World Cup Inc

This is my own little angle on serious business of running a World Cup and it’s mostly about the battle of songs.

First, there’s the official World Cup song, Waka Waka (This time for Africa) by Shakira.

Pretty catchy tune, fair homage to famous football stars and their WC memorable moments and some sexy moves by an extremely attractive woman.

Yet from the moment it has been selected it was subjected to criticism that it should be performed by an African artist. I don’t really buy this – it’s a good argument but it’s still a WORLD Cup, Shakira is a truly international star, Colombian herself, she performed at a wide variety of international shows for good causes and I see it as a big plus that she decided to incorporate an African song into her number, and she is accompanied by an African group.

It’s like Italians protesting about the way Thais eat their spaghetti – too late, it’s gone “inter”, that’s what always happens, African music no exception.

This video of the same song has some different moves and Shakira here is absolutely mouth watering.

What I personally have a bit of a problem here is the content – “Good soldier, if you get down get up and fight, today is your day” and so on and it’s mixed with some African lines – “Tsaminamina, waka waka…” On the Internet these lines are usually translated as something like “Come and do you job, you come here on your own choice” which fits with the English theme.

The idea is that it’s a tribute to African WWII soldiers.

The lines, however, came from this old African song here by a band from Cameroon called “Golden Sounds” who were clearly taking a big piss at the army.

Dressed as generals, they wear fake bellies and fake butts to symbolize good eating and traveling by trains which, I guess, was pretty comfortable by African standards in those days and certainly beats walking.

Waka Waka, some say, is a pidgin for “walk and work”.

The real soldiers in the background don’t do any fighting either, just march up and down, showing off moves.

The song is very long and the actual “waka waka” tune is at about five min mark. If you are too lazy to wait, some kind soul split the video in two and so you can jump straight to it here:

A warning – the tune can be quite catchy, I myself have been shuffling around the house for nearly a week now:

Zaminamina, eh eh
Waka waka eh eh
Zaminamina Zangalewa
Anawa-a-a

Shakira and her co-authors, of which there were many, including some Indians, decided to turn this goofing around into some sort of inspiration. Good on them.

Then there’s the official sponsor official World Cup song. I mean Coke. They needed a song to go with all their advertising and they wanted it to convey messages of hope, freedom and celebration and have something African in it, too. So they picked up “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan, a black Canadian singer of Somalian extraction. The original was earlier used as a charity song for the victims of Haiti earthquake but nevermind, Coke had him redo some lyrics – gone were people “struggling, fighting to eat” and “violent prone, poor people zone” and a lot more of flag waving was introduced for the proper mood.

There are plenty of videos with the real football but I like this version, with kids, better.

Originally after “I will get older, I will be stronger, They’ll call me freedom” there was “and then it goes back, and then it goes back” repetition that sounds more like desperation to me.

Not a big deal, again, K’naan himself is happy, and Coca Cola is even happier. They went totally global with it, in what, I suppose, could be called glocalization – they’ve created at least a dozen versions with local – Spanish, French, even Egyptian singers pitching in.

Here is the Arab answer to Shakira:

And here is the Spanish version:

Here is French:

There’s also a Thai version which is refreshingly different – it’s faster and funkier and Thai guys, Tatoo Colour, are pretty cool without that in your face Spanish or French machismo. What’s so macho about a singer called “Fefe”, though?

I’m watching WC on True’s high definition channel, it is awesome and I don’t get talking heads at the half time, just the advertising and the original feed from the stadium – replays and statistics and that’s when I often hear Waka waka eh eh. Thais watching the game on free TV probably think that Coca Cola’s “Ohohohoh” is the official song instead as it appears in Coke advert.

Speaking of French – they look like they screwed up their campaign again, like they did in 2002, and when I heard their “Now we’ll play for honor” promise I was very apprehensive. A whole line of post Iraq war French jokes was coming in. Maybe they’ll surrender to the dudes from Waka Waka video.

Anyway, my point was that World Cup Inc world domination is still a white man’s agenda cleverly disguised as inspirational and international and appealing to the third world. While we see the bright side on TV, millions of South Africans still live in poverty and even the game stewards are having a strike right now, over their wages. Fifa is making billions in turn and Coke is getting everybody to sing and dance.

