In the Diaspora: September 2012

What happened in September 2012: news and events relating to Vietnamese in Vietnam and around the world.

Alrighty, so you’ve been back at work and been making a difference and changing the world (or at least changed the workgroup printer’s toner). Good for you.

First off: friends, artists, countrymen, phở eaters, lend me your ears. Mark your calendar for this special event, the DVAN’s “Troubling Borders: Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora” exhibition. It’s scheduled for Saturday, October 6, 2012, 6-9pm, and Sunday, October 7, 1-3pm. The event will be featuring paintings, drawings, photographs, videos, and sculptures. C’mon, phở connoisseurs, come support our creative brothers and sisters.

Việt Kiều in the news

• Congratulations to Professor An-My Lê, of Bard College, for being a winner among 23 recipients of the 2012 MacArthur Foundation’s $500,000 fellowship, sometimes known as the “genius grants” or “genius awards.” The Foundation describes her as “an artist whose photographs of landscapes transformed by war or other forms of military activity blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and are rich with layers of meaning.” Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. See an interesting video of Professor Lê talking about her identity and work.

• Iconic singer Khánh Ly has been granted permission by the Vietnamese government to perform in Vietnam. Her appearance will mark the 50th anniversary of when she first started performing in Vietnam.

• Let’s hope President Obama’s recent speech against human trafficking will be followed by changes and actions. The U.S. State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2012” contains a section on Vietnam. Scroll to the section “VIETNAM (Tier 2)”. From 2011 to 2012, Vietnam seems to have made some progress as it has moved from the category “TIER 2 WATCH LIST” to “TIER 2.” See explanation of TIER.

Vietnamese priests are being accepted in many rural communities in western Missouri. These priests come from the Vietnamese-founded Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix in Carthage, Missouri, which has hosted the annual Vietnamese Marian Days (Ngày Thánh Mẫu) festival since 1978.

• Indiana University law student Huong Nguyen has been trying to free her fiancé Nguyễn Tiến Trung from prison in Vietnam. He did nothing wrong other than spoke out about “basic rights” for Vietnamese citizens. Read more about his ordeal at Huong’s blog.

• Conceptual artist Danh Vo is in the process of recasting a life-size Statue of Liberty, which one commentator thinks “raises the question of democratization in the U.S. and our history of imperialism.”

• What? Racial discrimination in the fashion industry? Noooo! Well, darlings, know what? I’m not buying anything from Abercrombie and Fitch anymore. Oh, wait. I’ve been boycotting them since 2002. Boo-ya! Seriously, though, this is a great article that features comments from leading-edge Vietnamese-American professors Minh-Ha Pham, Thuy Linh Tu, and Mimi Nguyen. Folks, if you want to be fashionably in, read it. And, yes, that symbolic finger from Americans has been to a lot of places.

• On September 15, the 2012 Áo Dài Vietnamese Cultural Festival was held at the Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose. There were much merriment that included a fashion show featuring designs by Debbie Nghiem, a music performance by Emmy-Award Winner Vanessa Vo, and an art exhibition by internationally renowned artist Trinh Mai. What! You were there? And it was awesome? I’m so jealous.

• Debbie Nghiem was certainly very busy. The previous Saturday, September 8, 2012, her creations were featured along with other Asian-Pacific American designers at the KSW Runway event. Debbie is known as a talented Vietnamese American fashion designer who gives back to the community. You can see some of her designs on her Youtube channel.

• This is so cool. In addition to being the lightest electric vehicle, it is also economical and can go uphill. Several Stanford University students are developing electric skateboard that may change the way we travel. They’ve received pledges well above their monetary goal so hopefully the product will make it to production. Matthew Tran is a co-founder of Boosted Boards. Good luck, Matthew.

• In Asia, two more tourist deaths from mysterious causes have prompted investigator to suspect the cause may be insecticide poisoning. However, autopsy done later in Vietnam revealed one tourist died of brain edema.

