by protesters as an example of the palace taking powers that should not be allowed under constitutional rule.

Although it was a bloodless army revolt in 1932 that ended the absolute monarchy and installed constitutional rule, the military and the palace have been closely allied for decades. By promoting and defending the royal institution, the army lays claim to being the protector of the nation, while the palace can count on the army to put down any threats to its position of privilege.

There have been 20 military coups since 1932, the most recent ones in 2006 and 2014. Because it is based in Bangkok, the 11th Infantry Regiment has been a key player in coups, or opposing them, according to the prevailing political climate.

While most coups are bloodless, the army has not hesitated to use force to crush threats to the established order.

In 2010, more than 90 people were killed and almost 2,000 injured during nine weeks of protests that saw a part of central Bangkok occupied by protesters who were eventually cleared out by the army. Prayuth, then a senior army general, was involved in the crackdown.

In announcing plans for Sunday’s protest, a group from Bangkok’s Thammasat University explained on Twitter that the regiment was targeted “because this unit suppressed people in 2010 and it was the main force for the previous coups.”





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Ginger Minj Pays Tribute To ‘Drag Mom’ Bette Midler With Spooky Music Video

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Ginger Minj is getting the spooky season in full swing with a spirited new take on a Halloween classic.

On Friday, the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum unveiled the music video for her jazzy version of “I Put a Spell on You” from the movie “Hocus Pocus.” The song’s release coincides with Minj’s appearance in the film’s much-buzzed-about sequel, which debuted on Disney+ last week.

The clip features Minj in full Winifred Sanderson drag, alongside queens Gidget Galore and MR MS Adrien as sister witches Mary and Sarah, respectively.

Fans of 1993’s “Hocus Pocus,” which starred Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson sisters, will find a number of the movie’s iconic scenes faithfully recreated ― albeit with a modern polish.

Watch the video for “I Put a Spell on You” below.

“It’s the season of the witch!” Minj, whose real name is Joshua Allen Eads, told HuffPost in an interview. “You can walk into any gay bar in the country between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, and most likely you’ll find a trio of queens lip-syncing this song. I thought: ‘It’s been 29 years, let’s give it a little facelift!’”

The “I Put a Spell on You” video is directed by Minj’s husband, CeeJay Russell, also a longtime “Hocus Pocus” devotee.

“I have always wanted to direct my husband in a video,” Russell said in an email, “and when he asked me, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Minj, a Florida native, was a finalist on the seventh season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which aired in 2015. Since then, she’s released three studio albums and appeared in a number of movies, including Netflix’s “Dumplin,’” starring Jennifer Aniston and Danielle Macdonald.

“She’s my new drag mom,” Minj said of her “Hocus Pocus 2” co-star Bette Midler.

Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

In fact, it was Minj’s work on “Dumplin’” that led to her “Hocus Pocus 2” casting. Last year, she was performing as sea witch Ursula in a “Disney Villains” show in England when she received a call from “Dumplin’” director Anne Fletcher, who’d recently been hired to direct “Hocus Pocus 2.”

“Next thing I know, I’m arguing on-camera with Bette Midler about teeth,” quipped Minj, who appears as a drag version of Winifred Sanderson in the film alongside two other “Drag Race” veterans, Kahmora Hall and Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté, as Sarah and Mary Sanderson.

As to what she learned from working with the Divine Miss M herself, she added: “She’s my new drag mom.”





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‘Late Show’ Pays Mocking Musical Tribute To Herschel Walker With A Shaggy Classic

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Colbert’s team reworked Walker’s “that wasn’t me” rejection of the allegation to the Shaggy and RikRok 2000 hit, “It Wasn’t Me.” After the bombshell reports this week that Walker helped his girlfriend get an abortion, he has drawn accusations of hypocrisy, given that he is running with a staunch anti-abortion message. (Some voters don’t seem to mind.)

“Lots of people think they’ve caught me red-handed, lying all about my kids,” the song begins.

Watch the rest of the parody here:

And compare it to Shaggy’s original here:





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Jimmy Kimmel Slaps Ron DeSantis With Perfect Will Smith-Chris Rock Callback

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Jimmy Kimmel says that as Florida deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a key part of the state’s cleanup and recovery is going to be pretty awkward for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Well, guess who’s coming to help Florida recover from the hurricane? That’s right: a group of immigrants,” he said, as migrant workers head to Florida to help with the cleanup.

Kimmel couldn’t help but point out the irony.

“Ron DeSantis bringing in immigrant workers to do hurricane cleanup is like Will Smith asking Chris Rock to play his birthday party,” Kimmel said.

See more in his Thursday night monologue:





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Niecy Nash And Wife Reveal Comic Reason For Matching Tattoos Of Another Woman’s Name

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Actor Niecy Nash and her wife, singer Jessica Betts, have a permanent reminder of a humorous misunderstanding.

During a joint appearance on “The Tamron Hall Show” on Tuesday, the “Reno 911!” star explained why each of them have “Cora” tattooed on their bodies, despite it not being either’s name — and the bizarre story behind it.

The mix-up began when they first met, and Betts asked Nash about her real name, as Niecy is her stage name.

The 40-year-old said Nash told her her real name is Carol, but she misheard it as “Cora” and then called her by the wrong name for “almost two years” while they were dating.

“One day she said, ‘Why do you call me Cora?’ And I was, like, ‘That’s your name!’” Betts recalled.

Nash, 52, then vehemently corrected her wife, responding, “No, it’s not! I thought it was something that the cool kids called each other in New York on the street!”

The “Claws” actor jokingly added, “I said, ‘My name is not Cora,’ and she said, ‘It is now.’”

