Help in Burma / Myanmar

The following information has been taken from the Interdependence Project’s Newsletter.

Below are a few very concrete ways you can help the situation. The basic rule of interdependence is this: every action matters. Please take the small time and mental effort necessary to make a difference. Please forward this widely.

With Compassionate Wishes,

Cassie M., Ellen, Cassie P., Ethan, and the Crew
The InterDependence Project

1. There are upcoming protests planned for Sat. Oct. 6th.

For more information:
(this website contains disturbing images and news of what’s actually going on.)

2. Take part in a letter writing campaign sponsered by Amnesty International.

(if you participate then visit their website- and check the box that says- Yes, I have taken this action)
You can copy and paste this sample letter into an e-mail or a document to print out:

Dear Minister:
I am deeply concerned by the reports that hundreds of monks and other peaceful protesters, including well-known comedian Zargana and member of parliament Paik Ko have been detained.
I strongly urge the Myanmar authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally, unless they are to be charged with recognizably criminal offences. I call on the authorities to ensure that, while they remain in custody, all the detainees are held only in official places of detention, and are given immediate access to lawyers, their families and any medical treatment they may require. I also call on the authorities to ensure that the detainees are not subjected to torture or any other ill-treatment.
I call on the authorities to ensure that all people in Myanmar are able to peacefully exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly without fear of harassment, intimidation or arbitrary detention, in line with international human rights standards.

Yours Sincerely,

Please send appeals to:
Foreign Minister Nyan Win
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 1 222 950 OR +95 1 221 719
Don’t forget to sign as a member of the Interdependence Project!

3. Please sign an online petition to Chinese Officials:

Chinese action is crucial to pressuring the military dictatorship!

4. Please Sign the petition that will appear in ads in the Financial Times and the South China Morning Post tomorrow.

There are 500,000 signatures already from around the world and they are aiming for a 1 million. is a new international grass-roots group.

Reincarnation regulated

In the long tale of Chinese-Tibetan relations, the Chinese authorities decided to regulate reincarnation.  While this sounds bizarre at first glance, it makes sense for their pursuit of controlling the Tibetan people.  While according to Buddhist believe (almost) everybody is reborn, only few important religious leaders are looked for – like the Dalai Lama.  By regulating reincarnation, the Chinese will probably try to control this search process, probably with the goal of nominating the next Dalai Lama themselves.  The Slashdot discussion has some insightful comments.

Medien-Manipulation: Die Zeit zum Thema Leitzins

Die Zeit hat einen interessanten Artikel: Inflation gesucht, erschienen am 10.8.2006. Der Artikel beginnt folgendermaßen: "Zinspause in den Vereinigten Staaten, steigende Leitzinsen in Europa. Deutlicher kann das Signal nicht sein, dass die beiden weltweit wichtigsten Zentralbanken, die amerikanische Fed und die Europäische Zentralbank (EZB), völlig verschiedene geldpolitische Strategien verfolgen."

Das Interessante: die Fed hat die letzten 17 Quartale die Zinsen ununterbrochen auf 5.25% erhöht, während die EZB zum vierten Mal, ganz vorsichtig, die Zinsen auf 3% erhöht hat. Ich hätte von der Zeit eine etwas objektivere Darstellung erwartet.

Übrigens vertritt der Economist die Meinung, dass die Fed die Zinsen noch einmal hätte erhöhen sollen, und dass die Erhöhung der EZB-Zinsen eine gute Sache ist.

Who is Hamilton Naki?

He was part of Dr. Christiaan Barnard team who performed the world’s first heart transplant. But he didn’t receive any credit at the time, although privately he was treated well: “Look, we are allowing you to do this, but you must know that you are black and that’s the blood of the white. Nobody must know what you are doing.”

His is the story of a modest, hard-working, selfless, deeply religious man, who in spite of everything stayed cheerful and happy:

“He took it well. Bitterness was not in his nature, and he had had years of training to accept his life as apartheid had made it. On that December day in 1967, for example, as Barnard played host to the world’s adoring press, Mr Naki, as usual, caught the bus home. (…) Because he was sending most of his pay to his wife and family, left behind in Transkei, he could not afford electricity or running water. But he would always buy a daily newspaper; and there, the next day, he could read in banner headlines of what he had done, secretly, with his black hands, with a white heart.”

Say no to the EU Constitution

First, let me clarify: I love the idea of a European Constitution. I think it’s the next logical step in taking the EU to the next level. But what should a constitution deliver?

First, there is form. It should be concise, and it shouldn’t be law. It should be a document that enables law-making. This constitution (the annotaded version linked above is over 400 pages!) has many articles that, in my opinion, just don’t fit that criteria – it goes into far too much detail. These details should be laws, interpreted and checked against the constitution.

Second, it should be consistent. Reading the constituion, it feels that the writers had to bend over backwards so many times to address many contradicting concerns. It is not only difficult (if not impossible) to please everybody, doing this will create legal headaches for decades to come. I am sure lawyers specializing in EU law will be the only ones delighted.

But third, and most importantly, it should put the EU on a sustainable, visionary course. And this is where the constitution fails the most. As the Economist puts it:

What is needed instead is a treaty that acknowledges the central popular concern: that an EU that is increasingly remote is also a threat to the diversity of Europe’s nations and thus to national identity. (…) The central thrust of the document is towards more centralisation.

I wish for the constitution to fail, and the lawmakers to get back to the table to draft a new constitution from scratch. Maybe they should read the German or American constitutions for inspiration.