A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘myanmar

[NEWS] Five futurish links: Quadriga, Brexit, Facebook and Rohingya, basic income, friendship

  • This CBC feature on the apparent loss of a quarter-billion dollars via the Quadriga cryptocurrency makes the whole business look incredibly sketchy to me. Why would anyone rational take such risks?
  • At Open Democracy, Christine Berry suggests that after the Grenfell Tower catastrophe the idea of using Brexit to deregulate has become impossible. Is this a wedge issue?
  • Vox notes the effort of Facebook to try to hold itself accountable for providing a platform for the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
  • Inverse has a positive account of the guaranteed minimum income experiment in Finland, emphasizing the improved psychological state of recipients.
  • The Atlantic notes that one major impact of Facebook is that, through its medium, friendships can never quite completely die.

[URBAN NOTE] Six city links: Detroit, Oslo, Cox’s Bazar, Ho Chi Minh City, Shenzhen, Tokyo

  • CityLab notes a new black-owned food coop in Detroit.
  • CityLab notes the cool new designs of a new Oslo subway station.
  • Al Jazeera notes the vulnerability of Cox’s Bazar, the Bangladesh city that is the heart of the Rohingya refugee settlements, to climate change.
  • Guardian Cities notes how rapid redevelopment is devastating the architectural heritage of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • This Culture Trip article looks at how, among other things, copying foreign technology helped make Shenzhen a global tech hub.
  • Tokyo is offering subway users free food if they opt to travel on the subway outside of peak times, CityLab notes.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Raccoon City, Hamilton, Chicago, Milwaukee, Paris

  • Mark Clapham at CityMetric takes</u. an insightful look at the terrifying, dehumanizing, ways in which the fictional Raccoon City was designed.
  • Alex Bozikovic writes in The Globe and Mail about the goals of the new chief planner of Hamilton, Jason Thorne, to help grow a dynamic and livable city.
  • Guardian Cities looks at how many of the major streets of Chicago trace their ancestry to the trails of indigenous peoples.
  • WUWM notes how Milwaukee has the largest concentration of Rohingya refugees in the United States.
  • Mira Kamdar at the NYR Daily looks at the agricultural past–and potential future–of the Paris periphery, particularly but not only Seine-Saint-Denis.

[NEWS] Five divides: New Brunswick, Rohingya Hindus, Chinese censors, Iranian internet, Brexit

  • The Conversation notes how New Brunswick, with its economic challenges and its language divide, represents in microcosm the problems of wider Canada.
  • This Los Angeles Times article notes how Rohingya Hindus see themselves, rightly, as sharing a different fate from their Muslim coethnics.
  • This New York Times article looks at how the Internet censors of China are trained, by letting them know about the actual history of their country first.
  • Bloomberg reports how on the Iranian government tries to engage selectively with the social networking platforms, like Instagram and Telegram, used by the outside world.
  • Bloomberg notes that the concern of Japan that the United Kingdom, Japanese companies’ chosen platform for export to the EU, might engage in a hard Brexit is pressing.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Architectuul has an extended long interview with architect Dragoljub Bakić, talking about the innovative architecture of Tito’s Yugoslavia and his experiences abroad.
  • Centauri Dreams remarks on how the new maps of Pluto can evoke the worlds of Ray Bradbury.
  • The Crux answers an interesting question: What, exactly, is a blazar?
  • D-Brief links to a study suggesting that conditions on Ross 128 b, the second-nearest potentially habitable planet, are potentially (very broadly) Earth-like.
  • Dangerous Minds shows how John Mellencamp was, in the 1970s, once a glam rocker.
  • The Finger Post shares photos from a recent visit to Naypyidaw, the very new capital of Myanmar.
  • Gizmodo explains how the detection of an energetic neutrino led to the detection of a distant blazar, marking yet another step forward for multi-messenger astronomy.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the now-overlooked writer of supernatural fiction Vernon Lee.
  • Language Log makes an argument that acquiring fluency in Chinese language, including Chinese writing, is difficult, so difficult perhaps as to displace other cultures. Thoughts?
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money suggests that the decline of the neo-liberal world order is needed. My main concern is that neo-liberalism may well be the least bad of the potential world orders out there.
  • Lingua Franca takes a look at how Hindi and Urdu, technically separate languages, actually form two poles of a Hindustani language continuum.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a unique map of the London Underground that shows the elevation of each station.
  • Rocky Planet notes that the continuing eruption of Kilauea is going to permanently shape the lives of the people of the Big Island of Hawai’i.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Buddhists of Kalmykia want the Russian government to permit a visit by the Dalai Lama to their republic.
  • Writing at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Livio Di Matteo notes that the Trump demand NATO governments spend 4% of their GDP on defense would involve unprecedented levels of spending in Canada.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • ‘Nathan Burgoine at Apostrophen links to a giveaway of paranormal LGBT fiction.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shares some stunning photos of Jupiter provided by Juno.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly looks at the desperate, multi-state strike of teachers in the United States. American education deserves to have its needs, and its practitioners’ needs, met.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at PROCSIMA, a strategy for improving beamed propulsion techniques.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the history of the concept of the uncanny valley. How did the concept get translated in the 1970s from Japan to the wider world?
  • Dangerous Minds shares a 1980s BBC interview with William Burroughs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper tracing the origin of the Dravidian language family to a point in time 4500 years ago.
  • JSTOR Daily notes Phyllis Wheatley, a freed slave who became the first African-American author in the 18th century but who died in poverty.
  • Language Hat notes the exceptional importance of the Persian language in early modern South Asia.
  • Language Log looks at the forms used by Chinese to express the concepts of NIMBY and NIMBYism.
  • Language Hat notes the exceptional importance of the Persian language in early modern South Asia.
  • The NYR Daily notes that, if the United States junks the nuclear deal with Iran, nothing external to Iran could realistically prevent the country’s nuclearization.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the latest findings from the Jupiter system, from that planet’s planet-sized moons.
  • Roads and Kingdoms notes that many Rohingya, driven from their homeland, have been forced to work as mules in the illegal drug trade.
  • Starts With A Bang considers how early, based on elemental abundances, life could have arisen after the Big Bang. A date only 1 to 1.5 billion years after the formation of the universe is surprisingly early.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs notes how the centre of population of different tree populations in the United States has been shifting west as the climate has changed.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little takes a look at mechanisms and causal explanations.
  • Worthwhile Canadian Initiative’s Frances Woolley takes a look at an ECON 1000 test from the 1950s. What biases, what gaps in knowledge, are revealed by it?

