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PeterRS last won the day on May 15

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  1. Although not an American, viewing from afar I have to agree. I also think certain parts of the electoral system and the Constitution should be reviewed - at least from time to time. For example, why is it necessary to have such a huge gap between the declaration of the winner in a general election and the assumption of power? Clearly it was necessary 200+ years ago when travel was by buggy and it took States time to gather all the votes and then declare a winner in the electoral college. Then it took more time to get all those votes/electors from the west coast to Washington before they could all be certified by Congress. But we don't live in the 18th century. In many developed countries vote counts take hours rather than days or weeks and often, as in the UK, the loser moves out of the official residence in Downing Street only a day or so after the vote. When this takes more than 2 months, you end up with Trump and any other future President who is determined to use everything avaiable to him and much else to contest votes and remain in office illegally. Oh, I know there were the hanging chad shenanigans in 2000. Had there been a sensible and obvious voting system in place in Florida that would not have happened IMHO! The Constitution is often held up as an example of how prescient and great the framers were. Again I have to ask: how is it that what was seen as right and proper centuries ago remains so today? Did the framers really want their country to be overrun by guns and gun violence as it is today? Did they envisage the vast social changes that would engulf the world after World War II? Granted they were not always in agreement and there were major differences of opinion back then. But did they foresee the near total gridlock that now exists in Washington? Did they foresee a supremely political Supreme Court which, from those viewing from afar, seems to have two sex offenders on the bench, both put on the Court primarily for political reasons? Why did they determine that Justices would serve for life? With the vast majority of the population now having to retire at a certain age, why not those on the Supreme Court? Similarly with Congress? Just questions for discussion. The UK has its own set of major problems as do other countries. But US democracy in particular seems rooted in a period centuries ago with those in power determined not to enact what seem like necessary changes to bring it into the 21st century.
  2. I don't think you are stupid at all. I try to do some research on transport from the airport before I hit a new city. If I haven't, my priority is to get to my hotel with the minimum of fuss and preferably without changing from one mode of transport to another. I'd have happily paid $10 extra for an air con Mercedes if I was not sure about taxis and the possibility of taxi scams. But I'm glad you're settling in and hope you will have great trip.
  3. That's a fascinating read. Having lived in Asia through the 1997 crisis it took a while before the real reason for its occurrence became known to many. I do remember it was such a massive shock in Thailand that many stores failed to raise prices on existing stock purchased prior to July 1997. Shopping in Bangkok even in December that year was one big bargain sale. You could even have gone into Robinsons, then located in Siam Centre, and purchased a concert grand Steinway piano for roughly half price - effectively a $100,000 discount. The crony capitalism practised in many Asian countries highlighted in the article is obviously now far less prominent than prior to the crisis, but it is still there even if much reduced. As highlighted, in the 1990s the Thai government was determined to defend the Baht 25 = US$1 peg at all costs. And this was less for the country's good than the large companies run by their pals. The boom of the early 1990s had seen a large amount of capital inflow, some resulting from the long period of stagflation which hit Japan at the start of the decade. This had seen Thailand's annual growth maintained at about 8%. But by 1996 the warning signs were evident to some. Growth began to slow to just over 6% in 1996, partly as a result of the huge rise in dodgy finance companies keen to make a quick buck. Only a very few saw a financial tsunami on the cards. Real estate companies, spurred by the 400% increase in property values since 1990 had mushroomed but were being left with a huge amount of unsold residential and commercial property. Exports fell dramatically. Less obvious in the article is that Thailand had had very high interest rates continuously averaging 11% throughout the 1990s in order to maintain the currency peg. As a result many companies, large and small, decided to tap the Eurodollar market for loans with interest rates usually around 5% less. Assuming the baht/$ peg would never be changed, they failed to hedge their borrowings. Once the baht peg collapsed, their fate was sealed. Yet, the possibility of a tsunami had reared its head in May 1996 when, with a portfolio packed with bad loans, the Bangkok Bank of Commerce failed with debts of $3 billion, mostly in non-performing loans. It had to be taken over by the government to retain confidence in the increasingly shaky financial markets. Then, speculators had in fact hit the baht big time earlier in 1997. Using its considerable foreign exchange reserves, the government was able to fend them off and bought up many basically insolvent companies. But in doing so by May it had used up $28 billion of its $30 billion reserves. Thereafter there was little ammunition to fend off another attack were it to come. That was why the second wave at the start of July could not be defended. As a result of the crisis, currencies in every country in the region fell by an average of around 20% and were to stay at those levels for some time. Surprisingly, the only ones that remained at pre-crisis levels were China and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong dollar was also pegged to the US% - as it remains today. It is different from Bangkok's peg in that for every HK$ issued there is the equivalent of a US$ in a special currency fund. For almost three years it managed to avoid most of the fallout of the crisis. But by 2000 it was to enter its worst recession since World War 2. Even so, the government continued to maintain the currency peg. As an interesting aside, the speculators descended on Hong Kong in May 1998. Its government announced the threat in advance and stated that for every stock shorted by the speculators, it would purchase with government funds an equivalent amount. It expected this would cost around $100 million. It ended up spending a whopping $15 billion in the defence but won the fight and the speculators were left with major losses. As those securities had been purchased when the market was low, the government ended up with a huge surplus on its actions as the stock market rose.
