Myanmar’s Buddhist bigots, etc.

Myanmar’s Buddhist bigots#BringBackOurGirlsAncient warrior myths help veterans fight PTSDCampaign 2014: A fight for power. Then what?Who’s to blame for air pollution?

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Ancient warrior myths help veterans fight PTSD

“A soldier returns home from battle but has brought the war with him. He stares off into the distance, unable to take joy in his family or friends, still hyperalert to threats he no longer faces. Unable to heal his invisible wound, he takes his own life.

“This isn’t a tragic news story about a veteran coming back from Afghanistan with a case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s a summary of the Greek play ‘Ajax,’ which is more than 2,000 years old.”

The article concerns a program that uses such ancient texts to help today’s warriors deal with the emotional scars they have incurred in combat.

PTSD isn’t new, not an invention of molly-coddling leftist touchy-feelies of the 1960’s.  I recall an inmate I was locked up with, who summarily told another, “Men don’t cry.”  Now, this fellow was a boisterous Bible-thumper.  Seemed to me, he really didn’t know his Bible: there are accounts one after another in the Old Testament histories of men, real men, heroes, weeping over losses in battle.

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Campaign 2014: A fight for power. Then what?

“The biggest issue is still the state of the economy — the level of unemployment and underemployment, wage stagnation, middle-class anxiety and the gap between the very wealthiest and most everyone else. Yet both sides sound tired as they attempt to offer answers to problems that have defied conventional approaches. The early months of this debate have been an exercise in tactical, poll-driven politics designed more to motivate constituencies than to address problems.”

The second and third sentences seem to me to contradict each other.  Thus far, I really have not heard any effort by either party to offer answers to problems — the foremost in my mind being the need to create living-wage jobs. It may be that the answers aren’t simplistic or prone to excite partisan zeal. As long as the parties engage in a contest to gain the upper hand, they’ll not be engaged in solving problems.


GOP seeks election edge with Benghazi, IRS probes

“Republican strategy for the fall elections seemed set: hammer Democrats on the health care law and ‘jobs, jobs, jobs.’

“As Democrats show increasing confidence on those fronts, however, House Republicans are gambling that ramping up new inquiries into old controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service and Libya will energize conservative voters without turning off moderates.”

If the GOP has changed course, then I regret their doing so.  This seems to illustrate exactly the concerns I expressed in response to the previous article.

I see no basis for Democratic “confidence” on the issue of “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Related:  “The GOP, running scared”

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Myanmar’s Buddhist Bigots

Related: Sitra Achra, the Flipside
Update, 2015-02-16: Problems in Myanmar

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Can China clean up its pollution before it’s too late?

A corrective to the “It’s All America’s Fault” crowd.

Just how bad is smog in China?

It’s so bad that in Zhejiang province last year a fire burned for three hours at a factory before locals noticed anything was amiss. It’s so bad that visibility in Harbin dropped to 10 meters last October, shuttering schools and the airport. It’s so bad that bags of mountain air were shipped into Zhengzhou last March, and contented-looking locals breathed deep like Mel Brooks in “Spaceballs.” So bad that a glass jar of French air sold for $860. So bad that cans of fresh air are going for 80 cents and the millionaire who manufactured them claims he’s sold eight million.

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U.S. deploys 80 troops to Chad to help find kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

“Paul Lubeck, a sociology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz who has done extensive research in Nigeria, said the country’s security forces are up against a formidable group in Boko Haram.

“’These guys are better organized, more highly motivated and have better arms than the Niger­ian military,’ he said. ‘The Nigerian military is decayed.’

“Additionally, because the Ni­ger­ian force has a history of brutality, U.S. military advisers face restrictions in the assistance they are able to provide. As part of an agreement reached this week, American military personnel are permitted to share some information — such as aerial imagery — but not all raw intelligence.”


Nigeria’s opposition seizing on uproar over kidnapped schoolgirls

“But far more important than one man’s faltering electoral prospects, political observers said, is the old regional divide that has been wrenched open by the Boko Haram crisis and the partisan finger-pointing that followed. A political modus vivendi between the poorer, Muslim-dominated north and the wealthier, Christian-majority south has broken down, exposing severe regional inequities and playing into the hands of the Islamist militants.

“’By playing politics with a national security crisis, the government has galvanized all its opponents and risked turning Boko Haram into a religious issue,’ said Mohammed Kaita, an opposition delegate in the national assembly. ‘The real problem is the failure of our leaders to address poverty and jobs and corruption. Boko Haram is not a religious or political issue,’ he said. ‘It is madness and it is harming all of us.’”


Nigeria says it has found missing girls


Obama singles out Boko Haram and Nigeria declares ‘total war’ on shadowy group

The Nigerian government is becoming laughable, displaying incompetence reminiscent of how FEMA, Louisiana and New Orleans responded to Katrina.

“In the space of two short weeks, [Nigerian president Goodluck] Jonathan has shifted from calling Boko Haram a marginal and parochial group scarcely worth his attention to labeling it a global threat of nearly apocalyptic proportions that is closely tied to Al Qaeda. At a recent Paris gathering, he told world leaders that the self-described Islamist group is ‘the new frontier of the global war on terrorism against … our way of life.'”

“Former US Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell sees Jonathan’s new framing of the threat as a way to ‘whitewash’ ‘the human rights violations and excesses of Nigeria’s Army and security forces’ that some Nigeria watchers say is an important part of the crisis.”

“On Monday came a statement by the Nigerian Army chief Alex Badeh that the 300 girls kidnapped in mid-April were found. * * * Yet by Tuesday, Nigeria was officially dialing back the claim, with chief government spokesman Reuben Abati saying the girls’ whereabouts may not be known after all. Mr. Abati said that ‘the context’ of global pressure on the Nigerian Army had caused its chief to make an exaggerated claim ‘in order to restore confidence’ in the military.”

(Originally posted 06/23/14.)

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