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USAID Launches $183mn Cleanup at Vietnam Storage Site for Agent Orange

The spillover from the clearing operation is believed to have seeped beyond the base and into groundwater and rivers, and is linked to severe mental and physical disabilities across generations of Vietnamese

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FILE - A Vietnamese soldier stands guard at the dioxin-contaminated area at Bien Hoa airbase, where the U.S. Army stored the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, in Bien Hoa city, outside Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, October 17, 2018. VOA

The U.S. launched on Saturday a $183 million cleanup at a former Vietnam storage site for Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used in the nations’ bitter war, which years later is still blamed for severe birth defects, cancers and disabilities.

Located outside Ho Chi Minh City, Bien Hoa air base — the latest site scheduled for rehabilitation after Danang air base’s cleanup last year — was one of the main storage grounds for Agent Orange and was only hastily cleared by soldiers near the war’s end more than four decades ago.

U.S. forces sprayed 80 million liters (21 million gallons) of Agent Orange over South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 in a desperate bid to flush out Viet Cong communist guerrillas by depriving them of tree cover and food.

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US Arm APC spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam. Wikimedia

The spillover from the clearing operation is believed to have seeped beyond the base and into groundwater and rivers, and is linked to severe mental and physical disabilities across generations of Vietnamese — from enlarged heads to deformed limbs.

Largest ‘hot spot’ left

At Bien Hoa, more than 500,000 cubic meters of dioxin had contaminated the soil and sediment, making it the “largest remaining hot spot” in Vietnam, said a statement from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which kicked off a 10-year remediation effort Saturday.

The dioxin amounts in Bien Hoa are four times more than the volume cleaned up at Danang airport, a six-year, $110 million effort that was completed in November.

“The fact that two former foes are now partnering on such a complex task is nothing short of historic,” said the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel Kritenbrink, at Saturday morning’s launch, which was attended by Vietnamese military officials and U.S. senators.

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USAID Launches Latest Cleanup of Agent Orange Site. Wikimedia

Hanoi says up to 3 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, and that 1 million suffer grave health repercussions today — including at least 150,000 children with birth defects.

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An attempt by Vietnamese victims to obtain compensation from the United States has met with little success. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 declined to take up the case, while neither the U.S. government nor the manufacturers of the chemical have ever admitted liability.

While U.S. officials have never admitted direct links between Agent Orange and birth defects, USAID on Saturday also issued a “memorandum of intent” to work with government agencies to improve the lives of people with disabilities in seven Vietnamese provinces. (VOA)

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What Difference Between Chinese Domination and American Domination?

Chinese government has always been dominant over it's people

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Who is more dominant, Chinese government or US government?. Pixabay

By N.S. Venkataraman

Chinese government has not left anybody in doubt, about it’s ambitious target of dominating the world at any cost. Chinese government has been suppressing  freedom of speech in China, taking away the rights of citizens of Hong Kong in authoritarian manner and aggressively occupying the territory of neighbours such as Tibet and part of Indian territory, which it occupied after 1962 Indo Chinese war. China is now claiming Indian province Arunachal Pradesh as it’s own and aggressively claiming territorial right in South China Sea and Senkaku island. Chinese government says that Taiwan is part of it’s territory and objects to any recognition given to Taiwan by any other country.

Further, China is trying to enforce it’s domination over small and weak  nearby  countries  such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others, by extending loans, which  these countries cannot afford to repay in the foreseeable future.

Viewing China’s methods and targets, one does not find much of difference between today’s Chinese government and Hitler’s Germany. Several countries in the world are  gradually realizing that checking China’s ambition is as necessary, as checking Hitler’s ambition  that caused World War II.

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Chinese government has been suppressing freedom of speech in China. Pixabay

However, the supporters of China claim that US government too should be accused of trying to dominate the world and it has sent troops to several countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others to enforce it’s domination. There is an element of  truth in this, as American government seem to think that it has the duty to police the world.

In any case, on careful analysis of the scenario and judiciously comparing the domination desire of China and USA, one cannot but see a subtle difference between both these countries.

While China believes in ruthless elimination of opponents both inside and outside China (just like the way Hitler did) and wants to occupy territories of other countries by coercion or force , US does not indulge in such acts of suppression of human rights or occupying territory of other countries.

US has not concealed it’s desire that freedom of speech and democratic procedures should prevail in all regions in the world. On many occasions , US has fought against totalitarian regimes, religious extremists and terrorist groups and has paid a high price by losing American lives.

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USA desires to dominate the world. Pixabay

USA may have the ambition to dominate the world and ensure it’s authority as super power, but it has no ambition of territorial expansions that China has.

All said and done, if the world were to choose between USA and China, it would inevitably come to the conclusion that world domination by USA is a lesser evil than the world domination by China.

Unlike China, the citizens of USA have the right to criticise the decisions of the government, launch protests against human rights violation, if any and exercise their franchise once in four years to change the party in power, if it would act against the wishes of the people. By such process, the conscience of USA largely remain in tact and US government is vulnerable to the pressure of public opinion, both in USA  and other parts of the world.

