April in Florida

After March

April 1-5, 2005

Friday, April 1, 2005 (April Fool's Day)

Thai Govt attacks drunk driving on the Internet

BANGKOK: -- PM Dr Thaksin announced today a plan to make it illegal to use the Internet while affected by liquor or a drug, or to discuss sexually explicit matters on the Internet. The proposed bill will enable the Royal Thai Police to monitor internet traffic of those who use or abuse alcohol or drugs, Dr Thaksin said. The PM was confident that the bill would be passed by the parliament and said "There is too much immoral activity between teenagers that begins in an internet chat room." Adding that studies from the health ministry showed the rise in teenage pregnancies mirrored the average rise in internet use among teens in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and Chonburi.

This bill follows several lately, passed by parliament to keep Thai society free from dark influences which threaten to change the culture. In recent weeks a clampdown has been ordered on high pressure water pistols as well as on advertising and promoting sexual enhancement products.

The Thai prime minister was quoted saying "I myself have forbidden my daughter last week to use the internet after she drank a glass of wine" but refused to elaborate further on the nature of her internet activities.

The internet cafe community in Thailand fears a lack of income from beverage sales due to this measure. It's still not clear which products will be outlawed.

Carlsberg and TCC Group of Thailand, producers of the Chang brand have calculated this could lead to an overall downturn of sales if the new bill is implemented. The Company already received opposition from Buddhist monks last week, when they proposed to list their stocks on the SET exchange. This latest measure might put another damper on their move to the stock exchange and has forced the major brewer to consider an alcohol free version of its popular beer to maintain profits.

Internet usage has already been restricted by the Thai Internet Police to prevent youths from looking at sexual content. In this latest measure they will be aided by a software company from Nonthaburi Software Park, who has developed an "Internet logger" which logs all requests within Thailand. This system is unique in the world and has been developed in cooperation with Shincorp their main shareholder.

NGO's have complained already by the flagrant disregard for human rights, that this "Thai Big Brother" system represents.

The PM dismissed opposition taunts that the cost would be excessive, saying he plans to use money raised from a special "lottery" to fund the project and would also direct funds away from the controversial "Elite card" system to help implement this within the next 3 months.

Civil liberties groups say they will challenge the law in constitutional court. "The prime minister is trying to use this issue to distract people from his poor handling of the economy this year." said Somchai Chaiwannakhup, of the Thai Law Foundation.

--Agencies 2005-04-01

Saturday, April 2, 2005

He will always be remembered as the 'sandwich'; nay, the 'filling'.

Published: April 2, 2005

Frank Perdue, 84, Chicken Merchant, Dies

Frank Perdue, a Maryland farm boy who became a household word, face and voice in folksy ads for his brand of fresh chickens, died on Thursday at his home in Salisbury, Md. He was 84.

He died after a brief illness, his company said, but it did not announce a cause.

At his death, Mr. Perdue was chairman of the executive committee of Perdue Farms, the company he transformed from a family farm into the country's third-largest chicken processor. Last year, Perdue Farms had sales of $2.8 billion and employed 19,000 people.

Frank Perdue was born to Arthur W. and Pearl Perdue in 1920, the same year Arthur Perdue started the family chicken business. An only child, Frank Perdue was involved in the chicken business from an early age, helping his parents feed the chickens and clean the coops.

After attending Salisbury State College in Maryland for two years, Mr. Perdue returned to the farm to work with his father. When he became president of Perdue Farms in 1952, it was still a small operation, with revenue of $6 million a year.

In the 1970's, Mr. Perdue started the ad campaigns that would make him famous. He appeared in 200 different ads from 1971 to 1994.

It helped that he looked like a chicken. And Ross Perot. And Edward I. Koch, the mayor of New York. His bald head, droopy-eyed expression and prominent nose made people smile and feel comfortable with him. They tended to trust him more than they did slick-looking announcers.

It helped, too, that he had a nasal twang that contrasted with the unctuous tones of the usual pitchmen.

"It takes a tough man to raise a tender chicken," he said in his most familiar line. It made him believable - a hard-nosed yet likable American businessman who knew what he was talking about, who knew how to be tender and how to be tough.

"My chickens eat better than you do," he told his audience. "A chicken is what it eats. If you want to start eating as good as my chickens, take a tip from me - eat my chickens."

