The revered author still has two more books — “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring” — he’s writing and has implied the TV show and the books will probably end differently. According to Martin, “How will it all end? I hear people asking. The same ending as the show? Different? Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.”
“I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them,” he continued.
Aware of the criticism of the last few episodes, Martin said to his followers, “How about this? I’ll write it. You read it. Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.”
True health is not simply the absence of disease. It is a state of being in which the miraculous physical and mental forces that make us human work together in proper balance. True health allows us to be ourselves and live every day at our own personal best. Achieving true health is a journey—unique to every individual.
However, many of us do not feel the need to begin this journey until we experience symptoms, such as pain or dysfunction, that interfere with our quality of life. The disruption of our health becomes something that needs to be “fixed.” So we visit our doctors in the hope of finding relief. Traditional mainstream medicine, while immensely helpful in combatting disease and medical conditions, neglects the deeper concept of true health by treating the condition and its symptoms, not the total individual. Under our present system, doctors simply do not have the time to evaluate the overall health of their patients. Therefore, they are forced to focus on the specific symptom or condition, instead of trying to find the underlying source of the problem and treating it with an appropriate therapy to heal the entire body.
The fundamental weakness in this approach is that it doesn’t help the patient achieve true health. It applies general therapeutic procedures proven to address the condition, not the person. Often, what might be an effective treatment for one person might not prove as effective for another with the same condition because of their unique physiology and circumstances. Many patients might get temporary relief, but the underlying imbalance in their system tends to resurface in the future. As a result, too many people end the journey to healing before it has truly begun and never achieve optimal and lasting health.
Applied Kinesiology (AK) follows a different model. It is the science of healing the total person and supporting his or her true health through the study of movement and integral muscle function. Patients often visit an AK specialist after they have run the gamut of traditional medical professionals with little or no success. AK specialists take the time to do an extensive interview with each patient to assess his or her concerns regarding their health. They review the results of any standard tests the patient has undergone. Then, by observing how a person moves and subsequently testing various muscles by hand that are linked to a particular condition or symptom, the Applied Kinesiologist can create a unique treatment plan to alleviate the underlying dysfunction and restore the patient to health.
Applied Kinesiology utilizes a spectrum of noninvasive diagnostic and treatment protocols to restore optimal function to your body. These include various muscle manipulation techniques, chiropractic therapies, acupuncture, nutrition, cranial therapy, specific exercises, and mind/body procedures.
Current estimates suggest that 1,000,000 practitioners worldwide are using some form of AK manual muscle testing, and as more and more patients and medical professionals become aware of its benefits—this number will continue to climb. As its benefits become more mainstream, it is only a matter of time before Applied Kinesiology takes its place as one of the most effective healthcare disciplines in the world today.
Achieving true health is indeed a journey and it is not just simply the absence of disease. True health is unique to each person and will allow every individual to live each day of their lives at their personal best. Journey To Healing: The Art And Science of Applied Kinesiology by Eugene Charles, D.C. is about Applied Kinesiology which follows a different model. Healing is done through various muscle manipulation techniques, acupuncture, nutrition, chiropractic techniques, cranial therapy, specific exercises, and mind/body procedures. The author introduces this unique healing system which is relatively unknown and gives readers information about it.
Muscles, bones, nerves, and organs are interconnected and co-dependent. This book gives good insights on a topic that is not generally known to readers and will help them realize how helpful the technique is to patients and that there is an alternate way to healing and dealing with health problems. The book also tackles various health conditions and how Applied Kinesiology addresses these conditions. The author speaks about the topic in an expansive and methodical way and he uses simple language so that it will be easy for readers to comprehend. Traditional medicine may not be effective all the time. The author’s personal experiences make it easy for readers to understand Applied Kinesiology. This is an interesting and engaging book for readers who are on the lookout for alternative ways to heal themselves.
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan
Dr. Eugene Charles is a doctor of chiropractic and a Diplomate in Applied Kinesiology. While in his early 20’s he experienced severe shoulder pain due to an athletic injury. He suffered with the pain for years until Dr. George Goodheart—the founder of Applied Kinesiology (AK)— diagnosed his condition and correctly devised a treatment plan. Since being healed, Dr. Charles has dedicated his life to helping people with difficult to treat conditions and teaching AK to other practitioners.
