Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 26, 2007

Myanmar Protests

Myanmar security forces used batons, tear gas and live rounds Wednesday in a violent crackdown on mass protests against the military junta, killing at least four people including three Buddhist monks.
[...]
The unrest began last month when the junta dramatically raised the price of fuel overnight, deepening the misery in this already impoverished country.
Four killed in Myanmar protest crackdown

The Buddhist clergy in Myanmar is under government control. But as every Buddhist there joins a monastery once a life, the mass of protesting people are mostly "three day monks" - normal folks in temporary robes.

Yesterday Bush threatened further sanctions on Myanmar. These will be useless and may make things worse. The military leadership is already under sanctions. There are travel restrictions in place and personal assets have been frozen. The UN Security Council has an emergency meeting now which may result in another useless resolution.

In 2003 the U.S. imposed additional sanctions and banned textile imports from Myanmar. A study concludes (pdf):

Like many other sanctions of the United States, the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 had a disproportionately greater impact on the people than it did on the military regime. Though this paper does not include the argument that overall effects of the sanctions were behavior modification, it must be stated frankly that there are no observed signs that the military intends to change its behaviors or attitudes on freedom and democracy.

Sanctions obviously do not help to solve the political issues, they kill people. But the U.S. and it's allies only know sticks and don't do carrots. The International Crisis Group is against sanctions and urges regional talks:

Only China, India, and, to a lesser degree, ASEAN have any influence on the military regime. China has very close economic and political links with Myanmar, while India has developed strong military ties.

But the neighbors of Myanmar are probably not interested in changing the current state. South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, China and India are competing over access to Myanmar's rich offshore natural gas fields. Other countries are involved too:

Foreign oil companies engaged in the oil and gas sector mainly include those from Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia and Thailand.

Myanmar, or at least its leadership, is said to be very corrupt. The oil and gas money from its neighbors doesn't 'trickle down' to the people.

Instead of sanctions 'western' governments should offer favorable terms for energy development, agriculture exports and industrializations, including contractual guaranteed 'trickle downs'. These could actually help the people and, over time, weaken the militaries regime strong hand.

As this would be smart, I don't expect that it will be given a try. Instead the current public chest chumping will distract the 'western' public from the misery it is spreading there and elsewhere.

Posted by b on September 26, 2007 at 17:43 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Expect more of this international competition for seafloor rights. Not just in Asia. This promises to get uglier.

Posted by: Monolycus | Sep 26 2007 18:11 utc | 1

The issues in Myanmar are complex, and not easily reduced to the black and white which USuk prefer when attempting a resource grab. Myanmar has always been in the english eye, since as an english colony it was one of the first sources of oil. The english and amerikans continue to refer to the nation as Burma which is it's old colonial name, but the UN has adopted the same name as that the nations rulers picked; Myanmar.

USuk claim that calling the nation Myanmar is ceding power to the current rulers who may be corrupt but at least they are native.

It is interesting to note that the protests and street marches were left alone - ignored really until a splinter group went to Ang Sung Suu Kyi's HQ.

Suu Kyi is the daughter of General Aung Sung the leader put in place by the Brits following decolonisation, some consider her to be an english agent just like her father. Although she worked briefly for the socialist regime when it was under the control of General Ne Win she lived abroad in england and Bhutan until just before Ne Win died when she returned to Myanmar to help her 'ailing mother'.

It is difficult to say exactly what is going on in Myanmar but it would be a mistake to imagine that there are goodies and baddies. Although General Aung Sung began the slaughter of the Karen people, the Karens have been forced into a temporary "my enemy's enemy is my friend" deal with the pro english 'democracy movement' although they are under no illusions.

Neither Rangoon/Yangon based entity in this power struggle for the nation's wealth appear to give a flying fuck for the Karen people and the other tribal minorities who have been shoved from pillar to post rather like "Chief" Bromden's clan, while being butchered if they resist.
The old "I'll cut you if you stand here 'n I'll shoot you if you run" technique much beloved of resource thieves.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that most of the media coverage is courtesy of the BBC, the primary agent for spreading Suu Kyi's influence. Earlier in the week they seemed to be directly challenging the military regime to hit back at the protest marchers and are maintaining the myth that the protestors are a seperate religious force rather than young men from within the society who are in the thrall of their finishing school teachers.

