U.S. President Barack Obama toasts with Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen at the East Asia Summit dinner in Phnom Penh, November 19, 2012. REUTERS / Jason Reed
Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy
By Sophal Ear
Cloth, 208 pages, B&W Photos: 1, , Graphs: 4, , Figures: 3,
$50.00 / £34.50
As United States President Barack Obama made history in Phnom Penh today, becoming the first sitting American president to visit Cambodia, his motorcade was escorted by Cambodian police–a force trained by the U.S.–whose violence has made the capital a place where public demonstrations are seldom if ever tolerated.
After two decades of U.S. aid, he will enter a city where the illegal evictions of about 20,000 people from prime real estate has nearly been completed by a close friend of Prime Minister Hun Sen — who held direct bi-lateral talks with the president. Obama shook hands and touched glasses with Hun Sen, despite a reportedly “tense” hallway discussion of human rights.
The State Department has promised that U.S. officials will use Obama’s attendance at a summit of East Asian leaders in Phnom Penh as the occasion to scold the Cambodian government for human rights violations.
But it remains to be seen whether American officials will confine their displeasure to unofficial press briefings, or if they will dare express their concerns within earshot of the Cambodian public. Presumably at U.S. urging, Phnom Penh may have delayed plans ahead of the meeting to evict almost 400 more families for an airport expansion. Eight residents were held by police for 12 hours for writing ‘SOS’ on their roofs and displaying Obama’s image to draw the president’s attention. [Full Article]
Capuchin monkey at federal government-run triage center in Salvador, Bahia will never be able to return to its native habitat after being blinded in one eye. Photos by William Finn Bennett.
At daybreak, in the northeastern Brazilian city of Feira de Santana, Bahia, a street market was awash in brilliant colors and the cacaphony of birdsong. Among the weathered plywood shacks and all along the dusty roadside, hundreds of wild birds, many of them designated as rare and threatened species, were on open display, caged and ready for sale. Vendors touted their latest catches as they haggled with customers over prices.
A few months earlier, the local police had raided the same fair, arresting two men and seizing more than 200 wild birds. Now, the market was back in full swing.
The country’s laxness in cracking down on such crimes reflects a culture of impunity that fuels the loss of millions of animals each year, while reaping criminals hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit profits, governmental and non-governmental organization officials say.
Government records obtained under Brazil´s recently-approved “Access to Information Law” show that between 2005 and 2010 the country´s environmental protection agency issued nearly US$314 million in fines for crimes against fauna.
Big numbers — if only offenders would pay what they owe. During the same period, the agency received the equivalent of less than 2 percent of that amount in fines paid.
The Montana tribes’ voting rights lawsuit is delivered to U.S. District Court in Billings, Montana, on October 10 by (right to left) attorney Steven Sandven; former Fort Belknap tribal chair William Main; Tom Rodgers of Carlyle Consulting; Four Directions consultant Bret Healy; Four Directions head O.J. Semans; Michaelynn Hawk of Indian People’s Action; plaintiff Marty Other Bull of the Crow Tribe; Blackfeet tribal member Annie Many Hides, mother of fallen soldier U.S. Army Spc. Antonio C. Burnside; and Kevin Rodgers of Carlyle Consulting. / FOUR DIRECTIONS / WILLIAM CAMPBELL
With control of the U.S. Senate in the balance, a Native American voting rights hearing in U.S. District Court in Billings, Montana, later this week is shaping up to be a riveting spectacle. A surprising array of Democrats and Republicans are ranged against the 16 tribal members who have sued for early-voting offices on their reservations.
“It’s the poorest of the poor versus the billionaires,” said Tom Rodgers, a member the Blackfeet, a Montana tribe.
In late August, Republican powerbroker Karl Rove told a meeting of the country’s super-rich that Montana Democrat Jon Tester’s Senate seat was one of the Republican Party’s best shots at Senate control, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The neck-and-neck race between Tester and Republican challenger U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg was important then. It’s even more so today, now that Missouri appears to be off the Republican list, following remarks about “legitimate rape” by the party’s candidate, Todd Akin.
“Millions are flowing into Montana to influence the Senate race,” said Rodgers, who was the whistleblower in the Jack Abramoff scandal. “And now we have Indians suing for voting rights.” [Full Article]
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (R) with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and Secretary for Education Eddie Ng earlier this week, after backing down from proposals to introduce compulsory Chinese national education in schools. Leung is also snared in a housing scandal that shining a new light on the island’s elite. / REUTERS / Bobby Yip
Hong Kong–Shortly before his appointment as Hong Kong’s development minister, Paul Chan Mo-po joked about his long-term ambitions, telling media “one day is already a long time in politics.” In hindsight, he had no idea just how right he was.
Chan may have been answering rumors that he would quickly abandon the development portfolio to serve as Hong Kong’s deputy finance minister, but a mere day after entering the development post in late July, the trained accountant found himself under investigation by his own department.
His case was only the latest chip in the Hong Kong elite’s once-pristine image, which has been hard hit at a crucial time for the former British colony. As the island struggles to define its relationship with mainland China, it is also gearing up to directly elect its chief executive for the first time in 2017 and its legislature in 2020. [Full Article]
Zuni schools superintendent Hayes Lewis / PHOTO BY JOSEPH ZUMMO
A youth-suicide epidemic is sweeping Indian country, with Native teens and young adults killing themselves at more than triple the rate of other young Americans, according to federal government figures.
In pockets of the United States, suicide among Indian youngsters is 9 to 19 times as frequent as among other youths, and rising. From Arizona to Alaska, tribes are declaring states of emergency and setting up crisis-intervention teams.
“It feels like wartime,” says Diane Garreau, a child-welfare official on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, in South Dakota. “I’ll see one of our youngsters one day, then find out a couple of days later she’s gone. Our children are self-destructing.” [Full Article]