I wonder what would be said here if there was such a glaring discrepancy between the image and the reality, if Thailand ever managed to stage such a world class event. Reds burned the city for a lot less.

On the domestic front nothing much happens. Kanit is still assembling his panel, he says it will be “fact finding” only, ie he won’t blame anybody for whatever happened. There’s a point in this – indictments and prosecution must be dished out by relevant agencies, not by ad hoc panels. Reds are not taking it however.

Abhisit set up two other panels. Both pointless, imo.

First is Anand/Prawase reform panel – they already gave us 97 constitution that appealed to the middle classes but had no effect on either the poor Isanese or power hungry politicians. I don’t expect anything new from them, or anything that would satisfy the reds.

Last panel is on constitution reform, it’s staffed with many PAD sympathizers or people who worked in junta appointed NLA and they started with talk about six proposed changes. Non-starter – everybody already knows there’s nothing to benefit the people in those, and if there is even a whiff of New Politics in their work they’d be slaughtered by reds who are already up in arms over the composition of this panel.

Arghh, better go back to football.

Latest “developments”

I can’t bring myself to the same blow by blow following of the current “developments” after the intensity of the red rally.

I just can’t follow the tweets, compare them to the internet coverage and then to the final print versions on subjects as trivial as cabinet reshuffles.

Nevertheless, the latest movements need to be addressed, even if they were just long runs on a stationary fitness machine – lots of sweat but going nowhere.

So, Abhisit reshuffled the cabinet. Big deal. Mostly he just accommodated the greed of those Dem members who were left out of his first cabinet. He promised them ministerial places and he kept his word.

Then there’s a question of dealing with Phua Paendin. I think Abhisit wasn’t really punishing them but was more concerned with keeping his BJT allies happy instead. What does he care about a dozen “abstain” voices anyway?

BJT does, and they made it known, and Abhisit had to placate them.

To add 3D texture to this conflict consider that the BJT minister in question dared to defy Abhisit’s order to halt to the road extension in Khao Yai just a day after Abhisit went out of his way to protect him.

He has a point, btw, and a pertinent one. While environmentalists talk about protecting the forest and the right to enjoy the unspoiled views of Khao Yai on twisted roads, the minister talks of people who make a living there and who can’t stand sitting in traffic for hours everyday.

This is the paradox of wanting the “poor” to have equal opportunities and amenities and having to pay for it by sacrificing the nature. Do these environmentalists have any idea how many trees and canals had to be sacrificed to make their living in Bangkok so easy? Isn’t it hypocritical that when their countryside counterparts want the same convenience, Bangkok environmentalists scream “murder”?

I DO feel for the trees. They should have been either replanted or had a religious ceremony before removing them for good. I know our lives are supremely important, but the trees, the living entities that stood there for decades if not centuries, should be recognized too. They played no small part in forming Thai identity over these years. They ARE , literally, the roots of this nation. Not any less than ghost houses and shrines.

On the other hand, the new, “modern” Thailand, has no place for this kind of superstitious garbage.

Some more 3D texture to the reshuffle – not all Phua Paendin factions rebelled, some stay loyal to the government, and that faction includes former candidate for Prime Minister who lost a vote to Abhisit in 2008.

Here is your “unbreachable” gap – if PTP got its way, we’d have a PM who now vote for Abhisit anyway.

In the latest moves towards reconciliation DSI proposed an amnesty for rank and file red shirts who broke the Emergency Decree. Many questioned the need for such amnesty – do they even feel sorry to be forgiven? Do they feel they did anything wrong?

Someone mentioned that the law is lenient enough to such small time offenders, they have no real chance of facing persecution anyway.

Abhisit is so far quiet on the issue.

In the meantime the red leaders enjoying well deserved holidays in Cha-Am were finally moved to a remand prison in Bangkok. Now that’s unpleasant.

Abhisit appointed Kanit as a head of investigations in April-May violence. Red cheerleaders on the Internet and elsewhere immediately rejected him.

He, as they now say, let Democrats off the hook in land scandal back in the 90s.

Kanit was the Attorney General at that time and Democrats were put through the media trial and forced to resign. When the case reached Kanit he dropped it for the lack of evidence.

Now, these days, if someone, say Thaksin, is convicted by Thai media but the case can’t pass Attorney General’s requirements, how do you think red supporters, the self-appointed warriors against double standards, would react?

