Archive for April 1st, 2011

April 1, 2011

Dam builders disregard ordinary people: 51 countries step up their campaign to get Thailand to cancel the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River

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Proposed dam on the Mekong should not go ahead until all social and environmental concerns are addressed

International pressure is mounting as 263 non-governmental organizations from 51 countries step up their campaign to get Thailand to cancel the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River’s mainstream in northern Laos. In a recent letter sent to the governments of Laos and Thailand, the NGOs urged all parties to cancel plans to build this destructive project, saying public and international credibility are at stake, as well as the ecology of the affected area and the huge number of people who depend on it for their livelihood and food security.

Environmental groups, scientists and others who have been following this project say it has serious flaws and it represents an unacceptable threat to the lives of millions of people in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

“The dam’s environmental impact assessment report, released last week, is totally inadequate,” Ame Trandem of International Rivers says. The U.S.-based group says the assessment lacks basic yet critical technical information. Other critics say the EIA was written to downplay the dam’s impact on fisheries and was deliberately released late (a final decision must be made by April 23) to minimize public opposition.

Unfortunately, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, during a recent dinner with members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, was dazed when the issue was put to him. The P.M. appeared to confuse this dam ― which would be built by the Thai firm Ch Karnchang but is supported by Vientiane ― with another proposed by the Samak government near Ubon Ratchathani, which his government ditched; with good reason. But the P.M.’s apparent lack of awareness of the project has raised alarm bells, because the Xayaburi Dam looms as an environmental nightmare, partly because it could open the door to a dozen or so dams on the lower Mekong and destroy vast fish resources.

Trandem, of International Rivers, says the report failed to consider transboundary impacts, despite a warning from the Mekong River Commission that the environmental and social impacts will be irreversible and will be felt basin-wide should the project go ahead. “Given the quality of the EIA and the anticipated impacts, if this project goes ahead it would be unimaginably irresponsible,” she said.

But there are fears, based partly on recent history, that the demands from environmentalists may fall on deaf ears. The Lao government appears determined to press ahead with the project ― despite reports it could cause tension with Hanoi because of huge public concern in Viet Nam’s “rice bowl,” the Mekong Delta. There are already reports of earth-moving equipment near the proposed dam site, about 30km south of Luang Prabang

The sustainability of livelihoods ― for the tens of thousands who survive off fishing in Thai and Lao villages south of Chiang Khong, the vast number of Cambodians living around the huge Tonle Sap lake, and Vietnamese rice-growers in the lower reaches of the river ― is not at the heart of the decision-making process.

The Xayaburi Dam is a $3.5 billion project that was first proposed in 2007. While the dam is being pushed by Laos, it is essentially a Thai development. It would be funded by four Thai banks ― Kasikorn, Siam Commercial, Bangkok Bank and Krung Thai ― and about 95 percent of the 1,260 megawatts of electricity to be generated would be sent to Egat, Thailand’s state energy body. Thai environmental groups are suspicious and question how the P.M. could not be aware of this project, when he chairs the National Energy Commission, and must surely know Egat signed a memorandum of understanding for a power purchase agreement with Laos in July last year.

Thai villagers living adjacent to the river are fearful. At a public meeting about the dam on March 12, Kamol Konpin, the mayor of Chiang Khan, said: “As local people have already suffered from dams built upstream in China and watched the ecosystem change, we are afraid the Xayaburi Dam will bring more suffering. Our lives and livelihoods depend on the health of the Mekong River.”

If the Xayaburi Dam goes ahead, more than 2,100 people will have to be resettled and a further 202,000 living near the dam will be directly affected by impacts on the river’s ecology and fisheries. More than 41 fish species, including the Mekong giant catfish, will face the threat of extinction, according to fish experts and environmentalists.

Last October, a strategic environmental assessment, commissioned by the MRC, recommended a 10-year deferment in decision-making on dams on the Mekong mainstream, including the Xayaburi, due to an incomplete state of knowledge and the huge environmental and social risks. But the attitude of the builders, purchaser and financiers tells a different story. They continue to be indifferent to the recommendations and warnings.

As responsible members of the global community, Thailand, Egat, Ch Karnchang and the four Thai banks have a moral obligation to consider the well-being of people who will be directly affected by the dam’s construction. At the very least, there should be a delay in approving dams on the lower Mekong to ensure a comprehensive understanding of all possible negative effects. The risks involved are simply too great.

(Editorial, The Nation (Thailand))

April 1, 2011

Honor fallen soldier: Soldier’s remains coming home to Kannapolis Bookmark and Share

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Friday, April 01, 2011 12:00 AM

After almost 42 years, the remains of Donald Monroe Shue will be returning to Kannapolis.

The U.S. Army’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Center has identified Shue’s remains and plans to fly them to Charlotte-Douglas Airport April 30.

Whitley’s Funeral Home in Kannapolis will be in charge of a memorial service, tentatively scheduled for May 1. David Whitley said details will be forthcoming.

