Vietnam slave trade & MS Walk this weekend

John E. Carey has posted a couple of compelling pieces that I want to highlight. The first story is an update on an earlier piece on human trafficking in VietNam

International marriages are legal in communist Vietnam, but the match-making rings — where the women are typically paraded before men, sometimes holding signs with numbers, for selection — are not, and the phenomenon has stirred anger here.

Men in South Korea and Taiwan who can afford to “buy” women use “matchmaking agencies” to serve as liaisons.

The U.S. Department of State has decried this behavior and had urged Vietnam to work to put a stop to human trafficking.

Last year, the U.S. put Vietnam on a special watch list because Vietnam was not meeting internationally recognized minimums for fighting human trafficking.

Vietnam is not the only nation where this is a problem.

Second, is a story that is of personal interest to John, whose good friend was stricken with MS.

  … his I.Q. has fallen 100 points. he cannot work and has two small kids. He is about 30 years old…. read it all.

The SYM And The Night Of The Wild “Sabong”

I came across a story yesterday, “Cockfighting In Louisiana May Be Banned,” and was reminded of an event from many years ago that the SYM witnessed.

In the Philippines, cockfighting crosses all socio-economic lines and is as much a sport as a lifestyle, preceding the Spanish occupation which began in the year 1521. The special arenas or cockpits are always bustling on Saturday nights and some of the larger ones were even televised.

It was on an unremarkable Saturday night that one cockpit was transformed into a dust bowl of bedlam.

The SYM was hanging out with his motorcycle buddies at his friends house, as they were completing the build-up of the SYM’s new Honda 750. His friend Bob was a delightful guy and father of two. Bob had been a Harley Davidson mechanic in SoCal before joining the USAF and became a Medical Services Tech. Bob had even worked on the motorcycles for the cult classic television show, “Then Came Bronson.” With his bud’s, he was able to be himself and when you encountered him at home a simple handshake wasn’t, you had to trade licks and he had quite a punch. When Bob and his bud’s were around his wife and children, the love he had for them was touching, as his rough demeanor transformed into the warmest man anyone could imagine. There was an unspoken understanding that when they were around his family, deference to his family was mandatory.

So it happened, that on this particular Saturday night, all of the men were working on their bikes, drinking beer, telling tall tales and enjoying each others company. At one point, they all agreed a break was needed, as it was hot and humid and one could feel the pressure building for a rain shower. Bob kept his house air conditioned for his family and he invited them all inside to cool off. They visited with his wife and children and then all settled down in the living room, as Bob started searching the few television channels to find something to watch. It was a weak schedule. Finally, Bob settled on the sabong(cockfights) as he thought it might be good for a few yuks.

The level of noise and frantic activity is difficult for most to follow, as the attendees have grown up with the sport. There are people constantly yelling, placing bets and in general, getting caught up in the nervous energy that is contained in the cockpit. When the handlers and their “fighters” enter the arena, the decibel level rises precipitously. It was at one of these moments, that things got wild. The combatants met in the middle of the pit with the referee and as is their custom, they began to arouse the fighting spirit of the birds by holding them close to each other. The cocks get quite angry and eager for the fight. One cock was particularly worked up and at the moment his handler was removing the cover from his blade, the tare, the bird went wild. He slashed his handler with his blade, in trying to get to the other cock. The referee rushed in to try and help gain control of the bird and got his throat cut and from the appearance of the blood flow, seemed to have hit the carotid artery. The referee went down. The cock was now unrestrained to go after the other bird and the other handler dropped his bird and fled the scene.

At this point, the SYM and his friends are totally engrossed in the proceedings, even though they were not real enthusiasts of the sport. They were looking at each other in disbelief, laughing, pointing and talking excitedly, wondering what was going to happen next.

As the out of control cock finished off his opponent, they noticed a Filipino Policeman cautiously approach the bird from behind, draw his WWII era Colt Government Model 1911, raise it above the bird, while pointing down and BOOM! The friends sat up in their seats in surprise and watched silently, as the dust cloud slowly receded. When the dust(and feathers) had settled, there was a quiet scene of mayhem. The 230grain .45ACP bullet had reaffirmed itself as a lethal round, as the out of control cock no longer existed, nor did his remains, other than some feathers and bits and pieces. The referee was still laying in his pool of blood and they were uncertain if he was still alive and the previously raucous crowd was silenced…for a few moments, then the screen went blank before another program was cut in.

The friends all gathered in the living room looked at each other, grabbed another beer and went back out to the garage, so their thoughts and reflections could not be heard by Bob’s family. None of them picked up a wrench the remainder of the evening and they slowly drifted off to their homes. With no increased desire to ever attend a sabong.

For the good folks in Louisiana that have grown up with cockfighting, I believe that if we are to claim we, as a society, respect different cultural heritages, then the same rule should apply to cockfighting. I don’t need to attend the fights, nor does anyone else, but for those that do and have strong cultural ties to the activity I say more power to them.
Just watch those tares!

*UPDATE*  Louisiana Bans Cockfighting!

’08 Observations

Yesterday’s very disappointing performance by Newt Gingrich at the much-hyped global warming debate with John Kerry has managed to extinguish whatever flame of hope still flickering for his possible run for the ’08 nomination. Newt has been a favorite of conservatives since the ’94 Contract With America. His ability to effectively communicate the ideas of modern conservatism is the one thing that has been sorely lacking with the current Administration.

Fred Thompson’s flirtation with running has reached the point that for him to be able to seriously challenge for the nomination, he’s got to make a decision very soon. The front-loaded primary season will make the battle for campaign dollars over the summer a heated one. If Fred is going to get in, he needs to stop playing hard-to-get, and get in with both feet.

The current trio of front-runners has failed to capture the imagination of the conservative majority in the Party. That’s just a fact. But, if as Rummy says, “You go to war with the army that you have,” then the current trio may indeed be the ones that we ultimately have. And, if that’s the case, then I cast my lot with John McCain.

But, it’s more than just a choice ‘by default.’  Of the three, one candidate has consistently staked out the conservative position more often than the others.  McCain.

I have a problem with his campaign finance bill, with his stand on illegal immigration, and a couple of other issues that have more to do with a gut feeling rather than a well-thought out stance on an issue.  So, I’ll leave those things unstated for the present.  None of the differences that I have on the two major issues changes my overall opinion that McCain is my choice for the nomination, and ultimately for President of the United States.


Sercan Ondem

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