"Freedonia: Land of the Spree, and the Home of the Knave"
Friday, September 29, 2006
..In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work ... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-RD. -Leviticus 16:29-30Yom Kippur is the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri (October 1, 2006). The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.
The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in God's books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends. Sandy Koufax sat out a World Series start in deference to Yom Kippur.
For anyone with sins they plan on attoning for, Jungle will host a Break the Fast dinner at 7pm on Monday October 2nd. We'll have feature specials (including a steak dinner and fish) which will be posted here. And we'll play the replay of the ninth inning of Sandy's perfect game.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
After Weathering Turmoil and Isolation, Cambodian Museum Rejoins the World
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The bats have been cleared from the rafters, the carved doors and elegant shutters flung open, and from a courtyard planted with coconut trees and lotus blossoms, light pours in daily on one of the world’s great collections of Khmer art.
After a period of near ruin in the 1970’s under the Khmer Rouge, when this city was forcibly emptied, and then years of struggle to raise money and hire staff members, the National Museum of Cambodia has made a comeback. Visitors are coming in droves, catalogs of the permanent collection have been prepared, and conservation is now a major priority.
Best of all, officials say, valuable Khmer pieces that were spirited out of the country for the European, American and Asian art markets are starting to trickle home.
“There is a trend, with a lot of people willing to give back pieces to Cambodia now we have peace,” said Roland Eng, a former Cambodian ambassador to the United States. “I know personally people who are willing to give back their own collections.”
So far, though, most of the objects have been returned by museums abroad, not by private collectors.
In a workshop adjacent to the galleries one recent morning, Sok Soda, a conservator, supervised a team of eight as they prepared to reattach the head of a 10th-century Shiva that was returned to Cambodia in the late 1990’s by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Amid the clutter of the workshop, the severed head lay atop two black pillows like a precious jewel. The torso, broad and muscular, stood nearby, wrapped in green tape and chains after an overland journey by truck from the Angkor Conservation Office at Siem Reap, where curators keep special pieces safe from looters at the Angkor Wat temple complex nearby.
When the head and torso are joined, the reassembled figure will be a star of a show featuring 140 Khmer treasures — stone sculptures, bronze figures, silver objects, paintings — that are to be sent from the museum to Germany for “Angkor — Sacred Heritage of Cambodia,” an exhibition that opens at the Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn in December.
The Met returned the Shiva head in 1997, four years after one of its curators recognized a photo on a most-wanted list of missing Khmer art circulated by a Unesco agency, said Helen Jessup, a Khmer-art historian and the founder of Friends of Khmer Culture, an American nonprofit group that supports arts organizations. From the black color of the stone and its granular quality it was obvious that the head and the torso were a perfect fit.
After long international detective work, the Cleveland Museum of Art returned body parts of a 12th-century Krishna from Phnom Da, the source of some of the most stunning Hindu sculptures in the Angkor region.
The Cleveland museum had acquired a sixth-century Krishna from the Belgian art collector Adolphe Stoclet in 1973. Fragments were unearthed later in the Stoclet garden in Brussels and shipped to the museum, which reattached many of them to the Krishna.
But nine fragments that did not fit the Cleveland museum’s Krishna proved to belong to a Krishna in the museum here in Phnom Penh. They were cleaned and pieced onto the Krishna torso and head last year in the workshop, and the sculpture — still missing a few parts, and showing some exposed steel struts that keep the fragments in place — is now on view.
A tranquil mood reigns at the National Museum, with overhead fans whirring and the soft pad of feet on tiled floors. Saffron-robed monks wander through, leaving stalks of fragrant jasmine at the base of statues of various Hindu divinities.
Built in 1917 by George Groslier, a French archaeologist and enthusiast of all things Khmer, the museum was designed in the Khmer style, with steeply pitched roofs and a flamingo pink exterior. The light in the galleries shifts with the position of the sun, as it does in the temples where the statues once stood.
Opened with much pomp in 1920 — a vintage photograph shows King Sisowath arriving under the shade of many ornate umbrellas — the museum had an art school attached. Students played an integral role in construction, carving the massive wooden front doors and painting gilded mythological figures on the walls of the front room that remain intact.
Air-conditioning is now being installed in one room for an exhibition of Rodin watercolors from the Rodin Museum in Paris. The works depict classical Khmer dancers, whom the artist painted when the troupe traveled to Marseilles in 1906.
The permanent collection is arranged in chronological order, allowing visitors to follow the evolution of styles from the pre-Angkor art of the 6th century, on through the many phases of Angkor, which flourished from the early 9th to the mid-15th centuries.
And when the 140 Angkor statues leave for Bonn, 140 almost equally precious pieces will be taken up for display from the storeroom, another reflection of the museum’s return to normalcy.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
One of my absolute favorite films -- I must have seen it at least a dozen times -- is Warren Beatty's "Reds". As many times as I've seen it I still get goosebumps at the close of the first half of the film as the workers pour through the streets to the sounds of the Internationale. Released in 1981 the film has never had a DVD release. I like the film so much I bought the Laserdisc...and I don't own a Laserdisc player. Finally, the DVD is scheduled for release October 10th. Amazon, god bless them, says they will ship to Cambodia for $7. You're on Amazon. We'll see how this one goes. Hopefully we'll have a screening at Jungle in November.
Yes, on the Podast, it's the Moscow Radio Chorus singing the Internationale (Sorry Billy Bragg).
The "Internationale" was written in Paris, in June of 1871 by Eugène Pottier, who was born in Paris in 1816 and died in 1887. He was a member of the International and of the Central Committee of the Commune. He was condemned to death in May of 1873, but sentence was never carried out as he took refuge in America. The song was published in Chants Révolutionnaires (1887), and dedicated to Gustave Lefrançais, member of the Commune. The music was composed by Pierre Degeyter, a Belgian-born socialist, songwriter, and woodcarver. It's a much cooler song than "Ca Plan Pour Moi", that other Belgian hit.
Monday, September 25, 2006
September 24, 2006
"We're looking forward to taking Chinary back home," Southwest artistic director Jeff von der Schmidt said last week. The project, which is also scheduled to include master classes and trips by Cambodian and Vietnamese composers to the U.S., is being partly funded by a three-year $200,000 matching grant from the San Francisco-based James Irvine Foundation.
Before leaving, the chamber group also plans to record music by Ung, Von der Schmidt said. Southwest has recently won two Grammy Awards for CDs of music by Carlos Chávez.
The Southwest Asian trip is to be documented by John Schneider for broadcast on his "Global Village" program on KPFK-FM (90.7). The broadcast date will be announced later.
— Chris Pasles
On the Podcast: Chinary Ung's Khse Buon (10:39) as performed by the Luna Nova New Music Ensemble.
Los Angeles Times
By Don Lee
September 17, 2006
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia --American diplomats made a big splash early this year when they opened an embassy near Wat Phnom, the sacred hill of temples where Phnom Penh was founded.n Cambodia."
U.S. Ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli trumpeted the three-story, marble-and-granite outpost as a "powerful symbol" of American interests in the impoverished country.
On the other side of the capital, the Chinese also are giving their embassy a makeover. But they're doing a lot more than that in Cambodia.
The Chinese are digging up minerals and exploring for oil. They are cutting down forests and in some places planting saplings. Across Cambodia, they are building garment factories, power plants, bridges and roads, some into neighboring Laos.
For centuries, the Kingdom of Cambodia has tried to fend off greater powers such as Thailand, Vietnam and France. But today Phnom Penh is welcoming the Chinese with open arms, praising Beijing as a government that offers its largess unconditionally.
By Phnom Penh's tally, Chinese state-owned and private companies plowed more than $450 million into Cambodia last year - a 460 percent increase over 2004 - making China by far the nation's top foreign investor. Beijing says it is also giving hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and aid to Cambodia, easily surpassing the $62 million in loans and aid from the U.S.
