News & Current Affairs

November 20, 2008

Fatal blast hits Bangkok protest

Fatal blast hits Bangkok protest

Protesters react after the explosion in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 November 2008

The pre-dawn blast rocked an area where demonstrators had set up camp

An explosion in Bangkok has killed at least one anti-government protester and wounded more than 20.

The pre-dawn blast rocked an area where demonstrators had set up camp in the city’s Government House compound.

Protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) group have occupied the area since late August.

They are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s government, saying it is too close to ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

The demonstrators said a grenade had exploded near the main stage of their protest site at about 0330 (2030 GMT Wednesday).

The protests have seen some of the worst street violence since pro-democracy activists challenged Thailand’s army in 1992.

Abuse of power?

The PAD has proved a remarkably resilient movement, forcing the resignation of a prime minister and two cabinet ministers, and nearly provoking a military coup.

Anti-government rally in Bangkok on 30/10/08

Anti-government rallies have been held in Bangkok for months

While the protesters have been targeted by small bomb attacks in recent weeks, the latest explosion could herald the start of more aggressive efforts to dislodge them, our correspondent adds.

An alliance of conservative and staunchly royalist academics, activists and business people, the PAD accuses Mr Somchai and his recently-ousted predecessor, Samak Sundaravej, of simply being proxies for Thaksin.

The PAD wants to replace Thailand’s one-man, one-vote system with one in which some representatives are chosen by professions and social groups rather than the general electorate.

Thaksin, Mr Somchai’s brother-in-law, was forced from office in a military coup in 2006 and remains in exile overseas.

The new government says it wants to start negotiations with the PAD. But it is also pushing ahead with controversial plans to amend the constitution – a key grievance of the protesters who see it as part of a plan to rehabilitate Thaksin.

It accuses him of corruption and abuse of power while he was in office, and has suggested he and his allies have a hidden republican agenda – a serious charge at a time when the country is beset by anxiety over the future of the monarchy.

Thaksin was last month convicted in absentia of violating conflict of interest rules, and still faces several other charges.


Are you in Bangkok? Have you seen the protests? Did you witness the blast? Send us your comments

Advertisements

August 7, 2008

Hilton spoof hits back at McCain

Hilton spoof hits back at McCain

Socialite Paris Hilton has made a spoof advertisement in response to a jibe by US presidential hopeful John McCain.

A commercial suggested Mr McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama, was no more than a lightweight celebrity, like Hilton or Britney Spears.

But in a spoof recording placed on the comedy website Funny or Die, Hilton referred to Mr McCain as “that wrinkly, white-haired guy”.

She claimed being used in his ad meant she was now “running for president”.

‘Complete waste’

Reclining on a chair in a swimming costume and gold stilettos, she said: “Thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude.

“I want America to know that I’m, like, totally ready to lead.”

Paris Hilton and John McCain

Hilton (left) joked she wanted to be president after Mr McCain’s jibe

At the beginning of the star’s film, an announcer called Mr McCain “the oldest celebrity in the world, like super-old; old enough to remember when dancing was a sin and beer was served in a bucket”.Hilton’s spoof also intersperses images of Mr McCain and Yoda from Star Wars and the cast of TV show The Golden Girls.

The star, who spent 23 days in a Los Angeles prison for breaching probation on a driving ban last year, then discusses her energy “policy”.

The 27-year-old suggested a hybrid of Mr McCain’s offshore oil-drilling plan and Mr Obama’s incentives for new energy technology.

“Energy crisis solved. I’ll see you at the debates,” she said.

A spokesman for Mr McCain’s campaign, Tucker Bounds, said: “Paris Hilton might not be as big a celebrity as Barack Obama, but she obviously has a better energy plan.”

Hilton’s mother Kathy, who – along with her husband – donated $4,600 (£2,353) to Mr McCain’s campaign earlier in the year, has commented on the Republican advert.

This was “a complete waste of the country’s time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs”, she said.

Blog at WordPress.com.