Saturday, May 28, 2016

John Pilger: 


From Vietnam to Hiroshima:
America’s Blood-Soaked Footprints

May 23, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

On May 22, President Obama will have arrived in Vietnam, and on May 26 or 27, he’ll visit Hiroshima, Japan. But he’s not going to apologize for the towering crimes the U.S. committed in both places. Instead, he’s touring Asia to firm up U.S. alliances with Vietnam, Japan, and other countries in the region in order to contend with the U.S.’s rival, China, and maintain U.S. imperialism’s dominance of the Asia-Pacific region.
While Obama is covering up U.S. crimes, in this issue we’re highlighting two of America’s most towering crimes: the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the My Lai massacre, part of a war of massacres in Vietnam. And we’ll pay tribute to one American soldier who courageously repudiated the Vietnam War, Green Beret Master Sergeant Donald W. Duncan, and the role played by Bob Avakian in bringing Duncan’s story to light.

American Crime

American Crime is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

Case #97:

August 6, 1945—The Nuclear Incineration of Hiroshima

THE CRIME: At 8:15 am, on August 6, 1945, a blazing, million-degree fireball suddenly appeared just above the Japanese city of Hiroshima, instantly killing, burning alive, or vaporizing tens of thousands. Firestorms engulfed the city. Shockwaves and winds over 1,000 miles an hour came next, shattering bodies and buildings, hurling men, women, and children through the air. Nearly all structures were destroyed over a mile from ground zero... 
Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima
Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.

Case #96:
Vietnam, March 16, 1968—
The My Lai Massacre

My Lai massacre
My Lai massacre. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
THE CRIME: On Saturday morning, March 16, 1968, 100 soldiers from Charlie Company, U.S. Army Americal Division, entered and took over My Lai, a small hamlet in Vietnam’s countryside. “We met no resistance and I only saw three captured weapons... It was just like any other Vietnamese village-old papa-sans, women and kids,” a soldier said... 

Remembering Donald W. Duncan:
From Gung-Ho Green Beret to Outspoken Opponent of U.S. Crimes in Vietnam

The death of Donald W. Duncan, a former Green Beret turned outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, at 79, was noted on May 6 in a major New York Times obituary, which called him “one of the first returning veterans to portray the war as a moral quagmire” and a “fierce critic of the war” which he called barbaric and illegal. Duncan actually died in 2009, but his death only came to national attention recently...
The fact that Duncan died in obscurity is itself a condemnation of this system. Duncan should have been celebrated for his contributions. What should also be known, as a critical part of his story, is the role played by Bob Avakian (BA) in helping to make this happen.



Saturday, May 07, 2016

More than just the death of fish
Authorities collects fish samples for test in the central region. — VNA/VNS Photo Trần Tĩnh


"...What I witnessed was a wave of anger (which is understandable)... Finding the cause of the massive fish death and imposing strict punishments if violations of environmental regulations are discovered is definitely important. It must be done. But it needs to be done in a professional way, with the participation of those specialised in that field..."


More than just the death of fish

Update: April, 28/2016 - 10:42
By Thu Vân

Over the past three weeks, the incidents of massive fish die-off along Việt Nam’s central coastal provinces, and the reactions from concerned parties have been pretty upsetting to me. Of course, I have to say that what is happening to nature and its consequences for local residents whose livelihoods depend so much on the sea is a disaster. But as a reporter, I tend to first take a look at how the incident has been reported to readers.

What I witnessed was a wave of anger (which is understandable), and then, something almost like an accusation of the Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa for causing the incident, even before any official scientific proof is provided.

Local media coverage has been making guesses about the possibility of a 1.5km wastewater pipeline that runs directly from Formosa’s multibillion-dollar steel plant in Hà Tĩnh Province discharging untreated wastewater into the ocean.

Some reporters tried diving under the water to take a look at the wastewater pipeline. Others conducted tests to show people that fish died some minutes after being put into water taken from the sea near the factory.

Stories on Facebook were shared, liked and commented on with rapid speed. Everybody is talking about it, blaming Formosa for it, and asking the company to leave Viet Nam. It also seems to me that everybody has decided that Formosa is the culprit in this case.

