Top Ten News Events of 2013

Top Ten News Events of 2013 relating to Vietnamese at home and in the diaspora. Okay, so I kinda cheated and there are more than ten news items. There were too many important news events and I could not whittle the number down to ten. I know, my bad. Anyway, you can just select ten or whatever number you wish. Please share other top news items in the comment section below. Thanks. Happy (Western) New Year!

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1. Vietnamese Diaspora: World

Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh• Leading spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we cannot save the Earth from climate change until we ourselves change. [Photo by AP.]

Australian flag• Researchers estimate the surname “Nguyen” will overtake the current name of “Smith” to become the most commonly used in Australia within 10 years. [Photo: Teaukura Moetaua]

Missing Vietnamese  teenagers• A disproportionate number of the missing teenagers in the United Kingdom are Vietnamese. [Photo: Getty Images]

Kerry Nguyen-Long’s book, Arts of Vietnam• Australian author Kerry Nguyen-Long’s newly-published book, Arts of Vietnam 1009-1945, is the first history written in English of the development of the arts throughout Viet Nam.

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2. Vietnamese Diaspora: America

OneVietnam Network• Non-profit organization OneVietnam, founded by three Vietnamese Americans, connects donors with people in need by providing a “one-click online portal” that makes giving and receiving easy. Making a difference. Awesome!

Vietnamese American Oral History Project• Dr. Thuy Vo Dang, the project director of the Vietnamese American Oral History Project (VAOHP) at the University of California, Irvine, says the refugees’ stories are full of “the ghostly haunting of the Vietnam War.”

Agent Orange cancer rates among Asian Americans Vietnamese Americans who were exposed to Agent Orange face additional problems.

James Copeland and his daughter, Tiffany Nguyen• Time is running out for veterans and their Amerasians children who are searching for each others. [Photo: Lance Murphey]

Little Saigon map On the anniversary of Little Saigon’s 25th Anniversary, the second generation of Vietnamese American assumes responsibility for the enclave’s future. [KCET]

3. The Vietnam (American) War

Nick Turse's book and My Lai• Nick Turse’s book, Kill Anything that Moves, reveals “that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture . . . were in fact the norm, adding up to a continuous stream of atrocity” during the Vietnam War. Also, you can listen to the revealing 30-minute NPR interview in which Turse talks about some of the details from his book. Turse was also featured on (42:50-58:26).

War era munitions More unexploded U.S. bombs and mines have been found in central Vietnam. Approximately 100,000 have killed or wounded by these UXOs since 1975. • Tragically, unexploded bombs dropped over 40 years ago are still killing innocent people.

Kim Phuc chooses forgiveness• Kim Phuc, an emblem of human suffering during the Vietnam War, chooses forgiveness.

Agent Orange victim Military scientists had known that the Agent Orange herbicides shipped to Vietnam were contaminated with dioxin and would harm human health. [Photo: AP]

4. Vietnam: Health

Pregnancy fears Vietnamese pregnant women are concerned about about birth defects from Agent Orange. [Photo : Hoang Dinh Nam]

Chinese imports deluge Vietnam's market About 25% of goods–some of which are toxic products–imported into Vietnam comes from China, both legally and illegally.

Toxic Chinese potatoes• Vietnamese authorities disposed toxic Chinese potatoes found in Da Lat. [Photo: Lam Vien]

Consumers choose local produce• Monsanto, the company that produced Agent Orange for use in The American War, may be harming the Vietnamese population again. [Photo: Julian Abram Wainwright]

Diabetics amputees Pandemic rise of diabetics in Vietnam due to “Westernization and urbanization.” [Photo: Justin Mott]

Violence Vietnam is considering a resolution to impose fines for various domestic psychological abuse.

Second generation Agent Orange victims Four decades later, Agent Orange continues to poison the land in Vietnam and the Vietnamese people. [Photo: Tish Wells]

Workers transporting goods In Vietnam, 15-17% of the population have hepatitis B or C.

5. Vietnam: Economy

Proposed elevated station A new metro system for Vietnam would provide an efficient mass transportation and would “be a more potent symbol of modernization.” [ANN]

Vietnam - U.S. Trade• Vietnam – U.S. trade is growing steadily.

Police searching for illegal Chinese products Chinese copycat products are flooding Vietnam’s market, which has resulted in Vietnam’s trade deficit to China increasing to US$20 billion. [TTN]

6. Vietnam: Socio-Cultural

graves of several hundred veterans from the Vietnam (American) War• In one village, the after effects of war made widowers redefine long-held social-cultural norms.

