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Cambodia is a country of many a bad memory. American B-52s carpet-bombed it during the Vietnam War. It barely survived the rise of a despot named Pol Pot and the genocidal killing fields of his Khmer Rouge regime.

 

Who would have guessed that it would become, of all things, an affordable retirement haven for foreigners, including many Americans who were of draft age when the country was convulsed by those much darker times?

 

Thousands of older people from Australia, Europe and the United States have moved to Cambodia in recent years, or are thinking about it as an option — especially people on fixed incomes who are attracted by the low cost of living. The Cambodian government is encouraging the influx by making it simpler for foreign retirees to apply for visas.

 

“Opportunity often lies in that space between the public’s somewhat negative perception about a place and the much more positive reality on the ground,” said Jennifer Stevens, the executive editor of International Living, a monthly magazine that caters to older people who are thinking of moving to less expensive countries.

The magazine reported that an American retiree could fund “a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle” in Cambodia on nothing more than a $1,000-a-monthSocial Security check. “You just get great value there,” said Eoin Bassett, the magazine’s editorial director.

 

The image change is certainly welcomed in Cambodia, where the unspeakable once happened.

It began with the secret bombing ordered by the Nixon administration code-named Operation Breakfast, which dumped 110,000 tons of explosives on the country in 1969 and 1970. Air Force B-52s made at least 3,500 raidsinside Cambodia, contributing to a legacy of bomb fragments and unexploded bombs that still make parts of the country off limits.

Later came five years of rule by the Khmer Rouge, and one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Pol Pot declared a new society; reset the nation’s calendar at Year Zero; forcibly emptied the capital, Phnom Penh, and other cities; and slaughtered about two million people.

 

But that is ancient history to today’s Cambodians, the vast majority of whom were born well after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed in 1979, routed by a Vietnamese invasion. The median age in the country is about 24.

 

“A new phenomenon in physics” that could generate 200 million volts of energy was reported in a wire service dispatch on Page 2 of The New York Times on Jan. 29, 1939. Otto Hahn, the paper reported, had discovered that the uranium atom could be split, a conclusion, he acknowledged, that “violated all previous experience in the field of nuclear physics.”

But the breathtaking disclosure was delivered with a major caveat: The practical application of the discovery, if any, would take 25 years.

That prediction, as it turned out, was off by a long shot. Less than seven years later, as a direct result of Hahn’s discovery, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.

When Hahn died in Germany on July 28, 1968, his Times obituary was featured on Page 1. By then, the significance of the Nobel Prize-winning chemist’s original finding was well established: He had, the article said, “discovered that the atom could be split, paving the way for the nuclear bomb” in a “discovery that changed the course of 20th-century history.”

Photo
 
 
The equipment used by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. CreditHulton Archive/Getty Images

Hahn made his discovery in his laboratory at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, working with his assistant, Fritz Strassmann. (Strassman’s predecessor, Lise Meitner, had been fired by the institute because she was Jewish. Hahn said after the war that he had opposed Nazism.)

But the process of splitting the uranium-235 atom would not be labeled nuclear fission until later, and Hahn himself, as a chemist rather than a physicist, initially described his discovery in the most equivocal terms.

By May 1940, it had become clear why scientists were reluctant to discuss the atom-splitting and the energy it released — a development they “regarded as ushering in the long dreamed of age of atomic power, and, therefore, as one of the greatest if not the greatest discovery in modern science,” the reporter William Laurence wrote in The Times.

The main reason they were silent, Laurence explained, was “the tremendous implications this discovery bears on the possible outcome of the European war,” which by then had already begun.

Hahn later said that he had never believed that his discovery would have military implications. “I am a scientist,” he said, “and like all scientists am interested only in discovery and not application.”

 

JERUSALEM — He and his family have been accused of improprieties as strange as trying to palm off their used lawn furniture to the prime minister’s residence, and as serious as pocketing illegal contributions from foreign donors.

And in recent weeks, leaks of allegations and investigations large and small have gradually dripped out in Israel’s competitive media caldron, with the attorney general announcing a new and potentially damaging inquiry last month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been cleared of some of the claims that have dogged him for decades, but other investigations have yet to reach a conclusion. On Thursday, the news site Ynet reported that the attorney general, who until February was Mr. Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary, said he would not ease up on his former boss.

