Burma's narcotics labs produce a blended pill form of crystal methamphetamine – Yaba, Ecstasy, and other street terms - and continues to be a major source ...
Burma Crisis: Drug flood fears across region
PNC Special Report: Myanmar Crisis
The U.S. State Department released its International Narcotics report for 2008, which warns that the political problems in Burma are leaving drug production centers unchecked, and corruption problems in government mean that it has become Asia’s central distribution area for meth pills and production point for many criminal trafficking groups. Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. West Coast could feel the impact
“Burma’s military regime has not made the necessary efforts to curb production and has also been very lackluster in the areas of demand reduction,” Christy McCampbell , Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs told reporters at a briefing.
Worse, even prior to the crisis, there seemed to be little effort to stem the trade and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) believes this may indicate large scale participation of security forces in the protection of the production center, “We think these are important, interdiction that’s very important and combating corruption. ” McCampbell added.
CRISIS DEEPENING TENSION RISING
On the streets of what the military junta calls, Yangoon, Myanmar, there is fear. Last Thursday night, reports of arrests and deaths surfaced, as a crackdown began against over 100,000 people who had been filling the streets daily in protest. Led by Buddhist monks, the brave marched in over violent dispersals from an earlier smaller march. There is mass anger over fuel price increases that have hit the poor, and most Burmese, hard.
The marches in Yangoon were seeking a formal apology from the country’s military rulers, as earlier protests had been met by military force. It all started on August 15th when the Myanmar government raised the price of fuel by 500%, taking away subsidies that had kept life liveable for the poorest of the people once called Burmese.
“This sparked a series of peaceful demonstrations all over the country, beginning with demonstrations in Rangoon, now called Yangon, the former capital of the country. They have since spread to Pakokku and Mandalay in Northern Burma.” Free Foreign Policy center reported Thursday, “In Pakokku, Buddhist monks reportedly took army officers hostage for a few hours, then in Mandalay, where traditionally monks have been highly politicized and aware, the army has units surrounding the city in readiness for an inevitable clampdown.”
The US government and European Union have warned Myanmar’s military rulers to respect human rights, allow the will of the people and free elected leaders it has kept under house arrest for nearly two decades. Burma’s government had earlier been hit hard by the United States a week ago when it was named a major narcotics producer.
‘MAJOR’ NARCOTICS PRODUCING COUNTRY
Burma’s narcotics labs produce a blended pill form of crystal methamphetamine – Yaba, Ecstasy, and other street terms - and continues to be a major source of problems for the Asia Pacific region, so reports the U.S. DEA.
In the recent briefing held in Washington D.C., Burma’s drugs are trans-shipped though other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia, and onto Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). The State Department says it continues to be a threat to the people of Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States.
“Burma is the largest source of methamphetamine pills in Asia and pill production continues to grow.” McCampbell pointed to a marked shift in Burma from opium to ‘meth pills’ and ‘ice’ production, “The country’s declining poppy cultivation has been matched by a sharp increase in methamphetamine production.”
Burma was singled out in the report along with Venezuela, but the Burmese problem is more directly effecting Americans living in the Pacific Rim, with drug trafficking organizations believed using the American Pacific islands, Guam, the CNMI, and Hawaii as larger dollar earning markets for the products they make. Pill form methamphetamine, is often considered by drug enforcement agencies as the most deadly, often causing severe mental side effects and instant addiction. Burma’s continued failure to act on its growing role as a narcotics trade center will lead to the imposition of trade and economic penalties under U.S. law.
DEA Issues warning to Law Enforcement to expect more ‘Burma pills’
The DEA reports, “Methamphetamine tablets are produced primarily in Burma and usually contain a combination of powder methamphetamine and caffeine.” Description and types of pills seized over the years vary, “Methamphetamine tablets found in the United States typically are green or orange-red in color, imprinted with a variety of symbols, most commonly WY or R.
“The pills are approximately the size of a pencil eraser.” The use often varies. “Methamphetamine tablets typically are ingested orally and often are flavored and scented like candy grape, orange, or vanilla.” Tablets also are smoked by placing the tablet on a piece of aluminum foil and passing a heat source underneath the foil until the tablet melts and vapors - which are inhaled -are released.
