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.

@timg33

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:

https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1349062/farewell-to-a-king-who-stole-our-hearts

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:

https://tdri.or.th/en/2017/10/open-door-policy-needed-foreign-universities/

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
@timg33

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
@timg33

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:

https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1342619/lifes-a-beach-with-no-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:

https://theisleofthanetnews.com/dreamland-investor-arrowgrass-in-talks-to-take-on-arlington-as-part-of-new-masterplan/

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.

@timg33

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Football's coming home to Thailand and UK in 2034? And 2032?


The Bangkok Post article on the possibility of Thailand, and Indonesia, hosting the 2034 World Cup was interesting on several grounds:

https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1339815/forget-world-cup-bid

Sports and Tourism Minister Khun Kobkarn speaking on The Voice rightly expressed some doubts over the viability of such an arrangement.

Clearly the private sector as well as FAT the Football Association of Thailand should be expected to support such an endeavour. Even match-fund some public sector and government investment.

While it would be asburd to go to the effort and expense of staging the World Cup simply for Thailand to gain a pass to the final.

But is Khun Kobkarn right to be so cautious as not just a Cabinet Minister but one of Thailand's leading business gurus?

Certainly large sporting events are fraught with problems - the Bangkok Post uncharacteristically muddling the Rio Olympics of 2016 and athlete villages in disrepair, with the Brazil World Cup of 2014.

As sure as Winter follows Summer - or monsoon follows sunshine - every Olympics has it's share of buildings almost not being ready or the showers oput on upside down or glass doors on the toilet cubicles etc etc.

And ASEAN as a region has often struggled with big-ticket events: Indonesia losing the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 - both mired in corruption allegations. And this week the England football squad on notice of rabies vaccinations for its qualifying matches in Russia.

As an aside, comedian Simon Brodkin this week racing onto the pitch of the Tory Party conference to hand a P45 unemployment notice to PM Theresa May. Brodkin also infamous with his Jason Bent football character who showered FIFA's Sepp Blatter with fake dollars shouting "North Korea for the 2026 World Cup" amidst the widespread FIFA corruption allegations.

While Vietnam in particular struggled with the Hanoi Games in 2019 which had to be moved elsewhere at the last minute. Hardly an inspiring advertisement for ASEAN planning. Nor the problems of Resilience floods from Climate Change that will only increase.

While the Olympics has probably been even worse in terms of planning since Montreal in 1976 nearly went bust, the Moscow 1980 boycott over the Afghanistan invasion, and London 2012 had problems with its VAT budgeting.

And yet.

Aren't problems to be expected with any major event? No surprises there. Not every Mexican wave at Wembley is as perfect as it could be.

But Thailand, as Kobkarn mentioned, has had great successes with SEA Games and Asian Games - I was at Phuket in 2014 and was hugely impressed.

Superb organization and events - but where was everyone?

While the LA Olympic Games in 1992 actually turned a profit.

And of course the London Olympic Games in 2012 was a massive success, even after the great success of Beijing 2008.

And surely the key point is we're talking Bangkok in 2034: 17 years away. If Thailand (or any other nation) couldn't do it with a 17 year lead then when could it? 2044? 2054? In the 22nd century?

And more importantly than Thailand's accounting for any World Cup budget by 2034 - isn't there a golden opportunity to also host the Oympics in 2032? No doubt after the successes of Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 and LA 2028?

Following the sun across the Pacific from LA to ASEAN by 2032 must surely be viable for Thailand?

### Thailand leading the field ###

For surely the game has changed for a Bangkok bid with not just a 17 year lead-time to tightly plan its infrastructure and transport and marketing - a regular failing of the Olympics is that bids and events are rushed within only a few years, hence the ramshackle athlete's villages and ghost town stadia.

London 2012 successfully avoiding both those problems through construction efforts by Arup and Murphy and Balfour Beatty that also delivered on the Channel Tunnel, The Shard and Crossrail tunnel, all the largest projects in Europe. And now Crossrail 2 tunnel, HS3 and HS2 hispeed rail.

