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Good Reads: From lab-grown meat, to solar LED lamps, to Algebra II reconsidered

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When you think of Thailand, you might think of the beaches, the sunshine, and ubiquitous smiles. But journalist Erika Fry shares in the Columbia Journalism Review the gripping story of her narrow escape from languishing for years in a Thai jail after she wrote what seemed to be a straightforward story in the Bangkok Post. She had reported that a Thai official had been accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation on organic asparagus. Although the evidence against him was overwhelming, he, in turn, opened a defamation case against her. What would have been an open-and-shut case in the US in Ms. Fry’s favor, turned into a day in jail, a number of secret meetings, subterfuge, and a lesson in Thailand’s draconian defamation laws and how its justice system is routinely manipulated by people in positions of power and influence.

Kazakhstan as an antiterror investment

This summer President Obama said he would rethink his opposition to the US military involvement in Syria if the regime there were to use its stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Now, as the world determines how to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Alex Pasternack takes this as a timely moment to point out in Vice magazine that the Pentagon is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into its own biological warfare program: Kazakhstan’s new Central Reference Laboratory. “When it opens in September 2015, the $102-million project laboratory is meant to serve as a Central Asian way station for a global war on dangerous disease,” writes Mr. Pasternack.

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