None of this has escaped the attention of enemies or allies, but amid all the noise, Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly proved to be a politician able to cut through potential scandal with Teflon-coated ease.

“I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t move uncomfortably in my chair when I see the news,” said Eyal Sevilla, 41, a Netanyahu fan who sells cheese, fish, snacks and pickled goods in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market.

Unless some of the major allegations stick, though, Mr. Sevilla said, “I think the prime minister is very wonderful.”

Mr. Netanyahu, who first served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and returned to office in 2009, is now in his fourth term, after prevailing in a bitter and divisive election campaign last year.

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Monday, 01 August 2016 10:43

The new york times: Tokyo Elects Yuriko Koike

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TOKYO — Yuriko Koike, a conservative former defense minister of Japan, became the first woman elected governor of Tokyo on Sunday, handily winning a vote to replace the city’s previous chief executive after he fell to a financial scandal.

 

Ms. Koike’s biography is unusual for a Japanese politician, even apart from her gender. A divorced former newscaster, she attended a university in Egypt and speaks fluent Arabic.

 

She won what was essentially a three-way race, defeating her closest opponent, Hiroya Masuda, another former cabinet minister, by more than a million votes, according to preliminary tallies by the Japanese news media. Mr. Masuda was the official candidate of the national governing party, the Liberal Democrats.

 

Ms. Koike, 64, is also a Liberal Democrat, but she broke with the party to seek the governor’s post. The role roughly combines the duties of an American mayor and a state governor.

 

“I want to regain the trust of the people of Tokyo,” Ms. Koike said after initial projections were broadcast on Sunday night, alluding to the scandal that prompted her predecessor to resign in June.

OPYTNOE POLE, Russia — Perched in the cabin of a clunky Russian tractor, Li Chengbin, a 62-year-old peasant farmer from China, drove round and round in ever widening circles, plowing a field to get it ready for planting — and rejoicing at the opportunities offered by untamed lands in the Russian Far East almost empty of people.

 

Back home in China, he said, he never had a plot anywhere near as big as the 82-acre spread that he and his son now farm in Russia. The vast majority of China’s 300 million peasants have barely two acres. Mr. Li’s family farm in China is even smaller.

 

“In China, this much land would make me the biggest farmer in the country,” Mr. Li said, yanking a rusty lever to try to get his puffing tractor to go faster. He and his son had bought the tractor, along with other decrepit farming equipment, from the remnants of a defunct Soviet-era collective farm.

 

They got their land through an arrangement with a local woman who leases the formerly state farm property and lets Mr. Li and his son, Li Xin, farm it in return for cash.

 

The weather, scorching in summer and well below freezing in winter, is not much worse than what they are used to in northern China. But because most of the swampy land on the Russian side of the nearby border has never been drained, the area is infested with giant mosquitoes and other bothersome bugs. A swarm of hornets, attracted by the heat generated by Mr. Li’s tractor, enveloped the vehicle in a black cloud.

Among Russian nationalists in Moscow and other cities in the west of the country, the presence of Chinese farmers on Russian land in the Far East has stirred frenzied fear of a stealthy Chinese takeover. It is a perennial obsession that, despite increasingly warm relations between the two countries’ leaders, still exercises many Russian minds.

 

Here in the Far East, however, local officials and many residents, while grumbling that they cannot keep up with Chinese work habits, tend to see China and its vast pool of industrious labor as the best hope of developing impoverished regions that often feel neglected by Moscow.

Monday, 01 August 2016 10:32

The new york times: Taliban Claim Responsibility

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An Afghan police officer near a guesthouse on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, that was attacked on Monday. CreditHedayatullah Amid/European Pressphoto Agency

KABUL, Afghanistan — A powerful explosion shook Kabul, the Afghan capital, in the early hours of Monday, and Taliban militants claimed that they had targeted a heavily guarded guesthouse for foreign contractors on the outskirts of the city.

 

The explosion outside the compound, which occurred around 1:30 a.m. local time, was so large that residents who were awakened across Kabul used social media to try to make sense of it. Much of the city briefly lost electricity.

 

In a statement to the news media a little more than an hour after the attack, the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that Taliban fighters had destroyed the security perimeter of the Northgate compound with a suicide attack, using a truck loaded with explosives. A squad of attackers armed with light and heavy weapons stormed the compound after the blast, the Taliban statement said.

 

More than seven hours after the initial blast and the attack, Afghan officials declared the assault over.

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