And legacy planning to regenerate Docklands and the East End, the Laem Chabang or Basson of UK, with new stadia for West Ham United, a world class swimming pool, and investment in Hackney Marshes the largest number of football pitches in Europe. Some stadia and buildings designed to be dismantled after the events for use as public parks and promenades and waterways that must surely be releant blueprints for Bangkok.

UK Sports and Tourism Minister, Kent's Tracey Crouch not just an FA referee, but with an eye to swimming pools and ice rinks and cycling races that UK as a Sporting Superpower after 2012 deserves.

But also, as with Brazil, Bangkok would now have the chance to spread the costs and activity over two major events: the World Cup and Olympics.
The sort of two for one offer that even Tesco Lotus and Boots don't do.

And with Indonesia and other ASEAN nations to spread the events and costs over different sites and regions.

Surely the ADB and even AIIB as well as the Myanmar government would be keen for football in Yangon. Or Olympics events in Phnom Penh and HCMC.

If Phuket can host the SEA Games so successfully (Beach Soccer a World Cup variant yet?) and Buriram not just overhaul its football stadium but also a Formula One race track then surely Thailand is capable of making the effort?

### Brazil Sensacional Olympic advertising ###

And the Bangkok Post is unusually simply wrong to suggest the Brazil World Cup was of little value: the Miami Herald article here details a range of successes:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article1980994.html

* 3.1M Brazilians attended games in 12 cities - relevant for Thailand in Isaan and Deep South and North after the referendum divisions? - above the 3M target
* the target of 600k international visitors was swamped by 1.035 foreign visitors from 203 nations - for thailand that would be the equivalent of its annual total of British tourists visiting again
* the success lasted with tourists increasing to over 1M visitors the folowing year
* crucially for any Sports and Tourism Minister keeping tight rein on the national purse strings - 61% of foreign tourists were visiting for the first time and 95% said they wanted to return
* the economic success of the World Cup was estimated at $7.5BN from the $6.7BN target - worth comparing to the 222BN THB annual budgeted sunk costs for Thailand's military expenditure through to 2034
* with MICE such a key aspect of Thai Tourism, the Brazil World Cup yielded a bumper crop of 870 extra conferences and events

Interestingly the Miami Herald echoed the possibilities for ASEAN - and Khun Kobkarn's robust plans to expand UTapao Pattatya EEC airport - as Miami International Airport the gateway to Latin America cited a 16% increase during the World Cup and a continued uplift of 6.9% afterwards.

Even allowing for a bit of Ministry of Tourism and government exaggeration by Brazil the 2014 World Cup was hardly a failure more a grandstanding success.
Khun Kobkarn might even dance a samba of her own on these figures and that USA - hardly renowned soccer nation - bought more tickets than any other nation and stated an extra two days.

While the Brazil Cup and Games proved so successful they've gained the 2019 Student Games too.

And 98% of World Cup Brazil visitors saying they approved of Brazilian hospitality and 93% liking the food surely augurs well for Thailand's hotels and somtam sellers?

Bizarrely the research showed German visitors were impressed how Brazilians shared their tables and beer - surely that shows Germans as a bit mean and overly keen on beer?

That aside, what about UK?

There is a further opportunity for both Thialand and UK. Why wouldn't UK support team Thailand and detail its learnings from 2012 Games and FA Cup and Premiership events?

With Premiership football so popular in Thialand - I've detailed before a visit to the River Kwai (it's 75th anniversary next month surely the start of activity) and spending an evening in a theme bar for Stoke City football club. Even Stoke doesn't have a Stoke City theme pub.

Thailand's passion for UK football is only matched by Britain's indifferent approach to deepening such ties.

Surely UK and Thailand are wasting a golden opportunity to build closer links through Premiership football - and not just the occasional visit by Arsenal or Man United or Liverpool?

