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Russia destroys 2 Ukrainian drones over Belgorod

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Iran blames Israel for embassy bombing in Syria

It’s suspected that Israeli warplanes bombed Iran’s embassy in Syria on Monday, a marked escalation in the region. Israel bans Al Jazeera from broadcasting in the country. The U.S. State Department says they “support the work the free press does.” Another day of demonstrations in Israel against the Netanyahu government. Israeli forces have left Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. And a visit with a Cambodian kickboxer in Southern California who has inspired generations of fighters.

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Villagers near proposed canal in Cambodia worry and wait

Prek Takeo, Kandal Province, Cambodia — Sok Srey is prepared for the Mekong River to rise in June, when its water spills into the Takeo, a small river or prek in Khmer, abutting the land she’s occupied with her family for almost a quarter of a century.

She is not prepared for what might happen to her family if a proposed China-funded canal connecting the Gulf of Thailand with inland tributaries of the Mekong River like the Takeo.

“I don’t have any clear information yet. I just heard that they are going to build here,” Sok Srey, 60, told VOA Khmer in March during an interview at her house, around 35 kilometers from Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.

She and her fisherfolk neighbors have yet to hear from Cambodian authorities about what will happen to families impacted by the project.

Cambodia’s government approved the 180-kilometer-long Funan Techo Canal in May. The $1.7 billion project, part of the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, would connect the coastal province of Kep with Kandal and Takeo provinces inland. The proposed design is 100 meters wide upstream and 80 meters wide downstream, with a consistent depth of 5.4 meters. It is the latest China-financed infrastructure project in Cambodia.

The proposed canal has alarmed neighboring Vietnam about how the project would affect its use of the flow of water downstream.

Brian Eyler, senior fellow and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center, said the costs and benefits of this project “are mostly unknown due to a lack of information.”

He added, “This project will likely have severe impacts on rice production in two of Vietnam’s top rice-producing provinces and thus, the Vietnamese are justly worried.”

In December, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet reassured Hanoi, saying the project “will not incur any negative impacts on the flow of the Mekong or other rivers while maintaining a stable environment, ecology and natural habitat for biodiversity.”

So far, there is no official reaction to the canal from the Vietnamese government, and the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to VOA Khmer’s questions via email.

But such discord and diplomacy is far from Sok Srey’s workday life. In the months when she is not casting her nets in the Takeo, she picks chilies and clears grass, earning around $7.50 a day when she finds work. Her husband, Mov Sarin, 62, is a former soldier without a pension. Her daughter, Rin Sreyvy, is a 16-year-old ninth-grader.

Although Sok Srey is not the registered owner of the riverside land, she

feels that if the government wants the plot, it should compensate her and find her a place to live.

“I am worried, I couldn’t even sleep,” she said. “I don’t oppose the state, but if the state gives me a piece of land, I would appreciate that.”

Neighbors like Year Savun, a 58-year-old widow and mother of six who has lived on her mortgaged plot since 1984, and Tong Eng, 74, who owns a plot he has occupied since 1982, also don’t oppose the canal.

“The canal is good for the whole country, but where will people go to live?” asked Uot Kim Eng, 57, a roadside sugar cane and grocery seller who lives near Tong Eng.

Phan Rim, spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told VOA Khmer on March 18 the project’s impact has been “primarily studied,” but “we’re still studying it more thoroughly.”

The Ministry of Economy and Finance, he added, will study the compensation issue to ensure the government follows proper procedures and the villagers will be consulted.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), one of China’s giant state-owned companies, is backing the project via a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract, according to Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport. If completed, it would reduce the transit time between the ports in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, according to the ministry.

Under the BOT, the Chinese company would build the canal, maintain and manage it and profit from charging for passage through the canal for some 50 years before it would revert to Cambodia.

On March 12, Hun Manet said the canal will create jobs for the 1.6 million people who live along the proposed route, and Cambodia’s government says construction will begin later this year.

Rim Sokvy, an independent researcher in Cambodia, wrote in an analysis published on ThinkChina, a Singapore-based website, that the canal “could steer Cambodia away from Vietnam and towards China.”

He said Cambodia now relies heavily on the Vietnamese waterways for importing raw materials from China and exporting finished products to the U.S. and Western countries.

“Vietnam will lose significant income … as Cambodia starts to depend on its own waterway transportation. The construction of the Funan Techo Canal is showing a decrease of Vietnam’s influence on Cambodia. This will be Hun Manet’s legacy,” Rim Sokvy said.

Phan Rim said the Mekong option will be unchanged.

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Understanding the world’s largest democratic election kicking off in India

new delhi — The world’s largest democratic election could also be one of its most consequential.

With a population of over 1.4 billion people and close to 970 million voters, India’s general election pits Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an avowed Hindu nationalist, against a broad alliance of opposition parties that are struggling to play catch up.

The 73-year-old Modi first swept to power in 2014 on promises of economic development, presenting himself as an outsider cracking down on corruption. Since then, he has fused religion with politics in a formula that has attracted wide support from the country’s majority Hindu population.

India under Modi is a rising global power, but his rule has also been marked by rising unemployment, attacks by Hindu nationalists against minorities, particularly Muslims, and a shrinking space for dissent and free media.

How does the election work?

The six-week-long general election starts on April 19 and results will be announced on June 4. The voters, who comprise over 10% of the world’s population, will elect 543 members for the lower house of Parliament for a five-year term.

The polls will be held in seven phases and ballots cast at more than a million polling stations. Each phase will last a single day with several constituencies across multiple states voting that day. The staggered polling allows the government to deploy tens of thousands of troops to prevent violence and transport election officials and voting machines.