Some Western diplomats see China's growing influence here as a threat to American political interests in the region. Cambodia, a nation of 14 million, is a fledgling democracy. It conducted open elections in the wake of civil war a decade ago and the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. Its constitutional monarchy provides for a multiparty system, unlike neighbors Vietnam, Laos and China, each ruled by an unopposed Communist Party.
Cambodian politics are dominated by Prime Minister Hun Sen - who came to power in a bloody 1997 coup but has overseen the country's democratic reforms - and analysts say the rule of law and media freedoms have not taken root. Washington has tried to exert influence on Cambodia through its aid, which is earmarked mostly for health and education. But as Chinese support increases, some U.S. officials worry that it will ease the pressure on Phnom Penh to fight pervasive corruption and build democratic institutions.
Cambodia has embraced the Middle Kingdom, as China calls itself, because "China has proven different from other donors. They don't impose conditions," Cham Prasidh, the minister of commerce, said in an interview here. "Others say, 'You have to do this with human rights, you have to do that with democratic reforms.' China doesn't do that."
China's interest in this country - where income per person was $350 in 2004 - is driven by the same need that is sending Chinese to remote regions in Africa, Central Asia and South America: to secure natural resources to fuel its expanding economy and enhance its global political muscle.
China's trek is often secretive, as banker John Brinsden has learned.
The Briton is vice chairman of locally owned Acleda Bank. A field representative in Rovieng, a tiny farming village, recently called by shortwave radio to tell him that a potential client had moved to the remote area.
Brinsden drove eight hours north along mostly dirt roads to the village, which is surrounded by jungle - and land mines.
Next to the bank's outpost, Brinsden could see that a mining company was setting up offices behind a corrugated fence. But in his research later, he could find no permits or other records of the company. To the veteran banker, this was the Chinese way of doing business in Cambodia.
"They're very low-key," he said.
China's spending spree has helped Cambodia's economy come out of the doldrums. Tourism and garment production are growing briskly. Luxury sport utility vehicles are a common sight in the streets of Phnom Penh. The country's banks hold 30 percent more in deposits than a year ago.
The cash is certainly flowing at Naga's casino next to Buddhist temples on the eastern end of town. A construction company from China is building a 500-room hotel by the gambling hall for its Chinese Malaysian owner.
"The big rollers are from mainland China," said Michael Nen, a former Long Beach policeman who runs security for Naga Resorts & Casinos here.
Yet many Cambodians are wary of China's growing presence in their homeland. Some talk bitterly about Beijing's support for Pol Pot, the man who engineered the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror, which left more than 1 million Cambodians dead.
Other Cambodians complain that the Chinese, along with other foreign companies, are plundering the nation and buying up vast swaths of land in secret deals with corrupt local officials. Such trade has uprooted families and made life harder for many people, they say.
Companies are racing to exploit oil and natural gas deposits found beneath Cambodia's waters last year. Chevron Corp. has locked up key drilling sites, but Chinese enterprises, including state-owned CNOOC Ltd., which lost its bid for Unocal Corp. to Chevron last year, are jockeying for an advantage in Cambodia.
Chinese officials in Beijing and Cambodia declined to talk about China's presence here.
Chinese academics said Beijing had good reason to extend its hand toward Cambodia.
"China needs Cambodia's cooperation on many important issues, such as Taiwan, Tibet and human rights," said Shen Shishun, director of Asia-Pacific studies at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing.
Throughout Phnom Penh, hundreds of storefront signs are written in both Khmer and Chinese. Ethnic Chinese account for just 1 percent of Cambodia's population, but as in other Southeast Asian countries they play a significant role in commerce. Chinese businesspeople are helping to build a $10 million Chinatown near the French Embassy.
Pung Kheav Se, who is ethnic Chinese and was born in Cambodia, is the founder of Canadia Bank, which holds one-fourth of the nation's bank deposits. He fled the country in the late 1970s and made a fortune trading gold bars in Montreal before returning to Phnom Penh in 1991. Pung said China Development Bank officials recently paid him a visit to discuss aid to Cambodia. "I see a lot of change for the better," he said.
On a recent weekend, the city of Chongqing in central China was recruiting students for its schools at a domed conference center here. Across town, behind the gates of Universal Apparel Co., a red banner welcomed governors from China's Fujian province.
Cham Prasidh, the commerce minister, said the Chinese were not given preferential treatment.
If the United States has lost economic influence in Cambodia to China, the minister suggested, Americans have only themselves to blame. "The investors from the U.S. say they want more transparency. They don't understand the Asian mentality; they are not flexible in negotiating," he said. "The Chinese feel very much at home in Cambodia."
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Forbes has just released their list of the richest 400 Americans. The top 25 are listed below. Note to my staff, girlfriend, landlord and Phnom Penh tuk-tuk drivers: I am not related to any of these people.
The 400 Richest Americans
09.21.06, 10:00 AM ET
Rank Name Net Worth ($bil) Age Residence Source
1 William Henry Gates III 53.0 50 Medina, WA Microsoft
2 Warren Edward Buffett 46.0 76 Omaha, NE Berkshire Hathaway
3 Sheldon Adelson 20.5 73 Las Vegas, NV casinos, hotels
4 Lawrence Joseph Ellison 19.5 62 Redwood City, CA Oracle
5 Paul Gardner Allen 16.0 53 Seattle, WA Microsoft, investments
6 Jim C Walton 15.7 58 Bentonville, AR Wal-Mart
7 Christy Walton & family 15.6 51 Jackson, WY Wal-Mart inheritance
7 S Robson Walton 15.6 62 Bentonville, AR Wal-Mart
9 Michael Dell 15.5 41 Austin, TX Dell
9 Alice L Walton 15.5 57 Fort Worth, TX Wal-Mart
11 Helen R Walton 15.3 86 Bentonville, AR Wal-Mart
12 Sergey Brin 14.1 33 Palo Alto, CA Google
13 Larry E Page 14.0 33 San Francisco, CA Google
14 Jack Crawford Taylor 13.9 84 St Louis, MO Enterprise Rent-A-Car
15 Steven Anthony Ballmer 13.6 50 Bellevue, WA Microsoft
16 Abigail Johnson 13.0 44 Boston, MA Fidelity
17 Barbara Cox Anthony 12.6 83 Honolulu, HI Cox Enterprises
17 Anne Cox Chambers 12.6 86 Atlanta, GA Cox Enterprises
19 Charles De Ganahl Koch 12.0 70 Wichita, KS oil, commodities
19 David Hamilton Koch 12.0 66 New York, NY oil, commodities
21 Forrest Edward Mars Jr 10.5 75 McLean, VA candy
21 Jacqueline Mars 10.5 67 Bedminster, NJ candy
21 John Franklyn Mars 10.5 70 Arlington, VA candy
24 Carl Icahn 9.7 70 New York, NY leveraged buyouts
25 John Werner Kluge 9.1 92 Palm Beach, FL Metromedia
From the Phuket Gazette
New visa rules confirmed
PHUKET: New rules limiting stays in Thailand on “visas on arrival” to 90 days over any six month period were confirmed at a September 15 meeting of Immigration Department Chiefs in Bangkok . The new policy will go into effect on October 1.
In a related development, the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang , Malaysia , has stopped issuing double-entry tourist visas.
Pol Lt Col Pipat Pongpan, an Inspector at Phuket Immigration Office, told the Gazette, “Anyone who has already stayed 90 days on visa-on-arrival permits does not need to worry. We will start counting the day s from October 1.
“[Foreigners from countries qualifying for visas on arrival] can come in and out of the country as many times as they like with a visa on arrival, but can stay for a maximum of 90 days in any six month period. If they stay 90 days then they must leave for 90 days before they are entitled to anot her visa on arrival. They can, however, go and request a tourist visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad and come back into the country,” he said.
“Extensions above the 90-day limit may be granted in exceptional cases, such as if the tourist is suffering from an illness or involved in a lawsuit,” he added.
