AOB – October 2018

29 October 2018

Trump’s problem is that any media outlet – tv, new media or press, that does not stroke his fragile ego is automatically branded and condemned as fake news. They are not.

Early this morning Lion Air flight JT610 crashed after take-off from Jakarta

Here’s what we know so far:

Lion Air flight JT610 crashed, 13 minutes after takeoff, in the sea off Jakarta at roughly 6.30am local time.

189 people were on board, including passengers and crew. 20 of the passengers were Indonesian officials, according to the finance department.

The low-cost carrier’s flight was travelling from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang in Indonesia.

There has been no indication of casualties, and a search and rescue operation is still underway.

The plane was a new model – a Boeing 737 MAX 8 – and had only been in use for 2 months.

The pilot requested a return to the airport shortly before the crash.

Lion Air’s CEO said the same plane reported a “technical issue” on Sunday night, but had been cleared to fly on Monday. He said he would not ground the other MAX 8 planes in Lion Air’s fleet.

The emergency beacon did not emit a distress call, despite it being certified to work until August 2019.

Rescuers have released footage of plane debris and personal items floating in the water at the crash site. They have found handbags, clothing, cellphones, ID cards and drivers licenses.

Indonesian officials say they will not speculate on the cause of the crash until the black box is found.

28 October 2018

Last night in the USA 11 people were shot to death in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Trump’s reaction – there should have been armed guards inside the synagogue. He missed that three or four of the dead are armed police officers.

The Republicans stand for the loose guns laws; the cause of so much bloodshed. And rather than unite a nation it is Trump who has deepened America’s crisis of violence. Worse he has helped incite some of it. There is no recent precedent in front-line politics for Mr Trump’s hatefulness. The president has suggested protesters at his rallies should be beaten up. He has praised violent white supremacists. He demeans immigrants as “animals”, his political opponents as traitorous, and journalists as the “enemy of the people”.

It is truly that bad.

The right says the left is no better but there is no equivalence here.

The list of 14 people a Trump mega-fan, Cesar Sayoc, mailed pipe-bombs to this month reads like a Who’s Who of the president’s favourite objects of vitriol.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Representative Maxine Walters (a black congresswoman to whom the president has given the sobriquet “low IQ”), CNN and John Brennan, a former CIA chief, were among them.

The occupant of the presidency is supposed to provide moral as well as political leadership. His job is to provide reassurance in terms of crisis—as George W. Bush did after the 9/11 attacks, and Ronald Reagan during the cold war. Mr Trump’s response to one of the worst anti-Semitic attacks in America’s modern history shows how incapable he is of this.


Mr Trump did not inspire his abhorrent crime. But he offers no hope that future massacres can be averted. And he represents the starkest rebuke to the necessary fiction that America is sometimes united, especially in grief.

27 October 2018

The clocks go back one hour in the UK tonight. Do remember!

And in the last few days in the USA, with the midterm elections fast approaching, law-enforcement agents pored over an accumulating pile of crude explosive devices that had been sent to some of the President’s most prominent critics: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, George Soros, Robert De Niro, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and, at the CNN offices in New York, John Brennan and James Clapper.

A tinfoil-hat brigade of reactionaries immediately insisted that the cunning “Democrat Party” had run a “false flag” plot designed to boost its chances on Election Day.

On Friday, near Fort Lauderdale, F.B.I. officials arrested a suspect named Cesar Altieri Sayoc, a man in his mid-fifties with an extensive criminal record. Officials also seized the suspect’s van, which was plastered with pro-Trump stickers, as well as one that read “CNN Sucks” and another that had a picture of Hillary Clinton in the crosshairs of a gun.

And that, gentle reader, is the state of the USA today. A MAGAbomber.

And Trump does not see that it is his words that encourage acts of violence against his opponents.

21 October 2018

Another Thai airline start up. Air Lanna, a planned full service Thai airline founded by Bangkok-based CEI Aviation and Logistics Co.,Ltd, plans to offer scheduled and charter flights out of Bangkok to domestic destinations, and to China, Southeast Asia, and Middle East with an initial fleet of two B737-800s.

Both the fleet and the necessary certification – AOC and AOL – have yet to be secured.

The carrier is looking to dry lease two B737-800s for two to three years.

Air Lanna, headed by CEO Poonpat Chomjit, says market factors favor the inauguration of a new airline to meet the demand for additional, higher-quality passenger and cargo service linking Thailand with the rapidly expanding markets of China, and linking Southeast Asia, via Bangkok hubs, to global destinations.

The airline project is also open for investment. Reach out to if interested.