Regional narcotics experts fear that with the Burmese military engaged in a crackdown on dissidents, there may be a rise in the smuggling operations of pill-based and more traditional opium deliveries along the ‘Golden Triangle’. - PNC International
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Cell Phone Stuff i never knew..well sorta didn't know...
THE CLAIM: The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.
THE FACTS: Calling 112 on your cell phone will (in some parts of the world, primarily Europe) connect you to local emergency services, even if you are outside your provider's service area (i.e., even if you are not authorized to relay signals through the cell tower that handles your call), and many cell phones allow the user to place 112 calls even if the phone lacks a SIM card or its keypad is locked. However, the 112 number does not have (as is sometimes claimed) special properties that enable callers to use it in areas where all cellular signals are blocked (or otherwise unavailable).
Have you locked your keys in the car?
THE CLAIM: Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday.
Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).
THE FACTS: Cars with remote keyless entry (RKE) systems cannot be unlocked by relaying a key fob transmitter signal via a cellular telephone. RKE systems and cell phones utilize different types of signals and transmit them at different frequencies.
Hidden Battery Power
THE CLAIM: Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#
Your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.
THE FACTS: The claim that pressing the sequence *3370# will unleash "hidden battery power" in a cell phone seems to be a misunderstanding of an option available on some brands of cell phone (such as Nokia) for Half Rate Codec, which provides about 30% more talk time on a battery charge at the expense of lower sound quality. However, this option is enabled by pressing the sequence *#4720# — the sequence *3370# actually enables Enhanced Full Rate Codec, which provides better sound quality at the expense of shorter battery life.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Speech at the Sixty-Second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, 28 September 2007, New York
September 29th, 2007 · No Comments
Congratulations on your election to the UN General Assembly. Congratulations also to our Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, who was such a good friend of the Philippines when he was Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea. We embrace his vow to focus on strengthening the three pillars of the United Nations (development, security and human rights).
THE UN IS A PILLAR OF DEVELOPMENT.
It plays a major large role for the Philippines. Poverty alleviation is the most important part of our agenda and our vision to lift the Philippines into a modernized nation in twenty years. We want to be actively engaged in local, regional and global affairs because that is the future.
We believe in the power of the global trading system to alleviate poverty and modernize nations through market forces. That does not mean we believe that countries like the Philippines are ready to compete head-to-head today in every sector, but it does mean that we cannot afford to be afraid of globalization.
By being increasingly connected to the world, the Philippine economy has reached a new level of maturity and stability with some of the strongest macroeconomic fundamentals in 20 years.
Six years ago, no one thought we could get more revenues, cut down on tax cheats, strengthen the peso and move the stock market.
And no one thought we could bring our budget into balance, which we did last month, pre-pay our debts and raise employment, but we have. We must both grow our economy and sustain our natural environment at the same time. We are developing and promoting our Green Philippines agenda. It emphasizes a sustainable economic model that brings economic opportunity and a concern for our environment.
At the Secretary General’s High Level Meeting on Climate Change earlier this week, UN member nations focused on what the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol meetings in Bali this December should do.
The Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol has allowed developing countries like the Philippines to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through private sector initiatives. But there is a need to expand the carbon market and to expand international cooperation and financial support to promote strategies to adapt to climate change.
Too many nations, developed and developing, believe the environment must be sacrificed at the altar of growth.
We believe otherwise. We believe that we have a unique opportunity to get it right from day one: to introduce new industries that are clean and profitable. This includes a biofuels industry that helps our energy independence, creates jobs and keeps our nation clean for future generations.
We are further developing our geothermal power which is one of the two largest in the world.
We reiterate our commitment to the global trading system and when that fails us, to strengthening ASEAN, APEC and regional relations to bolster our economy.
The multilateral trading system, through the Doha Round, remains the best option to address poverty and improve standards of living around the world through an agreed set of international trade rules.
The Doha Development Agenda was launched with an emphasis on integrating a developmental dimension into all elements of the negotiations.
To make the Doha Round truly a Development Round, there must be greater coherence of policies among international development institutions (e.g. World Bank, IMF, UNDP and WTO) so that trade is mainstreamed in the development agenda and therefore capacity building can be focused on trade competitiveness.
