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Officials aim to drive out air pollution with rain in Thailand.

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Authorities in Thailand are planning to cause artificial rains to drive out severe episodes of air pollution in the capital, Bangkok.

Harmful particles have reached 102 micrograms per cubic metre in recent days, well above a ceiling set by the World Health Organization.



The WHO recommends a maximum daily exposure level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Pralong Dumrongthai is Director General of the Pollution Control Department in Thailand.

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“More than 50% of the problem comes from the diesel cars we’re trying to control. Secondly, the practice of burns represents 35%. The governor of Bangkok has ordered the 50 districts to prevent burns during the harvest season”, he said.

Authorities say the technique will involve dropping vast quantities of chemicals in the clouds to cause the formation of ice crystals that accelerate the break-up of showers. They are also considering producing electric vehicles to end air pollution.

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“In Bangkok, there are 9.8 million car. 2.5 million of them are diesel cars, which is a huge number. But preventing them from entering Bangkok is the right solution. As civil servants, we must therefore find other protection plans”, Dumrongthai added.

Thailand -based Greenpeace Director said this is the worst episode of pollution in a year. And he’s not certain about the strategy by Thai officials to end the menace.

He also added that power plants, which are very coal-intensive, must be required to make greater use of clean energy.

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Northern Ireland: Police arrest two in connection with the murder of a journalist

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Source: Reuters

Two men have been arrested in connection with the killing of Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee during a riot in Londonderry on Thursday, police said, as politicians in the divided British region united to condemn the attack.

McKee, an award-winning 29-year-old journalist who was writing a book on the disappearance of young people during decades of violence in Northern Ireland, was shot dead as she watched Irish nationalist youths attack police following a raid.

“Major Investigation Team detectives have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19 under the Terrorism Act, in connection with the murder,” the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

Northern Ireland’s political parties, which are broadly split between Irish nationalists aspiring to unite the British region with Ireland and unionists who want it to remain British, united to condemn the attack.

In a joint statement, six parties said they were “united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime.”

Hundreds gathered in cities across Northern Ireland on Friday to hold vigils for McKee, who was also known as an activist for lesbian and gay rights.

Politicians around the world condemned the attack, with former U.S. President Bill Clinton saying he was “heartbroken.”

“We cannot let go of the last 21 years of hard-won peace and progress,” Clinton, a key player in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace accord, said on Twitter.

The 1998 deal largely ended three decades of violence in the region, in which over 3,600 died, but several smaller militant groups remain active and launch occasional attacks.

Police said they believed the shooting was likely carried out by the small New IRA group of “dissident” Irish nationalist militants opposed to the Good Friday deal. The group was blamed by police for planting a car bomb outside a courthouse in Londonderry in January.

Politicians in Northern Ireland have also warned that Britain’s plans to leave the European Union could also undermine the peace deal and that any return of restrictive infrastructure along the Irish-Northern Irish border would become targets for militants.

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the peace accord had to be preserved.

“The tragic murder of Lyra McKee is a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland,” he said.“SENSELESS”

Police said Thursday’s rioting began after a raid aimed at preventing attacks during Easter weekend.

Saoradh, a political party with links to dissident militants, said in a statement on Friday that it understood McKee was killed accidentally by a “Republican volunteer.

McKee was watching with a crowd of bystanders as local youths attacked police with petrol bombs and set cars on fire, video footage showed. Police said McKee was hit when a gunman opened fire in the direction of police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday described the attack as “shocking and truly senseless.”

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Business

I’ve always wondered, Why do billionaires buy media empires?

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An article by Jordan Murray

Although the financial situation for newspapers remains less than ideal, billionaires continue to invest in print media for their institutional worth, with aims to make publications self-sufficient.

If you had $190 million to spare, what would you spend it on?

If you’re Marc and Lynne Benioff, you’d buy a media empire. The flamboyant CEO of Salesforce and his wife purchased the publication from Meredith Corporation a few weeks ago, quickly distancing themselves from the magazine’s editorial direction.

It was a decision that was made, Marc admits, without much forethought, and its spontaneity is as much a product of his outsized personality as it is of his wealth. Indeed, the large cash infusion represents a boon for Time, but represents only around three per cent of the Benioff’s net wealth. It’s endemic of a larger trend in business of high-earning CEOs bankrolling print media to insulate cultural institutions from economic and technological changes.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

While many are grateful for Benioff’s financial infusion, others are suspicious of his motives and the pressures he might exert on the newspaper’s editorial position. For his part, Benioff has moved to assuage those concerns, with Time’s chief content officer Alan Murray saying the Benioffs were willing to “put journalistic integrity ahead of corporate gains”.

