NGF could help me become world's best golfer- Oboh (Daily Trust (Nigeria))

Nigerian teenager, Georgia Oboh won the recently concluded 2015 U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship, which held at the Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club, North Carolina, FEVER PITCH caught up with her for an interview in which she called on the Nigeria Golf Federation to come to her aid as she prepares for another tournament.

Do you still pinch yourself to prove you aren’t dreaming after your amazing success at the US Kids Golf Teen World Championship or have you adapted to your new status by now?

I think I have adapted to my new status as the Girls 14 World Champion because I always knew a big victory was just around the corner, so I was prepared to accept it. I had been close a few times so I had learnt a great deal from my near misses. I have also prayed for wisdom from God.

What’s the secret to your success , any special routine or diet you adhered to prior to your success?

Was golf something you’ve always wanted to do or daddy and mummy had a say before you got into it? I have always enjoyed playing golf but it was only when I was about 7 that I knew it was the career for me. That year, me and my parents went to the Ricoh Women’s British Open, we watched Lorena Ochoa and on the 17th hole tee box she rolled a golf ball to me (I was in the crowd spectating). After that I knew that I genuinely wanted to become a professional golfer, seeing her play with pure joy even in a major championship showed me; that golf was just a game that everyone should enjoy.

What other interests do you have apart from golf?

I love to write, so maybe I will release a book in the future, I love listening to pop music mostly but I do enjoy Afro Jazz . I watch movies in my spare time especially fast paced action movies they are probably my favourite kind of movies, I sometimes go on the internet and just search different topics like world politics and I also study successful and inspirational people for clues to their success. I would love to help golf in the developing world especially Africa someday through my foundation and charity.

What will be your ultimate ambition as a golfer and why?

To be the best professional player in the world because it is the greatest achievement any golfer can hold, it shows everyone else that you are the best in your trade or line of work. I would also love to do for Africa what Se Ri Pak did for Korean golf by encouraging girls and boys to take up the game and enjoy the competition. I am currently an ambassador for KIDS GOLF INTERNATIONAL who organise a program for Junior golf in Nigeria at the moment and also for the GREEN PROJECT by McWord and hope to start an initiative called STREET GOLF, introducing golf to less priviledged kids in schools and in the street.

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George Jonas: Why planes fall out of the sky (National Post)

“My wife and I decided not to fly anymore,” a friend said to me last weekend. “The damn machines have forgotten how to fly, or their pilots have. They keep falling out of the sky.”

Not true. Airplanes are made to fly. They stay in the air because it’s their nature, just as it’s the nature of boats to float. When a plane goes down – as an Indonesian airliner did on Sunday, with 49 passengers and a crew of five, which prompted my friend’s outburst – it’s for reasons that, though often complex, are rarely mysterious.

Flying machines can come to grief in innumerable ways, but here are 10 favourites.

1. A plane can be deliberately shot down. You’d think this is unusual in peacetime, but it’s not as unusual as you’d think. Since the 1970s, its happened to two Korean Air 747’s, an Iranian Airbus, a Sri Lankan Antonov, three Georgian Tu-154s and one Tu-134, plus two Rhodesian passenger planes and a Siberia Airlines Tu-154, among others. Most recently it happened to Malaysia Flight 17 over Ukraine.

2.  A plane can be bombed, hijacked or otherwise sabotaged. This isn’t unusual either, owing to terrorists born and bred in every part of the world, though in some parts and periods more often than in others, such as the Middle East in our day. Shooting down or blowing up airplanes has to do with political dynamics, of course, not aerodynamics.

3.  A plane can have a midair or ground collision with another object – civilian or military. Sometimes even a natural object – i.e., a bird. Collisions aren’t frequent – it’s a big sky – but no month passes without one. Aviation’s worst loss of life came in 1977 from a ground collision of two wide-body passenger jets over Tenerife, Canary Islands.

