Saturday, September 29, 2018

The girl from the photo: the story behind a symbol of the Vietnam War

At age 55, Kim Phuc Phan Thi tells of her trajectory after the chemical attack that left her with scars all over her body



An image marks the Vietnam War  since 1972. With her arms wide open, her naked body burned and the expression of terror on her face, a girl struck by a chemical bomb has become the symbol of the conflict that has killed more than 2 million Vietnamese, many of them civilians, and 58,000 American s"No child should suffer as I suffered," says the 55-year-old Vietnamese woman who runs an aid organization for children in conflict areas. "At that moment, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But now I'm in the right place at the rThe girl used her right hand to try to get the flammable substance out of her arm and ended up also burning her other side. Kim remembers that, at that moment, she was very frightened and scared. He ran from the fire toward his brothers and cousins, alongside some soldiers.
This was the image that Nick Ut, an Associated Press photographer, captured with his camera, strategically mounted on the road.
That image was one of many that Ut took from that conflict, although this was the one that marked his career and still earned him the Pulitzer Prize. To the left of Kim, in the photo, are two of his brothers and, to the right side, two cousins.ight time. I found my purpose. "ldiers.
The girl in the photo is Kim Phuc Phan Thi. At 9, she had a large part of her back, neck, and left arm burned by a chemical called napalm. The attack that struck it was commanded by US-backed South Vietnam forces against the village of Trang Bang at the time occupied by the North Vietnamese troops.
Today, she lives in Canada alongside her children, her husband and her parents. In a visit to Brazil, 46 years after that tragedy, Kim released his autobiography, "The Girl from the Picture - My Memories: From the Horror of the War to the Path to Peace", that after years of suffering and hatred, she finally found peace. This mother of two realized that she could use her photo to drive a campaign against violence.
"As a child, I wished that photo had never been taken. Until I became a mother and held my son in my arms for the first time, "Kim told VEJA. I realized that the image was a powerful gift with which I could work to achieve peace, "he says
In June 1972, after Trang Bang was invaded by the Viet Cong - as the soldiers who fought alongside North Vietnam became known - Kim's family took shelter in a religious temple near their home. On the 8th, the South Vietnamese launched a major attack on the village, and all who took refuge there had to flee.
The girl, her cousins and brothers rushed toward a large road that cut through the village called Highway 1. It was right there that the South Vietnamese military planes overturned the napalm bombs, supposedly hoping to reach enemy troops.
"We heard the soldiers screaming that we had to run as fast as we could," says Kim. "When I got on Highway 1, I saw the planes flying toward me, making a lot of noise. I thought I should run, but it was frozen. "
"At that moment, I saw with my own eyes four bombs falling and then the fire around me," he reports. "The fire destroyed all my clothes, so I was so burned on the back, the neck and the left arm. "
The girl used her right hand to try to get the flammable substance out of her arm and ended up also burning her other side. Kim remembers that, at that moment, she was very frightened and scared. He ran from the fire toward his brothers and cousins, alongside some soldiers.
This was the image that Nick Ut, an Associated Press photographer, captured with his camera, strategically mounted on the road.
That image was one of many that Ut took from that conflict, although this was the one that marked his career and still earned him the Pulitzer Prize. To the left of Kim, in the photo, are two of his brothers and, to the right side, two cousins.
