Friday, June 15, 2007

"The military has run out of excuses as to why it cannot protect civilians and restore peace in the deep South "

Thailand's The Nation rightly criticizes the military for their failure in combating the Islamic terrorism in the South:

Insurgents have succeeded in everything that they have set out to do, while the military has failed to achieve any of what the public expects of it. The armed forces have not only failed to contain the worsening situation in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, which have descended into lawlessness, but they have also allowed insurgents to expand their sphere of influence to parts of Songkhla, if not Bangkok, which was rocked by coordinated bombings on New Year's Eve.

The number of people killed since January 4, 2004 has gone well past 2,200, most of them civilians, and it keeps rising. Not a single day has gone by without policemen, troops and civilians being blown up and ambushed, schools being torched, teachers being murdered or other innocent civilians being killed.

Insurgents have been able to challenge the authority of the Thai state, destabilise the southernmost region and wreak havoc on local economies with impunity and little cost to them. Only a handful of suspected insurgents have been arrested and have court proceedings pending in connection with about 20 incidents. Insurgents get away with their crimes 99 per cent of the time.

The military has been so humiliated in this regard that its credibility as an effective fighting force has been cast into doubt, which explains why the armed forces never have good intelligence: local people are too afraid to identify with authorities. This is why government troops who are armed to the teeth dare not venture into areas infiltrated by insurgents.

Troops brave enough to put their lives on the line to do their jobs are left largely to their own devices if targeted by roadside bombs or ambushes - there is little hope of reinforcements arriving promptly. In the absence of clear strategy and workable tactics, the majority of troops stay in their heavily fortified units whiling away their six-month tours of duty.

Big hat tip to BangkokPundit who comments:

So it seems that even The Nation does not believe Thaksin behind the New Year's Eve bombings.

I think at this point the only people who still believe Thaksin are behind the New Year's Eve bombings are those that perpetrated the myth in the first place - the military government who has failed so miserably to do anything constructive in the South. I remember when it happened and all the U.S. news outlets dutifully reported the official military government line that the bombings were the work of "political elements".

For those of you who don't know what is going on in Thailand, here's a great primer to get you started. Also lots more from Dr. Zachary Abuza over at the Counterterrorism Blog here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Generous grants for the privileged

Walter M. Kimbrough, over at Inside Higher Ed, criticizes the practice of the wealthy giving grants to prestigious private universities following the recent announcement that John Kluge has pledged $400 million to Columbia University.

So the colleges with the greatest wealth and the best of everything that money can buy (from faculty to facilities), not only are underrepresented with poor students, but also restrict minority students from accessing these resources. If public universities can be called “gated communities of higher education,” private universities like Columbia are easily the country clubs.

America’s so-called philanthropists ignore these facts, and we continue to laud their generosity to the privileged. At the same time, people of color continue to fall further and further behind, and unless we begin to help those who actually need help, America’s economy will suffer.

Hat tip to Minding The Campus.

Immigration bill roundup

I haven't been following the immigration bill fiasco because so many others are doing a much better job than me. Michelle Malkin is all over it. Just keep scrolling.

Good news from Diyala

Via Bill Roggio, the 1920 Revolution Brigades have attacked Al-Qaeda in Diyala:

The Buhriz group turned on al Qaeda in April, after the group terrorized the local population. "[Al Qaeda] ruled Buhirz with tyranny, they really harmed our town," a member of the Sunni insurgent group told CNN. "We had to stop them, and they left, no return."

"Before, when al Qaeda was here, it was all killing and stealing," another insurgent said. "We would hide in our house this time of day [during daylight]. It was all kidnapping, killing and stealing."

Al Qaeda followed the same pattern of behavior in Anbar province, which led to the formation of the Anbar Salvation Council, the grouping of tribes and insurgents which battle al Qaeda. The 1920 Revolution Brigades makes up a significant portion of the leadership of the Anbar Salvation Council. Recently, the Anbar Salvation Council has sent expeditionary units into Salahadin, Diyala, Babil and Baghdad provinces to organize local Awakening movements and fight al Qaeda.

I'm done with Quiznos - Subway it is.

I was once a die-hard Quiznos fan, at one point eating lunch there at least once per week. I would alternate between my 3 favorite sandwiches: Cabo Chicken, Turkey Bacon Guacamole, and everyone's favorite, the Mesquite Chicken. Both my wife and I signed up for their e-mail distribution and looked forward to getting regular coupons for a buck or two off their sandwiches.

However, something has gone wrong with Quiznos rapid franchise expansion, at least in the neighborhoods I frequent. I first had problems with my orders, particularly orders "to-go" where I would come home and find that a key ingredient was missing - for example, the bacon might be missing from my Turkey Bacon Guacamole, or the guacamole missing from my Cabo Chicken, etc. I finally lost my cool one day when I "dined-in" at my nearest Quiznos and dealt with an indifferent employee who had clearly made my sandwich wrong and then refused to fix it. Luckily his manager intervened and provided me with a free sandwich, ensuring I got the correct one, but the event still left a sour taste in my mouth.

The next problem that began to occur was with coupons. I used to frequent 4 different Quiznos, 2 within 3 miles of my home and 2 more located near my parents home. Quiznos ain't exactly cheap, so even a $1 off coupon is useful. We used to have no problem using coupons from the local paper or coupon mag from the mail. Then Quiznos began to differentiate between the coupons - saying the coupon we presented was not good at their location, only at the other location. Of course, they tell you this after already making the sandwich and as you are trying to pay. This happened at ALL 4 LOCATIONS. And when we complained, the staff were polite but basically told us tough luck.

As if that weren't bad enough, we noticed that our local Quiznos decided to raise prices. Then they stopped accepting the official Quiznos coupons that came via e-mail every month from the Quiznos e-mail distribution list, claiming that people were copying and abusing the e-mail coupon offers. Listen, if you start dealing in internet coupons, people are going to figure out a way to get more than one and of course people are going to use them. While we don't participate in such activity, it's not really our problem that others do - that's the company's problem. And the quickest way to piss off your customers is to start telling them they can't use their coupons, particularly when the coupon comes direct from your company. And that was the last straw.

So despite how good their sandwiches taste, I am done with Quiznos. I have had it. They have so thoroughly alienated myself and my family that there is nothing they could do to bring us back. Subway sandwiches lack the meatiness and flavor of Quiznos, but they are healthier, accept coupons, and at least you get to decide how your sandwich is made - zero risk of getting your order wrong since you are the one who told them how to make it. Equally important, the staff at my 2 local Subways are friendly and outgoing, often greeting me by name and asking if I want "my usual". Not so with Quiznos.