Sad farewell

This evening we had a farewell reception for U.S. Ambassador Patrick Murphy and his wife Kathleen. He has been an exceptional ambassador–his terms was extended twice–and the Khmer press is crediting his tenure for real improvements in Khmer-American relations.

After greeting everyone individually, the ambassador gave his prepared remarks and they were one of the best speeches I have heard in my entire life. He was so positive and affirming and came across as so sincere.

Fr. Kevin and I have known the ambassador through our contacts at mass and were invited to the reception. Standing next to me is the Ambassador to Timor Leste who was recently appointed as dean of the ambassadors. He too comes to our weekend masses.

Earth Day

Some notes about our Earth (from the Morning Brew website):

  • Earth happens to be located in a remote corner of the Milky Way, a location that presents fewer threats, like a huge star devouring us with its gravity. The star we do have nearby, the sun, is stable and the perfect distance away to sustain liquid water (important!).
  • When the sun does send deadly flares our way, they’re not calamitous because the Earth’s core produces a magnetic field that deflects radiation.

Stop Covid-19 System

This shop has a string up to keep customers from entering and it also displays a “Stop Covid-19” QR system poster for recording those coming to the shop.
A QR code poster for an NGO. A customer uses an app on her phone to scan the QR code, and her presence at this site at such and such a time is recorded in a government database.

More than 155,000 shops and institutions have signed up to participate in the “Stop Covid-19” program which seeks to record who visits a site in order to assist contact tracing if necessary should a Covid-19-infected person visit that location. When introducing the scheme, the government downplayed any concerns about privacy but there are no restrictions or limitations on the way the government can use a person’s personal information if the person uses her phone to scan the QR code at a store.

Human Rights Watch has warned: “Cambodia’s QR Code system is ripe for rights abuses because it lacks privacy protections for personal data. These concerns are heightened by the government’s stepped-up online surveillance of Cambodians since the outset of the pandemic, putting government critics and activists at greater risk.”

Hong Kong, too…

Our Asia superior in Hong Kong reported today that John Clancey was arrested under Hong Kong’s new draconian state security laws. John was a Maryknoll priest in Hong Kong right before I came. He left Maryknoll but stayed on in Hong Kong as a lawyer working for civil and human rights. He must have been doing good work to get Beijing riled up. Hang in there, John!

This is the way the BBC reported his arrest.