Red leader Veera, possibly unaware of politically correct moves outside, expressed full trust in Kanit. I bet some reds think he is an old fool walking into a government trap.

More on reconciliation – Abhisit promised to make a grand announcement one day then ended with a ten minute address saying that he’ll present his gift of “roadmap” in time for Christmas. I thought he was joking but it appears he is at least half serious.

Perhaps it just downed on him what this reconciliation and welfare society would truly mean. For half a century Thailand was pursuing the US development model – as much capitalism as possible, everyone for himself, and a relatively small government. To come up with a plan how to change it into a European model in a couple of months is impossible, not if you take the task seriously.

Off the top of my head – can people agree on some 20% value added tax, for example? Can they agree to pay taxes at all? Very few do and personal income tax is probably the smallest income source for the government. Who will pay for all this welfare? Thailand can’t afford to increase business taxes – it has to compete with the neighbors.

If it pays the workers western style wages – can it export its products?

Personally, I think it’s impossible to restructure the country, they’d have to make do with incremental changes but those changes don’t translate in catchy platform slogans.

Personally, I think Abhisit should spend less time on roadmaps and more time on explaining people how this country really works and what is expected of each particular sector of the society and how each sector can possibly improve and to what extent and who should be the agent of those changes, what sacrifices need to be made and by whom.

Unless there’s a thorough understanding of where the country is now, there’s no chance of getting public support to move in any particular direction, regardless of whether it’s a right move or not.

The problem is that reds (and yellows, for that matter), have subjected themselves to rigorous training in half baked “democracy” and overcoming their fossilized perceptions is going to be very very difficult.

There’s no other way, though, deprogramming is unavoidable if the government, any government, even PTP led one, is going to embark on massive socialist/welfare society building effort.

I think it’s possible to explain how the country works in a way the reds and yellows can agree – from cheap labor to voting to taxes. Everybody knows that already anyway, just no one openly talks about it without political prejudice.

And no, the monarchy and succession have nothing to with it.

Reconciliation – cruel and unusual punishment

As Hobby recently pointed out, Abhisit made his own bed himself, now he’s got to lie in it.

He promised that elusive concept – reconciliation, and now his opponents are tearing him apart for it.

Who is he supposed to reconcile and over what issues?

Some believe it’s about making a deal with Thaksin. As soon as DSI slapped him with terrorist charges commentators slammed Abhisit for going back on his word. In a way it’s true – only Thaksin himself can call his dogs off, nothing else would work, but after they turned Bangkok into this there’s little prospect of reconciling with Thaksin, ever.

Bangkok reality vs Hollywood fiction

So, if not Thaksin, who is Abhisit going to reconcile with? The rest of the red leadership? The guys who kept playing a fake tape of him ordering killing people last year even after Abhisit told them on national TV it’s unacceptable behavior. That was a bit of emotional side of Abhisit, when he got clearly pissed off with smug Jatuporn sitting there demanding this and that while lying and fooling his people with a straight face.

Another point that irked Abhisit was red leaders denial that they tried to attack his car last year. The calls for the mob to go and get Abhisit at the Interior Ministry were coming straight from the red stage yet now they all deny their involvement and a) claim Abhisit wasn’t there and b) it was fake red shirts, hired by Newin.

Now, forgiving that episode in the name of reconciliation is one thing, forgiving, however, implies that the other side realizes its guilt. So far there’s absolutely no remorse or even acknowledgement shown, even indirectly, and, given the chance, reds would surely try to kill him again, yet Abhisit opponents insist on him, in essence, elevating lynch mobs to a status of acceptable tactics by not prosecuting those responsible.

As I said – it’s not even a request for amnesty, you can’t issue amnesty to those who show absolutely no remorse. A cruel and unusual punishment, that’s what it is.

Another common argument against Abhisit’s reconciliation attempts is that his government paints all reds as terrorists and abuses state media for that purpose. Well, Abhisit was always clear that not all red shirts are terrorists, but, perhaps, overzealous media sometimes overplayed the terrorist card, but it’s nothing comparing to what red media and red leaders have said about the government.

It is impossible to count how many times they compared him to Hitler and called him all kinds of derogatory names off the red stage. That’s old news, but check out this May 21 “Voice of Thaksin” cover for a change:

Now go and “reconcile” with these people. Cruel and unusual punishment indeed.