4.  An aircraft can fly into the ground (or an obstacle sticking up from it) resulting in a notorious type of accident called a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). CFITs are usually caused by human error, sometimes combined with equipment failure or malfunction, resulting in a loss of what aviators call “situational awareness.” In simple language, it means a pilot flying a perfectly good machine into a hill because he doesn’t know where the hell he is. It usually happens at night or in poor visibility, though it can happen in visual meteorological conditions if a crew becomes distracted. Notorious CFITs included a tragic crash of a U.S. airliner in Cali, Colombia, as well as the loss of U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown’s flight in the former Yugoslavia.

Flying is dangerous. Oh well – so is living.

5.  A plane can suffer a catastrophic failure of a vital structure, such as a wing or a fuselage component. This is very rare, but it can happen as a result of metal fatigue caused by age, defective manufacturing, or improper maintenance. Three examples have been a Turkish DC-10 near Paris in 1974, killing 346; an American DC-10 near Chicago in 1979, killing 275; and a Japan Air Lines 747 in 1985, death toll 520, the worst single-plane air disaster ever. A similar danger is uncontained failure of an engine that destroys flying surfaces or flight controls, as happened to a United DC-10 at Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989.

6.  An aircraft can encounter an unlucky sequence of adverse events, minor in themselves – ranging from failure of some non-vital component to inclement weather and traffic delays – that in combination overwhelm the crew. A plane may suddenly lose pressurization, as may have happened to golfer Payne Stewart’s Learjet in 1999, giving no time for the pilots to go on supplementary oxygen. A few years ago, a South American airliner crashed near New York because a series of delays at JFK airport, coupled with communication problems, resulted in fuel exhaustion. Another South American airliner was lost when ground workers left some masking tape on the fuselage after washing it, resulting in erroneous instrument readings that confused the pilots.

7.  A component in a highly complex machine can start acting in ways unforeseen by engineers and pilots. Unusual as this is, it does happen sometimes with catastrophic results. It’s on such occasions that the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the wreckage contains lines like, “What’s it doing now?” as some equipment on the flight deck seems to acquire a mind of its own. The 1994 crash of a USAir Boeing 737-300 near Pittsburgh may fall into this category; it could have been caused by the uncommanded deployment of the plane’s rudder. The spontaneous deployment of a thrust reverser in flight may have caused the crash of an Austrian Lauda-Air Boeing 767-300 over the Thai jungle. A midair collision was narrowly averted some years ago near Albany, N.Y., when a collision avoidance system commanded one plane to climb into another.

8.  In-flight fire from a variety of sources can create a nightmarish emergency. Whether it’s dangerous cargo, as in the ill-fated Valuejet flight over Florida, or an electrical short in the on-board entertainment system, as suspected in the Swissair tragedy off Nova Scotia, smoke or noxious fumes can incapacitate a crew in a short span of time. In 1980, 301 people perished when a Muslim pilgrim’s butane stove set a Saudi Arabian Lockheed 1011 Tristar ablaze after taking off from Riyadh.

9.  The latest generation of computerized “glass cockpits” may let pilots fall though a crack between their traditional role as hands-on aviators and new role as systems managers. Flying skills may deteriorate because of insufficient use; attention may flag because of high automation, until a situation develops where, between man and machine, nobody’s minding the store. The loss of an Air France Airbus on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris a few years ago has been attributed to the crew’s inability to hand-fly the plane after icing caused the autopilot to quit.

Full Briefing

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These nine causes together probably account for about 70 per cent of all airline mishaps. The other 30 per cent are caused by No. 10: assorted lapses of judgment. Pilots, engineers, mechanics and air traffic controllers do stupid things at times. So do other people, but flying is less forgiving of mistakes. Preliminary reports seem to point to human error as the cause of Sunday’s crash.

Hmm. Reading what I’ve just written, I may have inadvertently proved my friend’s point. Flying is dangerous. Oh well – so is living.

National Post

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Imprenta Communications Group Named One of the Fastest Growing Companies in America by Inc. Magazine (PR Newswire)

Pasadena-based ethnic marketing, public affairs and campaign firm recognized for its exponential growth

PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Imprenta Communications Group today receives recognition from Inc. magazine, the premier publication for entrepreneurs and business owners for over 30 years, as one of the fastest growing companies in America on its 34 th annual Inc. 5000 list. Imprenta reports $19.4 million in revenue in 2014, and ranks no. 413 among an elite group of companies with more than 1,000 percent growth in the past three years.

