Deep into a bloody history

first_imgThis story could be three words long: Watch this film.That is: “Enemies of the People,” a lyrical and terrifying documentary of mid- to late-1970s Cambodia, whose subtitle tells the story — “A Personal Journey into the Heart of the Killing Fields.” It was screened Thursday night at the Carpenter Center at an event hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center and by the Harvard chapter of Scholars at Risk.Afterward, experts added context and urgency to the facts of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The facts: 2 million dead. The urgency: Genocide has continued to unfurl its black flag the world over.To make the story a full six words long, just add: Meet this man.Thet Sambath, once a journalist in his native Cambodia, is now a Scholar at Risk at Harvard. (For the film, he shared writing, directing, and producing credits with British documentarian Rob Lemkin.) His father, mother, and brother died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Before the film was released, in 2009, Sambath spent 10 years of evenings and weekends in pursuit of he what he calls the real — and untold — history of the killing fields. “I gave myself one hour for dinner,” he said. “Ten years was like 20 years.”Beyond feelingsTo investigate Cambodia’s killing fields of 1975-79, filmmaker Thet Sambath had to overcome his own emotions.There are three main tropes at work in “Enemies of the People,” whose title is a reference to how the slaughtered were regarded by high leaders: dissenters who threatened to force an imagined Khmer social utopia off course.First there was the restless travel that accompanied Sambath’s quest, which many days started with his leaving his wife and two children behind the gates of their home in Phnom Penh. Drives are filmed as brief, dreamy interludes that reveal the rural settings in which the slayings took place. Then come the rides back to the neon-lights reality of present-day Cambodia.There is also the trope of personal presence. Sambath interviewed some of those who ordered and carried out the killings 35 years ago and more. Often he is in a modest rural house with Nuon Chea, an elderly man whose onetime bull neck and square, imposing head have shrunk into grandfatherly proportions. He was “Brother Number Two,” Pol Pot’s deputy in the time of Khmer Rouge dominance. It took Sambath a long time to even find Nuon Chea, the only surviving top perpetrator of the killing fields. To get first the thoughts and then the confessions of Brother Number Two took several more years.Sambath also met many of the actual killers, illiterate farmers who to this day remain hiding in plain sight, living in villages sometimes a few hundred meters from the fields in which they killed — still the neighbors of families they helped decimate.Two of them, Khoun and Soun, are remorseful and frank. For the camera, Soun — a balding man with rheumy, terrified eyes — demonstrates his killing technique on a friend who pretends to be trussed. “After I slit so many throats like this,” said Soun, who died in February, “my hand ached.”The third trope in “Enemies” is perhaps the most unsettling. The camera leaves the full-screen faces of killers or the calm domesticity of Chea’s house to linger on brown water in rice paddies, swaying grass, stark banyan trees, and other abiding features of the natural world: sun, mud, lightning, and stony farm paths built over a grist of bones. Sitting under a tree with Sambath, Soun says: “I want to tell the truth exactly as it happened. I want you to know the exact place.” Well, this is the place, and it’s beautiful.An old woman in a conical hat walks by, and to protect his sources Sambath jokes he is making a karaoke film. But the woman speaks up. She had returned to her farm in 1979, just after the killing stopped. Of the exposed bodies in sun-heated ditches, she says, “They were all so swollen, they made a boiling sound.”On camera, Soun worries about death, and “how many holes in hell” he will have to go through to come back in another life as a man. But Soun concludes “I will never again see sunlight as a human being in this world. … I feel desolate.”Meanwhile, Nuon Chea can’t recall when he first heard that villagers were being killed. “I didn’t jot it down,” he says. (Chea is in prison now, on trial for war crimes. As he did with Sambath, on the docket he blames the United States and Vietnam for the killing.)After the screening, there came a moment of stunned silence in the packed theater. Then came rolling waves of applause.Panel moderator Homi K. Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Center, said he was struck by a central idea in Sambath’s work — his saying “I am working for history.” Not for art, not for journalism, but to give Cambodia its true past.That work came at a price. “I never thought I would be in the U.S.,” said Sambath in the early minutes of the panel. “The situation forced me to be here.” By that he meant the 10 attempts on his life during his investigative work in Cambodia — a threat he still fears from a home in suburban Boston.Sambath’s presence at Harvard as a Scholar at Risk is co-sponsored by the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, the Film Study Center at Harvard, the Mahindra Humanities Center, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and [email protected] Garden. But the Scholars at Risk program itself, said committee member Jane Unrue, a preceptor in expository writing at Harvard, is in jeopardy. Without funding, she said, it “will cease to exist” by 2015. The group — part of a national network — supports three or four academics or writers a year whose work endangers them in their native lands.Sambath is now at work on his second film, Skyping with camera operators in Cambodia and doing interviews by phone. When “Suspicious Minds” appears, he said, it will “drop like a bomb” on his native land — exposing current politicians for their roles in the killing fields.Something like “75 percent of the most powerful people [in Cambodia] had close ties to the Khmer Rouge 35 years ago,” said panelist Chris Decherd, a veteran reporter with a decade on the ground in Cambodia and now the chief of Khmer Service for Voice of America. Meanwhile, Decherd added, educated, energetic young Cambodians offer a “hugely inspiring” hope for the future.Decherd later called Sambath’s work “an almost extreme example of investigative journalism.”Panelist Gregory H. Stanton, a former State Department official who founded Genocide Watch in 1999, got to the same point. “I am sitting next to a giant,” he said of Sambath. “He may not be as tall as I am, but he is a giant.” Part of that stature comes from the empathy that informs Sambath’s work — the absence of rancor or revenge.“The most extraordinary thing about the film is that it humanizes Nuon Chea,” said Stanton, who first traveled to Cambodia in 1980. He called empathy the key missing ingredient in the world’s response to genocide. Stanton defined empathy as “relentless love.”Empathy is Sambath’s mantra. “I am not angry. I do not hate these people,” he said of the personal side of his investigations. “I tried to concentrate — for history.”In 1996, Stanton wrote a briefing paper for the State Department on the eight stages of genocide — a “logical model of the genocide process” that now numbers 10 stages. Each step can be prevented at both an international and a local level, he said, but courage is required among leaders. In evaluations at the State Department, he said, “There is no box for courage. You are evaluated on how well you follow orders.”last_img read more

