Monday, October 27, 2008

Help Wanted: Mass Layoffs Increase Strain on American Economy




As if a housing crisis and global market meltdown aren't bad enough, layoffs are rising too: September was the worst month for "mass" layoffs since 2001, the WSJ reports.

And the hits just kept coming in October:

"In just the last two weeks, the list of companies announcing their intention to cut workers has read like a Who's Who of corporate America," the NY Times reports: "Merck, Yahoo, General Electric, Xerox, Pratt & Whitney, Goldman Sachs, Whirlpool, Bank of America, Alcoa, Coca-Cola, the Detroit automakers and nearly all the airlines."

The good news for investors is that stocks typically bottom long before the economy and unemployment turn a corner. The bad news is rising joblessness and its impact on the real economy -- most notably housing and consumer spending -- may just be getting started.

Economists are now debating how high unemployment will rise from its still relatively low 6.1%. Among the milestones currently being targeted:

* Recent peak of 6.3% in June 2003 (seems like a lock)
* Early 1990's recession peak of 7.8% (likely)
* Late 1982 recession peak of 10.8% (extreme, but not unthinkable)
* Great Depression 25% (unthinkable)

At this point the best hope for jobs growth appears to be a massive program of fiscal spending by the Federal government, regardless of who wins the election. That isn't what champions of free-market capitalism want to hear but their complaints are likely to fall on deaf ears as private corporations continue to shed jobs.




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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Burma: Asian and European Leaders Should Press for Reforms




Source: Human Rights Watch

Asian and European governments meeting in China this week should press Burma to improve its human rights record, Human Rights Watch said today. The seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit is being held in Beijing on October 24-25, 2008, with leaders from 45 countries scheduled to attend, including Prime Minister Thein Sein of Burma. ASEM promotes cooperative efforts by Europe and Asia to meet global challenges.

"ASEM members have a chance to challenge Burma to make political reforms and start respecting basic freedoms," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Silence over the human rights abuses in today's Burma isn't an option anymore for ASEM leaders."

Human Rights Watch said the ASEM meeting is an important opportunity to exert crucially needed pressure on the Burmese military government following the breakdown of United Nations efforts at mediation.

Ibrahim Gambari, the UN secretary-general's special adviser on Myanmar, failed to gain any concessions during two visits to Burma in 2008, though the Security Council has called for "tangible progress" in Burma on political reforms. Senior Burmese leaders refused to meet with Gambari in August, and Burmese officials contended that he was meddling in the country's domestic affairs.

A constitutional referendum in Burma held in May delayed urgent humanitarian relief after Cyclone Nargis. The military government claims that over 98 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote and that 92 percent of them endorsed a constitution that cements military rule.

Human Rights Watch has reported on the human rights problems surrounding the referendum, including tight restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and on the media. Now that the referendum has been completed, the military government says it will hold elections in 2010.

"Since Burma's rulers have stonewalled on the efforts by the UN to bring about real change, it's up to ASEM ministers to send a message that sham political reforms are unacceptable," Adams said.

As part of the European Union's sanctions against Burma, no senior official from the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is permitted to enter Europe or to attend multilateral meetings in Europe unless a "political dialogue is conducted that directly promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Burma/Myanmar."

Under these conditions, the European Union invited Nyan Win, Burma's foreign minister, to last year's ASEM meeting in Hamburg. But EU efforts to raise human rights issues during the meeting, as well as through other private consultations with Nyan Win, failed to produce any human rights improvements for Burma's population.

Human Rights Watch urged the European Union to put pressure on Burma's main supporters in ASEM: China, the host of the summit, India, Singapore, and other ASEAN states. China and India in particular have forged close relations with the SPDC. Both countries are major arms suppliers to and significant investors in Burma, and have vied for the rights to import natural gas from Burma.

"The EU has tried to press Burma at past ASEM meetings, but as long as other key Asian countries fail to pick up the torch, improvements are highly unlikely," said Adams. "It's the collective responsibility of ASEM members not to sacrifice the rights of the Burmese people because of potentially lucrative business and energy deals."

