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Songkran launches around the country

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Songkran launches around the country | The Thaiger

Police continue to push public safety measures but traffic still poses challenge.

As holidaymakers and locals heading home started to reach their destinations nationwide yesterday for the traditional Thai New Year celebrations this weekend, various sites confirmed their readiness to host impressive events and also implement public safety measures.

At Bangkok’s Khao San Road Thai actors Chatchawal Phetchwisit, Wichan Meesom and Kosawis Piyasakulkaew and singer Treechada “Ice R-siam” Kimtin to promote safe Songkran celebrations. They urged people to refrain from wearing too-revealing clothes (or risk a 5,000 baht fine), sexual harassment/molestation (up to 10 years in jail and up to 200,000 baht fine), or using high-pressure water guns (sellers face up to six months in jail and up to 50,000 baht fine).

Songkran launches around the country | News by The Thaiger

Khao San Road, which is famous for water wars every year, is expected to draw 30,000 visitors a day from today until Sunday. Some 960 police would guard the road and nearby areas during this period.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) kicked off the Songkran Festival with a beautiful procession carrying the famous Phra Buddha Sihing image from the National Museum to a temporary shrine in Lumpini Park where it will remain until Sunday. The procession through the streets of old Bangkok was flagged off by BMA Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang.

The BMA will also host an alms-offering rite at 7am today for 166 Buddhist monks before hosting Songkran-related activities at the park, including a Songkran beauty queen contest.

Songkran launches around the country | News by The Thaiger

Down South, Thais and Malaysian and Singaporean visitors started Songkran water wars at the site for “Hatyai Midnight Songkran” on Sanehanusorn Road in Songkhla, many hours ahead of the event launch, while security officers were there to guard revellers.

Revellers got an early start in Bangla Road, Phuket yesterday afternoon as the water guns were out early with people firing off the first salvos. Foam started pouring from the roofs of some of the popular clubs as the night descended into a wet, slippery mess – all good fun.

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasert led officials and public members in a morning alms-offering rite for 60 Buddhist monks at the Three Kings Monument Plaza in Muang district. It marked the 722nd anniversary of the establishment of Nophaburi Sri Nakhon Ping Chiang Mai as the capital city of the Lanna Kingdom. The rite also launched Songkran celebrations.

Songkran launches around the country | News by The Thaiger

Various sites were ready for the celebrations, including the Tha Pae Gate plaza, the Wat Lok Molee for Lanna-style merit-making activities and the “Khu Muang” old city moat famous for its water wars. The latter site also saw eight emergency tents set up and a ban on the sale of alcohol.

Meanwhile, travellers from Bangkok heading upcountry for the five-day Songkran holidays were warned to prepare for severe traffic jams on highways later last night. Earlier in the day yesterday, heavy traffic congestion were already reported at various parts of the Northeast-bound Mitraparp Highway and the North-bound Asia Highway. By yesterday afternoon, Highway No 304 witnessed a 40km-long traffic jam between Nakhon Ratchasima’s Wang Nam Khieow district and Prachin Buri’s Na Dee district. Cars and vehicles were stuck bumper to bumper and could only move at a crawl pace.

Besides the vehicles of holidaymakers, other factors contributing to the traffic jams were some trucks plying and violating the ban on them running from April 11-17 as well as some ongoing road construction, a police source said.

On the North-bound road, vehicles caused some congestion on Highway No 11 (Phitsanulok-Uttaradit) while the Indochin intersection in Phitsanulok, which had some ongoing construction, allowed more motorists to still drive using alternative routes to avoid jams.

Songkran launches around the country | News by The Thaiger



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Chiang Mai

Toxic free school lunches

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Toxic free school lunches | The Thaiger

“Meat balls and sausages used in student lunches were also found to be contaminated with borax and formalin.”

A major study has been released researching contaminants in vegetables used in the state-sponsored school lunch program. You’d hope that the lunches were fresh and nutritious, right?

Instead, they were dangerous.

Vegetables and fruits found in lunches for students under the government’s free lunch program are almost 100 percent contaminated with pesticides and 99 percent of the urine samples from students and teachers in four provinces were tested with organophosphate, a deadly toxic pesticide that can attack the nervous system.

The alarming findings were the result of a research jointly conducted by Thai Education Foundation, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Field Alliance of Chiangmai University and Greenpeace Thailand between July 2017-October 2018 on student lunches in 55 schools in Chiang Mai, Pathum Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phang-nga provinces.

Vegetables, widely used in student lunches which were tested, include carrot, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale, long bean and tomato.  However, only two types of chemicals were tested – organophosphate and pyrethrum because organophosphate are widely used in insecticides for fruits and vegetables.

Thai PBS reports the the Thai Education Foundation secretary-general Marut Jatikate said that the most alarming findings appear to be the organophosphate residue found in 99 percent of the 436 urine samples from students and teachers in the four provinces.