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Alumnae from Institute of Health lectures on H1N1 virus

first_imgDr. Mary Anne Luzar, a 1972 College graduate, was back on the Saint Mary’s campus Tuesday night to speak about the H1N1 pandemic. Luzar works for the National Institute of Health as Chief of the Regulatory Affairs Branch in the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.“We have to look at what we can learn from pandemics, and that’s why I wanted to speak tonight,” Luzar said.Luzar opened her presentation by defining the differences between an epidemic and a pandemic and making sure there was a clear understanding between the two.“An epidemic is a disease that occurs with greater frequency than expected,” Luzar said. “Some examples are the Bird Flu and SARS. A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads all over the world or a major region of the world. These include AIDS, TB, Malaria, Spanish flu, and the ‘black death’ of the 14th century,” Luzar said.Luzar made a point to explain that there have been many pandemics and epidemics in the past, and humans are knowledgeable about these events.“Over the past 300 years there have been 11 influenza pandemics. The Spanish Influenza in 1918 is the most fatal event in world history with 20-50 million deaths,” Luzar said.Luzar said pandemics are sudden disease outbreaks that are unpredictable and can also occur at any time in the year.“That is just something we have to deal with and prepare for,” Luzar said. “But once a pandemic appears it does not just go away. It will continue for years, which is why we need to pay attention to H1N1.”Luzar also said the H1N1 virus is a distant cousin of the 1918 Spanish Influenza but is still an entirely new virus.“Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to the flu but with additional symptoms like diarrhea,” Luzar said. “It spreads through respiratory droplets, coughs and sneezes, touching objects touched by an infectious person, then touching your nose and mouth.”H1N1 has affected many people around the world. Children and young adults are amongst those most affected.“Two hundred-thirty countries had cases of H1N1 and today there have been around 20,000 deaths due to H1N1,” Luzar said.The H1N1 response was considered a success because of rapid worldwide communications, and the vaccine was approved quickly and given to priority groups first, Luzar said.“It is very hard to know if you are successful in these endeavors. I’m proud of what we did. I think we did the right thing. And not doing anything would have been unacceptable,” Luzar said. “This pandemic taught us that we are not immune to them because we are in the 21st century. Virus and disease are always just one step ahead of us. This was a dress rehearsal of what could happen in the future so we need to be prepared.”This event was co-sponsored by College Relations and the Career Crossings Office.last_img read more

