Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

 

I was born in the mid 1950’s and grew up watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news. Mr. Cronkite was by most considered to be the “most trusted man in America.” Whom is it that you totally trust the most in American news media or within the political realm today? With all the news outlets of today all trying to get you to watch or listen to them I find it difficult to put much trust in any of them. There are two main reasons for that, one is that each of these outlets are companies, they are ‘for profit’. Two is the consideration of where are they getting their information?

 

I am in my early 60’s now so during the past 50 years or so we here in the U.S. have been constantly told that we are the good guys and governments who are Communist are the bad guys. From all of the reading and studying that I have done over the years I really don’t doubt that these Communists governments are far less than friendly toward their own population nor to others. Communists seem to think military first and usually military only and it is a proven fact that very few people who are military oriented are very good public leaders. Military frame of mind and civilian frame of mind seldom seem to end up within the same person. Then again within the non-communists countries the people have to put up with politicians who seem to change their mind like farts in a breeze. Here in the U.S. we the people have learned a lot since the NSA murdered John and Bobby Kennedy back in the 60’s. When Nixon was President he illegally expanded the war in Vietnam into Laos and Cambodia. We had military personal who died there or were captured there that our government turned their back on as well as their families basically saying they must have deserted. When the U.S. officially left Vietnam Nixon got on TV and said there were no more POWs in southeast Asia, knowing very well that he was lying to the people. Reality comes down to the fact of truth or not the truth, trust or not being able to trust.

 

Now I am going to talk about current events here in the U.S. and this reality of trust or no trust. On a personal level can you trust a person on really serious matters when you absolutely know as a fact that they have lied to you many many occasions?  In the last 24-36 hours we have been hearing on the news that Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. spy drone. The early news strongly hinted that the drone was over Iranian land which by all forms of international law would have been a violation committed by the Americans and Iran would have had every right to shoot it down. By international law every country which borders a body of water has 12 miles sovereignty except for China’s Communists government who seems to want to claim at least a few thousand miles sovereignty but that is another story for other articles. Now the U.S. government is saying that the drone was 21 miles off of Iran’s coast and if this is true then basically Iran committed and act of war against the U.S. and the U.S. government would have the right to retaliate against Iran. The issue is, how can we trust our own government when they and especially our President is a habitual liar? President George W. Bush’s lies paved the way for us to start a war with Iraq. Personally I believe that he was just trying to show his Daddy that he could ‘one-up’ him and take out Saddam. Think of the cost of those lies in terms of thousands of people dead and about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money thrown into that bloodbath. Today’s news headline said that some of the Republicans in the Senate were upset that President Trump called off a bombing raid in Iran that would have started an all out war with them and their allies. Going to war with anyone should not be a partisan matter and going to war should not be in the hands of one person. If we are going to enter a war this war should be voted on and passed by at least 2/3 of the Congress and the Senate. This is not a computer game, many thousands of people will die. So, what is the truth on this matter, can you or I honestly trust anything that Mr. Trump says? Personally I don’t. Credibility is something that our leaders no longer have, their word is not good enough any more. If we go to war with Iran they have many allies including many sleeper cells within our own borders, many Americans on American land will die, life as we have always know it here in the States will be over. But, how the hell can we the people ever know if what we are being told is the truth, or just another lie.

 

GOP Congressman Bashes Trump For Praising Kim Jong Un On Memorial Day

(TRUMP PRAISES MASS MURDERER KIM JONG UN ON MEMORIAL DAY!)

(The Idiot Coward in Chief strikes again)(oped: oldpoet56)

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL) on Sunday called out President Donald Trump for bashing former Vice President Joe Biden and praising North Korean “dictator” Kim Jong Un on Memorial Day weekend.

Trump touted his relationship with Kim Jong Un and took aim at Biden, who officially announced his 2020 presidential bid as a Democrat last month, in a tweet while in Japan on a state visit this weekend. “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” the president tweeted on Saturday. “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”

The president initially misspelled Biden’s name in a former version of the tweet that has since been deleted.