While Thailand's and ASEAN's rising visitors to UK surely need more effective marketing activity than being pointed towards Wembley or the National Football Museum in Manchester - who knew of that in Mukdahan or Mindanao?

China already has shown some fancy footwork in creating a Football Plan for 2025 - wouldn't it be an open goal for UK and Thailand to do the same?

### Thailand profiting from Sport ###

Stakes in the ground for Bangkok Olympics 2032 and World Cup 2034 would make the activity concrete - and treelined.

While Khun Kopbkarn's concerns over ensuring public sector support could easily be washed away:

* why wouldn't Siam Cement not want to deliver on new stadia as well as hispeed rail stations?
* why wouldn't Minor want to deliver on its food and beverage trade?
* Singha and Chang wouldn't want to be left out nor the Siamese Foxes
* why wouldn't Erawan W deliver on hospitality for upwards of 1M new visitors
* why wouldn't GMM Grammy deliver on entertainment
* why wouldn't True deliver on its mobile phone and broadcast activity
* why wouldn't Thai Airways be upgrading its fleet on the basis of extra visitors
* why wouldn't SRT be upgrading its train fleet too
* why wouldn't Hitachi get on board the Team Thailand bus to the events
* why wouldn't DHL deliver on deliveries whether the World Cup or the Olympic Torch?

Other brands and nations are available - but somebody is going to host the 2032 Games and 2034 World Cup, why shouldn't it be Thailand 4.0 and ASEAN that grasp the opportunity now?

And it be a roaring success too?

And it's far too soon to talk of a silk football strip or sports science improvements.

While the great success of Hungary's hosting of the Swimming Championships must mark out a range of EU sporting excellence for the future from Budapest to Balaton to Buriram.

Khun Saowaruj of TDRI writes eloquently on the EEC (in Thailand not Europe) and S-curve shifts needed to move beyond just FDI and Thailand 4.0 tech shifts, to a future-facing and future-proofed overhaul of Thai if not ASEAN society:

https://tdri.or.th/en/2017/10/eec-requires-joined-thinking-benefit-everyone/

Khun Kobkarn must surely be best-placed too to translate Thailand's offering through not just ASEAN but Japan's zaibatsu keeping the undoubted success of Tokyo 2020 going to Bangkok in 2034 from Mitsubishi to Hitachi to Nissan.

The Bangkok Games would get China's OBOR plans on side for a new Silk Road of rail and road and ports and airports too?

### The FAT of the Land ###

While just on obesity, the Bangkok 2032 and 2034 Games and Cup make sense. Even rabies as highlighted by Russia 2018 Cup (with 60k deaths worldwide especially in India is surely absurd in the 21st century - isn't that about $60k worth of vaccines, maybe $1M?) and TB too given the potential of improving the lives of soi dogs and London as the TB capital of Europe. The Zika virus and unfortunate problem for the Rio Games.

Or even the danger of dementia and brain damage from heading the ball as sadly highlighted by the problems now faced by the 1966 England World Cup team.

## A game of two halves: famine and feast ###

But obesity would be worth the cost of the Bangkok sports events in itself.

Dr James Bentham of Univeristy of Kent cited in the Independent and the Lancet for World Obesity Day this week details an accelerating global obesity rate especially in Asia from 0.7% of girls in 1975 to 5.6% in 2016, and for boys from 0.9% to 7.8%.

Indeed all the top 10 fattest nations are all in Asia-Pacific: Nauru, Cook Islands, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu etc with 24.4% to 33.5% of the populations with a BMI over 30. Obesity has also ballooned in USA to 19.5% of children and teenagers compared to 9.4% in UK.

UK's leading celebrity chef Jamie Oliver already active on promoting healthier school dinners and children's meals.

And 124M obese children now, is in stark contrast to 192M underweight (and UNSDG goal #1 of zero hunger and malnutrition), mainly in India as well as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Asia by the time of the Bangkok Games in 2032 will undoubtedly be suffering from an obesity epidemic even outweighing famine as the global population edges upwards from 7BN towards 11BN.

