Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
7 juillet 2006
guerre du vietnam: "with God on our side"
My name it is nothing
My name it is nothing
My age it means less
My age it means less
The country I come from
The country I come from
is called the middle west
is called the middle west
I was brought up and taught there
I was brought up and taught there
The laws to abide
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in has god on its side… (Bob Dylan, With God on our side)
on ne voit qu’elle en entrant. Le G.I. est immense, il a un treillis dégueulasse, poissé de boue, de sang, de sueurs froides. Il tient quelque chose au bout de son bras tendu. Quelque chose: d’abord c’est un lambeau de tissu, c’est tout déchiré, et puis c’est vide, dedans y’a pas de corps, rien, du vide. Ensuite, il y a une tête qui pend, elle est intacte, presque parfaite. Elle pend les yeux fermés, une mèche de cheveux sur le front. C’est un homme très jeune, un enfant, presque. Sa tête pend au bout d’une chemise en charpie vidée de son torse, peut être qu’il reste ses mains, ça ce n’est pas sûr, on devine, peut-être.
Le G.I. tient ça a bout de bras, il a le visage barbouillé de suie et de boue aussi, on ne voit pas sa figure mais on distingue très bien un rictus très étrange, des dents très blanches, très saines de mâcheur de chewing gum. Est ce qu’il sourit, carnassier, du plaisir d’avoir gagné, réduit à néant l’ennemi viêtcong ou bien il est simplement horrifié par ce qui vient de se commettre et il est en train de perdre la raison en contemplant l’insoutenable? Ou bien encore est-il saisi de ce qu’il pressent, de ce qui commence à s’imposer à lui : qu’il ne sert à rien de tenter de réduire les corps à néant. L’entreprise est trop vaine: le corps n’est rien.
S’acharner sur les corps pour contraindre l’âme: il ne croira plus jamais que cela soit possible.
Et dès lors il n’aura plus aucune raison de penser que Dieu est à ses côtés.
25 juin 2006
un peuple de lecteurs
Au Vietnam, tout le monde lit. Tout le temps, partout, de tout. Au marché, dans la rue, dans les bibliothèques, dans les restaurants, sur les trottoirs, sur une moto. Des romans, des journaux, des manuels scolaires, des dictionnaires. Tout le monde: des vieillards dans les parcs, des élèves sur le siège arrière d'une moto, des marchandes, des employés, des travailleurs.
Quelques viellards peuvent encore vous réciter Océano nox in extenso tout autant que déclamer le Kim van Kieu..
Vieille tradition de lettrés: autrefois, les concours permettaient au moindre paysan d'accéder hauts plus hauts grades du mandarinat civil ou militaire. cette idéal de méritocratie perdure, même si la réussite par l'argent gagne chaque jour un peu plus de reconnaissance...
Il n'y a pratiquement pas d'analphabètes, un record pour un pays émergent..
En 1988, j'avais interrogé Hoàng Xuân Hân, qui avait été un des initiateurs de la campagne d'alphabétisation menée dès 1937 par "l'association pour l'étude de l'alphabet vietnamien", nom imposé par la sûreté coloniale qui craignait que sous couvert d'apprentissage de la lecture, il s'agisse de propagande anti-française. Tout le pays se mit à apprendre à lire, à partir de chansons rimées, avec un bout de craie sur le trottoir, un bout de papier d'emballage, ce qui tombait sous la main, les jeunes apprenant aux vieux, les vieux aux jeunes, les étudiants aux paysans, toute personne alphabétisée chargée d'enseigner aux autres.
Le problème de l'analphabétisme fut réglé en très peu de temps. La sûreté n'avait pas tort: le vietminh avait besoin que les gens sachent lire pour diffuser son message dans l'opinion publique.
