October 4, 2007 archive

Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. The news from Burma today.

    • Spiegel brings this chilling story out of Burma: ‘They Come at Night and Murder the Monks’.

      …It is completely quiet for a moment in the car park. Then a young man emerges from the darkness. He was obviously waiting for a chance to be alone with foreigners. He is poorly clothed, but speaks English that is somewhat understandable. “Please don’t believe what the junta says,” he whispers. “The repression is continuing every night. When there are no more witnesses, they drive through the suburbs at night and kill the people.”

      …It was around midnight when the long convoy of military vehicles drove into the district. They contained police officers from the anti-insurgency unit and the so-called “Lome-Ten,” a unit of gangsters and ex-convicts, who do the regime’s dirty work.

      They surrounded a monastery on Weiza Yandar Street. All the roughly 200 monks living there were forced to stand in a row and the security forces beat their heads against a brick wall. When they were all covered in blood and lay moaning on the ground, they were thrown into a truck and taken away. “We are crying for our monks,” said the man, and then he was gone.

    • The Guardian reports the surviving monks are fleeing the crackdown as reports of brutality emerge. “Scores of Burmese monks were stranded in Rangoon’s railway station yesterday while trying to flee the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests that has left thousands languishing in prison. ¶ Bus drivers refused to take the russet-robed monks, fearing the security forces would cut off fuel supplies for their vehicles if they accepted the fares, even as the military conducted further raids and made dozens of arrests… ¶ Fearing the violence that was to come, a Burmese army major, Htay Win, deserted from his unit in Rangoon before the killings began. He fled to Thailand in search of asylum, and yesterday explained why. ‘I knew the plan to beat and shoot the monks, and if I had stayed I would have had to follow those orders,’ said Major Htay, 43, yesterday. ‘But because I’m a Buddhist I didn’t want to follow those orders. I did not want to kill the monks.'”

    • According to The Independent, a French oil firm is accused of complicity with military regime in Burma. “The French oil giant Total faces a renewed inquiry into claims that it was complicit in crimes against humanity committed by the military regime in Burma. ¶ The federal prosecutor’s office in Belgium has re-opened a five-year-old case brought by four Burmese refugees, who allege that France’s largest company financed human rights violations and used forced labour supplied by the junta to build a gas pipeline in the 1990s. A preliminary court hearing is expected later this month, according to Alexis Deswaef, the Belgian lawyer acting for the refugees. ¶ The Belgian government’s decision, following a ruling by the country’s constitutional court, is a further blow to Total as it struggles to defend its presence in Burma.”

    • The Independent reports Burmese troops round up activists. “The Burmese regime has stepped up its search for democracy activists in the aftermath of last week’s demonstrations – rounding up suspected participants and dividing them into ‘passers-by’, ‘those who watched’, ‘those who clapped’ and ‘those who joined in’. ¶ Patrolling the streets of Rangoon before dawn in trucks equipped with loudspeakers, troops broadcast a series of messages that warned: ‘We have photographs. We are going to make arrests!'” In another story, The Independent adds that many protesters are staying put to battle junta as world waits on Burmese border. “At the Moei river in Thailand there is sticky sunshine, jungle and the world’s media in waiting. Yet there is no flood of refugees from across the border in Burma… ¶ In recent years, analysts have argued that non-violence against such regimes doesn’t work, generalising from the failure of non-violent struggles, such as that of the Tibetans against the Chinese, to make significant headway. It worked for Gandhi because the British were soft-hearted foreigners who had to worry about elections and who in any case would have gone home some day anyway. But against pitiless regimes such as that in Burma, hands dripping with blood, it is futile… ¶ this new generation of rebels is bent on proving them wrong.”

    • BBC News reports Burma sets conditions for Suu Kyi. “Burma’s military leader, Gen Than Shwe, has agreed in principle to meet the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, state media has reported. ¶ In return she must drop her support for international sanctions and abandon her confrontational attitude, it said. It is the first time during his 15-year rule that Gen Shwe has indicated he may be ready for dialogue with Suu Kyi.”

