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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Democracy: PAD-style

As most of the world knows, the two airports in Bangkok are under siege by an anti-government group ironically called ‘People’s Alliance for Democracy’, aka PAD, or ‘yellow-shirts’ (their opposition, the pro-government group wears red shirts), which is demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister. They have forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and effectively ruined Thailand’s image internationally, as well as much of the economy which is largely based on tourism and exports. Thousands of travelers were stranded, and many others have had to cancel plans to come to Thailand. The PAD has now been there for over four days and shows no signs of leaving unless their demand is met. The PM's response has been to declare a State of Emergency and state that he has no intention to step down. If this situation continues, Thailand can forget about hosting the upcoming ASEAN summit in mid-December. There are predictions of 500,000 to 1,000,000 jobs being lost in the tourism sector due to cancellations, loss of business, etc., and that doesn’t take into account jobs in other areas that will be jeopardized by the loss of business (shipping companies, companies dependent on import or export for just a few examples). In addition to shipping being affected, even the mail has been affected- we’ve not had any for four days and certainly do not want to try to send anything.

Clearly this is not a laughing matter, BUT one does need take a break from the insanity, and in considering just how the removal of several thousand entrenched protesters from the airport might be accomplished we found some novel suggestions on

- offer free som tam (a spicy salad of shredded green papaya from Isaan) outside to lure them out (this ignores the fact that the people from Isaan are more likely supporters of the government)
- send in 500 of the most virile male elephants in heat and mist the site with female elephant urine
- offer the protesters 1000B each to leave
- send in all the stray ‘soi’ dogs in the city to flush out the demonstrators
- send in the cobras; a sequel to the film ‘Snakes on a Plane’ called ‘Snakes in an Airport’
- get them drunk on free beer and let them fight each other
- make Don Mueang the international airport again and lock the protesters in Suvarnabhumi to stew for a few years

Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

We don't have to pretend to be Canadian anymore!

During the last eight years, as expats we have on occasion had to claim citizenship other than American, and given our appearance and language, found Canadian to be the safest and most convenient. No offense intended to our Canadian friends, but maybe now we can admit to being American without embarrassment or risk. The election of Barack Obama gives us new hope for our country, and its place in the world. We now have hope for an end to the artificial divisions conjured up by partisan manipulators and hatemongers; hope for dialogue with our foes, and therefore negating the need for preemptive military actions; hope for renewed respect for the value of education, science, and art; hope for restoring the rule of law as written in the Constitution, not as interpreted by sycophantic ‘wannabes’; hope for the elevation of ethics and moral behavior in government and corporate America (tho this may be Great Expectations!); and hope for an improved perception of our country by the rest of the world- one based on the good that we do, and an end to the bad and the ugly. This may be asking a lot of one man, but this one man has already achieved much in breaching the hurdles of our culture. His accomplishments have given us the opportunity to dare to be optimistic. My biggest hope is that we are not asking too much.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Shakin' Shamans

Just to remind us of the global concern about the US elections, here are some Peruvian shamans with meaningful moves. Oh, and they're overwhelmingly in favor of Obama. Shake a tail feather!