“No new investment visas will be issued after October 1. However, existing visas in this category may be extended if the holder still has funds of 3 million baht and is still doing business in Thailand,” Col Pipat said.
Tourist visas are still available, for a fee, at Thai embassies and consulates in nei ghbori ng countries. The Royal Thai Consulate in Penang , however, will now issue only single-entry 60-day tourist visas. An official at the consulate said that an order had been sent down from Consul Pramote Pramoonsab to cease issuance of double-entry tourist visas, which allow a total stay of up to 120 days. Double-entry tourist visas are at present still available in the Thai Consulate in Kota Bharu and Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur , however.
A source in the Visa and Travel Document Division, Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), said that the move by the consulate in Penang is not due to any sweeping changes in MFA policy.
The decision whether or not to issue double-entry tourist visas rests solely at the discretion of each diplomatic mission, the source explained.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Big News Network
Thursday 21st September, 2006 (UPI)
U.S. scientists say a species of ox discovered in Cambodia in 1937 and hailed as one of the 20th century's most famous finds might never have existed.
The kouprey -- an ox with dramatic, curving horns -- has been an icon of Southeast Asian conservation since its recognition as a new species. Feared extinct, it's been the object of many expeditions to the Cambodian jungles.
But now Northwestern University biologists have presented genetic evidence suggesting the kouprey might never have existed as a wild, natural species.
The researchers compared kouprey DNA with DNA from a Cambodian wild ox, the banteng. The researchers predicted they'd find the kouprey was a hybrid and would show mitochondrial DNA similar to that of the banteng. The prediction was confirmed by the DBA analysis.
The kouprey has acquired a rather romantic, exotic reputation, said Gary Galbreath, senior author of the study and associate director of Northwestern's Program in Biological Sciences. Some people would understandably be sad to see it dethroned as a species.
But, added Galbreath, In the end, good science is about what is true, not what is desired to be true.
The research appears in the Journal of Zoology.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Appearing in The Walrus Magazine, September 20:
Bombs Over Cambodia
New information reveals that Cambodia was bombed far more heavily than previously believed
by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan
mapping by Taylor Owen
In the fall of 2000, twenty-five years after the end of the war in Indochina, Bill Clinton became the first US president since Richard Nixon to visit Vietnam. While media coverage of the trip was dominated by talk of some two thousand US soldiers still classified as missing in action, a small act of great historical importance went almost unnoticed. As a humanitarian gesture, Clinton released extensive Air Force data on all American bombings of Indochina between 1964 and 1975. Recorded using a groundbreaking ibm-designed system, the database provided extensive information on sorties conducted over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Clinton’s gift was intended to assist in the search for unexploded ordnance left behind during the carpet bombing of the region. Littering the countryside, often submerged under farmland, this ordnance remains a significant humanitarian concern. It has maimed and killed farmers, and rendered valuable land all but unusable. Development and demining organizations have put the Air Force data to good use over the past six years, but have done so without noting its full implications, which turn out to be staggering.
The still-incomplete database (it has several “dark” periods) reveals that from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped far more ordnance on Cambodia than was previously believed: 2,756,941 tons’ worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed—not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson. The impact of this bombing, the subject of much debate for the past three decades, is now clearer than ever. Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d’état in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide. The data demonstrates that the way a country chooses to exit a conflict can have disastrous consequences. It therefore speaks to contemporary warfare as well, including US operations in Iraq. Despite many differences, a critical similarity links the war in Iraq with the Cambodian conflict: an increasing reliance on air power to battle a hetero geneous, volatile insurgency.
We heard a terrifying noise which shook the ground; it was as if the earth trembled, rose up and opened beneath our feet. Enormous explosions lit up the sky like huge bolts of lightning; it was the American B-52s.On December 9, 1970, US President Richard Nixon telephoned his national-security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to discuss the ongoing bombing of Cambodia. This sideshow to the war in Vietnam, begun in 1965 under the Johnson administration, had already seen 475,515 tons of ordnance dropped on Cambodia, which had been a neutral kingdom until nine months before the phone call, when pro-US General Lon Nol seized power. The first intense series of bombings, the Menu campaign on targets in Cambodia’s border areas — labelled Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Dinner, Dessert, and Snack by American commanders — had concluded in May, shortly after the coup.
— Cambodian bombing survivor
Nixon was facing growing congressional opposition to his Indochina policy. A joint US–South Vietnam ground invasion of Cambodia in May and June of 1970 had failed to root out Vietnamese Communists, and Nixon now wanted to covertly escalate the air attacks, which were aimed at destroying the mobile headquarters of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army (vc/nva) in the Cambodian jungle. After telling Kissinger that the US Air Force was being unimaginative, Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into the country: “They have got to go in there and I mean really go in...I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?”
Kissinger knew that this order ignored Nixon’s promise to Congress that US planes would remain within thirty kilometres of the Vietnamese border, his own assurances to the public that bombing would not take place within a kilometre of any village, and military assessments stating that air strikes were like poking a beehive with a stick. He responded hesitantly: “The problem is, Mr. President, the Air Force is designed to fight an air battle against the Soviet Union. They are not designed for this war...in fact, they are not designed for any war we are likely to have to fight.”
Five minutes after his conversation with Nixon ended, Kissinger called General Alexander Haig to relay the new orders from the president: “He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?” The response from Haig, barely audible on tape, sounds like laughter.
The US bombing of Cambodia remains a divisive and iconic topic. It was a mobilizing issue for the antiwar movement and is still cited regularly as an example of American war crimes. Writers such as Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, and William Shawcross emerged as influential political voices after condemning the bombing and the foreign policy it symbolized.
In the years since the Vietnam War,something of a consensus has emerged on the extent of US involvement in Cambodia. The details are controversial, but the narrative begins on March 18, 1969, when the United States launched the Menu campaign. The joint US–South Vietnam ground offensive followed. For the next three years, the United States continued with air strikes under Nixon’s orders, hitting deep inside Cambodia’s borders, first to root out the vc/nva and later to protect the Lon Nol regime from growing numbers of Cambodian Communist forces. Congress cut funding for the war and imposed an end to the bombing on August 15, 1973, amid calls for Nixon’s impeachment for his deceit in escalating the campaign.
Thanks to the database, we now know that the US bombardment started three-and-a-half years earlier, in 1965, under the Johnson administration. What happened in 1969 was not the start of bombings in Cambodia but the escalation into carpet bombing. From 1965 to 1968, 2,565 sorties took place over Cambodia, with 214 tons of bombs dropped. These early strikes were likely tactical, designed to support the nearly two thousand secret ground incursions conducted by the cia and US Special Forces during that period. B-52s—long-range bombers capable of carrying very heavy loads — were not deployed, whether out of concern for Cambodian lives or the country’s neutrality, or because carpet bombing was believed to be of limited strategic value.
Nixon decided on a different course, and beginning in 1969 the Air Force deployed B-52s over Cambodia. The new rationale for the bombings was that they would keep enemy forces at bay long enough to allow the United States to withdraw from Vietnam. Former US General Theodore Mataxis depicted the move as “a holding action.... The troika’s going down the road and the wolves are closing in, and so you throw them something off and let them chew it.” The result was that Cambodians essentially became cannon fodder to protect American lives.
The last phase of the bombing, from February to August 1973, was designed to stop the Khmer Rouge’s advance on the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The United States, fearing that the first Southeast Asian domino was about to fall, began a massive escalation of the air war — an unprecedented B-52 bombardment that focused on the heavily populated area around Phnom Penh but left few regions of the country untouched. The extent of this bombardment has only now come to light.
The data released by Clinton shows the total payload dropped during these years to be nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure. To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during allof World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history.
A single B-52d “Big Belly” payload consists of up to 108 225-kilogram or 42 340-kilogram bombs, which are dropped on a target area of approximately 500 by 1,500 metres. In many cases, Cambodian villages were hit with dozens of payloads over the course of several hours. The result was near-total destruction. One US official stated at the time, “We had been told, as had everybody...that those carpet-bombing attacks by B-52s were totally devastating, that nothing could survive.” Previously, it was estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 Cambodian civilians were killed by the bombing. Given the fivefold increase in tonnage revealed by the database, the number of casualties is surely higher.
