Vo Huu Nhan was in his vegetable boat in the floating markets of the Mekong Delta when his phone rang. The caller from the United States had stunning news — a DNA database had linked him with a Vietnam vet thought to be his father.
Nhan, 46, had known his father was an American soldier named Bob, but little else.
“I was crying,” Nhan recalled. “I had lost my father for 40 years, and now I finally had gotten together with him.”
The journey toward their reconciliation has not been easy. News of the DNA match set in motion a chain of events involving two families 8,700 miles apart that is still unfolding and has been complicated by the illness of the veteran, Robert Thedford Jr., a retired deputy sheriff in Texas.
When the last American military personnel fled Saigon on April 29 and 30, 1975, they left behind a country scarred by war, a people uncertain about their future and thousands of their own children.
These children — some half-black, some half-white — came from liaisons with bar girls, “hooch” maids, laundry workers and the laborers who filled sandbags to protect American bases.
They are approaching middle age with stories as complicated as the two countries that gave them life. Growing up with the face of the enemy, they were spat on, ridiculed, beaten…They were called “bui doi,” which means “the dust of life.”
Forty years later, hundreds remain in Vietnam, too poor or without proof to qualify for the program created by the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987 that resettles the children of American soldiers in the United States.
Now, an Amerasian group has launched a last-chance effort to reunite fathers and children with a new DNA database on a family heritage website. Those left behind have scant information about their GI dads. DNA matches are their only hope.
RTFA for detail, anecdotes – even some good news. I’m not surprised the grunt side of the war is doing something to sort out what our nation “accomplished” in Southeast Asia.
I don’t expect today’s crew in Congress to do a damned thing?
You can click over to the article to wander through all ten. I’d like to feature a few I really like.
The ZEB Pilot House
International architecture firm Snøhetta has partnered with Norway’s Research Center on Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB) and to design and build a remarkable experimental house that helps move the development of very efficient buildings forward. The ZEB Pilot House is claimed to generate almost three times the amount of electricity it requires, with the significant surplus available to help run an electric car, for example…
A lot of sustainable technology was used on the build. The roof sports a 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft) photovoltaic array, and a 16 sq m (172 sq ft) solar thermal panel array, in addition to a rainwater collection system that provides water for toilet and garden use. In order to ensure all available rays are caught, the roof also slopes 19 degrees toward the southeast.
A Snøhetta representative told Gizmag that the photovoltaic array is expected to produce 19,200 kWh annually, while the home’s total electricity needs are calculated at just 7,272 kWh per year.
Whatever kind of home you live in, the chances are it took longer to build than the Pop-Up House, by French architecture firm Multipod, which was erected by a team of builders in just four days with no more tools than a screwdriver. The firm likens the construction process to building with Lego.
The Pop-Up House is a prototype prefabricated home that Multipod aims to bring to market for around €30,000 (roughly US$41,000). Thanks to its excellent insulation and near-airtight thermal envelope, no heating is required for the home in its location in Southern France, and it meets the very exacting Passivhaus energy standard.
The S House
Vietnam’s Vo Trong Nghia Architects has been tinkering away at the issue of providing practical, sustainable, and most importantly, cheap, homes. The result is the S House, a US$4,000 dwelling part-built using local, easily-obtained materials, including Palm leaf thatching and bamboo.
The interior of the S House is very basic and measures just 30 sq m (322 sq ft), with one large interior space. The building is prefabricated and can be disassembled into multiple small pieces for easy transport by local builders. Vo Trong Nghia Architects is still working on the design of the S House but the eventual plan is to mass market it.
I could wander off into the tech of these three. I shan’t. Wander through the series and reflect on your own choices – and why.
The last two, the S House and the Pop-Up are my favorites of these three because of size. I firmly believe smaller is usually better. My wife and I [and a dog, of course] first lived together in a 2-bedroom guesthouse that encompassed 650 sq.ft. – and we didn’t use one of those bedrooms. We lived day-to-day in about 450 sq.ft. and that still was more than we needed.
