Someone just bombed central Bangkok, Thai police say

GlobalPost
Thai soldiers inspect the scene after a bomb exploded outside a shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015.
PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL

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NEED TO KNOW

Breaking news out of Bangkok: Several people are reported dead after a powerful explosion in the Thai capital. Police say it was a bomb, planted near the famous Erawan Shrine that thousands of tourists visit each year.

The blast was recorded by a nearby CCTV camera.

At least 16 people were killed, including foreign tourists, and dozens were injured. It's not clear who was responsible, but Thailand's defense minister said the attack was an attempt to "destroy the economy and tourism." Follow GlobalPost on Twitter for the latest updates as they come through. 

Meanwhile, back to a different explosion. Sodium cyanide: A white powder that smells of nothing when it’s dry, of bitter almonds when it meets water. You breathe it in, ingest it, get it on your skin or in your eyes. And it can kill you within hours.

That’s what was stored in the warehouse that blew up in the Chinese city of Tianjin on August 12 and what, five days later, is now lying in surface wastewater at the blast site. At a press conference this morning, environmental officials said they’d measured levels of the toxic substance up to 27 times the usual limit. Traces of it have been found over half a mile away from the warehouse and in seawater near the city’s port.

Local residents are, unsurprisingly, furious at being exposed to potentially fatal chemicals. China’s own regulations state that warehouses stocking dangerous materials must be at least a kilometer from public buildings or main roads. This one was within 500 meters of people’s homes. What’s more, reports say it contained nearly 30 times more sodium cyanide than it was permitted to store.

Protesters gathered in Tianjin again today to demand action over the disaster, which killed at least 114 people and has left some 6,000 displaced. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has ordered an overhaul of work safety, but residents want compensation for their lost homes — which, they say, they won’t return to even if they’re ruled safe. “We don't know if there will be further leaks in the future,” one man told reporters. “We could be living near a ticking time bomb.”

WANT TO KNOW

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs — so the saying goes. In Germany, you can’t make eggs without shredding newborn chicks.

The German egg industry has an unappetizing open secret: each year, the country’s chicken hatcheries send 45 million baby chicks to the shredder. Why? Because they’re male and they can’t go on to lay more eggs, nor will they ever be big enough to make them profitable to rear for meat.

Germany is far from the only country where the practice is commonplace. It is, however, the first to consider banning it. Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt is seeking to phase out chick culling within the next two years and has allocated 1 million euros to help do so. The leading alternative at the moment is gender tests for eggs that would let poultry farmers dispose of male chicks before they ever hatch.

German farmers, though, are concerned that the new technology would mean added costs and a hindrance to their competitiveness. Will the government force through legislation despite their objections? Like we say: omelettes and eggs. 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

One small step for man, one giant billboard for mankind? If you thought advertising had already saturated every available inch of public space, think again. There’s somewhere that’s in billions of people’s eye line as soon as it gets dark, and sometimes before. It never has to fight for anyone’s attention — on the contrary, they gaze at it by choice. Some would even pay millions of dollars for a closer look. Plus it’s got its own lighting (solar-powered, don’tcha know). Best of all, no one’s sure who owns it.

It’s a Mad Man’s dream: the moon, as billboard. Next year, a Japanese sports drink with the inviting name Pocari Sweat will become the first product to be advertised on its surface. A US space exploration company is to plant a specially engineered can of the stuff in a lunar crater, where it will remain until an astronaut of the future some day rehydrates it with moon water (seriously).

With private space firms multiplying and advertisers constantly in quest of new marketing ideas, stunts like these are set to become a trend. Brace yourself for the dawn of lunar advertising: it’s hype, Jim, but not as we know it.