Vol. IX No. 27 - Tuesday
July 6 - July 12, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Partial lunar eclipse seen in Chiang Mai

Climate change seminar in a bid to inform public

British Embassy representative pays visit to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Participates In Third Annual Worldwide Photo Walk

Beloved resident songstress sadly passes away

90 year old Australian man arrested for pedophilia

Pai hit by major deforestation

Chiang Dao bust yields 4,000 yabaa pills

Phone booth bombers hit two in one night

Emergency Decree to be re-evaluated

Chiang Mai Mail’s new office

 

Partial lunar eclipse seen in Chiang Mai

About 150 people turned out to the Observatory Tower on Doi Suthep –Pui National Park .in Chiang Mai on June 26 to observe the partial lunar eclipse.

Supoj Thaimyoj

Crowds gathered at the Observatory Tower on Doi Suthep to watch the partial lunar eclipse on June 26 that started at 7:21 p.m. Assoc. Prof. Boonraksa Sunthorntham, Director of National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Narit) led Narit staff set up telescopes of differing sizes so that the general public could participate in viewing the partial eclipse.

A more than 50 percent lunar eclipse was viewed by many residents on top of Doi Suthep at the Observatory Tower on June 26 at 7:44 p.m. The first lunar eclipse of 2010, a total solar eclipse is predicted for July 11 and will be visible over the South Pacific. This eclipse is a part of Lunar Saros 120 series, repeating every 18 years and roughly 10 days, last occurring on June 15, 1992, the next one will occur July 6, 2028. This series is winding down: The final total eclipse of this series was on May 14, 1938 and the final partial lunar eclipse will be on July 28, 2064. Story on Page 2. (Photo courtesy of NARIT)

Even though there were dark clouds people could observe the moon rising on the eastern horizon and could see part of the eclipse, until finally at 7:44 p.m. the clouds moved away and the moon could be seen at a 15 percent eclipse. About 150 people gathered to witness this natural phenomenon.

This was the 57the part of the Saros Eclipse cycle that began in the time of King Mengrai Maharaj when a full eclipse occurred on 10 December 10, which King Mengrai Maharaj viewed from Yen Throne in Tambon Talechoobsorn, Muang District, Lopburi province.

More than 50 percent of the lunar eclipse was seen at 7.21 p.m. on June 26. (Photo courtesy of NARIT)

A Saros eclipse cycle is calculated at occurring every 223 lunar months following an eclipse, another eclipse of similar duration will take place. This 223-lunar month eclipse cycle equals 6,585.321 days, or 18 years and 11.321 days (the figure sometimes varies by one day, depending on the number of intervening leap years).

The Saros period is about one-third of a day (8 hours) longer than 18 years and 11 days. Therefore, each successive Saros takes place about 8 hours later and 120 degrees west of the previous eclipse. At the third return of the Saros (669 lunar months), the eclipse swings full circle (120 degrees x 3 = 360 degrees), happening at roughly the same time and the same geographical location. This triple Saros is called an Exeligmos, a period of about 54 years and 34 days.

According to Narit, the next full eclipse will be seen again in Thailand on December 10, 2011, from 7.30 -11.30 p.m.

 

Climate change seminar in a bid to inform public

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

The Office of National Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning held a seminar in Chiang Mai to receive the feedback, ideas and suggestions on drafting the country’s master plan for 2010 – 2019 to cope with climate change.

Araya Nanthaphothidej, Deputy Secretary General of the Office of National Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning was a guest speaker on climate change at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel in Chiang Mai.

On June 28, the Office, and the Climate Change Convention Office held the seminar at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel to develop guidelines for ensuring readiness to deal with the impact from climate change, and also to support all sectors concerned to participate in reducing the amount of green house gasses.

Thailand is following procedures agreed to under the United Nations declaration on climate change, according to Araya Nanthaphothidej, Deputy Secretary General of the Office of National Resources an Environmental Policy and Planning who was a guest speaker at the seminar.

She said the general public’s opinions and feedback were of great for helping draft the national operational plan on the country’s climate change, to be proposed to the Cabinet for further approval in August this year. Seminars have been held around the country to garner suggestions.


British Embassy representative pays visit to Chiang Mai

By Shana Kongmun

Deputy Head of Mission Daniel Pruce paid his first visit to Chiang Mai for a few days during the last week of June on a mission to get a sense of what nationals in Chiang Mai need and to meet with local and provincial government officials to gauge the mood in the North.

“We need to get a sense of what’s going on in the rest of the country,” Mr. Pruce said, “I’ve come here to meet the Mayor and the Police. I went to Chiang Mai University to talk to people there and I am also talking with British expats living in Chiang Mai.”

