Category Archives: History

Global Awareness: Kony 2012

With the powers of social media, news can spread to millions with a simple click of a mouse.

Many of you may have already seen this, but if not, please watch this video created by Invisible Children titled Kony 2012.

For those of you who don’t really know too much about this, I’ll try to explain what I know this in a simplified way, especially since the situation is well over my head and complex with politics, government systems and who knows what else.

Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), which is a guerrilla group in Uganda, Africa. His rebellion began in 1986 and ever since then, he has estimated to have abducted over 66,000 children to use as child soldier and sex slaves; “Kony’s fighters have been accused of murder, rape, torture and sexual enslavement” and “reports say they have massacred civilians inside churches, forced them off cliffs, burned them alive and even made them eat dead bodies” (ABC Melbourne). To add to this, “Many of them are carried out by brutalised children recruited to serve as sex slaves, cannon fodder and killers”(ABC Melbourne).

On October 6, 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Kony on 21 counts of war crimes, including 12 of crimes against humanity. But…what does this mean? For those of you who don’t know, the ICC is a tribunal (institution with authority to judge/dispute/etc) to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

So if he’s been indicted by the ICC, what’s the problem? Well, for one, the ICC have “no teeth,” basically, all bark, no bite. There are many shortcomings to the ICC, such as a lack of an institution to enforce international criminal law, instead, the effectiveness depends on unstable political will from world capitals. Well, “without the cooperation and support of individual states, international courts are doomed to impotence: for example, they have no power to arrest, to compel the production of evidence, nor to enforce judgments. For these reasons alone, a rigorous system for the rule of law cannot at present be established; justice cannot meaningfully be administered without regard to the volatile and complex world of international politics (Yale Law School).”

However, this is not to say that the ICC isn’t effective, it just needs the support. Raising public awareness is one of the biggest struggles of Kony’s indictment. Think about it, why would other, powerful-booming countries need to take part in Uganda’s issues? Many will ask, why is this America’s problems? What about the children in America getting kidnapped and raped? Why does everyone think America should be the peace keeper? There is no money to be made in Uganda, nor is there a financial lost or economic impact for the US, or in most other cases, any other country. As ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, “Kony is difficult, he is not killing people in Paris or in New York. Kony is killing people in Central African Republic, no one cares about him,” he said. “These young people from California mobilizing this effort is incredible, exactly what we need (CBCnews).”

Next steps? Capture him and put him on trial…some other problems though, is that he is most likely out of Uganda…and two, rumor has it, he might already be dead or already defeated. Plus, even if he were put on trial and caught, would that stop this systemic problem? Has Invisible Children addressed the long term goals? or even the ICC? In the end, Africa NEEDS to become independent from foreign aid. But…that is another long rant to go on about…And finally, is the LRA STILL all that powerful? If you go around and do your research, you’ll find that Uganda is no longer experiencing violence from the LRA and have moved into Congo, and Uganda is in the middle of peace talks. To add to this, Kony has been inactive for the last 6 or so years, yet the LRA is still in motion. So if we assemble troops in Uganda or fund the Uganda military who cannot cross boarders, is this fixing long term problems? There are many questions to be asked…

Whether you choose to support Invisible Children, that is completely up to you, but at least now, you know a little more. If you think supporting Invisible Children is a scam, then that’s fine, do your research and get educated, it’s your money after all, heck, here are some links for you to look at below for more info! For me, it is about global awareness and spreading the knowledge about these atrocities that is the most important. There are several other programs out there, so look into them and find something that fits you! whether its locally or internationally! A good one to start off with is Amnesty International if you want to think internationally.
Skeptic about Invisible Children?
1) Charity Navigator
2) Invisible Children: Critiques
3) Visible problems of Invisible Children
4) Kony 2012 video misleading

Also, keep in mind that these attrocities are NOT just in Uganda, but also in other countries and within our own. Liberia for instance has horrifying numbers of killings and sexual violence. According to the World Health Organization a study found that “over 90% of women in some of the areas most afflicted by the war experienced some form of sexual violence, 75% were raped, many of them by gangs, and 49% were forced into sex work, many of them as “bush wives” to militias. Almost 14% of the victims were under the age of 15 (Guardian)”

