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  1. I would have no qualms about traveling to Cuba. However, any US citizen (or citizens of countries with sanctions on Iran or North Korea) are subjecting themselves to being arrested on false charges and becoming hostages of government. The Otto Warmbier incident cited above is among the most tragic examples.
  2. From The Thaiger An unruly British man was arrested after his flight from Bangkok to LondonHeathrow landed following a cowardly attack on a Thai Airways member of staff. The 35 year old unnamed British man went berserk only minutes after the flight from the Thai capital took off on February 7 and proceeded to smash up the aircraft’s toilet. A passenger managed to capture the disgraceful footage of the unhinged man assaulting a flight attendant who was trying to calm him down. The belligerent passenger was also seen attempting to exchange blows with other passengers and crew members who intervened. The motive behind his erratic behaviour remains unknown. A female passenger, who opted to remain anonymous, recorded the unfolding chaos on her mobile phone from her seat. Her footage depicts the man striking a steward, causing him to collapse in the aisle. He was in the toilet and he started screaming and shouting. He started smashing the door and it came away from the hinges. “An older guy, in the white t-shirt, tried to get him out. A fight broke out and he ended up smacking the flight attendant. I think he broke his nose.” The 22 year old witness, who was returning from a months-long trip, captured additional footage showing the man yelling while being restrained in his seat. She noted that more passengers got involved after the initial altercation. Travellers were informed that the flight might divert to Dubai if further incidents occurred, but they were able to proceed to London without interruption, albeit enduring the disruptive behaviour of the unruly passenger. “Two passengers sat on either side of him and kept pulling him down. We had to put up with his shouting. He was being very verbally abusive. “It was rough. People were swapping seats and moving kids to the back of the plane. [Upon landing] the police came on and got him off.’ Upon landing, police boarded the aircraft and removed the man from the scene. A Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed the incident. ‘We met the aircraft on arrival and a 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and endangering an aircraft. “He remains in custody. “Another man was taken to hospital. His condition was assessed as not life-threatening.” Continues with videos https://thethaiger.com/news/national/unruly-british-man-goes-berserk-on-bangkok-london-flight-video
  3. NOTE — Is the dismissive attitudes expressed by the political parties a harbinger of what we can expect in elections elsewhere? From Thai PBS World The use of AI deep-fakes in Indonesia, during the run-up to this year’s elections, is ringing alarm bells among advocates for information integrity, as they are being used for political gain. As the world watches the country’s fifth direct presidential elections, since the end of the Suharto era in 1998, it is worth taking a look at the struggle to address the downsides of this rapidly developing technology. Over the past six months, the local and international media have dubbed this the “AI election” and are reporting the mixed concerns and responses of multiple stakeholders to the increasing and controversial use of generative AI by political parties in their campaigns. A number of AI-generated audio and video clips have surfaced and gone viral on social media between October 2023 and January this year, mainly targeting presidential candidates. One was an AI-generated clip resurrecting the late President Suharto, apparently asking voters to support presidential frontrunner and current Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, behind whom the Golkar party, founded by Suharto, is throwing its support. Others include Prabowo’s “warm and cuddly” personality makeovers, in an attempt to soften his stern image in his neo-nationalist Gerindra party’s political campaigns. Following a public outcry, both campaign teams defended the two AI-generated makeovers as being harmless and for not attacking other candidates, which is an offense under the country’s 2017 elections law. Continues at https://www.thaipbsworld.com/indonesia-csos-fight-deep-fake-elections/
  4. Your photo tours of the ruins much appreciated as I’ve never been to Cambodia. Not an oversight I’m sure. It’s China’s way of subjugating Cambodians. They’re telling them that learn to speak in Chinese.