Organophosphate poisoning symptoms include increased saliva and tear production, diarrhea, vomiting, small pupils, sweating, muscle tremors and confusion.

He said that the tests this time focused on two chemicals – organophosphate and pyrethrum – but they should have covered more toxic chemicals.

Nevertheless, he said findings from this research would be sent to the schools and parents of students in order that they would change the menu of student lunches but switching from mass-produced vegetables and fruits to organic vegetables and fruits which should be safer.

Besides the unsafe fruits and vegetables, Mr Marut said meat, meat balls and sausages used in student lunches were also found to be contaminated with borax and formalin.

Toxic free school lunches | News by The Thaiger

ORIGINAL STORY: Thai PBS

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Chiang Mai

Teaching children to avoid sexual predators

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Teaching children to avoid sexual predators | The Thaiger
“These clips are then recorded and sold to a secret group.”

Members of the police-led Thailand Internet Crime against Children (TICAC), Zoe International and the Hug Project are educating students on how perpetrators lure victims and use their sexual information and images to further extort sexual favours.

“Their plans are very complex,” said Wirawan ‘Boom’ Mosby, founder and director of the Hug Project, which co-launched the program with Zoe International and TICAC yesterday.

Sexual predators have migrated to the Internet over the past few years, thanks mainly to development in technology and strong police suppression in real time, Wirawan said.

She said both boys and girls are being targeted, citing a TICAC case that involved more than a hundred teenage boys.

In a typical scenario, she explained, a paedophile sets up a fake account on social media such as Line, Facebook or Skype, using the image of a beautiful girl as a profile picture to get close to the target. After building affection and trust, the predator might then send a clip of a woman masturbating, and ask for a similar clip in exchange. These clips are then recorded and sold to a secret group.

As the target is often scared about the clip being leaked, the predator is able to extort more videos, Wirawan explained.

As per the Hug Project, two teachers in each school will be trained to help students avoid falling prey to online sexual coercion and extortion. The students will know which teachers they can reach out to, and the teachers in turn can report the case to Hug Project officers or TICAC.

“We will use technology to fight technology,” Wirawan added.

The project will also limit students’ access to adult content. By installing OpenDNS on their Wi-Fi routers, schools will be able to block pornography and websites deemed “unsafe” from being accessed by devices connected to the school’s Wi-Fi.

Wirawan’s company, Movaci Technology, will also offer free technical support.

For now, the programme includes eight state-run schools and three private foundations, along with about 3,000 students, but Wirawan hopes the initiative will be adopted nationwide.

“I hope the Education Ministry adopts and implements this project in all schools,” she said.

TICAC chief Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal said police had investigated 128 cases of child pornography and 39 of child trafficking between 2015 and 2018.

Of the 140 suspects, 45 were foreigners and the remainder Thai. Police rescued 107 children – 33 boys and 74 girls.

Wirawan has been honoured by the US State Department for combating child trafficking in Thailand.

Teaching children to avoid sexual predators | News by The Thaiger Teaching children to avoid sexual predators | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Bangkok

Nude couple pictured on top of Egyptian pyramid sparks investigation

The Thaiger

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Nude couple pictured on top of Egyptian pyramid sparks investigation | The Thaiger

“Climbing pyramids is illegal in Egypt, with critics saying the incident shows a disregard for the nation’s laws and its conservative society.”

The question of tourists and their behavior at national monuments and popular sites comes up again today. This time in Egypt…

Read the report HERE.

“A video that shows a foreign couple in a naked embrace at the summit of the Great Khufu Pyramid of Giza is sparking reaction among Egyptians.

The three-minute video recorded at night shows a man and a woman scaling what appears to be the Great Pyramid of Giza with the skyline of Cairo in the background. When they reach the top, the video shows the woman taking off her shirt and finishes with a still image of them in a naked embrace.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani called it a violation of public morality, and said the incident and the video will be investigated by the attorney general.”

It’s happened often enough in Thailand where locals believe that foreign tourists have ‘defiled’ their monuments with poor behaviour. The incidents are often innocent affairs where tourists have climbed over something the locals perceive as sacred, all the way to posing with their naked butts in front of famous temples.

Read about that fiasco HERE.

Nude couple pictured on top of Egyptian pyramid sparks investigation | News by The Thaiger

Or a more recent example in Chiang Mai HERE.

Or this one in Ayutthaya HERE.

How can tourists know exactly what is expected of them at some of these monuments? Is it the responsibility of local authorities to alert foreign tourists about expected behaviour? In some case it may not be 100% clear about what is, and what isn’t, allowed.

Share your thoughts on our Facebook post about the topic HERE. You haven’t ‘liked’ our Facebook page? Make sure you do when you’re there and keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Thailand.

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December 13, 2018, 7:01 am
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