The Cambodian bombing campaign had two unintended side effects that ultimately combined to produce the very domino effect that the Vietnam War was supposed to prevent. First, the bombing forced the Vietnamese Communists deeper and deeper into Cambodia, bringing them into greater contact with Khmer Rouge insurgents. Second, the bombs drove ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, a group that seemed initially to have slim prospects of revolutionary success. Pol Pot himself described the Khmer Rouge during that period as “fewer than five thousand poorly armed guerrillas . . . scattered across the Cambodian landscape, uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty, and leaders.”
Years after the war ended, journalist Bruce Palling asked Chhit Do, a former Khmer Rouge officer, if his forces had used the bombing as anti-American propaganda. Chhit replied:
Every time after there had been bombing, they would take the people to see the craters, to see how big and deep the craters were, to see how the earth had been gouged out and scorched.... The ordinary people sometimes literally shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told. It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on co-operating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up with the Khmer Rouge, sending their children off to go with them.... Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge.
The Nixon administration knew that the Khmer Rouge was winning over peasants. The cia’s Directorate of Operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the Communists were “using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda.” But this does not seem to have registered as a primary strategic concern.
The Nixon administration kept theair war secret for so long that debate over its impact came far too late. It wasn’t until 1973 that Congress, angered by the destruction the campaign had caused and the systematic deception that had masked it, legislated a halt to the bombing of Cambodia. By then, the damage was already done. Having grown to more than two hundred thousand troops and militia forces by 1973, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh two years later. They wenton to subject Cambodia to a Maoist agrarian revolution and a genocide in which 1.7 million people perished.
The Nixon Doctrine relied on the notion that the United States could supply an allied regime with the resources needed to withstand internalor external challenges while the US withdrew its ground troops or, in some cases, simply remained at arm’s length. In Vietnam, this meant building up the ground-fighting capability of South Vietnamese forces while American units slowly disengaged. In Cambodia, Washington gave military aid to prop up Lon Nol’s regime from 1970 to 1975 while the US Air Force conducted its massive aerial bombardment.
US policy in Iraq may yet undergo a similar shift. Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker in December 2005 that a key element of any drawdown of American troops will be their replacement with air power. “We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting — Iraqi infantry with American support and greater use of air power,” said Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Critics argue that a shift to air power will cause even greater numbers of civilian casualties, which in turn will benefit the insurgency in Iraq. Andrew Brookes, the former director of air-power studies at the Royal Air Force’s advanced staff college, told Hersh, “Don’t believe that air power is a solution to the problems inside Iraq at all. Replacing boots on the ground with air power didn’t work in Vietnam, did it?”
It’s true that air strikes are generally more accurate now than they were during the war in Indochina, so in theory,at least, unidentified targets should be hit less frequently and civilian casualties should be lower. Nonetheless, civilian deaths have been the norm during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, as they were during the bombing of Lebanon by Israeli forces over the summer. As in Cambodia, insurgencies are the likely beneficiaries. To cite one example, on January 13 of this year an aerial strike by a US Predator drone on a village in a border area of Pakistan killed eighteen civilians, including five women and five children. The deaths undermined the positive sentiments created by the billions of dollars in aid that had flowed into that part of Pakistan after the massive earthquake months earlier. The question remains: is bombing worth the strategic risk?
If the Cambodian experience teaches us anything, it is that miscalculation of the consequences of civilian casualties stems partly from a failure to understand how insurgencies thrive. The motives that lead locals to help such movements don’t fit into strategic rationales like the ones set forth by Kissinger and Nixon. Those whose lives have been ruined don’t care about the geopolitics behind bomb attacks; they tend to blame the attackers. The failure of the American campaign in Cambodia lay not only in the civilian death toll during the unprecedented bombing, but also in its aftermath, when the Khmer Rouge regime rose up from the bomb craters, with tragic results. The dynamics in Iraq could be similar.•
- Published October 2006
Taylor Owen is a doctoral candidate and Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford. In 2004, he was a visiting fellow in the Yale Genocide Studies Program.
Ben Kiernan is a professor of history at Yale University and the author of How Pol Pot Came to Power and The Pol Pot Regime.
Transcripts of the Kissinger-Nixon-Haig discussions are available here.
Suan Dusit's poll shows 84% support coup
Approximately 84 per cent of Thais support Tuesday's military coup, according to the poll conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University.
The poll showed that 82 per cent of Bangkok residents, and 86 per cent of residents in rural areas supported the coup as they believe it end political / social tension and is a positive step for Thai politics.
The poll contradicted the widespread belief that people in rural areas support Thaksin. About 16 per cent of Thais disagreed with the coup, citing adverse impact on Thailand's image in the international communities and weaken investors' confidence. About 75 per cent hopes Thai politics will improve following the coup, while about 20 per cent sees no change in political developments.
For more breaking news from Thailand see websites for The Nation and Bangkok Post.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
PHNOM PENH, Sept 18 (Reuters) - A former Cambodian police chief and adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen was sentenced in absentia to 18 years in jail on Monday for his involvement in the 2003 assassination of a judge.
Police General Heng Pov, 49, who has fled Cambodia, was found guilty of premeditated murder along with five associates, who each received 16 years, trial judge Kim Ravy told a courtroom packed with burly security men.
"Their acts created social problems and cannot be tolerated," he said. "It was a premeditated killing ordered by Heng Pov."
He said there had been a dispute between Heng Pov and judge Sok Sethamony, who was shot dead as he drove to work in April 2003. Kim Ravy did not elaborate.
The one-legged Heng Pov, sacked as head of the Phnom Penh police last year and as a Hun Sen aide in June this year, fled to Singapore in July, officials said.
His current whereabouts are unknown. Some reports have suggested he applied to Australia for political asylum.
In July, police arrested eight men at two Phnom Penh addresses belonging to Heng Pov after they said they had found six rifles, three hand-guns and $300,000 in cash.
Cambodia's corrupt and highly politicised justice system frequently tries people in absentia and hands down convictions without revealing details of evidence.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen, 50,000 tracks (yea that is a lot of Dean Martin, isn't it?). Thank you Dan and Michael for the latest contributions to the library including 13gb of the Billboard Top 100 1967-2001 and the complete Cafe Del Mar collections. Sweet!
Friday, September 15, 2006
Pham Duy's personal journey took him first to the south of Vietnam during the French war, then to California after the American war. He returned to Vietnam for good last year and is now to be joined by his daughter Thai Hien, herself a well known singer, with whom he will play a concert in Saigon on October 1. When Pham Duy lived in Orange County in the early '90's I visited with him in his little home studio/office many times. He enjoyed immensely having non-Vietnamse take such great interest in his work and chatting with him about the possibilities that this newfangled thing called the internet would provide for musicians. I loved watching him hold court, wildly gesticulating as he passionately argued the merits of various interpreters of his music. I developed a fairly good Pham Duy impression with wihich I would bore my wife (and anyone else who knew him). An autographed copy of the sheet music artwork for Ben Xuan is among my prized possessions.
Pham Duy is 87 years old, so it's terrific that he is now in good enough health again to perform. Wish I could be there (tickets are pretty limited). You can listen to Pham Duy's song Tinh Ca on the Jungle Podcast. You'll find an interesting article on the origins of Vietnamese popular song here. The music of Pham Duy, Van Cao and Trinh Cong Son are part of the Jungle collection.
|Another overseas Vietnamese pop star returns home|
|16:43' 31/08/2006 (GMT+7)|
VietNamNet Bridge – Overseas Vietnamese pop star Thai Hien will have her first show in Vietnam after more than 30 years of living abroad.