In response, Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who served twice in Iraq, called the president’s comments “just plain wrong” in a tweet on Sunday. “It’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’re taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator. This is just plain wrong,” the GOP congressman wrote, alongside a quoted retweet of the president’s statement.

Adam Kinzinger

@RepKinzinger

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’re taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator. This is just plain wrong.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?

7,545 people are talking about this

Andrew Bates, director of rapid response for Biden’s 2020 campaign, fired back at Trump shortly after the president’s tweet was shared. “Given Vice President Biden’s record of standing up for American values and interests, it’s no surprise that North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House,” he said.

The president’s comments come as he arrived in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday with first lady Melania Trump to hold talks with the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and meet the new emperor, Naruhito.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency last week published commentary labelling Biden a “snob lacking even the most basic qualities of a human being, much less a politician.” The North Korean propaganda outlet also echoed Trump’s frequent description of Biden as a “low-IQ individual,” by referring to the Democratic presidential candidate as “an idiot with a low IQ.”

The nation’s criticisms of Biden came after the former Vice President condemned Trump’s friendly relationship with Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a campaign event. “Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like Putin and Kim Jong Un?” Biden said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted that the Trump administration and Pyongyang both hold similar feelings about Biden during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday Morning.

“I think [Trump and Kim Jong Un] agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden,” she said during a discussion with host Chuck Todd. “The president doesn’t need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. He’s given his own assessment a number of times. I think you’ve seen it. I’m sure you’ve covered it on your program. The president watched him and his administration with President Obama fail for eight years.”

GettyImages-1128043327In this handout photo provided by Vietnam News Agency, U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) during their second summit meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel on February 28, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL) condemned Trump on Sunday for bashing former Vice President Joe Biden and praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the Memorial Day weekend.VIETNAM NEWS AGENCY/HANDOUT/GETTY IMAGES

China:Navy Chief Says ‘it’s’ Vital To Promote Trust, Peace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Navy chief says vital to promote trust, peace

Xinhua

Reuters

Chinese navy personnel perform at an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao yesterday.

China’ss navy wants maritime “tranquillity and good order,” its chief said yesterday, ahead of a parade today to mark its 70th anniversary.

Speaking at a reception in Qingdao, navy chief Shen Jinlong said China was looking to promote trust and cooperation this week in its interactions with foreign navies and delegations.

“China’s navy is willing to, together with other navies, tackle maritime security challenges and maintain maritime peace, tranquillity and good order, stay committed to maritime security and development and actively provide more public goods for world maritime security,” Shen said.

“The PLA Navy is willing to be your close, friendly and equal partner for mutual support, development and win-win cooperation and remain united and act resolutely with all of you to safeguard world peace and stability,” he added.

“Let us contribute more to an ocean of lasting peace, common security and prosperity, an ocean that is open and inclusive.”

“A maritime parade is a form of military diplomacy,” said Yin Zhuo, head of the information technology commission of the PLA Navy.

“The PLA Navy will showcase the idea of peace to international delegates and the world.”

Organizing multinational naval events is an established practice for the PLA Navy, he added, noting that the events can boost exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign navies, who will work together to safeguard maritime security and stability.

Today’s parade will feature 32 vessels and 39 aircraft, some of which have not been seen before, as well as warships from 13 foreign countries including India, Australia and Vietnam.

Congress Honors Berea Vet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE RICHMOND (KY) REGISTER)

 

Congress honors Berea vet

Chester Elkin, a Berea native and decorated World War II veteran, was presented with a Congressional record at his home signed by U.S. State Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.). He is also a nominee for the 2019 Kentucky Veteran Hall of Fame, representing the city of Berea.

At the gathering Thursday morning, Emerson McAfee, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) central Kentucky chapter read the record aloud to Elkin, alongside his wife of 76 years, Mary Ellen. McAfee also was the person who nominated Elkin for the hall of fame.

