“People across Thailand, not just the young, recognize the argument of reforming the monarchy,” said Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who was elected president of the Student Union at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “It’s not marginal, it’s mainstream.”

Mr. Netiwit lost his position in February after the school administration determined that he was connected to an event involving activists who have called for monarchical reform.

Some Thais are more enthusiastic about the government espousing the longer name.

On a recent morning, Vichian Bunthawi, 88, a retired palace guard, sat cross-legged on a bench at the sleepy railway station in Bangkok Noi. The capital should be known around the world as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, he said, remembering how his primary schoolteacher would write the full name on the chalkboard.

“Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is the name of the capital,” he said. “It is where the king lives.”

The first king of the Chakri Dynasty, Rama I, moved the capital in 1782, from the left bank of the Chao Phraya River, where the Bangkok Noi district is, to the east bank. On marshy ground, he and his successors built gilded, jeweled palaces. The full name of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon includes a paean to “an enormous royal palace resembling the heavenly abode in which the reincarnated god reigns.” In Thai tradition, the king is semi-divine.

In 1932, absolute monarchy was abolished, but the royal family still retains an enormous presence in Thai life. Giant posters of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Queen Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, the current king’s fourth wife, tower over public places.

The king, whose lavish lifestyle contrasts with the austerity forced upon many Thais by the pandemic, spends most of his time in Germany.

Whether as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or Bangkok, the character of the capital has changed drastically over the decades. City planners filled in the canals that used to be the city’s transportation arteries. Rice paddies gave way to malls and condominiums.

In a back alley behind a Buddhist temple in Bangkok Noi, Chana Ratsami still plays a Thai xylophone. His wife’s family of palace attendants lived in Bangkok Noi for generations.

Now, he said, the lane’s residents are mostly migrants from upcountry.

“They don’t know the history of this place,” he said, describing how the traffic-choked road at the end of the lane used to be a canal with boats floating past, filled with flowers and fruit. “I miss the old city, no matter what it’s called.”

Muktita Suhartono contributed reporting.

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Vaccine Hesitancy Hurts Covid Fight in Poorer Countries

JOHANNESBURG — The detection of the Omicron variant in southern Africa signals the next stage of the battle against Covid-19: getting many more people inoculated in poorer nations where vaccines have been scarcest in order to deter new mutations from developing.

But while world leaders sometimes talk about this as if it were largely a matter of delivering doses overseas, the experience of South Africa, at least, hints at a far more complex set of challenges.

Like many poor countries, South Africa was made to wait months for vaccines as wealthier countries monopolized them. Many countries still do not have anywhere near enough vaccines to inoculate their populations.

The problems have not ended as shots began arriving in greater numbers.

Neglected and underfunded public health infrastructure has slowed their delivery, especially to rural areas, where storage and staffing problems are common.

turned away shipments of doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson, worried that their stockpile of 16 million shots might spoil amid insufficient demand.

Dr. Saad Omer, a Yale University epidemiologist, and they have had a deeper effect.

have said. In several countries, fewer than half say they intend to get vaccinated.

sometimes-violent resistance in rural communities. Vaccine hesitancy rates there approach 50 percent among those who have not completed high school. In some parts of the country, more than a third of doses spoil amid the low demand.

Still, many are eager to be vaccinated. When doses first became widely available in South Africa earlier this year, a third of the country’s adults swiftly got inoculated, a pattern that is repeating elsewhere.

allegations of corruption amid last year’s lockdown, have heightened public unease.

“There’s a lack of confidence in the public health system’s ability to provide vaccines,” said Chris Vick, the founder of Covid Comms, a South African nonprofit group.

The group has been holding vaccine information sessions, but overcoming skepticism is not easy. After a session in the Pretoria township of Atteridgeville, one 20-year-old who attended said she had not been persuaded.

briefly pause delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, leading South Africa to delay its rollout to health care workers. Both countries decided to resume the shots after concluding that they were safe.

The South African government held regular briefings, but these were on television and in English, when radio remains the most powerful medium and most South Africans do not speak English as their mother tongue.

a recent study found. That is in part because of mistrust of the Black-led government, but also because American Covid conspiracists have found wide reach among white South Africans on social media, according to Mr. Vick of Covid Comms.

Covid pill from Merck for high-risk adults, the first in a new class of antiviral drugs that could work against a wide range of variants, including Omicron. The pill could be authorized within days, and available by year’s end.