Human Rights Watch called on Asian and European leaders attending the ASEM meeting to push the SPDC to:

� Immediately and unconditionally release an estimated 2,000 political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and permit them free and unfettered participation in political activities;
� Cease restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association;
� Cease military attacks against ethnic minority populations, and hold accountable all members of the security forces responsible for war crimes; and
� End the recruitment of children under the age of 18 for the armed forces, and demobilize children under 18 who are already serving.






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US presses Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi



WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Thursday marked the 13th anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by renewing its call for Myanmar's military rulers to swiftly release the pro-democracy leader.

"As of October 24, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent a total of 13 years under house arrest," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement.

"Over the many years, Aung San Suu Kyi has endured unlawful detention, she has remained a steady beacon of hope and inspiration to those seeking a peaceful, democratic Burma," he said.

"We again call upon the Burmese regime to immediately and unconditionally release her and the more than 2,000 political prisoners it holds."

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, has been confined to her home for 13 of the past 19 years. Her National League for Democracy swept elections in 1990, but was never allowed by the military to take power.

Recalling that Friday is also the anniversary of the coming into force of the United Nations charter in 1945, Wood reiterated US support for UN efforts to obtain the release of political prisoners in Myanmar and encourage its shift to democracy.

"Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi would be a first step toward Burma's reintegration into the world community," he said.

"We further join the United Nations and the rest of the international community in calling upon the regime to engage credibly in an inclusive, time-bound dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority leaders to bring about a genuine democratic transition."

Myanmar -- whose former name Burma is still used by the United States and other Western nations -- has been ruled by successive military juntas since 1962, 14 years after its independence from British colonial rule.




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Burmese Americans ponder their Presidential choice



by Myat Soe and May Ng
Thursday, 23 October 2008 12:39

Since both the Republican and Democratic parties support the Burmese democracy cause, whether John McCain or Barack Obama becomes the next president is not a major issue with Burmese citizens in the United States. But among Burmese American voters there is a visible loyalty to John McCain and the Republican Party for having been vocal supporters of the struggle for democracy inside Burma.

However as the current financial crisis escalates, Burmese are beginning to think more about U.S. politics and the presidential election. Opinions among Burmese voters in the United States are as diverse as among any other group of Americans. But one thing is for certain, the focus of the debate is now squarely on the economy.

In the state of Indiana, home to a sizable Burmese population, Burmese workers have experienced a direct impact from globalization. Manufacturing jobs in the state have moved to third world countries with lower safety standards and, most importantly, to countries with much lower corporate taxes. Therefore even a Clinton Democrat in Indiana recently lamented that Obama's tax plan will continue to drive manufacturing industries and the jobs overseas.

Obama's plan to retool American factories and also to reduce dependence on foreign oil sounds good, but similar rhetoric in the past has not met with results, as the powerful interests of major oil companies continue to dominate American politics.

Because of the severity of the financial crisis in the U.S. and the world, it is unlikely that either McCain or Obama will be able to fix the economy in less than four years. Further, neither candidate has been able to clarify the mystery surrounding the complexity of the credit meltdown. In short, a cogent plan to solve the most pressing economic problem since the Great Depression of the 1930's seems nowhere on the horizon.

Another question for a Burmese voter is the racial issue. Most Burmese have lived under a regime in Burma that continuously exploits the racial advantage of military leaders, and these voters are wary of any candidate with racial distinction. However, this is not necessarily an advantage for Obama since Burmese voters do not feel that McCain benefits from the race card as much as Obama.

But in terms of the race issue it also depends on the state in which the voter resides. A Clinton Democrat in New York reported that during the early primary season even African American women in New York viewed Hilary Clinton quite favorably compared to Obama. And some young black Americans even remarked that Obama is not really black. But those people have now solidly moved to Obama's side. Even Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, an important Republican, now endorses Mr. Obama.