The mishap turned into an adorable inside joke between the two, with Betts recently tattooing “Cora” on her neck to celebrate her wife.

On Wednesday, the “Dahmer” actor revealed Betts’ new ink in an Instagram post.

“It’s up and stuck…. JB, I’m Always & Forever your ‘Cora’ @jessicabettsmusic #IYKYK,” Nash captioned the post alongside heart emojis.

In the short clip, Nash also showed off her own tattoo, which reads “Mrs. Cora Betts,” while dancing in a swimsuit.

In August 2020, the pair wed during a surprise ceremony less than a year after she announced her split from husband Jay Tucker.





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Charlie Puth Responds To Criticism He’s ‘Queerbaiting’ Fans With Thirst Traps

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Charlie Puth says fans can expect to hear the LGBTQ community’s influence on his new album, even if he has no intention of “queerbaiting” his audience.

In recent months, the pop singer has raised eyebrows with steamy TikTok videos and Instagram photos, many of which show him in various stages of undress. One particularly eyebrow-raising post, for instance, showed him revealing a hint of derrière in what appeared to be a behind-the-scenes snapshot of a photo or video shoot.

Not surprisingly, the imagery has garnered a lot of attention from both women and men, prompting criticism that Puth is pandering to queer people specifically. Other pop stars, including Billie Eilish and Harry Styles, have faced similar accusations.

But in a GQ interview published Thursday to coincide with the release of his third album, “Charlie,” the four-time Grammy nominee maintained that his posts aren’t intended “to antagonize anybody” but merely to showcase his chiseled physique, honed by long hours at the gym.

“These gym sessions are expensive in LA!” he quipped.

Charlie Puth will release his third album, “Charlie,” Oct. 8.

Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Even so, Puth has come to look to LGBTQ people for musical inspiration. Earlier this year, he recalled an incident in which Elton John told Puth that Puth’s earlier music “sucked,” prompting him to reconsider his artistic approach moving forward. And in his GQ interview, he singled out two new songs, both of which he says reflect the queer community’s influence.

“I think LGBTQ+ culture is so ahead of its time, culturally, sonically, musically, everything-ly, that when I had a less than perfect song at the studio and I was by myself and I saw everybody having a great time, I literally heard a different song in my head,” Puth said, recalling a recent drive past gay clubs in West Hollywood while en route to his recording studio. “I rearranged the whole thing, I drove back to the studio, I was so inspired.”

The song eventually became “Loser,” the seventh track on “Charlie.” Another track, “There’s a First Time for Everything,” is meant as an homage to Madonna’s 1985 smash “Into the Groove” ― a mainstay of gay dance clubs around the world since its release.

“I wanted to [recapture] the feeling that it gave people in 1985 when they first heard that song,” he added.

And for those who do appreciate his thirsty presence on social media, Puth suggests there’s more to come.

“I am very horny,” he said. “All the time.”





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‘Jeopardy!’ Producer Tries To Hush Criticism Over Proposed Rule Change

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“Jeopardy!” executive producer Michael Davies wants to clear the air after facing criticism in September for a proposed rule change to the game show.

Davies added at the time that the suggested rule change would be an incentive that wouldn’t impact who wins the game.

“Jeopardy!” fans asked on social media if the change was “too big” to be a good idea, while others hoped the incentives would not impact the game’s score.

“It doesn’t need to be reined in yet because it hasn’t been enacted in any way,” he said. “But a lot of responses on social [media] to award a prize of some sort to people who run a category on Jeopardy! That would not … would not affect gameplay.”

“It would not add to that game total; it would not be there [on players’ scores],” Davies continued. “It would be a separate thing.”





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French Author Annie Ernaux Wins Nobel Prize For Literature

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — French author Annie Ernaux was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in literature for “the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory,” the Swedish Academy said Thursday.

Ernaux, 82, started out writing autobiographical novels, but quickly abandoned fiction in favor of memoirs.

Her more than 20 books, most of them very short, chronicle events in her life and the lives of those around her. They present uncompromising portraits of sexual encounters, abortion, illness and the deaths of her parents.

Anders Olsson, chairman, Nobel Committee for literature, said Ernaux’s work was often “uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean.”

“She has achieved something admirable and enduring,” he told reporters after the announcement in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ernaux describes her style as “flat writing” (ecriture plate), a very objective view of the events she is describing, unshaped by florid description or overwhelming emotions.

In the book that made her name, “La Place” (A Man’s Place), about her relationship with her father, she writes: “No lyrical reminiscences, no triumphant displays of irony. This neutral writing style comes to me naturally.”

Her most critically acclaimed book was “The Years” (Les annees), published in 2008 and describing herself and wider French society from the end of World War II to the present day. Unlike in previous books, in “The Years,” Ernaux writes about herself in the third person, calling her character “she” rather than “I”. The book received numerous awards and honors.

Last year’s prize went to the Tanzanian-born, U.K.-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose novels explore the impact of migration on individuals and societies.

Gurnah was only the sixth Nobel literature laureate born in Africa, and the prize has long faced criticism that it is too focused on European and North American writers. It is also male-dominated, with just 16 women among its 118 laureates.

The prizes to Gurnah in 2021 and U.S. poet Louise Glück in 2020 helped the literature prize move on from years of controversy and scandal.

In 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members. The academy revamped itself but faced more criticism for giving the 2019 literature award to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.

A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.

Three scientists jointly won the prize in physics Tuesday. Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that tiny particles can retain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialized computing and to encrypt information.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely.

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Monday.

The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.





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