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  1. May ready for tough talks over Brexit Catherine Hardy Theresa May has warned Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU will take some time. The UK prime minister says she is ready for some “difficult moments”, but will fight to remain part of the bloc’s single market. It was May’s first European Council since becoming prime minister after the UK voted to leave the EU in June. She made it clear that she hoped some of the most complicated talks London has ever undertaken will be held in a constructive manner. “Obviously, we have got negotiations ahead of ourselves. Those negotiations will take time, as I say, there will be some difficult moments, we are going to need some give and take,” May told a press conference. A hard Brexit? Having earlier provoked concern among stakeholders that she was heading for a “hard Brexit”, May moved to ease concerns. She said she wanted the best trade deal possible. A so-called “hard Brexit” would mean a clear break with the single market to control immigration. “We are not looking to adopt another model that somebody else has in relation to their trade with the European Union,” May said. “What we want is to develop what is a new relationship for the UK with the EU,” she continued, outlining her aim for a bespoke deal. “We want to have the best possible deal for trade in goods and services with, and operation within, the single European market.” The timeline Once May gives formal notice that Britain is leaving – by March, she has said – the EU Council will meet at 27, minus May, to set negotiating guidelines for the Commission. Donald Tusk will be arbiter of what deal Britain is offered, but the Council has less than a tenth of the Commission’s 33,000 staff to work on the details. Saving sterling Sterling fell on fears that Britain was heading for a “hard Brexit”. May, and some of her more eurosceptic ministers, have worked hard to reassure business and EU leaders that her policies will not hurt the economy. What is the single market? Envisioned as a single territory without any internal borders or regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services, the EU single market accounts for: 500 million customers 21 million small and medium-sized businesses CETA in trouble? Theresa May’s comments come amid reports that a landmark trade deal between the EU and Canada has collapsed. The Commercial and Economic Trade Agreement – CETA for short – would remove tariffs from the sale of many goods between the 28 EU member states and Canada. Some are watching the negotiations closely, seeing it as a precursor to the UK’s Brexit negotiations. -- © Copyright Euronews 2016-10-22
  2. Most Thais support alcohol sales ban on Buddhist holidays By The Nation A majority of Thai people support the ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks on national Buddhist holidays and at venues around educational institutions, a survey has found. The survey was carried out by the Super Poll organisation among 2,218 people from all walks of life from November 1 to 17. In the results announced on Saturday, 76.4 per cent of the respondents agreed that beer and liquor do more harm to society than good. And 84.2 per cent of the respondents blamed drinking for road accidents, family violence, crimes, quarrels and sexual assaults. Respondents were asked to name measures for minimising problems related to drinking, and they were allowed to cite more than one measure. Just over 77 per cent expressed support for the current ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks on national Buddhist holidays, even though Thailand is a secular country. Almost three-quarters of respondents (73.8 per cent) supported a ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks within 300 to 500 metres of education institutions, while 70.7 per cent said there should be laws to ban government officials from receiving any kind of benefits from beer and liquor companies. And 75.7 per cent of respondents said the laws and other measures should be enforced strictly to prevent problems related to drinking. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30331951 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-19
  3. A third of Thais believe road carnage is fate, conference told Image: Daily News Thais attending a conference on road safety were told that a recent survey indicated that a staggering 32% of adult respondents thought the road carnage was just their fate. The conference also announced figures for the annual death toll that did not tally with other numbers claimed earlier in the week that threatened to put Thailand at the top of the tree of deaths around the world. And the stats for people suffering handicaps was also completely at odds with previously announced figures. Daily News said in their headline that 15,000 people were dying annually after a government conference was held. This represented 42 families a day losing a loved one. But earlier in the week other agencies said the figure was at least 22,000 dead. There were fears this would propel Thailand to be named as the most dangerous place in the world to drive. Previous figures also spoke of a million handicapped and injured. The latest conference talked of 5,000 handicapped as a result of accidents - or just 15 a day. Attendees were also told that 2 billion baht was lost per year because of accidents. Again this was a fraction of previously announced figures. The conference was organised by the government's Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation under the chair of Chayaphon Thitisak. The death toll was put at 15,488 in 2016. But perhaps the most revealing statistics came from a survey conducted by Noppadol Kannika of "Superpoll" that asked Thai adults why there were so many road accidents. While many mentioned driving conditions, road quality and poor drivers, 32.1% said it was just fate. This however represented a drop from 2009 when more than half thought that way. The October 2017 poll found that more than three quarters of the Thai population were closely affected by the carnage on the roads. That represents around 50 million people. While 96.6% of respondents believed it was time that the government spent more on the issue. The survey polled 1196 people in 15 provinces. Nowhere in the Daily News article was the role of law enforcement, or the lack thereof, mentioned. Source: Daily News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-18
