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Posts Tagged ‘White House

Obama – the first 100 hours

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Obama – the first 100 hours

At 4pm today, Barack Obama will have been president for 100 hours. From ordering the closure of Guantánamo Bay to approving missile strikes, we take a look at the first 100 things he did in office

Oliver Burkeman and Ed Pilkington
The Guardian, Saturday 24 January 2009
Article history

1 Said: “So help me God.” The phrase is not required by the constitution, so it’s arguable that he, Barack Obama, was president by the time he said it, making these his first words in office.

2 Delivered a 17-minute inauguration address, telling the crowds it was time to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America”.

3 Invoked biggest cheer of the day from the 2 million-plus crowd with the words: “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many … But know this, America – they will be met.”

4 Then the words: “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” George Bush, sitting to his left, looks decidedly uncomfortable.

5 With his wife, Michelle, escorted George and Laura Bush to the waiting helicopter, where the two men hugged before the former president began his journey home to Texas.

6 As the helicopter disappeared into clear skies, Obama now had Washington, and the United States, all to himself. His relief was palpable.

7 Inside the Capitol building, signed his first documents as president, including cabinet nominations.

8 “I’m a lefty. Get used to it,” he said, as he signed. Obama is the fourth southpaw, or left-handed, president out of the past five (Dubya is right-handed).

9 Signed a proclamation declaring 20 January 2009 a national day of renewal and reconciliation.

10 Completed the signing session, looking wistfully at the object in his left hand. “I was told not to swipe the pen,” he said.

11 Attended a lunch with congressional leaders, where he dined on a menu from Lincoln’s day: pheasant, duck and apple cake served on replica Lincoln White House china.

12 Addressed the assembled crowd, minus Ted Kennedy, who was removed on a stretcher with medical difficulties.

13 Entered his limousine, nicknamed The Beast, to begin the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to his new home at number 1600.

14 The armour-plated Beast has tinted windows, but through them Obama could be seen clearly practising his military salute.

15 Walked two stretches of the 1.7-mile route, waving at the crowds lining the street.

16 Briefly entered the White House with his family – the Obamas’ first moments in their new home.

17 As he entered the North Porticoe into the central entrance, he passed a portrait of the elder George Bush on his left and Bill Clinton on the right. Straight ahead of him, above the door to the Blue Room, was the seal of the US president. His seal.

18 Took his position in the reviewing stand outside the White House, to watch 40 bands and other groups parade past, including the World Famous Lawn Rangers from Illinois, who pushed decorated lawn mowers.

19 Tried out that salute, as cadets marched by. Not bad, though he needs to keep his hand straight.

20 Instructed military prosecutors to seek a 120-day halt to legal proceedings involving detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

21 Issued an order instructing government agencies to halt all pending regulations signed by Bush – a way of combating efforts by the outgoing administration to force through last-minute changes without congressional approval.

22 Danced with Michelle to Beyonce’s rendition of At Last, by Etta James, as the opening dance of the Neighbourhood Ball.

23 Appeared to step on the train of Michelle’s custom-designed gown by Jason Wu, but otherwise showed himself to be a decent dancer.

24 Gave a brief interview to ABC News, whose reporter said: “Mr President – sounds good, doesn’t it?” “It’s got a certain ring to it,” he replied.

25 Danced and spoke again at the Home State Ball, for Illinois and Hawaii.

26 A quick transfer to the Commander-in-Chief ball, with many military attendees, and a satellite link to war zones. Obama danced with Army Sergeant Margaret Herrera of Texas, who burst into tears.

27 Visited the Youth Ball, for people aged between 18 and 35.

28 Visited the Home State Ball for Delaware and Pennsylvania, in honour of Joe Biden, his vice-president.

29 Briefly visited the Mid-Atlantic Ball.

30 … And the Western Ball …

31 … And the Midwestern Ball …

32 … And the Southern Ball …

33 … And the Eastern Ball. The couple looked increasingly exhausted as the evening progressed, and sped up their appearances, ending the night ahead of schedule.

34 Back to White House at 12.55am to spend his first night there.

35 The Obamas slept in the master bedroom in the private residence on the first floor of the White House. Their daughters, Malia and Sasha, who were treated to a treasure hunt by White House staff on their first evening culminating with a surprise visit by their favourite music act the Jonas Brothers, slept in bedrooms over the corridor once occupied by Amy Carter, Tricia Nixon, Luci Johnson and Caroline Kennedy.

36 Four hours of sleep and he was up and at it on his first full day. Lights were reported in the private residence at 5am.

37 Obama probably squeezed in a visit to the exercise room on the second floor. He has daily 45-minute gym sessions.

38 Spent his first 10 minutes alone in the Oval Office.

39 Got to sit for the first time behind the Resolute desk, a gift from Queen Victoria to America in 1880.

40 Read the letter that Bush had left for him, according to tradition, in the top drawer of the desk, marked: “To #44, From #43”. Its contents have not been revealed.

41 Discussed the day’s events with his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. It’s their first Oval Office meeting.