Thai Hien is the daughter of musician Pham Duy, who just relocated to Vietnam after many years of living in another country. She was a famous pop star in the South during the war time. With her great voice, she is well known for her renditions of famous Vietnamese songs by Ngo Thuy Mien, Pham Duy, Trinh Cong Son.
After the return of her father and her siblings – Duy Quang, Duy Cuong and Thai Thao – who are also pop stars in other countries, Thai Hien has decided to hold her first show at the Sofitel Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City on October 1.
During the show, Hien will sing 12 of her most popular renditions. Special guests at the show will be musician Pham Duy, singers Duy Quang, Thu Minh and Duc Tuan.
Talking to the press, Hien said she was impressed by how warmly she was welcomed by the city audiences.
According to organisers of the show, as the size of the venue is small, there will be only 450 tickets sold.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Dengue Fever come by their Cambodian-pop cred honestly
BY MICHAEL BARCLAY
With Ohbijou, Your Band Sucks. Mon, Sep 18. Sneaky Dee's, 431 College. $7 from Rotate This, Soundscapes, www.ticketweb.com.
Cambodian pop fans were nervous. In December 2005, they had heard that Chhom Nimol, the youngest sister of a family of pop stars, had moved to California, joined an American band and was no longer singing in Khmer. Now she was returning with her group, Dengue Fever, to a homeland crowd.
Imagine the Cambodians' surprise when they discovered that her American band, including a guitarist with a ZZ Topstyle beard, was actually playing music directly inspired by '60s Cambodian pop icons like Sin Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea -- who themselves created a hybrid of Western psychedelic pop and traditional melodies at the time. And not only was Nimol singing in Khmer, but so was her Jewish-American guitarist. For the non-Cambodians in Dengue Fever -- which is to say, everyone but Nimol -- the experience was vindicating. They had already won over residents of LA's Long Beach neighbourhood, home to a Cambodian community some 50,000 strong, but their actual holiday in Cambodia was a whole other story.
Explains bassist Senon Williams, "The first gig we played there was at an expat bar, across the river away from the central part of town, in this old house owned by this crazy, eccentric English dude named Snowy. It was funky and dirty, and if the whole house had collapsed into the water I wouldn't have been surprised. Because Nimol's family is famous over there, the expat bar was packed with both Westerners and locals. Both the Cambodians and the NGO [non-governmental organization] community said that was the first time they'd seen a crowd so diverse."
The next day, Dengue Fever taped a two-hour TV special for the Cambodian Television Network, who aired it three times a day during the band's trip. "There are only four main channels in Cambodia, so everybody saw it," Williams continues. "It was strange, after a day and a half of being just another Westerner there: rather than some guy coming up to you to sell you stuff, he says, 'Mr. CTN! I see you on TV!'"
Both Williams and Farfisa organist Ethan Holtzman had travelled to Cambodia in the '90s, where they became enamoured with the Cambodian pop scene that was wiped out with the Khmer Rouge genocide of the mid-'70s. Around the time Dengue Fever formed in 2001, bootleg tapes of this lost music, called Cambodia Rocks, started circulating in the U.S. Holtzman and his guitarist brother Zac wanted to start their own Cambodian tribute band, but finding the right singer was key. They spotted Nimol singing at a Long Beach karaoke bar, and tried to convince her that they were serious.
"In the beginning, Nimol was skeptical," says Williams. "She'd come with a whole entourage. There'd be between three and 15 people every rehearsal. She speaks English pretty good now, but in the beginning she didn't speak a word. Her friend was her translator, and she was also a Christian who would sometimes bring her Christian group down to practice as well. I wasn't used to rehearsing to a crowd; that was certainly a new thing for me."
If the Cambodia-via-America-back-to-Cambodia loop isn't confusing enough, Dengue Fever also draw heavily from the material found on the Ethiopiques compilation series of East African jazz and pop of the '60s. Even more than the shared Western influence on both countries, there are remarkable melodic similarities as well.
"In Ethiopia, they seemed more influenced by the jazz of that era," says Williams, "but there was also still some really far-out melodies and psychedelic aspect to it. With Cambodian music, it was more influenced by rock. I'm positive they knew nothing about each other's music scenes at the time, but if you listen to an Ethiopiques song and a Cambodia Rocks song, somehow they're distant cousins."
Dengue Fever usually get suspicious looks for being a group of egghead LA session dudes -- their collective resumé includes everyone from Beck to Snoop Dogg to Julio Iglesias to The Radar Brothers -- but thanks to Nimol, their Cambodian cred keeps rising outside of the indie-rock exoticist ghetto.
"There's a really strong Cambodian presence on our MySpace page, and we get big Cambodian crowds on the West Coast," says Williams. "On the road it's more of a rock 'n' roll circuit, but the front row is always Cambodian people. What's also pretty cool is that in the past they'd be singing along to the covers we'd play, but now they're singing the new originals as well."
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Re-release of cassette-based Camodian rock tracks has been done of course, twice, in five volumes, on CD. Now from Defective Records comes a vinyl only release of 14 recordings by Sin Sisamouth and Srey Sothea:
New 14 track Cambodian rock compilation now available!
It features the vocal stylings of Srei Sothear and Sin Sisamouth
on top of the most groovy, twangy and fuzziest music you will ever hear...
All profits will go to land mine removal funding.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
"The major political film of our times - a magnificent achievement." – Tom Allen, Village VoicePatricio Guzman's three part documentary film "The Battle of Chile" is an extraordinary work. Filmed on a shoestring budget before and during the 1973 coup that overthrew Salvador Allende, the film is one of the most intense cinematic experiences imaginable. Part one ends with one of the camermen recording his own death as he is shot in cold blood by a pistol wielding soldier during the first coup attempt in June 1973. It is a heartbreaking film to watch but it is also a film filled with optimism. It is a must see for anyone who cares about film or politics, and especially for people who care about both. The Battle of Algiers is a movie. This is the real thing.
"Not only the best film about Allende and the coup d'etat, but among the best documentary films ever made, changing our concepts of political documentary within a framework accessible to the widest audience." - Time Out Film Guide
"Possibly the most riveting and vital historical document ever put on celluloid" - Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
"A landmark in the presentation of living history on film." – Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle
The film is rarely screened and has never been available in an English language DVD release. It screens at Jungle in its only available DVD format, in Spanish and French with French subtitles. Parts 1 and II were completed in 1975, Part III in 1979. While best appreciated together each part stands on its own.
THE BATTLE OF CHILE (Part 1): The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie (96 minutes) examines the escalation of rightist opposition following the left's unexpected victory in Congressional elections held in March, 1973. Finding that democracy would not stop Allende's socialist policies, the right-wing shifted its tactics from the polls to the streets. The film follows months of activity as a variety of increasingly violent tactics are used by the right to weaken the government and provoke a crisis.
THE BATTLE OF CHILE (Part 2): The Coup d'Etat (88 minutes) opens with the attempted military coup of June, 1973 which is put down by troops loyal to the government. It serves as a useful dry run, however, for the final showdown, that everyone now realizes is coming. The film shows a left divided over strategy, while the right methodically lays the groundwork for the military seizure of power. The film's dramatic concluding sequence documents the coup d'etat, including Allende's last radio messages to the people of Chile, footage of the military assault on the presidential palace, and that evening's televised presentation of the new military junta.
THE BATTLE OF CHILE (Part 3): The Power of the People (78 minutes) deals with the creation by ordinary workers and peasants of thousands of local groups of "popular power" to distribute food, occupy, guard and run factories and farms, oppose black market profiteering, and link together neighborhood social service organizations. First these local groups of "popular power" acted as a defense against strikes and lock-outs by factory owners, tradesmen and professional bodies opposed to the Allende government, then increasingly as Soviet-type bodies demanding more resolute action by the government against the right.
