Thursday, May 3, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
There seems to be some interesting video footages about cluster bombs on youtube.
Some links and inappropriate critiques:
A really really short clip of this Australian guy filming M85 duds in some part of Lebanon. If anyone read my ridiculously long entry where I wrote about the 'smart' sub-munitions this Australian guy filming M85 cluster bomb duds tries to verify that the self-destruct mechanisms are simply malfunctioning and still leave duds as de facto land mines. I guess I'm too much of a newbie to see how he distinguishes between duds that are armed and those that are not by just looking down on them... Well neways, interesting clip if you want to see actual duds waiting to be exploded. (And by the way, these M85 cluster bombs are under the classification of 155mm projectiles, the same type of ammunition that Poongsan has been co-manufacturing with the Pakistan military.) こわいね～～～
This short documentary on cluster munitions by the Human Rights Watch is also very interesting. I think they do a little too much with the BGM, especially for the first minute of the clip (.they really sound like their christian... sorry to the devoted people out there, but they do!) The interviews are alright, not great. They really make themselves look high-profile. I take this video as an advertisement to the general public in effort to enlighten them against cluster munitions, but I feel their buying too much into emotion(like the music..) to raise awareness for 'human rights'. As much as it is an emotional and ethical issue, I think we need to elaborate on the unavoidable implications these 'human rights' arguments convey. The controversy of such 'rights' are that those stripped down to the point they actually live a 'naked life' are the ones with no legal bounds and excluded from the purview of other rights (like 'natural rights') and therefore suffice to be killed under the law(e.g. war orphans, refugees, homeless people). Well neways, chip in if you have any thoughts on this.
Looks like my favorite so far. I love their simple logic and the MC just sounds funny. Their music is again a little,,,, anachronistic? well i guess they’re trying to be cynical. Interesting how the camera is always looking 'up' at the white house. Their homepage (irregulartimes.com) has a thread to write 2008 reasons to elect a progressive president for the coming elections. so far they have 157... i hope they make it! Qualified voters give them a hand! lol
Like I wrote in the last entry, Poongsan has just made a contract with the Pakistan Ordinance Factory to co-manufacture 155mm artillery ammunitions starting this year. And this is a promotion video of the POF. I think this video is one of those 'too terrible that it’s funny' kind of things. The video stays consistent in trying to make themselves sound like heroes; “THE FORCE BEHIND THE FORCES”, “WHERE SKY IS OUR LIMIT!” Just too funny. It reminds me of my juvenile days when i watched transformers and ultraman and the like and thought they were cool. i wonder what kids will say if they watch this?
Interesting footage of the 'Coalition for Justice and Accountability’ (what a name) with other civic groups demonstrating on Easter day a ‘cluster bomb hunt’ (instead of an 'easter egg hunt') at the traditional monday morning Easter Egg Roll in front of the White house. The first woman who spoke (Lacey?) sounded a little confused.. Nonetheless the protest seemed to have worked at least to stir up attention; here are some articles from the washington post and others that explain more about their demonstrations against cluster bombs: http://www.theneweditor.com/index.php?/archives/5676-A-Family-Friendly-Easter-Cluster-Bomb-Hunt.html
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Subject: ASIJ Board of Directors
Date: April 12, 2007 2:52:33 AM CDT
To: Mike Yong
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, Thierry.Porte@shinseibank.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Since the board has not yet convened since our last communication there is nothing further to report to you. When the board has completed its deliberations and a decision has been finalized an appropriate announcement will be made. Until that time the school administration and the board continues to collect information to arrive at an appropriate decision. Included in that process are your views and the views of others who have expressed an opinion.
Mary Margaret Mallat
Chair, ASIJ Board of Directors
Mike Yong wrote:
Dear Ms. Mallat:
You have failed to respond to my previous email, and it has been almost a week.
Should you continue to ignore warnings, I will be taking appropriate actions to notify other alumni about where this money is coming from, and the Board's arrogant refusal to listen to demands for transparency.