• Yay! Christine Ha won the third season of Fox’s cooking competition MasterChef. Many congratulations, Christine. You make us very proud, on many levels. Read more about her experience on the show.

• Weed? Don’t get excited, folks. It’s not that kind; I’m talking about rau muống. This interesting story could be a candidate for a TV movie. Quick, someone write a script. And cook some beef to go with the rau muống. Ooh, yummy. Don’t despair seafood eaters; try out this recipe for a delicious shrimp rau muống salad from lovely, soft-spoken Mickey Le Huynh.

• Interior designer Gioi Tran helps homeowners with a new design trend. Atlas, thanks to Tran, my dream of lime green walls dotted and yellow rugs can become a reality.

• The weak U.S. economy is driving college graduates into the military. Louis Lam makes sacrifices to help his family. Nevertheless, the military’s anti-Asian atmosphere raises concerns. Recently, a commentator who monitors the U.S. armed forces suggests that the KKK has abandoned the white robe and has emerged with a new uniform–the U.S. military uniform.

News about Việt Nam

• A National Committee for Traffic Safety report showed 28.3 percent (9,306 cases) fewer traffic accidents have occurred nationwide compared to last year.

Crossing the streets in Hanoi is still a challenge, given that nearly four million scooters and motorcycles are on the streets in the city everyday.

Vietnam jails three citizen journalists who wrote about human right abuses, corruption, and foreign policy. Also, a special report from the Committee to Protect Journalists recounts some government crackdowns on journalists and bloggers in Vietnam.

• Economic problems continue to grow as inflation rate increases by 6.48 per cent in September.

• A retired American diplomat opines on the power struggle within the government.

More tragic consequences of America’s fight to make the world safe for democracy are seen as “farmers and their families continue to pay the heaviest of costs.”

Tết Trung Thu is celebrated in Vietnam. Let’s see, rabbit-ears hat instead of traditional children’s lanterns. Hmm. Also, the photographer’s mind seemed to be on something else; see the photos for yourself. Anyway, it’s nice to see happy children instead of children traumatized by American soldiers. You can see more colorful photos here.

• Several Australian veterans have returned to Vietnam to help locate the remains of the still missing 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers.

Scientology’s detoxification program is being used for Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. I’ll hold my opinion until I see patients start jumping on their couches.

• Vietnam may be among 30 extreme risk countries affected by climate change.

• On September 3, as part of the annual National Day amnesty, more than 10,000 prisoners were released. On September 4, rumors spread that more than 10,000 new prisoners re-filled the emptied prisons. Just kidding. Actually, traitorous government officials sold the prison property to fifth-column Chinese agents. Kidding? Maybe.

• With the fast-food market growing steadily, McDonald’s is looking to open its first restaurant in Vietnam within two years. Yes, let’s introduce unhealthy foods to the Vietnamese populace so that they can have more problems. No need to spend billions of dollars on bombs and chemicals; let’s just take their money and kill them slowly with artery-clogging foods. Anyhoo, as usually done, certain dishes native to the host country will be offered. For example, instead of McNuggets they will offer McNemChua with Sweet n’ Sour dipping-sauce.

• Move over Folger and Maxell House. Trung Nguyên coffee is expanding its business. You say Starbucks coffee is in your blood and no other coffee can take its place? I hear you, fellow coffee drinkers, but it’s time for a change. Check out Trung Nguyên’s products. No, they’re not paying me under the table. I get the money directly deposited into my bank account (in my dreams).

• This news story about human trafficking in northern Vietnam reveals the power an individual has to affect positive changes.

• Somewhat related, this news story ran in February but is important enough to re-read. Also, this informative article has several links to cases that illustrate the danger for Vietnamese women who marry Korean men.

Other News

• An assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University advocates for more immigrants from Asia, which he thinks will bring cultural, economic, and political benefits to America. Given the current Americans’ racist attitudes against Asians, it’s highly doubtful that this will happen within the twenty-year time frame he suggests.

• A writer gives his view on the U.S. involvements in Indochina during the mid-twentieth century and in the Middle East today.