42 Posed for pictures taken by his personal White House photographer of him and Emanuel in deep discussion. Press photographers later expressed their anger that they weren’t invited to capture the moment.

43 Briefly spoke with his wife, Michelle, in the Oval Office.

44 Attended morning-after post-inauguration service with his family, the Bidens, and the Clintons, at the Washington National Cathedral.

45 Laughed when Rev Samuel Lloyd proclaimed: “This is their first full day on the job and the best way we can imagine to begin is by praying for them.”

46 Listened, with head bowed, to the first sermon at a president’s inaugural church service delivered by Rev Sharon Watkins.

47 Telephoned the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas – according to Abbas’s spokesman, the call was Obama’s first to a foreign leader.

48 Phoned the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

49 Phoned King Abdullah of Jordan.

50 Phoned Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak. The Middle Eastern calls, Obama’s press spokesman said, were intended “to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term”.

51 Issued executive order limiting the powers of former presidents and vice-presidents to block the release of sensitive records of their time in the White House. It would allow the administration to approve release of former vice-president Dick Cheney’s records, among others, against his objections.

52 Issued instruction to government agencies to be more responsive to freedom of information requests.

53 Announced a tightening of rules on ex-lobbyists working in government.

54 Announced a pay freeze for his staff earning $100,000 (£73,000) or more. “Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington,” he said.

55 Witnessed the swearing-in of about 50 senior members of White House staff.

56 Told his top team that “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency”.

57 Biden made a joke about Chief Justice Roberts’s flubbing of the presidential oath as he prepared to lead the swearing in. Obama did not look amused. Was this one transparency too far?

58 Personally greeted each of the newly sworn-in staff.

59 Obama hosted an “open house” in the White House for 200 people who had been granted tickets on a first-come, first-served basis; some were in tears.

60 “Welcome, enjoy yourself,” the president told one young man. “Roam around. Don’t break anything.”

61 Met the joint chiefs of staff and other members of his national security team to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan. His first chance to check out the wizardry in the Situation Room, with its screens receiving satellite images from around the world and its banks of incoming top-secret messages.

62 Met economic advisors to discuss his stimulus package, which could be worth $900bn.

63 Re-swore the oath of office in the White House Map Room out of an “abundance of caution”. Or alternatively as a way of killing off the storm of right-wing agitprop that has been tearing through the internet suggesting that the first botched attempt at the oath means Obama is not rightfully president.

64 This time they got it right. Roberts asked “Are you ready to take the oath?” Obama replied: “I am, and we’re going to do it very slowly.”

65 “We decided it was so much fun.” Obama joked to reporters after the event. “The bad news … is there’s 12 more balls.”

66 Ate dinner with his family at the White House on Wednesday evening in the private dining room on the first floor.

67 Was waited upon by the 95-strong White House staff. Barack and Michelle will not have to make their own bed for as long as they are in the mansion, though Malia and Sasha will, at their mother’s insistence.

68 Gave a speech at a Wednesday night Thank You Ball for campaign workers at the Washington DC Armoury. “You guys dress a lot sharper than you did in Iowa!” he told the crowd.

69 Walked up and down the rope line shaking campaign workers’ hands – officially, the final act of the inauguration celebrations.

70 On Thursday morning, said goodbye to his daughters, Sasha and Malia, who were returning to Washington’s Sidwell Friends school after two days off for the inauguration.

71 Back to the gym for likely work-out.

72 Absorbed the news that the specially commissioned piece of music by John Williams played “live” at his inauguration by a quartet of world-class musicians had in fact been recorded two days’ previously.

73 Released statement on the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade supreme court judgment, reaffirming his commitment to protecting abortion rights.

74 To applause, signed executive order requiring the closure of the military prison at Guantánamo within one year.

75 Obama said: “The message we are sending around the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism … and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals.” Was Bush watching on TV at home in Dallas cringing?

76 Signed second executive order requiring the closure of the CIA’s network of secret overseas prisons, and making a commitment to not using torture in interrogations.

77 Signed third executive order establishing an interagency taskforce on detainees, including Hillary Clinton and the defence secretary, Robert Gates, to decide what to do with the remaining Guantánamo inmates.

78 Signed directive to delay proceedings in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, currently awaiting a hearing at the supreme court, so that the president’s team can review it. Marri is accused of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

79 Visited the state department, where Clinton had earlier made an introductory address to staff.

80 Watched, with impassive face, as Clinton said that she had appointed two special envoys to world trouble zones. The appointments had previously been billed as Obama’s own. Was this a taste of rivalry to come?

81 Endured second gaffe by his vice-president in a week. Biden stepped into the tension between Obama and Clinton, saying at first that the president would announce the envoys and then hurriedly saying Clinton would present them.

82 Clinton got to name George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader and Irish peace negotiator, as special envoy to the Middle East peace process. Obama later claimed him as his envoy. Who is in charge here?

83 Clinton named the former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke as special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama later names him as his envoy. Bully to you, secretary of state!

