17:03′ 30/10/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: HA 940543 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này
Four volunteers from the Institute for International Relations pose for a picture after a rehearsal for the APEC gala dinner on Oct 26 (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

VietNamNet Bridge – During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Ha Noi in November, 500 young volunteers from various universities will become roving ambassadors for their country by catering to the needs of the visiting politicians and journalists. For the volunteers, it will be their first real shot at practicing serious diplomacy.


What is the food called “hana” like? What are the salient features of the Jakarta Post and Media Indonesia? Exactly what time will Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will arrive in Vietnam?

These are the sort of things that Le Viet Phuong, a student at the Institute for International Relations, is busy discovering these days.

“I was assigned to be a liaison officer for Indonesia’s press delegation, so I have to gather loads of information about their country,” Phuong said.

“It would be a great shame to accompany them yet know little about them, so I’m preparing myself thoroughly, even brushing up on my knowledge of Ha Noi and Vietnam.”

Phuong is not an exception; each and every one of the volunteers is making an all-out effort to be ready for the big day.

As a liaison officer for the head of the Australian delegation, Nguyen Minh Tram is the envy of her friends.

She too attends the Institute for International Relations and has a good command of English and a decent knowledge of Australian culture, history and customs.

During rehearsal for the gala dinner at the National Conference Center on October 26, she looked charming in her ao dai even with her diplomatic airs.

She said confidently: “At IIR, we studied various cultures in the world and took part in some big events such as the Asia-Europe Meeting, the Southeast Asian Games and the first Senior Officials Meeting. So I think I am ready for this event.”


The rehearsal concluded successfully for all 100 or so of the young volunteers. Said one of them: “I feel more mature. This event is very meaningful to me. I have searched on the Internet and learned from my teachers and some diplomats as well. It is really a great opportunity for a would-be diplomat like me”.

These young and dynamic volunteers, who represent the spirit of Vietnamese youth, want to promote Vietnam among the international community.

The leader of the volunteers assigned to the APEC CEO Summit is Tran Nguyen Ngoc Tu, who told reporters: “We have learned much about APEC and the trade partners that the delegations will be meeting on this occasion. We now know how best to serve them. It sure is a great chance to promote Vietnam”.

“The reception for the CEO Summit guests in Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Vietnam’s first university) should be really impressive. Our volunteers will introduce many national features such as the handicraft villages and traditional forms of art. They will also give a brief presentation on Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam and some of its famous scholars.

“The opportunity is too wonderful to pass up”, Tu exclaimed.


(Source: SGGP, TT)


Carin Zissis, Staff Writer

October 30, 2006


More than three decades after a communist offensive reunified Vietnam, the party’s hold on power and civil society remains unchallenged. But twenty years of liberal economic reforms have brought sweeping changes and foreign investment to a nation characterized by increasing industrialization and a reduction in poverty. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is poised to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November. Despite improved relations with the United States since the two countries normalized relations during theClinton administration, a holdup in the U.S. Congress could stall Hanoi’s full accession into the WTO.

What is the current status of Vietnam’s economy?

Vietnam’s economy has thrived in recent years. Indeed, China was the only Asian country to outpace the 8.4 percent growth of Vietnamese GDP in 2005—a small spike in Hanoi’s 7.5 percent average GDP growth over the past decade. The flourishing economy has drastically improved life expectancy, and the poverty rate dropped by almost two-thirds between 1993 and 2004. Hanoi’s economic boom dates to 1995, when Vietnam normalized relations with the United States and joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Despite the Communist Party of Vietnam’s continued grip over the country’s politics, central planning has given way to a market-based economic system and a marked decrease in the number of state-owned enterprises. After eleven years of negotiations, the WTO plans to endorse Hanoi ’s accession bid in a November 7 meeting.

What does WTO accession mean for Vietnam?

With a population of 84 million, Vietnam is the second most populous country behind Russia not yet in the WTO. As a member, it will benefit from elimination of quotas limiting textile exports to the United States and Europe. In exchange for membership, Hanoi has agreed to certain concessions including removal of its subsidies and massive tariffs protecting certain industries, such as shoe manufacturers. The European Union imposed antidumping duties—assessed when a country exports a product at a lower price than what it charges domestically—on Vietnam’s shoe imports in October to protest Hanoi’s subsidies of that industry. Representatives of the U.S. textile industry have warned that Vietnamese WTO accession will threaten American jobs because of a flood of cheap clothes into the United States.

Are there obstacles to Vietnam’s WTO accession?

Yes. The main obstacle to full WTO membership is a U.S. Congressional delay in granting Vietnam Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) (PDF), also know as “Most-Favored Nation” (MFN) status. In May 2006, Washington and Hanoi signed a bilateral market access deal, the last of twenty-eight trade agreements Vietnam had to negotiate with the other WTO members to gain membership. Although these types of trade agreements do not normally necessitate approval from Congress, the president is currently barred from granting Vietnam PNTR status because it is a communist state prohibited from such status under a 1974 trade act.

Congress must enact legislation to remove this barrier, but U.S. lawmakers—in particular Senators Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC)—initially argued that granting PNTR to Vietnam could harm domestic textile manufacturers. Dole and Graham have now agreed to consent to Hanoi’s permanent status based on a promise from the U.S. Commerce department to monitor Vietnamese imports and launch antidumping measures if deemed necessary. U.S. apparel importers in turn charge that such an agreement would not only hurt American investment in Vietnam’s textile industry, but also change how antidumping cases are raised in the United States because the Commerce department does not typically initiate such actions.