As I have already mentioned to you, a group of alumni have already begun a campaign in opposition to the acceptance of this donation. We have a petition, and as of this writing we have 136 alumni signatories - and growing. It's online at http://www.petitiononline.com/asijasij. We are all appalled that this is even on the discussion table, and we strenuously urge you not to take it. We remain convinced that acceptance of this donation is a moral offense which will tarnish the reputation of the school.
You may be interested in the final line of our petition in particular, where we state that we understand any acceptance of this money as a refusal to listen to our concerns, and will thereafter refuse to donate a single cent.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Dear Mr. Ryu,
We are a group of ASIJ alumni protesting your planned donation to ASIJ. Our objection has been your involvement in the manufacture of cluster bombs. We apologize for any antagonism that we may have projected onto you, and for not contacting you earlier.
We appreciate your generosity and your wish to give back to ASIJ even as an anonymous donor. However, we would like the issues brought forth by this donation--the moral boundaries concerning the business of war, as well as the responsibilities of individuals and institutions in the face of global issues--to be addressed. Perhaps this is an opportunity to reacknowledge ASIJ's educational mission: developing compassionate, inquisitive, learners for global responsibility. Do you think that the ASIJ community could have an open dialogue with you about your work and its relation to ASIJ? We would love to hear from you. Please give us a reply and let us know your thoughts. Thank you for listening.
Michael Dickison and Yusei Ota
P.S. Please also take a look at our petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/asijasij/
UPDATE: Moreover, the Board is apparently going to make a decision very soon. Please contact the board ASAP the let them know what we want!
Dear Board of Directors at ASIJ,
I would like to bring up, once again, the issue of Jin Roy Ryu's donation to ASIJ. I believe, along with many fellow alumni, that ASIJ should be careful about the message that its business decisions send to students, alumni, and everyone acquainted with the ASIJ community. An acceptance of the donation would indicate to us that you acknowledge as a legitimate practice the involvement of Mr. Ryu and his company Poongsan Corporation in the manufacture of cluster bombs. I believe this is the wrong message to send, especially given ASIJ's stated commitment to "developing compassionate, inquisitive learners prepared for global responsibility". The lesson taught by your decision to accept Mr. Ryu's donation would be that manufacturing cluster munitions counts as compassionate and globally responsible action. On the flip side, if you were to politely decline Mr. Ryu's donation on the clearly-stated grounds that it conflicts with ASIJ's core values, this would be a significant message that would further ASIJ's educational mission for its students and for its broader community--more so than the installment of floodlights in the football field. Thank you for your time and your further consideration on this issue. Please let us know your position as soon as possible.
Michael Dickison, Class of 2003
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Here are the articles:
The report in PDF file here:
Recommended for people with more time to read..I hope theres no censorship on these things... well, a just use for a right cause?:)
So to summarize, last November the Pakistan Ordinance Factory (state run under the Ministry of Defense, est. 1951 as the pioneer of Pakistan's ammunition production after the country's independence) signed a pact with Poongsan and another German corporation Diehl, for the co-production of 155mm based artillery ammunition(1) starting January this year. Both companies are international giants of ammunitions/artillery production, as stated in one of the articles. Lets see where recent trends in the production of cluster munitions and their developments have gone to.
According to a report on the controversial use of cluster munitions written by Pax Christi Netherlands, Poongsan as well as Diehl are two of the few companies that claim to have successfully produced cluster bombs that incorporate mechanisms to self-detect targets with sensors (deciphering 'non-combatants' from 'combatants', non-military facilities from military,etc) and self-destruct/deactivating mechanisms (to evade post conflict hazards; duds left as de facto land mines). Yet, there is unsubstantial evidence that this state and business funded production of 'smart' sub-munitions (thats what they are called) have effects on minimizing collateral damages or cut-downs in civilian deaths in real-time combat.
