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Richard Humphries
For Richard Humphries's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 9, 2003
Using the right words in Kosovo
When it comes to media access, Kosovo's population is spoiled for choices. No apartment block is complete without its symmetrical rows of white satellite dishes scanning the heavens for news and entertainment. One estimate has it that 75 percent of the population has media access. BBC and MTV are just...
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
May 13, 2003
From Myanmar to Mae Sot
MAE SOT, Thailand F rom a distance, the textile factories near Mae Sot, Thailand, loom like fortified castles. The main buildings resemble fully encased airplane hangers. Cement walls enclose the compounds, though sometimes these, in a decorative touch, are plastered with white stucco. Entrance is via...
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
May 13, 2003
Dam Politics
Poverty haunts the people of Myanmar but those who live in remote, landlocked Karenni State are among the poorest of the poor. Karenni, Myanmar's smallest state, is also the least populated with less than 250,000 inhabitants, many of them landless. Communication is poor and there is little employment....
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Oct 27, 2002
An unflinching look at the face of suffering
FEAR AND SANCTUARY: Burmese Refugees in Thailand, by Hazel J. Lang. Cornell Southeast Asia Publications: Ithaca, New York, 2002, 240 pp., $24 (paper) An army column enters a small farming village without warning. The soldiers have been taught that everyone there is a potential enemy. Should any villagers...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jan 22, 2002
Imprisoned in the devil's playground
After liftoff, Ariane rockets leave the Guiana coast and travel over three small islands known as the Islands of Salvation. These lie some 15 km off Kourou. For several hours after a launch, the only person allowed on the islands, now owned by the CNES, is one man who operates the cinetelescope. That...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jan 22, 2002
Jungle rockets in French Guiana
KOUROU, French Guiana -- It must be one of the best-protected sites in South America. To the north is the ocean, full of devious currents and deadly sharks. To the south is dense rain forest, unforgiving to those who enter unprepared. The site's most important buildings are ringed with electronic fencing...
LIFE / Travel
Jan 22, 2002
Imprisoned in the devil's playground
After liftoff, Ariane rockets leave the Guiana coast and travel over three small islands known as the Islands of Salvation. These lie some 15 km off Kourou. For several hours after a launch, the only person allowed on the islands, now owned by the CNES, is one man who operates the cinetelescope. That...
LIFE / Travel
Jan 22, 2002
Jungle rockets in French Guiana
KOUROU, French Guiana -- It must be one of the best-protected sites in South America. To the north is the ocean, full of devious currents and deadly sharks. To the south is dense rain forest, unforgiving to those who enter unprepared. The site's most important buildings are ringed with electronic fencing...
LIFE / Travel
Oct 8, 2001
Russian writer's memory lives on in divided region
CHISINAU, Moldova -- Count Vorontsov, governor general at Odessa in 1823, was clearly annoyed with Alexander Pushkin, a young subordinate, who was having a love affair with Vorontsov's wife. Vorontsov decided that as a punishment Pushkin should be sent away to prepare a lengthy report on the effects...
LIFE / Travel
Oct 8, 2001
Transnistria: relic of a bygone era
TIRASPOL, Moldova -- Think of the end of the Soviet Union as the Big Bang of recent politics. The successor states are the new planets -- large or small, and subject to varying amounts of gravitational pull from Russia. And then there are the asteroids, in this case composed of breakaway republics, autonomous...
COMMENTARY / World
Apr 30, 2001
Myanmar's Shan State: a complex tragedy
THAI-MYANMAR BORDER -- Mae Sai is the end of the road in northern Thailand. This is not to suggest that the lackluster town is undeveloped: It does a roaring trade in gemstones (both real and fake), tourist trinkets, snacks and all kinds of contraband. It's literal. The main street, Pahonyotin, runs...
COMMENTARY / World
Apr 30, 2001
Myanmar solutions require three-way talks
Myanmar's junta, the State Peace and Development Council, is engaged in secret reconciliation talks with democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For now, exiled dissidents and ethnic opponents of the junta watch cautiously from the sidelines. Any solution to Myanmar's problems, though, will have to consider...
LIFE / Travel
Dec 27, 2000
Running on Soviet time
In December 1991, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian leaders met at a hunting lodge in western Belarus. There they signed the Belavezha Agreement, which had no small historical significance. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was being consigned to the dustbin of history -- the same contemptuous...
LIFE / Travel
Dec 27, 2000
In a gray concrete world, a city of beautiful churches
GRODNO, Belarus Most Belarusian cities get a bad press, at least for good looks, in foreign guidebooks. Polatsk is notable for "what was once there," Mogilev is decidedly "uninspiring," Homel's biggest drawing card is a bust of its most famous son, the late Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and...
LIFE / Travel
Nov 15, 2000
The yellow (or white or blue) treasure of Kaliningrad
...
LIFE / Travel
Nov 15, 2000
Russia's Baltic outpost
Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin was not one of Russian history's shining stars. An unpleasant figure, he found favor with dictator Josef Stalin and rose to become Soviet president before dying in 1946. Nonetheless, in the fashion of those times, his surname was given to two major Russian cities and their accompanying...
COMMENTARY / World
May 31, 2000
Risking death with every step, every day
"We are full of love for you, but cannot take care of all." -- from a notice to Karen villagers that mines would be set on their land
COMMENTARY / World
May 31, 2000
Myanmar's ethnic patchwork
In terms of sheer social complexity, it has few rivals -- perhaps Lebanon, possibly the Balkans. But Myanmar's ethnic mix is truly diverse. There are some 100 languages and dialects. Major ethnic groups like the Karen, Shan, Mon, Chin and Kachin encompass others. The Chin alone have 40 subgroups. Even...
COMMENTARY / World
May 31, 2000
When political expression leads to jail
Bo Kyi speaks English in a soft voice. He learned it the hard way, unable to see his teacher. They were political prisoners in adjoining cells in Myanmar's Thayawaddy Prison . His teacher whispered to him while the guards were away. Then Bo Kyi used a piece of brick to write out new words on his cell...

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