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Latvian pension funds post highest ever first-quarter returns

first_imgGeographically, the share of assets invested in Latvia fell by 7 percentage points to 38%, and that in Europe by 4 percentage points to 16%, while Eastern European investment rose by 4 percentage points to 18%, and global investment by 5 percentage points to 14%.Russian exposure halved to 0.5%.In the third-pillar funds – five open and one closed – average returns shot up from 1.98% to 10.28%, with the balanced funds returning 8.41% and the equity-weighted ones 14.85%.The number of open plans shrank by three to 14.Assets increased by 26% to €303m and membership by 7.8% to 240,255.Lithuania’s pension plans also produced strong results, with the voluntary second-pillar funds raising the average one-year return (measuring the weighted change of a unit value) to 15.05%, from 2.73% 12 months earlier, according the Bank of Lithuania, the central bank and pension regulator.The five high-risk funds, which can invest up to 100% in equities, returned 24.45%, followed by the nine medium-equity funds at 16.31%.The four low-risk funds (with up to 30% in shares) returned 13.32%, while the eight conservative funds, with no equity share, generated 4.79%.The net asset value of the funds increased by 26.5% to €2.1bn and membership by 4.1% to 1.17m.In the third pillar, 12-month returns averaged 17.45%, compared with 2.13% in 2014.High-equity-weighted funds returned 23.32%, mixed funds 16.5% and bond schemes 3.76%.Assets grew by 39.8% to €53.6m and members by 18.1% to 42,257.The year-to-date returns averaged 7.55% for the second-pillar funds and 9.16% for the third, results that Audrius Šilgalis, senior specialist at Bank of Lithuania’s financial services and market analysis division, attributed to the strong performance of European and US markets in the first quarter of 2015. Latvia’s pension funds posted their highest ever returns in the first quarter of 2015, according to the Association of Commercial Banks of Latvia (LKA).The mandatory second-pillar funds returned an average 9.5% over the year, well above the 1.5% recorded a year earlier.In 2015, thanks to strong equity market performances, the eight higher-risk, equity-weighted funds generated 11%, compared with 9.2% from the four balanced funds and 5.9% from the eight conservative, bond-weighted plans.Assets increased over the period by 23.2% to €2.2bn and membership by 0.8% to 1.24m.last_img read more

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Brust filling big role on men’s basketball team

