Whoever masterminded the Bangkok bombing was acting on home turf, police say

GlobalPost
Damage caused by a bomb blast is seen on the Brahma statue at the Erawan shrine - the popular tourist site where 20 people were killed on August 17 - in central Bangkok on August 20, 2015. 
JEROME TAYLOR

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NEED TO KNOW

Whoever plotted to bomb Bangkok three days ago was acting on home turf. That’s according to the Thai government, which says it’s “unlikely” the attack that killed at least 20 people was the work of international terrorists.

Police suspect at least 10 people of organizing the attack. The masterminds are thought to be homegrown terrorists — though the person who planted the bomb at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine is described as an “unnamed foreigner.”

That suspect, known as the man in the yellow shirt, is the guy Thai police are desperate to find. Today they appealed to Interpol and passengers of international airlines to help them track him down. Have you seen this man?

“I don’t know what your beliefs can possibly be worth if you are not ready to suffer or die for them.” So says Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is preparing to put his own to the test: the renowned director could be facing 23 years in a Russian prison if the state prosecutors who accuse him of “terrorism” get their way. Sentsov’s lawyers, meanwhile, say the charges are as fictional as his films. 

The case, which critics have compared to Stalin-era show trials, will be decided next week. It’s just one of several currently working their way through Russia’s courts involving foreign defendants and mysterious circumstances.

The Russian legal system, long notorious for defending murky business interests and settling political scores, is taking aim at a new breed of alleged offenders: foreign citizens who fall afoul of the Kremlin and wind up on Russian soil to pay the price. Here are some of their stories.

WANT TO KNOW

Everywhere you look, apps are making it easier — and cheaper — to get around, usually at the expense of licensed taxi drivers who have traditionally held the monopoly on driving people places for money.

Jakarta, the city with the dubious distinction of having the world’s worst traffic, is no exception. Drivers of the “ojek” motorbike-taxis that have long helped residents dodge gridlock in Indonesia’s sprawling capital find themselves doing battle with their equivalent of Uber: Go-jek. Just like Uber, the app allows customers to order their transport online, calculate the price in advance and get picked up wherever and whenever they desire. And just like Uber, passengers love it — while taxi drivers hate it.

Signs have sprung up at ojek stands across the city that proclaim: “Go-jeks forbidden here.” Go-jek drivers and clients alike report being threatened, attacked and chased out of what ojek drivers see as “their” territory. “I was here before, and I’m a professional ojek,” one disgruntled driver tells GlobalPost. “Why should I have to go online?”

With no plans to legislate against Go-jek currently on the table, it looks like his customers will answer that one for him — if he has any left.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Twenty-four years ago, a man named Steve Feltham sold his house, quit his job and left his girlfriend. He had decided to give up everything for the sake of his dream: to search for the Loch Ness Monster.

Twenty-four years later, GlobalPost’s UK correspondent, Corinne Purtill, embarked on a quest of her own: to find Feltham and ask him if the hunt has been worth it. Nessie remains, as we know, notably unidentified. Feltham’s vigil by the shores of the loch has borne fruit precisely once, when he spotted an unexplained torpedo-like shape in the water. He didn’t take a photo at the time and he’s never seen it again. That was sometime back in 1992.

Last month, after Feltham mentioned to a local reporter that he’d concluded what he saw was most likely a type of catfish, rumors abounded that he had abandoned all hope of finding a true monster in the depths of Loch Ness. Some reports said that, after almost a quarter of a century and nearly half his lifetime, the Nessie Hunter was finally giving up a search that many thought was pointless to begin with.

GlobalPost can confirm that those reports are categorically untrue. Feltham has no intention of retiring, he assures our correspondent. And what’s more: he’s already found what he was looking for. “I absolutely am in my utopia,” he tells Purtill. “I long ago broke it down: Constant adventure. Unpredictability. Chance of making a world class discovery. Having those three things in my life — yeah, I’m quite happy with my lot.”

Put it that way, and devoting your life to pursuing something you can’t see — but that fills your heart with joy — doesn’t sound so crazy after all.