Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Phnom Penh by Xmas? Kent rail and HS3 sometime never?

Great news that the completion of the Cambodian railways link to Phnom Penh is expected to be open by December this year.

The first time in almost 50 year Bangkok and Phnom Penh two of the major cities in ASEAN will be connected by rail.

The line from the Thai border now reaching to Sisophon and heading to Battambang the key city on the edge of Tonle Sap lake - no doubt a rail spur to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, the Canterbury Cathedral of ASEAN if you will, being considered as a boost to tourism and the wider Cambodian and ASEAN economies.

The surge in rail progress in Cambodia and Thailand in contrast to the sluggish pace of both HS2 and HS3 hispeed rail in UK - especially after the rapid success of HS1 here in Kent.

Kent running into the buffers, or rather elderly duffers, on further rail reforms. The much-discussed commuter rail links to Calais and Lille and the hinterland of France going nowhere it seems...

(to be continued)

Time for Change

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Dial 999 for Thailand or 191 for UK? #1

Khun Atiya in her Bangkok Post article "Dial M for Mayhem" as always raises some serious concerns in this case bridging the plethora of Thailand emergency numbers:

With 3 medical emergency numbers: 1669 and 1646 and 1554 plus a fire number of 199 how can Thai people react quickly to an emergency? 192 for a broken bridge or flood (dial 192) no doubt useful in the Climate Change era of Deep South floods and Bangkok Resilience.

Especially if another bus is on fire again - how do they become engulfed in flames so quickly? I've never heard of a Great British London doubledecker in flames. Late maybe, or three arriving at once, but never bursting into flames. In Rome it seems - and apt TDRI have raised the issue for Road Safety and school buses.

1146 for a road accident very useful in Thailand given another seven deadly days of Songkran. Would 365 deadly days be easier to remember?

And as Khun Atiya points out the silo mentality of every government dept with its own number: 1166 for customer protection? The latest round of dodgy lipsticks and face powder and skin cream?

I always thought Thailand's organic skin creams and perfumes a massive export opportunity?

And as a farang the key number I remember is 191 for the Tourist Police - an excellent Thailand initiative that doesn't exist in UK. For with tourism 10% of Thailand GDP how could farang visitors or the 100k expats access the telephone numbers without Thai language skills themselves or ASEAN 2nd language English at the other end?

And weaving around the potholes of Thailand returning to happiness and democracy slowly but surely - impressive that PM Prayut kicks off his election campaign at Buriram stadium to a 30k crowd and emerges drowning in Isaan silk.

Apt given East Kent's Vivienne Westwood launches her new fashion range - I, and my mother-in-law, have long wanted to see Jim Thompson and Isaan silk on the UK High St.

Buriram Motorsports stadium also relevant for Superprix Formula E electric car motorsports brought back to Birmingham for the first time since 1990 and ahead of next Commonwealth Games. Especially as a tourism boost with new UK restrictions on ivory and UK travel agents on animal events (Surin elephants and Phuket dolphins?) changes in UK tourism demand afoot.

And as UK wallows in the dismal swamp of stale elections and politics again with the chimera of Brexit an excuse for inaction, how refreshing to see Future Forward party registered and issuing manifestos and 120 new parties.

And surely most new political parties, four years on from the state of emergency, keen in future to revisit the military aspects of the constitution as well as the lese-majeste and S44 laws/use?

UK's Henry VIII laws over Brexit - S44 or diktat by another name - quickly dropped recently.

Dial M for Muddle now for UK politics.

But Brexit possibly an issue for emergency telephone numbers in UK.

UK and various parts of the Commonwealth use 999: phone the number and you're asked if you need Police, Fire, Ambulance or at the coast the Coastguard. The latter not much use as they simply phone RNLI lifeboats who are excellent in their swim programmes, helicopter rescue, beach lifeguards etc.

There is also a 101 non emergency number mainly for Police but they can then issue any other contact telephone number you may need.

There is also 111 an NHS number which raises issues around telemedicine and call centres for the future even those Thai hospitals at the end of the 1669 and 1646 and 1554 numbers.

And 100 for telephone directories for any other number such as a specific hospital or shop.

An excellent UK system in rapid response.

Just 1,750 car crash deaths a year. Only 400 drownings. And only 400 fire deaths.

Even police organs and blood motorbikes for emergency deliveries.

One useful tweak would be opening up the existing BT wifi to a free national network.

Police Scotland going through reform with two Chief Constables sacked after delays in responding to car crash victims. And Kent reforms to ensure the Ambulance service is working to no more than a 15 minute response time. And Air Ambulance helicopters of course for major medical incidents such as a motorway crash.

And there is the 112 EU emergency number which, unlike 999, works across all the EU nations. Again perhaps an issue of language speakers at each end.
112 useful for tourists and workers travelling between EU nations.

112 though is still after over 20 years only known by 50% of the EU population - hence 112 Day on 11th February each year (11/2 -geddit?) to promote the number.
Brexit in the rare instance it happens may affect that as already it should be displayed in UK police cars and ambulances as in the rest of Europe.

As Khun Atiya points out the EU and EEC, the latter the Thailand economic corridor rather than Brussels are keen, as is UK given the return to happiness and democracy to work with Thailand.

With both UK and Thai economic growth figures less than rosy why not an impetus to revive the Strategic Dialogue and Delivery between the nations?
Finalnd’s EU Ambassador to Thailand also active on support.

Why not Thailand taking up 112 and as a single global emergency number? The existing numbers could be retained as 999 or 911 in Americas.

Why not India and China taking up 112 and 101 and 191?

And why not 191 for tourists in UK - it would also increase demand for translators and university courses for ASEAN languages (and Hindi) etc in UK.

(to be continued)


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Indian Summer for UK and USA?

With Visit England calling for an enhanced UK tourism plan with India last week, and Brand USA calling for a revamped tourism plan to increase USA visitors to India from the USA-India 2017 Travel Year, surely the great success Commonwealth Summit and Games this month provides a backdrop for joined-up thinking for UK, India and USA tourism?

The dynamic Nikki Haley USA ambassador to UN epitomising the new generation of Indian-Americans (Indian as in India, not First Nations - Columbus' original navsat error on the way to the Spice Islands of Indonesia and India echoing past the upcoming Magellan Anniversaries, and down through the centuries).

