At Ngoc Sinh Seafoods Trading & Processing Export Enterprise, a seafood exporter on Vietnam’s southern coast, workers stand on a dirty floor sorting shrimp one hot September day. There’s trash on the floor, and flies crawl over baskets of processed shrimp stacked in an unchilled room in Ca Mau.
Elsewhere in Ca Mau, Nguyen Van Hoang packs shrimp headed for the U.S. in dirty plastic tubs. He covers them in ice made with tap water that the Vietnamese Health Ministry says should be boiled before drinking because of the risk of contamination with bacteria. Vietnam ships 100 million pounds of shrimp a year to the U.S. That’s almost 8 percent of the shrimp Americans eat.
Using ice made from tap water in Vietnam is dangerous because it can spread bacteria to the shrimp, microbiologist Mansour Samadpour says, “Those conditions — ice made from dirty water, animals near the farms, pigs — are unacceptable,” says Samadpour, whose company, IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group, specializes in testing water for shellfish farming.
Ngoc Sinh has been certified as safe by Geneva-based food auditor SGS SA, says Nguyen Trung Thanh, the company’s general director.
“We are trying to meet international standards,” Thanh says…
SGS spokeswoman Jennifer Buckley says her company has no record of auditing Ngoc Sinh.
At Chen Qiang’s tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety.
“The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella,” says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China…
Kind of an incomplete story – even before the little editing I’ve done. Still – it’s enough to scare the crap out of me.
I buy Asian seafood occasionally, relying on retailers who perform their own checks on shipments from all of their suppliers. But, I think I’ll send them a link to this story and ask for a comment.
The rise in so-called insider attacks by rogue Afghan security forces has highlighted the perils of joint operations in counter-insurgency. But former US soldier David Donovan, who fought in Vietnam, says lessons learnt long ago have been forgotten.
I was in Vietnam because the United States had decided to assist an ally in fighting an insurgency stimulated and supplied from across international boundaries. The rights and wrongs of our intervention were a matter of vigorous debate, but that debate was not mine.
I was an Army officer trained in counter-insurgency and I was in Vietnam to lead a small advisory team in a remote village near the Cambodian border. We were doing counter-insurgency focused on two things – improving village security and encouraging local development.
Improving security meant improving the fighting skills of the local militia. They were poorly equipped and poorly led, neither of which helped morale. Improving their fighting skills meant going into combat with them, fighting beside them and learning first hand what it means to fight a guerrilla war. Encouraging development meant helping local officials initiate projects meant to improve community life.
The main enemies to security were the local guerrillas.
The main enemy to development was a corrupt bureaucracy…
So you might imagine my concern during the past decade as my country has made its way into two counter-insurgency wars at the same time and has bumped first into one problem then another. Our ineptness at the enterprise has been frustrating because the difficulties reported have seemed so predictable.
I know what it means to do counter-insurgency. I know what it means to do war in the village, and I know from the outside looking in how large US units, simply because of their size and American nature, can perturb a local culture and make friends into enemies without really meaning to.
And counter-insurgency is not won by firepower alone. It is won by a government attracting the loyalty of its own people.
RTFA for all the anecdotes David Donovan includes. If you don’t expect to see what you’re going to see, you weren’t paying attention when the US tried to create a regime in VietNam – you certainly haven’t been paying attention to Afghanistan for the past 11 years.
He skips the part about being invited in by a claque in VietNam smaller than the Tea Party. He skips the part about fighting against an “enemy” that supported allied troops during World War 2; but, dared to continue their fight against colonial Europe after the war.
You’re left at the end to consider on your own a comparison of the mess we left behind in VietNam when we were driven out by Vietnamese soldiers, after all – compared to the mess we obviously will leave behind in Afghanistan. Money and lives, American and Afghan, soldier and civilian, poured down the rathole of imperial arrogance, once again.
Just one of the reminders of America’s war on the Vietnamese people
More than half a century after the United States began dousing Vietnam with the defoliant Agent Orange in a bid to clear the jungle that provided cover for Viet Cong fighters, it is about to begin cleaning up one of the most contaminated spots left over from the war.