  4. Trump starts paying his own legal bills on Russia probe: attorneys By Karen Freifeld and Ginger Gibson U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about his recent trip to Asia in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump has begun paying his own legal bills related to the Russia investigation and will no longer cover the costs using political donations to his reelection campaign or the Republican Party, his attorneys confirmed on Friday. Trump defense lawyer John Dowd said that following payments by the Republican National Committee (RNC), the president began paying the bills and now wants to make the party "even." The expenses cover personal lawyers representing Trump before special prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in last year's election, and whether Trump may have obstructed justice by firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, among other actions. Moscow has denied meddling in the election, and Trump has denied any collusion or obstruction. The RNC confirmed they are no longer paying Trump's legal bills have not done so since September. The administration is also working with others to establish a fund for current and former staffers, Special White House counsel Ty Cobb said. Dowd said Don McGahn, the White House counsel, and campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg of Jones Day are working to structure that fund, which would be subject to rules that prohibit staff from receiving gifts or pro bono legal service. The president is exempt from those rules, Dowd said. "The geniuses are working on it," Dowd said. “If it passes muster with the tax lawyers and accountants, then it has to pass muster with the Office of Government Ethics." He added, "The president is worried about staffers who have good lawyers and they can’t afford them." During former President Bill Clinton's administration, private funds were raised to cover his legal expenses related to the Whitewater investigation. Under former President George W. Bush, a legal fund was set up to help former staffer Lewis "Scooter" Libby, only after he had left White House employment. In August, Reuters first reported that the RNC was paying Trump's legal bills, which amounted to more than $230,000 that month. The payments were made to Trump's outside legal team, which includes Dowd and Jay Sekulow. Additionally, Trump's reelection campaign paid more than $300,000 this year in bills to lawyers representing his son Donald Trump Jr., according to public disclosures filed by the campaign. The campaign did not respond to a request for comment whether it will continue to pay for Trump Jr's legal expenses. The U.S. Federal Election Commission allows use of private campaign funds to pay legal bills arising from being a candidate or elected official. While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump was the first president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds on the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts. -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-18
  5. British superstar singer throws weight behind Toon Bodyslam's charity run Image: Tnews Singing superstar Ed Sheeran who appeared live in Bangkok has recognized the charity efforts of Thai rocker Toon Bodyslam who is raising millions of baht for eleven hospitals. Ed signed a hat wishing the Thai rocker good luck as he was interviewed by TV Channel 3. Toon and his entourage are running all the way from betong in the far south to Chiang Rais's Mae Sai district on the Burmese border. Ed proved that even though this was his first trip to Bangkok he was more than a little adept at handling the Thai tones. Asked to say the name of the show he managed a very accurate rendition - he is well known to be good at languages, said Tnews. Ed gave a good "Sawatdee khrap" greeting unaided and offered a very acceptable wai. Though he struggled with the words for 'thank you" and thought it was spring he was clearly keen to be corrected and learn from the presenter who gave him a gift. Despite suffering from an injured arm he said he would complete the remaining legs of his tour. He rounded off the interview talking about his many tattoos saying that they are based on his experiences - he added that he ought to get one that represented his trip to Bangkok. He then drew a makeshift tattoo on the female presenter. Source: Tnews -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-18
  6. Tough for any party to win clear majority: EC By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN THE NATION ELECTION COMMISSION (EC) officials yesterday admitted that it would be difficult for any party to win more than half of the seats in the House of Representatives under the new election method proposed by the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC). To gain more than half of all the seats, a party must win more than half of the total votes nationwide, said Simira Lekphrom, deputy director of the EC’s department of election and referendum administration. In cases where by-elections result in changes in the number of constituency MPs, the number of party-list MPs would also be affected, causing some to lose their seats, she added. Simira Lekphrom CDC spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni, however, said that according to the Constitution, although some party-list MPs could lose their positions following a by-election, they would not have to return or repay their salaries and privileges received while in office. The charter also said a recalculation as a result of any by-elections would only be allowed within the first year and after that there would be no more changes, he stressed. The EC officials also spelled out how the MP seats would be calculated under the new Mixed-Member Apportionment (MMA) election system. Under the MMA system, the sum total of votes cast for all parties nationwide would be divided by 500 – the number of the seats in the Lower House – to find the mean number for apportioning the seats. The total number of votes polled by a party would be divided by the mean number. The resulting figure would be the total number of seats the party could have in Parliament. If a party does not already have enough constituency MP candidates, the vacancies could be filled by its party-list candidates. In the event that a party wins more constituency MPs than the seats apportioned in the House, it would keep the extra MPs. The remaining seats would be redivided for other parties, proportionate with the votes they had polled. Despite the complicated formula and the fact that it would make it difficult for any party to have a majority in the House, the CDC insisted that the MMA system or the single-ballot system would make every vote count. Norachit said that the organic law on the election of MPs, which also dealt with the election method, would be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly on November 27, along with the organic law on the Senate. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30331909 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-18
