Archive for July, 2007

China’s new missile submarine seen by satellite

July 5, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s newest ballistic missile submarine, the Jin-class vessel, has been spotted for the first time by a commercial satellite, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists said on Thursday.

The submarine was photographed in late 2006 south of the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, said Hans Kristensen, director of the FAS’s Nuclear Information Project.

It appeared to be based on Russia’s Victor-3 model and, although photographs are unclear, resembles China’s early-1980s Xia-class submarines, said Kristensen, who spotted the long-anticipated vessel.

Google Earth captured an image of the new Chinese ballistic-missile submarine, docked at the Xiaopingdao base south of Dalian. U.S. officials say the new submarines may increase Beijing´s strategic arsenal.

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The Type 094 (NATO reporting name: Jin-class; Chinese: 晋级潜艇) is a class of ballistic missile submarine developed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy. The first-of-class was constructed at Huludao Shipyard in HuludaoLiaoning and launched in July 2004. Four submarines are believed to have been constructed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_094_submarine

Xia class SSBN.svg

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The 133-metre (436-foot) Jin-class submarine probably will carry Julang-2 sea-launched ballistic missiles in its estimated 12 launch tubes. It was spotted moored at Xiaopingdao Submarine Base, which it has used for testing in the past, he said.

“Chinese nuclear submarines are normally not based there. They’re located to the south, near Qingdao,” Kristensen said by telephone.

In a defense strategy paper published on Thursday, Australia echoed previous documents by the United States and Japan in voicing concern about a rapid Chinese military expansion and lack of transparency about strategy and policy.

The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimated in December that China might build five Jin-class submarines, but that estimate was not included in the Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military power, published in May, Kristensen noted.

“The Chinese naval nuclear programs so far have been very, very slow,” he said. “They’ve managed to get this submarine out, but it’s been under construction for many years.”

Images of the submarine are published and analyzed on the FAS web site http://www.fas.org and visible on Google Earth http://earth.google.com.

Normally secretive China likely sees a deterrent effect in allowing the submarine to be seen from the sky by outsiders, Kristensen said.

“The fact that they have it and the fact that it moves around, I’m sure they want the world to know about it,” he said.

Granny fights Vietnam’s culture of bribery

July 5, 2007

Feisty 88-Pounder is “Incredibly Brave”

July 5, 2007
Associated Press

HANOI, Vietnam — Most Vietnamese cower when a cop squeezes them for a bribe. Le Hien Duc, a 75-year-old grandmother, fights back.  Four-foot-nine and weighing just 88 pounds, she’ll take on anyone, from lowly bureaucrats to high-level officials. She e-mails, phones, tracks them down at their offices, confronts them at their homes.

”Corruption is definitely an evil, and it is ruining my beloved country,” said Duc, a former school teacher.

Corruption is perhaps the most vulnerable spot in the country’s single-party Communist state — from the traffic cops who pull drivers over for $3 bribes to the officials accused of gambling $13 million in public money on British soccer matches.

In Vietnam, where people respect authority, few dare challenge the system. But many turn to Duc.

”Most of us tremble when we have to deal with police,” said Doan Van Hung, a delivery man. ”She is incredibly brave.”

Hung’s ordeal was typical — a policeman stopped him for speeding and threatened to seize his motorbike unless he paid a $3 bribe.

Duc tracked down the officer who harassed Hung and filed a complaint with the Hanoi chief of police. The officer was promptly demoted.

What’s (not) in a name

July 5, 2007

Editorial
The Washington Times
July 5, 2007

“Whispering Winds” sounds like it might be a luxury resort, or maybe a golf course, but not a public school. But it is, in Phoenix, Ariz. A public school in Arizona, alas, is 50 times more likely to be named for a river, an animal or even an insect than for a president, a war hero or other notable figure from our history. In a study released this week by the Manhattan Institute, Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Jonathan Butcher show that Arizona is not unique. An even broader trend turned up in their analysis of public school names in six other representative states.

Florida is one of the more surprising examples. The state has 3,000 public schools, but only five are named for George Washington, while 155 are named for lakes, 91 for wooded areas, 54 for palm trees and 11 for manatees. Even discounting the three in Manatee County, Fla., it’s startling to learn that Florida communities are almost a third less likely to pay homage to the nation’s first president than to honor the slow-moving marine mammals.