The first modern, worldwide campaign, begun in 1959 against smallpox, provoked deep skepticism in parts of Africa and Asia, where it was seen as a continuation of colonial-era medical abuses. Some W.H.O. officials used physical force to vaccinate people, deepening distrust. The campaign took 28 years.

The effort to eradicate polio, which finally ramped up in poor countries in the 1980s and is still ongoing, has run into similar resistance. A study in the science journal Nature found that vaccine avoidance was highest among poor or marginalized groups, who believed that the health authorities, and especially Western governments, would never voluntarily help them.

In Nigeria in the early 2000s, amid a spike in religious tensions, unfounded rumors circulated that foreign health workers were using polio vaccines as cover to sterilize the country’s Muslim population. Boycotts and local bans led to a polio resurgence, with cases spreading to 15 other countries, as far as Southeast Asia.

survey by the Africa Center for Disease Control found that 43 percent of those polled believe Africans are used as guinea pigs in vaccine trials — a legacy of Western drug companies’ doing exactly this in the 1990s.

Even within their own borders, Western governments are struggling to overcome vaccine resistance. So it is hard to imagine them doing better in faraway societies where they lack local understanding.

Any appearance of Western powers forcing unwanted vaccines into African or Asian arms risks deepening the backlash.

“If the objective is to keep the U.S. and the rest of the world safe, it should be pretty obvious that the success of the domestic program depends on what happens internationally,” Dr. Omer said.

Declan Walsh contributed reporting from Nairobi.

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Torn From Parents in the Belgian Congo, Women Seek Reparations

BRUSSELS — The girls were as young as 2, some still breastfeeding, and no older than 4 when they were taken from their mothers.

Like thousands of other mixed-race children born under colonial rule in Belgian Congo, the five girls, the children of African mothers and European fathers, were taken from their homes by the authorities and sent to religious schools hundreds of miles away, growing up in poverty and suffering from malnutrition and physical abuse.

The victims of a segregationist policy of the Belgian authorities who ruled a vast territory in Africa that now includes Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, they kept their childhoods a secret for decades, even from their own families. Now women in their 70s, they listened to their stories being told in public by their lawyers on a recent morning in a small courtroom in Brussels packed with dozens of spectators.

“Their names, their origins and identities were stripped from them,” said one of the women’s lawyers, Michèle Hirsch. “What they shared with me is not in the history books.”

Patrice Lumumba, a Congolese leader it helped overthrow in a coup that led to his death, and revamped a museum that celebrated colonialism. Last year, the authorities removed some statues of King Leopold II, whose rule over Congo led to the deaths of millions through forced labor and famine. King Philippe of Belgium has also expressed his “deepest regrets for the wounds of the past,” but stopped short of apologizing.

Stolen Generations,” who as “half-caste” children were taken away from their families and put into church-run compounds from the 1900s to the 1970s.

In Canada, a national commission concluded that a government’s residential school program that separated at least 150,000 Indigenous children from their families from 1883 to 1996, amounted to “cultural genocide.” The discoveries earlier this year of hundreds of unmarked graves of children who died in the schools has prompted a new reckoning over the government’s historical policies.

The number of children taken away from their families in Belgium’s former Central African territories is in the thousands, but historians are hesitant to provide a firm estimate. What is clear is that mixed-race children were seen as a threat, according to Delphine Lauwers, the lead archivist of Résolution Métis, a state-run research project created after the Belgian Parliament apologized in 2018.

“Interbreeding was upsetting a binary colonial system whose basis was the superiority of the white race over the Black race,” Ms. Lauwers said. “So the Belgian state decided to confine the mixed-race children in an in-between, a liminal space, where they were excluded from both categories.”

The five plaintiffs grew up together in a Catholic school in Katende, in what is the province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Ms. Tavares Mujinga, one of the plaintiffs, said she and her fellow students lived like prisoners, with insufficient clothing and food. In letters sent to the regional authorities in the early 1950s and seen by The New York Times, the nuns warned about a lack of food, and the insalubrious dormitory and canteen.

Ms. Tavares Mujinga said a scar on her forehead comes from a nun who hit her when she was 5, and that the scars on her legs are from ulcers she got from malnutrition. But the deepest scars are psychological, she said. When Ms. Tavares Mujinga came back to her family as a teenager, her mother told her she had been forced to abandon her to avoid reprisals from the authorities.

Following Congo’s independence in 1960, some of the youngest children were abandoned to a militant group after the nuns left the area. Many of the girls were raped, according to Ms. Bintu Bingi.