This reminds me of my education in journalism. I remember well the words of one of my professors who said, “The true calling of the job is to simply to inform without bias or favour.” It is a constant search to arrange the varied aspects of an argument and present them, not according to your own judgment of right or wrong, but for the consideration of others.

Finding the cause of the massive fish death and imposing strict punishments if violations of environmental regulations are discovered is definitely important. It must be done. But it needs to be done in a professional way, with the participation of those specialised in that field.

In a meeting yesterday between relevant ministries and scientists, which was the first meeting about the case between central and local managing bodies and scientists, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment told the media that they had identified two possible groups of causes for the massive death of fish recently. 

The first potential cause is the impact of poisonous chemical substances discharged by humans from the mainland or in the sea. The second possible cause is an abnormal natural phenomenon combined with human impacts, resulting in a phenomenon called "water bloom" or "red tide". They also said that to date, there’s no evidence to prove that there’s a connection between Formosa and other factories and the massive fish death.

That might be a disappointment for those who have been waiting for the promised conclusion. But I agree that before we can come to a conclusion, we need to know exactly what poisonous heavy metals, if any, caused the fish to die? Where did these factors come from? Who is responsible for it? All these questions need to be answered with scientific tests and evidence, not guesses and suspicion. In the meantime, what reporters can do is report in a balanced and unbiased manner, and not act as opinion makers.

What else I see is that while the cause still remains unknown, the spreading of such suspicions has already had sad consequences. Fishermen are not going offshore to fish during this time because no one will buy their fish, and tourists have been canceling their trips to these provinces. You can all imagine how difficult it is for them now. Now what caused this, if not for the unproven guesses that the mass media has been spreading over the past weeks?

A friend of mine, a Vietnamese scientist who is living in the US, said while warnings to people are essential, only specific data can be used as evidence.

Government reaction

What upsets me more about this is the reaction from the Government. In fact, we didn’t see any reaction at all in the first two weeks after information about the massive fish death went public.

As the fish started dying, the Government had no reaction, and thus the mass media has been “guiding” public opinion. However, fish have been dying in massive numbers in many other countries since March this year. Sixty-five tonnes of fish have died in the waters of Kampong Thom, Cambodia, 40 tonnes of fish have died in a lake in Nalgonda district, India, 70 tonnes of dead fish were found in a river in Magdalena Department, Colombia, 4,000 tonnes of sardines washed up in Araucania, Chile, and the list goes on. These countries have been working to find out the cause, as well.

When the fish died, the local authorities did not act promptly enough to clean up the beaches. It was only until April 24 that the Government started to call on scientists to work on the case, and called for support for affected local residents. Too much time has been wasted.

Only until yesterday, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province became the first to announce the cause of mass fish deaths in its area - but still not the specific one. Local authorities blamed a strong toxic substance in water.

Deputy director of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment , Nguyễn Hữu Quyết, said at the meeting that the water samples taken from local sea showed that the level of Ammonium and Chromium all excess legal levels. ​This is an incident that should ring alarm bells for both the Vietnamese Government and the people in other aspects.

Throughout the proceedings of this case, we realised that the Government has a rather loose management of wastewater treatment. Reports showed that while Formosa did have a wastewater treatment system, local authorities had no way of ensuring the system was working properly. All we have is a commitment to do good for the environment! As much as I protest the environmental problems that multinational companies like Formosa cause their host countries, I truly hope they have been acting according with their commitments - because if not, the consequences might be terrible and mind-blowing.

We also need to take a look at the capability of our domestic scientific institutions. Why does it take so long for results to become available? Why don’t we have an independent institution that can act promptly without waiting for permission or for proof that they have the right idea? After all, what we all need is to find the cause of the fish death so that we can figure out our next steps – not simply the wish to punish someone for our own satisfaction.

After all, if Việt Nam wants to grow green, its leaders really need to sit back and consider what Chou Chun-fan, Formosa Hà Tĩnh’s external relations manager, told the State-run VTC14 television channel: “You cannot have both. You need to choose whether to catch fish and shrimp or to build a state-of-the-art steel mill.”