The trouble is there are so many Thai start-ups that have tried to do the same thing. And now with rising oil prices success is even more elusive.

Chomjit was previously involved with Thai Platinum International Airways. An airline that appears to have never flown a single flight. It does not bode well.

Thai Platinum was seeking to fly scheduled flights from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, Udon Thani and Krabi using A320s. For non-schedule the airline plans to offer direct flight from Suvarnabhumi airport to major city in China and Asia Pacific.

Thai Lanna sounds rather like Platinum mark 2.

18 October 2018

We are in Bangkok after a three day trip to Hua Hin…where we celebrated our tenth anniversary.

We stayed at the Centara Villas – with our own private pool. Very pleasant. The grounds of the old hotel are lovely – wide lawns; large pools, shaped hedges, mature trees. It really is a very nice place to stay – yet is on the beach in the centre of the town….

We had lunch on the 16th – anniversary day at Worabura. It was quiet at the hotel. I had forgotten that the villa we stayed in ten years ago is called Chiang Mai. Fate!

Here is a link to my old website with wedding pictures from 2008.

9 October 2018

It was a long day yesterday. Part of which I will return to in separate notes. Enough to say that it was a long insight into Thailand’s Universal Coverage Healthcare program.

Since we were up at the Nakornping hospital in north Chiang Mai we were able to go to City Hall where the players from Chiang Mai FC were meeting the governor before heading off on a tour around the city ad then for a celebration dinner.

Now it was not exactly an open top bus. See picture below. And there was not much of a crowd at City Hall. But it was a great chance to meet a few of the players before we headed back to the hospital – which meant we missed the parade itself.

First up – this is a genuinely nice bunch of people who take time to connect with their fans. Soares, the Brazilian striker, posed happily for pictures. He hopes to be back next year. He should be.


Thossapol was fascinating. Firstly, there really is not much of him; secondly he is a gentleman in all the good uses of the word. He has played the last three years with Chiang Mai. Again I hope he is back next season.

But he did reveal that he just wanted to go home and be with his family. The Khon Kaen game was ten days ago but the players had been asked to stay on for official events to celebrate their promotion. This parade was the last event.

Coach Carlos suggested that there were a few issues still to srt out with his contract. We talked a little about Chiang Mai crowds. He was obviously encouraged by the crowd at the last game and expressed a view, as I have written elsewhere, that people in Chiang Mai love their football but have been let down before and want to see a successful team.

8 October 2018

From January 1, the British Embassy in Bangkok will no longer be providing British nationals with letters confirming their income.

The letter has served as a supporting document for obtaining a Thai retirement or marriage visa. The embassy is stopping the certification of income letters because it is unable to fulfil the Thai authorities’ requirements to verify the income of UK nationals, it said in a release on Monday. For a retirement visa, British nationals have to demonstrate that they have at least Bt800,000 in an account in Thailand for no less than three months prior to the visa application, or a monthly income of at least Bt65,000 transferred into an account in Thailand.

For a marriage visa, the amounts are Bt400,000 in an account in Thailand for no less than three months prior to the visa application, or a monthly income of at least Bt40,000 transferred into an account in Thailand. A bank statement should in future be used as the supporting document for obtaining a Thai retirement or marriage visa, the embassy said. All British nationals concerned should note that the last date for income-letter applications is December 12, it added.

Just so you know!

1 October 2018

More flight cutbacks at Emirates:

From 15 November 2018 Dubai – Yinchuan – Zhengzhou 3x weekly service cancelled. One of the more fun trips for crew.

There are also newly announced service reductions to Denpasar and Auckland, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Perth, Prague, Rome, Rio and Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Edinburgh.

Shortage of pilots? Seasonal reductions; fleet maintenance. Suspect a combination of all three are at play.

This is just one brief story of thousands from Palu in Indonesia following the earthquake and tsunami:

“Rescue teams were still working on Monday to pull 15-year-old Nurul out of the ruins of the Balaroa National Housing building in Palu. Most of her body has been trapped in deep mud and concrete for 48 hours, with only her head visible. The body of her mother, Risni, who died in the collapse, is trapped next to her.

Speaking to Tirto, Yusuf, Nurul’s father who has sat by her side since he found her alive, said: ““Everything went fast. The land collapsed instantly.”

He added: “I found my daughter was buried under the ruins and puddle,”

90 of their neighbours who also lived in the building are still reported missing.”

Devastating. The death toll will be in the thousands – there are still areas that rescuers cannot yet reach.

This can be a very cruel world. and it can hurt the poorest and the least able to protect themselves.