Dr. Charles has treated well over 6,000 patients and has taught thousands of doctors from many different specialties the art and science of Applied Kinesiology. He has been teaching AK for more than 30 years.
This weekend, a reasonable and thoughtful answer to a particularly thorny question about American history by Mayor Pete Buttigieg became the stuff of an over-simplified and uninformed controversy.
Buttigieg, who has seen his star his in the 2020 Democratic primary rise considerably, was asked about an annual Democratic fundraising tradition, Jefferson-Jackson Day, and whether it should be renamed because both men were slaveholders.
In 2016, Indiana, where Buttigieg is a mayor, dropped the name. Buttigieg called it the right decision. He added that because of President Andrew Jackson’s history of genocide against Native Americans, it was easy to not support him, but that Jefferson was a thornier issue.
You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jeffersons more problematic.
He goes onto say that Jefferson knew about the evils of slave ownership and that even so, he continued to do own salves. And that removing people’s names from memorials is not erasing them, but that we should have a high standard for the people we look up to and consider how lionizing these people looks to the communities affected by their behavior.
Extremely reasonable stuff.
You know, theres a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong …And yet, he did it. Now were all morally conflicted human beings. And its not like were blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the founder fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think theres a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that were finding in a million different ways that racism isnt some curiosity out of the past that were embarrassed about but moved on from. Its alive, its well, its hurting people.
Buttigieg didn’t really say Jefferson’s name should be removed from memorials, but naturally, it wasn’t framed that way in the conservative online discourse.
Suddenly, Buttigieg wants the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in D.C. torn down.
Thomas Jefferson may be the most influential person to have ever called himself a United States citizen. He created conditions such that a gay man could one day run for the highest office in the land. It's lost on this gay dude though. Too bad. https://t.co/vArtYwU0rj via @nypost
Last month, Game of Thrones actor Ian McElhinney, who was on the show for several seasons as Ser Barristan Selmy, told fans at Epic Con (a fan convention in St. Petersburg, Russia) that Martin had already written the final two books and that he was holding off on publishing them until Game of Thrones was over. Although the clip was originally posted to YouTube at the end of April, entertainment sites only caught wind of the McElhinneys comments over the past couple days.
George has already written books 6 and 7, and as far as hes concerned, there only are seven books, McElhinney told fans. But he struck an agreement with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], the showrunners on the series, that he would not publish the final two books until the series has completed. So if all goes well, in another month or two we might get books 6 and 7, and Im intrigued to know how Barristan, for instance, ends up going through those final two books. George, I talked to him during season 1 and he did say to me that Barristan had a very interesting journey. But unfortunately, I didnt get to play all of that, so well have to wait and see.
McElhinney, who was disappointed that Barristan Selmy was killed off in the books as early as he wasthe character is still alive in ASOIAFis curious, like many book fans, to see what happens to the character he portrayed.
Once McElhinneys comments gained steam, Martin quickly shot down the idea that he had finished writing The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
I will, however, say for the record no, THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING are not finished, Martin wrote. DREAM is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finish volume six.
Martin also pointedly shot down the idea that anybody made him hold off on publishing his books before Game of Thrones finished its run. As Martin highlighted, if he was holding onto finished works, hed be sitting on a lot of money for both him and his publishers. And given the symbiotic nature between ASOIAF and Game of Thrones, each of them garners interest for the other.
HBO did not ask me to delay them, Martin added. Nor did David & Dan. There is no ‘deal’ to hold back on the books. I assure you, HBO and David & Dan would both have been thrilled and delighted if THE WINDS OF WINTER had been delivered and published four or five years ago and NO ONE would have been more delighted than me.
The Winds of Winter does not yet have a release date, but Martin has said he will reveal it the moment that there is one to announce.
NOW HEAR THIS:
How linguist David J. Peterson created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for Game of Thrones
Introducing 2 GIRLS 1 PODCAST, a weekly comedy show where Alli Goldberg and Jen Jamula (two actors who perform bizarre internet content on stage) have hilarious and humanizing conversations with Bronies, top Reddit mods, professional ticklers, video game archaeologists, dating app engineers, adult babies, cuddling specialists, vampires, Jedi, living dolls, and more.