After all, we shouldn’t have to wait for such a massive fish die-off to raise the problems of environmental degradation. We should have been tackling it long before. But it’s better late than never. Balancing between economic development and guarding the environment has never been easy – our leaders need to choose. They can choose to be brave enough to address an arising problem before it becomes a true crisis.

And the people also need to make a choice today. Have you been teaching your children to use reusable bags and love nature? Have you been switching off the lights as you leave a room? Have you been classifying your waste? It all starts with the small stuff. — VNS





Vietnam's environmental disaster has killed at least 100 tons of fish: official
Thanh Nien News, HANOI - Friday, May 06, 2016 16:40


Taiwanese firm still under scrutiny as Vietnam tries to solve fish kill disaster
Thanh Nien News HANOI - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 15:23
http://www.thanhniennews.com/…/taiwanese-firm-still-under-s…


A working team of the environment ministry inspects the wastewater treatment facility of Formosa steel company in Ha Tinh Province on April 28, 2016. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre



Sea turns red in Vietnamese province where fish died en masse
TUOI TRE NEWS, UPDATED : 05/04/2016 16:10 GMT + 7
http://tuoitrenews.vn/…/sea-turns-red-in-vietnamese-provinc…

The red seawater is seen at a beach in Quang Binh Province, located in north-central Vietnam, on May 4, 2016.  Tuoi Tre



Taiwanese chemical spill thought to cause mass fish die-off in Vietnam
3rd May 2016 / David Brown. The incident is shaping up as a classic conflict between industrialization and the environment, a catastrophe for tens of thousands of fishermen and their families, and a test of the management skills and political acumen of Vietnam’s new leaders.
https://news.mongabay.com/…/taiwanese-chemical-spill-thoug…/


A villager shows dead sea fish he collected on a beach in Phu Loc district, in the central province of Thua Thien Hue. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Vietnam investigates mass fish deaths
Authorities are looking into whether pollution is to blame for a spate of mysterious mass fish deaths along the country’s central coast
http://www.theguardian.com/…/vietnam-investigates-mass-fish…


Taiwanese firm exec makes shocking remarks over Vietnam's environmental disaster
Thanh Nien News, HA TINH - Tuesday, April 26, 2016 13:13
http://www.thanhniennews.com/…/taiwanese-firm-exec-makes-sh…

The sewage pipe from Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Company going to the sea. Photo: Nguyen Dung/Thanh Nien




DEVELOPING: Something Is Killing Life All Over The Pacific Ocean… 
March 27, 2016
(by Michael Snyder, ACTIVIST POST) — Why is there so much death and disease among sea life living near the west coast of North America right now? Could the hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water that are being released into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day have anything to do with it?... 
…Right now, massive numbers of fish and sea creatures are dying in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, independent tests have shown that significant levels of cesium-137 are in a very high percentage of the fish that are being caught in the Pacific and sold in North America. 
Could this have anything to do with the fact that the largest nuclear disaster in the history of mankind has been constantly releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean for more than two years? I don’t know about you, but to me this seems to be a question that is worth asking.
http://guardianofhealth.com/…/developing-something-is-kill…/



Wednesday, May 04, 2016

HANDS OFF SYRIA
Syria: Five Years of War
Seminar at the University of Sydney, 17 March 2016
f
VIDEOS


Tim Anderson - Syria: Five Years of War

Jasmine Saadat - Syria: Five Years of War

Jay Tharappel - Syria: Five Years of War

Sam Saadat (1/2) - Syria: Five Years of War

Sam Saadat (2/2) - Syria: Five Years of War 






April 27, 2016

Greetings!


