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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:13 pm 
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Overfishing driving slavery on Thailand's seafood boats
By ROBIN McDOWELL and MARGIE MASON
25 February 2015

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In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, tears at his thick black hair in agitation, as he tries to remember details about his family. Min Min was rescued from a tiny island in December, on the verge of starvation, and brought back to Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand (AP) -- Urine pools under a bed where an emaciated Burmese man lies wearing only a T-shirt and a diaper.

As he struggles to sit up and steady himself, he tears at his thick, dark hair in agitation. He cannot walk and doesn't remember his family or even his own name. He speaks mostly gibberish in broken Indonesian - a language he learned while working in the country as a slave aboard a Thai fishing boat.

Near death from a lack of proper food, he was rescued from a tiny island in Indonesia two months ago. He is just one of countless hidden casualties from the fishing industry in Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter.

A report released Wednesday by the British nonprofit Environmental Justice Foundation said that overfishing and the use of illegal and undocumented trawlers have ravaged Thailand's marine ecosystems and depleted fish stocks. Boats are now catching about 85 percent less than what they brought in 50 years ago, making it "one of the most overfished regions on the planet," the report said.

Shrinking fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea have, in turn, pushed Thai fishing boats farther and farther from home. The group estimates that up to half of all fish labeled a "product of Thailand" is sourced from outside its borders - mainly in Asia, but as far away as Africa.

The report, compiled from the group's own research and the work of others, explains how Thailand's vast seafood industry is almost wholly dependent on cheap migrant labor. Since few Thais are willing to take the dangerous, low-level jobs that can take them far from home, a sophisticated network of brokers and agents has emerged, regularly recruiting laborers from impoverished neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, often through trickery and kidnapping.

Men - and sometimes children as young as 13 - are sold onto boats where they typically work 18- to 20-hour days with little food and often only boiled sea water to drink, enduring beatings and sometimes even death at the hands of their captains. Most are paid little or nothing. They can be trapped at sea for months or years at a time; transshipment vessels are routinely used to pick up catches and deliver supplies.

Concerns about labor abuses, especially at sea, prompted the U.S. State Department last year to downgrade Thailand to the lowest level in its annual human trafficking report, putting the country on par with North Korea, Iran and Syria. It highlighted abuse on both ships and in processing plants, noting widespread involvement from corrupt officials.

The Southeast Asian nation responded by launching a major public relations campaign, with the government drafting its own country assessment to highlight steps taken to clean up the industry since a military junta took control of Thailand in May. The unreleased Thai report, obtained by the Associated Press, includes establishing a new national registry of illegal migrant workers and plans for stricter labor regulations on vessels and in the seafood industry.

However, just a month after the new government stepped in, Thailand was the only country in the world to vote against a U.N. international treaty aimed at stopping forced labor. "If you drill down, if you look at the substance of enforcement and the implementation of existing laws and regulations, it's minimal," said Steve Trent, the group's executive director. "What the Thai government seems to do repeatedly, again and again in the face of these accusations, is conduct a high-powered PR exercise rather than seek to address the problem."

A Thai government spokesman and officials at the Department of Fisheries did not immediately respond to the Associated Press' requests for comment.



Thailand, which exported $7 billion in seafood in 2013, is one of the biggest suppliers to the U.S. But a study published last year in the journal Marine Policy estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of tuna shipped from Thailand to America is from illegal or unreported sources - the highest rate of any species or country examined - and is frequently linked to labor abuses at sea.

Human rights advocates say some improvements have been noted in domestic waters, but such policies have little impact when vessels stray into the territorial waters of other countries. Traveling longer distances to catch fish raises operating costs, and increases pressure on fishing companies to save money by relying on forced, bonded and slave labor.

"On long-haul boats, nothing has changed in the brutal working conditions and physical abuse meted out by captains against their crews," said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, who has worked extensively on the issue. "The reality is the Thai government's high-sounding rhetoric to stop human trafficking and clean up the fishing fleets still largely stops at the water's edge."

The man rescued from the Indonesian island in December now remembers his name - Min Min - and bits of his old life in Myanmar, also known as Burma. But his mind remains far from clear.

He knows he worked three years on a boat in Indonesia where his ankles were sometimes bound with rope. He recalls collapsing one day on deck during a storm and being unconscious for three hours before the Thai captain forced him to get up and haul the nets back in. Eventually, he became too sick and weak to work and was abandoned on the remote island two years ago.

