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  1. German Social Democrats face pressure over coalition talks By Andrea Shalal German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz as they attend a meeting of the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) faced pressure on Wednesday to consider offering coalition talks to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives to settle the worst political crisis in modern German history. A leader of the smaller Free Democrats (FDP) also raised the possibility of reviving coalition talks with the conservatives and Greens that collapsed at the weekend raising fears across Europe of stalemate in the EU's economic and political powerhouse. But the party chief later appeared to ruled it out. The signs of possible flexibility came after President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a move unprecedented for a largely ceremonial position, intervened to promote talks that could avert a disruptive early repeat election. SPD leader Martin Schulz, whose party had governed in coalition under Merkel since 2013, wants to go into opposition after September polls that knocked its support to the lowest levels since formation of the modern German republic in 1949. But the mass-circulation Bild newspaper said 30 members of the SPD's 153-strong parliamentary group questioned that position this week at a meeting of the parliamentary party. SPD lawmaker Johannes Kahrs, spokesman for the Seeheimer Circle, a conservative wing in the party, urged Schulz to keep an open mind when he meets on Thursday with Steinmeier. Kahrs told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper that the collapse of the coalition talks had changed the situation. "We cannot just tell the German president, 'Sorry, that's it.'" Bild said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who handed leadership of the SPD to Schulz and became foreign minister earlier this year, also favours a resumed grand coalition. Germany, traditionally a bastion of stability in the EU, could face months of political stagnation, further complicating agreement on reforms of euro zone governance and EU defence and asylum policies. Merkel, who remains acting chancellor until a government is agreed, has said she would prefer to work with the SPD. If that failed, she would favour new elections over an unstable minority government. Merkel's 12-year hold on power was shaken at the September elections partly by the arrival of the anti-immigration AfD party in parliament. Guenther Oettinger, an EU commissioner and member of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), urged the SPD to think again about its rejection of coalition talks. "The long process of forming a government is weakening Germany's influence in Brussels," Oettinger told Der Spiegel newsmagazine in an interview to be published on Thursday. Axel Schaefer, deputy head of the SPD's parliamentary group, urged the three political blocs to try again to reach agreement. But he said his party would also talk with conservatives if asked to do so by Steinmeier, who is meeting with possible coalition partners this week. NEW ELECTIONS? A top official of the pro-business FDP told broadcaster ntv her party would not rule out reviving the three-way coalition talks if Merkel's conservatives and the Greens offered a "completely new package" of proposals. "If it really was possible to build a modern republic in the coming years, then we are the last ones who would refuse to talk," FDP Secretary General Nicola Beer said. But FDP chief Christian Lindner told Spiegel magazine: "For the foreseeable future, it is impossible to imagine cooperation with the Greens at the federal level." Stephan Weil, the SPD premier of Lower Saxony who just completed a coalition agreement with conservatives in his state, has said a new election could leave few options other than a grand coalition anyway, the Sueddeutsche newspaper reported. Joe Kaeser, chief executive of Siemens <SIEGn.DE>, told Die Welt newspaper that he hoped new elections could be avoided since the results would likely be little changed from Sept. 24. A new poll released Wednesday showed that half of Germans favour a new election, while a fifth support a minority government. Only 18 percent want a renewal of the SPD-conservative coalition that ruled the past four years. (Additional reporting by Michael Nienaber and Andreas Rinke; editing by Ralph Boulton) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-23
  2. Trump declares opioids a U.S. public health emergency By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Jeff Mason Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stands behind U.S. President Donald Trump, who speaks at the Minority Enterprise Development Week White House awards ceremony, at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday, stopping short of a national emergency declaration he promised months ago that would have freed up more federal money. Responding to a growing problem, particularly in rural areas, Trump's declaration will redirect federal resources and loosen regulations to combat opioid abuse, senior administration officials said. But it does not result in more money to combat the crisis. Some critics, including Democratic lawmakers, said the declaration was meaningless without additional funding. Republican lawmakers called the president's declaration an important step in combating the crisis. "This epidemic is a national health emergency," Trump, a Republican, said at the White House. "As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue." Trump, who also called the epidemic a "national shame" and "human tragedy," was introduced by his wife, Melania, who said she had made fighting the epidemic one of her top priorities as first lady. "This can happen to any of us," she said. The president also made a personal reference to addiction in his family by citing his deceased brother Fred, an alcoholic whose advice not to imbibe made an impression on Trump, who does not drink alcohol. The announcement disappointed some advocates and experts in the addiction fight, who said it was inadequate to fight a scourge that played a role in more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate has kept rising, estimates show. Opioids, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, are fuelling the drug overdoses. More than 100 Americans die daily from related overdoses, according to the CDC. A White House commission on the drug crisis had urged Trump to declare a national emergency. On Wednesday, the president told Fox Business Network he would do so. Officials told reporters on the conference call that Federal Emergency Management Agency funds that would have been released under a national emergency are already exhausted from recent storms that struck Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida. The administration would have to work with Congress to help provide additional funding to address drug abuse, they added. They said they determined that a public health emergency declaration was most appropriate after an expansive review. Under Thursday's declaration, treatment would be made more accessible for abusers of prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, while ensuring fewer delays in staffing the Department of Health and Human Services to help states grapple with the crisis. 'BAD ACTORS' Trump said he would discuss stopping the flow of fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Asia next month. In his remarks, Trump said the U.S. Postal Service and Department of Homeland Security were "strengthening the inspection of packages coming into our country to hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China." He added he would consider bringing lawsuits against "bad actors" in the epidemic. Several states have sued opioid manufacturers for deceptive marketing. Congress is investigating the business practices of manufacturers. The president also said the government should focus on teaching young people not to take drugs. "There is nothing desirable about drugs. They're bad," he said. Thursday's declaration allows the Department of Labor to issue grants to help dislocated workers affected by the crisis. HIV/AIDS health funding would also be prioritised for those who need substance abuse treatment, officials said. As a candidate, Trump promised to address the crisis, including by building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to stop the flow of illicit drugs, which he touched on in his speech. Additional actions under the move would be announced in coming weeks by various agencies, officials said. (Additional reporting by James Oliphant, Susan Heavey and Jason Lange; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-10-27