A cost in healthcare and shortened and limited lives of cancer and diabetes and supersized dental care - that could be factored into the cost of Games infrastructure.

TDRI estimate 6%of Thailand's GDP could be saved - and redirected - through reducing road accidents to UK levels: similar forecasts could easily be made on the health benefits of sports to Thailand and ASEAN.

Healthy living through sports and food, from pineapples to pomegranates, will be ever more vital - and relevant for Thailand's sports fixtures and foods.

The mountain of plastc waste in the environment from landfill, lack of recycling, or the oceans with plastic bags, and the 2.5BN coffeeshop disposable coffee cups with just 1% recycled and plastic drinks bottle deposit schemes, all now under review by UK parliament, and relevant for Thailand and sports events such as yachting and kayaking even beach polo.

Kayaking say the Yuam river along the Tenasserim Range and Mae Sariang near Chiang Mai could also deliver on showcasing the Hidden Thailand aspect of Thailand Tourism through sports and kickstarting any long-stalled infrastructure and environment projects.

UK is far worse at 40% than Germany and Denmark's household waste recycling at 90% - so Thailand's sheet rubber farmers might not gain much insight or benefit from Olympic sports except perhaps stadium seat cushions and tennis balls. But the mountain of plastic waste choking Asia's canals and rivers could surely be cleaned and recycled into stadia infrastructure as a further sporting economic value-add in terms of jobs. HSBC Vietnam extremely active in its Water Projects in the Mekong Delta.

While dynamic Curtis S. Chin former US Ambassador to ADB/Philippines and director of Milken Institute in California cites progressive policies from smaller Asian nations such as Bhutan with its emphasis on Gross National Happiness as a counterweight to the narrow economic deficiencies of GDP:

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2113409/hong-kong-dims-asia-can-learn-much-singapore-east-timor-and?utm_source=Direct

Timor-Leste ASEAN member by 2020 helping Thailand achieve the World Cup and Olympics? As no doubt would Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and UK's Pacific Commonwealth friends. Cambodia could even revive its Commonwealth bid of a decade ago, as could Myanmar.

Thailand's Olympic and World Cup bid could easily encompass such progressive views that are already being developed in UK and EU with the Basic National Income, volunteering, jobshares, and 4 day working week as positives in themselves and in balancing the effects of AI and automation.

And when the Olympic torch is lit in 2034 and the World Cup kicks off in 2032, the crowd goes silent, the stadium lights lower, the Toshiba big screen in the stadium lights up...

...and Khun Kobkarn stands in the penalty area and kicks the first ball into the top left of the onion bag, then another sizzler to the top right, and then kicks the ball out of the stadium through the plasma screen...

...and to the new 2030 Mars space station as the ball passes to the first woman on Mars standing under the UN and Thai flags and UNSDG Goals banner. And she wellies the ball onto Saturn's moons and the next phase of space exploration.

Surely the next generation deserves Bangkok Games 2032 and World Cup 2034. Quibbles over wet cement or a few baht here and there will long be forgotten.
For the World Cup and Olympic Games are iconic sporting events to showcase Thailand as well as women's sports and why not Bangkok as the first UNSDG30 Games - or rather the curtain raiser to the UNSDG second iteration to 2040.

A child born today could well be leading out Thailand's women's football team by 2034 as Khun Kobkarn lays the groundwork for the next generation of girls. The Sport England campaign "This Girl Can" or Paralympics "Superheroes" perhaps one of the most inspiring leads to a sporting future for all in UK and Thailand.

@timg33

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Road safety UK-Thailand - where the rubber meets the road?



Khun Sirinya’s article on Car-Free Friday “Time for some road justice” is packed bumper-to-bumper with interesting insights for UK as well as Thailand:

https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1328123/time-for-some-road-justice-if-for-a-day

Bangkok with some of the world's worst traffic congestion and, as with London grave air pollution problems - 50,000 deaths a year in UK, is best-placed to seek way to improve traffic whether commuting or sightseeing.

