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Thousands of cyclists honor Thai king amid crackdown on royal critics

BANGKOK Thousands of cyclists streamed by means of Bangkok on Friday to honor Thailand’s revered but ailing king in an outpouring of loyalty that comes against a backdrop of an unprecedented crackdown on these perceived as vital of the monarchy.

“Bike For Dad” is part of weeks of celebrations marking the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, who turned 88 on Dec. 5.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the king’s only son and heir, led a throng of cyclists on a 29 km (18 miles) route beginning in Bangkok’s old quarter.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and a number of cabinet ministers joined the procession of yellow-shirted riders. Yellow is the colour that represents the king.

“A lot of folks want to share this moment to send a sign to our king that we all enjoy him extremely much,” said Nusara Anuntavanichaya, 44, who sat with her six-year-old daughter on the route, along with thousands of yellow-clad spectators.

Numerous Thais see the king as a unifying figure in a nation that has suffered bouts of violent upheaval more than the past decade as rival power networks, one closely associated with the royalist military, vie to run the nation.

The king is in frail wellness and has not been seen in public since Sept. 1. He is in a Bangkok hospital, where he has spent considerably of the past six years, and exactly where medical doctors in August treated him for what the Royal Household Bureau known as “water on the brain”, or hydrocephalus.

The cyclists passed the hospital on their route.

The king is a constitutional monarch, with no formal political powers, and lengthy wielded immense influence.

The crown prince does not command the identical devotion his father does, top to apprehension about the succession. He smiled at cheering crowds as he cycled previous on Friday.

The military, since seizing power in a May 2014 coup, has zealously pursued anybody perceived to have defamed the royals, which includes senior military and police officers, below draconian lese majeste, or royal insult, laws.

Two suspects have died in military custody throughout a police investigation of corruption involving “Bike For Dad” and yet another cycling event aimed at celebrating the royals.

Police mentioned final week they had launched an inquiry into U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies following he criticized “lengthy and unprecedented” jail sentences for those identified guilty of lese majeste.

Authorities stated about 30,000 police and soldiers had been on duty for the bike ride, which comes four months following a bomb at a city shrine killed 20 individuals.

Police said a people-smuggling gang angry about a crackdown was accountable. The blast came a day right after a “Bike For Mom” cycling occasion in honor of Queen Sirikit.

Police stated on Friday they had arrested a group of people who planned to “create a disturbance on an crucial day.”

They did not elaborate but Prayuth stated authorities had foiled a plot to assassinate senior government officials at the procession.

(Further reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Aukkarapon Niyomyat Editing by Robert Birsel)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Nobel laureates to gather awards amid heightened security

OSLO/STOCKHOLM This year’s Nobel laureates, like a pro-democracy Tunisian group, will get their prizes on Thursday in Oslo and Stockholm, with safety at the lavish banquets and concerts tightened soon after the Paris attacks last month.

Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet won the peace prize for helping to build democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, an instance of peaceful transition in a region struggling with violence and upheaval.

“Safety is larger than it would otherwise have been since of the circumstance in Europe,” Johan Fredriksen, chief of staff for Oslo police told Reuters.

Fredriksen declined to go into specifics. He stated there were no certain threats the police had been aware of in Norway.

Final year, a demonstrator carrying a Mexican flag disrupted the Nobel ceremony at Oslo City Hall when Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi received their Nobel Peace Prizes. He was not a guest but managed to get through the safety checkpoints.

The quartet of the Tunisian Basic Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Market, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers was formed in the summer season of 2013.

With a new constitution, cost-free elections and a compromise in between Islamist and secular leaders, Tunisia has been held up as a model of how to make the transition to a democracy from dictatorship.

In neighboring Sweden, the Nobel Prize winners in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and economics had been gathering in Stockholm to acquire their prizes from the King of Sweden later in the day.

Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich won the literature prize for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union. In her 1st public statement following winning the prize, she denounced Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as an “invasion”.

