Monday, May 28, 2012

30 North Korean officials involved in South talks die 'in traffic accidents'

Thirty officials of the North Korean regime who were involved in talks with South Korea have been executed or died in "staged traffic accidents," according to a human rights report.

By Julian Ryall (in Tokyo)

In its annual study, Amnesty International claimed that in addition to the 30 who died in purges last year, a further 200 were rounded up in January this year by the State Security Agency as Pyongyang carried out the transfer of power from Kim Jong-il, who died of an apparent heart attack in December, and his 29-year-old son, Kim Jong-un.

Of those 200, Amnesty said, some were apparently executed and the remainder were sent to political prison camps. The gulag system presently contains an estimated 200,000 people in "horrific conditions," the group said.

North Korea has a habit of executing bureaucrats who are perceived to have failed the regime, even though they are often merely carrying out the orders of higher-ranking officials or members of the ruling family.

In 2010, Pak Nam-gi, the former head of the finance department of the Workers' Party, was reportedly executed by firing squad for the catastrophic attempt to reform the impoverished nation's currency. The result was rampant inflation and food shortages became even more acute.

The 30 men executed for failing to improve Pyongyang's ties with Seoul are considered scapegoats for the new low point in inter-Korean ties…  (Read more)

Source: The Telegraph

Obama Praises Vietnam Vets at War's Anniversary

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2012 – President Barack Obama today called the treatment Vietnam War veterans received after they returned home “a national shame” and asked that Americans use the 50th anniversary of the war to set the record straight.

Obama spoke at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall on the National Mall. The black granite is incised with the names of 58,282 service members killed in the conflict.

“It’s here we feel the depth of your sacrifice,” the president said. “And here we see a piece of our larger American story.”

That American story is the generational pursuit of “a more perfect union,” Obama said. Each generation has a role to play in that effort – to overcome a painful past, to right a historic wrong, he said.

“One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam – most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there,” Obama said. “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated.”

The president called the treatment a national shame and a disgrace that should never have happened. “That’s why, here today, we resolve that it will not happen again,” he said.

A central part of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be “to tell your story as it should have been told all along,” Obama said. “It’s another chance to set the record straight. That’s one more way we keep perfecting our union – setting the record straight. And it starts today.”

History will honor the service of the Vietnam generation. Their stories will join those of veterans going back to the founding of the republic, the president said.

“Let us tell the story of a generation of service members – every color, every creed, rich, poor, officer and enlisted – who served with just as much patriotism and honor as any before you,” he said.

Combat in Vietnam was brutal: Battles in Hue and on Hamburger Hill and the A Shau Valley sparked heroism that often went unremarked in a nation bitterly divided by the war. And American POWs “wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history,” Obama said.

“As a nation, we’ve long celebrated the courage of our forces at Normandy and Iwo Jima, the Pusan Perimeter and Heartbreak Ridge,” the president said. “So let us also speak of your courage -- at Hue and Khe Sanh, at Tan Son Nhut and Saigon, from Hamburger Hill to Rolling Thunder. All too often it’s forgotten that you, our troops in Vietnam, won every major battle you fought in.”

And with the war over, the Vietnam veterans continued to serve. “So let us also tell a story of a generation that came home, and how – even though some Americans turned their back on you – you never turned your back on America,” he said. “You became leaders and public servants, from town halls to Capitol Hill – lifting up our communities, our states, our nation.”

And they learned from the mistakes of the past. Those who stayed in uniform used their experience to rebuild the U.S. military “into the finest force that the world has ever known,” Obama said.

The Vietnam generation looked after each other, Obama said, by pushing the bureaucracy to provide the benefits they earned and speaking up for more research money.

“Just as important, you didn’t just take care of your own, you cared for those that followed,” he continued. “You’ve made it your mission to make sure today’s troops get the respect and support that all too often you did not receive.”

Vietnam vets were the moving force behind the Post-9/11 GI Bill that is helping hundreds of thousands of today’s veterans go to college and pursue their dreams, Obama said.