This trend is a reflection of both the priorities of school boards across the country as well as the fact that, as the study notes, “naming schools after people consumes political capital that the coalitions governing schools are increasingly unwilling to spend.” It’s not simply a manifestation of some political correctness doctrine.

Across the board, schools are more likely to be named for a tree or a fish than for a person. In New Jersey, for instance, roughly 55 percent of schools built before 1947 were named for something other than a person; since 1988 that number is more than 73 percent. In Massachusetts the change is comparable.

In place of people, more schools are named after things of nature. In Wisconsin, the likelihood that a school built after 1980 was twice as likely to get a nature name than schools dedicated before 1947. In Minnesota, three times as likely, and in Arizona the likelihood has increased by four-fold.

Does this further reflect the failing of civics instruction in public schools? According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2006 report card on civics education, only 27 percent of 12th graders have a “proficient” knowledge of civics, which is about the same as the percentage of eighth-graders who can explain the full meaning of the Declaration of Independence.

Students can learn what they need to know about American history and government as effectively in a high school named for a tree as in a school named for a president, and it’s probably true that many kids are more likely to recognize a manatee than James Monroe or Audie Murphy. Changing a school’s name holds no inherent benefit for improving the education it offers. But this measure is, as the study’s authors argue, akin to the canary in the mineshaft. The declining interest in civics implied in the study is disappointing.

Yank Eats, Beats, Japan Superstar

July 5, 2007

An American competitive eater has devoured a record 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes to win the July 4 annual Coney Island hot dog eating competition, defeating a six-time champion from Japan in a photo finish.

Joey Chestnut (left)

Top dog: Joey Chestnut (left) (AFP: Stan Honda)

Defending champion Takeru Kobayashi, a 28-year-old from Japan who weighed in at 77 kilograms, went into the competition with a jaw injury but still managed to down 63 hot dogs.

But the winner of the “Mustard Belt” prize for the most hot dogs eaten was 23-year-old Joey Chestnut from San Jose, California, who weighed in at 102kg.

Mr Chestnut fulfilled his vow to beat the world record he set in qualifying earlier this year of 59-and-a-half dogs and to bring back the prize to America on Independence Day.

The two were neck and neck in the final minute until Mr Kobayashi appeared to suffer what the commentator on sports TV channel ESPN euphemistically called a “reversal.”

Judges reviewed the debris of plates and scraps and declared Mr Chestnut the winner.

The third-placed eater trailed way behind with 49.

“For the past six years Kobayashi has dominated. In year seven he just couldn’t cut it,” Mr Chestnut told Reuters.

“It just feels awesome. For a long time the belt has been going away to Japan but this year it’s staying here.”

Related:
Hot-dog eating champs go eye to eye

The United States: A Nation of Prayer and Hope

July 4, 2007

Adapted from essays written by John Carey and published in The Washington Times

We Americans don’t discuss hope much. Hope, it seems, is for sissies. Americans like action: like John Wayne kicking in the bad guy’s door, six-shooter in hand.

And some people shy away from discussing hope because the concept of hope puts one on the road to prayer and this, WE KNOW, is taboo to a segment of the world’s population.

But there is a day, every four years, when Americans celebrate hope. And that day is Inauguration Day.

And we listen to our elected president’s words. We judge our president-elect by these, his first words, as our commander in chief.

In history, there are many themes that seem to resonate through the inaugural addresses. Education, poverty, crime, war, and peace all appear over and over in inauguration day speeches. But the importance of God’s guidance and the wonderful goodness of hope permeates many of the great American inaugural addresses.

We should not be surprised that many presidents invoke the name of God, maybe even offer a prayer themselves for the success of the nation (and their presidency?), and offer us hope at the inauguration. Their task is looming large; their support sometimes fleeting. One might wonder at the overconfident man in such a difficult situation. Normal men ask for God’s help and offer us all a hopeful vision of the future.

On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” He asked us to answer a “call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’ –a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

On another January 20, in 1969, Richard M. Nixon reminded us, “Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time, the hope that many of man’s deepest aspirations can at last be realized.” He also said, “We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today.”

President Lincoln, in his second inaugural, looked with hope at the end of the Civil War. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln delivered these words on March 4, 1865. Just one month and 10 days after he delivered this speech, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated.

