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Thailand’s Central Bankruptcy Court on Monday gave the go-ahead to financially ailing Thai Airways International to submit a business reorganization plan and appointed seven planners to oversee it.

A press release from the airline said the plan should be submitted to the court by the end of the year. Then, the company’s receiver will consult creditors for their input before the court approve’s the plan and appoints its administrator in early 2021. The plan will then be implemented.

Thai Airways International in May was carrying an estimated debt burden of almost 300 billion baht ($9.6 billion). Most recently, it ran up 12 billion baht ($383.3 million) in losses in 2019, 11.6 billion baht ($370.5 million) in 2018 and 2.11 billion baht ($67.4 million) in 2017.

Thailand’s Cabinet in May approved a reduction in the government’s stake in the airline to below 50% as part of the reorganization plan. That move was quickly implemented.

With the reduction in the 51% share held by the Finance Ministry, the airline lost its status as a state enterprise. The action also meant that the airline's state enterprise union was automatically dissolved.

The airline initially sought a 54 billion baht ($1.7 billion) bailout loan from Thailand’s government after virtually ceasing operations due to the coronavirus crisis. Some domestic flights have resumed, but all regularly scheduled international flights are still banned.

The airline’s auditors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Jaiyos, last month declined to sign off on Thai Airways' financial statements for the first half of this year, saying a lack of liquidity and debt defaults prevented it from assessing its assets and liabilities.

The airline went a partial restructuring in 2015, when Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was serving a first term as prime minister in a military government established after a coup. The airline was already deeply in debt and needed to cut loss-making routes, reconfigure its fleet and get rid of staff through attrition.

It is almost certain to cut staff, fleet and flights under any new reorganization plan.

The airline was founded in 1960 as a joint venture between Thailand’s domestic carrier, Thai Airways Company, and SAS, Scandinavian Airlines System, which sold its stake in 1977. The airline’s shares were listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 1991.



The grandson of U.S. President Warren G. Harding and his lover, Nan Britton, went to court in an effort to get the Republican’s remains exhumed from the presidential memorial where they have lain since 1927. James Blaesing told an Ohio court that he is seeking Harding’s disinterment as a way “to establish with scientific certainty” that he is the 29th president’s blood relation.

The dispute looms as benefactors prepare to mark the centennial of Harding’s 1920 election with site upgrades and a new presidential center in Marion, the Ohio city near which he was born in 1865. Blaesing says he deserves to “have his story, his mother’s story and his grandmother’s story included within the hallowed halls and museums in this town.”

A branch of the Harding family has pushed back against the suit filed in May ? not because they dispute Blaesing’s ancestry, but because they don’t.  They argue they already have accepted as fact DNA evidence that Blaesing’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, was the daughter of Harding and Britton and that she is set to be acknowledged in the museum. Harding had no other children.

“Sadly, widespread, public recognition and acceptance by the descendants, historians, and biographers (and Mr. Blaesing himself) that Mr. Blaesing is President Harding’s grandson is not enough for him,” relatives said in a court filing. They called the lawsuit a ploy for attention.

In 2015, a match between James Blaesing’s DNA and that of two Harding descendants prompted AncestryDNA, a DNA-testing division of Ancestry.com, to declare his link to the president official.


Black Democrat urges governor to drop Black court nominee

•  Ethics     updated  2020/09/12 09:12


A Black Democratic state lawmaker who is challenging the appointment of a Black woman to the Florida Supreme Court contended Thursday that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is engaging in “racial tokenism” by choosing someone the court itself has already ruled is not eligible for the position.

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson said in an online news conference that DeSantis only chose Renatha Francis for the high court because she shares his conservative ideology, not because he is trying to achieve racial diversity.

Thompson says Francis doesn’t meet the constitutional requirement of being a Florida Bar member for at least 10 years, a point the Supreme Court noted two weeks ago when it ruled DeSantis had exceeded his authority by appointing an ineligible candidate. The court did not undo the appointment, however.

