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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Well, in the USA, Barack Obama is still president, although Gallup has his job approval at 43% and Rasmussen says 49% of U.S. voters approve of his job performance.  On the other hand, Australians last year ranked Obama as the most admired world figure.  However, #2 was Julia Gilliard, who no longer is prime minister.  Amazingly enough, last year, compared to Russia, China, the European Union and Germany, Obama was #1 among these other world leaders in approval:

I didn't realize Vladimir Putin was that unpopular in his country.  However, you got to wonder who Gallup polled, for:

The results of the poll, conducted by the All-Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) earlier this month, showed that Mr Putin’s approval rating had increased from 82 per cent to 85 per cent since April, and by more than a third since the beginning of the year.

By the way, candy tycoon Petro O. Poroshenko will become the next president of Ukraine.  He is a pro-European billionaire, and bested former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.  Poroshenko's victory speech had at  his side, leader of the street protests, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

Presidential politics, Egyptian style, is efficient.  Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi removed elected President Mohammed Morsi in a "popular revolution," not, according to el-Sissi, a military coup.  Today is the second day of presidential voting, which the Muslim Brotherhood is boycotting, and it will not be a surprise if he wins, in fact, it will be a shock if he loses.  However, maybe military rule is best today for the country.

The king of coups, however, is Thailand.  Since 1912, there have been 30 attempts.  Since  1932 there have been twelve successful coups.  The latest is not a military coup, according to the Thai Army.  Mind you, soldiers now carry roses, but it was, for martial law was declared last week.

Heading this all is General Prayuth Chan-ocha.  He kind of looks like FM el-Sissi and appears to have the same hat.  I was in Bangkok around a quarter century ago when there was another military coup, and, as the Thai and American governments could not officially communicate, I helped serve as a courier of information between the U.S. Embassy and the Thai equivalent of the Department of Energy.  Made a lot of good friends and we later worked out a research and education exchange program.

The latest effort to depose Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (left) resulted in 30 killed, 700 injured and my early departure from Bangkok last month.  Yingluck's brother Thaksin also experienced an Army takeover in 2006, after which he went into exile.  It's as simple as this, their beloved 86 year old King Bhumibol Adulyadej (who is Rama IX and has ruled for 68 years--Yul Brynner's King was Mongkut, Rama IV), the Thai Army and the "ruling class (oligarchs)" are comfortable with each other.  Thaksin's rule was supported by the poorer and downtrodden throughout the country.  The traditional order has now been restored.

How are the tourists doing?  Visitors are down, and the curfew from 10PM to 5AM is generally being followed, but click on this article for the exceptions...and there are many.  The military won't allow anyone to close the international airport, so feel free to go.


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