Burmese voters in New York, with Hillary Clinton as their senator, like to argue that eight years ago the U.S. was enjoying a fiscal surplus unlike the present devastating fiscal disaster. But Burmese voters in New York also remember Republican leaders like First Lady Laura Bush and John Bolton speaking up for them at the United Nations and only wish that Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer from New York would do the same. They also worry that the soft approach of Mr. Obama might not work well when up against the Burmese military junta, while concerned that an Obama administration may de-prioritize the issue of Burma altogether.

With the presidential contest expected to become tighter as Election Day approaches, Burmese voters will have to start making up their mind in places like Indiana. It will be interesting to see if they vote for the winner or if they vote for the one they feel the most loyalty to; for loyalty means a lot to Burmese voters. However, ironically, Obama can only prove to the Burmese voters that he is the right candidate for them by getting elected and doing the things that he so eloquently proposes during his campaign.

Will voters, including Burmese, give him a chance to prove himself? It is a good question.

(The writer, Myat Soe is the Research Director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma and May Ng is the New York regional director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma)



Summary

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Monday, October 20, 2008

A concert to raise funds for the Cyclone victims




Dear all.

Please help support the students who have put together a concert to raise funds for the Cyclone victims.The proceeds will be donated to Sitagu Sayardaw and World Vision. Its on Sun November 16 at 3pm to 7pm at UCLA. Please pass along to friends that might be interested. The tickets are $25 and $50. Your support will be greatly appreciated.



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Saturday, October 18, 2008

HOSPITAL ADMISSION WAS REFUSED FOR SR.GEN.THAN SHWE


ေဒါင္းမာန္ဟုန္

It was arranged to get medical treatment in Singapore for Sr.Gen.Than Shwe intestine cancer as Burmese Military doctors were not trusted. So many demands for security arrangement were asked by Burmese Authority that responsible party in Singapore finally frustrated. Sr.Gen.Than Shwe tries to persuade Singapore Government to invite him for State visit through Ministry of Foreign Affair but turn down by Singapore Government. One more shameful thing is that Sr.Gen.Than Shwe team ask for recovering guarantee from Singapore hospital and finally Singapore side advise them to get better and sure treatment in UK. It is a relief for Singapore hospital that they can finally sort out the problem by stupidity of patient own fault. Sr.Gen.Than Shwe medical treatment is presently postpone as they found nowhere to go. All was learnt from Sr.Gen.Than Shwe’s inner circle grapevine.

(It was said among them in Nay-Pyi-Taw inner circle that Sr.Gen.Than Shwe is seeking for another suitable country to accept him and give him a medical treatment. Probably China, Thailand or any other if not accepted in Singapore.)


စကၤာပူမွာေဆးကုသခြင့္ျငင္းပယ္ခံလိုက္ရတဲ့၊ ျမန္မာစစ္အာဏာရွင္၊ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴးၾကီးသန္းေရႊ

ၿမန္မာစစ္ဆရာ၀န္ေတြကိုအယံုအၾကည္မရွိဆိုတဲ့အေၾကာင္းျပခ်က္နဲ ႔အူကင္ဆာေရာဂါျဖစ္ေနတဲ့ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴး ၾကီးသန္းေရႊဟာ စကၤာပူႏိုင္ငံမွာေဆးရံုတက္ကုသရန္စီစဥ္ေဆာင္ရြက္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။

