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September 10, 2008

Dalai Lama Back in Dharamsala

His Holiness receives a warm welcome at his home away from home. Doctors in Mumbai say he has nothing to worry about. And The American Conservative sputters about how liberals love Tibet: The driving force behind Tibetophilia today is not political solidarity with the Tibetans and certainly not any positive argument for full democratic equality, but rather a sense of disgust with Western life. In Rawson’s words, “the West perceives some lack within itself” and seeks to find fulfilment in the ostensibly preserved “pure East.” Ironically, then, Free Tibet activism has a colonial bent to it: wealthy Westerners pursuing emotional occupation. More »
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September 10, 2008

Tough times in Korea and Thailand

It's not a great time to be running Korea -- either Korea. Kim Jong-Il reportedly had a stroke and then surgery. South Korea and the world watch anxiously. And more from restive Thailand, which just ousted its Prime Minister: More than an attack on the sitting government, the protests grow out of deep political and social divides that have hardened over the past three years and threaten the stability of Thailand. The protesters who are now camped in the mud at Government House represent the latest turn in a long-running struggle between democratic ideals and a traditional, hierarchical society that feels disenfranchised by democratic change. This time, whatever the outcome of the confrontation, analysts say democracy is likely to suffer. More »
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September 09, 2008

Is Kim Jong-Il Unwell?

Why else would he miss the party for the 60th anniversary of North Korea? North Korea did not stage a massive military parade for its 60th anniversary on Tuesday and its top leader, Kim Jong-il, failed to attend a scaled-down celebration. The unexpectedly subdued ceremony came amid news reports that Mr. Kim, 66, might be seriously ill. For the 50th and 55th anniversaries of his country’s founding, Mr. Kim attended elaborate parades in which columns of armored vehicles and rocket launchers rumbled through Pyongyang’s main plaza as legions of goose-stepping soldiers saluted him. Although 60th anniversaries are important milestones in Korea, Tuesday’s parade featured only civil defense militia groups and ordinary citizens, according to Yonhap, South Korea’s main news agency, which monitors North Korean news. More »
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September 09, 2008

Thai P.M. ousted by courts

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was finally forced out of office not by protests but by the Courts: Samak, 73, a self-proclaimed foodie, hosted a popular television cooking show -- ''Tasting and Complaining'' -- for seven years before becoming prime minister. But he also made several appearances after taking office, breaking a constitutional prohibition on private employment while in office. This isn't the end of Thailand's political problems b a long shot, and they still have an active insurgency in the South. More »
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September 08, 2008

President Lee to express regret over anti-Buddhist bias

South Koren President Lee Myung-bak will express regret over the perceived pro-Christian bias in his administration. And the Beckhams have joined Amy Winehouse on the Who's Buddhist Now? rumors circuit. More »
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September 08, 2008

Burmese authorities deny Aung San Suu Kyi is on hunger strike

Her own National League of Democracy disagrees. Neoconservative Robert Kaplan says the U.S. should focus more on Burmese minorities in its pursuit of American interests. Why do neoconservatives care about Burma? Because of the nation's close relationship with China of course. Sri Lanka bars foreign aid workers from visiting the rebel-held north: Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said Monday the government decided to order all foreign aid workers from the territory under rebel control for their own protection. "We can't assure the security of these people," Rajapaksa told The Associated Press. "We are taking precautions." More »
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September 08, 2008

Takster Rinpoche, Dalai Lama's oldest brother, passes away

The 86-year-old retired teacher passed away in his Indiana home. He didn't always agree with his brother: While the brothers were close, they held different views about Tibet's future. The Dalai Lama advocates a "middle path" policy that espouses "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, rather than the full independence that some activists are seeking. But Rinpoche, a retired professor of Tibetan studies at Indiana University, "wanted nothing but full independence for Tibet. More »
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September 06, 2008

Bhutanese art visits the U.S.

With pretty pictures. More »
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September 04, 2008

Dalai Lama to return to work soon; British and American pro-Tibet protesters tortured during Olympics

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is recovering well and will soon return to work, according to an aide. The 73-year-old DL was treated for exhaustion in an Indian hospital after his travels during the Olympics. Britain's Telegraph reports that pro-Tibet British and American protesters were tied to chairs and deprived of sleep during interrogations by Chinese police while the Olympics went on. China has unblocked the iTunes store after a Tibtan activists' song left the front page. Subtle. The store was blocked for two whole weeks. More »
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September 04, 2008

Thai Protests

Could this be because the junta wouldn't let anyone else help?: The Burmese authorities were by far the greatest providers of medical assistance to its population after cyclone Nargis despite the widespread international criticism of a poor response by the military junta, according to an analysis released on Wednesday. A report summarised in the latest issue of the World Health Organisation’s Bulletin says government doctors, nurses and midwives were far more active in offering treatment and medicines to cyclone survivors than non-governmental organisations and individual volunteers. And many of those who protested a year ago are still in prison. Chaos continues in Thailand as More »
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September 03, 2008