The cleanup is expected to take four years and cost more than $43 million. It is the first time that the U.S. has joined with Vietnam to completely cleanse a site tainted with Agent Orange, which has been linked to birth defects, cancer and other ailments.
“This is huge, considering that for many years the U.S. and Vietnam could not see eye to eye at all about this issue,” said Susan Hammond, director of the War Legacies Project, a Vermont-based nonprofit group. “It was one of the last unresolved war legacies between the U.S. and Vietnam…”
“Huge” is not acting after decades of ignoring responsibility. It would be huge if the United States acknowledged the imperial arrogance central to our foreign policy since the end of World war 2. Huge would be assuming the task of cleaning up the death and destruction we have distributed about this planet from Hiroshima to Lebanon, from atomic weapons to Claymore mines and cluster bombs.
Near the Da Nang site, Vo Duoc fought tears as he told the Associated Press that he and other family members, who have suffered diabetes, breast cancer and miscarriages, had tested high for dioxin. Now he fears his grandchildren could be exposed as well.
“They had nothing to do with the war,” Duoc told the AP. “But I live in fear that they’ll test positive like me.”
The U.S. has chipped in for programs to help Vietnamese youth with disabilities but has shied away from saying their problems are specifically linked to the chemical. Vietnam has bristled at that resistance, pointing out that the U.S. has paid billions of dollars in disability payments to American veterans suffering illnesses linked to Agent Orange…
Da Nang, once used as an American military base, is widely seen as the most worrisome hot spot because it sits in the middle of a densely populated city. Nearby lakes are used to raise fish and ducks for human consumption.
Vietnamese authorities poured a concrete slab over the most badly contaminated area 4 1/2 years ago, with technical assistance from U.S. environmental officials and the Ford Foundation, Bailey said. American aid officials also helped plan for the remaining cleanup to destroy the dioxin in soil and sediment on the site.
I hope no one in Washington harms themselves whilst patting each other on the back for this belated attempt at reparations for crimes committed in the name of the United States. The Leaders of the Free World demonstrated a disdain for humanity in Southeast Asia easily matching the worst of European colonialism.
In practice, the Euros and Brits have probably performed slightly better at recognizing both responsibility for their crimes and the appropriateness of aiding the colonial peoples they oppressed. I expect you still couldn’t get a serious aid package for VietNam through Congress valued, say, at the equivalent of what we provide annually for updating our nuclear arsenal.
Pentagon planners will consider adding bombers and attack submarines as part of a growing U.S. focus on security challenges in the Asia-Pacific…
“We will take another look” at sending more such muscle to the strategic hub of Guam in the western Pacific, now that this has been recommended by an independent review of U.S. regional military plans, Robert Scher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans, told lawmakers.
U.S. strategy calls for shifting military, diplomatic and economic resources toward the region after a decade of land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sparked by the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon…and a lot of lies at the behest of Bush and Cheney.
The Defense Department, however, must weigh the issue from a broad global perspective and take into account competing requirements, Scher testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services subcommittee on readiness…
The central geostrategic uncertainty that the United States and its allies and partners face in the region “is how China’s growing power and influence will impact order and stability in the years ahead,” the CSIS review said.
All these shit-for-brains tin soldiers figure the American people are too damned dumb, too ignorant to stop another march into Asia carrying the American flag. They know they can count on an obedient Congress. So many of you who marched against the VietNam War have to remember that – eventually – the Bozos in Washington brought our troops home. That wasn’t voluntary on their part. They were afraid of losing control.
Fact remains, the rest of the world hasn’t forgotten what our policies bring to every region of the world we’ve made part of our garrison. We have over 700 bases in about 180 countries, right now. Even though brainwashed American taxpayers don’t raise a peep about the cost – the rest of the world looks offshore and views our warships as one more threat from the cops of the world.