  7. Police suggest sudden death of Norwegian could be due to cold weather in Thailand Image: ONB News Police in Uttaradit told reporters that they think a Norwegian pensioner staying with a Thai woman might have died of the cold. Arne Larsen, 68, was found in bed dressed only in his underpants. His local Tha Pla girlfriend had popped out for a few hours to sell stuff at the local market. When she returned home rigor mortis had already set in. Mr Larsen's body has been sent for a full autopsy to Phitsanulok to find out why he died. Tha Pla cops said that he had met a girl local to the area while in Pattaya and the two had kept in touch when he went back to Oslo. When he returned to Thailand he could not find her in Pattaya and contacted her in Utaradit before travelling to meet her. The local cops conjectured that Mr Larsen had died from the cold, reported ONB News. Source: ONB News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-18
  8. Libyan Salafist-led force breaks up comic festival for "indecency" TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A Libyan force that acts as an anti-crime unit in Tripoli said it had arrested the organisers of a comic festival for "acts of indecency and against public morals". The arrests were carried out by the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), a Salafist-led armed group that has expanded its power under Libya's U.N.-backed Government of National Accord. Salafists are ultra-conservatives whose influence has grown across Libya in recent years. The arrests cut short the second three-day annual Comic Con festival of arts, comics, anime and gaming to be held in the capital. The arrests were made on Friday, the second day of the event. Some Libyans had attacked Comic Con organisers on social media for holding the event, saying it was un-Islamic and resembled a Halloween party. The organisers said on their Facebook page that the festival had nothing to do with Halloween. They posted no immediate comment on the arrests. Rada said in its statement that festivals like Comic Con were "derived from abroad and exploit weakness of religious faith and fascination with foreign cultures". "The organisers and supervisors of the event were arrested and will be presented for public prosecution for acts of indecency and against public morals," it said in a statement. "It is necessary to address these destructive phenomena and fight them, which drive the dissemination of pornography and feed the minds of teenagers and motivate them to kill and mutilate through well-known cartoons." -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-05
  9. Poor really are getting poorer in Thailand By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE SUNDAY NATION ACADEMICS SAY CURRENT WELFARE POLICY IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE, MAKING RICH RICHER THE POOR are getting poorer, while the rich are getting richer due to the government’s policy approach to welfare and social enterprise, according to academics who presented at a seminar on civil state policy held at Thammasat University yesterday. Official statistics show a trend in which the rich tend to get more benefit from the government’s policies than the poor, which is in sharp contrast to the policy’s intent to fight poverty, said Decharut Sukkumnoed, an economics professor at Kasetsart University. Decharut cited statistics from Office of the National Economics and Social Development Board, which indicated that the number of people below the poverty line increased by nearly 20 per cent in 2015-2016. Some 5.81 million people lived in poverty last year, defined as having an income below Bt2,920 per month. “From the statistics, we also found that the number of poor people is on the rise, because the daily expenses of the poor, especially food prices, are increasing. “But on the other hand their income is getting lower, especially the income of poor people in the agriculture sector,” he told the seminar, sponsored by the People’s Party for Freedom. In comparison, said Decharut, statistics showed “the richest group of people in Thai society … have increasing income, especially after the coup three years ago”. Decharut warned that this phenomenon indicated a serious problem in Thai society. It clearly shows a structural problem in society and that the civil state policies are making the situation worse, he said. He said the civil state system allowed big conglomerates, which compose the highest income group of society, to get more economic benefit than do the poor from the government’s projects intended to help the poor. The policy is giving the rich an opportunity to take advantage of the poor, he said. Another academic, Surawit Wannakrairoj, a professor from Faculty of Agriculture of Kasetsart University, pointed to the civil state’s farming policy as an illustration of what is wrong. The policy intends to modernise Thailand’s agriculture and boost farmer incomes, he said. In practice, however, many policies and laws, such as the big plantation policy or Plant Varieties Protection Act, are instead helping big conglomerates in the agriculture sector to tighten their grip on farmers and force them to use only the conglomerate’s supplies. Decharut said that welfare does not much help the poor. The government is now facing its biggest budget deficits in modern history, accounting for up to 23 per cent of its total revenues. He said the government budget was over-spending on many items instead of diverting more funds to help the poor. One of the key policies championed by the government is to help low-income people whose annual earnings are less than Bt100,000 per year. A social welfare card system was recently introduced for a total of more than 11 million people nationwide who had earlier registered to get state benefits. These cardholders are entitled to subsidies on purchases of necessary goods at government-sponsored retail shops as well as free but limited public transport on Bangkok’s Skytrains, subway and buses among other benefits. Those earning less than Bt30,000 per year will also get vocational training to increase their opportunities to get better jobs as a means to tackle poverty in the long run. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30331972 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-19