Otherwise, Benioff’s purchase of Time appears to be an effort to preserve the periodical, as opposed to turning it into a vehicle for his political views. That hasn’t comforted some sceptics though, who have witnessed the financially precarious situation that arises when business leaders expect returns on their investments.

Why would anybody buy a newsroom?

It’s easy to compare billionaires with an interest in media empires to Charles Foster Kane, Orson Welles’ ruthless newspaper magnate. The truth is often more complex than that. Some CEOs, like Jeff Bezos, purchase flagging institutions not out of pity but out of a profit motive. Bezos, after all, was initially unmoved at the prospect of purchasing a business that haemorrhaged money and that he didn’t know much about.

However, he saw the opportunity as having a greater sense of rightness to it. “If this were a financially upside-down, salty snack food company, the answer would be no,” Bezos reasoned, “But as soon as I started thinking about it that way, I started to realize The Washington Post is an important institution.”

“If this were a financially upside-down, salty snack food company, the answer would be no,” Bezos reasoned, “But as soon as I started thinking about it that way, I started to realize The Washington Post is an important institution.”

Nowadays, The Washington Post is profitable, thanks to Bezos’ technological direction as much as his financial contributions. He has remained outside the newsroom, and has instead focused on the newspapers’ economic situation, preferring not to think of his contribution as a “philanthropic endeavour”.

A comparable situation arose for Laurene Powell Jobs, when her Emerson Collective purchased The Atlantic in July 2017, saying that “there’s a door between Emerson and the Atlantic, but it only swings from the Atlantic into Emerson; it doesn’t open in the other direction”.

Like Bezos’ approach, the emphasis wasn’t on editorial direction as much as it was on improving the economic function of the publication itself, which Jobs managed to do. Although the financial situation for newspapers remains less than ideal, billionaires continue to invest in print media for their institutional worth – an often-achievable goal, as newspapers are relatively inexpensive investments – with aims to make the publications self-sufficient.

Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs

Do things always work out?

In contrast to those two particularly fortunate cases, other entrepreneurs aren’t quite as committed to the outcomes of their chosen publication, quickly losing patience with their investment and becoming eager to rid themselves of it.

Perhaps the most notorious example of this is Joe Ricketts, whose purchase of Gothamist prefaced an attempt to merge the idiosyncratic vehicle for snark and culture with his own New York-centric outlet, DNAInfo. The arrangement lasted for only eight months, in which time both newsrooms complained about mismatched agendas. When the staff of both publications attempted to unionise, Ricketts simply shut both down and walked away from the situation.

Similarly, Peter Barbey purchased The Village Voice in 2015 promising that he was “flat-out serious about getting The Voice to be a major Manhattan publication”. Three years later, he unceremoniously shut down printing, citing “business realities”.

Such billionaire investments in newspapers are met with suspicion by the journalists who work for them not because they portend maleficent editorial direction, but because they often become more accountable to the economic concerns of one person. Much like any other business, if there isn’t a model for self-sufficiency to work towards, that often means that the end is in sight.

Much like any other business, if there isn’t a model for self-sufficiency to work towards, that often means that the end is in sight.

So, what happens next?

In conversation with CNBC, Joshua Benton, director of Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, cited several reasons for why billionaires choose to become involved in media, including “a mixture of … sincere appreciation of the art form, … a desire to see it flourish … [!and!] a sense of civic responsibility”.

Moreover, the chance for growth in an industry that has struggled to adapt to digital distribution is immense and has proven profitable under the right leadership. Ultimately, the emphasis isn’t about establishing a vehicle for personal retribution. It’s about product differentiation and, eventually, financial returns.

It’s not difficult to appreciate how Benioff views the matter; he believes that there are two types of CEOs, those committed to improving the state of the world, and those who are not.

When he purchased Time, he was acting on that impulse, believing that print journalism deserved attention. It doesn’t mean he’s prepared to throw away a significant sum of money. It means that he’s willing to help a beleaguered industry through challenging times, with the sort of leadership and business expertise only an eccentric, carefree CEO can bring.

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