The World Is Failing Burma

Burma: Than Shwe Is Going To The Hague
Britain Is Betraying Burma
Burma: Time For All Out Sanctions By All Powers
Burma: Momentum Is Key To Victory
In Solidarity With The Burmese People

Burma tells me each democracy movement is going to be unique. You apply a few basic principles, but you have to have a dynamic approach to tactical moves, and local conditions are never the same in two places.

Burma is going to be different from Nepal. Zimbabwe is going to be different once the people rise up there. And those of us who profess to be on the side of democracy, be they democracy activists or world leaders, must exhibit the humility to admit we don't know. We don't know how exactly a democracy movement will unfold, we don't know what exactly is the right way to help each time. There are things we can't control. There are things we can control.

Based on what we do know, and what is in our control, and what we can do, I come to the conclusion the world has been failing Burma for the past few weeks.

The monks' demonstrations were dramatic. International help was not dramatic. And that is why the first phase of the uprising has failed. Hundreds got killed, their bodies burned Hitler's gas chambers style. Thousands have been jailed, tortured, harassed. The ethnic cleansing goes on unabated in the east.

What could the world have done different? What can it do different now to rescue the mass action in Burma? We know mass action is very difficult to ignite. But once it ignites, it must be accompanied to its successful conclusion. It is still not too late. We can still succeed.

Lending Voice

There has been a lot of outcry, but not entirely enough. The Burmese generals do listen to international criticism. They do respond. They do feel the pinch. So keep talking hoarse. Ordinary people all over the world can lend their voice to the Burmese people at this time of urgent need. Speak up. Condemn the junta in no unclear terms.

Giving Money

Maybe you can't organize freely inside Burma. But you can organize in the border towns in Thailand and India. You can organize in the capital cities of the world. Raise money like money was raised for the tsunami victims. I don't see PayPal buttons on the homepages of the top groups working for democracy in Burma. Money is key. The democracy movement needs direct funding. And you are not even looking at big bucks. You are looking at a few hundred thousand dollars at most. Maybe someone should put out a Facebook application that gets 100,000 college students in America to donate a dollar each for this cause.

In Solidarity With The Burmese People

Military Options

I have had this recurring fantassy. What if the US military were to conduct surgical air raids to take out all buildings in Burma's new capital where all the top generals supposedly live and work? If you were to take out the top guy, and the top generals, I think the rest of the military brass would be jolted into making sense.

You are not invading the country. And the operation would be over in a few hours. And there is already a political infrastructure in the form of a large political party in the country.

Suu Kyi comes out in the open and forms a multi-party interim government whose mandate is to hold elections to a constituent assembly within a year.

Might this not be the shortest route to democracy in Burma?

I think for Than Shwe it is between death by air raid or The Hague. To expect that guy to reform is to expect a serial killer to reform. That is not known to happen.

Burma: Than Shwe Is Going To The Hague

Many Roads To Freedom

Pakistan is going down a different route. Musharraf becomes president. Then he retires from the military. Bhutto becomes Prime Minister. I am not opposed to that development, especially when I have major trust in Bhutto, in her judgment, her skills. I am sure she is doing right by her people.

Next stop: Bhutan, Zimbabwe, Sudan. I can't wait to see mass action in Zimbabwe.