On March 25, Barr also read the record aloud before the House of Representatives, which gives an overview of not only Elkin’s extensive and award winning service, but his many contributions to Berea and Madison County.

The record recalled Barr standing and stating, “Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the life of a special man, Mr. Chester Elkin, of Madison County, Kentucky. Mr. Elkin is part of a special group of heroes that served our nation during World War II … I am humbled to honor the service of Mr. Chester Elkin before the United States Congress.”

“I just asked for a letter,” McAfee said. “I never would’ve thought he would recognize him before Congress.”

Elkin was born in Wallaceton in 1919. While in high school he became the driver of the first school bus in his community, and at the age of 17, he opened a general store so the community wouldn’t have to travel as far for necessities. He also owned properties in the city, which he used to provide businesses and jobs.

He was involved with several Berea committees and organizations such as Renfro Valley Entertainment, the American Legion Post 50 and was county game warden for 30 years.

He served in the Army Air Corps from 1941 to 1946. He was stationed at an airbase in Ie Jima Island, Okinawa, leading the development of a runway for landing the aircraft. Toward the end of the war, he was in charge of receiving Japanese aircrafts and their pilots during their surrender, earning him the American Theater Medal, American Defense Medal, Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal with two bronze stars, the Good Conduct Ribbon and the Victory Medal.

“I never realized that people would ever care about what I was doing,” Elkin said. “I just did what I was told.”

Besides McAfee and Elkin’s wife, their daughter, Alvanell, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley and Elkin’s hospice caretakers were in attendance.

Fraley, who is long standing family friends with the Elkin family, reminisced with him.

“You remember that Red’s game at Riverfront that we went to with Daddy,” he asked. “It was 1974, and I was just a boy, and I never forgot about that. Those were some of the best memories of my life.”

Elkin is looking forward to another large milestone by celebrating his 100th birthday in August, something he says that nothing will hinder him from reaching.

“With everything that I did throughout my life, I didn’t do anything that will keep me from getting to 100,” he said.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

The Mekong Basin. Photo from the website of The People’s Stories project. Used with permission

In 2014, several indigenous communities in the Mekong started recording their stories and legends with the help of a group of researchers who are exploring how these narratives can help exposing the destructive impact of large-scale projects in the region.

The Mekong is one of Asia’s great river systems which flows through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is rich in biodiversity and a vital source of livelihood for millions of farmers and fisherfolk.

In recent years, several large-scale projects such as hydropower dams have displaced residents while threatening the river basin’s ecosystem. Despite protests, the construction of dams has continued, especially in Laos and Thailand.

In partnership with Mekong Watch, a Japan-based group advocating sustainable development in the region, several community elders in the Mekong began recording some of their stories and legends in 2014 that revolve around nature. Mekong Watch believes that these stories “have played an important role in protecting nature by avoiding the over-exploitation of natural resources.”

Mekong Watch asserts that part of the commons that need to be protected are not just natural resources but also “intangible heritages” that can be shared and accessed by the local community. Toshiyuki Doi, senior adviser of Mekong watch, adds:

People’s stories should be regarded, recognized, and respected as Mekong’s commons, especially these days when they are losing their place in local communities to more modern media, and are not passed on to next generations.

Areas in the Mekong where researchers conducted fieldwork. 1. Kmhmu’ in northern and central Laos; 2. Siphandon in southern Laos; 3. Akha in northern Thailand; 4. Thai So and Isan in northeastern Thailand; 5. Bunong in northeastern Cambodia. Used with permission.

The group was able to collect a total of 102 stories in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Stories were recorded, transcribed, and translated into the national languages of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia before an English version was made. Mekong Watch published these stories as pamphlets in both printed and digital formats, and used them during environment workshops they conducted at the communities.

