Laos: Improvement, If Not Joy

Untroubled by the Chinese bomb, the permanent crisis in neighboring South Viet Nam, or by anything else, Laos was having a festival. Celebrating the end of Buddhist Lent, clowns cavorted down Vientiane's dusty streets, brandishing great red-painted phallic symbols. While phonographs blared a Laotian favorite, Jingle Bells, fireworks exploded and countless candles were lighted to exorcise demons from homes and bawdyhouses. One of the few worries concerned the supply of lao lao, a form of rice firewater whose production the government has restricted so as not to diminish the rice supply. Said a Cabinet minister: "We Laotians live in...

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