While American Indians as in First Nations speaking out at the UN Water Forum. Surely future keynote speakers as well as urging the 2019 Water Forum in Hungary?

But phasing destinations and flights from USA and UK to India (Boeing in Sheffield and Airbus in Toulouse are fast-forwarding eco-engines? The first round the world solar flight last year) would be simplicity itself in balancing out demand and seasonal peaks and troughs for all three tourism industries.

The notional Hotel Haley (South Carolina already with a Hotel Margate at Myrtle Beach) - in say Hyderabad would no doubt be keen one month to be preparing hamburgers for its American guests, and the next month fish and chips for its British guests and so on.

Even serving up the Great British favourite meal of Chicken Tikka Masala, given UK’s long links with South Asia, whether India and Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan in themselves, and united within the Commonwealth.

And surely Carolina’s Great Dismal Swamp must be one of the first effective marketing slogans in USA for the original 13 colonies settlers? Discouraging rather than encouraging trips. Although now tourists shouldn’t be put off from enjoying a Virginia and Carolinas trail with daily flights to New York and Atlanta - but also the potential in landing slots for London Heathrow expansion or reorganisation.

If it’s too early to discuss trade beyond tourism, then Great British Walmart-Asda buying 40% in India’s Flipkart ecommerce tech has been making waves in the City and financial pages of FT, The Sun and Daily Mail.
As with Amazon and Whole Foods merger, and Tesco and Booker, Indian and Thai and Cambodian rice suppliers have new outlets beyond just Kent’s Veetee rice wholesalers near Ebbsfleet New Town and Thames Gateway.

Jack Ma’s Alibaba Chinese ecommerce site selling 80,000 durian fruit in one minute at a showcase for Thailand’s trade ministers. And as relevant for Sonny Perdue and USDA farmers and Kent’s winemakers and apple growers and mobile phone app developers in the Farm to Pharma trade policy.

While bizarre trade issues such as Waitrose marketing Thai chillies when they’re produced in India is no doubt ripe for the quietly effective diplomacy tweaks of Thailand’s Ambassador Sam in India (@chutinmtorn_sam) and a wider Asian Doitung strategy.

And US Ambassador Ken Juster coming out to bat for both cricket and baseball in India - surely the UK Embassy team will give him a few #sportsdiplomacy tips even Canterbury Cricket Club herein East Kent one of the oldest teams in the world.

11BN mouths to feed up from 7BN are going to need the Great British Indian farmers to get their wellies on - as well as feeding those extra tourists.

And a boon for the tea industries of UK and India. Let’s gloss over USA’s Boston tea party as a waste of a perfectly good brew although the Boston Tea Party cafĂ© chain first to end disposable paper cups in the war on litter and plastic.

While, as an aside, Sikhs in UK are right to be horrified at the lack of commemoration to their support of UK in WW1 and WW2.

UK and USA universities form almost all of the top ten global universities - those scruffy backpackers eventually going first class long-haul and five star hotels. The tourism director of Goa very unwise to call the many tourists there – Indian or foreign - the scum of the earth last month.

And The Economist detailing 11,489 students studying in USA in 2016-17: a 30% increase over 2009-2010 is surely the basis for joined up action with UK and USA and Indian visas and students. Those Indian PHD geeks on megahit television series Big Bang Theory are grounded in reality in UK and USA bedsits and halls of residence.

Certainly a Project #IndianSummer of UK/USA/India tourism teams could easily tweak strange instances of disconnect between the world’s largest and long-established democracies, such as The Great British Tourist being charged £6 for 5 visa photos for EU and other destinations, yet £8 for USA or India 4 photos.

It’s enough to make them want to take their bucket and spade and Union Jack shorts home. Especially against the UK debacle of Windrush citizens with many no doubt questioning if London is Open and Kent Welcoming.

Ramsgate’s General Lord Dannatt the former Chief of Staff raising concerns over Larium and Mefloquine used in military and tourism malaria vaccinations for places such as India. An easier problem to solve for Project #IndianSummer medical teams than pandemic Resilience.

Are US military routine anthrax vaccinations for a day out in London or Paris or Budapest a bit excessive with shades of the toxic soup of Gulf War syndrome, and delaying TB and Flu vaccine production by the likes of Janssen?

I travel a lot and I have no idea on what routine vaccinations, nor travel vaccinations, are recommended within the Byzantine sprawl of NHS websites etc. How would gap year American students or Indian tourists manage?
Ambassador Woody in London shouldn’t hesitate in making a Johnson and Johnson Resilience Box as essential as a Johnson and Johnson Travel Box of suncream and vaccine info?

The excellent BBC4 (why no BBC3 or BBC5 with some more CSpan or PSB and India programming?) Contagion! documentary highlighting 43M infections and 900k deaths in 60 days in UK from the next pandemic such as Spanish Flu.

The figures for USA and India that much higher. And mundane epidemics such as measles and rabies growing: 8 rabies deaths in Thailand this year and a horrifying 30kin India. As with American Princess Markle's Indian tampon charity surely such vaccines and requisites as sanitary towels and condoms can't be a drain on the $20BN UK and USA aid budgets?

Pandemic officially now the number one threat to UK – although a Pakistan-India nuclear conflagration not outlandish either. Kashmir tourism and a Coke and a smile a cooling influence?

And South East Asia – anywhere from Hyderabad to Ho Chi Minh City – officially the UN’s main site for the next outbreak of pandemics such as bird flu etc. Doitung again on model villages and farms -and not UKIP-racism but merely hot countries, with weaker health systems and different germs.

Although Kent’s NHS could do well to improve on Singapore medicare.

And do those USA or Indian customs officers have such bad eyesight they need larger photos to check a passport?
Perhaps they do with the quietly effective management of the Commonwealth Summit agenda by Tim Hitchens – the world’s 40M blind – many in rural India – could be helped. Maybe some Bayer or Johnson and Johnson vitamin tablets too from the #TrumpDavos15Friends.

With my politics hat on, many of the Indian doctors and nurses and optometrists in the NHS – one of the world’s largest employers - no doubt keen on their health service not being plundered, but rather with work visas for training and returning and synergy of qualifications.

While Operation Smile cleft palate training and hospital ships would be a no-brainer too. Hopefully jostling for space with tourist cruise ships from East Kent’s Saga, and Royal Navy and Indian Navy fishing patrols and protection.

