Thailand grieves for its late king, and wonders when its crown prince will take the throne – Los Angeles Times

BANGKOK – An afternoon downpour did not deter tens of thousands of black-clad Thais from converging on the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha on Sunday as they continued to mourn the loss of their late king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. They could have a long time to grieve before Bhumibol’s eldest son and heir, 64-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, becomes king. In a surprise announcement, Vajiralongkorn said he will remain as crown prince until he has had time to mourn. Just how long that will take is not clear. But it could be as long as a year before Bhumibol is cremated, and there has been speculation that his son will wait until then to take the throne.

Protesters begin Bangkok ‘shutdown’ calling for Yingluck to step down – The Irrawaddy/BBC World Service: Outside Source

http://www.irrawaddy.org/asia/protesters-begin-bangkok-shutdown-calling-yingluck-step.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p2pd7 BANGKOK — Hundreds of thousands of protesters seeking an unelected council to run Southeast Asia’s second biggest...

King’s birthday marks time-out in Thailand’s game of thrones – Christian Science Monitor

BANGKOK – Hundreds of thousands of Thais lined the streets of Bangkok on Wednesday to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej make a rare public speech to mark his 85th birthday. “My heart feels so good today seeing His Majesty,” says Penpat Thaweekul, one of the vast royal-supporting yellow-clad crowd waiting under a hot sun to catch a glimpse of the now-frail king speaking from a distant balcony. The world’s longest-sitting monarch is portrayed as a widely-revered apolitical father-figure – but even with this representation, there are lines Thailand’s elected politicians cannot cross. Though the royal institution once enjoyed a near-universal respect, recent polarization has raised questions about that role and about the country’s future after his reign. After the king’s reign, “the royalist domination in politics will be in disarray, for sure,” says historian Thongchai Winichakul. The rest, he says is unclear, wondering, “Will their power decline or will they take a tighter control during the transition?”

Thailand’s lese-majeste law fuels calls for reform – Los Angeles Times

 http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-thailand-law-20120320,0,1467171.story http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-fg-thailand-law-20120320,0,3091724.story Opponents say the law is used to intimidate critics and stifles free speech. But some royalists fear...