  3. Online records to follow ex-inmates throughout life By The Nation File photo Police will keep an online database of records of DNA samples and fingerprints of some 300,000 inmates nationwide as a preventive measure intended to discourage them from committing crimes again, senior officials said on Friday. The plan was disclosed by Pol General Chalermkiart Srivorakhan, deputy police commissioner general, and Pol Colonel Narat Sawettanan, director general of the Corrections Department. The two signed a memorandum of understanding on creating the online database of DNA samples and fingerprints of inmates. Chalermkiart said the database will be completed within 2019 and it will be available to all relevant government agencies. “The database will allow the authorities to identify suspects promptly and make prompt arrests if ex-inmates commit crimes again,” Chalermkiart said. He expressed confidence that the measure would discourage ex-inmates from re-offending. Narat said he has instructed all prisons nationwide to cooperate with the Metropolitan Police Bureau and nine provincial police bureaus around the country to collect DNA samples and fingerprints of over 300,000 inmates. Narat said the Corrections Department was supposed to re-educate inmates to return them to society as good people, but with limited staff and resources they cannot widely achieve that goal. As a result, the online database would be a lower-cost and systematic measure intended to prevent recidivism. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30331867 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-17
  4. Pressure mounts on U.S. Rep. Conyers after sexual harassment allegations By Amanda Becker FILE PICTURE: Committee chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) holds a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the George W. Bush presidency, called "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitation", on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 25, 2008. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative John Conyers faced additional fallout on Wednesday related to sexual harassment accusations made by former staffers, as a fellow Democrat called for his resignation and two more suggested he give up a prominent committee post. The House of Representatives Ethics Committee said on Tuesday it was investigating the allegations, first reported on Monday by BuzzFeed News, that Conyers made unwanted sexual advances towards women who worked for him. A separate Buzzfeed report on Tuesday, citing court documents, detailed allegations by another former staffer who said she suffered unwanted touching by Conyers "repeatedly and daily" while serving as the Michigan Democrat's scheduler. "Rep. John Conyers should resign. I've reviewed the allegations against him, and they're as credible as they are repulsive," Democratic Representative Kathleen Rice wrote in a statement. The allegations, which Reuters was unable to independently confirm, also prompted Conyers' hometown paper, the Detroit Free Press, to call for his resignation. Conyers, 88, is the longest-serving House lawmaker and is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. In a statement on Tuesday that referred to the first BuzzFeed report, Conyers said he "expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made about me." In a subsequent statement on the second set of allegations, a Conyers spokesman told BuzzFeed the staffer had voluntarily decided to drop her case. Democratic Representative Gregory Meeks called on Wednesday for Conyers to give up his senior post on the House Judiciary Committee. "I really think probably the appropriate thing right now is he should step down as the ranking member," Meeks told CNN. Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Conyers is also a member, agreed, telling C-SPAN that "as agonizing as it might be for all of us, the ranking member needs to step down at the minimum." In its editorial on Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press said the allegations marked "the kind of behaviour that can never be tolerated in a public official, much less an elected representative of the people." Conyers' office did not respond to a request for comment on his colleagues' comments and the editorial. Congress is reviewing its policies on how to handle sexual harassment complaints after a string of allegations against prominent figures in the U.S. news media, Hollywood and politics. (Reporting by Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Eric Beech and Makini Brice; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-23
  5. Brexit never? Britain can still change its mind, says Article 50 author By Guy Faulconbridge A tourist bus passes an anti Brexit protester in London, Britain October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May should stop misleading voters and admit that Brexit can be avoided if Britain decides to unilaterally scrap divorce talks, the man who drafted Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will say on Friday. May formally notified the European Union of Britain’s intention to leave the EU by triggering Article 50 of the treaty on March 29, setting the clock ticking on a two-year exit process, which has so far failed to yield a divorce deal. "While the divorce talks proceed, the parties are still married. Reconciliation is still possible," John Kerr, British ambassador to the EU from 1990 to 1995, will say in a speech in London. "We still have all the rights of a member-state, including the right to change our minds," Kerr will say, according to excerpts released by his office. "The British people have the right to know this – they should not be misled." The day May triggered Article 50, she told the British parliament that there was "no turning back" and that the United Kingdom would be leaving the EU. "A political decision has been made, in this country, to maintain that there can be no going back. Actually, the country still has a free choice about whether to proceed," Kerr said. In the shock referendum in June 2016, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent of votes cast, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million voters, or 48.1 percent of votes cast, backed staying. May, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the political turmoil that followed the vote, said last month that Britain would not revoke Article 50. Government lawyers asked judges last year to assume that it was irrevocable. But ever