I’m afraid that the first step to reconciliation should be shutting down these “media”, nothing will move forward as long as they produce these hateful messages and propaganda.

Then there’s rank and file red shirt peasantry, they need to see the end of the double standards and reduction of the wealth gap, presumably. Well, wealth gap is an interesting issue. First, there are all kind of numbers, and most easily available, right on wikipedia, from UN and CIA, suggest that wealth gap in Thailand can’t possibly the reason for a “revolution”. There are many other ways to present and interpret these data but here’s another reminder of how red leaders view the poverty of their followers.

During preparations for the rally they expected 100,000 pickup trucks to completely block Bangkok traffic. That is they expected red shirts to put 20-30 BILLION worth of assets on the streets, at considerable risk of damage.

Some poverty!

Now they want Abhisit to go and reconcile with these “poor” folks.

There’s another issue, a stereotype, that is often overlooked and forgotten by political commentators but is well known by those who don’t pay much attention to politics – Isanese men are probably the laziest bunch in the world. They do nothing but drink and gamble for months on end, living of their wives and daughters meager income. Stereotype or not but it’s these men who put Thailand at the top of the world rankings in alcohol consumption.

Unlike “uneducated buffaloes”, this stereotype is not produced by Bangkokians, it comes mostly from Isanese women and is not confined to the bar girls downgrading their lives either.

Another group that subscribes to it is the employers – they know very well that Isanese are not the industrial types, they won’t work very hard and won’t put any extra hours and can disappear in a moment without a trace, money earning opportunity be damned.

They’d rather hang out with their friends and a cheap bottle of “lao kao”, gambling away all they can, and often cannot afford.

Now, how would Abhisit go about making their lives easier? I have no idea.

Another often forgotten fact – survey after survey finds Isanese being the happiest people in Thailand, and Bangkokians the most miserable. Believe the surveys or not, but their “mai pen rai” attitude to life is very attractive to a lot of westerners who will pay good money to escape the “rat race” that is so pervasive back home, and Bangkok, too.

Where do you find real grim faces in this country? On the famed BTS. Do Isanese really want to live their lives like that?

Where the income inequality is the most glaring in this country? In Bangkok, and demands it puts on people to keep with the Joneses are becoming heavier and heavier every year – iPhones, BBs, clubs, clothes, fashions, expensive looking girlfriends – it all costs a lot more than hanging out with your neighbors in the countryside.

Do Isanese really want to pay that price?

Should Abhisit force them to join the rat race in the name of reconciliation?

There are possibly some other, more serious aspects that demand real government attention but this post is not about that, this post is about absurdities that are practically forced on Abhisit by all kinds of critics. Should he try and reconcile with his critics? I’m araid that it’s also impossible, as they often have no clue what they are talking about and don’t know what they really want, even if they appear to come with good intentions.

Hmm, good intentions, huh? Isn’t it how they pave roads to hell, too?

Misdebating in parliament

Just checked on what Chalerm had to say during the debate today, will leave it alone for now, the subject is very juicy indeed.

I don’t know what these debates are supposed to be for. No one has ever been censured, afaik, despite having them every year. In 2003 debate Democrats tried to nail the Finance Minister for Thaksin’s Ratchada deal – nothing came out of it, the coalition voted along party lines and the subject was laid to rest until independent investigators took the case to the court after the coup (independent of Thaksin, mind you).

Still, a good show for either side can certainly make a lot of difference, even though not through the parliamentary means. After 2005 debate that was centered on airport scanner scandal Thaksin had to remove Suriya from Transport Minister post, the public confidence in TRT government was severy shaken, just months after they swept 75% in the elections. Several months later Sondhi started his anti-Thaksin, anti-corruption shows and they quickly attracted thousands of people, and the rest is history, as they say.

Last year PTP brought up 2005 election campaign charges against the Democrats and the matter now is going to the court, even if the parliament didn’t acknowledge the charges, DSI and the EC did.

This year, however, the debate has lost all sense.

It’s more like a discussion board with two sides piling up youtube videos against each other. This is beyond silly, as the presenters give those anonymous, unverified videos a lot more weight than they deserve. A lot of them would simply be inadmissible in the court, I suspect, yet PTP wants to remove the Prime Minister on their strength.