In Stockholm, the winners will collect their medals at a concert hall ahead of attending a banquet at the city hall, which will include VIPs like European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Safety around the festivities – which has hundreds of royals and prominent politicians as guests – has also been heightened this year right after Sweden raised its terror threat level to the highest ever right after the Paris attacks.

Each of the prizes is worth 8 million Swedish crowns ($ 949,440).

(Writing by Alistair Scrutton Editing by Larry King)

Agen Sabung Ayam

U.S. agrees spy plane deployment in Singapore amid China tensions

WASHINGTON The United States has agreed with Singapore on a first deployment of the U.S. P8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore this month, in a fresh response to China more than its pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China, which is at odds with Washington over the South China Sea, said on Tuesday the move was aimed at militarizing the area.

In a joint statement right after a meeting in Washington on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed the inaugural deployment of the aircraft in Singapore from Dec. 7 to 14.

A U.S. defense official stated further deployments in Singapore could be anticipated. The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea.

China claims virtually the complete energy-rich waters, through which far more than $ 5 trillion of maritime trade passes every year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

“I feel this sort of increase in military deployment by the United States and pushing regional militarization does not accord with the joint extended-term interests of the nations in this region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

China believes that Singapore, like other nations in the area, desires to see a peaceful and prosperous Southeast Asia, she added.

The United States already operates P8s from Japan and the Philippines, and has also carried out surveillance flights from Singapore’s neighbor, Malaysia.

The statement stated the P8 deployment in Singapore would “promote higher interoperability with regional militaries via participation in bilateral and multilateral workouts, while supplying timely support for regional HADR and maritime security efforts.”

HADR is an acronym for Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operations.

The United States and Singapore have lengthy-standing defense ties and the announcement of the P8 deployment was element of an enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by Carter and Ng, which also covers cooperation in fighting transnational terrorism and piracy.

Washington has criticized China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea’s disputed Spratly archipelago, and has conducted sea and air patrols close to them not too long ago.

Final month, U.S. President Barack Obama known as on nations to stop constructing artificial islands in the sea and militarizing their claims. He mentioned the United States would continue to assert its freedom-of-navigation rights.

China responded by saying it would continue to develop both military and civilian facilities on the islands.

Last month, U.S. B-52 bombers flew near some of China’s artificial islands and at the end of October a U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed inside 12 nautical miles of 1 of them.

In Could, the Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8 that flew close to the islands, according to CNN, which was aboard the U.S. aircraft.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Nick Macfie)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Thais celebrate king’s birthday amid widening royal insult probe

BANGKOK Thais marked the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, early on Saturday, by providing alms at temples around the country.

Celebrations in Thailand, where the monarch’s birthday is also national Father’s Day, come amid a widening police investigation into a group of individuals charged with insulting the monarchy.

Ten folks, such as senior police and military officers, have been charged with a range of offences, which includes corruption and alleged royal defamation, more than their involvement in two nationwide cycling events aimed at celebrating the royals.

Two suspects have died in military custody.

Criticism of Thailand’s monarchy is outlawed by draconian lese majeste laws that provide for jail sentences of up to 15 years for every perceived insult to the monarchy.

Since taking energy in a Might 2014, the ruling junta has cracked down on perceived royal insults and has doled out record jail sentences of up to 60 years for lese majeste offences.

The royal insult investigation comes amid growing concern over the well being of the king, who is highly revered by Thais, and the question of succession – an problem which will dominate political developments in the Southeast Asian country.

King Bhumibol, who turns 88, was last seen in public on Sept.1, and officials say he will not be making a public appearance on his birthday.

The king has spent the past few months at a Bangkok hospital exactly where he was treated for ‘water on the brain’, or hydrocephalus, a develop-up of cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain.

He canceled a public appearance to mark his birthday final year, on healthcare guidance.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is expected to carry out ceremonies to mark his father’s birthday, which includes an evening candle-lighting ceremony in Bangkok to pay tribute to the king.