As part of capacity-building, we call on the UN and our partners among developed nations to strengthen South-South cooperation wherein developing nations with specific strengths can share with other developing nations in need of their strength, funded by developed nations or multilaterals like the UNDP.
The developed nations were the prime movers behind global trade when it suited them; now some countries are slowing things down. That is not right nor good for our respective economies.
There has been a ray of hope with the developed countries declaring that they are willing to maximize flexibilities, in exchange for greater market access.
On the sidelines of the UN session, we hope the contending countries can continue consulting to find the right formula of subsidy cuts and market access that will break the Doha impasse.
But let me be clear: even as the Philippines works tirelessly to move the talks forward, we are not going to stand by and do nothing. For us, it is full speed ahead, preferably with Doha, but full speed nevertheless.
We recognize that if the multilateral trading system is fragmented into trading blocs, it will result in a more complex set of trade rules. That could be incompatible and detrimental to the interests of developing countries. In the meantime, while we are hoping for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round, we have to maximize the economic opportunities provided under bilateral and regional free trade agreements. This will complement efforts under the multilateral trading system.
At a time of uncertainty when the Doha Round is faltering, ASEAN took a bold step forward by drafting its Charter.
This is our first step to creating a permanent sense of security.
We are working towards a single market with free movement of goods, ideas and skilled talent.
In APEC, the world’s largest economy, the United States, and the world’s fastest growing economy, China, are active participants.
We have a strong alliance with the US, who remains our largest trading partner as well as our strongest strategic ally. We have stood shoulder to shoulder for many generations. We expect to continue building on our mature relationship with the US.
We have also forged a strong relationship with China. We see China’s rise as a significant opportunity for the Philippines. Our overall relations are now more confident and comprehensive.
Relations are not just about trade. They are also about people. And this includes migration, a world-side reality.
We thank the Secretary General for supporting the Philippines’ hosting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development next year, to which we invite all Member States to participate.
Overseas Filipino Workers are honored by the government and the people for their sacrifice and dedication to their work, their family and their nation. We welcome their contribution. But we are working towards the day when Filipinos no longer need to go abroad for a job, the day that overseas work is just another career option.
We believe that our ambitious economic reforms will increasingly be keeping our best and brightest right in the Philippines, closer to friends and families, helping to build our communities and provide the next generation of leadership.
THE UN IS A PILLAR OF SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
It remains the central pillar underpinning conflict resolution.
Our country is among the largest, if not the largest, contributor of police officers to UN peacekeeping missions.
The Philippines has peacekeepers, both police and military, in Afghanistan, Cote D’Ivoire, Georgia, Haiti , Kosovo , Liberia , Sudan and Timor Leste.
We will continue our participation to safeguard communities so that they may overcome conflict and regain the peace needed to pursue development.
Closer to home, I have personally advanced the process of peace in Muslim and Christian Mindanao to a new level of engagement, focused on interfaith dialogue, economic development and mutual security. We have done so with the largest possible international involvement, including the UN. Peace there is very much an issue of human rights, just as alleviating poverty is, which is our number one issue.
The Philippines is the most democratic country in our region. We have no tolerance for human rights violations at home or abroad.
We support the effort to revitalize and refocus the work of the UN in human rights. It is for this reason that the Philippines sought and won a seat in the Human Rights Council.
The attention of the international community has been drawn, with great reason and justification, to the current situation in Myanmar.
Ladies and gentlemen:
This is the time for Myanmar to return to the path of democracy and to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – now – and to involve all the parties including the National League for Democracy in the democratization and the constitutional process.
The number of globe-size issues we will face in the 21st century will require globe-size cooperation. We must build bridges of peace and prosperity. The place to start is building a stronger United Nations.
Friday, September 28, 2007
These are exciting times for business and investors in the Philippines, with the country firmly on track to permanent economic growth and stability.
With this as the defining theme of her three-day investment mission here, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regaled top American leaders with the bright prospects of doing business in the Philippines.
“I believe the Philippines offers one of the best values in Asia for domestic and foreign investors,” the President told the US business executives during the Outsourcing Summit: Roadmap 2010 held at the Starlight Rooftop of Waldorf Astoria Towers Thursday evening (Sept. 27, New York time).