first_imgWhen looking for the prototypical player in a Bo Ryan-coached system, you need someone who is willing to put the team above individual statistics, willing to work tirelessly on his defense and, most of all, plays as hard as he can every minute he is on the floor.When searching for that player, look no further than Ben Brust.At first glance, Brust doesn’t strike you as a Big Ten basketball player with his wiry 6-foot-1 frame, but it quickly becomes apparent that he fits into Ryan’s system perfectly.The Hawthorn Woods, Ill. native plays with a tenacity that makes up for whatever he might lack in height, flying around the court and always making his presence felt. He is third on Wisconsin’s roster in rebounds — behind only 7-footer Frank Kaminsky and 6-foot-8 forward Sam Dekker — has played less than 30 minutes in a game only once this season, and though Ryan can ride him for his defense from time to time, there is never doubt about his effort. Oh, and he shoot the lights out of the gym on any given night.All of the hard work came to fruition for the senior as he became just the 38th player in Wisconsin history to reach the 1,000-point mark. Fittingly enough, Brust broke the 1,000-point ceiling with a timely three-pointer in a win over Indiana Tuesday night.Obviously, Brust was proud of his accomplishment but, in typical fashion, was quick to credit players past and present for his success.“I know there have been some great players at this program and I was lucky to have good players when I got here to set an example for me, how to get the job done here,” he said. “I’m happy to get to that and I also have to thank my teammates for helping me get there along the way.”A majority of those 1,000 points have come from behind the three-point line and often times those long range shots are so far behind the line, he is “shooting from Janesville” as the Wisconsin coaching staff likes to say.Brust is fifth in the UW record books for three-pointers made in a career with 206 and has a fair chance to break the all-time record of 227 set by Tim Locum, who played at Wisconsin until 1991.The senior is efficient from long range, almost always making half of his three-point tries, so when the shots aren’t falling it’s easy to notice.Brust has hit a rough patch lately. In his last 12 games, Brust has made more than two three-pointers in a game only three times and has shot better than 33 percent from deep just twice — his season average from the three-point range is 37.2 percent.The good thing about having a strong of track record is his coach and teammates will always have confidence in him, no matter how much he is struggling.“Ben always thinks the next one’s going in,” Ryan said after Wisconsin’s win over Indiana Tuesday. “As long as he keeps playing defense and doing what he does and taking care of the ball, the shot will fall. You can trust me on that one.”Brust said the basis of that confidence comes from his teammates’ support of him when he is going through a slump.“Having teammates that come up to you all the time telling you, ‘just keep taking them – we trust you,’ just gives you confidence,” Brust said. “No matter what’s happening, you keep going based off having your teammates’ confidence in you.”The struggles continued for Brust Tuesday night at home against Indiana. The guard was regularly getting open looks on the perimeter, but just couldn’t get anything to go down. By the end of the first half his stat line looked like this: 0-5 from the field, 0-4 from three, no free throws, no points and one rebound. Not a typical Brust line. But that all changed in the second half.With his team down one and with just more than 16 minutes left in the game, Brust knocked down a three-point shot and the Kohl Center erupted. On the next Wisconsin possession, he gave it another go. Swish.Brust would end up nailing three shots from beyond the arc and finish 3-for-5 from three-point range in the second half. That’s the Brust Badger fans are used to.“I knew it was only a matter of time. I knew it was going to start, so I was like, ‘Can it just start now?’ Looking at 3-for-10, I know I can do better than that. It’s definitely good to get a couple to go down, and I think it kind of ignited this team.”But, whether the shots are falling for him or not, Brust has earned the trust and confidence of his team by playing four years of basketball the Wisconsin way. And chances are if Wisconsin starts to go on an offensive run, Brust had a hand in it.“If you look at how a lot of our runs started this year, it starts with a Ben Brust three or one of those little turn-arounds in the paint,” Dekker said. “So, we still see Ben as our best shooter on the team. I think he’s up there as one of the best three-point shooters in the nation. He can spark an offense at any time.”last_img read more

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Five Ghanaian Athletes benefit from Scholarships

first_imgThe Ghana Athletics Association is banking its medal hopes at future international multi-sport competitions on five athletes who are on scholarships in the United States of America and an International Athletics Association Federation Programme in Mauritius.The quintet made up of Doreen Sarfowaa Adjei, John Ampomah, Atsu Nyamadi, Beatrice Gyamang and Janet Amponsah have begun their four-year studies at the Neosho County Community College and Dickson State University in the USA.This move is expected to improve Ghana’s stock for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 following a poor showcase at the 2012 Games in London.General Secretary of the Ghana Athletics Association Bawa Fuseini told JOY Sports in an interview “sending the athletes to America and Mauritius is one thing and they performing is another. But the bottom line will be their interest and their seriousness to return as more serious athletes. When we saw them in the beginning, we realized they were very good with a lot of zeal. We hope and pray that when they come back for the next championships, we will see a lot of difference in them.”None of Ghana’s nine member contingent for the 2012 London Games won a medal for the nation.last_img read more

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Odžak: European Balkan Championship in Volleyball Open

first_imgThe BIH-Turkey match in Odžak opened the Balkan Championship in Volleyball.Six teams will take part: BIH, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey, which will play a total of 15 games.The Championship will be over on Saturday, 10 August with the handing out of medals.(Source: Fena)last_img