In The News

Burma's Opposition Dismisses Preconditions for Talks With Government Voice of America
Burma party rejects junta's terms BBC News Ms Suu Kyi's party insisted it was not ruling out talks. ..... her party has not had direct contact with her since 2004, and that the NLD's statement cannot be considered as her personal response to the junta's offer. ...... the generals said any meeting would depend on Ms Suu Kyi abandoning her "exerted efforts for confrontation, utter devastation, and imposing all kinds of sanctions". .... the junta's conditions are bizarre ...... many Burmese are sceptical of the military's sincerity, and believe the offer of talks is just a delaying tactic until the international pressure on Burma fades away. .... The international community remains divided on how to deal with Burma's repressive regime.
Burma Military Opens Communication With Opposition Leader Voice of America The Burmese military government has appointed a deputy minister to begin talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The move is the latest in an apparent bid to forestall condemnation by the U.N. Security Council. ...... In another conciliatory move, the government says it has released hundreds of monks and lay people arrested during the crackdown, and has donated thousands of dollars to monasteries.
What Burma wants from the world BBC News, UK The US has already toughened its sanctions against Burma, and the EU is set to follow suit. ...... "We would like to have democracy, but the most important thing for us is to have peace, and enough food on our plates," one woman said. ...... Burma is a country that is desperately poor. According to recent international estimates, 32% of the population live below the poverty line and, excluding a small rich elite, the rest are only just above it. ....... signs of poverty everywhere in Rangoon - children with distended stomachs, people scavenging through rubbish and families buying coal to cook on open fires, owing to the intermittent and expensive electricity supply. ...... Outside the major cities, the situation is far worse. ..... the northern and eastern states .... conditions are on a par with the worst parts of sub-Saharan Africa. ....... many Burmese are sceptical of sanctions, saying they have already made the country poor and will only make the situation worse if they are tightened further. ...... "Sanctions don't work - they're not the solution," one elderly man said to me in a Rangoon teashop, as we discussed Burma's future. ........ they do not seem to have done much harm to the rich military generals, who are busy making deals with the rest of Asia. ...... Many of those who telephoned the UN during the crackdown asked why no-one was sending a peacekeeping force. ........ "Why have the US and the UK invaded Iraq, and not done the same here?" ....... "The international community did nothing to stop a three-day killing spree," one woman said. "That was when I realised we were on our own." ...... appears that all this pressure is finally having some effect on Burma's leaders. ..... the first time he has agreed to meet Ms Suu Kyi, and considering he is reported to hate her so much he does not even allow people to mention her name ...... both sides have had such contrasting views for so long, it is difficult to see how they can find common ground. ..... to the people inside Burma, it appears the government has no intention of instigating change at all........ filling state media with images of huge pro-government rallies around the country.
Burma shuts down last communication links Guardian Unlimited up to 10 satellite telephones and countless computers earlier smuggled into Burma have been seized, the last lines of contact after the government shut down the internet and blocked mobile and fixed-line telephones. ..... also visited a UN office in the Traders Hotel in downtown Rangoon late last week and demanded to see the organisation's permits for its satellite phones. ...... The junta's determination to snuff out the last trickles of information signals its paranoia over the damage images of the military's suppression of the demonstrations had inflicted. ........ images of a monk floating face down in a pool ..... the 15-member UN Security Council met in New York to debate a resolution condemning Burma's "violent repression of peaceful demonstrations" ...... Despite the apparently conciliatory gestures, the arrests of those suspected of taking part in the 100,000 pro-democracy marches were reportedly still continuing in Rangoon. ...... Yesterday the British and US embassies in Rangoon, reachable by phone until late last week, were impossible to get through to from outside the country. British ambassador Mark Canning and US charge d'affaires Shari Villarosa were outspoken critics of the regime's actions.
Suu Kyi rejects Burma junta's preconditions on peace talks Independent, UK Having beaten them, abused them and shot many of them dead, Burma's military junta says it is trying to rebuild a relationship with the country's Buddhist monks by donating supplies of food, medicine and toothpaste. ...... Lieutenant-General Myint Swe has apparently delivered £4,000 of supplies to 50 monasteries and a nunnery in Rangoon. ...... General Shwe, the chairman of the State Peace and Development Council and head of the hardline regime, has met Ms Suu Kyi only once before, in 2002. On that occasion, their talks quickly broke down. He is understood to loathe the opposition leader and it is said that he does not even allow mention of her name in his presence. ....... The EU and the US have warned they will push for UN sanctions if Burma fails to move towards democracy. But China, which has a veto on such a move as a member of the Security Council, has repeatedly opposed the idea. ....... Troops recently discovered 12 satellite phones used by activists to contact the outside world. ...... a diplomat at the Burmese embassy in London said last night he had resigned as a result of the regime's actions against the monks. "I have never seen such a scenario in the whole of my life," Ye Min Tun added.
Diplomat resigns over Burma monks BBC News, UK
Burma diplomat defects, bemoans army response Radio Australia
Crack Down Continues on Karen Minority in Burma
Voice of America While the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Burma has grabbed the world's attention in recent weeks, the country's military government is continuing its often forgotten war against ethnic minorities in the country. A missionary working with refugees from the Karen minority group says the Burmese army is killing and raping villagers and forcing them to flee their homes. ....... the Karen National Liberation Army continues an armed insurgency that started six decades ago. ...... "There is [are] less than 4,000 Karen soldiers against - the Burmese army is now 500,000. "All that military force is basically used against the ethnic minorities." ......... "Their tactics of choice include rape, extortion, murder, forced relocation, forced labor." ...... many have no choice but to flee from government-controlled areas and live in jungle camps without access to sanitation, clean water or education for children ..... estimated one million internally displaced people in eastern Burma. ....... limited employment opportunities and boredom drive some refugees to alcohol abuse and even suicide. ...... hope for a future Burma that is a federalized country in which minorities have their own, autonomous homelands.
China opposes UN sanctions against Burma Bangkok Post, Thailand does not support UN sanctions against Burma's ruling junta but favours continued mediation by a UN envoy. ..... Any action must also help the "stability, reconciliation, democratization and development" of Burma