Hoàng Xuân Huân me disait que le secret de la réussite résidait dans le fait que les vietnamiens n'ont jamais douté du fait que la langue vietnamienne était capable de véhiculer n'importe quel message, y compris scientifique.C'était une évidence pour tous. Lui même élabora d'ailleurs une partie du vocabulaire nécessaire des mathématiques, de la physique et de la chimie. Ses manuels étaient reproduits sur de l'argile dans les maquis, faute de papier. Le désir d'apprendre, la soif de connaissance a toujours été très vif,dans toutes les classes de la population, et le demeure jusqu'à aujourd'hui, même si les jeunes privilégient les manuels d'informatique et la traduction vietnamienne d'Harry Potter, sans compter celles de Tintin, Lucky Luke et les schtroumpf (en vietnamien xi trung). Ca ne les empêche pas de dévorer le célèbre roman des Trois Royaumes...
On voit encore des marchandes lire Les Misérables (il y a eu au moins une dizaine de traduction depuis l'époque coloniale tant ce livre eut de succès et Victor Hugo figure dans le panthéon de la secte des caodaistes) ou les trois Mouquetaires, bien que la littérature francophone perde progressivement de son prestige.
Hoàng Xuân Huân est mort depuis queles ques années déjà. Mais quand je m'occupe de questions d'éducation dans les pays francophones du sud, je pense souvent à ce qu'il me disait, que c'est une affaire de conscience collective, de confiance dans sa propre identité culturelle, dans la certitude que toute langue et toute culture ont à apporter leur pierre à l'édifice de l'humanité et que l'occident n'a pas le monopole de la civilisation.
et quand je me promène dans Hanoi, Ho chi minh ville, Hué ou Can Tho, je passe mon temps à photographier tous ces gens qui lisent. Un jour, j'en ferai quelque chose, une exposition, ou un livre....
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
The UK Terror plot: what's really going on?
by Craig Murray, August 14, 2006
I have been reading very carefully through all the Sunday newspapers to try and analyse the truth from all the scores of pages claiming to detail the so-called bomb plot. Unlike the great herd of so-called security experts doing the media analysis, I have the advantage of having had the very highest security clearances myself [Mr. Murray is a writer, broadcaster and former Britain's Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan], having done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis, and having been inside the spin machine.
So this, I believe, is the true story.
None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.
In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms. What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.
Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.
The gentleman being "interrogated" had fled the UK after being wanted for questioning over the murder of his uncle some years ago. That might be felt to cast some doubt on his reliability. It might also be felt that factors other than political ones might be at play within these relationships. Much is also being made of large transfers of money outside the formal economy. Not in fact too unusual in the British Muslim community, but if this activity is criminal, there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with terrorism.
We then have the extraordinary question of Bush and Blair discussing the possible arrests over the weekend. Why? I think the answer to that is plain. Both in desperate domestic political trouble, they longed for "Another 9/11". The intelligence from Pakistan, however dodgy, gave them a new 9/11 they could sell to the media. The media has bought, wholesale, all the rubbish they have been shovelled.
We then have the appalling political propaganda of John Reid, Home Secretary, making a speech warning us all of the dreadful evil threatening us and complaining that "Some people don't get" the need to abandon all our traditional liberties. He then went on, according to his own propaganda machine, to stay up all night and minutely direct the arrests. There could be no clearer evidence that our Police are now just a political tool. Like all the best nasty regimes, the knock on the door came in the middle of the night, at 2.30am. Those arrested included a mother with a six week old baby.
For those who don't know, it is worth introducing Reid. A hardened Stalinist with a long term reputation for personal violence, at Stirling Univeristy he was the Communist Party's "Enforcer", (in days when the Communist Party ran Stirling University Students' Union, which it should not be forgotten was a business with a very substantial cash turnover). Reid was sent to beat up those who deviated from the Party line.
We will now never know if any of those arrested would have gone on to make a bomb or buy a plane ticket. Most of them do not fit the "Loner" profile you would expect - a tiny percentage of suicide bombers have happy marriages and young children. As they were all under surveillance, and certainly would have been on airport watch lists, there could have been little danger in letting them proceed closer to maturity - that is certainly what we would have done with the IRA.
In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.
Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The official website is: http://www.phunutheky21.com/index.asp. There are some trailers to watch but the buffering is excruciatingly slow and everything is nauseatingly pink. I got a toothache just watching it.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Long time readers are familiar with my endless flame war against some Viet Kieu, mainly from California (or Ca-Li as we Vietnamese would call it), of the Miami Cuban School, who love to spread unsupported bad news about Vietnam, because they refuse to acknowledge any progress made by the country since their hasty departure in 1975.
I found this recent article of The Economist on line, which I am reproducing below, just to aggravate them. Very un-Buddhist of me.
An economic boom is accompanied by remarkable success in getting rid of poverty and raising life expectancy
Hanoi, August 3rd 2006 http://tinyurl.com/k4cvx
Signs of rapid development are visible everywhere around Hanoi: from the flashy sport-utility vehicles on the city's roads to the dormitory villages of smart “executive” homes rising among the fields on the capital's outskirts. George Bush and other world leaders will see it for themselves when Hanoi hosts the Asia-Pacific economic summit in November. That meeting will take place in a new satellite-city, Tu Liem, which is now being built on Hanoi's south-western edge. The futuristic conference centre, with a distinctive wavy glass roof, looks almost finished. Nearby, a huge five-star hotel is getting a final coat of paint. Along Tu Liem's broad, four-lane avenues, some apartment blocks are already occupied, others are just steel skeletons. Between the building sites, cows and buffalo still graze in what was open pasture only recently.
Before starting its doi moi market-oriented reforms in the mid-1980s, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam flirted with real communism and came close to famine. Since then, a reform process that was uneven at first has gathered momentum. Recent economic growth, though not quite as stellar as China's, has been remarkable. In 2001-05 it averaged over 7.5%, reaching a peak of 8.4% last year. This year the government is going all out to hit an 8% target.
Since 1990, Vietnam's exports have increased faster than China's. Their growth shows no signs of slackening. Between January and July they amounted to $22 billion, a year-on-year rise of over 25%. Having alarmed the Brazilians by becoming their main competitor in coffee growing, Vietnam is now ramping up its exports of everything from shrimps to ships to shoes (the last prompting the European Union to announce anti-dumping tariffs last month). It has just become the world's largest exporter of pepper and aims soon to overtake Thailand in rice. It is even selling tea to India.
Foreign-owned factories are chalking up the fastest gains. The government's aim of increasing electronics exports by 27% annually should be boosted by Intel's recent decision to build a $605m microchip plant in Ho Chi Minh City. Though farmers' harvests are still rising, industry's still-higher growth rate means that agriculture's share of economic output continues to shrink—from about 25% in 2000 to 21% last year. By 2010 it may be down to 15%.
This economic revolution is being accompanied by a social one. Though Vietnam is still, overall, one of Asia's poorest countries, with income per head behind India's, its recent growth has been impressively egalitarian. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) reckons that deep poverty in Vietnam—defined as a daily income equivalent to under $1—is now only slightly more prevalent than the average for South-East Asia, whereas in 1990 Vietnam's figure was more than twice the regional average (see charts). By this measure, Vietnam has overtaken China, India and the Philippines and now has only slightly more poverty than Indonesia.
Life expectancy has jumped and infant mortality plunged since the 1990s. Vietnam does better on both these counts than Thailand, a far richer country. Almost three-quarters of Vietnamese children of secondary-school age are in class, up from about a third in 1990. Again, Vietnam has overtaken China, India and Indonesia.
The new five-year plan, approved at April's congress of the ruling Communist Party, is laden with targets for increasing output and improving infrastructure, with the objective of making Vietnam a modern, industrial nation by 2020. Of course, other Asian countries' leaders, from Malaysia to the Philippines, declare similar objectives. The difference is that Vietnam's rulers seem to mean it—and their recent record suggests they might pull it off.