  5. From Pattaya Mail Tourist insurance scheme excludes expats By Barry Kenyon The Thai government’s 50 million baht coverage for foreign visitors applies specifically to “tourists” who have been admitted with a visa-exempt stamp or a 60 days tourist visa awarded by an embassy. The scheme does not cover holders of current non-immigrant visas or extensions or longstay permits. Tourism and sports minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said the government wanted to provide a safety net where tourists who die on vacation here might be covered for one million baht on a case by case basis. Accidents which cause permanent organ loss or blindness or permanent disability might merit 300,000 baht compensation plus 500,000 baht for medical treatment. However, carelessness or risky or illegal behaviour by the visitor will invalidate any claim. The ministry is stressing that long stay and business travellers are not covered by the insurance programme which covers the year 2024 until August 31. Spokesman Mongkon Wimonrat said most group travel visitors buy pre-holiday insurance which is required by the tourism business and guide act of 2008. Independent travellers should make their own insurance arrangements. Expats, who are exempted from the scheme, are not normally required to have insurance unless they hold an O/A retirement visa or extension of stay, originally issued by a Thai embassy abroad, or a 10-year Long Term Residence as well as foreigners working with an employment permit covered by other regulations. Embassies are continually warning uninsured foreign visitors and residents that inpatient costs in Thailand are very expensive, for example running into millions of baht following serious road accidents. UK visa specialist Peter Clarke said, “The government insurance for tourists is designed to hand out cash after tragedies such as major traffic pileups or boats sinking. But 500,000 baht won’t cover most operations requiring significant surgery and excludes expats in any case.” He added that, while the scheme was useful in context, all foreigners in Thailand should purchase comprehensive medical insurance or self-insure with at least 3 million baht or US$100,000 in reserve.
  6. From Pattaya News Join an amazing strongman event presented by Cerberus Strength Thailand and Bench Fitness Equipment for free on Saturday, February 17th, at Mapprachan Lake, Pattaya to cheer on 55 competitors from 14 countries competing for Thailand’s Strongest Man and Woman 2024. ⁠
  7. From Pattaya News The opening ceremony for the ‘Pattaya International Beach Football Cup 2024’ will take place on Friday the 16th of February 2024 from 4:30 P.M. All team players and team managers will be ready at the Beach Football Stadium on Jomtien Beach Road opposite the Night Market at 16.00 pm and bring along the Team Player List with numbers and names corresponding to the jersey numbers.
  8. From The Nation Foreign tourists will receive medical coverage of up to 500,000 baht in case of accidents in Thailand, and compensation of up to 1 million baht in the event of death under the government’s new campaign to enhance tourists’ confidence while travelling in Thailand. The campaign, a collaboration between the Tourism and Sports and Public Health ministries, aims to assure foreign tourists that they will be properly taken care of while they are in the kingdom, Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said at the launch of the campaign on Wednesday. Explaining that the campaign’s goal is to strengthen the positive image of Thailand as a global vacation destination, she said the ministry had set aside 50 million baht to fund the scheme. The money will come from the ministry’s budget for emergency expenses and will be used to compensate foreign tourists on a case-by-case basis during their travel in Thailand between January 1 and August 31 this year, she said. The maximum coverage is 1 million baht per person in case of death and 300,000 baht per person for permanent organ loss, loss of sight or permanent disability. Medical expenses will be covered at the amount actually paid, but not exceeding 500,000 baht. Tourists will not be eligible for the coverage if the incidents stem from their carelessness, intention to take part in any illegal activity, or risky behaviour. To apply for the coverage, foreigners holding a tourist visa can submit documents at the provincial tourism and sports offices, or at tourist assistance centres located in Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports. Applications can also be submitted via post and e-mail. Sudawan said the ministry believed that the campaign would help boost revenue from tourism. She added that foreign arrivals as of February 11 totalled 4.3 million, putting the country on track to achieve its target of 35 million foreign tourists in 2024. https://www.nationthailand.com/thailand/policies/40035582