သူ႔ရဲ႕လံုျခံဳေရးအတြက္ေဆးရံုတက္စဥ္ သူေနထိုင္မဲ့အခန္းရွိအထပ္တခုလံုးအား စကၤာပူမွလံုျခံဳေရး တာ၀န္ယူ ေပးရန္ႏွင့္စကၤာပူအစိုးရ၏ဧည့္သည္ေတာ္အျဖစ္ဖိတ္ၾကားေပးရန္ ႏိုင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ၾကီးဌာနမွစကၤာပူအစိုးရထံ တင္ျပေတာင္းခံခဲ့ေၾကာင္းၾကားသိရပါတယ္။ဒီလိုေတာင္းဆိုခ်က္ေတြထဲက၊စကၤာပူအစိုးရဘက္ကသည္းမခံႏုိင္ တဲ့ေတာင္းဆိုခ်က္ကေတာ့ သူ႔ရဲ႕ေရာဂါေပ်ာက္ကင္းမွဳကို ေဆးရုံမွအာမခံရမယ္ဆိုတဲ့အခ်က္ပါဘဲ။

ဒီလိုမျဖစ္ႏိုင္တဲ့ေတာင္းဆိုမွဳေတြကိုသည္းမခံနိဳင္တဲ့အဆံုးမွာေတာ့့စကၤာပူတာ၀န္ရွိပုဂၢိဳလ္မ်ားမွ၊“ဒီလိုေရာဂါမ်ိဳးဟာ၊စကၤာပူထက္၊ UK ႏိုင္ငံမွာ ကုသတာဟာ၊ပိုမိုသင့္ေလွ်ာ္ျပီး၊အာမခံခ်က္ပိုရွိလို႔၊အဲဒီကိုဘဲသြားရန္အၾကံျပဳပါ တယ္။“ဆိုတဲ့အေၾကာင္းျပခ်က္နဲ႔ ျငင္းပယ္ခံရတာေၾကာင့္စကၤာပူခရီးစဥ္ကိုဖ်က္သိမ္းလိုက္ရတာလို႔ေနျပည္ ေတာ္စစ္ရုံးခ်ဳပ္အသိုင္းအ၀ိုင္းမွ သတင္းမ်ားထြက္ေပၚလွ်က္ရွိပါတယ္။

(ထိုင္းႏွင့္တရုတ္ႏိုင္ငံ၊တေနရာရာမွာ၊ေဆးကုသခြင့္အတြက္၊ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံရွိသံရံုးမ်ားမွတဆင့္စီစဥ္ေဆာင္ရြက္ေနတယ္လို႔ယံုၾကည္ယူဆရပါတယ္။)

သူရဲေကာင္း။
Reported by Thu Ye Kaung





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သီတင္းကြ်တ္လၿပည္႔ေန႔မွာအေမအုိသုိ႔လြမ္းဆြတ္
တမ္းတစြာၿဖင္႔ရွိခုိးဦးခ်ဂါရ၀ၿပဳပါသည္။



အေမအုိသုိ႔ကန္ေတာ႔ၿခင္း

အေမရုပ္ရည္ အၿမဲလွေနပါေစ။
အေမက်န္းက်န္းမာမာ ရွိပါေစ။
အေမကုသုိလ္ဒါနၿပဳႏုိင္ပါေစ။
အေမစိတ္ခ်မ္းခ်မ္းသာသာအသက္ရာေက်ာ္ရွည္ပါေစ။
အေမကုိကူညီၾကည္႔ရွဳ႕ေစာင္႔မသူေပၚမ်ားပါေစ။
အေမအက်ဥ္းက်ေနမႈေအာက္မွအၿမန္လြတ္ေၿမာက္ႏုိင္ပါေစ။
ဒီဘ၀အေမႏွင္႔တေန႔တခ်ိန္မွာေပ်ာ္ေပ်ာ္ရြင္ရြင္
ၿပန္လည္ဆုံဆည္းၿပီးေက်ဇူးဆပ္ခြင္႔ၿပဳႏုိင္ပါေစ။
အေမဆီကုိယ္တုိင္ကုိယ္ေရာက္လာေရာက္ဂါရ၀မၿပဳလုပ္ႏုိင္ေသာ္လည္း
အေ၀းတေနရာမွသားဆုေတာင္းေမတၱာပုိ႔သမႈကုိ
အေမၾကားသိႏုိင္ပါေစ။

(အေ၀းေရာက္သားငယ္)

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Aid groups blast ASEAN-led report on Myanmar relief effort


JAKARTA (AFP) – A coalition of humanitarian groups heavily criticised Thursday a report on Myanmar's cyclone disaster, saying it glossed over the junta's obstruction of aid and human rights abuses.

