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  1. British Embassy Bangkok warns of the importance of having medical insurance Thaivisa is delighted to have teamed up with the British Embassy in order to effectively share messages to both British tourists and expats in Thailand. A fresh warning has been issued to expats and tourists about the importance of having health and travel insurance when staying in Thailand. The warning comes after the British Embassy in Bangkok revealed that many of the people it helped last year did not have insurance. An estimated one million British tourists visit Thailand each year, while according to stats released by the British Embassy in 2016, there are a further 55,000 Brits living in Thailand, including 10,000 retirees. However, many Brits are visiting and living in Thailand without insurance. Image: UK in Thailand In 2017, 50 percent of the people who required consular assistance after being hospitalised were uninsured. And it isn’t only tourists who are uninsured. In 2015, with 80% of British residents in Thailand over the age of 51 were found not have medical insurance. Furthermore, some expats living in Thailand mistakenly believe that they can get free access to medical care if they return to the UK, but this is not the case. In 2015, changes were made to the way visitors from overseas are charged for NHS hospital care. Image: UK in Thailand The changes also affect some former residents of the UK, including expats in Thailand who may now be required to pay should they have to return to the UK for treatment in an NHS hospital. You can read about the changes to the way overseas visitors are charged for NHS hospital care here. The British Embassy is now urging Brits in Thailand to make sure they have insurance and to also ensure they fully understand exactly what they are covered for. Like the British Embassy Bangkok on Facebook Follow the British Embassy Bangkok on Twitter -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-08-18
  2. 'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin, 76, dies at home in Detroit By Bill Trott Aretha Franklin performs during the commemoration of the Elton John AIDS Foundation 25th year fall gala at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, in New York, U.S. November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Reuters) - Aretha Franklin, the preacher's daughter whose powerful voice made her the long-reigning "Queen of Soul" with such hit songs as "Respect" and "Chain of Fools," died on Thursday at the age of 76, officials said. Franklin, who won 18 Grammy Awards and had some 25 gold records, died at her home in Detroit surrounded by family and loved ones, her publicist said. She had been battling advanced pancreatic cancer. Calling it one of the darkest moments of their lives, Franklin's family said they were unable to find the appropriate words to express the pain in their hearts. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds," her family said in a statement. Franklin's father was a Baptist preacher in Detroit, and the gospel singing she heard in his church was her musical foundation. Her uniquely emotional and powerful voice would put her at the forefront of 1960s soul music along with Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett. Franklin was active in the U.S. civil rights movement and sang at the funeral of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr in 1968. She also performed at the presidential inaugurations of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. In 1987, she became the first woman voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Rolling Stone magazine in 2010 named her the No. 1 singer of the rock era. After recording and touring as a young gospel singer, Franklin's career took a secular turn in 1961 when she signed with Columbia Records. She had only modest success with Columbia, which had trouble classifying her style and tried to steer her toward pop. She switched to Atlantic Records in the mid-1960s, where producer Jerry Wexler put her powerful voice in a setting that combined gospel, soul and rock, and made her a superstar by letting "the lady wail." As Franklin put it in her autobiography, she "Aretha-ized" the music. Singer John Legend called her the greatest vocalist he had ever known. "Salute to the Queen," he wrote on Twitter. Fellow singer Diana Ross tweeted: "I'm sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin." U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: "She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!" Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, issued a statement saying Franklin "helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance." STRING OF HITS Franklin's heyday extended into the early 1970s as she dominated the music charts with "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," "Baby, I Love You," "Chain of Fools," "Think," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Do-Right Woman" and "Respect," a cover of a Redding tune that became a song of empowerment during the civil rights era. Franklin's popularity faded, then revived in the mid-1980s with songs such as "Freeway of Love," a duet with George Michael named "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," "Who's Zoomin' Who?" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Franklin also inspired a generation of singers. "Pop music today is rich with glorious gospel voices and women singers in the mold cast by Aretha," the late Wexler said in his autobiography. "Aretha became a model for people like Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston ... The list of her disciples is long." Franklin was privately known to be shy, moody, imperious and difficult. She often did not get along with other women singers, including her sisters, could be quick to fire underlings and was erratic when it came to showing up for concerts and appointments. Franklin often demanded she be paid in cash before performing and took her status as musical royalty seriously. In 2008, Beyonce introduced Tina Turner as "the queen" at the Grammy Awards ceremony, whichFranklin decried as "a cheap shot" at her. PREACHER'S DAUGHTER Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Detroit. Her father, the Reverend C.L.Franklin, was respected as a civil rights leader, an early advocate of "black pride" and a friend of King. But Rev. Franklin had also been arrested for drug possession and, under unexplained circumstances, his wife left him and their five children when Aretha was six. Four years later, Franklin's mother died and Aretha avoided discussing her parents publicly. Franklin started touring as a teenager in her father's gospel show. She got a musical education from gospel greats: the Staple Singers, the Soul Stirrers, James Cleveland and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. She also came to know jazz and R&B greats invited to the family home, including Cooke, Art Tatum, Dinah Washington, Fats Domino and Bobby Bland. By 17, she had given birth to two children and later had two other sons. First married to Ted White, who became her manager and publicly abused her, Franklin later married actor Glynn Turman in 1978, but they divorced in 1984. Franklin, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, was the subject of a singing tribute at the February 2011 Grammy Awards ceremony and a Carnegie Hall tribute concert in early 2017. She did not attend either. Franklin did not perform regularly for many years, partly because of an aversion to flying after a rough trip in 1982. Instead, she traveled in a customized bus. She often had to cancel shows for health reasons. In February 2017, she said she would keep recording but retire from touring after a limited run of concerts marking a new album that year, "A Brand New Me," which featured her doing some of her biggest hits with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She performed "Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2015 in a tribute to songwriter Carole King. Her last live performance was Nov. 7, 2017, for the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York. (Editing by Daniel Wallis, David Gregorio and G Crosse) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-08-17
  3. FBI warns of potential attacks on ATMs around the world: security blog by The Star The FBI is urging banks to review how they handle security to stop the attack. — Reuters Krebs on Security blog claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has received an “unspecified report” that cybercriminals are preparing to carry out a large-scale global attack on ATMs in the coming days. The attack will compromise banks or payment card processors with malware which would give the hackers access to the banks’ network and customer card details which will enable funds to be withdrawn from ATMs. The blog posted that the FBI had sent an alert to banks saying, “The FBI has obtained unspecified reporting indicating cyber criminals are planning to conduct a global Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cash-out scheme in the coming days, likely associated with an unknown card issuer breach and commonly referred to as an ‘unlimited operation’.” Full story https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2018/08/15/fbi-warns-of-hacks-using-atms/ -- THE STAR 2018-2018-08-16