  9. From Pattaya Mail Thailand’s anti-cannabis laws will have a slow start By Barry Kenyon Although Thai authorities are determined to outlaw smoking cannabis for pleasure once and for all, experts say that there is likely to be a long grace or settling-in period. Jessataporn Bunnag, a specialist lawyer, said “A great deal of money was invested prior to decriminalization of the herb in 2022,and it’s going to take time for a new legislative process to evolve.” Commentator Chokwan Kitty Chopakasai predicted that some shops which had abused the system in the last 18 months – for example opening selling joints, edibles and extracts – would close, but that most would still be able to operate provided they obtained new licences and kept detailed records. Of course, the draft law is still under consideration for public debate. “They let the genie out of the bottle with descheduling and how they put it back is one of the biggest challenges,” he said. Under the draft revisionist cannabis and hemp law, only marijuana for medical purposes will be legal, whilst the police will have expanded powers to investigate the sale of smokable marijuana outside the medical market. There will also be a ban on some commercial imports of the drug. Future ambiguities in enforcement include how the police will differentiate between medical and pleasure marijuana. Presumably, an insomniac enjoys smoking weed which he believes can help him or her sleep better. Thailand has around 6,500 marijuana stores which aren’t necessarily illegal as many operate in a sort-of gray area with cannabis currently delisted as a narcotic. Other shortcomings of the current law include a lack of testing requirements, no seed-to-sale program for marijuana and confusion over taxation issues. Many commentators believe that, once the new legislation is in place, police will focus on the illicit selling of marijuana online, foreigners and Thais selling hash and concentrates and anyone selling imported cannabis, all of which are expected to be crimes. But a full scale assault is much less likely. Matt, a Pattaya marijuana seller, concluded, “Selective enforcement is part of the Thai system. After all, prostitution has been illegal in Thailand since the 1960s, but you still find traces of it here and there.” Future ambiguities in enforcement include how the police will differentiate between medical and pleasure marijuana. Presumably, an insomniac enjoys smoking weed which he believes can help him or her sleep better. Thailand has around 6,500 marijuana stores which aren’t necessarily illegal as many operate in a sort-of gray area with cannabis currently delisted as a narcotic. Other shortcomings of the current law include a lack of testing requirements, no seed-to-sale program for marijuana and confusion over taxation issues.
  10. Tip of the 🧢 for a very entertaining and descriptive account. Only been there once but unfortunately the Venezuelans were not in abundance that far back. The great wine and steak prices were, however.
  11. Thanks for passing it along and neither am I impressed. It comes across as an ultra, politically correct view by someone who very likely has never seen the inside of a bar—or Thailand for that matter.
  12. Yesterday, February 13th, 2024, the draft cannabis bill that would ban recreational usage of cannabis was not approved by the Thai Cabinet, with relevant officials and the Minister of Public Health calling it a “delay” to speak with the public, pro cannabis interest groups, and get more opinions.
  13. From The Nation Justice Minister Thawee Sodsong confirmed that he has approved Thaksin Shinawatra’s parole as he is believed to have completed half his jail term without spending a single night behind bars. Thawee was responding to earlier reports on Tuesday morning quoting a source from the Justice Ministry saying that the former PM was among the inmates allowed to “spend the rest of their jail terms at home”. Thaksin’s name was reportedly added to a list initially approved by a subcommittee of the Corrections Department, before being given to Thawee for the final stamp of approval. The source added that the subcommittee considered Thaksin eligible for parole because he has “served” half of his one-year jail term. Thaksin, whose government was overthrown in a military coup in September 2006, had been in self-imposed exile overseas for 15 years before returning to Thailand on August 22 last year. He was sentenced in absentia to eight years in jail in a couple of corruption cases. Upon arriving in Thailand, Thaksin was almost immediately taken to the Supreme Court to acknowledge his jail term and then to the Bangkok Remand Prison. However, later that very night, he was rushed to the Police General Hospital for an unidentified condition and has been receiving treatment there since. It was earlier reported that Thaksin would complete half of his term on February 18, as it would mark 180 days in detention counting from August 22 last year. The source, however, said that so far it cannot be confirmed when Thaksin will be released as the Justice Ministry has to complete proceedings before the actual release date can be announced.