Min Min was on the verge of starvation when he was rescued and taken to the nonprofit Labor Rights Protection Network in Samut Sakhon, a gritty port town on the outskirts of Bangkok. He's eating well and taking vitamins to try to regain his strength, and he can now stand and slowly shuffle across the floor. He is still far from well. He's confused about such basics as his age, saying once that he is 43 and later that he is 36. If his family back in Myanmar is mentioned, he becomes rattled and stutters his thoughts as if it's too much to bear. "Working on the boat is no good. People like to take advantage of you," he said. "If I recover from my illness, I'll never be on a boat again in my life. Never again. I'm scared."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:45 am 
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"A ladyboy paradise:" gender reassignment surgery in Thailand
8 February 2015
By Bill Bredesen

image

Bangkok (dpa) - As a plastic surgeon at Bangkok's Yanhee Hospital, Greechart Pornsinsirirak performs around 180 sex change operations a year.

Over his career, the doctor has transformed thousands of men into women. A former patient recently told him she has had five boyfriends since her operation and "none of them knew she was a man," says Greechart, with barely concealed pride.

Thailand has long been considered one of the world's leading destinations for gender reassignment surgery, largely due to its low-cost, high-quality medical care and its general open-mindedness about gender roles. In addition to Yanhee, five other major hospitals and clinics in Thailand, along with dozens of smaller specialty clinics, offer male-to-female sex change surgery. "This is a ladyboy paradise," says Pornnaphat Choochart, 38, a Thai transgender female who underwent the procedure 10 years ago.

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Thai society widely acknowledges the idea of a third gender, known as "kathoey." Although the group has struggled for legal recognition - transgender females are still identified as "mister" in their passports, for instance - the government is considering granting them formal distinction under the country's next constitution. "I always believed I was a girl born into the wrong body," Pornnaphat says. "My relatives all treated me as a girl."

Thipnara Petrapitchanon, 29, a former contestant of Miss Tiffany Universe, the international transgender pageant held each year in the local resort of Pattaya, feels similar. She had the surgery in 2010. "I am much more confident now," she says. "I can wear a bikini with confidence, and when I look in the mirror I see a woman. Socially, people also treat me like a woman now."

Before being eligible for gender reassignment surgery in Thailand, patients must prove that they have been "living as a woman" for at least one year, Greechart says, including dressing like a woman and taking female replacement hormones. Foreign patients also need to have a psychological evaluation in their home country, followed by two more evaluations by psychologists in Thailand, the surgeon says. More than 80 per cent of Yanhee's sex change patients come from overseas, mostly from Korea, Japan and Taiwan, but also from Western countries, with demand among foreign patients rising sharply in recent years, Greechart says.

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A male-to-female sex change operation at Yanhee - one of Thailand's best-known cosmetic surgery hospitals, where document runners glide through the hallways on roller skates - costs between 240,000 and 320,000 baht (around 7,300 to 10,000 dollars), depending on the surgical method used. Smaller, less reputable clinics might charge as little as 45,000 baht (1,400 dollars). By comparison, sex change surgery in the United States usually costs more than 20,000 dollars.

Patients are typically bedridden for one week following surgery, and then remain in the hospital for a second week for monitoring. Advanced skin grafting techniques used in Thailand and elsewhere allow patients to retain a high degree of physical sensation, and aesthetically, the "final product" appears natural. "There's an art to it," Greechart says. "It looks like a real woman."

And perhaps of equal importance to many patients, the ability to achieve orgasm is not lost through the operation. The actual procedure takes between three and eight hours, depending on whether the doctor performs a simple skin graft, or whether a more complicated colon graft is required, using part of the large intestine. The prostate is not removed. Greechart says he regularly receives inquiries from patients who experienced "bad surgery" at other clinics, and who hope a more skilled doctor can correct it. "Sex changes are not all the same," he says. "A lot are very bad."

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Sitting in his hospital office, Greechart clicks through images of botched operations on his computer screen and describes them: "A urethra but nothing else ... infections ... scarring ... any of these people are very sad. We can fix it, but it won't be like normal. I always prefer to do it the first time."

Hospitals that perform gender reassignment surgery also offer a host of related procedures, such as breast implants, voice-change surgery and laser hair removal, among others. Female-to-male gender reassignment is possible, although much less common, and requires multiple procedures over many months.

Thanyasa Tajinda, 32, the managing director of a transgender performing artist and modeling agency, says she has dreamed of having gender reassignment surgery for years but that her family was not initially supportive. They have now given their consent, she says. "I plan to do it, 100 per cent," she says. "I just need to find the time. I'm not afraid at all." She is confident that her reaction will be similar to others who have undergone the transition. "After I opened my eyes in the recovery room, I felt a bit cold, but I thought, 'I'm a new person now,'" recalls Pornnaphat. "And I was very happy."

image

Source: dpa.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:44 am 
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Thai government to publish newspaper to counter "bad press"
11 March 2015

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Prayuth Chan-ocha

Bangkok (dpa) - Thailand's military government plans to publish its own newspaper to counter what it sees as negative press coverage, an official confirmed Wednesday.