As it always turns out, neither side can possibly claim a victory, they just dig up more suspicious pictures and images.

Quite often the presenters have no clue what was really going on, Phatumwanaram temple is probably the best example.

As I was following the debate on twitter some opposition MP presented a video of soldiers on BTS tracks. Suthep immediately replied that the video was taken a day later, as there was no smoke coming form Siam Paragon (?). The presenter, according to tweet translations, said the smoke was there last time he checked it but now it’s somehow gone. Several minutes later Suthep himself mistakenly attributes something to a different date. Today in the Nation the episode is reported as doubting fires at Central World, not Paragon.

A week ago Suthep claimed that the Italian journalist was killed in a grenade blast, side by side with a soldier. He was clearly wrong, probably confusing the Italian with another reporter, a Canadian.

How can anyone trust anything said by these people?

What qualifications do they have to perform this ridiculous investigation? How are they better equipped than your average Internet user like you or me?

I, for one, would NOT recommend any real world action based on whatever arguments I present here. I would need a real world proof, not some undated, possibly doctored pictures and videos somewhere on the Internet.

I don’t know who shot all those people at the temple, it could have been soldiers, but, if you want to prove it, you need to find what soldiers they were, what unit, under whose command, what was their tactical goal, what were their orders, rules of engagement, when did they move to the area, how long they stayed, what they have been doing all this time, why they were shooting inside the temple and so on.

In other words, you need a real investigation, summoning real witnesses and collecting real evidence, not some half arsed attempt to search the Internet for “truth”.

Same goes for a lot of other “evidence” that the army was shooting innocent people, especially on the first day of Rajprasong blockade when reds on the outside tried to break in trough the army lines by all means possible.

There was this red dude who decided to play with his laser pointer and flash it on the army positions.

WTF!?! You just don’t play this kind of games, pretending to be a spotter for grenade launchers, like on April 10.

He was shot in the head by a sniper right there and then. Was he innocent? Terminally so.

In another case reds commandeered a truck, don’t know what they tried to do, earlier they have tried to ram trucks and buses at army lines. Anyway, soldiers opened fire, shot the tires.

Was is a warning enough for red shirts? One of them got the point and refused to drive the truck any further. Another volunteered, as soon as he got behind the wheel he was shot dead. Was it soldiers’ fault? Really?

Sometime later, in the same area, in front of the same group of soldiers (afaik) reds tried to set up a tire barricade. Didn’t they get the message yet? Did they need any more warnings? What was the barricade there for if not to attack the troops with molotovs, among other things, or what if it was manned by M70 carrying types, with troops well within the firing range?

How did these red expect NOT to get shot there?

I’m not sure MY version of what happened there is correct, far from it. BUT, it could have been so, even more likely than setting up a peaceful protest site for a little bit of flag waiving, and a water truck was needed there to provide showers.

Nevermind the general ignorance of how things actually developed over these days, the underlying premise of the censure debate, that Abhisit and Suthep should be held responsible, is completely beyond me.

They didn’t order troops to shoot, they weren’t there, up until now they still have no idea what happened at the temple, for example.

Why should they be held responsible for some unidentified soldiers breaking their rules of engagement, or even for some commanders ordering their troops to do so? How’s that Abhisit’s fault?

So far there’s not a shred of evidence to suggest the killings at the temple could be traced back to Abhisit, not even a suggestion this connection exist.

Ok, some could say that Abhisit could have expected that engaging the army would result in innocent casualties. But so did Jatuporn and all the other red leaders. I’m referring to Jatuporn’s speech today where he said “How can I hire people to die? Can I hire Suthep for this job?”

Maybe he didn’t hire people to die, but reds’ determination to fight the army and die for the cause is well documented. How can red leaders deny responsibility for setting this mindset among their followers?

Another point that Abhisit mentioned yesterday once but which is generally overlooked – the army didn’t even try to disperse the rally, they set the blockade outside the perimeter and fought off the attacking reds, and, on May 19, they only break through Saladaeng barricade and secured Ratchadamri and Lumpini park only up to Sarasin intersection, well away from the red stage.

It just doesn’t go well with “Abhisit sent the army to kill protesters” accusation.

Ok, back to Chalerm “bomb” – he decided to grill Kasit for suggesting the society needs to talk about taboo subject like monarchy!