The Burma Partnership, which represents 19 aid organisations, released an "alternative" report to provide what it said was a more accurate picture of the response to Cyclone Nargis, which left 138,000 people dead or missing in May.

"When we studied the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment report prepared by the UN, ASEAN and the Burmese regime, we realised that it failed to describe the obstruction of aid and human rights abuses committed by the military regime in the areas affected by the cyclone," Khin Ohmar of the Burma Partnership told a press conference.

"As independent civil society organisations, we felt the need to tell the other side of the post-Nargis story."

The generals ruling Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, drew international outrage by refusing to allow a foreign-led aid response in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

But they dropped their resistance after coaxing from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chief Surin Pitsuwan.

The official joint report was released to much fanfare at an ASEAN conference in Singapore in July.

But Ohmar said it failed to highlight issues such as blocking and misappropriation of aid and substandard treatment of survivors at relief camps.

It omitted cases of human rights violations such as orphans turned into child soldiers, survivors forced to do reconstruction work and farm land confiscated by the military regime, she said.

The coalition's recommendations include an independent system to monitor aid distribution and for all relief agencies to make public their activities.

"We hope international governments will consider using the new report to ensure funding reaches people who need the most help and that the recovery process will be implemented with the most transparency and accountability," Ohmar said.

Thai MP and coalition member Kraisak Choonhavan criticised Surin for failing to meet the organisers to discuss the alternative report.

He said he felt "let down" by Surin's late cancellation of a meeting in Jakarta, home to the ASEAN secretariat.

"They did not give any reason for cancelling. I feel let down and it makes it necessary for us to be more vocal. I am very disappointed," he said.





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World Financial Crisis's Effect on Burma







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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mizzima : Rising Star Media

မိဇၥ်ိမ လြတ္လပ္ေသာသတင္းဌာန (သုိ႔) လင္းလက္ေတာက္ပေနေသာ ၿပည္သူ႔ ဒီမုိကေရစီ အလင္းအိမ္

မိဇၥ်ိမ လြတ္လပ္ေသာသတင္းဌာနဟာ ၿမန္မာမီဒီယာေတြမွာ လင္းလက္ေတာက္ပေနေသာၾကယ္တပြင္႔ အၿဖစ္ ကြ်န္ေတာ္တုိ႔ အသိအမွတ္ၿပဳပါတယ္။ ၁၀ ႏွစ္လုံးလုံး စိမ္ေခၚမႈေတြၾကား၊ အတုိက္အခုိက္ခံရမႈေတြၾကားမွာ ရြတ္ရြတ္ခ်ြံ ခ်ြံ ၾကံ႕ ၾကံ႕ခုိင္ကာ ခုခံယင္း၊ ၿမန္မာၿပည္သူေတြ ဒီမုိကေရစီ ရရွိေရးအတြက္ တက္စြမ္းသမွ် အလင္းေရာင္မွ်ေ၀ေပးေနတဲ႔ မိဇၥ်ိမ လြတ္လပ္ေသာသတင္းဌာန၏ ၁၀ႏွစ္ေၿမာက္ ေမြးေန႔၌ မိဇၥ်ိမအဖြဲ႔သားမ်ားအားလုံးကုိ အထူးေလးစားဂုဏ္ယူအသိအမွတ္ၿပဳပါေၾကာင္း၊ ႏွင္႔ေအာင္ၿမင္ေသာ လြတ္လပ္ေသာသတင္းဌာနတခုအၿဖစ္ ဆက္လက္ ရပ္တည္ႏုိင္ဖုိ႔ ဆုမြန္ေကာင္းေတာင္းပါေၾကာင္း။

( Justice for Human Rights in Burma)



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