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Acting supreme patriarch chosen for time being

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

NOPPARAT BENJAWATANANUN, director-general of the National Buddhism Office, said on Tuesday that he had on Monday submitted the name of Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn as acting Supreme Patriarch for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to publish in the Royal Gazette.

The 88-year-old abbot of Pak Nam Phasi Charoen Temple has the highest seniority in the clergy as he received the title in 1995.

With his nomination as the acting Supreme Patriarch, Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn would no longer hold the position of chairman of the monastic panel serving on behalf of the Supreme Patriarch.

Pattaya – Twenty-five contestants from 17 countries are to compete in Pattaya, Thailand for the crown of Miss International Queen on Friday, the ninth such pageant since 2004, organisers said.

The prize is Bt300,000, a crown with real gems and free surgery for anything at a famed plastic surgery clinic in Bangkok,” said Arisa Phanthusak, organiser of the contest and acting manger of the Tiffany’s, Pattaya’s oldest transgender cabaret.

The Tiffany’s Show was started by Arisa’s father and a business partner 40 years ago to provide Pattaya beach resort, south-east of Bangkok, with a novel form of entertainment while offering transgenders a legitimate career option, she said.

In 2004, the show went international, offering transgenders from other countries an opportunity to bask in the limelight.

This year, a contestant from Myanmar has entered the pageant forthe first time. “Five years ago I would not have dared to enter,” said Tanya Maung, 28, who is studying at Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng University. “But now Myanmar has democracy, so I feel free to contest.”

Washington (CNN) — The National Security Agency’s director flatly denied a Washington Post report Wednesday that the NSA secretly broke into communications links to Google and Yahoo servers overseas.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, pushed back against the report that cites leaked classified documents, saying the agency does not illegally access the servers of Internet companies.

“The servers and everything we do with those, those companies work with us. They are compelled to work with us. This isn’t something the court just said, ‘Would you please work with them and throw data over it.’ This is compelled. And this is specific requirements that come from a court order,” Alexander said at a cybersecurity conference in Washington.

“This is not NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that. So, I don’t know what the report is. But I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers. We go through a court order.”

The Washington Post report is the latest in a series of allegations that stem from disclosures given to news organizations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who describes himself as a whistle-blower.

The operation is code named MUSCULAR, and it is operated jointly by the NSA and its UK counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, The Washington Post reported, citing the documents.

According to The Post, the NSA and the Government Communications Headquarters are copying data flowing through fiber-optic network cables overseas, and the NSA sends millions of the records from Yahoo and Google to data warehouses at its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

There is no oversight of the NSA operation because it is occurring overseas out of the reach of the court, according to the report.

But Alexander said that was not true, and that a court order must be issued to the Internet companies.

“We issue that court order to them through the FBI. And it’s not millions, it’s thousands that are done. And it’s almost all against terrorism and other things like that,” he said. “It has nothing to do with U.S. persons.”

The report raised the concern of Google and Yahoo, with the Internet behemoths saying they never gave the NSA permission to access communication links to their respective servers.

“We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency,” said Yahoo spokeswoman Sarah Meron.

Google has “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,” said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer.

“We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”

The newspaper report emerged a day after Alexander and James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, testified before a House committee reviewing the agency’s surveillance activities.

The hearing, billed as a discussion of potential changes to the 35-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, commonly known as FISA, came after a report by the German magazine Der Spiegel that the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. Some reports also suggest the United States carried out surveillance on French and Spanish citizens.

Former Thai premier discusses murder charge, 2010 riots

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Former Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva has vowed to fight a murder charge in connection with his order to disperse protesters during the 2010 anti-government demonstrations.

But the leader of the now-opposition Democrat Party has spoken out against the current government’s proposed amnesty for all political crimes from 2006 to August of this year.

That amnesty would also absolve his predecessor and political opponent Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living overseas since 2008to avoid a jail term on an abuse-of-power conviction.

Thaksin played a leading role from abroad in the 2010 protests, which left a total of 92 dead, mostly from among his followers.

Abhisit, 49, appeared before the attorney general’s office Thursday to hear the charges, along with his former deputy and co-accused Suthep Thaugsuban.

He spoke to dpa the evening before about his indictment, the 2010 clashes, and Thailand’s political scene.

Question: Do you accept your indictment?

Answer: I think we should all be under the law, and although I feel there have been abuses of power by the Department of Special Investigation and (in) the attorney general’s decision, I will take them to court for this. That is how we should be settling disputes about what is right and wrong.

Question: What do you think of the charges?

Answer: The strange thing is that they are taking me and Suthep to court in personal capacities on ordinary murder charges, claiming that it had nothing to do with the fact that we were officials who were tasked with keeping order.

Question: What do you think is behind this approach?

Answer: If they were to charge me with abuse of power, then the Department of Special Investigation (on whose investigation the attorney general’s decision was based) would not have the power to investigate me. The case would instead have to go to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which is an independent body under the constitution.

Question: You are charged with giving orders that led to murder. Do you deny the charge?

Answer: I maintain that throughout the period of trouble Khun (Mr) Suthep and I had made our policies clear of trying to avoid losses, and that live ammunition was used only after soldiers, police and ordinary people were attacked by people who were armed, and Suthep’s order to use live ammunition had clear rules as to under what circumstances and how this would be used.

Question: Do you regret what happened in 2010?

Answer: We all regret the losses that happened which is why we are the ones who are taking the stance that there should be no amnesty for such crimes, and whoever should be held accountable for this should go through the legal process.

Question: Wouldn’t your case set a good precedent for ending Thailand’s culture of impunity for politicians?

Answer: You are absolutely right. The country needs to prove to itself that we are going to move beyond this culture of impunity, which is why we oppose the amnesty bill. As to who should be held accountable for the events of 2010, for us I think the best people to determine that would be the courts. We can’t cut short the process. It (an amnesty) would make people think, Why is the government so keen on making sure the truth never comes out? After all the propaganda of trying to label Suthep and me as murderers, why not press on?

Question: You and Thaksin are often seen as being opposite poles in Thai politics. What does Thaksin represent to you, politically, and what do you represent?

Answer: I represent liberal democratic values, which means respect for human rights, a belief that a healthy democracy requires certain standards of governance and attitudes and culture to support a truly liberal and democratic society. I’m not sure that Thaksin represents anything politically. He is not about principles. He is about business and political interests.

Question: And yet Thaksin’s parties and policies have won every election since 2001. Why?

Answer: The political machinery that he has created has produced policies that have resonated with the people. I don’t deny that.

Question: Are liberal democratic principles enough to win an election?

Answer: You have to admit that politics in the past two decades has moved towards bread-and-butter issues rather than principles. I think we now offer clear alternative plans on how we handle rice, how we handle agriculture, and government investments. I think we can chip away at their lead.