Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Woman Hit By Lightning While Praying in Storm

This one is a "Wow!" ... what an experience that must have been.
AOL News - Woman Hit By Lightning While Praying in Storm
Worried about the safety of her family during a stormy Memorial Day trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown stood in her kitchen and prayed for their safe return as a strong thunderstorm raged through Baldwin County.

Suddenly, lightning exploded, blowing through the linoleum and leaving a pockmarked area on the concrete. Brown wound up on the floor, dazed and disoriented by the blast but otherwise uninjured.

"I said, 'Amen,' and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire," she said. "I'm blessed to be alive."

Brown, 65, was hit by a bolt of lightning that apparently struck outside and traveled into the house Monday afternoon. She doesn't know how much time passed while she remained disoriented on the floor before Jamie Matthews, her 14-year-old granddaughter, discovered her after returning from the beach.


Dutch paedophiles want consent cut to 12

This makes me want to puke!

Dutch paedophiles want consent cut to 12 - Breaking News - World - Breaking News

Dutch paedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations from 16 to 12 and the legalisation of child pornography and sex with animals.

The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party said on its web site it would be registered officially on Wednesday, proclaiming: "We are going to shake The Hague awake!"

The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.

"A ban just makes children curious," Ad van den Berg, one of the party's founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.

"We want to make paedophilia the subject of discussion," he said.


The Netherlands already has liberal policies on soft drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage, but the NVD is unlikely to win much support, the AD quoted experts as saying.

"They make out as if they want more rights for children. But their position that children should be allowed sexual contact from age 12 is of course just in their own interest," anti-paedophile campaigner Ireen van Engelen told the daily.

The party said private possession of child pornography should be allowed although it favours banning the trade of such materials. The broadcast of pornography should be allowed on daytime television, with only violent pornography limited to the late evening, according to the party.

Toddlers should be given sex education and youths aged 16 and up should be allowed to appear in pornographic films and prostitute themselves. Sex with animals should be allowed although abuse of animals should remain illegal, the NVD said.

The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Desperate search for life as toll climbs

Once again Indonesia cops it! It's the little people who suffer the most -- those out in the villages and small towns where they already don't have much of this world's goods. So many dead, so many family members dead or missing, so many homeless. It's heartbreaking to read about the suffering. I pray for God's mercy and help for them.

Desperate search for life as toll climbs - World -

Counting the cost ... a six-year-old boy is dug out of the rubble.
Photo: Reuters

MEDICINE and food were being rushed to quake-hit central Indonesia yesterday as aid agencies dispatched emergency supplies and world leaders offered help and their condolences.

Rescue workers dug desperately for survivors as residents returned to ruined homes on the densely populated island of Java after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed up to 5000 people on Saturday.

Up to 20,000 were injured and, according to the United Nations Children's Fund, more than 100,000 left homeless. But other sources placed the number of homeless as high as 200,000. [more...]

See also: Back to zero for the poor amid the devastation

PONIRAN'S daughter was still breathing when he dug her from the ruins of his house. But the five-year-old died in his arms as he waited for treatment at a hospital overflowing with injured.

"Her last words were Daddy, Daddy," said Poniran, as he took a break from searching in the ruins of his ruined house for salvageable items. "I have to start my life from zero again."

Forty-eight hours after their lives were shattered by Saturday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake, tens of thousands of homeless Javanese face an uncertain and grief-scarred future. [more...]

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Aung San Suu Kyi is not released after all!

They're at it again! The Burmese leadership is so paranoid about Aung San Suu Kyi that they don't dare let her go free. It is incredible that they are so afraid of her and the force of her appeal to the masses. Surely something has to give soon! When will they be brought to justice for all the atrocities they have perpetuated on the Burmese people? May it be soon that their ediface of control crumbles.

Bangkok Post Breaking News: Burma snubs UN, extends Suu Kyi detention
Burma's military authorities were seen entering the compound of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi Friday night on what was believed to be a mission to extend her house arrest order, despite appeals for her immediate release by the United Nations chief, informed sources said.

