“PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It’s election season in Cambodia, and the fireflies are out.
Cambodians use that term — “ampil ampik,” in the Khmer language — to refer to little-known political parties that flash onto the scene shortly before an election, then fade back into obscurity.
Twenty parties, some just a few months old, will be on the ballot when national elections are held this month. But most voters will have heard of only one: the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister.
Mr. Hun Sen has had no viable opposition since November, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which almost won the 2013 election — was dissolved by a court packed with his loyalists. The United Nations special rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, and numerous rights groups have said the July 29 vote will not be legitimate.
In response, the government points to such obscure entities as the Dharmacracy Party, the Khmer Will Party and the New Light Party (whose platform is to promote “Cambodia’s natural, linguistic and alphabetical wonders”).
“If you have only one political party, you cannot say ‘multiparty,’ but we have 20 political parties,” said Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the National Election Committee.
Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, is clearly concerned that Cambodians will see it differently. In May, he warned against using the terms “fireflies” or “disembodied ghosts,” another figure of speech sometimes applied to minor parties.”
Source: As Vote Nears, Cambodia’s Leader Has Opponents, but No Competition – The New York Times
Excellent reporting by Julia Wallace, thank you. She wrote: “The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or C.N.R.P., have been jailed or driven into exile, and lower-ranking members were harassed into joining Mr. Hun Sen’s party or getting out of politics. Mr. Hun Sen has also overseen a crackdown on the press. The United States and the European Union, which have helped fund past Cambodian elections, refused this year, saying that the vote will not be credible.” What a sorry picture, and a sorry mess. Unfortunately, the United States contributed to this mess, in ways that I am not qualified to list, but include our bombing of the country, and probably assassinating its leaders, even their good ones, just because they were communist. Is there a good book to cover the modern devastation of this once proud and vibrant country?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
By Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar
“SHIMLA, India — The people of Shimla haven’t agreed on much lately. A drought in the Himalayan resort has had residents blaming farmers, the tourism industry and one another for depleting the strained water supplies.
And everyone’s been angry at the key men.
Shimla’s decrepit network of water pipes, built under British colonial rule more than 70 years ago, depends on the civil servants known as key men to open and close the valves that supply each neighborhood. The current shortage, which in May left some homes without water for 20 days, has led to such fury toward the key men — accused, in just about every neighborhood, of depriving it of its fair share — that a court ordered police protection for them.
“I was getting angry phone calls calling me everything — stupid, worthless — at one or two in the morning,” said Inder Singh, 44, who has been a key man for 24 years. “I would be mobbed by dozens as I was trying to leave my home for work,” he said, inserting his key — a meter-long metal contraption — into the ground to open a valve.
Tourism is the mainstay of the economy in this mountain city, which the British colonial authorities made their summer capital so they could escape the brutal heat of New Delhi. But the drought — accompanied by unusually high temperatures, above 90 degrees Fahrenheit — has been so severe that in May, some residents took to Twitter to ask tourists to stay away and leave the water for local residents. Many in Shimla call it the worst shortage they can remember.”
Source: Deadly Tensions Rise as India’s Water Supply Runs Dangerously Low – The New York Times
Yes, thank you Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar and the NYT for excellent reporting. Here are some of the NYT comments I recommeded:
The world’s largest refugee camp, a temporary home to more than half a million people that sprawls precariously across barren hills in southeastern Bangladesh, faces a looming disaster as early as April when the first storms of the monsoon season hit, aid workers warn. “It’s going to be landslides, flash floods, inundation,” said Tommy Thompson, chief of emergency support and response for the World Food Program. “It’s going to be a very, very challenging wet season. That’s if we don’t have a cyclone.”
“But then, in a matter of weeks, as refugees poured in by the tens of thousands, trees were hacked away. Canals were dug. Bamboo-and-tarp shacks went up. More trees were cut as refugees scrambled to find firewood.
The hills, where elephants recently roamed, are now bare. Even the roots have been pulled out, leaving nothing to hold the parched soil together as rainwater washes downhill, potentially taking tents and people with it and quickly inundating low-lying settlements. The United Nations says 100,000 refugees are at acute risk from landslides and floods.
The early rains — known in Bengali as kalboishakhi, which translates loosely as the storms of an “evil summer” — are a precursor to the full-on monsoons. They strike when the soil is still dry and especially susceptible to mudslides. The only warning of their approach is usually hot winds that send the dry earth of summer swirling through the air.”
Source: The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times
DL: It is too bad that these 600,000 Rohingya refugees were forced or allowed to deforest the area they were placed in. Now they have turned that piece of dessert into a probable death camp when the monsoon rains appear. I need firewood now, versus, I need these trees to prevent flooding later, is a choice I hope that I never have to make.
