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MediaWATCH Plus: Bangkok Elephants Pack Trunks

MediaWATCH Plus: Bangkok Elephants Pack Trunks

Friday, July 3, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

With Phuket as a potential destination this month for talks on nuclear North Korea, anxiety grows as the rogue state test fires missiles close to an anticipated July 4 firing towards the US.

Associated Press Thai officials say they are solving Bangkok's elephant problem by offering the lovable, lumbering creatures for adoption. Several groups have already paid the estimated 500,000 baht to buy an elephant and relocate it to a reserve in the countryside. About 100 of Bangkok's 200 elephants have been relocated since the program began in March, and Bangkok Governor Sukhumphan Boriphat vowed in a glitzy press conference on Friday that the rest would be out within a year. Once in their new homes, the elephants will be trained to search the forest for their food.

Bangkok Post An opinion poll by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) concluded 81 percent of supporters want a new party with a new politics agenda, and a slim majority of 53.61 percent prefer Sondhi Limthongkul as party leader. The poll results were announced on Friday afternoon. Conducted on May 24-25, the PAD poll involved 22,013 yellow-shirts, with almost 60 percent female.

news.com.au The UN World Tourism Organisation has revised its 2009 global tourism forecast down sharply due to worsening economic growth prospects and swine flu. In the June edition of its World Tourism Barometer, the Madrid-based body forecast international tourism would decrease between four and six percent this year. In January it had predicted a decline of between zero and two percent. ''The negative trend in international tourism that emerged during the second half of 2008 intensified in 2009,'' it said. During the first four months of 2009, global tourism declined by eight percent from the same period last year. Europe posted a decline of 10 percent while Asia and the Pacific region saw a decline of six percent.

Today's Must Read

washington post Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews just released. The former Iraqi president also denounced Osama bin Laden as ''a zealot'' and said he had no dealings with al-Qaeda. Saddam, in fact, said he felt so vulnerable to the ''fanatic'' leaders in Tehran that he would have been prepared to seek a ''security agreement with the US to protect it [Iraq] from threats in the region''. Then US president George Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq six years ago on the grounds that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.

radioaustralia.net.au US-based missile defense expert Taylor Dinerman doesn't believe the US ground- and sea-based defense assets can protect Hawaii against North Korean missiles. News overnight says that North Korea has fired at least three short-range missile off its east coast into the sea of Japan. It's vowing to step up its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of a new UN security Council resolution.

afp.com North Korea has test-fired four short-range missiles, South Korean military officials have said, further fuelling tension sparked by its nuclear stand-off with the international community. All were launched from a base at Sinsang-ri, near the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, a spokesman was quoted as saying. Other officials told the agency on condition of anonymity they landed about 100 km off the coast, where the North has imposed a maritime ban until July 11 for what it calls a military drill. It was the first military action the hardline communist state had taken since the UN on June 12 imposed tougher sanctions for its May 25 nuclear test.

feer.com The US Navy shadowing a North Korean cargo ship suspected of carrying weapons bound for Burma is the stuff of potboiler thrillers. US monitoring of the North Korean freighter Kang Nam, as part of newly introduced UN sanctions, comes on the heels of recent allegations that North Korean engineers have been assisting the Burmese military with the construction of underground bunkers, either for a nuclear program or as the result of paranoia over a feared but illusory future US invasion. That the freighter has now turned around and is heading back to North Korea doesn't resolve the issue of what is on the ship and what its purpose would be in Burma. It raises more questions about bilateral defense links between the two countries.