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In China, the citizens don’t have the right to criticise the decisions of the government. Pixabay

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On the other hand, China has totalitarian regime and no citizen can survive in China if he would criticise the Chinese President or question the decision of the Chinese government. To this extent, it is dictatorial regime in China, which can be termed as uncivilized form of governance.

The fact is that USA has been remaining as super  power in the world for several decades now and  the world has not  become worse due to the dominating power of USA. Of course, there have been criticism against US government by some section of world opinion but  most of such critics belong to religious extremist groups  and motivated  leftist (communist) forces , whose economic  and administrative policies  have totally failed to deliver the goods.

Achieving super power status by China   and establishing it’s authority in large parts of the world with least consideration for value systems and sentiments of people, is the worst thing that can happen to the world civilization.

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Know Why the Vietnamese Governement Turns to Private Companies for Public Services Needs

Vietnam urges private companies to help the government serve public service needs

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Garbage collection is still a local government responsibility in Vietnam. Pixabay

Last year companies like Coca Cola and Tetra Pak, an international food packaging and processing company, collaborated with Vietnam’s biggest city to lower garbage levels. Their work included putting recycling bins around Ho Chi Minh City and investing in the waste management system.

Garbage collection is still a local government responsibility.

The collaboration, though, shows how Vietnam is increasingly looking at private companies to fulfill its national development needs.

Vietnam is at a turning point. The country used to rely on aid from nations such as Sweden and Canada, and that foreign funding helped Vietnam improve education, health care, and other public goods, and transform into a lower middle-income nation.

Foreign governments are cutting aid budgets globally, though, and Vietnam no longer qualifies for as much aid, so it is trying a new approach to development, making it a business.

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Scavengers search for recyclable materials to be sold to recycling centres, at the Nam Son garbage dump, north of Hanoi. VOA

It matches marketing strategy to a need for investment dollars.

That means getting more companies involved in activities traditionally performed by government, with the intention of reaching Vietnam’s development goals.“

A series of ongoing market reforms is giving Vietnam a market-leading status in Southeast Asia, making it an increasingly attractive place for investors,” Nirukt Sapru, who is the chief executive officer for Vietnam, Southeast Asia, and South Asia at Standard Chartered Bank, said.

Elsewhere in the region, Malaysia struggled to introduce a fee to clean septic tanks when privatization occurred because residents had gotten used to that being a public service, already covered by tax dollars. Citizens globally have resisted when governments move to sell assets they think should be kept for public benefit, from airports in France to the oil business in Mexico.

One major donor, the U.S. Agency for International Development, though, thinks it’s a good idea for Vietnam to move toward more private sector involvement. In recent years it has promoted U.S. companies to work on Vietnamese development projects, such as energy and smart cities.”

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USAID provides development assistance for market-oriented reform and trade facilitation, including implementing a program to reinvigorate the public-private-partnership business model here in Vietnam,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink last year. (VOA)

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Facebook Removes Fake Accounts From Russia, Iran, Vietnam and Myanmar

Facebook purges more fake accounts from Russia, Iran

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) Facebook has removed three networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in foreign or government interference on Facebook and Instagram. Pixabay

Facebook has removed three networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in foreign or government interference on Facebook and Instagram that originated in Russia, Iran, Vietnam and Myanmar.

The first operation originated in Russia and primarily targeted Ukraine and its neighbouring countries and the second originated in Iran and focused mainly on the US.

“The third network originated in Myanmar and Vietnam and targeted audiences in Myanmar. Each of them created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy, said in a blog post late Wednesday.

Facebook removed 78 accounts, 11 Pages, 29 Groups and four Instagram accounts in Russia for violating its policy against foreign or government interference.

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Facebook also removed 6 Facebook accounts and 5 Instagram accounts that were involved in foreign interference as part of a small network originating in Iran that primarily focused on the US. Pixabay

Some of these accounts represented themselves as citizen journalists and tried to contact policymakers, journalists and other public figures in the region.

“Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to Russian military intelligence services,” said Gleicher.

Facebook also removed 6 Facebook accounts and 5 Instagram accounts that were involved in foreign interference as part of a small network originating in Iran that primarily focused on the US.

They shared posts about political news and geopolitics including topics like the US elections, Christianity, US-Iran relations, US immigration policy, criticism of US policies in the Middle East and public figures.

“Finally, we removed 13 Facebook accounts and 10 Pages for violating our policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour. This Myanmar-focused activity originated in Myanmar and Vietnam,” said the company.

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The individuals behind this network used fake accounts to manage Pages posing as independent telecom consumer news hubs. They also purported to be customers of some of the telecom providers in Myanmar posting critical commentary about those companies and their services.

The investigation found links to two telecom providers — Mytel in Myanmar and Viettel in Vietnam, and Gapit Communications, a PR firm in Vietnam. (IANS)