Fort Lauderdale, April 2010
Part II

After Part I

April 7-12, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

State of emergency declared

Published: 7/04/2010 at 07:03 PM

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday evening declared a state of emergency under the executive degree for administration in emergency situations in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and some districts of Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Ayutthaya. The state of emergency took effect immediately after it was announced.

Mr Abhisit announced the move in a live nationwide television broadcast from the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) at the 11th Infantry Regiment in the presence of the cabinet members.

The prime minister said the decision was reached at a special cabinet meeting this afternoon after a number of the red shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) broke into the parliamentary compound, forcing cabinet members, including himself, and MPs attending a House meeting to flee for safety.

He said the government had tried to control the situation by invoking the Internal Security Act in Bangkok and nearby provinces, but to no avail as the red-shirts had continued to step up their activities and resorted to violence in violation of the law and the constitution.

Their activities had greatly affected people's lives and their work, as well as the national economy and Thailand's image in the eyes of the world community.

Mr Abhisit said a centre for solving the emergency situation had been set up, with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of security affairs, as director. The centre is empowered to take action under the emergency law and enforce various orders issued under the law.

Other members of the centre include the defence minister, the permanent secretary for defence and the commanders of all the armed forces and the Royal Thai Police Office.

He said the main objectives in imposing the state of emergency were to return the situation to normal as soon as possible, to stop any attempt to disseminate false information in a way to incite division, to more effectively take legal action against the protest leaders, and to enable other measures to be taken more effectively.

The prime minister said the government, in declaring the state of emergency, does not aim to crack down on innocent people, but wants to maintain the sanctity of the law.

He promised that all measures to be taken would be in line with international standards of practice.

Meanwhile, the UDD called on all of their red-shirt supporters to get together on Friday and try to topple the Democrat-led government. After Prime Minister Abhisit declared a state of emergency, UDD leader Natthawut Saikua declared that the protesters will not leave their rally sites at Bangkok's Phan Fa bridge and Ratchaprasong intersection.

"I ask all the red-shirts in the city and nearby provinces to join forces at Phan Fa and Ratchaprasong. We'll fight against the guns with our bare hands.

"The red-shirts in other provinces can converge on their respective city halls," Mr Natthawut said.

More red-shirt supporters had gradually travelled to Phan Fa and Ratchaprasong while the group had increased the number guards and raised the security level, he said.


 

April 7, 2010

This warden message alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand that the Government of Thailand has declared a state of emergency for Bangkok in response to the UDD demonstrations. While the details of exactly what this will mean are not yet clear, all U.S. citizens should be prepared for an increase in security personnel presence on the streets of Bangkok and should obey any and all instructions from such personnel. We will continue to share details as they develop.

Therefore, U.S. citizens should pay close attention to public sources of information concerning events on the streets of Bangkok and should be aware of their surroundings at all times. We remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok or if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website http://www.travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A Safe Trip Abroad", which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Thailand are encouraged to register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at acsbkk@state.gov. The emergency after-hours telephone number is 66-2-205-4000.


PPS: Continuing our drive; we made a left on Sunrise and headed west.


PPPS: At Sears* we bent left and headed south to Las Olas Boulevard at which point we made another left and headed east on Las Olas ... completing the circle.**


* Remember when people actually shopped here?

** Actually a rectangle.


Last S: Then we headed home.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

The usual suspects. But, an unusual fare.


Friday, April 9, 2010

The long arm of the local law; you can never tell when they are watching ... and, why.*


* Perhaps because there is a geocache1 within 20 meters of this eye in the sky.

1 Not one of mine.


PS: This afternoon Kig, Dang, Morgan and Watcharee snacked on cup cakes after a day of shopping at the Galleria Mall ... and, after a long leisurely lunch at Seasons 52.


Saturday. April 10, 2010

And so it goes .....

April 10, 2010

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand that the Royal Thai Government, under the order of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas following demonstrations by protestors from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts"). While the details of how the State of the Emergency will be implemented are still unknown, U.S. citizens should expect to see an increase in the presence of security personnel on the streets of Bangkok and should adhere to any and all instructions from such personnel. The State of Emergency grants special powers to the Royal Thai Police and Army; however, it is not known how these powers will be exercised against the UDD demonstrators who have been protesting around the Ratchaphrasong intersection adjacent to Central World, Rajadamri Road and Soi Lang Suan, as well as the Phanfa Bridge area in old Bangkok.

This Travel Alert will expire on April 19, 2010.

