Vol. VII No. 32 - Tuesday
August 5 - August 11, 2008



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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Where do we go from here, Burma?

Old age, research and a breakthrough

Here’s one for the Brits-Gordon the Rooster

OPINION

 

Where do we go from here, Burma?

Sao Noan Oo
An essential question at present, as the people of Burma grow increasingly disenchanted with their illegal, dictatorial government. It is obvious that the past and present generals have failed Burma and her people. In spite of the fact that Burma has rich natural resources, they have made the country one of the poorest in the world.   During their occupation they have perpetrated atrocious human rights violations against the population. The extent of suffering inflicted on innocent citizens, and the number they have killed without reason is unimaginable. Daily the soldiers with guns go on a rampage in every town and village to force the people to labour. They steal and kill, and rape young women and girls whenever they feel like it.
The Burmese people pleaded to the United Nations, the superpowers, China, Russia, India and the Asean countries for help. But international countries seem unable or unwilling to do anything other than try to coax Than Shwe and his generals to reform. From what has been seen recently Burma is not going to get practical help from the United Nations and there will not be an invasion on humanitarian grounds by the superpowers.  It is now up to the people of Burma to fend for themselves. Some have come up with an “Armed Struggle”, “A Saffron Revolution” and other ideas. According to Thomas Jefferson, when a bad government cannot be reformed the people have the “right to stage a revolution”
Demonstrations will be a waste of time as they will be crushed by the regime, resulting in deaths and imprisonments. To ensure a successful revolution, all the peoples of Burma need to get together; the Burmans as well as other ethnic nationalities. They will have to unite behind the common goal of liberating the country from the dictatorial regime which rules by the gun.
For such unity to take place, all nationalities will have to get rid of their preconceived ideas and change their mental attitudes towards each other. The regime has, for four decades, divided and ruled, while, at the same time, it has by force tried to assimilate the different nationalities into one Burman nationality, creating enmity, misunderstanding, grudges, and prejudice. The extreme Burman nationalists have used Burman nationalism, chauvinism and superiority complexes as their inspiration; whilst the other ethnic nationalities, in order to survive, have reacted by building stronger cohesive groups excluding other minorities, leading to the development of a strong sense of ethno- and religious nationalism. All must realise that narrow ethno- and religious nationalism is the obvious cause of conflicts between nationalities.
Whether we like it or not all the ethnic nationalities of Burma, because of their geographical situation and history, are interdependent; therefore, for the common good of all concerned, they will have to reconstruct sincere, meaningful and trustworthy relationships, beginning by treating each other as equal partners, learning from past mistakes, and moving forward towards a better future. They will have to rid themselves of the desire to dominate and control, and recognise and respect each others’ freedom of choice. Human relationships are not easy but good relationships can be achieved by trying to understand each other’s feelings and points of view by voluntary participation. After all, the ethnic nationalities joined the Burmans to form the Union of Burma by their own free will.  Bogyoke Aung San understood when he said, “the right of secession must be given, but it is our duty to work and show our sincerity so that they do not wish to leave”.
An amicable relationship between all ethnic nationalities can create the manpower that is needed to defy the SPDC—the only weapon which will bring them down. This has to be very well planned and organized with the creation of a network throughout the country. Our hope lies in the Sanghas of Burma, the Burmans, Shans, Mons, Arakans etc, and the revered and respected leaders of all religious groups, who have the power and ability to teach morality and uphold the concept of loving kindness, thus uniting the people. They are experienced organizers and have the capability to mobilise the population. If the religious leaders were to lead, the people would follow.
The 19th of July is Martyrs Day in Burma, commemorating events in 1947, when Bogyoke Aung San and his colleagues, who had great hopes for the future of Burma, were assassinated. Allowing the dictatorial regime to continue to bully the citizens means that their aspiration and sacrifice will have been in vain. The SPDC generals, besides being greedy and selfish, are cowards, afraid to give up their guns and power and live like ordinary folk, and are the greatest bullies of all. A schoolboy likes to bully those weaker than him and only stops when the victims have the courage to stand and fight. Likewise, the SPDC generals will continue their bullying c until the victims have enough strength and courage to defy them. It will not be easy because the generals have the advantage of guns and ammunition.
Manpower and strength can be created if all the ethnic nationalities can unite under the common goal.  Such unity can only happen by reconciliation of all peoples of Burma by rebuilding trust, and respect for the individual freedom of choice of religion, culture and political views. Enmity, hatred, grudges and prejudice should be overcome by forgiveness and loving kindness. This conciliation and understanding between all ethnic nationalities of Burma is the only weapon which will dismantle the SPDC and lead to true democracy and a lasting peace in Burma.                      
Reproduced by kind permission of Shan Herald Agency for News www.shanland.org

 