Straits Times UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon prepared on Thursday for a risky visit to Burma amid warnings that his trip will be a ''huge failure'' if he fails to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms Suu Kyi has been in detention or under house arrest for most of the time since the junta refused to recognise her party's landslide victory in Burma's last elections, in 1990. Her trial is due to resume on Friday, alongside that of US national John Yettaw. Mr Ban is set to arrive in the military-ruled nation on Friday for a two-day visit that the UN says will focus on pressing the junta to free all political prisoners - including the opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate who is currently on trial.

amnestyusa.org Malaysia must immediately stop caning people, a punishment widely used against immigration offenses, Amnesty International says. Malaysian authorities caned at least 34,923 migrants between 2002 and 2008, according to prison department records aired in parliament last week. Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, prohibited under international human rights law. The practice is humiliating, and causes such pain that people have reportedly fainted. Those caned often carry scars, psychological as well as physical, for years. The severity of the pain and suffering often means that whipping is in fact a form of torture. Since amendments to the country's Immigration Act came into force in 2002, 47,914 migrants have been sentenced to caning for immigration offences. Amnesty International urges the Malaysian government to rid the country of this cruel punishment. Whipping someone with a cane is cruel, inhuman and degrading and international standards make clear that such treatment constitutes torture. According to government records, the majority of those caned were Indonesians (60.2 percent), with the rest coming from the Philippines (14.1 percent), Burma (13.9 percent), Bangladesh (3.6 percent), Thailand (2.8 percent).

bbc.com The late Michael Jackson's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, is undecided over whether to fight for custody of their two children, her lawyer has said. Her lawyer issued the statement after media reports that Ms Rowe had vowed to fight for custody of the two children she had with the late pop icon. ''I want my children,'' Ms Rowe said in an interview with the NBC TV network in Los Angeles. She is the mother of Prince Michael, 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11. A third child, Prince Michael II, 7, has a surrogate mother. Meanwhile footage of Jackson on stage days before he died has been released. Film of the star recorded on June 23, two days prior to his death, shows him rehearsing a routine for a series of comeback concerts.

Associated Press Michelle Faul wries: It's a problem that grabbed the world's attention when a Yemenia airlines jetliner crashed into the Indian Ocean this week off the island nation of Comoros. Only one survivor, a 12-year-old girl, has been found; 152 others are feared dead. Yemenia rejected criticism from French officials that the plane had a history of faulty equipment. The tragedy nonetheless brought to light long-standing complaints about flights that lacked seat belts and were so overcrowded that some passengers stood in the aisles. It was on just such an overcrowded Libyan Arab Airlines flight from Tripoli to Benghazi in 1982 that a fellow passenger had another use for the aisle: He set down a paraffin-fueled camp stove and lit it to make some tea. There was pandemonium and a fistfight before the stove was switched off.

Phuketwan Phuket News

Phuket Opens China Door with 104 New Flights
Tourism Boost Twice weekly charter flights from China are set to begin in late July with regular flights to follow if all goes well. The TAT is keen to recover lost ground in world's biggest market.
Phuket Opens China Door with 104 New Flights

Phuket Tuk-Tuk Boss: Aren't You Afraid of Me?
Photo Album One Phuket tuk tuk chief has his heart set on speedy forward movement, at the right price. Changes have been introduced in Karon to make the tuk tuk more user friendly.
Phuket Tuk-Tuk Boss: Aren't You Afraid of Me?

Phuket Holiday Crash Wreck Still on Show at Airport
Airport Update Phuket airport expansion plans continue but the wreckage of a plane destroyed in a crash landing almost two years ago still lies within sight of passengers.
Phuket Holiday Crash Wreck Still on Show at Airport

Phuket Elite Reject 'Special Economic Zone' Option
Latest Economic independence has been rejected by Phuket business and community elite, although they did say the island needs a fairer return of the revenue it generates.
Phuket Elite Reject 'Special Economic Zone' Option

Phuket Half-Yearly Report: All Pain and No Action
Phuket Economic Report With the worldwide downturn, Phuket and Thailand cannot expect tsunami generosity. Revenue will only come with action on the island's enduring defects.
Phuket Half-Yearly Report: All Pain and No Action

Recent Phuketwan MediaWATCH

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MediaWATCH: Pattaya, Samui Plan Recovery
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