84 Called on Hamas to end its rocket fire into Israel, and for Israel to “complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza”, adding that Gaza’s borders should be opened to humanitarian aid.

85 Paid brief surprise visit to the White House press area, startling journalists. “Good to see you guys. I just wanted to make sure that I had a chance to say hello,” he said. “I gotta say, it’s smaller than I thought.”

86 Observing that CNN and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News had adjacent booths, he likened them to the goal for Israel and the Palestinians: “Living side by side in peace and security,” he noted.

87 Slight tetchiness entered the proceedings when a reporter asked a serious question about his nomination of a former lobbyist as number two at the Pentagon. “I can’t come in and shake hands if I’m gonna get grilled every time,” Obama said.

88 Said that he had won his fight to keep a Blackberry. The president will be given a $3,000 special version with encryption to secure his email exchanges with a very limited number of vetted correspondents.

89 Convened meeting with congressional leaders on the economic crisis.

90 Invited Republican leaders into the White House to air their discontent over the bail-out package. He is proving himself to be adept in defusing potential enemies.

91 Sat in on the daily briefing of the National Security Council giving updates on threats around the world.

92 Approves first American missile strikes under his presidency on tribal areas of Pakistan.

93 Started the first of what will now be a new daily series of briefings on the economy led by Larry Summers.

94 Budget meeting. With projections of an annual deficit of more than $1tr this year, there was plenty to talk about.

95 Rounded off a gruelling first three days with a meeting in the Oval Office with Timothy Geithner, his nominee for treasury secretary who is still embroiled in a drawn-out confirmation process in the Senate.

96 The Obamas had a choice of possible entertainments to round off their week. The choicest of all, most past presidents agree, is the private theatre, where they can watch Hollywood films before they are put on general release.

97 Back to the gym. There is no way Obama would miss his work-out on a Saturday.

98 Finally, a chance to take in the White House and its grounds at a slightly more relaxed tempo. The Obamas have said they will continue to spend weekends in their Chicago home, but this weekend is likely to be a time for acclimatising in their new residence.

99 Obama may take the opportunity to test out the White House basketball court. The court has been modified to put up two nets, allowing for a full game.

100 Obama retreats to his office on the first floor, puts his feet up on the desk, leans back and goes to light one of the cigarettes he has been struggling to give up. But alas smoking is banned in the White House.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

January 24, 2009 at 1:29 am

World focus on Burma (19 December 2008)


Japan to accept 30 Burmese refugees, India –
“They are about 30 Burmese refugees from the Thai-Myanmar [Burma] border. The government is still discussing details on how it will handle the programme and …

ACT Situation Report: Myanmar emergency response operation 19 Dec 2008
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Cyclone Nargis, with wind speeds of 190 km/hr, heavy rain and its associated sea surge, devastated major parts of Myanmar (Burma) causing extensive damage …

Burma likely to announce ‘Election Law’ on Independence Day, India –
Aye Lwin, leader of the 88 generation students (Union of Myanmar), a group backed by the junta, during an interview with Mizzima said it would be wiser for …

Burmese Journalist Looks Back at a 20-Year Struggle
Mindanao Examiner, Philippines –
When the National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landslide, the SLORC declared the elections void.

Post-Nargis periodic review I
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
On 2 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck the coast of Myanmar. Over two days, the Cyclone moved across the Ayeyarwady Delta and southern Yangon Division …

EU to give €40.5 million in humanitarian aid to Burma, India –
by Solomon New Delhi (Mizzima) – The European Commission on Thursday said it will give another €40.5 million (US$ 58 million) of aid to Burma, …

A Wish for the Year 2009
American Muslim, MO –
The Junta in Burma (Myanmar) perseveres in its horrible record of oppression. The world focused on it for a few weeks, then moved on. …

EU Donates More Funds to Aid Burmese
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
“The objective of our activities in Myanmar [Burma] is solely humanitarian,” said Michel in the press statement. Michel said his agency worked well with the …

Letters Land Prisoners’ Relatives, Guards in Jail
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
He was sentenced in November to 65 years imprisonment, which he is currently serving at Mergui Prison in southern Burma’s Tenasserim Division. …

NCGUB marks 18th anniversary
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
… Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, Dr Sein Win, expressed his disappointment yesterday in the lack of progress towards democracy in Burma. …

Weekly Business Roundup (December 19, 2008)
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By WILLIAM BOOT A multimillion dollar boost to telecommunications between northeast India and Burma will be completed by next March, according to media …

Where Children Count the Years Before They Rejoin Their Mothers
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
In Burma’s case, the regime is not only condemning human rights activists to outrageous terms of imprisonment but also punishing members of their families …

Brief Introduction – Yunnan
Alibaba News Channel, NEW YORK –

To expand the burgeoning trade with Burma and India, Emperor Wu also sent Tang Meng (唐蒙) to maintain and expand the Five Foot Way, renaming it “Southwest …

Prospective foreign minister will rebuild good relations
Thai News Agency MCOT, Thailand –
Mr. Kasit, a former career diplomat, said he will quickly revive and strengthen diplomatic relationships with Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia. …