For the People will be published by the government to update citizens on the progress that has been made under military rule, military spokesman Winthai Suvaree told dpa. The government newspaper, which will have a print run of 10,000 copies, will be published at the end of March and distributed free of charge around public transportation hubs.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief, has been upset recently by press coverage of his government. He said he almost punched a reporter this month after the journalist asked what progress had been made by his government. The premier has repeatedly called for the press to stop criticizing his government, saying it was doing its best under difficult circumstances.

Prayuth came to power after a military coup in May. Since assuming the premiership, the armed forces have cracked down on dissent and censored political opponents, citing the need for national stability.

Source: dpa.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:12 am 
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:lies: :yeahright:

Oh boo hoo hoo.

:tease:

You certainly look like a whiner.

This is what you get when you're supposedly the leader of a 'democratic' country. Man up.
But then, you weren't elected, but took over in a military coup, to 'protect' your paymasters' interests.. i mean, of course, for the good of the country!

Have all bad mouthers arrested, better yet, summarily executed! Why waste time, they're just bad people saying bad things about you, right?

So be a good tin pot dictator and squash all opposition and make People your very own personal propaganda mouthpiece!! If you keep on telling enough lies, someone will believe it, right?

ASSHOLE.

:x

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:21 am 
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The 10 most adulterous countries in the world
by Evan Bartlett
17 February 2015

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A new survey has uncovered the countries in the world where people are most likely to cheat on their partners.

Using data from Match.com and The Richest, Statista has plotted the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of married adults who admit to being adulterous.

Thailand is the leader by quite some way, although it is interesting to note that the next nine are all European - including the UK in joint ninth place.

Source: Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:16 pm 
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Thais' poor English could dim job prospects in ASEAN common market
By Siraphob Thanthong-Knight
17 March 2015

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When South-East Asia introduces a common economic market in December, job-seekers throughout the region will face more competition, with English-language skills in higher demand.

Phuket, Thailand (dpa) - At a luxurious resort in southern Thailand, Boblyn Pertible from the Philippines is completing a professional internship for her bachelor's degree in hotel management. "I will consider applying for jobs outside my country after graduation," she said in fluent English. "The coming of the ASEAN Economic Community will definitely open doors to more opportunities for me."

In December, Thailand and the other nine member states of the Association of South-east Asia Nations (ASEAN) are due to start a single market. Integration will enable the free flow of capital, goods, services and skilled labour. Workers in eight areas - engineers, nurses, doctors, dentists, architects, surveyors, accountants and tourism professionals - will be able to migrate across ASEAN borders.

The market is home to more than 600 million people, almost double the population of the United States. The combined economy will be the seventh largest in the world, comparable to that of Britain or Brazil.

Language skills will matter in the new single market, especially in English, the only lingua franca in ASEAN. "English will be extremely important as a means for communications in business," said Treenuch Phaichayonvichit of the Thailand Development Research Institute. "However, Thai students seems to perform poorly. The mean score on national tests in English has always been below 50, which is a failing grade by any standard." "The performance in international English proficiency tests is also inferior to other countries in the region," Treenuch said.

The average Thai test-taker typically scores lower than those in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar on both the International English Language Testing System and the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Thailand ranks 55th out of 60 countries on the English Proficiency Index, the world's major ranking of English-language skills. That is the lowest among South-East Asian countries.

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Thais struggle with English even though it is a mandatory subject from primary school through high school and despite 20 per cent of Thailand's GDP coming from tourism. "Classrooms in Thailand put too much emphasis on grammar," said Sarah Wilson, an English teacher who has taught in Thai schools for more than 10 years. "They focus on studying for tests rather than being able to converse and use English in real-life situations."

"Many students struggle forming sentences on their own," said Krittapot Jiravat, a private English tutor. "All they want to do is study for exams and tests, because they think they don't have any other purposes beyond that." "Many professionals have to study after work when they realize that English is important in their career," he said. "Once the single market is launched, the job market will become more competitive," Treenuch said. "People with higher skills in English will be at advantage."

Workers with stronger English skills typically earn 30 to 50 per cent more pay than those with weaker proficiency, according to the Harvard Business Review. Advanced English skills allow job seekers to apply for better jobs and raise their living standards.

"We are already seeing an influx of skilled workers from countries like the Philippines, who are replacing Thais in jobs that require English-speaking employees," Treenuch said. Staff positions at the Regent Phuket Cape Panwa, where 95 per cent of hotel guests are foreigners, are open to all nationalities, according to manager Witchuda Mas-o-sot. "The ability to communicate in English is the most important skill to have," Witchuda said.

An unemployed recent hotel management graduate expressed concerns that his difficulty in finding a job will become even more apparent once the integrated ASEAN market is open. Others, like Boblyn the Filipino intern, will benefit. "I speak English more fluently than Thais do," she said. "That is my competitive advantage."

Source: dpa

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:41 pm 
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Thai airlines face scrutiny over safety, bans on new flights
By JOCELYN GECKER
27 March 2015

BANGKOK (AP) -- Thailand is facing bans on new international flights and increased inspections after the International Civil Aviation Organization flagged significant concerns about the country's aviation safety, officials said Friday.