  4. Screen legend Robert Redford is retiring from acting Reuters Staff FILE PHOTO: Actor Robert Redford poses during a red carpet to receive a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar winner Robert Redford will retire from acting following this autumn’s release of his upcoming film “The Old Man & The Gun,” the 81-year-old told Entertainment Weekly in a story published on Monday. Redford, best known for films such as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Out of Africa,” plays a seasoned bank robber in the new movie, which is scheduled to debut in theaters in September. “Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and (I’ll) move toward retirement after this ‘cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21,” Redford told the magazine. “I thought, well, that’s enough. And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?” he added. In the film, Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a real-life career criminal who was caught robbing banks 17 times. Each time he was jailed but managed to escape. “To me, that was a wonderful character to play at this point in my life,” Redford said of Tucker, whose robberies spanned more than 60 years. “It made me wonder: I wonder if he was not averse to getting caught so he that could enjoy the real thrill of his life, which is to escape?” Redford got his big screen breakthrough in 1967 with a role in “Barefoot in the Park” opposite Jane Fonda, and he cemented his stardom with roles in classic movies such as “The Sting” and “All The President’s Men.” In 1980, he won an Academy Award for his directorial debut, “Ordinary People” and in 2002 he received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. As for whether he will also retire from directing, Redford said: “We’ll see about that.” (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Marguerita Choy) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-08-07
  5. BMA to ask Prayut to intervene in Khaosan spat over stalls By The Nation BANGKOK METROPOLITAN ADMINISTRATION (BMA) may ask Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to intervene in their bid to restrict footpath stalls in one of the city’s most famous streets. Deputy Bangkok Governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul said yesterday that he plans to discuss the matter with vendors and various other relevant authorities tomorrow or on Friday. “We may also submit our conclusion to the prime minister because Khaosan is a famous attraction,” he said. The ban took effect on August 1. Located in the capital’s Phra Nakhon district, Khaosan Road’s longstanding street-fair atmosphere is hugely popular among Thais and tourists. The BMA, however, has resolved to strictly regulate street stalls there to ensure orderliness but vendors are still calling for the ban to be lifted. “We are working on three models to present to the BMA. One of the models is to let stalls run in the morning hours too and in return, we will make sure street stalls are tidier,” said Chonnapha Teansawang, a long-time vendor on Khaosan Road. BMA’s recent restriction allows stalls to operate on the road next to footpath only between 6pm and midnight. Chonnapha said vendors operating stalls in the morning usually had tour groups as customers. “We are adversely affected. When the news came out, tour-group organisers cancelled their plan to come to Khaosan Road,” she said. Chonnapha has sold cell phones and bags for more than two decades. “I think Khaosan stalls are attractive because of the diverse rang of products in the area,” she said. Chonnapha said her group was now holding discussions with vendors in a bid to get a solid proposal to be submitted to the BMA for consideration. It is estimated that Khaosan Road has about 300 vendors. According to the deputy governor, “As of now, about 230 vendors have come forward to register with the BMA.” He said he recognised that Khaosan vendors had plied their trade for a long time and contributed to Khaosan’s reputation as an interesting tourist place. “But what they do is illegal,” he said. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30351684 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-08-08
  6. At least 10, including a child, shot in Toronto - Canadian media By Brendan O'Brien People leave an area taped off by the police near the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, Canada, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (Reuters) - At least 10 people, including a child, were shot in Toronto on Sunday and the gunman was dead, Canadian news agencies reported. Reports of gunfire in the city's Greektown neighbourhood began at 10 p.m. local time (0200 GMT Monday), CityNews.com reported. Witnesses said they heard 25 gunshots, the news website reported. The shooter was dead, CTVNews.com reported. There were no immediate reports on the extent of wounds suffered by those who were shot by the attacker. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Paul Tait) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-23
  7. Trump warns Iran to never threaten U.S. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he begins a meeting with members of the U.S. Congress at the White House in Washington, July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani not to threaten the United States again, after Rouhani cautioned Trump about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran. "Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before," Trump said in a Twitter post. Rouhani on Sunday said "war with Iran is the mother of all wars", but did not rule out peace between the two countries. "We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death," Trump tweeted. "Be cautious!" he added. (Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-23
  8. Shock as Trump backs Putin on election meddling at summit By Jeff Mason and Denis Pinchuk U.S. President Trump and Russian President Putin hold a joint news conference. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor HELSINKI (Reuters) - Standing side-by-side with Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday refused to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the U.S. 2016 election, casting doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and sparking a storm of criticism at home. On a day when he faced pressure from critics, allied countries and even his own staff to take a tough line, Trump spoke not a single disparaging word in public about Moscow on any of the issues that have brought relations between the two powers to the lowest ebb since the Cold War. Instead, he denounced the "stupidity" of his own country's policy, especially the decision to investigate election interference following the conclusions drawn by U.S. intelligence agencies. A prosecutor announced an indictment three days ago of Russian spies for hacking into Democratic Party networks. Trump's handling of a joint news conference in Helsinki stirred a wave of condemnation in the United States, where the White House has struggled for months to dispel a suggestion that Trump was unwilling to stand up to Putin. His performance was denounced as "treasonous" by a former CIA chief and U.S. Senator John McCain called meeting with Putin a "tragic mistake," although some other Republicans were more cautious. Asked if he believed U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an effort to help him defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said he was not convinced. "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia, Trump said. "President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today." In one response, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Trump nominee approved by Congress, said in a statement, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security." Hours after the Helsinki summit, Trump tweeted, "I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people." FOOLISHNESS AND STUPIDITY Before the summit even began, Trump blamed his own country for the deterioration in relations. "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!" he said on Twitter. The Russian foreign ministry tweeted back: "We agree". At the news conference, Trump was invited by reporters to offer any criticism of Russia but he repeatedly declined. Asked if Russia was at all to blame for the poor ties, he said, "I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish," he said, before veering into discussion about his election victory. "I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her ... we won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it," he said. Trump's warm words for Russia were a marked contrast from the past week when he repeatedly rebuked traditional U.S. allies at a summit of NATO and during a visit to Britain. Asked if Putin was an adversary, he said, "Actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is and I think the word competitor is a compliment." Trump also refrained from publicly criticizing Russia's 2014 seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region, another geopolitical win for Putin against Western efforts to isolate him. Putin spoke of the importance of the two countries working together and praised Trump, at one point interrupting the news conference to give the U.S. president a soccer ball. Asked whether he had wanted Trump to win the 2016 election and had instructed officials to help him, Putin said, "Yes I did," although he denied any interference, saying the allegations were "complete nonsense." Putin suggested U.S. investigators could possibly travel to Russia to participate in questioning Russians accused by Washington of U.S. election meddling as long as Russian investigators would be allowed to do the same with U.S. spies operating in Russia, an idea Trump's critics dismissed as ludicrous. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's performance would send a message of "weakness" to Moscow. "Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections. This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves," Graham said on Twitter. