Alien Thoughts

26 Jul 2016
Ah, Ebbw Vale!  That evocative name that conjures up the once biggest steelworks in Europe, the socialist ghosts of Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot, and the gross affront to common sense that is Welsh spelling. Then the steel industry collapsed and the coal mines were savaged by Thatcher’s anti-unionism.  By the beginning of this century Ebbw Vale’s people suffered chronic unemployment and its land suffered the toxic legacy of its industrial heyday.
28 Jun 2016
Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn has attempted to put the kibosh on plans by the UDD to monitor the upcoming referendum.  That much was entirely predictable.  What was more surprising was the legal justification that he gave for saying that they couldn’t do it. He is reported to have said that the Referendum Act did not expressly permit it.  But saying so you can’t do something if the law doesn’t explicitly permit you to do it – that’s complete bullshit. 
8 Jun 2016
The future of Wat Ratha Dharma Nun has been cast into further question by the discovery of yet more grisly evidence of corpses of democracy and apparent links to the shadowy world of international dictatorship trafficking.
31 May 2016
In a police station in northern Bangkok So we’ve got the arrest warrant and that’s OK? Double checked. All the right signatures.  No spelling mistakes. OK, good, so I think the way is clear, we just go in and … Hang on, have you seen the pictures on the front page? No.  Why? They’ve parked two excavators right in front of the gates. So that’s put the mockers on that.  How do we get in now?  We’ll have to call it all off again.  Pity.
16 May 2016
Well that was a right farce last Wednesday in Geneva, eh?  Talk about a dialogue of the deaf. I am of course referring to Thailand’s starring role in the latest episode in the UPR saga of the UNHRC.  And for those who don’t follow the arcane acronyms of international human rights (so how the hell did you get to this website?), let me explain that it was Thailand’s turn to sit in the naughty chair and face a barrage of questions and recommendations about how to improve its human rights record.
28 Apr 2016
But the newspaper article said this form was not mandatory.  Who says so? It quotes Deputy Commissioner of Immigration Pol Maj Gen Chatchawan Wachirapaneekhun, whose name is also there as the person who ‘designed and arranged’ this form. Well, that’s right, it is not mandatory.  But if you want to extend your visa or do your 90-day report, you are required to complete the form.  Voluntarily. Because if I don’t, … You won’t get your extension and we will fine you for not doing your 90-day report. I see.
13 Apr 2016
Who is doing this to our Dear Leader?  General Prayut trots off to the US in search of more ‘oh look I’m in the same room as other world leaders so they must accept me’ photo ops and it is all promptly ruined by another burst of rampant paranoia. He told VOA he ‘met representatives of many countries’ (see, they do talk to him so Thailand is not the international pariah that some critics claim). 
1 Apr 2016
(In a luxury condo in Nakhon Si Thammarat.) ‘Geraldine darling, who’s Geralgine?’ ‘Mmm?’ ‘This web page lists the details of all the foreigners living in the south of Thailand and it says there is a Geralgine living at this address.’ ‘What?’ ‘Somebody’s been posting data from Immigration on the internet.’ ‘But getting it wrong at the same time.’ ‘Well it is Immigration.’ (In a rented room in deepest Sukhumwit) ‘Ahmed, look at this.  Somebody’s given us a map of targets.’
23 Mar 2016
So we can see there the pictures of Trump Air Force One touching down at Bangkok airport on the latest stage of the President’s whistle-stop foreign tour.  And in case any viewers are wondering about the name, remember that Air Force One was a military plane and so along with the rest of the military it has been privatized by presidential order.  We are now going over to our correspondent Tony Crane who is on the tarmac.  Tony, what can you see there? 
15 Mar 2016
Another school year over and time to reflect for a moment on all that budget wasted, and time and effort, and the young minds.  So sad. The Thai education system, you might have thought, would be near the top of the to-do list for any government that comes to power speaking the language of reform.  The whole shebang is so dysfunctional that anybody and his mother can pick holes in it, the latest critic being Supachai Panitchpakdi, ex-head of the WTO and UNCTAD.
10 Mar 2016
The code of omertà (silence) among mafia types is often portrayed as a form of honour among thieves.  Something like not snitching on your mates, a lesson you learned in the school playground to show you were brave, principled even, and prepared to stand up to the sadistic bullying of small-minded authoritarians called teachers.  But with all due respect to any members of the ʼNdrangheta, Cosa Nostra or Camorra who might be reading this – bollocks.
11 Feb 2016
The Thai police have reacted angrily to international coverage of the latest ‘vice’ raid, which is being portrayed as another bumbling bone-headed police farce.

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