I jokingly say I’m not voting for Obama; but, against Romney. I’m voting against the evil of two lessors. Obama talks like he has progressive ideals and delivers no more than any liberal ever has. That means Hillary probably would have done as much by the working people of the United States. And like Hillary – and Bill – none of these three have ever challenged the status quo on American foreign policy that has been in place since the beginning of the Cold War.
Nothing is more important around this little planet than making the world safe for Exxon-Mobil, not democracy. I could add all the variations on that theme; but, if you read and think, listen and learn to what really goes on in the political economy of Earth – you can come up with all the parallels yourself.
Don’t stop! Don’t stop fighting to press the self-proclaimed good guys into living up to the principles they lie about – just because we’re also busy fighting the truly criminal creeps at the same time. We cannot afford to let up. We do not need another Iraq. I do not want to see another VietNam.
Hillary Clinton on Wednesday became the first US secretary of state to visit Laos for 57 years, on a trip focused on the damaging legacy of the Vietnam War.
The US “desire was to deepen and broaden” the relationship, Clinton said after a visit to a US-funded orthotic and prosthetic center, which she described as a “painful reminder of the legacy of the Vietnam War era”.
“Here in Laos the past is always with you,” she said, addressing US embassy employees.
US forces dropped more than 2 million tons of ordnance on Laos between 1964 and 1973 in some 580,000 bombing missions to cut off North Vietnam supply lines.
Some 30 percent of the ordnance failed to detonate. All 17 of the country’s provinces are still contaminated by unexploded ordnance and Laos remains the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history.
Clinton…met Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at his office…The pair had “substantive discussions on the broadening bilateral cooperation”…The countries “agreed to improve and further facilitate the accounting operations for US personnel still missing from the Indochina War era” and address the “remaining challenges” of unexploded ordnance…
Clinton said she hoped in the future there would by ways “to give people and particularly children of this nation the opportunity to live their lives free of these unexploded bombs“.
Hillary, Hillary. Even when you were at Yale Law School with a reasonably stodgy legal career mapped out, you never relied on watered-down platitudes to describe the special relationship between Imperial America and the nations battered by a war embraced by both wings of our unitarian political establishment. You didn’t have a problem describing thugs like Kissinger as “criminal”.
Now, thoroughly absorbed into the Borg of American foreign policy, you ask us to applaud a tiny gift to a nation we carpet-bombed with cluster bombs, a pittance compared to even the little we spend on recovering the bones of American pilots shot down on their missions of brutality and death.
Hillary – your politics stink.
More than 100,000 Vietnamese have been killed or injured by land mines or other abandoned explosives since the Vietnam War ended nearly 40 years ago, and clearing all of the country will take decades more.
“The war’s painful legacy, which includes hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs and unexploded ordnance, continues to cause painful casualties every day,” Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told a U.N.-sponsored conference on ways to deal with the problem.
Dung said 42,132 people have been killed and 62,163 others wounded by land mines, bombs and other explosives since the war ended in 1975. The United States used about 16 million tons of bombs and ammunition while allied with the former South Vietnam government, which was defeated by northern communist fighters who reunified the country.
U.S. Ambassador David Shear told the conference that the United States has provided $62 million to help Vietnam cope with “this painful legacy…”
Bui Hong Linh, vice minister of labor, war invalids and social affairs, said explosives remain on about 16 million acres of land, or more than one-fifth of the country.
He said only 740,000 acres or 5 percent of the contaminated area has been cleared and a recently approved government plan calls for clearance of an additional 1.2 million acres that would cost $595 million in the next five years.
Anyone actually expect the government of the United States to assume responsibility for the violence we have wrought upon so many nations? Think a bill offering to aid further in the removal of our munitions from VietNam would get through a Congress that reeks of gold-plated Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats?
Responsible and humane decision-making is an alien concept in Washington politics.
As some of Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century bears down on Bangkok — submerging cities, industrial parks and ancient temples as it comes — experts in water management are blaming human activity for turning an unusually heavy monsoon season into a disaster.
The main factors, they say, are deforestation, overbuilding in catchment areas, the damming and diversion of natural waterways, urban sprawl, and the filling-in of canals, combined with bad planning. Warnings to the authorities, they say, have been in vain.