The ICAO's designation of Thailand as a "significant safety concern" has not been announced publicly by the U.N. agency but governments were informed last week. Kwak Young-pil, an official from South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said Friday that the ICAO made the designation on March 20.

Japan has blocked new flights from Thailand following the ICAO decision and South Korea is considering similar measures, officials said. Existing flights aren't affected. Among the airlines forced to cancel flights are budget carriers Thai AirAsia X, NokScoot and Asia Atlantic Airline, Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement. Flag carrier Thai Airways is also affected.

The disruptions come ahead of Thailand's traditional new year, known as Songkran, a heavy travel season when airlines typically increase the number of flights. Thailand is one of the world's top tourist destinations and its tourism industry is crucial to the economy, employing millions of people. Thai Airways President Jarumporn Chotikasathein said the airline would have to cancel "about five" charter flights that were being planned for the April holiday schedule. He said Thai Airways and other Thai carriers will also have to undergo increased inspections by regulators from other countries as a result of the ICAO designation.

Thailand was audited by the ICAO in January, about a decade after its last assessment in 2005. Audits assess a country's overall ability to ensure aviation safety. Among the areas considered are personnel licensing and training, airworthiness assessment and certification, accident investigation and airline operations oversight, according to a report by Watson Farley and Williams, an international law firm with a commercial transport practice. The ICAO office in Bangkok referred questions to its headquarters in Montreal, which could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Thai ministry's statement did not give details of the ICAO's concerns or recommendations. It said that it planned to inform countries about the status of Thailand's aviation safety and "the solutions to fix the faults that were found in the inspection as soon as possible."

Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau informed Thailand's civil aviation department by email earlier this week that it will not allow new charter flights operated by Thai-registered carriers to fly into Japanese airports. The Japanese ban covers any "change of aviation services" and also bars airlines from changing the type of aircraft normally used on scheduled routes, the Thai civil aviation department said.

In Tokyo, a bureau spokesman Noriaki Umezawa said the measure was a temporary one issued because of concerns the airlines may not fully meet international safety standards.

South Korean said it was considering a similar ban. Kwak, the South Korean transport official, said it was highly unlikely that new flights would be approved. NokScoot was planning to start flights to Seoul's Incheon Airport in May. He said flights currently operating between Thailand and South Korea will not be affected.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:07 am 
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Thailand to ban gays from monkhood
By Darren Wee
26 March 2015

Buddhist-majority Thailand has approved a bill that would ban LGBTI people from the entering the monkhood.

The junta cabinet approved the bill in August and is now preparing to submit it to the National Legislative Assembly. Religious authorities have unsuccessfully tried to propose the Bill to Patronize and Protect Buddhism since 2006 but previous military and civilian governments rejected the measure.

‘Buddhism is one of the pillars of the Thai nation and is the religion that most Thai people adhere to. Therefore, Buddhists should be united in patronizing and protecting Buddhism to make it prosper and enhance Buddhist principles and ethics to develop the quality of one’s life,’ it reads.

The bill would also allow the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC) and the government to punish anyone seen to threaten their narrowly defined version of Buddhism. This includes abbots who ordain, knowingly or unwittingly, monks with ‘deviant sexual behavior’ and ‘sexually deviant’ monks who ‘harm and disgrace’ Buddhism. Both could be imprisoned for up to one month.

Monks take a vow of celibacy and most choose to remain silent about their sexual orientation. But it is believed some high-ranking monks in the SSC are themselves openly gay.

Sulak Sivaraksa, a founding member of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, said the bill 'shows blind stupidity and lust for power.' ‘It seems as if people who took part in writing this bill hold prejudiced views against people with alternative sexes and genders. This is a form of violence and a violation of human rights because naturally gender and sex can’t be straightforwardly defined as male and female.’ he told Prachatai.

‘Although the bill states that only monks with alternative sexes and genders who cause harm to Buddhism could be prosecuted, the bill does not mention what sort of actions constitutes harm to Buddhism. Since the wording of this section of the bill already discriminates against monks with alternative sexes and genders, its application will be very problematic.’

Source: GayStarNews

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:42 pm 
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dragon wrote:
Thai airlines face scrutiny over safety, bans on new flights
By JOCELYN GECKER
27 March 2015

BANGKOK (AP) -- Thailand is facing bans on new international flights and increased inspections after the International Civil Aviation Organization flagged significant concerns about the country's aviation safety, officials said Friday.

The ICAO's designation of Thailand as a "significant safety concern" has not been announced publicly by the U.N. agency but governments were informed last week. Kwak Young-pil, an official from South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said Friday that the ICAO made the designation on March 20.

