Reference: Get your facts right, Postbag, Bangkok Post, April 29, 2008
George Bush Sr used two lies very effectively to gain congressional and public support for the Gulf War. The first lie was that Iraqi troops killed babies in a Kuwati hospital by removing them from incubators and throwing them on the floor. The only witness to this alleged horror was a 15-year-old Kuwati girl who later recanted. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the American Broadcasting Corporation, the Washington Post, and the New York Times reported after the war that the things that this girl said had never happened. The tearful testimony of the young girl and its analysis may be viewed at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2068209706002999721&hl=en.
The other lie was that 250,000 Iraqi troops with 1,500 tanks were amassed on the Saudi border. They said that they had satellite pictures to prove it but that these pictures were classified and could not be released to the media. Russian satellite pictures of the very same spot taken at the same time were not classified, however, and they showed an empty desert with no soldiers and no tanks. Even diehard supporters of the Gulf War now distance themselves from these stories and tend to justify the war in other ways.
Reference: The fire below, Bangkok Post, April 28, 2008
An article in the Bangkok Post says that a volcano under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, that last erupted 2000 years ago, is now active and may be responsible for melting ice and retreating glaciers in that part of the continent (The fire below, Bangkok Post, April 28, 2008). At the same time the global warming alarmists claim that these changes are man-made and that they are caused by carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels as predicted by their computer model of the earth's climate. This computer model is the source of all of those doomsday scenarios one often finds in the Bangkok Post. However, the effects of volcanic and other geothermal activity on climate are not included in this model even though there is sufficient evidence that the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991 caused climate change on a global scale. Given the new data on Antarctic volcanoes one can only conclude that the climate model of the global-warmists is flawed. Its forecasts, however scary, are not credible.
Reference: Spin doctors exposed, Bangkok Post, April 27, 2008
The article describes the lies and total fabrications used by the Bush administration, with the full cooperation of the media, to sell the Iraq war to the American people (Spin doctors exposed, Bangkok Post, April 27, 2008). "Spin" is too kind a word to describe these lies for spin requires some elements of truth to massage. The son is following in the footsteps of the father. It was another Bush administration some years ago that had sold the Gulf War to the American people with another set of outlandish lies that likened Saddam to Hitler by claiming that his soldiers were taking Kuwati babies out of their incubators and killing them. The lies had worked so well back then that ordinary Americans actually celebrated what was surely one of the cruelest events in the history of warfare. In what was termed a "turkey shoot" by gleeful Americans, Iraqi soldiers who had given up the fight in Kuwait and were retreating to Iraq on a major highway, became exposed to aerial attacks and were picked off one vehicle at a time by American warplanes and massacred. Now, as then, America is the one playing the role of the bully that they had said they had come to save mankind from.
Reference: Thai police shamelessly bizarre, Bangkok Post, April 24, 2008
Burmese migrants who have managed to escape to Thailand have paid their human trafficking agents thousands of Baht for the privilege, so desperate is their life in Burma. To describe this tragic situation as one in which the migrants are forced or lured to come to Thailand is is a gross misrepresentation.
On page 14 of this week's Life Magazine it says that "moving house can be stressful". The article is about moving to a different house and not about physically moving the house to a different location. On page 3, in reference to men who get cold feet when it comes to marriage it says that "most guys want to get married but the issue is that they would like to prolong it as long as possible". The writer is referring to men who want to defer or postpone marriage and not to those who wish to prolong marriage. Further down in the same page we find a mysterious sentence whose meaning is left to the reader's imagination: "Know when it's time to keep him and know when it's time to kick him out of your life". The Bangkok Post is Thailand's international newspaper. It is not the appropriate vehicle for poetic expressions of Thailish. Surely Life Magazine can find a qualified copy editor among all those educated falangs milling about on Sukhumvit Avenue.
Reference: Matichon columnist Hakthongkwang, Bangkok Post, April 23, 2008
The press has a right to attack Mr Samak and Mr Samak has the right to defend himself in public. This kind of open and vigorous debate is healthy and productive and characteristic of democratic societies. Mr Samak does not hide behind his lawyers and file criminal defamation lawsuits and he does not abuse his power to muzzle dissenting views as others before him had done. The press should welcome the free and open dialogue with the Prime Minister and participate freely in it. What is Matichon whining about?
