Laos: The Demon Beneath the Pagoda

Laotians rarely worry, but they are always concerned with the state of Vientiane's Thai Dam pagoda. They believe that the black Buddhist shrine is in reality a cork that holds back an evil demon. Last week, when flares arched over the Thai Dam and the rattle of rifle fire broke Vientiane's predawn quiet, many Laotians feared that the cork had come unstuck.

Strange Birds. The flares and gunfire were the work of two right-wing Laotian generals whose aim was the overthrow of the ramshackle coalition government headed by Neutralist Prince Souvanna Phouma. Jeep...

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