  4. I queried a post in another thread when a poster stated his Thai friend whom he has known for quite some time had had three customers all of whom he said were Chinese. My view then was that they must have been Taiwanese. I think not Singaporean or Malaysian Chinese where the accent is stronger and more noticeable. I was informed there are ways of getting out of China. My friends in Shanghai told me they could not possibly have recently come from China. The only possibility was that they were already here on a long term study course - which of course is perfectly possible. Then they would not be going home soon and would avoid all the hurdles. Getting to Hong Kong for business even for permanent residents remains a major hurdle with quarantine still in place and a further period of observation. Any non-Chinese permanent resident must renew his status within three years of last visit. As mine was in August 2019 I have written to the Director of Immigration about not being able to return but got the usual standard letter with the regulations. It did end, though, with mention about special discretion! Since I still need to travel there quite frequently, I hope I will fall into the discretion category!
  5. Clarence Thomas must surely be one of the most disastrous appointments to the US Supreme Court. I wonder if any other posters watched his confirmation hearings before the Senate. I did and was appalled. The accusation by Anita Hill was clearly disturbing for him, but the defence he was given time to prepare was a farce. My friends and I sat in Tokyo and we all expressed the view, "Methinks he doth protest too much." When someone goes to that length (he called it akin to a lynching) without actually refuting the allegations, in my view he is guilty, the more so when you actually looked closely at his facial movements. He was a sexual predator and should never have been confirmed. That Joe Biden as the President of the Senate barred two other women from testifying and then pushed through the nomination by the slimmest of margins remains a major blot on Biden's record. As a non-American, I find it near ridiculous that Justices are nominated only by the President. The fact is that most of the ultra right-wing conservatives on the Court were nominated by Presidents who had lost the popular vote. So they owe their position to a minority of the voting public. The toxic split that has been evident in Washington for years resulted in the the awful Mitch McConnell holding up the nomination of Merrick Garland for (was it) 10 months because he was determined to get a conservative Justice on the Court rather than a liberal. Then in their Senate hearings, I seem to recall that all three Trump nominees stated something like Roe v. Wade was established law - the impression being they would probably not seek to overturn it. Now even Trump has stated he objects to their action! I don't think there are any cases near the Supreme Court involving gay marriage. But I'll bet that someone will start an action very soon. And if the Court membership remains with a 6-3 conservative majority (although John Roberts seems to have become slightly more of a moderate), who's to say gay marriage won't go the way of Roe v. Wade sooner rather than later.
  6. Has anyone stayed recently at the Banyan Tree? I only stayed there once ages ago and well before the Banyan Tree took it over. Am I correct in thinking it was a Westin? It's selling point was it was an all suite hotel. But I found both the living rooms and bedrooms very small in area. I did not stay a second time. I wonder if Banyan Tree knocked down walls to increase the areas. I know of many who want to go to the Vertigo Bar on the roof. I've been a few times and find it quite boring. usually it has been crowded and with Bangkok being so flat there really is not much to see. We have started going to the Speakeasy Bar at the top of the Muse Hotel on Langsuan. It has become popular again but there a lots of tables. When it rains, it has two levels of interior seating. The snack menu is also very good at reasonable prices.
  7. Like @caeron I do not know enough about the intricacies of Burmese politics, although I do have sympathy for Aung San Suu Kyi. I realise she stood by and said nothing when the army launched its purge against the Rohingya people and that is an absolute disgrace. But she had all but rescued the country from army control almost as her father had achieved independence for the country from the British prior to his assassination only six months later. She elected to stay in the country for decades hardly seeing her husband and children to be a beacon around whom the anti-militarists could unite. She too was the subject of an assassination attempt in 2003 when at least 70 of her followers were killed. But her silence over the Rohingya massacres mystified most of the world who then changed their views about her. But I wonder what would have happened had she spoken out against the army. Would it have resulted in changing anything? It seems to me with my limited understanding that it would not. The Rohingya problem goes way back in history and is surely one of the disastrous legacies of British colonialism. This was further exacerbated when the Rohingya muslims allied with the British during World War 2 whereas the Rakhine State Buddhists were allied with the Japanese. After independence, the Rohingya were treated almost as black South Africans were treated in that country under apartheid. It seems someone made promises to the Rohingya either that they would have a separate state or could secede and become part of what was first East Pakistan and now Bangladesh. What eventually unfolded was a humanitarian disaster. The army was clearly responsible. Pinning the blame on Aung San Suu Kyi as many seem to do is at the least unfortunate.
  8. For info, Dusit Thani is now a construction site. It closed well over a year ago. Le Meridien has been mentioned and I agree it's a great hotel. There were some really good rate packages during the pandemic, but I can't find any now. It has gone back to being a 5* pretty expensive hotel, sadly.