The rest of today’s Four at Four can be found below the fold. Today’s stories are:

  1. Gonzales’ secret DoJ opinion condoning torture.

  2. The daily Blackwater news round-up.

  3. Sailing the Northwest Passage and climate change legislation in Congress.

Plus, there’s a bonus story today. Happy 50th anniversary day, Sputnik!
More below the fold…

American Gods Part III

Parts One and Two are available to help you figure what this is all about.

You brushed your lips gently against mine, and said “Tomorrow then?”  I sighed a quiet “Yes.”  And you were gone.

I could wax poetic, but there was nothing poetic about it, just raw power. My lips traced a burning heat, like Blistex put on chapped lips where you brushed them, and it left a tangible presence there.  It ran down through my belly like a thick cord of electricity down to the parts that usually responded of their own accord.

Boycott Kos until Chevron Ad is Dropped

We all know about Chevron’s involvement in Burma.  If we are serious about Burma then we should be serious about putting pressure on Chevron.  And putting pressure on those that support Chevron. 

So take the pledge and refuse to view DailyKos until this ad is dropped and a Front Page post renounces it.  Or is renouncing only good for O’Reilly and Limbuagh?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“Georgie’s” Top 10 List

In her new book: “The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,” Naomi Wolf lists the 10 steps from Freedom and Democracy to Fascism. This administration has taken us to the brink of America’s destruction as a nation of Civil Liberties and Freedom.

Gitmo Can’t Hold All Of Us

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has a strange “morale” booster. What’s next? Teaming up with Blackwater for a competition to see which government entity can kill the most of us?


Questions I’d like asked (and answered) about Blackwater

My note:  As I am writing this, the House of Representatives just passed a bill that would subject ALL contractors to US law, so this is a big step in the right direction.  Of course, the White House opposes this and my guess is that it will be vetoed if passed in the Senate.  The House vote was passed with an overwhelming vote of 389-30.


With all of the news and the controversy surrounding Blackwater USA over the past few months (or years), I have been waiting for a couple of questions to be asked and answered.  I can come up with a partial answer to some of them, but it still doesn’t sit well enough with me and I think it should be discussed a bit further.

First, the questions, and then a bit of analysis and “likely answer” to some of this, but still something that falls far short of something that is acceptable, especially given the events that have happened with Blackwater employees over the past few years.

Land of Golden Temples & Pagodas

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Ananda Temple

This temple symbolizes the endless wisdom (Ananta Panna) of the Buddha just as the Thatbyinnyu temple symbolizes the omniscience of the Tathagata. Hence the name Ananta, which changed later to Ananda, the name of Buddha’s cousin.

The gilded htee (umbrella) caps the whole at a height of 168 feet above the ground. The interior consists of two vaulted and high but narrow corridors running parallel to each other along the four sides of the temple. They are connected by low and narrow passages in front of the window by which light is admitted and further intersected by four large corridors into which access is obtained through the porticoes.

In the center is an enormous cube, on the four sides of which are deep and high niches enshrining four colossal standing Buddhas of the present world who have appeared and entered Nirvana. The images are represented in the following order: north-Kakusanda; east-Konagamana; south- Kassapa; and west- Gotama. Each of them is 31 feet high above the throne, which itself is nearly 8 feet in height. Of these images only those on the north and south are the original ones contemporary with the foundation of the temple ; those on the east and west were put up later to replace the original images which were destroyed by fire.
Other Interesting features of the temple are the numerous glazed terracotta tiles (left page top) ornamenting the base and the receding terraces which represent the Jataka stories and the hosts of Mara’s army. Each of these plaques is inscribed with a Mon legend. The interior walls are honey-combed with niches in which are set small stone Buddhas in various postures. The most notable among the sculptures is a series of eighty relief’s in the two lower tiers of niches in the outer corridor, illustrating the life of the Bodhisattva from his birth to the attainment of supreme wisdom. The western sanctum also enshrines the life-size statues of its founder, Kyanzittha and the primate, Shin Arahan

It’s still the same old story….Burma

Mans inhumanity to man seems never-ending.

