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Camo For a Good Cause

Jan 24, 2022 | 0 comments

We have recently referenced camo clothing as it relates to various conflict armies in Africa. As a matter of fact, there are a few occasions where camo clothing can be associated with good causes such as animal conservation.  Conservation can take many forms such as the $500,000 or so The Elephant Story has raised for the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and other elephant conservation causes. The Elephant Story polo team is shown below in camo for an event in Thailand. My friend, Jason Friedman, on my left, introduced us to these activities and the efforts he and another friend,...

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A Congo Within a Congo

Jan 17, 2022 | 0 comments

Not only is there Brazzaville, Congo and Kinshasa, Congo representing two separate countries, Kinshasa, Congo is in effect two very different Congo entities.  The capital, Kinshasa, has high rise hotels representing islands of order and calm scattered among a sea of great poverty, chaos, and death.  On the other hand, one does not have to venture too far out of Kinshasa to encounter an entirely different environment with little rule of law and a population subject to the control of different guerilla armies. The United Nations has varying degrees of troop presence in some of the areas, but they go...

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Clamor for Cobalt in Congo

Jan 10, 2022 | 0 comments

Congo in this reference is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), aka Kinshasa, Congo and not Brazzaville, Congo.  On the awful scale, they are not in the same category.  The French may not have been the best colonizers, but the food and customs left behind in their former colonies (Brazzaville, Congo as one) were most enjoyable. The British left boredom and good roads in most of their colonies, whereas King Leopold of Belgium took everything and left nothing behind but corruption and the plague in all categories in Kinshasa, Congo. I have talked about Kinshasa in the past, but it...

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Crafty Chinese Chicanery

Jan 03, 2022 | 0 comments

As a daily reader of the Bangkok Post, I was intrigued by a traditional image concept from days gone by that had been modified to include the banner of China, as shown below.  Moreover, the title, Thailand in the Middle, and the dramatically Chinese slanted content, caused me to note that it was a “sponsored article” – the cost of which was more than likely paid by Emperor Xi himself. Shame on the Bangkok Post for allowing such flagrant propaganda to be rolled into their newspaper which ordinarily provides open journalism in a country that requires careful navigation given potential...

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Frozen in the Dark

Dec 27, 2021 | 0 comments

Mongolia is often depicted as having two seasons—three months cold and nine months very cold.  Our condo in Ulaanbaatar was always warm though that may have changed, as we have not been back in a while to have a visit.  I do know that I have experienced minus 50-degree weather there which will freeze champagne as shown below when I christened the first truckload of oil production in eastern Mongolia to export to China.   Some years prior to that time, I took a helicopter trip to the Gobi Desert to have a look at a former Russian abandoned small oil...

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2022 A Healthier Year & A Healthier You

Dec 21, 2021 | 0 comments

   If your New Year's resolution is to eat better or try new recipes, Asian cooking could be good for you! The Elephant Story's collection of Asian cookbooks are a great place to start your adventure.  Pair your cookbook with our apron or our unique collection of tabletop and kitchen cooking tools.     Healthy Thai Cooking $7.99 Asian Cooking $13.99 South-East Asian Soups $16.99    The Elephant Story Apron $24.00 Wood Salad  Serving Set $17.50 Wood Elephant Cutting Board $32.00   

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Defining Moments of War and Peace

Dec 20, 2021 | 0 comments

President Biden declared that “For the first time in 20 years the United States is not at war.” His comment followed the very much botched evacuation of personnel from Afghanistan. By the way, I had a front row seat in the similarly botched evacuation of US and allied personnel out of Saigon some 46 years ago. The comparisons are stunning in that the civilian side of the equation overlooked the signs that military and intelligence officers could have provided the politicians. However, few people from those sectors of our government are called upon to address the United Nations as President...

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Old Soldiers Never Die

Dec 13, 2021 | 0 comments

The adage of “Old soldiers never die—they just fade away” was coined in General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address to Congress on April 19, 1951 after he had been removed from his command by President Harry Truman. He followed that speech with a whirlwind tour around the US which I witnessed in my Cub Scout uniform saluting appropriately as he whisked through the streets of Jackson, Mississippi.  In the late seventies, I was fortunate to represent Exxon in a Brookings Institute program in Washington D.C. where we met in small groups sitting with senior individuals throughout US Government.  The session we...

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The Elephant Story Blog: India and Vietnam Move to the Front Row

Dec 06, 2021 | 0 comments

For more than 25 years I have had business relationships in both India and Vietnam. Over that period, the economies of both countries have soared, and the diplomatic perspectives are evolving as well.  Recently, Nikkei Asia published an article entitled India and Vietnam Will Define the Future of Asia: Kurt Campbell. Kurt Campbell, shown below, is the U.S. National Security Council Indo-Pacific coordinator and spoke at the United States Institute of Peace. He indicated that India will be a fulcrum on the global stage in the 21st century. In addition, he singled out Vietnam as a key future player in...

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Waiting for Vietnam to Reopen

Nov 29, 2021 | 0 comments

For some thirty years or so, I have had an interest in oil and gas exploration and production in the Cuu Long Basin offshore Vietnam. In fact, we were a pioneer there and have produced some 150 million barrels of oil to support the economy of Vietnam over this period. I feel a close connection to the people and the country but have been out in the cold during the pandemic which has precluded our travel there. Nonetheless, we have followed up our historical exploration and production success with continued investment to maintain and increase oil production which backs out...