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, said, "I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful." The Republican head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said Trump's comments at the joint news conference made the United States look like a "pushover." U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top congressional Republican, took a more tempered approach but insisted that Trump "must appreciate that Russia is not our ally." 'TREASONOUS' Former CIA chief John Brennan went further, suggesting Trump should be removed from office. Brennan tweeted, "Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanours.' It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???" Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter, "Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behaviour & his refusal to stand up to Putin." Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for a bipartisan effort to "ratchet up" sanctions on Moscow. The summit capped a trip abroad during which Trump accused NATO allies of failing to spend enough on their militaries and embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying she refused to take his advice about how to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU. He referred to the European Union itself as a "foe" in trade and repeatedly criticised it. In some of the strongest words yet reflecting the unease of Washington's traditional allies, Germany's foreign minister said on Monday that Europe could no longer rely on the United States. "To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it," Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group. "The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe." (Additonal reporting by Steve Holland, Jussi Rosendahl and Andrew Osborn in Helsinki, Christian Lowe and Polina Devitt in Moscow, David Alexander, Arshad Mohammed, Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker, Jonathan Landay, Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Peter Graff and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Grant McCool, Toni Reinhold) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-17
  9. British cave diver slams Elon Musk’s submarine idea as nothing more than PR stunt A British cave diver who played an important role in rescue of 12 boys and their football coach who had been trapped inside the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai has hit out at Elon Musk’s attempt to get involved in the rescue operation. Vern Unsworth, who was reportedly the one who first called for fellow British divers Rick Stanton, John Volanthen and Robert Harper to become involved in the search for the missing group, has branded Elon Musk’s offer of help as nothing more than a publicity stunt. While the rescue operation was in full swing, Musk tweeted to say his company had built a “kid sized submarine” that could be used to rescue the kids from the cave. Just a day later, Musk posted a video on Instagram to reveal that he had been inside the cave with his submarine "Just returned from Cave 3," Musk said. "Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids' soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future." However, in an interview with CNN, Mr Unsworth said that Musk’s submarine “had absolutely no chance of working". When asked his thoughts on Elon Musk’s submarine Mr Unsworth replied: “He can stick his submarine where it hurts”. “He [Elon Musk] had absolutely no concept of what the cave passage was like. Mr Unsworth explained that because the submarine was 5ft 6 long and rigid it would have been unable to go round the obstacle and tight passageways inside the cave. It was “just a PR stunt”. Mr Unsworth also said that despite Elon Musk arriving at the cave last Tuesday, he was “asked to leave very quickly”. Also in the interview with CNN, Mr Unsworth, who is believed to be based in Chaing Rai, played down suggestions that he was a hero. "They are all calling us heroes, but we were here and we did the job. So everyone's happy." "I was actually scheduled to go into the cave on June 24 anyway," Unsworth told CNN. "I got all my gear ready, and I was going in to do a solo trip just to see what the water levels were like. And I got called out at 2 o'clock Sunday morning, and I was there for the whole 17 days." He also said that the kids nor the coach could be blamed for becoming trapped. These kids were just totally unlucky. Wrong place, wrong time," he said. "It happened very quick. You can't blame the coach, you can't blame the kids." -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-07-14
  10. Hooyah! Mission accomplished By THE NATION A helicopter is preparing to airlift another survivor of Tham Luang stranding, who had been stranded inside the flooded cave since June 23, to a hospital yesterday. Rescuers lead final four boys and their coach to freedom “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE” was the term used to describe the complicated rescue operation at the flooded Tham Luang Cave. It culminated last night with the successful rescue of the last four of the 12 trapped boys and their football coach. The success was announced after the final batch of stranded footballers was evacuated safely to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital. The unprecedented mission was completed on the 18th day of an all-out rescue effort involving several countries from around the globe. The whole world has been fixated on the unfolding drama at the cave complex in Chiang Rai province ever since news broke that flash floods had trapped 12 boys from a local football team and their coach on June 23. The intensive and highly dangerous operation to rescue the trapped group faced several formidable obstacles, including downpours, muddy floodwater, thin air, darkness, narrow choke-points and jagged and submerged sections in the cave complex. A Royal Thai police ambulance evacuates a cave trapped boy to hospital after he was rescued from the Tham Luang cave, Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, 10 July 2018. According to reports, all 12 boys of a child soccer team and their assistant coach have been rescued and evacuated to a hospital, 13 members of a youth soccer team including their assistant coach have been trapped in Tham Luang cave since 23 June 2018. // EPA-EFE PHOTO However, when all 13 footballers were found alive at a dry spot about five kilometres from the mouth of the cave on July 2, a desperate race to extricate them before monsoon rains deluged the cave began. The flooded Tham Luang cave was treacherous and the mission was not without its tragedy, with former Thai Navy SEAL Samarn Kunun perishing while replenishing air canisters in the cave for divers last Friday. Some of the world’s best cave divers have gathered at the cave in recent weeks for the mission. The evacuation required that the stranded survivors not just trek but also dive through muddy floodwaters, negotiating submerged passages that narrowed to less than 40 centimetres wide. The stranded were in safe and experienced hands, however; two specialist divers accompanied each of them through their difficult journey to freedom. Other support staff were also on hand to help ensure everything went smoothly. According to the rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn, the United Nations also dispatched many experienced divers to help. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who visited the rescued boys on Monday night, confirmed yesterday that the stranded footballers were given medication to prevent anxiety and panic – identified as a key danger – while being evacuated. “But of course, they were conscious,” he said. “When I visited them, I also told them to be good citizens.” As members of the evacuation team became increasingly familiar with the treacherous complex of Tham Luang, the evacuation operation reportedly became smoother and faster as days went by. On Monday, the evacuation of four boys took 11 hours. But on Tuesday, the evacuation of the next four boys took just nine hours Yesterday, rescue planners brought all five remaining members of the stranded survivors out in less than nine hours. The youngest footballer, an 11-year-old boy, and the coach were in the last batch. After their evacuation, the medic and three Royal Thai Navy SEALs who had accompanied the stranded team then made their way out. The medic, who has not yet been identified, is thought to be Army doctor Colonel Pak Loharachun, who was seen in a video clip with the stranded boys and reportedly stayed to take care of the group. An ambulance transporting alleged members of the children's football team approaches the hospital in the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai on July 10, 2018 after being rescued in Tham Luang cave. All 12 boys and their coach who became trapped in a flooded Thai cave more than a fortnight ago have been rescued, the Navy SEALs announced on July 10, completing an astonishing against-the-odds rescue mission that has captivated the world. // AFP PHOTO As of press time, the first eight boys to emerge from the cave were in relatively good health but still in hospital. The first four evacuees had already removed their eye-protecting sunglasses and had started taking solid food. All evacuees were blindfolded as they were moved from Tham Luang to the hospital, to protect eyes that had not seen sunlight for two weeks. The successful rescue of the young footballers and their coach is a cause for joy not just their families but also for the countless number of people around the world who have been following the drama on television and other media. Schoolmates of the rescued boys are also said to be excited about the prospect of welcoming them back. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30349786 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-07-11
