A Surprise (?) at the Winter Olympics: It’s Really Cold – The New York Times

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Officials from the Korea Meteorological Administration sat behind microphones in front of an overflow audience of journalists. Interpreters converted the officials’ words through the headsets of those unable to speak Korean. There was anxiousness. People put their thumbs to their phones, ready to share the news on Twitter immediately. It was as if Punxsutawney Phil were making his Groundhog Day weather prediction in a teeming conference room. The message was hardly a revelation:

Source: A Surprise (?) at the Winter Olympics: It’s Really Cold – The New York Times

Posted in: Korea - North and South Korea, Sports and Martial Arts

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The Olympic Moment When South Korea Left the North Behind – The New York Times

“In 1988, the last time South Korea hosted the Olympics, North and South Korea were more alike than different, separated by an arbitrary line yet joined by history, language and the bonds of family.

Both Koreas had come a long way, emerging from colonial rule and rebuilding their economies after a devastating civil war.

But the Olympics in Seoul in 1988 ended up being a turning point. Over the past 30 years, the two countries have diverged sharply — economically, politically and culturally.

South Korea rapidly industrialized, growing at one of the fastest rates in the world. The North stagnated.”

Source: The Olympic Moment When South Korea Left the North Behind – The New York Times

Posted in: Korea - North and South Korea

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The Uninhabitable Village – by Geeta Anand and Vikram Singh – NYT Oct 26 2017

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

Posted in: Climate Change, India

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Feature: Heat and drought drive south India’s farmers from fields to cities – April 2017 Reuters.com

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

Posted in: Climate Change, India

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India drought: ‘330 million people affected’ – BBC News 20 April 2016

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

Posted in: Climate Change, India

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What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State – by James Millward – NYT

Image by Brian Stauffer, NYT

“I have researched Xinjiang for three decades. Ethnic tensions have been common during all those years, and soon after 9/11, Chinese authorities started invoking the specter of “the three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism” as a pretense to crack down on Uighurs. But state repression in Xinjiang has never been as severe as it has become since early 2017, when Chen Quanguo, the C.C.P.’s new leader in the region, began an intensive securitization program.

Mr. Chen has brought to Xinjiang the grid system of checkpoints, police stations, armored vehicles and constant patrols that he perfected while in his previous post in Tibet. The C.C.P. credits him with having quieted there a restive ethnic group unhappy with its rule. In his first year governing Xinjiang, Mr. Chen has already recruited tens of thousands of new security personnel.”

“. . . .How does the party think that directives banning fasting during Ramadanin Xinjiang, requiring Uighur shops to sell alcohol and prohibiting Muslim parents from giving their children Islamic names will go over with governments and peoples from Pakistan to Turkey? The Chinese government may be calculating that money can buy these states’ quiet acceptance. But the thousands of Uighur refugees in Turkey and Syriaalready complicate China’s diplomacy.

Tibetans know well this hard face of China. Hong Kongers must wonder: If Uighur culture is criminalized and Xinjiang’s supposed autonomy is a sham, what will happen to their own vibrant Cantonese culture and their city’s shaky “one country, two systems” arrangement with Beijing? What might Taiwan’s reunification with a securitized mainland look like? Will the big-data police state engulf the rest of China? The rest of the world?”

Source: What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Climate Change Remediation

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A Photo That Changed the Course of the Vietnam War – by Maggie Astor – NYT

“. . . Then there was the fallout for the person for whom viewers had the least sympathy: General Loan, the executioner, who would eventually move to the United States. In 1978, the government tried unsuccessfully to rescind his green card. He died 20 years later in Virginia, where he had run a restaurant.

Adams himself, before his death in 2004, expressed discomfort with the consequences of his photo. He noted that photographs, by nature, exclude context: in this case, that the prisoner had killed the family of one of General Loan’s deputies.

“Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan,” he wrote in Time magazine. “The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera.”