Since late 2016, we have used people’s stories to provide environmental education to children in rural Laos and Thailand. We have hosted workshops in schools and local communities to guide children, and sometimes adults, to collect stories from elderly people, learn from the stories, and turn them into reading materials.

An example of a workshop involves the retelling of the story of ‘The Owl and the Deer ’from Kmhmu’ people in central and northern Laos. The story is about an owl who lost his ability to see during the day after cheating a deer.

During a workshop, young participants are asked: “What kinds of animals appear in the story?”, “Can you see these animals in your village?”, and “If there are fewer of these animals in your village than before, why do you think this has happened?”

After this, participants are encouraged to connect the story to the deterioration of the environment in their communities.

In Champasak Province, south Laos, the legend of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the Sida bird is used to highlight how a dam project is disrupting the seasonal migration of Mekong River fisheries.

Another story also from southern Laos is instructive on the value of resource management:

The story about the Rhino Head was recorded on November 16, 2014, at the Songkram River bank in northeast Thailand. The narrator was Mun Kimprasert, aged 68. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

Once, a soldier stepped into a spirit forest. He discovered a lot of tobacco leaves there and collected them. However, when trying to leave the forest, he could not find an exit. It was because he took more tobacco leaves than he could possibly consume for himself. No matter how hard he searched, he could not find a way out of the forest. Realizing what might have been the problem, he finally decided to return the tobacco leaves to the forest. The moment he dropped them on the ground, he was able to see an exit in front of him.

In northern Thailand, a story by the Akha people about the origin of the swingteaches self-sacrifice through a heroic episode of a brother and a sister who put the world in order.

In northeast Thailand, a folktale about Ta Sorn narrated by Tongsin Tanakanya promotes unity among neighbors in a farming community. Another story recalls how the hunting of a rhinoceros led to the formation of salt trading in this part of the country.

In Bunong, located in northeast Cambodia, there are stories about rituals to fix bad marriages and planting and harvest ceremonies narrated by Khoeuk Keosineam. There is also the legend of the elephant as retold by Chhot Pich which reveals how villagers who once poisoned a river were punished by the gods and turned into elephants. It explains why elephants were comfortable living with humans but, after several generations, they forgot their origins and went to live in the forest.

Hea Phoeun from the Laoka Village, Senmonorom, Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia shares a village ritual on how to fix an ‘unfit’ marriage. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

For Mekong Watch and the threatened communities in the region, preserving these stories is integral in the campaign to resist projects that would displace thousands of people living in the Mekong:

These stories can help form their identity as a community member and identify with the environment. By means of stories, the communities search for ways to accommodate and/or resist changes that are taking place in the Mekong river basin.

Landslides kill 13, leave 4 missing in south central Vietnam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Landslides kill 13, leave 4 missing in south central Vietnam

A disaster official in Khanh Hoa province says some 600 soldiers have been mobilised to search for the missing and evacuate people from high-risk areas.

WORLD Updated: Nov 19, 2018 14:07 IST

landslides,south central Vietnam,Khanh Hoa province
Landslides due to rains from a tropical storm have killed 13 people and left four others missing in south-central Vietnam.(AFP)

Landslides due to rains from a tropical storm have killed 13 people and left four others missing in south-central Vietnam.

A disaster official in Khanh Hoa province says some 600 soldiers have been mobilised to search for the missing and evacuate people from high-risk areas.

He said the landslides from heavy rains triggered by Tropical Storm Toraji collapsed several houses and buried the victims in some villages in the resort city of Nha Trang on Sunday.

The storm weakened to a tropical depression at sea off the south central coastal province of Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan on Sunday night, the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority said in a statement Monday.

Vietnam is prone to floods and storms which kill hundreds of people each year.

First Published: Nov 19, 2018 09:52 IST

It Is The Communist Government Of China That Is “Confused” Not The Whole World

(This article is courtesy of the Reuters News Agency)

China says Japan trying to ‘confuse’ South China Sea situation

China on Monday accused Japan of trying to “confuse” the situation in the South China Sea, after its neighbor said it would step up activity in the contested waters, through joint training patrols with the United States.

