THE WEEK IN REVIEW
Queen inspires a green Mother's Day
Many Thais across the country were inspired by Her Majesty the Queen's advice and turned their attention to environmental activities to celebrate her 76th birthday on Tuesday. The Queen stressed the importance of conserving forests and fresh water sources during her address at the Dusitdalai Pavilion given on the eve of her birthday.
People all over Thailand dressed in green on the public holiday to honour Her Majesty. In Nakhon Ratchasima province, around 500 people helped plant 99 trees, an auspicious number, at the provincial sports stadium.
Chiang Rai residents used boats to clear water hyacinth from Chiang Rai Lake, the largest freshwater source in the province.
In the southern border province of Satun, 3,000 pine trees were planted close to the sea at Pak Barng Boy Scout Camp.
The Queen also expressed concern about the danger of untreated water being released into natural waterways by factories. Ayutthaya governor Preecha Kamolbutra vowed to take swift action against any factories which pollute the province's rivers.
Courts asked to seize Thaksin's assets
Authorities have moved to seize the assets, revoke the diplomatic passports and seek the extradition of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, who have skipped bail and fled to London. The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) has set up a team to seek the extradition of Mr Thaksin and his wife.
The OAG is also expected to apply for a court order next week for the seizure of the Shinawatra family's assets, worth about 76 billion baht - mostly now frozen at local banks.
Deputy Attorney-General Chullasingh Wasantasingh is likely to head the extradition team, said Kosolwat Inthuchanyong, an OAG assistant spokesman. The application would be made under the terms of the 1911 Siam-Great Britain extradition treaty.
In a hand-written statement faxed to media outlets, the ousted prime minister claimed he fled overseas because the justice system in Thailand was being meddled with and he might not receive a fair trial.
Street race ends in tragedy
Police are hunting a group of street motorcycle racers suspected of killing a traffic policeman on Vibhavadi Rangsit road in Bangkok early Wednesday. Officers from Phahon Yothin and Vibhavadi stations rushed to Vibhavadi Rangsit road, near the Central Plaza department store and the PTT Plc headquarters, about 1am after reports that more than 100 motorcyclists were racing there.
Pol Snr Sgt-Maj Samrit Taemthong from Vibhavadi station was first on the scene, but was found unconscious on the road by his colleagues, who arrived soon afterwards.
The 50-year-old later died in Vibhavadi hospital. He had suffered severe injuries to his forehead, chest and back, and bruises to his arms and neck. A forensic expert in charge said Pol Snr Sgt-Maj Samrit had been strangled to death.
According to Pol Capt Paithoon Rooptham, Vibhavadi station's deputy traffic police chief, witnesses saw the assailants escaping in a speeding Isuzu pickup truck. Police have traced the truck from its licence plate number.
Judges combine Samak cases
Constitution Court judges on Wednesday decided to combine the cases brought against Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej by 29 senators and the Election Commission (EC) into one, as all cases seek the ouster of the PM for his cooking shows on television.
The charter court was asked by both parties to rule on whether the prime minister violated the constitution by hosting the Chim Pai Bon Pai (Tasting and Grumbling) and Yok Khayong Hok Mong Chao (All Set at 6am) cooking programmes. Chim Pai Bon Pai still runs on Channel 5, but Mr Samak is no longer involved. Yok Khayong Hok Mong Chao has been withdrawn from Channel 3.
The constitution prohibits a prime minister from holding any position in a partnership, company or an organisation carrying out business with a view to sharing profits or income, or being an employee of any person.
Mr Samak has said that he did the shows for free.
The court fixed Aug 26-27 to hear from witnesses.
Thaksin, wife on 'wanted' list
Police have added deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, to their "wanted list", distributing warrants for the couple's arrest to concerned authorities nationwide Thursday.
Assistant national police chief Pol Lt-Gen Watcharapol Prasarnratchakij said the arrest warrants for the couple have been updated in police criminal records after the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions forwarded the warrants to national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan.
He said the warrant for Mr Thaksin had a statute of limitations of 15 years, while the one for Khunying Potjaman had a statute of limitations of 10 years.
The couple skipped bail and failed to report for a hearing on the Ratchadapisek land case.