Chris Hedges of the Chiang Mai Expats Club joins Deputy Head of Mission for the United Kingdom Daniel Pruce and Shana Kongmun, Managing Editor of the Chiang Mai Mail to discuss the role of the Embassy inThailand.

Mr. Pruce, as the Deputy Head of Mission for the British Embassy is essentially the man who runs the nuts and bolts of the operation. When Ambassador Quinton Quayle is out of the country, he stands in as the representative for the United Kingdom in Thailand. The Embassy, he noted, is one of the larger missions that the U.K. has in the world. With 150 staff and about 3 dozen British nationals on duty, “it ranks in the top dozen in size,” he added.

The Embassy focuses on delivering services to it’s’ nationals, he said, pointing out that an estimated 50,000 British citizens reside in Thailand and 840,000 visited as tourists last year. He said the key role that they try to offer tourists is the best advice possible with their “know before you go” website. He added that the British Embassy, with about 12-13 consular agents, correspondents and honorary consuls, the network covering Thailand to offer British citizens aid is quite extensive.

He reiterated the importance of their program to register overseas citizens, LOCATE (https://www.locate. fco.gov.uk/locateportal/), stating that in the April and May crisis; they issued nearly daily updates so that citizens could stay abreast of the situation. He added that the U.K. was also the first to relax travel advice after May 19, with other countries following suit.

He clarified the situation with the VAC or Visa Application Center, stating that while the reception of applications has been outsourced to a commercial partner, all decisions are taken by consular experts in the Embassy. “The dedicated center gives our citizen’s a more efficient experience and mitigates the security risks taken by allowing a large number of people into the Embassy daily,” Mr. Pruce pointed out. Employees of the VAC are vetted very carefully, he added, and the center allows the Embassy to keep costs under control. He added that he was not aware of any plans to open a VAC in Chiang Mai, however, so visa applicants will still have to make the trek to Bangkok.

Mr. Pruce discussed the various responsibilities of the Embassy in Bangkok; citizens’ services being key, as well as visa applications, trade and investment, improve educational links and developing a close relationship with the Thai government. “We’ve had a challenging two years with the airport closure, the disruption of the ASEAN meeting in Pattaya, the Songkran riots, Santika nightclub fire on New Year’s Eve, the Samui airport crash and finally the crisis in April and May which blocked off access to the Embassy. We ran consular services out of the Sofitel Hotel near the airport, helping 300 people over that period,” he noted.

“Putting the consulate in a hotel wasn’t part of our contingency plans,” he said, “we had fallback locations identified, but they ended up being in the demonstration zones.”

Another aspect of the services provided to citizens is a dedicated prisoners team that provides consular support to those in Thai jails. They ensure adequate medical access, monitor the welfare of the prisoner and make certain the prisoner understands the procedures.

Finally, he noted that there are 2000 registered British nationals in the North, but it could be as high as 4-5 times that number. He said, that for now, there are no plans to expand notarial services in Chiang Mai but that they would like feedback on both their LOCATE program and what expats need from their representatives in Thailand.


Chiang Mai Participates In Third Annual Worldwide Photo Walk

Event Hailed as the Largest Global Social Event for Photographers

On Saturday, July 24, 2010, thousands of people around the world will be walking with Photoshop guru Scott Kelby in the Third Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. Chiang Mai is hosting two walks: one at Wat Umong and the other around the markets of Chiang Moi.

The Worldwide Photo Walk is the world’s largest global social photography event in the history of photography itself. It takes place on the same day around the world where photographers of all walks of life and skill levels gather together, usually in downtown areas to socialize, learn new tips from each other, and explore their corner of the world through photography.

“In 2008, we had 241 walks,” said Scott Kelby, “Last year, we had over 900 walks with over 32,000 photographers participating. We did the math… your average photographer will take upwards of 300 photos during a photo walk. That means that nearly 10 million pictures were taken in that one single day that may never had happened otherwise. I think that’s pretty cool and we all can’t wait to see what happens this year.”

Wyndham Hollis, co-organizer of the Chiang Mai Photographic Group, is leading one of the city’s two walks which starts near the US Consulate and ends up at Wat Ket across the river via several markets and the Chinese Temple. There is no fee to participate but pre-registration is required. Just go to worldwidephotowalk.com, enter Chiang Mai in the search box and join in the fun.