Another obstacle is the detention of an American citizen,Thuong Nguyen “Cuc” Foshee, held without charge as a terrorist suspect in Vietnam. Security officials detained Foshee, a Florida resident and member of a U.S.-based activist group opposed to Hanoi’s communist government, while she was vacationing in Vietnam last year. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), a supporter of anti-communist campaigns, said he will block approval of Vietnam gaining PNTR because of her imprisonment.

If Congress fails to grant PNTR status, Vietnam will become a WTO member. However, WTO rules would not apply to its trade with the United States.

What is fueling the Vietnamese economic boom?

  • A shift from agriculture to manufacturing. Agriculture’s role in the economic output of an increasingly industrialized Vietnam decreased from 25 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2005. But exports of coffee, tea, and pepper have soared in recent years. And Vietnamese fish exports grew by 12 percent in the past year, despite antidumping actions taken by the U.S. and Japanese fishing industries. Aside from making shoes and apparel, Vietnamese manufacturing of electronic goods is on the rise because of large investments from companies such as Intel and Canon, the latter of which built the world’s largest laser printer factory in northernVietnam. The result is a growing number of high-end goods. “Vietnam’s not producing things you’re going to find in dollar stores,” says Robert K. Brigham, a Vietnam expert at Vassar College.
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI). The government has eased limits on foreign ownership of businesses, and Vietnam’s cheap land and low wages, even in comparison to China’s, attract foreign investors. As FDI rises—it increased by 41 percent to $5.8 billion in 2005—the number of state-owned enterprises shrinks, down from 5,600 in 2001 to 3,200 in 2005. The United States accounted for about $3.9 billion in FDI in 2005, up from $2.1 the previous year.
  • Remittances. Some 3 million Vietnamese live outside the country, and they sent a record number or remittances—over $4 billion—home in 2005. As much as 70 percent of these resources flow from the United States.

What is the history of economic reform in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s economic transformation results in large part from a policy initiated twenty years ago called Doi Moi, which roughly translates as “renovation” and involved agricultural decollectivization and liberalization of the economy, even as the country remained under one-party, communist rule. Adam J. Fforde, director of Asian studies at the University of Melbourne, says “the central planning project never really worked” and economic shocks in the late 1970s drove the country toward commercialization. Nguyen Van Linh initiated reform in 1986 when he took power as party leader, marking a departure from the Soviet-style economic policies under the previous leader, Le Duan. Doi Moi had little effect initially because “until Vietnam was out of Cambodia there was no way they were going to get access to the international economic community,” says Frederick Z. Brown, a Southeast Asia expert at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Hanoi withdrew from Cambodia in 1989, ten years after it invaded and toppled the Khmer Rouge, and in 1992 adopted a new constitutionreaffirming the market-oriented goals of Doi Moi. Washington lifted its trade embargo against the communist country in 1994, more than two decades after U.S. troops pulled out of Vietnam at the end of their Cold War-era conflict there. It established normal diplomatic relations a year later, which Brown describes as “key” to opening up Vietnam’s economy.

How are U.S.-Vietnam trade relations?

Strong, despite the U.S. delay in approving Vietnam’s PNTR status. In the past five years, trade has grown between Washington and Hanoi by 400 percent, and the United States is Vietnam ’s biggest importer, accounting for over 20 percent of Hanoi’s exports. U.S. imports of Vietnamese goods increased by 25 percent between 2004 and 2005. Economic relations have grown concurrently with improved political relations. President Bill Clinton paid a historic visit to Vietnam in 2000, and the two countries signed a trade agreement in 2001 to normalize their bilateral trade status.

How are Vietnam’s relations with China?

Beijing and Hanoi had a diplomatic falling out in the 1970s, when they fought a brief warwith one other. Their relations, normalized since 1991, continue to recover, despite a continuing territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands. While the United States is Vietnam’s largest importer, China is its largest exporter, accounting for over 12 percent of its imports in 2003 and holding a $2.8 billion trade surplus with Hanoi in 2005.

The current state of Vietnam’s trade with China and the United States places it in a somewhat delicate triangular relationship. “The Vietnamese government needs to have the capacity to run around that triangle,” says Fforde, explaining that Hanoi getting too cozy to either country makes the other one uncomfortable.

What barriers exist for Vietnam’s economic growth?

“The elephant in the room is corruption,” says Brown. Vietnam was rocked by corruption scandals in early 2006, when senior officials were investigated for involvement in the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars of state funds from the transport ministry. Nong Duc Manh, the communist party’s secretary general and most powerful Vietnamese official, retained control despite his son-in-law’s position as a boss at the agency. By June, a power shake-up brought in Nguyen Tan Dung as prime minister and Nguyen Minh Triet as president. Dung was brought in partially because of his tough stance on corruption.

The fact that senior officials were exposed in a corruption scandal is an arguably positive result of a new law passed in 2005, which holds state agency directors responsible for corruption control and which allows for monitoring of civil servants’ assets. WTO accession could also help fight corruption and loosen state control in Vietnam because state firms will have greater difficulty getting loans from local banks to support state enterprises as a result of WTO bans on subsidies and monopolies.


A Sa Pa resort developed by American Technologies Inc is managed by Dinh Duc Huu, an overseas Vietnamese man from the US. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI — The first industrial zone for Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) is to be set up in a bid to help overseas Vietnamese develop business opportunities in Viet Nam from the country’s WTO entry, asserted Chairman of HCM City’s Overseas Vietnamese Business Association Phan Thanh.