"Police will be circulating the arrest warrants to agencies concerned nationwide, including immigration authorities," he said.
Pol Lt-Gen Watcharapol said since the couple are known to be living in England, it is the job of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and related agencies to bring them back to stand trial here.
Grammy taking over GMMM
GMM Grammy Plc, the country's largest entertainment company, is preparing to merge the listed subsidiary GMM Media Plc (GMMM) into the parent as part of its business restructuring.
The parent company, which holds nearly 80% of GMMM, will seek approval from shareholders at an extraordinary meeting at the end of next month to delist GMMM from the Stock Exchange of Thailand, said Sumeth Damrongchaitham, the chief operating officer of Grammy.
The merger would not involve any job losses, he said.
Grammy chief executive Busaba Daorueng said the move would allow Grammy to tap the current trend toward greater media convergence.
Some big whales recovering since ban
Some large whale species such as the humpback, minke and southern right whale are recovering from a threat of extinction, helped by curbs on hunts since the 1980s, the world's largest conservation network said on Tuesday.
A review of cetaceans - grouping about 80 types of whales, dolphins and porpoises - showed many small species were still at risk. Entanglement in fishing gear was the main threat, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said.
"For the large whales the picture looks guardedly optimistic," said Randall Reeves, chair of the cetacean specialist group of the IUCN.
"The large whales, the commercially important ones, have for the most part responded well under protection," he said.
The world imposed a moratorium on hunts of whales in 1986 after many were driven towards extinction by decades of commercial exploitation for meat, oil and whalebone. Minke whales are still harpooned by Japan, Norway and Iceland.
Thousands demand independence in Kashmir
Thousands of Muslims poured into the streets of Kashmir on Thursday, demanding independence from India hours after archival Pakistan called on the United Nations to stop what it characterised as gross human rights violations in the divided Himalayan region.
Pakistan's statement drew a sharp rebuke from India.
More than six weeks of unrest in India's part of Kashmir have pitted the region's Muslim majority against its Hindu minority and left at least 34 people dead, many of them protesters shot during violent clashes with police and soldiers. Villages have been attacked, police stations torched and, in at least one town, security forces have been ordered to shoot on sight any protesters violating a curfew.
On Thursday police opened fire on protesters in Srinagar, Kashmir's main city, killing at least one person and wounding three more, police and hospital officials said.
The protests were initially sparked by a plan to transfer land to a Hindu shrine in Kashmir, which was quickly abandoned.
John Lennon's killer again denied parole
John Lennon's killer was denied parole for a fifth time Tuesday by a board that said he remains a threat to the public. Mark David Chapman will remain in New York's Attica Correctional Facility for at least two more years for gunning down the former Beatle nearly three decades ago on a Manhattan sidewalk.
Chapman, 53, has been in prison for 27 years since pleading guilty to the murder, which he has said he committed to gain attention. He became eligible for parole in 2000 after serving 20 years of a maximum life sentence.
In a one-page decision, the parole board said that although Chapman has had a clean disciplinary record since 1994, he told board members during the hearing that he planned and conducted Lennon's killing "with an essentially clear mind." Considering that, the board said, his release "would not be in the best interest of the community."
Chapman's next appearance before the board is scheduled for August 2010.
'Half of Asia' watched Olympics opening
Almost one third of the world's population watched the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, according to the global market research company Nielsen on Thursday.
The Nielsen Company said in a statement that it collected data from 38 key markets around the world, including host nation China, the United States, Brazil, South Africa, Italy and Australia.
Viewing level varied across regions and markets, impacted by factors such as time zone and broadcast time differences, the company said.
Comparing regions, the highest audience reach was in the Asia- Pacific, where more than five in 10 people watched the opening ceremony, followed by Europe, where 30% of the population watched, and North America, at 24%.
Jewish leaders happy with Chavez
President Hugo Chavez met with Jewish leaders on Wednesday, pledging to work together against anti-Semitism and open up channels of communication despite strong differences on Mideast politics.
Both Chavez and leaders of the World Jewish Congress called the meeting a success.
"There may be some differences of opinion on some major issues such as Iran and also the Middle East," Michael Schneider, the organisation's secretary-general, said after the meeting. "But when it comes to anti-Semitism, I think we're on the same page."