Anyone can participate - all you need is a camera. It doesn’t even matter what kind of camera either: people have showed up with disposables in the past, had a blast, and left with a new appreciation for photography. (PR)


Beloved resident songstress sadly passes away

By Rebecca Lomax

Cheri Potter, talented, extroverted, and filled with a love of living, died just after midnight on the morning of July 2, 2010, leaving a life that she described as “brimful and overflowing”. She leaves behind Mike, her husband of forty years; their children, Andy and Christy; three grandchildren, Audry, Mason and Hunter; and uncountable others who loved her.

Cheri Potter is seen here with her husband of 40 years, Mike.

Cheri was a native of Oklahoma, and how she wrote the script for that “brimful and overflowing” life is a wonderful story. Always the carrot-topped family clown, she was in every speech, comedy and drama club in school. She performed in Bye, Bye Birdie, Grease, Little Shop of Horrors, L’il Abner, and Hello, Dolly, but it wasn’t until she performed in Oklahoma! that she found her beautiful soprano voice. She was the high school state champion in speech and drama, no surprise to anybody who knew her. She had talent and a waiting scholarship, but her dad insisted on secretarial school and the possibility of jobs she admitted were never on her to-do list. She later graduated from Oklahoma State University.

She didn’t hesitate for a minute when Mike, in full Marine uniform, proposed to her on bended knee. She always described him simply as “the love of my life”. Before they got married, though, she surprised even her parents when she struck out for Europe alone to tour the great museums. It was the beginning of a lifetime of travel that she shared with Mike. The couple married the next spring.

Cheri was thrilled when Mike chose elementary school teaching as a career. Andy and Christy were born, and the family moved to a log house in a rural setting. Cheri began a career at Eastern Oklahoma State College as the activities director, conjuring up all sorts of student contests and races and even inventing the Great Chicken Fly-Off. She wrote a book based on her adolescent misadventures, Good for a Laugh Lilly Goes for Broke, and started a humor column in the newspaper.

Life went on, the children grew up, and Mike and Cheri retired - but not for long.

The quiet life of retirement was too quiet, and an international school job brought Mike and Cheri to Chiang Mai. Mike again taught school, and Cheri coached drama and taught creative writing. They moved to a condo in the Night Bazaar, found a home at Community Church and volunteer opportunities in the community. They could not get enough of the volunteer work they did, and loved every minute of it. Cheri discovered an outlet for her musical talents with the Chiang Mai Choral Society. She was sweet Eliza Doolittle on stage, but didn’t hesitate to wear a cow costume to a Mardi Gras party, parading through the lobby of their condo and down the streets of the Night Bazaar in full cow drag.

The Chinese proverb says, “A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.” Cheri had a song, and she sang it well. We will miss the music of her life.

The funeral will take place on Tuesday, July 13, at 4 p.m. at the Community Church with burial scheduled for Wednesday, July 14 at 12 noon at the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery.


90 year old Australian man arrested for pedophilia

Karl Joseph Kraus, a 90 year old citizen of Australia, has been charged with having sex with four sisters under the age of 15.

Saksit Meesubkwang

A 90 year old Australian man was arrested on June 29 by the Doi Saket Police along with the Chiang Mai Tourist Police for having sex with four underaged sisters.

Karl Joseph Kraus was held on charges after their parents of four girls lodged a complaint with Doi Saket police, accusing Mr. Karl of raping their daughters. The girls are aged between seven and 14. The parents suspect the girls were lured into having sex with Mr. Karl at his house in Doi Saket district several times.

The parents became suspicious by their daughters’ abnormal behavior and questioned them to find out that Mr. Kraus had them perform oral sex on him as well as raping them. They then turned to the police with their daughters’ statements. Police had doctors examine the girls before obtaining the search and arrest warrants.

After searching Mr. Kraus’ house, police found more than 100 photos of nude girls under the age of 15 as well as sex aids. They confiscated his computer, photo album and a video camera. Police found photographs and video footage depicting alleged sexual activities with underage girls.

During the search, Mr. Kraus called the Australian Consul accusing the police of blackmailing him. The police subsequently charged him with filing a false statement accusing Thai police of attempting to extort money. He insisted he had been a victim of police extortion when he was charged with rape in an earlier case.

Police said that Mr. Kraus, a former engineer, has lived in Chiang Mai for about ten years and they suspect he has been engaging in pedophilia the entire time.


Pai hit by major deforestation

Watershed land has been clear cut by poachers intent
on developing the land for agriculture and tourism.

Khajohn Boonpath

Deforestation and trespassing on forest lands covering huge amounts of land were found around Pai in Mae Hong Son recently by the 7th Infantry Regiment that had been surveying the area for an aerial map.

More than 10,000 Rai of land was found clear cut, mainly for agriculture and tourism related businesses, in a massive deforestation that threatens the watershed. It is feared this will negatively affect the area and it is suspected the clear cut was done because some ‘influential investors’ have bought up forest land to develop into tourist destinations.