The news could not be officially confirmed, but if true, the development would prove a major snub to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan who on Friday issued a statement in Bangkok appealing to Burma's ruling junta to release Suu Kyi.


The military's last six-month extension of her house arrest was due to expire on Saturday.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Flash floods hit north Thailand

Bad news for Thailand! The flooding is starting early this year, in May! It hardly rains in May but not this year... it has been raining for weeks and now the floods are hitting those least able to escape the inundations. I understand the confirmed death toll has climbed to over 50. More mudslides are predicted as the ground is so thoroughly saturated.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Flash floods hit north Thailand
More than 100 people are feared dead after floods caused by heavy rains in northern Thailand, officials have said.

At least 27 bodies have been found so far, according to government figures, but the death toll is expected to rise much higher.

Rescue teams in helicopters are trying to reach thousands of people still stranded in their homes.

The province of Uttaradit is the worst affected. Up to two metres (6.5 feet) of water is covering some streets.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is scheduled to inspect the area on Wednesday.

Mr Thaksin resumed his official duties on Tuesday after a seven-week leave of absence due to the country's ongoing political problems.

The heavy flooding has come at the start of Thailand's rainy season, which is expected to last until October.

But the three consecutive days of heavy rain that have hit this region are very unusual, leading to mudslides and rivers bursting their banks.

One of the worst hit areas was Lablae district in Uttaradit province.

Many of the victims are thought to have been swept away by the flood waters, or buried in the swirling mud.

More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from affected areas, while more than 75,000 have suffered damage to property, according to Interior Ministry estimates.

Rail services to northern Thailand have been suspended.

"The floods have inundated the rail lines in the north, and the water is still high. We have to wait until it recedes so we can repair the tracks," rail spokesman Monthskarn Srivilasa told the French news agency AFP.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Backpack medics

The oppressively dire situation in Burma calls for creative, and very brave solutions to medical problems among the minority groups. Sometimes these medics are called "backpack medics" and sometimes "barefoot doctors". And, without them the suffering of Burma's oppressed peoples would be just too awful to imagine.

Backpack medics minister to rebels caught in crossfire - World -

HE IS not your average GP. The 32-year-old medic amputates legs with a Leatherman knife and has calf muscles that would put a tri-athlete to shame.

Small wonder when he has to dodge Burmese Army patrols in the Dawna Ranges in the country's Kayin (Karen) state. Karen rebels have been at war with the central government for 57 years, and providing medical services to people seen as sympathetic to the insurgents has not been a priority. So were born the Backpack Medics, set up in 1998 by the Karen Health and Welfare Department to provide basic health care to Karen villagers caught in the crossfire. The medics are a small salve to a people under terrible duress.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Rescue of arrested four-year-old fails

Picked up this piece of news at Burmanet. I have to confess that I'm pretty disgusted that a luittle 4-year old child is being treated so shamefully. The leaders in Burma are paranoid and out of their minds!

Burmanet » South China Morning Post: Rescue of arrested four-year-old fails

New Delhi: Attempts by India-based pro-democracy activists to take a four-year-old out of Myanmar failed when military agents guarding the child intercepted them after they secretly entered the country.

Because her father was a pro-democracy activist and supporter of 1991 Nobel prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi, Ei Po Po in January became the youngest prisoner in military ruled Myanmar when she was picked up by security forces while visiting her grandparents in the country’s north. Her father has been sentenced to death and her mother handed a five-year jail term for “anti-national” activities.

“Born in India and living with her parents, Ei attended a nursery school in Manipur. But in Myanmar it is impossible for her impoverished grandparents to take her to another nursery school. [Myanmese] authorities did not even allow her aunt to bring the child back to India where she could return to her old school. It is ruthless,” said Burma Solidarity Organisation activist Dr Thura, who has one name.

Ma Cho - Ei’s aunt, living as a refugee in northeast India’s Manipur state - visited Myanmar last month to take her niece back to India, but was unable to meet the child, who was under the constant watch of security agents. “I could not even enter [her village of] Yan Lem Phai. From friends in a nearby village, I knew that outsiders visiting the house [of Ei’s grandparents] needed permission from the local military authority. Fearing for my own security I returned to India,” she said.

