Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something Different

Sometimes, lately, I miss really big news -- which is pretty strange, since I look at the Times and other papers for nearly 2 hours most mornings. I'm so focused on the project, though, that I barely skim the front page.

So this morning, when I read the headline that the death toll Myanmar had climbed to 78,000 -- I figured I should put the project down and find out what on earth is going on in the world. To be honest, I didn't even know Burma changed its name.

Boat carrying aid for Myanmar cyclone victims sinks
uncredited photo -- probably AP

Many of these huge natural disasters are being linked to global warming. I didn't read anything about that in this article, but I imagine it will be said later. In the meantime, everything is compounded by multiples because the government there won't let in any foreign aid. They are turning away huge ships of food and medical supplies -- "a junta that human rights advocates say is putting its own survival before that of a storm-ravaged population."

I thought I was reading aside. What scares me now, though, is how often oil is linked in to almost anything you look into. That's why I picked this project, of course -- it was no accident, I may have said before. I wrote my undergraduate thesis 16 years ago on the first gulf war -- went on to write about the second gulf war -- a friend said yesterday that gifts of circumstance come by accident. I disagree. We are always preparing to be in the right place at the right time -- with discipline and patience and practice.

Here's the 18th paragraph of the NY Time article today about the disaster:

There has been some discussion, a second senior administration official said, of whether the United States and France should take measures against Chevron and the French oil and gas company Total for their work on a natural gas pipeline in southern Myanmar, from which the military junta derives much of its wealth. American sanctions against Myanmar ban most companies from working there, but Chevron owns a 28 percent stake in the pipeline, which is operated by Total.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that so far, talk of suspending Chevron’s payments to Myanmar, formerly Burma, had not gone very far.

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