Press Release: Lao, Hmong Veterans Arrive in U.S. Congress, Arlington, For 40th Anniversary Ceremonies, New Legislation
Lao, Hmong Veterans Arrive in U.S. Congress, Arlington, For 40th Anniversary Ceremonies, New Legislation
Washington, DC, and Arlington, Virginia, May 14, 2015
Lao- and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families have arrived on Capitol Hill and Washington, DC to somberly mourn the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Kingdom of Laos, and the joint CIA, Air America, and Hmong headquarters at Long Chieng (Long Tieng), to invading North Vietnamese Army forces on May 14-15, 1975. Lao- and Hmong-Americans will also join with the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and key members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for the introduction today of the “Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act” in the new session of Congress.
The bill is being introduced today in the U.S. Congress by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and others. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA) and Paul Cook (R-CA) are spearheading the introduction of the legislation along with Representatives Sean Duffy (R-WI), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Mike Honda (D-CA), Don Young (AK) and others. The bill, if enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama, would allow Lao- and Hmong-American veterans to be buried with honors at U.S. national veterans cemeteries administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Lao- and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families from across the United States have arrived on Capitol Hill and Washington, DC to somberly mourn the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Royal Kingdom of Laos, and the joint CIA, Air America, and Hmong headquarters at Long Chieng (Long Tieng), to invading North Vietnamese Army forces in May 14-15, 1975,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.
Smith continued: “As part of the ‘Laos Freedom Ride’ commemoration, hundreds of Lao- and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families from Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Alaska, and other states have traveled many miles and are arriving on buses, planes and cars for events in the U.S. Congress and Capitol Hill as well as for a special veterans’ memorial and wreath-laying service on Friday, May 15, in Arlington National Cemetery with the U.S. Department of Defense.”
“Truly, I am honored to be here in our nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery, to be part of the 40th Anniversary Ceremony to honor and pay respect to the Lao- and Hmong veterans, and our U.S. military and clandestine advisors, and to help conduct a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lao Veterans of America monument,” said Richard Vang, President of the Fresno, California-based Lao Veterans of America Institute. “I want to also express my deepest thanks to the U.S. Congress for the introduction of the ‘Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act’ today, when we arrive and meet with the Senators and Representatives.”
“In addition to the veterans’ memorial commemoration that we will be holding tomorrow in Arlington National Cemetery to mark the 40th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War in the Kingdom of Laos, I would like to stress that the legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski with Congressman Jim Costa, Congressman Don Young, Senator Dan Sullivan and others, ‘The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act’, is very important to our Lao and Hmong-American community and veterans. We appreciate them honoring our Lao and Hmong-American veterans and their families, and we are hopeful that the bill will be passed and signed into law by President Obama, so that our veterans can be buried with honor at U.S. national veterans’ cemeteries administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Pasert Lee, President of the Hmong Alaska Community, Inc. and a wounded combat veteran of the Vietnam War.
“We are very grateful to U.S. Congressmen Jim Costa, Paul Cook, Don Young, Sean Duffy, Devin Nunes, Collin Peterson and many others for their leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives for introducing and supporting the ‘Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act’ and the events here today in Washington, D.C. Here in the U.S. Senate, we want to especially thank Senators Lisa Murkowski, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Baldwin, Sheldon Whitehouse, and many others for their efforts on Capitol Hill in introducing the bill today in the U.S. Congress on this important day, May 14, just prior to our memorial service and wreath laying-ceremony tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery at the Lao Veterans of America monument,” said Pang Mang Thao, the President of the Lao Veterans of America of Minnesota.
Pang Mang Thao is leading a delegation of some 60 Laotian and Hmong veterans, widows, and elders, from St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the Twin Cities area to Washington, DC and Arlington for the events today and Friday (May 14-15). Lao and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families from Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and other states are participating in the events in the U.S. Congress, Washington, DC and the Lao Veterans of America monument (“Laos Monument”) in Arlington National Cemetery.
In addition to military uniforms, many of the Laotian and Hmong participants will be dressed in traditional, ethnic Laotian and Hmong tribal clothing and outfits for the events.
May 14-15 also commemorates National Lao Hmong Recognition Day, Hmong- Appreciation Day, and Lao Hmong Veterans Memorial Day, and is a day of commemoration for the Lao and Hmong people who lost their lives and country during the Vietnam War when the Kingdom of Laos fell to invading Soviet-backed North Vietnamese Army troops and communist Pathet Lao guerrillas.