So…be aware. There’s a lot going on in the world and a lot of ways to help out, but remember, keep informed, do your research, ask questions, and get educated.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, History, News, Politics, volunteer

Vietnam Part 1 of 5: Vietnam

My trip to Vietnam was absolutely amazing. Words cannot describe what a great experience it was. Even before the trip ended, people were already messaging me and saying “I can’t wait to hear your stories” and the thoughts that ran through my mind were… “It’ll be impossible to tell you any stories.” I didn’t climb mountains or tame lions, instead, I got to spend my time in Vietnam enjoying life to the fullest. Stories and tales will never be able to express how I feel. Most people get home sick when they go to other countries, but not me (us), we dreaded coming home and wanted to stay longer.

We were constantly on the go! Even though we spent almost an entire month in Vietnam/Thailand, there wasn’t a day of rest or enough days on our trip. The first 2 days we spent at my dad’s place, 12-13 days at the Peace House (the dorm we stayed at for volunteer work), 1.5 days back at my dads, 5 days in Thailand for a tour (to Bangkok and Pattaya), 2 days back at my dads, 1 day at Mui Ne (which required a 4hr 30min drive), and then 2 or so days back at my dads again before we left.

Also, although I know he doesn’t read this, I want to thank my dad for a wonderful time. He paid for everything, made sure we had fun, and even in the pouring rain, he took an hour and a half commute on his motorbike to come eat with the 3 of us at least twice. It’ll be impossible to summarize my many thanks but as I always say– I am one of the most fortunate and luckiest people in the world.

Yep, this is part 1 of 5 blogs I will do about my trip. Todays blog will be about Vietnam, Part 2 is the Peace House, Part 3 will be about Ky Quang Temple, Part 4 will be about Minh Tam Orphanage, and last but definitely not least, Chua La (aka Leaf Temple). Try not to get bored ok??

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Mui Ne

Mui Ne

Houses (view from 4th floor). Houses in Vietnam (and Asia) are generally more efficient with space; they’re tall and narrow, and yet there is TONS of room inside.

Through the alley

Post Office

Vietnam is a beautiful country full of life and hard working people. Although it is much different than home, every time I’ve ever gone there, I’ve adjusted just fine. Vietnam is a second-world country and you know it the minute you step into it. However, please keep in mind that the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, virtually destroyed the Vietnamese economy, and unlike countries like Japan who had aid and support after the devastation of the war, Vietnam was not occupied or being assisted when it came to rebuilding the country. In addition to this, Vietnam was in a constant resistance against the French and even the Chinese for countless of years before the war, hindering it from industrializing early on. Only in 1986 did the market economy open up to the rest of the world, allowing things such as private ownership and foreign investment. Since then, Vietnam has been the world’s second-fastest growing economy with a GDP growth rate of about 7-8% since 1990. The downside of Vietnam though? The rich are rich, and the poor are poor. The gap of rich and poor can be absolutely absurd. People on average only make $600-800 USD a year, but when you meet the rich in that country, they can even make rich Americans weep.

I love Vietnam and my most recent time I’ve spent there. The restaurants outside that are small and look crappy are the best ones to eat at. Not only are the prices ridiculously cheap but it’s taste o-so-good =D The people love to stare at us because we’re foreigners and speak English to each other. Vietnam is all about survival of the fittest; if you don’t quickly move to the front, someone else will! I definitely wasn’t a fan at being stared at or shoved aside, but overall I had a great time in Vietnam. Some parts are more developed than others, but don’t let those Lonely Planet or other tourist books fool you, Vietnam isn’t ALL pretty and full of beaches and rice land like they show in every photos. It’s a beautiful country but it can also be very polluted and crowded. And although the traffic looks nuts, it’s actually really easy to cross the streets after you’ve gotten the hang of it 😉 Also, if you learn to use the bus system, it’s super efficient, you’ll save a lot of money and it’s really fun! =D

18 Comments

Filed under Asian, Family, Friends, History, Life, Photography, Travel, volunteer

Current Events: China’s Pollution

It’s been awhile since I have done a blog in relevance to current events, so here we go!