THE PINOCHET CASE: (110 minutes): A coda in every sense, The Pinochet Case splits time between a minute-by-minute account of the British court's extradition chess game and the regime's talking-head survivors... Guzmán lobs in the occasional hand grenade: a forensic researcher calmly counting the vertebrae while assembling exhumed bones, appalling archival footage of Pinochet's posh house arrest as Thatcher visits ("Five months is a long time to be confined," she tells him sympathetically, " . . . in a house"), a climactic glimpse of a new Allende statue garnering paranoid squints...
In a 1999 column entitled "Armed with a Camera" BBC Journalist and filmmaker John Pilger articulated well the importance of Guzman's work:
Armed With Ä Camera
The documentary film struggles to survive. In the United States, it has all but disappeared from the mainstream. In this country, the docu-soap is put forward as a counterfeit alternative. The justification is the Murdoch one, that the public is interested only in a moving belt of patronage, trivia and false emotion. Yet when a documentary breaks a silence and challenges authorised wisdom, elevating its audience almost to participants, people respond in their thousands. Next week, there is a rare opportunity to see such a documentary: in my view, one of the finest ever made.
This is Patricio Guzman's The Battle Of Chile: The Fight Of An Unarmed People, an epic of reportage on the events that extinguished democracy in Chile in 1973, to be shown at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in London. "How," asked the New Yorker critic Pauline Kael when the film was released in the late seventies, "could a team of five, some with no previous film experience, working with limited equipment (one Eclair camera, one Nagra sound recorder, two vehicles) and a package of black-and-white film stock sent to them from France produce a work of this magnitude?"
The answer is that sheer talent, commitment and energy won out - though at a price. In Guzman's sequel, Chile, Obstinate Memory, we learn that after the film was smuggled abroad, the cameraman, Jorge Muller, was arrested and taken to a "torture camp", where he "disappeared" until his grave was found years later. He was 27. "He preferred to go to the beach than to demonstrations," says a friend. "He talked about clothes and girls... it was all part of his charm."
The brilliance of his work, its hand-held choreography and grace, cannot be overstated; he is a reporter and a sculptor. There is a scene at the funeral of Salvador Allende's loyal aide-de-camp, a naval officer murdered by the far right at the urging of the CIA, where the camera moves among the attendant military brass in their braid and ribbons, coiffed hair and opaque eyes. There is a menacing, almost sepulchral stillness about them; and from that moment on you know that you are watching the funeral of a society. Later, following the bombing of the presidential palace and Allende's death, the camera again pans along the living death masks of Augusto Pinochet and his collaborators as they toll the end of democracy. The Law Lords should see this and hear Pinochet's tinny little voice announcing that the army is taking over the judiciary "until further orders".
The Battle Of Chile is in two parts. It is unfortunate that part one, The Insurrection Of The Bourgeoisie (1975), will not be shown at the festival. This traces the rise of rightwing opposition to Allende's socialist government following the left's victory in congressional elections in March, 1973 and the embrace of fascism by many of the middle class. The American embargo is now in full force and the economy is in grave difficulty. The public transport system disintegrates as spare parts are denied.
Knowing his political enemies have the power of the gun and the US behind them, Allende prevaricates, seeking coalitions and resorting to extraordinary popular demonstrations. At one rally he exhorts the crowd, "Jump if you're not a fascist!" and half a million people jump. It is an image as unforgettable as the one that follows: an Argentinian cameraman films an army patrol skirmishing with demonstrators. We see through his lens a helmeted soldier take slow, careful aim and kill him.
Part two, The Coup d'Etat, begins with the attempted military coup in June, 1973, which is put down by troops "loyal to the constitution". For Pinochet, then regarded as a constitutionalist, and the other generals, this serves as a useful rehearsal for the final act. As soldiers raid factories looking for arms, divisions open up in the popular front, with the communists opposed to workers' occupations and worried about the "international image" of the government.
Open debate in mass meetings is notoriously difficult to film, especially with one camera, yet Guzman succeeds with a quality and verve that puts you next to the speaker while your eyes travel to other faces, almost reading their thoughts. I have not seen anything quite like it. Guzman ensures that we are not merely witnesses; we share the experience. It is a reminder of what is missing from our television screens, night after night as the orthodox lens peers sheepishly over the shoulders of the managers of power, almost never from the other side.
In Guzman's film, there is much that goes unexplained; the evidence of Washington's complicity is not fully documented, as if that is for another film and, anyway, the narrative cannot wait to catch up with the unfolding struggle. This is not to say detail is left out. The dilemmas of the Allende years are examined at a meeting where a worker calls for the expropriation of every factory in the country. A trade union official points out that several are owned by Swiss companies, and the Swiss are influential in the Club of Paris, which determines how Chile repays its debt. If the debt is increased, this will place an intolerable burden on the government as it fights for survival. "Let us not worry about the international scene," someone replies, "Let us worry about here and now."
A united front, the arming of the people, the legality of their actions, the government's hesitance - these are debated by working people with an articulateness, often eloquence, seldom seen on film. Hearing them speak politically and directly to the camera is a strange experience. Apart from Ken Loach's work, I cannot recall anything remotely similar made in this country.
Guzman is unsparing as he follows the spiral of Allende's disastrous attempts to find common ground with the opposition. When the truck operators bring the country to a halt, Allende offers the Christian Democrats five places in the government, and their refusal is his humiliation.
Muller's camera is at their fated meeting, tracing the contours of faces, revealing the freemasonry of deception, lies and false hope. Pinochet is brought into the government; in his shadow are 250 terrorist groups backed by Washington. Almost everything now is backed by Washington. The CIA finances the truck operators' strike; William Colby, the CIA director who ran the terrorism of Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, pointedly refuses to deny that the invisible hand is his. A popular television channel broadcasts anti-government bile; it is run by the Ford Foundation. At sea, American warships make contact with the Chilean navy. The thud-thud of the rotors of Huey military helicopters, the sickening sound of Vietnam, becomes a drum beat towards the inevitable.
For me, the film's climax is not the end of Allende and the nightmare that followed, but the huge, sad, almost valedictory demonstration by 800,000 defenceless people as they file past the president, shouting, "Allende, Allende, the people will defend you!" and "Allende, don't worry, the people are with you!" As Guzman and Muller went with them, I was deeply moved, as I was by the display of personal bravery by Allende when the end came on September 11, 1973. After releasing his guards, his voice is heard, rising and falling in the static of the last free frequency: "I am not going to give up. I shall repay the loyalty of the people with my life. History is ours and it is made by the people..."
Guzman returned from exile in 1996 with one of Allende's bodyguards, Juan, who stayed with him in the presidential palace as it was bombed. September 11, 1973 was meant to be Juan's wedding day. He was shot in the stomach, and imprisoned, before fleeing to exile. Now disguised as a member of Guzman's film crew, he walks where his best friends and Allende died. Memory and its burial is Guzman's theme in the film. He has brought with him copies of The Battle Of Chile so that his friends and comrades can finally see it and he can show it to a new generation (the film remains banned in Chile). Despite Chile's return to a nominal democracy, the military remains powerful and leading criminals like Pinochet are protected from prosecution. So it is not surprising the demons of 1973 remain.
In the opening scenes of Obstinate Memory we see a group of young musicians walking through Santiago, playing the long banned anthem of the Unidad Popular. Passers-by stop in disbelief. They have not heard this for almost a quarter of a century. Faces stiffen, eyes moisten. A man cautiously makes a victory sign, then hurries away, shaking his head. As memory returns, so does grief. In a friend's flat, Guzman plays the grainy black and white images to old comrades, who recognise themselves and those dragged off to the National Stadium and never seen again. "Look, there is Carmen!" says one, as the camera moves across a defiant, beautiful young woman. When Guzman finds her, he is confronted by almost another person. She is rigid, contained, her face skeined grey; no one can know her grief. "My husband, my brother, my son, my sister-in- law, my nephew," she intones, "all disappeared!"