Unless the tribal people win more control in the countryside which is unlikely, this will be no Nepal. The urban based protests have little reach outside the two largest cities. Aiding the rural people would be seen as creating a problem for later, hence the Suu Kyi alliance which comes with little more than a bow in the general direction of the marginalised tribes.

Since China and India are the current beneficiaries of the present regime it is difficult to see this as much more than an english orchestrated sacrifice of unwhite people to create a diversion and put pressure on China who have been increasingly successful at securing hydrocarbons outside of USuk hegemony. eg "I'll trade one Yangon for a Darfur".

It will be interesting to see which way that India moves on this.

As far as this whole territory grab goes, I'm sad to report that NZ is at it as well. Oil rigs have been working out past the minor fields exploited here from the 70's but now depleted. In the 'new' parts of New Zealand. They are insinuating they have found a large reserve, however we can hope that isn't the case and we are just seeing a little 'salting' before a stock market play.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 26 2007 21:16 utc | 2

thank b & the post by debs

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 26 2007 22:54 utc | 3

there has always been a mystique about Myanmar for me. a friend of mine whose family lives in india spent 3 weeks there in the mountains, said it was the most beautiful place she had ever been. apparently she had some special connections, i don't think it is easy to enter.

thanks b and debs

Posted by: annie | Sep 27 2007 2:53 utc | 4

debs

This Myanmar military regime shot down 3,000 people the last time there was a major civil protest. This suffocating military dictatorship has made revolution inevitable and the people will be looking for the kinds of remedies Thomas Jefferson spoke about. Didn't Nelson Mandela insist that the outside world maintain sanctions on South Africa during his people's long insurgent struggle? The last thing the jackbooted goons who run Myanmar should receive are "carrots". These are the kinds of bastards who are not merely content to run the ordinary little tyranny, but insist on stamping out thought and punishing all nonconformity. To hell with them.

Posted by: Copeland | Sep 27 2007 5:04 utc | 5

i don't think it is easy to enter.

Simple tourist visa procedures = Myanmar Tourism - freinds of me were there - no problem at all but a very, very nice country.

Didn't Nelson Mandela insist that the outside world maintain sanctions on South Africa during his people's long insurgent struggle?

A bit different - the whites in power in SA did own the industries and farms and they were hurt by the sanctions. The textile factories in Myanmar are not owned by the military but private people. Sanctions on them never hurt the military but the workers and the (rather small) owners. The military wants weapons which China and others are happy to provide and it runs the oil/gas racket. The 'west' can sanction the oil/gas stuff all they like - others will not join in.
Unlike SA and Israel this is a place where sanctions have no positive effects.

Posted by: b | Sep 27 2007 5:20 utc | 6

Thanks, b , DiD.

Yesterday Bush threatened further sanctions on Myanmar. These will be useless and may make things worse...Sanctions obviously do not help to solve the political issues, they kill people. But the U.S. and it's allies only know sticks and don't do carrots...Myanmar, or at least its leadership, is said to be very corrupt. The oil and gas money from its neighbors doesn't 'trickle down' to the people.

Sanctions = poverty = inequality = great wealth for a few = instability = overthrow = shock treatment = privatisation of the commons = even more poverty = even more inequality = corruption = a few wealthy cronies who can be bribed = instability.....and so it goes.

They know very well what they are doing.

By the way, I hate when we call leaders of small client countries with few independent options very corrupt. Can they really be more corrupt than Bush and Cheney, who have far greater latitude of personal action? I sincerely doubt this.

Can you name a country (besides Norway) where the oil wealth DOES trickle down to the people?