“He wants to throw the rulebook out the window and do whatever he wants to do,” Thompson said. “That’s not what our country is supposed to be about.”

Thompson wants the governor to rescind the appointment. She spoke a day after DeSantis defended his choice at an event Wednesday alongside several Black elected officials who support Francis' appointment. The governor appointed Francis in May with the understanding that she would not actually sit on the court until she is eligible. She will complete 10 years in the bar in two weeks.

DeSantis accused Thompson of blocking the appointment for political reasons. He noted that no other Blacks currently serve on the court. But Thompson argued that DeSantis only wanted the “right" Black person on the court. “It was clearly about ideology and sharing the same perspective he had," she said. “This is one of the worst and most egregious examples of racial tokenism that I have seen in my life.”

Francis, currently a circuit judge in Palm Beach County, would not be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court but would be the first Caribbean-American to do so. She operated a bar and trucking company in Jamaica before moving to the United States as an adult and working her way through law school.

Thompson represents portions of the Orlando suburbs, including Disney World and Universal Studios.

At the event Wednesday, DeSantis accused Thompson of hypocrisy, saying that she had been among those pushing for a Black justice and now that he has appointed one, she doesn't like her. He said her opposition would force him to choose from a list that includes no Black candidates. Thompson countered that a governor can't simply ignore the Florida Constitution.




Saying the president had exceeded his authority, a panel of three federal judges on Thursday blocked an order from President Donald Trump that tried to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted when congressional districts are redrawn.

The federal judges in New York, in granting an injunction, said the presidential order issued in late July was unlawful. The judges prohibited Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, from excluding people in the country illegally when handing in 2020 census figures used to calculate how many congressional seats each state gets.

According to the judges, the presidential order violated laws governing the execution of the once-a-decade census and also the process for redrawing congressional districts known as apportionment by requiring that two sets of numbers be presented — one with the total count and the other minus people living in the country illegally.

The judges said that those in the country illegally qualify as people to be counted in the states they reside. They declined to say whether the order violated the Constitution.

“Throughout the Nation’s history, the figures used to determine the apportionment of Congress — in the language of the current statutes, the ‘total population’ and the ‘whole number of persons’ in each State — have included every person residing in the United States at the time of the census, whether citizen or non-citizen and whether living here with legal status or without,” the judges wrote.

Opponents of the order said it was an effort to suppress the growing political power of Latinos in the U.S. and to discriminate against immigrant communities of color. They also said undocumented residents use the nation’s roads, parks and other public amenities and should be taken into account for any distribution of federal resources.

The lawsuits challenging the presidential order in New York were brought by a coalition of cities, civil rights groups and states led by New York. Because the lawsuits dealt with questions about apportionment, it was heard by a three-judge panel that allows the decision to be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judges agreed with the coalition that the order created confusion among undocumented residents over whether they should participate in the 2020 census, deterring participation and jeopardizing the quality of the census data. That harm to the census was a sufficient basis for their ruling and they didn’t need to rely on the speculation that a state would be hurt by possibly losing a congressional seat if people in the country illegally were excluded from apportionment, the judges said.




Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis must pick a new Supreme Court justice because the judge he picked to fill a high court vacancy is constitutionally ineligible to serve, the court said in an order issued Friday.

The Florida Supreme Court ordered DeSantis to appoint another judge by Monday, nullifying the appointment of Judge Renatha Francis. Francis would have been the first Caribbean-American justice to serve on the court.

But the state constitution requires that a justice be a member of the Florida Bar for at least 10 years, and Francis was four months shy when DeSantis appointed her in May. At the time DeSantis acknowledged the shortfall, but said she wouldn't be sworn in until Sept. 24, the day she would meet the requirement.

The Supreme Court said that DeSantis was required to name a new justice within 60 days of the resignation of former Justice Robert Luck.

Her appointment was challenged by Democratic state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a prominent Black state lawmaker.




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