Obtaining reigned for practically seven decades, King Bhumibol is the only monarch that most Thais have identified, and anxiety more than the eventual succession is seen as an aggravating aspect in Thailand’s bitter political divide.

“I have a deep enjoy for him and want him to be wholesome,”

mentioned Suchada Charan, a retiree from Bangkok, after giving alms to Buddhist monks in honor of the king’s birthday.

“Father’s Day in Thailand is the king’s day. He is our father,” she stated.

(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Turkey seeks to diversify gas supplies amid dispute with Russia

BAKU/ANKARA Turkey’s leaders have mounted a charm offensive among regional energy producers in an effort to diversify supplies as relations with key all-natural gas provider Russia crumble following the downing of a Russian warplane by the Turkish airforce.

President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have traveled to important power partners Qatar and Azerbaijan respectively this week in an work to avert any economically damaging disruption in energy supplies as winter sets in.

Moscow and Ankara have noticed relations hit a new low considering that a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane close to the Syrian-Turkish border last week, the most significant incident between Russia and a NATO member state in half a century.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the move as a war crime on Thursday and mentioned the Kremlin would punish Ankara with added sanctions. Russia has currently banned some Turkish meals imports and left trucks carrying Turkish exports stranded at its borders.

But Russia could deal a real blow by lowering gas supplies, a move broadly observed by analysts and Turkish officials as unlikely for now but which could seriously hurt the Turkish economy and for which Ankara is drawing up contingency plans.

“There is certainly a crisis proper now … We are exploring how we can offset this,” a Turkish power official stated.

“Davutoglu and Erdogan have personally taken the initiative to make confident Turkey doesn’t experience a problem in terms of power supplies.”

Ankara buys almost 60 % of its total gas requirements — around 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) — from Russia via two major pipelines, which enter Turkey through the Marmara area, the country’s industrial hub which involves Istanbul, its most significant city, and the most sensitive location to any disruption in provide.

“The Marmara region buys virtually all of its gas from Russia and this area tends to make up 40 % of Turkey’s GDP (gross domestic item) as nicely as its power consumption,” said Details International Power consultant Cuneyt Kazokoglu.

“If Russia cuts gas, it would properly be shutting down the Marmara region and that would seriously hurt Turkey,” he mentioned, adding he did not anticipate Moscow to take such a step as it would break a “contractual obligation”.

NOT Adequate LNG CAPACITY

Buying gas from Turkmenistan and boosting supplies from Iran, already Turkey’s second biggest supplier, are among the choices becoming considered, power officials stated. Bringing supplies from northern Iraq is an additional possibility.

Davutoglu visited Azerbaijan on Thursday with the aim of rising gas imports by means of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), a essential project due to bring 16 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe. Around 6 bcm of that is destined for Turkey.

Speaking in Baku, Davutoglu mentioned Turkey and Azerbaijan had agreed to full the project ahead of the original target date of mid-2018.

Earlier this week Erdogan visited Qatar to discover the possibility of acquiring a lot more liquefied all-natural gas (LNG) cargoes from its Gulf Arab ally.

But Turkey’s insufficient storage capacity and the heavy dependence of its organization on typical organic gas mean any boost in LNG imports would only partially make up for lost Russian gas, according to Turkish think-tank TEPAV.

“The most important element of establishing supply safety in nations which have a high dependence on all-natural gas imports is to have a storage capacity equivalent to 20 to 30 % of consumption. In Turkey, that is 6 percent,” TEPAV researcher Aysegul Aytac wrote in a recent note.

Almost half of Turkey’s power generation is sourced from organic gas, leaving households and industry vulnerable to any disruption, she mentioned.

“The insufficiency of making use of alternative merchandise in each sector and power generation as well as the inflexibility of households to use anything other than gas imply difficulties could be inevitable in the medium term.”

