Monthly Archives: June 2008

Bangkok Protests

Reuters: “Police And Protesters Face Off In Thai Capital”

Thousands of flag-waving, chanting protesters faced off with riot police in Bangkok on Friday, laying siege to the government’s headquarters in a bid to force it from power.

The main column of demonstrators briefly grappled with police en route to the prime minister’s office, where they sat down in front of barricades manned by a phalanx of police armed with plastic shields and batons.

Smaller groups probed the defenses around Government House, some breaking through after pushing and shoving with police, but there were no major incidents of violence.

“We are here to fight for democracy, for Thailand. We are here to protect the motherland,” media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul told the 10,000-strong crowd made up mostly of middle-class Bangkok residents.

Sondhi is a co-leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a motley collection of businessmen, academics and royalists united by their hatred of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

The four-week campaign by the PAD, which views the coalition government elected in December as an illegitimate Thaksin proxy, has raised political tensions at a time of stuttering economic growth and soaring inflation.

Fears of clashes last month between police and demonstrators stoked rumors of another military coup less than two years after the army’s bloodless removal of Thaksin, who insists he has retired from politics although few believe him.

Metropolitan police chief Lieutenant-General Aswin Kwanmuang said his men would not use force to disperse the crowds.

Elsewhere, Bangkok Pundit is liveblogging the protests.

Euro 2008 So Far

Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament So Far

You’ve gotta love the beautiful game, diving and all.

The Euro 2008 group matches have now concluded and it’s on the quarterfinals. First up is Germany v. Portugal, which kicks off in six hours or so. Then Croatia take on Turkey tomorrow. On the other side of the bracket, Holland meet Russia and then Spain play Italy.

My gut tells me that the winner of tonight’s contest — which I think will be Portugal — will have what it takes to defeat the winners of Croatia-Turkey (I like the latter) and get through to the June 29th final. I’d bet on Holland overpowering Russia, and then I think Spain will out-class an aging Italy but then fall to the Dutch. Holland are playing some scintillating football; a Portugal-Holland final would pit two attacking sides against one another, and while my heart would like Holland to win, I’d bet on the Portuguese taking home the title. We shall see.

Here’s some recent news coverage:

Rob Hughes in the IHT: “Russia grabs last quarterfinal slot, beating Sweden, 2-0.”

The final piece of the Euro 2008 fell neatly into place Wednesday when Russia comprehensively beat Sweden, 2-0, to claim a place in the quarterfinals of the competition.

With goals in each half, but with many more created and spurned, the Russians were too swift on the ground, too eager, and too darned young for Sweden’s aging team to hold.

The victory at Tivoli Neu stadium in Innsbruck, Austria, makes this the first time that Russia, as opposed to the former Soviet Union, has reached this far in European competition. How far will it go?

A question for the Dutch – indeed a double Dutch question because Russia next meets the Netherlands at St. Jakob Park in Basel, Switzerland, on Saturday, meaning that the coach now converting the Russians to be newcomers on the grand stage must find the tactics to outwit his own countrymen.

Sport, of course, is for players to win or lose, yet if ever there was a coach who finds a way to instill a way of playing in men from cultures and tongues so very far from his own, it is the Dutchman Guus Hiddink. “Euro 2008 Winter’s Word: Team of the tournament – so far”

A tournament so good that Michel Platini describes it as “sizzling”, Euro 2008 produced a multitude of terrific individual displays in the just-concluded group stage which deserve the formation of a Dream Team XI.

Time: “Euro 2008: The Energy and the Agony”

“Expect Emotions” goes the slogan to Euro 2008. We’ve certainly experienced some. First there was the realization that having ourselves arrived in Europe on Friday, our tickets for a Sunday match would be delivered promptly the following Tuesday. A visceral, sinking feeling, that — something Sweden must have endured in the waning seconds of its last gasp loss to Spain. Then we nearly got trampled by Russian fans swarming on to a stadium shuttle bus-a frightening feeling. That could well describe Italy’s experience when the Dutch ran riot over them in their opening match, 3-0. We also got hauled off the road in Salzburg by a motorcycle cop who insisted, in German, that our license plate was illegal. We nervously nodded and nodded in English and waited and waited until, just like the Greek team, he gave up and went home.