October 14-22, 2006
This weekend, Ana welcomes THOCBDC back to Thailand.
While we were away from Bangkok the owners of our building gave us a new kitchen. It is quite an improvement over the old one.
PS: Did you ever wonder what the crew rest area looked like on the long haul airlines? My friend, Dan, from Shanghai and Taipei sent these photographs.
1. Business class - Boeing 747
2. First class - KLM
3. Airbus A340
4. Boeing 777
5. Singapore Airlines
6. Air Canada
7. Economy Class on XX Airlines!
PPS: Athenee Residence as of yesterday.
Oct 15, 2006:
George, our long-time friend from Lucky Stiff in Asia, sent us this "Welcome back to Thailand" photo:
This dog is waiting for his owner while she is shopping for groceries at the market. The photo was taken on the 15th of October, 2006 at the Sahachai Market in Sattahip, Chonburi (near Pattaya). The dog saw me and gave me a good smile for the picture, but did not move from his position on the motorcycle.
We also have a completely revamped swimming pool area.
PS: This afternoon my 'minder' in Bangkok sent me this cheery little caution.
Public Announcement from U.S. Embassy Bangkok
1. This Public Announcement updates information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests overseas. This supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated June 6, 2006 and expires on April 9, 2007.
2. The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics to include assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings.
3. Ongoing events in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East have resulted in demonstrations and associated violence in several countries. Americans are reminded that demonstrations and rioting can occur with little or no warning.4. In August 2006, British authorities arrested a significant number of extremists engaged in a plot to destroy multiple passenger aircraft flying from the United Kingdom to the United States. The September 2006 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Syria and the March 2006 bombing near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, illustrate the continuing desire of extremists to strike American targets.
5. Extremists may elect to use conventional or non- conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. A series of bombings in Thailand in May and September 2006 which targeted tourist destinations, the bombings in the Egyptian resort town of Dahab in April 2006, the bombings at a market in Palu, Indonesia in December 2005, the hotel bombings in Jordan in early November 2005 and the bombing of a crowded marketplace in New Delhi in October 2005 illustrate how terrorists exploit vulnerabilities associated with soft targets. Additional examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas and locales where Americans gather in large numbers, including during holidays. Financial or economic targets of value may also be considered as possible venues; the failed attack on the Abqaiq oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia in late February 2006 is one such example.
6. In the wake of the August 2006 plot against aircraft in London, numerous terrorist attacks on trains in India in 2006, the July 2005 London Underground bombings, and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid, Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. In addition, extremists may also select aviation and maritime services as possible targets.
7. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" found at http://travel.state.gov.
8. U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Americans abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
9. As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
The Department of State encourages all Americans traveling or residing abroad to register their trip and the Department of State recently centralized its worldwide traveler registration system into one database. All registrations are now done on-line through this database. This registration system is good for both short-term travelers and long-term residents overseas. Once registered, you can log into the system to update your address and emergency contact information whenever necessary. The registration database can be found at: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/
The Consular Section will conduct its next consular outreach trip in Pattaya on Friday, October 27. We will be at the Dusit Resort on Beach Road from 8:00 AM until 12:00 noon.
The American Citizen Services Unit will be closed on October 23 and 27.
The American Citizen Services Unit is located at 95 Wireless Road,
American Citizen Services Unit Window Hours:
Tel: +66-2-205-4049 Fax: +66-2-205-4103
PPS: Thank goD the Republicans were liars ... not just dumb.
White House advisors sought the support of conservative Christians but mocked them in private, writes a onetime administration official.
By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer
October 13, 2006
WASHINGTON – A new book by a former White House official says that President Bush's top political advisors privately ridiculed evangelical supporters as "nuts" and "goofy" while embracing them in public and using their votes to help win elections.
The former official also writes that the White House office of faith-based initiatives, which Bush promoted as a nonpolitical effort to support religious social-service organizations, was told to host pre-election events designed to mobilize religious voters who would most likely favor Republican candidates.
The assertions by David Kuo, a top official in the faith-based initiatives program, have rattled Republican strategists already struggling to persuade evangelical voters to turn out this fall for the GOP.
Some conservatives lamented Thursday that the book, "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction," also comes in the midst of the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, another threat to conservative turnout in competitive House and Senate races.
The book is scheduled to be in stores Monday, but the White House responded to its assertions Thursday.
In the book, Kuo, who quit the White House in 2003, accuses Karl Rove's political staff of cynically hijacking the faith-based initiatives idea for electoral gain. It assails Bush for failing to live up to his promises of boosting the role of religious organizations in delivering social services.
White House strategists "knew 'the nuts' were politically invaluable, but that was the extent of their usefulness," Kuo writes, according to the cable channel MSNBC, which obtained an advance copy.
"Sadly, the political affairs folks complained most often and most loudly about how boorish many politically involved Christians were. ... National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous' and 'out of control.'"
It is unclear whether Kuo identifies any specific official as having used the dismissive language.
The book says that before the 2002 elections, then-White House political director Ken Mehlman issued "marching orders" to use the faith-based initiative in 20 House and Senate races, according to MSNBC. To avoid appearing overtly political, Mehlman said his staff would arrange for congressional offices to request visits from the faith-based program officials.