[LINK] “Desperate Rohingya kids flee Myanmar alone by boat”

Margie Mason and Robin McDowell’s Associated Press article tracing the flight of two siblings–Rohinghya, Muslims persecuted in Burma–across Southeast Asia is compelling and terribly sad.

The relief the two children felt after making it safely away from land quickly faded. Their small boat was packed with 63 people, including 14 children and 10 women, one seven months pregnant. There were no life jackets, and neither sibling could swim. The sun baked their skin.

Senwara took small sips of water from a shared tin can inside the hull piled with aching, crumpled arms and legs. With each roiling set of waves came the stench of vomit.

Nearly two weeks passed. Then suddenly a boat approached with at least a dozen Myanmar soldiers on board.

They ordered the Rohingya men to remove their shirts and lie down, one by one. Their hands were bound. Then they were punched, kicked and bludgeoned with wooden planks and iron rods, passengers on the boat said.

They howled and begged God for mercy.

“Tell us, do you have your Allah?” one Rohingya survivor quoted the soldiers as saying. “There is no Allah!”

The police began flogging Mohamad before he even stood up, striking his little sister in the process. They tied his hands, lit a match and laughed as the smell of burnt flesh wafted from his blistering arm. Senwara watched helplessly.

As they stomped him with boots and lashed him with clubs, his mind kept flashing back to home: What had he done? Why had he left? Would he die here?

After what seemed like hours, the beating stopped. Mohamad suspected an exchange of money finally prompted the soldiers to order the Rohingya to leave.

“Go straight out of Myanmar territory to the sea!” a witness recalled the commander saying. “If we see you again, we will kill you all!”

It gets worse.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2014 at 7:14 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] Another Korean War?

Towleroad is one blog among many that is carrying the news that North Korea may have been behind a recent series of cyberattacks on South Korean and American government sites.

North Korea, until now content to threaten to blow up the United States and recklessly test missiles, might be moving into a more aggressive phase. According to South Korean intelligence, “North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces” are behind cyber attacks that knocked out American and South Korean government sites. China is also a suspect.

Affected sites include those at the Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commision and Transportation Department, and all the issues occurred over the long holiday weekend. A good time to test one’s abilities, when one’s opponent is watching fireworks and eating barbecue

Gideon Rachmann links to an article with excerpts from a paper in an official Chinese government journal by one Zhang Lianggui, a Chinese expert on North Korea, who fears that another Korean War may be soon.

Zhang, who has been at the school since 1989, is a specialist on North Korea, where he studied at Kim Il-Sung University in Pyongyang from 1964-1968. His analysis, in the June 16 issue of World Affairs magazine, is one of the most critical of the North ever to appear in an official publication. It reflects Beijing’s rising anger with its neighbor and frustration that it can do so little to change its nuclear policy – despite the fact that the country relies upon it for supplies of food and oil.

