On the 20th Anniversary of the Burma Uprising

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Burma's uprising on August 8th, 1988. Over 3,000 Burmese citizens were killed while peacefully protesting the socialist regime. Yet, not many news organizations seem to be giving it much coverage. Here's a rundown of the uprising and repercussions that are still being felt there today.

When: August 8th- September 18th 1988

Where it happened:
Burma aka Myanmar. At the time of the uprising, Burma was a socialist state.

The Story:

Picture 83.pngUniversity students in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the former capital of Burma, staged a peaceful protest in response to the death of Phone Maw who was a student at the Rangoon Technical University. He was shot by a soldier in front of the main building on campus during a demonstration.
At the time of the uprising, Ne Win was General and Head of State of Burma, and the Chairman of the Burma Socialist Programme Party. His policy of rapid nationalization of industries caused Burma to sink even deeper into poverty, a state it maintains today. Just how bad was it? In 1987, Ne Win declared that 80 percent of the money in circulation had no value. In essence, it instantly rendered the savings of thousands of Burmese worthless.

The shooting ignited an already agitated public, and hundreds of thousands of Burmese monks, schoolteachers, hospital staff, and customs officers eventually took to the streets in peaceful protests. The revolutionary spirit proved infectious and soon spread to neighboring cities in the following weeks. According to Win Min, a Burmese exile, "the whole country was marching in the streets."Â  That is, until the marches were brutally quelled by the military.
During the August 8th uprising Ne Win told his soldiers "Guns were not to shoot upwards," meaning he was giving them permission to kill protestors. Monopolizing on the unrest, General Saw Muang staged a coup d'etat, declared martial law, and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

The Death Toll:

During the mass uprising on August 8th a reported 1,000 protesters were shot. Until the military assumed power on September 18th, another 3,000 were estimated to have been shot and another 10,000 fled to the mountains or across the border to China or India. One exile, Ngun Cung Lian, participated in the protests, and even led one in his hometown. To escape persecution he walked for seven days in the jungles of India. Today, he resides in America.
Present Day Situation:

Picture 94.pngNot much has changed in Burma. There is a new leader but it is still a military junta and they still fail to recognize fair elections. The junta continuously violates human rights. Many exiles and democratic leaders in Burma have hope for the future, however. They say the time is right for the democratization of Burma. First, the poor handling of Cyclone Nargis last May has reignited the Burmese will to fight for democracy. Second, China wants stability in the country, which is quickly becoming more chaotic by the day. And finally, the internet is allowing exiles to communicate with people in Burma in ways never thought possible, helping to facilitate a transition to democracy. The next elections in Burma will be held in 2010, but seeing as the last elections were held in 1990 and not recognized by the military junta, the Burmese still have an uphill battle to fight.

Quick Facts:
"¢ The World Bank discontinued all lending to the country in 1987 and has no plans to reinstate lending policies to the country.
"¢ Many people debate the use of Burma vs. Myanmar. By not recognizing the name given by a military junta, people claim it delegitimizes their claim to political power. Others view the problem as a Catch-22: Great Britain gave Burma its name when it colonized the region.
"¢ Burma is slightly smaller than Texas.
"¢ Nine months after the August 8th uprising, the famous Tiananmen Square Protests took place in Burma's neighboring country, China.
"¢ The uprising went unknown for many years as the new Junta quickly cut off all means off communication with the outside world and the global eye quickly shifted to the incident in Tiananmen Square.

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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