A loris is rescued from a restaurant in Đồng Nai Province. – Photo courtesy of ENVViet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – At least 72 wild animals were released in their natural habitat in the first month of the year, according to Education for Nature Việt Nam (ENV).They include pangolins, monkeys, turtles, lizards, lorises and birds. Some of these animals were rescued by people and some by police after busting cases of animal trafficking.Illegal breeding of wild animals in homes and restaurants have been prevalent in the country. Many such cases were found out through ENV’s hotline number 18001522, ENV representatives said.On January 16, competent forces in southern Đồng Nai Province’s Thống Nhất District freed two lorises which were kept in a cage for show at a rest stop.
A monkey was rescued from a coffee shop in Đà Nẵng City and was released in Sơn Trà nature reserve centre on January 19.
Source: 72 wild animals rescued in January – Environment – Vietnam News | Politics, Business, Economy, Society, Life, Sports – VietNam News
“Cleaned the house? Made the Kitchen Gods happy? Busy making cakes? Then you’re on the right track to a great Lunar New Year or Tet!
The cleaning is not just about starting the new year on the right foot. Apparently Vietnamese believe that luck clings to dirt and dust, so when Tet comes you are collecting the ‘new luck’ of the new year. It’s also why they don’t usually sweep the house during the first four days of the lunar year! It’s probably the best excuse I’ve ever heard of being lazy about housecleaning!
Have you got your Vietnamese phrase memorized yet? ‘Chuc Mung Nam Moi’ is roughly spoken like ‘Chook Muung Nam Mooi (‘oi’ sound)’. It doesn’t matter about what the gold and red banners are saying, it’s pretty obvious – mostly making wishes for the coming year.
Keep in mind that the actual holiday stretches out over 1 day before and about 3 to 5 days after the real date (the 16th of February) so lots of shops, banks, and importantly, visa offices will close earlier and re-open later. I often check with my local pubs and favorite shops about this so there are no nasty surprises.”
Source: Getting ready for Tet in Vietnam – Tuoi Tre News
Beautiful photography, heartbreaking story:
Each sentence below has a photo video clip:
“This is S. Periyanayaki in the rice field in southern India where her husband died.
The worst drought in more than a century killed his rice crop, and he blamed himself.
A farmer found Periyanayaki’s husband, K. Suresh, lying in the barren field. He had drunk pesticide.
Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have killed themselves in the past 30 years, and some climate researchers believe hotter weather has driven crop failure and made the problem worse.”
Source: The Uninhabitable Village – The New York Times
NAGAPATTINAM, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Vinod Kumar remembers a time, not so long ago, when the fields in his village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were green all year round.
His family lived comfortably from its farmland of just over 2 acres (0.8 hectares), growing vegetables, coconuts and millet irrigated by the Cauvery river and the rain.
Kumar grew up believing the farm would be his life.
But today, the 30-year-old drives a car for a living in the city of Chennai, 250 km (155 miles) away. His family joined him two years ago, abandoning what had been for generations their home and their land.
On a recent journey back to the area where he grew up, he said he was far from the only migrant.
“At this time of year, these fields should be green with paddy shoots – but no one seems to be farming,” said Kumar, as he drove past arid fields overgrown with scrub and thorns one sweltering July afternoon.
“We haven’t had enough water for many years. It has become impossible to make a living from farming, and a lot of people have moved to cities to do other jobs.”
Source: Feature: Heat and drought drive south India’s farmers from fields to cities
I am looking for evidence to support the report in the NYT last month, that 100,000 Indian farmers had committed suicide because of the drought in Southeast India. This old article in the BBC sheds some background light on the disaster.
“At least 330 million people are affected by drought in India, the government has told the Supreme CourtAuthorities say this number is likely to rise further given that some states with water shortages have not yet submitted status reports.The drought is taking place as a heat wave extends across much of India with temperatures crossing 40C for days now.An 11-year-old girl died of heatstroke while collecting water from a village pump in the western Maharashtra state.
Yogita Desai had spent close to four hours in 42C temperatures gathering water from the pump on Sunday, local journalist Manoj Sapte told the BBC.She began vomiting after returning home and was rushed to hospital, but died early on Monday.Yogita’s death certificate says she died of heatstroke and dehydration.
The pump was a mere 500m from her house, but a typical wait for water stretches into hours.India is heavily dependant on monsoon rains, which have been poor for two years in a row.The government said that nearly 256 districts across India, home to nearly a quarter of the population were impacted by the drought.Schools have been shut in the eastern state of Orissa and more than 100 deaths due to heatstroke have been reported from across the country, including from the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh which saw more than 2,000 deaths last summer.”
Source: India drought: ‘330 million people affected’ – BBC News