"We kept running, crying and screaming, but I got so tired I had to stop," says Kim. In desperation, she screamed "too hot, too hot! "As he felt the napalm stick and devour his skin.
One of the journalists who accompanied the scene gave something to the girl to drink and spilled water on her back, making her lose consciousness. Without knowing it, it ended up worsening his injuries, since the reaction of the chemical with the oxygen burned even more deeply the skin of Kim. With the help of a known doctor, she was relocated to a facility for burn victims.
Noticing that the situation had worsened, Nick Ut took the injured children in their lap, put them in his van, and started for the nearest hospital. The girl arrived in critical condition at the center, and doctors, without much resources, considered her dead. The young woman was sent directly to the morgue, where she spent three days until her mother found her.
"There was a boy lying on the next bed. His wounds took so long to be treated, that worms now reeled in his flesh. Some time later, Mom told me that some of those worms had found my bed and reached my face and my internal organs, which were exposed, "she described in the book. "My skin was starting to rot, filling the air with a disgusting metallic scent."
With the help of a known doctor, she was relocated to a facility for burn victims. In this place, the girl was hospitalized for 14 months and underwent 16 surgeries - she performed the 17th in Germany at the age of 21. In her autobiography, she describes all the pain and suffering she faced, especially in the daily baths to treat burns.
"The painful pangs I felt on those occasions were so unbearable that almost every morning I would faint moments before being put in the tub," he said.
Third and fourth degree burns destroyed all three layers of Kim's skin, as well as some muscles and ligaments. The girl has been in critical condition for about 40 days, and Kim today suffers from severe back and arm pain.
Kim only saw the image that would mark his life when he returned home. "I could only think that I was ugly, I did not understand why the photographer had taken that photo when I was naked, with the ugly face," he says.
At the same time, he met Nick Ut, who came to his house to monitor his progress with the burns. "He became part of my family," she says, which still refers to the photographer who saved her life as "Uncle Ut."
On the day of the bombing, shortly before the planes arrived in the village, Kim played with one of her favorite cousins, Danh, 3. During the flight to the temple, the boy was carried by a soldier who helped the family escape the attack. As soon as the napalm hit the officer's heavy clothes, he and the boy had their bodies burned to the death.
The years after the attack were terrible for Kim. "I left the hospital, but my life seemed like it was starting over," he laments. "I suffered a lot, but not only with the burns. I went through traumas, had nightmares, low self-esteem, lots of hatred and bitterness. "
Kim grew up and was educated by her family in Caodaism, a religion founded in Vietnam. At age 19, while still living in the country, he converted to Christianity.
According to her, it was through her new religion that she found peace and her purpose in life. Today, Kim is a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) and heads her own nongovernmental organization to help children affected by war.
KIM Foundation International provides treatment and prostheses for conflict-affected children and sponsors the construction and maintenance of hospitals, schools and orphanages in various parts of the world. "I do not want to see other Kims suffering like I did," he says.
The Vietnamese also found in prayer a way to forgive all those who did her wrong. In 1996, at a War Veterans Day ceremony in Washington, DC, Kim met with John Plummer, one of the American officers who led the napalm attack on Trang Bang.
The military man, who became a pastor, asked for the forgiveness of the woman he had injured 24 years earlier. "It's all right. I forgive you, "Kim replied

