Thursday, 29 May 2008

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Puts Arm and Other Tools to Work

NASA: May 29, 2008 -- TUCSON, Ariz. - NASA’s Mars lander is returning more detailed images from the Martian surface and is now preparing its instruments for science operations. Phoenix transmitted a 360-degree panorama of its frigid Martian world, freed its nearly 8-foot robotic arm, tested a laser instrument for studying dust and clouds, and transmitted its second weather report on Wednesday evening. "We've imaged the entire landing site, all 360 degrees of it. We see it all," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith, University of Arizona, Tucson. "You can see the lander in a fish-eye view that goes all the way out to the entire horizon "We are now making plans for where to dig first, and what we'll save for later." Commands were communicated to Phoenix to rotate the robotic arm's wrist to unlatch its launch lock, raise the forearm and move it upright to release the elbow restraint. "We're pleased that we successfully unstowed the robotic arm. In fact, this is the first time we have moved the arm in about a year," said Matthew Robinson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The arm deployment brings the Phoenix mission to a significant milestone. "We have achieved all of our engineering characterization prerequisites, with all the critical deployments behind us," said JPL's Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager. "We're now at a phase of the mission where we're characterizing the science payload instruments. That's a very important step for us." After a health check that tests the arm at a range of warmer and colder temperatures, the titanium and aluminum arm will soon be tasked with its first assignment: to use its camera to look under the spacecraft to assess the terrain and underside of the lander. The robotic arm will later trench into the icy layers of northern polar Mars and deliver samples to instruments that will analyze what this part of Mars is made of, what its water is like, and whether it is or has ever been a possible habitat for life. Another milestone for the mission included the activation of the laser instrument called light detection and ranging instrument, or lidar. "The Canadians are walking on moonbeams. It's a huge achievement for us," said Jim Whiteway Canadian Science lead from York University, Toronto. The lidar is a critical component of Phoenix's weather station, provided by the Canadian Space Agency. The instrument is designed to detect dust, clouds and fog by emitting rapid pulses of green laser-like light into the atmosphere. The light bounces off particles and is reflected back to a telescope. "One of the main challenges we faced was to deliver the lidar from the test lab in Ottawa, Canada, to Mars while maintaining its alignment within one one-hundredth of a degree," said Whiteway. "That's like aiming a laser pointer at a baseball at a distance from home plate to the center field wall, holding that aim steady after launch for a year in space, then landing," he added. Lidar data shows dust aloft to a height of 3.5 kilometers (2 miles). The weather at the Phoenix landing site on the second day following landing was sunny with moderate dust, with a high of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of minus 80 (minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit).

Tuesday, 27 May 2008




The Foreign Secretary said:

"I was saddened, if not surprised, to learn that the Burmese Government has, once again, decided to extend the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. Along with some 2,000 other political prisoners in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi lost her freedom for simply expressing a desire to bring democracy to Burma. She has now spent more than twelve of the last eighteen years in detention. That she will spend her 63rd birthday next month in total isolation is an indictment of the regime.

While our immediate focus is on relieving the suffering caused by the recent cyclone, restoration of democracy in Burma is still vital for that country's long-term future. I urge the Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi and allow her to play her rightful role in the process of genuine national reconciliation."
FCO Press Office: 020 7008 3100

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Facing up to our responsibilities.