Dr Thura said: “The four-year-old child is under virtual house arrest. Burmese agents are keeping a constant watch on her. She is not free to move. She cannot even go out of Yan Lem Phai, let alone out of Myanmar.”

An attempt to rescue the child this month failed when an activist from the group was intercepted by agents inside Myanmar. The activist escaped and returned safely to India.

“We had a plan to present Ei in front of the international media in India or Thailand. Somehow, Burmese military intelligence got to know about our plan and took the decision not to let the child out of Burma,” Dr Thura said. “This is the simple reason why they have thrown the ring of security around the child now.”

Mrs Cho said: “It is impossible to bring the child back to her school in India now. We pray that she gets back her mother after five years. But again there is a possibility that the mother and child will not be allowed to leave Burma then. The child is facing a bleak uncertainty.”

Update on Aung San Suu Kyi

Good to get some news of Augn San Suu Kyi. She continues to be an inspiration to the Burmese people and to the rest of those who value their freedoms. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be under house arrest for such a long time, and to be so isolated from the rest of the world.

The military junta is so afraid of her... and they are terrified to touch her. This is good! And, may it continue until Burma is once again free. It would be wonderful if she were to have to opportunity to become the leader of the country and provide a path back from the depths of the poverty into which Burma has sunk.

God bless Aung San Suu Kyi!

UN diplomat allowed meeting with Suu Kyi - World -

Burma's detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is in good health, a senior United Nations official said after a one-hour meeting, her first contact with an outsider in three years.

"She is well, but of course she is still under restriction," Ibrahim Gambari, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, said at Bangkok airport on Saturday after his three-day mission to the military-ruled country.

The meeting at a Rangoon guesthouse followed an audience between Mr Gambari and Than Shwe, the ruling military junta's supremo, where the Nigerian envoy said he delivered a message from the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

The Nobel peace laureate Ms Suu Kyi, 60, who has been imprisoned or under house arrest for more than 10 of the past 16 years, has had her telephone disconnected and all visitors barred save her housemaid and doctor.

"She feels she has a contribution to make and I hope she will be allowed to make it," said Mr Gambari, the first senior official from the world body to be allowed into Burma in two years.

The US President, George Bush, on Thursday renewed sanctions against Rangoon for failing to take any recognisable steps towards restoring democracy or improving its record on human rights. The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirajuda, echoed the US call for change on Saturday by urging Burma's main trading partners to persuade the junta to allow more democracy.


Burma! A land where freedom is a dirty word

All news from Burma is full of suffering and distress. I do look forward to the day when some good news will burst upon the world's press that tells us that Burma is finally free of the ruling leeches who have sucked the country dry. They have brought such profoundly abusive suffering into the lives of everyone who isn't "in"!

A land where freedom is a dirty word - World -
As Burma faces economic meltdown, many wonder if the country's regime can retain its Big Brother grip, writes Connie Levett.

THE day after political writer Ludu Sein Win met a European visitor at his Rangoon home, Burma's feared military intelligence knocked at the door: stop talking to foreigners.

Maung Maung Kyaw Win arranged a meeting between an American journalist and a recently freed leader of the 1988 student protests. Two weeks later, armed plain-clothes intelligence officers met him at a bus stop and took him somewhere quiet.

"We know everything. Don't think we know nothing about you. We have been watching you for long years, so stay out of politics, stay away from [the student leader] or your wife will become a widow," they told him. He fled the next morning, crossing illegally into Thailand. His family followed two months later.

The threats are real. Last year, Aung Hlaing Win, 30, was arrested at a Rangoon restaurant, then interrogated and tortured by military police for seven days. His interrogators told his family he had died from a heart attack during questioning. His body was cremated by the military. On March 17 this year, former political prisoner Ko Thet Naing Oo was beaten to death by police and firefighters on a Rangoon street, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a group of exiled former Burmese political prisoners fighting to maintain awareness and improve conditions of current political prisoners.