There seems to be numerous reasons for this:
- The reliability tests conducted for newly developed ammunitions are not 'operational', meaning that their relevance in real-time war is uncertain. Also, the testing parameters differ from country to country, as well as through time. The UK Ministry of Defense reported changes in failure rates as a result of changes in testing parameters (2).
- The reliability tests on the contrary result in excessive and less reluctant use of cluster munitions. As seen for example by the UK government during their bombing of Iraq(3); (The UK together with the US used nearly 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimate of 1.8 to 2 million sub-munitions in the three weeks of major combat in Iraq.)
- The actual fatality rate from duds and leftover un-fused ammunitions is still high. As the report states, 'smart' sub-munitions are not 100 % smart. There are failures in self-destruct fuzes and self-deactivating mechanisms, and its certain there will be civilian causalities in consequence. In short, the development of 'smarter' bombs bring no solution to the urgent humanitarian crises induced by cluster munitions.
On a dull note, this report also refers to Pakistan: 'Countries with less advanced military industries and lower armaments spending in relation to their size, which have a military doctrine that envisages a direct military threat from large mechanized armed forces (China, Pakistan, Iran, Syria): These countries can be expected to seek to maintain the option to use cluster weapons, viewed as a force-multiplier. They are unlikely to be willing to invest in costly increased submunition reliability or accuracy." (pg. 48) Both Poongsan as well as the POF have shown 'no response' to the question of reliabilities and failure rates of sub-munition self-destruct fuzes (pg.38).
Of course, the more crucial question is where and for what purposes Pakistan will use their new top-notch cluster munitions. Unfortunately, as the report also holds as an initial setback, there is just few open sources and disclosed secrets to the public by these corporations and governments. Would these cluster munitions reach the hands of young soldiers and worsen the already bloodshed battle in Kashmir? Who knows. That is for the POF to decide. As for Poongsan, they've only just found themselves another business client.
Notes and References
1. For more detail about the numerous types of cluster ammunition produced throughout the world see: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/ theres a list of PDF files on the right under 'resources', all of them seemed fairly informative.
2. Source from the same report by Pax Christi Netherlands, pg. 38.
3. "Ironically the promise of a lower dud rate may have made the British less careful about where they used the L20A1. 'There was less of a reluctance to use them because of the increased reliability,' said Colonel Baldwin". (ibid, pg. 39)
4. There are numerous sources available on the net concerning the India-Pakistan conflict as well as the conflict in Kashmir. I read this article: http://www.countercurrents.org/indiapak.htm
Concerning my thoughts on the Kashmir conflict, I understand I was only able to pick up bits and pieces of a major international issue. If anyone has suggestions or comments please write!
I received this elusive response from the Chair, Mary Margaret Mallat:
From: Mary Margaret Mallat
Subject: Email Message
Date: April 3, 2007 8:12:16 AM CDT
To: Mike Yong
I am writing on behalf of members of the Board of Directors to acknowledge receipt of your email today. Clearly you feel a strong commitment to the stance you have taken and that passion comes through in much of what you have written. Since each board member received your letter it has become part of the mix of information under review by those involved in the decision making process. While there are certainly opposing views to many of the points you have elaborated, your concerns and the views expressed by others on this matter have been a part of our Board deliberations. Under our governance model, it falls to the Board to determine relevant facts, consider a broad range of perspectives and arrive at the most appropriate course of action for ASIJ.
Thank you for your continued interest in ASIJ and its long term future and we look forward to your support of this institution as we move forward.