Below is data from 2004 (link).

Rank Country Annual CO2 emissions
in thousands of metric tons
Percentage of total emissions[4]
Flag of World World 27,245,758 100.0 %
1 Flag of the United States United States [5] 6,049,435 22.2 %
2 Flag of the People's Republic of China China 5,010,170 18.4 %
Flag of Europe European Union 3,115,125 11.4 %
3 Flag of Russia Russia 1,524,993 5.6 %
4 Flag of India India 1,342,962 4.9 %
5 Flag of Japan Japan 1,257,963 4.6 %
6 Flag of Germany Germany 808,767 3.0 %
7 Flag of Canada Canada 639,403 2.3 %
8 Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom 587,261 2.2 %
9 Flag of South Korea South Korea 465,643 1.7 %
10 Flag of Italy Italy [6] 449,948 1.7

As of 2006 China has surpassed the United States and is the leading country in CO2 emissions according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Although China’s environment has consistently been hostile, it has only become prevalent in the current news because of the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games. As stated in an article in the NY Times, “Thursday did not bring good news. The gray, acrid skies rated an eye-reddening 421 on a scale of 500, with 500 being the worst. Friday rated 500. Both days far exceeded pollution levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization. In Beijing, officials warned residents to stay indoors until Saturday, but residents here are accustomed to breathing foul air” (link). The polluted air routinely endangers the lives of the civilians and will most likely impede on the performances during the Olympic Games.

According to an article in Japan Probe, “Beijing’s horrifying air pollution has driven 20 nations to have their athletes undertake pre-Olympic training in Japan instead of China” (link). Countries such as Britain, Finland, Germany, the United States and so forth are taking precautions and are choosing to hold training camps in countries other than China.

Major crack downs in China have occurred in order to prevent further environmental damage; they have banned the use of plastic bags, closed down factories, instigated food safety measures and even limiting vehicles on the streets. How legit these are is quite questionable though. Will the factories really shut down? Assuming they do, will they shut down for good or is this just a temporary decision made for the Olympics?

China has a long ways to go before it accomplishes any goals toward improving the environment. However, in China’s defense and in retrospect to the United States and other developed countries, it should have been obvious that China was going to have to endure high levels of pollution. China is currently a developing nation that has been going through radical changes in the past decade toward modernization. Moreover, China holds about 1.3billion people and is the largest country in the world. With just that, is anyone surprised that China only recently surpassed the US in CO2 emissions? Like any other country going through urbanization, pollution goes hand in hand.

There has been no country in history to emerge as an economic power and not create a detrimental impact on the environment and their citizens. Some cities in China rarely see sun, children are more prone to become ill, shorter life expectancies, lead poisoning, and etc; these are few of the dangers that have emerged. Like China, other countries such as Japan, Korea, Russia and the US have all suffered from the effects of environmental degradation for sake of an industrializing. Each of these current powerful nations have endured drastic public health issues, the only difference today is that China’s industrial revolution has come at a time when media is at its’ peak and global warming has become a serious issue.

Due to this, it should be no surprise to anyone that China’s environmental problem is so profound. Pollution in China is so vast that it has caused acrid rain to fall on even Seoul and Tokyo. So my point, since I’m now tired of typing, is that the Chinese environmental issue is obviously something to be concerned about, however people need to realize China isn’t alone when it comes to high levels of environmental degradation and pollutants that result in poor health conditions.

OO..and a discrepancy:

  • According to the NY Times article, the US is still leading in greenhouse emissions.

“Experts once thought China might overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2010, possibly later. Now, the International Energy Agency has said China could become the emissions leader by the end of this year, and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency said China had already passed that level” (link).

