Sightings: World Politics Edition

Daily sightings, news bits and commentary from social and mass media around the world.

An accident in Phnom Penh in October can also be read as a sculptural installation reflecting geopolitical dynamics. According to local media, the man behind the wheel was Chinese. While driving a Japanese Toyota Lexus with Cambodian military license plates, he crashed into a monument commemorating US-Cambodian friendship.

ជនជាតិចិនបើករថយន្តស្លាកលេខ ខេមរភូមិន្ទ បោះពួយយ៉ាងលឿនមកប្រលះ បង្គោលនិមិត្តសញ្ញាមិត្តភាព កម្ពុជាអាមេរិច រងកាខូចខាតយ៉ាងដំណំ

Instead of being repaired in the seven weeks since the accident, @aunchhengpor observed that the monument, funded by @USAID,  has now completely keeled over.

A neighborhood in Washington D.C. renamed the street in front of the Saudi embassy for the recently murdered regime critic Jamal Khashoggi.

This is hardly the first time that local authorities have thumbed their collective noses at overseas rivals. In 1984, the U.S. Senate renamed Wisconsin Street — in front of the Soviet Embassy — after Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov. Malcom X Blvd is now the address of the American Embassy in Turkey. The Russian Embassy in the U.S. is located on Boris Nemtsov Plaza, a stretch of road named after the slain opposition politician. And the British Embassy in Tehran is located on a street named after Bobby Sands, an Irish dissident who died of starvation in an English prison while on a hunger strike.

The Philippine government has filed a barrage of tax evasion charges against Rappler, a prominent local news web site. The founder of the site, Maria Ressa, a former CNN bureau chief, returned Sunday to the Philippines despite facing arrest. “Like many, I fear that the pendulum of democracy is swinging the other way globally, enabled by social media,” @mariaressa said during a speech last weekend while accepting the National Democracy Institute’s W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that “arresting Maria will send a clear signal that the country’s democracy is fast receding under a feckless administration that cannot abide criticism and free expression.”

Jeremy Vine, the British TV personality and BBC journalist, published a video with outtakes of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s attempts to sound smart and concise.

Fashion is anything but apolitical, as former Cambridge Analytica executive Christopher Wylie made clear when his company leveraged the clothing choices of Facebook users to help build the alt-right movement.

“What makes clothing so potent is that people incorporate the fashion that they’re wearing into their identity,” Wylie said. “It becomes part of you and how you show yourself to the world.”

Weaponizing voters’ fashion tastes was a key strategy to get Trump elected, Wylie continued, explaining that “culture could be quantified as a ‘distribution of attributes that plays out in the wider world.'”

Sam Rainsy on Saturday landed in the United States, where he is attending the CNRP world conference in Atlanta. The opposition leader was criticized by many for encouraging and then skipping September protests outside the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where hundreds of CNRP supporters gathered to protest Prime Minister Hun Sen and his policies.

After Atlanta, Rainsy is scheduled to fly to Paris, where he will meet the party’s French chapter to discuss future strategy. Posters for the event show Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy holding hands in unity, with the slogan “Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha, same battle”.

But back home, Kem Sokha is not necessarily on board.

Rainsy has released on Facebook an English translation of his Liberation article arguing in support of the EU’s move to revoke its Everything But Arms agreement. No word yet on a Khmer version.

Tips, comments welcome: [email protected]

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