since the referendum, opponents of Britain's exit - from French President Emmanuel Macron and former British prime minister Tony Blair to billionaire investor George Soros - have suggested Britain could change its mind. European Council President Donald Tusk even invoked the lyrics of John Lennon to imagine a Brexit rescinded. Thus far, there is no sign of a change of heart on Brexit in opinion polls. Both May's Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party now explicitly support leaving the EU, which Britain joined in 1973. BREXIT NEVER? Supporters of Brexit have repeatedly said that any attempt to have another referendum, or to undermine Brexit, would catapult the world's fifth largest economy into crisis. "A second referendum would lead the United Kingdom into totally uncharted territory with very serious potential consequences for our democracy," said Richard Tice, who helped found one of the two Leave campaign groups in the referendum. But the Brexit process has been challenged in a number of cases in British courts, many focusing on the as-yet unanswered question: Can Article 50 be reversed? The 256-word clause does not say whether it can be revoked once it is invoked. This means that, if lawyers ask for clarification, the question would have to go to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court. Kerr, who in 2002-2003 acted as secretary-general of the European Constitutional Convention that drafted Article 50, said the debate had been misrepresented inside Britain: it was clear, he said, that May's Article 50 letter could be revoked. Such is the interest in the legalities of Brexit that one prominent lawyer, Jessica Simor, has formally asked for May's unpublished legal advice on the matter. "Britain can basically change its mind at any time right up to the 29th of March 2019," Simor told Reuters last month. "If you can revoke Article 50, then parliament has the power to rescue the country if that becomes necessary – if the government fails to secure a deal, or the deal is terrible, or the people do not want it." (Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-10
  6. Thailand Live Thursday 23 Nov 2017

    Apple says illegal student labour discovered at iPhone X plant BY REUTERS REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage BEIJING (Reuters) – Smartphone maker Apple Inc and its biggest manufacturing partner on Wednesday said that a small number of students were discovered working overtime in its Chinese factory, violating local labour laws. Full story: https://tech.thaivisa.com/apple-says-illegal-student-labour-discovered-iphone-x-plant/25820/
  7. Thailand arrests woman wanted over deadly 2015 bombing at shrine By Patpicha Tanakasempipat Wanna Suansan, who is wanted in connection with a deadly 2015 bombing, receives a medical examination at Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Patpicha Tanakasempipat BANGKOK (Reuters) - Police in Thailand on Wednesday arrested a woman wanted in connection with a 2015 bombing in Bangkok that killed 20 people, 14 of them foreign tourists. Full Story: https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/1012599-thailand-arrests-woman-wanted-over-deadly-2015-bombing-at-shrine/
  8. Neighbor beaten to death after asking rowing couple to keep the noise down Picture: Thai Rath A neighbor trying to watch the nightly soaps had enough when a couple next door were arguing loudly. So he got up and went next door to ask them to keep the noise down. His neighbor then beat him to death with a heavy object and fled the scene on a motorbike with side attachment. Police in Bang Pu, Samut Prakarn, are hunting a man called Saneh Thanoon aged 50. Face down and in a pool of blood at the scene was 49 year old Bunkert Saensuk. When police turned over the corpse they saw that he had been hit repeatedly with a heavy object. Another neighbor Yan Thomthong, 68, told the cops that Saneh, a coconut trader, had lived there for many years but after splitting up with his wife he moved away. However, he came back to see her sometimes and on this occasion a very noisy argument broke out. The victim, he said, was trying to watch the evening soaps on TV and went over to ask them to please be quiet and respect the neighbors. Yan then saw Saneh assaulting Bunkert outside. It was dark so he couldn't tell what weapon he was using. He tried to tell him to stop but he wouldn't - Saneh ended up fleeing into the night. Police have interviewed the wife and are seeking the murderer. Source: Thai Rath -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-21
  9. Video: Fate strikes again.... though no one dies in latest Thai road madness! Picture: Thai Rath A dash cam video next to a bridge showed pedestrians and light traffic going about their normal business on a lovely, sunny Wednesday morning. But all hell breaks loose at around 1 minute 35 seconds onwards as a ten wheel truck transporting pigs collides with metal poles on the bridge bringing a whole string of them crashing onto the road next to the bridge along with lumps of masonry. A taxi is lucky to escape as is the Sampran man in the car that was unwittingly filming the incident that happened near the police station by the bridge over the Tha Jeen river. A policewoman then strolls over as the taxi driver and a motorist clear up some of the debris no doubt glad they will get to see another sunny day. The footage was uploaded to a Facebook page using the name "Moo Noi Lan Laa". Police told Thai Rath that the driver of the ten wheeler was 51 year old Khamphan Khamwong from Phayao. He said that he swerved to miss a motorcycle that cut in front of him and lost control hitting the supports. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands viewed the footage with many commenting that they were concerned about the flimsiness of the metal structures that came loose like matchsticks. Weren't they meant to be some kind of barriers, people asked, and would they be replaced? Thai Rath mentioned fate conjecturing what might have been the outcome if the dash cam car had been parked a little further up the road. Last week 32% of Thais polled in a survey said road accidents were down to karma or fate. Source: Thai Rath -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-23
  10. Broke American Man Complains He Can’t Afford Dowry For Young Thai Girlfriend ByRyan General Picture: NextShark A 48-year-old American divorcee, who is reportedly homeless and broke, captured the heart of a Thai woman half his age, albeit at a price he might not be able to afford in the long run. The story of David Toborowsky and Chanoknat Angel Suwan was recently featured in the episode “Welcome to Real Life” of the TLC reality show about international romances called “90 Day Fiance”. David had just lost his job, house, and recently recovered from a stroke when he went to Thailand in 2016, hoping to rebuild his life with a new romantic adventure. There, he met Annie, a 24-year-old bar singer who would soon be his fiancée. According to People, the couple got engaged after dating for only 10 days. Full story: https://nextshark.com/david-toborowsky-and-chanoknat-angel-suwan-tlc-welcome-to-real-life/ -- NEXTSHARK 2017-11-22