  11. UK counter-terrorism chief says two people in Wiltshire poisoned with Novichok nerve agent Reuters Staff Police officers guard outside a branch of Boots pharmacy, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls AMESBURY, England (Reuters) - Britain’s counter-terrorism chief said on Wednesday that two people who are critically ill in hospital in Wiltshire were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent, the same toxin that was used in an attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal. The man and woman, both British, were found unwell at a house in Amesbury on Saturday, close to Salisbury where Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with nerve agent in March. (Writing by Kate Holton and Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-05
  12. Penang consulate limits visa applications to 100 per day The Phuket News The notice was posted earlier today (May 8). Image: Royal Thai Consulate-General, Penang PHUKET: The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Penang has announced that it will limit the number of visas issued to just 100 per day, starting from Monday (May 14). Persons with incomplete documents will not be permitted to enter the building and those found to have had their visa application rejected must not apply until next day, the consulate said in a notice issued earlier today (May 8) marked “ANNOUNCEMENT (visa matters esp. tourists) starting from Monday, 14 May” Overstays incur a high risk of visa refusal and submission of fake documents will automatically incur a one-year ban on applying for a visa to enter the country, the notice warned. Full story: http://www.thephuketnews.com/penang-consulate-limits-visa-applications-to-100-per-day-67043.php -- © Copyright Phuket News 2018-05-08
  13. Trapped Thai team gets dive lessons as rescuers plan for extraction By Panu Wongcha-um Boys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave receive treatment from a medic in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal. Thai Navy Seal/Handout via REUTERS CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - Rescue teams in northern Thailand were giving crash courses in swimming and diving on Wednesday as part of preparations to extract a young soccer squad trapped in a cave and keen to end a harrowing 11-day ordeal. A team of divers, medics, counsellors and Thai navy SEALS were with the 12 schoolboys and their 25-year-old coach, providing medicines and food while experts assessed conditions for getting them out, a task the government said would not be easy. "The water is very strong and space is narrow. Extracting the children takes a lot of people," Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters. "Now we are teaching the children to swim and dive," he said adding that if water levels fell and the flow weakened, they would be taken out quickly. A video released by the SEALS on Wednesday showed two rescuers in wetsuits sitting on a elevated part of the cave beside the boys wrapped in emergency foil blankets. They appeared to be in good spirits, occasionally laughing. It was not immediately clear when the footage was taken. A torch is shone on each boy, who one by one say hello and introduce themselves with head bowed and hands clasped together in a traditional "wai" Thai greeting. A young player in the foreground wears what appears to be the red England soccer jersey worn by the team in Tuesday's World Cup victory over Colombia in Moscow. Another younger boy wears the blue shirt of English team Chelsea. They were discovered by the SEALS and two British cave diving experts on Monday, having been incommunicado and in darkness since June 23, when a group outing at the caves led to a high-profile search and rescue effort. News that the "Wild Boar" team had survived sparked celebrations and relief in a country transfixed by the drama, with almost blanket media coverage. The rescue teams and volunteers were hailed as heroes in an outpouring of joy and relief on social media, and applauded by the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha. Efforts to open a communications line between the trapped team located 4 km (2.5 miles) from the mouth of the cave suffered a setback after equipment fell into the water, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said on Wednesday. The authorities were keen to get the boys out as soon as possible, but not if it was unsafe. "All 13 don't have to come out at the same time. Who is ready first can go first," he told reporters. "If there are risks then we will not be extracting them." The focus is now on monitoring water levels, rain forecasts and extraction procedures. As of late Tuesday, some 120 million litres of water had been pumped out of the cave. Officials on Tuesday dismissed as speculation reports that the boys could be trapped for up to four months. Supplies have been prepared for that period of time, however. (Additional reporting by Papitcha Tanakasempipat in CHIANG RAI and Chayut Setboonsarng, Pracha Hariraksapitak, Aukkarapon Niyomyat and Panarat Thepgumpanat in BANGKOK; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Darren Schuettler) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-04
  14. U.S. top court backs Trump on travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations By Lawrence Hurley Naomi Lien,10, is comforted by Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale as she they react with other immigration rights proponents outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the Court upheld U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries, in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed Donald Trump one of the biggest victories of his presidency, upholding his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries and rejecting the argument that it represented unconstitutional religious discrimination. The 5-4 ruling, with the conservative justices in the majority and the liberal justices dissenting, ended a fierce fight in the courts over whether the policy amounted to an unlawful Muslim ban, while also confirming broad presidential powers over immigration and national security policy. Trump quickly claimed "profound vindication" after lower courts had blocked his travel ban announced in September, as well as two prior versions, in legal challenges brought by the state of Hawaii and others. Trump has called the travel ban necessary to protect the United States against attacks by Islamic militants. The ruling, denounced by civil rights groups and Democrats as well as protesters outside the courthouse, empowered Trump at the time when he is embroiled in controversy over his approach towards illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexican border. Trump last week retreated on his administration's practice of separating the children of immigrants from their parents when families were detained illegally entering the United States. The court held that the challengers had failed to show that the travel ban violated either U.S. immigration law or the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibition on the government favouring one religion over another. In remarks at the White House, Trump hailed "a tremendous victory for the American people and for our Constitution." "We have to be tough, and we have to be safe, and we have to be secure. At a minimum, we have to make sure that we vet people coming into the country," the Republican president said, referring in a statement to "this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians." The ban prohibits entry into the United States of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The Supreme Court allowed it to go largely into effect in December while the legal challenge continued. Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "Despite today's ruling, turning away those fleeing horrific violence and persecution or to discriminate against people based on nationality and religion continues to be as un-American as ever." Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said that Trump's administration "has set forth a sufficient national security justification" to prevail. "We express no view on the soundness of the policy," Roberts added. The ruling affirmed broad presidential discretion over who is allowed to enter the United States. Trump could potentially add more countries to the ban. Roberts said Trump's actions suspending entry of certain classes of people were "well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other president - the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular president in promulgating an otherwise valid proclamation." The challengers had argued that the policy was motivated by Trump's enmity towards Muslims and urged courts to take into account his inflammatory comments during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump as a candidate called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." 