Guzman shows his film to students who have grown up "with memory banned". At first, their confusion is like a presence; then the mood changes and one girl says, "I feel proud of my people". And they cry, as if the repressed feelings of a whole society are at last finding expression. "The truth is replaced by silence," wrote the Soviet dissident Yevgeney Yevtushenko, "and the silence is a lie." The Battle Of Chile breaks a silence; and we owe a debt of gratitude to the film-maker and his collective of five, all of whom were interned.
Their film is about a tragedy and a crime, but it is also a celebration of a truth - that the universal phenomenon of resistance continues, that defeats at the hands of raw power, as in Chile and other countries subjected to western economic and military terrorism, have not been failures of their political and economic experience; on the contrary, popular democracy, health and education under Allende were highly successful.
To say that this alternative model "failed", as post-cold war propaganda would have us believe, is like saying that Hitler's destruction of western European democracies was a "failure of democracy". The Hitlers and Pinochets and their Faustian pals have their long day, but they never endure.
For those of us who make documentaries, Guzman's searing work is reaffirmation that the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary people gave us the form, and our allegiance is due to them.
The Battle of Chile screens at Jungle Saturday and Sunday at 7:30. Parts 1 and 2 screen Saturday. Part 3 screens Sunday and is followed by a screening of Guzman's 2001 film The Pinochet Case.
Come early, stay late and enjoy the music of Victor Jara, contemporary South American music and a bottle of Vina Maipo Chilean wine.
Monday, September 11, 2006
It’s still a couple of months before affaciendos can see the debut of
James Blond, sorry, Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale, which will be released on movie screens worldwide and avalailable in Phnom Penh’s Russian Market (in high resolution but not entirely legal DVD copy form) from November sometime.
Meanwhile the Jungle Bar classic Bond series rumbles on, and this week Sean Connery stars on the Jungle Bar big screen in Goldfinger which features in many peoples top five list of Bond faves. Get there early to catch the classic booming Shirley Bassey intro song by John Barry complete with trippy Maurice Binder visuals.
Whilst many other Bond movies have villains as villainous as Goldfinger, no other Bond film features a character named Pussy Galore (possibly only beaten by the shapely ‘Plenty O’ Toole’ in a list of the smuttiest named Bond females) as the lesbian leader of an all-female criminal organisation from New York City called the Cement Mixers, who had all previously been circus acrobats and cat-burglars
And while at the Jungle Bar, remember that classic Bond martinis go for $2.50. The screening is free and the start time is 7.30pm .
Jungle Bar and Grill. 273 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Phone: 012-474-230
Pol Pot thought of me as a patriot, but intellectual—in other words, incapable of heading the revolution.
By Stéphanie Giry Newsweek International
Sept. 18, 2006 issue - After a decade of stop-and-start negotiations, a United Nations-sponsored tribunal has finally begun to investigate the handful of Khmer Rouge leaders who are still alive in Cambodia. Prosecutors hope to bring them to trial for crimes against humanity, among other charges, next year. But many Cambodians are skeptical that justice will be done before the elderly former guerrillas die off. Most of the Khmer Rouge leaders continue to deny any knowledge of or responsibility for the estimated 1.5 million deaths that occurred between 1975 and 1979, when their forces emptied out Phnom Penh and radically reorganized the countryside. Khieu Samphan, Cambodia's president during the Khmer Rouge reign, recently spoke about his role with Stéphanie Giry. Excerpts:
Giry: How did you become affiliated with the Khmer Rouge?
Khieu:In the 1960s, after editing a progressive paper, I became a congressman and, briefly, junior minister of Commerce. I supported Prince [Norodom] Sihanouk, who advocated Cambodia's neutrality between the United States and Vietnam. But in 1967, after I was accused of instigating a large peasant riot, I was forced to go into hiding in the countryside. The Khmer Rouge were already active there, mobilizing and organizing the peasantry. The movement seemed like the only path toward social progress.
Your Ph.D. thesis, written in 1959, advocated the democratic collectivization of the Cambodian countryside. What was its relationship to the policies of the Khmer Rouge?
No relationship. It was a very academic, unrealizable thesis. [Khmer Rouge leader] Pol Pot thought of me as a patriotic intellectual. A patriot, but intellectual—in other words, incapable of heading the revolution. When I told him in 1975 that evacuating Phnom Penh would alienate the people from the party, he compared me to Gorky, who, distressed by the famine in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, kept questioning Lenin.
What did you think of the many people who were dying of starvation in the countryside?
Isolated as I was at headquarters in Phnom Penh, I knew nothing of what was happening in the countryside. I knew that people who had been evacuated from Phnom Penh were suffering, but I didn't know they were reduced to starvation.
What did you know about the 17,000 or so people [mostly Khmer Rouge officials accused of treason] who were tortured and executed at the S-21 complex in Phnom Penh?
I did not know of S-21.
How could you have known so little, given your rank?
My title was purely honorific; I had no power to make or execute decisions. My main task was to maintain relations between the party and the prince. [Also,] the Khmer Rouge was the most secretive of communist movements—absolute partitioning, no horizontal communication. The few times I did go to the countryside, I was escorting the prince on tours of new infrastructure projects and I saw only what he was shown.
When did you finally realize all those people had died?
In late 1998, after Pol Pot's death and the collapse of the movement, when I finally had a chance to talk to former Khmer Rouge fighters and cadres.
What did you think?
I was overwhelmed. And then I read and thought a lot. Between 1975 and 1979, the population died mostly of starvation and disease, which existed even before the Khmer Rouge came to power. The countryside had been ravaged by U.S. bombings. Famine was threatening Phnom Penh, which overflowed with refugees. Even a report from the U.S. Agency for International Development predicted a food crisis. Such frightfully difficult conditions must have convinced Pol Pot to go beyond communist orthodoxy by evacuating Phnom Penh and abolishing money.
Do you have any regrets?
I regret that so many lives were lost for nothing. Had we at least advanced economically, the unhappiness would have been good for something.
If today Cambodia were more like China, the experience would have been worth it?
What do you think of the tribunal that will judge crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime?
I did everything I could to remain honest toward my country and contribute to its development and independence, and now I'm accused of genocide. I don't understand. And I'm sure most Cambodians don't understand either.
© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.
Other "I Knew Nothing" Links:
Former NHS trust chief executive Dr John Roylance has denied any knowledge of problems with child heart operations at Bristol Royal Infirmary.
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling repeatedly told Congressional investigators Thursday that he knew nothing of any off-the-books partnerships used by Enron ...
Swedish foreign minister Jan Eliasson: I knew nothing about Iraq payoff
Reagan attended four NSC meetings, but he also contended that he knew nothing of illegal arms shipments to Iran and illegal weapons sales to the Contras
Irving contends that Hitler knew nothing of the holocaust because, ...
Thailand tightens visa rules for tourists to cut illegal workers
09.10.2006, 09:45 AM
BANGKOK (AFX) - Thailand will tighten entry regulations for tourists in a bid to crack down on illegal foreign workers, the Immigration Bureau said.
The move, which takes effect October 1, would affect tourists from 41 countries including Australia, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the US, said Suwat Thamrongsrisakul, the head of the bureau.
Currently, tourists from 41 countries can enter Thailand without visas and stay in the kingdom for up to 30 days.
They can extend their stay by checking out of the country, mainly by crossing the borders of neighboring Cambodia and Laos, and returning with new entry stamps.
'Under the current rules, people from those countries can stay in Thailand as long as they want. Some even stay here for one year,' another bureau official said.
The bureau had learned that a growing number of foreigners from the 41 countries worked illegally in Thailand, Suwat said, adding many were employed in bars and restaurants in the popular seaside resort of Pattaya, east of Bangkok.
'Tourists are taking advantage of the visa exemption law. Instead of sightseeing, they are doing business here,' Suwat said.
From October, tourists from the designated countries can still enter Thailand without visas and stay for up to 30 days, but their entry stamps will be renewable twice at most for a maximum stay of 90 days.
Tourists who stayed for 90 days must leave the kingdom for at least 90 days before being permitted to re-enter Thailand, Suwat said.
