The week ahead for January 13-19: Fencing in Virginia, Thai protests, Chinese travel

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A look at what’s coming up on the East Coast and around the world. This week, that includes a new creamery, a new panda, and a continuation of a diplomatic spat with India.

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

BANGKOK, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Thai government officials played down last week talk of a possible military coup ahead of a planned “shutdown” this week of the capital by demonstrators trying to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatr, saying life would go on much as normal.

The Thai demonstration is one of several international developments expected this week, alongside a referendum in Egypt and a decision in Syria about whether to attend peace talks in Switzerland.

More lead-up coverage:

Syria opposition groups say share goals

Killings in Egypt clashes ahead of referendum

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said it was alarmist of the U.S. embassy to advise its citizens on Friday to stock up on two weeks’ supply of food and water ahead of what protest leaders say will be a prolonged siege of Bangkok.

“Maybe they worry too much … People will live their normal life. Don’t be afraid of things that will happen because we try to control the situation,” he said.

Demonstrators led by former opposition politician Suthep Thaugsuban aim to paralyse the capital for between 15 and 20 days by blocking seven main intersections, causing gridlock in a city clogged with traffic at the best of times.

The turmoil is the latest episode in an eight-year conflict that pits Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poorer, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

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Additional editing by Baltimore Sun staff