She pointed out that the Philippines is ranked as one of the most attractive off-shoring destinations in the world not only in terms of cost competitiveness, but more importantly the “country’s highly trainable, English-proficient management manpower.”
No less than the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its 2007 Global Sourcing Study cited the Philippines as the No. 2 “most preferred offshoring destination after India,” the President said.
The difference is that India has a billion population from which it draws its offshoring manpower compared to the Philippine population of 80 million, she added.
Now the fastest growing sector of the economy, the $3.6- billion business services industry has created 300,000 new jobs since 2000, the President said.
She pointed out that after years of sluggish if not negative growth, the Philippine economy has registered some of the strongest macroeconomic fundamentals in two decades.
“Six years ago, no one thought we could get more revenues, cut down on tax cheats, strengthen the peso and move the stock market. And no one thought we could bring our budget into balance, which we did last month, lower our debts and raise employment, but we have,” the President said.
She said that the heavy investment inflow into the Philippines has been anchored by the billion dollar plus investments by several major international corporations, among them Texas Instruments, Hanjin of South Korea, Marubeni and Tokyo Electric of Japan and AES of the US.
The upsurge of investments is taking place across a broad spectrum of the economy and her administration is working to ensure that the inflows will be sustained, she added.
“We are committed to consolidating the gains in the new revenue by making long overdue investments in human and physical infrastructure” by pouring billions of pesos into education, healthcare, skills training, new roads, bridges and ports to further raise the level of competitiveness of the Philippines, the President said.
She urged those who have invested in the Philippines to “continue to do so. And to those of you who are just getting to know the Philippines, we urge you to come and explore all that the country has to offer you and your business.”
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September 27th, 2007 · No Comments
Philippine President Arroyo who is with other world leaders in New York attending the annual general assembly meeting has come out with what is one of the few statements by leaders in ASEAN versus the repression in Myanmar.
Most ASEAN leaders - like in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are borderline countries on human rights issues. By and large while there are problems too here in the Philippines with active insurgencies and some cases of violations.
Most if not all cases that make it the courts do go through the legal process - and - widespread crackdowns like the current one in Rangoon are rare. However, Burma’s rulers often do as the rulers of any dictatorship do and do not pay heed to their own people let alone really listen intently to other leaders in the region.
Privately Philippine officials in Manila speaking on ‘Conditions of Anonymity’ say “China is the key here - and - China can stop the violence in Burma and should. So far its diplomats have been trying, one wonders how long Beijing will cover for the Yangoon Junta which of late has caused a lot of embarrassment and problems for the leaders Beijing.”
..Philippine President Arroyo: We call on Myanmar to act in its own best interests to avoid its further isolation and to redeem its democracy without any further delay. We have patiently but persistently advised Myanmar within ASEAN that it must make greater and faster progress toward that goal.
Recent events in Myanmar, therefore, are of concern to the Philippines and to the region as a whole. The Philippines asks the Government of Myanmar to act with the utmost restraint and to take immediate steps to preserve what advances have been made in its roadmap to democracy. Specifically, we ask the Government of Myanmar to now allow all interested parties to take full part in the effort to national reconciliation through peaceful and inclusive dialogue.
This means the release of all those who have been detained and who can contribute to the process of national renewal, including Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. In addition, we ask that the Government of Myanmar invite the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, to visit the country as soon as possible. …
September 27th, 2007 · No Comments
A stronger presence of troops were on the streets of Rangoon overnight.
Thursdays protests has led the Myanmar Military to impose stircter means to keep control and is trying to prevent more events Friday from occurring.
 Protesters emptied the streets of the capital around 1800 Thursday. Security forces are working systematically, block by block, alley by ally in some cases house to house through the city center to ensure that no demonstrators remain….
Myanmar’s government is stepping up it’s effort to disrupt internal and external communication services.
Whle Satellite phone remain the most reliable method of communication, unless diplomats or investors clearly working on government projects there have been some reports of Sat-phones seized.
The evening curfew remains in place a 1800-0600hrs or dusk to dawn curfew.
Here’s what the major embassies are reporting:
.. Travel Advisories:.
1.The US government issued a travel advisory recommending its citizens to defer non-essential travel to Myanmar.
2. The UK government also advises against all but essential travel to Myanmar.
3. There are no current indications that airlines have added flights to Yangon to prepare for a large scale evacuation of foreigners.
