Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thailand: Tearing Apart TIME Magazine's Propaganda

Image: TIME's love affair with Thai dictator,
accused mass murderer, and convicted crim-
inal Thaksin Shinawatra stretches back as
far as the State Department's support for him
- no mere coincidence.
January 21, 2014 (ATN) - TIME Magazine echos Wall Street and Washington - so when it speaks, readers must listen in that context. Nothing shows the link between TIME's biased, intentionally misleading propaganda and the agenda of the corporate-financier elite that rule America better than the fact that its last managing editor left in 2013 to join the US State Department. Politico would report in its article, "Richard Stengel leaving Time for State Department," that:
Richard Stengel, the top editor of Time magazine for the past seven years, is planning to step down as managing editor for a new job at the U.S. Department of State, sources familiar with the situation tell POLITICO and Capital New York.
With that in mind, readers must understand that what TIME publishes isn't reality, but rather "reality" according to what suits US interests, and more specifically, Wall Street's interests.

This explains the overt attacks by TIME against Thailand's anti-regime protesters, their current "Occupy Bangkok" campaign, and the opposition party that is in-part leading them. In a November 2013 article titled, "Thailand’s Democrat Party Is Hilariously Misnamed," TIME openly mocks the Democrat Party of Thailand in a display of propaganda both incredibly unprofessional and riddled with intentional lies.

In its most recent piece, "The World’s Most Visited City Is Again Marred by Violent Protest: Here’s Why," the lies continue, in the form of questions and answers to help "explain" the ongoing Thai crisis to unsuspecting readers:

1. Why are they protesting?

TIME claims: "Protesters accuse Yingluck, 46, of being a puppet of her elder brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra." 

Reality: Indeed protesters accuse Yingluck Shianwatra of being a puppet of her elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. This is because Thaksin Shinawatra and the ruling party of which Yingluck is the puppet of, have openly and repeatedly admitted this. 

While Thailand is technically under the premiership of Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, by his party's own admission, Thaksin is still literally running the country. The election campaign slogan for the last general election in 2011 was literally, "Thaksin Thinks, Puea Thai Does," Puea Thai being his political party. Forbes would report in their article, "Thaksin in Exile: Advising Sister, Digging for Gold," that: 
Regarding his behind-the-scenes role in the party and policy, he is not shy: “I am the one who thinks. Like our slogan during the campaign, Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts.”
The New York Times admitted in an early 2013 article titled, "In Thailand, Power Comes With Help From Skype," that: 
For the past year and a half, by the party’s own admission, the most important political decisions in this country of 65 million people have been made from abroad, by a former prime minister who has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape corruption charges. 
The country’s most famous fugitive,Thaksin Shinawatra, circles the globe in his private jet, chatting with ministers over his dozen cellphones, texting over various social media platforms and reading government documents e-mailed to him from civil servants, party officials say.
The NYT piece would also report:  
“He’s the one who formulates the Pheu Thai policies,” said Noppadon Pattama, a senior official in Mr. Thaksin’s party who also serves as his personal lawyer. “Almost all the policies put forward during the last election came from him.” 

ImageThe New York Times openly admits that Thailand is currently run by unelected convicted criminal/fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. Clearly any proxy government or elections in which it participates in are illegitimate by both Thai and international standards. Thaksin's foreign ties are what have afforded him impunity regarding an otherwise cartoonish, 3rd world dictatorship. 

There is no question that an accused mass murderer and convicted criminal hiding abroad from a 2 year jail sentence, multiple arrest warrants, and a long list of pending court cases, is illegally running Thailand by proxy. Being unelected, Thaksin Shinawatra is by all accounts a dictator, and his "government" a regime, however cleverly they try to dress it up

Elections in any other nation on Earth, including the United States in which the Washington Post is based, featuring a convicted criminal openly running a contending party would be unacceptable - and in Thailand as well, they are equally unacceptable. Protesters therefore are standing up against overt criminality, not "against democracy." 

2. What do the protesters want?

TIME claims: "...the opposition wants democracy suspended and an unelected “people’s council” to enact murky reforms, possibly taking up to two years, to permanently purge Thailand of Thaksin’s influence."