Inc. 5000 is an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies and represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy – America’s independent entrepreneurs. Companies such as Yelp, Pandora, Timberland, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, LinkedIn, Zillow, Vizio, Fuhu, and many other well-known companies gained early exposure as members of the elite Inc. 5000.

“Imprenta is extremely proud to receive this coveted award,” said Ronald W. Wong, President and CEO, Imprenta Communications Group. “Not only is this a tribute to our hard work providing corporate, nonprofit and government clients with results-driven marketing and communications campaigns, but also a testament to our business model – that advocating and embracing diversity, engaging and communicating to people with respect for their culture and language can lead to business success.”

Founded in 2001, Imprenta is an award-winning public affairs, campaign and ethnic marketing firm which specializes in reaching diverse audiences. While most multicultural PR and marketing firms focus on one specific ethnic group, Imprenta is unique in that it brings together the Latino and Asian Pacific American communities – the two fastest growing population segments in United States. The firm’s in-house foreign language capacity includes Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese), Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong and Tagalog, and the firm specializes in reaching the hard-to-reach, limited-English proficient audiences.

For Imprenta, It’s About Winning – winning for clients and their concerns. Imprenta and its founding principles come from the world of politics and political campaigns. Its principals and staff have served in senior positions in President Clinton and Governor Gray Davis’ Administrations and for various speakers of the California State Legislature.  The company has also been involved in hundreds of political campaigns, large and small from millions of dollars to tens of thousands.  This background in politics and on political campaigns has formed the basis of its strategy in serving clients and approach to its differentiating work. 

“Imprenta fully embraces the rich diversity that makes United States the greatest country in the world,” continued Wong. “This recognition attests our commitment of doing well by doing good. It’s a win-win for us and the community, and we want to recognize our clients for their commitment and contribution in partnering with us to advocate for diverse communities.”

As an issue-based public affairs, campaigns and ethnic marketing firm, Imprenta provides strategic and unparalleled services to a broad range of clients. This includes Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Gas Company, Covered California, California Professional Firefighters, California Department of Insurance, California Community Colleges, Energy Upgrade California, Resources Legacy Fund, North East Medical Services, and many other candidates, issues and causes.

About Imprenta Communications Group

Imprenta Communications Group is an award-winning public affairs, campaign and ethnic marketing firm which specializes in reaching diverse audiences. Imprenta’s mission is to empower communities of color by giving them a voice and communicating to them in ways that respect their diversity and understand their culture. To learn more about Imprenta and its work, visit:


Janice Huang

626-300-6620 x 23

SOURCE Imprenta Communications Group, Inc.

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Self-defense, King David-style? (The Times of Israel)

In a network of rooms underneath Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, a variety of martial arts classes thrive. Advertisements adorn the walls for everything from Korean Tae Kwan Do to the Brazilian dance-fighting “Capoeira.” Among the familiar disciplines, though, there is also a practice unique to Jerusalem, a Hebrew martial art called “Abir Qesheth,” which aspires to build young men into modern-day biblical warriors.

The head practitioner of Abir Qesheth is Yehoshua Sofer, an extraordinary character who claims to be the sole teacher of an ancient Hebrew martial art that was practiced by King David himself and secretly preserved for centuries by Yemenite-Jewish warriors.

Classes of around 10 students are held twice a week at 8 p.m. The classroom-gym is equipped with only a mat lining the floor and a few punching bags in the corner. As they trickle in from the stadium parking lot, the students prove to be mostly religious young males, many of them from the United States or children of US immigrants, some with scruffy beards and payot (Jewish side curls). As distinct from the white suits of martial arts, their uniform is black and decorated with Aramaic writing, with a black head wrap.