“Because you didn’t let us forget, at our airports, our returning troops get off the airplane and you are there to shake their hands,” he said. “Because of you, across America, communities have welcomed home our forces from Iraq. And when our troops return from Afghanistan, America will give this entire 9/11 generation the welcome home they deserve.”

This is the legacy of Vietnam, Obama said -- the story of a generation that did its job.

“You served with honor,” the president said. “You made us proud. You came home and you helped build the America that we love and that we cherish. So here today, it must be said: You have earned your place among the greatest generations.”

50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC, Monday, May 28, 2012


I’m honored to be here today with all of you as we begin the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of America’s participation in the Vietnam War.

Memorial Day is an appropriate opportunity for all Americans to come together, to pay tribute to all those who have fought and died for our country, across more than two hundred years, and on battlefields near and far.

America’s sons and daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our liberties, to give all of us a better life.

At this hour, at this hallowed and haunting memorial, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War – a war that occupies a central place in the American story.

Millions of Americans were sent across the Pacific to a little known place to fight in the service of the country they loved.

Not only at this hour, but at all times, we remember and carry in our hearts the more than 58,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen whose names are inscribed on this dark wall for eternity.

For me personally, this is an especially moving moment.  As a member and later chairman of the Vietnam Era Veterans Caucus in the House of Representatives, I had the honor to work on the endowment of this memorial.  To see the names of soldiers that I served with inscribed on this wall.  To see the names of officers who went through ROTC with me at Santa Clara inscribed on this wall.  To know my good friend Everett Alvarez, a hero from this war and a classmate of mine, who served with great distinction in that war.

No memorial better reflects the pain of the sacrifices that were made.

Many more came home from that war to a country that failed to fully acknowledge their service and their sacrifice, and failed to give them the honor they so justly deserved.

That experience, that failure to thank those who were willing to put their lives on the line for this country, was burned into the soul of my generation.  For too many Vietnam veterans, the recognition of their bravery came too late. 

The Vietnam generation, my generation – is graying now.   But this commemoration effort gives the country an opportunity, today and in the years ahead, to try and right the wrongs of the past, to remember those who served in this war and what they did for us, their service, and their sacrifice on our behalf.

Last week, I had the opportunity to join the President in paying tribute to a fallen member of that generation, Specialist Les Sabo, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

Les Sabo died in Vietnam saving his brothers-in-arms.  And it was those same brothers of his from the 101st Airborne Division who campaigned to re-open the Medal of Honor process for Les more than ten years ago.  The story of Les in many ways is the story of the Vietnam war.  We forgot, and now we finally remember.

Next week, as Secretary of Defense I will have the opportunity to travel to Vietnam to continue strengthening the growing ties our two countries have been re-establishing since in 1995.  We have come a long way since the war ended, and it was veterans of Vietnam who led the way for our two nations to begin the process of trying to heal the wounds of the war.

Today, Department of Defense personnel are working diligently to identify and locate the remains of fallen service members missing in action in Vietnam.  Let me assure you: this sacred mission will continue until all of our troops come home and are accounted for.

It reflects the determination of our military and our country to leave no man or woman behind, and to honor those who have honored us with their service, valor, and sacrifice.

During the last decade of war, another generation of warriors has answered the call to fight and sacrifice on foreign soil.  They have done all this country has asked them to do and more.

As they have returned from overseas, America, with our Vietnam veterans front and center in the effort – has embraced this new greatest generation of service members, showing that we have learned perhaps the most important lesson to come out of the Vietnam war – the debt we owe to those who fight and who die for our freedoms.

The President and Mrs. Obama have done so much to encourage Americans to do more to recognize and support these great patriots, they have led the fight for the men and women who fought for our nation.

As this country faces tough economic times, we must do everything we can to ease the transition of the thousands of service members who come home from war to civilian life.  They fought for us.  The least we can do is fight for them.

It is now my honor to introduce one of those Soldiers who fought in Vietnam, Senator Chuck Hagel.  He led an infantry squad in Vietnam during the bloody fighting following the Tet Offensive.  Like millions of our generation, he demonstrated bravery, patriotism, and heroism on the battlefield, and he also demonstrated that patriotism and that patriotism and that heroism in the life of public service that has followed.