Reality: The Thai protesters have many clear-cut demands that center on rolling back the many abusive and corrupt policies put into place under the various incarnations of Thaksin Shianwatra's regime. They focus on eliminating legal loopholes that have allowed Thaksin Shinawatra to openly run the country despite being a convicted criminal hiding abroad - a scenario TIME surely does not believe is conducive to a legitimate, functional modern state. They also seek to decentralize any future government's control over the police to prevent them from being used as a political institution instead of what they are supposed to be - impartial defenders of the rule of law. Others include: 
  • No Amnesty - This refers to an amnesty bill designed by and for Thaksin Shinawatra to absolve himself of a decade of plundering, lying, and mass murder. While the government eventually backed off, it was only because massive street protests were mobilized. When the Constitution Court declared the bill unconstitutional, the ruling regime announced that it no longer recognized the authority of the court - even while using constitutionality to condemn the protests. Even though it is considered "dead," Thaksin's entire future depends on it eventually passing. Protesters feel the only way to truly kill this bill, is to remove entirely the regime attempting such an absurd abuse of power.
Image: Another issue protesters have is with the changing of article 190 which allows the regime to now unilaterally sign treaties without the parliament's approval. This will be used specifically to pass through a series of extremely unpopular free trade agreements with the regime's Western sponsors.
3. So, they’re protesting for less democracy?

TIME claims: "...pro-government supporters claim that royalists and urban upper classes are simply bitter that political power has shifted from the city to the provinces."

Reality: Of course, since a convicted criminal/fugitive is openly running Thailand, it is clearly not a protest for "less democracy," but a protest against the abuse of the democratic process to dress up an overt dictatorship. 

Also, the myth of a "class divide" is a frequent theme in Western propaganda regarding the current Thai political crisis. Claiming the protesters are "royalists and urban upper classes" is easily dispelled by simply looking at the numbers:

35%: The number of eligible voters, according to the Thai Election Commission's final tally for the 2011 elections, that actually voted for the Shinawatra regime. Were we to believe Reuters, that would mean the other 65% of all eligible voters were billionaire urban aristocrats - an absurdity even at face value. 

48%: The percentage out of those that did bother to vote who voted for the regime - meaning Thaksin Shinawatra's proxy party did not even garner a basic popular majority in the last election. 

7%: The number of Thais who identify themselves as "red," or supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra and his political machine. Another 7% identify themselves as only leaning toward "red," for a grand total of 14% - this according to the Asia Foundation's 2010 National Public Perception Survey of the Thai Electorate - full .pdf here). 

26: The number of provinces in which rice farmers have threatened to block (or already are blocking) roads, joining anti-regime protesters. These are the very Thais that actually did vote for the regime - but have since been cheated in a vote-buying rice scheme that has now run out of money. They had their promised prices first slashed last summer, and have now not been paid at all since October. 

In TIME's next question, "So, is this simply about rich vs. poor?" it even concedes it is more about regionalism than class - since millions of rural people in the south of Thailand are clearly opposed to Thaksin Shinawatra and his regime - many traveling to Bangkok to take part in the protests or closing down provincial government offices in support of them. 

4. Will the elections happen? What’s the alternative?

TIME claims: "Hard to say." And, "Both the army and courts are understood to be anti-Thaksin institutions, and by extension favor the protesters. The judiciary has been quietly gnawing away at Yingluck’s legitimacy with a raft of legal challenges to her administration."

Reality: The elections, featuring Thaksin Shinawatra's proxy party as the only viable contender with all opposition parties boycotting them, would be written off as sham elections anywhere else if it weren't for Wall Street and Washington's support for the current regime. 

Claiming that the courts are an "anti-Thaksin institution" is a common claim made by Thaksin and his Western lobbyists - but fails to recognize that all the courts are doing is ruling against his overt criminality - which is their assigned duty according to the Thai Constitution. It would be difficult for TIME to list the rulings, such as those against attempts to rewrite the Constitution and usurp power from the Parliament and shift it to the Prime Minister, and claim despotic criminality wasn't afoot, and thankfully being blocked by a competent judicial system. 

5. Thaksin: Messiah or Lucifer?

TIME claims: "A little of both. Thaksin’s popular policies undoubtedly did a colossal amount for the rural poor, whereas previous governments had largely ignored their plight. However, that he feathered his own nest in the process is undeniable, and his 2003 war on drugs involved some 2,800 extrajudicial killings, according to Human Rights Watch, of which half the victims were allegedly innocent of any crime. The image of him urging supporters into potentially deadly confrontations with security forces while he relaxes in his Dubai mansion is hardly inspiring."

