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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.



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.




Britain’s Supreme Court has dismissed two appeals by Chinese telecoms firms Huawei and ZTE over mobile data patent disputes.

The disputes center on the licensing of patented technology considered essential to mobile telecoms. The patents are meant to ensure fair competition and access to technology like 4G.

In the first case, Unwired Planet, an intellectual property company that licenses patents, had brought legal action against Huawei for infringement of five U.K. patents that Unwired acquired from Ericsson.

The second appeal concerned legal action brought by another patent licensing company, Conversant Wireless, against Huawei and ZTE for infringement of four of its U.K. patents.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld lower court rulings on the cases and dismissed appeals by Huawei and ZTE.

In a statement, Conversant said the ruling was a landmark judgment that will have “significant implications worldwide” for telecommunications patent licensing.

The ruling meant that companies like Huawei cannot insist that patent holders like Conversant prove their patents in every jurisdiction of the world, which would be “both practically and economically prohibitive,” the company added.



A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday revived House Democrats' lawsuit to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before a congressional committee, but left other legal issues unresolved with time growing short in the current Congress.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit voted 7-2 in ruling that the House Judiciary Committee can make its claims in court, reversing the judgment of a three-judge panel that would have ended the court fight.

The matter now returns to the panel for consideration of other legal issues. The current House of Representatives session ends on Jan. 3. That time crunch means “the chances that the Committee hears McGahn’s testimony anytime soon are vanishingly slim," dissenting Judge Thomas Griffith wrote. Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson also dissented.

The Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed McGahn in April 2019 as it examined potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump directed McGahn not to appear and the Democratic-led panel filed a federal lawsuit to force McGahn to testify.

A trial judge ruled in November that the president’s close advisers do not have the absolute immunity from testifying to Congress that the administration claimed. Griffith and Henderson formed the majority when the appellate panel said in February that the Constitution forbids federal courts from refereeing this kind of dispute between the other two branches of government.

On Friday, the full court said the panel reached the wrong decision. Lawmakers can ask the courts “for judicial enforcement of congressional subpoenas when necessary," Judge Judith Rogers wrote. Congress needs detailed information about the executive branch for both oversight and impeachment, she wrote.

House lawmakers had sought McGahn’s testimony because he was a vital witness for Mueller, whose report detailed the president’s outrage over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s efforts to curtail it.

In interviews with Mueller’s team, McGahn described being called at home by the president on the night of June 17, 2017, and being directed to call the Justice Department and say Mueller had conflicts of interest and should be removed. McGahn declined the command, deciding he would resign rather than carry it out, the report said.



A California appeals court on Monday upheld a groundbreaking verdict that Monsanto’s widely used weed killer caused cancer in a school groundskeeper but the panel also slashed the damage award from $78.5 million to $21.5 million.

The 1st District Court of Appeal said there was evidence to support a California jury’s 2018 decision that “Monsanto acted with a conscious disregard for public safety,” but it reduced the damages to Dewayne Johnson of Vallejo because state law doesn’t allow damages for reduced life expectancy, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The original San Francisco Superior Court jury found that St. Louis-based Monsanto had purposely ignored warnings and evidence that glyphosate, the active ingredient in its popular Roundup and Ranger Pro products, causes cancer.

Johnson, then 46, alleged that his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by his years of spraying Ranger Pro on school grounds in Benicia.

Jurors awarded Johnson $289.2 million but a judge later reduced the punitive damages, knocking down the total to $78.5 million.

In further reducing the total award, the appellate court ruled 3-0 that state law entitled Johnson only to compensation for future harm he was “reasonably certain” to suffer. He had been given only two to three years to live.

R. Brent Wisner, a lawyer for Johnson, said the ruling was an overall victory but the court shouldn’t have reduced the damage award.

“This effectively rewards a defendant for killing a plaintiff, as opposed to just injuring him,” Wisner told the Chronicle.

Bayer AG, the German corporation that owns Monsanto, called the reduction “a step in the right direction” but said the appellate panel should have thrown out the verdict and said it may appeal to the California Supreme Court.


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