President Eisenhower evoked hope. On January 20, 1953, he reminded the nation that “we view our Nation’s strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere.”

President James A. Garfield suggested a halt in the march of mankind, just for a moment, to reflect upon the importance of hope. In his March 4, 1881 inaugural, he said, “Before continuing the onward march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which our people have traveled.”

Inauguration day is a day of hope and prayer. No other day in American life is so steeped in prayer. No other day in the American calendar so often reverberates with the theme of hope.

Oh, many moments in American life begin with prayer: including the opening of House and Senate sessions in the capitol. But at our inaugurations, one can feel the sincerity of men thrust into the maelstrom. Greater Washington seems to become a great cathedral of hope and prayer: before it immediately returns to a nation that separates church and state.

What, exactly, is hope? You can’t buy anything with it and nobody can prove that it helps you in life. So what is hope?

Hope is an amputee veteran of the war in Iraq who wants to learn to ski. Hope is the cancer victim who won’t give in. Hope keeps the terminally ill calm and the pinned- down platoon together. Hope is the antithesis of despair, the enemy of our darkest fears.

Hope and prayer drive my friend in South Carolina to fight his multiple sclerosis.

Hope is one of those emotions unique to mankind. It sometimes defies reason and fights off evil thoughts of surrender.

Prayer goes hand-in-hand with hope; and America was founded by men deeply governed by their hope and prayer and belief in God.

The Founding Fathers established the United States, wrote the Declaration of Independence; the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; and created a nation firmly rooted in the belief in God and freedom of religion protected by the separation of church and state.

Many of the Founders and their forefathers fled Europe to escape religious prosecution. They wanted this new nation to allow them freedom of religion and thus the very nation is rooted in a belief in God.

The Declaration of Independence starts this way: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, who was called “the firebrand of the American Revolution,” affirmed his obedience to God by stating, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come.”

James Madison, the fourth president, made the following statement, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Madison is often referred to as “The Father of Our Constitution.”

When historians at the University of Houston conducted a 10-year study of the ideas that shaped our republic, they found 94 percent of the Founding Fathers’ quotes in 15,000 documents were based on the Bible.”God created all men equal,” one of the most fundamental and important acclamations of our government, became an underlying reason for the Civil War, a fundamental reason for the Emancipation Proclamation and a keynote of equality ever since.

Every president of the United States is sworn into office, by reciting an oath while he has one hand on the Bible. The oath ends, “So help me God.”

Every session of Congress since 1777 commenced with a prayer by a minister paid by the taxpayers.Every military service of the United States pays uniformed religious ministers for the officers and men in service. These ministers are from all faiths that recognize the importance of God in human life. Nearly every base has a chapel.

The Ten Commandments are carved into the doors of the Supreme Court and appear prominently in the court’s chambers.

Every piece of U.S. currency bears the words “In God We Trust.”

In America, you are even free to start your own religion. Nobody (except possibly the Internal Revenue Service) will interfere, so long as you don’t do anything outside the normal bounds of decent behavior.

So, as we all celebrate the blessings of American freedom, justice and government every day, perhaps we should reflect upon the roots and tenets of our democracy. We are not a Godless people. Or are we?

Yes, our democracy is evolving and we are open and accepting to that evolution. But let us not allow the evolution to turn into a careless revolution or even an unintended erosion of the principles by which we live and we are governed.

I am one of those historians that thinks the Founders were pretty smart. Their belief in God, hope and prayer encourages me every day.

And inauguration day is America’s unique day of hope. Whatever the speech, whoever the president-elect: a key player in every inauguration day is bound to be the Almighty and his right hand man: Hope.

Proud to be An American

July 4, 2007

By John E. Carey
First Published Online: June 23, 2007
Republished on July 4, 2007

Some things we see every day and we take them for granted or pay little or no attention. But by noticing some of the things and news reports in our daily life, we might just get a better appreciation for who we are as a people.

A block or so from my house there is a triangular, yellow street warning sign that reads: “Blind Pedestrian.” My Vietnamese-born wife said one day as we passed: “Only in America.” She said she couldn’t imagine the caring for the safety of one individual in more crowded nations like India, Vietnam or China.

That sign speaks to the importance we put into every single citizen and every single soul.

A news report this week had the headline: “U.S. searching for Iwo Jima Marine.”