The lack of radar and satellite coverage of the Indian Ocean given the missing Malaysia airliner surely cause for extra work at NASA and the UK/EU and Indian Space agencies with the new Australian Space Agency?

And any UK tourist flying to India – or USA tourist on a London stopover for a few days – would be less keen on British Airways using 20 year old jumbo jets on the South Asia routes. Boeing in Sheffield or Airbus in UK and Toulouse gearing up?

As the debate on expanding London Heathrow (or Gatwick or Stansted or Birmingham) or reworking Luton, or a Doncaster Aerotropolis, rumbles along the runway, all the more reason for USA and Indian airlines and tourism organisations (the takeover of India Air by Singapore Airlines progressing?) to see how it will take off.

Much as John McCain’s Arizona aircraft dumping grounds or the horrifyingly polluting and dangerous shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh are overdue modern recycling techniques in the Circular Economy with UK and USA.

And throwing A400 cargo planes and Chinook helicopters into the mix both UK and USA and Indian wider economies could benefit form an uptick in Indian Summer Tourism.


Friday, 10 November 2017

USA's Trade Secretary Wilbur's landmines at UK's Disneyland?

Secretary of State for Commerce Wilbur Ross rightly warns of both a Brexit deal for UK - and any subsequent US deal - as trade landmines along with US-style chlorinated chicken and GM crops.

Let’s leave aside the dull silliness of Brexit - the round of trade negotiations roundly decried this side of the pond as merely another round of sandwiches to go with the waffle - for both UK and USA with a G7 nation and one of USA's leading trading partners risking derailment if not economic decline with worse trading status with EU the world's largest trade bloc.

The first anniversary of Trump's presiednect on 8th November making something of a success with every policy and advosor cancelled. And the Asia visit more warm words trhan actual policy. Only a more rigourous policy on North Korea's nukes and missiles a highlight.

But surely Hillary's team should have released her alternative policies with VP Kaine if she'd won as detailed in her What Happened by now?

And UK economic policy flatlining ahead of the Autumn Budget without basic improvements:

* 9.9% interest rate cap as Germany
* VAT 20% regressive tax reconfigured as a 10% consumption tax
* Arctic sea route ban: Climate Change pollution
* HS3 and eventually HS2 Rail improvements forerunners for USA and Canada Rail
* utility and rail caps
* tax havens ban
* HFSS: high salt fat and sugar taxes or product reformulations
* plastic bottle and coffee cup recycling and deposit scheme - all the more relevant for US farmers for a bioplasic of cellulose

Indeed the next 3 years something of a wilderness for USA with either impeachment or inaction with Trumps's first year anniversary showing the worst ever POTUS approval ratings. The same drift infecting UK governance. With Boris’ resignation likely to follow on from Priti Patel and Kent’s Michael Fallon.

And leaving aside Kent’s Disneyland at Dartford/Gravesend - two of Kent's towns in decline hence 83% public approval for the brownfield site plans - veering between famine and feast with the plug potentially pulled on the Paramount brands and now Kuwait's Al-Humaidi threatening to kick out the other plug on his £45M investment.

Clearly the Mickey Mouse antics of the councils and businesses so far in the Kent Big Apple need a rigorous overhaul - as does the Thames Gateway - to achieve the 2023 opening date. It's hardly Mission Impossible to open a star-spangled theme park close to London and the Channel Tunnel and Continent and with broader based brands than just Disney. Or even Disney-Lucasfilm's Star Wars as yet undeveloped franchise.

But Wilbur’s landmines - Brexit or not, and increasingly likely not - of chlorinated chicken and GM crops are tougher nuts to crack. Chlorinated chicken an emotive subject hence it featured on the award-winning New European newspaper front covers - but lacks detailed facts given there is no health impact and UK salad and vegetables already washed in similar chlorine solutions.

A wider point to be made though on US farming as to why it isn't heading more rapidly down the organic and free range path for UK and EU trade? Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods must surely be a beacon for US farming?

GM crops are widely resisted within UK and EU as of minimal benefit and unproven health standards. Indeed with at least 30% waste of food, there is a wider issue of quality over quantity for both US and UK farming before any need of GM crops.

Surely Wilbur ought to lend an ear to Sonny Perdue - it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken especially when they're not his chickens - US Agriculture Secretary Sony Perdue from his recent visit to UK and Spain. USA farmers being urged to grow it and sell it into UK and EU with USDA.

And surely featuring on Sonny and Wilbur's menu of ways to increase USA trade will be a relentless emphasis on quality - who would argue with the state of Georgia's pecans and peanuts or Idaho's potatos.

##While Unilever's Lucky Iron Fish and Lifebuoy soap the healthy antidote to aid inaction. Surely Ambassador Woody's Johnson and Johnson will be firing on all cylinders too for UK and USA trade - The Queen might have already given him a shopping list of brands to fastforward in the UK and Commonwealth exchange for his letters of credential. No doubt he kept his NYJets baseball cap on under his top hat and put the shopping list there too for safety.

She might even do another skydive for the next NY Jets game. While Oxford housewife Aung San must have a shopping list of her own for Myanmar whether or not it includes Commonwealth membership.

Indeed flyover country and its farms often just a flyspeck on Washington's windshield.

Is the Bombardier and aviation trade war blip really likely to endanger all America's larger food and farm trade too?

While gathering apace in UK is an emphasis on the state of the topsoil, some 84% of UK topsoil lost since 1850. And the UN declaring a Year of the Topsoil as recently as 2015. Another US-style Dustbowl would be a bitter harvest for farmers with over-intensive farming and lack of biodiversity with hedgerows and trees, as forewarned in the collapse of bees.

A Johnny Appleseed strategy for UK's 11M new Tree Plan part of my Kent politics work, and also needed in USA again? And with some Climate Change science behind the numbers.

Healthy food as vital as combating TB and Flu as ramping up vaccine research and production. And the horror of AMR and a lack of antibiotics hardly moving.

Kent's new NYC Consul Antony Phillipson, formerly tech supremo for the Singapore Embassy, switching on his computer already.

Eire's USA Ambassador Dan Mulhall celebrating a successful Irish PM visit to California and Apple and Facebook etc with a glass of Coke in Atlanta. Is it Starbucks Red Cups Day and the Coke Truck Week already?