We live in more space, now, and once again have a room we don’t use at all. The guesthouse is back to being a guesthouse. A functional design when you live within a destination. It’s convenient to have two bathrooms; but, still, the main room could be smaller and that would simply encourage sitting closer to the TV set watching a football match or a movie. :)
Messages tied to fence around the US military base by Okinawa citizens — Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images
A politician who wants a U.S. Marine base moved out of Okinawa won election as governor of the southern Japanese island chain…
Takeshi Onaga was set to win a sweeping victory after exit polls late yesterday indicated he had almost twice as many votes as Hirokazu Nakaima, incumbent and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s favored candidate.
Onaga, 64, is seeking to reduce the military burden on Okinawa, which hosts about three quarters of the U.S. bases in Japan, while boasting only 0.6 percent of the nation’s land area. Nakaima, 75, last December agreed to allow the Futenma U.S. Marine base to be shifted to a less densely populated area of the prefecture — a move that appeared to end nearly two decades of wrangling over the issue.
“Based on this victory, I will go to the government, the U.S. government and even the United Nations to tell them the people are against it,” Onaga said yesterday in a televised interview broadcast after the exit polls were published. Nakaima’s decision had “sent the wrong message,” he said…
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Nov. 14 that the government would stick to its policy of trying to close the Futenma base within five years regardless of the election result. Abe has lifted an effective ban on arms exports and reinterpreted the constitution to allow Japan to defend other countries — including the U.S., its only formal ally…
“Defending other countries” being Washington doublespeak for “Japan remains our leading flunky in Asia”.
Local residents complain of crime, pollution, accidents and noise associated with the U.S. bases and anger peaked in 1995 when a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped by three U.S. servicemen. Polls show 80 percent of local people want to move the facility out of the prefecture.
Boasting a unique culture and language, as well as white sand beaches and clear waters, Okinawa has become a tourist hot spot. Visitor numbers from both Taiwan and mainland China doubled in September from a year earlier, while visits totaled 3.72 million people in the six months through September.
…Onaga said in an Oct. 31 interview with Bloomberg that while he doesn’t want all the bases removed, the economic incentive for hosting them has faded. They account for just 5 percent of Okinawa’s economy and about 9,000 jobs, and their removal would free up land for tourist development.
Peaceful commerce with China doesn’t mean much of anything to Japan’s militarists. They may not march at the front of election parades; but, they still pull the same old strings from their comfortable couches within corporate Zaibatsu skyscrapers.
Meanwhile, Uncle Sugar wants to retain Okinawa to be available as a rock-solid launching platform for the next time we decide to invade any part of Asia — the role that the prefecture played during the years we spent trying to return VietNam to Western subjugation.
I presume these Canadian troops are marching away from a memorial to those who fell during the liberation of Belgium during World War 2. Yes, I remember all of those days. I can’t forget those days.
My best friend died ten years back. He was the most decorated soldier from our home state in WW2. He had 16 months in hospital to reflect upon how he got there – not just the German soldier who threw a hand grenade at him at the liberation of a death camp; but, the corporate and political creeps who helped scum like Hitler into power. Both sides of the pond.
We learned a lot together over the years. Both of our fathers’ families came to the US from Canada, btw. His from Montreal and mine from PEI.
This weekend watching football from England the silent tributes pre-match – and more – have started. Tens of thousands of sports fans of all ages in complete silence remembering all they have to remember. I thought I’d repost this tribute.
I salute you, too, Clyde.
Thanks, Mister Justin
06 August 2014 – ASC certified GODACO farm, in Vietnam, opened its doors to fish buyers this week to demonstrate how environmentally and socially responsible pangasius [.pdf] is produced.
The EU co-funded ‘Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Vietnam (SUPA)’ project’s partners: World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC), along with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), joined together to host a tour of the farm and processing facility followed by a Pangasius Forum discussion during the Vietfish Fair in Ho Chi Minh City.
This pleases me on a couple of levels. I grew up subsistence fishing along the southern New England coast. We fished to eat. Simple as that. I credit my dear mother for having been inventive enough to keep us from going stark raving mad – eating whatever species was running for three months – five times a week.
But, I’m pleased to see a nation – where the United States got partway to genocide through carpet bombing and Agent Orange and napalm – is stepping further into independent economic self-sustaining commerce. I know damned well there are a lot of Vietnamese mothers figuring out how to make Asian Catfish taste different one more time this week – because it’s affordable. And I sympathize. And I also appreciate the effort of the World Wildlife Fund to develop Mekong aquaculture into environmentally friendly farming.
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.