(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Gareth Jones)

Agen Sabung Ayam

U.S. raises military help to Philippines amid sea tension with China

MANILA The United States has raised its military help to the Philippines this year to $ 79 million, the U.S. ambassador said on Wednesday, as tension rises in the area more than China’s new assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Since 2002, the United States has supplied the Philippines with almost $ 500 million in military assistance as effectively as numerous types of military equipment.

“We have upped our foreign military funding for the Philippines,” Ambassador Philip Goldberg told ANC tv, without giving a percentage. “It will be someplace in the range of $ 79 million this year. It really is growing and what has been proposed is one thing referred to as a maritime security initiative in the area.”

China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, by way of which $ 5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year.

Reclamation work and the building of three airfields and other facilities on some of China’s artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago have alarmed the region and raised concern in Washington that China is extending its military reach deep into maritime Southeast Asia.

Washington announced earlier it had allocated $ 50 million in aid to Manila this year. The Philippines remains a single of the largest recipients of military help in the region, focusing on constructing capability for the navy and air force to guard the South China Sea.

Final week, before attending a regional economic summit, U.S. President Barack Obama boarded a Hamilton-class cutter converted into a frigate by the Philippines, a display of maritime safety support for its closest ally in Southeast Asia.

Goldberg mentioned the third Hamilton-class coast guard cutter would be arriving late subsequent year while an old maritime investigation ship would be transferred by the middle of 2016.

Philippine defense and military officials said two U.S. Marines C-130 transport planes and about eight amphibious assault automobiles were also due next year.

The Pentagon has announced it is committing $ 119 million this year to support develop Southeast Asian maritime capabilities and will provide $ 140 million next year to allies, like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Agen Sabung Ayam – Initial Draft: Amid Republican Calls for Force, Hillary Clinton Will Present Her Strategy to Battle ISIS

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Photo

Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a grass-roots occasion at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta final month.Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Republican presidential candidates wasted no time following the terrorist attacks in Paris to put forth their ideas for fighting the Islamic State. They’ve proposed bombing oil fields in the Middle East (Donald J. Trump), permitting only Christian refugees into the United States (Senator Ted Cruz of Texas) and sending ten,000 American troops to Iraq and Syria (Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina).

The Democratic presidential candidates, meanwhile, have been much less vocal in how they would respond to the attacks that shook the French capital final Friday.

On Thursday, nevertheless, Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver an in-depth speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York about her national safety proposals and how she would combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria and Iraq.

The Democrats so far have spoken mostly in broad platitudes, vowing to support France and stand with American allies in the fight against terrorism, but supplying couple of specifics. Mrs. Clinton will face the difficult dynamic of putting forth her personal tips with no appearing to criticize President Obama, under whom she served as secretary of state for four years.

In the second Democratic debate in Des Moines on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Martin O’Malley bowed their heads in a solemn moment of solidarity with the French and affirmed their commitment to joining a coalition to defeat the Islamic State. But the conversation swiftly evolved into criticism of Mrs. Clinton’s 2002 vote as senator to authorize the Iraq War, and to her policies as secretary of state, such as her push to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya. (“I’m not a massive fan of regime change,” Mr. Sanders said.)

But as Republicans have employed the tragedy in France to highlight what they say are Mr. Obama’s significant weaknesses on foreign policy, Democrats have been loath to criticize his method. Even as the party’s presidential candidates wade deeper into policies on Syria and Iraq, they should walk a cautious line not to appear to be undermining Mr. Obama, who remains widely popular among Democratic main voters.

Mrs. Clinton will most likely use the speech on Thursday to differentiate herself from Mr. Obama in subtle techniques, including reminding voters of disagreements when she was secretary of state, like when she pushed the administration to arm some moderate Syrian rebels in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad.

The address will be the second time that Mrs. Clinton has delivered a wide-ranging foreign policy speech in a campaign heavily focused on economic problems. In September, she gave a substantial address about the Iran nuclear deal before a question-and-answer session at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

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