Old age, research and a breakthrough

We’ve noticed—perhaps you have too- that the medical pages in this paper seem to be concentrating on “old age” diseases and that the vast majority of research quoted seems to originate in the USA, a vital and excellent source, but not the only one. Putting aside the very obvious fact that, here in Chiang Mai, the retirement community is an amazing representation of that well-known saying, “ 60 is the new 40”, do we really want to be reminded each week that as we get older we may be subject to some unpleasant shocks, even although our lifestyle here will almost certainly delay their onset? Having said this, however, a recent report on research into that most dreaded of “old age” diseases, Alzheimer’s, should reassure even the most nervous of expats and please the Brits amongst us, as this medical breakthrough was engineered by British scientists!
The results of the research are being hailed as the most significant breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment for 100 years, and were reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease held in Chicago recently. A new drug, Rember, taken daily, astonishingly stabilised the disease’s devastating progress and effects in 81% of trial cases. Trial subjects experienced no further decline in mental function over a 19 month period. The trials, carried out at the University of Aberdeen, involved 321 mild and moderate Alzheimer’s sufferers from the UK and Singapore, divided into 4 groups, three of which were given differing doses of Rember, and one a placebo. After a 50-week period, the groups on Rember experienced 81% less mental decline compared with the placebo group. Images of the brain showed a significant increase in blood flow to the affected areas. A consultant psychologist monitoring the groups stated that those taking the drug showed more confidence and were better able to deal with everyday life.
The research team was led by Dr. Claude Wischik, who originally discovered, 20 years ago, the “tau protein” which makes up the “tangles” in the brain which are highly correlated with the disease. At the Chicago conference, he stated that Rember is able to restore functionality to the worst affected areas. The drug targets the tangles in the brain which destroy the nerve cells, leading to loss of memory, and helps to disrupt this process, even loosening already affected tangles. It is hoped that eventually the disease could be stopped in its early stages, before symptoms have appeared; at present the drug, which should be available within 4 years or so, is said to be more than twice as effective as current treatments. Larger scale trials will now be set up to confirm its safety and its long-term benefits to sufferers.


Here’s one for the Brits-Gordon the Rooster

Trevor the farmer was in the fertilised egg business. He had several hundred young pullets and eight or ten roosters, whose job was to fertilise the eggs. He kept records, and any rooster that didn’t perform went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took a lot of his time, so he bought tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so Trevor could tell from a distance which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.
Trevor’s favourite rooster was old Gordon, and a very fine specimen he was too, but on this particular morning Trevor noticed old Gordon’s bell hadn’t rung at all! Trevor went to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover but, to Trevor’s amazement, Gordon had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job and strut onto the next one!
Trevor was so proud of Gordon, he entered him into the West Yolks County Fair and Gordon became an overnight sensation among the judges. The result - the judges not only awarded Gordon the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.
Clearly, Gordon was a politician in the making: Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?
Do you know a Pulletician called Gordon?


OPINION: Drinking versus smoking

A recent press release trumpeted the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s decision to plough 125 million dollars over the next 5 years into an anti-smoking campaign, one aim of which will accelerate, through the Bloomberg Initiative, (whatever that is!), the implementation of the MPower package of “proven tobacco control strategies and interventions”. This important-sounding international project’s intentions include “Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies; Protect people from tobacco smoke; Offer help to quit tobacco use; Warn about the dangers of tobacco; Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; Raise taxes on tobacco”. Leaving aside the question, “why don’t governments just ban the stuff altogether if they’re so concerned?”, and the obvious answer, the balancing of the cost of treatment of tobacco-related illness with tax revenues from smokers, one might be tempted to enquire of the fabulously wealthy couple, “Why just tobacco? Why not alcohol abuse as well?”
Bill and Melinda, however, are not alone in this. Western governments have all been leaping enthusiastically on the politically-correct anti-tobacco bandwagon for some years. At the same time, the UK government’s brilliant idea of converting British drinking habits to a “continental café” lifestyle by introducing 24 hour opening of bars, clubs and pubs, has resulted in a huge increase in alcoholism and alcohol related crime, including domestic violence. Continental café? Tell that to your average Glaswegian on a Saturday night! Except that now, it’s not just UK cities which are suffering as a result, it’s everywhere. Ancient market towns, seaside resorts, formerly quiet suburbs, villages—and it’s not just Saturday nights, it’s all week! Neither is it confined to the UK— drinking to excess together with its often tragic consequences is very evident here in Thailand, although Asians in general have a scientifically proven congenital lack of tolerance for their preferred tipple.
Smoking, of course, has scientifically proven links to a variety of unpleasant diseases; many people, (are the majority ex-smokers?), have a genuine aversion to tobacco smoke which should be respected, particularly in restaurants. But- is this writer alone in finding the sight of a confirmed 2 pack-a day- man puffing away contentedly less offensive than an aggressive drunk throwing up in the gutter? And how many battered women give the reason for their frequent visits to the emergency room at their local hospital as “he smokes too much, that’s why he beats me”?
Tobacco and alcohol both contain addictive substances, and are the root causes of fatal or debilitating disease. As such, both are best avoided; although there are studies which promote a glass of wine with a meal as beneficial to health, this writer has read nothing published later than the early 20th century which recommends a cigarette for the same purpose. So-where are the health warnings on cans and bottles of alcoholic drinks? Where are the constant media warnings and legislation to prevent excess drinking and its consequences? In the UK, drink related crime and illness together account for more government spending than does tobacco-related illness. At least, here in Thailand, Buddhist holidays are legally designated drink-free—some of the bars and restaurants even manage to obey the prohibition! Censorship of Western films on UBC’s English language channels, however, joyfully blanks out cigarettes whilst leaving the whisky bottle on the table! This writer just doesn’t get it!



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