Sunday, 3 July, 2022
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Thai cave rescue: Four out, nine to go

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China’s surveillance state is very much a reality, and the United States’ relationship with North Korea is deteriorating.

Four of 13 stuck in flooded Thai caves rescued

After more than a week of searching the underwater flooded cave complex and day of planning a rescue, divers safely led four of the 13 people trapped inside the cave to rescue Sunday.

“One by one, the first four to be rescued emerged after a treacherous, hours-long journey through the tight, underwater passageways of Tham Luang Cave. Skilled cave divers, part of a team assembled from around the world, hugged the four to their bodies as they swam through the dark,” reports The New York Times. 

After the four were pulled out, however, the evacuation had to be halted because the rescuers had used up all the air tanks that divers had placed along the route. It will take divers 10 to 20 hours to replace these tanks for the next rescue attempt.

It has been 16 days since the boys and their coach first entered the cave complex. The code name for the boys is Moo Pa, or Wild Boars.

The Guardian reports that the identities of the boys rescued in Sunday’s operation are still being withheld from some of the parents. “It gives you a sense of the difficulty of the task facing rescuers, trying to navigate the difficult underground terrain to reach the boys, but also the emotions of parents who must be stricken, exhausted and stressed.”

How rescuers are saving those trapped in the cave

“The rescuers face an increasingly dire situation. The boys have grown weak from falling oxygen levels in the chamber where they are trapped. One rescue diver died Friday when he ran out of air while underwater,” writes The New York Times in an illustrated explanation of how the rescue operation will proceed.

The New York Times

A team of around 140 cave divers is part of the rescue operation, which will include shepherding each person for hours through the convoluted underwater passageways. The flooded passageway at some points are as small as three feet wide and two feet tall.

Welcome to China’s future, where everything is being watched

“China is building a high-tech authoritarian future,” The New York Times reports. The country is using technology like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track its 1.4 billion citizens by building a massive national surveillance system.

“China is reversing the commonly held vision of technology as a great democratiser, bringing people more freedom and connecting them to the world. In China, it has brought control,” The New York Times writes.

China already has an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras. However, the technology is reportedly not uniform, as technology in some places might be lacking when compared to another place. But this bureaucratic inefficiency does not matter to the Communist Party.

“Far from hiding their efforts, Chinese authorities regularly state, and overstate, their capabilities. In China, even the perception of surveillance can keep the public in line,” the report states.

The country seems to be functioning on Mao’s philosophy, which states that only strong surveillance can bring order to a turbulent country. The fear of being watched has led to criminals confessing their crimes unprompted, and the shame of being discovered and gossiped about has become a punishment to disincentivise crime or misbehaviour. A new generation of startups have begun cashing in on the surveillance system. “In China, snooping is becoming big business,” the report adds.

North Korea says the US has a gangster-like mindset

The US-North Korea relationship seems to be in troubled waters less than a month after a meeting between the leaders was hailed as a milestone.

North Korea Saturday accused the US of a “gangster-like mindset” in high-level negotiations over denuclearisation, a complete contradiction of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s description of the talks as “productive”, reports CNN.

“The rebuke from North Korea — and the fact that Pompeo left the talks with little to show for his effort — suggests that Pyongyang, and not the US, is setting the terms of negotiation,” CNN added.

Pompeo has also lashed out at Pyongyang’s remarks, saying if Washington’s diplomatic behaviour was like a gangster’s, “the world is a gangster”.

US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait, creating tension

In a move that could heighten tensions between the United States and China, two US Navy destroyers sailed through the Taiwan Strait, CNN reports.

A Pacific Fleet spokesman has referred to the passage as “a routine transit”, but the warships represent something potentially larger against a backdrop of “increasing strain between the Trump administration and China over trade, North Korea and the South China Sea”.

“Beijing is perceived as sensitive to US military vessels traveling through the strait and continues to lay claim to Taiwan, a self-governed, democratic island, which it views as a breakaway province. The US Navy has not sailed an aircraft carrier in that area since 2007,” the report adds. The two warships are the first to sail through the strait since July 2017.

A European retaliation to US tariffs?

France has warned the US of a united retaliation from Europe if it continues to increase tariffs, even as Germany said it was ready for negotiations, reports Reuters.

Stating that there should be united reaction from the European Union (EU), French finance minister Bruno Le Maire added, “The question is no longer whether or not there will be a trade war, the war has already started.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel had said Thursday Germany was ready to back the lowering of EU levies on the import of US cars.

The US had imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminium at the start of June and aggravated tensions with threats of imposing a 20 per cent import tariff on all EU-assembled vehicles.

Croatia’s football team is grappling with a corruption scandal

Despite a thrilling quarterfinal win against hosts Russia, the Croatian team’s performance in the World Cup was marred by a corruption scandal, writes Matthew Hall in Foreign Policy.

The reason the fans are angry is one man: Zdravko Mamic. Once one of the most powerful and colourful figures in Croatian sports, he has been found guilty of fraud. In 2008, the now-captain of the Croatian football team, Luka Modric, was transferred from the local team Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham Hotspur. In 2010, another football star, Dejan Lovren, was moved from Dinamo to Olympique Lyonnais. “Mamic was both chief executive of Dinamo Zagreb and an agent — a role laden with obvious conflicts of interest and many opportunities to siphon money from transfer deals,” the report adds.

“The case against Mamic, led by the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime, claimed he made illegal personal profits on player transfers from Dinamo Zagreb,” the report states.

The scheme, it seems, was simple: “Mamic would get promising young Croatian players — including Modric and Lovren — to sign contracts that ultimately gave him 50 per cent of a player’s earnings or contract bonuses over their careers. As the boss of Dinamo Zagreb, one of the most powerful clubs in Croatia, Mamic held most of the cards.”

The captain, Luka Modric, was a key witness during the televised trial against Mamic. He covered up for Mamic, and is currently being investigated for giving a false statement. Public outrage was swift and damning, and continues till this day.

“Can you imagine what would have happened had he not scored?” said Zlatko Dalic, Croatia’s coach, after the match against Denmark.

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