4. Thai Airways has rescheduled two flights on the Bangkok-Yangon route between 27 September and 5 October to ensure passengers are able to observe the curfew …
Observers say “the protests are likely to continue and could turn increasingly violent, as across the country - large numbers of monks and supporters are mobilizing to protest and while the military responds more vigorously to contain the demonstrations.
Other groups such as insurgents may take advantage of the situation in the countryside.
Also criminal elements may take advantage of the situation in particular the use of current unrest to smuggle more narcotics out of Burma.
In the Cities itself, the risk of an extended confrontation over coming days and possibly weeks is high. The details so far from Thursday are grim.
 Protesters have sustained injuries, many of them wounded by gunfire.
On the Government as well the injuries are reportedly rising as protesters are trying to defend themselves.
… Approximately 31 members of the security forces were reportedly injured. Figures on casualties are likely to rise in the next 48 hours. 
Travelers and those already in Burma should be aware of some reports of arrests over curfew violations as conflicting schedules of curfew have been issued for the countryside areas and in the Cities.
… Conflicting reports on the curfew hours imposed on Yangon and Mandalay; the curfew is either 2100-0500 or 1800-0600….
September 27th, 2007 · No Comments
Reports continue to show increased violence in Burma/Myanmar. The center of reports are coming from Yangoon/Rangoon which has so far seen nine confirmed dead with more reports coming from sources elsewhere of increasing violence and escalation in death toll.
At least one foreign journalist has been killed deliberately targeted by troops who have been trying to find anyone with a camera or device to record the events taking place on the streets of Rangoon.
 Eight protesters and a Japanese journalist were killed during protests at several locations in Yangon.Demonstrations have continued throughout the afternoon, Thursday, there is a noticeable increase in military forces and barricades around key locations.
The picture on the streets is not pretty, aid agency workers there to help the Burmese people are also reportedly being advised to leave Burma for fear of reprisals from gangs of thugs who have been let loose in a bid to stem protests. most visible are military efforts to get anyone trying to voice their dissatisfaction with the Government in Burma/Myanmaar.
 Troops continue to surround monasteries and detain monks suspected of involvement in protest activity.The heavy-handed military action has provoked an angry public reaction, which is likely to build-up over next few days. 
Much like yesterday the reports show decline in actual people in the streets but overall there seems to be more open vocal resentment given in many places to tourists, visitors, and international agency workers in the region.
 Most estimate the number of protesters in the range of 10,000 with more smaller groups being blocked from forming through arrest and intimidation. 
Religious and Aid organizations say there is little attempt by the Military to hide their actions.
No group of people are safe in areas of protest from reprisal and even the few tourists remaining,
There have been eyewitness and first hand accounts in many areas also of people being openly targeted thier belongings searched and any cameras seized.
.. Military units are targeting and harassing westerners seen near areas of protests. Even diplomatic staff of international agencies. There is a large number of what seem to be ‘battle hardened’ troops in areas not traditionally where these units are deployed. ..
For the third day in a row the ‘hot spots’ in Yangoon/Rangoon are:
1. Shwedagon and Sule Pagodas
2. Main roads connecting these two locations
1. Military using cs gas (teargas) and fired warning shots to disperse protesters. At same time sending in thugs to beat or harass those fleeing teargas.
2. Over 100 monks were reportedly arrested in protest areas or nearby Thursday.
3. During two separate incidents, soldiers reportedly fired automatic weapons into crowds.
4. Military threatening protesters with “extreme action” given a failure to disperse.
Mike Cohen, PNC Correspondent 27.SEP.07
11:58 a.m. The U.S. State Department released its International Narcotics report for 2008, which warns that the political problems in Burma are leaving drug production centers unchecked, and corruption problems in government mean that it has become Asia's central distribution area for meth pills and production point for many criminal trafficking groups. Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. West Coast could feel the impact [more]
September 26th, 2007 · No Comments
Global Corruption Survey Results
9:39 a.m. Transparency International, the global international anti-corruption ‘watchdog,’ released its latest findings today in Germany. “The 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index looks at perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories - the greatest country coverage of any CPI to date – and is a composite index that draws on 14 expert opinion surveys.” [more]