Posted by: Malooga | Sep 27 2007 5:41 utc | 7

Well I get your point Bernhard. What is the more effective course of action then, from the international community? Carrots for the countries who supply the arms, in order to get them to cut off the inflow of weapons? An arms embargo of some kind? Perhaps what was done to the North Korean leadership---cutting of luxury goods---to make life less pleasant for the corrupt military?

Posted by: Copeland | Sep 27 2007 5:58 utc | 8

@Copeland - my solution from my piece above: Instead of sanctions 'western' governments should offer favorable terms for energy development, agriculture exports and industrializations, including contractual guaranteed 'trickle downs'. These could actually help the people and, over time, weaken the militaries regime strong hand.

I don't believe that the North Korean leadership ever had trouble getting their cigars or malt whiskeys. Such sanctions work as well as prohibation - they increase the price, but the rich can always pay. They are "feel good" issues for the "liberal interventionists" but never have positive effects.

The media and "liberals" are now insensed about battons and tear gas used against demonstrators in Myanmar. Where were those voices at the WTO demonstration in Seattle, or here in Hamburg last week?

The Independent even claims a saffron revolution and doesn't even mention that this is a protest about rescinted oil subsidies. Still they insist to use "Burma", the British colonial name, instead of Myanmar.

Posted by: b | Sep 27 2007 8:24 utc | 9

If there was the least chance of sanctions working in the sense that all the people of Myanmar would get a benefit from them by way of a participative political system with wealth spread right through the egalitarian society then I'm sure the people would support that as most of us would.

However what is happening is akin to what is happening in Zimbabwe where as the government remains intractable the west increases pressure on the citizenry, not to help them but to reduce their options.

Reduce their options so that they have nowhere else to turn when they do force a change of government, nowhere else to turn but to another oppressor, one from outside the country that will be much more difficult to get rid of.

When they wake up to the fact that the new boss is just the same as the old boss they will find that this time the farm has been mortgaged up to the hilt and they now 'owe' more than they could ever hope to earn. The ultimate insult because all they have to show for that 'loan' is worse conditions than those they had under their local oppressor.

Right now the "BBC Burma Service" is pushing out propaganda to wind the Myanmar people up to risk more of their lives, no not the BBC Burma service people's lives - the Myanmar people's lives in the hope they will defeat the enemy of england. Then those who have been living outside Myanmar avoiding the ill effects of the economic pressure on the people, will return take up positions within the new ruling elite and then tell the english to present the bill for their keep and broadcasting services to those people of Myanmar who had already copped the worst of the struggle.

No one can think that is a good idea yet that is what sanctions mean nowadays. The sanctions against apartheid south africa worked well, so successfully that can never be allowed to happen again. The process was heavily regulated about the time that the neo-libs deregulated anything worthwhile and now sanctions are only allowed if corporations benefit and people get screwed.

Now english Prime Minister Gordon Brown has leapt on the bandwagon demanding "stand down the troops. The age of impunity is over"

People need to ask Gordon Brown this:
As hard as life is for the people of Myanmar, do you believe it is better or worse than the short nasty and brutish lives of those people unfortunate enough to be born into the Niger Delta?

That is the sort of life born out of neo-liberal reality that awaits the people of Myanmar if they are sucked into allowing their country to be ruled by Shell/BP conglomerates.

I want the people of Myanmar to win this battle yet all I see at the moment in a choice between local bullies and foreign bullies. If the people of Myanmar could make an informed choice between the two I suspect they would pick the local bullies. If for no reason other than local bullies allow hope that things may get better, but once WhiteyCorp get their grubby paws on your nation's resources it's goodnight nurse.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 27 2007 9:28 utc | 10

Malooga asks "Can you name a country (besides Norway) where the oil wealth DOES trickle down to the people?"

Does Venezuela count?

Posted by: catlady | Sep 27 2007 14:05 utc | 11

9 were shoot today in the demonstration - not good.

Meanwhile the feel good sanctions: US freezes assets of 14 top Myanmar officials - nice move as it is very unlikely that they have assets in the US.