How many tourists must have considered never returning given the frenetic traffic of the Big Mango? And Khun Sirinya can't be the only commuter worried about being late for work as the traffic slows to a snail-pace - hopefully British buses with aircon and wifi and who knows even a seatback somtam pouch could make the journey easier even enjoyable for many Bangkokians.

A Smart City grid of traffic lights and streetlights would help the freeflow of traffic - and increased solar power ensuring free energy.

Pedestrians and cyclists and street food stalls must surely have priority over transport at least one day a year, and buses over cars. Modern nations like UK and Thailand can hardly consider it rocket science to implement cheap if not free and comfortable and timely public transport? Bangkok's Skytrain and Thai rail almost do it anyway as do London’s excellent integrated Tube and Bus system. The Oyster card and BTS Rabbit surely ripe for coordination between the transport and tourism authorities?

While former Deputy Ambassador to Cambodia Bryony Mathew sketched out STEM structures for schoolgirls engineering a Skytrain and hispeed rail future in Phnom Penh.

UK as a Road Safety Superpower - and its world-class Olympic public transport work - has taken part in last week's #Project EDWARD - the European Day without A Road Death on 21st September. That road programme with the aim of achieving zero road deaths in each European state. Eire quickly achieving that target although the results aren’t in as yet for every nation, and Lincolnshire Police active also on #Fatal4 activity as well as all-terrain vehicles for rural crime.

Unfortunately Kent announced its annual road safety statistics earlier in the week with a promising fall in deaths from 54 to 45, but a disturbing 40% increase in serious injuries to 887 although that may be due in part to - as with the Fire Brigade -to adjusting the statistics to standardised EU data.

Khun Natcha of TDRI citing Thailand’s road deaths not just for the horrific carnage of over 20,000 dead and 100,000 seriously injured, but a downturn on the Thai economy equivalent of 6% of GDP or half a trillion baht. Imagine if just a fraction of that sum was re-geared to road safety work. The Return on Investment for Thailand not just in funeral costs or hospital beds but longer working lives would be astronomical:

https://tdri.or.th/en/2017/09/flirting-road-risk-fatal-pursuit/

Weak KCC council advertising - to nervous passengers?? - and normally another excellent facet of UK road safety - must surely face demands from Chief Constable Alan "The Chief" Pughsley, due back from his Spring-Summer holiday this week, and Kent Road Police to be coordinated by the police themselves who after all are the ones experienced at picking up the pieces from accidents.

And it's no laughing matter if Sweet Joke's appointment as Thailand Tourism Police chief doesn't fast-forward UK-Thai tourism safety activity. UK has much to learn: no dedicated tourist police, no telephone hotline (bizarrely 2 Foreign Office emergency numbers appeared during the Caribbean Resilience crisis to further confuse stranded UK residents and tourists) or website, few translators and many walk-in police stations closed.

Kent Police forecast to be over 90% accurate and separate details on road safety eg the 5 highest speeding cases between 111mph and 150mph (c.200kph) on Kent roads.

As an aside, the new developments by nearby Surrey University with Netherlands Forensic Institute and Intelligent Fingerprinting (surely a CCU University Broadstairs campus -the Hendon of the South partnership in the offing?) in cocaine detection in seconds through just a fingerprint test must be useful for both police forces and even adapted for yaba amphetamines.

UK tourism inbound visitors up 6% year on year in July with 4M visits. And UK residents pulling on their Union Jack shorts for 6.9M visits abroad just 2% down on 2016 even with sterling down 14% on the euro since the Brexit referendum last year. Nothing it seems deters visitors to Britain or Brits from going abroad.
But how would a Thai tourist - or the police cope - in a road accident or street robbery or losing a passport? In London or Manchester or Glasgow?
While Kent's Janet Street-Porter, the feisty and dynamic journalist and talk show host - often walking from Whitstable to Buenos Ayres (Buenos Ayres Margate not Argentina) probably the most beautiful coast walk in the world. Reculver. TS Eliot's Wasteland. Plum Pudding Island. Everything. And of course Broadstairs and, England's first town, Ramsgate and through to Dover's White Cliffs.