  11. Plan to cede police powers to agencies By KHANITTHA THEPPHAJORN THE NATION File photo TRAFFIC AMONG AREAS CITED UNDER PROPOSAL APPROVED BY NATIONAL REFORM COMMITTEE THE POLICE force will transfer many of its current key missions to other agencies if the reform plan approved by the National Reform Committee on Judicial Affairs sails ahead. The regulation of traffic flow and enforcement of traffic laws, for example, will be handed over to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the Pattaya City Administration and some 30 other city municipalities within three years of the laws related to police reforms taking effect. Following the reform, the Customs Department and the Excise Department will investigate alleged economic crimes under customs and excise laws themselves. These departments will also be able to seek arrest and search warrants from the courts on their own. The Royal Forest Department, the Department of National Parks, Plant and Wildlife Conservation, and the Marine and Coastal Resources Department, meanwhile, will take over the investigation of environmental crimes. The Office of the Consumer Protection Board, the Public Health Ministry and the Industry Ministry will have the power to investigate alleged violations of consumer rights and food and drug regulations, and make related arrests in the near future in line with the reform plan. “The National Reform Committee on Judicial Affairs has already approved the plan,” the committee’s spokesman, Somkid Lertpaitoon, said yesterday. “We plan to get feedback from the agencies that will take over the missions by February 1.” He added that the committee would have to review any feedback before submitting its final proposal on police reform to the government in March. “The next step is then about the legislation of laws to allow the transfer of missions,” he said. Somkid revealed that the plan would also seek to transfer responsibility for preventing and suppressing highway, transportation and vehicle-related offences to the Transport Ministry. “The suppression and prevention of marine crimes will also become the duty of the Transport Ministry’s Marine Department, not the Marine Police,” he said. Somkid said his committee also believed the suppression and prevention of violations against intellectual rights should go to the Intellectual Property Department. “The duty to prevent tourism crimes should also change hands from the Tourist Police Division to the Sports and Tourism Ministry,” he said. However, Somkid said his committee believed that police would still have to work with other agencies in various missions, such as boosting train-passenger safety and suppressing technology crimes. “Regarding immigration, we need further discussions with the Office the Public Sector Development Commission,” he added. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30332284 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-23
  12. Japanese store owner says dozens of cops extorted money and stole his property Picture: Thai Rath An investigation is underway in Bang Bua Thong, Nonthaburi after a Japanese second hand goods trader went to police to claim he was extorted by men in uniform. The Region 1 police chief has admitted that those involved are state officials. Suwat Jaengyortsuk has ordered that those involved - both men and women - be suspended from duty immediately pending an investigation. The officials are from the Consumer Protection Police Division (CCPD) and the Economic Crime suppression Division (ECD) of the Royal Thai Police. These officials usually conduct raids concerning pirated goods. The Japanese businessman and his Thai staff said that the shop was visited several times from August to November. In August 15,000 baht was handed over to a group of officials. This was repeated in October. On Monday around half a dozen officials arrived without a warrant and started helping themselves to goods on the shelves such as robotics, bowls, bags and clothes. They claimed they had no labels and must be taken into evidence. Thai staff were threatened with arrest. When the Thai staff asked what they could do to avoid trouble they were taken into a vehicle and after 30,000 baht was handed over they were released. But the officials kept some of the merchandise. Within hours another group of 6 men and women arrived and the process was repeated with a further 30,000 paid - this time they said they would be back every month for a 2,000 baht fee. This was more than enough for "Yochi" to report the matter to the local police. He said that his operation was all legal and he didn't understand why officials of the state were acting in this way. Chief Suwat seems to have understood exactly what was going on - and has ordered an immediate investigation. Source: Thai Rath -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-23
  13. "Large pedophile gang of foreign retirees" operating in Pattaya, says Thai media Picture: TNews Thai media claims that a large gang of foreign pedophile retirees is molesting young teenage boys in Pattaya. The claims come after the arrest of a Canadian pensioner for molesting a 13 year old boy in South Pattaya. Eddy Walsh, 71, denies the charge. Tnews citing sources close to the investigation said that many European friends of Mr Walsh were involved in molesting children.They said that one is a condo manager in Central Pattaya who has already been arrested twice for working without a permit. But he is still working seemingly without a care prompting concerns that he was not prosecuted and just let go. Investigations are ongoing into the activities of the alleged gang of pedophiles. Mr Walsh was arrested coming out of the Yen Sabai Mansion in Pattaya Soi 17 off Sai 2 on Wednesday. A warrant for his arrest was issued by the Pattaya court on Tuesday following a complaint made to Pattaya police by the mother of a 13 year old boy. She said that her son had been taken to a room in Yen Sabai and was molested with a video being recorded. Region 2 child protection agencies and the Department of Special Investigation served the warrant and then searched room A307 on the third floor. Kritsanat Thanasuphanat leading the Region 2 team in the arrest said they found many obscene VCDs. These were taken into evidence along with a phone, tablet, computer notebook and a selection of clothes. Police believe information on the electronic devices will help with the inquiry and they are testing the clothes for DNA evidence related to the boy at the center of the charge of molestation of a child under 15. The suspect was interviewed in the presence of a member of the Canadian Embassy before being handed over to Ekachai Moonlee of the Pattaya police. While Mr Walsh denied everything Tnews said that unnamed sources suggested a large group of foreign pedophiles were preying on boys at the resort. They referred to the men as European retirees and friends of Mr Walsh. This group included the foreigner working as a condo manager without a permit that has raised suspicions. Source: TNews -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-23
  14. Migration is not a crime