“These are not stories you can tell your children,” Ms. Bintu Bingi said in an interview as she recalled how she opened up to her daughter in recent years. “The Belgian state destroyed us, psychologically and physically.”

The women moved to Belgium in the 1980s and later and all live there, except for one who moved to France.

Some legal experts are divided on whether the forced separation of the mixed-race children from their mothers amounts to crimes against humanity. Ms. Hirsch, the plaintiff’s lawyer, argued that it did, because Belgium state had tried to wipe out the civil existence of métis children.

Emmanuel Jacubowitz, a lawyer representing the Belgian state at the hearing, said the authorities didn’t deny that the policy was racist and segregationist, but that it wasn’t seen as violating fundamental rights at the time.

Eric David, a professor of international law at the University of Brussels, said it was a stretch to call the practice crimes against humanity. “There was deportation, detention, and what could amount to torture,” Mr. David said. “But there were no slavery, murder, or systemic rapes in those schools.”

Mr. Jacubowitz added that hundreds of similar requests for compensation could follow.

“It may be that Belgium’s fear is to open the tap for reparations,” said Ms. Lauwers, the archivist.

Déborah Mbongu, the granddaughter of Ms. Tavares, said she struggled to understand why Belgium was so reluctant to pay. The plaintiffs say they didn’t sue for money, but Ms. Mbongu, 23, said it was essential her grandmother and others were recognized as victims.

“For our shared history,” she said, “a crime must lead to reparations. It’s just fundamental.”

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Palestinian Anger With Israel Is Undimmed, Even With Battle Paused

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Less than 12 hours after the rockets and airstrikes stopped on Friday, tear gas veiled Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque and Israeli security forces stormed the holy compound, an echo of the police raids two weeks ago that preceded the deadliest fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

In a Jerusalem neighborhood overlooking the mosque, the Israeli police tried to contain a crowd of hundreds of Palestinians carrying the flag of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. The police used stun grenades to chase away protesters who had thrown stones and fireworks at them.

And across the West Bank, Israeli soldiers used rubber bullets and live rounds to disperse Palestinians demonstrating after Friday prayers. In all, the Red Crescent said, 97 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank and Jerusalem on Friday.

An Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Hamas and Israel might have hit pause on the formal hostilities of the last 11 days. But the unrest made clear that Palestinians still felt they had plenty to fight for: If anything, the war had only inflamed the Palestinian quest for greater rights and recognition, demonstrators said, with the truce doing next to nothing to address the broader inspiration for the rocket fire and stone-throwing.

Sheikh Jarrah, the East Jerusalem neighborhood where several Palestinian families’ fight to stave off eviction has become a rallying cry.

“Just because there’s a cease-fire, doesn’t mean the death & destruction has ended, doesn’t mean the blockade is lifted, doesn’t mean those who lost their entires families will be rectified,” Mohammed el-Kurd, whose family lives in one of the Sheikh Jarrah homes, tweeted. “We must continue to our campaign to end the brutal siege and colonialism.”

rallied to the Palestinian cause, forcing a small but meaningful shift in, among other places, the political debate over Israel and the occupied territories among Democrats in the United States.

“I believe that this war has reintroduced our conflict to the world,” Mr. Khalil said, “and has once again illustrated our struggle.”

Rami Nazzal reported from Ramallah, and Vivian Yee from Cairo. Myra Noveck contributed reporting from Jerusalem and Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Tzur Hadassah, Israel.

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Germany Sets Out Plans to Return Benin Bronzes

Germany will begin returning a “substantial” number of the priceless artifacts known as the Benin Bronzes from its museums to Nigeria next year, its culture ministry said on Thursday night.

The artifacts, which the British army looted in an 1897 raid on Benin City in what is now Nigeria, are scattered through museums and private collections around the world. Germany’s announcement, the first by a national government with a timetable attached, comes as momentum is growing on both sides of the Atlantic to return the stolen objects.

An online meeting of government officials, regional legislators and museum administrators reached an agreement that German institutions — which own hundreds of the bronzes — would step up talks with Nigerian partners and strive to make the first returns next year.

“We are facing the historical and moral responsibility to bring Germany’s colonial past to light and to come to terms with it,” Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, said in a news release. “Dealing with the Benin Bronzes is a touchstone,” she added.

the architect David Adjaye is designing on behalf of the Legacy Restoration Trust — a group that represents Nigeria’s government, regional authorities and the royal court of Benin.

The trust hopes to open the museum in 2025, although the timeline has already been pushed back several times.