The seven-member search team — the first on the island of Iwo Jima in 60 years — is looking for the remains of Sgt. William H. Genaust, who was killed in action after filming the flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi 62 years ago. This is another indicator of the care and love we Americans devote to every life. I am amazed occasionally to read about the discovery and reburial with honors of some soldier lost 100 years ago or more.

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Friday, Feb. 23, 1945. On Monday, June 18, 2007, Japan changed the name of the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, site of the famous World War II battle, to its original name of Iwo To after residents there were prodded into action by two recent Clint Eastwood movies. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal, file)
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The Man with No Name

In Chaleston this week, nine firefighters died in the line of duty trying to save other lives and property not their own. They were all heroes.  Firefighters came from all over this nation to honor those lost and to embrace their families.

Caskets are arranged in a row during a memorial service in North Charleston, S.C. on Friday, June 22, 2007 for the nine firefighters killed in a blaze in Charleston last Monday.

In Ohio this morning, about 600 volunteers turned out to search for a nearly nine months pregnant woman who has gone missing. This is the third day of the search and thousands of strangers have volunteered their time and their effort to find this one lost soul. Ned Davis, the father of 26-year-old Jessie Davis, begged volunteers to continue their efforts –which they were doing without complaint.

And on Friday a U.S. Navy AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense ship, other elements of the Missile Defense Agency’s Missile Defense Sytem and a Spanish Navy AEGIS completed a complex missile defense test including shooting down a ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.

And on Capitol Hill and in the White House this week, the president of a communist country was confronted on his nation’s record on human rights, freedom of religion and repression of dissidents.

This also made me proud to be an American — that our leaders put human rights on the agenda with Vietnam — a situation that obviously caused the Vietnamese communists uneasiness and perhaps “loss of face” or some modicum of shame.

When confronted, President Triet of Vietnam was, according to a Congressman who participated, “evasive.”

Triet told reporters that he and Bush had a “direct and open exchange” on human rights but offered no indications that he intended to do anything as a result of the discussion.

“We are also determined not to let those differences afflict our overall, larger interest,” he said.

President Triet reiterated that his country did not need to improve human rights.

“It’s not a question of improving or not,” Triet said in an interview with The Associated Press, hours after meeting with Bush. “Vietnam has its own legal framework, and those who violate the law will be handled.”

“The Vietnamese laws could not be 100 percent the same as the United States laws, due to the different historical backgrounds and conditions,” Triet said through an interpreter.

“There is a different understanding on this issue.”

President Triet insists upon defending an indefensible and shameful set of practices and conditions in Vietnam. He didn’t even sound convinced of the shameful communist party line himself.

We predict that if Vietnam continues its repressive human rights record, it will suffer a financial toll.

Communist Vietnam’s proven method
of silencing a prisoner.  Father Ly just
before he was removed from court.  He
had no representation at trial.

A word on heroes, American culture, and John Wayne:

“John Wayne reigned as one of Hollywood’s kings for nearly 40 years, and his support of his country’s war efforts — from American settlement of the West to stopping Communism both here and abroad — got him into trouble as the nation’s ideas about patriotism took a sharp turn to the left. …

“[W]hy then is there no John Wayne today? Anyone who surveys the current scene and is old enough to remember the days of the Duke surely knows the answer. The sublime Katharine Hepburn summed it up more eloquently than anyone:

” ‘John Wayne is the hero of the ’30s and ’40s and most of the ’50s. Before the creeps came creeping in. Before — in the ’60s — the hero slid right down into the valley of the weak and the misunderstood. Before the women began dropping any pretense to virginity into the gutter. With a disregard for truth, which is indeed pathetic. And unisex was born. The hair grew long and the pride grew short. And we were off to the anti-hero. John Wayne survived all this.’ ”

Lisa Fabrizio, writing on “The Duke of America,” June 27 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org


Terrorism is Not The West’s Fault

July 4, 2007

Editorial
The Washingon Times
July 4, 2007

The notion that, somehow, the cause of Islamist terrorism is “us,” the West, persists. And so this weekend’s thwarted United Kingdom car bombings have prompted yet another “Why do they hate us?” moment.

The West’s own preferred answer, it seems, must always be some offense we have committed. London Mayor Ken Livingstone thinks Iraq is driving “disaffected young Muslims” to murderous self-immolation, in apparent ignorance or disregard that three of the suspects are medical doctors. The New York Times refers to a “disenfranchised South Asian population” — this, in one of the world’s free democracies. Others finger Salman Rushdie’s knighthood as an incitement of Muslim outrage. Still others say Israel-Palestine. Others, poverty.