    EDITORIAL Migration is not a crime By The Nation By jailing 300 Uighurs in 2014, Thailand was caught in an international bind, eased somewhat by the escape last weekend of the few still remaining in custody Thailand’s awful track record in dealing with asylum seekers and other refugees from overseas suggests that Tuesday’s government announcement – about formalising human rights as part of the national policy – is mere hypocrisy. Until the rights of undocumented foreigners are genuinely respected in this country, Thailand – particularly under military rule – cannot hope to be taken seriously. Most recently we have seen six senior Immigration police officers in Songkhla kicked out of their posts (urgently transferred elsewhere, in official terminology) after 20 Uighur prisoners escaped from a detention centre. Without a more forthright response, though, the underlying issues will not be addressed and neither state practice nor Thailand’s reputation will improve. In March 2014, more than 300 foreigners believed to be Uighurs were found to have entered the country without the proper documentation. No one seemed bothered by the reason they came – systematic abuse by the government of China, which promptly demanded their repatriation. Thailand promptly began complying. The 300 were divided into three groups. The first group, numbering 172 people, was sent to Turkey, as per their wishes and proof of nationality. The second group of 109 was in July 2015 put on a plane bound for China – against their will – because they were accused there of violating the law. The incident drew international condemnation of the Thai authorities amid concerns that the Uighurs would be tortured upon their return to China. The remaining prisoners got stuck in Thailand because their nationalities could not be verified, and they were held in custody, their captors saying only that they should be grateful that their bellies were filled with Thai rice. Some were subsequently resettled in third countries, leaving just 25 – old and young, men and women – with nowhere to go beyond the detention centre in Songkhla. Their relatives’ pleas that the prisoners had merely been fleeing repression in China and should be freed to travel on to Turkey went unheeded, as did appeals from the Thai Muslim community. Sometime overnight Sunday or Monday, the captive Uighurs tunnelled through their cell wall and descended to the ground outside via blankets tied together. Five stayed behind, too old or ill to take the risk. The escape could not have been too difficult, but people familiar with the Uighurs’ predicament say they must have had inside help – or at least that the authorities turned a blind eye. Wisut bin Lateh, director of the Southern Coordination Centre’s Sheikhul Islam Office (Chularajamontri, as it’s locally known), believes the dramatic escape takes the pressure off Thailand to deport the prisoners to China and allows the escapees a chance to reunite with relatives now living in third countries. It’s an attractively optimistic view, but it ignores the fact that Thailand must appear to the world as absurdly irresponsible. If the authorities did indeed condone or assist in the escape, why were these people arrested in the first place? If respect for human rights actually is being incorporated into the national agenda, we have an example here of a good place to start. Whenever people arrive claiming to be refugees, they must be officially classified, fed and sheltered, and assisted in getting safely to where they wish to go. Jail is a place for people who commit crimes, not for strangers who ask for help. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30332301 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-23
  15. Phuket police drag heels on deadly bypass pickup wipeout investigation The Phuket News The pickup truck overturned on the bypass road during rush hour. Photo: Phuket City Traffic Police PHUKET: The driver of the pickup truck carrying Myanmar migrant workers that overturned on the bypass road last Wednesday (Nov 15), causing one fatality, has yet to be charged as the investigation into the accident is ongoing, Capt Ronnaphoom Permpoon of Phuket City Police confirmed today (Nov 22). The workers were heading from a worker’s camp to a construction site in Chalong area when the truck flipped over on the bypass road, killing one man from Myanmar and injuring seven other. The pickup truck was carrying nine Myanmar migrant workers in the tray of the pick up, and two Thais, who were in the driver and the passenger seats in the cab, Capt Ronnaphoom confirmed today. Full story: https://www.thephuketnews.com/phuket-police-drag-heels-on-deadly-bypass-pickup-wipeout-investigation-64810.php -- © Copyright Phuket News 2017-11-22
  16. Thailand Live Thursday 23 Nov 2017

    Facebook to let users see if they ‘liked’ Russian accounts BY REUTERS REUTERS/Thomas White SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it would build a web page to allow users to see which Russian propaganda accounts they have liked or followed, after U.S. lawmakers demanded that the social network be more open about the reach of the accounts. Full story: https://tech.thaivisa.com/facebook-let-users-see-liked-russian-accounts/25818/
  17. Hundreds of Las Vegas shooting victims file lawsuits in California court By Tina Bellon A hat rests on flowers in a makeshift memorial during a vigil marking the one-week anniversary of the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada U.S. October 8, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus (Reuters) - Hundreds of victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas filed five lawsuits on Monday in a California court against the operators of the hotel from which the gunman fired, the organizers of the country music festival he targeted and the killer's estate. The largest of the lawsuits was filed on behalf of 450 people who were either injured in or witnessed the shooting, while the other four were brought by families of people who were killed or severely injured. All five cases were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Muhammad Aziz, a Houston-based lawyer heading the lawsuits, said they were filed in California because nearly all the plaintiffs were from the state and had been treated there. He noted that Live Nation Entertainment Inc <LYV.N>, the event organizer, was a California-based company. Stephen Paddock, 64, fired into the crowd gathered for the Route 91 Harvest Festival from a 32nd-floor hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Paddock also killed himself. The victims accused the hotel operator MGM Resorts International <MGM.N> and its subsidiary Mandalay Corp, which owns the hotel, of failing to properly monitor Paddock's activities, train staff members and employ adequate security measures. The festival goers also alleged Live Nation was negligent for failing to provide adequate exits and properly train staff for an emergency. Several lawsuits have previously been filed in the shooting, mostly in Nevada state court. One of those filed on Monday was brought by college student Paige Gasper, who brought the first lawsuit over the mass shooting. Gasper voluntarily dismissed the Nevada lawsuit on Friday. Live Nation and MGM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The companies have previously declined to comment on lawsuits. Plaintiffs also sued the shooter's estate for battery and assault. The reportedly wealthy shooter is thought to have had multimillion-dollar real estate investments across Texas and California. A court hearing about who will be appointed to administer Paddock's estate is set for Dec. 7. Slide Fire Solutions, the maker of the so-called bump stock device Paddock used to achieve a near-automatic rate of fire, was named in previous lawsuits over the shooting, but not in any of the suits filed on Monday. Aziz said Slide Fire was not named because most of his clients supported the right to bear arms. "We want to focus on hotel and venue security, not turn this into a gun rights case," he said. (Reporting by Tina Bellon; editing by Anthony Lin and G Crosse) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-21