Posted by: b | Sep 27 2007 18:27 utc | 12

@ 7, 10

Saudi Arabia - it trickles to the people, the Saudi's. "trick(le) down economics" works like it's designed to work it is not a holy cow but a man made system. In the case of the Arabian peninsula - the ruling family named the country after themselves and the nations resources are essentially theirs (although it's really ours)to distribute as they wish. In that sense - they really are the 'people' and it is not even semantics.

I'm ambivalent about sanctions and doubt that Apartheid SA fell b/c of sanctions (which was being undercut by the usual suspects anyway)although the thought of its being used for democratic and humanitarian ends makes it certainly dangerous for the usual suspects.

R.T. NAYLOR offers food for thought on sanctions when he claims that:

sanctions and embargoes were invented as an ad joint to military campaigns. It was only in the atmosphere after World War II that people tried to convince themselves, despite the record of failure in the hands of the League of Nations, that sanctions, aka economic warfare, could be detached from military force and used as an alternative. The major powers never truly believed that. The fact is the US employed sanctions the way they were always designed to be used, as a softening up ploy to weaken the other side, and make the military campaign easier. Sure, sometimes the other side gave up before the military campaign, but that was due to unbearable economic immiserization and the realization of the inevitability of an irresistible military strike to follow.

He continues:

In addition, a population so traumatized and immiserized by the medieval economic siege to which they were subjected would be not only less prone to resist, but possibly even be so demoralized as to welcome the invaders as liberators.

I'd tilt towards the understanding that sanctions are political instruments designed to achieve political goals not moral/humanitarian goals both in theory and in practice.

In which case what is the US's objective in proclaming economic warfare, generally recognized as useless, since China-India etc are the major stake holders in Myanmar? If the "democracy movement" is anything like the fruity Orange revolution then the social disruption and violence that the military regime unleashes over the next few months will provide an opportunity for capable interested parties to achieve a 'democratic coup' that will attempt to move away from China, much as the post-Orange Ukraine mysterious tilted away from Russia and to the West.

Without a recognized social movement that has some roots in the majority of disenfranchised the trend may be that the 'people' will be sacrificed either to a continuation of military rule, under sanctions, or a 'democratic coup'.


Posted by: BenIAM | Sep 27 2007 19:20 utc | 13

This is Global Civil Society' s chance to exercise its conscience...to try “preemptive peace instead of preemptive war”…..in Burma. Multilevel governance through state and non-state actors...individuals,MNCs, NGOs, INGOs, and not just IGOs has a golden opportunity to disprove the lie that the only pressure that can be applied against tyranny is violence. The most effective pressure on the military junta in Burma is economic...its economic lifeblood. Who are its trading partners? Where are their loans? Where do individual government leaders keep their offshore accounts? Which Swiss bank accounts if any? What can world activists do to apply pressure on the "international money regimes"? Some ideas: 1. Identity the individuals behind the money. 2. Encourage global billionaire activists who like to posture as humanitarians to take their money out of these banks and institutions if they cannot help apply pressure on these tyrant regimes...and prevent atrocities going on 3. Help MNCs make the correct choices about their investments in that country.....by naming, shaming, and boycotting the products of those companies....Impossible some may say....it is far easier to resort to military and killing solutions...send our young men and women to die....spend hundreds of billions in arms....impoverish our future....well here is our chance to try "preemptive peace" instead of "preemptive war" for size...Stalin once asked..."and how many military divisions do they have?"...referring to activists and moral arbiters of the world.....the answer is none...as in zero military might....but power is measured not only by terror, but by legitimate "authority"....which implies moral authority...authority like the courageous Buddhist monks are exhibiting in Burma today..Today we find out if the world community is ready for governance of this kind...

