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Phuket Sports: Expecting the unexpected – NFL

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PHUKET: After a regular season filled with the unforeseen, I decided to expect the unexpected while watching the Division Playoffs – and that’s exactly what I got. Predicting exactly how it would play out was not part of the equation, foreseeing that I would continue to bare witness to the amazement of the NFL’s 2012 season was a guarantee.

Baltimore beating the #1 seed Denver Broncos, and Las Vegas’s 9 point favorites, 38-35 on a 47-yard field goal in double over time (yeah, go ahead and try to tell me your uncle in Oxford, Maryland, predicted a Ravens’ win), was astonishing. Denver’s All-Pro starting quarterback Peyton Manning (who will also most likely pick up NFL MVP and Comeback Player of the Year awards) was, well you guessed it, mediocre at best.

This was foreseen. Manning has never been “great” in playoff games, he’s tied with Brett Favre on 11 losses (9-11). He fumbled, threw two interceptions (one a 39-yard pick by the Ravens’ Corey Graham, the other in overtime setting up Baltimore’s rookie kicker, Justin Tucker, to split the uprights from 47 yards in double overtime for the win) and simply had no answer against the oldest starting defense in the NFL.

Expected? Not really.

Not after what Manning did during the regular season and not with Joe Flacco and a Ravens’ offense who only five weeks ago fired their offensive coordinator. You want unpredictable? How about this: Denver stayed alive in this game and forced overtime when 165cm Trinden Holliday returned a kickoff and a punt each for a touchdown in the same game.

Yup, never been done before, a new NFL record. How about Joe Flacco? Surely you pegged him for 331 yards and three touchdowns without an interception? No?

Of course, you must have had Tory Smith beating All World Cornerback Champ Bailey, twice, for touchdowns, right? It would have been three if not for Flacco’s errant pass. The Ravens deserved this win, whether you predicted it or not. And I know you didn’t.

How about Atlanta allowing Rookie of the Year candidate Russell Wilson to lead his Seattle Seahawks to fight back from a 20-0 half-time deficit and hold on to win, right? Wrong.

Atlanta did not fall apart in the closing moments and captured their first playoff win since 2004, with Matty “Ice” Ryan completing passes to the ageless Tony Gonzalez to set up a Matt Bryant field goal with 0:08 seconds left. Yes, shockingly, the Falcons held on to win this battle of the birds 30-28. But you predicted that, right?

Let’s move on to San Francisco and discuss Alex Smith. You remember him? The same starting quarterback whose head coach, Jim Harbaugh, told him: “No son, you won’t lose your job for suffering a concussion.” Yes, you guessed it, he remained on the bench and the starter from week 9, rookie Colin Kaepernick, was under center. Here’s the part you did not predict correctly:

Kaepernick would go on to run wild like Roger Craig, picking up 181 yards rushing (two touchdowns, including one for 56 yards untouched) and pass the ball as well as, yup… heard it here first, Steve Young.

The 49ers decimated the healthy again Green Bay Packers 45-31, perfect spiral after perfect spiral beating the Packer defense. Michael Crabtree hauled in nine passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick finished the day with 444 yards of total offense, four touchdowns and a tattoo that says “I’m the Man”. The 49ers defense was stout. Aaron Rogers did double check after double check to find an open receiver and oh, that old running back that lost a step, Frank Gore, punished the Packer defenders and picked up 5.2 yards per carry, 119 total yards and a touchdown. I won a zillion dollars on a four-baht bet in Vegas picking Kaepernick to perform as well as he did. You didn’t?

How about them Patriots? My friend thought I was crazy, but I had Rob Gronkowski to re-break his arm on the 7th play of the game. In fact, he called me nuts when I predicted Danny Woodhead would go down after the first play of the game. He laughed uncontrollably when I told him Shane Vareen, the third-string running back on the depth chart would step in for both players and score three touchdowns. The South Boston native told me to “jump in my cah, go to the liquoh stohe and buy anotheh beeh”.

Arguably, the worst defense remaining in the playoffs held All Pro Arian Foster and the NFL’s # 8 rushing attack to a measly 91 yards. The Swiss cheese New England secondary held the Houston passing attack to two garbage time touchdown receptions. This game was over by the end of the 3rd quarter. JJ Watt, candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year had half a sack. He hit Tom Brady once. He deflected one pass. Now New England can stay right in Foxboro after this 41-28 victory, and wait for Sunday’s rematch of last years AFC Championship with Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Yeah, you definitely predicted that.

So, lets look ahead. We’ve got the 49ers visiting Atlanta. Baltimore heading to New England. I’ll go on the record as saying this: Bill Bellichick will line up next to Vince Wilfork in the 4-3 and sack Tyrod Taylor twice. Ray Lewis will return a punt for a touchdown and shoot himself in the foot while wrestling away a musket from the Minute Men Militia. In the NFC, I like Atlanta honoring Joe Montana at halftime and the Falcons actually going to the Super Bowl. Yes, the unexpected is all we as fans can expect from this year’s NFL season. This fan would not want it any other way.

Any of this expected? Russell Wilson, Coach of the Year Candidate Pete Carroll (my vote), the Seattle Seahawks defense, a team that beat the best all year (Packers, 49ers, Patriots, Bears) however, somehow lost a game they were favored to win, in Atlanta.

