New Mandala readers looking to take the current pulse of the Thai political scene will find two recent blogs from The Nation‘s stable of online content reward a visit.

The first is Suthichai Yoon’s argument about the “invisible hand” that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej believes has a controlling influence in Thai politics. Suthichai invites the PM to show his cards. Will Samak listen? Or is that a silly question?

The second is a discussion of “slash and burn” agriculture in northern Thailand that highlights the role of the king in working to stop air pollution. It is even suggested that “if the problem is not alleviated, His Majesty will induce artificial rains to reduce the haze”.

For the curious, an old New Mandala post has some more details on royal rain-making and its technical aspects. There is, however, a report that the widely advertised Thai effort to make rain in Tanzania will now be aborted.

And, for the even more curious, a profile of Thailand’s chief royal rain-maker, a chap named Warawut Khantiyanan, is also online. What do readers think – are the Tanzanians right to have second thoughts about following Thailand’s royal rain-making efforts?