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  1. Oxfam sex abuse criticism disproportionate, chief executive says By Alistair Smout An Oxfam sign is seen on a kiosk that was used to distribute water in Corail, a camp for displaced people of the 2010 earthquake, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares LONDON (Reuters) - Oxfam's chief executive said criticism of the charity following a sex abuse scandal had been disproportionate, according to comments published on Saturday. In an interview with British daily the Guardian, Mark Goldring again apologised over allegations of sexual abuse by Oxfam staff in Haiti, which broke last week and have shaken the whole aid sector. "(But) the intensity and ferocity of the attacks makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots?," he was quoted as saying. "Certainly the scale and intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability." UK-based Oxfam, one of the world's biggest disaster relief charities, has neither confirmed nor denied the Haiti allegations but has said an internal investigation in 2011 confirmed unspecified sexual misconduct occurred. It has also agreed not to bid for any new state funding until Britain's government is satisfied the charity meets appropriate ethical standards, development minister Penny Mordaunt said on Friday. "Anything we say is being manipulated... We've been savaged," Goldring also told the Guardian, which ran a full-page ad from the charity saying sorry for the "appalling behaviour that happened in our name". The CEO's comments drew rebukes on Twitter, including from former interior minister Jacqui Smith, who posted: "Dear Mark Goldring. You're not the victim here." Haiti's president told Reuters on Friday that sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff was only the tip of an "iceberg" and called for investigations into Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and other aid organisations that came to the country after a devastating earthquake in 2010. Doctors Without Borders said on Wednesday it had dealt with 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse among its 40,000 staff last year, and dismissed 19 people as a result. Britain has said it will deny cash to aid organisations that fail to come clean on abuse. But Prime Minister Theresa May said it would continue to meet its legal obligation to spend 0.7 percent of economic output on international development. She made the comment in a speech in Munich on Saturday, in which did not directly address the allegations against Oxfam and other charities. -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-02-18
  2. Grand Prix will generate Bt1 billion for Thailand By LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM THE NATION Sports Authority of Thailand governor Sakon Wannapong shows the first Ptt Thailand Grand Prix ticket that he purchased. SPORTS AUTHORITY of Thailand governor Sakon Wannapong says more than Bt1 billion will be generated by the Ptt Thailand motorcycling Grand Prix at the Buri Ram International Circuit in October. The SAT boss said a huge income would be generated during the competition between October 5-7 in the northeastern province. Thailand has a three-year-contract to host the MotoGP and must pay around Bt4 million (Bt100m by the government and Bt300 million by the private sector) each year for the license and organฌization. “Around 100,000 people from all over the world will visit Thailand during that time and boost the country’s cashflow. We will invest 400 million but gain 1 billion, which I think is a great benefit,” Sakon said yesterday. Sakon confirmed that all the sport’s superstars, including current world champion Marc Marquez of Spain and former champion Valentino Rossi of Italy, had signed up for the Winter Test from February 16-18. Those two stars will also bring their favourite items to be auctioned off for charity on Sunday, February 18. On February 17, Sakon will lead a convoy of bikers from SAT office in Bangkok to Buri Ram as a part of promotional activities for the Winter Test and Ptt Thailand Grand Prix. Tickets for the MotoGP Thailand went on sale yesterday at at 7-Eleven shops. Grandstand tickets cost Bt4,000 and it is Bt2,000 for the side stands. There is a 15 per cent Early Bird for those buying tickets before February 19 and Sakon himself bought the first ticket yesterday at Bt3,420, the discounted price from Bt4,000. Sakon said all hotel rooms in Buri Ram have been fully booked during the October race but homestays in the province are also available as a new option for fans. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/sports/30336717 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-01-20
  3. May says she wants a Brexit that works for UK and EU firms Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke BERLIN (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday she wanted a Brexit deal that was good for companies in Britain and the rest of the European Union. "I want to ensure that UK companies have the maximum freedom to trade and operate within German markets, and for German businesses to do the same in the UK," May said after meeting German leader Angela Merkel in Berlin. Britain is hoping to negotiate a Brexit trade deal with the EU that maintains high levels of access to the bloc's single market. The EU says Britain will lose access if it sticks to its plan to end the free movement of workers from the bloc and no longer follow judgments of the European Court of Justice. -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-02-17
  4. Trump had affair with Playboy model - New Yorker report U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shooting at a Florida high school in a national address from the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump had an affair with a Playboy model at the same time he was in a relationship with a porn star and the National Enquirer tabloid paid the model $150,000 to prevent her story being made public, the New Yorker reported on Friday. The magazine's account of the relationship was based on notes handwritten by the model, Karen McDougal, who was Playboy's 1998 Playmate of the Year. The New Yorker reported that McDougal confirmed that she had written the notes. The account had similarities with descriptions that adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, and other women have given of sexual encounters with Trump, including private dinners and offers to buy them real estate. The magazine reported that American Media Inc, publisher of the National Enquirer, paid McDougal $150,000 in 2016, soon after Trump became the Republican presidential nominee, for exclusive rights to her story, which it never published. The article noted that American Media head David Pecker has described Trump as a "personal friend." It reported that McDougal declined to discuss details of her relationship with Trump for fear of violating her agreement with American Media. American Media told Reuters in a statement that the suggestion it "engages in any practice that would allow it to hold influence over