Aung San Suu Kyi refuses doctors

From Reuters by way of Danny Fisher: Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi refused to see U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari last month and may be on a hunger strike to protest the regime's  intransigence. She says she is well and does not want to see a doctor. More »
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September 03, 2008

Tibet Today

The Dalai Lama is out of the hospital and recovering. But what will happen when he eventually dies? asks Benjamin Kang Lim. Kevin Deluca in the Salt Lake City Tribune urges Western journalists to cut the pro-Tibet bias and can the free Tibet talk: Amid cries of "free Tibet" and calls for religious freedom, the question is what does freedom have to do with Tibet? Under the Dalai Lama, was there religious freedom? Was there any freedom? Actually, no. We would recognize the Dalai Lama's Tibet as a medieval religious theocracy with a small elite class served by a large and oppressed serf population. The Dalai Lama ruled a region with no religious freedom, no political freedom, indeed, no human rights of any kind. The rulers were ruthless. More »
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September 02, 2008

Painting Elephants

If you haven’t heard of them already, these painting elephants will blow you away. The Asian Art and Conservation Project, a New York based non-profit dedicated to protecting the diminishing Asian elephant, works with domesticated elephants to raise funds for these elephants’ welfare, for the conservation of wild elephants, and for certain surrounding communities.  Employing art as a means of charity and service to humans and elephants alike, The Asian Art and Conservation Project is innovative in its vision and approach, and really worth exploring. If you aren’t “terrified” like my friend, Ben, you will most likely find yourself in awe and inspired. Painting Elephant Video More »
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September 02, 2008

Who's Buddhist Now?

This may be the only blog post you read today not about Sarah Palin. But it's something just as substantial: Amy Winehouse turns to Buddhism to battle her demons. (Advice from Tsultrim Allione in the pages of Tricycle on this.) It's Nichiren Buddhism Winehouse is interested in, supposedly. More »
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September 01, 2008

Keeping up the pressure in Korea

Protesters are prepared for the long haul. Ten thousand temples rang their bells simultaneously and held a service praying for peace and unity. On the fringes of the protest, a monk even slashed himself to draw attention to the protesters' demands. More »
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August 31, 2008

Please Vote

When my friend Gyano first came here from Australia years ago, somehow an election came up in conversation, and we had one of those weird discussions where we weren't understanding one another at all. Puzzled, she finally turned to me and said, "But isn't voting compulsory?" In Australia you receive a stiff fine if you don't vote...she couldn't believe that people here actually didn't vote. Now that she's been here a while, she probably sitll can't believe it, but more clearly sees the apathy and cynicism that pervade, keeping people from the ballot box. Since we're not required to vote and have to do so from the force of our own conviction, we need to stay in touch with how important it is to participate. Whomever you may vote for, please vote! More »
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August 31, 2008

I Have a Dream

I went to college in 1968. Witin a year or so, a fellow in one of my classses left town for a while and went down south to march for civil rights. I can't remember his name, but I remember what he looked like so well, a big guy with red hair, and shining eyes. When he came back, he had been beaten and was scared and his eyes weren't so shiny -- he seemed uncertain that his efforts and his caring and his trying and his suffering would make any difference at all. If he's still alive, i hope he was at Mile High Stadium in Denver last Thursday, or was watching it on tv. 45 years after Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, tens of thousands of people (including me) wept as Barack Obama accepted the Democratic party's nomination. I thought of my college acquaintance, and all those people who fought and sometimes died so that America would do the right thing. I can only thank you. More »
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August 29, 2008

Dalai Lama in Indian hospital; said to be stable, no cause for alarm

He went in complaining of abdominal pains. All His Holiness needs is "a good rest", say doctors. Meindert Gorter, a critic of the ban on devotion to Dorje Shugden -- and therefore not a fan of the Dalai Lama -- ponders the DL's return to Tibet: So, back in Tibet, the only role left for him would be a religious one. He could be the humble monk he has always claimed to be, but does he really have it in him? Or is he harbouring ambitions to become the religious leader he never was, in spite of all the naive parroting of him being a ‘temporal and spiritual leader’? Why else can he be so zealously devoted to uniting the lineages? More »
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August 28, 2008

Saliva Relics

An old Buddha head (from a statue) was dug up in Pakistan. No, it wasn't cut off by the Taliban, but rather dates way way back, maybe all the way to Bactrian Greek times when the first Budda statues were made, since a coin from that era was also found in the vicinity. And this exhibition of Buddha relics in Malaysia includes saliva relics. Excellent. And nine Buddhist leaders including Bob Thurman speak out on issues of the day. Buddhist leaders don't have to be calm and polite all the time, and they're always engaged. More »
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August 27, 2008

Burma Items from Danny Fisher

Several items on Burma from Danny Fisher: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari is returning from his sixth visit to Burma. The Washington Post dryly notes: It is clear now that U.N. More »