Covering an area of 337ha in Cu Chi District in HCM City, the Overseas Vietnamese Industrial Zone with an investment of US$50 million, is expected to mainly attract overseas Vietnamese businesses in fields such as information technology, electronics and electricity when fully operational by the end of 2007.

The industrial zone’s operation will play an important role as an effective bridge to bring overseas Vietnamese investors back to their homeland, Thanh said.

The proposal of the construction zone has been received with much support and investment from overseas Vietnamese worldwide, he added, saying that they were eager to have a permanent opportunity for investment and business in their native land.

Now is the right time to build an industrial zone like this as it will initiate a new wave of investment from overseas Vietnamese giants with a great source of reserved capital, Thanh confirmed.

Many overseas Vietnamese enterprises have been paying a lot of attention to Viet Nam’s admission to the WTO. They were surprised at the country’s strong growth rate and look to come back to Viet Nam with the hopes of contributing to their native country and tapping money making opportunities, Thanh added.

To date, there are 15 overseas Vietnamese registered to operate in the zone, even though it is still pending construction.

Additionally, the association is preparing to establish an overseas commercial Vietnamese investment bank of which capital will be mobilised mostly by overseas Vietnamese. Together, the bank and the industrial zone will co-operate to develop and assist overseas Vietnamese businesses’ performance more efffectively.

However, overseas Vietnamese investment will likely be limited due to information obstacles. They still have little understanding of information in the economic environment as well as lacking luring investment policies, Thanh expressed.

At present, while the number of information channels of the government, bodies, sectors and associations have been expanded, they are still far behind that of other countries in the region, as well as all over the world.

Therefore, the expansion of information in developing countries calls for further investment, and is the most necessary work at the time being, he assured. — VNS

The zone is expected to be a bridge to link to not only overseas Vietnamese businesses, but also foreign investors worldwide to the flourishing country, stated Thanh. — VNS

by Huu Ngoc

Not so long ago, Vietnamese people fathered by foreigners were generally treated with disdain. This was particularly true of the countless children brought into being by members of the French and American armies during the two long wars that rocked the country for three decades of the last century.

Children of mixed parentage had to live virtually like aliens in a society still tainted by racial prejudices that were a natural result of an instinct for self-preservation, entrenched parochial views and suspicion of all things foreign borne out of centuries of political and economic domination by outside forces.

Kim Lefevre had a very unhappy childhood because she was half-French. She was born shortly before the end of World War II and abandoned by her father, a military man who returned to his native country. Kim’s mother came from a landed family in Nam Dinh Province. She ran away from home and married the Frenchman, who later deserted her.

At the age of six, Kim was placed in an orphanage in Ha Noi while her mother went south to seek a living. After the Revolution of August 1945, she was reunited with her mother, who was by this time remarried and living in Cho Lon, Sai Gon.

Kim went to school again and obtained a scholarship that enabled her to get a doctorate degree in literature in France.

In her Metisse Blanche (Bernard Barrault, Paris 1989), Kim recalls her mother’s self-sacrifice in providing for her education and the selfless assistance that a Catholic sister gave her during her college years.

But she remembers with great bitterness her triple misfortune of being female, an orphan and a “half-caste”. She once heard her uncle say to her mother: “Your bosom is nourishing a viper. Her kind knows nothing of gratitude.” One primary-school teacher treated Kim with particular harshness, as if blaming her for the on-going French aggression. There were times when Kim cursed her French half, but in moments of lucidity she realised that she was only a victim of a people who had been victimised by colonialism. Over time, having matured in age and mind, and with a heart full of love, Kim returned not long ago for a visit to Viet Nam, her Viet Nam, the country of her mother.

Another such woman who does not forget where she comes from despite everything is Ngoc Anh, who lives in Garland, Texas, USA.

In a story carried on the community paper Viet Bao in California early this year, this 40-year-old Vietnamese-American tells how she revoked her “tearful” years from 1957 to 1990, particularly the period immediately after the end of the American War. At primary school she was bullied for her stiff hair and punished again and again for fighting back.

Ngoc Anh’s misery did not end even with Washington’s decision to grant citizenship to children fathered by Americans during the war. At a third-country transit camp for refugees, she was the object of distrust by old-timers, who unjustly thought that half-breeds were “natural thieves”.

After years of a happy life with her husband and her children in the United States, Ngoc Anh still longs for the place of her birth.

She misses the croaking of frogs in the paddies, the cooing of cuckoos on moonlit nights, the soothing lullabies mothers sing to their babies swinging in a hammock.

She declares with candidness: “I hate anyone speaking ill of the Vietnamese people even though I am physically not like them at all.” — VNS

Las Vegas goes Asian

October 30, 2006


Taking their cue from Macao’s gambling boom, the city’s casinos and tourism officials are chasing the new high rollers as never before.

By Kimi Yoshino
Times Staff Writer

9:34 PM PDT, October 28, 2006

Alan Tam is playing Vegas these days. Never heard of him? Some say he’s a Chinese Mick Jagger. Comedian Crocket performed over the summer at Caesars Palace. He’s the Robin Williams of Japan.

In almost every way, Las Vegas is catering to Asians, offering Asian entertainers, high-stakes baccarat tournaments and rice congee by room service. The festivities and decorations for Chinese New Year have become second only to those for New Year’s Eve.