On Burmese Monks and citizens being killed.in protests.....It's great that the world is "calling for" , "urging" the junta etc to show restraint...but the sub text is "OR ELSE WHAT?" The essence of power is making another do what it otherwise would not do. What "incentives" or "disincentives" are we giving General Thswe to desist from his violent repression? That country has been living under "sanctions" for years and have only impoverished the people more broadly. The solution is outside of the box and may not have been tested....MULTILEVEL GOVERNANCE...THE COMING TOGETHER OF STATE AND NON-STATE ACTORS...private and public, to put pressure on the junta..Examples: 1. Since Gen. Shswe seem to love adorning his daughter with “muffs” and "mitts" of diamonds...then we need to find out where his off shore bank accounts are and suggest that he and his family may not be able to "access" his accounts, which may be "frozen" or worse " garnished" due to his "crimes" against humanity, as a "violator" of human rights. If his ill gotten "deals" are in China, Japan, India....the US and EU have VAST trading alliances with these countries which can be tied into or "tied" up with what is going on in Burma. If world humanitarians Bill Gates, Bono, and others are serious about their ethical goals for the world....what about calling on them to take their money and deals away from "recalcitrant" supporters of repressive regimes. Some say...oh this will be violating sovereignty, private property issues etc...will it be less so if we find we have to spend billions in troop deployment...come on let's do some "preemptive peace" strategies instead of "preemptive war"...

Posted by: Maria Gracia Yllana | Sep 27 2007 22:22 utc | 14

http://www.xanga.com/dawn_1o9>Live from Myanmar: a blogger reports

I got back to office around 11:00am. I was reading some documents for work when I heard noises outside the room. So I went to look, and the other people from other offices were looking out at the window. I looked too, and saw groups of people walking towards Sule Pagoda. So I went back in to office. After awhile, someone came into our office and told us that people are running, so we went to the window and looked again. We saw groups of people running back towards Sule Railroad Pass Bridge on Su Le Pagoda Road. But after awhile, they stopped running, and walked back towards there. I heard that it was because the police used tear gas. It went on like this for some hours.

Around 1:20 or 1:30pm, I heard someone saying that the police/army started shooting in the air. Someone from abroad messaged me on GTalk, and says he's hearing reports of shooting. So I asked around to be sure, and went to look out. I saw the people still standing on groups, and the buses were still running. I heard that they were shooting in the air, so I told him back that. I messaged to someone who's at work near Sule Pagoda Road, and he confirmed that they were shooting in the air. Also, reports of monks being hit by batons on Shwedagon Pagoda were already spreading on the net.

At 2:00pm, I heard that buses have stopped running on Sule Pagoda Road.

Someone from the office went out to there, and came running back when there were shots being fired. He said they were being shot up into the air, and into the crowd too. That was around 2:50pm. He didn't see anyone being hit, though a girl told him that her friend was hit. I heard the gun shots too, but it sounded alot like clapping. So I went out to look. People were running back, and some were just staying in the place, and some were walking back towards Sule Pagoda. I was reading the news on a blogger's Cbox, and it said that at least 5 monks were dead at Shwedagon Pagoda.

if we added up all the people who have died for fossil fuel and from its side effects (pollution, death by automobile, etc) I wonder what that number would be.

Posted by: DeAnander | Sep 27 2007 23:04 utc | 15

Examples: 1. Since Gen. Shswe seem to love adorning his daughter with “muffs” and "mitts" of diamonds...then we need to find out where his off shore bank accounts are and suggest that he and his family may not be able to "access" his accounts, which may be "frozen" or worse " garnished" due to his "crimes" against humanity, as a "violator" of human rights.

So you think one can find out what bank accounts someone has in Shanghai? And you suggest punishing the family of a criminal is the right thing to do?

If his ill gotten "deals" are in China, Japan, India....the US and EU have VAST trading alliances with these countries which can be tied into or "tied" up with what is going on in Burma.

Why should they? Why hurt China for something it can not change?

If world humanitarians Bill Gates, Bono, and others are serious about their ethical goals for the world....what about calling on them to take their money and deals away from "recalcitrant" supporters of repressive regimes.

Bill Gates and Bone "world humanitarians"? Yeah, they made billions by being such - idiot!

Some say...oh this will be violating sovereignty, private property issues etc...will it be less so if we find we have to spend billions in troop deployment...come on let's do some "preemptive peace" strategies instead of "preemptive war"...

War is not the alternative. To set it up as such is either stupid or manipulation for other means.

