Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bloggers in Myanmar / Burma

The violence continues in Myanmar / Burma, you can read accounts from Dawn, an office worker who writes in English was she sees and hears happening on her blog. You can also see some photographs and some English text about the struggle at the ko-ktike blogspot. You can also look at the Blog of Nyein Chan Yar, or a translation of a post by Mizzima. Ko Hla writes comments with links to photos in a comment box. Yan Aung does not write in English, but you can find photos and videos on his blog.

Bombs for Iran and selective memories

The Guardian came out with an article today quoting John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, and presently a fellow at the conservative thinktank, the American Enterprise Institute. In the article he gives his opinion that the US and the UK should bomb Iran.

"Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force. I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities."

He added that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove the "source of the problem", Mr Ahmadinejad.

"If we were to strike Iran it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change ... The US once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back."

That he should says this does not come as much of a surprise. It is similar to the calls to destroy the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. What does continue to amaze me is how many people of the right-wing general population angrily deny that the US has been actively involved in engineering “the clandestine overthrow of governments” as Mr. Bolton so boldly affirms. In a recent debate on the blog Renegade Eye we were told that these are the “paranoid ravings” of the left and reminded that there is an “Uncle Sam boogeyman hiding under every commie's bed.”

It is hard to tell which is worse: the thinking Right that want to bomb and kill because it suits their purposes and can not subversively engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments, or the reactionary right supports the bombing and killing because the enemy is “bad” (whomever the enemy happens to be today) and refuses to acknowledge that there has ever been any engineering. There is a popular saying on the radio these days, “I cover one eye. I cover the other. Nothing to see.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monks on the march in Myanmar

Tens of thousands of Buddist monks are protesting in Rangoon, Myanmar/Burma. Crowds of over a hundred thousand have turned out in the streets. Some 50 thousand soldiers have been called out but there is no reported violence, yet. See the Gardian's report on it.

UPDATE 28/09/07

Reports are that the army has fired against protesters, closed temples, killed some 200 people including a Japonese journalist.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Aid for victims of Hurricane Felix: The good and the ugly

I just talked to a member of the government of the Autonomous Region of the North Atlantic of Nicaragua. This person told me that there are problems with the aid being sent to the region. There has been an outpouring of good will and solidarity, and even in Waslala, one of the poorest municipalities of Nicaragua, we have gathered several truckloads of donations. However, I was told that each organization is distributing its aid independently to the communities that they work with. As a result, some communities have received no aid at all and are facing serious problems. Hopefully the Atlantic Coast will organize and this will get worked out soon. It reminds me once again how much of a “natural” disaster is really “human” disaster.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stealing the Amazon?

Through e-mail, I received the following image of an American geography text-book. I was shocked and disturbed. I knew that the idea of Internationalizing the Amazons existed (for a Brazilian rebuttle to this idea by Cristóvão Buarque, then the Workers Party governor of the Federal District of Brasilia and currently Brazil’s minister of education, read this). However, it is something else to see a text book that says that:

"Since the middle 80's the most important rain forest of the world was passed to the responsability of the United States and the United Nations" and that the reserve was "surrounded by irresponsable, cruel and authoritary countries. It was part of eight different and strange countries, which are in the majority of cases, kingdoms of violence, drug trade, illiteracy and a unintelligent and primitive people."

However, I decided to search for it in Internet and found that the US State Department had a page on the supposed Text and pointed out that it is a forgery. Here is a little of what it says:

Since 2000, a forgery has circulated falsely claiming that the United States and the United Nations have assumed control of the Amazon rainforest in order to safeguard its treasures for all mankind.

The forgery, pictured below, purports to be page 76 of a U.S. sixth grade textbook titled An Introduction to Geography by David Norman. There is no indication that such a book exists. The U.S. Library of Congress, with more than 29 million books and other printed materials, has no record of it. The Online Computer Learning Center's WorldCat database, the world's largest database of bibliographic information with more than 47 million books, has no record of the book. Nor can such a book be found in Internet searches on or Google.

In addition, the text uses an inappropriate tone and contains many other grammatical and word usage errors.

Text of Forgery

An Introduction to Geography South America

in the northern section of South America, forming a land of more than 3.000 square miles.


Since the middle 80's the most important rain forest of the world was passed to the responsability of the United States and the United Nations. It is named as FINRAF (Former International Reserve of the Amazon Forest) and its foundation was due to the fact that the Amazon is located in South America, one of the poorest regions on earth and surrounded by irresponsable, cruel and authoritary countries. It was part of eight different and strange countries, which are in the majority of cases, kingdoms of violence, drug trade, illiteracy and a unintelligent and primitive people.

The creation of FINRAF were supported by all nations of G-23 and was really a special mission of our country and a gift of all the world, since the possession of these valuable lands to such primitive countries and people should condemn the lungs of the world to disappearance and full destroying in few years.

We can consider that this area has the most biodiversity in the planet, with a vast number of species of all types of animals and vegetals. The value of this area is unable to calcule, but the planet can be cert that The United States won't let these Latin American countries explorate and destroy this real ownership of all humanity.

FINRAF is like an international park, with very severe rules of exploration.

[Map Caption] Map 3.5-5.1 -- We can see the location of the International Reserve. It took area of eight South America's countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and F. Guyana. Some of the poorest and miserable countries of the world.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Walking through the countryside after Hurricane Felix

Yesterday we hiked out to the farm (without a camera). Quite a few trees have fallen over, and a cornfield we had planted was destroyed. It makes me wonder just how much damage is done by hurricanes that is never reported and never taken into account.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Photos of Hurricane Felix

A few photographs taken by a friend in the aftected area on the Atlantic Coast.

Friday, September 07, 2007

After Hurricane Felix

The sun is shining again. Electricity has returned to Waslala (although not Internet, the server has been taken away for repairs).

In Waslala, some corn fields were damaged and a few houses. What it did do was make us aware of where we are vulnerable should we be hit a little harder. The new ‘old age home’ gets flooded out by a nearby stream, as do dwellings built in old river beds, many houses are built on hills composed of loose dirt that will wash away and take houses down with them and bury others. We really need a process of analysis, training and planning to reduce future tragedies.

The latest news is that there are nearly a hundred dead on the Atlantic Coast. Crop damage, flooding and thousands of houses damaged or destroyed. Bilwi, Sandy Bay and Sasha are among the hardest hit. Palm trees are flung across the ground like match sticks. The process of rehabilitation y rebuilding is starting as is the process of mouring.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hurricane Felix hits Waslala

At four in the morning, Hurricane Felix smashed into the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. With heavy rains and winds over two hundred and sixty kilometers and hour, it tore down and damaged thousands of houses, damaged electrical lines and left four people dead.

In Waslala, the rains started at eight in the morning and slowly gather force throughout the day and into the night. By the time it reached us, the winds had mostly died down. We lost electricity at about midday. One precarious dwelling on our street was damaged and one side of our neighbour’s latrine fell over.

The streets were eerily empty. Most of public transport did not leave, school was cancelled, and most people stayed at home to stay out of the cold rains and listen to the radio.

The rain still continues and the rivers are swollen. There will be flooding down river for a few days and there is still the possibility of mudslides.