While the very real seismic shock of USA cutting its $2M landmine fund to Cambodia is surely as absurd as UK's $20BN DFID aid budget being unable to renew its $30M fund to Cambodia as LDC. Last month’s new Thai-Khmer MOU on increased border trade belies Brexit-style insularity and must surely be a way station for more USA trade in Thailand and Cambodia.

And Cambodia's American Princess Soma must surely be keen to help promote the oranges of Orange County for California and its Khmer expats as well as Thai and Khmer sticky rice. An American-Asian royal must surely be an asset in Japan and wider US efforts in Asia after the Potus Trump visit and Summit?

Prince Charles in Malaysia highlighting Superfoods as part of his Duchy of Cornwall food range and Asian Climate Change in palm oil and logging.

While the first UK-Thai military exercise, Golden Panther, at the river Kwai in Thailand near the Myanmar border must surely from the basis for further Doitung crop changes with Shan heroin and Helmand heroin (almost all the world's supply) and the rash of increased US and USA drugs deaths. Thailand's Doitung work already being deployed in Colombia's cocaine fields.

Golden Panther could no doubt be followed by Golden Paella and Golden Pasta - with FBI/DEA and military coordination from the Caribbean and Latin America - in the cocaine ports of Southern Spain and Southern Italy. The latter no doubt could see an extra surge in mafia activity from the Berlusconi Forza Italia Sicily election gains.

But the horrifying 40% malnutrition in Laos and Cambodia - some of that no doubt due to loss of farmland from landmines and Agent Orange chemical weapons - highlights a sobering fact for Wilbur and Sonny even before their second glass of Scotch whisky or IrnBru - made in Scotland from girders - to celebrate increased USA trade with UK.

For surely UNSDG30 is failing on famine: 4 new famines across the Sahel and all man-made regardless of US Africa Command stabilisation efforts and the glut of food and transport available.

For if the breadbaskets of US prairies and Russian steppes and rice baskets of India and Thailand are overflowing then it's still not reaching the starving millions.

All the more reason for less quantity and more quality in US foods.

Potus Trump plumping for a bog-standard US burger rather than Kobe beef a misstep for Thailand’s Senator tammy Duckworth's meat n'wheat constituents. They surely needing quality guidance across the Atlantic and support for boutique beef, and reduced waste in accessing famine markets across Sahel.

Clearly it's absurd too for UK food regulations not to be tightened with more meat quality baked into Great British pies and sausages as well as great British American burgers and chicken?

While innovative and healthy foods such as quorn or insects - even flies for pet food - as well as veggie burgers must require greater efforts in the farmland of heartland America?

Europeans spending more on dog food than Third World aid is surely food for thought in America too.

While the lack of Tex-Mex food in UK stores must be as galling for Texas and the South West as it is for all points south of the Rio Grande. Waitrose's Santa Maria range of Latin American Kitchen sauces - with Argentine barbacao - one example of the potential.

The G20 Summit in Argentina next year must surely be the basis for food and trade reform, and Doitung and drugs, even delivering on the 0.7% aid target.

Key aid foods such as PlumpyNut, longlasting and nutritious and needing minimal refrigeration, must rely on a steady stream of those Georgia pecans and peanuts?
And frankly UK's food bank children - those surviving the choice of heat or eat in a G7 nation and 70 years of an advanced welfare state - could well be in need of first Lady of Virginia's Dorothy MacAuliffe's school breakfast club work as Governor Northam takes the helm.

UK government policy narrowly avoiding introducing fox hunting again, perhaps for food, and ending the few existing school breakfast clubs to prevent children passing out from hunger rather than boredom in lessons.

While Microsoft chips must be needed on the menu in UK schools for Raspberry Pi and free Yingluck computers. Perhaps even airlifting Windows Mobiles into Africa.
Certainly Amazon and DHL and Fedex needed to achieve UNSDG30 Goal #1 on famine. Airlifting those Windows phones and PlumpyNut peanuts coordinated with US Army and USMC another mission impossible for US Africa Command?

America's Lendleasers and Marshall scholars can't have forgotten the value of bread over bullets in securing peace and prosperity for the long-term?

Certainly the UK and USA aviation industries have their work cut out with helping improve African aviation (indeed UK aviation given the delays on Heathrow etc - Eire stealing a march on lowcost flights to USA from Southend) - every banned airline from EU even those that turn up late at night to Manston or Ostend or via the cocaine routes of West Africa - is African.

And it's easier to fly into Europe than for the same journey between African nations. Surely a spur for planes and cargo helicopters as well as solar? Probably a few chips with Hitachi and Panasonic and their work plans would help resolve the Bombardier trade war into growth.

All without the landmines of Libyan civil war and WW2 extending to the shores of Tripoli could be lifted for peace and prosperity with Desertec Solar. Hardly outrageous given BP is Beyond Petroleum in Libya and Saudi already.

And 30% waste suggests 30% overcapacity even without cohesive planning for 7-11BN growth by 2050. American and Canadian and Mexican farmers (38% of Mexican farmland?) could eventually find something more productive to grow than the marijuana and cocaine crops?

Centering the drugs trade on Mexico initially - already a fact - by closing of the South American and Caribbean trade and routes to Europe is hardly outrageous or impossible.

Surely both UK and USA failing to implement UNSDG30 as public policy is cause for further food for thought - neither federal government nor state nor cities have taken on UNSDG30 as required to do so.

It could be argued an almost permanent rotation of the UNSDG30 branding on the neon billboards of Times Square and Piccadilly Circus - and every government website and school book - is needed for the next few years.


Friday, 27 October 2017

King Bhumibol a legacy for UK and Thailand?

Khun Usnisa makes some interesting points in her Bangkok Post article True Grit on the preparations for King Bhumibol’s funeral:

Not just the aching details of the royal procession but the commemoration of his work in Mae Fah Luang Foundation from the Princess Mother’s work with the hill tribes and Doitung Royal projects and King Bhumibol's Sufficiency Economy.

And threads of those activities woven into OTOP One Tambon economy and Blue Flag welfare e-cards and shops.

With Prince Andrew representing UK and the UK Royal family, it was surprising to see that Khun Usnisa's Mae Fah Luang Foundation was supported by Belgium and Denmark and USA - but not UK?