Hoteliers and tourism officials have chased Pacific Rim high rollers for years, and the effort is intensifying. Korean Air last month began nonstop flights three times a week from Seoul to Las Vegas. Many of those flights are expected to draw travelers from China.

In part, Vegas is reacting to the success of gaming in Macao — and hoping to capitalize on it. The Chinese territory’s 22 casinos, with their proximity to the sheer wealth and population of China, are viewed as competitors and appetizers for Vegas’ allure. This year casino gambling revenue in Macao is expected to edge past that of Las Vegas. Each locale brings in more than $6.5 billion.

“There’s no question in our minds that as more and more Chinese customers experience Macao, their natural curiosity is going to make them find out what the major leagues are like in Las Vegas,” said MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman. (An MGM Grand is scheduled to open in Macao in 2007.)

“If you go to Macao and you really like it, the next thing on your list is going to be to come to Vegas.”

As tourism markets go, China is a jackpot in the making. Within five to 10 years, overseas travel will lure an estimated 100 million Chinese annually, a figure that will dwarf every other market in the world, tourism officials said.

In preparation, Nevada has been greasing the wheels overseas. It was the first tourism destination to be issued a license to advertise in China, and four tourism commission staffers are based in Beijing. Last year the state spent $100,000 on advertisements in Asian airline magazines.

Vegas-based tour operator David Huang, owner of Chinese Hosts Inc., says he shuttles about 100 Asians a day to the Grand Canyon, with dozens of others taking tours of the Strip and Arches National Park in Utah.

“For China, in their mentality, this is the ultimate destination,” Huang said.

On one recent night, Huang’s company chauffeured two busloads of tourists — most of them Asian — on a tour of Vegas after dark, hitting all the glitzy, tacky, over-the-top attractions that many had seen only in the movies. They watched the volcano explode at the Mirage, the “Masquerade Show in the Sky” at the Rio, the fountains at the Bellagio and the campy Fall of Atlantis at Caesars Palace.

“We’ve heard so much about this place,” said Elisa Laurente, 55, traveling with her husband from the Philippines. “We wanted to see for ourselves how Las Vegas is. It’s beautiful. It’s simply awesome.”

Friends Stephanie Liu and Matilda Tai, both 26 and from Taiwan, took in the same night tour after a full day of shopping.

They had spent hundreds of dollars each on Coach purses — two of them — clothes from Gap and souvenirs. Liu said she had “no budget.”

“I’ll play the slot machines, maybe,” Liu said. “That’s the easy one. I will win all the money I spend.”

Las Vegas casinos, restaurants and other tourism-reliant businesses are welcoming visitors like Liu and Tai. “There is a very widespread awakening to the value of the Asian market to our tourism-based economy,” said Chris Chrystal of the Nevada Commission on Tourism. “They stay longer and they like to spend money.”

To better cater to visitors from China, many Vegas operators are taking cues from their ventures in Macao, which are drawing crowds of visitors by ferry from Hong Kong.

Vegas hotels have hired chefs from Hong Kong to serve up authentic dishes. Even room-service menus are starting to reflect the desires of the diverse customer base, offering rice congee and dim sum alongside hamburgers and turkey clubs. There are a multitude of Asian restaurants to choose from, where waiters are more comfortable speaking Mandarin or Cantonese than English.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the first Western operator in Macao, opened the Sands casino in 2004, and a Venetian is slated for completion next fall.

“I’ve been to Asia a dozen times or so,” said Ron Reese, spokesman for the Venetian. “Sometimes I’ve landed in Macao and all I’ve wanted is a cheeseburger. They may want dim sum … and we’re able to provide that” in Las Vegas.

The Venetian in Vegas boasts seven Asian-language television stations in every room and same-day delivery of several Asian newspapers. On the gaming side, the casino opened a high-end baccarat salon. It is stocked with 100 types of tea, rather than dozens of beers on tap.

“A traditional gaming experience for an American may be to sit down and have a Budweiser,” Reese said. “We’ve obviously found out through our operations in Macao that Asians prefer not to drink alcoholic beverages while they’re playing. They enjoy a good tea.”

The Venetian’s exclusive Paiza Club, which opened last year, has an Asian theme, including dragon statues and other art. The high-roller suites even have a karaoke room complete with flashing lights, microphones and a curved lounge-style couch.

“Compared to what this room would have been, I bet you would have been hard-pressed to find daily delivered Chinese newspapers, Chinese programming on TV and dragons on the backs of chairs,” Reese said. “Certainly there’s a different feel and atmosphere than Las Vegas five years ago.”


Iraq vs. Vietnam

October 30, 2006

Myth vs. Reality

It is sad and disturbing the number of people I have heard maintain that the war in Iraq is “just like Vietnam.” It’s not just moonbats, either. If it was, it would be easy to dismiss them out of hand. I’ve heard the comparison lamented by intelligent people, people I know and wouldn’t want to argue with. People I respect and admire.

Vietnam veterans — real ones, not impostors and poseurs like Kerry — take exception to the comparisons. They were there, they know damned well the differences. I wasn’t there, of course. I was a kid during Vietnam. My Dad was there, the year I was in fifth grade. I remember the year I was in sixth grade, the year my Dad came home. I remember how long it took him to get used to the idea he was no longer in a war zone. I remember his white hot hatred for the things John Kerry and Hanoi Jane were saying and doing. The memories he sometimes shared over the years since.