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Emperor Xi Tightens the Belts of the Unwashed

Nov 22, 2021 | 0 comments

Now that the crowning of “Emperor for Life” Xi Jinping is official, he can tighten his control of those countries where China has made massive infrastructure loans as part of “China’s Belt and Road Campaign.” Nikkei Asia recently published that the U.S.-based Aid Data reported that $385 billion of Chinese debt to other countries had been hidden from the World Bank and IMF, given the way the loans were structured.  China hid the loans by making them to private companies in developing countries using special purpose vehicles as the borrowers rather than state institutions.  Any defaults by the private companies...

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Pandemic Paralysis

Nov 08, 2021 | 0 comments

Occasionally, you wonder if your life has gotten a bit too complicated. Prior to the pandemic it seemed relatively normal to “live” in the Texas Hill Country, have an office and residence in London and a business focused on Southeast Asia. In all of these places, there was a complete infrastructure support system with housing, clothes and transportation.  Early last year we jettisoned the London overhead to survive as an enterprise.  As Bangkok is our home base in Southeast Asia, I continued to provide modest support to our Thai associates as they were suffering tremendously. In Bangkok, we live in...

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CIA Manipulation of The Hmong

Nov 01, 2021 | 0 comments

I have always been clear about my fondness and admiration of the Hmong people.  Not only did the Hmong suffer great hardships under the French prior to the collapse of their colonial rule in Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam in 1954 – their role in the war against North Vietnam was repeated by the U.S. some six years later. From 1968 to 1971, I had an involvement in the fuel supplies to the Hmong mercenary soldiers under the direction of the CIA. The decimation of the Hmong took on new levels during that period and ultimately resulted in the deaths of...

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Cambodian Corruption and Exploitation Continues

Oct 25, 2021 | 0 comments

During the Vietnam War era troubles, the business opportunity for wealthy and connected Thais was teak poaching and smuggling from Cambodia.  Somehow, they never had any problems with any of the Thai legal formalities that prohibited such activities. The young man behind me worked for me at Esso and was the privileged son of a Minister in the Thai Government at the time.  He was a great guy and that is his .45 caliber Smith & Wesson “Dirty Harry Special” that saved my bacon once on the other side of Thailand in a different product smuggling operation from Burma. This...

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The Russian Curse on Mongolia Never Leaves

Oct 18, 2021 | 0 comments

The Russian curse hit full throttle when, some ninety years ago, Stalin selected a Mongolian stooge by the name of Choybalsan to become his puppet in Mongolia. Some 30,000 Buddhist lamas were executed under Stalin’s direction to create a classless society. Two of the leading lamas, Luvsanhamchig and Damdin, await the announcement of their death penalty. We can thank Baabar and his followers who made the Twentieth Century Mongolia the authoritative source on this dark period that it is. There was a river of blood on the hands of Stalin and Choybalsan but none of it was out of character...

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Mongolians and American Indians

Oct 11, 2021 | 0 comments

My spiritual Buddha and Mongolia fellow traveler, Bill Penttila, and I had a strange connection to American Indians.  As a “mature” Eagle Scout, I became quite interested in Native American Indians and joined an El Paso, Texas Indian Explorer Scout dance team where we competed with Indian dance teams all over New Mexico. I must admit that I was of an age that I was greatly attracted to the native ladies. Therefore, we showed our dance prowess to the ladies with the fluff/bustle dance.  We were always the best and the native guys on the other side of the aisle...

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Cowboys In the Mongolia Steppe

Oct 04, 2021 | 0 comments

In the early days of our Mongolian oil exploration venture, we spent considerable time in the steppe of eastern Mongolia to evaluate the surface geology and determine where to acquire seismic to best image the sub-surface.  We were fortunate to be invited to the “ger” home of the most famous horseman in Mongolia.  If you call the “ger” a “yurt,” you have insulted any Mongolian since “yurt” is Russian and Russia is a very distant past to this democratic country and former vassal state. As we were travelling by ancient Russian helicopters, we could land most anywhere we chose.  On...

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The Texas Roundup in Mongolia

Sep 27, 2021 | 0 comments

On May 7, 1990, President George H.W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Texan, Joseph Edward Lake, to be the first resident U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia. Although President Bush was not born in Texas, he was readily adopted by the state when he entered the oil business there. By the way, he was the kind of guy every Texan should aspire to be whom I was fortunate enough to meet personally.   During Ambassador Lake’s tenure in Mongolia, I arrived to seek an oil exploration concession which was the first western appearance in that industry in the country’s history. For all...

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Cultural Treasure in Akasaka

Sep 20, 2021 | 0 comments

For several years in the early seventies, I had a reprieve from the rigors of the war-torn period in Southeast Asia to live in Japan. I found Japan interesting as I travelled to every location Esso Sekiyu had throughout Japan.  I took repeated trips to Okinawa given the pending reversion from the U.S. to Japan. Mind you, I still made periodic trips back to Thailand to spend time in the concrete and foliage jungles there.  Nonetheless, one of the more interesting parts of Japan was our office location of TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) Kaikan in Akasaka, a residential and commercial...

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Déjà Vu All Over Again

Sep 13, 2021 | 0 comments

We have recently been besieged in the news media by the attempted extraction of as many Americans and Afghan support personnel from Afghanistan as possible.  Sadly, the result fell way short of the objective and caused the loss of U.S. military lives in the process.  The most immediate analogy is the debacle in Vietnam which is a fair comparison. However, the precedents go back much further in time and reflect the hubris of politicians that ignore history and chose to invade countries where the ultimate outcome has been defined long ago. Strangely, some of the same people failed in each...

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