Col Uthai Chaichana, Commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment reported that a helicopter mapping the area on June 24 discovered the devastated forest land and has disseminated seeds to help reforest the area. The hardest hit areas were on the Thai – Myanmar border and Pang Mapha and Pai districts.

Col Uthai said that some of the deforested land is being used for farming by local Thai villagers who are growing rice, sesame, corn, bean and other field crops as well as for a corporate agricultural projects and tourism related businesses like mountain resorts.

Pai district is counted/ regarded as the country’s number one tourist destination and during the past two years, it was one of the world’s top 50 tourist attraction.


Chiang Dao bust yields 4,000 yabaa pills

Supoj Thaimyoj

The Pha Muang Task Force arrested a drug suspect with a haul of 4000 ya baa tablets in Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai on June 27.

Ong-art Phuriboriboon, a Hmong hilltribesman, was arrested after 4,000 yabaa tablets were discovered in his truck.

Col Thatathep Rodchit, the Commander of the 4th Calvary Regiment of the Task Force arrested Ong-art Phuriboriboon, a Hmong hilltibes man from Ban Huay Luek, in Chiang Dao district after discovering the yabaa pills hidden in a secret compartment under the driver’s seat.

Authorities set up a check- point at Ban Kaeng Pantao, Tambon Mae Na, Chiang Dao district when they searched Mr. Ong-art’s truck he displayed suspicious behavior. After police interrogation, Ong-art confessed that he was hired by a drug a dealer to transport the drugs to an agent in Mae Taeng district at the cost of 10,000 baht per trip. Police said the drug dealer who had hired the man had left the district.

Mr. Ong-art was detained on charges of smuggling drugs.


Phone booth bombers hit two in one night

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Two phone booths were destroyed when unidentified people threw homemade bombs at them around midnight on June 27.

The first phone booth was located in front of Siripanna Villa and Spa on Ratcha-utis and the second one at the entrance to Jinda Nives Housing estate on Chiang Mai – Lamphun roads, both in Tambon Nonghoi in Muang District. The locations of the bombings were only about a kilometer apart and located about one kilometer from 33rd Military Circle, Kawila Army camp.

Military inspectors and local police rushed to the scene to investigate, with eye witnesses reporting that two motorbikes carrying two young men each were seen throwing the bombs. Police suspect a youth gang.

The police are trying to trace the bomb suspects and will review the incidents through the CCTV cameras of both Chiang Mai Municipality and Traffic Police. They hope to make an arrest soon.


Emergency Decree to be re-evaluated

Nopniwat Krailerg

Governor Amornphan Nimanant, as the commander of the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) in Chiang Mai has ordered the combined forces of police, military, internal security command, local administration, and intelligence agencies to investigate the possibility of lifting the Emergency Decree and that they will then submit their suggestions to the Cabinet for consideration.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant reports that the CRES will consider lifting the Emergency Decree at a press conference on the Chiang Mai Grand Sale 2010, held at the Good View Restaurant on July 2.

The State of Emergency has been in force since May 13 and has negatively affected tourism in Chiang Mai.

“The Emergency Decree changed the minds of visitors, especially foreign tourists, about the safety of Thailand and many changed their destination to other countries,” the Governor said.

The CRES in Chiang Mai has monitored the situation here closely, he added. Saying, “We follow the current situation to keep aware of anything that might happen. We are doing our best to solve the problems of unrest and bombs as well as the damage to our reputation with tourists.”

He told reporters that in the past week Ambassadors and senior officials from several countries had visited Chiang Mai in an attempt to assess the situation. The US, Canada, Australia, India, EU, Brunei and the UAE all had representatives in the area.

The Canadian Ambassador told the Governor that he will inform the Canadian government that the situation in Chiang Mai had returned to normal and that he would request they inform tourists of this.

He added that he has not clamped down strongly, feeling that such action would inflame things, but rather finds that flexibility has helped to calm the situation. He said that some areas were still sensitive and being monitored so, until the situation has been fully assessed he is not yet sure what his recommendation to the Cabinet will be.


Chiang Mai Mail’s new office

Chiang Mai Mail has opened an office in town, be sure to drop in. We are conveniently located behind Kad Suan Kaew at Sirimangkalajarn Soi 7. Number 26, you can’t miss the big Chiang Mai Mail sign out front. You can reach us by phone 053-221-402 or fax 053-221-403 or email [email protected] Sales enquiries can be directed to [email protected] Or visit us on the web at www.chiangmai-mail.com. The new Chiang Mai Mail team looks forward to hearing from you!



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