Reference: Nothing positive about global warming, Postbag, April 23, 2008
A reader of the Bangkok Post in Santa Fe, New Mexico, writes that he is "working as hard as possible to ensure that the Bangkok Post does not need to move its offices due to rising sea levels" that he claims is caused by man-made global warming (Nothing positive about global warming, Postbag, April 23, 2008). The city of Bangkok is located very near to sea level and it is sinking. It floods every year during the rainy season and these floods are particularly bad when flooding coincides with high tides. Eventually the BMA will have to invest in some kind of flood control and management infrastructure. However, none of this has anything to do with carbon dioxide, global warming, or rising sea levels. For one thing, there is no evidence that the sea level is rising. The letter from Santa Fe follows a well known strategy used by global warming alarmists. First scare the daylights out of them; then hold yourself out as their savior.
Even as the USA goes around the world spreading democracy they are finding that democracy is taking root a little faster than they had hoped. The problem is that these darn people out here in Asia are taking this democracy thing a little too literally and they are going out and voting for people that the Americans don't want them to vote for. So now we have two democratically elected governments, one in Palestine and one in Nepal, who are bad people and unacceptable to the USA. They are terrorists, for Pete's sake! Perhaps this thing called democracy needs to be defined a little more carefully to make sure that those dumb voters out in Asia don't elect just anybody.
Reference: Expat Thais turn to alcohol, Bangkok Post, April 21, 2008
There are tens of thousands of Thais in Taiwan mostly from the impoverished Northeast region who have sold or mortgaged their land to go there. They work long hours and they work very hard under harsh conditions and stern and inhumane supervision and they live in cramped and spartan factory dormitories with fellow Thais. Many return injured or ill. They send millions of dollars per year back to Thailand. There was a riot by Thai workers in Taiwan in 2005. They were protesting their working and living conditions. It is the riot more than drunken disco brawls that characterizes their life over there. The description of these people as drunken "lonesome doves" (Reference: Expat Thais turn to alcohol, Bangkok Post, April 21, 2008) is possibly more anecdotal than representative. As a footnote, if you are used to Beer Chang you will find Taiwan Beer rather weak and insipid. It would be pretty hard to get drunk on that stuff.
Reference: A giant problem, Bangkok Post, April 21, 2008
According to the Bangkok Post, "There is no need for a formal study to show that elephants are being deprived of habitat, food, and water, and are consequently being forced to raid farms to survive" so obvious are these relationships (A giant problem, Bangkok Post, April 21, 2008). The alternative to a formal study is to jump to conclusions and those conclusions may lead well meaning do-gooders to do more harm than good. Some years ago, it was similarly obvious that the University of California at Berkeley had a sexist admission policy because women suffered a higher rejection rate than men by a large margin. After much righteous indignation, protest, and gnashing of teeth, a careful examination of the admissions data showed that more women than men applied to those faculties that had higher rejection rates. When this variable was introduced into the statistics, the difference due to gender completely disappeared from the data. I hope, for the sake of the elephants, that their benefactors study the problem more thoroughly instead of jumping to conclusions and quick fixes. As a curiosity, similar problems in South Africa have led to culling of elephant herds and the appearance of elephant meat on restaurant menus.
A story in the Bangkok Post describes an incident in Ranong, Thailand in which a human trafficking event went horribly wrong and resulted in the death of 54 migrants from Burma and says that a Burmese official from Bangkok traveled to Ranong to commiserate with the survivors (Burmese official goes to Rayong to meet the survivors, Bangkok Post, April 13, 2008). This outward show of sympathy comes from a government that is not willing to repatriate its citizens who have been arrested for illegal entry into Thailand and a government whose misrule and mis-management has created the poverty that is the root cause of the exodus. Whatever the proximate causes for the misery of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, ultimately it is the junta that must be held liable and accountable. Their misrule is a crime against humanity.