Her comments were tweeted out by @rowlinglibrary on Sunday.
According to the Twitter account, the author said about Dumbledore and Grindelwald: “Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate, and it was a love relationship.”
“But as it happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can’t know, you can believe you know,” she continued.
“So I’m less interested in the sexual side — though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship — than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationship,” she added.
That sexual relationship, however, was not made obvious in “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which disappointed fans at the time.
Followers expressed their displeasure again on social media over the weekend.
One Twitter user posted: “J.K. Rowling Confirms Some Characters in Her Books and Movies Are Gay Everywhere Except in the Books or the Movies.”
Another person tweeted: “jk rowling reappearing every 2 months to say something literally no one asked about is me adding more random details to my essay to up my word count.”
Someone else wrote: “I love Harry Potter so much but JK’s blatant (and failing) attempts to make Dumbledore any gayer without actually having the guts or motive to actually write it… Smh, making a character gay to seem woke or give them more depth… Sloppy, Rowling.”
“Well, as an ‘intense’ homosexual, and a fan of her books, I’ve quite had it with J. K. Rowling piggybacking on LGBTQ+ folk because it’s trendy to do so now, when she wasn’t prepared to make the sacrifices and fight at a time when it wasn’t so easy,” another Twitter user wrote, adding: “Stop milking ££ our rainbow.”
Not all fans were upset with Rowling’s comments, however, with one person tweeting: “I can’t believe people are this up in arms about JK Rowling. Holy s–t no one is ever satisfied. It’s a book series. We all loved it. It was amazing. STFU and enjoy it.”
Rowling, who is known for announcing additions to her books and movies on social media and in interviews, declared Dumbledore was gay in 2007, 10 years after her first novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was published in the U.K. in 1997.
However, the wizard’s sexuality is never explicitly mentioned in any of the books or movies.
BAGHDADISIS was looking for scientists, said Ahmed, a 36-year-old follower of the so-called Islamic State who holds a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry and drug design. And Ahmed was looking for a chance to put his scientific knowledge to use.
This would not be theoretical research. ISIS and al Qaeda before it have been working since at least the 1990s to obtain biological and chemical weapons. But as with many gruesome enterprises, ISIS has been more methodical than its predecessors and competitors.
We do not yet know for sure the extent to which ISIS was successful and cannot confirm some of the claims made by Ahmed, but they fit with those made by an Iraqi geologist, Suleiman al-Afari, who told The Washington Post recently that he supervised a mustard gas production line for the Islamic State.
We also know that ISIS, through its global social media and internet recruiting, managed to create a corps of scientists interacting in person and on dark web forums to support the creation of a WMD arsenal, and Ahmed, whose name has been changed here, was part of the team. We interviewed him last month along with other ISIS prisoners being held in the Iraqi capital.
At the height of its power four years ago, ISIS worldwide recruiting effort offered top dollar to equip labs and support scientists to an extent much greater than anything Ahmed had been offered in Iraq, which basically was nothing.
I knew I could synthesize the biological and chemical weapons I researched on the web, he told us. I just needed the supplies and a well-equipped lab.
U.S. coalition and Iraqi forces have recently announced the discovery of an installation in Mosul where ISIS was indeed working on such weapons, and Ahmed says he was involved in that same labs operations.
We should be careful not to confuse the attempts by ISIS to develop and use chemical weapons with the infamous attacks launched by the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Of an estimated 300 such attacks in Syria in the course of the conflict there, a new study from the Global Public Policy Institute (PDF) estimates 98 percent are attributable to the regime, and only about 2 percent to ISIS.
But the groups aspirations in this regard, and some usage, is well documented. For instance, the group successfully deployed mustard and chlorine gas against the Kurdish Peshmerga. ISIS also set up a secret chemical weapons production facility in northern Iraq and has been quite innovative in using drones as dispersal devices for biological and chemical materials.
Surprisingly, research on the extent to which the group used or desired to expand on the use of chemical and biological weapons remains rare and largely under-researched, as noted in a report published last year by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Ahmed, imprisoned inside the compounds of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services, recounted in detail his rise from a promising but frustrated young scientist, to one who saw himself as a galvanized agent of social change at the time he joined ISIS, to his eventual capture.