Political demonstrations by the UDD are expected to continue in Bangkok throughout the weekend and possibly throughout the Songkran holidays (April 13-16). As a result, traffic congestion and difficulty of movement is possible throughout Bangkok. There have been numerous incidents of explosive attacks, including several isolated grenade attacks, in and around Bangkok and Chiang Mai, over the past two months. Additional explosive devices have been discovered before detonation. Some of these incidents occurred at or near areas frequented by U.S. citizens. These incidents appear to be motivated by domestic politics and do not appear to be acts of international terrorism. Travel to Thailand remains generally safe. However, the possibility of more such attacks cannot be ruled out. U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and vigilance at all times. Immediately report to law enforcement or security personnel any unattended packages or bags or suspicious objects in public areas.

The Department also alerts U.S. citizens that if demonstrations in Bangkok are forcibly dispersed, the UDD demonstrators may move to other provinces. Possible demonstration sites include provincial halls and military and police installations. Therefore, U.S. citizens should monitor public sources of information to stay abreast of the latest information concerning demonstrations and areas to avoid. U.S. citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok.

U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website http://www.travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A Safe Trip Abroad", which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Thailand are encouraged to register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at acsbkk@state.gov. The emergency after-hours telephone number is 66-2-205-4000.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

These photos were sent to us by 'Name', Rung's daughter. They show red shirt activity in our immediate neighborhood.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Movies and memories: this afternoon I watched "White Nights" on cable. It brought back so many great memories of Leningrad and St. Petersburg (one and the same ... but, at different times).

First, the movie ... then the memories:


Memories:


Monday, April 12, 2010

Cleaning closets before packing.


P.S.

Big-Name British Atheists Hellbent on Arresting Pope

LONDON (April 12) -- Declaring that the pope is "not above the law," two of the world's most famous atheist activists are calling for the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI for crimes against humanity when he visits Britain later this year.

Biologist Richard Dawkins, author of best-selling anti-religious tracts like "The God Delusion," and essayist Christopher Hitchens, author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," are consulting with their lawyers in an attempt to build a case against the pope, whom they accuse of deliberately hiding evidence of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Last week, The Associated Press published a 1985 letter signed by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in which he dismissed pleas to defrock Stephen Kiesle, a Californian pedophile priest, citing "the good of the universal church."

"This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence," Dawkins told the U.K.'s Sunday Times.

The Vatican has previously claimed that, as a head of state, the pope is immune from prosecution. However, the two atheists' lawyers have advised them that the pontiff is not the head of a state with full United Nations membership, meaning he could be arrested on British soil.

"I'm convinced we can get over the threshold of immunity," the pair's solicitor, Mark Stephens, told The Guardian. "The Vatican is not recognized as a state in international law. ... It was a construct of Mussolini, and when the Vatican first applied to become a member of the U.N., the U.S. said no. So as a sop they were given the status of permanent observers rather than full members."

The pope "is not above or outside the law," Hitchens told the Sunday Times. "Institutionalized concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs but justice and punishment."

Case history suggests that Hitchens and Dawkins' legal maneuvers could cause trouble for the pope, who plans to visit the U.K. Sept. 16 to 19. In 1998, the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested while on a trip to Britain. And last year pro-Palestinian campaigners successfully persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, for war crimes allegedly committed during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza. (Livni subsequently canceled her planned trip to the U.K., and the warrant was dropped.)

Even if the pair's application for an arrest warrant is rejected, Pope Benedict's trip will likely be marred by noisy street demonstrations. The Protest the Pope campaign -- a coalition of gay rights groups, pro-choice organizations, feminists and the National Secular Society -- is planning rallies to challenge the Vatican's "reactionary" views and highlight the fact that the pontiff's visit is costing British taxpayers some $30 million.

"We believe that there is a case for Joseph Ratzinger to answer personally," campaign spokesman Gerard Phillips told AOL News. "We think that the pope should not be above the law, and support the actions of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins."

The move to arrest the pope capped another miserable week for the Vatican. On April 9, soon after the Kiesle letter emerged, a retired Italian bishop was quoted on the Italian Catholic Web site Pontifex accusing Jews of being behind the wave of sex-abuse allegations now crashing against the church.

Monsignor Giacomo Babini, bishop emeritus of Grossetto, Italy, told the site he believed "Zionists" were behind the attack because the criticism of the pope was "powerful and refined" in nature. (Neither Hitchens nor Dawkins is Jewish.)

"They do not want the church. They are its natural enemies," the 81-year-old Babini reportedly said. "Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers."

Babini later denied making anti-Semitic remarks "about our Jewish brothers," but Pontifex has said it will release the audiotape of the interview as proof.

Babini previously has been quoted on the Web site accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust.

Next: Part III

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