“I have tried to inform them many times, but they tell me I am a crazy man,” said Smith Dharmasaroja, former director general of the Thai Meteorological Department, who is famous here for predicting a major tsunami years before the one that devastated coastal towns in 2004.
The monsoon season this year has brought disaster to Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as Thailand, where 283 people are reported to have died.
Thousands of people have been displaced as typhoons have battered the Philippines, and the country’s steep rice terraces of Banaue are reported to have been damaged by mudslides.
Floods have spread through Cambodia, where the city of Siem Reap is reported to be knee-deep in water, with floodwaters reaching the nearby temples of Angkor.
Thai officials are warning that, in the next few days, Bangkok could be inundated by a combination of heavy floodwaters from the north, unusually high tides and monsoon rains. People in some of the most threatened neighborhoods are building sandbag barriers around their homes and emptying shops of food, drinking water, batteries and candles…
Once the floodwaters reach Bangkok, they will pour into a city that has lost its natural defenses: a huge network of canals that have been filled in — or clogged with garbage — as the city has become an overcrowded behemoth.
As ye sow, so shall ye reap. It doesn’t require warnings on a biblical scale to explain that stupidity and greed combine and grow over time to produce an almighty disaster.
These breathtaking images capture the hidden depths of the world’s biggest cave passage – so large the end is yet to be found. Hidden in the depths of the Vietnamese jungle lies The Hang Son Doong, part of a network of over 150 caves.
Surrounded by jungle and used in the Vietnam war as a hideout from American bombardments, the cave passage is so large that it could hold a block of 40-storey skyscrapers. Its entrance was only rediscovered by British cavers in 2009.
Vietnamese authorities are on alert for animal smugglers after four bags of deadly snakes were found on a train from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, according to local press reports.
The bags contained an undetermined number of snakes including some king cobras, the on-line news service VnExpress reported.
A guard and a conductor found them while inspecting the train when it made a stop at Quang Ngai railway station on Thursday, the website reported. The guard and conductor were not injured.
The snakes, which are protected by law in Vietnam, were handed over to the Quang Ngai forest protection agency on Friday and released into the wild…
The king cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake with a length up to 13 feet according to New York’s Bronx Zoo…
I could tell you how far away to stay from a cobra to be safe – but, I doubt if most of you need that particular information as part of your skill set. :)
It may be an old menu standby to Vietnamese diners, but it’s turned into a smorgasbord of discovery for scientists.
Researchers have identified a previously undocumented species of all-female lizard in the Mekong River delta that can reproduce itself by cloning, and the story of how it was discovered is almost as exotic as the animal itself.
Leiolepis ngovantrii is a small lizard found only in southern Vietnam. A Vietnamese reptile scientist who came across tanks full of the remarkably similar looking reptiles at small diners in rural villages in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province became intrigued when he noticed that all of the lizards appeared to be female.
So the scientist, Ngo Van Tri of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, contacted an American colleague about what he was seeing. His friend — a herpetologist at La Sierra University in Riverside, California — immediately dropped everything to come out to assess the find.
Dr. Lee Grismer and his son, Jesse Grismer, a doctoral candidate, flew all the way to Hanoi and then faced a grueling two-day motorcycle trip out to a restaurant where the owner promised to set aside a stash of the creatures for study.
“Unfortunately, the owner wound up getting drunk, and grilled them all up for his patrons… so when we got there, there was nothing left.”
Faced with an empty tank and nearly dashed hopes, the men asked around at other cafes in the area for the local delicacy, and hired children to track down as many of the lizards as they could find.
The team soon had more than 60, and realized they had something special on their hands: a previously undocumented species.
“It’s an entirely new lineage of life that was being eaten and sold in restaurants for food,” says Grismer. “But it’s something that scientists have missed for hundreds of years.”
RTFA. Humorous, especially when the Americans discovered the “flavor” of these wee lizards was unlike anything they ever ate – or wished to, again.