The April congress was preceded by a purge of high officials suspected of corruption—most notably at a road-building agency where some staff stole millions of dollars to bet on football matches. While Nong Duc Manh, the party's general secretary, has survived, the other two members of the ruling triumvirate—the president and prime minister—have since been dropped in favour of youngish, southern Vietnamese officials, seen as supporters of continued economic reform.Good times, bad times
Vietnam is on a roll and its prospects look good. But much could still go wrong. As Vietnam joins the global economy (it should become a member of the World Trade Organisation in the coming year or so) it is becoming more vulnerable to volatile commodity prices and fickle bond-market investors, whose gyrations are largely outside its control. The recent export surge has been helped by strong global demand and high prices for the things Vietnam sells, from rice to crude oil, but a world recession—or an economic bust in China—could cause a big slowdown. The government is racing to build enough power stations, roads and railways to keep the economy moving. Any delays in these would spell trouble.
The communist government's continuing acceptance by ordinary Vietnamese rests largely on its success in delivering prosperity and better public services. If it fails to reduce corruption or produce jobs for the more than 1m young Vietnamese who join the labour force each year and the 1m villagers migrating to the cities, the country's social cohesion and sense of purpose would be in danger.
That makes it vital to accelerate the government's programme to restructure and sell thousands of state-owned firms. They are more graft-prone than private companies, and devour the lion's share of scarce land and credit while creating few new jobs. The private sector provides most of the growth in jobs and exports, but would do better still if it was not crowded out by the public sector. Le Dang Doanh, an economic adviser to the government, reckons that, but for the vested interests slowing down privatisation, Vietnam could now be growing at 11%, just like China.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity--but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards. . . It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are? Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?
Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
From: http://www.tricycle.com/ - The Daily Dharma
Sick version: Thumper: What are you doing? I said «Kiss my rear!»
Thumper: Come with me then!
Sick version: Bambi: Sorry, but I'm cold and exhausted..
Thumper: Come with me then! Hehehehe!
Sick version: Thumper: Look, I gave you food, a roof over your head... where's the gratitude, bitch?
Sick version: Thumper: Thanks honey! That was great! Wanna cigarette?
Bambi [in tears]: NO!!! You bastard!
Friday, August 11, 2006
In the film, FBI agents Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Saunders (Mark Houghton) escort Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) to testify in a highly publicized case. In the course of a flight between Hawaii and California, an assassin pays airport security to sneak a time-release crate of over 500 snakes of various sizes on board in the hope of killing the witness.
In recognition of the unprecedented Internet buzz for what had been a minor movie in their 2006 line-up, New Line Cinema ordered five days of additional shooting in early March 2006(principal photography had wrapped in September 2005). While re-shoots normally imply problems with a film, the producers opted to add new scenes to the film to take the movie from PG-13 into R-rated territory and bring the movie in line with growing fan expectations. Among the reported additions is a line that originated as an Internet parody of Samuel L. Jackson's traditional movie persona: "That's it! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!".
Anyway, in response to Schlussel's question, Hairy Fish Nuts imagined this scenario [http://www.hairyfishnuts.com/] :
Terrorist 2: Excellent! Soon the oppressors will know what it's like to die in a really creepy and scary way! Mwahahhahahaha!
Terrorist 3: Say, fellahs... I'm thinking here, sorry didn't mean to interrupt the Mwahahaha... just spit-balling, how about instead of what? 100 lbs of snake? We smuggle on board this bomb I made.... I mean I like the snakes, it's got style, it's going to get us a lot of ink but really we do want to bring the plane down. I know, I know it's old school, it's been done but it's a classic for a reason.
Terrorist 1: No! Snakes on Plane motherfucker! Snakes on plane!!!
Terrorist 2: I didn't spend the whole week looking for poisonous snakes in the poisonous snake district just to use a bomb. You know how many bites I got? You ever try and stuff a dozen cobras into a sack mister? They don't cooperate.
Terrorist 3: Ok! Ok! okay... geez... just an idea... sorry don't get all jihad on my ass."
Of course, the comments in both their blogs are the funniest part:
“I still prefer friggin sharks with friggin laser beams attatched to their friggin heads as my weapon of choice, though.”
