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M79 fired at NBT buildings

Posted by arnon_k On August - 31 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

A device believed to be a grenade exploded outside the head office of the National Broadcasting Service (NBT) on Bangkok’s Vibhavadi Rangsit road on Tuesday afternoon, acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said.

The blast, which caused no injuries, occurred in front of the buildings housing the state-run NBT about 1.45pm. it damaged a van and four sedans.

The buildings house the NBT TV studios and the Public Relations Department.

Police said they believed it was the grenade launched from the Don Muang tollway.

“On circumstantial evidence it’s likely to have been an M79,” Mr Panitan said.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Ong-art Klapaiboon visited the scene and said later he did not think the attack had anything to do with NBT programming.

The station allowed the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to host shows with government representatives.

The capital has been under emergency rule since April 7 in response to anti-government protests led by the UDD, in which 91 people died and about 1,900 were injured in clashes between protesters and the army.

A handful of explosions in recent weeks have unnerved the Bangkok residents, who are still recovering from the deadly street protests in April and May.

A grenade blast last Thursday — the second in a month at the King Power duty-free shopping complex — injured a security guard and ensured that Bangkok will be the last province kept under emergency rule, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva confirmed.

On July 30, a grenade hidden in a plastic rubbish bag injured a man in his 30s who was scavenging for scrap.

A man linked to the red-shirt demonstrations was arrested over the explosion and police said the suspect, 23-year-old Sorathien Singkanya, admitted that the grenade belonged to him but had denied planting it himself.

That attack came less than a week after a small bomb exploded at a Bangkok bus stop, killing one person and injuring 10.

On March 15, an M79 grenade was fired into the compound of the First Infantry Regiment on Vibhavadi Rangsit road, injuring two soldiers.

The gallery below shows the damage caused by the grenade attack in front of the NBT station on Aug 31, 2010.

Alleged Russian arms dealer denies US allegations

Posted by admin On August - 28 - 2010 1 COMMENT

The wife of alleged Russian arms dealer Victor Bout on Friday read a statement dictated earlier by her husband in Bangkwang Central Prison specifically rejecting US government allegations regarding his involvement in the arms trade.

Viktor Bout, speaking through his wife, said he had never been to the United States, or Colombia, and had never met or attempted to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Colombian anti-government rebels as alleged by the US.

“There is absolutely no truth in the allegations that Mr Bout was involved in any way in the arms trade, but because of the great expense and difficulty involved in making a false personality for him during a period of over 10 years,” Alla Bout told a packed news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, saying she did not believe her husband could receive fair treatment in the US courts.

From 1993 to 2001, she said, her husband conducted a legitimate transport business based in Sharjah, but lived in Moscow from 2001 until his arrest in Bangkok in 2008.

Under questioning by the New York Times, Mrs Bout said that her husband’s transport business did, on occasion, carried weapons for governments in legitimate and licensed trade and that his aircraft frequently carried fully armed United Nations peacekeeping troops in Africa.

Pointedly he also stated details of a visit by Democrat MP Sirichok Sopha during which the prime minister’s close aide tried to implicate him in relationship with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Contradicting MP Sirichok’s earlier denial of attempting to link Mr Bout with Mr Thaksin, the high-profile detainee said that Mr Sirichok pressed him for details regarding Mr Thaksin’s location, his state of health and his travel plans.

Mrs Bout quoted her husband as saying the prime minister’s close aide accused him of being a KGB (Soviet intelligence) agent, and asked him for details on the number of KGB agents in Bangkok and what they were doing.

The former Soviet air force officer reportedly said that he had never been an intelligence agent and that the KGB has been disbanded 20 years ago upon the demise of the former Soviet Union.

Alleged Russian arms dealer denies US allegations

Posted by admin On August - 28 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The wife of alleged Russian arms dealer Victor Bout on Friday read a statement dictated earlier by her husband in Bangkwang Central Prison specifically rejecting US government allegations regarding his involvement in the arms trade.

Viktor Bout, speaking through his wife, said he had never been to the United States, or Colombia, and had never met or attempted to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Colombian anti-government rebels as alleged by the US.

“There is absolutely no truth in the allegations that Mr Bout was involved in any way in the arms trade, but because of the great expense and difficulty involved in making a false personality for him during a period of over 10 years,” Alla Bout told a packed news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, saying she did not believe her husband could receive fair treatment in the US courts.