Ahmed, like so many who joined and served ISIS, had come into contact with the group via social media while a Ph.D. student in India after a scientist friend, who was already working for them, encouraged him to join up.
While initially attracted to the idea of an Islamic State, he claimed it was not so much the ideology as what he thought would be the ability to show off his scientific and technical skills that actually drew him to ISIS: At first I was looking into their ideology because of their interest in science and technology. I was convinced I would join an authentic scientific community. Many scientists joined from many countries, he claimed in our interview. Lots of nuclear physicists and engineers, especially from Russia joined them.
Ahmed said he did not ever join the group physically, but supported them virtually and substantially. Searching the worldwide web and pursuing scientific journals, some of which he hacked into, allowed him to pass on knowledge about manufacturing chemical and biological weapons to those scientists already working in the Mosul lab.
While Ahmed started his work for ISIS by spreading this research and interacting on web forums on behalf of the group in 2015 and 2016, he fully intended to join the lab in Mosul upon his graduation and was confident of his ability to create the desired chemical and biological weapons. At the time, he believed ISIS was already an established state and would continue to expand.
I would upload and [my research] would get read by the high command of the Caliphate, he told us. They were interested in my posts and asked how we can acquire these chemicals. I also summarized books from a Russian website. There are loads of [scientific] journals I could access on the web and its not classified. I told them everything was in my summary, but also told them, you must have a real lab.
The operation in Mosul succeeded in producing mustard gas, which it dispersed in various operations using drones. In Baghdad, we viewed pictures of victims allegedly burned in ISIS mustard gas attacks.
Ahmed and his research colleagues working in the Mosul lab were not the only ISIS members striving for biological weapons. A chilling arrest occurred as recently as June 2018, in Germany, when Sief Allah H, a Tunisian man living in Cologne, was arrested after preparing the deadly biological poison ricin, made from castor beans. Security sources told ICSVEthe International Center for the Study of Violent Extremismthat the police knew of his activities and that he was following instructions provided over the internet by ISIS, and that police surveillance of the operation was terminated and arrests made after he succeeded, but before he was actually able to deploy the infamous compound.
Ahmed proudly boasted about his knowledge of computer science and the ability to modify, synthesize, and manufacture lethal weapons from raw substances, at times appearing highly ecstatic and fervent in his answers during the interview.
There are loads of scientific journals and its not classified. You just have to access them through a scientific institution, said Ahmed, explaining how he managed to access the latest in science by going to the dark web and using a Russian website that cracked these journals codes.
My friend [in ISIS] told me about WMD, that they were interested in making mustard gas, nitrogen, and sulfur. Nerve agents are easy to synthesize
I used Russian search engines that no one can penetrate and a Tor browser to hide and search, Ahmed said. For instance, the first item I put up for them was from the journal of Organic Phosphorus Chemistry aboutVX gas in Israel. Its a new generationnerve agent. The authors told how they made particle Isomers and structural modifications to enhance the activity of the gas in use, Ahmed said. I can tell a scientist about how to carry out the organic synthesis for this in micro quantities.
There was onearticle on pyrophoric [flammable] materials from a hazardous materials journal, Ahmed went on. These pyrophoric materials become flammable with water and moisture creating gas, fire and choking smoke to cause asphyxiation. The article was speaking about the flammability [of the materials] and what kind of gas was being generated, about the hazardous materials you could throw to troops, and on streets, on floating bridges, etc. All the necessary materials are available on the market… There was also a book from a Russian website about the experimental synthesis of all explosives. For me, I can synthesize any of these.
My friend [in ISIS] told me about WMD, that they were interested in making mustard gas, nitrogen, and sulfur. Nerve agents are easy to synthesize, Ahmed said, noting that he was disappointed that ISIS wasnt going further into the subjects he felt proficient in.
Its like writing a paper. I can search and modify the structure. I passed this to them. If I gain access to a lab, then I can do it. In our lab in India [where he was studying] I learned how to synthesize theoretically. We take the structure into a software and see how it works on this nerve, then we try it on animals. I synthesized for anti-diabetic and anti-epileptic activity and it worked, so I know I can do it for these substances as well.
