Lets Go Everywhere


Happy 80th Your Majesty
December 1, 2006, 5:19 pm
Filed under: bangkok, coup, empires, expat, News and politics, thailand

King Bhumibol Adulyadej turns 80 on Dec 5, 2006, and I thought I’d post a few pics in his honour. King Poom as I like to call him, or Rama IX, is the longest serving head of state and despite his expression and running shoes in the 3rd photo, is not retarded. He is, in fact, great.

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King & Dog

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President Bush in a pretty silk dress
November 20, 2006, 10:37 am
Filed under: APEC, bush, capitalism/socialism, empires, expat, Hanoi, News and politics, Uncategorized, US, vietnam

What you’ve all been waiting for… United States President George W Bush in a silk ao dai.

 Picture pops! Re-jiggered and in proportion.

Bush in ao dai

Howdy to Ao Dai

“The colourful, elongated tunics of Vietnam’s traditional dress, the
Ao Dai, are worn with much grace by Vietnamese women and men – and
extreme unease by the US president George Bush. Donning the costume
over his suit for the obligatory “family photograph” alongside 20
other leaders of Asian and Pacific nations, Mr Bush grimaced
repeatedly and shifted from foot to foot, a portrait of embarrassment
in turquoise blue brocade with yellow trim. It was obvious he couldn’t
wait to get it off and sure enough, moments after the official
photographs were taken, he strode away, ripped it off and folded it
up, according to reports. His fellow leaders showed more restraint and
waited until they were out of sight.”

The Guardian



George Bush doesn’t care about Vietnamese shopkeepers

Hello friends, I know it’s been a while. I haven’t posted anything in ages due to the fact I’ve been levelled by a flu.Our new Swiss intern at the magazine brought me a nice, long-lasting European flu strain that had me in bed for days. The worst part was the headache — like a jackerhammer in my head for hours. Ahhh, and shivering with cold in 35 degree heat. Nice!

No worries though; today I am on the mend and I plan to get him back somehow.

The sicktime has also given me a chance to catch up on my reading — I finished re-reading Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance and started Static by Amy & David Goodman. Static is good, so far, and A Fine Balance is one of my all-time favourites.

While browsing HuffPo today, I noticed this article from the New York Times:

Unlike Clinton, Bush Sees Hanoi in Bit of a Hurry

Hanoi, Sunday, Nov. 19 — President Bush likes speed golf and speed tourism — this is the man who did the treasures of Red Square in less than 20 minutes — but here in the lake-studded capital of a nation desperately eager to connect with America, he set a record.

On Saturday, Mr. Bush emerged from his hotel for only one nonofficial event, a 15-minute visit to the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, which searches for the remains of the 1,800 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

There were almost no Vietnamese present, just a series of tables displaying photographs of the group’s painstaking work, and helmets, shoes and replicas of bones recovered by the 425 members of the command. He asked a few questions and then sped off in his motorcade. …

Waiting for One More Star

The Hadong Silk shop in this city’s Old Quarter is the first port of call for well-heeled visitors on the hunt for the tailor-made silkwares for which Vietnam has become famous. This weekend, with heads of state from 21 countries in town for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, a parade of dignitaries streamed in for fittings of made-to-order shirts, dresses and suits.

Laureen Harper, the wife of Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, showed up on Friday, made a few purchases and signed the guestbook for Dang Thi Thu Thuy, the petite, exquisitely dressed owner. Ditto for Australia’s first lady, Janette Howard.

But Mrs. Thuy was searching for more. “We really hope that Mrs. Bush will come into our store,” she says. “We are waiting for her, but she hasn’t come.”

The walls of Hadong Silk are lined with giant framed photos of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who came to the shop during Mr. Clinton’s visit in 2000. There is a photo of Mrs. Clinton towering over three saleswomen, another of her standing next to Mrs. Thuy, both clad in silk suits, and one upstairs of her, surrounded by Secret Service agents, perusing silk blouses.

Vu Thi Thu Huong, a saleswoman, said the shop was so excited after Mrs. Clinton left, having bought 10 raw silk shirts for her husband, that the distinctive square collar on their men’s silk shirts was renamed the “Bill Clinton Collar.”

So, will there be a “George Bush Collar”?

Mrs. Thuy shrugged. “I’m not sure,” she said. She gestured to her camera, and said, “If she comes we will take her picture, too.”

Mrs. Bush visited the Temple of Literature, a monument to the legacy of Confucius, and the Museum of Ethnology, which focuses on Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. With the spouses of other leaders, she saw water puppets. It is unclear whether she bought any silk.

Clinton in Vietnam

Just more proof Bush doesn’t care about Vietnamese shopkeepers. At least though, the women folk got a chance to see the water puppet show. No matter what anyone says, that’s some good entertainment!

Scott, have any delegates stopped by Ipa-Nima? If so, who , and what did they buy?? Inquiring minds need to know.



US citizens on trial in Saigon

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US citizens on trial in Vietnam

BBC

Vietnamese prosecutors have accused the group of terrorism

Three US citizens and four Vietnamese have gone on trial in Vietnam charged with terrorism. They are accused of attempting to set up illegal transmitters to make anti-communist radio broadcasts inside the country.

