17:32′ 20/10/2006 (GMT+7)

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VietNamNet Bridge – As part of a programme to teach people more about Vietnam’s history, HCM City’s Department of Culture and Information has decided to hang banners on Vietnamese female heroes on streets.

 

Findings of a survey done a little earlier in Ho Chi Minh City reveal that Vietnamese people there know very little about the country’s history. This has prompted the department of the city to launch a pilot project themed “Our people know our history”.

 

The project has been done under cooperation between the department, Focus Media Company and Saigon Postal Service Joint-stock Company.

 

At the first stage of implementation 611 banners have been hung to provide knowledge on who-is-who to tell people about Vietnamese female heroes in the past whose names have been used for streets in the city. The activity is also to celebrate Vietnam Women’s Day (October 20).

 

As reported, the project will be continued with hanging banners on important events such as February 3 (Foundation of Vietnam’s Communist Party, February 27 (Death anniversary of Hung Vuong, the first King of Vietnam). Biographic information of numerous Vietnamese heroes will be introduced to people aiming to provide more knowledge on the country’s history.

 

(Source: Tuoi Tre)

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Saturday October 21, 2006 | 04:45:23 am 401 words, 118 views

I’m sitting on a bench by the big lake in downtown Hanoi, near where the old quarter starts, taking occasional, slow pulls from a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. The lake is green, but that’s probably because of all the trees around its edges; most lakes and streams I’ve seen in Viet Nam are brown, the color of clay.

A steady stream of traffic speeds by behind, somehow miraculously avoiding a 1,000-scooter pileup. The noise starts to sound like the constant chirping of crickets or something after a while; you don’t even notice it. In front of me is a young couple sitting at the edge of the water, intertwined like eels.

On the bench to the right, two elderly Vietnamese women stop and sit. They take their hats off, look and me and laugh and say “hello” in unison. On the bench to my left are two male teenagers, making glances at me that I interpret as furtive. The little one would probably serve as the distraction. The big, tall one might require some work.

A Canadian or American couple walk by on the wide, clean sidewalk, carting a blond, curly-haired baby who sits high above her father in some sort of backpack contraption. The Vietnamese stare openly up at the curly-haired baby, riding so high in the air. They smile and occasionally make the universal sound all women make at cute babies.

A block away is a teeming mass of people, but not too many people to bother me here. After an hour or so, I’ve worked up enough nerve to enter the shopping district. It’s so crowded, it’s like entering solid matter, a single molecule entering a larger organism made up of similar molecules.

On my way back, a young Vietnamese woman tries to sell me some t-shirts and I make the mistake of trying to barter with her. I’ve always hated bartering. She ducks inside somewhere to get more shirts. I think I’ve shaken her, but when I get back to the café that marks a sort of border, and push the elevator button, she comes running up breathlessly” “Sir! Sir!…”

The security guard chases her away and I escape upstairs and order two strawberry milkshakes. I’m feeling guilty and sweating like a race horse.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Hemingway-esque vignette of Hanoi street life.

Viet Nam: is it anti-American to go there for golf?

Friday October 27, 2006 | 02:32:14 pm 132 words, 50 views

Viet Nam has some excellent golf courses, I was surprised to learn. Not a lot of them. In fact, only a handful. But the ones that are there, scattered across the country, are definitely worth playing.

Here is the larger question: Is it unpatriotic to visit Viet Nam as a tourist? Tourism is skyrocketing in the country, many visitors being American. Is it anti-American to contribute to the economy of the country we were once at war with?

I’ve gotten some negative feedback already for visiting the country. I don’t agree with it, though I can understand the feeling.

I didn’t meet a single Vietnamese who was still bitter about what they call the American War, even those who fought in it, for both sides by the way.

Forgive, but not forget?

 
   
 

Viet Nam golf: leave the bomb craters

Monday October 16, 2006 | 05:09:04 pm 177 words, 198 views

My first experience playing golf in Viet Nam was as the Viet Nam Golf and Country Club, where years ago they covered up the bomb craters left from the war.

In some ways, that’s typical of the way the Vietnamese look at the war, and in some ways atypical. The Vietnamese are pretty open about the war. You can talk to them about it, if you can break through the language barrier.

One early morning on the beach in Pham Thiet, we struck up a conversation with an avuncular Vietnamese who was an interpreter for the U.S. military during the war. Those wounds have healed, he said: we’re basically just all getting older now.

Those bomb craters that were left at the golf and country club had signs: “Traces of war.” Tourists eat that kind of stuff up, and Viet Nam is in the business of attracting tourists these days, so I’m surprised and a little disappointed they covered them up. Historical significance aside, I’ve never got up-and-down from a bomb crater.