Surely the above projects, Blue Flag relevant at the moment in UK with the debate around the failings of the Universal Credit welfare scheme and trials of Basic National Income are relevant here. Or the quirky designation of 555 as a fraud hotline - perhaps causing mirth in Thailand.

But more seriously with UK DFID aid budgets of $20BN the highest in the world after USA - and separate Foreign Office budgets - as well as EU aid budgets via the EU office in Bangkok $15BN, and UN budgets such as FAO via the Bangkok office of the UN, surely UK could be more active in Thailand and such projects?

As could DEC NGO's funded by/through UK such as Red Cross and (red) and World Vision and newer charities such as Clearly and Operation Smile.

At the very least, UK with EU allies as Belgium and Denmark, and USA would be useful core group to support Mae Fah Luang activity within Thailand’s government depts and NGO’s and within EU funidng structures? France, Netherlands and Canada and Portugal are active in Thailand too.

Shouldn't a Mae Fah Luang working group - in Thailand then the relevant nations - be established to develop activity and define budgets? The danger is nothing done for another year, while budgets that exist are sat idle or spent elsewhere, and new budgets not itemised.

For example both UK and USA facing their highest ever drug deaths from the increase in Shan and Helmand heroin, and Belgium, just over the water from East Kent, with 90% of Europe's illegal drug arrests from the Golden Triangle of Paris, Amsterdam and London.

Indeed the Canadian FTA (CETA) with EU and the Singapore FTA (EUSTA) with EU, both very similar and now awaiting final ratification by the EU parliament and nations, must provide a template for a Thai and ASEAN FTA as relevant with EU to boost trade in agriculture and services?

Hill Tribe and Isaan silk and rice and coffee and other drug crop replacements must be capable of being expanded via Europe's and USA's High Streets and malls and supermarkets - especially against the backdrop of UNSDG30.

Even acceleration of mobile phone and internet coverage and mobile banking - the price of Thai pineapples or rubber on the London Stock Exchange?

The Canadian FTA only delayed by an initial veto by Belgian regions now resolved. Certainly East Kent as the UK's only cross-border region with Belgium and France, and many of the UK Cabinet and Ministers Kent MP's, could support such measures.

Cambodia only a few years ago sought full Commonwealth status in Asia alongside Malaysia, Singapore, Papua, Brunei, Australia etc. And Timor-Leste seeking ASEAN membership by 2020, and, unusually, already with EU passport rights via Portugal.

AusAid for example already spending c.$3BN of Australian funds to support such nations – and surely a with DFID etc relevant for the hill tribes work – and even more relevant for the North, North East and Deep South form the Charter Referendum.

Mae Fah Luang work such as its House of Opium must be all the more relevant and Doitung as with Thailand's new work with Colombia from the FARC amnesty. Perhaps Caribbean and Pacific resilience - with the 2018 Commonwealth Summit in April- also relevant with FBI and DEA and UNODC activity in cocaine routes through Latin America to West African narco-states, as well as Southern Spain's and Southern Italy's ports.

While UK's work as a Sporting Superpower from the success of the 2012 Olympics. A Road Safety Superpower with the world's safest roads - the recent 5 year high of 1,794 deaths a fraction of Thailand's 30,000 road deaths. A Cultural Superpower with English language and universities to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to Shakespeare to James Bond iconic.

Two of those icons based in East Kent as is Chevening the UK Foreign Minister's residence and basis for the Chevening scholarships now being expanded in ASEAN. (Only 8,000 Thai students in UK compared to 20,000 Malay students, and far more Malay universities and banks).

One would question as TDRI have done recently in an excellent analysis by Khun Natchapol on why more UK universities are not linked to Thai universities or opened in Thailand given their world-class status and need for English language training in ASEAN:

With English the second language of ASEAN future Thai generations won't be thankful for permanently lagging behind Singapore and Philippines or the Commonwealth Pacific Group.

While Liam Fox Trade Minster confirming UK as the second worst in the EU after Greece for exports must be food for thought and fastforwarding of the required growth in every UK embassy and trade office.

As with Colombia, Doitung surely relevant for many of the Commonwealth Caribbean and Pacific states facing crop changes such as sugar and tobacco or small-state Climate Change concerns of floods and landslides and NTD/TB/HIV/Malaria healthcare.

And Thailand's Kitchen of the World programme well-established in UK for jobs and training and remittances home (albeit treading water and slipping slightly backwards without greater BOI/Bank/Government support - some 3,000 Thai UK restaurants and supermarkets shuttered in the last few years) with 15,000 Thai restaurants compared to 20,000 in USA.

And Canterbury Cathedral, Kent's Angkor Wat if you will and the basis for The Trevor's wider ranging cultural/religious scholarships with the Archbishop of Dover a supporter of Buddhism links.

All must be relevant for Mae Fah Luang work too and continuing King Bhumibol's legacy through the 21st century?

Time for Change

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Kent Big Apple a big bus Senor De Blasio?

Here in the Kent Big Apple, Englandshire's 51st state is certainly in a right old state after the shenanigans of Airstrip One at Manston. The Virginian sister-state pulling the plug on the foolishness of KCC-USA too a few years ago.

And UK drift not just with the County Empty Barn but a Zombie Parliament staggering along after the carcrash of Brexit even before Brexit begins.
USA narrowly escaping Kent's Benedict Arnold, the divisive Nigel Farage, electing himself US Ambassador, but perhaps, as with Tate and Lyle's David Davis trying to sugar the pill of Brexit, Britain's worst export to Europe since Lord Haw Haw.

An especially dismal effort for East Kent and Thanet South as the founding nation of USA: Tom Paine etc etc. (No problem. You're welcome. Have a nice day). And even the White House Oval Office (before the fire -oops) modelled on Leeds Castle.

And surely Bill de Blasio as Mayor of NYC, America's Big Mango if you will, should be putting the pedal to the metal on UK-USA trade.

That trade a big bus for both nations and all 50 states (and Puerto Rico Commonwealth) and 33 counties - not just NYC's buses and subway carriages (and logistic chain of supplies and parts), but also Ford in Port Talbot: cars, steel and a port what's not to like and the affable PM Carwyn Jones back from USA trade talks and also on board with UK/Wales/Kent/NYC/USA trade.