'STARK PARALLELS' In a dissent she read in the courtroom, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited "stark parallels" with the court's now-discredited 1944 decision that upheld U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. Sotomayor also described various statements Trump made on the campaign trail. "Taking all the evidence together, a reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus," Sotomayor added. In the ruling, Roberts officially repudiated the 1944 internment decision and rejected any comparison between the cases, saying that the war-era practice was "objectively unlawful and outside the scope of presidential authority." Roberts said it was "wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facial neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission." Chad initially was on the list of countries targeted by Trump that was announced in September, but he removed it on April 10. Iraq and Sudan were on earlier versions of the ban. Venezuela and North Korea also were targeted in the current policy. Those restrictions were not challenged in court. "The ruling will go down in history as one of the Supreme Court's great failures," said Omar Jadwat, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the ban. The travel ban was one of Trump's signature hardline immigration policies that have been a central part of his presidency and "America First" approach. Trump issued his first version just a week after taking office, though it was quickly halted by the courts. Trump also has moved to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the United States illegally as children, acted against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, ended protected status for certain immigrants in the country for decades, intensified deportation efforts and pursued limits on legal immigration. The ruling means that most people seeking to enter the United States from the affected countries will need to navigate an opaque waiver process. "If they are allowed to have this ban, what will they try next?" asked Mohamad Mashta, a Syrian who joined one of the lawsuits challenging the ban. Mashta is a permanent U.S. resident working as an engineer in Ohio whose wife, also Syrian, was able to obtain a visa after the ban was initially blocked. With the policy in place, the number of people from the affected countries able to obtain visas has plummeted. [See graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2tyHpRa] (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Makini Brice and Robert Iafolla; Editing by Will Dunham) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-06-27
  15. Man sprays Maryland newsroom with gunfire, kills at least five By Warren Strobel Police officers talk to a man as they respond to an active shooter inside a city building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Greg Savoy ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Reuters) - A gunman fired through a glass door at a newspaper office in the Maryland capital of Annapolis and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire on Thursday, killing at least five people and injuring several others, authorities said. The suspect has been apprehended and no motive is known for the attack at the Capital Gazette office, local political leaders said, adding they believe he acted alone. A reporter for the newspaper described the scene in the newsroom as being "like a war zone," with reporters hiding under their desks for safety. New York Police officers are seen deployed outside the New York Times building following a fatal shooting at a Maryland newspaper, in New York City, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Phil Davis, who identified himself as a courts and crime reporter at the Capital Gazette, which runs multiple newspapers in its Annapolis office, tweeted that multiple people had been shot. Davis said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, which owns the Gazette, that he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing. "I don't know why. I don't know why he stopped," he said. "But as much as I'm going to try to articulate how traumatising it is to be hiding under your desk, you don't know until you're there and you feel helpless." One law enforcement source told CBS News the suspect is a male in his 20s who had no identification on him. Two law enforcement sources told CBS News the suspect used a shotgun and CNN reported he was not being cooperative with police. Law enforcement in Baltimore and New York City deployed protective forces to major media outlets as a precaution, authorities said. For now, the Annapolis shooting is being treated as a local incident and not one that involves terrorism, a law enforcement official said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is on the scene assisting local authorities, the official said. Davis later said he was safe and being interviewed by police. The daily newspaper and sister publications has an editorial staff of around 45 supported by a sales and advertising team of about 10 staff, according to the company's website. Police said they were on the scene in about a minute from the initial call about the shooting. President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said. "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene," Trump said in a tweet. Police went to the offices of the Baltimore Sun as a precaution, that paper reported. The New York Police Department said it was beefing up security at New York-based news organizations as a precaution. "We're deploying units from our Critical Response Command to news outlets throughout New York City," said Officer Andrew Lava, an NYPD spokesman. "There is no active threat at this time," he said. Agents from the Baltimore office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding to the incident, the bureau tweeted. Police are checking the building in Annapolis for explosives and whether more than one suspect was involved, Anne Arundel County police spokesman, Lieutenant Ryan Frashure, told reporters. Live video images showed people leaving the building, walking through a parking lot with their hands in the air. Scores of police vehicles were on the scene. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason in Washington, DC, Colleen Jenkins in North Carolina, Frank McGurty and Peter Szekely in New York, Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Phil Berlowitz and Richard Chang) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-06-29
  16. Trump backs down, orders end to family separations at U.S. border By Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order on immigration policy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump backed down and abandoned on Wednesday his policy of separating immigrant children from their families on the U.S.-Mexico border, after images of youngsters in cages sparked outrage at home and abroad. Trump signed an executive order requiring that immigrant families be detained together when they are caught entering the country illegally for as long as their criminal proceedings take. That may violate a court settlement on how long children may be held, setting up a potential legal fight, unless Congress acts on the issue. The Trump order, an unusual reversal by him, also moves parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings. The order does not end a 10-week-old "zero tolerance" policy that calls for criminal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally. “It's about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border,” Trump said as he signed the order in a hastily arranged Oval Office gathering minutes before departing for a campaign event. The videos of kids sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger in the United States from groups ranging from clergy to influential business leaders, as well as condemnation from abroad, including by Pope Francis. Trump, an avid viewer of cable television news, recognised that the family separation issue was a growing political problem, White House sources said. First Lady Melania Trump, in private conversations with the president, urged him to do something, a White House official said. In the Oval Office, Trump said he had heard from his daughter Ivanka about the policy, too. "Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it," Trump said. Wednesday's move was the most significant policy reversal by Trump since he took office in January 2017. Instinctively combative and fond of chaos, Trump usually digs in on controversial policies, rather than backing down. But the volume of condemnation on breaking up families, from inside and outside the White House, finally overwhelmed Trump. NEW HEADACHES The reversal also creates a series of new headaches for the administration, as it wrestles with where to house families that are detained together, possibly for long periods, and how to reunite families that already have been separated. "This executive order would replace one crisis for another. Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances. If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. Parents referred by border agents for prosecution are held in federal jails, while their children have remained in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody or have been moved into detention facilities managed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a Department of Health and Human Services agency. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday that 2,342 children had been separated from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9. The order directs the U.S. Justice Department to seek a modification of a court order to permit families that enter the United States illegally to be detained together until their criminal proceedings are concluded, a text of the order shows. It also directs the Department of Defense to take steps to house detained immigrant families as needed. Trump has made a tough stance on immigration central to his presidency. In recent days, he had insisted his hands were tied by law on the issue of family separations and blamed Democrats for the problem, even though his administration implemented the policy of strict adherence to immigration law. BILLS IN CONGRESS The Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is also considering legislation to address the issue. The House of Representatives planned to vote on Thursday on two bills designed to halt family separations and address a range of other immigration issues. "We are working on a much more comprehensive bill," Trump said. Republicans said they were uncertain if either House measure would have enough votes to pass. Trump told House Republicans on Tuesday night he would support either of the bills. Both House bills, which Democrats and immigration advocacy groups have blasted, would fund Trump's proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as reduce legal migration, in part by denying visas for some relatives of U.S. residents and citizens living abroad, sometimes called "chain migration." The more conservative bill from Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte also would deny the chance of future citizenship to "Dreamers," who are immigrants brought illegally into the United States years ago as children. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that compromise legislation under discussion would provide funding to allow the Department of Homeland Security enough resources to house and care for families as they stayed together during the process. "Under this bill, when people are being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, families will remain together under DHS custody throughout the length of their legal proceedings," he said. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Susan Cornwell, Amanda Becker and Mohammad Zargham in Washingtong; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Frances Kerry and James Dalgleish) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-06-21
  17. Queuing system via smart phone set to make immigration matters in Chonburi easier The head of Chonburi immigration has said that his new state of the art queuing system is an innovation that will make life easier for those extending visas in Pattaya and the rest of the province. Heralding the Thailand 4.0 era the system is called Chonburi Immigration on Mobile: Imm-Q on Mobile, which is available on Android and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. So long as your documents are in order just scan the QR code and the system will do the rest - your date is set to get that all important extension. Pol Col Songprot Sirisukha said it was part of PM Prayut's dream of a value based economy with the public in mind at all times. Set to start on June 25th it will be possible to get your date with immigration for the following categories: 1. Tourism purposes 2. Study in government institutions 3. Study in private institutions 4. Being Family member of Thai (Thai husband) 5. Being Family member of Thai (Support Thai wife) 6. Being Family member of Thai (Support Thai child) 7. Retirement -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2018-06-22 Photos: WelovePattaya
  18. South, North Korea to hold first summit in decade at DMZ By Soyoung Kim South Korea has released a busy agenda for Friday, when North Korea's Kim Jong Un will cross the border into the South for a historic inter-Korean summit. SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set to cross his country's heavily militarised border with South Korea on Friday for the first intra-Korea summit in more than a decade, as the old foes seek to end their decades-long conflict and ease tensions over the North's nuclear weapons programme. The summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in will set the stage for Kim to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what will be an unprecedented first encounter between sitting leaders of the two countries. Just months ago, Trump and Kim were trading threats and insults as North Korea's rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting the United States raised fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula. South Korea's Moon will greet Kim at the military demarcation line at 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT), making Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War. The two will be escorted by South Korean honour guards to an official welcoming ceremony before beginning official dialogue at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) at Peace House, a South Korean building inside the border truce village of Panmunjom. North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Kim had left Pyongyang for the "historical" summit in which he would "open-heartedly discuss with Moon Jae-in all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula." In a dramatic gesture just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site. But scepticism is rampant about whether Kim is ready to abandon the hard-earned nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against U.S. invasion. South Korea hopes North Korea's leader on Friday will directly confirm his will for "complete" denuclearisation of the peninsula. The two neighbours expect to release a joint statement late on Friday - possibly called the Panmunjom Declaration - that could address denuclearisation and peace, and an improvement in relations, South Korean officials said. KCNA said that Kim would plant a memorial tree with Moon. UNENDING HOSTILITIES Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia. On Thursday, Trump said he was considering three or four dates as well as five locations for his meeting with Kim Jong Un, although once again he added that it remained unclear whether the meeting will occur. Trump has said he expects to meet with Kim in May or June, but he has warned several times that the meeting could be called off if he did not think it could deliver the desired results. "It could be that I walk out quickly - with respect - but ... it could be that maybe the meeting doesn't even take place," he told Fox News by telephone. "Who knows. But I can tell you right now they want to meet." The White House later released two photographs of then Secretary of State-designate and CIA chief Mike Pompeo's meeting with Kim in North Korea over the Easter weekend to discuss the planned summit. It was Kim's first known meeting with a U.S. official. The photos show Kim and Pompeo, who was confirmed as secretary of state on Thursday, shaking hands. In one they faced each other looking serious; in the other they both appeared to wear faint smiles. https://bit.ly/2KfRHN3 Friday's inter-Korean summit will be the third ever after two former South Korean leaders, Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and Roh Moo-hyun in 2007, met with Kim Jong Un’s late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang. The latest summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarised Zone, a 160-mile (260-km) long, 2.5-mile (4-km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North. With heavily armed soldiers and propaganda broadcasts blasted over loudspeakers from both sides, the DMZ has long been a symbol of hostilities on the divided peninsula. South Korea switched off its propaganda broadcasts on Monday to set a positive tone ahead of the summit, and South Korean residents living near the border said the North Korean broadcasts had also appeared to stop on Tuesday. South and North Korea are in discussions about a peace agreement that could officially end the state of war, an effort Trump said has his "blessing" if Pyongyang agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal. For the first time, key moments such as Kim crossing the border into the South, the two leaders shaking hands and walking to the Peace House for their talks, will be broadcast live. The summit includes a dinner where Swiss fried potato rosti, as well as chocolates, macarons and gruyere cheese cakes will be served as a homage to Kim's childhood spent in Switzerland. PRELUDE TO TRUMP SUMMIT Moon, who took office in May pledging to restore ties with the North and who has tirelessly called for dialogue, helped steer Kim and Trump toward meeting, a major coup for the liberal president. After dozens of missile launches last year, Kim embarked on a diplomatic offensive at the beginning of the year. Kim sent a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February before Trump stunned the world by agreeing to meet Kim to discuss "denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula. Now comes the hard part. The history of failed nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang has made many U.S. officials sceptical of Kim's true intentions and suspicious of his recent overtures as more of a bid to win relief from wide-ranging U.N. sanctions and to divide Washington and its allies. There is also concern that North Korea could insist on taking incremental steps in return for simultaneous incentives from Washington, the kind of a phased approach that U.S. officials have rejected. Unlike two previous inter-Korean summits, joint economic projects are not expected to be discussed, South Korean officials said. U.N. sanctions imposed since North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006 and expanded over the past decade deny North Korea a considerable amount of international trade. (Reporting by Soyoung Kim in SEOUL; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Susan Heavey and Eric Beech in WASHINGTON; Editing by Lincoln Feast and James Dalgleish) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-04-27