the President of the United States, while flattering, is laughable." The New Yorker reported that American Media said it did not publish McDougal's story because it did not find it credible. The payment to McDougal by American Media was originally reported by the Wall Street Journal on November 4, 2016. Trump allegedly began his affairs with McDougal and Clifford roughly three months after his wife Melania Trump gave birth to his youngest son Barron. The White House did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. The New Yorker reported that a White House spokesperson said in a statement that Trump denies having had an affair with McDougal and called it, "more fake news." Trump has denied having an affair with Clifford. Earlier this week, Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen said he paid Clifford $130,000 from his personal funds during the 2016 presidential election campaign but said he was working alone and it was not a campaign expense. Other women have accused Trump of making unwanted sexual advances toward them over the years. Trump has denied the accusations. Reuters has not independently confirmed any of the accusations. -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-02-17
  5. Thaivisa exclusive: Aussie bound biker stranded in Thailand talks to Thaivisa after being dumped off plane in Bangkok Thaivisa have spoken to a British man who was dumped off a Perth bound plane at Suvarnabhumi airport. He said that airline staff told him that he has no permission to go to Australia. Kevin Lawrence, 56, has lived in Australia on a Permanent Residence visa for 50 years after going there with his British parents. He has an Australian partner and three children aged 12, 10 and 7 waiting for him in Perth. He has worked for the same fertilizer company for 35 years. Mr Lawrence told Thaivisa that he suspects that he has been denied to return to Australia because of his connections to the Perth based Rebels motorcycle gang. He said that he is a man of good character but is being portrayed as the opposite. He admitted to having two counts of assault against his name. But that was 25 years ago and he has been in no trouble since. Mr Lawrence, pictured with his family, also has a grown up 32 year old daughter who has given him two grandchildren. He passed through immigration and customs before airline staff offloaded him saying that his Australian residence had been cancelled. No Thai immigration were involved in this process, he said. But left without a visa in Thailand he paid a lawyer $2,000 AUS to arrange a Thai retirement visa for him after being denied leaving on Wednesday. He said this gave him permission to be in Thailand for a year but he wants to get home. Now another lawyer in Australia has asked for $6,000 AUS up front to look into his case as his desperate wife and children await news. Mr Lawrence said that he came to Pattaya for a bike week on 8th February and was leaving on the 14th to return to his family and job. It all came as a complete surprise. He has taken steps to resign from the Rebels gang and said he wants to remove his tattoos. "I think it is connected to my membership of the Rebels," he said. "I have been a member for ten years but I am not involved in drugs or anything illegal". Now running out of money he has returned to Pattaya as he awaits news of his uncertain future. He said he has a mortgage and children in private schools in Australia. Biker gangs - especially the Hell's Angels - have come under scrutiny in Thailand especially in recent months. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-02-17
  6. "Foreign owners need educating about Buddhist feelings" as Buddha head on beach angers Thais Image: Thai Rath Sanook reported on a Facebook post that showed a Buddha's head being used as decoration at a resort on the beach at Bo Phut in Koh Samui. The head , facing inland under some pine trees, was among people clad in swimwear on the beach adding to the feeling that it was an inappropriate place to have such a thing. Sanook said that comment online after the post by "Saipars Saipars" was widespread with people suggesting that the owners of the resort must be foreigners who don't know about the feelings of the majority of Thais who are Buddhists. Many said they should be visited by the authorities to educate them about how inappropriate this was, said Sanook. Source: Sanook -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-02-10
  7. The dark, violent side of Pattaya ‘the sex capital of the world’ Andrew Koubaridis EVEN by Pattaya’s violent standards the death of Melbourne man Benjamin Robb was shockingly brutal. The 42-year-old had been in the resort city south of Bangkok for only 12 hours. He made his way to Ruby Lounge, a notorious spot that promises “to heat things up and bring a flirty mood to your night out”. Since news first broke an Australian had been killed, witnesses claimed to have seen an appalling level of brutality. Repeated punches, kicks, Mr Robb thrown across the room and, finally, his head and face stomped on as friends of the attacker cheered. One final insult was these friends then took photographs of Mr Robb as he lay dying from a brain bleed. Full story: http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/the-dark-violent-side-of-pattaya-the-sex-capital-of-the-world/news-story/d26d135024b8f81c02cf12b513c5e53a News.com.au: 2018-02-17
  8. Teen security guard arrested by Bangkok police after claim of sexual assault on Korean child at International School Image: INN Bang Pong Pang police have arrested a 19 year old Chaiyaphum man after South Korean parents went to the authorities saying that their seven year old daughter had been molested. Armed with CCTV evidence the parents contacted Paveena Hongsakul of the foundation for children and young women that bears her name. Paveena then took the matter to the chief of the police in Bang Pong Pang in central southern Bangkok. The child was sent to hospital for checks and red marks were found on the inside of her vagina. A 19 year old security guard was identified as the man in the CCTV footage and is in custody. He will appear in court on Saturday when he is expected to be ordered held further pending more investigations as to the exact nature of the alleged crime. The incident is said to have happened at around 10 am on Thursday as the child went to get a drink said INN. As is customary in such cases the international school in question was not named. The INN report contained no comments from the school and neither did they explain what contact, if any, was made by the parents to the school concerned. Source: INN -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-02-17