  14. From AFP Myanmar’s junta is enforcing a law allowing the military to summon all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 to serve for at least two years, it said on Saturday, as it struggles to crush opposition to its 2021 coup. The country has been in turmoil since the military seized power that year, with massive pro-democracy protests morphing into widespread armed resistance. The junta “issued the notification of the effectiveness of People’s Military Service Law starting from February 10th, 2024,” the junta’s information team said in a statement. The law was authored by a previous junta in 2010 but was never brought into force. Saturday’s statement did not give further details but said the junta’s defence ministry would “release necessary bylaws, procedures, announcements orders, notifications and instructions.” Under the 2010 law, during a state of emergency the terms of service under military command can be extended up to five years and those ignoring summons to serve can be jailed for the same period.
  15. When it comes to the Tuck (not to be confused with Vinapu’s), you have to bear in mind what he truly thinks of Trump. What he thinks of Putin we’ll have to wait on that. From the BBC Tucker Carlson said he hates Trump 'passionately', lawsuit reveals Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in a text message after the 2020 election that he "passionately hated" Donald Trump, according to new court filings. Mr Carlson's message to a colleague in January 2021 emerged as part of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News. The electronic voting firm accuses the network of promoting baseless claims of vote-rigging in the election. Fox News denies defamation and says on-air comments were taken out of context. The latest filings in the case suggest Mr Carlson expressed his dislike of the outgoing US president two days before Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol to derail lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden's election win. "We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights," he wrote in a text sent on 4 January 2021. "I truly can't wait." "I hate him passionately," he added. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64886188
  16. Both the convenience store and exterior fascade to old Bangkok Massage were for movie set only. The filming took three days. Construction crew making rapid progress on new venue. One side will have great view of main entrance to Dream Boy.
  17. Could you please comment on the age distribution.
  18. While entering Foodland for breakfast this morning, was greeted by makings of an expansive new venue opposite Foodland. It extends all the way to sub-soi where entrance to Dream Boy is located. My friend asked construction workers what type of place is going to emerge and was told big bar with dance floor. That leaves a lot of options but we’re inclined to think it may resemble the large music and dance venue at the other end of that sub-soi on PP1. In any case, encouraging to see renewed interest in vacant space.
  19. Tech College student killed in Lat Krabang drive-by shooting From Bangkok Post https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2739765/college-student-killed-in-lat-krabang-drive-by-shooting
  20. From Bangkok Post https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2739561/airports-of-thailand-to-invest-b4-4bn-in-suvarnabhumi-expansion
  21. From Thai PBS World Royalists clash with pro-democracy group at Siam Square BTS station A group of royalists clashed with pro-democracy demonstrators at the Siam Square sky train station today, forcing Pathumwan police and BTS officials to close all entrances to the connected malls. The Taluwang anti-monarchy group, led by Tantawan Tuatulanon, held a rally at the station to explain an incident in which she was accused of honking a car horn at the convoy of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on an expressway in Bangkok. Simultaneously, a royalist group rallied nearby to protest against the first group’s activities. Speaking to the media during the rally, Tantawan offered a public apology for the incident, saying that she was sorry for speeding and was not careful enough. She was booed and jeered by the royalists, resulting in a clash between the rival protesters, forcing her to end the press conference abruptly. No serious injuries were reported. Uniformed and plainclothes police intervened to stop the affray and the rival groups went to Pathumwan police station to lodge complaints against each other. In 2022, Tantawan was charged with lèse majesté for conducting an opinion poll on royal motorcades.
  22. I think you had a lot of fun for the money and much of it from watching the reaction of your date. It was a night he soon won’t forget and will talk about with his mates. Well done! The Full Monty. You’d be perfect for it 🙂
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