Janet has raised the issue of 100 cycling deaths in 2015 (and 3,000 injured) and horrific 400 pedestrian deaths each year - exactly the type of activity CarFree Bangkok highlights.
The recent death of Kim Briggs a mum of two crossing the street in London by Charlie Alliston on a bike without a front brake designed for Olympic tracks raised forensic examination of UK road safety laws. Bizarrely the prosecution had to rely on an 1861 law for "wanton and furious driving" designed for horses and stagecoaches. And even that Victorian effort resulted in just an 18 month jail sentence.

Yet dangerous driving almost on the Red Bull copkiller case scale.

Janet also citing the problem of cycling on pavements and pedzones as here in East Kent, with illegally parked cars almost begging for a police clampdown once Chief Pughsley is back. Rumours abound of Deputy Chief Paul "Marlon" Brandon back in Vegas to boost the police budget in The Golden Nugget. Perhaps not.
London gangs of mopeds purse-snatching and phone-grabbing an updated version of highway robbery.

Janet mentions how the abuse in suggesting cyclists should wear helmets and a mini-MOT and test resulted in months of abuse form the cycling lobby. In my Police Commissioner campaign – my erstwhile rival Henry Bolton also defeated and gaining the booby prize now of UKIP leader - I can vouch that the cycling lobby and gun lobby were by far the most vociferous and organised. Luckily they hadn't merged into a gun and cycling lobby or nobody would be safe.

Certainly as with the astonishingly successful La Vuelta Spanish cycling race and Tour of Britain it raises issues of how best to promote cycling.
While Latvian friends mentioned how their road safety laws require hi-visibility sashes for pedestrians after dark - that ensuring the clothing and bag sashes became fashion items as well. Strangely, with 400 pedestrian deaths each year, I can't think of anywhere in UK where to buy even basic hi-visibility sashes. Schools? Supermarkets? Surely an East Kent-East Europe project in the making.

While an August Bank Holiday crash killing 8 people made national news headlines simply because such incidents are so rare - that the worst accident in decades. Without being UKIP-racist about it, there certainly is a problem in Frontline Kent, and lack of effort so far, with Eastern European HGV drivers awake at the wheel from Moscow to Manchester - even watching television. 8,000 road deaths in Thailand so far this year, framed at over 4x UK levels have expedited political consideration of how best to work with Thailand on road safety.

A TH-UK Road Safety Group meeting quarterly? Janet Street-Porter would be a terrific keynote speaker on cycling and pedestrians.
Certainly a Car-Free Bangkok is too great an idea to only do once a year.

Time for Change
@timg33

Monday, 2 October 2017

AI and SCB Abacus processing a new UK-Thailand future?

Khun Sutapa Amornvivat in her SCB feature makes several prescient points on the future of AI and SCB's new Abacus venture.

The dull, dirty and dangerous jobs she cites as being core to AI and even the potential for 50% of jobs to be removed by a mix of AI and automation are edging ever closer.

Banking is already being disrupted via mobile banking, the rise of ATM's and - certainly in the UK - wave after wave of bank branch closures. The latter so extensive that questions are being raised on minimum service levels for both bank branches and post office services.

While Sainsbury’s softlaunching its Euston station store with no checkout service only mobile phone AI selection and invoicing for groceries raises an end to bank queues fo rthose branches remaining.

The elderly and digtially illiterate and cash businesses all require counter services fo r some years yet. How else to cash in old banknotes for the new Jane Austen £10 polymer fibre note issued last week or the new £1 coin earlier this Summer? Hopefully those currency changes not causing too much problems in SCB currency exchanges in Thailand from UK tourists and businesses.

