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"Luang Prabang is one of those early morning cities."
"Luang Prabang is one of those early morning cities."
François Bostnavaron

LUANG PRABANG — As they say, the early bird gets the worm. Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos and a UNESCO world heritage site since 1995, is one of those early morning cities — not necessarily calm, but where a walk at the crack of dawn is very satisfying. As early as 5 a.m., the first colorful tuk-tuks begin roaming the city, buzzing like lawn mowers. The market is being installed on the main street, giving the town a Katmandu-of-the-hippy-years feel.

This is the time of the day when the first tourists start gathering in the main street to attend Tak Bat, a ritual ceremony of the Bhikkhu, or Buddhist monks. With bare feet, saffron-robed and alms bowls in hand, they begin a long walk around their monastery to beg for the khao niao, the sticky rice that inhabitants donate daily. The ceremony can look a little like a Disneyland parade, as tourists are not always aware that these young monks are observing a religious rite.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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