  10. U.S. nuclear general says would resist 'illegal' Trump strike order FILE PHOTO - U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testifies in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. nuclear commander said on Saturday that he would resist President Donald Trump if he ordered an "illegal" launch of nuclear weapons. Air Force General John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), told an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada that he had given a lot of thought to what he would say if he received such an order. "I think some people think we're stupid," Hyten said in response to a question about such a scenario. "We're not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?" Hyten, who is responsible for overseeing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, explained the process that would follow such a command. As head of STRATCOM "I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do," he said in his remarks, retransmitted in a video posted on the forum's Facebook page. "And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated." Hyten said running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order was standard practise, and added: "If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life." The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hyten's remarks. They came after questions by U.S. senators, including Democrats and Trump's fellow Republicans, about Trump's authority to wage war, use nuclear weapons and enter into or end international agreements, amid concern that tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs could lead to hostilities. Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and threatened in his maiden United Nations address to "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people if it threatened the United States. Some senators want legislation to alter the nuclear authority of the U.S. president and a Senate committee on Tuesday held the first congressional hearing in more than four decades on the president's authority to launch a nuclear strike. -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-19
  11. Bodies of four Japanese tourists flown home The bodies of four Japanese citizens killed in a road accident in Ayutthaya province were flown home on yesterday (Nov 10) after family members identified the victims at Thammasat University Hospital. Four Japanese tourists, two men and two women, and their Thai female guide were killed after the passenger van they travelled in rammed at the rear of a 10-wheel truck which was making a left turn on a highway in Bang Pa-in- district of Ayutthaya at 4pm on Nov 8. The four Japanese were identified as Katsuhiko Narimoto, 65, Haruka Narimoto, 30, Kumiko Komeima, 59, and Yoshio Komeima, 68. They were on a one-day sightseeing tour organized by Tokyo-based Nippon Travel Agency Co. Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/bodies-four-japanese-tourists-flown-home/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-11-11
  12. Tourists enjoy sea of mist from Chiang Rai cliff By The Nation Hundreds of tourists camped overnight on Doi Pha Tung, a viewing point on top of a high cliff in Chiang Rai, and woke up to enjoy the sunrise over the sea of mist on Saturday morning when the temperature dropped to 12 degrees Celsius. Chailarn Saejern, a coffee shop owner on the mountaintop in the Wieng Kaen district of Chiang Rai province, said hundreds of tourists stayed overnight in tents and in resorts near the viewpoint on Friday. Many tourists who stayed in resorts on the hillside also climbed up to the cliff early in the morning. Officials said the temperature on the mountaintop was about 12 degrees Celsius in the morning and about 17 to 19 degrees Celsius on the lowland. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/breakingnews/30331946 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-19
  13. Trump says he trusts Putin's denials of election meddling By Steve Holland and Denis Pinchuk U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva DANANG, Vietnam (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he believed President Vladimir Putin when he denied accusations Russia meddled in last year's U.S. election despite U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion of Russian interference. Trump made the comment after he and Putin met briefly at a summit in Vietnam on Saturday and agreed on a statement supporting a political solution for Syria. It was their first encounter since July and came during a low in U.S.-Russia relations and at a time Trump is haunted by an investigation into accusations that Putin influenced the election that brought him to the White House. Putin reiterated the denials of interference, Trump said. "Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the resort of Danang. "I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country," Trump said. Trump, who has called allegations of campaign collusion with Moscow a hoax, has faced questions from Democrats about the matter since he took office. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, is conducting a probe that has led to charges against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates. U.S. intelligence agencies have also concluded Russians interfered to tip the election in Trump's favour through hacking and releasing emails to embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and spreading social media propaganda. Russia has repeatedly denied meddling. The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee, which is investigating the issue, harshly criticized Trump's comments and accused him of siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies. "The President fools no one. He understands that the Russians intervened through the hacking and dumping of his opponent’s emails, the fruits of which he exploited time and again on the campaign trail," Adam Schiff said in a statement. "He understands all this and more. He just doesn’t understand how to put country over self. Or to put it in terms he is more familiar with - Mr. Trump simply can’t bring himself to put America first," the Democrat said. In Danang, Putin told reporters an alleged link between Manafort and Russia was fabricated by Trump's opponents. Putin dismissed suggestions Russia influenced the elections through political advertising. Tech companies, including Facebook <FB.O>, have