"Freeze my chickens? I'd rather eat beef!" was another line. He told his viewers that if they were not completely satisfied, they should write him directly and he would give them their money back. Do not write the government, he said: "The president of the United States? What does he know about chickens?"

Mr. Perdue's ads had an enormous effect on the company's business. According to a Perdue Farms survey taken in early 1972, brand recognition in New York, where most of the ads first appeared, rose to 51 percent in several months. The ads transformed Perdue into the first nationally recognized brand of chicken.

Mr. Perdue started developing his production system on the family farm. Just before World War II, an infectious disease, leukosis, wiped out the flock of 2,000 leghorns. The Perdues turned to a healthier breed, New Hampshire reds, and switched the business to broilers from egg production. When meat prices climbed during World War II, the Perdues began hatching their own chicks by the thousands, raised them, sold them and prospered.

By the time Mr. Perdue became president of Perdue Farms, its processing plants were producing 2.6 million broilers a year.

Mr. Perdue developed a method of adding marigold petals and dye to the feed that gave his birds a golden-yellow hue; the characteristic color did not affect their taste, but seemed to please customers and sell birds.

In the 1970's, he added processing plants in Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina and was able to ship more than two million broilers a week, packed in ice, not frozen.

The Perdue innovations in production, marketing and advertising were imitated in the poultry business and contributed to its consolidation. After the chickens were hatched at the Perdue Farms, they were sent to hundreds of contract farms to be raised. At one time, at the Country Time farm in Salisbury, one farmer tended two cavernous houses, each holding 30,000 chickens. Everything was automated, and lights burned 22 hours a day to keep the birds eating. After seven weeks of feeding, the birds, having grown to eight pounds, went to Perdue's processing plants.

Some industry workers and animal-rights advocates criticized his processing plants as inhumane, and employees and state inspectors filed a series of complaints over the years, asserting that there were occupational hazards at the plants.

No federal government or Congressional action was directed against Mr. Perdue. But in 1989, Perdue Farms paid $40,000 in fines imposed by North Carolina after a report that 36 workers in two plants had developed the wrist trauma known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Mr. Perdue's son, James, became chairman of Perdue Farms in 1991. He began appearing in commercials, instead of his father, in 1994. Today the privately held company sells more than 48 million pounds of chicken products and nearly 4 million pounds of turkey products a week. It also sells grain, vegetable oils and pet food ingredients.

Mr. Perdue gave several large donations to Salisbury University; its business school is named for him.

Mr. Perdue is survived by his third wife, Mitzi Ayala Perdue; four children from his first marriage, Sandra Spedden, of Cambridge, Md.; Anne Oliviero, of Cape Elizabeth, Me.; Beverly Nida, of Midlothian, Va.; and James, of Salisbury; 12 grandchildren; and 2 stepchildren.

PS: Reader A. Z. from Rome, Florida writes: "As in a 'terri-papa' roll?"

PPS: In His Honor ...

Sunday, April 3, 2005

As Chauncey Gardiner said in the movie BEING THERE, "There is growth in the spring." (*)

(*) See March 15th.

PS: This is one of the Elbo Room's three eyes:


As of this afternoon there was still a festive presence ... despite the recent death of Frank Perdue. Life goes on.

Monday, April 4, 2005

The rarely seen "Flint" with its original carrying case:

PS: From Reuters:

BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuters) -- Travellers are being warned to avoid Thailand as authorities impose extra security measure amid fears that unrest in the Muslim far south is spreading after bombs hit an airport, hotel and supermarket just outside the violence-hit region.

Britain and the United States have also warned their citizens against travelling to the region as there was a "high threat from terrorism throughout Thailand, particularly in the four southern provinces."

"The far south of Thailand has recently experienced increasingly serious and frequent incidents of violence ...They represent a continuing spread of indiscriminate violence in public areas where tourists may congregate," the U.S. State Department said.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the almost simultaneous Sunday evening blasts, which security officials blamed on Islamic militants, had raised concern across the Buddhist country.

The bombs, which police said consisted of dynamite and fertilizer and which were detonated by mobile phone, killed two people and wounded 60, seven critically, health officials said.

