To Punish Thai Police, a Hello Kitty Armband

BANGKOK, It is the pink armband of shame for wayward police officers, as cute as can be with a Hello Kitty face and a pair of linked hearts.

No matter how many ribbons for valor a Thai officer may wear, if he parks in the wrong place, or shows up late for work, or is seen dropping a bit of litter on the sidewalk, he can be ordered to wear the insignia.

“Simple warnings no longer work,” said Pongpat Chayaphan, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok, who instituted the new humiliation this week. […]

Mr. Pongpat, who has trained with the American Secret Service and the Canadian police, was promoted to head the division three months ago and says he wants to modernize his force, “even though we lack the highest technology, equipment and mind-set.” […]

An early experiment using armbands was not encouraging. Mr. Pongpat first tried using plaid ones. But instead of feeling shame, Major Weeraprach said, the officers took them home as souvenirs. The force still has only one of the ten it originally issued.

Full article:

[thanks Maaike for alerting me!]


1,500 Philipino inmates performing ‘Thriller’: looks professional!!!

They do have the time to practice of course…

Check it out: inmates of a Philipino Correctional Facility (CPDRC) doing their practice run some 2 weeks ago….

And their final performance last Wednesday for a real audience and Philipino media…

They also did Queen’s ‘Radio Gaga’ and several other songs. There are YouTube posts dating till as early as October last year of different performances by inmates of the same prison! They actually seem to like this dancing and synchronized marching, even when it seems very un-tough (i.e. like almost classical ballet type of movements in their Sister Act performance). Interesting…it does have a bit of positive vibe…Would this also work in other countries???

p.s. Thanks Perez H. for posting this video!

To swim or not to swim in Saudi

By Rachel Reid, BBC News, Saudi Arabia
5 May 2007

For full story:

…Perhaps that is why I called the hotel before I arrived, to ask a question I already knew the answer to – will I be able to use the swimming pool?

The response was a small silence, and then an embarrassed laugh. “Er, No madam. The pool is, of course, for men only. I am so sorry.” So the idea of women swimming in public was laughable….

The women of Saudi Arabia are not just folded away behind swathes of hot black cloth, they live segregated lives, ushered out of the all-male public spaces into so called “family” areas, escorted everywhere by husbands or male relatives, and expected to ask for male permission to travel.

Undeterred, I wrote a slightly uppity e-mail to the manager of the hotel, protesting that whatever discrimination I expected in the country, I didn’t expect it in an international hotel, and asking how he could justify charging me the same price for a lesser service.

I suggested that he could arrange a single sex time for women to swim. I even offered to swim in my abaya. To my surprise, he agreed to my request. The pool would be mine between six and seven in the morning. So, wishing I had someone to witness me swimming in cloak and goggles, I arrived for my swim, at dawn.

The night manager of the leisure centre, Walid, was waiting for me, in a state of nervous excitement. “Good morning Madam,” he said. “We have everything ready for you. We have cordoned off the pool, placed screens all around.” “So if you have everything you need I shall lock you out here so that you won’t be disturbed.”

He paused for a moment with his keys, and fixed me with a conspiratorial look. “I have to congratulate you, Madam, I think you are the first woman to swim in public in all Saudi Arabia!” I grinned. “A small revolution?” I asked. “No a big revolution. I don’t think you realise how big,” he said, shaking his head in amazement. […]

Later that day I met an impressive woman of the Gulf called Haya Rashed al Khalifa. Haya is one of Bahrain’s first female lawyers, and currently the President of the United Nations General Assembly.

She was in Riyadh to address a gathering of Arab heads of state; an unusual occasion in a region where female politicians are still an unfamiliar sight.

The first nationwide elections only took place here two years ago. Women were not allowed to vote, let alone stand as candidates. But Haya told the rows of men seated in front of her that they could not avoid change any longer. The right to swim comes a long way down the list of demands of the women in Saudi Arabia – well below the right to vote, or the right to drive a car It was time, she told the Arab leaders, that they recognised that women are part of the human race.

Meeting Haya later, I told her I was struck by her optimism. This repression of women, she told me, is not about Islam. It is about culture. Just look at how interpretations of Islam shift with geography. The closer countries are to other civilisations – the more progressive they are. Take Tunisia, in North Africa, where women have had full rights for 50 years. The tides of change have now reached the Gulf.

I told her about my small ripple at the hotel. Her jaw dropped. “You asked to swim in Saudi Arabia? Young lady,” she said, “that is more of a breakthrough than mine!” It wasn’t of course. The right to swim comes a long way down the list of demands of the women in Saudi Arabia – well below the right to vote, or the right to drive a car. But the Saudi leaders are beginning to address that list. They have said that women will be allowed to vote in the local elections of 2009. If they keep their promise, that will be a revolution.

The women voters might still be hidden beneath abayas, but they surely won’t be expected to bring their male escorts into the voting booths. Will they?

What are we not supposed to think about?

“655,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Who are the terrorists?”
-Rosie O’Donnell from The View comparing U.S. activities with Islamic terrorism

Since Rosie O’Donnell has recently “got quit” from her job on The View (or rather, had her pre-existing plans for departure greatly accelerated) because of uttering this sentence, it is worth taking a second to explore the voracity of Rosie’s statement.

If we take the total confirmed attacks by Al Queda against the West (broadly understood) we have 5 acts of terrorism in total. The 1993 WTC Bombing which killed 6. The 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole which killed 17. The September 11th attacks which killed 2974. The 2004 Madrid bombings which killed 191. And, lastly, the 2005 bombings in London, England which killed 52.

So, Al Qaeda has claimed a total of 3240 fatalities in the West.

Now America’s activities abroad are far too numerous to either delineate or to quantify, so, for simplicity’s sake, let’s limit it only to US involvement in the country of Iraq since the enactment of UN resolution 667 in 1990 up to the present.

The Gulf War and the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq throughout the 90s up until 2003 killed a total of approximately 1,000,000 (source). And, from 2003 up until the present, according to the best and most thorough statistical project undertaken the U.S. has killed approximately 651,000 in the Iraq War. […]