  9. "My life is in ruins" says male model after video of him having sex with his ex goes viral Image: Tnews A top male model in Thailand has appealed to the Thai public to stop sharing and stop posting about his private life after a video of him having sex with a former girlfriend was shared across social media. Tnews said that the model - named only as "K" - admitted he had made the video for himself to look at afterwards. This was more than a year ago when he was with his ex girlfriend, also a famous model known to many Thais. They had split up a year ago and now he has a new girlfriend. Everyone knew about his previous relationship, he said. But someone with bad intentions had got hold of his phone and found the sex tape - then shared it on the internet. He said it was not his new girlfriend who shared it as has been suggested on social media. He said his life was in a mess with the impact also causing considerable distress to his ex and her new boyfriend. He didn't mention how his new girlfriend was taking it - perhaps he didn't need to, notes Thaivisa. But he begged netizens to stop talking about it and stop sharing his embarrassment. None of the protagonists were named but barely censored pictures mean that many Thais know exactly who they are. Source: Tnews -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-04
  10. Power-plant opponents to keep up fight By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE SUNDAY NATION Photo credit: Somboon Khamhang The coal-fired power plant protesters read the police announcement on the ban of all public gathering within 50-metre radius of Government House. DEMONSTRATIONS TO CONTINUE IN CAPITAL UNTIL THE PROJECTS ARE CALLED OFF Opponents of coal-fired power plants have vowed to fight on after the Metropolitan Police designated a protest ban within a 50-metre radius of Government House, forcing the demonstrators to end their prolonged protest in front of the premises. Coal-fired power plant opposition groups yesterday insisted on their rights to stage peaceful protests and said they would appeal to the police against the order. They also vowed to carry on holding demonstrations in Bangkok until the government permanently cancels the Krabi and Thepa coal-fired power plant projects. The Network of Songkhla-Pattani Residents Against Coal-Fired Power Plants, along with the Save Andaman from Coal group, have staged a peaceful demonstration on the pavement opposite Government House for 12 days. Their aim is to urge Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha to permanently cancel proposed coal-fired power plant projects in the South. A representative for the protesters, Matthayom Chaitem, said the ban around Government House signalled that the government did not care about the burdens of citizens and had used the law to drive people away. Matthayom insisted that their protest was peaceful and legal, so they would appeal against the ban. He also emphasised that the coal-fired power plant opposition groups would not stop protesting. If the police did not allow them to stage a protest near Government House, they would find a new venue to continue their campaign. “We gather in front of Government House because the Prime Minister’s office is here, and we want the PM to listen to our problems and concerns,” Matthayom said. “We insist that we will not stop protesting until the government accepts our demand to [permanently] abandon all coal-fired power plant projects.” The Metropolitan Police issued an announcement on Friday evening implementing the no-protest zone within a 50-metre perimeter around Government House. They cited the authority designated to police as per Article 7 of the Public Gathering Act. The Metropolitan Police Bureau also said that the increasing number of protesters in front of Government House had crowded the footpath on Phitsanulok Road, causing difficulties and danger to pedestrians and affecting traffic on the road. Therefore, the police had acted to maintain public safety and social stability. According to the announcement, those who violate the order will be considered in breach of Articles 24 and 25 of the Public Gathering Act and would be subject to punishment of up to three years in jail and/or a Bt60,000 fine. The protesters have 15 days to appeal the order. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30338530 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-11
  11. Yingluck gets ready to make her move By SOMROUTAI SAPSOMBOON THE SUNDAY NATION FUGITIVE EX-PREMIER MAY SOON HOLD PRESS IT HAS been almost six months since former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra fled the country just before a court verdict in a criminal case that stemmed from her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme. She lived in seclusion overseas for months until, shortly before the New Year, she was spotted in public in London. Just last week, Yingluck was photographed in Beijing with her brother Thaksin, who is also wanted by Thai authorities. The siblings later went to Tokyo and then Hong Kong. It seems time has arrived for Yingluck to make a significant political move – something that her supporters have been patiently waiting for. Politicians in the Pheu Thai Party who are loyal to the Shinawatras expect Yingluck to “say something” about her political future soon. A party source said there would be “not too long to wait” before she called a press conference. At such an event, Yingluck was expected to explain why she decided to flee the country. Such a press conference is likely to be held in Hong Kong late this month or early next month, according to a critic of the Shinawatra siblings, Somchai Sawangkarn, who is a member of the National Legislative Assembly. He quoted a source from Japan, where he claimed Yingluck sought to meet her political and business connections. “This is an attempt to signal to her supporters that it’s time to create disturbances at a time when the government’s popularity is on the decline,” Somchai said. In August last year, Yingluck jumped bail and left Thailand without court permission, just a few days before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders was scheduled to read its verdict in the case against her. Her Bt30-million surety was seized and, a month later, the court sentenced her in absentia to five years in jail for negligence. There had been reports that she flew to Dubai and later to the United Kingdom but there was no proof of her whereabouts. Around the Christmas and New Year holidays, the fugitive ex-PM was spotted in London and photos of her taken at different places in the British capital were circulated on social media. Their recent travels to Asian countries marked the first time that the ex-PM siblings were seen together since Yingluck left Thailand. Pheu Thai politicians view this as an attempt to show the junta that Yingluck is free to travel anywhere in the world except in her home country where the military is in control, according to the party source. “Even countries with good ties with the junta, such as China and Japan, do not prevent Yingluck from travelling there,” the source said. “It seems the government can’t do anything much about its threat to get her arrested. “Those countries do not care about the charges against the former prime minister, otherwise they would not let her in.” Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30339118 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-18