Ahmed, who does not appear particularly connected to his own emotions, insisted that his work for ISIS was to help them as a state to be able to defend against and repel attackers. When reminded that ISIS had been at war with the Iraqis, Syrians and Western powers at that point, he kept insisting that the weapons he hoped to build for them were only for defense.
He also seemed oblivious to ISISs already deployed use of mustard gas against civilian populations. My idea was to use weapons as a deterrent, not to be used against humankind. He also seemed oblivious to the extraordinary brutality of ISIS during the time he was working for them and much more interested in and excited by the recognition he could achieve.
He hoped to branch out from poisons and plagues to explore new technologies for delivering them. I learned in the engineering world they [ISIS] were interested in anti-aircraft missiles and drones. They complain about coalition jet fighters destroying their troops on the ground. The admin on the website, there was a guy on the website who provided links from a British university to make drones from organic synthesis to make the whole body of the drone. It was some kind of solution, liquid phase synthesis, polymer science. We have already developed anti-aircraft missiles. We were going to use them.
It appears that Ahmed was not particularly religious prior to joining ISIS. He articulated only a very rudimentary grasp of the Islamic faith, which he said he rarely practiced. I was not very religious. I was not looking for an Islamic State. They [ISIS] were more interested in science and technology. They were thinking forward. My family is interested in science and technology. I find religion suspicious.
Although incongruous on its face, it has been common for many ISIS recruits to believe that somehow the Caliphate could fulfill their dreams, even if those had little to do with the way ISIS twisted the teachings of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Ahmed said he was deeply dissatisfied with widespread corruption and sectarian discrimination in the Iraqi job market following the 2003 toppling of the Saddam regime. As a Sunni, and despite being qualified, he felt he was kept out of jobs in areas of national defense and in any government-sector related to science.
Political things, the quality of the regime after 2003, it pushed me to interact and work against the regime, he said. I worked as a student in a lab in Iraq for four years. It was not possible to gain employment there. After, I worked in a pharmaceutical lab. It was totally corrupt. The whole facility was corrupt and it lacked in everything. I was completely frustrated. I considered it a primary school, he said.
Ahmed claimed he was compelled to look for jobs elsewhere, first in Qatar and then Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, but to no avail. His disconnected personality probably contributed to his failure in that regard, but all the same he was a gifted individual frustrated by his inability to pursue his chosen fielduntil ISIS came along.
Ahmed was arrested in 2018 by the Kurdish security forces during an undercover counterterrorism operation in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqs Kurdish regional government. He was then handed over to the U.S. Army in Erbil for further interrogation and later transferred to Iraqi authorities in Baghdad.
While Ahmed claimed he had stopped working for ISIS after he looked more closely into their violent Islamic ideology, he continued to see himself, as many jihadists are encouraged to do, as a sort of chivalric hero and, in his case, a chemical whiz kid.
During our interview, he expressed regret over his decision to join ISIS.
My advice to everyone in the world is not to believe [ISIS] propaganda and media. Real jihad is to support your country and families and provide them with the best knowledge. Dont believe ISIS or join any upcoming group.
At the same time, he seemed to still be angling for a job in his chosen field. Appearing to think we could bounce him out of prison, he offered to help the Americans now to fight ISIS. He had made a similar egotistic offer to the Peshmerga and also to others who had handled him following his capture.
Ahmeds story serves to demonstrate ISIS horrifying ambitions and tryst with chemical and biological weapons in Iraq and Syria, nearly actualized through their power to attract scientists like him from around the globe.
These experts are capable of researching methods for and carrying out the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction from raw substances and materials that ISIS also appears adept at procuring.
The notion that ISIS and its operatives can deploy weapons of mass destruction outside of Syria and Iraq still remains far-fetched, but even if Ahmed is overstating his abilities by a considerable margin, there is no question that the Caliphate had a substantial group of capable scientists, engineers and technicians.
ISIS capacity for innovation and the ability to replicate itself elsewherethat is, engage in transfer of tools and techniques learned abroad for use in Europe, Asia or the Americasmust be taken seriously.
The Islamic State may have lost every last acre of the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but it lives on in the the minds of many who would inflict terrible attacks on its enemies, and may yet acquire the means to do so.
Reading aloud is good for kids. This principal is going above and beyond to make it happen for her students.