Mary Margaret Mallat
Chair, ASIJ Board of Directors
No such response on issues number one or number two. I wrote her back, cc'ing the board members (their positions on the board and professional affiliations are included as well):
From: Mike Yong
Subject: Re: Email Message
Date: April 3, 2007 1:45:56 PM CDT
To: Mary Margaret Mallat (Chair)
Cc: Thomas Hastings (Vice Chair; Interboard Mission), Thierry Porte (Treasurer; Shinsei Bank), Tim Carr (Secretary; ASIJ), Todd Budge (Tokyo Star Bank), Michele Dominick (ASIJ ELC PTA), Eugene Gregor (Davis Polk & Wardwell), Jon Kindred (Morgan Stanley), Bradley Maggart (Delphi Motors), Jane Sperling (ASIJ Chofu PTA), Mimi Yoshii, John Zwaanstra (Penta Investment), Frederick Morgenstern (Statutory Auditor), Linda Suzukawa-Tseng (Statutory Auditor)
Dear Ms. Mallat:
Thanks much for your quick response; unfortunately, I'm afraid that my email calls for a clear statement of the Board's thoughts and intentions towards the issue of this donation. Though I'm heartened that the Board is taking other opinions into account in their decision, I am an alum and concerned member of our school community, and I believe that I and many others are owed an answer and not merely a receipt. As many of you are involved in the business community I have no doubt that you understand the importance of transparency in any decision-making process, particularly those that concern all of the members of a particular community.
In short, I await from you:
1. A clear statement of the issues that the Board is currently weighing. Ms Mallat, you suggested in your response that "there are certainly opposing views to many of the points you have elaborated," and I am interested in what those are. Can we talk in specifics and not generalities? What is the ethical stance of the Board? Does it have one?
2. A clear statement on whether or not the Board is considering a subsidiary of Poongsan Corporation for the contract for the football lights.
Take care and many thanks.
Yours very truly,
No forthcoming response and it has been nearly a week now (Mallat sent her first response less than twelve hours after I initially wrote them). I'm writing to them again. We need to show the Board the importance of transparency in the decision-making process. We need to show the institutions that govern our lives that democracy is not only possible, but necessary. We can't for a second fool ourselves into believing that what exists is the extent of what could be.
This is not acceptable.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
"The story of Sam Ross has the makings of a ballad, with its heart-rending arc from hardscrabble childhood to decorated war hero to hardscrabble adulthood. His effort to create a future for himself by enlisting in the Army exploded in the desert during a munitions disposal operation in Baghdad. He was 20."
Injured in Iraq, a Soldier Is Shattered at Home @ NYTimes.com
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Jin Roy Ryu is the CEO of Poongsan Corporation, a company operating out of South Korea which manufactures cluster munitions. Cluster munitions are packages of 1000-2000 mines: after they are dropped from the air, the packages disintegrate and the mines inside are scattered over an area the size of two or three football fields. The problem with cluster munitions is that, unlike smart bombs, they don't have specific targets. They target whole areas, often in cities, and the subsequent damage kills many, many more civilians than military personnel. Up to 98% of the casualties from cluster munitions registered with Handicap International have been civilians [site]. There is good reason to believe that these bombs are manufactured to specifically target civilians and destroy their livelihoods. In Iraq, the US military is currently using cluster munitions and they have been a large cause of death of both American soldiers and Iraqi children who believe they are toys. Mr Ryu's corporation in particular, Poongsan Corporation, has been blacklisted by the Norwegian government for his manufacturing of cluster munitions [site/site].
As alumni of the American School, we believe an opportunity has been thrown into our laps to make the world a more decent place to live. The warm, politically committed response that we have seen and felt already, amongst a broad swath alumni of the school, is only a testament to how effective our school's motto has been: developing compassionate, inquisitve learners prepared for global repsonsibility. We are looking forward to working together with Mr Ryu and the Board of the American School to ensure a moral future for our children.
What can you do?
Please sign our petition, located at http://www.petitiononline.com/asijasij. As of this writing we have about a hundred signatures.
Please write an individual letter to the Board of Directors detailing, in no uncertain terms, your opposition to Mr Ryu's donation.
Tell everyone you know about cluster munitions. A lot of this campaign is about organizing and uniting people in radically different geographic locations and life stations in a common cause; and more than anything we want to spread the word about how awful and cruel cluster munitions are. We want to have a discussion about the role of ethics in the communities in which we live and are a part of.