Practice begins with kicking and punching drills, beards and payot jumping with each kick and punch. The warm-up ends with the students rhythmically chanting in unison the Hebrew letters that spell Abir — “Aleph, Bet, Yud, Reish.”

Sofer strides into the gym, white head wrap confining his dreadlocks, white robe flowing, leather sandals peaking out from beneath.

Sofer says he is the world’s only “Aluf Abir” or grandmaster of Abir, a title he claims to have inherited from his father in an ancient Hebrew-Yemenite warrior tradition. According to Sofer, his ancestors in Yemen were Jewish warriors who worked as security guards for Saudi kings and Ethiopian royalty. Yet Abir Qesheth was practiced in secret due to fears of anti-Semitism.

Only in the past decade has Sofer been granted permission from his father to transmit the fighting system, he says. Now Sofer is the sole person responsible to “preserve the Abir tradition” and “create whatever new protocols, guidelines, parameters, and boundaries are necessary to ensure the Abir organization continues to function.”

Yehoshua Sofer (Courtesy)

Whatever the veracity of such claims, Sofer certainly looks the part of an ancient Hebrew warrior, and refers to himself as a “high-tech desert nomad, walking right out of a page in the Torah.”

Eyebrows arching and nostrils flaring with exertion and passion, he makes for a charismatic instructor, with a coaching style that involves an elaborate mixture of standard martial arts instructions, interwoven with Judaic teachings and pauses for personal, grandiose stories of training with martial arts movie stars Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee in Los Angeles.

An aleph-bet martial art

There is no specific mention of a Judaic martial art in the Bible, but Sofer claims inspiration from the biblical word “qesheth” for “bow.” And it is the discipline’s “looping and bow-like movements,” he says, that makes Abir Qesheth unique.

“People will criticize, saying that Abir is just an Asian martial art in disguise. That’s not true,” he insists. For example, “in Abir we never lock our limbs like other disciplines.”

Yehoshua Sofer demonstrates an Aleph move in Abir Qesheth (YouTube screenshot)

Abir practitioners use an “Aleph-Bet fighting system” that incorporates Hebrew and Aramaic letters into their movements, he adds. In the course of the class, underlining the point, one student asks, “What do I do if I’m attacked with an elbow?” Sofer responds in his distinctive Yemenite-Hebrew accent, “You strike him from the top, with your wrist forming a [Hebrew letter] ‘vav.’” To practice Abir Qesheth, he says later, “you must embody the Torah through your actions.”

An hour into the session, with the room full of twirling black — bar one student who is wearing pajama bottoms — Sofer takes a break and walks over to me. He points to a scruffy looking boy wrestling in the corner. “You see this kid, he is from New York, a yeshiva boy. Now he’s dangerous, and I’m happy he’s dangerous.”

Judaism has become “emasculated,” he asserts, elaborating that he sees Abir Qesheth as not just a martial arts system, but also as a way of casting off westernized “diaspora” forms of Judaism and reincarnating the warriors of ancient Israel.

One of the students, who gives his name as Gershon, endorses the goal. “Jews are idol smashers,” he says. “We are meant to spread and defend truth.”

According to the Abir website, what’s being taught is far more than a martial art. Students learn how to use traditional weaponry, but also circumcision techniques, animal husbandry, and ritual bath construction, though there is no evidence of any of this at the Teddy session. “Abir is holistic. It’s about serving God with your entire being,” Sofer says. Ultimately, Abir practitioners “must completely submit to the will of the God of Israel” and become an “instrument of God.”

Yehoshua Sofer and his students in prayer (Courtesy)

Grandmaster, rapper

Yehoshua Sofer, who is in his mid-50s, is patently a dedicated and skilled martial artist. His Wikipedia page claims that he studied Korean martial arts as a child, and had a black belt by age 10. His movements are flowing and graceful, and the Abir system is full of intricate complexities. Sofer has a martial arts instructor certification from the Wingate Institute, Israel’s national center for physical education and sport. (Wingate does not certify any martial art as authentic.)