By DAN MARIANO

 
 
 
  LOS ANGELES – Over 11 million Americans trace their roots to Asia. Increasing by an annual rate of 9 percent since 2000, they have the highest growth rate of any ethnic group in the United States.  

LOS ANGELES – Over 11 million Americans trace their roots to Asia. Increasing by an annual rate of 9 percent since 2000, they have the highest growth rate of any ethnic group in the United States.

According to the US Census, Asian Americans now make up 5 percent of the population of the United States. Their number is projected to triple to 34 million in the next 50 years.

Asian Americans have also developed substantial economic clout.

In a recent article, the LA-based Filipino newspaper Asian Journal quoted economist Jeff Humphreys as saying: “Asian buying power is attaining critical mass in a growing number of states.” Humphreys is director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

Six years ago only six states had over $10 billion in Asian buying power. This year 11 states have reached that benchmark; in five years 14 states are projected to do so.

The Selig Center projects that Asian-American spending power will reach $528 billion by 2009, an increase of nearly 347 percent since 1990, when the community’s spending power was recorded at $118 billion.

According to the latest data released by the Selig Center, “Asian consumer annual buying power in the United States has reached $427 billion, representing a 59-percent increase since the beginning of the decade.”

California accounts for 33 percent of the Asian consumer market in the United States. Asian buying power in multicultural California, totaling $140.5 billion, stands out as the only racial minority market at the state level to exceed $100 billion.

Notwithstanding its indisputable progress and growing importance in American society, the Asian community has remained in what a top advertising executive called “invisible mode.”

Julia Huang is founder and CEO of interTrend, an advertising and marketing agency that focuses on Asian communities in the United States.

In an article by Momar G. Visaya, editor in chief of the Asian Journal, Huang noted the almost continuing invisibility of Asian Americans in general and Filipino Americans in particular in the mainstream market.

Filipino Americans have been largely ignored in corporate America, which lumps them in the mainstream because, for one thing, they are thought to speak English fluently. Most US marketers assume that Filipinos have fully assimilated into the American culture.

“When is speaking English ever a bad thing? Use your English language advertising in these markets,” Huang said, addressing advertisers and marketers that cluster Filipino Americans with the English-speaking majority.

Huang advised the Filipino American community to “create infrastructure and synchronize activities” to come up with a concerted effort to show the marketing world the potential of marketing to the community.

“The sheer number of Filipinos in America today makes your community a force to reckon with,” she added.

In contrast to the African American and the Hispanic American communities, Asian Americans remain virtually unrecognized, the Asian Journal noted.

Both the African American and Hispanic American markets have found their common ground, and that is why national marketers have been active in their communities, Huang said.

The Asian-American market is still segregated simply because the countries its constituents originated from are not bound by one culture or one language.

“The segregation is definitely working against us but we must work our way around that and use it not as a weakness but as a strength,” the Asian Journal quoted Huang as saying.

“We have been so polite for the longest time and it is about time that we spoke our mind,” she added. “It’s time for us to get what’s due us. It is all right to have some sense of entitlement. We live here, we pay our taxes.”

Coming from over 15 different cultures, Asian Americans constitute the most diverse ethnic group in the United States.

“There’s a disinterest in the Asian American community. If only they could give us the attention that they are giving our native countries,” said Huang, who is also president of the Asian American Advertising Federation.

This “disinterest” is a just notch higher than the “total ignorance” of the market about 10 or 15 years ago, she said.

While a small amount of national advertisers and marketers have realized the importance of the Asian American market, most have not.

“We are now in a position to be much bigger and we should be able to seize this opportunity. It is very achievable,” Huang added.

“Let’s go beyond uproar. What are we leveraging out of the $427 billion? We must use that in order for them to hear our voice,” Huang said.

More Vietnamese earn an MBA

October 28, 2006

 
20:57′ 23/10/2006 (GMT+7)

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VietNamNet Bridge – Pacific Western University and the Center for System Development of the Vietnam National University in Hanoi have graduated 39 more students who completed their joint MBA program.

The degree presentation in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday was attended by professors and lecturers of the two institutions and nearly a hundred of the center’s students.

This latest crop brings the number of MBA graduates from the center to 300.

In their 18 months of training, the students were exposed to a variety of subjects, including economics, organizational behavior, marketing, accounting, finance, strategy, operations management, international business, information technology management, supply chain management, and government policy.

(Source: SGGP)


 
Ten Vietnamese officials are on an environment protection course offered by the Korea Environment and Resources Corp. (ENVICO) in Inchon for 16 days. The course, which started on Oct. 17, includes lectures and discussion sessions, where local experts will introduce the nation’s policies in water resources, air pollution, management of waste and others.