MYANMAR: More cyclone relief needed – report, NY –
Comprising three members each from the Myanmar government, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN, the TCG seeks to facilitate …

Will ASEAN’s charter cure Burma’s ills?, India –
… including Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. However, ASEAN has often been ridiculed for apparently turning a blind eye to the Burmese regime’s …

Thai Heroin Smuggling Was For Money, Croatia –

Until the 1990s, Thailand was once a major supplier of heroin from the Golden Triangle, the mountainous and relatively lawless region where it meets Myanmar …

Nine years in prison for attempting to smuggle out letter, India –
He was then transferred to the Mergui (Myeik) prison in Tenassarim (Tanintharyi) Division of southern Burma from Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

Designated Thai foreign minister pledges ethical approach
Earthtimes (press release), UK –
Investigators, appointed by a military junta that overthrew Thaksin in a September 2006 coup, said he had arranged soft state loans to Myanmar on condition …

Pushing Mugabe
Windsor Star,  Canada –
When people in countries like Zimbabwe or Burma stand and fight, they often have lawyers standing beside them. And the remarkable thing is that often, …

Myanmar holds referendum amid cyclone chaos
MSN India, India –
Burma is the old name for Myanmar and is preferred by its pro-democracy movement. The groups urged people to mark their ballots with X, which has become a …

2010 game plan: Clinging to power (Burma)
Himal Southasian, Nepal –
They will do their best to marginalize the ‘National League for Democracy’ (NLD) including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy forces in this …

Myanmar to receive humanitarian aid from EU
New Straits Times, Malaysia –
The European Commission (EC) has decided to provide an additional 40.5 million EUR (US$56.7 million) in humanitarian aid to Myanmar, hard hit by Cyclone …

Laura Bush surprised how far voice carried
USA Today –
… an outspoken supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi, a writer and pro-democracy leader under house arrest by the military junta in Burma, also known as Myanmar. …

Family members relieved at Suresh’s acquittal
Express Buzz, India –
… Guruvayoor temple, to be welcomed with the news of their son’s acquittal in the murder case of social activist and advocate Vasantha from Burma. …

Disaster and hope
World Magazine, NC –
… in the winds and floods created by Nargis, a severe cyclone that became the worst natural disaster in the history of Burma, known now as Myanmar. …

ANALYSIS: Burma’s nuclear temptation —Bertil Lintner
Daily Times, Pakistan –
At a press conference in Rangoon on January 21, 2002, Vice-Chief of Military Intelligence Major-General Kyaw Win issued a statement: “Myanmar’s …

‘They Told Me Not to Come Anymore’
Radio Free Asia, DC –
The wife of a jailed activist in Burma talks about her husband’s brutal mistreatment at the hands of his captors. Security officials stay alert as people …

President and Mrs. Bush Host Reception in Honor of the United … (press release), DC –
And the advancement of women’s rights in Afghanistan or freedom in Burma are noble causes that are essential to the peace of the world. …

Insurers hit by hurricanes and financial crisis
Times Online, UK –
In total, catastrophes cost more than 238000 lives globally in 2008, 138400 of them as a result of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. The wind storm registered top …

Burmese Lawyer Flees, Speaks Out
Radio Free Asia, DC –
The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Myint Aye had funded the bombing and Zaw Zaw Aung and Yan Shwe carried it out. …

The tragedy of Greek apathy, UK –
… pro-democracy marches in Burma in 1988, and more demonstrations – this time against the Islamic Republic that succeeded the Shah – in Tehran in 1998. …

Laura Bush speaks out on shoe-throwing incident
USA Today –
A month before returning to private life, Bush said she will continue her public advocacy of women’s rights in Afghanistan and democracy for Burma. …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 19, 2008 at 2:09 am

Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, 2008

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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 9, 2008

Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, 2008
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

The United States was founded on the principle that government must respect people’s rights to speak freely, worship as they choose, and pursue their dreams in liberty. As we remember the enduring importance of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, our thoughts turn to those who have yet to secure these precious liberties. During Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, Americans celebrate the rights bestowed upon all by our Creator and reaffirm our deep commitment to helping those whose desire for liberty and justice is still dismissed and denied.

In a free society, every person is treated with dignity and can rise as high as their talents and hard work will take them. Yet in countries like Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe, fervent pleas for freedom are silenced by tyranny and oppression. So long as there are people who fight for liberty, the United States will stand with them and speak out for those who have no other voice.