Correspondents says the case may complicate ties with the US ahead of President George W Bush’s visit next week and a Congressional vote on trade. The trial in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to last no more than a day.

All of the seven defendants are of Vietnamese origin, but three – Nguyen Thuong Cuc, also known as Cuc Foshee, Huynh Bich Lien and Le Van Binh – also have US citizenship.

Local press reports have linked them to a California-based anti-communist organisation called the Government of Free Vietnam. They are alleged to have brought transmitters and other equipment into Vietnam from neighbouring Cambodia.

They were hoping to take over local radio stations and broadcast anti-government radio messages, according to the BBC correspondent in Hanoi, Bill Hayton.

The case is being heard exactly a week before President Bush arrives in Vietnam to attend the annual Asia-Pacific summit (Apec). It may also complicate scheduled votes in the US Congress intended to permanently normalise trade relations between America and Vietnam, our correspondent says.

Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, the home state of one of the accused, has threatened to block the bill because of the case. That would be an embarrassment to both governments, which have heralded the bill as symbolising their new partnership.

If found guilty of terrorism, the accused could face sentences ranging from 12 years in jail to the death penalty. The Vietnamese government is currently trying to extradite a man it calls the leader of the plot, Nguyen Huu Chanh, from South Korea.

An earlier attempt failed. Mr Chanh was one of the founders of the Government of Free Vietnam.

———————-

Government of Free Viet Nam website (probably not accessible from within Viet Nam, but get the scoop here: Wiki article)

The Government of Free Vietnam is an anti-communist paramilitary and political organization that was established on April 30, 1995, by its founder Nguyen Hoang Dan. Its headquarters are in Garden Grove, California. The organization’s goal is to remove the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, either politically or militarily.

The Government of Free Vietnam claims 6,000 members and 100,000 supporters who were trained in secret camp locations along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border. They also claim 75 chapters in Asia, Australia, and Europe. Although the GFVN prides itself on its widespread support, many argue that the GFVN never received a true mandate to represent the Vietnamese diaspora.

They have a base of operations in KC-702, a secret base along the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Hoa Binh



Public Power In The Age Of Empire

As I reflect on the results of the US midterm elections I am reminded of a brilliant speech by Arundhati Roy called “Public Power In The Age Of Empire”.

Here you can listen to it in podcast format. An added bonus are folk songs by Utah Philips.

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pardon my french
October 15, 2006, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Afghanistan, army, Canada, empires, freedom, News and politics, Uncategorized

rant on

I’ve been asked a few times why I’m not freelancing for Canadian/North American publications.

At first, I questioned it myself. Was it a sort of defect? Laziness? I seriously doubted it was laziness, since when I was in Vietnam I was editing the majority of a thick tourist mag as well as working for the daily paper. And here in Bangkok, I’m at the office until at the earliest 6:30 every night. I supposed I could go out on weekends and talk to people, attend the few protest rallies against the coup, etc. but to be honest I don’t have a valid work visa yet and I don’t particularly want to be expelled by the kingdom (or shot by some trigger-happy zitfaced teen soldier).

More importantly though, my issue with the “why aren’t you freelancing in the west” question is that these days it strikes me as a little bit racist. Not in the big, nasty scary racist way, but in the way that assumes that Western press is more prestigious or important. I can’t say I’ve developed much insight in my time in southeast Asia, but what I am beginning to see are the signs of a declining (American) empire and a rising ‘third world’ empire. The new power may be China, India, maybe even Japan, who knows, it could be a stark raving mad Kim Jong-il armed to the teeth with atom bombs and high heels. Whoever it is, in the next few centuries the world will belong to the east.

People may be shocked at the assertion that the west is on the decline. While the economic and capital flow eastward is a little easier to perceive, it’s the power flow that’s barely perceptible but oh so important.

For all the violence committed in the name of money, resources, political favours, all I can say is “you reap what you sow.” The damage done, by all parties and governments and armed groups since January 17, 1961, the day Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world of linking industry and wealth with war, is scandalous plain and simple.
The rampant exploitation of land, corrupt governments, ongoing denials of basic human rights, torture and secret prisons are all landmines on any road to co-existing peacefully.

Or have we given that up as option by now?

Without peace and security, the economy can’t thrive and there will eventually be civil unrest. If nations don’t pursue peace and security as long term policies and instead work against it for gain, well, what is sown will be reaped. And sadly the victims will be innocent citizens already cheated by their governments.

Speaking of living peace to spread peace, we need Canadian troops focused on rebuilding Afghanistan’s schools, hospitals and roads, doing beneficial work while protecting the civilans. I’m all for our special ops forces doing their work wherever it sends them, but there are approximately 19,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan so why do we keep hearing about Canadians fighting and dying in the frontlines? If Canada hadn’t been willing to send troops to Afghanistan maybe it would have put another obstacle in the path of George Bush’s march to war. But that’s another issue.

rant off