How they know this, except that terrorists themselves promote these notions publicly, and except that Muslim opinion generally tends to be negative on such subjects, is never clear. Much clearer is the characteristic these explanations have in common.

“I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy,” explained ex-terrorist Hassan Butt in yesterday’s Daily Mail. “By blaming the Government for our actions, those who pushed this ‘Blair’s bombs’ line did our propaganda work for us.”

Reviewing what actually took place this weekend, none of these explanations wears very well, except as indicators of their expositors’ ideological blinders. What we do know is this: Would-be terrorist killers struck out at Western civilians, scores or hundreds of whom came all too close to being coldly murdered. In Saturday’s case, the targets were ordinary people at an ordinary airport. In Friday’s case, they were late-night revelers and clubgoers not so different from those killed in the 2002 Bali bombings.

The two nightclub bombs were rigged to detonate in a staggered fashion so as to maximize casualties in the street in a hoped-for moment of chaos following the first explosion.

We also know that at least some of the suspects are well-integrated immigrants from the Middle East and South Asia, some working in middle-class or even upper-class jobs. One is a “brilliant” neurologist with the National Health Service, the Daily Mail reports.

There exists a deep urge in the West to look inward, to blame ourselves for Islamist terrorism, for some “root cause.” The terrorists themselves and their abetters are all too happy to indulge this fantasy, which, in the end, says much more about us than it does about the terrorists.

This phenomenon is about more than terrorism. It permeates our relations with much of the Muslim world. As in this recent Reuters dispatch: “U.S. may alienate Muslims over human trade: Malaysia.” It quotes one Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar warning Westerners not to meddle in his country’s poor record on human-trafficking — that is, slavery — on the occasion of a U.S. government human-trafficking report which fingered several majority-Muslim countries. “The U.S. really needs to be friendly to Muslim countries,” he said. Have we now reached a point where our moral objections to slavery are being tempered as “alienating” to some Muslims?

Hot-dog eating champs go eye to eye

July 4, 2007

By LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press Writer
July 4, 2007

NEW YORK – They stood toe to toe, eye to eye, and — most importantly — jaw to injured jaw. Six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi, still unable to open his mouth wide enough for a typical teeth cleaning, joined favorite Joey Chestnut at a Tuesday weigh-in before their Fourth of July hot-dog-eating showdown in Coney Island.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

July 4, 2006: Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi go boca a boca at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, N.Y. Kobayashi won for the sixth consecutive year, setting a world record by eating 53¾ hot dogs in 12 minutes. Chestnut fell just short with 52, but went on to win the contest each of the next two years, and eclipsed Kobayashi’s record by eating 66 dogs in 12 minutes in 2007.
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The Japanese title holder declared himself ready to gorge, dismissing suggestions by skeptics that his stiff jaw was nothing more than hot dog head games aimed at rattling world record holder Chestnut.

“I don’t care what they think,” the 29-year-old said through an interpreter. “I just want to battle tomorrow.”

Since going public with his ailment last month, Kobayashi underwent treatment by a specialist and a chiropractor. Event organizers said he also had a wisdom tooth extracted June 26 to relieve what they described as “jaw-thritis.”

The slender Kobayashi weighed in at 154 pounds. Chestnut, 23, came in at 215 pounds and added his voice to those unsure what to expect from the champion. “Kobayashi is the underdog,” he said, “and he’s claiming an illness.”

The two are among 17 contestants preparing for Wednesday’s eat-off, where the winner must consume the most HDBs — hot dogs and buns. Last month, Chestnut eclipsed Kobayashi’s mark of 53 1/2 in 12 minutes by inhaling 59 1/2.

Urged by photographers to open wide on Tuesday, Kobayashi displayed less than a full range of mandible motion.

That could be good news for Chestnut, who’s favored to end Kobayashi’s record run as holder of the mustard yellow belt presented each Fourth of July outside Nathan’s Famous. Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the pair before they stepped on the scales and engaged in a staredown at City Hall Park.

