Missing Him Already

President Obama and Michelle Chicago Farewell

When I was in law school in Chicago, I’d see campaign signs now and then with an unusual African-sounding name … someone running for the state senate from the south side … I was always too busy to take notice of political candidates or get involved back then. All these years later, as he says his farewells in that city that first witnessed his incredible leadership, I am wistful and so grateful to have been witness and beneficiary to such a great president.

Let us not dismiss or gloss over integrity, leadership, and wisdom when it arrives in packages that are local, or unheard of, or non-traditional, and especially in our own better natures.

– Marybelle C. Ang

Officially Recognizing Filipino WWII Veterans

Obama pledges doubled funding for Laos bomb removal

Yesterday, President Obama pledged $90 million in funding to help remove unexploded bombs leftover from the Vietnam War and the secret war in Laos. This was after ASEAN and the G20 had met in Laos to discuss diplomacy and trade.

Throughout his visit to Laos, Obama has lamented that most Americans know little about the country or the devastating secret nine-year war the U.S. waged there half a century ago. He sought to use his presence and the spotlight that follows him to bring attention to an unfamiliar corner of the world. (The Star)

AAAFund previously published a very pertinent blog post by Monica on why she supports Hillary Clinton, including a thorough discussion of this issue in Laos. Reposted below in full:

After the fall of Saigon, my parents’ families were forced to flee from Laos because they were Hmong, the hated enemies of the Communist regime. Laos was just one of the many theaters of clandestine warfare that occurred in the shadow of the Vietnam War of what is called, the “Secret War,’ just one of many forgotten battlefields of our fight against communism. Like most refugee families, my parents didn’t arrive in America until after 10 years of surviving in refugee camps waiting for resettlement processes to be completed. It’s been 41 years since the first Hmong family settled in America and the War is still a sensitive topic for some to discuss. While my parents were open when asked about the war and hardships they endured, I was never able to understand the extent of the devastation of the war until I got older. It wasn’t until I read books and watched documentaries about the war that I truly understood what my parents, and what many other Southeast Asian families faced.

During the Secret War, America dropped over 2 million tons of ordnance over Laos in 580,000 bombing missions, totaling at least 270 million cluster bomblets. Approximately 80 million of these bombs failed to detonate and can still maim, kill, and injure. This means that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger thought bombing Laos the equivalent of one planeload of bombs was dropped every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years, would help stop the rise of communism. Refugees like my parents who were marooned in Laos after the wars were left not only fleeing from communist armies, but also attempting to avoid the American bombs haphazardly strewn along the countryside.

Though my family is safe today, the people of Laos continue to face danger from these relics of the war as they navigate their homeland filled with millions of unexploded bombs and landmines, known as Unexploded Ordnance (UXO).

I first learned about UXO when I was a junior in college at a fundraiser hosted by Legacies of War. Legacies of War is a non-profit organization, founded by fearless advocate Channapha Khamvongsa, which seeks to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos, and advocates for the clearance of UXO. A study conducted in Laos back in 2009, indicates more than 70,000 civilians have been killed or maimed in Laos since the war, with a majority of accidents taking place immediately after the war when people were not yet aware of the danger. Today, there is still a wide gap in knowledge about UXO in Laos, and how it has dangerously impacted people who I share a common culture and history with, even some being my family members. Still today, about 60% of accidents result in death, and 40% of victims are children.

After learning all of this, I felt guilty and upset because as a Hmong American, I had never known the full extent of the destruction. No one else – Southeast Asian or not – was talking about all the bombs left over in Laos; likely because many people are not aware. This is not a topic taught in schools, or a part of the mainstream account of the conflict in Laos.

That is why after I saw the clip of Hillary Clinton answering a question about UXO in Laos, I knew she was my candidate. No other presidential candidate in this election had spoken about UXO in Laos, and no other candidate has since. Hillary was the first Secretary of State to visit Laos in 57 years and she acknowledges and understands that clearing leftover munitions in Laos is an American-made tragedy that requires a solution from our government. She acknowledged that, “this is a humanitarian disaster that we created,” and said she would push our government to sign the Land Mine [Ban] Treaty and increase funds to clear UXO. She answered clearly and knowledgeably, something that impressed me because I felt like no one knew or cared about the UXO in Laos. Hillary won my support by showing her command over an issue that almost everyone else has forgot, or chooses to ignore.

I firmly believe Hillary is the only candidate who will be able to adequately respond to issues important to me, like UXO in Laos, once elected. In addition to this, she has an extensive list of plans addressing other issues that the Southeast Asian community cares about, like lack of affordable higher education and immigration reform. But hearing Hillary speak about the need to help Laos clear more UXO particularly resonated with me because she cares about the people who still die everyday because of unexploded bombs.

President Obama will be the first U.S. President to visit Laos later this year. I’m hopeful that Hillary will be the second and that she will bring about the change necessary to atone for the sins of our nation’s past.

– Pajouablai Monica Lee

Asian-American Congressman Ted Lieu of California issued a strong and reasoned argument against the House Oversight Hearing on Former Secretary Clinton’s Emails

Rep. Ted Lieu CA-33

On Friday Representative Ted Lieu questioned FBI Director James Comey during an emergency Congressional hearing called with less than 24-hours advance notice. During his questions he explained why the House cannot and should not hold an emergency oversight hearing on Secretary Clinton’s email management. Based upon his experience as an Air Force prose-cutting attorney, Rep Lieu provided two reasons invalidating the hearings.

“The first of which is none of the members of this committee can be objective on this issue.”

“The second fundamental truth today about this hearing is that none of the members of this committee have any idea what we are talking about because we have not reviewed the evidence personally in this case.”

AAA-Fund is proud to support politicians from the AAPI community. Like Rep. Lieu, the AAPI community brings a wealth of experience to our representative government.

or read the full transcript to get the full idea.


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