Victor Ehikhamenor, a trustee, welcomed the German announcement. “If this works, it will create a blueprint for others,” he said in a telephone interview.

Germany will publish an inventory of all the Benin Bronzes in its museums by June 15, according to a declaration signed at Thursday’s meeting. Details of those items’ provenance, including if they were looted, will be made available by the end of the year. The declaration stresses, however, that Germany hopes some bronzes will remain in the country.

Ehikhamenor said he had no problem with items being on display in Germany, as long as their legal ownership was transferred to the museum in Benin City. “We want to have a global conversation, but it has to be an equitable one,” Ehikhamenor said. “We can no longer be in a colonial hierarchy anymore.”

published a policy document that said it would consider the “possible return” of any item in its collection that was taken by force or theft. Days later, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland said it would return a sculpture of an oba, or ruler, of the Kingdom of Benin, which was stolen in the 1897 raid.

Yet some of the country’s largest museums — such as the British Museum, which owns more than 900 of the items, including arguably some of the finest — are regulated by Parliament and cannot permanently return items from their collections without a change in the law. Britain’s culture ministry did not reply to a request for comment on Friday.

The British Museum is a member of the Benin Dialogue Group, a network of European Museums which has been meeting with Nigerian representatives for more than a decade to discuss what to do about the bronzes. The group is also helping to develop the Edo Museum of West African Art, and to finance and staff archaeological work on the museum site, scheduled to start this fall.

Ehikhamenor likened the British Museum’s involvement in restitution talks to a McDonald’s worker who refuses to make burgers. “Their presence there has not led to the kind of conversations we are hearing from other museums in Europe,” he said. But he added that he hoped Germany’s announcement would change things. “If Germany is finding ways to have this conversation with us, I think the British should begin to find a way,” he said.

renowned ivory mask, has not made any announcements about restitution. Those works “were largely given to the institution in the 1970s and 1990s by individuals who acquired them on the art market,” a spokesman said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the museum was aware of Germany’s new plan.

Ehikhamenor said the Met was “dancing around these objects,” much like the British Museum. But, he added, “American institutions’ time will come.”

Philip Ihenacho, a financier who is leading the fund-raising drive for the Edo Museum of West African Art, said in a telephone interview that the newfound willingness of some governments and museums to talk about returning the Benin Bronzes was a game changer. “With the momentum that seems to be behind some of the discussions, we feel more and more confident that the challenge is no longer going to be persuading people to give objects back.”

“The challenge,” he added, “is going to be how to build an institution that is worthy of receiving the objects.”

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

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A vaccine scare ripples around the world: The week in Covid-19 news.

Safety worries about the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines in the United States and Europe have reverberated around the world, undercutting faith in two sorely needed shots and threatening to prolong the coronavirus pandemic in poorer countries that cannot afford to be choosy about vaccines. With new infections surging on nearly every continent, signs that the vaccination drive is in peril are emerging, most disconcertingly in the continent of Africa.

In many African countries, vaccination campaigns have been hindered by factors like science skepticism, limited or no efforts to educate the public, inefficient distribution systems and concerns over the extremely rare but serious cases of blood clots being investigated among a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Those two vaccines, which require less stringent refrigeration, are crucial to efforts to immunize populations in poorer countries.

But in Malawi, some people are asking doctors how to flush the AstraZeneca vaccine from their bodies. In South Africa, health officials have stopped giving the Johnson & Johnson shot, two months after dropping the AstraZeneca vaccine because it was less effective against the dominant variant there.

Across the continent, public confusion over whether to get inoculated — and if so when and where to do so — has contributed to the expiration of doses. South Sudan saw 59,000 unused doses expire this month, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses have gone unused.

Pew Research Center — accounting for a majority of the 54 million who slipped out of the middle class worldwide. A second wave of Covid-19 is threatening the dreams of millions more looking for a better life.

  • Keeping the middle seats vacant during a flight could reduce passengers’ exposure to airborne coronavirus by 23 to 57 percent, researchers reported in a new study. This reduction in risk stemmed from increasing the distance between an infectious passenger and others as well as from reducing the total number of people in the cabin. But the study may have overestimated the benefits of empty middle seats because it did not take into account mask-wearing by passengers.

  • More exercise means less risk of developing severe Covid, according to a compelling new study of physical activity and coronavirus hospitalizations. The study found that those who had been the most active before falling ill were the least likely to be hospitalized or die as a result of their illness.

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