• Picnic Protests: Correspondent Simon Montlake has been surprised by the peaceful and orderly nature of the political protests against Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He says the gatherings the past two weekends in Bangkok's Royal Plaza were more "county fair than angry protest. People arrived with their picnics and mats. There were food and water vendors, speeches, music, and poets."
Simon was surprised by the lack of students. "It was mostly middle class people; shop workers, state company employees, and middle-aged academics." He mentioned this to some of the professors he interviewed. They agreed that their students were more interested in shopping than political protest.
"It seems that the professors signing the petitions and protesting today are the same group who were student protesters in the '70s in Thailand when a military dictatorship was overthrown."
• Holy Land Theme Park: Christian Evangelical leader Pat Robertson recently apologized for characterizing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon's illness as divine punishment for "dividing God's land." The initial comment prompted Israel's Tourism Ministry to pull out of the joint business venture to build a Christian Heritage Center. As reported Nov. 10, "A theme park for the Holy Land?" Mr. Robertson was leading a group of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million to build the center.
Robertson wrote a letter to Sharon's son saying, in part, "I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for saying what was clearly insensitive at the time."
David Clark Scott