Ties between Asia’s two largest economies have long been overshadowed by arguments over their painful wartime history and a territorial spat in the East China Sea, among other issues.

China has repeatedly denounced what it views as interference by the United States and its ally Japan in the South China Sea.

Japan will also help build the capacity of coastal states in the busy waterway, its defense minister said last week during a visit to Washington.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said countries in the region had reached a consensus that the South China Sea issue should be resolved through talks between the parties directly involved, and that China and Southeast Asian countries should jointly maintain peace and stability there.

“Let’s have a look at the results of Japan’s throwing things into disorder over this same time period … trying to confuse the South China Sea situation under the pretense of (acting for) the international community,” Lu told a daily news briefing, when asked about Japan’s announcement.

Japan’s actions have simply pushed other countries away from it, and it has failed to compel other nations to see its point of view, he added.

“China is resolute in its determination to protect its sovereignty and maritime interests,” Lu said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which ships carrying about $5 trillion in trade pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, which is also believed to be rich in energy resources and fish stocks.

In July, an arbitration court in the Hague said China’s claims to the waterway were invalid, after a case was brought by the Philippines. Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang dies after ‘serious illness’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ALJAZEERA NEWS)

 

Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang dies after ‘serious illness’

Tran Dai Quang died at a military hospital in Hanoi, state media reported without elaborating on the illness.

Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang has died aged 61 after prolonged serious illness, according to state media.

Quang died in a military hospital in Hanoi on Friday from a “serious illness despite efforts by domestic and international doctors and professors”, Vietnam Television reported.

Quang, one of the country’s top three leaders but with mostly ceremonial duties, hosted President Donald Trump during his first state visit to the communist country last year.

He had appeared thin and pale in public and was unstable on his feet last week when he hosted a welcoming ceremony for Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Hanoi.

Quang’s last public appearance was at a Politburo meeting of the ruling Communist Party and a reception for a Chinese delegation on Wednesday.

Tough leader

Originally from a small farming community 115 km south of Hanoi, Quang rose through party ranks to become a police general and member of Vietnam’s powerful decision-making Politburo.

Quang was elected president in April 2016 with a reputation of being a tough leader with little tolerance for dissent.

He often appeared uncomfortable in the public eye and lacked the charisma of some of his peers in the upper echelons of the party.

In an interview with the AFP news agency in 2016 before a visit by the former French leader Francois Hollande, Quang read from a prepared statement and was quickly escorted from the room by staff when a question went off-script.

“We are saddened to hear the news that the president has died,” said Bui Duc Phi, chairman of the village in which Quang was born.

Vietnam has no paramount ruler and is officially led by the president, prime minister and Communist Party chief.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

China Trying To Start WW III By Actions Against England In South China Sea?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘EXPRESS NEWS’ OF ENGLAND)

 

WW3 WARNING: China UNLEASHES helicopters and warship at British Navy in South China Sea

THE Royal Navy was confronted by China’s military might after a British warship passed close by Beijing-claimed Paracel Islands, in a move the Asian superpower has dubbed “provocation”, with tensions escalating in the region.

HMS Albion out at sea patrolling Asia Pacific Region

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HMS Albion sailed passed Paracel Islands in a bid to assert the “freedom of navigation rights” and challenge China’s “excessive claims” over the South China Sea.

Upon reaching the Islands, the warship was met by two Chinese helicopters and a frigate, but both sides reportedly remained calm during the stand off.

China’s navy warned the British vessel to leave Chinese territorial waters.

China’s Foreign Ministry added: “The relevant actions by the British ship violated Chinese law and relevant international law, and infringed on China’s sovereignty.

China strongly opposes this and has lodged stern representations with the British side to express strong dissatisfaction.

“China strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such provocative actions, to avoid harming the broader picture of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.

“China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and security.”