“Many times … in the annals of sports, the eyes of the world have turned to our great city to watch worthy adversaries square off,” said Bloomberg, tongue in cheek. “What comes to mind is Ali and Frazier, the Yankees and the Mets, the Post and the Daily News.”

And, this year, Kobayashi and Chestnut.

After polishing off seven hamburgers in 10 minutes, 105-pound Sonya Thomas became the reigning Burger Queen of competitive eating.

After polishing off seven hamburgers in 10 minutes, 105-pound Sonya Thomas became the reigning Burger Queen of competitive eating.  Sonya is also called, “The Black Widow.”  Some of her records include:
Jambalaya: 9 Pounds (crawfish) in 10 minutes
Oysters: 46 in 10 minutes
Meatballs: 10 pounds (3-ounce balls) in 12 minutes

Vietnam and China: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

July 3, 2007

By John E. Carey
OnlineOpinion.com
Australia and the World
July 3, 2007

Presidents are often accused of selective blindness. Hero of the US Civil War General U.S. Grant became President of the United States and was considered, by most men of his time including Mark Twain who published the president’s memoirs, an honorable man. Yet Grant filled his government with corrupt and crooked men who almost destroyed him.

In the last century, some leaders hailed Adolph Hitler during the 1930s for building an economic resurgence of miracle proportions in Germany. After 1945, they claimed to deny the holocaust or said that they were just following orders.

The current President of Vietnam, H.E Nguyen Minh Triet, spent last week in the United States transmitting a message of economic prosperity and growth for those that do business with Vietnam. But what he was told, by the President of the United States and several congressional leaders, was that he had to address what Amnesty International has called widespread abuse of human rights in Vietnam. “Harassment and threats against leading dissidents increased and attempts were made to ensure that they could not meet or talk with foreigners,” Amnesty International reported on May 23, 2007.
President Triet didn’t hear any of this.

More than 70 per cent of the US and western media reporters that filed stories on President Triet’s visit to the US discussed the issue of human rights in Vietnam. President Triet and his advisors did not see any of this.

We know this because in the Washington Times, President Triet spelled out his myopic vision of the future for the Vietnam and US relationship. It is a wonderful fantasy of economic wealth not unlike Adolph Hitler’s 1930s promises. It makes no mention of Vietnam’s ugly, largely unseen, repression of religious freedom, denial of free speech and free elections, near genocide of ethnic minorities such as the Hmong, and other human rights abuses like human trafficking.

The President of the United States says he mentioned these abuses to President Triet. But reading President Triet’s account of his trip to the US reveals an additional crime of selective listening.

President Hu Jintao of China suffers from the same psychiatric ailments that inflict President Triet of Vietnam.

President Hu and the rest of China have agreed to be completely oblivious to what President Bush and others in the world community call the genocide in Darfur.

There are a few small glitches, though, in President Hu’s current myopia which Peace and Freedom calls the “Blindness to Darfur” strategy. The UN condemns it. The EU condemns it. NATO condemns it. Everybody condemns it. Both the Canadian Prime Minister and the King of Sweden and his PM spoke to Hu about it in the course of ten days in June 2007. But President Hu is on a course to blow off the entire world, which he has been doing for some time. One small fly in the ointment: Hollywood stars that are starting to refer to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics as the “Genocide Games”.

President Hu has also watched a series of interesting scandals erupt inside China during the last few months.

China has slavery hidden in the outlying regions far from the prying eyes of the western media. Children are used as slaves in mines and in brick making. Child labour is a problem too. Children were found manufacturing Beijing Olympics 2008 memorabilia. China has exported to the United States, and the world, tons of food, pet food and digestible health care products like toothpaste which are laced with poisonous substances prohibited for such uses in the west.

China has brutally subjugated Tibet. China arms terrorists via Iran. China has overtaken all other countries to become the world’s number one polluter.

The list of President Hu’s and China’s embarrassing tactics and practices is growing to become an endless condemnation of the communist system he espouses.

And the two communist regimes of President Triet’s Vietnam and President Hu’s China share many things besides economic prosperity: a lack of freedom of religion, a lack of free elections, a lack of freedom of speech and the media, and a propensity for human abuses including child labour, slavery and human trafficking.

So, like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others like those of us at Peace and Freedom, I just wanted to mention to the myopic leaders of Vietnam and China: the world will not swallow your arrogant lies forever. Human rights are meaningful and important. You cannot trash the earth and abuse your fellow man without consequences.