“We including Thaksin & his family have never considered les majesty law as an obstacle like Kasit does.”

There you go.

Where is Hobby with his undying support for the red cause AND for reforming LM laws? Where does the entire New Mandala brigade stand on this one?

Were they batting for this Chalerm team all along?

At the start of his speech Chalerm introduced himself as Thaksin’s disciple, btw.

Who is missing in this chaos

The red shirts, that’s who.

Ever since they’ve been told not to wear red at Rajprasong so that soldiers wouldn’t know who to shoot, they’ve been wearing anything but red even outside their camp.

Methinks the real reason was the emergence of anti-red/multi-color movement. It was an awakening for reds who previously thought the population was firmly behind them.

In late March lots of people were driving around with “Dissolve the House” stickers and red ribbons on their antennas. Don’t tell me they took them off because they were afraid the army would shoot them.

Reds went “underground” the moment they gave up on their symbols in public. They fully, even if unconsciously realized that they were no longer welcome in the society.

I say unconsciously because they never admitted this change. Not to the degree that it was acknowledged through their usual communications channels. If it was filtered out intentionally from the red stage or red media that were supposed to reflect the general red feelings, no one protested and no one demanded the truth. If the thought ever occurred to them, they just let it go, keeping it tormenting them from inside. They knew they were wrong, they just didn’t want to admit it.

And so pent up fury and rage had blown off the lid in the past week’s anarchy. Very few of the protesters could be identified as reds. Interestingly, it appears that only hard core, armed protesters wore any signs of distinction, not paying much attention to what others think of them. The majority, the innocent/harmless/unarmed ones didn’t want to flaunt their affiliation anymore.

I bet the trend will continue with everybody and his dog denying flat out any connection to yesterday’s burning of Bangkok or tire burning of the days before. No one would admit any responsibility.

“I WAS red but not this kind of red”, they’d say.

Who will represent the political aspirations of this movement, I wonder? If PTP has never been trusted as pursuing people’s interests before it would be even less so now, when they disown the movement. Ideally PTP politicians should go through some serious soul-searching and accept both the burden of yesterday’s violence AND the burden of responsibility to carry on with the people’s agenda, but, seriously, they don’t do soul-searching, waste of time to speculate what they’d say if they did.

Practically it means that the grassroots red shirts will be left out, again, betrayed by their leaders and political representatives.

What’s more – they don’t seem to realize that yesterday marked the beginning of their election campaign and no one, no one would vote for them anymore.

Their slogan seems to be “Other parties promise to build. We promise to BURN, and we deliver”

In the end, only Abhisit is left to address their real needs and grievances. He is the only one ready to overlook the hostility from the red side and ignore pleas from his own supporters to erase them from the face of the Earth.

If he doesn’t look after the red ramp, no one else will.

International help has arrived

First there were just rumors of American warship in the Gulf ready to dispatch strike force to help red shirts and then rumors of Canadians sending in 350 marines.

Hmm, Canadians are generally nice and non-threatening, aren’t they?

Nevermind, now international “help” is fully on the way.

Terryfrd translates

Red speaker says they all feel reassured that CNN has arrived. They can sleep well now.

That, I suppose, refers to the anti-CNN Facebook group that is clearly anti-red, too.

Earlier Bangkok Pundit wrote a blog entry in defense of CNN, arguing that they indeed provide a balanced coverage. There are over a hundred comments on it by now. Mine somehow got lost so I’ll reproduce the essence of it here.

What BP says is undeniably true – there are many different sides of story available on CNN, but he was looking at their website.

If you open a story like this one from the front page, where it was early this morning when BP was putting his blog, or you open the whole Thailand Unrest topic you can see them all nicely lined up.

You don’t get all this when you watch CNN on TV, however.

What you see is a few replays of Dan Rivers reports like this one

where he implies that reds don’t have weapons because he, personally, didn’t see any, and that the army is killing innocent people. Its youtube copies have been quoted and linked plenty of times by pro-red posters on the Internet.

No wonder anti-red folks deem it, and the rest of CNN by extension, unbalanced.

Yeah, sure, there were interviews with Korn and Panitan, too, but those were conducted over the phone by news anchors, not by Bangkok based correspondents who are the target of anti-CNN group. I’m pretty sure Dan’s report has been played far more often and given far more prominence in their TV coverage.