Reality: It is difficult to understand what TIME means by Thaksin having done "a colossal amount for the rural poor," since they are still destitute and now have been left unpaid for nearly half a year by his failed vote-buying populist scams. TIME does briefly touch on Thaksin's abhorrent human rights record - but attempts to soften it by claiming the thousands of dead were only "allegedly innocent of any crime." In fact, they were all absolutely innocent - since guilt is determined in a court of law after formal charges are brought against a suspect, and extrajudicial executions in the streets precluded either. 

Other egregious human rights violations associated with Thaksin Shinawatra, unmentioned by TIME's lengthy disinformation piece, include: 

TIME would also touch on prominent protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, digging up corruption cases that occurred before some of today's current protesters were even born, as well as mentioning "murder charges" regarding what it calls " the 2010 crackdown on pro-Thaksin demonstrators."  In reality, 2010's violence was the result of Thaksin Shianwatra, by his political subordinates' own admission, deploying some 300 heavily armed, professional mercenaries onto the streets of Bangkok who would initially ambush and kill soldiers starting April 10, 2010, and engage in daily/nightly gun battles with Thai troops for several weeks. 

6. How bad could things get?

TIME claims:
 "In 2010, a largely peaceful Red Shirt demonstration in central Bangkok was brutally crushed by Thai security forces with around 90 killed and 2,000 injured. Tanks rolled into the Thai capital’s busy shopping district, usually teeming with throngs of tourists, and the CentralWorld mall was gutted by fire. (The military accused protesters of torching it deliberately, while protesters say a soldier’s smoke grenade sparked the blaze.) By comparison, nine people have been killed and 500 injured in the latest unrest. But if Yingluck is removed by a military or judicial coup, the Red Shirts will once again march on Bangkok and history could very well repeat itself."

Reality: Regarding 2010, Human Rights Watch, based on video and photographic evidence, would describe in detail the violence the BBC only alludes to in April, revealing that first blood was drawn by heavily armed militants with professional bearing attacking government troops.
Descent into Chaos (.pdf)
Page 62 of Human Rights Watch's "Descent into Chaos (.pdf)" report stated:

"As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills."
Clearly, the protesters, portrayed by the Western media as only being armed with crude sling shots and rocks were cover for a much more insidious force, heavily armed with military-grade weapons who in fact, drew first blood on April 10, 2010, killing 7 soldiers and dozens of bystanders in the deadly crossfire that ensued. Evidence also suggests that opposition snipers purposefully targeted their own protesters to escalate the conflict further.

Video: Video footage from April 10, 2010, aired on AlJazeera, clearly shows Thaksin's militants employing tactically both AK-47s and M16 assault rifles. 

Image: Thaksin Shinawatra's militants can be seen here clearly deploying both an AK-47 and an M16 with an M203 grenade launcher attached below the hand guards. Clearly, those killed and wounded by the M16's 5.56mm rounds weren't solely the victims of military gunfire. 

Image: A freeze frame of the above footage showing clearly the front sight posts of an M16A2. It is important to understand that these militants were armed with M16s, because many of the charges Thaksin's party has leveled against his enemies hinge on the assumption that only the Army possessed weapons firing this particular caliber. 

International spokesman for the protesters, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters elements of the army were with their movement, including the black-clad mystery gunmen that took part in the April 10 bloodbath. He stated: 
"The red shirts' international spokesman, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters elements of the army are with their movement. They are known as "watermelons" -- green on the outside but red in the middle -- and they include the shadowy, black-clad men with military weapons that were seen at the April 10th crackdown.

"They are a secret unit within the army that disagrees with what's going on. Without them, the black clad men, there would have been a whole lot more deaths and injuries," he said.
The suspected leader of these militants, renegade general Khattiya Sawasdipol, known as "Seh Daeng," further corroborated that the opposition was in fact armed  by admitting to commanding 300 armed men trained for ''close encounters'' and carrying M79 grenade launchers, before withdrawing his comment in later interviews.

Video: A brief exposé of what the silent majority in Thailand have had to tolerate for years under the regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and his "red shirt" mobs. Here, various red shirt leaders, including Jatuporn Promphan, take turns openly conspiring to loot, destroy, and burn to the ground buildings across Bangkok. 