Gender imbalance in Vietnam Vietnam’s gender imbalance poses “a real threat to the country’s future socioeconomic development and social welfare.”

Population rapidly aging• According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the population aging rate in Vietnam is one of the fastest in Asia.

Transgender laws Vietnam’s transgenders are pushing for laws that would recognize their rights to undergo sex-change operations and to select the gender on their I.D.s.

Scholar Do Van Xuyen• Do Van Xuyen worked 50 years doing research to gather evidence for his book, “A journey to find Ancient Vietnamese writing,” in which he decoded an ancient Vietnamese writing system that interestingly had “no accents.”

Musician Nguyen Vinh Bao• Vietnam has filed a dossier to UNESCO to recognize ‘Don Ca Tai Tu’ as an intangible cultural heritage.

Dogs enroute for slaughter are rescued• A journalist reports on how eating dog became big business in Vietnam.

Same-sex wedding A draft law proposes to lift ban on gay marriage but to not formally recognize it.

7. Vietnam: Political

VCP poster• Over 100 Vietnamese reform-seeking intellectuals signed a petition calling on the government to end one-party rule, which suppresses political dissent.

Vo Nguyen Giap's funeral• Vo Nguyen Giap’s legacy remains divisive, but Vietnamese in the diaspora “should appreciate the role the general played in fighting colonialism.” During the “American war,” the U.S. applied a double standard in regard to human life., in which with “horrific spasms of violence” it massacred millions of Vietnamese civilians.

Vietnamese soldiers protecting Truong Sa• This op-ed piece outlines how Vietnam’s ties with India strategically benefits both countries.

New decree limits content• A new decree will impose large fines on online posts that criticize the government.

Nguyen Tan Dung bows to China• Once again, to the detriment of its people, the Vietnamese government bows to China’s “soft power.

User reading blog Human Rights Watch condemns the arrests of Vietnamese bloggers and urges Vietnam to release them.

ASEAN Secretary General Le Loung Minh• Le Luong Minh becomes the new Secretary General of ASEAN. He will have a hard job negotiating “for progress on a code of conduct” for the East Sea given that China–backed by military force–has historically refused to compromise.

A Catholic boy• In the villages in Central Highlands, as the case in many other areas, the government tightly controls religion. • Also, rival religions don’t incite attacks against each other.

Vietnamese Communist Party poster The newly-founded Social Democratic Party will try to challenge the current ruling Communist Party of Vietnam. [Photo: AFP]

Three-eyed fish Vietnam brushes aside safety concerns regarding its seven planned nuclear plants.

8. Vietnam: China

Disputed areas• By sending a “tourist ship” to the disputed Paracel Islands, China is gesturing, as usual, its fist (mainly its middle finger) to the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea.

Fishing boat which was attacked and damaged by a Chinese naval vessel In another incident, a Chinese naval vessel fired at a Vietnamese fishing boat in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands. [NYT]

Strange Chinese rice introduced into Vietnam China is poisoning our land with strange seeds.

• China’s need for water and “unhelpful” plan for a dam will negatively impact downstream countries, including Vietnam.

9. Vietnam: Reflections

1975 Vietnamese refugees Journalist Andrew Lam reflects on the Vietnamese diaspora.

Lady or Tiger Vietnamese-American scholar Khanh Ho reflects about looking back or not looking back and about hoping “not to be consumed.”

An American soldier in Vietnam The Vietnam War could have been shortened. [Photo: AP]

• Tuong Lai (Nguyen Phuoc Tuong), a sociologist, opines that by allowing Chinese expansionism in Vietnam, Vietnamese leaders are betraying their peoples’ sense of “patriotism and spirit of nationalism.

10. Other

Asian Americans' shopping preference A report confirms that Asian Americans now rank as the “most prolific and impulsive buyers” in the United States (and yet U.S. retailers still discriminate against them).

Leprosy diagnostic test• A new fast method has been developed to test for leprosy before its symptoms manifest in those infected. Please help our people in poor rural areas; if we don’t no one will. Read the pamphlet from Friends of Lepers in Vietnam and an article about Vietnam’s forgotten victims of leprosy. [MNW]

Bangkok skylines A Research Fellow thinks ASEAN is crucial to the ‘Asian century’.

Special thanks to Viet Thanh Nguyen for providing many of the news items.

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