And the new Boeing HQ factory just opened in Sheffield, those UK and USA employees no doubt keen to keep the lights on and burning late and get the wheels turning there, perhaps even helping on the Johnny Appleseed strategy not just in Kent or 11M Trees and Fish Minister Michael Gove but the absurd Sheffield Council felling of trees. Haven't they heard of Climate Change?

And Boeing efforts say on cargo helicopters or trains more fruitful than a Belfast-Brooklyn trade war with Boeing-Bombardier? Even POTUS Trump urging the cancellation of the F35 junk planes (USMC wisely snapping up all UK’s VTOL Harrier jets).

Lord Bridges keen on all sorts of bridges too. And Ramsgate's General Lord Dannatt urging perhaps not swords to ploughshares yet but certainly pruning shears. Perhaps one for Gillette: their ye olde swords or their new-fangled razors.

And POTUS Kaine must be gearing up for a democrat caucus view of Pentagon spend after the F35 farce - perhaps to a slow and mournful bluesy refrain on the harmonica of all those dollars and years wasted. Vietnam's Senator McCain, hardly a Commie peacenik, and his golf buddy Joe Biden must have a view on that too. Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg could even crunch some of the numbers, with his investments, on his Starbucks coffee break too.

As Mayor in Waiting and MP in Waiting with the collapse of Kent governance not much else will happen otherwise.

And as with Canada's First Nations why isn't UK tourism to Arizona and the South West being turbocharged? Also Lincolnshire and Kent Police's Operation California amidst the effort to Follow the Sun for the LA Olympics 2028. More UK tourism receipts, so less USA tax dollars needed? Californians and Cherokees must welcome that.

A few more Yankees from Yonkers over here would be nice too. Ambassador Woody named after Woody Guthrie perhaps or channeling his inner Toy Story, now on board in London and revving his engines, after rattling through most of the ceremonial stuff, and already firing up the New York Jets and American Football in general.

Is doubling UK-USA trade within 5 years so outrageous and state-by-state: flyover country often just a flyspeck on DC's windshield.

Surely more USA-UK media cooperation needed too. Apart from football and soccer, Steve Balmer's LA Clippers basketball teams a slamdunk. And more Microsoft cybersecurity and innovation here too? The NHS Crapita database will eventually, maybe, get built, probably from string and sealing wax, unless Bill gets a grip of it. How difficult can computerising 65M data records be? Even without DNA samples. USA even manages to run its nuclear missiles on those big old floppy disks the size of a pizza.

And, as the bodies of the Manston-Infratil (and Stagecoach (yeehah!) UK's largest Scottish bus company) cancer victims start to poke through the top soil, as a cancer on the Kent body politic, and not dissimilar to the ending of schlock-horror movie Carrie, surely UK-USA Hollywood cooperation is needed.
Whether that's the Virginia Film Office - or UK's LA and new San Diego or Carolina's trade and film offices. Especially relevant for EKFOS here, the East Kent Film Office and Studio at the Ramsgate Old Gasworks and Old Police Station - everything's old it seems or cancerous Dickensian slums - for jobs(!), jobs(!!), jobs(!!!) and regeneration.

Kent should not just Be More Wyoming and Be More Virginia on trade, but take lessons from Buffalo upstate on regeneration too. Be More Buffalo too.
And East Kent still 5,000 missing jobs from the last four years or so from Discovery Science Park and Pfizer (and nearby Sittingbourne Science Park) at Sandwich, previously USA's largest inward investment in Europe. Kent's wilting trade strategies in need of more Viagra from Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers.
Ambassador Woody's going to spark up Johnson and Johnson too? Science labs and factories and Dover Europe's largest port and the Channel Tunnel 20 minutes just down the road to the rest of the road what's not to like and where's the American can-do?

And the Surin Thai restaurant, Kent's best Thai, Lao and Khmer restaurant and a UK top ten, 20 minutes in the other direction - try the seabass!

While 20,000 Thai restaurants in USA and 15,000 in UK must get through a lot of chicken - just one extra Kentucky drumstick? - and pork and beef and fish and Thai lemongrass and sticky rice and Singha and Chang imports. Maybe Budvar or Coors is on the menu too, probably not any of the 57 varieties of Heinz baked beans though.

While affable Sonny Perdue, Secretary of State for Agriculture and Georgia’s best export since Jimmy Carter (it takes a tough man to grow tender chicken, or peanuts, although is fingerlickin’ certain other brands are available and not of that chlorine malarky), is picking low hanging fruit in UK already, urging farmers such as Thailand's wheat n' meat Senator Tammy Duckworth or Walmart-Asda's Idaho potato farmers to grow it and USDA and USAid will help sell it in UK.

And Virginia's dynamic Governor and First Lady, Terry and Dorothy McAuliffe, already industrious on food security and malnutrition across schools and supermarkets.
Surely dynamic Dan Mulhall, Eire's and UK ambassador, doing the work of two men on the Eastern seaboard, and penning a limerick or two, will be keen to shift a few loaves of Brennansor a can or two of Guinness in USA. The Liffey overflowing with Guinness as well as a laser-like focus on USA pharma and finance companies that UK isn't as yet.

Eire lacking hispeed rail through to Scotland, and the astonishing end of the Australian/GM car industry (is Motor City becoming British Leyland) this week a warning light for UK too - the new Landrover and Dyson and Musk electric cars speeding up? And the expansion of the new Australian Space Agency surely needing UK and NASA support – as well as its own hispeed rail - from training to widgets.

The Caribbean Resilience disasters flags up the need for more mobile phone and weather satellites before the next hurricane and typhoon seasons.

East Kent might have built America (No problem. You're welcome. Have a nice day.) but USA was The Arsenal of Democracy and managed to build thousands of ships and tanks from a standing start. Why delay on phones and satellites and vaccines now? 11BN people (up from 7BN now) are going to be using them on Earth or Mars - and getting through a lot of coffee and cake while doing so - whether they're designed and built in USA and UK or not.

Maybe China's 11M graduates each year will do it. Probably as many again in India.

But Eire as with Japan looking after UK interests in indicating the omnishambles of Brexit, must be keen on 2020 as The Big Year of Golf.

Not just the increased tourism around The 2020 Open in Kent (Sandwich weaver Tom Paine's second home with Margate - and the hispeed train upgrades here progressing nicely ready for the flocks of American and Irish tourists) but the golf courses of Ireland too. Even those in Scotland for POTUS Trump - perhaps a glass or three of Guinness at the nineteenth hole. Or some IrnBru. Made in Scotland from girders - if UK or USA Steel needs a refreshing boost from cars to golf clubs.