The 22,000 ton warship was packed with Royal Marines as it made its route to Hanoi where it docked on Monday after a deployment in and around Japan.

british navy warship passes china claimed island

A British navy vessel was confronted by Chinese military after it sailed near Paracel Islands (Image: GETTY)

However, the Royal Navy insisted they did not enter the territorial disputed region but travelled twelve nautical miles away from the area, in accordance to the internationally recognised territorial limit.

In a statement, a Royal Navy spokesperson said: “HMS Albion exercised her rights of freedom of navigation in full compliance with international law and norms.”

The Paracel Islands are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, as countries in the region compete over territorial claims within the South China Sea.

Dr Euan Graham, a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia, told the Daily Telegraph: “The UK has impressively deployed three Royal Navy surface ships to Asian waters this year, after a long gap between ship visits, to this part of the world.”

British navy warship passes China's claimed paracel islands

The HMS Albion, a Royal Navy assault ship sailed close to the Paracel Islands last week (Image: GETTY)

Chinese military warn US Navy not to fly over SECRET ISLAND

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He added: “Also, the fact that Albion was coming from Japan and on her way to Vietnam gives the signal a sharper edge to China.”

In June, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced plans to send three warship to the South China Sea “to send the strongest of signals” to countries that “don’t play by the rules”.

This follows US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis warning to China, declaring the country would suffer “consequences” if it continued to militarise the South China Sea.

The US has previously announced hopes for more international initiative towards challenging Chinese claimed territories in the South China Sea, after Beijing claimed reefs, islands and built missile systems in the disputed region.

Laos: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South-East Asian Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Laos

Introduction Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For three hundred years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1986. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.
History Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, founded in the fourteenth century by Fa Ngum, himself descended from a long line of Lao kings, tracking back to Khun Borom. Lan-Xang prospered until the eighteenth century, when the kingdom was divided into three principalities, which eventually came under Siamese suzerainty. In the 19th century, Luang Prabang was incorporated into the ‘Protectorate’ of French Indochina, and shortly thereafter, the kingdom of Champassack and the territory of Vientiane were also added to the protectorate. The French saw Laos as a useful buffer state between the two expanding empires of France and Britain. Under the French, Vientiane once again became the capital of a unified Lao state. Following a brief Japanese occupation during World War II, the country declared its independence in 1945, but the French re-asserted their control and only in 1950 was Laos granted semi-autonomy as an “associated state” within the French Union. Moreover, the French remained in de facto control until 1954, when Laos gained full independence as a constitutional monarchy. Under a special exemption to the Geneva Convention, a French military training mission continued to support the Royal Laos Army. In 1955, the U.S. Department of Defense created a special Programs Evaluation Office to replace French support of the Royal Lao Army against the communist Pathet Lao as part of the U.S. containment policy.

Laos was dragged into the Vietnam War, and the eastern parts of the country were invaded and occupied by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), which used Laotian territory as a staging ground and supply route for its war against the South. In response, the United States initiated a bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese, supported regular and irregular anticommunist forces in Laos and supported a South Vietnamese invasion of Laos. The result of these actions were a series of coups d’état and, ultimately, the Laotian Civil War between the Royal Laotian government and the communist Pathet Lao.

In the Civil War, the NVA, with its heavy artillery and tanks, was the real power behind the Pathet Lao insurgency. In 1968, the North Vietnamese Army launched a multi-division attack against the Royal Lao Army. The attack resulted in the army largely demobilizing and leaving the conflict to irregular forces raised by the United States and Thailand.

Massive aerial bombardment by the United States followed as it attempted to eliminate North Vietnamese bases in Laos in order to disrupt supply lines on the Ho Chi Minh/Trường Sơn Trail. Between 1971 and 1973 the USAF dropped more ordnance on Laos than was dropped worldwide during World War II (1939−45). In total more than 2 million tonnes of bombs were dropped (almost 1/2 a tonne per head of population at the time).