Because I wasn’t there, a friend of mine recently informed me that I have no “right” to dismiss anything in the matter of comparisons. (The fact that he wasn’t there either is apparently irrelevant, as he is permitted to continue making the comparisons.)

Colonel Oliver North was there. Colonel North has expressed his thoughts on the matter of comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. Allow me to share with you some of Colonel North’s comments:

Speaking as someone who has spent nearly an equal amount of time in Iraq as he did during his first tour in Vietnam, Colonel North explains that the parallels between the two are virtually non-existent on the battlefield.

In the press and politics – it’s a different matter. The barons of bombast have decided that Iraq equals Vietnam. Those who make this argument are ignoring some very inconvenient facts.

For starters, Colonel North explains the differences between the adversaries in each war. First, Vietnam:

In Vietnam, U.S. troops faced nearly a quarter of a million conscripted but well trained, disciplined and equipped North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars and upwards of 100,000 highly organized Viet Cong (VC) insurgents on a constant basis from 1966 onward. Both the NVA and the VC “irregulars” were well indoctrinated in communist ideology, received direct aid from the Soviet Union, Communist China and the Warsaw Pact and benefited from logistics and politico-military support networks in neighboring countries. During major campaigns against U.S. and South Vietnamese forces – of which there were many each year – both the NVA and VC responded to centralized command and control directed by authorities in Hanoi. None of that is true of Iraq.

Now, Iraq:

In the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, enemy combatants are a combination of disparate Sunni Jihadi-terrorists, disenfranchised Ba’athists, Shia militias aligned with Iran, fanatical foreign Wahhabi Mujahadeen, Muslim Brotherhood-supported radicals and well-armed, hyper-violent criminal gangs, often with tribal connections that are stronger than any ideological, religious or political affiliations. Though many Jihadis receive indoctrination, munitions and refuge from a network of mosques and sectarian Islamic groups, centralized command, control and logistics support is virtually non-existent. Operating in small independent “cells” instead of organized, disciplined military units, the enemy in Mesopotamia has no ability to mount any kind of protracted offensive against U.S. or even lightly-armed Iraqi government forces. Increasingly dependent on improvised explosive devices and suicide-bomb attacks to inflict casualties, the opposition in Iraq is more “anarchy” than “insurgency.”

Next, Colonel North talks about casualties:

The second great fable about the war in Iraq is the horrific casualty rate. This is always the most difficult aspect of any war to address for all comparisons seem cynical. For those of us who have held dying soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines in our arms it is particularly painful. Yet, it is one of the oft-cited reasons for why we were “forced” to get out of Vietnam – and why we are once again being urged by the media to “end the bloodshed” in Iraq. Here’s a reality check.

Compare …

Over the course of the entire Vietnam War, the “average” rate at which Americans died as a consequence of armed combat was about 15 per day. In 1968-69, when my brother and I served as Rifle Platoon and Infantry Company Commanders – he in the Army and I in the Marines – 39 Americans died every day in the war zone. In Iraq, the “kill rate” for U.S. troops is 2.06 per day.

[Emphasis mine.]

During the 1968 “Tet Offensive” in Vietnam there were more than 2,100 U.S. casualties per week. In Iraq, the U.S. casualty rate from all causes has never exceeded 490 troops in a month.

[Again, emphasis mine.]

As of this writing 2,802 young Americans have been killed during three and one half years of war in Iraq. That’s roughly the same number killed at Iwo Jima during the first three and one half days of fighting against the Japanese.

[Ditto on the emphasis.]

On 27 February 1968, after a month of brutal fighting and daily images of U.S. casualties on American television, Walter Cronkite, then the host of the CBS Evening News, proclaimed that the Tet Offensive had proven to him that the Vietnam War was no longer winnable. Four weeks later, Lyndon Johnson told the nation that “I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” It didn’t matter that Tet had been a decisive victory for the U.S. and South Vietnamese.

The press has a long history of not letting the facts get in the way of their spin.

Today’s potentates of the press are trying to deliver the same message: that Iraq, like Vietnam, is un-winnable. One television network has gone so far as to broadcast images of U.S. troops being killed by terrorists – making Iraq the first war where Americans get their news from the enemy.

I kind of have to disagree here — seems to me quite a few Americans got their news from the enemy (Kerry and Jane come immediately to mind) back then, too.

The war in Vietnam wasn’t lost during “Tet ‘68” no matter what Walter Cronkite said. Rather, it was lost in the pages of America’s newspapers, on our televisions, our college campuses – and eventually in the corridors of power in Washington. We need to pray that this war isn’t lost the same way.

From your lips to God’s ears, Colonel.

Incidentally, one final thing … the comparison before Colonel North dealt only with Vietnam. It did not include any discussion on the length of time between occupation and final withdrawl from the region. If it had, I’m sure the good Colonel would have pointed out the fact that after WWII, American forces occupied Japan for seven years, and Western Germany did not become fully sovereign until 1955; both countries were long barred from fully rearming, and for decades the United States assumed much of the burden of their defense from the Soviet Union.

FOXNews.com – Vietnam and Iraq: Myth vs. Reality

Kate blogs at The Original Musings.

10:53′ 16/10/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: HA 925867 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này
Designer Thierry Vincienne.

VietNamNet Bridge – Thierry Vincienne decided to head for Asia while having a large number of customers in France and other European countries. He has finally settled down in Vietnam for the last 12 years.