If have nothing else to offer than just rubbish, please leave.

Posted by: b | Sep 28 2007 9:30 utc | 16

First one might what lies behind the conflict? Something new - Drugs, Natural Gas (disc. '04) & Pipelines. They also have great wealth in gems & possibly gold. But at the moment they have a huge amt. of Nat. Gas that China wants to use to power industrial dev. in one of their inland provinces via a pipeline from Bay of Bengal. Also, India wants it. link1 link2 Meanwhile the west wants to shut down the poppy production there & centralize it in Afghanistan. So, Meth production has exploded.

That's before you add that it's a "country" w/~150 ethno-linguistic groups in a space ~the size of Texas..

Posted by: jj | Sep 28 2007 9:39 utc | 17

Rangoon: ‘army mutiny’ reported: Troops refuse to fire
on crowds

Reports from Rangoon suggest soldiers are mutinying. It is unclear the numbers involved. Reports cite heavy shooting in the former Burmese capital.

The organisation Helfen ohne Grenzen (Help without Frontiers) is reporting that "Soldiers from the 66th LID (Light Infantry Divison) have turned their weapons against other government troops and possibly police in North Okkalappa township in Rangoon and are defending the protesters. At present unsure how many soldiers involved."

Soldiers in Mandalay, where unrest has spread to as we reported this morning, are also reported to have refused orders to act against protesters.

Some reports claim that many soldiers remained in their barracks. More recent reports now maintain that soldiers from the 99th LID now being sent there to confront them.

Growing numbers of protestors are gathering in Rangoon, with 10,000 reported at the Traders Hotel and 50,000 at the Thein Gyi market. The police are reported to have turned water cannons against crowds at Sule Pagoda.

Many phone lines into the Burmese state have now been cut, mobile networks have been disabled and the national internet service provider has been taken off-line.

Posted by: Monolycus | Sep 29 2007 8:38 utc | 18

Helfen ohne Grenzen, an small austrian/italian ngo run by a marketing professional, has nothing on its website about that "news" - I find it highly dubious as none of the agencies confirms it.

Note that some of the "independent" Burma organisations like the radio station "Democratic Voice of Burma" in Norway are financed by the U.S. National Endowment of Democracy (NED)

NED is completely financed by the U.S. Congress and

It has been criticized by both right-wing and left-wing personalities of interferences in foreign regimes, and of being set up to legally continue the CIA's prohibited activities of support to selected political parties abroad.

Better take these sources with some solid pounds of salt ...

Posted by: b | Sep 29 2007 9:47 utc | 19

Better take these sources with some solid pounds of salt ...

I actually did, which was why I didn't offer any of my own customary commentary below it. I wanted to toss it out there and see if anyone else could confirm/deny it. I wasn't sure which way to take it since 'net disinformation campaigns seem to be presently running at an all-time high.

Posted by: Monolycus | Sep 29 2007 9:53 utc | 20

Also, b, just in case nobody else has said so... vielen Dank for following up on these things so responsibly. Your integrity has kept this site from becoming irrelevant.

Posted by: Monolycus | Sep 29 2007 10:00 utc | 21

b,

perhaps I don't see what you see in Maria Gracia's post, it seems to me that what she is proposing is much in line with what we all hope to do....use the power of the people to affect change. I did not see where she was proposing military action, on the contrary she speaks of going directly to the sources of misery without cutting through swaths of innocents on the way to them which is what happens in traditional conflicts with soldiers dying and "collateral damage" that never touches the main players.

If China's trade relations with the US can be jeopardized over the bank accounts of some thug in Mianmar I would think they would weigh their options and throw General Shswe to the wolves. business is business.

I should think it is novel idea to have organizations and individuals boycott banks that hold the general's money as well. who does that hurt other than the guilty party? The US does that already or at least did with North Korea and is probably the reason the nuclear standoff ended with NK....it came down to some 20 million frozen in a Singapore bank.

also, regardless of what you think of Bill Gates and Microsoft, you cannot deny that he is a humanitarian. I doubt there is anyone who has given more of his money in an effective way to combat disease. I don't believe Bill Gates has caused suffering to anyone other than helpdesk personnel and sysadmins through his commercial activity.