As do the excuses that enable it. It cuts across all races and nationalities and religions. Despite all of the true and noble words that have been written, despite codes and laws and edicts and commandments. At the first sign of trouble at the drop of a hat, at the slightest excuse all of the good intentions and all of the eons of philosophy and religion are thrown out the window and slaughter begins anew. From Hammurabi onward we make laws and rules for ourself….which we promptly and fervently ignore or rationalize into meaninglessness as soon as the collective ‘we’ feels threatened.

Then the atrocities begin again.

As they have in Burma.

You Live In A Terrorist State

You live in the most powerful terrorist state on Earth.  Yes, YOU! You, too, over there, shaking your head in denial. You, as well, holding the sign not in my name.

Your Constitution is not a valid representation of your system of government.  You are ruled by two fascist dictators.  They are waging was using you as their raw materials.

They are torturing your fellow citizens and anyone they catch in their traps of human misery.

Take a good look at the definitions around state-sponsored terrorism and then read the excerpts from the New York Times story by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen.

One and the same.

State Sponsored Terrorism

Is there a difference between terrorism and the use of specific tactics that exploit fear and terror by authorities normally considered “legitimate”? Nations and states often resort to violence to influence segments of their population, or rely on coercive aspects of state institutions. Just like the idea of equating any act of military force with terrorism described above, there are those who equate any use of government power or authority versus any part of the population as terrorism. This view also blurs the lines of what is and is not terrorism, as it elevates outcomes over intentions. Suppression of a riot by law enforcement personnel may in fact expose some of the population (the rioters) to violence and fear, but with the intent to protect the larger civil order. On the other hand, abuse of the prerogative of legitimized violence by the authorities is a crime.

But there are times when national governments will become involved in terrorism, or utilize terror to accomplish the objectives of governments or individual rulers. Most often, terrorism is equated with “non-state actors”, or groups that are not responsible to a sovereign government. However, internal security forces can use terror to aid in repressing dissent, and intelligence or military organizations perform acts of terror designed to further a state’s policy or diplomatic efforts abroad.

They intentionally, deliberately and willfully lie to you.

They take away your homes, they force to you to buy worthless insurance policies.  They deny you life saving health care.  They force worthless school curriculae on your children.

They deny children, the elderly, the mentally ill and the vulnerable access to safe shelter, to reliable transportation, to nutritious food and to basic health care.

What are you doing about this?

Pony Party: Summer Past

Well, summer is gone for sure now.  Rain comin’ down, grey and cold here in the Northwest/Lower Mainland.  A couple of songs to warm you up…

Remember, don’t rec pony parties! 

Free Burma Day Oct 4 – Please Blog for Freedom

Cross-posted from DailyKos

See Not So Far Away – by Rusty1776

Free Burma!

Make a Difference – Make Yourself Heard – Hit The Icon – Do It Now

ABITSU (All Burma I.T. Students Union) and Free-Burma.ORG have designated October 4 as
Free Burma Day.

The aim is to bring attention to the cause of the Burmese people by channeling global internet traffic for one day to one site to register protest.

Given the role of bloggers in reporting on the situation, international media attention is now focused on the power of blogs so we politely request your support of this action without fail.

Pony Party, Burma/Myanmar

This page has a beautiful Photo-journal of some of the sights, and offers some insights, captured around Myanmar.

Travel guide link for pictures of Myanmar

Even the Wikipedia page for Myanmar is closed off……sigh

Here is the link to the page where you can find the embed code to post this video elsewhere today…or any day…should you encounter someone who needs to see it…watch…be heard…make noise…YELL LOUDER!!!!!

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