Thailand's Moment of Truth: A Secret History of 21st Century Siam

Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a longtime Reuters reporter based in Thailand, resigned and forfeited his ability to enter the country in order to report on the revelations about the Thai royal family and military contained within the Wikileaks “Cablegate” dump.

Thailand has the world's harshest lèse majesté law. Any insult to Bhumibol, Queen Sirikit or their son Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, is punishable by three to 15 years in jail.

The cables reveal a toxic power struggle between elected officials, the military, and the monarchy, with the huge shadow of exiled telecommunications billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra looming over the country’s post-King Bhumibol future.

The impending end of his reign has sparked intense national anxiety in Thailand. King Bhumibol's son and heir, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, has a reputation for being a cruel and corrupt womanizer. A notorious video showing a birthday party for his pet poodle Foo Foo -- who holds the rank of Air Chief Marshal -- has been widely circulated in Thailand; in it, the prince's third wife, Princess Srirasmi, dressed only in a thong, eats the dog's birthday cake off the floor while liveried servants look on.

Editor’s Note: Marshall’s findings will be published as a 4-part series, hosted here by the permission of the author, and re-publishable through a Creative Commons license. His writings on the topic have already reached near book length, for a good overview, see Marshall’s introduction in Foreign Policy.

  1. Part 1 [53,000 words]

  2. Part 2 [35,000 words]

Cisco's Big Bet on New Songdo: Creating Cities From Scratch

On the development of South Korea’s New Songdo and Cisco’s plans to build smart cities which will “offer cities as a service, bundling urban necessities – water, power, traffic, telephony – into a single, Internet-enabled utility, taking a little extra off the top of every resident’s bill.” The demand for such cities is enormous:

China doesn't need cool, green, smart cities. It needs cities, period -- 500 New Songdos at the very least. One hundred of those will each house a million or more transplanted peasants. In fact, while humanity has been building cities for 9,000 years, that was apparently just a warm-up for the next 40. As of now, we're officially an urban species. More than half of us -- 3.3 billion people -- live in a city. Our numbers are projected to nearly double by 2050, adding roughly a New Songdo a day; the United Nations predicts the vast majority will flood smaller cities in Africa and Asia.

Wikipedia: Ananda Mahidol

In 1935, a nine-year-old living in Switzerland became the King of Thailand. He would return to his homeland a decade later, and within six months he would be found shot to death in his bed. Though three servants were executed for the crime, a mystery endures.

The Afghan Connection

Money from relatives abroad, the lifeline for many Afghani’s, moves primarily through small hawala</em exchanges, which shift currency through cellphones, fax lines, and trust. When money moves in Afghanistan, however, connections to the heroin trade and terrorist groups are never far.