The benefits of reading is well-documented, especially for growing children. Books help build vocabulary, foster empathy, increase attention spans, and teach kids to think critically.
But some kids, especially in low-income households, may not have easy access to books or have caregivers who are able to read to them regularly. That’s a problem. It’s hard for kids to develop a love of reading without lots of exposure to books. And without the benefits that regular reading can offer, the educational gap for kids in low-income households just grows wider.
Principal Belinda George, a first-year principal at Homer Drive Elementary in Beaumont, Texas, has many low-income students under her charge. And in a simple, unique way, she’s trying to make sure they all get the gift of reading.
Dr. George reads aloud to students in the evening—in her pajamas—during “Tucked-in Tuesdays.”
According to the Washington Post, the 42-year-old principal opens up Facebook Live on her phone at 7:30pm on Tuesdays for a read-aloud session she called “Tucked-in Tuesdays.” Snuggled up in her jammies—which include a Cookie Monster onesie (me wants one!)—George reads a book aloud to whatever students can be online for storytime. She started Tucked-in Tuesdays in December, and it’s a hit.
“Kids will come up to me Wednesday and say, ‘Dr. George, I saw you in your PJs reading!,” she told the Post. “They’ll tell me their favorite part of the book.” Students will often go try to find the book she read them at the school library. People outside of the school district, and even outside of Texas, have started tuning in for bedtime stories with the principal.
Her love of kids motivates her to take the time to bring something extra to their lives outside the classroom.
George doesn’t have any kids of her own, and she uses her story time to connect with her students whom she refers to as her children.
“The idea came from a Facebook group called Principal Principles Leadership Group,” George told TODAY. “And from the fact that I absolutely love my children.”
George told the Post that if she doesn’t reach them outside of school, she knows she won’t be able to reach them in school. Tucked-in Tuesdays are a way for her to build bonds with students and families while also fostering a love of books. She greets students by name as they tell her they’re watching, and she asks questions to keep the story time interactive.
Educators like Dr. George can make a huge difference in students’ lives.
All of us have special teachers, librarians, or other adults in school who influenced us with their beyond-the-call-of-duty care. What a wonderful memory these young scholars will have for the rest of their lives, and what a great way for them to build positive bonds with an authority figure in their lives.
George told the post that she does anything she can to build relationships with her students, including twice weekly dance parties. “If a child feels loved they will try,” she said.
Check out Principal George reading “Clark the Shark” in her Cookie Monster PJs:
Clark the Shark and the Big Book Report
Reading Level: 2.5
AR Points: 0.5
FILE – In this March 1966, file photo, a U.S. Air Force B-52 delivers a bomb load of more than 38,000 pounds against Viet Cong strongholds in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese capital Hanoi once trembled as waves of American bombers unleashed their payloads, but when Kim Jong Un arrives here for his summit with President Donald Trump he won’t find rancor toward a former enemy. Instead, the North Korean leader will get a glimpse at the potential rewards of reconciliation. (AP Photo, File)
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FILE – In this April 1965 under sniper fire, Vietnamese civilians duck for safety as U.S. Marines storm the village of My Son, near Da Nang in Vietnam searching for Viet Cong insurgents. The Vietnamese capital once trembled as waves of American bombers unleashed their payloads, but when Kim Jong Un arrives here for his summit with President Donald Trump he won’t find rancor toward a former enemy. Instead, the North Korean leader will get a glimpse at the potential rewards of reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams, File)
HANOI, Vietnam – The Vietnamese capital once trembled as waves of American bombers unleashed their payloads, but when Kim Jong Un arrives here for his summit with President Donald Trump he won’t find rancor toward a former enemy. Instead the North Korean leader will get a glimpse at the potential rewards of reconciliation.
By the time the Vietnam War ended in 1975, tens of thousands of tons of explosives had been dropped on Hanoi and nearly two decades of fighting had killed 3 million Vietnamese and more than 58,000 Americans. Vietnam, though victorious, lay devastated by American firepower, with cities in ruins and fields and forests soaked in toxic herbicides and littered with unexploded ordnance.
Despite the conflict’s savagery, what followed was a remarkable rapprochement between wartime foes and it took merely 20 years to restore full relations.