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Purim shpiel kicks off time to eat, drink and be merry

first_imgWOODLAND HILLS – Wearing appropriate disguises to get them in the mood, members of the Temple Kol Tikvah Chorale will raise their voices tonight during a Purim shpiel based on the 19th century operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Purim shpiels – Yiddish for “skits” – are a highlight of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins at sundown today. So are the carnivals, where masked and costumed children roam and eat triangular, poppy seed or fruit-filled sweet pastries known as hamantaschen. The Megillah – or scroll – of Esther is the basis for Purim shpiels, a Jewish tradition since the 15th century. They have evolved to clever parodies based on music from the Beatles to country-western songs, Irish ditties to operettas. “Purim celebrates the resistance of the Jews over the evil tyrant, Haman. The shpiel is the story of Purim acted out and Haman’s name is drowned out,” said Rabbi Jan Offel from Temple Kol Tikvah. “Purim is the traditional time in Judaism, not Hanukkah, to send gifts to family and to the poor.” Purim is all about feasting, drinking – responsibly, Offel admonished – and celebrating in a wild and crazy way for one day. The good-over-evil plot is also about hidden identities, including the fact that God’s name is never mentioned in the story. Kol Tikvah Chorale has its own concealed identity; about half of the nearly 30 members are made up of five family units. “It’s not usual at all to have so many family members (in a choir). We blend so well,” said alto Robin Thomson, whose daughter, Skylar, and sister and brother-in-law, Stacey and Donald Sternberg, are also singers. Thomson credits musical director Tova Morcos-Kliger and their 2 1/2 weekly rehearsals – for much of the choir’s magic. “She’s tough and she wants us to be perfect,” Thomson said. “We look at the music and say, `there’s no way.’ She tells us what the story is about and step-by-step we learn it and we end up loving it.” The Kol Tikvah Chorale has developed into a family of its own, said Donald Sternberg, attorney by day and singer anytime. “I think we sing better because of that close familial connection. There is something different about singing religious music and when you combine that with singing with your own family, everybody draws on that energy,” said Sternberg, whose enthusiasm for singing in the choir convinced his family members to join. Sternberg has been elated when members of the congregation, some with tears in their eyes, profusely thank him after a High Holy Day or Shabbat service. “There’s a deep meaning when we perform. What we do has heightened the services for us, too,” Sternberg said. “I can’t help but be taken to a different level when I’m singing in this choir.” Gilbert and Sullivan Purim shpiel, 7 p.m. today, Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. Megillah reading, 10 a.m. Sunday; carnival, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Call (818) 348-0670 or see www.koltikvah.org. [email protected] (818) 713-3708160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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Millwall sign veteran forward Fuller on one-year deal

first_img1 Ricardo Fuller Millwall have landed former Stoke City hitman Ricardo Fuller on a one-year deal.Fuller, 34, arrives at The Den on a free transfer after leaving Blackpool earlier this summer.The Jamaican forward, who has also spent time at Crystal Palace, Hearts, Preston North End, Portsmouth, Southampton, Ipswich and Charlton, has netted 114 goals during 440 career appearances.He has also been capped 74 times at senior international level.last_img

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49ers want no part of Rams’ Aaron Donald sack-record pursuit

first_imgSANTA CLARA — If Aaron Donald breaks the NFL’s single-season sack record Sunday, it will come at the 49ers’ expense, and not necessarily Nick Mullens’.The 49ers offensive linemen are on alert. They’ve discussed Donald’s record quest. They want no part of it, other than to deny it in Sunday’s regular-season finale at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.Donald has 19 1/2 sacks and needs four more to break Michael Strahan’s record, set with the 2001 New York Giants.“It’s our job to not have him …last_img

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49ers’ winning tradition: What’s up with Richie James’ backflips?

first_imgSANTA CLARA — Flipping out over the 49ers’ undefeated start? Richie James Jr. sure is.James is their second-year slot receiver, return specialist and, whoa, a victory-formation acrobat.At the end of each win this season, James has done a backflip from the back of the 49ers’ victory formation.SANTA CLARA, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: San Francisco 49ers’ Richie James Jr. (13) does a flip after the 49ers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-20 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 22, …last_img

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