By:Gareth Evans.
If the intransigence of the Burmese generals continues, we will have to face the question of whether in the name of humanity some international action should be taken against their will - like military air drops, or supplies being landed from ships - to get aid to the huge numbers who desperately need it, right now, in the inaccessible coastal area in particular.
Last Thursday, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, argued, as others are now doing, that this is a proper case for coercive intervention under the "responsibility to protect" principle unanimously endorsed by 150 heads of state and government at the 2005 UN world summit. His proposal that the security council pass a resolution which "authorises the delivery and imposes this on the Burmese government" met with immediate rejection not only from China and Russia, who are always sensitive about intervention in internal affairs, but from many other quarters as well.
It generated concern from the UK and others, including senior UN officials, that such an "incendiary" approach would be wholly counterproductive in winning any still-possible cooperation from the generals. It also provoked the argument from humanitarian relief agencies - who know what they are talking about - that simply as a practical matter any effort to drop supplies without an effective supporting relief on the ground would be hopelessly inefficient, and maybe even dangerous, with the prospect of misuse of medical supplies.
These are strong arguments, and they weigh heavily in the policy balance. But as the days go by, with relief efforts impossibly hindered, only a trickle of the government's own aid getting through, and the prospect of an enormously greater death toll looming acutely within just a few more days, they are sounding less compelling, and at the very least, need revisiting.
My own initial concern, and it remains a serious one, with Kouchner's invocation of the "responsibility to protect" was that, while wholly understandable as a political rallying cry - and God knows the world needs them in these situations - it had the potential to dramatically undercut international support for another great cause, to which he among others is also passionately committed, that of ending mass atrocity crimes once and for all.
The point about "the responsibility to protect" as it was originally conceived, and eventually embraced at the world summit - as I well know, as one of the original architects of the doctrine, having co-chaired the international commission that gave birth to it - is that it is not about human security generally, or protecting people from the impact of natural disasters, or the ravages of HIV-Aids or anything of that kind.
Rather, "R2P" is about protecting vulnerable populations from "genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" in ways that we have all too miserably often failed to do in the past. That is the language of the 2005 UN general assembly resolution, and security council resolutions that have followed it, and it is only in that context that the question should even arise of coercively intervening in a country against the express will of its government. And even then, the responsibility to protect norm allows the use of military force only with security council endorsement, and only as a last resort, after prevention has failed, when it is clear that no less extreme form of reaction could possibly halt or avert the harm in question, that the response is proportional to that harm, and that on balance more good than damage will be done by the intervention.
If it comes to be thought that R2P, and in particular the sharp military end of the doctrine, is capable of being invoked in anything other than a context of mass atrocity crimes, then such consensus as there is in favour of the new norm will simply evaporate in the global south. And that means that when the next case of genocide or ethnic cleansing comes along we will be back to the same old depressing arguments about the primacy of sovereignty that led us into the horrors of inaction in Rwanda and Srebrenica in the 1990s.
But here's the rub. If what the generals are now doing, in effectively denying relief to hundreds of thousands of people at real and immediate risk of death, can itself be characterised as a crime against humanity, then the responsibility to protect principle does indeed kick in. The Canadian-sponsored commission report that initiated the R2P concept in fact anticipated just this situation, in identifying one possible case for the application of military force as "overwhelming natural or environmental catastrophes, where the state concerned is either unwilling or unable to cope, or call for assistance, and significant loss of life is occurring or threatened".
The UN resolution does not pick up this specific language, but it does refer to "crimes against humanity". The definition of such crimes (in the Rome statute establishing the international criminal court, as well as in customary international law) embraces, along with widespread or systematic murder, torture, persecution and the like, "other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health".
There is, as always, lots for the lawyers to argue about in all of this, not least on the question of intent. And there will be lots for the security council to quarrel about as to whether air drops and the like are justified, legally, morally and practically. But when a government default is as grave as the course on which the Burmese generals now seem to be set, there is at least a prima facie case to answer for their intransigence being a crime against humanity - of a kind which would attract the responsibility to protect principle. And that bears thinking about, fast, both by the security council, and the generals.

US Navy readies for Burma.