said some Russian-bought political content spread on their platforms around the time. [nL2N1N526X] "There is no confirmation of our mass media meddling in election campaigns – and there can't be any," Putin said. LIMITED CONTACT After emphasizing on the 2016 campaign trail that it would be nice if the United States and Russia could work together, Trump has had limited contact with Putin since taking office. Trump again made this case on Saturday, saying it would benefit Washington to have a good ties with Moscow so they could work together on issues including Syria's civil war, the conflict in Ukraine and the North Korean nuclear crisis. "Look, I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria," Trump said. "I would rather ... get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than standing and arguing." In Vietnam, Trump and Putin agreed a joint statement saying there was no military solution to the conflict in Syria, where Russia has militarily backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war now in its seventh year. [nL3N1NG2OP] "We did it very quickly," Trump told reporters. "We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don't know each other well." Talking after their meeting, Putin described Trump as "a well-mannered person and comfortable to deal with". "We know each other little, but the U.S. president is highly civil in his behaviour, friendly. We have a normal dialogue but unfortunately little time," he said. Trump said they had two or three very short conversations. They were seen chatting amicably as they walked to the position where the traditional APEC summit photo was being taken at a viewpoint looking over the South China Sea. Pictures from the APEC meeting also showed Trump approaching Putin at the summit table and patting him on the back. They also shook hands at the summit dinner on Friday. The Kremlin said their statement on Syria was coordinated especially for the Danang meeting. With Islamic State having suffered losses in Syria and beyond, greater attention is turning to the broader conflict between Assad's forces and rebel factions. They confirmed their commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and called on all parties to take an active part in the Geneva political process, it said. -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-12
  14. 5 killed, 9 wounded in pickup truck crash Five people were killed and nine others injured when a pickup truck skidded off the road and hit a tree in Sattahip district of Chon Buri province on Saturday afternoon (Nov 18), police said. Pol Lt Col Pasawat Wiripornnoppakhun, chief investigator of Sattahip police, said the accident occurred at about 3.20pm at kilometre marker 164 on Sattahip-Na Klua road in Tambon Bang Sare. Eyewitnesses told police that the pickup truck, which was modified into a song taew passenger vehicle, was running at a high speed when it skidded off the road and rammed into a roadside tree. The tree branches swept out the vehicle’s roof and the passengers, most of them students of Sattahip Technical School, were thrown out of the truck. Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/5-killed-9-wounded-pickup-truck-crash/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-11-19
  15. Hua Hin-Pattaya ferry services suspended Nov 5-6 Ferry services between Hua Hin and Pattaya will be suspended on Nov 5-6 for safety reason due to strong waves in the Gulf of Thailand, the Prachuap Khiri Khan marine office announced on Saturday (Nov 4). Kittiporn Thepyu-amnuay, chief of the disaster prevention and mitigation office of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, said the Region 3 marine office announced the suspension of the ferry services after consulting with concerned agencies and the ferry operator. The Thai Meteorological Department has predicted that waves in the Gulf of Thailand will be 2-3 metres high as low pressure cell covers the lower South. Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/hua-hin-pattaya-ferry-services-suspended-nov-5-6/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-11-04
  16. Locals point to severe water pollution near Akara gold mine By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE SUNDAY NATION A team of researchers from Naresuan University collects water samples from the canal near Chatree gold mine in Phichit last week (courtesy of Thanyarat Sinthonthammathat) TEST RESULTS AWAITED AFTER BLACK WATER FOUND IN CANAL PEOPLE living near Akara’s gold mine in Phichit have reported water pollution in local canals and paddy fields, and are awaiting results of tests by the authorities, the mining company and academics. Local gold mine protester Thanyarat Sinthonthammathat published pictures and a video clip on Friday of what appeared to be severely polluted, black water in a canal near the Chatree gold mine in Tambon Khao Chet Luk, Thap Khlo district. Thanyarat told The Nation yesterday this was not the first time that local people had found the canal polluted. She claimed that the polluted water had come from a spring in a paddy field near the gold mine’s tailing storage facility. The mining company has denied that any leakage has occurred. “Local people have witnessed the wastewater leakage from the gold mine several times but this time there is more polluted water than previously and it has totally turned the water in the canal black,” Thanyarat said. She said the polluted water in the canal and paddy field near the gold mine had a very bad smell that irritated people’s respiratory tracts. Many dead fish have also been found in the canal. “We are very concerned about the toxic substance in the water,” Thanyarat stressed. “Two years ago we found that the spring water in the paddy field near gold mine contained a high level of cyanide. “We want the authorities to transparently examine the water and tackle this issue as soon as possible, because this canal flows to Nan River [one of four major tributaries of the Chao Phraya River] and if the water contains dangerous substances, people in the entire Chao Phraya River Basin will be at risk too.” It has been reported that a team from the Pollution Control Department, Akara Resources and Naresuan University had collected water samples and analysed it separately at their laboratories. The results are expected to be released within the next three weeks. Meanwhile, the head of Akara’s corporate affairs group, Cherdsak Utha-aroon, denied that the polluted water had leaked from the gold mine’s tailing storage facility and claimed this was another effort by the opposition