  12. U.S. charges Russians with 2016 U.S. election tampering to boost Trump By Warren Strobel, Dustin Volz and Jonathan Landay FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Russian Internet agency oversaw a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton, said an indictment released on Friday that revealed more details than previously known about Moscow's purported effort to interfere. The office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies. The court document said those accused "had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election." The indictment said Russians adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; travelled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans. In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume "portraying Clinton in a prison uniform." The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive U.S. domestic debate over Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, undercutting some Republicans who, along with Trump, have attacked Mueller's probe. "These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself," said Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives. The indictment is silent on the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, which Mueller is investigating. In a Tweet on Friday, Trump said: "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!" INVESTIGATION CONTINUES U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's work, told reporters in announcing the charges that the investigation was not finished. The special counsel's office last year charged four other people. The indictment broadly echoes the conclusions of a January 2017 U.S. intelligence assessment, which found that Russia had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aiding Trump. In November 2016, Trump won a surprise victory over Democratic Party candidate Clinton. Mueller's indictment did not tie the meddling effort to the Russian government. But the earlier U.S. intelligence assessment said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the U.S. election. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the allegations that Russian nationals interfered in U.S. elections absurd. Trump has never unequivocally accepted the U.S. intelligence report and has denounced Mueller's probe into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin as a "witch hunt." Some of those charged, posing as Americans, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the indictment said. Last year, two former Trump campaign aides pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI - charges brought by Mueller's office. The indictment of the Russians, coupled with the FBI disclosure that it failed to heed a warning about the Florida high school shooter, were blows to the White House, still reeling from the fallout of a scandal involving a former aide accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives. Trump, who had hoped to focus the entire week on his infrastructure proposal, was closeted in the Oval Office as the reports rolled in, and his communications team was slow to respond to the ever-growing list of queries. 'CONSPIRATORS' Rosenstein told a press conference: "The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general." The indictment describes a sophisticated, multi-year and well-funded operation, dubbed "Project Lakhta," by Russian entities to influence the election, beginning as early as May 2014. Russians unlawfully used stolen social security numbers and birth dates of Americans to open accounts on the PayPal digital payment platform and to post on social media using those fake identities, the indictment said. Mueller also on Friday reached an agreement with an American named Richard Pinedo, who pled guilty to aiding and abetting interstate and foreign identity fraud by creating, buying and stealing hundreds of bank account numbers that he sold to individuals to use with large digital payment companies. According to a source familiar with the indictments, Pinedo is the person cited in the document as helping the Russian conspirators launder money, as well as purchase Facebook ads and pay for rally supplies, through PayPal Holdings Inc. <PYPL.O>. Pinedo's attorney, Jeremy I. Lessem, said in a statement that "Mr. Pinedo had absolutely no knowledge of the identities and motivations of any of the purchasers of the information he provided." The Russians sought to measure the impact of their online social media operations, tracking the size of U.S. audiences reached through posts and other types of engagement, such as likes, comments and reposts, according to the indictment. Facebook and Twitter, the social media companies whose platforms were used, both declined to comment on the indictment. The Internet Research Agency was registered with the Russian government as a corporate entity in July 2013 and the St. Petersburg location "became one of the organization’s operational hubs," for the project, the indictment said. The organization employed hundreds of people, ranging from creators of fictitious person to technical experts, and by September 2016, its budget was in excess of $1.2 million, the court document said. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had already seen evidence Russia was targeting U.S. elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate are at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments. The indictment said the Russians it charged tried to destroy evidence of their crimes. For example, in September 2017, one of the defendants wrote an email to a family member stating: "We had a slight crisis at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with colleagues." The email continued: "I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people." -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-02-17
  13. Senior DSI official faces probe over alleged rape, extortion By The Nation A DISCIPLINARY investigation is to begin next week into claims that a Department of Special Investigations official took a video of him raping a 38-year-old Pattaya businesswoman at gunpoint in May 2015 and then used the tape to blackmail and extort Bt2 million from the woman. Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Thawatchai Thaikhiew said yesterday that the alleged victim, whose name is being withheld, filed a petition for justice on Thursday with the Police Crime Suppression Division. Thawatchai said the permanent secretary had signed an order to set up the disciplinary probe committee on February 6 and the accused official signed an acknowledgement three days later. The panel has been gathering evidence and establishing guidelines for the first session next week and should complete the probe in 180 days, he said. The accused official has not been suspended from work because the accusation was related to his abuse of authority and he has not obstructed the probe so far, he said. Thawatchai said the investigation – which could result in dismissal from the civil service with or without pension benefits – was not linked to criminal charges. He said the alleged victim could lodge a police complaint to proceed with criminal charges at the same time. If the accused were sentenced to imprisonment, the disciplinary punishment would automatically become dismissal without pension benefits. The DSI issued a letter explaining that the victim had filed a complaint with the DSI last February and they had passed it on to the permanent secretary for due process. This had resulted in a fact-finding probe last April and the recent order for a serious disciplinary probe. The months-long delay was not explained. The DSI also said that the disciplinary probe would take into consideration the result of any criminal investigation. On Thursday, a male relative of the alleged victim said she has been under stress and was traumatised by the alleged rape, coercion, harassment and extortion from this “well-known powerful official”. She gave the CSD evidence, including Line chat messages of the suspect’s threats and blackmail photos, he said. The relative said the accused had filed a lawsuit against the woman for adultery. He said the court ruled against her because of evidence “made by coercion” including the photos. The relative said the family was gathering evidence to appeal to the Supreme Court. The family hopes that the DSI disciplinary probe will finally give them justice. A police source said that the victim had filed a previous complaint of illegal detention and coercion with the Pattaya City police and that case has been forwarded to the public prosecutor. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30339066 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-17
  14. Yingluck and Thaksin spotted shopping in Beijing By THE SUNDAY NATION Photo Credit: Matichon Online FUGITIVE former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been spotted in Beijing along with her brother Thaksin, another ex-PM who is also on the run from Thai law, according to media reports. A photograph of the duo taken while they were apparently buying chestnuts was published on Matichon Online and other media websites yesterday afternoon. The siblings were at a mall in the Chinese capital city as the city prepares for Chinese New Year celebrations on February 16, Matichon reported. Thaksin’s youngest daughter, Paetongtarn, posted two photos of her father on her Instagram not long after the other pictures were released on the Matichon website. “My dad wishes all Thais a happy Chinese New Year from Beijing in advance. Although we are far away from each other, I always miss you, don’t you know?” Paetongtarn wrote on her Instagram account, @ingshin21, yesterday. This was the third time Yingluck has been seen in public since she fled the country in late August. Photos of Yingluck, who was spotted twice in London, were published on social media late last December and early January this year. After those photos were circulated, Thai authorities confirmed last month that the fugitive ex-premier has been in London since September and she possibly carries the passport of another country, as her four Thai passports have been revoked. But they said they did not know about Yingluck’s status in the UK or whether she had applied for political asylum or a visa to remain there. Yingluck fled the country a few days before the Supreme Court was set to rule in August in a case against her of dereliction of duty over her government’s rice-pledging scheme. She reportedly fled to London after stopping in Dubai. On September 27, the court sentenced her in absentia to five years in jail without suspension for malfeasance of duty. Thai agencies have failed to locate her even though they have asked the international police agency, Interpol, to help. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30338536 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-11
  15. Chinese tourists flocking to Pattaya for transgender shows, Thai food, property – but not for sex The notorious sleazy side to Thai seaside resort Pattaya is not what is pulling in millions of Chinese tourists every year who, guided by social media like WeChat, go to see things like Tiffany’s Show, and are even buying property A transgender extravaganza that has been running since 1974, Tiffany’s Show in Pattaya is still going strong, packing in hundreds of ogling tourists every night. The entrance fee is not cheap – 900 baht (US$28) for an ordinary ticket and 1,600 baht for VIP seats – but this does not put off an audience that nowadays is more than 60 per cent made up of Chinese tourists. Of the 35 million international tourists who visited Thailand last year, about 30 per cent came from China, making it Thailand’s main tourist market for the third year in a row. Pattaya, a seaside resort town with a seedy reputation 100km southeast of Bangkok, attracted between 2 million and 3 million Chinese tourists last year, out of an estimated 10 million international visitors, according to local tourism authorities. Unlike tourists from many other countries, however, the Chinese do not seem to be attracted to Pattaya for its notorious nightlife of girlie bars and prostitution. They are more interested in all other things Thai, including the food, silk and the exotic “ladyboy” performances staged by the 44-year-old Tiffany’s Show. Full story: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/travel-leisure/article/2132657/chinese-tourists-flocking-pattaya-transgender-shows-thai South China Morning Post: 2018-02-10
  16. Britain, EU schedule week of Brexit talks, eye future By Jan Strupczewski and Alastair Macdonald Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis (L) and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wait in a press room at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British and European Union negotiators will spend all next week in talks on Brexit, culminating in their first formal discussion of what their future relationship will look like after Britain has left the EU. A schedule posted by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Twitter on Friday confirmed he will meet his opposite number, Brexit Secretary David Davis, in London on Monday for the first time since EU leaders gave him instructions to agree a post-Brexit transition to ease Britain's departure. After interim accords in December on key parts of the divorce terms, EU leaders agreed to launch talks on the transition and the future relationship. EU officials expect a faster pace to negotiations compared to the roughly monthly rounds of talks lasting 2-3 days each time that was the norm last year. Both sides hope to conclude a deal on a transition in time for EU leaders to endorse it at a Brussels summit on March 22-23. Though not legally binding unless and until it forms part of an overall withdrawal treaty, leaders hope a transition deal can calm nerves among investors. Negotiating teams will hold the first technical talks in Brussels from Tuesday to Thursday on what a transition may look like, notably which courts might enforce the treaty and further discussions on avoiding a disruptive "hard" border with Ireland. On Friday, Barnier and Davis's top officials, Sabine Weyand and Oliver Robbins, will meet in Brussels to