Japan has blocked new flights from Thailand following the ICAO decision and South Korea is considering similar measures, officials said. Existing flights aren't affected. Among the airlines forced to cancel flights are budget carriers Thai AirAsia X, NokScoot and Asia Atlantic Airline, Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement. Flag carrier Thai Airways is also affected.

The disruptions come ahead of Thailand's traditional new year, known as Songkran, a heavy travel season when airlines typically increase the number of flights. Thailand is one of the world's top tourist destinations and its tourism industry is crucial to the economy, employing millions of people. Thai Airways President Jarumporn Chotikasathein said the airline would have to cancel "about five" charter flights that were being planned for the April holiday schedule. He said Thai Airways and other Thai carriers will also have to undergo increased inspections by regulators from other countries as a result of the ICAO designation.

Thailand was audited by the ICAO in January, about a decade after its last assessment in 2005. Audits assess a country's overall ability to ensure aviation safety. Among the areas considered are personnel licensing and training, airworthiness assessment and certification, accident investigation and airline operations oversight, according to a report by Watson Farley and Williams, an international law firm with a commercial transport practice. The ICAO office in Bangkok referred questions to its headquarters in Montreal, which could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Thai ministry's statement did not give details of the ICAO's concerns or recommendations. It said that it planned to inform countries about the status of Thailand's aviation safety and "the solutions to fix the faults that were found in the inspection as soon as possible."

Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau informed Thailand's civil aviation department by email earlier this week that it will not allow new charter flights operated by Thai-registered carriers to fly into Japanese airports. The Japanese ban covers any "change of aviation services" and also bars airlines from changing the type of aircraft normally used on scheduled routes, the Thai civil aviation department said.

In Tokyo, a bureau spokesman Noriaki Umezawa said the measure was a temporary one issued because of concerns the airlines may not fully meet international safety standards.

South Korean said it was considering a similar ban. Kwak, the South Korean transport official, said it was highly unlikely that new flights would be approved. NokScoot was planning to start flights to Seoul's Incheon Airport in May. He said flights currently operating between Thailand and South Korea will not be affected.

Source: AP

Thailand scrambles to ward off aviation safety downgrade
30 March 2015

Bangkok (dpa) - Thailand's Transport Ministry is calling an emergency meeting later this week as the country faces an imminent aviation safety downgrade, officials said Monday.

The meeting will discuss the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) rejection last week of a safety plan put forward by Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation, which was submitted to avoid a downgrade. The ICAO carried out an audit in January and found serious gaps in safety standards at some Thai budget airlines.

"The audit found that the Department of Civil Aviation had overlooked many regulations for the low-cost airlines," a source within the Transportation Committee of the Legislative Assembly told dpa. "Simple things like having airline manuals at ground offices, making sure you have two planes ready to relieve mechanical errors were all lacking."

If safety is downgraded, all airlines registered in Thailand, including major carriers like Thai Airways International would face possible bans on new routes. Existing routes would continue as normal. Japan and South Korea have already responded to the possible downgrade by banning requests for future flight plans and banning all charter flights from Thailand-registered companies. Coming during high season, the bans have already affected tour groups which sell their tickets in advance.

A source within Thai Airways criticized the Department of Civil Aviation. "Their lack of attention to detail is costing us all," the source said.

Source: dpa

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:56 am 
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Thailand: Lesbian softball player proposes to girlfriend with 2 million baht dowry
11 March 2015
By Darren Wee

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A former national softball player has made headlines in Thailand after she proposed to her girlfriend with a two million baht ($61,000) dowry.

On the morning of 8 March, Chanut went to her girlfriend's house in their home province of Chonburi bearing gifts for her future in-laws. They included 400,000 baht in cash, 333.5 grams of gold, a diamond ring, a pair of diamond earrings and a Toyota car.

Friends and relatives attended the traditional courtship ceremony, including Chanut's 73-year-old mother, and both families gave their blessings to the marriage. Chanut, 32, now teaches at a university in Bangkok and met her 24-year-old girlfriend three years ago while the latter was a student there. They decided to wait until she graduated before telling their families about their relationship.

Her girlfriend recently graduated and now works as an accountant in Bangkok.

Source: GayStarNews.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 6:10 am 
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14 of the strangest sex laws which could land you in the slammer
by Duncan Lindsay
Sunday 17 May 2015

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14 of the strangest sex laws which could land you in the slammer. Tut tut (Picture: Getty)

We all love watching a bit of TLC’s Sex Sent Me To The Slammer – as we view the shocking tales through our fingers, we can’t help but be as entertained as we are embarrassed by it all.

The stories of voyeurism et al on that show are the extreme – of course, nothing like that could EVER happen to you or I. Well, it depends on where you are. Different countries have very different approaches to sex laws and here are just a few both in the UK and abroad that you might not have known about.

Here are some of the weirdest we found on Weird Sex Laws (yes, a genuine site). Word of advice, check the laws of the USA state you’re travelling to for your hols before packing your dildo.