Freedom is the eternal birthright of all mankind, and during Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, we renew our commitment to lead the cause of human rights and pray for the day when the light of liberty will shine on all of humanity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 10, 2008, as Human Rights Day; December 15, 2008, as Bill of Rights Day; and the week beginning December 10, 2008, as Human Rights Week. I call upon the people of the United States to mark these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


# # #

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 10, 2008 at 11:23 am

World focus on Burma (19 November 2008)

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Three Activists Jailed as Crackdown Continues
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… Sanchaung Township in a continuing crackdown by the regime on dissidents. Dee Nyein Lin, a leading member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, …

Global Financial Crisis Hits Burmese Markets
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
A Rangoon-based economist told The Irrawaddy that he could not say whether Burma would be affected by the crisis, because the Burmese regime does not …

Garment workers hit hard by global economic turmoil, India –
A senior staff member from the Myanmar People’s Garment Factory in Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone (2), from which previously male shirts were manufactured …

International Student Day
Harare Tribune, Zimbabwe –
… being killed and 1200 being sent to concentration camps by the fascist Czechoslovakia regime. We salute the students from Burma who have been sentenced …

Police Chief Khin Yee promoted to Deputy Home Minister, India –
by Mizzima News In yet another changing of the guard, Burma’s military rulers on Wednesday appointed Police Chief, Brigadier General Khin Yi , to the post …

Reading Than Shwe’s Disturbed Mind
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
But they may be just the beginning of a large-scale crackdown in Burma as junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe silences his critics by putting them behind bars in …

We mustn’t participate in ‘criminal follies’
Guelph Mercury, Canada –
He re-enlisted in the Second World War and directed the Royal Army Medical Corps hospital system on the Burma front. My two older brothers and I also …

Bernama, Malaysia –
“Burma (Myanmar) is already a red stain on Asean’s name, and its increasing instability is spilling over. “Asean needs to take significant measures to …

GOP retains Senate leader
Louisville Courier-Journal, KY –
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who has worked with McConnell on issues such as putting economic pressure on the military junta in Burma, …

China to build Myanmar oil, gas pipelines -report
Forbes, NY –
Few Western companies will invest in the former Burma because of its poor human rights record and continued detention of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San …

Ed Young Ministries Weekly Devotional, VA –
… deterioration” of human rights in Burma in person, following the military junta’s recent imprisonment of more than 80 pro-democracy activists. …

Foodie Freak: Considering genetically modified foods
Truth about Trade & Technology, IA –
Relief efforts to Burma/Myanmar after last year’s typhoon demonstrates this vividly: We had the food to give the starving people but their own government …

Obama finally returns call of Arroyo
Manila Standard Today, Philippines –
… poverty reduction, the future of the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations], human rights in Burma and defense reform,” Mrs. Arroyo said. …

Maritime Talks End without Progress
Narinjara News, Bangladesh –
Two-day long talks on the maritime dispute between Burma and Bangladesh ended yesterday without any progress on the issue, stated a report. …

International Student Day
Harare Tribune, Zimbabwe –
… being killed and 1200 being sent to concentration camps by the fascist Czechoslovakia regime. We salute the students from Burma who have been sentenced …

Myanmar ‘disperses’ dissidents
Straits Times, Singapore –

YANGON: Myanmar’s junta has sent dozens of political prisoners, recently sentenced to up to 65 years in jail, to far-flung corners of its country. …

Myanmar courts imprison ethnic minority activists (Pressemitteilung), Austria –
AP YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced three ethnic minority activists and a well-known Buddhist monk to prison, …

Burma Sentences 5 More Activists
Voice of America –

Burma’s courts have sentenced at least 86 other pro-democracy activists to lengthy prison terms in recent weeks. The United Nations human rights envoy to …

White House: Statement by the Press Secretary on Burma on 17 …
ISRIA (subscription), DC –
In the last few days in Burma, Than Shwe’s brutal regime arbitrarily sentenced additional pro-democracy activists to harsh prison terms. …

Illinois CPA Society Names 2008 ‘Women to Watch’
MarketWatch –
… for Burmese refugees arriving into the Chicago area, and co-chaired a relief effort that has raised over $45000 for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. …

ECONOMY: Don’t Bank On Them
Inter Press Service, Italy –
Netwerk Vlaanderen, the Flemish human rights organisation which set up the website, has used four main criteria to assess projects that banks finance: if …

Burma Crackdown on Prominent Monks and Activists Continues; More …
OpEdNews, PA –By Ashin Mettacara

A prominent monk *Ashin Gambira* was condemned to 12 years prison. But his case is not closed yet. …

Myanmar: Aid agency helps 100000 Burmese children return to school
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland – by Solomon Tuesday, 18 November 2008, New Delhi —
The international aid agency Save the Children claims they have assisted at least 100000 Burmese children …

12 years for ‘Saffron Revolution’ monk
Independent, UK –
A Buddhist monk who helped organise last year’s “Saffron Revolution” against the Burmese junta has been sentenced to a dozen years in jail by a secret court …

Myanmar: UN rights experts demand new fair trials for jailed …
UN News Centre –
18 November 2008 – Five independent United Nations experts on human rights today demanded that authorities in Myanmar hold fair and open re-trials for …

Ban urged to forge ahead with Burma visit, India –
CSW called for the visit of the UN Secretary General to the Southeast Asian nation despite the Burmese regime recently meting out a spate of harsh sentences …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

November 19, 2008 at 2:32 am

World focus on Burma (18 November 2008)

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Rights Group Urges Ban Ki-moon to Visit Burma
Christian Post –
Protesters from Myanmar’s National League for Democracy shout slogans at a rally calling for immediate release of their pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu …

Global Insights: World’s Arms Trade Surging, but for How Long?
World Politics Review –
Some critics have questioned whether Beijing is fulfilling its pledge to adhere to the export rules of the Missile Technology Control Regime that govern …

Thaksin issues ultimatum through divorce tactic
เดอะ เนชั่น, Thailand –
Imagine Aung San Suu Kyi entering a Burmese Embassy somewhere overseas, two weeks after being convicted of fraud and five days after addressing a …

UN experts condemn Myanmar jailings
Earthtimes (press release), UK –
The group of UN experts, which include Tomas Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteurs on human rights in Myanmar, criticized the arbitrary detention of …

Commentary: Burma’s women come out of the shadows
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
It is clear that while all Burmese citizens are exploited by the military regime, women are doubly abused. Around the world, in countries under military …

Stitching together a life (Feature), India –
But, with the imposition of extensive sanctions stemming from 2003’s Burma Freedom and Democracy Act, exports to the United States were nonexistent by 2005. …

Race offence against truth
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia –
An African immigrants’ group lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commissioner, accusing Andrews of racial discrimination, and he was pilloried on the …

New Generation activists jailed
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Aung Zaw Oo of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters network was transferred to Bago prison while network member Win Maw was transferred to Taung Ngu …

Prominent Monk, Others Receive Lengthy Prison Sentences
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

The subsequent crackdown by the military claimed at least 31 lives, according to human rights groups, while thousands of monks and civilians were arrested …

NLD MP Dr. Hla Aung passes away, India –
According to the National Coalition Government of Union of Burma (NCGUB) and the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), 34 NLD MPs-elect …

Burma-Bangladesh Maritime Talks Fail
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
“Myanmar[Burma] proposed a corridor in the Bay, and we have rejected it since we feel that equity should be the guiding method to settle the issue under the …

Jane’s Enfants D’Hiver…, UK –
… ‘Fictions’ – although the song ‘Aung San Suu Kyii’ gives it a particular edge with Jane singing about the rightful Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, …

UN rights experts condemn Myanmar activist trials
Reuters India, India –
GENEVA (Reuters) – Democracy activists in Myanmar jailed for long terms after unfair trials should be retried in open hearings, United Nations investigators …

Paving the Road to Hell
In These Times, IL –
Rabies is also metaphorical in Burma, renamed Myanmar by the mad-dog junta, formerly known by the deliciously sinister acronym SLORC. …

Rights experts adamant that reform must predate 2010 elections, India –
“The UN experts strongly urge the Myanmar [Burma] authorities to cease harassing and arresting individuals for peacefully exercising their internationally …

Global Financial Crisis Hits Burmese Jade Trade
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

Sales of jade are Burma’s third highest source of foreign income, earning an estimated $300 million in revenue for the military junta.

UN Condemns Myanmar Over 65-Year Jail Terms For Dissident, France –
GENEVA (AFP)–Five UN human rights experts Tuesday condemned Myanmar for imposing prison sentences of up to 65 years on democracy activists who joined …

Activist Than Nyein Undergoes Surgery
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… an attempt to hold a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD youth members in Mayangone Township in Rangoon. “When I became involved in Burmese politics, …

CSW urges UN Secretary General to prioritise human rights in Burma
ChristianToday, UK –
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to press ahead with his planned visit to Burma next month, …

The paper clip, 18 November
European Voice, Belgium –
Moving on to another repressive regime: Myanmar has been in the news this past week, once again for jailing opposition activists. …

Cheating in pulse and beans trade in Burma, India –
According to a trade bulletin issued by Commerce and Trade Department, the prices of all Burmese pulses and beans are falling in the Indian market. …

White House deplores recent sentencing of Burmese activists, India –
In a statement issued through President George Bush’s office, the United States decried the fact that, through the arbitrary actions of the Burmese junta, …

Gratitude: the win-win gift
The News-Press, FL –
I met pastors in Myanmar (Burma) that live on $1 a day and it cost them $400 to attend the conference. They risk being thrown in jail for talking about …

Fake drugs worth millions seized in Asia
The Age, Australia –
Nearly 200 raids were carried out in Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with the support of Interpol and the World Health …

White House Urges UN to Condemn Burma
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… anti-democratic measures of the Burmese junta. Burma’s military government has sentenced at least 86 activists since November 7, including monks and …

Jade trade in China in double jeopardy
Merinews, India –
The “blood jade” as it is called by Myanmar democracy activists and its supporters world wide seems to be taking on a jaded look what with global financial …

Bangladesh: No Progress In Bangladesh, Myanmar Border Talks
Sin Chew Jit Poh, Malaysia –
Naval ships from Bangladesh and Myanmar, also known as Burma, faced off earlier this month when a South Korean company contracted by Myanmar set up a rig to …

Myanmar disperses dissidents throughout its gulag
Reuters UK, UK –
Ko Ko Gyi and Min Ko Naing, the former Burma’s best known political prisoner after detained opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, …