Pha That Luang in Vientiane, the national symbol of Laos.

In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao, backed by the Soviet Union and the North Vietnamese Army (justified by the communist ideology of “proletarian internationalism”), overthrew the royalist government, forcing King Savang Vatthana to abdicate on December 2, 1975. He later died in captivity.

After taking control of the country, Pathet Lao’s government renamed the country as the “Lao People’s Democratic Republic” and signed agreements giving Vietnam the right to station military forces and to appoint advisers to assist in overseeing the country. Laos was ordered in the late 1970s by Vietnam to end relations with the People’s Republic of China which cut the country off from trade with any country but Vietnam. Control by Vietnam and socialization were slowly replaced by a relaxation of economic restrictions in the 1980s and admission into ASEAN in 1997.

The Tai Dam are an ethnic group from Laos that escaped the country as a group. After thousands of years of political oppression, the Tai Dam people vowed to unite as one group and find a country they could call their own. The Tai Dam are known as “the people without a country.” More than 90 percent of Tai Dam refugees emigrated to the state of Iowa after the governor agreed to take the Tai Dam as a group and have organizations sponsor families. In 2005, the United States established Normal Trade Relations with Laos, ending a protracted period of punitive import taxes.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Utah
Land boundaries: total: 5,083 km
border countries: Burma 235 km, Cambodia 541 km, China 423 km, Thailand 1,754 km, Vietnam 2,130 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phou Bia 2,817 m
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land use: arable land: 4.01%
permanent crops: 0.34%
other: 95.65% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,750 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 333.6 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 3 cu km/yr (4%/6%/90%)
per capita: 507 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: floods, droughts
Environment – current issues: unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Demographics 69% of the country’s people are ethnic Lao, the principal lowland inhabitants and the politically and culturally dominant group. The Lao belong to the Tai linguistic group who began migrating southward from China in the first millennium AD. A further 8% belong to other “lowland” groups, which together with the Lao people make up the Lao Loum.

Hill people and minority cultures of Laos such as the Hmong (Miao), Yao (Mien), Tai dumm, Dao, Shan, and several Tibeto-Burman speaking peoples have lived in isolated regions of Laos for many years. Mountain/hill tribes of mixed ethno/cultural-linguistic heritage are found in northern Laos which include the Lua (Lua) and Khammu people who are indigenous to Laos. Today, the Lua people are considered endangered. Collectively, they are known as Lao Soung or highland Laotians. In the central and southern mountains, Mon-Khmer tribes, known as Lao Theung or mid-slope Laotians, predominate. Some Vietnamese and Chinese minorities remain, particularly in the towns, but many left in two waves; after independence in the late 1940s and again after 1975.

The term “Laotian” does not necessarily refer to the ethnic Lao language, ethnic Lao people, language or customs, but is a political term that also includes the non-ethnic Lao groups within Laos and identifies them as “Laotian” because of their political citizenship. In a similar vein, the word “Lao” can also describe the people, cuisine, language and culture of the people of Northeast Thailand (Isan) who are ethnic Lao.

The predominant religion in Laos is Theravada Buddhism which, along with the common Animism practiced among the mountain tribes, coexists peacefully with spirit worship. There also are a small number of Christians, mostly restricted to the Vientiane area, and Muslims, mostly restricted to the Myanmar border region. Christian missionary work is regulated by the government.

The official and dominant language is Lao, a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group. Midslope and highland Lao speak an assortment of tribal languages. French, still common in government and commerce, has declined in usage, while knowledge of English, the language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has increased in recent years.

People Population: 6,677,534 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41% (male 1,374,966/female 1,362,945)
15-64 years: 55.9% (male 1,846,375/female 1,885,029)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 91,028/female 117,191) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 19.2 years
male: 18.9 years
female: 19.5 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.344% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 34.46 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 11.02 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 79.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 88.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 69.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 56.29 years
male: 54.19 years
female: 58.47 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.5 children born
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