Yet there’s a great deal more to his story. Sofer was apparently born into a Breslov hasidic family, in Jamaica — where he once said his father was an ombudsman for aluminum and bauxite workers. It was a Chinese man he ran into in Kingston, he once reportedly claimed, who introduced him to martial arts (though that hardly squares with the family warrior tradition). The family then moved to Los Angeles, where he lived before moving to Israel.

Here, he became known as a pioneering rap musician, even regarded by some as a father of Israeli hip-hop. In 1993, Sofer produced an Israeli rap album under the name “Nigel Ha’Admor” (Nigel the teacher) called “Hummus Makes You Stupid,” a cult hit which pioneered a genre called “ragamuffin.”

Nigel HaAdmor performs on Israeli TV (YouTube Screenshot)

According to entertainer, musician and TV host Yair Nitzani, who worked with Sofer on the album and owns the record label that produced it, Sofer “had an amazing style. His rap was different and was cool. It was the first of its kind in Israel and influenced many Israeli hip-hop artists like Hadag Nahash, Subliminal, and Shabak Samech.”

In a clip on YouTube, Sofer can be seen performing his Hummus song on Israeli TV, sporting a short haircut and fluorescent pink suit, and speaking in Jamaican-accented Hebrew. Quite the contrast with his current image.

According to Nitzani, Sofer “wasn’t fluent in Hebrew” but “he had an amazing command of street-level Hebrew and music.” Through rap, he “was able to invent a new Hebrew.”

Nitzani said he knew Sofer “was a very serious martial artist, but I never heard of anything called ‘Abir’ until recently.”

Asked about his Jamaican origins and the rap years, Sofer is reticent and hard to pin down. “We do not choose where we are born. I don’t like to confuse people with the Jamaican chapter, aspect, of my life,” he says, then adds impenetrably: “It almost always confuses my Nazirite vow, and locks with a Jamaican cult that is built upon usurping my ancient roots.” (The word “Nazarite” refers to a person who voluntarily takes a biblically rooted vow requiring them to refrain from certain acts, including cuttings one’s hair and drinking alcohol.)

Those of Sofer’s students who know of his reggae-rap history evidently have no problem with it. According to Gershon, “the Abir grew up poor and learning to fight in the streets; hip hop is just a part of that.”

Plainly, he’s still got the entertainment industry in his system, however. Sofer says he planning to utilize his mixture of artistic and martial arts skills toward producing “biblical action films.” The theme: to upend the “weak Jew” stereotypes he believes are perpetuated by Hollywood, and produce films with ancient Hebrew dialogue that bring to the big screen “the Torah’s classical stories of heroes who were righteous proponents of the Abir Qesheth system.”

Yehoshua Sofer teaching class (Courtesy)


Sofer and his students are aware that some view Abir Qesheth as more of a laughing matter than a serious martial art. Some instructors of other martial arts classes at the stadium hold back giggles when asked about it; the satirical Israeli television show Eretz Nehederet once aired a demeaning parody of Abir.

But Sofer’s students show a steadfast commitment, and shrug off negative opinions of their discipline or their teacher.

Sofer tells vibrant and verbose stories of living in Yemen, training as a child with Hong Kong martial arts superstar Lee, or being a bodyguard for supermodel Naomi Campbell, that seem hard to reconcile with what he has previously said of his childhood.

But these students at Teddy plainly respect and accept him as the last living Grandmaster of Abir. And they seek his guidance not just in martial arts, but also on matters ranging from Judaism to politics.

Today’s class, like every Abir session, ends with Hebrew prayer. In a guttural Yeminite accent, Sofer leads the rest of the students. There is much kneeling and bowing, a seemingly Muslim style of worship that Sofer contends is the original Jewish form of prayer, coopted by Islam.

The prayer service, much like the martial art, is methodical and focused. For Sofer’s students, despite his diverse and improbable background, there is no doubting its authenticity.

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Japan marks WWII anniversary amid criticism (Al Jazeera)

August 15, 2015

Emperor Akihito offers “deep remorse” over war, but neighbours China, South and North Korea slam PM Abe’s statement.