India has a first-past-the-post multiparty electoral system in which the candidate who receives the most votes wins. To secure a majority, a party or coalition must breach the mark of 272 seats.

While voters in the United States and elsewhere use paper ballots, India uses electronic voting machines.

Who is running?

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and his main challenger, Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress, represent Parliament’s two largest factions. Several other important regional parties are part of an opposition bloc.

Opposition parties, which have been previously fractured, have united under a front called INDIA, or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, to deny Modi a third straight election victory.

The alliance has fielded a single primary candidate in most constituencies. But it has been roiled by ideological differences and personality clashes — and has not yet decided on its candidate for prime minister.

Most surveys suggest Modi is likely to win comfortably, especially after he opened a Hindu temple in northern Ayodhya city in January, which fulfilled his party’s long-held Hindu nationalist pledge.

Another victory would cement Modi as one of the country’s most popular and important leaders. It would follow a thumping win in 2019, when the BJP clinched an absolute majority by sweeping 303 parliamentary seats.

The Congress party managed only 52 seats.

What are the big issues?

For decades, India has clung doggedly to its democratic convictions, largely due to free elections, an independent judiciary, a thriving media, strong opposition and peaceful transition of power. Some of these credentials have seen a slow erosion under Modi’s 10-year rule, with the polls seen as a test for the country’s democratic values.

Many watchdogs have now categorized India as a “hybrid regime” that is neither a full democracy nor a full autocracy.

The polls will also test the limits of Modi, a populist leader whose rise has seen increasing attacks against religious minorities, mostly Muslims. Critics accuse him of using a Hindu-first platform, endangering the country’s secular roots.

Under Modi, the media, once viewed as vibrant and largely independent, have become more pliant and critical voices muzzled. Courts have largely bent to Modi’s will and given favorable verdicts in crucial cases.

Centralization of executive power has strained India’s federalism. And federal agencies have bogged down top opposition leaders in corruption cases, which they deny.

Another key issue is India’s large economy, which is among the fastest growing in the world. It has helped India emerge as a global power and a counterweight to China. But even as India’s growth soars by some measures, the Modi government has struggled to generate enough jobs for young Indians, and instead has relied on welfare programs like free food and housing to woo voters.

The U.N.’s latest Asia-Pacific Human Development Report lists India among the top countries with high income and wealth inequality.

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Trump is worth a billion dollars less – on paper – after Truth Social shares tumble

Former President Donald Trump.Former President Donald Trump.

Theodore Parisienne/NY Daily News via Getty Images

  • Donald Trump’s net worth took a huge hit on Monday.
  • The former president’s net worth fell by over $1 billion after shares for Trump Media plunged.
  • Trump isn’t allowed to sell any of his Trump Media shares until a six-month lock-up period expires. 

Former President Donald Trump probably isn’t too pleased after his social media company, Trump Media & Technology Group saw a stock price rout on Monday.

Shares for Trump Media fell by as much as 26% after it reported a net loss of $58 million last year and a revenue of just $4.1 million, per an SEC filing.

The stock’s decline also meant that Trump’s net worth on paper is now down by more than a billion dollars.

Trump’s net worth skyrocketed last week after Trump Media went public on March 26. The company’s shares went up by as much as 59% the day it started trading. This increased his net worth by more than $4 billion, per Bloomberg.

Trump has a 57% stake in Trump Media, but he isn’t allowed to sell any of his shares until the expiration of the six-month lock-up period.

Even before Monday’s rout, the stock’s performance was deemed incredulous considering the lackluster performance of its core product, Truth Social.

The social media platform has far fewer monthly active users than Facebook and X, formerly Twitter, and its appeal is largely confined to Trump supporters.

That said, the developments on Monday are likely to be a bummer for Trump, who before the rout was poised to net a huge windfall from his stake in the company.

The money would certainly come in handy for Trump, whose legal debts have been piling up.

On Monday, Trump posted a $175 million appeal bond in his New York civil fraud case. An appeals court slashed the size of Trump’s bond last week, bringing it down from the $454 million that he was originally asked to pay.

Besides the civil fraud case, Trump also owes$83.3 million in defamation damages to E. Jean Carroll, a writer whom a jury ruled in 2023 that he’d sexually abused.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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@dwnews: RT @dwnews: Russia’s GRU intelligence agency may have used sonic weaponry to trigger “Havana Syndrome,” according to a joint media investig…

Russia’s GRU intelligence agency may have used sonic weaponry to trigger “Havana Syndrome,” according to a joint media investigation.

The syndrome, first reported in 2016, is said to have caused health issues among US government staff all over the world.

— DW News (@dwnews) April 1, 2024

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@GolosAmeriki: RT @GolosAmeriki: В результате авиаудара Израиля по сектору Газа погибли иностранные сотрудники гуманитарных организаций…

В результате авиаудара Израиля по сектору Газа погибли иностранные сотрудники гуманитарных организаций

— Голос Америки (@GolosAmeriki) April 1, 2024

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@60Minutes: RT @60Minutes: Now-retired Pentagon official Greg Edgreen ran the military investigation into mysterious brain injuries reported by U.S. se…

Now-retired Pentagon official Greg Edgreen ran the military investigation into mysterious brain injuries reported by U.S. security officials. Edgreen says the investigation found the attacks are targeting top officials who worked on Russia-related matters.

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 1, 2024

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@mikenov: В полиции в Москве умер задержанный после теракта в “Крокус Сити холл” уроженец Чечни

В полиции в Москве умер задержанный после теракта в “Крокус Сити холл” уроженец Чечни

— Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) April 2, 2024

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@mikenov: Azerbaijan and Dagestan – Google Search

Azerbaijan and Dagestan – Google Search

— Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) April 2, 2024