  19. Accused in broadcast assault may face attempted murder charge, say police By THE NATION A MAN hit with four criminal charges following his assault and humiliation of his 21-year-old girlfriend during a Facebook Live broadcast on Sunday might also be facing an attempted murder charge, national police deputy chief Pol General Weerachai Songmetta said yesterday. While visiting the woman at Nopparat Ratchathani Hospital, Weerachai was told that her boyfriend Chaichana Sirichart, the 26-year-old administrator of a currency market or forex (FX) investment-teaching web page, had also inflicted a knife wound to her throat in Sunday’s attack. Hospital director Dr Somboon Thossaboworn said the victim’s injuries included a swollen face, broken nose, knife wound to the throat, broken right arm, broken left small finger, along with burn wounds and bruises all over her body (including some traces of old wounds) which was believed to come from eight hours of torture before she was finally rescued. Given the injuries, Weerachai said a previously-filed assault charge would become a charge of aggravated assault leading to serious injury, punishable by six months to 10 years in prison. The other three already-filed charges would remain the same: illegal detention, violating the computer crime act by inputting images of another person causing her humiliation, and taking methamphetamine. The woman claims Chaichana attacked her six times throughout their eight-month relationship. Weerachai said Chaichana, undre the influence of illegal drugs, might have hallucinated about the woman’s alleged infidelity. Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police Area 4 chief Pol Maj-General Theerapong Wongratpitak, who briefly questioned Chaichana at Bung Kum police station, said many people had each paid him Bt15,000 for an FX trading course but had never received tuition and could soon file complaints against him. Chaichana tearfully expressed his remorse, saying he wanted to apologise to the victim’s parents and wouldn’t have attacked the girlfriend, whom he still loved, if he could turn back time. He claimed he attacked her under the influence of drugs, stress and rage over a dispute over Bt6 million cash plus his accusation that she had affairs with other men. This contradicted the information given by a source among the victim’s relatives, who refuted speculation on social media that a Bt40 million stock sale might have been at the root of the attack. The source said this was not true because the victim’s family still supported her expenses and tuition, adding that the woman had told them she wanted to leave Chaichana but they talked her out of it, as they thought he was a good man. Meanwhile, deputy national police spokesman Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said that committing a public humiliation is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or up to a Bt20,000 fine, while defamation via social media is punishable by up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of Bt200,000. He urged people who came across domestic abuse to call 191 to report the incident immediately so police could act speedily to rescue victims. On Sunday at 7pm, police responding to a complaint went to a condominium in Nawamin area, where they found Chaichana – who police said appeared high on meth – and negotiated until he released the battered woman. The suspect, nabbed after two hours of negotiations, admitted to having used drugs and said he attacked the victim out of jealousy, police said. Meanwhile, well-known human rights activist Angkhana Neelaphaijit posted on her Facebook, citing this case as what the #MeToo global social-media movement against sexual harassment and assault was trying to curb. She said this assault and live broadcast signified that the gender-based violence in Thai society was getting worse. She added that in cases of terrorising and humiliating, the victim was often painted as having done something to deserve such treatment. Angkhana urged society to be responsible and solve this “structural violence” social issue which is too often considered a personal matter in which the victims are left to face the violence alone. She said that jealousy must not be used as a justification to assault women. She said the sexual violence must not be a negotiable offence, drug abuse must not be an excuse for violence and police must punish wrongdoers. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30343799 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-04-24
  20. More police deployed for Songkran By Pratch Rujivanarom The Nation Nearly 4 million people expected to travel around country during festival; people urged to celebrate with caution NEARLY 4 million people are expected to travel within Thailand during the Songkran holidays between today and Sunday, prompting authorities to step up measures for public safety. Police promised to make this year’s Songkran Festival safer for all revellers by deploying more personnel. Authorities and experts, however, said it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure safety, especially from crime and accidents during the busy travel period and at celebrations. Tourist Police deputy commander Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal said about 3 million domestic tourists and 930,000 tourists from abroad were expected to travel within the country during the three days of Songkran. The number of travellers was a big increase over the previous years, he said. In order to provide safety to all tourists visiting Thailand during Songkran, Surachet said 5,000 tourist police officers and volunteers would be deployed to assist tourists. “Tourism is a major source of revenue for the country and the Songkran Festival is a peak period for tourism. People from around the world come to Thailand to travel and celebrate the festival, while many Thais also use the long weekends to travel within the country and return home as well,” he said. “So, we have to take care all of the tourists and travellers and make sure that their journey will be pleasant.” The Ministry of Tourism and Sports said that within the relatively short period from April 1 to 17 last year, Thailand welcomed more than 1.53 million international tourists, while 1.25 million Thais also travelled within the country during that period. The seven-day period from April 11-17, 2017 generated up to Bt45.4 billion in revenue for the country. However, Surachet said that the people could not rely solely on police officers to provide safety and they must take personal precautions to ensure they don’t land themselves in dangerous situations. “I would like to caution all people not to enjoy Songkran by putting their safety at risk by getting too drunk or travelling to dangerous places alone. This kind of risky behaviour has already caused many people to become victims of crimes such as physical attacks or robbery,” he said. Another threat to public safety has been the high number of road accidents. Along with the New Year celebrations, accidents during Songkran have led to a huge number of fatalities every year. Last year’s statistics showed there were 3,690 road accidents during the seven monitoring days of Songkran, which killed 390 persons and injured 3,808 persons. Follow basic rules The director of the Academic Centre for Road Safety, Thanapong Jinvong, said that in order to avoid road accidents during this dangerous period, people who drive and travel by car should strictly comply with traffic rules by driving within speed limits. They must not drink before driving and must make sure that they get enough rest before sitting behind the wheel to make sure that they do not fall asleep while driving. He said ignoring these basic rules was the primary cause of road accidents. More than 3,000 motorists were found to be driving while drunk on the first of the so-called “seven dangerous days” of the Songkran holiday. The deputy spokesperson of the National Council for Peace and Order, Colonel Sirichan Ngathong, said yesterday that 156 vehicles were seized on Wednesday and 2,716 motorcyclists and other drivers were charged with drunk driving. Sirichan also said stepped-up spot checks on roads had identified 3,339 cases of drunk driving. More than 1,860 of those cases involved motorcyclists, she said, and 105 motorcycles were seized and |356 driving licences were confiscated. Authorities arrested 1,457 motorcyclists who will be going to court, while the rest were fined. The remainder of the cases involved private cars and transport vehicles, with 41 vehicles seized and 82 driving licences confiscated. A total of 1,259 motorists face charges in court and the rest were fined. Thanapong also advised other travellers who use public transportation to be wary of the safety standards of the vehicle they ride. Despite strict measures imposed on public transport carriers, there were still many illegal bus and van |operators whose vehicles did not meet the proper safety standards, he said. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30343090 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-04-13