1. London

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Don’t go there, girlfriend (Picture: EPA)

It’s illegal to have sex on a parked motorcycle. As difficult and dangerous as it might be, a motorcycle in motion might be a different matter. Please never, ever try it.

2. Alabama

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Leave them at home (Picture: MikeyGen73/MikeyGen73)

Sex toys are completely illegal in this state. Head to Arizona, where two toys are okay. Any more, and you’re risking prosecution again. Quality over quantity guys!

3. Bakersfield, California

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We know it’s difficult to resist but you can not, we repeat CAN NOT, have sex with Satan here unless you’re wearing a condom. So if you fancy giving the D to the Devil, make sure you rubber up.

4. Indiana

Oral sex is totally banned here so don’t be as concerned if you forget your mouthwash.

5. China

Women are not allowed to walk around naked in a hotel room which, for many people, kind of ruins the point of hotel rooms. They can breathe a sigh of relief though; their nudity is at least permitted in the bathroom.

6. Minnesota

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It is illegal to have sex with a live fish here, which is a relief. Dead fish, however…

7. Halethorpe, Maryland

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You aren’t allowed to kiss for more than a minute in public here so be sure to have an accurate stopwatch if you fancy a bit of PDA with bae. Idaho is a bit more laid back – eighteen minutes is the law breaking line. We’d like to think if you’d reached the passionate heights of necking for eighteen minutes that you’d have moved things to a private room anyway.

8. Hong Kong

A wife is allowed to murder her husband if he cheats on her – but only with her bare hands. Any manner of homicide is apparently fine for the husband’s lover, though. Everyone in EastEnders and Hollyoaks would be facing a death sentence if that came into force here…

9. Georgia

Sex out of marriage is still against the law here so if you and a new lover are looking for a destination for a dirty weekend, rule this one out.

10. Wisconsin

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A man is not allowed to fire a gun at the point of his partner’s climax. Killjoys.

11. Birmingham

It is illegal for a man and a woman to get it on on the steps of a church after the sun goes down. Just so you know.

12. Thailand

The fine for a man who has sex with a female dog is higher if the dog is in heat.

13. Minnesota (again)

You can’t sleep naked in Minnesota so do not forget that onesie. And no matter how tiring that post sex glow is, get dressed before you drift off. It’s for your own good.

14. Kentucky

Here, it isn’t just humans who can face penalties for breaking the sexual laws. It is illegal for dogs to molest people. So, if you want to escape your neighbour’s pooch which insists on getting close with your leg, this might be a good place to go to.

Source: Metro UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:05 am 
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Thailand scrambles to boost image on human trafficking
By THANYARAT DOKSONE
June 7, 2015

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In this May 5, 2015 photo, a border patrol police officer guards next to an abandoned migrant camp on Khao Kaew mountain near the Thai-Malaysian border in Padang Besar, Songkhla province, southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand is eager to show its newfound toughness on human trafficking, taking reporters on patrols and tours of former camps, cooperating with neighboring countries and the U.S., and arresting dozens of officials — including a high-ranking officer in the military that now controls the country.

The junta even had a "National Anti-Human Trafficking Day." The Southeast Asian country is trying to dissuade Western governments from leveling economic sanctions, but it has a daunting enemy: history.

"Thailand remains major center for human trafficking." Those words were emblazoned on a huge headline in a Thai daily newspaper printed nearly three years ago. The country's answer was largely to ignore the problem, until recent events made that impossible.

The discovery of 36 bodies at abandoned traffickers' camps near Thailand's southern border with Malaysia has intensified international pressure on Thailand to crack down on smugglers. So has a subsequent crisis involving thousands of migrants who were stranded at sea by their traffickers — and whose boats were pushed back by Thai officials. Those migrants, mainly Bangladeshis and ethnic Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, are just part of a human-trafficking problem that also includes Thai fishing boats that have used slave labor.

Last June, Thailand and Malaysia were put on a blacklist in a U.S. State Department assessment on human trafficking, a downgrade that can jeopardize its lucrative seafood and shrimp industries. The European Union also threatened Thailand with a ban on seafood import by the end of the year unless it drastically changes its policies on illegal and unregulated fishing.

A new State Department assessment is due this month, and Thailand is pushing for an upgrade with efforts that included its first-ever Anti-Human Trafficking Day on Friday. The opening ceremony at the prime minister's Government House was followed by discussion about the problem and an awards ceremony for a journalist, police and officials who have helped expose human trafficking problems.

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In this May 29, 2015 photo, the HTMS Angthonga of the Royal Thai Navy is anchored near a deep sea port in Phuket province, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

"Today, we have to admit that this has been a problem in Thailand for a long time," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said as he opened the event with an hour-long speech. "The government is focusing on preventing and suppressing human trafficking and is determined to get rid of men who sell men, so that they no longer have a place to stand on our soil — no matter how influential they are or if they are government officials," said Prayuth, who took power from a civilian government in a May 2014 coup.