White House Condemns Myanmar’s Harsh Sentencing Of Dissidents, France –
“In the last few days in Burma, Than Shwe’s brutal regime arbitrarily sentenced additional pro-democracy activists to harsh prison terms,” the White House …

Statement by the Press Secretary on Burma (press release), DC –
In the last few days in Burma, Than Shwe’s brutal regime arbitrarily sentenced additional pro-democracy activists to harsh prison terms. …

How Bush Iraq Invasion Boosted Burma’s Junta
Atlantic Free Press, Netherlands –
“American policy toward Burma has been to isolate the regime through sanctions,” Packer writes. “This policy has been pursued as a moral response to a …

Media Release: Telstra
iT News, Australia –
Telstra also announced that it would extend its assistance package for those calling family and friends affected by the recent cyclone in Burma (Myanmar). ..

A Wanted Man in Burma
Atlantic Free Press, Netherlands –
Perhaps not least among these signs is the name, “Myanmar”, which is the ruling regime’s name-change for the country that is otherwise known — particularly …

Myanmar courts imprison more democracy activists
The Associated Press –
Other activists sentenced Monday included economics student Sithu Maung and three members of the illegal All Burma Federation of Student Union. …

US condemns jailing of Myanmar activists (Pressemitteilung), Austria –
AP WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States is criticizing military-run Myanmar’s «brutal regime» for what it calls the arbitrary sentencing of dozens of …

ACLU Says Undocumented and Refugee Teens Denied Reproductive Care
Pacifica Radio Network’s Election Center 2008, CA –
For Free Speech Radio News , I am Rami Almeghari in Gaza Seven more democracy activists in Burma were sentenced to prison today in closed door trials. …

Birmania. Il viaggio dei condannati
La Pulce di Voltaire, Italy –
… were transferred from Rangoon’s Insein Prison to remote prisons around Burma on Saturday night and early Sunday morning—with more prisoners expected to …

Burma, Myanmar: At least 9 activists Sentenced Today

OpEdNews, PA – By Ashin Mettacara
At least 9 activists in Burma were sentenced today for their involement in 2007 Saffron Revolution …

Wanted for Opposing the Junta
Asian Tribune, Thailand – By Antonio Graceffo
Burma’s ruling junta, the SPDC, uses disinformation and modern technology to issues a wanted order against Antonio Graceffo. …

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 — The UN on matters of money, how it is raised and how it is spent, is either willfully out of touch or intentionally …

Journalist imprisoned for covering cyclone victims
CPJ Press Freedom Online, NY –
Cyclone Nargis devastated the Irawaddy Delta and left tens of thousands dead after it hit Burma in early May. According to The Associated Press, …

Burmese ruby ban likely to be undermined
Financial Times, UK –
… her claims is difficult, but that is the task of US customs officials following sanctions imposed by Washington on Burma and its ruling military junta. …

Jade trade in China in double jeopardy
Merinews, India –
The “blood jade” as it is called by Myanmar democracy activists and its supporters world wide seems to be taking on a jaded look what with global financial …

Dreaming Nagas’ Dream…
MorungExpress, India –
… Eastern Naga Hoho, Religious Institutions and Nagas in Myanmar (formerly Burma) combined together with experts (like young professionals, media persons, ..

No headway in Burma-Bangla bilateral maritime parleys, India –
by Salai Pi Pi The two-day bilateral delimitation talks between Burma and Bangladesh over the disputed maritime boundary, held in Dakha, …

Bangladesh wants more talks with Burma on border
Radio Australia, Australia –
Bangladesh says it wants more talks with Burma to demarcate their maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal, but hopes the issue will be peacefully resolved. …

Sea talks make ‘incremental progress’
Bangladesh News 24 hours (subscription), Bangladesh –
But Myanmar, formerly known as Burma and ruled by military junta since 1962, violated the agreement earlier this month, sending vessels to the disputed …

MP-elect Dr Hla Aung dies aged 66
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Nov 17, 2008 (DVB)–Dr Hla Aung, elected representative for Wundwin constituency-2 and an active National League for Democracy member, passed away this …

88 generation leaders transferred to remote prisons
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
The Burmese ruling junta is known to be superstitious, and has previously been guided by auspicious dates and numbers.

Township authority arrested for selling relief aid, India –
by Solomon A local official in Burma’s Irrawaddy Division, accused of secretly selling rice donated by Saudi Arabia and intended for survivors of Cyclone …

Obama & Bush meet for White House photo op

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Obama & Bush meet for White House photo op

CHICAGO – It will be all smiles at the White House Monday when Barack Obama pays a visit – but behind the handshakes is friction over his plan to reverse many of President Bush‘s edicts on controversial matters like abortion and stem cells.

Obama’s legal eagles have targeted more than 200 unilateral Bush moves made in the past eight years for overturning. A team of lawyers has pored over the administration’s records for months, preparing for the changes.


John Podesta, Obama’s transition chief, warned that any unwelcome eleventh-hour executive orders could bequickly reversed by the new President when he takes office on Jan. 20.