Progress in identifying four genetically distinct types of cancer may lead to new treatments.

• Good news: Scientists now know how stress leads to depressive disorder. Bad news: Scientists fully understand how this works in mice, but these same scientists are depressed because they don’t know how it works in humans.

• Okay, and now for an important news about birds and pigs. Who knew?

• Study finds that overuse of ibuprofen or acetaminophen increases risk of hearing loss for women. I understand it all now: “What’d ya say, honey? Oh. No, not tonight; I have a headache. I need some Tylenol.” Isn’t life a vicious circle, folks?

• Mitt Romney’s changing political stance on the Vietnam War.

• A daughter of a Vietnam Veteran reflects on human suffering and on lesson learned (or not learned).

• Cleaning your bathroom may expose you to risks of cancer, blindness, asthma, and other serious conditions. Finally, a good excuse for not doing housework 😉

• Sotheby’s will auction former secretary of defense Robert McNamara’s memorabilia in October. Remember him? In 1964, he was “pleased” that Vietnam was called “McNamara’s War.” He and other Americans contributed to over 2 million Southeast Asian civilian deaths. Innocent Vietnamese continue to suffer the deadly effects of Agent Orange today. Reportedly, McNamara had known about the potential after-effects of Agent Orange when it was being used in Vietnam. On the U.S. killing of civilians in war, he once pondered, “what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?” Well, as history has shown, the U.S. killing of innocent civilians always seems to be justified. One denial of responsibility can be seen in the stonewalling of monetary assistance to help clean up Agent Orange and to defuse unexploded ordnances leftover by U.S. bombings. Historian D. R. SarDesai notes that the U.S.’s horrific action in Vietnam was “man’s inhumanity to man.” Most people around the world seem to agree, except for many Americans. I wonder if SarDesai was also referring to the U.S.’s denial of its immoral actions in Vietnam as man’s inhumanity to man. Anyway, the really important news here is about Sotheby’s auctioning of McNamara’s memorabilia and is not about the immoral killing of innocent civilians. Get your priorities straight, people.

• A political observer suggest that the ASEAN way, in light of its recent breakdown of unanimity, needs to change.

A writer comments on the literature of 9/11, on the crazed veteran, and on the attitude of ontological discomfort with war.

• Two Khmericans debut mixtape in Phnom Penh. Cool! Their background stories, their struggles, though, in adapting to American culture sadly reflect the many failed adaptations of Southeast Asians into this historically anti-Asian country. It’s good, though, that they are able to tell their stories.

• Breaking News: “Hillary Clinton meets with Surin Pitsuwan of ASEAN to discuss rising tensions over territorial claims in the East Sea.” Update: “China militarily invades meeting: peaceful talks end.”

Hacked Apple IDs are published. As a minority group, we shouldn’t worry. We know the feds aren’t monitoring us and don’t have any data on us, right?

• Report says women and men see things differently. Duh! So women discern different colors better than men, eh? Hmm, I wonder if lime green was a mistake for my bathroom.

• On the subject of colors, Dr. Quyen Nguyen talks about the contributing role colors can play in surgery. Who knew playing with colorful Crayons would lead to this? Thank you Dr. Nguyen for your life-saving contributions. Hopefully, molecular markers will be adopted soon.

• This is a profile on Vietnam. Memorize it and impress your significant other with romantic talks like, “Baby, did you know Vietnam is a one-party Communist state?” Warning: Saying this may cause your significant other to become your ex-significant other. Or, you may get a response like, “you’re so sexy when you say that . . . let’s get married.” Hmm, I guess, either way is dangerous. So, just read it and keep it to yourself.

• I know with all these news about delicious foods, life-saving colors, and romantic talks, you’re ready to get a Coke from the fridge, join hands with ex-significant other, and sing “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Well, for goodness’ sake, don’t! Instead take a look at this short but profound statement.

Special thanks to Julie Nguyễn and VTN for providing the news links.



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