Tag Archives: Myanmar

Attacks continue in Afghanistan

35 people have died after coordinated explosions struck the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan, Al Jazeera.

Myanmar announced a new law barring anyone convicted of a crime from running for office. The new law will exclude political activists from participating in the upcoming election and may also force political parties to remove activists from their membership. The law is in large part targeted against Aung San Suu Kyi, the last democratically elected leader of Myanmar (previously Burma) who has been under house arrest or in prison for much of the past 20 years. Myanmar is a tightly controlled society that is run by a military junta. Military leaders are going ahead with elections this year but are working to ensure that only hand-picked candidates can participate, Al Jazeera.

Google has added biking directions and biking maps to 150 U.S. cities in its Google Maps feature, Wired News.

The Large Hadron Collider will be shut down for a year to fix design flaws, BBC News.

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President Obama Meets with Asian World Leaders

U.S. President Barack Obama is 2 days into a 10 day trip to Asia. President Obama held a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, whitehouse.org. Full coverage of the trip, whitehouse.gov.

President Obama will meet with leaders of member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Prime Minister of Myanmar, in Singapore today. Obama called for Myanmar to release its political prisoners, including pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, Reuters.

President Obama will be in China from November 15-18 where he will hold a town hall meeting with Chinese students. Chinese news agency Xinhua has been soliciting questions for President Obama online, Xinhua.

NASA confirms that it has found a significant quantity of water on the moon, CNN.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has called for a world hunger strike today to highlight the issue, FAO. Follow on Twitter: @faonews. Sign a petition to stop world hunger, 1 billion hungry.

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New Protests in Iran Show Hope for Reform Still Alive

On what was meant to be a day of anti-American sentiment, anti-government protesters instead took to the streets in Tehran, Iran. Today is the 30th anniversary of the Iranian takeover of the American Embassy in Iran and the beginning of the Islamic revolution that put the Shah of Iran in power in 1979.  Demonstrations for the anniversary are sponsored by the state, but opponents of the current government used the occasion to demonstration their support for reform. Police used teargas and violence to subdue protesters, New York Times.

Protests have been ongoing in Iran since the disputed June 12 presidential election. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially won reelection but supporters of reform candidates Mir-Hussein Moussavi and former president Muhammad Khatami alleged that the election was a fraud. Censorship and heavy surveillance by police prevent reformist Iranians from staging large-scale or long-running protests but protesters have been able to show their support and their growing numbers by coordinating reform demonstrations during state-sponsored demonstrations, such as at the Quds Day rallies in September. Iranians are also coordinating on Twitter and by text message. Timeline: Iran after the election, Al Jazeera.

President Obama appealed directly to the Iranian people in a statement released today. He called on Iranians to put aside the 30 years of mistrust that followed the seizure of the American Embassy and to start a new chapter of cooperation and mutual respect, Whitehouse.gov.

See our Live Blog for more information. See also the Green Wave of Freedom website for reports on reform efforts from inside Iran, Mowjcamp and the website for former presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi, Tagheer. Use Google Translate to change the text to your language.

5 British soldiers were shot inside a police training facility in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The shooter was described as a “rouge policeman.” It is unknown if the Taliban was involved in the attack. Strategy in Afghanistan has focused on training Afghan police and soldiers in hopes that those forces will one day be capable of stabilizing the country without the aid of NATO forces, BBC News. Taliban link to the shooting probed, BBC News.  Q & A on British troops in Afghanistan, BBC News.

Voters in Maine overturned a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor that had allowed same-sex couples to marry.  Maine becomes that 31st state that has rejected same-sex marriage by popular vote, ABC News.  Republican candidates won the race for governor in both Virginia and New Jersey, ABC News. In New York City, incumbent Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg won reelection. The race was closer than had been expected with the Democratic candidate getting 46% of the vote to Bloomberg’s 51%. Mayor Bloomberg, who has a personal fortune of $20 billion, spent $90 million of his own money on his reelection campaign, New York Times.

At least 91 people are dead and thousands have been displaced by Tropical Storm Mirinae in Vietnam, Associated Press.  Vietnam is still recovering from Typhoon Ketsana, Citizen’s Daily Brief.

American diplomats were allowed to meet with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi despite her house arrest. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for much of the past 20 years. Suu Kyi was democratically elected President of Burma but a military junta did not allow her to take office. The junta controls the country, which it has renamed Myanmar. The U.S. has initiated a new policy of engaging with the country’s leaders, CNN International.