By Lisa DanielAmerican Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2008 – The U.S. Navy is ready to help in Burma, where a cyclone has caused a humanitarian disaster, but the orders won’t be given unless Burma’s ruling military leaders make an official request of the U.S. government, President Bush said today.USS Essex is among the ships ready to assist Burma
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell briefs the press on issues ranging from the supplemental budget proposals before Congress to the situation in cyclone-damaged Burma, May 6, 2008. Defense Department photo by Cherie Cullen available..“The United States has made an initial aid contribution, but we want to do a lot more,” Bush said. “We’re prepared to move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who’ve lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilize the situation. But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country.”.Bush made the comments after signing a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal, in abstentia, to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and pro-democracy leader in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The United States has allocated $3.2 million to help with the disaster relief. Lack of outreach from the Burmese ruling military committee, or junta, reflects increasingly strained relations between it and the United States due to the junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, such as Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since 2003, according to the U.S. State Department..The United States has responded with sanctions. On May 2 and 3, a cyclone dubbed Nargis ripped through the tiny, impoverished country. At least 20,000 people are estimated dead, and many villages are “decimated,” a State Department report says. The U.S. military has helped out in many natural disasters, including a massive tsunami that struck Indonesia in December 2005, and Pentagon officials said they are ready to help again – if requested.USS Harpers Ferry.“We have any number of resources and are prepared to move naval assets, but we operate on orders,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “This is not new to the U.S. military. We have the capability to provide assistance and we have on numerous occasions. And we’re willing to do so again.” ..Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell also addressed the issue during a Pentagon news briefing today. “The military has vast resources and experience in dealing with this type of situation, unfortunately,” he said. .
“And we stand ready to provide that expertise and those resources to the Burmese people, hopefully, when their government sees fit to ask us to provide them.” The Navy has three ships in the Gulf of Thailand, including the USS Essex, which has 23 helicopters, 1,800 Marines and five amphibious landing craft, Pentagon Morrell said. The USS Harper’s Ferry and the USS Juneau also are in the area, he said..Bush made clear that the United States wants to help the Burmese people. “Our message to the military rulers is: Let the United States come to help you help the people,” Bush said. “Our hearts go out to the people of Burma. We want to help them deal with this terrible disaster. At the same time, of course, we want them to live in a free society.”

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Please help-up to Arakanese cyclone Victims.

Dear Reader,
All you know,A bout Nagis cyclone was hits to Burma inc Arakan ( Gya, Santwe, Kyatphyu,Chountha and Munaung Township).The cyclone victims people are urgently
need supporting at disasters area especially southam Arakan.
Please be kindly supporting to then by locally org,community and groups.
In Rangoon,Leading by Arakan Harmony Association.
U Kyaw Zan Hla
In USA ,Leading by Would Arakanese Org.
U Hla Kyi
In UK ,Leading by Arakanese Community.
U Khin Maung Kyi

Save Arakanese Monks.

Arakanese Community UK was sending $400 fund to Arakanese Monks.
Who fled to Thai-Burma border area after September revolution by
U Khaing Soe Naing Aung Vice president of Arakan Liberation Party.
U Khaing Soe Naing Aung have had arrived UK with National Council
of Union of Burma delegation at 18/04/05.He was meeting with British
Politician, Arakanese students and workers who living in London.
Also numbers of Arakanese donors from Japan were sending fund and
supporting to Monks who fled to Bangla-Arakan border.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Deadly cyclone devastates Burma biggest city

Rangoon, May 3 -- A deadly cyclone Nargis, which occurred over the Bay of Bengal, has almost totally devastated Rangoon, Burma's biggest city, with lots of trees on streets and roofs of many buildings being torn down Saturday.
Having hit Rangoon for over 10 hours since Friday midnight until Saturday noon, the unprecedented violent cyclone has resulted in an inestimable loss of the properties, eyewitnesses said.
Roads were blocked by fallen big trees and the city's traffic were paralyzed. Electric cable wire and telephone lines were also brought down. The mobile access was also in trouble. All flights have been canceled.
Numerous vehicles parking on the streets were pressed to deformation by fallen trees.
Government and public buildings were severely damaged, with a large number of commercial signboards set up in the public areas and in front of their respective shops blown off. Nearly all satellite dishes erected at top of the roofs by the public and individuals were crushed to pieces.
The Nargis, had lashed Haing Gyi Island, coastal region of the country's southwestern Ayeyawaddy division, since Friday morning, the State Meteorology Department said.
The wind speed was once as high as up to 192 km per hour, while it was 120 km per hour when the cyclone swept across some main regions such as Pathein, Myaungmya, Laputta, Mawlamyinegyun, Kyongmange, Bogalay, Chaungtha, Ngwesaung, Tharyawaddy and Gwa.