wrap up progress made during the week. The British side will also offer an "update on the future relationship", according to Barnier. A British official said they would not reveal details of trade proposals; Prime Minister Theresa May has caused some frustration in Brussels by failing to do that so far, although she is expected to lay out her trade ideas in the coming weeks. Rather, the British official said, Friday's session would focus on areas where London has already declared its preferred outcomes, such as a close relationship in security matters and a "customs partnership". TRANSITION DEAL Declared positions on both sides suggest little room for dispute, although May has rejected an EU demand that EU citizens who take up residence in Britain even after Brexit, but before the end of the transition, should enjoy the same lifetime rights which London agreed to grant to those who arrive before Brexit. That has raised the prospect of delay, but May insisted on Friday that the transition deal would be done within seven weeks -- in time for the March EU summit. The EU has offered Britain a status quo transition until the end of 2020 after Brexit. But there is disagreement inside May's Conservative Party over the citizens' rights issue and the scope of European Court of Justice jurisdiction during the transition. Of more concern to some in Brussels is the continued lack of clarity on how Britain sees a free trade deal working. EU leaders want to be able to agree instructions for their negotiators when they meet on March 22-23 so that trade talks can start in the weeks after that. But once May has revealed her demands it will take the EU some weeks to prepare those plans. If they cannot meet the deadline of the March summit, the start of trade talks could be pushed back, possibly even beyond the next formal EU summit in late June, jeopardising hopes of having an outline trade accord ready by the end of the year. "We still expect to be able to have the trade guidelines for the March summit," one senior EU official said. "But Theresa May is being so discreet. If she doesn't say what she wants, we may not be able to prepare our position in time." An EU diplomat involved in Brexit talks said: "It’s for them to tell us what they want. If they don't do it in a timely manner, they would be shooting themselves in the foot again." -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-02-03
  17. Elephant dies under scorching sun in Trang By The Nation An elephant fell and died while hauling logs under the scorching sun in Trang’s Huay Yot district on Saturday. Suchart Buakeard, the head of the elephant raisers in Trang, said the animal, which was 35 years old and weighed about 4,300 kilograms, collapsed and died while hauling rubber-tree logs in Ban Tha Maprang village in Tambon Huay Yot. The owner, Somkid Kaewsawat, 56, said the elephant staggered and had shaky legs before it collapsed and died 20 minutes later. Somkid said he had raised the elephant for 10 years Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/breakingnews/30339112 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-17
  18. Phuket Gov urges stricter enforcement of tourist bus safety measures The Phuket News The meeting, convened by Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong, was also attended by Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) Chief Banyat Kanth as well as officials from the Phuket Tourism and Sports Office and Phuket Tourist Police. Photo: Phuket PR Office PHUKET: Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong yesterday (Feb 16) convened a meeting of government officials where he called on them to strictly enforce the tour bus safety measures implemented after a spate of accidents in mid-2017. (See story here) The meeting, held at the Governor’s House, was attended by Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) Chief Banyat Kantha as well as officials from the Phuket Tourism and Sports Office and Phuket Tourist Police. Gov Norraphat said, “There are too many bus accidents in Phuket and nearby provinces and most of these buses are transporting foreign tourists. We have prevented many accidents by checking that buses are mechanically sound and by limiting the number of hours bus drivers can work." Full story: https://www.thephuketnews.com/phuket-gov-urges-stricter-enforcement-of-tourist-bus-safety-measures-66012.php#HqG0BYL9JZ14pmK3.97 -- © Copyright Phuket News 2018-02-17
  19. No double standard in Premchai case, court insists By PIYAPORN WONGRUANG THE SUNDAY NATION On Friday, police filed their second 12-day detention request against the president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, Premchai Karnasuta, as the first detention round for interrogation was due to end today. Premchai and his three companions are accused of nine offences in regard to poaching and possessing wildlife after they were intercepted on February 4 in Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary by wildlife rangers and the Thung Yai chief, Wichian Chinwong. They were officially charged by Thong Pha Phum police, a process that kicked off a police investigation. Following police procedures, they can face a maximum period of 84 days for interrogation, as the offences carry penalties of up to a 10-year jail term. But every 12 days, police must file a request to the court to approve the so-called detention period, and the accused persons are supposed to show up to acknowledge that request. Premchai and his party, however, who are out on bail, did not show up as expected. Instead, the court ordered that they report themselves to the fifth detention request deadline on March 26. This prompted members of the public to raise questions about how the legal proceedings against them are being conducted and whether Premchai and his party would face justice. Suriyan Hongwilai, Court of Justice spokesman, told The Nation that Premchai’s case is now in the police investigation process, during which detention for interrogation and the rights of the accused to be released on bail are critically important. By law, the police will file their request for the first round of detention for interrogation to the court to approve. The court would then exercise their judgement as to whether the accused should be released on bail during the interrogation or not. The court will first ask the accused whether they will oppose the police’s detention request. If they won’t, they can file a request for bail for the court to consider. The court can ask them further in regard to the other rounds, up to four, to consider releasing them at once. Only after the fourth round of detention will the court additionally investigate a police request to see whether bail should be granted, and the accused are required to show up. That’s the reason why Premchai and his co-accused did not show up on Friday, but were ordered to appear at the court on March 26, according to Suriyan. “In Premchai’s case, Premchai and his party on February 6 did not oppose the police detention request. The court then asked them further for other rounds before granting them