Two friends who were with Naing Oo were arrested for obstructing government officials.

THIS is Burma circa 2006. When people talk about Big Brother here, they don't mean a television reality show. There are at least 1156 political prisoners, child labour is common and the military regularly uses forced labour to carry supplies and munitions. Locals refer to living in Burma as being "on the inside" as if their whole country was a prison. Since 1988 at least 127 democracy activists have died in prison, according to the political prisoners association.

Aid workers are viewed with suspicion, foreign journalists are blacklisted, local media is censored and giving information about government activities to outsiders is a jailable offence.

All people but one, Sein Win, who provided information for this story asked that their name be withheld. Sein Win wants to set an example of courage for the next generation of activists. On an oxygen tank, and partially paralysed by a stroke he suffered in prison, the 65-year-old fears the generals may outlast him.

For 44 years the Burmese generals have brooked no opposition. But now, as the economic wheels look set to fall off this gun-carriage regime, they have launched an aggressive two-pronged campaign to stamp out their most-loathed political and military opponents - Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and the insurgent ethnic Karen National Liberation Army. It will either crush the last breath of air from opponents, or light the fire under a deep well of suppressed anger.

The brutality of the State Peace and Development Council, as the junta is known, is matched only by its paranoia. The generals consulted astrologers before moving the capital from Rangoon on the Gulf of Martaban, to Pyinmana in central Burma last November, and they are fighting their nemesis, Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, under strict house arrest in Rangoon, by planting astrologically powerful nut trees across the country.

[Read the rest at the Sydney Morning Herald]

Friday, May 19, 2006

Update on Little Maria

I reported on little Maria April 28 when she first came to Sydney for the life saving surgery. It's wonderful to know that the surgery was successful and that little Maria is doing so well. What a wonderful provision! What a blessing for the family.

Little Maria's heart on the mend - World -

By Dylan Welch
May 18, 2006 - 3:12PM

After a startling recovery Maria Soares, the three-month-old Timorese baby with a potentially fatal heart condition, has this afternoon been moved from intensive care to the cardiac ward at the Sydney Children's Hospital.

After 20 days on life support - she was brought off a ventilator on Tuesday - Director of clinical operations, Dr Michael Brydon, said Maria was improving steadily and could even be discharged from hospital soon.

"We're very optimistic that she'll be able to leave hospital relatively soon to go to a residence here in Sydney for a few weeks."

He said that if everything continued to go well for three-month-old she may be able to return to East Timor with her mother, Lorenca, in six weeks. [...]

Maria Soares suffered from a ventricular septal defect (VSD) - a small hole in her heart - and would have died in Timor where doctors were unable to perform the delicate operation.

With the help of a Rotary-backed program Reaching Overseas with Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC) Maria and her mother, Lorencia Soares, were flown to Sydney for the life-saving procedure, which took place on April 27.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Comedy of errors??

If the circumstances weren't so tragic this fiasco over what happened to Private Kovco's body would be funny. What next for the poor family to endure? What next to embarass the Australian govt? Seems awfully bizarre...

Heads to roll over lost report - National -

A FURIOUS Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, last night ordered an emergency summit of his top brass after the loss of a report into how the body of Australia's first soldier killed in Iraq was misplaced.

The Government's anger over the latest defence debacle means that jobs will be on the line, with some forced resignations likely. ...

The report, left on a computer in the Qantas Club lounge at Melbourne airport on Monday night, found its way into the hands of the broadcaster Derryn Hinch, who revealed details of the findings on his program yesterday.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Almost back online...

Well now, I have some access to the internet... via dialup at 26 kbps... I've been spoiled by adsl!!!

I won't have good access again for another 10 days. But, even something as slow as 26kbps is better than nothing at all ;)

I've had a good trip so far and things have gone well with everything. One big treat has been to get a new computer, a Vaio TX 770P. It is really quite lovely. I'm thrilled with the lightness of it -- 2.76 lbs -- and the battery life -- ~7 hrs. GREAT!!! More later.

Have a good week!