Now some hope Vietnam will offer Kim a road map for his own detente with the United States and that the formerly besieged capital city will be the site of a dramatic resolution to one of the last remaining Cold War conflicts.
While North Korea remains America’s sworn enemy 65 years after the Korean War fighting ceased, Vietnam today stands as a burgeoning partner which even buys lethal U.S. weaponry. Bilateral trade has soared by 8,000 percent over the last two decades and billions of dollars in American investment flows into one of the world’s best performing economies.
And while North Koreans are still taught to loathe Americans by their country’s propaganda machine, in Vietnam there is little animosity.
“I was born after the war and only hear war stories from American films or books,” said Dinh Thanh Huyen, a 19-year-old university student who was waiting in line at a crowded McDonald’s in Hanoi. She said she was happy the former enemies have moved on. “History is for us to learn from, not to hold grudges.”
Kim could take note of the history of win-win rapprochement and how Vietnam’s communist leaders have allowed a capitalistic economy and an open door to the U.S. and other outsiders, all while not sacrificing their tight grip on power. Or he could allow it all to pass him by as he narrows his focus for the Feb. 27-28 summit on tit-for-tat bargaining over nuclear arms and economic sanctions.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in Hanoi last year about “the once-unimaginable prosperity and partnership” the U.S. has come to enjoy with Vietnam and noted Vietnam was able maintain its form of government.
“I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong Un: President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It’s yours to seize the moment,” he said. “This can be your miracle in North Korea as well.”
To be sure, Vietnam remains a one-party state with a poor human rights record where even moderate critics and dissenters are frequently jailed.
Since the first Trump-Kim summit last June in Singapore, a few small steps have already been taken along a timeline forged by the U.S.-Vietnamese thaw, including Pyongyang turning over remains of U.S. servicemen killed in the Korean War, the first such hand-over in more than a decade.
It was the same missing in action issue that heralded U.S.-Vietnamese reconciliation, with the repatriation of American war dead creating an environment for improvement in relations in other areas.
Next came step-by-step lifting of economic sanctions, as Washington encouraged Vietnam’s so-called “doi moi” reform, initiatives launched in 1986 to shed a state-run economy in favor of a market-oriented one open to foreigners.
North Korea has already shown interest in Vietnam’s reforms, sending students and official delegations who returned home with favorable reports. Having enjoyed close relations with North Korea since 1950, Vietnam could be the ideal go-between in nudging Pyongyang to re-engineer its disastrous economy and turn foes to friends.
“Vietnam’s model of development ‘doi moi’ is an important factor in the United States’ larger strategy of drawing North Korea out of its self-imposed isolation as part of the larger process of denuclearizing,” said Carlyle Thayer, a political scientist at The University of New South Wales.
But Thayer and other experts share strong reservations about how much of the U.S.-Vietnamese “miracle” can be duplicated. There are stark differences in the way the North Korea responded once the fighting stopped.
The North slammed shut its doors and slid into a Cold War bunker — and it remains one of the world’s most isolated nations. Vietnam, however, chose to put behind its tragic past and move forward.
Not long after the war, American journalists and official U.S. delegations were allowed entry to a poor, shabby Hanoi, its lovely French colonial buildings moldering from neglect. The only clothes many men had were the baggy green uniforms and pith helmets of the North Vietnamese army. Suspicion was palpable and Westerners, including journalists, were assigned minders to keep tabs on them.
Expecting a hostile reception, the Americans were stunned at the lack of animosity displayed by the average Vietnamese, even those who had lost loved ones to U.S. bombs. Returning American veterans were often signaled out for especially warm welcomes, sometimes tearfully embracing their onetime battlefield enemies while exchanging stories of suffering.
Making such scenes possible were a set of special circumstances. Some were geo-political: Vietnam badly needed a counter-balance that the U.S. could provide to its perennial enemy — neighboring China.
This has taken on special urgency in recent years as Beijing moves aggressively to claim large swaths of the South China Sea. Telling are the exchanges between the U.S. and Vietnamese coast guards and the provision of U.S. patrol boats. Last year the USS Carl Vinson, an American aircraft carrier, made a historic port call in Vietnam, the first of its kind since the war ended.