NFL and AFC Play-offs and Super Bowl schedule
NFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 20 – 3 pm ET, FOX (Phuket: Monday 3am)
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA.

AFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 20 – 6:30pm ET, CBS (Phuket: Monday 6:30am)
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA.


Super Bowl XLVII
Sunday, February 3, 2013 – 6:30pm ET, CBS (Phuket: Monday, February 3, 6:30am)
AFC AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA.

— Mark Reynolds

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Thailand

Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger
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3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”

SOURCES: UNESCO |Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

A newborn baby was found on a bench at a neighborhood by Phuket’s Patong Road. The baby boy was wrapped in cloth and left inside a reusable shopping bag. The bag also had a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing.

A woman walking by early in the morning heard the baby crying. She followed the cries and found the baby on the bench. She called police and calmed the baby, feeding him milk that was left in the bag.

Police took the baby to the Patong Hospital. The baby, about a week old, is in good health, police say.

“Police and rescue workers together rushed to the scene and called Patong Hospital to have a medical team meet us there … This baby is healthy and does not appear to have suffered any injuries. He is now safe and being cared for at Patong Hospital.”

Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage to see if they can track down the mother, or whoever left the baby behind.

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

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Visa

Phuket Immigration handing out ‘conditional’ 14 day visas, pending investigations

The Thaiger

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Phuket Immigration handing out ‘conditional’ 14 day visas, pending investigations | The Thaiger

Confusion reigns. It was predictable and many people, despite months of warnings, have left their visa extensions to the last minute. Meanwhile Thai immigration don’t appear to be making the process easy as The Thaiger has received multiple comments from foreigners visiting the various immigration offices around the country and encountering ‘local’ applications of the published guidelines and, in some cases, demands for additional paperwork.

A note to The Thaiger, we won’t publish the person’s name, from Phuket where a person applying for an extension to their visa has been given something less than the 30 days promised by the government.

“On Monday Phuket Immigration was only giving 14 day ‘conditional’ VISA extensions from the date of application, not from September 26. They announced this was to allow time to “investigate and verify” the need for the extension.

So basically we paid 1900 baht for a 14 day extension. After announcing this many people left as many que numbers were called and nobody came up. They said if that were the case they would come back later in the week.

So we have to go back on October 5 (or a few days later is ok they announced) to see if we’re approved for the 30 day extension from September 26. If not we would be immediately “overstaying” at 500 baht/day.

Thank you
C

Another writer, speaking about the same matter, said that they were still being charged the non-refundable 1900 baht fee for the 2 week extension….

“They still collected the non refundable 1900 baht fee.”

Yesterday a person, who had been living in Bangkok under the auspices of the visa amnesty on a lapsed Non Immigrant B (Business) visa, ended up visiting three different offices to get his paperwork sorted out. This is after first contacting immigration by phone to confirm the particular office to attend. He had a letter from the US Embassy explaining that he would be unable to return to the US at this stage due to lack of flights and the current Covid-19 situation in the US. He made an appointment online, as instructed, and it still didn’t go very smoothly.

The instructions he received….

If your Visa was cancelled during the Covid-19 crisis, and you are currently under the amnesty grace period set to expire September 26, you will need to schedule an appointment online to queue in with the Immigration Division 1 at Muang Thong Thani (near Don Mueang Airport). You will need…
  • Online appointment with Immigration Division 1
  • Passport
  • TM 6 Departure Card
  • 1,900 Baht fee for short term extension
  • Letter from embassy specifically stating inability to leave Thailand due to lack of repatriation flights and or a high risk of contracting Covid-19 in one’s home nation.
  • US Embassy letter request can be made online here
  • Portrait photo to affix to short term extension application 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm in dimension

After going to Counter K and Counter J (2 separate buildings), he ended up being asked to go to the Chaeng Wattana office instead, and then was shuffled off to yet another office. Additional paperwork was also requested, beyond what had been asked for. After nearly a full day he ended up with a visa stamp for a 30 day extension in his visa.

He also noted that there is NO ATM around the Mueang Thong Thani immigration offices and our reader had to take a 60 baht motorcycle taxi ride to get cash.

Probably worse, he said that the Immigration officials (clearly overworked at this time), were “extremely rude” and that the facilities (apparently temporary) are “less-than-adequate”, especially the Counter K, which was basically a parking garage with seats… no fans.

Additionally, contrary to the clear advice on the Thai Immigration website, most people getting their extensions were from the date of their visit and NOT the end of the September 26 amnesty.

Phuket Immigration handing out 'conditional' 14 day visas, pending investigations | News by The Thaiger

The moral of this tiny microcosm of stories is that it’s probably the busiest week for Thai immigration in history. The officials will be stressed and stretched, there will be long queues and there will be confusion. We should also mention that we’ve had a few foreigners contact us saying that things went very smoothly for their extensions, so well done to all concerned in those examples!

Be prepared, take ALL your paperwork, expect to asked to produce more evidence, make sure you have all your photos and copies of your passport, TM 6 departure card, plus filled-in applications before you head to the Immigration offices.

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