Reference: Maoists to be Nepal's largest party, Bangkok Post, April 14, 2008
Maoist communists in Nepal, who derive their name and inspiration from the Chinese communists, have shown their Chinese gurus that the right way to take political power and to rule is through democratic means. By contrast, the Chinese Maoists have never won an election and rule only by virtue of an armed insurgency that was funded and controlled by foreigners. If they are as convinced as they want us to be that the Chinese people love them and want them to rule then why do they fear dissent? And what have they to lose in multi-party elections? They gained international legitimacy by way of a deal they made with Nixon in 1972 but in their hearts they surely know that they were put in Beijing not by the people of China but by Stalin and the Comintern. It is time for Maoist gurus in China to learn from their students in South Asia.
All of the scary forecasts of the global warming alarmists having been debunked by the data, they have now resorted to a new more robust strategy that is immune to real data because it relies wholly on hypothetical data (A long dry summer, Bangkok Post, April 8, 2008, Global warming stings, Bangkok Post, April 12, 2008, Carbon footpring enters everyday vocabulary, Bangkok Post, April 13, 2008). They say in effect that regardless of the fact that none of our extreme weather predictions have come true and regardless of the fact that 2007 was not the hottest year on record, and regardless of the fact that the earth now appears to be cooling and not warming, please consider for a moment the devastating tragedy that could befall us if the earth did warm by an extreme amount that we cannot support by the actual but boring data. What one can read between the lines in these articles is that the global warming issue is dead in the water and that these articles are the death throes of the superheroes who had once enlisted themselves to save the earth from carbon dioxide.
It has become fashionable to think of Beijing as a city choking with traffic and pollution and yet it is a wide open city with large boulevards complete with bicycle lanes, accessible sidewalks, and pedestrian underpasses. There are times when the roads are almost fully utilized but the traffic is moving at all times stopping only for traffic lights. There are no motorcycles to be seen much less two-stroke engines. Many Beijingers use bicycles of both the human powered and battery assisted varieties. A network of electric and NGV powered buses and underground subway trains provides an extensive, efficient, reliable, and dirt cheap mass transport system. The air is cleaner and the traffic moves more freely in Beijing than in Bangkok or Hong Kong. The only time I saw what could be described as a road choking with traffic was the Badaling Expressway on the night before a holiday called "grave sweeping day" when there was a mass exodus.
Here is an excerpt from the promotional literature for a golf course in Beijing, China. "We make a wonderful course by keeping the nature water and tree farthest. The various layouts and the buildings in the course with sinuous landform, forms a natural botanical garden beautiful scene. The designer designed the different difficulty to cater for the different players. When the golf ball go through the water and the grove, and enter into the hole, you can taste the enjoyment and the challenge. There is no ideal there is no being. The Riverside golf regards the ideal as her life. It need time, the accumulation of cultural and other, but it is most important to realize the being, and endeavor for it. Makes the golf culture being, bring forth the perfect Riverside golf club - our being." The problem with writing things in Chinese and then translating to English is that the Chinese language contains commonly used character sequences that mean things like natural-botanical-garden-beautiful-scene more or less. We are also dealing with a cultural oddity. Chinese students of English love to plagiarize. They will take phrases and even entire sentences that they find particularly poetic or beautiful and stick them into their English essay just to use them. The hapless reader is left to guess their relevance to the rest of the text. Also, Chinese tends to be poetic and metaphorical more so than English and the effort to find the right combination of English words for all those poetic idioms in tandem with random plagiarism produces the Chinglish gibberish one often finds in restaurant menus and product literature.
Whether or not we choose to use the 2008 Beijing Olympics to leverage Chinese politics with respect to Tibet, it is quite clear that the opportunity to do so exists and it does so in a way and to an extent we have not seen since Nixon used the Sino-Soviet split as leverage to open China to the world. The same kind of leverage exists today because the Communist Party of China has oversold and over hyped the Olympics to the Chinese people with the expectation that its grand success on the world stage will legitimize its rule and solidify its "Mandate from Heaven" as benevolent dictators. By having done so they now face the risk that if things do not go well in the Olympics, they may lose face and along with that, their mandate from heaven. The all-out assault by the CPC propaganda machine to vilify the Dalai Lama and his sympathizers in the West as evil and hypocritical should serve as sufficient evidence of the Party's tenuous position. The level of fear and loathing in the Party that has been generated by the Tibet issue is unprecedented in the post-Mao era. It appears to me that they are in disarray. To strike or not to strike is a separate question but there is no question that the iron is hot.