Japan has marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II amid criticism from neighbours China, South and North Korea, which bore much of the brunt of Japan’s militarist march.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko joined Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a memorial on Saturday in Tokyo, where the Japanese monarch said he felt “deep remorse” over the war – a conflict the country fought in the name of his father Emperor Hirohito.

“Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse over the last war, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated,” Akihito said.

“Together with all of our people, I now pay my heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives in the war, both on the battlefields and elsewhere, and pray for world peace and for the continuing development of our country.”

Blog: A Japanese imperial soldier’s crusade against war

The Japanese prime minister on Friday expressed “utmost grief”, but said future generations should not have to keep apologising for the mistakes of the past. He offered no fresh apology of his own.

The legacy of the war still haunts relations with China and South Korea, which suffered under Japan’s sometimes brutal occupation and colonial rule before Tokyo’s defeat in 1945.

Some in the Japanese media, including the Mainichi newspaper, said it was the first time the 81-year-old emperor used those words at an annual memorial on the day Japan surrendered.

Neighbours criticise

Akihito’s comments come as Japan’s neighbours said Abe’s statement on Friday was insufficient.

His remarks were welcomed by the US but blasted by China as a non-apology, while Pyongyang derided it as “an unpardonable mockery of the Korean people”.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said his speech “left much to be desired” and stressed the need for Japan to resolve the issue of Asian women forced to work as sex slaves for the military in Japanese wartime brothels.

Without mentioning the Japanese prime minister by name, Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, said, “Japan should have made an explicit statement on the nature of the war of militarism and aggression and its responsibility on the wars.”

Hua also said that Japan should have made a “sincere apology” to its victims, and “made a clean break with the past of militarist aggression, rather than being evasive on this major issue of principle.”

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Tokyo, said that even former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama noted that Abe has “essentially withdrawn” from previous statements of apology by previous Japanese leaders.

“It’s a deliberate shift,” Fawcett said, referring to Abe’s statements on Friday and Saturday about Japan’s war-time aggression.    

And in a move likely to further strain relations, a pair of cabinet ministers visited on Saturday the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which neighbouring countries see as an ugly symbol of Tokyo’s militarist past.

The visits every August 15 enrage neighbouring nations, which view them as an insult and a painful reminder of Tokyo’s past aggression, including a brutal 35-year occupation of the Korean peninsula.

Abe, the grandson of a wartime cabinet minister, himself did not visit the shrine, which honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, along with millions of war dead.

“As much as Shinzo Abe wants to move past beyond these issues, they do still bear heavy weight on the current politics and current state of mind in the country,” Al Jazeera’s Fawcett said.

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'Every name has a story' as Vietnam wall visits Lehigh Valley (Lehigh Valley Live)

August 14, 2015

By Jim Deegan  

Keith Handwerk took a long, deep breath, his head swimming in the memories of 40 years ago.

“You don’t realize how deep it goes,” Handwerk said of the aftermath of war.

He was among the first visitors Thursday to the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, which is on display at the  Moore Township Recreation Center through 8 a.m. Monday.

Handwerk, 59, served in the U.S. Navy but didn’t fight in Vietnam. He spent several solemn minutes inspecting the wall, stopping here and there along it’s 288-feet length. He left with tears in his eyes.

“I think there should be more of these because we should never forget our veterans,” said Handwerk, of Lehigh Township. “A lot of these guys were drafted. They didn’t have a choice. They went.

“It’s a lot of history. Every name has a story.”

RELATED: Visitors to mobile Vietnam wall to receive pieces of Old Glory

Made of aluminum, the wall is a three-fifths replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and contains the names of the 58,227 servicemen and women killed or missing in action during war.

The Nam Knights motorcycle club and volunteers assembled it in about three hours Thursday morning in the outfield of a baseball diamond at the Moore Township recreation fields.

Folks trickled in and out ahead of a candlelight vigil set for Thursday night in remembrance of the 70 Northampton County servicemen who died in Vietnam and whose names grace the monument.

An opening ceremony is set for 7 p.m. Friday, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Handwerk reflected on the way servicemen and women are treated now compared to the Vietnam era. Differences over the war and U.S. politics divided family and friends and recollections of that still sting today, he said.