ImagesJust days later, scores of buildings would be left in flames, many being burnt to the ground. Of the 92 that died, many were red shirts who perished from smoke inhalation while looting buildings fellow protesters lit ablaze.  In the wake of the obvious and large scale crime, red shirt leaders would shamelessly claim it was the military, not them - in a display of astounding deceit that has, like their violence, become a hallmark of their reign of terror across Thailand's political landscape and one of many features that necessitates their complete political and organizational uprooting. 

From April 10, until the widespread arson that marked the end of the protests on May 19, daily and nightly gun battles, grenade attacks, and sniper fire would claim the lives of 90+ people. This included 9 soldiers and police, a woman killed by an M79 grenade attack originating from militant positions, and at least two protesters who died of smoke inhalation while looting a building fellow protesters lit ablaze. The remaining deaths included journalists, bystanders, medical workers, and protesters caught in crossfire between soldiers and heavily armed militants.

Throw-Away Propaganda 

The level of deceit exhibited by TIME closes the case against the clearly and intentionally dishonest narrative it tries to peddle to unsuspecting readers. Of course, it must be mentioned that the current "violence" TIME alludes to in its title, is the result of nightly and now almost daily attacks by regime terrorists who have already admitted to their plans to stockpile and deploy heavy weapons against protesters - in fact - they did so in another TIME article. 

In TIME's "Bangkok Shutdown: Yingluck Supporters Prepare to Fight for Democracy," it's reported that: 
As Thailand’s anti-government protests enter their fourth day, observers say prospects for violent confrontation are increasing, with reports of government supporters stockpiling weapons in case of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ouster. 
According to the Bangkok Post, radical members of the Red Shirts — diehard champions of Yingluck and her notorious brother Thaksin Shinawatra — are readying a cache of arms in case the 46-year-old premier is forced from office by either military or judicial intervention. 
The paper quoted a Red Shirt source as saying “There are strong anti-coup and anti-court sentiments among the red-shirt mavericks who are familiar and experienced with weapon use.”
This was one day before a deadly grenade attack killed one and left nearly 40 others injured. It would be followed by a double grenade attack and nightly shootings. 

Clearly TIME is backing a terroristic regime as dangerous as it is illegitimate. To understand the adamant support Wall Street and Washington are lending this otherwise tyrannical and brutal regime, it is important to repeat the last decade of servile obedience Thaksin Shinawatra has rendered for these foreign interests: 

  • In the late 1990's, Thaksin was an adviser to notorious private equity firm, the Carlyle Group. He pledged to his foreign contacts that upon taking office, he would still serve as a "matchmaker" between the US equity fund and Thai businesses. 
  • In 2001 he privatized Thailand's resources and infrastructure including the nation's oil conglomerate PTT - much to Wall Street's delight. 
  • In 2003, he would commit Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq, despite widespread protests from both the Thai military and the public. Thaksin would also allow the CIA to use Thailand for its abhorrent rendition program.
  • Also in 2004, Thaksin attempted to ramrod through a US-Thailand Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) without parliamentary approval, backed by the US-ASEAN Business Council who just before the 2011 elections that saw Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra brought into power, hosted the leaders of Thaksin’s "red shirt" "United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship" (UDD) in Washington DC.
  • Since the 2006 coup that toppled his regime, Thaksin has been represented by US corporate-financier elites via their lobbying firms including, Kenneth Adelman of the Edelman PR firm (Freedom HouseInternational Crisis Group,PNAC), James Baker of Baker Botts (CFR, Carlyle Group), and Robert Blackwill (CFR) of Barbour Griffith & Rogers (BGR)Kobre & KimBell Pottinger (and here).

    TIME's take on Thailand is throw-away propaganda aimed at the uninformed, to keep them intentionally uninformed in an effort to shelter and perpetuate Thaksin Shianwatra's power in Thailand. And TIME is not alone, biased reporting has come from other Western establishment mouthpieces, including the BBC, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), just to name a few - all peddling the same dishonest concerted message that TIME has.

    As the West takes an increasingly harder stance against protesters in Bangkok, to ignore the greater geopolitical dimensions in which Thailand's current political crisis is unfolding, would ultimately be folly.