While AI may prove a curse before it is a benefit, not just the doomladen scenario of the Singularity or Terminator-style killer robots now cited by no less than Stephen Hawking. But also more crunchy scenarios such as the flash-crashes plaguing the worlds stock exchanges with counter-intuitive trading moves by AI engines (they are machines after all) wiping away stocks and shares values in milliseconds, as well as overnight.

While UK fears over Chinese investment in nuclear power plants such as Hinkley could see the lights going out - along with AI cybersecurity fears over the new smartmeters.

And Estonia has garnered headlines for its e-business and e-government initiatives - not least the potential for EU citizenship should Brexit lumber out of the morgue again. Yet Britain has quietly been forging a digital future to counteract the shocks of AI and mass unemployment. Basic National Income is under serious discussion as well as reviews of the Finland and Ontario financial exercises.

While identity theft combatted through the Government Verify online programme as well as universal access to welfare benefits. And stepping over the hurdle of the generations computer coding now in the UK school curriculum providing strength in depth for future AI and IT corporations.

Unfortunately not yet Thai initiatives such as Yingluck computers or Children’s Day or societal regearing such as Nurses Day or even consistent alphabet learning. Only Britain could potentially fritter away its asset in the English language.

While the growth in voice recognition with Alexa et al have raised cyberhacking fears of high frequency sonic instructions to drain your bank account, or at least stock up on excessive amounts of Hello Kitty merchandise through Amazon.

A subdued UK parliament turning away from the swamp of Brexit and onto surer ground with a soda bottles deposit scheme, microbeads in cosmetics ban and coffee shop cup recycling as well as increased animal welfare and food legislation. All no doubt relevant for Thai businesses and as Brexit fizzles away, a resurgent EU and the EU office in Bangkok.

As with most technology, AI will be a complement rather than a displacer just look at how radio and cinema and television and the internet continue to thrive together. The EKFOS project - East Kent Film Office and Studio - galvanising regeneration and job creation through the expanded satellite TV market, and digitisation and restoration of archive footage.

What price UK cinema if Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock early films are lost forever? While the advance in colourisation techniques provide a further market.

And if a VR bank branch wouldn't necessarily be a must-have digital destination or replace High St branches then the possibilities are only just beginning. With Paris now confirmed for the 2024 Olympics and LA - Follow the Sun - in 2028 then what price turbo-charged FDI investment for an ASEAN Olympics in 2032?

Kayaking on the Chaopraya in Bangkok or Perfume River in Hue or Surfing off Boracay in the Philippines at the very least make a multi-site Olympics viable in Asai-Pacific. Certainly careful planning for a riverfront promenade and hispeed rail would gain momentum. Both LA and London in the recent past showing how to make the Olympics an economic success as well as a sporting one.

A recent AI conference in London looked under the bonnet of most AI to pronounce improvements only in digital speed rather than complexity. While online advertising with the ubiquitous calls for Facebook ads or the Yahoo home page and top ranking google searches is still hamstrung by weak metrics or adserving algorithms.

My finance sector CRM experience with Barclaycard and Citibank and insurers suggests the IT department still holds the levers of power on data-mining for marketing activity. That LTV strategy and that month's ROI marcomms review oft-delayed to the pressure of the monthly credit card statement run or email messaging.

Yet the UK financial sector is booming: total investment by UK-based venture capital and private equity firms soaring to £21.4BN last year from the depths of £12.6BN at the start of the recession in 2009.

Cuba's sonic weapons a misstep even for an economy enfeebled by USA sanctions and potential fix on tobacco and sugar cane. An issue hardly unknown for the pineapple growers of Chantaburi and Hua Hin - United fruit shortsighted in Andy Hall case or BBC Jonathan Head rather than working with UK and EU markets eg Tesco Lotus.

While London is the IT hub for Europe if not the world outside of Silicon Valley in California could pump-prime Thailand's tech markets faster and easier -for tech startups and expertise in all things AI and digital.

British medical expertise Fleming - Alexander not Ian - and penicillin perhaps the greatest invention of the 20th century. Crick and DNA. Universal free healthcare NHS. Viagra at Pfizer here in East Kent keeping its end up.