American tourists flying all the way across the Atlantic (and over flyover country too) must be tempted by holes in one at various golf courses.
And Macy's must be up for some Isaan silk tartan golfing trews or cushions and what-not if Selfridges isn't? And not a Dairy Queen or Nathan's hot dog anywhere in UK yet.

And with Kent's Rolling Stones kicking off the New England effort in Havana - Stones in the Desert soon? - surely USA would support UK as #ADifferentGringo strategy in Latin America. And the Irish Stones, U2, must be up for another American tour (NYC’s Yankee Stadium first? Even a Bronx cheer for Trump) even dedicated to the (Red) HIV/TB work. The UNSDG30 dragging its heels in UK and USA and everywhere else. Even another version of BandAid or FarmAid with Kent's Bob Geldof.

Woody must be able to shift some Elastoplasts at BandAid. Maybe some cancer drugs too - USA universities don't have any coordination on cancer and dementia drugs research and links either?

And absurd that UK farms (and most UK farmers over 65 years old a UK Food Strategy fail) have no supercharged tractor and combine harvester industry which must be ripe for John Deere AI Robotics and agri-sensors too. Those bits of kit perhaps not so dear if done as a joint venture in metal bashing with Ford and Boeing and Bombardier and UK Steel et al. Even fastforwarding new materials such as graphene and given the Chinese monopoly on rare earths.

And USA-ASEAN and USA-Japan powering ahead before UK has even got its frockcoat, pinstripes and buckled shoes on or powdered its wig. Surely the good folks of Jardine and Arup should be leading the UK charge in expanding further and faster in Asia.

With at least 12 European nations each thinking they have a Special Relationship with USA that's surely a testimony to American diplomacy in general rather than a UK-USA Special Relationship now with America First. For beyond warm words and rearranging the coffee cups, surely there needs to be some crunchy trade activity throughout USA and UK and the East Kent Big Apple too?

Time for Change

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Cigarette Beach cops - the Dunkirk of Tobacco for Thailand and UK?

Roger Crutchley makes some eloquent points in The Bangkok Post on Phuket, one of the leading beach resorts in Thailand if not the world, on beginning the clampdown on cigarette smoking on its beaches (perhaps ecigarettes too?).

And a deep clean of Phuket's beaches revealing several tonnes of cigarette butts:

Certainly here in Ramsgate and Margate, the world's first seaside resorts and emerging from decades of decline, we should also be like Boris Johnson and channel our inner Churchill to fight smoking on the beaches. Few though would want a rerun of the Mods-Rockers battles on East Kent's beaches of the 1960's.

But tobacco smokers already wheezing their last gasp with the UK's Tobacco Plan issued this Summer showing just 15.5% of the UK population are smokers. Down from almost 50% 50 years ago.

Thailand also active on tobacco control not just on its beaches but introducing cigarette horror packs showing cancerous lungs etc before UK, and with one of the lowest smoking rates in the world at just 3% among women.

Surely the question is how can UK and Thailand work together on tobacco reduction to achieve no more than 3% of the population smoking before 2025? Finland already opting for a Smoke Free nation by then while the attrition rate of elderly smokers, wreathed in smoke, anyway is simple to define even without any cessation action.

But UK can claim to be a Stop Smoking Superpower with its smoking cessation programmes of nicotine patches on NHS etc cited as one of the best in the world.
But the new NHS Tobacco Plan is rather weak much-of-a-muchness:

* no store permits as yet - nor supermarkets limiting availability of tobacco in most/all outlets
* no definitive date for raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 and 25, and over 50's prescriptions
* no details of increased penalties for illegal tobacco possession, or sales to under 18's
* no rollout plans for tobacco cessation in each county and district
* bizarrely no fire-sale of Government investments as at KCC in tobacco
* provide only one brand of cigarettes in prisons through Aramark etc, and specific smoking cells and expansion of smoking cessation work.

Surely Prison TV as with Teacher TV long overdue with reading programmes etc rather than episodes of The Wire or The Krays movies?

With Wiltshire Police spending £1.5M to provide no evidence of East Kent's former PM Ted Heath long deceased as a satanic paedophile(!) - his main crime seemingly hanging around with other sailors or annoying David Icke - or the other police vanity projects against Cliff Richard or The Hairy Cornflake etc, there's clearly there's more the police can afford to do on tobacco.

And Deepcut barracks scandal court process beginning again next week as Surrey Police release more forgotten/misplaced documents of the murder-suicides.
Indeed heroin and cocaine after the Ostend and Infratil banned flights as prominent as tobacco. Is an extra Kent Year in prison for heroin and cocaine possession in Kent so outrageous?

Indeed, the Plan could even consider the Doitung implications begun South-South with Colombia and Thailand on cocaine, to consider a crops strategy for nations such as Malawi and Cuba that are heavily dependent on the declining tobacco crop.

As with the Sugar tax and HFSS restrictions those nations will suffer decline as fewer of their crops are sold.

Perhaps only China and Indonesia still growth markets for the 5M global tobacco deaths each year. While Shan state Myanmar and Afghanistan, the base for over 90% of heroin on UK streets despite a decade's worth of UK/NATO troop efforts.

Pfizer at Kent's mega-science park Discovery Park - and a similar science park at Sittingbourne not dissimilar in scale to the True tech park and TRF sites - as with Novartis dithering over expanding tobacco cessation patches etc.

Kent's sister-state Golden Virginia - that nomenclaturexxx an interesting twist on the LA Follow the Sun Olympics work - already divesting tobacco. And dynamic Governor Terry Macauliffe's prison work reflected in the astonishing New Jim Crow book: no vote for USA prisoners after release? The highest incarceration rate - and black bias - in the world?

Virginians might even consider regearing their rice industries of the future - certainly less flavoursome than Thai rice - for more productive crops. Expanded rice exports from ASEAN and India probably of more benefit to Norfolk Beach's shipping industries.

The New European newspaper detailing 80,000 seasonal workers needed in UK each year to pick and plant 9M tonnes of over 300 types of fruit, veg and flowers (Kent orchids for example). A further 13,000 seasonal workers need for the Xmas poultry industry. 58-75% of all those workers are from outside UK.