The participants will also inspect pollution-control facilities, while touring the waste treatment plant in Mapo, Seoul, the nation’s largest steel plant of POSCO in Pohang, and Hyundai Motor in Ulsan, South Kyongsang Province.

“The course is expected to contribute to solving environment pollution problems Vietnam has been experiencing a similar stage of economic growth that Korea experienced in the past. In addition, it can provide an opportunity for Korean environment-related companies to advance into Vietnam,” said Kim Ae-sun, chief of the center for international policy research at ENVICO.

 
15:12′ 23/10/2006 (GMT+7)

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Vu Ngoc Diep (black).

VietNamNet Bridge – On October 20, organisers of Miss International 2006 pageant held an auction for charity with souvenirs brought by all beauties to the competition.

The oyster encrusted painting of Vietnam’s representative, Ngoc Diep, was purchased for the largest amount of JPY50,000.

 

Before joining each other at the aution party all contestants sang together and the Vietnamese beauty showed her confidence in quickly learning the song with other beauties from all over the world.

 

Diep also impressed people with her beautiful dress, which is a traditional Vietnamese ao dai made of velvet and dotted with glass-beads.

 

As reported, her days at the contest have been very busy as she has had to get up early to prepare for activities which happened during those days. Diep’s days often finish by logging in the website of the competition to get more information on it. Diep has been seen as an open-minded contestant. She sees the competition as a great chance to meet and communicate with beauties from other countries.

(Source: VNE)

Postcards from Saigon

October 28, 2006

Column One:



Apropos of nothing, Wednesday night Channel 2 news broadcast a jihadi snuff film. The video, produced by an Iraqi group called the Islamic Army of Allah, shows a jihadi sniper knocking off American soldiers one by one.

Being a propaganda flick whose goal is to demoralize Americans and their allies and recruit new soldiers to the army of jihad, not surprisingly the video doesn’t show how the US forces reacted to the sniper fire. The American forces in the film are powerless victims. If they are smart, they will cut and run before it is too late.

The video is effective because it effectively tells a complete lie. US forces in Iraq are far from helpless. They have won nearly every engagement they have fought with insurgent forces in Iraq. And their capabilities get better all the time.

Today, the public debate in the US revolves around one question: When are we leaving Iraq? The conventional wisdom has become that US operations in Iraq are futile. Due in large part to politically driven press coverage, Americans have received the impression that the US cannot succeed in Iraq and that consequently, their leaders ought to be concentrating their efforts on building an exit strategy. Comparisons between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam War are legion.

Last Wednesday, President George W. Bush was asked whether it is possible to make a comparison between the recent sharp rise in violence in Iraq and the Tet offensive in Vietnam in January 1968. Bush responded by noting that then as now, “There’s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election.”

During the Tet offensive, the North Vietnamese attacked 40 South Vietnamese villages simultaneously with a massive force of 84,000 troops. The offensive failed utterly. 45,000 North Vietnamese soldiers were killed, no ground was taken. Yet, when then US president Lyndon Johnson declared victory, the American people didn’t believe him.

Walter Cronkite, the all-powerful anchorman of the CBS Evening News had told them that the US had lost the offensive. Who was the president to argue with Cronkite? In March 1968 Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection.

So when the media wonder if one can compare the battles in Iraq today to the Tet offensive, what they really want to know is if they have successfully convinced the American public that its military has lost the war in Iraq.

Over the past several weeks, Bush has been waging a political offensive to convince the public that their military is winning the war in Iraq. On Wednesday, the president gave a press conference on Iraq and later reinforced his message in a meeting with conservative columnists.

Bush made four major points in those appearances. First, he explained that the US is at war and described the nature of the war. Iran, he said stands at the helm of enemy forces. Iran’s senior role was made clear he said, through its sponsorship of this summer’s Hizbullah and Palestinian war against Israel. One of Iran’s central goals – shared with Syria and its terrorist proxies – is to destroy the forces of moderation and democracy in the Middle East.

Secondly, Bush asserted that Iraq is a vital front in this war. In his view, the only way the US can lose that war is if it leaves, “letting things fall into chaos and letting al-Qaida have a safe haven.” Bush argued that if the US leaves Iraq, Iraq will come to the US, to Iraq’s neighbors and indeed to the entire world.

Thirdly, Bush argued that the US can only win the war if the American public supports it. The only way to ensure the public’s support is by showing that America is winning. Bush said that showing success is difficult because while its benchmarks for victory – political freedom, economic development and social progress – are amorphous, “the enemy gets to define victory by killing people.”

Finally, Bush argued that to defeat Iran, Syria and North Korea, the US must have international support for its efforts. Countries like Russia, China and France must understand the dangers and agree to isolate these regimes with effective international sanctions.