Posted by: dan of steele | Sep 29 2007 11:42 utc | 22

@DoS - I want people to know Generals X. bank accounts just as much as I want them to know mine. (Who says I'm not next?)

I want their families to be punished just as much as I want Maria Gracia be punished for something a relative of her does.

She also presents her program as BINARY alternative to troop deployments - thanks - same was said about Iraq after 1991, same is said now about Iran - its a lie to present that alternative.

(What the US did with NOKO was accusing and closing a bank in Macau for some nefarious stuff like distributing NoKo forged dollars in "super notes". That turned out to be bull. The only think the action achieved was to ruin the banker and his family)

As for Bill Gates - he robbs people through the creation of a monopoly and ruthless elimination of competitors.

Here is a little scene I witnessed in the late 90s. A member of the board of a huge European media company in negotiations with some high up Microsoft folks:

"So you say we should not cooperated with Real media on digital video. Why?"
MS: "We will eliminate them from the market within the next year."
"Will you buy them?"
MS: "No, I said eliminate."

Later the EU monoply commission stepped in and prevented the elimination. But it shows you how these people think. That's Bill Gates - world humanitarian ... to me it matters how he made his money ...

As for him giving money: he gives it there where HE thinks it is needed. I find that wrong as it collides with local priorities beyond his giving. (like well-paying local doctors for longterm aids help, when there are not enough local doctors to relief acute patients needs)

Posted by: b | Sep 29 2007 13:13 utc | 23

U.S. National Endowment of Democracy (NED) was the principle pipeline used to support the coup against hugo chavez. in pilger's gilm - we see the documents very clear & thier connection to the putchists

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 29 2007 13:33 utc | 24

fair enough b, Gates is one of the elite, he comes from a rich and powerful family and has certainly engaged in shady business practices. arguments can be made in his favor too, if there had not been a dominant OS in the last 20 years or so, developers would have had to write for 5 or 10 different platforms and there would not have been the proliferation of software we have seen. even now there is certainly more choice for Windows as opposed to Linux or Mac or VMS or any other OS. Regardless of all that, he could have done less than create the
bill and melinda gates foundation. from what I have read he is very effective in getting aid to the intended recipients and not wasting money on administration. some aid agencies have overhead of 90%.

to defend Maria Gracia I would submit that once a position has been taken to change a situation somewhere else you only have two options, the proffered hand or the clenched fist. what else is there? I am not arguing if it is proper to change the situation or not, I am assuming that the decision has been made to do something.

Posted by: dan of steele | Sep 29 2007 14:16 utc | 25

re #18..i googled that info from the UK link. it's posted on free republic and wiki already. disinfo filtered in thru freeper site?

Satellites focus on abuses in Myanmar

The images and additional information would be distributed to U.S. lawmakers next week, and would also go to the United Nations as well as members of the U.N. Security Council, said Aung Din, policy director for the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

anyone heard of the group US campaign for burma? based out of DC. they have a video plea from jim carrey (and photos of other hollystars) along w/photos of the conflict which are supposed to be difficult to come by.

from the genocide from space department

hmm

This isn't the first time that geospatial technology has been used to document human rights violations. Back in June 2006, the AAAS documented the razing of villages in Zimbabwe, and later also the effect of the 2006 war in Lebanon and the ongoing crisis in Darfur. In April 2007, a layer documenting the Darfur crisis prepared by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and others became a default layer in Google Earth. North Korea has also been extensively annotated. What all these initiatives make clear is that when it comes to documenting the effects of human rights abuses on large populations, satellite imagery can do valuable service in lending credence to reports of violations and in raising public awareness.