From 1993 to 2001, she said, her husband conducted a legitimate transport business based in Sharjah, but lived in Moscow from 2001 until his arrest in Bangkok in 2008.

Under questioning by the New York Times, Mrs Bout said that her husband’s transport business did, on occasion, carried weapons for governments in legitimate and licensed trade and that his aircraft frequently carried fully armed United Nations peacekeeping troops in Africa.

Pointedly he also stated details of a visit by Democrat MP Sirichok Sopha during which the prime minister’s close aide tried to implicate him in relationship with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Contradicting MP Sirichok’s earlier denial of attempting to link Mr Bout with Mr Thaksin, the high-profile detainee said that Mr Sirichok pressed him for details regarding Mr Thaksin’s location, his state of health and his travel plans.

Mrs Bout quoted her husband as saying the prime minister’s close aide accused him of being a KGB (Soviet intelligence) agent, and asked him for details on the number of KGB agents in Bangkok and what they were doing.

The former Soviet air force officer reportedly said that he had never been an intelligence agent and that the KGB has been disbanded 20 years ago upon the demise of the former Soviet Union.

Mexican beauty crowned Miss Universe

Posted by arnon_k On August - 25 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

Mexico’s Jimena Navarrete was crowned Miss Universe Monday night in an upset victory that stunned a pageant world which had predicted a winner to emerge from Ireland, Venezuela or the United States.

The 22-year-old from Guadalajara, resplendent in a flowing ruby-red evening gown, has been modeling since she was 15, but nothing could quite prepare her for her moment of glory.

“I did feel surprised, I just went blank,” the brunette beauty said of her crowning achievement.

“There was nothing going through my mind. I was in a state of shock.”

Beyond the diamond-encrusted tiara affixed to her head when the announcers declared she had triumphed over runner-up Miss Jamaica, Yendi Phillipps, Navarrete receives a one-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy, and a year’s supply of shoes, dresses and hair products.

Her coronation — which earned her a congratulatory message on Twitter from Mexican President Felipe Calderon — ends the reign of outgoing Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela.

Had this year’s Miss Venezuela Marelisa Gibson, 21, taken the title, it would have been a three-year sweep for the South American nation.

But Gibson was ousted in the early going — along with Miss USA Rima Fakih, 24, as the field of 83 was pared down to 15.

Miss Thailand Fonthip Watcharatrakul won Miss Photogenic Universe and a second award for having the best national costume.

The two-hour finale was devoid of the political drama that has erupted in past years at this event, although there had been potential for controversy when Fakih, the first American Muslim to become Miss USA, disappointed many Islamic leaders on Saturday by saying she opposes construction of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York city.

“I totally agree with President (Barack) Obama with the statement on constitutional rights of freedom of religion,” she told Inside Edition, the US tabloid TV show.

“I also agree that it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center (site). We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.”

The plans for an Islamic community center, which includes a mosque, about two blocks from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks has stirred passions and controversy less than three months before key US elections.

Real estate titan Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe Organization, has come out against the mosque plans.

The finalists were largely able to steer clear of controversy in the competition’s Q & A.

Judge Evan Lysacek, an Olympic gold medalist skater, asked Navarrete for her views on what to do about the problem of children using the Internet without proper supervision.

She responded vaguely but, evidently, adequately. “I do believe that the Internet is an indispensable, necessary tool for the present time,” said Navarrete, the first Mexican winner of the contest since 1991.

“We must be sure to teach them the values that we learned as a family.”

Miss Ukraine Anna Poslavska, 23, said she favors full-body scanners in airports “if that helps to save the lives of people,” while 19-year-old Miss Australia Jesinta Campbell believes governments have no place in telling citizens whether to wear religious garb.

Phillipps said she opposes the death penalty, drawing scattered boos in the Events Center at the Mandalay Bay Hotel-Casino.

“We have no right to control the destiny of another person,” Miss Jamaica said. “Only one person can do that, and that’s God.”

After Miss USA and Miss Venezuela stumbled, 20-year-old Miss Ireland Rozanna Purcell became a favorite, but she too failed to advance to the final five after a swimsuit and evening wear parade.

Navarrete, who says she plans to study nutritional science, is expected to spend her year as Miss Universe drawing attention to the plight of people with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer.

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