WHILE BUSH clearly knows what he wants to do, he is hard-pressed to succeed. Not only are the Democrats and the media trying to undercut him, members of his own administration – and particularly Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues at the State Department – are subverting the president’s agenda.

For example, there is Alberto Fernandez, the Director of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Fernandez’s job is to defend the US in the Arabic media. Yet, in an interview with Al Jazeera last week, Fernandez said that the US had been “arrogant” and “stupid” in Iraq. In September he reportedly said that Americans and others “are trying intentionally to encourage hell in the Arab world.”

Then there is Rice herself. Rather than promoting US victories in Iraq, Rice is turning the Iraqi government into a scapegoat for the ongoing jihad. If the government doesn’t get its act together, she intimates, the US will feel free to wash its hands of the matter. It won’t be a US defeat, but an Iraqi failure. That is, far from extolling American success, she is paving the way to justify an American defeat.

At the same time, rather than explain Iran’s central role in the war, Rice courts the mullahs. Ignoring Iran’s sponsorship of the Palestinians, Rice waxes poetic comparing the Palestinians – who chose Hamas to lead them – to the American founding fathers and to the civil rights movement.

On Wednesday Bush explained that the relative level of violence is not a determinate of victory or defeat because the enemy can use cease-fires to rearm. In his words, “If the absence of violence is victory, no one will ever win, because all that means is you’ve empowered a bunch of suiciders and thugs to kill.”

Yet contrary to Bush’s clear view on the matter, State Department officials work around the clock negotiating cease-fires. Indeed, one of the capstones of Rice’s diplomatic efforts is the August cease-fire in Lebanon under which Israel is prevented from defending itself and Hizbullah is moving swiftly to rebuild its forces.

In Iraq, this dangerous penchant for negotiations is what enabled Muqtada al-Sadr’s pro-Iranian, pro-Hizbullah Mahdi Army to emerge from its April 2004 offensive against Coalition forces intact and free to become the power broker in Shii’te politics that it is today. The fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki felt it necessary to condemn the joint US-Iraqi attack against al-Sadr’s forces in Baghdad Tuesday is a testament to al-Sadr’s power.

Today the only high-level US diplomat who believes that the purpose of diplomacy is to advance US national interests and not to achieve agreements for their own sake is US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Just this week Bolton effectively prevented Venezuela from being elected to the Security Council.

Rice does not support Bolton. According to Senate sources, Rice played a major role in preventing Bolton from receiving Senate confirmation for his appointment. As a result, he will likely be forced to leave the UN next month.

Rice’s machinations have made her popular with the media. But her popularity comes at the expense of public and international support for the US’s war goals. Her actions and those of her State Department colleagues have contributed to the anomalous situation where while US forces improved their capabilities in Iraq, the American public became convinced that the war is going badly.
Rather than fearing the US, Iran, Syria and North Korea behave as though the US is a paper tiger. Rather than support America, European “allies” increasingly see their national interests best served by distancing themselves from the US as much as possible.

THE SITUATION can be reversed. The media are no longer the power they were in Cronkite’s day. Were the administration to challenge the networks, the networks would be forced to adjust their coverage to reality.

Last week CNN broadcast the Iraqi sniper video.

The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Duncan Hunter reacted by blasting the broadcast and calling for the military to bar CNN reporters from embedding with US forces in Iraq. Hunter said that by showing the film CNN was collaborating with America’s enemies and consequently, CNN reporters should enjoy no support from US forces in Iraq. His attacks were widely reported and there can be little doubt that CNN will think long and hard before broadcasting another enemy propaganda movie.

For Israel, the results of the American debate over the future of the war in Iraq are of critical importance. A US retreat will place Israel in grave danger. The eastern front, whose demise the military “experts” were quick to announce in 2003 to justify slashing the defense budget, will make a comeback – replete with massive quantities of arms and tens of thousands of trained jihadi soldiers who will believe that they just won their jihad against the US. Moreover, if the US retreats, the IDF will find itself facing a US-armed and trained Shi’ite army. That is, if the US withdraws, Israel could potentially find itself facing an enemy force better trained and equipped than the IDF.

The leaders of the Democratic Party today compete amongst themselves to see who can be more defeatist. If in the November 7 elections the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress, or even just one of them, the push for a US retreat will grow stronger.

Whatever the results of the elections, Israel must hope that for his last two years in office, President Bush will take firm control of his administration – first and foremost by curbing Rice and her State Department associates – and lead a concerted, unabashed diplomatic and public opinion offensive.

If Bush does this, he will gain wide public support and sufficient support from the international community to move ahead in the war.

If Bush does not take control of his administration, the Vietnam War analogy will become an accurate one for Iraq, and Israel will find itself playing the role of Cambodia.