Other things to look at: Kyoto Protocol

So..there were a lot of other points I wanted to get to…but this blog would become ridiculously longer than it already is …plus, I should probably be doing homework or something >__<

7 Comments

Filed under America, Asian, Current Events, FYI, History, News

Authoritative Regime

For todays blog, it shall be a history lesson as well as news on present day North Korea. I obviously don’t have a main theme for my blogs..lol my last blogs were what? restaurant reviews, ONE OK ROCK, Dumbledore being gay, etc haha but like the title says.. “My thoughts. My aspirations. My stories. My life” =)

Everyone knows that Nazi Party founder Adolf Hitler was one of the most merciless yet charismatic leaders on the 20th century. However, if you were to rank him in who was the most ruthless and had the most deaths during their totalitarian regime, would Hitler be 1st? Surprisingly enough (at least to me), Hitler is 3rd, with Soviet Premier Josef Stalin coming in at 2nd and Chairman of the Communist Party Mao Zedong leading the number 1 spot.

Perhaps many of you already knew this, perhaps not. I just though I’d write about that as it leads to my next topic of a present day society that is suffering with an authoritative regime. Many of you have probably read George Orwell’s 1984 right? Well, currently I’m reading North Korea: Through the Looking Glass by Kongdan Oh and Ralph C. Hassig for one of my classes and North Korea’s regime sounds almost identical to the dystopia society in 1984.

Here are some quotes and minor summaries I’ve pulled from the book that really stuck out to me:

Famine in 1990’s :
The biggest issue was widespread hunger and starvation, which was a direct consequence of the years of mismanagement in the economy. In response to the hunger problem, a campaign was launched saying “lets eat only two meals a day (page 43).” In later years (1995 and on), when starvation continued and food rations were sporadic or just nonexistent altogether, the government adopted a form of “exceptionalist welfare,” where people are largely responsible on local level for their own well-being but may occasionally receive “gifts from their benevolent leader in Pyongyang.”

– Food ration system: In NK, since they were against a comparative advantage kind of economy, they used a planned economy that was aurarkic, where they would supply grain etc to its citizens. People were given a ration card and used them to ‘purchase’ food. As you can see..this didn’t work and became very detrimental in the 90’s during the famine

Page 133
“According o the commander, few safety precautions were taken on the job; an average of one worker a day died in the Kwangbok Street Construction project over a three-year period” and there “no construction elevators were installed on high-rise projects, so men would have to climb as much as 30 floors up stairways or scaffolding to get to their work .”

NK governtment denies they have concentration camps…
Page 134
” There is no ‘camp’ in our Republic. In Sungho-ri, the place where the South Korean authorities allege there is a ‘camp of political prisoners’ there are industrial establishments and cooperative farms animated with creative labor and rows of modern apartment houses and rural houses overflowing with the happiness of the people.”

Page 137
“The goal of the security organization is to permeate every sector of society and to monitor the private and public life of North Korean citizens and foreign visitors .”

Page 138
“the most serious crime a North korea can commit is disloyalty to the leader”
“Anyone caught treating pictures of Kims with disrespect,such as letting them collect dust, is subject to disciplinary action. Pictures of the Kims in news papers and magazines are not to be folded or torn”

Key to effective deterrence and punishment: Yongoje (Family Purge)
Page 138-9
“A father who incurs the wrath of authorities can expect not only his immediate family, but his parents, uncles, and cousins to suffer for his crime if not by imprisonment or banishment, at least by having the crime entered into their personal records”
“when North korean commandos are stranded in South Korea, they usually commit suicide in order to die a hero’s death, with assurance that their loved ones will earn the special kind of treatment accorded to the families of fallen heroes”
“North Koreans are expected to inform on one another, even children on their parents, because if they do not report a crime and it is discovered, they are implicated”

Education
Page 141
“lessons on the importance of manual labor, the collective life, and developing a fighting spirit against the enemies of communism”
“Students are taught arithmetic by counting how many American soldiers were killed and how many of their tanks were destroyed by the brave North Koreas during the Korean War”

2 Comments

Filed under Asian, Books, History