  18. Video: Thai media call for justice as "farang knocks Thai off motorcycle" - You decide! video screenshot Pattaya news have produced a video that claims a foreigner in a pick-up is responsible for knocking a Thai man off his motorcycle in Pattaya. They begged for justice in the matter saying that CCTV and witness statements were ignored by police. Pattaya News claimed this evidence pointed to the car driver's guilt. The CCTV footage shows a coming together as Surasak Sutham rides his bike on the inside of the pick-up that is turning into some shops on the left on Chaipornwithee Road heading towards Sukhumvit. Surasak came off and suffered facial injuries. The video subtitles claim police did not use CCTV evidence. Surasak says they told him the "flash drive could not be viewed". A female witness at a paint shop claimed that the foreigner had not indicated he would turn. She said she ran out and didn't see the indicator on. Surasak said that the foreigner didn't turn up to a meeting to sort out the matter. In big red letters accompanied by dramatic music Pattaya News called for justice in Nong Prue police precinct. No one mentioned that the motorcyclist might have been undertaking. Source: Pattaya News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-22
  19. Police to look at bank records in match-fixing case By KAMPANART LA-ONG THE NATION National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda POLICE will extend the scope of their investigation into alleged match-fixing in Thailand’s top football league by examining the bank accounts of the 12 people suspected of involvement in the scandal to trace the money trail, a police source said yesterday. The information from the bank accounts will be compared with evidence that police have gathered in the investigation that started more than a year ago. The 12 persons facing arrest warrants for bribery comprise five top players, two referees, four investors and representatives as well as one club executive. The arrests mark the first serious crackdown on alleged cheating in Thai football. The 12 were summoned for questioning and temporarily released. The same source said that the 12 people were recently questioned again, and four of them had apparently confessed to taking part in the manipulation of results, while the others maintained they were innocent. The investigation team is in the process of checking recordings of games played on July 26 and September 10, 17 and 23, which are suspected to have been fixed if more people are involved. National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said on Tuesday that police were tipped off about the scandal after a football player refused to be bribed and alerted his club and then the police. In the games, an unusual number of goals were scored in the late stages of the game. The same source said that match-fixing is driven by domestic online football betting by gamblers and gambling organisers, not because the clubs wanted to be on top of the league table. The bribe money for each match is about Bt2-3 million and the sum is divided among those involved in the fixing, the source said. Each of those involved received on average about Bt100,000. The source revealed without further elaboration that the mastermind behind the 12 suspects is an influential person in Thai football circles who used to be in the news at national level. The police team is gathering evidence about his alleged role. Pol Maj-General Itthipon Atchariyapradit, a metropolitan police commander, said there was no information so far to suggest the involvement of some national players. However, investigations pointed to the involvement of overseas investors. He added that police do not have plans to question any more individuals and will focus the investigation on the 12 main suspects. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30332289 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-23
  20. Phuket police scandal stirs fears of bribe-taking nationwide By The Nation In the wake of the corruption investigation focusing on Phuket police, academics and stakeholders told a seminar held by the watchdog Police Watch that business operators on the island face police extortion worth millions of baht per month. The seminar was held at the Thai Journalist Association in Bangkok on Sunday. [Related report: Police ‘need time’ for probe into Phuket officers] Thammarat Suwanphosri, founder and administrator of the “Spotlight Phuket” webpage, said he had filed complaints with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Royal Thai Police’s Inspector-General’s Office about extortion in Phuket, citing increasing amounts being demanded for bribes and unnamed “good” officers who wished the issue to be exposed. In the past week, several police officers have been transferred as a result of the investigation. Thammarat said the practice of demanding bribes had several root causes, included that police positions had to be bought at five key precincts, prompting officers to demand bribes to compensate for the payments. The Patong area has seen the most bribes with Bt8 million to Bt22 million being collected per month from several business groups, including those involving immigrant workers, entertainment venues, shops selling counterfeit goods, football gambling and illegal lottery bookies, Thammarat said. He added that a Phuket construction camp that used to pay Bt1,000 per employee per month in bribery was now being charged Bt10,000 per employee. Police officers were also profiting by owning shares in businesses backed by Chinese investors, he said. However, Thammarat said he believed the illegal practices would be phased out as the local economy became more efficiently regulated, with new rules for migrant workers and the adoption of an old proposal about rezoning areas where entertainment venues operate to establish a new licensing system. Entertainment venues were also being allowed to stay open later in the meantime, which lessened police opportunities to demand bribes, he added. Pol Colonel Wirut Sirisawatdibutr, former deputy commander at the Inspector-General’s Office and an adviser on police reforms, said there should be a “Spotlight Thailand” for the entire country to fight corruption. The issue of bribery did not just affect businesses, he said, but also caused consumers to pay higher prices and decreased efficiency. Wirut said Phuket was troubled by multiple forms of bribe-taking, including extorting money from heavy trucks to allow them to travel the roads, resulting in pavement damage that leads to higher accident risks and the Highway Department having to pay millions of baht each year for repairs. He asked the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to take action based on the NACC Act’s Section 103, which prescribes punishment for people who illegally acquire assets worth more than Bt3,000. At present, he added, no one was being punished under the measure intended to curb bribe-taking. He said criminal charges also seemed to target only the officials who actually collected the bribes, instead of the higher-level beneficiaries of the graft, so tackling the issue must be done systematically. He added that provincial governors and local administration officials should be empowered to investigate suspicions of corruption instead of being vulnerable to lawsuits for allegedly revealing “confidential information”. Sangsit Piriyarangsan, dean of Rangsit University’s College of Social Innovation, said the police force was not the only organisation plagued by the purchase of offices and bribe-taking, but the nature of the institution meant that there were knock-on consequences for other related agencies and wider social problems. He added that the use of the anti-money laundering law against private firms regarding “zero-dollar tours”, which allegedly tricked tourists into paying exorbitant prices after promising low-cost services, had caused the public to misunderstand that the law only applied to the private sector, when it could also be applied to state officials and the government. Police Watch coordinator Somsri Han-ananthasuk said the public should be able to speak out in public about police misdeeds without being vulnerable to libel suits. Thammarat provide a good example of a citizen stepping forward to help society, she said, urging the government to carry out police reforms for the public benefit and not for the sake of police officers. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/breakingnews/30332063 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-20