Yet even Friday's event raised questions about Thailand's seriousness. The journalist who was honored reported on trafficking from the country's inland north, not the south and the sea, where the crisis has been most immediate. Weeks earlier, when a Bangkok television reporter drew broad attention to the issue by getting on a migrant boat to shoot video, Prayuth obliquely referred to her as a troublemaker. Human-rights activists and others have long accused Thai authorities of collusion in the trafficking industry — claims that police, military and government officials have long denied. But as the migrant camps, graves and boats drew global attention, pressure grew on the government to respond.

In a widening human-trafficking investigation, more than 50 people have been arrested in a month, including local politicians, government officials, police, and, in the past week, a senior-ranking army officer. About 50 police officers in the southern provinces were also removed from their posts and investigated for possible involvement in trafficking syndicates.

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Villagers watch as men prepare a pit during the re-burial of remains believed to be those of ethnic Rohingya found at human-trafficking camps in the country's north, at Kampung Tualang, east of Alor Setar on June 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/Manan Vatsyayana)

The junta-appointed legislature passed a new anti-human trafficking law that mandates harsher penalties, and human trafficking-related court cases will get a shortcut in the judicial system to prosecute suspects more quickly. Thai police took journalists on several treks into the tropical jungle along the Thai-Malaysia border to witness the exhumation of graves and watch as the officers dismantled abandoned wooden shelters by hand.

Thailand's sudden clampdown prompted some human smugglers to abandon boats that were filled with migrants. Thousands of migrants reached shore — mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia — but an unknown number are believed to remain at sea. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia all rejected the ships as the crisis began, and all have been conducting some measure of damage control with the media.

Two days after Malaysia confirmed 28 migrant camps and 139 suspected graves on its side of the border with Thailand, more than 60 reporters were taken on a three-hour trek to an abandoned camp where a forensic team had exhumed a body. Further requests to visit other migrant camps have been rejected, though police say they have now recovered 49 bodies from the gravesite the media visited.

Under international pressure, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to take migrants in temporarily. Thailand did not, but insisted it will give humanitarian assistance to the boat people. "It's not that Thailand isn't helping. It's good that everyone is helping, but Thailand has also provided help and our hands are full already," deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Associated Press, adding that the country already gave shelters to 140,000 refugees, mostly in camps along the Myanmar border.

Last month Thailand called a regional conference and brought together senior government officials from 17 countries and international organizations to discuss the swelling tide of boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh in Southeast Asia. But one moment from the event reflected the at times muddled nature of Thailand's cooperation.

The U.S. had for days been seeking Thai approval to conduct surveillance flights to look for migrants — approval that Malaysia had quickly granted. Thailand's foreign minister announced to reporters that the OK had been given, shortly after a U.S. diplomat told journalists that America was still waiting. On the same day as the Bangkok conference, the Royal Thai Navy flew about 140 journalists to the southern island of Phuket to see a naval ship that would be used as a floating base to give food, water and medical treatment to migrants at sea. The navy flew a helicopter and a light patrol aircraft in a circle for cameramen to record the footage during the two-hour choreographed tour.

Critics say Thailand must do more to show it is serious about fighting human trafficking if it is to get off the U.S. blacklist and avoid the EU seafood import ban. "Thailand needs to show that they are consistent with law enforcement," said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher of Human Rights Watch. "The arrest (of an army officer) showed that no one will be left untouched this time, but at the same time, it also made us question why have they allowed this to happen for years. "Thailand has been accused of having the culture of impunity of state officials in the past, but this crisis offers a first chance to break that culture," he said.

Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker and video journalist Papitchaya Boonngok in Bangkok and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.
Source: Yahoo! AP.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:46 pm 
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Coal plant proposed for pristine Thai coast sparks outcry
By TED ANDERSEN
21 July 2015

BANGKOK (AP) -- Plans to build an 800-megawatt coal power plant near some of Thailand's most popular beaches have sparked protests and a hunger strike by activists who say officials aren't considering its impact on the pristine environment that makes the area an international tourist destination.

More than 100 members of the Save Andaman from Coal Network this week staged a march and sit-in outside the prime minister's office in the nation's capital against plans to build the plant near southern Thailand's Andaman coast about 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of Bangkok.

The tranquil Krabi province and its islands are famed for picturesque limestone cliffs and white sand beaches, one of which was the centerpiece of the Leonardo DiCaprio film "The Beach." "If this power plant happens, southern Thailand will lose a lot," said Krabi resident Akradej Chakjinda, who has fasted since July 10 in protest.

Protesters say the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, or EGAT, is pushing ahead with a bidding process for the plant and a seaport that would receive overseas shipments of coal before an environmental impact assessment has been completed. Plans to launch the bidding process were delayed until next month, which EGAT says is unrelated to the ongoing protests.

