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Government Crackdown in Burma

At least nine are dead after soldiers fired automatic weapons into a crowd of anti-government protesters in Yangon Thursday, according to Burmese state television. One of the dead was a Japanese photographer.

On the 10th straight day of pro-democracy demonstrations troops gave the crowd 10 minutes to leave or be shot. About 200 soldiers marched toward the crowd and riot police clattered their rattan shields with wooden batons.

“It’s a terrifying noise,” one witness said.

Far fewer protesters were in the streets during the crackdown after soldiers raided monasteries in the middle of the night, rounded up hundreds of the Buddhist monks who had been leading the protests, and reportedly kicked and beat them.

Dissidents outside the country also reported receiving news of up to eight deaths Wednesday, possibly including monks, who are widely revered in Burma.

In one instance, protesters shouted, “Give us freedom, give us freedom!” at soldiers on Thursday. Thousands ran through the streets after warning shots were fired into crowds that had swollen to 70,000. Bloody sandals were left lying in the road. Witnesses told the AP that five men were arrested and severely beaten.

The monks have spearheaded the largest challenge to the military junta in the Southeast Asian nation since a failed uprising in 1988. Thursday’s clashes bore ominous reminders to that uprising, as when loudspeakers blared out warnings to the crowd before shooting. In the 1988 crisis, soldiers shot into crowds of peaceful demonstrators, killing some 3,000 people. Burma, which the current military junta calls Myanmar, has been under military rule for 45 years.

Jena 6 Update

BATON ROUGE (UPI) — Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell will be tried as a juvenile.

The 17-year-old and five other black youths are accused of beating Justin Barker, a white classmate in Jena, La. The aggressive prosecution of the black students prompted a rally by about 15,000 people last week. The students now face attempted battery and conspiracy charges after initially being charged with attempted murder.

The beating followed fights between white and black students after three whites hung nooses from a tree on high school property. The tree was a popular gathering spot for white students and the noose incident occurred after black students congregated under it.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will hold hearings on the matter next month in Washington, according to an article in USA Today.

Scientists Teaching Atoms to Talk

U.S. physicists have coaxed tiny artificial atoms into communicating in a technological advancement that may lead to super-fast quantum computers, the researchers said on Wednesday.

Quantum computers hold the promise of being enormously powerful, capable of solving in seconds, problems that take today’s fastest machines years to crack.

So far, physicists have worked mostly on developing the most basic of elements that can store information known as quantum bits, or qubits.

But a series of papers in the journal Nature suggest researchers have found a way to get these qubits to communicate over a distance, for instance, across a computer chip.

In the past, the best qubits could do was talk to neighboring qubits, much like the childhood game of telephone.

Quantum computers must take advantage of the unusual rules of quantum mechanics, the principles that govern nature’s smallest particles.

“Quantum information is much more delicate than classical information, but much more powerful,” said Yale physics professor Steve Girvin.

“It is the delicate part that we have to be good engineers to deal with so we can take advantage of the much more powerful part,” he said.

Bush Wants No Mandatory Emissions Reductions

The United States is aligned with China and India in opposing the mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases sought by the United Nations and European countries.
Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, insisted that the U.S. sponsored meeting on climate change, which opened Thursday, is aimed at accelerating and supporting the U.N. process.

President Bush’s two-day climate meeting gathers the world’s 16 largest-polluting nations. Together, they account for more than 90 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. In contrast to the U.N.’s climate change summit held in New York on Monday, Bush’s meeting will seek alternatives to firm internationally-defined emissions reduction goals.

Instead, the meeting could “include a long-term global goal” and leave shorter term goals to individual nations to decide, the White House official said.

This week’s summits come ahead of a major U.N. meeting in Bali in December to map out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. This U.N. meeting is set to expire in 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol assigned mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It was signed by 169 nations, although not all developing nations were held to emissions standards.

The United States and Australia were not signatories.

At the core of any U.N. deal made in Bali will be a mandatory cap on emissions by rich countries, a principle that Bush has fiercely opposed since 2001.

Skeptics, including dozens of protesters gathered outside the conference, have expressed concern that the climate meeting might be an attempt to circumvent or rival the U.N. process. The White House favors “aspirational” targets for emissions reductions.

But Rice said the United States “supports the goals” of the U.N. summit.

“We want this year’s U.N. climate change conference in Indonesia to succeed,” she said.

Phil Clapp, president of the Washington-based National Environmental Trust (NET), said none of the initiatives Bush was putting on the table were new.

“They’re programs that were launched in the past. This (meeting) is 90 percent for domestic political consumption,” he said.

By most counts, the United States is the No. 1 emitter of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired power plants and petroleum-fueled vehicles. But at least one study this year indicated that fast-developing China is now in the lead.

The American University School of Communication Graduate Program in Journalism works to prepare students for the realities of today's news and information space and the challenges of tomorrow. Find out more by visiting us online at soc.american.edu

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