“Still photographs,” Adams wrote, “are the most powerful weapon in the world.” “

Source: A Photo That Changed the Course of the Vietnam War – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnam-American War

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The American Who Predicted Tet – by Max Boot – NYT

Edward Landsdale is on the left. NYT

 

“The Tet offensive, which began 50 years ago today and is remembered as the turning point of the Vietnam War, caught Americans by surprise. One of the few who saw what was coming was Edward Lansdale, the legendary covert operative and retired Air Force general who had helped to create the state of South Vietnam after the French withdrew. He had returned to Saigon in 1965 as an official at the American Embassy, trying to use his close ties to the South Vietnamese to salvage something from a failing war effort. . . “

Source: The American Who Predicted Tet – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

It is unclear whether the more subtle approach argued by Lansdale would have made a big difference. In 1858, the French invaded Vietnam, and it took them a year to win that first great battle. It took them till 1913 to destroy the last group of resistance fighters. They proceeded to exploit and rape the country for roughly 100 years, until the Japanese invaded during WW II, and the French surrendered without a fight. What also mattered was during 1931-33, the French colonial government announced an amnesty. The non-communist nationalist resistance groups came forward, believing the French, and turned in their guns. They were rounded up and executed. The communist nationalist resistance group did not trust the French, and did not come forward. After the massacre, only the communist resistance group was left to continue the fight against the French. During WW II, only Ho Chi Minh and his communist fighters fought successfully against the Japanese. He was aided with guns, supplies and money by the US OSS. He was our man in Vietnam against the Japanese. By 1954, when these Viets defeated the French, they were national heros, three times over. It is hard to believed anyone could undermine their national popularity. They had earned the mandate of heaven.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Vietnam-American War

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As U.S. Trumpets ‘America First-’ Rest of the World Is Moving On – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump is arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to explain his “America First” approach at a moment when the world is moving ahead with a trade agenda that no longer revolves around the United States. The world marked a turning point in global trade on Tuesday, when 11 countries agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announcing they had finalized the pact and expected to sign a deal on March 8 in Chile. It was a remarkable moment for a beleaguered agreemen

Source: As U.S. Trumpets ‘America First,’ Rest of the World Is Moving On – The New York Times

 

David Lindsay:  Yes. Donald Trump, or Twitter Drumpf as I like to call him,  is damaging the US in world trade, and no where more than in Asia, with his pulling out of the Transpacific Parntership.

Here is the top comment so far, I endorse:

Bob Bascelli

Seaford NY 1 hour ago

“America First” is a tag line not unlike “Make America Great Again”. They both appeal to our base instincts and are effective in stirring our faux “American Pride”, but that’s as far as they go. Questions need to be asked. What do we want to be first and great at; healthcare, coal production, number of millionaires, people in poverty, a healthy economy, number of nuclear warheads, deaths by gun violence, having the most stuff, …..? Do we have to be great or can we get along being respected, fair, and truthful? First and great mean very different things to many different people. Can one be truly great when so many are left behind? Ask the questions. Give truthful answers. That would be great.

Posted in: Foreign Trade Policy, Globalization and Trade

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The Truth Behind ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ by Neil Sheehan- The New York Times

More than 58,000 United States soldiers died in the Vietnam War, but in the world of letters, the death of a single American civilian came to represent the entire jungle quagmire. John Paul Vann went down in a helicopter crash on June 9, 1972. Four presidential administrations and a societal shift in recognizing Vietnam veterans later, Vann, a former lieutenant colonel and the first “civilian general” to lead American troops in combat, was memorialized in Neil Sheehan’s masterpiece, “A Bright Shining Lie.”

Thirty years on, Sheehan’s book hasn’t lost any of its astonishing power. At a September screening of the Burns-Novick documentary “The Vietnam War,” John Kerry told the audience he never understood the full extent of the anger against the war until he read “A Bright Shining Lie,” which showed him that all the way up the chain of command “people were just putting in gobbledygook information, and lives were being lost based on those lies and those distortions.”

What makes the book particularly compelling is that it is both a broad look at the folly of the war and an intimate portrait of a chillingly Shakespearean character. Sheehan spent five years researching Vann’s life, interviewing seemingly anyone who ever met him, and nine more writing.

Source: The Truth Behind ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnam-American War

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