His time at the memorial was emotional.

“Some of these guys that fought alongside the guys that didn’t make it, I don’t know how they do it,” he said. “It’s a scar you never get over.”

Grant and Joanne Wambold, who live in Moore Township, marveled at the scale and spectacle of the wall. It is comprised of 70 panels and owned and maintained by the  Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard in Brevard County, Florida.

“It’s beautiful,” said Grant, an 84-year-old Korean War veteran.

The visit to the Lehigh Valley was made possible by two Scout groups — Cub Scout Pack 50 of Moorestown and Boy Scout Troop 33 of Klecknersville — that raised $10,000 to bring it here.

Lynn Kessler, whose sons are involved with the Scout groups, said the grounds will be open around the clock for the public. Thousands are expected through the weekend.

Clayton and Sandy Miller came Thursday from Schnecksville because they had never been to the memorial in the nation’s capital. Clayton Miller is a 1970 graduate of Liberty High School in Bethlehem whose classmates fought in Vietnam.

The pull and presence of the wall were powerful, the couple said.

“You feel sorry for the people and their families,” Sandy Miller said.

Some visitors spent a long time at the wall, touching the etched names or making rubbings with paper and pencil. Others visited only briefly, finding the name they were seeking before leaving.

Some left flowers or placards at the wall’s base. Staffers have a log book to help find names and visitors can examine a Vietnam era encampment.

Doc Russo, the wall manager with the Florida veterans’ group, said he gets more than 100 requests but only takes the wall on the road 18 times a year.

Folks can visit at any hour until 8 a.m. Monday, when it will be dissembled and on the road again for stops in Florida and Iowa.

It’s not uncommon for Vietnam veterans or a clutch of friends to visit at 3 in the morning, he said.

“They’ll go to the panel, say hello to their buddies and leave,” he said. “Everybody reacts a little bit differently.”

Jim Deegan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jim_deegan. Find lehighvalleylive on Facebook.

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Abe expresses 'grief' for war, but says Japan can't apologize forever (Los Angeles Times)

August 14, 2015

By Jake Adelsten and Julie Makinen  

TOKYO — After months of calculation and consultation, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday unveiled the much-anticipated text of his remarks on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, expressing “profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences” for all those who perished in the conflict and vowing that his country would use diplomatic and peaceful means — not force — to solve international conflicts.

Abe affirmed apologies by previous administrations, noting that his predecessors had “repeatedly expressed … feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology” and that such positions “will remain unshakable into the future.” And in a seeming nod to the comfort women issue, he acknowledged that Japan had hurt the dignity of women during wartime.

At the same time, he signaled his belief that the Japanese should not be expected to express remorse indefinitely and implied that Western imperialism had played a role in drawing Japan into the conflict.

“We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize,” the official English translation said. “Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.”

How Abe would characterize Japan’s wartime behavior has been the subject of intense concern and media coverage across Asia and particularly in South Korea and China, where officials have voiced anger at the prime minister’s visits to a controversial war memorial and his administration’s efforts to alter how textbooks present Japan’s wartime history, among other issues. Neither Seoul nor Beijing commented immediately after the text was issued.

Abe’s push to reinterpret Japan’s postwar pacifist constitution to allow Japanese forces to fight abroad to defend allies such as the United States has added fuel to the fire. Abe says Japan has demonstrated for seven decades that it has learned from its wartime mistakes, and that modern threats including terrorism and natural disasters demand a new approach.

Observers were closely monitoring the speech to see whether Abe would use the words “colonial rule,” “aggression,” and “apology” as then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama did in his 1995 statement on the 50th anniversary. He included all three words.

China and South Korea — along with some prominent left-leaning politicians in Japan — had urged Abe to align his comments with remarks issued by previous Japanese prime ministers. Ahead of the text’s release, China warned that “any departure will be read as a signal of major alteration in Japan’s foreign policy.”