“There’s a lot that the President can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the President do that,” Podesta said on “Fox News Sunday.”


The expected cordial meeting and friendly photo opportunity today between the departing First Family and the Obamas will follow protocols of past transitions.

Lurking in the background will be tension over plans to reverse Bush’s longstanding orders. Among them: edicts barring funding for embryonic stem-cell research and a recent scheme that opened 360,000 acres of federal lands in Utah for oil and gas drilling.


“I think across the board, on stem-cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country,” said Podesta, who served as chief of staff in the Clinton White House.

“They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they’re going to try to do right as they [are] walking out the door,” Podesta added. “I think that’s a mistake.”

Presidents long have used executive orders to impose policy and set priorities.

One of Bush’s first acts was to reinstate full abortion restrictions on U.S. overseas aid. The restrictions were first ordered by President Ronald Reagan, and President George H.W. Bush continued them. Bill Clinton lifted them soon after he took over the Oval Office, and it is expected Obama will do the same.

Executive orders “have the power of law and they can cover just about anything,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. However, the President cannot overrule laws passed by Congress.

If the two leaders choose to get into pressing matters, Obama may try to move Bush toward finding common ground on an estimated $190 billion stimulus package that would expand jobless benefits and food stamps allocations and create a government-funded jobs program.

The White House has sent mixed signals on whether it will support the package that Congress will debate in coming days when it returns for a so-called lame-duck session. Obama would like Bush to approve the stimulus package as soon as possible.

Differences aside, there will be a smattering of pomp and circumstance on today’s itinerary.

Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will welcome Obama and his wife, Michelle, during a picture-taking ceremony at 2 p.m. on the south portico of the White House.

After some posing and words of welcome, the two men will proceed down the colonnade alongside the Rose Garden and step into the Oval Office for their closed-door t%EAte-à-t%EAte. The First Lady will lead a private tour of the mansion for Michelle Obama during the time their husbands huddle in the West Wing.

The visit is scheduled to last only 90 minutes, and the Obamas are set to fly home to Chicago immediately after the Bushes bid them

Barack Obama in Pictures

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

November 10, 2008 at 10:35 am

Posted in Varieties in English

Tagged with , , ,

Fact Sheet: the United States Supports the People of Burma

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 7, 2008

Fact Sheet: the United States Supports the People of Burma

Fact sheet In Focus: Trip to Asia 2008

President Bush And Mrs. Bush Are Committed To Helping The People Of Burma Achieve The Freedom They Deserve

Today, President Bush and Mrs. Bush are continuing their efforts to keep international attention on the ongoing humanitarian and human rights situation in Burma. In Bangkok, Mae La, and Mae Sot, they are meeting with activists and other leaders who are working to assist the people of Burma. President Bush is receiving a briefing on the United States’ response to Cyclone Nargis, having lunch with Burmese freedom activists, and conducting a roundtable with media outlets to discuss Burma. Mrs. Bush is traveling to the Thai-Burma border to visit with refugees at the Mae La refugee camp and the Mae Tao Clinic.

  • The United States has provided significant humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma to assist the victims of Cyclone Nargis. From May 12 to June 22, the United States conducted 185 airlift flights of U.S., Thai, U.N., and non-governmental organizational emergency relief supplies from Thailand to Burma. U.S. goods benefitted approximately 450,000 people, and were part of the $50 million in U.S. Government assistance for the cyclone relief effort.
  • In Fiscal Year 2008, the United States is providing over $65.5 million to help the people of Burma in the areas of democracy-building, humanitarian assistance, health, and education.
  • The United States is providing $12.7 million in Fiscal Year 2008 to support Burmese refugees in Thailand.
  • From 1998-2008, the United States provided more than $2.4 million for the Mae Tao Clinic, and we plan to provide another $450,000 in the coming fiscal year as part of the ongoing humanitarian and health program for the Burmese people.

President and Mrs. Bush continue to actively express the American people’s support for the people of Burma as they struggle for democracy, human rights, and freedom. Since the Saffron Revolution of September 2007, President Bush has issued two new executive orders that authorize the Department of the Treasury to impose financial sanctions on persons determined to be responsible for supporting, empowering, and enriching the Burmese regime as well as state-owned enterprises.

  • Under these Executive Orders, the Administration has already targeted 84 entities and individuals for sanctions.
  • The President also signed into law the Tom Lantos JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act, which prohibits importation of jadeite or rubies from Burma, and jewelry containing such jadeite and rubies, thereby targeting a significant source of revenue for the Burmese regime.

Additionally, in 2006, Mrs. Bush hosted a United Nations roundtable on the plight of the Burmese people, and has continually urged the international community to condemn the violence in Burma and work to prevent future violence. In this effort, Mrs. Bush has consulted with the UN Secretary General and met several times with Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Burma. Most recently, Mrs. Bush held a press conference in May 2008 in the White House Press Briefing Room calling on the junta to allow unhindered access for international disaster experts and aid providers so that the Burmese people could receive the assistance they need in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 7, 2008 at 6:37 am