Chuck, we thank you for honoring us with your presence today, and thank you for your commitment to the United States of America.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Early Christian Communism

By Murray N. Rothbard

For centuries the alleged ideal of communism had come to the world as a messianic and millennial creed. Various seers, notably Joachim of Fiore, had prophesied the final state of mankind as one of perfect harmony and equality, one where all things are owned in common, where there is no necessity for work or need for the division of labor. In the case of Joachim, of course, problems of production and property, indeed of scarcity in general, were "solved" by man no longer possessing a physical body. As pure spirits, men as equal and harmonious psychic entities spending all their time chanting praise to God, might make a certain amount of sense. But the communist idea applied to a physical mankind still needing to produce and consume is a very different matter. In any case, the communist ideal continued to be put forward as a religious, millennial doctrine. We have seen in volume I its enormous influence on the Anabaptist wing of the Reformation in the 16th century. Millennial and communist dreams also inspired various fringe Protestant sects during the English Civil War of the mid-17th century, particularly the Diggers, the Ranters, and the Fifth Monarchy Men.

The most important forerunner of Marxian communism among these Civil War Protestant sectarians was Gerrard Winstanley (1609–60), the founder of the Digger movement and a man much admired by Marxist historians. Winstanley's father was a textile merchant, and young Gerrard became an apprentice in the cloth trade, rising up to become a cloth merchant in his own right. Winstanley's business failed, however, and he found himself downwardly mobile, an employed agricultural laborer from 1643 to 1648. As the Protestant Revolution escalated in the late 1640s, Winstanley turned to writing pamphlets espousing mystical messianism. By the end of 1648, Winstanley had expanded his chiliastic doctrine to embrace egalitarian world communism, in which all goods are owned in common. His theological groundwork was the heretical, pantheistic view that God is within every man and woman, and is not a personal deity external to man. This pantheistic God has decreed "cooperation," which for Winstanley meant compulsory communism rather than the market economy, whereas the antithetical creed of the Devil glorified individual selfishness. In Winstanley's schema, God, meaning Reason, created the earth, but the Devil later originated selfishness and the institution of private property. Winstanley added the absurd view that England enjoyed communist property before the Norman Conquest in 1066, and that this conquest created the institution of private property. His call, then, was to return to the supposedly original communist system.

In the final, most fully developed version of his system, The Law of Freedom in a Platform, or True Magistracy Restored (1652), Winstanley envisioned a largely agrarian society, in which all goods would be communally owned, and where all wage labor and all commerce or trade would be outlawed. In fact, all sale or purchase of goods would be punishable by death as treasonous to the communist system. Money would be clearly unnecessary since there would be no trade, and presumably it would be outlawed as well. The government would establish storehouses to collect and distribute all goods, and severe penalties would be levied on "idlers." By this time, Winstanley's pantheism had begun to shade into atheism, for all professional clergy would be outlawed, there would be no Sabbath observation, and "ministers" would be elected by the voters to give what would be essentially secular sermons, teaching everyone the virtues of the communist system. Education would be…


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vietnam War Commemoration National Announcement and Proclamation Ceremony

On Monday, May 28, 2012, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will lay a wreath at the Vietnam War Commemoration National Announcement and Proclamation Ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.

Congress tasked the Department of Defense to lead the United States in commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta will host this ceremony to thank and honor America’s Vietnam Veterans on behalf of a grateful nation. President Obama will be the keynote speaker at the event which will include 2,500 Vietnam Veterans, their loved ones, current and former State officials who served at the Embassy, Gold Star families and leadership from the military services, Cabinet and Congress. In addition to President Obama, the ceremony will feature remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Senator Chuck Hagel; a moment of silence; music; and ceremonial elements. Other government officials laying wreaths will include Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

Actor Tom Selleck will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Ms. Cindy Coleman, wife of the late Foreign Service Officer Joseph Fandino, who served at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam from 1971-1972 and passed away at Bien Hoa Air Force Base in 1972, will lay a wreath with Deputy Secretary Burns.