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A Buddhist reponse to Cyclone Nargis May 20, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in Burma, News.
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From NPR: Alex Chadwick talks with Ashin Thitzana, a Burmese monk in the Los Angeles-area, for a Buddhist interpretation of the Myanmar cyclone tragedy.

“Where are the monks?” May 19, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in 1, Burma, News.
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“Before September, there were over 30,000 monks in Rangoon alone. Now there are 6,000. Where are the monks? That is the question.”

– Ashin Nayaka, visiting scholar at Columbia University and a founder of the Buddhist Missionary Society in Jackson Heights, in today’s New York metro. The article recommends visiting http://www.burmesemonks.org/ for more information; unfortunately, the story is not available online.

News in Brief May 16, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in Burma, News, Tibet.
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  • The junta in Burma has raised its estimated death toll to 78,000, with 56,000 missing. [CNN]
  • Harvard Professor (and former Obama aide) Samantha Power and Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt talk about Burma and the moral and political complexities of intervention. [NPR]
  • In China, at least 5 million people are left homeless in the aftermath of the largest earthquake the country has seen in 58 years. The country continues to struggle to recover the injured and dead while grappling with aftershocks and landslides. [Times Online]
  • The 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, makes his first visit to the United States. [New York Times]

News on China and Burma May 15, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in Burma, News.
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Heartbreaking updates on China and Burma in today’s New York Times. In China, the Times notes, many of the dead appear to be children, “in a country where most families are allowed to have only one.” Meanwhile, farmers in Burma fear they will miss the fall harvest, having lost seeds, livestock, rice stock, and draft animals in the cyclone. The deputy country director for the World Food Program estimates that at least 50,000 tons of rice are needed for the next six months, and 50,000 more will be necessary if farmers are not able to plant within the next few weeks.

Aid Stolen in Burma May 14, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma.
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It’s a growing problem: The Burmese military continues to steal international aid packages sent to aid victims of cyclone Nargis. An estimated 1.5 million Burmese face — (UPDATE: 2.5 million) — disease and starvation and little aid is reaching them.

And the death toll continues to rise in China.

A Buddhist man woman who converted to Islam in Malaysia can go back to being Buddhist, the courts say. Previously it was extremely difficult bordering on illegal to convert from Islam to another religion.

Tibetan Tectonics May 13, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, News, Tibet.
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The twin disasters continue to unfold.

The storm is over in Burma but the humanitarian nightmare continues. And the constitutional referendum went ahead despite being “blatantly rigged.”

Meanwhile ABC says “Tibetan tectonics triggered China quake.”

The violent quake that shook China’s Sichuan province this week is linked to a shift of the Tibetan plateau to the north and east, researchers say.

Hmm. And some inside China didn’t take kindly to the cheery spectacle of the Olympic torch jogging along as if nothing were wrong.

An Open Appeal on Behalf of the People of Burma by Jack Kornfield May 12, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma.
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Dear Dharma Friends,

I want to ask you to consider help for the people of Burma. As you know the blessings of many of our Buddhist teachings have come from the tradition and generosity of the people of Burma. Now the devastating cyclone Nargis has plunged an already impoverished nation into chaos. The most effective was to help that I know of is The Foundation for the People of Burma (FPB), a U.S. registered charity I support. The Foundation already has 70 staff and volunteers on the ground and working to relieve suffering in sites across Burma right now, while most foreign aid workers are still waiting at the border for visas. Because FPB has worked in Burma for many years, it has been able to quickly mobilize its Burmese staff and partner networks to address emergency needs in target areas. To date, the in country staff has mobilized to provide basic survival supplies, including water purification tablets, food, mosquito nets, tarps and rebuilding and sanitation supplies to thousands of people in Rangoon and targeted Irrawaddy Delta areas. They are organizing local medical teams and businessmen as well.

Your tax-deductible contribution will enable the Foundation to continue this life saving work, and will enable us to be there for the long process of rebuilding lives. If you can, please contribute now. Your gift will go directly to the affected population in the bowels of this disaster.

Feel call or email the Foundation if you need more information. The website is foundationburma.org; the phone is 415-217-7015.

Thank you for your generosity.

Jack Kornfield
Spirit Rock Center

Burma help May 12, 2008

Posted by tricycleblog in Burma.
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Hal Nathan, who launched the Foundation for the People of Burma in 1999, was in northern Burma when the cyclone struck. You could say he found himself in the right place at the right time. His non-political charitable organization is devoted to providing humanitarian aid of all sorts to the Burmese people. According to Nathan, what gives his group a leg up in efficiently delivering desperately needed aid is the infrastructure his organization has built over the years.

“We can distribute goods and services through the monasteries and temples and other community centers, and have good relations with people on the ground,” he told me this afternoon. His wife and fellow board member, Gail Seneca, adds, “While most foreign aid workers are waiting at the border for visas, the foundation has already mobilized in Rangoon and around the Irrawaddy Delta and is delivering services and food to approximately 8,000 people.” With an estimated 1-1/2 million people in need Seneca acknowledges this is just a start, but a good one considering the obstacles aid organizations face. The foundation’s existing infrastructure makes it well-positioned to do far more.

If you have difficulty getting to the Foundation’s heavily visited home page, you can contact them at the below address and number:

Foundation for the People of Burma
225 Bush Street, Suite 590
San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone: (415) 217-7015
Fax: (415) 477-2787
Email: info@foundationburma.org

We will keep you posted on the foundation’s efforts. For now, this is a wonderful way to support the people of Burma in their time of need.

James Shaheen, Editor

Has Nargis caused more death than the 2004 tsunami? May 12, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma.
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Terrible images from the cyclone from the site of a music school in Rangoon:

The post-cyclone situation here is worse than even our previously pessimistic estimates. The total worldwide deaths from the 2004 tsunami reached 220,000 and the total homeless population was 1.5 million. Unofficial but credible estimates here on the ground say that the total numbers of dead and of homeless from the cyclone now exceed those 2004 worldwide tsunami figures. Information trickling in from the villages in the Delta area indicates it is normal for a community to have lost 50-60% of its population by now.

James Fallows of the Atlantic calls the junta evil.

And as usual, Danny Fisher has the best Burma coverage out there. Read his blog and you won’t miss a beat.

“Nowhere Near the Scale Required” May 12, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Tibet.
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There’s been a lot of back and forth over aid to Burma, but the first U.S. plane has just landed.

A number of other flights arrived over the weekend and some supplies reached Burma by land.

But many foreign experts are still waiting for visas to enter the country and on Sunday, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) said that the amount of aid getting to victims was “nowhere near the scale required”.

The US military says about 11,000 servicemen and four ships are in the region for a military exercise and could be harnessed to help.

The junta insists that foreign aid is acceptable but foreign aid workers are not.

The BBC has an interactive map of the torch’s route in China — You can click on a city to read more about it. The torch is due to be in Lhasa June 20th and 21st.