As we approach the one year anniversary of the "Vietnam: Power of Peace" conference in Washington last May 1-2, we wanted to provide an update to participants and signers of the letter protesting the Pentagon's commemoration project:

1)    Videos from the conference have been posted on youtube and can be see here:  http://tinyurl.com/vpccvideo
They were only posted ten days ago with no promotion but have already been accessed in Canada, Japan, France, Austria, Mexico, Hong Kong, Germany, Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom, as well as in the United States.
You will see that the quality ranges from professional to amateur and there are some sessions missing.  The plenaries are in best shape.  With appropriate equipment and technical help, we may be able to improve the sound and appearance of invaluable miniplenaries and small group discussions.  If you made your own video or audio tape that is better or fills a gap, please contact Paul Ryderpryder888@gmail.com
[Also please respect that these videos are provided for personal, research or classroom use only and no authorization for commercial purposes or reproduction is given or implied.]
2)    Terry Provance is our liaison with the official Pentagon commemoration staff.  The misleading web site time line that led to our protest letter is still posted.  We have been assured that a new version is done and has been sent to credible independent scholars for review.  The revision is promised for this spring.  It is said to take account of the many criticisms of the site but is not expected to satisfy them all.   http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/timeline/

3)    Tom Hayden has been working with conference speaker Rep. Barbara Lee on a Congressional resolution (H.R. 695) that gives long overdue recognition to the anti-war movement.  You can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/VNpeace and read about it herehttps://davidcortright.net/2016/04/25/a-tribute-to-the-antiwar-movement/

Ask your Representative to cosponsor the resolution by contacting Diala Jadallah, Legislative Director of Rep. Barbara Lee [CA-13]

4)    David Cortright is leading our dialog with staff of the museum and curriculum projects of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to be sure the perspective of the anti-war movement is incorporated into its outreach to visitors and supporters of the Wall.  (An edited volume with most of the papers from the academic gathering that preceded our conference has been submitted by David to a publisher and is now under review.)

5)    John McAuliff is preparing for a third delegation of anti-war activists to Indochina (optionally plus family members and friends), with a special emphasis on new regional threats to Vietnam's peace and independence.   It could be as early as July but will most likely take place in the fall, according to interest and availability.  Contact jmcauliff@ffrd.org

6)    Thanks to the generosity of many of you, as well as of the Center for International Policy, Rendezvous Consulting Group and Fenton Communications, we have eliminated the conference debt.  Additional tax deductible contributions are welcome to upgrade and promote the conference videos as well as to employ consultants to engage on our behalf with the official Pentagon commemoration and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  Donate here. 


7)    Longer term, we are strongly interested institutional partnerships and grants to create a permanent web site that will offer to the anti-war movement an on-line home for an enduring record of our personal experiences and for reflections on historical meaning.  Such a resource currently exists for the civil rights movement at www.crmvet.org hosted by Tougaloo College.

It does not take too close a reading of the daily media to know that issues of war and peace are omnipresent, and the lessons of the Vietnam experience are being obscured or forgotten.  As we saw last year at our conference in Washington and, prior to that, in the signers of the letter challenging the Pentagon's 50 year anniversary commemoration, our need to speak truth to power has not ended, nor are our abilities to do so.
We look forward to staying in contact.
Continuations Committee
Ira Arlook
Heather Booth
David Cortright
Tom Hayden
John McAuliff
Terry Provance
Collateral activities
April 26-28, Austin, Texas, The Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library, with presentations by VPCC participants Tom Hayden and Marilyn Young   http://www.vietnamwarsummit.org/

April 28-30, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, The People Make the Peace, a symposium with presentations by VPCC participants Judy Gumbo, Doug Hostetter, Frank Joyce and John McAuliff   http://www.macalester.edu/news/2016/03/macalester-to-host-symposium-april-28-30-on-the-vietnam-antiwar-movement/
May 2-3, Mayday Tribe 45th Anniversary Reunion, Washington DC o with presentations by VPCC participants Carole Cullum and Judy Gumbo  http://www.maydaytribe71.org/ 


Ongoing resources
Vietnam Full Disclosure (Veterans for Peace)  http://vietnamfulldisclosure.org/
War Legacies Project    http://warlegacies.org/
Zinn Education Project    http://zinnedproject.org/?s=Vietnam+War

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Postal donations to VPCC

Checks should be made payable to our fiscal agent, the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, and mailed to:  64 Jean Court, Riverhead, New York  11901 (or donate online here)

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