The coal plant is part of a critical energy infrastructure that will provide Thailand with energy security as natural gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand dry up within 10 years, EGAT says. The state power authority has said it envisions building nine coal power plants in the south over the next two decades. It had planned to begin the bidding process on this one in advance of the environmental review to save time, a government official said.

"I want to emphasize that this is totally legal and we will not sign any contract with the constructor who wins the bid process until we pass" the environmental assessment, Anuchart Palakawong Na Autthaya, head of environmental management for the project, told The Nation newspaper Monday.

Krabi remains Thailand's second-largest area of sea grass beds, which provide a feeding ground for the near extinct dugongs, a manatee-like marine mammal. It is also one of Thailand's major tourist draws. Tourism to the provinces along the Andaman coast generated more than 376 billion baht ($11 billion) in 2014, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Krabi and some of the islands off its coast are known as Thailand's most beautiful beaches, including Koh Phi Phi, which rose to international prominence after being featured in DiCaprio's film.

The Save Andaman from Coal Network, a loose collaboration of environmental, agricultural, tourist and other groups from southern provinces, began demonstrations July 10 but say their demands - which include a 3-year waiting period to see if the province can produce 100 percent renewable energy - have been ignored. "I've seen the beauty of the Andaman Sea," said Daodin Patavatto, a Buddhist monk joining the protests. "The Andaman is not for one small group of people. It's for everyone."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:33 am 
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Gay couple from U.S. in Thai custody battle over surrogate baby
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre
23 July 2015

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A gay couple from the United States said on Wednesday their lives were being "destroyed" after a Thai surrogate mother refused to sign papers allowing them to take their baby out of Thailand.

The controversy is the latest over surrogacy in Thailand after several cases last year including accusations that an Australian couple abandoned their Down Syndrome baby with his birth mother, taking only his healthy twin sister back to Australia.

In the latest case, Gordon Allan Lake and his Spanish husband, Manuel Valero, say Thai surrogate Patidta Kusolsang, who is not the baby's biological mother, decided she wanted to keep their baby, Carmen, as the couple was preparing to leave Thailand. Patidta "had issues" with the couple's sexual orientation, said Lake, and did not show up at the U.S. embassy in Bangkok in January to sign Carmen's passport application and give them the papers needed to leave Thailand. "We have been here six months and our lives are being destroyed," Lake told Reuters. "Our families have missed out on the first six months of Carmen's beautiful life." Patidta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thailand has been a popular destination for foreign couples seeking surrogacy services, partly because of loose regulations and low costs compared with some other countries. But following last year's surrogacy scandals, Thailand passed a law in February that bans foreigners from seeking surrogacy services.

The law does not come into effect until July 30 and Lake and Valero are not in violation of Thai law for commissioning surrogacy last year. The U.S. embassy in Bangkok said in a statement emailed to Reuters, U.S. citizens in Thailand were subject to Thai law. "Pursuant to U.S. law, the Department cannot issue passports to minor children without the consent of the legal parent/s or guardians/s," said embassy spokeswoman Melissa Sweeney.

Under current Thai law, the birth mother is recognized as the mother of the child and commissioning parents have no automatic legal rights over a child, said Wanlop Tankananurak, a member of the National Legislative Assembly who helped draft the surrogacy law.

Lake said the couple, who have a son, Alvaro, who was born through surrogacy in India two years ago, chose Thailand because regulations in India had changed. "Thailand has great medical facilities, hospitals, embryologists and surrogacy has been going on for years in Thailand," he said. "Everyone had great expectations, there was no reason to think anything could go wrong."

Source: Reuters

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:28 pm 
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Man saves 2 Norwegian bird watchers sinking in Thailand mud
17 October 2015

BANGKOK (AP) -- A construction worker on a fishing trip dramatically rescued two Norwegian bird watchers who were sinking into a mudflat in southern Thailand, lying down in the mud to allow the pair to use his body to pry themselves to safety.

The incident Friday morning in Krabi province was caught on camera by an amateur photographer from Bangkok, who posted the video on his Facebook page. The posting got at least 1.6 million views, with many showering the rescuer with praise.

The Norwegian pair, whose names were not released, had taken their cameras to a river estuary at first light Friday, but the mudflats proved to be far less firm than they had thought. Very quickly, they found themselves sinking. A local construction worker, identified by Thai media as Chat Ubonchinda, was heading home from his fishing trip by boat when he spotted them.

First, he tried to pull the two out, but the mud was too thick. After taking their belongings to firmer ground, Chat lay down in the mud and let the two lift themselves up by pulling against his body. One of them even crawled across his back on the way to safety.

"All Thais are proud of what you did, it's great and no more words need to be explained," Somchai Ouansakul wrote in a Facebook comment. "I wish all Thais would have such a big heart like this."

Source: AP

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