Vietnam also no longer faced a threat from the United States, whereas North Korea perceives that it does, making abandonment of its nuclear program difficult, perhaps even in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
But an underlying human element was also at work.
“During the Vietnam War Hanoi always drew a distinction between the peace-loving American people and the imperialist American government,” Thayer said. “There was a basis for future reconciliation.”
The face-to-face encounters that followed, serving to ease mutual hostility, never occurred with North Korea. Instead, generations of North Korean children sat in classrooms looking at posters of Americans portrayed as big nosed goblins. A massive anti-American rally loomed large on the annual calendar.
“The Vietnamese saw over the years of our war that many American people and veterans spoke out against the war,” said Bob Mulholland, a prominent Vietnam combat veteran.
And there were powerful advocates of reconciliation, including Sens. John Kerry and the recently deceased John McCain as well as other veterans who quietly returned to Vietnam to help the shattered country.
Although the Vietnam War has begun to fade from the collective memory in both countries, it is not the “forgotten war” that the Korean conflict has long been known as. With peace and greater prosperity have come fresh connections forged by a younger generation.
Near the McDonald’s in Hanoi’s old quarter, not far from a Starbucks, the area is closed to traffic each weekend and entertainers, including American buskers, take to streets now strung with U.S. and North Korean flags. Vietnamese youth can be seen mingling with young American travelers.
Just a short stroll away, tourist Brian Walker was taking in Hanoi’s Military War Museum, fronted by the wreckage of an American B-52 shot down while bombing the city.
“For many Americans, it may be a country of a bloody war that we took part in,” said 28-year-old social worker from New York City. “But coming here, all I see is people with big smiles, good food and a beautiful landscape.”
In a move that won’t be doing the so-called “snowflake generation” any favors, a 27-year-old man has taken the drastic step of suing his parents. Their crime – having him in the first place.
Raphael Samuel, a businessman based in Mumbai, India, bases the dispute on the belief that it is immoral for a couple to bring a sentient being into the world without asking their permission to do so. His argument stems from a philosophical movement called “anti-natalism”, an outlook that reasons any new human life will inevitably involve pain and suffering, while pleasure (although good) is irrelevant to those who do not or have not existed in the first place.
An anti-natalist ultimately concludes it would have been better not to have been born in the first place.
Or as Samuel put it to BBC News: “My life is good, but I’d rather not be here. You know it’s like there’s a nice room, but I don’t want to be in that room.”
The decision to take his parents to court is to make a point, Samuel says. He knows it’s extremely likely the lawsuit will be thrown out before he has a chance to be heard and he also acknowledges the impossibility of acquiring consent from an as-yet-unconceived being. And yet, he hopes that by pursuing the case, the stunt will raise the profile of anti-natalism.
“There’s no point to humanity,” he added. “So many people are suffering.”
“If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”
At least for now, anti-natalists are in the minority – but elements of anti-natalism are edging into the mainstream. Take, for example, True Detective. Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, could be described as a nihilistic anti-natalist.
True Detective screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto says he was inspired by a piece by David Benatar, the controversial head of the University of Cape Town’s philosophy department and author of various books and essays on anti-natalism. Benatar’s view: “One of the implications of my argument is that a life filled with good and containing only the most minute quantity of bad – a life of utter bliss adulterated only by the pain of a single pin-prick – is worse than no life at all.”
In The Human Predicament, Benatar lists the pain that goes hand-in-hand with simply being. This includes not just the obvious (sickness and grief, say) but the various discomforts and indignities we all experience on a daily basis, from hunger and thirst to the need to go to the bathroom, waiting in traffic, and feeling too cold or too hot. “The quality of human life is, contrary to what many people think, actually quite appalling,” he concludes.
But if death seems like the way out, think again. Grief and dying bring their own pain – or, as Benatar puts it, “Life is bad, but so is death…Together, they constitute an existential vise”.
To sum up: Life is worth continuing because death is considered “bad”. But that does not mean it is not worth starting in the first place.
As for Samuel and his parents, the good news is that they still appear to be on good terms – despite the looming lawsuit.
“I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault,” Kavita Karnad Samuel said in a statement, BBC News reports.
Before adding, “I’m very happy that my son has grown up into a fearless, independent-thinking young man. He is sure to find his path to happiness.”