Thai pop idol condemned for Nazi swastika T-shirt

Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand, such as this motorcyclist who wears a look-a-like Nazi helmet bearing the infamous ‘SS’ logo and WWII-type goggles. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2019

Thai pop idol condemned for Nazi swastika T-shirt

  • Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand
  • The latest faux pas was committed by Pichayapa ‘Namsai’ Natha, one of the singers of BNK48

BANGKOK: A member of Thailand’s most popular all-girl band has apologized for wearing a shirt with a Nazi flag featuring a swastika, after her TV appearance Friday drew “shock and dismay” from the Israeli embassy.

Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand, a phenomenon blamed on a lack of historical understanding rather than political leanings.

The latest faux pas was committed by Pichayapa “Namsai” Natha, one of the singers of BNK48, when she wore the red-and-black top complete with swastika during the group’s rehearsal.

The deputy chief of mission of the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok took to Twitter the following day to express “shock and dismay” at the outfit, given that Sunday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Presenting Nazi symbols by the band’s singer hurt the feelings of millions around the world,” said Smadar Shapira.

The 19-year-old singer will be meeting with the ambassador of Israel on Sunday afternoon, Shapira said.

On Saturday night, Namsai apologized tearfully onstage during a concert.

“I want this to be an example for everyone, please forgive me,” she said, bursting into tears.

She later claimed full responsibility for her ignorance in an apology posted on her official Facebook page.

“Please give me advice so that I can grow up to be a good adult in the future ... I cannot fix the mistake but I promise I will not let it happen again,” Namsai wrote in Thai.

Fans of BNK48, a domestic offshoot of Japanese girl group AKB48, came to Namsai’s defense.

“I’m over 40 and I don’t know anything about this topic. When I saw the shirt, I didn’t think it would be a problem,” said fan Prasit Rudeekriengkrai.

Others blamed Thailand’s education system, which does not focus much on world history.

“What do you expect? When we were in school, they teach only about Thailand and Myanmar wars,” Samruay Kraspra said.

Thailand has gotten in trouble in the past for its flippant use of Hitler and Nazi-related imagery.

In 2013, Bangkok’s prestigious Chulalongkorn University was forced to apologize after its students created a mural depicting Hitler during graduation celebrations. A Catholic school was also left red-faced in 2011 after students dressed up in Nazi uniform for a sports day parade.


Skeptic of world being round dies in California rocket crash

Updated 24 February 2020

Skeptic of world being round dies in California rocket crash

  • “Mad” Mike Hughes said he wanted to fly to the edge of outer space to see if the world is round
  • His home-built rocket blasted off into the desert sky and plunged back to earth in California

BARSTOW, California: A California man who said he wanted to fly to the edge of outer space to see if the world is round has died after his home-built rocket blasted off into the desert sky and plunged back to earth.
“Mad” Mike Hughes was killed on Saturday afternoon after his rocket crashed on private property near Barstow, California.
Waldo Stakes, a colleague who was at the rocket launch, said Hughes, 64, was killed.

"Mad" Mike Hughes. (Science Channel/via REUTERS/File photo)
 


The Science Channel said on Twitter it had been chronicling Hughes’ journey and that “thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time.”
“It was always his dream to do this launch,” the Twitter message said.
Hughes also was a limousine driver, who held the Guinness world record for “longest limousine ramp jump,” for jumping 103 feet (31 meters) in a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine, at a speedway in 2002.
A video on TMZ.com showed the rocket taking off, with what appears to be a parachute tearing off during the launch. The steam-powered rocket streaks upward, then takes around 10 seconds to fall straight back to earth. Shrieks can be heard as the rocket plows into the desert.

Freelance journalist Justin Chapman, who was at the scene, said the rocket appeared to rub against the launch apparatus, which might have caused the mishap with the parachute.
In March 2018, Hughes propelled himself about 1,875 feet (570 meters) into the air. He deployed one parachute and then a second one but still had a hard landing in the Mojave Desert in California, and injured his back.
“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” Hughes said after that launch. “This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.”
He said in a video that his goal was to eventually fly to the edge of outer space to determine for himself whether the world is round.
“I don’t want to take anyone else’s word for it,” he said in the video, posted on the BBC News website. “I don’t know if the world is flat or round.”
In another video posted on his YouTube site, Hughes said he also wanted “to convince people they can do things that are extraordinary with their lives.”
“My story really is incredible,” Hughes once told The Associated Press. “It’s got a bunch of story lines — the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also.”