bail,” said Suriyan. Suriyan added that this case was dealt with under special circumstances, as the Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court has a project to cut down on reporting periods for the accused during the police interrogation process. Suriyan said this is because the Thong Pha Phum court considered that it is in a remote area, and that many of the cases presented for its deliberation are minor and the accused are not residents of the area. The court viewed that calling the accused in every 12 days could place an unnecessary burden on them, so it came up with this project, which was introduced in mid-2013. Accordingly, if the accused people are granted bail in the Thong Pha Phum court, they will be released until the fifth round of detention request is filed, according to Suriyan. “Actually it’s the same judgement that any other courts apply when considering the matter, however, the Thong Pha Phum court just deals with it constructively via this project,” said Suriyan. Suriyan insisted that the practice is applied to every eligible accused person, and there is no exemption of legal enforcement for anyone, nor is there a double standard in Premchai’s case. So far, Thong Pha Phum court is the only one that has that guideline to deal with the reporting periods. This is an internal matter for the court, said Suriyan. Other courts use their own judgement in dealing with the periods as authorised by law. As to what happens next, “We will see when March 26, arrives because they have to show up,” said Suriyan. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30339122 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-18
  20. Fraudster spent £100k on Thailand holidays and posted pictures with 'prostitutes' on Facebook BY NICK MCCARTHY Adam Lapworth pictured on his own Facebook page with a naked woman in Thailand Adam Lapworth was jailed for two-and-a-half years for stealing £265k from the taxpayer A fraudster spent £100,000 of stolen cash on luxury trips to Thailand - and kept a Facebook diary as he cavorted with a string of 'prostitutes'. Tamworth car salesman Adam Lapworth, 32, has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after stealing a total of £265,000 from taxpayers, which he also splashed on drugs and gambling. Birmingham Crown Court heard the conman had set up a fake company, ADL Tech UK, and submitted four year’s of false VAT returns to defraud the taxpayer. After his arrest Lapworth initially claimed the crimes took place because of depression. Full story: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/fraudster-spent-100k-thailand-holidays-12926559 Birmingham MAIL: 2017-04-22
  21. Dozens arrested over scams

    Dozens arrested over scams By KITTIPONG MANEERIT THE NATION CAMBODIAN and Thai police raided three places in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville on Friday day and arrested six Taiwanese, 26 Thais and five Cambodians for allegedly being involved in a call center scam. The Thai side of the joint operation was led by Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakparn, deputy Tourism Police commander and chief operation of the anti-electronic scam centre. The operation was launched after it was found that many Thais had fallen victim to call-centre gangs operating in Cambodia with their losses estimated to be about Bt100 million. The first raid was carried out at an abandoned hospital in the heart of Phnom Penh and two Cambodians were arrested along with computers, telephone signal equipment and lists of names. The second crackdown was held at a luxurious rented house, where four Taiwanese, 25 Thais and three Cambodians were rounded up. Confiscated were computers, more lists and other equipment. The third raid was conducted at a house in the seaside province of Sihanoukville, where two Taiwanese and a Thai were arrested, two of them under arrest warrants from Thailand. Police said that some of the detained Thais admitted they had committed their crimes voluntarily, while others said they had been drugged, detained and forced. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30339067 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-17
  22. U.S. military to accept transgender recruits on Monday - Pentagon By Lawrence Hurley and Idrees Ali FILE PHOTO: Newly inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump salutes as he presides over a military parade following Trump's swearing-in ceremony in Washington, DC, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Transgender people will be allowed for the first time to enlist in the U.S. military starting on Monday as ordered by federal courts, the Pentagon said on Friday, after President Donald Trump's administration decided not to appeal rulings that blocked his transgender ban. Two federal appeals courts, one in Washington and one in Virginia, last week rejected the administration's request to put on hold orders by lower court judges requiring the military to begin accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1. A Justice Department official said the administration will not challenge those rulings. "The Department of Defense has announced that it will be releasing an independent study of these issues in the coming weeks. So rather than litigate this interim appeal before that occurs, the administration has decided to wait for DOD's study and will continue to defend the president's lawful authority in District Court in the meantime," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. In September, the Pentagon said it had created a panel of senior officials to study how to implement a directive by Trump to prohibit transgender individuals from serving. The Defense Department has until Feb. 21 to submit a plan to Trump. Lawyers representing currently-serving transgender service members and aspiring recruits said they had expected the administration to appeal the rulings to the conservative-majority Supreme Court, but were hoping that would not happen. Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said in a statement: "As mandated by court order, the Department of Defense is prepared to begin accessing transgender applicants for military service Jan. 1. All applicants must meet all accession standards." Jennifer Levi, a lawyer with gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy group GLAD, called the decision not to appeal "great news." "I’m hoping it means the government has come to see that there is no way to justify a ban and that it’s not good for the military or our country," Levi said. Both GLAD and the American Civil Liberties Union represent plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed against the administration. "COSTS AND DISRUPTION" In a move that appealed to his hard-line conservative supporters, Trump announced in July that he would prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, reversing Democratic President Barack Obama's policy of accepting them. Trump said on Twitter at the time that the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail." Four federal judges - in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Riverside, California - have issued rulings blocking Trump's ban while legal challenges to the Republican president's policy proceed. The judges said the ban would likely violate the right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law. The Pentagon on Dec. 8 issued guidelines to recruitment personnel in order to enlist transgender applicants by Jan. 1. The memo outlined medical requirements and specified how the applicants' sex would be identified and even which undergarments they would wear. The Trump administration previously said in legal papers that the armed forces were not prepared to train thousands of personnel on the medical standards needed to process transgender applicants and might have to accept "some individuals who are not medically fit for service." The Obama administration had set a deadline of July 1, 2017, to begin accepting transgender recruits. But Trump's defense secretary, James Mattis, postponed that date to Jan. 1, 2018, which the president's ban then put off indefinitely. Trump has taken other steps aimed at rolling back transgender rights. In October, his administration said a federal law banning gender-based workplace discrimination does not protect transgender employees, reversing another Obama-era position. In February, Trump rescinded guidance issued by the Obama administration saying that public schools should allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-12-30
  23. High quality masks needed for pollution By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE NATION Bangkok PM2.5 levels at less than critical levels, but staying indoors better option. HEALTH experts have warned people that they specifically need the high-quality N95-standard facemask to protect themselves from severe air pollution, while Department of Disease Control (DDC) has singled out the traffic police, motorcycle taxi riders, and road cleaners to warn them that they are among the most at-risk groups during high air-pollution periods. Though yesterday’s report from Pollution Control Department (PCD) revealed that air quality in Bangkok has improved, many parts of the country still suffer from severe air pollution. Health experts are recommending that people in areas of poor air quality wear N95-standard facemasks to prevent health threats from exposure to particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science lecturer Jessada Denduangboripant said that the health risk of PM2.5 was linked to their tiny size, which allows the particles to pass through our body’s defences and be absorbed directly into our bloodstream. But, Jessada said, the PM2.5 level in Bangkok was not as critical as many people feared and that they could choose to stay indoors to avoid exposure to air pollution. “Healthy people can still go out and do their normal daily outdoor life activities, unless they work outside for a long time in areas with high air pollution. In this case, I suggest they wear a N95 face mask, which can filter up to 95 per cent of the particulate matters of only 0.3 microns in diameter,” Jessada said. Bangkok residents will be able to breathe more comfortably again next month, as PM2.5-related air pollution will decline. Nevertheless, he suggested, people could help in preventing air pollution by reducing their use of private cars. Dr Chantana Padungtod, director of the Disease Control Department’s Occupational and Environmental Diseases Bureau, singled out the workers in the three riskiest jobs for exposure to air pollution – traffic police, motorcycle taxi riders, and road cleaners. Chantana said that roadsides have the worst air quality and highest density of PM2.5. People working roadside should wear N95 face masks at all times to prevent airborne health threats, she said. Environmental health expert Sonthi Kotchawat cited research at the University of Birmingham that found both PM2.5 and PM10 contained many toxic substances, including sulphates, nitrates, chloride, organic carbon, elemental carbon, iron and calcium, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Sonthi said PAHs are caused by the incomplete burning of fuel in the engine, which can be found in the exhaust from cars. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed PAHs as carcinogenic since 2013. He warned that inhaling large amount of very fine particulate matter from the roadside was very dangerous to health and could lead to many diseases, including strokes, heart disease, and respiratory diseases. According to the PCD’s air quality monitoring system, air quality in Bangkok is now improving, and yesterday was the first time in recent days that the PM2.5 level in Bangkok had declined below PCD’s safe standard of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Only air in Thon Buri district was found to remain at an unsafe PM2.5 measurement of 53 micrograms, with the rest of Bangkok ranging from 41 to 47 micrograms – slightly lower than Thailand’s safe standard, but still considered unhealthy based on the WHO safe standard at 25 micrograms. PM2.5 level was at problem levels in the cement production centre at Saraburi’s Chaloem Phra Kiat district, as high as 83.55 micrograms. Many provinces such as Khon Kaen (81.74 micrograms), Tak’s Mae Sot District (76.1 micrograms), and Prachin Buri (75.53 micrograms) were among the top of the list of the provinces with the most serious air pollution as of yesterday. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30339063 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-02-17
  24. Suvarnabhumi airport to receive 200,000 air passengers tomorrow Suvarnabhumi International Airport is expected to receive 200,000 passengers on Sunday (Feb 18), the record high in its history. Pol Maj Gen Pruthipong Prayoonsiri, commander of Immigration Bureau 2, disclosed after joining activities at Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports to welcome tourists visiting Bangkok during the Chinese New Year festival, that the Airports of Thailand reported that on Sunday, Feb 18, Suvarnabhumi Airport will receive up to 200,000 air travellers in a single day which is its record high. Of the 200,000 passengers, 160,000 passengers will be on international flights. Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/suvarnabhumi-airport-receive-200000-air-passengers-tomorrow/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2018-02-17
  25. Waiting for the next life! Pattaya beach shut off again Image: Sophon Cable TV Sophon Cable TV reported that corrugated iron fencing had been erected yet again on a 300 meter stretch of North Pattaya beach. The area was supposed to have been sorted with a 400 million baht budget for sand and other repairs. But now the stretch from the Dusit Thani heading towards South Pattaya is off limits. And Sophon said it looked like it would stay that way until March at the earliest. One poster on their Facebook page bemoaned the constant problems in the area saying that they would probably have to wait until their next reincarnation before it was fixed. Source: Sophon Cable TV -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-02-03