Shue and two other soldiers went missing on a mission in Laos Nov. 3, 1969. On Jan. 15, 1975, the Army officially listed him as killed in action. DNA testing helped to identify his remains located in 2009.

At the end of Operation Homecoming in 1973, more than 2,600 Americans did not return from Southeast Asia and were unaccounted for. Since then, the remains of 900 Americans killed in the war have been recovered and returned to their families.

It’s expected that Shue will be buried with his parents and brothers at Carolina Memorial Park.

“Sgt. First Class Shue and the more than 58,000 U.S. service members who died in Vietnam will never be forgotten,” U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said in a press release. “After so many years, I know it is a relief to his family that he will be welcomed home.”

Shue’s name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington and the half-size replica of the wall now open to the public at Frank Liske Park in Concord until 9 p.m. Sunday.

Here are the Vietnam War casualties from Rowan County, Kannapolis and some outlying communities, whose names are on the wall.

In the following list, some men who were Rowan natives but living elsewhere before going off to the war are not listed.

Salisbury — Cpl. George Franklin Antonitis, Pfc. Robert Maxwell Brown Jr., CWO Frederick Lewis Cristman, LCDR Donald Vance Davis, Lance Cpl. Robert Ervin Gilmore, BMC Daniel Guest, Lance Cpl. Francis Edward Howe, Pfc. Ronald Wayne Lyerly, CMSGT Edwin Everton Morgan, Pfc. Douglas Ray Noel, SA Stanley George Pilot Jr., 1st Lt. Joe Hearne Rufty, SSG Roger Lynn Teeter, Sgt. Carl W. Thompson, Pfc. Scott Terry Welborne, SP4 Walter Alexander Williams, Cpl. Kay William Wright.

China Grove — Pfc. Ricky Norman Lowder, Pfc. Richard Hugh Propst.

Cleveland — SSG Jerry Lawrence Moore.

Gold Hill — Maj. Jimmy Dwayne Sells.

Landis — SP4 Steven Wayne Wilson.

Spencer — SP4 Clarence Luther Morris.

Kannapolis — SSG Raymond Ervin Baumgarner, Lance Cpl. Jimmy Richard Cox, Lance Cpl. John Cornelius Dunlap, Cpl. Robert Lee Hager Jr., Pfc. John Terry McInnis, SFC John Leroy Partee, Pfc. Harold Reed Richardson, Pfc. James Delano Robinson, Sfc. Donald Monroe Shue, Sgt. Herman Victor Sturm Jr., SP4 Larry Wayne Watkins.

Advance — Pfc. Harvey Richard McCuiston.

Badin — SP4 Milton Harris Legrand.

Cooleemee — SP4 Edgar Lee Bowers.

Mocksville — Cpl. Elvie Bell Jr., Pfc. Carl Lee Doby, Lance Cpl. James Spurgeon Goss, Pfc. John Charles Harding Jr., Pfc. Rodger Dale Howard, Maj. Samuel Edwin Waters Jr.

Mooresville — SP4 Wallace Wayne Barnette, SP4 Ronald Eugene Robinson.

Mount Pleasant — Lance Cpl. Eldon Eugene Lambert, Pfc. Glenn Garland Ritchie Jr.

Oakboro — SP4 Larry Burns Turner.

Stanfield — SP4 Larry Cecil Hathcock, Lance Cpl. Donny Lynn Tucker.

Concord — Cpl. Garry Dwight Barbee, EM2 Franklin Harlee Canup Jr., Pfc. Gary Steven Christenbury, Capt. Joe Wofford Eubanks, Lance Cpl. James Henry Furr, SP4 Troy Alexander Galyan, SFC James Junius Gray, Pfc. Norman Perry Howie Jr., SP4 David Henry Mitchell, Pfc. John Thomas Peek, Pfc. Lionel Nesbit Phillips Jr., Lance Cpl. Fred Leroy Roach Jr., Pfc. Melvin Lee Weaks.

Source: The Virtual Wall (

April 1, 2011

Overseas Vietnamese Committee delegation visits Laos

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VNA 29/03/2011 – A delegation from the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs (COVA) led by Foreign Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Son visited Laos from March 28-31 to boost relations between the two countries.

While receiving the COVA delegation in Vientiane on March 29, Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Doangchay Phichith expressed his wish that the two sides will strengthen the exchange of experiences, helping foster the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Viet Nam and Laos .Deputy Minister Son congratulated Laos on the success of the 9 th National Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) and informed the Lao Deputy PM about the results of the talks between COVA and the Liaison Committee for Overseas Laotians.

He affirmed that VietNam ’s Foreign Ministry will closely coordinate with its Lao counterpart to strengthen the comprehensive relationship between the two ministries and implement a memorandum of understanding signed between the two committees on the day.

According to the MoU, between 2011-2015 the two sides will continue close coordination, regularly exchange ideas on the world situation or events relating to their countries’ overseas residents and support each other in communication work.

The two sides will jointly prevent and struggle against hostile elements which sabotage the two nations.

They will create favorable conditions for each other in mapping out plans on exchanges of information, experiences, experts and working delegations./.

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