"I had a lot of anger before, even from my scars and all the pain I felt," said VEJA. "When I learned to love and forgive my enemies, my heart was freed from all hatred."
According to Kim Phuc, learning how to forgive her helped lead a lighter life. "I still have pain every day, and that's a big challenge for me. But I discovered how to make this pain my friend, "he says. "Do not focus on suffering, I distract my mind by talking, singing a song and praying," he adds.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

The woman accusing Trump's nomination to Supreme Court is willing to speak



hristine Blasey Ford, the woman accused of sexual assault by Donald Trump for the US Supreme Court, is willing to testify next week before the Senate, the US press said on Thursday.
The 51-year-old psychology scholar claims that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, sexually assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s, something Trump's US Supreme Court nominee denies.
Until the indictment, Kavanaugh, a conservative-minded judge, looked set to be confirmed for this lifetime charge.
Blasey Ford's lawyers told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she will not be able to appear on Monday but is willing to testify later that week, provided the hearing is "fair" and her security is guaranteed, according to an e-mail quoted by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Monday's date "is not possible and the Commission's insistence that this be so is arbitrary in any case," the women's lawyers said.
"As you know, she received death threats, which have been reported to the FBI, and both she and her family had to leave their homes," added their representatives.
"She wants to testify on the condition that we can agree on circumstances that are fair and that guarantee her security," they said.
In addition, lawyers pointed out that their client prefers to have an investigation before their testimony.
Blasey Ford said the incident occurred around 1982 at a party with elite school students in the wealthy suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington DC.
He claims that Kavanaugh, drunk, immobilized her in a bed while trying to undress her, while another young woman watched, but she managed to escape.
Blasey Ford did not file criminal charges, but if he did, the case would be investigated in Maryland, where serious crimes of sexual assault do not prescribe.
The woman, who had been silent for decades, sent a letter to a local representative in July when Kavanaugh's name began circulating as a possible Supreme Court nominee.
After media leaks, he left anonymity in an interview with the Washington Post.
Kavanaugh's arrival in the Supreme Court would place progressive or moderate judges in the minority for many years in court, a court that addresses key issues in American society, such as the right to abortion, firearms, and minority rights.
 
In 1991, another Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, was charged with sexual harassment by Anita Hill, a law professor.
Despite the indictment, Judge Thomas was confirmed and still a member of the Supreme Court, but the treatment given to Hill during the hearings left marks and encouraged many women to enter into politics.
Almost three decades later, the climate changed and even Trump, quick to criticize those who stand in his way, avoided attacking Blasey directly.
The president simply defended Kavanaugh, who he described as "extraordinary man," and was skeptical of the charges: "It is very difficult for me to imagine what happened."
Public opinion is increasingly against the judge and according to the NBC / The Wall Street Journal poll published late Thursday, 38% reject Kavanaugh's presence in the Supreme Court, against 34% who approve it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

China presents medical robots, teachers and warriors


Robots capable of diagnosing a disease, playing badminton, playing musical instruments or fighting like warriors are the stars of a congress in China about smart machines that can revolutionize the country's economy. The world of robotics exhibited is fascinating: an articulated arm capable of writing characters, androids from the local group of Gee electric appliances playing the drum, a fish robot that turns into an aquarium or a bat-raising machine that raises flight.
Automatons with screens of Cantonese company Inbot, able to perform the functions of teacher or salesman, perform a synchronized choreography, while other miniature robots compete for a football match.
But the real attraction remains the robot fighting they face in a ring, amid the exclamations of fascinated spectators, miniature tanks, swift and armed with sharp blades that collide with each other and mutilate with a loud bang.
"The personality of my robot reflects mine! And I love the sparks ...," says Huang Hongsong, one of the young Chinese men whose machines are in competition.
- Battle of robotics -
But beyond the ludic aspect, China hopes to win in the international arena the battle of industrial robotics, in the context of the exacerbated technological war with the United States.
With an aging population and a growing shortage of local labor, the Asian giant relies on the automation of factories to maintain its industrial development.
"Robots are the crown jewel for the manufacturing industry ... a new frontier," was enthralled this week at the Xin Guobin congress, the Chinese deputy minister of Industry. President Xi Jinping himself had called in 2014 a "robot revolution".
China is already the first market for industrial robots, with 141,000 units sold last year (+ 58.1%) and a third of world demand, according to the international robotics federation. This demand can grow 20% by 2020.
"The potential for automation continues to be immense: by 2016, China had 68 robots for every 10,000 employees, four times less than in Japan or Germany," explains Karel Eloot, a McKinsey cabinet specialist in Asia.
Only 27 percent of the industrial robots sold last year were Chinese companies: Beijing wants this market share to rise to 50 percent by 2020, and then to 70 percent by 2025, according to the "Made in China 2025" technology plan.
According to Eloot, this is a tricky proposition: "It would be necessary to double the number of Chinese engineers in robotics ... and to mitigate intellectual property gaps. Chinese companies own less than 1% of patents."
In addition, the social cost can be high: according to the World Bank, up to 77% of Chinese jobs are likely to be automated.
- Doctor Robô -
However, outside the factories, robotics is already flourishing in China in restaurants, banks, and the medical sector.
The Chinese iFlytek presented in Beijing its "robot medical assistant", supposedly able to take a questionnaire to a patient and identify 150 diseases.
"It has been used in hospitals since March and has helped to make about 4,000 diagnoses," said Liu Qingfeng, president of iFlytek, which aims to "provide artificial intelligence to doctors in isolated regions."
IFlytek is also testing a robot jurist, who was supposed to help the judges determine the verdict.
In turn, Chindex, a subsidiary of the Fosun conglomerate, distributes articulated surgical arms of American design "Da Vinci" in China. In an operating room equipped with high definition cameras and multipositional scalpels, this robot "transcends the limits of the human eye," says Liu Yu, Chindex's chief operating officer.
"It only helps the doctor, it can not replace it. It would not be ethical, the human body is too complex," he says.
With 160 companies represented, this 4th World Congress of robots reveals the emergence of technologies that allow automata to replace humans.