SCBAbacus could well benefit more widely from the AI market in UK and London, much as UK financial market could benefit from Thai investment in the City whether SCB or others.

Thai investment in UK is still down over 30% from the failed SSI investment in Redcar steelworks now insulated from Chinese steel dumping and accessing the new Nissan and BMW vehicles. And EV and autonomous vehicles are a reality on UK roads as of next year with a concomitant surge in AI supply chains.

While Moody's downgrading UK to Aa2 below Germany, Sweden and Norway (still the world's 3rd best rating on a par with South Korea and France) the day after PM Theresa May's main speech in Florence on Brexit with a transition from 2019 to at least 2021 for essentially the status quo, speaks volumes on the viability and likelihood of Brexit beyond a few facesaving tweaks. Indeed with the political party conferences underway and the LibDems, usually the 3rd main party, already announcing a policy of cancelling Brexit, October may see the end of May as PM and Boris Johnson as Foreign Minister.

And with the German election forecast to be won by Angela Merkel rather than Martin Schulz, the instigator of Liberation Route Europe, amid almost zero mention of Brexit. Albeit the certainty of a Merkel win even the so-called Jamaica Coalition with the Greens and Liberal Free Democrats as if to reshape Europe's economy and EU policy detailed in the Juncker State of the Union address earlier this week for essentially a Bigger and Better EU with expansion of Schengen and Eurozones.

A note of caution sounded though by the dynamic German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that: "for the first time since 1945 we will have real Nazis speaking in the Reichstag parliament" as the far-right AFD party likely to gain seats. All the more disturbing for Kent with Nigel Farage formerly UKIP leader, who I stood against in 2015 speaking to the AFD rally with the grand-daughter of the Nazi Finance Minster.

While as UKIP plummets in the polls: the leadership race - yet another for UKIP and most UK parties - with a lurch into raw anti-Islam party and rivalled by Kent's Henry Bolton now the new leader who I stood against in the Kent Police Commissioner election in 2014.

But beyond SCBAbacus sewing AI into the fabric of SCB Bank, or bringing to market fresh new AI investments and companies, surely there are some wider AI implications for UK and Thailand that are currently being neglected:

1. Farm to Pharma - the lightning fast speed of data crunching and data mining for innovation gems must surely be kickstarted in the farm industry with soil sensors? And in the Pharma industry with speeding up the too-long march through the foothills of Cancer and Dementia research. Or the fast sprint - given the legwork already undertaken on polio - for TB, HIV, Dengue and Flu vaccines. The UN cites ASEAN as the next pandemic hotspot and London already similarly afflicted as Europe's TB capital.
2. Resilience - the Caribbean storms and earthquakes and undoubtedly volcanoes at some point - the Mount Agung Bali volcano displacign 10,000 people, drowned out by the static noise around the Caribbean crises - all highlight better weather pattern sensors and satellites expedited by AI. And how absurd if Thailand's booming autoparts industry not only expanded but shifted gears to a space industry.

3. Space - and if humanity's journey to the stars and a woman on Mars by 2030 is still adrift for want of a definitive plan, it could have ended in the Caribbean floods for both NASA in Florida and the European Space Agency launchpads in French Guyana. Surely a wakeup call to EurAsia's Star City and Australia rocket ranges. While the astonishing success of Cassini mission to Saturnxxx has highlighted the decades of data available that may not be processed and delivered upon for years unless AI is actioned.

4. Education - Pepper the robot creates not just the MOOC potential of UK's excellent Open University but AI tailored language learning and translation possibilities for English in Thailand as ASEAN's second official language

5. Transport - the debate around the Bangkok bus reforms, leaving aside the actual buses themselves, raises the AI issue of Smart Cities underway in UK to integrate traffic flow, street lighting and traffic lights etc.

AI processing power with SCBAbacus could speed all the above in Thailand and ASEAN if not UK.

@timg33