The Debate: Thompson Passes A Test; Giuliani and Romney Spar
Atlantic Online
UPDATE 2-Thompson debuts in Republican economic debate
Reuters Fred Thompson made a crisp debut in his first 2008 debate appearance on Tuesday ...... "We Republicans who came to power in 1994 to change government -- government changed us." ..... Romney, a native of Michigan, said the United States was facing a "one-state recession."
Clinton Urges 401(k)s, Matching Funds The Associated Press
India’s man on the move
Hindustan Times
China's 40 Richest
Daughter of former bricklayer is China’s richest person with $16bn Times Online
Google shares breach $600 level BBC News
Big B deserves more peace: Rekha
Times of India

Laura Bush: WH ready to add to Burma sanctions USA Today The first lady's comments on foreign policy, and her increasingly active role on democracy in Burma, have been a departure for the former teacher and librarian who until now has made reading her signature issue. ...... Bush has quietly pushed the plight of Suu Kyi and the need for democracy in Burma for at least five years, after learning about the issues from Elsie Walker, a Bush family cousin and a friend of the opposition leader. ........ said she was concerned that "there didn't seem to be a very strong response from other countries." She said she called Ban to urge U.N. action and has issued periodic news releases since. ....... she includes women's issues in Afghanistan and health issues in Africa in her portfolio. ..... She said her real influence on foreign policy is to be able to "shine a spotlight."
Lindsay Lohan: No more LA clubbing for me New York Daily News
Obama campaign names state director for NJ
Clinton In, 4 Dems Out of Mich. Primary
The Associated Press As punishment for breaking the rules, the DNC has vowed to strip Michigan and Florida, which scheduled its contest on Jan. 29, of their delegates. Florida has 210 delegates, Michigan 156. ...... "It's yet another reason why we need to get rid of Iowa and New Hampshire going first," said Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer. ...... Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis said the decision by the Democrats just opens Michigan to more campaigning by Republicans hoping to win the state and its electoral votes.