The historical issue has cast a frost over relations among the three East Asian giants. Abe, who came to power in late 2012, has yet to hold a summit with either Chinese leader Xi Jinping or South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Shogo Suzuki, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester, said Abe’s remarks indicated that whatever Abe’s personal feelings about the war era may be, “common sense” had prevailed. The text, he said, “reflected a recognition that “historical revisionism simply does not have any international traction and that any historical revisionism is going to needlessly harm Japan’s international image, and is pointless.”

But Koichi Nakano, a professor of Japanese politics at Sophia University in Tokyo, said although Abe reaffirmed previous apologies, his mention of Western colonialism and his remarks that future Japanese shouldn’t have to apologize “don’t help get a message of sincere reflection across (and) may be detrimental to foreign relations.”

“It’s a lengthy, tortured and conflicting statement that only makes clear at the end of the day that Abe is an historical revisionist at heart who is incapable to offer a straight apology based on a simple recognition of facts,” he said.

Abe appointed a special advisory council, the Commission on a Framework for the 21st Century, to advise him on the content of the statement. According to government sources, he had considered a much less apologetic statement but in light of his flagging domestic approval ratings — which have as sunk as low as 32 percent — he seemed loathe to court more controversy.

Last week, the commission — made up largely of conservative voices — surprised outsiders by suggesting in their report that Abe should acknowledge that after Japanese troops seized the Manchurian city of Mukden in 1931 — setting the stage for Tokyo’s occupation of northeastern China — Japan had “expanded aggression into the continent … (and) engaged in reckless war which inflicted damage on many countries centering on Asia.” The council also acknowledged the brutality of Japan’s colonial rule starting in the latter half of the 1930s.

But the panel had been divided on whether Abe should express an “apology” and, if so, what word to choose to convey his message. Some of Abe’s staunchest supporters believe that Japan has apologized sufficiently and say the country is suffering from “apology fatigue.”

Abe himself has largely avoided discussing Japanese war crimes, saying Japan needs a forward-looking orientation. He also has stressed the need for deepening the U.S.-Japanese military alliance.

Abe is known as a staunch nationalist. Some observers say his worldview has been strongly shaped by his family history; Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was initially arrested by occupying U.S. forces as a suspected war criminal. He was never tried, and later made a political comeback as a staunch anti-Communist, serving as prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960.

In 1995, Murayama issued what many analysts now refer to as “the gold standard” of remarks on Japan’s role in the war.

Murayama used the key word “remorseful” when referring to the actions of Japan during the war, and expressed “heartfelt apology” to all those Japan injured during the war.

He also commented on what direction Japan should now take, saying that the peace and democracy that Japan experienced in the postwar era must be used to repair relations with nearby Asian countries while also creating strong trading partners. He warned that Japan should not return to its warlike ways, adding that his countrymen must “eliminate self-righteous nationalism, promote international coordination as a responsible member of the international community and thereby advance the principles of peace and democracy.

Japan has succeeded in establishing strong economic links with neighbors, including China. But political relations have proved subject to vast swings. In addition to the issue of textbooks, Japan has sparred with China and South Korea over who controls a number of small islets in the region.

Murayama is hardly the only Japanese politician to have issued an apology for Japan’s wartime behavior. In 2005, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a similar statement that expressed remorse and apology, albeit with slight differences.

A few weeks ago, Murayama held a news conference in which he urged Abe not to veer from his remarks of 20 years ago. “We should apologize for the errors we made, and vow never to repeat them,” he said.

Nancy Snow, an emeritus professor at Cal State Fullerton whose research focuses on Japanese politics, said that regardless of Abe’s words, many critics perceive a gap between his rhetoric and his actions.

“Words are fine, but what of the feeling behind them?” she said. “Watch what he does, not always what he says. … He’s calling for future generations to be free of apology burdens. Well then, time to update the textbooks, not cleanse them of any wrongdoing. The world can move on when Japan fully accounts for its actions in documents of record.”


(Adelstein is a special correspondent and reported from Tokyo; Makinen reported from Beijing. Reina Ino and Louis Krauss in Tokyo contributed to this report.)

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