And to some extent - UK strategic food interests aside - those seasonal workers could be reduced via expansion of crops/poultry in other nations. The repulsive live animal exports in Ramsgate and occasionally Dover - only a dozen lorries or so a year now via the SS Jolene ship - an issue as the industry moves to UK refrigerated deliveries only and scheduled for a total ban under Michael Gove's DEFRA dept.

As an aside the bumper crop of onling gambling ads and opportunities, especially the crack cocaine gambling machines in bookies must be next for reform.
One surprising aspect of Brexit being Gibraltar and Jersey as the main UK tax havens urging support for the online gambling industry that constitutes most of their revenues.

I can't be the only UK citizen - or in my MP campaign - reluctant to bankroll UK colonies and tax havens through tax subsidies for such dodgy industries. Nor to be concerned at the lack of regulation of the excess of bookies sprouting up in UK towns.

UK and EU aid to the Caribbean tax havens must surely end before say 2025 including the end of tax haven status. UK's $20BN in aid (0.7% GNI) the second highest in the world in scale after USA. And EU investment budget c.500BN Euros 2014-20, and EU ECHO humanitarian aid a further c.1BN Euros each year. Not counting the various EU reconstruction banks and support for ADB etc.

And c.77M Euros 2014-20 in direct EU funding to the Commonwealth Caribbean islands.

Most of those UK funds rightly deployed to Commonwealth nations but a lack of effort on LDC nations even with, EU and UN regional offices in Bangkok, such as Cambodia or Laos or Bangladesh - or even a Pacific Commonwealth Group for Papua etc.Timor-Leste with EU status through its Portugal passports beginning ASEAN membership for 2020.

This week's Private Eye and Sunday Times (available in all good Asia Books stores) detailing the astonishing scandal of major gambling sites such as Paddy Power and 888, William Hill and Sun Bets promoting gambling games to children with Peter Pan, Beanstalk and Batman characters without age verification.
With Yingluck computers and smartphones stymied in Thailand - and not yet delivered in UK - surely the Amazon Kid's Kindles, with adult approval of content are viable for schools? Even a serving of Great British Raspberry Pi for STEM coding lessons.

And with Thailand's success in Doitung rolling out - hopefully too OTOP and Blue Flag welfare shops/cards - surely an opportunity exists with the new Cambodian Ambassador to UK in post this week, Dr. Soueng Rathchavy to move beyond rearranging the teacups and help promote Khmer and Thai interests.

Thai and Khmer rice for export to UK as well as UNFAO distribution against the outrageous 40% Khmer and Lao malnutrition rates seems low-hanging fruit. Indeed Royal self-sufficiency permutations of silk, orchids and pineapples too.

And shouldn't a Commonwealth Asia-Pacific Group, and ASEAN specifically, be on the agenda of the Commonwealth Summit next April in London? Cambodia even attempting to join the Commonwealth not so long ago.

Indeed with EU fruitpickers down 17% because of Brexit - and 3M EU workers in UK reluctant to stay as Brexit hostages - there's an opportunity to develop Thai and Cambodian farmers in UK with work permits etc?

The current East Kent MP Craig Mackinlay already doing the same for Hungarian workers, slightly at odds to say the least with his Brexit support and former UKIP deputy leader role, but there we are.

Almost 6 months after the June 8th UK election East Kent particularly mired in the same rudderless stagnation afflicting much of UK governance. Craig's massive 25k vote seemingly an irrelevance as nothing done, and UKIP even with a new Leader irrelevant and shambolic TDC council - perhaps inaction the best route after at least a decade of corruption and mismanagement with Pleasurama and Dreamland.

Dreamland with the 1960's Arlington House tower block eyesore long overdue demolition as weal as Police investigation of the millions in Lottery funding now offshore in the Caymans it seems:

One small positive step towards an East Kent Council - a counterweight to West Kent/Maidstone bias and overbuild with Kent's $3BN council budget - in reducing the number of District and Town councillors. Many of them doublehatter elderly party fanatics anyway crowding out and reducing democracy by sitting in numerous council seats and topping up their pension, and in effect betraying their children and grandchildren.

Which young person (under the age of 70 it seems in Kent) wouldn't want free university tuition fees as before or in Scotland now, or the vote at 16 or caps on the energy and train fare monopolies? Or post-LIBOR caps on interest rates as Germany's 9.9%.

UK even lagging behind many European nations, especially in Scandinavia, on bank holidays, maternity and paternity leave and so on.
And inaction on tobacco causing dome 100,000 UK deaths each year.

Not so much Dunkirk in East Kent again as the Phoney War of inaction that preceded it.

Certainly East Kent with its proportion of the 1M Poles in UK and 400k Romanians and Bulgarians (the most Romanian students in Canterbury outside Bucharest) we need more Visegrad links.

V4 more positive than Kent's experience of V1 and V2 in the Dunkirk era or potentially Pyonyang's version of V2 for UK or USA or ASEAN and China.

Kent's Defence Minister Michael Fallon citing London as nearer to Pyongyang missiles than San Francisco. And obviously much nearer to Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok.

Even Manila if a Guam strike goes wonky. that hardly impossible given UK/USA state of the art Trident missiles nearly nuked Disneyland last year.

Or the mutiny on UK's nuclear sub last week with the captain arrested over saucy antics worthy of Carry On Sailor.

Clearly the Royal Navy is all at sea and overdue reform.

But as with Phuket surely the last-gasp of the tobacco smoker requires a beach smoking ban or at least designated smoking areas, indeed designated public smoking areas in city centres and the strange situation of outside cafe tables hogged by smokers missing the point of second hand smoking.

Krabi just down the road from Phuket and subject to the same extreme pressures on the environment of tourism must surely be next in the tobacco beach ban and clean-up? The Ocean Plastic campaign moving apace in UK too with supermarkets reducing plastic, calls for coffeeshop cup recycling, drinks bottle deposit schemes and new biodegradable plastics.

Sandwich beach in East Kent astonishingly filthy in the range of plastics washed onto the beach and rocks.

And even Philip Morris tobacco of Marlboro moving from cigarettes to ecigarettes as its tobacco business fades.

As smoking becomes essentially for older smokers or those transitioning to ecigarettes surely beach smoking bans mark the Dunkirk of tobacco in Thailand and UK.