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Looking Forward: Elections in Myanmar

Myanmar, a country in southeast Asia formerly called Burma before it was renamed by the military junta that currently control it, plans to hold elections in 2010. The last elections were held in 1990 when pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi won most of the vote but was not allowed by the military to take power. Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for much of the time since then. Myanmar is a severely repressed state where citizens are not even allowed to stay the night in other people’s houses. This is the technicality that led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest being extended when an American man who believed he was sent by God swam across a lake to Suu Kyi’s house and then, claiming illness, stayed overnight. Sanctions have been imposed against Myanmar, meaning that it is illegal for Western businesses to sell goods to the country, The New American.

The upcoming  elections are an attempt to legitimize the government in hopes of one day having the sanctions lifted and being accepted in the global community.  However, at least one fourth of the seats will go to members of the military and democratic activists like Aung San Suu Kyi will not be able to participate. Reuters Q & A on the elections. Comprehensive analysis of the impact of elections by the International Crisis Group.

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Lockerbie Bomber Closer to Release on “Compassionate Grounds”

The man convicted of the 1981 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, has applied to have his second appeal dropped- a sign that he may soon be released on compassionate grounds. al-Gegrahi has terminal prostate cancer and will possibly be released on “compassionate grounds” to his family in Libya or transferred to a Libyan prison. All 259 people on the plane died, as well as 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Voice of America.

The death toll from Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan could reach over 500. The official death toll now stands at 118 but several villages were completely buried in mudslides, CNN.

Virginia senator Jim Webb is in Burma to meet with military leader General Than Shwe. The visit comes after the conviction of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi but it is not known if Webb will address that matter. Webb is traveling through the region Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, New York Times.

In Perth, Australia a quadriplegic man, Christian Rossiter, has won the right to die. A judge ruled that Rossiter’s caretakers will not be held criminally responsible if he refused food and water, BBC News.

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NY Terror Plot Foiled

The FBI has arrested 4 men who were allegedly planning to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and to shoot down planes at an air force base in New York State, CNN. James Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams are US citizens while Laguerre Payen is of Haitian descent. The men were caught be an FBI informant who met with them as they made their plans. The FBI sold the group fake bombs and a fake surface to air missile through the informant. The group planted the bombs in cars outside two synagogues in the Bronx and intended to set the bombs off via cell phone. Although this is the act that led to their arrest, it is possible that the FBI’s involvement could constitute entrapment and may endanger the case when it reaches court, BBC News.

After letting observers in yesterday, Myanmar has once again restricted access to the trial of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, Al Jazeera.

Swine flu hits Toyko. Schools have been closed at Toyko recorded its first cases of swine flu. Toyko is the most densely populated area on Earth. There are over 10,000 confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide, Bloomberg.

Cheney and Obama go head to head with back to back speeches on national security today, Huffington Post. Obama is scheduled to speak at 10:15 EDT. Cheney is scheduled for 10:45 EDT but says he will delay if President Obama goes long.

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Burmese Pro-Democracy Activist Charged with Violating House Arrest

In a bizarre story, Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged by the military junta running the government of violating the terms of her house arrest. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for the past six years and is not allowed to have guests other than family visit overnight. Under the terms of her arrest, Suu Kyi’s detention was due to expire at the end of May. It is feared that this charge is simply a way of keeping her out of the public eye until next year’s elections occur. The elections are expected to be a rubber stamp of the current government. The charge stems from an incident in which John William Yeattaw, an American man from Missouri, wearing flippers he handmade, swam one mile across a lake to get to Suu Kyi’s house. According to Suu Kyi’s lawyers, once at the house he claimed he was diabetic and was too ill to leave. In 1990, in the first election Burma had held in 30 years, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a solid majority of votes, but that result was ignored. Burma’s government officially renamed the country Myanmar, Guardian. CNN has a picture of Yeattaw said to have been taken in Suu Kyi’s home and a picture of his handmade flippers.

40,000 attended an outdoor papal mass in Nazareth. After the mass, Pope Benedict XVI met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al Jazeera.

North Korea has set a trial date of June 4 for two American journalists charged with illegally crossing the border from China to North Korea, New York Times.

The UN Security Council has issued a statement condemning the Sri Lankan government’s use of heavy artillery on civilians trapped in a warzone, Bloomberg. The Sri Lankan government says that thousands of civilians trapped in the warzone, where the government claims they were being used as human shield by Tamil Tiger rebels, have escaped by crossing a lagoon, Reuters.

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