  9. Surely if a post is deleted, the moderator who takes the action should at least post a note in the thread to the effect that a post has been deleted. I don't think it is necessary to state why it has been deleted, merely that action has been taken.
  10. Singapore's OnlyFans, TikTok, Twitter and other internet sites celebrity porn star Titus Low has been in the news again. Having been arrested for uploading allegedly obscene content on the OnlyFans last December, he's been at it again. He was re-arrested in February on charges of having uploaded 20 obscene photos and 14 videos on to another OnlyFans site. Always claiming to be bisexual, Low's paid content has always attracted girls as well as boys. One viewer claimed his attraction is having the face of a K-Pop star with a tattooed body of a body builder - although it seems he is not very well endowed!! Now he has surprised everyone by allegedly getting married. He met his Malaysian girlfriend and married her two weeks later. Understandably this has led to a lot of speculation about the reasons for the soon-to-be 23-year old going into such a shot-gun marriage. A way to help with his court case? Photos : Mothership
  11. I was only once in Rio for a long week-end and stayed in one of the hotels by Copacabana Beach. On Sunday morning I took an expensive cab in to the centre just to walk around and see the city. It was a beautiful sunny day. I had taken off anything of value and just wore a T-shirt, shorts and sandals. I was walking past a church which was quite literally packed to overflowing when I heard running footsteps behind me, quickly followed by a hand over my mouth and another on my neck. It was only then I realised I had totally forgotten to take off the gold neck chain I had been wearing for a couple of decades. I rarely took it off as I had bought it in Singapore and the strong clasp was very difficult to undo. The thief had clearly seen it glint in the sunlight under my T-shirt. As my mugger pulled hard to try and dislodge it, I shouted for help. Three men standing in the lobby of the nearby church came rushing towards me. Within moments the thief had run off. Just a second later my neck chain fell to the ground! What really surprised me was that a police car was on the scene within less than a minute. But it was really my fault for not having taken the chain off, so I thanked everyone in my very basic Portuguese, especially the guys from the church. As @z909 has said, I cannot recall ever thinking about being robbed in Thailand over the decades i have been visiting and living in the country. And I never have been robbed.
  12. Perhaps these are the new mega-rich tourists that the government has been targeting and who will spend more than all the lost 11 million or so Chinese put together. 🤣 🤣
  13. What always amazes me is the strength of family ties throughout most of Asia. I have a good friend in Bangkok whose partner has a Burmese father and mother was Thai. At the age of 8 the boy went off to school in the morning. He knew his mother had not been well for a couple of months but nothing more. When he returned from school, she was dead of cancer. The father had not told him or his siblings how serious her illness was and so he was not able to say goodbye to her. He was totally devastated. After his sister married a Thai and came to live in Bangkok, he moved here and was able to finish his studies. He felt desperately lonely. Young Thais don't hold anyone who is even half Burmese in much affection. Some of the money he earned from part time jobs when studying would be sent back to his father. After he'd been together with my friend for two years, he told his father he is gay. My friend did everything possible to stop him from doing that, but he had made up his mind. The father then cut him off entirely. Even so, he still sends a small amount of money each month. Again my friend has tried everything to persuade him to stop sending anything until his father accepts him as his son again. He promised to think seriously about it, but still sends the money.
  14. With a few exceptions I've never been a Pattaya person. In my freewheeling days, Bangkok had everything that I ever wanted - more or less! I admit, though, that sitting at the gay part of Dongtan beach used to be great in the days when the bar boys would come out to play in the late afternoon. But swimming in that water? It always seemed filthy and I understand there is sewage flowing into the sea not far away (or has that now changed?). On the other hand I'm definitely a beach person. For years friends and I would rent an apartment for a couple of weeks in Phuket. Then Phuket became overbuilt, overrun with tourists and a lot more expensive. Before I became involved in a long term relationship I used to take a boy off and spend a few days in places like Krabi and more recently in Khao Lak. Khao Lak always seems to me one of the gems of Thailand. There's virtually nothing to do there apart from staying in one of the beach hotels and chilling out. But the long wide beach is fabulous and the hotels very spread out. You can be staying in one and never see another. We've often had the beach more or less to ourselves. Then after a day relaxing, sunset cocktails at the pool bar, the little Thai restaurants just off the beach serve great inexpensive food.
  15. Just an interesting aside based on a new book that has been published in the USA. The Man Who Broke Capitalism by David Gelles makes the case that Jack Welch, a hugely admired businessman who was CEO of General Electric for 20 years from 1981, changed the face of American capitalism and ushered in an era of distrust which has resulted in the brutality of corporate America. He makes the case that in every company there would be 20% who were the cream, 70% who were good average workers and 10% who were not worth their pay packet. So managers were told that 10% of their workforce had to be fired every year. He also turned GE into much more of a financial company than a manufacturing one. Many disciples of Welsh moved on to head other companies and instituted the same policies. Rather than any further summary, here is the very interesting interview Gelles gave on CNN yesterday.
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