Where is Russia stalking? Trump asks after conviction of ex-ally

Condemnation of Paul Manafort and expropriation of former lawyer Michael Cohen should increase the pressure that already exists by the impeachment of the Republican


On the same day that two of his former allies found themselves in the crosshairs of Justice, the President of the United States , Donald Trump said at a rally in the state of West Virginia that the investigation led by Special Adviser Robert Mueller "cannot find collusion with Russia . "
This is a reference to suspicions of collaboration between the winning campaign of the 2016 White House race and Moscow in favor of favoring the presidential election.
"Where is the collusion with Russia? They can not find collusion with Russia, "Trump questioned an audience of supporters on Tuesday.
Earlier, a federal jury found Paul Manafort , who was campaign director for the current president, guilty on eight counts of tax and banking fraud.
Also on Tuesday, his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to charges of tax fraud, bank fraud and violations of campaign finance laws. In addition, Cohen said he acted "in coordination and under the direction of a candidate for a federal official post," but did not name Trump in his confession.
In assuming his guilt, Cohen told Judge William Pauley that he paid $ 130,000 and $ 150,000 during the 2016 election campaign in exchange for the silence of two women who would have related to the president, "at the request of the candidate and with the intention of influencing the election. "
Judge Pauley will pronounce Cohen's sentence on December 12, and the lawyer may receive up to five years in prison for each of the tax evasion offenses, thirty years for bank fraud and five years for each offense of violation of the financing law campaign.
The White House declined to comment on Cohen's remarks. Later, in an American press release, Trump's attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, stated that "there are no charges of any crime against the president in what was presented by the government against Mr. Cohen."
Cohen's decision to admit his guilt should turn out to be a real problem for Trump. Although United States legal tradition points out that a president cannot be tried in office, Cohen's admission will certainly increase the pressure that already exists for an impeachment of the Republican.
The Democratic Party leader in the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (California), said the cases involving Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are "further evidence of rampant corruption and criminality in the heart of US President Donald Trump ".
For the Democrat, these condemnations are further evidence that investigations into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election must continue without interference.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal also ruled, saying that after Tuesday's revelations "there is no other reading" but that Trump "is an uninvolved criminal accomplice."

economy

At the rally in West Virginia, Trump also defended its trade policy on the grounds that the United States will impose a 25% tariff on imports of cars from the European Union and that this measure will convert the current US trade deficit, which it has estimated at US $ 151 billion. dollars, in a surplus of equal value with the block of nations.
Trump also assured that the United States is "on the way to a fair deal with Mexico, " arguing that the president-elect of the neighboring country, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, "knows that Mexico needs the United States." "I get along better with him than with the capitalist," added the American, referring to the current representative, Enrique Peña Nieto.
China was not out of the White House leader's speech. He said that before his inauguration, China "was on the way to being bigger than us". "It will not happen," he promised, amid repeated allegations that Beijing has stolen American technology.


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