The French designer called Vietnam his second homeland which in his words “is far away from where he was born but not very unfamiliar.” After 12 years of living in Vietnam, his feelings are still as same as what he found when he first arrived even though the Vietnamese language is still something of a struggle for him.


Since 2002, Thierry has been working as the main designer for the famous fashion brand name NEM – NEW. He was in charge of designing for movie stars, MCs of the weather forecast programme on VTV, the state owned television station as well as in many other TV shows.


After 12 years of living in Vietnam Thierry has a long story about his life here, which he shared with the press.


France has been a well known country in the fashion industry, so why did you decided to choose Vietnam as a place to settle down? Why did you to move to HCM City after more than 10 years of living and working in Hanoi?


Indeed the French fashion industry has a good reputation in the world, and I can not deny that I have been influenced by the renowned French designer Karl Lagerfeld (who designs for Coco Channel). However I chose Vietnam as a place to settle down as here I found the peace for my life. Also the people and the country have inspired me to create many fashion collections.


I am very proud of the fact that I have heard of, and “fallen in love with Vietnam” since I was in school nearly half a century ago. More importantly I want to bring to Vietnam, the country which I adore, the knowledge that I have learned about fashion.


I first graduated with a degree in medical study. After that I worked in the marine force. Leaving the army I decided to pursue fashion designing study. I had been working in the industry for quite a long time before coming here. I moved to Ho Chi Minh City as NEM NEW just started another branch in the city two years ago. My life in this city is not much different from what I did while in Hanoi. With a pencil and some papers, everyday I go to very popular places like small teashops at some corners to find the ideas and then to draw.


Are those places where you find the ideas for your collections?


The ideas are not simply about designs but also about the colours, materials and other things that go with the designs like shoes, belts, etc. I have found that, many people here don’t correctly understand the job of a fashion designer and the job therefore is not yet a popular one. In my opinion a professional designer has to travel, observe and then they will find ideas for their works.


Personally I really like the red colour of the Literature Temple in Hanoi and the yellow colour of Thai pagodas. I do think that, some ideas should always be fleshed out by a professional designer, so that new collections would take shape wherever he or she goes to.


It is said that your designs are usually very simple but so elegant, following that style, do you aim at customers who are upper class?


Many people said that my designs are very European but in fact they are the mixture of European and Asian style. A lot of my designs have been inspired by the beauty of Ao yem (the northern Vietnamese traditional costume for women), Hanbok (Korean traditional dress), or Kimono. The mixture somehow has made up my style.


I am planning to start my own company called Lady France, which will gather the experienced fashion designers, workaholics in the fashion industry who will follow the motto “Customers are Kings”. We hope to provide products which are of European standards but for Asian women in general and Vietnamese women in particular. These products will be sold for reasonable prices, but have high quality. We do think that all women have the rights to make themselves more beautiful.


What do you think about Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress)? Do you think that one day your name – A French designer’s name would be attached with Ao dai?


I was strongly impressed by Ao dai since I first saw it. I think the most beautiful Vietnamese traditional dress is the Ao dai, and it will always be like that. Some Vietnamese customers have asked me to design Ao dai for them. However I don’t think that I should break into something so traditional.


Modifying the design of Ao dai should be applied to changing colours and marterials, while the design of the traditional dress should remain. Ao dai itself is already very beautiful. I love the attractions and the elegance of such a dress.


(Source: NLD)

by Greg LaRose
Quang Nguyen, who runs a group of financial service businesses in Gretna, said Vietnamese often shun mainstream businesses due to language and custom barriers. (Photo by Frank Aymami)

Quang Nguyen, who runs a group of financial service businesses in Gretna, said Vietnamese often shun mainstream businesses due to language and custom barriers. (Photo by Frank Aymami)

Editor’s note: This is the finale of a three-part series on the recovery of the Vietnamese business community after Hurricane Katrina.Short of running his own bank, Quang Nguyen offers just about every financial service a customer could need.

His modest storefront on Lafayette Street in Gretna offers insurance, mortgages, accounting and title services — even bail bonds.

Nguyen’s business is a testament to his entrepreneurial vision. It also reflects the lack of access to mainstream financial services for Vietnamese Americans. Nguyen said most of his business comes from Vietnamese, who often shun traditional avenues for conducting business due to the language barrier.

“Vietnamese tend to be very conservative, very private people,” he said. “They prefer to deal with Vietnamese businesses when they can because there is an understanding of that background.”

Barriers to the Vietnamese community’s progress go beyond language. Nonprofit Asian-American contingencies from around the country converged on New Orleans to assist Vietnamese residents after Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005. The chief obstacle was the lack of assistance infrastructure to help set the community back on its feet.

“It’s not Los Angeles where you’ve got hundreds of community-based service organizations and chambers of commerce … that speak a multitude of languages and have relationships with government entities and foundations,” said Lisa Hasegawa, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development.

Hasegawa said New Orleans, like other city and state governments, does not grasp the needs and inner workings of the Asian population, especially the Vietnamese who have only been in Louisiana for roughly 30 years. “Language is just part of it,” she said. “They shouldn’t just be meeting folks in the state or city government and learning about small business assistance programs for the first time after a disaster.”

Aaron Troung, owner of EZ Laundromat, needed help when he tried to resurrect his business in eastern New Orleans. He had evacuated to Houston with relatives and recalls Mayor C. Ray Nagin visiting Texas in September 2005 to urge displaced residents to return.

“I came back in November and didn’t have electricity or running water,” said Troung.

The Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corp. helped Troung and other Asian-American businesses after the storm. The first priority for the nonprofit business arm of the Catholic parish in Village de L’est was assisting residents and business owners with cleanup.

May T. Nguyen, CDC business development director, said grant funding was crucial for business owners, especially those who lived at their work place with their families.

Hasegawa’s group and the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies based in Silver Spring, Md., worked with Mary Queen of Vietnam CDC to access outside assistance.

“We’re working to make sure they have access to the wealth of experience that other Asian-American communities have in this arena,” said Hasegawa. “… We had no relationships with folks in New Orleans or in the South prior to Katrina.”

NAVASA’s Dân Thân Corps diverted its efforts toward storm recovery last year. Its goal is to place and develop leaders among the next generation, said Phuong Do, project director.

She said Vietnamese people usually turn to the groups that assisted them as refugees in times of crisis and those group leaders have not evolved with the community since the 1970s. NAVASA research shows more than two-thirds of the leadership of Vietnamese organizations in the United States are older than 60.

“There’s always been this gap of leadership skills within the community,” Do said. “… The intention of the program is to bring in young people to fill in these gaps.”

Dân Thân Corps fellows helped Mary Queen of Vietnam secure nearly 200 trailer homes for residents.

The Katrina recovery has been at the forefront of the White House Initiative on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Jimmy Lee, appointed AAPI executive director in January, toured damaged areas on the Gulf Coast earlier this year and said cultural boundaries prevented some Vietnamese from receiving help.

“Asians are always relatively proud people,” he said. “Because they don’t have language capabilities, they just didn’t want to ask for assistance and so they decided they would just try to figure this thing out for themselves.”

To gain insight on disaster recovery, Lee said AAIP consulted with Korean business owners affected by the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King verdict. Their main recommendation was the creation of a revolving loan fund for Asian-American businesses to be used following major catastrophes.•



New America Media, News Feature, Sara Catania, Oct 16, 2006

Editor’s Note: After Hurricane Katrina, the Latino population in New Orleans grew as other ethnic populations shrank in size. Remaining members of a close-knit Vietnamese community are learning to navigate cultural and linguistic differences with their new Latino neighbors — even if it means stocking tortillas next to rice paper in local markets.

NEW ORLEANS–Taqueria Mexico used to be a thriving Vietnamese restaurant called Bien Tinh, or Ocean Love. Now under new ownership, its waitresses serve salsa in the floral faux-china bowls that once held fish sauce.

“A lot is different now,” says Hai Pham, who sold Bien Tinh to a Mexican-American family from Houston. Pham’s was one of dozens of Vietnamese restaurants that after Hurricane Katrina were struggling to survive with far fewer customers. Now, whenever Pham stops by Taqueria Mexico, the place is bustling, the customers nearly all Latino. “They are the first restaurant around here to serve Mexican food and they do a good business,” Pham says. “I am happy for them.”

Vietnamese-Americans recovering from Katrina are grappling with a double challenge: the absence of friends and family who moved away after the storm and the appearance of a record number of Latinos in their previously autonomous community.

A state survey released this month counts nearly 7,000 Asians in New Orleans post-Katrina, compared with close to 12,000 in 2004. Latinos are the only ethnic group in the city whose numbers have grown, from about 14,000 to more than 16,000, according to the survey, conducted in February by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Recovery Authority. “We have seen Hispanics in areas of the city where we have never seen them before,” says Martin O. Gutierrez, director of immigration and refugee services for Catholic Charities in the city. “This is a very new phenomenon in New Orleans.”

The change is particularly noticeable in the neighborhood that Taqueria Mexico now calls home. Though most locals call the area Village de L’est, for its location in the eastern part of the city, some still refer to it as Versailles, after the government-subsidized housing complex that was home to many Vietnamese refugees when they first arrived in New Orleans in the 1970s and ’80s. Back then, the refugees were the newcomers in the largely African-American community. In subsequent decades the Vietnamese-American population in the Gulf Coast area grew to between 25,000 and 40,000 residents.

Those who remained in Village de L’est created what is widely regarded as the region’s Vietnamese-American hub, opening more than 50 businesses and building Mary Queen of Vietnam, the first Catholic Church in the nation to offer mass in Vietnamese.

After Katrina, the Vietnamese-American residents of Village de L’est were among the first return to New Orleans and begin gutting and rebuilding their homes. Construction workers from across the United States and Latin America descended upon the community, and the local businesses lining Chef Menteur Highway and Alcee Fortier Boulevard quickly began to adapt their products and services.

At the Mi-Viet market, rice papers now share shelf space with tortillas, tall bottles of Fresca line the cold case next to bubble tea, and plastic-wrapped pork chops are identified both as “bo-chuk tender” and “chuleta de cerdo.” A separate counter handles wire remittances to Latin America. Across the street at the Tien Pharmacy, owner John Nguyen recently added a payment service for cell phone bills. “It brings in new customers,” Nguyen says.

Martin Osorio saw opportunity as well. His family owns Taco Texas, a catering company in Houston that operates several loncheras, or lunch trucks. The trucks soon became a fixture in Village de L’est. Then one afternoon, as Osorio’s father was having lunch at Bien Tinh, Pham approached him and offered to sell him the restaurant.

“We thought he was kidding,” Martin Osorio recalled. But Pham was dead serious. Since the hurricane his wife had been running the restaurant alone while he’d been focusing on their downtown convenience store. “I felt it was not safe for her to be there by herself for so many hours,” Pham says. “We couldn’t find anybody to work there with her.”