Positioning for Power at China's Communist Congress BusinessWeek Hu spoke of the need to "maintain the party leadership, empower the people and rule the country by law." ...... Li contends that the informal power sharing between the Hu and Zeng offers hope for a future in which power is diffused more widely throughout the party. Neither side can win outright so they counterbalance one another, working out their differences through negotiation and compromise. If this can succeed, then a more institutionalized and open form of inner-party democracy is possibile. ......... the Central Party School offers more senior cadres the chance to pursue master's and doctoral studies mid-career. The lucky ones get to study overseas through CPC tie-ups with foreign universities. ....... the membership of the National People's Congress, China's legislative body, be reduced by 85% to just 451 seats to enable more efficient decision-making. ...... axing the townships and prefectures from China's five current administrative tiers.
Ultra-Low-Cost PCs to Hit 1M in 2008 the sales of these devices in the emerging markets of Latin America and Asia--namely China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam--to top 1 million units in 2008 and 6 million by the end of 2012. ....... the "classroom-focused approach" by Intel's Classmate PC will be more effective in driving the adoption of these ultra-low-cost PCs ...... "Hardware alone is not enough; users will need software and education applications in local languages."
Is New York Losing Its Soul? When panelists talked of "soul" they seemed to yearn for variety across neighborhoods. ....... a "delibidinization" of the cityscape in which generic national chains displace small businesses and even strip clubs, with their factory-produced marquees and bland facades, look eerily similar to banks. ......... "I want Lenox Avenue to look like Lenox Avenue," he said, describing a Harlem thoroughfare now chockablock with national chains. "It is possible to apportion, by district, part of commercial rent to remain affordable for local stores." ....... a current city policy that lets developers build taller in exchange for including affordable housing or public space in their projects ...... how blogging, university expansions, online activism, and gentrification—all functions of a newly digital and global economy—affect the cityscape. Befitting an activist who loved urban complexity, the series seems sure to raise a mess of ideas.
Who Wants to Be a Facebook Millionaire? one Facebook application, called Sticky Notes, that took Aigboboh less than a week to write. ...... their four-month-old company, J-Squared Media, is pulling in $45,000 a month in advertising revenues from Facebook ....... a formal acquisition offer worth more than $3 million ...... "My mom thinks I'm crazy," Tevelow says. "She can't believe there are million-dollar deals coming in and we're saying no." ..... some 70,000 people have requested the tools to develop Facebook applications ..... only about 100 have been installed half a million times or more. ..... Sticky Notes has has been installed more than 3.5 million times, with 211,000 Facebookers actively using the widget each day.