  21. Narrow road foils firefighters By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA THE NATION THREE KILLED, MORE THAN 30 INJURED AS RESCUE EFFORT IN APARTMENT BUILDING SEVERELY HAMPERED SEVERAL FIRE trucks that rushed to a burning apartment building in Bangkok early yesterday were prevented from reaching the fire because access was too narrow for the vehicles to negotiate. The blaze killed three people and injured more than 30 others before it could be put out. Firemen jumped out of their vehicles at least 100 metres from the Rajtevee Apartment building in the capital’s Ratchathewi district, and ran towards the building carrying fire-fighting equipment. The blaze in the 15-storey building started at about 2.30am yesterday, likely because of an electrical short-circuit. It then spread quickly through the electrical wiring shaft. Without fire trucks, firemen carried hoses and connected them to the water sources closest to the building. Without hydraulic cherry pickers, they had to climb staircases to reach the people who were trapped inside. Many victims suffered seriously from smoke inhalation and could not escape on their own. It took firemen about two hours to extinguish the blaze. “We could have acted faster in saving people if fire trucks, including those with cherry pickers, could have directly reached the building,” an official from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) Fire and Rescue Department said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The apartment building is now off-limits as authorities plan a careful investigation that could take one or two months. The Rajtevee Apartment building has 180 units and features fire-prevention systems in line with the Building Control Act of BE 2535 (1992), even though the law took effect after its construction. “We inspected this building last year and everything was fine then,” Ratchathewi District Office director Thirayut Phumisak said. Rajtevee Apartment Limited Partnership, which owns several buildings, announced via a representative that it would provide remedial action for the victims and affected residents. “We will take care of them,” the representative said. Thirayut said most of the injured victims had lived on floors nine to 11. “At this point, we will focus on helping the victims first. We have not yet identified who should be held responsible for this fatal fire,” he said. Warut Poonpon, a resident, said the scene was chaotic and depressing, as people had to rush for their lives as smoke spread. Engineering Institute of Thailand president Assoc Professor Thanes Weerasiri said officials found the lift shaft door was open on the 12th floor. “Had the door been left open during the fire, smoke could have seriously flooded the 12th floor,” Thanes said. “Had the door been closed, smoke could have soared to the top of the building.” At present, laws do not require apartment building operators to stage fire-evacuation drills for residents. The BMA Fire and Rescue Department source said that without such a requirement, residents might be clueless in times of emergency. Thanes said the owners of several buildings in Bangkok should pay attention to legal and safety requirements. Even buildings constructed before the Building Control Act took effect had to abide by this law. “For example, all buildings must install fire-extinguishing cylinders at on every floor. Also, they must have fire alarms in place,” Thanes said. “Building owners must provide fire-prevention-system inspections by qualified inspectors every year.” The structures of many buildings constructed before the act was introduced are different from those developed later, but they can be adjusted to comply with the laws. In the Ratchathewi district alone, there are more than 300 such buildings. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30342401 -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-04-04
  22. Urgent call for blood donors in lead-up to Songkran By Rachanon Charoonsak The Nation The Thai Red Cross Society is calling on people to donate blood before the upcoming Songkran Festival, when supplies will be needed for life-saving medical services. As millions of people usually travel during the Songkran holidays, there is a greater risk of road accidents and large numbers of casualties. The Songkran road toll is expected to be so high that the relevant agencies have resolved to declare the holiday period “Seven Dangerous Days” in order to promote road safety. The experience of the past, however, is that adequate blood stocks will be needed to help save lives. At least one hospital already has critically low blood supplies. Thai Red Cross Society, which operates the National Blood Centre, said this week that almost 200 hospitals had asked for blood units. “With their requests, we will have to provide between 3,000 and 4,000 blood units per day during Songkran,” an official said. The Red Cross said that, statistically, group O is the most in-demand blood type, followed by B, A, and AB. During the seven days of Songkran, at least about 28,000 blood units will be required in storage. People who plan to go on vacation during this period are advised to donate blood beforehand. Currently, the Sririraj Hospital lacks type O blood type for storage. Donors are requested to come to the third floor of the hospital from Monday-Friday between 8.30am and 6pm, and on weekends and national holidays between 8.30am and 4.40pm. The Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital has a campaign asking people to donate blood to help patients with thalassemia, heart disease and cancer, as well as those suffering from road accidents. Its blood-donation room is open every day from 8.30am to 4pm. -- © Copyright The Nation 2018-03-27
  23. Bangladeshi plane crashes in Nepal, killing at least 49 By Gopal Sharma Wreckage of an airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal March 12, 2018. REUTERS/ Navesh Chitrakar KATHMANDU (Reuters) - At least 49 people were killed on Monday when a Bangladeshi airliner crashed in cloudy weather as it came in to land at the Nepalese capital's hill-ringed airport, officials said. The chief executive officer of US-Bangla Airlines, Imran Asif, accused Kathmandu's air traffic control for giving wrong signals. But airport general manager Raj Kumar Chettri said the pilot disregarded their messages and came in from the wrong direction. Seventyone people were on board the plane arriving from Dhaka when it clipped the fence at Kathmandu and burst into flames, Chettri said. There were 33 Nepali passengers, 32 from Bangladesh, one from China and one from the Maldives. (Graphics on 'Deadly plane crash in Nepal' - "All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang," one of the survivors, Basanta Bohora, told the Kathmandu Post daily. "I was seated near a window and was able to break out of the window." The accident was the latest to hit mountainous Nepal, which has a poor record of air safety. Small aircraft ply an extensive domestic network and often run into trouble at remote airstrips. "So far 49 people are dead and 22 are undergoing treatment at different hospitals," Sanjiv Gautam, executive director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), told reporters. Several people were rescued from the burning wreckage of the Bombardier Q400 series aircraft and are undergoing treatment at hospitals, army spokesman Gokul Bhandari said. Chettri said that moments after the plane received permission to land, the pilot said he wanted to go in a northern direction. Asked by the control tower if there was a problem, he replied in the negative. The plane was then seen making two rounds in a northeast direction, Chettri said. Traffic controllers again asked the pilot if things were OK, and he replied, "Yes". The tower then told the pilot his alignment was not correct, but there was no reply, Chettri added. "The plane should have come from the right direction," Chettri said, adding that it hit the airport fence, touched the ground and then caught fire. It was not immediately clear if the pilot had issued a "Mayday" call, or distress signal. US-Bangla Airlines' Asif, however, said that wrong signals might have led to the crash. "A three-minute conversation between the pilot and the air traffic control before the landing indicated that they sent wrong signal to the pilot," he told reporters in Dhaka. SERIES OF ACCIDENTS Many of the bodies that lay on the tarmac, covered with cloth, were charred, witnesses said. Thick plumes of smoke could be seen from the aircraft at the Tribhuvan International Airport. Those on board include 12 Nepali tour agents who were returning after an annual sales conference in Bangladesh, an official said. The aircraft that went down on Monday was 17 years old, data from tracking website Flightradar24.com showed. It descended to an airport altitude of 4,400 feet (1,341 m) and then climbed to 6,600 feet (2,012 m) before crashing about two minutes later, the website said. Bombardier said on Twitter it was saddened by the accident. "Our thoughts are with those injured, and their families," it said. There have been a series of accidents at Kathmandu in the past. In March 2014, a flock of birds shattered the windshield of a Malaysia Airlines <MASM.KL> jet as it landed in Kathmandu. The same month, a rear wheel of an Airbus A320 operated by an Indian budget airline caught fire after landing. In 2012, a plane carrying trekkers to Mount Everest region hit a bird and crashed in Kathmandu, killing all on board. In 1992, all 113 people aboard were killed when a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok crashed while trying to land in Kathmandu. US-Bangla Airlines is a unit of the US-Bangla Group, a U.S. Bangladeshi joint venture company. The two pilots and two cabin crew were Bangladeshi nationals, airline spokesman Kamrul Islam said in Dhaka. "Our team will fly to Nepal as soon as the airport is open," he added. "We are in touch with Nepali authorities." The Bangladeshi carrier, which launched operations in July 2014 with a slogan - "Fly Fast-Fly Safe", operates Bombardier and Boeing <BA.N> aircraft. (Additional reporting by Navesh Chitrakar; Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Sudarshan Varadhan and Aditi Shah in NEW DELHI; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Angus MacSwan) -- © Copyright Reuters 2018-03-13