Jade Her or Philip Smith
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.joc.com/rail-intermodal/china-build-thai-rail-link-laos_20150101.html
HONG KONG — China has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand to build 542 miles of double-track railway from Nong Khai on the Laos border to the Thai industrialized eastern seaboard.
The MOU was signed on the sidelines of a two-day regional summit in Bangkok, and is seen as consolidating China’s influence in a country that has had strong ties with the U.S., but which have cooled since the military coup in May, according to a report by Reuters.
“China will be responsible for the construction and development of the rail network and Thailand will take part in preparing the groundwork for construction,” Thai Transport Minister Prajin Junthong told the agency.
China has provisionally agreed with Laos to build a railway from Kunming through Laos, with the aim of connecting with Thailand. China will also develop another, 82-mile rail line linking the central province of Saraburi to Bangkok, about 67 mile away. Construction would begin in 2016, said Air Marshal Prajin.
Earlier this month, Thailand’s military-stacked Legislature approved a preliminary agreement on the China deal, putting the value at $10.66 billion.
Mayasu Hosumi, president of the Japan External Trade Organisation in Thailand (JETRO), said the rail network was “indispensable for the enhancement of production networks” in the region.
The rail development will link Thailand’s container port of Laem Chabang with Laos and revive the gateway port’s single rail transfer project that aims to ease the flow of containers to and from the terminals. It is part of Laem Shebang’s phase three development that was put on hold by the military coup.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) summit in Bangkok alongside prime ministers and presidents from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Li is the most high-profile foreign leader to visit Thailand since the coup, signalling, Thailand says, its return to normal following months of political unrest, said Reuters.
The army seized power in May to end months of political turmoil, but the economy of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has struggled in the face of weak exports and sluggish domestic demand. The economy grew just 0.2 percent in the first nine months of the year, although the central bank said its GDP has expanded in the last quarter.
Factory output in November declined 3.5 percent year-over-year, down for a 20th straight month.
Exports, which are equal to more than 60 percent of the economy, picked up in September and October but slipped in November. The central bank forecast exports to contract 0.5 percent this year and rise only 1 percent in 2015.
2014-12-20 09:21 Xinhua Web Editor: Qian Ruisha
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.ecns.cn/2014/12-20/147437.shtml
Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Friday that China and Thailand have agreed to kickstart mutually beneficial cooperation on agro-product trade and railway.
China eyes deeper cooperation with Thailand and hopes for a more balanced bilateral trade and economic relationship, Li told reporters after meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.[Special coverage]
The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on farm produce trade cooperation. China, Li said, has agreed to double its purchase on the basis of the volume the two sides agreed upon last year.
China expects the new initiative to empower both China and Thailand to resist risks of international market fluctuations and help improve the livelihood of Thai farmers, he said.
“Only China has such a big market and a huge purchasing power which could consume the big agricultural production of rice, rubber and others of Thailand,” said Li.
In addition, the two governments also inked a memorandum of understanding on railway cooperation.
Li said the Chinese and Thai governments have agreed to build Thailand’s first standard-gauge railway lines with a total length of more than 800 km, which has been approved by the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand.
The agreement allows China to invest in two dual-track rail lines in Thailand that will span 734 km and 133 km respectively and connect northeast Thailand’s Nong Khai province, Bangkok and eastern Rayong province.
The project is estimated to cost some 10.6 billion U.S. dollars.
“This is the expansion, extension and further confirmation of the previous agreement that the Chinese and Thai governments reached last year,” said Li.
The Chinese premier said he hopes that the two sides will speed up preparation for the railway project and lay a solid basis for the beginning of construction at an early date.
The new railway will also benefit neighboring countries if being extended to other places of the region, Li said.
Chinese standards, equipment and manufacturing capacity will all be used in building the Thai railway, which helps China export its manufacturing capacity to the rest of the world, Li said.
For his part, Prayut said Thailand and China are friends sharing weal and woe, and his country highly values its relations with China.
Bilateral cooperation on railway and farm produce trade is of vital significance to Thailand, and is conducive to regional inter-connectivity and development, said Prayut, adding that Thailand will cooperate closely with the Chinese side to facilitate the implementation of relevant cooperation agreements.
Thailand, he said, will take the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year as an opportunity to elevate its relationship with China to a new height.
Li is here to attend the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation.
The Chinese premier said he looks forward to having an extensive exchange of views with all parties on deepening regional trade and economic cooperation, enhancing inter-connectivity and promoting innovation in industrial cooperation.
Hailing China’s “crucial” role in the GMS, Prayut said Thailand is willing to join hands with China and other parties of the GMS mechanism for more fruitful results.