The Osorios imported the taqueria’s nine-member Spanish-speaking work force from Houston. Even with a sizeable staff, Osorio works nonstop, rising at 4 a.m. and closing the doors at 8 p.m. Every two weeks he takes a quick trip back to Houston to see his wife, 3-year-old daughter and 2-month-old son.

Osorio says for the most part he has feels welcome in Village de L’est. In two months he’s had only one difficult encounter, when he sat down at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant for lunch and waited nearly an hour without being acknowledged. Finally he got up to leave and asked the proprietor for the key to the restroom. She refused, telling him the bathroom was out of order. He bristled. “I’d seen people going in and out of there the whole time,” he says. “I told her I have a right to use the bathroom and if you refuse to let me, I can sue you.” The woman relented and gave him the key.

May Thi Nguyen, business development director for the community development corporation created after the hurricane, is hoping to transform the commercial stretches of Village de L’est into an ethno-centric tourist destination. She has spent hours talking with the small business owners, many of them older Vietnamese- Americans who are struggling to adjust to their new neighbors. “It’s a huge shock here,” Nguyen says. “Everyone’s kind of taken aback. A lot of Vietnamese-Americans in this community have never left the area. It is very much a Vietnamese-American community.”

Nguyen, who has lived and worked in Argentina and Vietnam and is fluent in Vietnamese, English and Spanish, says she is unsure how Latinos would fit into the commercial development goals for the area. “We’re talking about a marketing scheme where we’re going to set up three flags out in the median: an American flag, a flag of the old Republic of Vietnam and a Louisiana flag,” Nguyen says. “I don’t know where the Mexican flag fits into that.”

Martin Gutierrez of Catholic Charities says increased diversity will only enrich the area. “It’s going to create great opportunities. There will be some friction, but at the same time we all believe diversity is a strength.”

Nguyen acknowledged that Latinos have invigorated Village de L’est, both economically and culturally. She has witnessed this dynamic in a market owned by her aunt. “My aunt is learning Spanish,” Nguyen says. “She’s learning how to say hello, how to tell customers how much something costs. It’s wild. I love it. It’s exciting.”

After talking with some of the Latino workers, Nguyen is taking a wait-and-see approach. “A lot of these changes are happening in response to the construction workers,” she says. “Some will leave. Will enough stay to make these changes permanent? Who knows?”

A study released in June by U.C. Berkeley and Tulane University found that about half the Latinos who moved to the region for work plan to stay, and there are indicators in Village de L’est that some are beginning to settle in. Word has spread quickly about Nguyen’s tri-lingualism, and the neighborhood’s new Spanish-speaking residents have begun seeking her out for advice. “They’ve been asking me where to send their kids to school and things like that,” she says. “They’ve pretty much ID’d me as that Asian girl in the community who can talk to them.”

At Mary Queen of Vietnam, Spanish-speaking workers have begun showing up for Sunday mass, even though services are conducted entirely in Vietnamese. “They know exactly what is going on,” says Fr. Vien The Nguyen, pastor of the church. “It was the same for us when we came here from Vietnam. Mass was in English, but it was still a Catholic mass and we understood. That’s the nature of a parish church. It’s always open. Anyone can come in.”

On a recent weekday afternoon at Taqueria Mexico, six small video monitors and one large-screen television competed with the stereo mariachis for the attention of diners in paint-splattered boots and baseball caps. Daniel Jeronimo, who arrived in New Orleans from Veracruz by way of Chicago six months ago, had just finished his first morning’s work in Village de L’est and was looking forward to lunch. “I saw this place and I came right over,” he said. “I can look at the menu here and everything is familiar to me.”

That is exactly what Martin Osorio likes to hear. The Taqueria has been so successful he’s considering expanding. “Right now we’re thinking about desserts and candies,” he says. Eventually he’d like to open a pool hall nearby.

If he does, he may find his customer base exceeding his target audience. “I would get so bored if all I did was hang out at the Vietnamese bars,” May Thi Nguyen says. “Hanging out at the Taqueria is a lot more exciting.”

Posted on 20 October 2006 – 07:47

Bets on foreign soccer matches will become legal next year in betting-crazy Vietnam, where a multi-million dollar gambling ring in a state agency led to the resignation of a cabinet minister in April. Newspapers quoted the Sports Minister on Friday as saying the National Sports Committee was seeking government approval to establish a joint venture with a foreign bookmaker to provide betting services on international soccer games.

The communist-run Southeast Asian country prohibits all forms of gambling, but illegal betting on soccer matches in England, Italy, Spain and other countries is very popular.

Officials have estimated around $1 billion is transmitted illegally every year for soccer betting.

Earlier this year, police arrested the boss of a state-owned road-building agency for running a gambling ring that bet $7 million of state money on football matches.

The Transport Minister resigned in April to take responsibility for the scandal, which led to new promises by the ruling Communist Party to fight corruption.

National Assembly lawmakers debated legalising football betting this week to meet strong public demand, but the proposal limits the amount of each bet to between 10 000 and 30 000 dong (less than US$2), officials said.

“The amount will not hurt people’s income, but be enough to entertain them,” Sports Minister Nguyen Danh Thai was quoted as saying in the VNExpress on-line newspaper .

Thai said the joint venture would invest around $70 million and that five foreign sports bookmakers, including a British firm, had shown interest in the project.

Initially, bets would be allowed only on overseas games and not the domestic Vietnam league, he said.