The first generation of Communist leaders had strong sympathy for Kim Il-Sung, who studied at secondary school in northeast China, spoke Mandarin and fought with Chinese forces against the Japanese. The current leaders have no such feeling for his son, whom they regard as a bandit.

In the magazine, Zhang wrote that the world underestimates the magnitude of the risk on the Korean Peninsula.

“If we look at the situation as it is, the likelihood of a military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula is very high,” he wrote. “It will start on the sea and then could spread to the 38th parallel. If a war breaks out, it is very difficult to forecast how it would develop. North Korea believes it now has nuclear weapons and has become stronger. It believes that it has overwhelming military superiority over the south and would certainly win a war,” he said.

[. . . ]

Zhang also said that the North’s nuclear tests pose “a risk that it [China] had never faced for thousands of years.” Nuclear tests by the US, Russia, China, Britain and France were carried out in deserts or remote places far from population centers. But the North’s tests are just 85 km from the Chinese border, Changbai county in Jilin province, and 180 km from Yanji, a city of 400,000 people.

“The tests are close to densely populated areas of East Asia. If there were an accident, it would not only make the Korean nation homeless but also turn to nothing plans to revive the northeast of China,” he wrote, asking why the tests were far from Pyongyang but not far from China.

“The danger for China is extremely grave. We have not paid sufficient attention to this risk. If we cannot bring about a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, mankind will pay a heavy price, especially the countries bordering Korea,” he wrote.

Pyongyang, he said, has never liked the six-party talks that have been trying, with Beijing’s help, to get the North to relinquish its nuclear program because it regards the matter as essentially a bilateral issue to be settled with the United States alone. He does not believe North Korea will return to the stalled talks.

[. . .]

“Negotiating with North Korea is like negotiating with the mafia which is blackmailing you,” said Wang Wen, a veteran Chinese journalist. “Beijing continues to supply the North with food, oil, consumer goods and other items it needs. The North does not pay. It [China] could cut off the supply, which would lead to a collapse of the regime. That would mean a unified Korea dominated by the United States. Pyongyang knows this and continues to blackmail China, like the mafia.”

He said that, to prevent this scenario, Beijing has continued to keep the regime afloat. “For years, it has been pushing the North to follow its example of economic reform and not political reform. The Kaesong industrial park is a small step in this direction, but there is nothing else.”

All this occurs while Asia Times reports that the North Korean ship recently intercepted may have been actually part of an effort to export nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Myanmar.

Four points come to mind.

1. North Korean paranoia isn’t disappearing.

2. The US-South Korean defense alliance isn’t disappearing.

3. North Korea probably could be defeated militarily, but at a very heavy cost to everyone involved.

4. The Chinese are unhappy with client states which act insanely, without regard for Chinese or even international interests.


Written by Randy McDonald

July 8, 2009 at 7:02 pm

[LINK] Protests in Myanmar

Daniel Drezner observation last week that Buddhist monks were actively protesting against the military junta that runs Myanmar might be taken as a road sign pointing towards the broader spread of protests in that unfortunate Southeast Asian country.

Public protests are rare in Myanmar, where the regime maintains strict social controls. Military leaders apparently did not foresee or plan for the protests that have attended their shock-therapy policies. Whether the public anger snowballs into a full-blown mass movement, as happened in 1988, depends largely on how the historically heavy-handed regime responds in the weeks ahead.

The violent tactics employed by the regime to quell the protests so far, however, do not augur well for future stability. Small, peaceful protest marches have continued for weeks in Yangon, Myanmar’s main commercial city and until recently the national capital.

They have since spread to several other parts of the country, including crucially the central town of Pakokku, near Mandalay, where an estimated 100 Buddhist monks recently spearheaded the unrest, including taking government officials hostage and burning their cars. The military eventually fired warning shots, and one monk was badly hurt in the melee.

The junta has long fretted about politicized monks – who command deep respect among the population and many of whom are known to sympathize with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest. Since the early 1990s, the military have effectively controlled the Buddhist governing religious bodies by retiring, replacing and relocating known-dissident abbots.

But the recent clergy-inspired violence and the military’s violent response may yet prove to be a watershed moment. The monks have demanded an apology from the government for its use of force, but to date junta leaders have failed to reply. In the meantime, in an unprecedented move, police and security forces have been deployed outside the monasteries in the key Buddhist cities of Mandalay, Pakkoku and Yangon to prevent the monks from staging further protests.

Last year’s relocation of the capital from the populous port city of Yangon to the isolated inland community of Naypyidaw may have been undertaken in part with the motive of sparing the government the bother of dealing with the general population. Hopefully, that might have been too little too late.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 13, 2007 at 9:49 am