group to defame the company. “The paddy field is on the west of the second tailing storage facility, which is currently operational. However, our gold mine has suspended its operations since January and our tailing storage facility is properly built and will not leak,” Cherdsak said. “It is very intentional that Thanyarat, who lives quite far from the paddy field in question, has found a polluted water leakage here.” He stated that the company also doubted the cyanide contamination claim and urged that such an allegation needed to be proven scientifically. He emphasised that once the test results were released, every stakeholder should respect the result. The environmental and health impacts from the Chatree gold mine have always been a hot issue between the gold mine operator and the opposition group. This was the main reason for the government ordering the closure of the gold mine in January. The closure has triggered Akara’s parent company in Australia, Kingsgate Consolidated, to sue the Thai government. That case continues. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30331960 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-19
  17. Pattaya murder suspect arrested in Korat after being in hiding for more than 13 years Image: Sanook A Thai man who has admitted to murdering another man in south Pattaya in 2004 has been arrested in Nakorn Ratchasima. Somkhit or Thammaniyom, now 31, was apprehended on the second floor of Big C in Nai Muang sub-district of the north eastern gateway city on Wednesday. He was out shopping with his girlfriend without a care in the world. He has admitted to murdering Siriwatana in South Pattaya in August 2004 after a disagreement at an entertainment venue at the resort. He had been wanted on a murder and gun offences warrant ever since. He told police he had worked as a general employee at a company where they did not check his background. Police recently got fresh information that he was staying with a woman in Korat and managed to track him down resulting in Wednesday's arrest. Sanook reported that he has now been taken back to Pattaya. Source: Sanook -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-18
  18. Patong Police chief shunted amid suspected seafood restaurant shakedown Eakkapop Thongtub Patong Police Chief Col Tassanai Orarigdech. Photo: The Phuket News / file PHUKET: Acting police-inspector general of the Royal Thai Police Gen Suchart Teerasawat has issued an order to transfer four Phuket police officers to Bangkok, active today (Nov 18). The latest order comes following an order issued on Monday (Nov 13) for six officers to also be transferred off of the island. According to speculation from a Phuket police source, the transfer may be related to a seafood restaurant clampdown, which had associations to a senior police officer in Bangkok. Full story: https://www.thephuketnews.com/patong-police-chief-shunted-amid-suspected-seafood-restaurant-shakedown-64764.php#v46i1F7bgDhLprvy.97 -- © Copyright Phuket News 2017-11-18
  19. The week that was in Thailand news: The convenience of blaming karma. Like any news organization Thaivisa regularly gives us stories where Thailand is named in lists as the most this or the least of that. This is especially true in the modern era of internet sound bites and Twitter character limitations where many people want an easy reference without having to employ too much grey matter. And, after all, isn’t most of the pleasure these days not in the news itself but in the relative absurdity of the comments and reaction to it! Sometimes I wonder why I bother to translate the news in any depth at all – many seem to just read the headline. But two stories – perhaps even three – that gave us world and Asia standings this week were worthy of note, even worthy of reading until the end, highlighting two major problems facing the land I call home. In the first it was feared that Thailand would soon be named the world’s most dangerous place to drive. Embedded in the story was the main reason for this unwanted accolade – the connivance of millions of us – and I take responsibility too – in breaking the law and conspiring with the constabulary. In my first ten years or so of fledgling residence I was always of the opinion, young as I was, that it was the lawlessness of Thailand that was one of its major attractions. I believed it would change but that would take the gloss off the kingdom when it did. The lawlessness has not waned and neither has my enthusiasm for my adopted homeland – but I am tired of the law breaking and the fact that it disadvantages the downtrodden meaning that when officialdom talk about justice for all they are in fact referring to only a select few. There is no room in this column to burble on about the carnage suffice to say that we all need to take some responsibility for its cause and do something about it. That is not easy; I recall years ago when I was joshing about saying that I wanted to be the first “farang” member of Thai parliament. My platform, even then, was to be to the appalling death toll on the roads. My Thai work colleagues said I would never be elected – not for the fact I was a foreigner, that seemed quirky and even vote catching – but for the fact that no one would care about the issue! Later in the week in a story that gave us different watered down figures came news that would surprise none except a complete newbie to Thailand – 32% of people believe road accidents are just fate or karma. Studying the Thai language early in my stay in the kingdom, Rooster learned many Thai words and expressions for ‘fate’ as early as “pay nai” and “gin khao reu yang”…..it seemed they have as many ways to express the concept as Brits do for rain or the Eskimos have for snow. It struck me that such words were all very convenient to explain away the most serious of problems. The second unwanted top two placing was the news that Thai women are now the second fattest in Asia. Whether it included the “ghee guzzling masses of Gujarat” I know not, but it was damning news especially as it was accompanied by all the stats about related diseases. Whenever it is my misfortune to be in hospitals it is patently obvious how many Thais are there for diabetes. And it is also clear how many have the condition but do nothing about it, except perhaps waddle instead of walk. While the authorities bang on about smoking on the beach, high speed trains and buying submarines the people are dying in their hundreds of thousands both on the roads and from being poisoned by fat and sugar. When is someone going to stand up and be counted – and when are the people going to not just demand action but take responsibility themselves. Somehow related to both of these damning statistics was the third list I saw on the BBC that named Thailand as the 19th most dangerous country on earth after Colombia. The article cited the 6,500 plus deaths in the far south as the main reason for the danger though they might just have easily have mentioned making a U-turn or having a ready meal from 7/11. It was not known if karma had also caught up with the couple who had their tire slashed after refusing the attention of “parking attendants” outside a Chacherngsao temple. I suggest the tire cut had a more earthly origin, rather like the time I found myself with my football mad sister and her then boyfriend in the streets around Anfield ahead of the Liverpool vs Spurs First Division match in 1978. We were rather naïve Londoners who turned down a little Scouse scamp’s “50p to look after your car” offer thinking it unnecessary. We lost the game 7-0, were spat at by the lovely northerners and returned to an empty car parking space after the match. At least we got the vehicle back on the Monday….minus the gearstick. And at least Spurs are much better than Liverpool these days. It must be karma! For those that believe in past lives catching up with us a security guard at a medical facility must have been particularly horrible in a previous existence. For in this one he was driven into by a revolting specimen of a drunk doctor who then dragged his body under the wheels of his car. Not surprisingly the story dominated the news as Dr Yorn tried to wriggle his way out of responsibility and the guard fought for his life after two brain operations. What is so sad is that in a case that resembles the Red Bull police murder fiasco, and one that has clear and unequivocal video footage, the hi-so doctor is still claiming the absurdity of “darkness” and sobriety when all evidence points to the contrary. Rooster – as well as the outraged Thai public – calls for this disgrace of a so called human being to be barred from practice and jailed for a very long time. Nothing else will do. The police have promised justice for both sides – whooppeedoo! Meanwhile it was the constabulary themselves who seem to be on the end of rough justice in Koh Lipe where they look toothless in the face of “influential figures” regarding encroachment on land long since slated for police station use. Influential figures means mafia, of course, and takes its place in the pantheon of Thai phrases that roll off the pages of the kingdom’s news stories – fled the scene, transferred to an inactive post, set up a committee, not enough evidence, brake failure…..the list is as endless. QUOTES – the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard – again provided us with the bounty of her news stories. Amusingly, almost everything that came out of Pattaya was connected with the international boat show. The hotels were 90% full – because of the boat show, dancing fountains replaced shuffling Go-Go dancers, because of the boat show, Sophon said the beach was tidy – yawn, because of the boat show. By the end of the week the FBI were patrolling Walking Street arm in arm with Chonburi plod talking nicely to bar stool tourists about not downloading internet kiddie porn. But such a serious campaign was still happening because of the bloomin’ boat show! When PR clearly stands for Pathetic Rozzers. Rooster’s wife saw me on the verge of smashing my computer screen – I think she thought I had maybe just won the lottery and was worrying about the inevitable attention of her friendly relatives….. About the only thing that wasn’t connected to Bali Hai was news that more than 50% of Pattaya’s 2000 CCTV cameras are bust, taking away about 98% of the constabulary’s ability to solve crime in the process. Bus accidents killed several young school students this week causing heartache to innocent families. It reminded me of my time as head of outings at my international school and my policy of engaging with Thai and Thai-based operators as well as using my nous. We dealt with only one reputable bus company the managers of which were often called into my office for a private dressing down if they so much as used a different route to the one announced. One Brit who lost one of our children for an hour on a school trip was similarly summoned. I think he always regretted using the words “minor incident” at the start of our meeting in my office behind closed doors. While I used my Thai language and cultural awareness to get the message across with the locals, I felt no need to avoid ear bashing when it came to fellow Brits who had let the side down. For fifteen years I presided over hundreds of adventurous trips with a broken toe here and a sprained ankle there. It was the attention to detail that was important and the knowledge that anyone who thinks Thailand is safe is 50 satang short of a baht. However, Rooster will not be avoiding the “Bullet Train”, plans for which were announced this week, but I might let some other “nuu thot long” (guinea pigs) try it out first. The line from Bangkok to Phitsanuloke could be ready as early as 2022. I loved the juxtaposition of this positive story about Thailand’s “Shinkansen” and one I saw online about profuse apologies offered by the railway authorities in Japan itself when a train was scandalously 20 seconds early. It made me smile recalling that three hours late on the overnight sleeper from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the past was not too bad. Finally, today, Sunday, is the prestigious World Toilet Day. I have always been of the opinion that you could judge a restaurant as much on the quality of its restrooms as by its food. If the same could also be said of a country I wonder what most would say about Thailand? We may get a mixed bag of responses though for Rooster so long as a Thai loo is equipped with a gun I am a happy cockerel. A bum gun, that is. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-18
  20. Thailand provides 2-million-baht financial aid to quake-hit Iran The Thai government has contributed the amount of 2 million baht (about 52,000 USD) to the Iranian government as an initial assistance in earthquake relief efforts. A 7.3 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter in Halabjah, northeastern part of Iraq close to the border with Iran struck on Nov 12. The earthquake caused massive damage to the province of Kermanshah in Iran with more than 500 lives were lost and thousands of injuries including damage to basic infrastructure and houses. In response to this devastating earthquake, the Thai Government contributed the 2 million baht on humanitarian ground and served as an initial assistance to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the relief efforts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated today (Nov 18). Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/thailand-provides-2-million-baht-financial-aid-quake-hit-iran/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-11-19