The GMS Economic Cooperation Program, which was started in 1992 by six countries along the Mekong River — Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, aims to pool their efforts for improving infrastructure, promoting trade and investment and stimulating economic growth.
On a broader scale, Li said, the GMS cooperation will further enrich China’s partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
China, he added, stands ready to cultivate stable, peaceful and friendly relations with its ASEAN neighbors.
- Thai cabinet approves draft MoU on Sino-Thai rail co-op 2014-11-26
- High-speed railway to link China and Thailand: Thai official 2014-09-16
- Thai SMEs link to world 2014-08-15
Published 12 September 2014
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Women-of-Laos-Clear-Bomb-Shells-From-the-Vietnam-War-20140912-0063.html
A Lao woman uproots rice seedlings in a paddy field. (Photo: Reuters)
Women risk their lives to clear bomb shells in Laos and make up 40 percent of the bomb clearance teams in Xieng Khouang province.
The bomb shells they search for were dropped buy the U.S. during the Vietnam War. The U.S. had dropped 260 million cluster bombs on Laos. At the time the U.S. dropped 260 million bombs which gave the distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the world.
The bombs targeted Ho Chi Mihn trail, which was the supply route for communist forces. Laos, however was not officially involved in the war, but because it was the neighbor of Vietnam its people were killed in the process.
Phou Vongh is part of a female team whose mission is to find and destroy unexploded bombs. This job is very dangerous but Phou Vong says she needs the work to support her family. To collect bomb shells she ears $250 a month, more than the average wage in Laos.
Up to 20,000 people have been hurt by cluster bombs in Laos since the bombing stopped. Many have lost their hands and sight because of cluster bombs exploding.
“In Laos culture, particularly in the more remote communities where accidents tend to happen, it is sometimes considered bad luck and then that person is shunned a little bit by his or her family and by their village and community as well. So that is quite a profound impact on a person,” said Colette McInerney, an Australian aid worker.
In spite of 20 years of bomb hunting in Laos, a little more than one percent of the land has been cleared.
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/110731/vn-to-negotiate-with-laos–cambodia-on-transit-fees-for-new-air-route.html
VietNamNet Bridge – Airlines are taking a wait and see attitude about the proposed air route between Hanoi and HCM City that will fly over Cambodia and Laos airspace, cutting flight time compared to the current route.
Experts have said that this will be the most economical air route to follow
The agreements reached between the Vietnamese Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang and Lao and Cambodian counterparts have laid a foundation for the deployment of the new air route.
The route, which is more direct path between the two cities, is expected to cut down expenses and save time. Currently airlines have to fly across the sea, which increases the amount of fuel and flight time.
However, air carriers are still hesitant to develop flights on the air route because they still cannot calculate the total expenses of every flight. The problem is that while airlines can save money on air petrol, they may have to pay higher fees when flying over Lao and Cambodian airspace.
With the current air route, airplanes fly within Vietnamese territory, while airlines have to pay a guide fee of VND3.5-4 million for every flight to the Vietnam Flight Control Corporation.
If they fly across Laos and Cambodia with a Boeing 777, they would have to pay $836 for every flight, or VND17.7 million. The fee would be VND13 million, if the plane used was an Airbus A320.
As such, the flight management cost for every two-way trip with A320, A321 and B777/330 would be $1,244, $1,274 and $1,672, respectively.
While airlines can see that the flight management cost would increase with the new air route, they still are not sure how much fuel they could save.
“To date, no one can say for sure how long the new air route will be,” an expert said.
“In reality, there might be zones that airplanes cannot go through and they have to take a roundabout. Sometimes airplanes have to fly tens of kilometers more to enter the right passage for landing, which makes the real distance longer than initially estimated,” he explained.
The air route which has been used so far has a total length of 1,274 kilometers. It takes one hour and 42 minutes and 4.7 tons of fuel to fly from Hanoi to HCM City with Airbus A320, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
Meanwhile, the “golden air route” drawn on paper by Tran Dinh Ba, an engineer from the Vietnam Economics Association, has the total length of 1,140 kilometers.
The national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines, after making calculations, has proposed that CAAV negotiate with Lao and Cambodian agencies to reduce transit fees in Laos and Cambodia by 50 percent for the Hanoi-Phu Quoc Island and Hanoi-HCM City flights.
Meanwhile, sources said that the 50 percent fee reduction would ensure profits for airlines, while in the worst case, the 35 percent fee reduction would be “acceptable”.
CAAV’s head Lai Xuan Thanh said that if the fee reduction were accepted, this would be a solution to benefit both sides.
The fee reductions would encourage more air carriers to fly across Laos and Cambodia, which would allow them to earn more money.