"This doesn't only worry me. It worries the whole nation," Thaksin told reporters.

The government reacted with an array of security measures first imposed during an Asia-Pacific regional summit two years ago attended by U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"To restore people's confidence, we have raised our security measures to the level during the APEC summit," Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya told reporters after a special national security meeting.

Fears that militants might take their campaign to the capital, Bangkok, weakened the Thai currency, the baht, in early trade, dealers said.

The blast in the departure lounge of Hat Yai international airport, 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Bangkok, in Songkhla province was the first bomb attack on a Thai airport, and comes two weeks before the Buddhist "Water Festival" celebrations.

More than 600 people have been killed in the 15-month insurgency in the three southernmost and mainly Muslim provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, where militants waged a separatist campaign in the 1970s and 1980s.

But until Sunday's blasts the violence had rarely spread beyond these three provinces, where most people speak a Malay dialect and have greater emotional ties to neighboring Malaysia.

Small bombs or shootings, normally targeting police or government officials, have become daily occurrences in the three southernmost provinces since violence erupted in January 2004.

The southern Thai tourist havens of Phuket and Krabi, popular with European holidaymakers, have avoided the trouble.

Thaksin vowed to keep up military pressure on perpetrators of violence, but said police and army would act within the law.

"We will continue our intensive prevention and suppression measures, but we will not abandon our non-violent means," he said before leaving on a trip to the northern city of Chiang Mai.

Flights had resumed at Hat Yai airport, where mobile phone signals had been turned off at random as a measure to prevent remote-controlled bombs, Deputy Transport Minister Phumtham Vechayachai told reporters.

Other security measures would also be adopted at all airports, officials said.

"From now on, whoever leaves a bag unattended will be stopped and ordered to carry it with them," said Air Force chief Kongsak Wantana.

On Monday, another bomb exploded at a technical college in Yala, wounding five people, hours ahead of a sports event to be witnessed by top regional military chiefs, police said.

Thailand's far south has a century-long history of often violent separatism, which security analysts fear might attract backing from international Islamic militant networks, such as Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group.

From my 'minder':

Office of the Spokesman

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert American citizens to the need to exercise special caution in the far south of Thailand and to urge American citizens to defer non-emergency travel in that area as a result of recent, escalating unrest in the region. This Public Announcement expires on July 5, 2005.

The far south of Thailand has recently experienced increasingly serious and frequent incidents of violence. On April 3 and 4, a series of bombs were detonated in Hat Yai and nearby Songkhla city in Songkhla Province, and in Yala province. The bombings occurred at the Hat Yai International airport, a large international department store, a hotel, and on a road near a technical college. They represent a continuing spread of indiscriminate violence in public areas where tourists may congregate. Two American citizens were injured in the most recent attacks.

In response to the escalating violence in Thailand's southern region, the Department of State urges Americans to defer non-emergency travel to the far south of Thailand, including Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Satun, and Songkhla provinces, including the town of Hat Yai. American citizens who must travel to these areas are urged to exercise special caution.

Americans living or traveling in Thailand are encouraged to register and update their contact information at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok or the Consulate General in Chiang Mai. Registration may be done on line, and can be done in advance of travel. Information on registering can be found at the Department of State's Consular Affairs website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/registration.

U.S. citizens should consult the Consular Information Sheet for Thailand and the latest Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at the Department's Internet site at http://travel.state.gov. Updated information on travel and security in Thailand may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or by calling 1-202-501-4444 outside the United Sates.

The U.S. Embassy is located at 95 Wireless Road,
Bangkok 10330, Thailand (Nearest BTS Skytrain station: Phloen Chit)

American Citizen Services Unit Window Hours:
Monday - Friday, 7:30 - 11 AM and 1 - 2 PM
Note: The ACS unit is CLOSED the last Friday of every month. The Embassy will be closed entirely on the following days during April and May for Thai and/or U.S. holidays: April 6, 13, 14, and 15 and May 5, 23 and 30.
Tel: +66-2-205-4049 - Fax: +66-2-205-4103
E-mail: acsbkk@state.gov
U.S. Department of State travel website: http://travel.state.gov
U.S. Embassy Bangkok website: http://bangkok.usembassy.gov

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

It's over. It's over. There is barely anyone left.

Next: Part II

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