  21. Resort hotel in Hua Hin alleged of cheating holiday-goers A group of about 10 holiday-goers yesterday lodged complaint with the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD) accusing a resort hotel in Hua Hin of fraud. The group led by Thanat Waranont, 37, told Pol Maj-Gen Prasert Pattana, CPPD commander on Sept 8 that they bought the resort hotel packages at a tourism fair organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and a pet fair at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in May this year. The package deal cost 999-10,000 baht, depending on the days of staying, and is valid for one year. But what attracted to buy the package deals was because it allowed pets in. Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/resort-hotel-hua-hin-alleged-cheating-holiday-goers/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-09-09
  22. Sri Lanka arrests 19 after Buddhist-Muslim violence; four injured By Shihar Aneez COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan police arrested 19 people after a clash between "extremists" from the majority Buddhist and minority Muslim communities in which four people were injured, a spokesman said on Saturday. Tension has been growing between the two communities this year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites. Some Buddhists nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of asylum seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority. Police said the late Friday violence in the southern coastal town of Ginthota was triggered by rumours and fake messages on social media. "This was a clash between a small fraction of extremists in the both ethnic groups," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told Reuters. One of those arrested was a woman who falsely spread news that Muslims were about to attack a Buddhist temple, he said. "We've decided to arrest those who have been spreading false messages and rumours on social media." Later police said all 19 suspects have been remanded until Nov. 30 and a local curfew had been imposed in the clash area for 12 hours to 0600 hours (0300 GMT) on Sunday. Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said "some political groups are now on a desperate mission to turn this minor brawl into a Sinhala-Muslim clash". "I urge the public not to be misled by their false propaganda," he said. Additional police battalions, elite police forces, the anti-riot squad and the military were called late on Friday to bring the situation under control. Buddhists make up about 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million, compared with about 9 percent for Muslims. President Maithripala Sirisena’s government, after coming under fire from rights groups and diplomats for not doing enough to crack down on hardline Buddhist groups, acted against anti-Muslim attackers in June this year. That response came after more than 20 attacks on Muslims, including arson at Muslim-owned businesses and petrol-bomb attacks on mosques, were recorded in two months. In 2014, three Muslims were killed in riots stirred up by hardline Buddhist groups. -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-19
  23. Hands off our kids - joint PR campaign between FBI and Chonburi cops comes to Walking Street Image: Pattaya News A joint campaign of the the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Thai police kicked off in Walking Street, South Pattaya, on Thursday. It is designed to stop the sexual exploitation of children and further clean up the seedy image of Pattaya. It coincides with the International Boat Show. A banner was carried along the length of Pattaya's most famous street followed closely by deputy provincial chief of police Thitiwat Suriyachai. A man who looked like an FBI operative was in the entourage. Tourists were approached though it was unclear as to what was said and whether any warnings were announced. The Pattaya News story seemed to suggest that though it was a serious subject this was fundamentally a PR exercise as the boat show kicks off. The campaign is being run by Chonburi police, Pattaya, cops, immigration, tourist police, the HIS office and the TICAC agency that deals with internet crime against children. Source: Pattaya News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-18
  24. Phuket weather alert warns of heavy rains next week Heavy rains are expected in multiple provinces across Southern Thailand from Monday through Friday next week. Source: TMD The Thailand Meteorological Department (TMD) has issued a severe weather alert for the coming week (Oct 31 to Nov 3) for multiple provinces across Southern Thailand, including Phuket. According to the TMD, an "active low cell" over the lower South China Sea will be moving West slowly through the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea from Oct 31 through to Nov 3. “Outbreaks of heavy downpours are forecast for much of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket and Krabi. People should beware of possible flash flood,” said the warning. Full story: https://www.thephuketnews.com/phuket-weather-alert-warns-of-heavy-rains-next-week-64478.php#MholUpWc18yRibjL.97 -- © Copyright Phuket News 2017-10-28
  25. Woman arrested for operating an illegal dental clinic Police, health officials and military personnel arrested a woman in a raid of an illegal dental clinic operating in the guise of a grocery in Muang district of Trang province on Saturday. The woman, identified as Mrs Payom “Jeh Lek” Jaiyai, 51, reportedly told the officials that she learned the technique of orthodontic treatment of dental braces on the internet and has been operating the clinic for five years. The combined team of police from the consumer’s protection unit, provincial health officials and military personnel raided the grocery on Phatthalung road, Tambon Tabtiang, after they found out that it was a front for an illegal dental clinic. Full story: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/woman-arrested-operating-illegal-dental-clinic/ -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2017-11-19