Thailand: And the Junta Acts as Juntas Do

From Financial Times, Asia

A political struggle over Thailand’s coup is growing beneath the country’s surface calm, as military rulers crush dissent, opposition forces mobilise in exile and western powers warn that the generals could be here to stay.

The month-old junta is now detaining people even over emblematic acts such as carrying sandwiches or reading George Orwell in public, while its enemies have set up a movement abroad modelled on the country’s second world war underground resistance.

Arrested for Reading 1984 in Public

Arrested for Reading 1984 in Public

A senior US official has warned that the latest Thai military takeover is “both more repressive and likely to last longer” than the previous one in 2006, as the generals try to quash criticism and stamp their conservative vision on politics and business.

Panels to monitor the media are being set up:

“There will be five committees set up to monitor local and international media that will report to the military daily,” Adul, a former national police chief, told Reuters by telephone. “Police will not pursue legal action against media so long as journalists are cooperative and help share news that is constructive and true. Those that spread inappropriate content may face criminal charges.”

And the police are all over any breath of protest:

Eating a sandwich: Since early June, student pro-democracy activists have handed out free sandwiches and staged quiet picnics in lieu of holding protests. Surely, the junta can’t arrest them for eating sandwiches, right?

Wrong. The sandwich activists announced a “picnic” on June 22 outside a glitzy Bangkok mall. On cue, a young Thai man showed up that afternoon. He pulled out a sandwich with trembling fingers and ate it in silence.

He was promptly surrounded by authorities and hauled off. Six others, according to the BBC, were also detained. Their offense? Possessing sandwiches with ill intent. Officers have previously thwarted “sandwich parties” in advance. Thai headlines have even warned that eating sandwiches with anti-coup intent is a criminal act.

Park Named for Buddha’s Birthplace hosts Bangkok Protesters

The giant street protests that have choked Bangkok’s city core for months have subsided lately.  Shootings and deaths have re-arranged the order of battle.  Suthep Thaugsuban, one of the main leaders of the opposition to the elected, but widely perceived to be corrupt, prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, asked his followers to leave the streets but to maintain a presence at Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s main green lung — and as it turns out the first place I spent a few hours at while in Thailand a year ago.  Daily Mail UK

The city's Lumpini Park has become a makeshift camp as protesters continue to demonstrate against the government

The city’s Lumpini Park has become a makeshift camp as protesters continue to demonstrate against the government

The opposition has vowed to keep the pressure on the government.  A very recent decision to look into corruption in a rice subvention program she was connected with may have an effect  both in encouraging her opponents and in peeling away some of her supporters, poorer rice-growers in the north and east who should have benefited by the program, if properly run.

Pitchfork Protests All Across Italy

Pitchfork Protests All Across Italy

Pitchfork Protests All Across Italy

“As anti-government protests gathered steam across Italy this week, galvanising diverse groups under the banner of the Pitchforks movement, one image above all shook the establishment: a phalanx of riot police holstering their truncheons and removing their helmets in a gesture of sympathy.

The episode in Turin, following clashes with a small number of extremists, was explained away by the authorities as being ordered from on high to defuse tension. No one believed them – not least because the policemen involved and Felice Romano, leader of the SIULP police union, declared that both sides had common cause in their anger at government-imposed austerity policies.”

Financial Times

Italy’s “pitchfork” protests spread to Rome on Thursday when hundreds of students clashed with police and threw firecrackers outside a university where government ministers were attending a conference.

Truckers, small businessmen, the unemployed, students and low-paid workers have staged four days of rallies in cities from Turin in the north to Sicily in the south in the name of the “pitchfork” movement, originally a loosely organized group of farmers from Sicily.


Another Nun, Another Hero

She’s 82 years old and she knows how to operate a bolt cutter.

Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.

Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

Hannah and Hansen: Doing What Comes Naturally

Marsh Fork Protest hansenjamesarrest

Darryl Hannah and James Hansen, two of our favorite eco-citizens, joined hundreds protesting mountain top removal in West Virgina — and were handcuffed for their trouble. Send them some love!

Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested this afternoon in West Virginia along with NASA climatologist James Hansen, local activist Michael Brune of Rainforest Action Network, Goldman Prize winner Judy Bonds, 94-year-old former U.S. Representative Ken Hechler and more than a dozen others.
Effects of mountaintop removal near Marsh Fork Elem.

Effects of mountaintop removal near Marsh Fork Elem.

They were protesting at an elementary school threatened by a 2.8-billion-gallon coal sludge impoundment where coal dust in the air exceeds acceptable limits. Protestors trespassed on land owned by coal giant Massey Energy.

The protest is part of a string of increasingly dramatic actions objecting to the Obama Administration’s announcement that the EPA will reform, but not abolish, mountaintop removal mining. Later this week, Congress will host a hearing titled, “The Impacts of Mountaintop Removal Mining on Water Quality in Appalachia.”

Thin Green Line

Check out Mountain Justice

Read Hansen’s Plea to President Obama:

The science is clear. Burning all fossil fuels will destroy the future of young people and the unborn. And the fossil fuel that we must stop burning is coal. Coal is the critical issue. Coal is the main cause of climate change. It is also the dirtiest fossil fuel — air pollution, arsenic, and mercury from coal have devastating effects on human health and cause birth defects.

Recently, the administration unveiled its new position on mountaintop coal mining and set out a number of new restrictions on the practice in six Appalachian states. These new rules will require tougher environmental review before blowing up mountains. But it’s a minimal step.

The Obama administration is being forced into a political compromise. It has sacrificed a strong position on mountaintop removal in order to ensure the support of coal-state legislators for a climate bill. The political pressures are very real. But this is an approach to coal that defeats the purpose of the administration’s larger efforts to fight climate change, a sad political bargain that will never get us the change we need on mountaintop removal, coal or the climate. Coal is the linchpin in mitigating global warming, and it’s senseless to allow cheap mountaintop-removal coal while the administration is simultaneously seeking policies to boost renewable energy.

Mountaintop removal, which provides a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal, is done by clear-cutting forests, blowing the tops off of mountains, and then dumping the debris into streambeds — an undeniably catastrophic

We must make clear that we the people want a move toward a rapid phase-out of coal emissions now.

way of mining. This technique has buried more than 800 miles of Appalachian streams in mining debris and by 2012 will have serious damaged or destroyed an area larger than Delaware.