Even on the website people were complaining in replies to Bangkok Pundit that they can’t find those interviews, like this one with Korn here.

You have to scroll down the page and click on the last entry in the column of videos which is called “Thailand economic voes”, far less interesting title comparing to “Battle zone in Bangkok” or “Bullets came over my head”. If not for a tiny Korn’s face you wouldn’t even tell it was his interview.

Where is the interview with Panitan? I have no idea where to click to find it. It’s not offered even on “topics” page. Search would probably work but if you are reading “100 stories” of CNN Thailand coverage you don’t type random words in a search box like “government explanation” or “Abhisit” or “balanced reporting”. Hmm, I wonder what search for “Thailand balanced reporting” would produce. Nothing.

Right now the main story from CNN home page goes to Outside Bangkok life goes on which has no links to any of the “balanced” stories, just some entries on tourism and the like.

I’m saying that people complaining about CNN bias have a case to see it that way, too.

Now I’m starting to think CNN indeed manipulates the coverage to present readers with THEIR choice of stories to read. No…., it can’t be… Can it?

Reds somehow think CNN is on their side, that should also account for something.

But that is not all the international help that is there.

There’s is also Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer/lobbyist hired by Thaksin to promote the red cause.

Robert Amsterdam

His blog now has an article called The Temporary Thai-ification of This Blog. He promptly flew to Bangkok and became an expert on all things Thai.

Dan Rivers (nooo!) has also promptly interviewed him, too, ‘cos his input is so very important. It’s at abour 2.07 min mark in the Dan Rivers report I linked earlier.

He was also interviewed by Al Jazeera

This interview was a lot tougher for him, he had to avoid answering several questions and revert to hammering his assigned line – reds are innocent and are being killed by the cruel government.

I don’t know why Thaksin had to hire him, though, there are dozens of commentators in local blogosphere who would endlessly repeat exactly the same lines for free. Funny how that works.

Oh, and his most prominent case to date has been defending yet another tycoon jailed for not paying taxes that he presented as a champion of democracy. Hmmm, trying not to think of parallels here.

Amnesty International has also joined the fray, with this quote not scoring very high among pro-government commentators:

unarmed people who pose no threat whatsoever to the soldiers or to others

Yes, red holed up at Rajprasong are not a threat, but that can’t be said with a straight face about reds who attacked the army positions on Friday with all kinds of homemade weapons that are even more dangerous in hand to hand combat than batons and shields.

On Friday reds have seized an army truck transporting razor wire, I understand, that was manned only by a few soldiers. They were quickly disarmed and some were savagely beaten, one was left unconscious. Reds made away with their M16 rifle. That was replayed many times by CRES for the full emotional impact. Then AI comes in with their “unarmed, no threat” nonsense.

I don’t know how to search Bangkok Post images but on Saturday they had a big picture of an “innocent” protester kicking a soldier held by others in the face with full force.

After April 10, when hundreds of soldiers were injured in street fighting and had their weapons taken away the army smartened up and kept a safe distance between themselves and advancing reds. At the moment this safe distance is about 800 meters in some areas, I guess to keep out of the range of occasional weapons in red hands. Shooting anyone approaching any closer needs to be questioned but not the principle itself.

There’s also the latest UN demand for negotiations but I doubt anyone on any side take them seriously so I don’t want to waste any time on analyzing that.

Finally, Steff’s CNN cartoon from the Nation:

CNN cartoon

Click to see full size.

I won’t be surprised that CNN changes the tone of its coverage in reaction to Facebook and cartoon protests, they can’t be all that bad.

What I really mean they can’t be all that principled.

I also doubt Robert Amsterdam would get any serious traction. I think he is more of a liability for the red movement, being employed by Thaksin and repeating the official red line at the same time.

What credibility does this sudden expert have?

Everything he touches immediately comes under suspicion of being paid propaganda.

Not much of a help, really, just marginally better than US marines rumors.

Children of the red…

This just needs to be documented – two twitpics by freakingcat

Kid on the barricade

Speechless, just speechless

Crying kid is frightened by explosions

FreakingCat’s comment on this picture:

Red Baby crying after explosions heard at tyre barricades under expressway! INSANITY RULES THERE!

Indeed

Here is the video:

I got pictures and the video from tweets by Richard Barrow and Wizard of Windsor