Even though President Triet of Vietnam and President Hu of China are partially blind; others in the world see fairly well.

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6045

Mike Benge on Vietnam:
‘Big Lie’ lives in Vietnam

See also our Commentary in Asia Times:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/IF27Ae01.html

And in The Washington Times:
http://washingtontimes.com/article/20070622/
COMMENTARY/106220020/1012/commentary

Who Will Sound The Call to Service?

July 2, 2007

By Jeff McCausland
The Washington Post
Monday, July 2, 2007; Page A19

A soldier’s day was once regulated by bugle calls, from morning reveille to chow call at noon to retreat at sunset and taps late at night. Thus the phrase “to answer the bugle call” has been used to describe citizens responding to a national threat. Those who rise to this call to defend their country are the young, and they sacrifice accordingly.

We witnessed this during World War II with my father’s generation. We heard it clearly in the words of John F. Kennedy, who told us to ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country. But we’ve also witnessed serious divisions.

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Our nation has been in a state of war for nearly six years. American forces have been in Iraq for more than four years, a longer commitment than during World War II. A new generation has risen to defend us once again, but strangely this time there has been no bugle call. No leader has made a broad appeal for service in a time of need, and no real request has been made for most Americans to sacrifice in any way. Most of us go about our daily lives unaffected by the trauma and tragedy that occur daily in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether we support the war or oppose it.

But some heard a call and answered. I met a number of them as I traveled to Balad, Iraq, with an air-medical team from Mississippi and California to pick up wounded GIs and Marines and ferry them to the Landstuhl military hospital in Germany and then on to Walter Reed. I met not only these injured but the many others from this generation — doctors, nurses, pilots, air crews — who tended to their needs along the way home. These caregivers are unsung heroes, and they treasure the brotherhood they share with their injured comrades. They perform countless acts of kindness and healing to little public acclaim.

All these men and women are truly extraordinary — the injured and those who care for them. They represent all of America in a mosaic of old and young, male and female, Hispanic, black, Asian, white.

They include a young Minnesota National Guardsman wounded after 14 months in Iraq. His unit had been scheduled to head home but was extended to 15 months. He is 21. Last month he lost both his legs to an explosively formed projectile.

He has a right to be bitter, but he isn’t. Two days after his personal tragedy he laughed with me in the hospital and said that when he was hurt he told his sergeant, “I guess this means I won’t have to take that PT test you scheduled for me.” He did that to keep up the morale of his buddies as they applied the tourniquets that saved his life.

I talked to an intensive care nurse who has been handling severely wounded people for more than five years. As the senior nurse, she stayed with those diagnosed as terminal. She did not want them to die alone, and she placed a personal note with their effects so their families would know that they hadn’t.

There was a soldier who had been blown from his tank by an improvised explosive device that broke his back. He was 37 and had recently joined the active Army. He continued to smile as he lay on a pillowcase decorated with scenes from “Superman” and talked about his buddies. He told me that he was sure that his kids were proud of him.

A trauma surgeon who has been operating and saving lives in Afghanistan and Iraq and at the hospital in Germany since the war began told me how he kept his morale so high: by keeping in mind always that he cared for heroes every day.

This account is not pro-war or anti-war. It is simply about war and the terrible tragedy that it is. The people I had the privilege to meet had several things in common. They all believed they had responded to the bugle call, no matter how faint. None spoke of politics or party. They came even though they did not have to — no one really asked them to — and they represent but a small fraction of their generation.

They have served, suffered, sacrificed and endured. America marks a number of patriotic moments at the onset of summer — Memorial Day, D-Day, the Fourth of July. I hope most of us take time on these days to reflect on those past and present who have sacrificed. Sadly, this reflection should also remind us that this long twilight struggle will continue no matter how the Iraq war turns in the coming months.

If we are to survive as a nation with our values intact, then we must find leaders willing to make the call.

Leaders who will call us to serve each other, to serve in our towns and cities, churches and schools and, if needed, in the military — leaders who will urge us to care for these young veterans and their families in need of our help for many years to come.

This coming together to meet a challenge has always been one of our nation’s greatest strengths, and we need that strength now.

Jeff McCausland, a retired Army colonel, is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and a visiting professor at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. He commanded an artillery battalion during the Gulf War in 1991.

To all: Happy 4th of July.