Implications for Cambodia are a matter of discussion at Khmer440 here.
If this is as bad as it appears to be what are the options? The Stickman site advises the following:
The first and possibly the easiest way to get legal is to get a job. Every job in Thailand should come with a work permit and with that the accompanying one year visa. This is all very good and well if you wish to work - but many people don't want to, don't need to, or have their own business which would simply be a big hassle to get a work permit for.
If you are one of the many running a one man business in Thailand under the radar, it has to be said that it would be a major hassle to get legal. In addition to registering the business, employing a number of Thais so you yourself can actually qualify for a work permit, you then have to look at all of the accounting procedures, the compulsory twice year auditing and the one that most people want to avoid altogether, the tax situation. For some guys running a one man show, this would all be too much of a headache, so getting legal is simply not worth their while.
The next option is to get a retirement visa. For this you must be 50 years of age or older and either show proof that you have a deposit of 800,000 baht or more in a local bank account OR show a monthly income of 65,000 baht or more from abroad. The hard part with this type of visa seems to be the age. Many people have the money, or the income, but are not even close to 50. Sorry, they’re not flexible on that minor detail!
The next option is an investment visa. I am surprised that more people do not use this one. All you need to do is buy a property here for 3,000,000 baht or more, or have 3,000,000 baht on deposit in a Thai bank account. This seems to be the least popular of the options currently being used by Westerners in Thailand. I do have a funny feeling though that if you go the bank account route then the money may need to have been brought in from abroad, though I am not sure of that. Details about just what is required to qualify for an investment visa in Thailand will become clear as more and more guys look at this option. And remember, fixed interest term investments at the local banks now get around 5%, which is much more than it has been at any time since the '97 crash.
One could always apply for a multiple entry Non-Immigrant "B" or "O" visa. These are effectively a one year visa that allow you to exit and immediately re-enter the country every 90 days for the purposes of business, or to support a Thai spouse / national. These visas are quite difficult to get from Thai embassies and consulates in surrounding countries, but can be easily sought from the Thai embassy in your own country, or very easily from the Thai missions in a handful of countries. The Thai embassies in Brisbane, Australia, Fort Worth in the US, Savannakhet in Laos and Hull in the UK have all been traditionally known as a soft touch. However, if Immigration prevent people from coming and going on 30 day arrival stamps then it is likely they will do the same for people trying to do so on Non-Immigrant visas too.
The last option and the one that I cannot feel help but feel will be the easiest for many, is simply to get married at which point you can apply for a marriage visa. All that is required is that you marry a Thai national and deposit 400,000 baht into a local account and wham, bam, thank you ‘mam, you get your one year visa. If this new policy is enforced strictly – and we can only wait and see how that pans out – then this could well be the easiest option. I would not be surprised to see websites pop up with ladies willing and ready to marry Western guys for a small amount of money purely for the purpose of assisting a guy to meet the visa requirements.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
In Chile's 1970 presidential election, in accordance with the constitution, Congress resolved the 3-way split — between Salvador Allende (with 36.3% of the vote), conservative (and former president) Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez (35.8%), and the Christian Democrat Radomiro Tomic (27.9%) — by voting to approve Allende's narrow plurality. Allende's Socialist political agenda brought opposition from sectors of Chilean society as well as the United States, which placed diplomatic and economic pressure on the government.
On September 11, 1973, less than three months after the first failed coup attempt, and less than a month after an August 22, 1973 Chamber of Deputies of Chile Resolution condemned Allende's alleged breaches of the constitution and implored his forcible removal, the Chilean military overthrew Allende, who died during the coup. Augusto Pinochet exploited the situation to seize total power and establish an anti-communist junta which lasted until Pinochet stepped down voluntarily in 1990.
I kept a copy of Allende's farewell address tacked to my refrigerator until I moved to Cambodia. It was a big refrigerator... now I have a very small one. But that's neither here nor there. Here's an English translation:
Santiago de Chile, 11 September 1973, 9:10 A.M.News this week:
This will surely be my last opportunity to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes. My words have neither bitterness but disappointment. They should stand as a moral castigation of those who have been traitors to their oaths: Chilean soldiers, titular commanders-in-chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself commander of the Navy, even more señor Mendoza, the cringing general who only yesterday manifested his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has named himself Director General of the Carabineros. In the face of these deeds it only falls to me to say to the workers: I shall not resign!
Standing at a historic point, I will repay with my life the loyalty of the people. And I say to you that I am certain that the seed we have surrendered into the worthy conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans, will not be able to be reaped at one stroke. They have the power, they can make us their vassals, but not stop the social processes, neither by crime nor by force. History is ours and is made by the people.
Workers of my Nation: I want to thank you for the loyalty you have always had, the confidence you placed in a man who only was the interperter of great yearnings for justice, who pledged his word to respect the Constitution and the law, and who did so. In this final moment, the last in which I will be able to address myself to you, I want you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, united with reaction, created the climate for the Armed Forces to break their tradition, that which they were taught by general Schneider which was reaffirmed by commander Araya, victims of the same social sector that today will be be expecting with an alien hand to reconquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.
I address myself to you, above all to the modest woman of our land, to the campesina who believed in us, the mother who knew of our concern for the children. I address myself to the professionals of the Nation, to the patriotic professionals who continued working against the sedition overseen by their professional academies, classist academies that also defended the advantages of a capitalist society.
I address myself to the youth, to those who sang and who brought their happiness and their spirit to the fight. I address myself to the man of Chile, to the worker, to the campesino, to the intellectual, to those who will be percecuted, because in our country fascism has now been present for several hours; in the terrorist assassinations, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railways, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to behave.
They are in jeopardy. History will judge them.
Radio Magallanes will surely be silenced and the tranquil metal of my voice will no longer reach you. It is not important. You will continue to hear it. I will always be together with you. At least my memory will be that of an upright man who was loyal to the Nation.
The people ought to defend themselves, but not sacrifice themselves. The people ought not let themselves be subdued or persecuted, but neither should they humble themselves.
Workers of my Nation, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will go beyond this gray and bitter moment when treason tries to impose itself upon us. Continue to know that, much sooner than later, we will reopen the great promenades down which free men pass, to construct a better society.
Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!
These are my last words and I have certainty that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I have certainty that, at the least, I will be a moral lesson to castigate felony, cowardice, and treason.
11 September, 1973.
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) -- Chile's Supreme Court on Friday stripped former dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity to face charges in a human rights case involving the use of torture at the infamous Villa Grimaldi prison.
"He's been stripped of immunity," a court source told Reuters after the decision by a Supreme Court panel in Santiago.
The ruling opens the way for Pinochet to be charged with human rights abuse, murder and torture.
Thousands of people were tortured between 1974 and 1977 at Villa Grimaldi prison, one of the most infamous political detention centers run by Pinochet's secret police.
President Michelle Bachelet and her mother were tortured there early in 1975 before going into exile.
I will screen both the historic Battle of Chile documentary, as well as the later film The Pinochet Case by the same filmaker at Jungle Saturday and Sunday. Details to follow.
On the podcast: Adapted from a poem by Pablo Neruda, Chilean folksinger Victor Jara's Aqui Me Quedo. The most popular singer-songwriter of the Nuevo Cancion movement, Jara was murdered by the junta shortly after the coup.
ni por siete cuchillos desangrada,
quiero la luz de Chile enarbolada
sobre la nueva casa construída.
Yo no quiero la Patria dividida
cabemos todos en la tierra mía
y que los que se creen prisioneros
se vayan lejos con su melodía.
Siempre los ricos fueron extranjeros
que se vayan a Miami con sus tías.
Yo no quiero la Patria dividida,
se vayan lejos con su melodía.
Yo no quiero la Patria dividida
cabemos todos en la tierra mía
yo me quedo a cantar con los obreros
en esta nueva historia y geografía.
Declassified US government documents pertaining to the role of the CIA in the overthrow of the Allende government can be found here.