Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Laos News of the Week

Laos is proceeding with the potentially environmentally disastrous Xayaburi Dam. Studies calculate it will "block fish migration on the Mekong, threaten between 23 and 200 fish species, have damaging effects on sediment flows and put unpredictable pressures on ecosystems around the river. More than 60 million people live in the river basin of the lower Mekong and about two-thirds of those depend on fishing for all or part of their livelihood." What's not to love?

Laos and the World Bank celebrated 50 years of "partnership". Said one official, "Today we can take pride in the achievements of our enduring partnership. Laos has seen remarkable success in lifting millions of people out of poverty and improving their lives. In less than a generation, the incidence of poverty in Laos has dropped from about 50 per cent to just a little over 25 per cent."

Laos faces challenges in creating productive jobs, said an expert from the International Labour Organization at a national workshop in Vientiane to discuss the Rural Employment Strategy for Poverty Reduction. With a population of 6.3 million, and 60 percent of the population is under 25 years old, Laos has opportunities but also challenges.

Meanwhile, Lao officials have been urged to actively lead local people in undertaking commercial ventures, so they can find their way out of poverty, saying "the growing of crops and livestock rearing should tie in with local needs."

Air America veteran Richard O'Hara of Northville, Michigan and his service in Laos were discussed in the Observer & Eccentric.

In West Virginia, the story of Master Sergeant  Edward Ziobron's bravery in Laos was discussed.

In the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Lee Hines shared his experiences in Laos in "Lessons we must learn again."

The mayor of Frisco, Bill Pelham shared his story as a Forward Air Controller near the Laotian border in the Summit Daily.

The Gilroy Patch has an article on Joe Kline, who served in Vietnam and a mission in Laos to fly South Vietnamese troops in to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Bill Flittie was profiled in the Shoreview Press. Flittie was in the navy and later joined International Volunteer Services, stationed in Savannakhet.

Newsweek has a story on "What Made the Spooks Disappear," covering CIA operatives like Tony Poe who served in Laos with the Hmong.

USAID has a press release on 80-year old Hal Freeman, who was an education Foreign Service Officer with service around the world including Laos with the Hmong.

Thailand and Laos have officially opened a new Friendship Bridge.

And, Justin Bieber is auctioning off his snake to help a charity that builds schools in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala. His baby boa constrictor, Johnson.

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