Debate Will Focus on Economy, But Campaign Already Has Washington Post
Will Obama Rock the Youth Vote?
New York Times sending recruiting teams to Iowa high schools and trying to ensure that New Hampshire college students who might be out of state on primary day get absentee ballots. ....... the percentage of voters under 30 in the total electorate was basically unchanged between 2000 and 2004-- 17 percent ....... a style that cuts across generations ...... works out every day to keep trim. ...... Ken Mehlman, who ran George Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign ....... Obama has taken a personal role in the program his Iowa organizers have set up to recruit potential supporters in Iowa. ..... At each stop on his four-day tour through Iowa last week, Mr. Obama put aside time to meet with "Barack Stars," as members of the network are called. ....... he urged his young audience to volunteer to work on Tuesday night – high school night – at Obama headquarters. "You can’t have beer, but you can have pizza ........ “But the age structure of the Iowa caucus vote is that it is a heavy preponderance of the older voter.” ......... “The median age could be as high as 59.”
Heavy Fighting Reported in Pakistan New York Times aerial bombardment of the militants’ holdouts ..... Hasu Khel, which is a known hub for foreign fighters ...... bombing in at least six villages and of as many as 55 civilians killed, including women and children. ...... Pakistan’s tribal areas, where Al Qaeda and the Taliban’s influence are spreading ....... militants sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, with a rising number of deadly attacks on military targets. ..... the town of Mirali, in North Waziristan, an area known for a strong presence of foreign fighters ..... Sher Khan, a councilman from North Waziristan who lives near Mirali, said he lost 12 members of his family when several bombs fell on his house. Eighteen bodies were reported by villagers to have been pulled from the rubble in Hasu Khel. ......... at least 150 militants had been killed ..... an army truck was ambushed. After that initial attack, about 300 militants went on to ambush an army convoy that was traveling to the scene, killing 22 troops ........ dozens of soldiers, many with their throats slit
India can hit 10% growth, sustain it: OECD Sify the country's annual economic growth could reach a sustainable 10 per cent and be spread more evenly across the country if it pursues ambitious and wide-ranging reforms. ....... market-based reforms since the 1980s have helped India reduce poverty in absolute terms - standing at 22 per cent of the population in 2004 - and average incomes are expected to double within the next decade. ...... India is now the world's third largest economy behind the US and China ...... incomes in the three richest states are three-and-a-half times higher than in the three poorest states ...... the system of tax-sharing and inter-governmental transfers ... "The government should simplify the transfer system, improve its administration and make it more transparent. ..... fiscal discipline ..... increasing their use of the capital market ....... tackling red tape .... the need for a modern bankruptcy law to simplify the restructuring of insolvent firms. ...... "Privatisation of more publicly-owned firms should be resumed to help improve productivity and profitability. In the meantime, public companies should be controlled by a government investment agency rather than by a sponsoring ministry, in order to separate ownership and policy-making." ...... a major social-sector gap in India - education
China says open to role in Korean War peace process Forbes
China resists European pressure on currency Financial Times
Google Delivers Ad-Supported Video Clips
PC World Not all YouTube videos are fodder for the program. Google is working with specific video producers that have agreed to participate, including TV Guide Broadband, Expert Village and Ford Models
British ISP Plans Nationwide WiMax BusinessWeek speeds of more than 10Mbps
Wal-Mart's Latest Sale: Broadband it will resell high-speed Internet access from Hughes Communications (HUGH), the world's largest provider of broadband services via satellite. ....... Only about 10% of Americans have no access to DSL or cable broadband ...... Consider what happened when Wal-Mart began offering sub-$1,000 flat-panel TVs. After trying to match these prices, rival Circuit City (CC) had to close 70 stores ......... and lay off 3,400 employees earlier this year. CompUSA had to shutter more than half of its stores. ........ cable broadband prices, for instance, rose to $44 recently from $42 two years ago
The Next Software Acquisitions Growth in software is slowing, and private equity firms are struggling to raise financing for big acquisitions in the rocky credit markets. ....... Not so long ago, software companies had little reason to sell. They were hoping for a big initial public offering. But in the new environment of slower growth, it's more difficult for a smaller company to generate enough growth to support a big IPO. That's why software mergers are making more sense for buyers and sellers alike.
Gunning for Google Google .... 1998 .... launched a trend for more simplified, easier to use Web design ....... "blended" results, a mixture of text links as well as images, video, maps, and local directory information. .... Text doesn't invoke "banner blindness," the instinct to ignore flashy, distracting, and often irrelevant graphical ads. ....... More complexity, Nielsen says, "violates Google's principle of search and go." ...... only 15% of search users in the U.S. typically find what they're looking for on the first attempt, often performing three or four searches before they do.
Iranian-Born German Soccer Star Boycotts Israel Game Deutsche Welle
Stored Blood May Lack Vital Component Washington Post
Banked Blood Could Do More Harm Than Good
Medical News Today
Physics Nobel Goes to German, Frenchman
Washington Post for a discovery that lets computers, iPods and other digital devices store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks. .......... independently discovered a physical effect in 1988 that has led to sensitive tools for reading the information stored on hard disks. ........ a phenomenon called giant magnetoresistance. ..... "a terrific combination of great physics and huge practical application.
Being a queen comes easily to Cate Blanchett
MSNBC there’s something naturally regal about Blanchett ....... Australian native .... Blanchett’s performance is already generating significant Oscar buzz. ...... an actress who takes enormous risks in her investigation of the scene and the evolution of how she discovers what happens within that scene ....... Blanchett, 37 ...... the monarch who still commands a captive audience more than 500 years after her death. ....... Blanchett is a walking, talking Wikipedia when it comes to deciphering Elizabeth I, who during this period of her life was struggling with her affection for Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen); the betrayal she felt after learning that Bess was carrying Raleigh’s child; the Holy War; and her conflicted feelings toward her cousin, Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), who wanted the queen dead. ........ When faced with the choice of kill or be killed, the daughter of Henry VIII took her cousin out by putting her head on the chopping block. ..... the queen had issues with intimacy ...... the notion of ever forming a marriage with anybody was kind of a dangerous and unattractive prospect