Sounding on Cambodia for February 19, 2010

Busy as a Beaver on Methamphetamines (Yama, Yaba) these days, but here are some of the Cambodian things I’m watching:

  • A US citizen who moved to Kompong Thom to open a “grassroots health clinic,” and was raped, beaten, wrapped in barbed wire and left for dead, has had her account confirmed by the Embassy, in the face of the K. Thom police, who claim the entire thing is made up by the woman, who they characterize as insane.  DAS has an excellent take on the entire thing:

The State Department’s confirmation should spark a new wave of questioning, which will certainly prompt more ridiculous answers from corrupted local officials who are trying to cover up the truth. As any police chief knows, the strong routinely prey upon the weak. Spousal abuse is epidemic. And rape is not only commonplace, it’s considered sport among a significant part of the male population. Sadly, Cara Garcia’s attack was anything but “impossible.” Utterly predictable is more like it.

Give the circumstances, you would think that people would protest in the streets. That women would demand justice. Demand accountability. Demand safety. If not for Cara Garcia, for themselves. For the Cambodian woman who will be raped and likely murdered today. And the Cambodian woman who will be raped and likely murdered tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. Ad infinitum. Continue reading


Science And Religion Dispatch: Round 1, Plus Amy Bishop

I recently posted about SciFi writer Peter Watts, who I’ve begun to appreciate a great deal. He shares my obsession with science and what it means to be ‘human,’ or even ‘conscious.’ Unlike me, however, he’s actually a scientist. In a recent post on his blog, entitled “The Neurology of Transcendence,” he summarizes what appears to be a very important neurology study (conducted on willing patients dying of brain cancer).

In that study, the surgical removal of specific neurons in a specific part of the brain (go read the article, please) resulted in a sense of increased ‘spirituality,’ and a relative lack of awareness of self in space, leading to a sense of what I might call ‘cosmic feeling.’ The images below are ganked directly from Watts’ page, entirely without permission.

It’s an elegant little study, and another carpet-tack in the casket-lining of the supernatural — yet still we tread so very lightly to avoid giving offence, to reassure the world that we sit atop some pinnacle. “We’re dealing with a complex phenomenon that’s close to the essence of being human,”neurojock Salvatore Aglioti tells Scientific American, as though we’re the only species on the planet whose brain has a subroutine for keeping track of body parts. “They need to be very careful how they word things as they proceed,” warns one of the comments on the same page, “there are people who will take great offense otherwise. It’s going to be important to make clear the FEELING may be biologically based, and make NO comment on the stimuli leading to the feeling.” Even Urgesi et al refer to spirituality, in their introduction, as “a view of the human condition in transcendent contexts and in relation to unseen realities/supernatural agents” (italics mine). Continue reading


Cambodian Supreme Court to Hear Case in Chea Vichea Killing

AFTER 1,799 days in prison, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun will have another chance at freedom.

The two men convicted of murdering trade union leader Chea Vichea will have their case heard by the Supreme Court on December 31, a court official told the Post.

Chhoun Chantha, the deputy general prosecutor at the Supreme Court, confirmed the trial date and said that Supreme Court Deputy President Khim Ponn will preside over the case.

Chea Mony, the current president of the Free Trade Union and brother of activist Chea Vichea, said that he had received an invitation from the Supreme Court to attend the trial and reiterated his belief that the two men were innocent.

“We will wait for the decision from Supreme Court. The previous courts acted under pressure from the government,” Chea Mony said. “If the court is independent, and they investigate the case, then the men will be freed.”

Chea Vichea, an outspoken union party leader and Sam Rainsy Party supporter, was shot and killed in broad daylight in Phnom Penh in January 2004. Six days later, police arrested Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang for the crime.

via The Phnom Penh Post – Chea Vichea ‘killers’ appeal.