“My weapon of choice would have to be pit bulls raised in France [so they would bark in snotty foreign accents, accentuating the terror] with killer bees in their mouths. The genius of my plan would be that once the dogs start biting the passengers their opened mouths would release the bees to sting the aforementioned passengers.”
Wanna know my own personal favorite weapon? Motherf*****g Zombies! Sneak a time-released zombie in one of the toilets. While the plane is in the air, he'll come out and bite the flight attendants, turning them into flesh-eating zombies and unstoppable killing machines.
"Aaargh! Steak or chicken, Sir?"
P.S. Sorry about all the cussing and swearing, but we're talking about frigging Samuel L. Jackson, man!!!
BONUS: Snakes On A Plane Early Auditions
Thursday, August 10, 2006
From: Bilmon [http://www.billmon.org/]
A Date That Will Not Live in Infamy
The bad news:
Some 30 percent of Americans cannot say in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington took place, according to a poll published in the Washington Post newspaper.
The good news:
While the country is preparing to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives and shocked the world, 95 percent of Americans questioned in the poll were able to remember the month and the day of the attacks. (emphasis added)
So only 5% of all Americans (one in 20) were unable to remember that the 9/11 attacks happened on 9/11. Whew. That's a relief. For a moment I thought we were a nation of idiots and amnesia patients.
I wonder how many of them know who's buried in Grant's tomb?
Update - 15 August 2006: May be I was wrong, may be the USA are no longer a superpower. See this list: http://www.citypages.com/databank/26/1264/article12985.asp
China Plans a Rare-Animal Hunt [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/world/asia/10china.html]
BEIJING, Aug. 9 (Reuters) — China plans to auction licenses to foreigners to hunt wild animals, including rare species, a newspaper said on Wednesday. The government will auction the licenses based on the numbers in each category of animal, ranging from a starting price of $200 for a wolf, the only predator on the list, to as much as $40,000 for a yak, The Beijing Youth Daily said. There are believed to be fewer than 10,000 mature wild yak in the world. The newspaper said the auction, on Sunday in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, would be a first for China.
The government will auction the licenses based on the numbers in each category of animal, ranging from a starting price of $200 for a wolf, the only predator on the list, to as much as $40,000 for a yak, The Beijing Youth Daily said. There are believed to be fewer than 10,000 mature wild yak in the world.
The newspaper said the auction, on Sunday in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, would be a first for China.
What's wrong with these guys anyway? Why are they so callous about killing animals? From the N.Y. Times article (see link above), this comment [regarding the recent dogs killing campaign] answers my questions:
Some drew comparisons with China’s human rights situation. “We don’t have human rights, let alone dog rights,” wrote a commentator going by the name of Kui Kui Xiang Ri, on the Tianya forum. “I’ve seen too much live abuse, let alone abuse of dogs. Anyway, it’s the local emperors who have their say, and we ordinary folks are not much different from dogs in their eyes.”
Associated Press - Police in London break up major terrorist plot: British police have arrested 21 people in connection with a bombing plot that they say would have caused "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" on commercial aircraft flying between Britain and the United States.
But you know, the sad thing is I don't believe it. My first reaction on reading the news was: "Here we go again! What crisis or scandal are they trying to divert my attention from, this time? Is this another favour that Poodle Blair is doing for Bush, to boost his image and deflect the criticism for his do-nothing policy in Lebanon? Is this another replay of the arrest and execution of that poor Brazilian guy in the London metro? What really happened?"
What's the world coming to when you can't even trust the government to not lie in serious matters like terrorism? And you know they lie.
Update: It didn't take long. The Bush administration, who was kept informed by the British government of the coming raid, has already used the incident to smear the Democrats as being weak on security:
"US President George W. Bush seized on a foiled London airline bomb plot to hammer unnamed critics he accused of having all but forgotten the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides have tried to shift the national political debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism ahead of November 7 congressional elections....
His remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn't: News of the plot could soon break....
Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice....
Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism...."
From Agence France-Presse via Americablog: http://americablog.blogspot.com/