Throughout the 2002 and 2004 campaigns, faith-based officials would meet with lawmakers in some places in an effort to generate publicity for them, while also hosting conferences in battleground states attracting hundreds of pastors and community activists eager to learn how to apply for federal grants.
A spokeswoman for Mehlman, who is now chairman of the Republican National Committee, said he did not recall the directives mentioned by Kuo. As political director, she said, "it was Mehlman's job to both engage outside groups and inform decision makers in the White House about support for the president's agenda."
Kuo is scheduled to appear Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes" as part of a rollout arranged by his publisher, Simon & Schuster, which shares a corporate parent with CBS.
Despite a publisher-enforced embargo, a copy of the book was purchased early at a Manhattan bookstore by a producer for MSNBC's "Countdown," a spokesman for the cable channel said. Program host Keith Olbermann began reading excerpts on his Wednesday show.
Kuo's descriptions could do political damage to a Republican Party that has staked its formula for success on motivating the conservative base.
"Here we go again," said Paul M. Weyrich, a leading religious conservative with close ties to the White House, referring to the avalanche of negative factors that he predicted would keep "embarrassed Republicans" from voting, just as the Watergate scandal did in the 1970s. "If Republicans win, it will prove God is a Republican, since it will take a miracle."
Weyrich said Kuo, while still a White House official, told him of frustrations that the faith-based program had become entangled in politics. The initiative had been a signature proposal by Bush in the 2000 campaign but lost momentum amid partisan battles on Capitol Hill and the intense focus on security after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Weyrich said that Bush and many of his aides were genuinely interested in the program. But, he added, "I don't have any illusions about Rove. I think that he advocates conservatism because he believes it's the way to win."
The White House denied Kuo's account with help Thursday from two former officials popular among evangelicals — former speechwriter Michael Gerson and former faith-based initiative director Jim Towey.
Gerson called Kuo's account "laughable," while Towey cited a December 2002 e-mail from Kuo expressing positive feelings about the program's progress in promoting "compassionate conservatism."
"He doesn't seem to have been working at the same White House where I worked," Towey said. "I had marching orders from the president to keep the faith-based initiative nonpolitical, and I did."
Still, neither Gerson nor Towey denied Kuo's assertion that politics did factor into the initiative.
"Ken Mehlman was doing his job, which was to worry about races," said Towey, who is currently president of St. Vincent College, a Catholic school in Pennsylvania.
Towey's travel took him to a number of battleground states in 2002, but he said that he also visited places such as Boston that were not important to the GOP's electoral goals.
And in addition to meetings with Republicans, he said he appeared in public with Democrats such as former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakots, who was running for reelection, and Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. of Tennessee, who is running this year for the Senate.
Kuo is not the first insider to accuse the White House of politicizing the faith-based program. John J. DiIulio Jr., the first director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, resigned after seven months and was quoted as saying that the White House was run by "Mayberry Machiavellians" who sometimes put politics ahead of other causes.
While many Democrats opposed the initiative as a violation of church-state separation, the White House used the program to build alliances with prominent African American ministers, some of whom switched political allegiances to back Bush. It was part of a larger minority outreach program designed by Rove and other conservative activists to slice off pieces of the traditional Democratic coalitions in order to build a lasting GOP majority.
(A) dinner at Salathip Thai restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel
(B) lunch at the Terrace Cafe in Central Department Store
(C) dinner at home, Suki style
This photo of some lovely ladies comes by way of my friend, George, at www.LuckyStiffAsia.com.
|Shark Energy Drink Girls - Jomtien Beach - Pattaya The Shark Girls were in attendance at the National Jet Ski Championship. In Thailand these convention, sports events and car show models are known as "Pretties"|
Buffet dinner at Next 2 in the Shangri-La hotel. Living next door to the hotel makes going out to eat faster than eating in.
I know that I have overwhelmed you with food since we arrived home. It's been one restaurant or another, one soi (*) food meal or another. Well, tonight we have a wide range of soi foods because there are more mouths to feed.
Dear reader, you are familiar with three of the faces: Watcharee, Pom and Golf. The three relative strangers (**) are Isabel (small girl), Tangtai (Isabel's mother) and Dang (Tangtai's mother).
(*) "Soi" is Thai for street. It is called soi food because it is sold from carts on the street ... improvised kitchens on wheels, so to speak. Much of it is remarkably good.
(**) Those with long memories may recall that Tangtai is married to Kjell (a Norwegian living in Norway); that Dang is married to Patrick (an Irishman living in Saudi Arabia).1 For the curious, Tangtai and her daughter are just on vacation here in Bangkok; they will return to Norway shortly. Dang will return to Saudia Arabia next month.
1 Both husbands have made appearances at THOCBDC in the past.
PS: My first personal snaps of the place since we returned home:
Unapologetically the food theme continues.
Last night the lure of further soi food faded a bit. But, by looking out the window I was tempted in another direction: The Prime in the Millennium Hilton.
Watcharee, myself, Pom and Golf got in the car ... with Watcharee being the designated driver ... and drove the three kilometers to Bangkok's newest five star hotel.
The night time view from both the dining room and the 360 degree roof bar is spectacular. We were so impressed with it that we booked three nights in the place for next week.
Dear reader, THOCBDC has taken you to The Prime several times in the past but for the newcomers here is the place, the food and the people.
Next: Part II