The AAAS report on Burma makes for interesting reading, especially regarding what's next:

AAAS also is investigating the possibility of developing a Web-based geospatial information portal of the Burma conflict. This portal would, to the extent possible, summarize attack-related information and provide access to satellite imagery to a select group of NGOs. Lastly, AAAS will begin making available, via a Web site, its tools for roughly matching village name spellings with coordinates and available satellite imagery. Ideally, all these tools together will improve information-sharing regarding the conflict in Burma, and improve collective understanding and planning efforts. [...]

Other organizations are encouraged to consider this content as available for any future media project using Google Earth. For example, a Burma Google Earth product modeled after the Darfur layers released by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum might be ideal.

here is an interesting story from last january.burma orders christians to be wiped out

The military regime in Burma is intent on wiping out Christianity in the country, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry. Entitled "Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma", the incendiary memo contains point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state.

....

The document, shown to The Sunday Telegraph by human rights groups, may have been produced by a state-sponsored Buddhist group, but with the tacit approval of the military junta. The regime has denied authorship of the document ....but has made no public attempt to refute or repudiate its contents.

Posted by: annie | Sep 29 2007 16:19 utc | 26

from pepe escobar's article Buddha vs the barrel of a gun

According to EarthRights International, a crucial project of Chinese multinationals established in Myanmar has been the construction of a 2,380-kilometer oil-and-gas pipeline from the Arakan coast to Yunnan province in China. China needs this pipeline and a vital port in Myanmar for its growing energy imports from the Middle East, Africa and Venezuela.

Myanmar and China are also intimately linked by a $1.5 billion, high-tech electronic-warfare pet project of the junta's leader, psychological-warfare specialist General Than Shwe, 74, very much appreciated in Beijing. It deals with surveillance of ethnic-minority guerrillas in Myanmar - the Karen, the Chan, the Wa, among others. It deals with surveillance of strategic competitor India. And it deals with surveillance of all naval traffic in the Indian Ocean, US warships included, not to mention the crucial Strait of Malacca. Precious information on the matter can be found in Australian Desmond Ball's book Burma's Military Secrets (White Lotus Press, Bangkok).

some online background via yossef bodansky's older article beijing's surge for the strait of malacca

Burma is the other main surge point of the PRC. With a very long coast line stretching along the Bay of Bengal and a few islands offshore, Burma offers a strategic staging point for controlling the western approaches to the Strait of Malacca. The only other strategic facilities in the area are India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
...
By far the most important strategic development in and out of Burma is the rise of the PRC's electronic intelligence system.

Among these installations, the most important is the maritime reconnaissance and electronic intelligence station on Great Coco Island in the Bay of Bengal, some 300 kms south of the Burmese mainland. Along with the Small Coco Island where the Chinese Army is also building bases, these two islands are in the Alexandra Channel between the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Sea, and they lie north of India's Andaman Islands and are thus located at a crucial point in traffic routes between the Bay of Bengal and the Strait of Malacca. The Coco Islands are also an ideal place for monitoring the major Indian naval and missile launch facilities in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the south toward the Strait of Malacca, movements of the Indian Navy and other navies throughout the eastern basin of the Indian Ocean, as well the overall western approaches to the Strait of Malacca.
...
The intelligence collection facilities on the Great Coco Island are only the beginning. In the summer of 1994, Rangoon permitted Chinese intelligence access to other islands -- Sittwe in Western Arakan state, and Zedetkyi Kyun or St Matthew's island off the Tenasserim coast in the southeast. The latter island is especially sensitive because it is located off the coast of Burma's southernmost tip -- Kawthaung or Victoria Point -- close to the northern entrance to the Straits of Malacca. A military base there would enable the PRC to threaten the approaches to the Strait of Malacca. Also in 1994, Chinese technicians built a series of smaller ELINT/SIGINT stations along the Burmese coast of Bay of Bengal, thus achieving a thorough and overlapping coverage of the Bay of Bengal and Strait of Malacca.

In 1995, there were reports of revival/reactivation of a Chinese SIGINT site near Sop Hau in Laos -- a site used during the 1960s and early 1970s. The activation of the site will complete coverage of the entire Strait area -- from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Posted by: b real | Sep 29 2007 17:18 utc | 27

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