  21. Experts sceptical of govt’s sudden interest in human rights By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN THE NATION HUMAN RIGHTS advocates yesterday expressed scepticism at the junta-backed government’s latest attempt to make “human rights” a national agenda item, saying violations by the regime remain a daily reality. To make the announcement meaningful, the coup-installed regime should at least allow freedom of expression, which has been widely suppressed since the junta came to power, the activists said. The comments came after the government on Tuesday announced after its weekly Cabinet meeting that the human rights issue would be added to the national agenda, from next year to 2019. All government agencies would be instructed to carry out policies to improve the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, said Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd. The move, however, was seen by many people as well as netizens, as a joke. Some of them pointed to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and its government as part of the problem. Sunai Phasuk, a veteran human rights advocate, mocked the announcement, saying it was bogus as the junta has made human rights violations a daily reality. “It is very ironic to announce human rights would be on the national agenda when simultaneously the regime is threatening to sue critics and put them in jail citing computer crimes,” the senior researcher at Human Rights Watch said. It was on top of several other violations of human rights by the regime such as arbitrary detention and the restriction on press freedom, Sunai said. He said if the regime was really serious about human rights, it should have lifted repressive orders issued under the powers of Article 44, he said. That way, it would have seemed much more sincere and meaningful, he added. Another rights advocate, Chamnan Chanruang, stressed that the matter had been raised by the Justice Ministry as a master plan for a grand scheme. The junta government recently coined a buzzword ‘Thailand 4.0’, making it seem related to itself, he explained. So, on the surface it may look good but the regime’s behaviour should be taken into consideration as well, the former chairman of the Amnesty International Thailand said. His impression was that the regime’s actions had not been in line with human rights, he added. Thailand’s rights situation had recently been scrutinised by the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and it was found that the government had yet to fulfil its obligations, he pointed out. Restrictions on free speech and on political gatherings, on top of other violations, have remained unchanged, he said. These restrictions make the announcement concerning human rights in the national agenda meaningless unless the NCPO actually repeals its oppressive orders and frees all political prisoners, Chamnan said. Nirun Phitakwatchara, a former member of the National Human Rights Commission, said that after making such an announcement, the government should strive to improve the democratic atmosphere in the country, too. For starters, it could review the orders that may have affected people’s rights such as those involving freedom of expression, academic freedom, and right to political gatherings, he said. Such freedom could help, given an election was taking shape, Nirun said. Unless people could exercise their rights and freedom, the election would not be considered free and fair and the elected government may not be very well accepted either, he added. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30332287 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-23
  22. Cadet died ‘due to health issue’ By THE NATION Deputy PM Prawit says corporal |punishment is common practice in the military and there was no wrongdoing. DESPITE a family’s concerns, the death of an 18-year-old cadet at a military academy was not caused by any irregularity or wrongdoing, senior officials insisted yesterday. The defence minister, commander-in-chief, national police chief and forensic experts yesterday defended the actions taken after the cadet’s death on October 17. Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon stressed the death of military student Phakhapong “Meay” Tanyakan was due to his health problems. He insisted that people with health issues should not become soldiers, as hard training and corporal punishment are common practices to train civilians to become soldiers. The death of Phakhapong, a first-year cadet at the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School (AFAPS) raised questions, as his family doubted the cause of his death. Some of his organs had been removed without the family’s knowledge or consent after an autopsy at the military-run Phramongkutklao Hospital. Although the autopsy indicated that Phakhapong died of “sudden cardiac arrest”, the family suspected that his death might have been caused by the harsh punishment he had received at the military school. The family later asked the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science to perform a second autopsy to verify the cause of death. The second autopsy found that some of Phakhapong’s organs were missing. Prawit said: “No one beat him. I believe the military school did not try to cover anything up because no one can hide the cause of death. “The Army has already explained everything about this case. The CCTV footage has already been revealed and Phakhapong’s death has been documented. “Everything will have to follow legal procedures while the Army also provides full support to the family,” said Prawit, who is also deputy prime minister overseeing military affairs. Phakhapong’s elder sister, Supicha Tanyakan, has said that her sibling almost died on August 23 because of punishment he received at the school. “He fell unconscious and demonstrated low vital signs that day,” Supicha said. She added that her brother later told her that he had been punished because he and his friend were on a path prohibited by his seniors. “His senior forced him to put his legs up and his head down in a sauna room for hours,” she said. Asked about the corporal punishment, Prawit said all AFAPS cadets had to deal with that and it was normal for the military cadets to be trained hard and punished. “When I was a cadet there, I also received punishment and lost consciousness because of that. Anyway, I’ve survived,” he said. He said that to avoid a similar incident, unhealthy people should not attempt to become a soldier, and military cadets should be prepared to be punished to maintain discipline. It was disclosed on the private chat log on August 26 that Phakhapong and a friend had been punished until he was unconscious and his heart temporarily stopped beating. He recovered after medical treatment. Phakhapong apparently urged his friend not to tell anyone about the incident. Commander-in-chief of Royal Thai Army General Thanchaiyan Srisuwan said the Army has already set up a committee to investigate the chat log. Thanchaiyan said that it was normal for a military cadet to be punished, but there was a regulation for punishment methods and harsh punishments are not allowed. There will be an investigation into the matter, he said. “On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of our military school, we have improved our training standards,” Thanchaiyan said. Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda, a commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, said the report of a cadet’s death at the military school was not unusual or a surprise. He said the investigation into the incident was in the process of verifying the cause of death. The removal of internal organs was normal procedure for an autopsy, he said. The Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) deputy director Dr Trairit Temahiwong said that it was lawful for a forensic doctor and investigation team to collect organs and tissues from a body without notifying the relatives, in the case of a suspicious death, for a thorough examination on the organs. “It makes sense for the forensic team at Phramongkutklao Hospital to remove the brain, heart and some other organs for further examination, because this is a complex case, as the dead student was young and healthy,” Trairit said. CIFS director Som Promros said the Phramongkutklao Hospital forensic team would transfer the collected organs to CIFS today for examination. The autopsy result would be finished by November 30, he said. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30332285 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-23
  23. Thailand Live Thursday 23 Nov 2017

    Find this pick-up that fled the scene of bike accident! Picture: TNews CCTV footage from the south of Thailand showed a white Isuzu pick-up stick its nose out into oncoming traffic next to a convenience store in Takuapa, Pangnga. Full story: https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/1012678-find-this-pick-up-that-fled-the-scene-of-bike-accident/
  24. Find this pick-up that fled the scene of bike accident! Picture: TNews CCTV footage from the south of Thailand showed a white Isuzu pick-up stick its nose out into oncoming traffic next to a convenience store in Takuapa, Pangnga. A motorcycle driven by Watcharin Jaemfung, 30, hit the protruding front of the pick-up. He slid along the tarmac and was lucky not to be run over by oncoming traffic. He was taken to hospital. He told Tnews that he looked up after the accident to see the other vehicle fleeing the scene. He wants the driver to face up to his responsibility for the accident and pay for his medical treatment and damage to his bike. The footage came from a CCTV camera at the property of Phu Yai Ban Banphot Saelim. Source: TNews -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-11-23
  25. OPINION North Korea-US negotiations? No light at the end of the tunnel By Suthichai Yoon The Nation When I sat down with North Korean Ambassador to Thailand Mun Song Mo last week for a rare interview, one question uppermost in my mind was whether there was room for negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington to put an end to the ongoing crisis on the Korea peninsula. The ambassador was prompt and direct in his response. “How can we negotiate with a country whose leader [Donald Trump], in his speech at the United Nations, threatened to totally destroy North Korea?” He added: “There will be no negotiation, unless its [the US] hostile policy towards our republic is absolutely abandoned and its root cause of nuclear threat is removed.” The day after my interview at the North Korean embassy, US President Trump announced he was redesignating North Korea a “state sponsor of terrorism”. That, in effect, quashed lingering hope that diplomacy might replace rising tensions and mutual threats. China and Russia have proposed that both sides “freeze” their activities so that negotiations can resume. But the “dual suspension” idea has so far failed to gain traction in Pyongyang and Washington. Last week, there were signs of a renewing of bonds between China and North Korea when Beijing decided to dispatch a “special envoy” – Song Tao, chief of the Communist Party’s International Department – to Pyongyang. Officially, Song’s mission was to represent President Xi Jinping and report to North Korean official Choe Rong Hae on the outcome of the recently concluded Communist Party Congress in Beijing. But a brief statement from Song’s department emphasising the importance of “developing traditional relations”, and adding that the “traditional friendship between China and North Korea represents valuable wealth for their peoples”, triggered speculation that issues other than the Party congress were raised. Every word in the statement is being analysed around the world, particularly the statement “both sides must work hard together to promote the further development of relations between the two parties and the two countries to benefit their two peoples”. But nobody should assume that tension on the Korean peninsula will ease straight after Song’s visit to Pyongyang. China’s own Global Times warned against any premature optimism. “Song is not a magician,” the state-run daily said in an editorial. “The key to easing the situation on the peninsula lies in the hands of Washington and Pyongyang. If both sides insist on their own logic and refuse to move in the same direction, even if Song opens a door for talks, the door could be closed any time.” Song’s trip came only a week after Trump visited Beijing as part of his tour of Asia, where he pressed for greater action to rein in Pyongyang, especially from China, on which North Korea relies for 90 per cent of its trade. China’s official position on this crucial issue is clear. Beijing has proposed the “double suspension” as the best method of defusing the looming crisis on the peninsula. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it this way: “As a first step, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale US-Republic of Korea military exercises.” Wang made that proposal in a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress. This would help the parties to break out of the security dilemma and return to the negotiating table, Wang said. “We may follow the dual-track approach of denuclearising the peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other,” he added. Wang compared North Korea and the US-South Korea axis to two trains on the same track accelerating towards each other. “Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” he asked. “The priority is to flash the red light and apply the brakes.” He added that the nuclear stand-off was mainly between North Korea and the United States, but China, as a neighbour with a “lips-and-teeth” relationship with the North, was indispensable to its resolution. China has a strong commitment to denuclearising the peninsula, maintaining stability there, and resolving the issue peacefully, the minister said. Beijing had done its best to bring Pyongyang and Washington back to the negotiating table and push forward the six-party talks, Wang said, adding that China had done its part by adopting and implementing UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea. Wang continued his metaphor by adding that China was willing to be a “railway switchman” to get the issue back on the right track. For now, though, despite talk from all sides about the need to avoid a war, there are no signs the two trains are slowing. For Beijing’s “switchman”, this could be yet another mission impossible in its fast-growing role of international diplomacy. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30332294 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-11-23