Just five years ago, every bit of expression in Myanmar (also called Burma) was filtered through a panel of stuffy censors. Every lyric, every pamphlet, even sports item and piece of pop star gossip — all of it was subject to state censorship.
Angsty punk songs? Banned. Models wearing pink wigs? Banned. Calls to oust the military government? Banned plus prison time, maybe torture.
In the United States, typing goofy messages into an anonymous messaging app might seem unremarkable.
MYANMAR, Thanlyin : This long-exposure photograph taken on April 23,
2013 on Earth Day shows Lyrids meteors shower passing near the Milky Way
in the clear night sky of Thanlyin, nearly 14miles away from Yangon.
AFP PHOTO / Ye Aung Thu
As you may know, I don’t really photograph anything but cityscape at dusk and occasional sunny beach photos, but I must admit that this narrow-mindedness is certainly costing me a lot of photo opportunities, especially in a place like Yangon where there are plenty of photo opportunities for street photography. Sometimes feel like going outside my comfort zone and trying something new, but I guess I won’t make good photos when having no real interest in the subjects, to be honest.
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A rather nice little crystal of red corundum from the Mogok stone tract of Burma testifies to the geological forces accompanying its birth and subsequent life in the crust. The gems themselves were born in the fire and pressure of metamorphism during the Himalayan mountain building event, as marine limestones were baked and recrystallised into marbles. The aluminium liberated in the process mixed with oxygen to form the corundum since it doesn’t fit into the calcite crystals in the forming marble, also sucking into its crystal lattice the chromium that gives it its colour. The forces are still present and the mountains are tectonically active, and at some later point the crystal was snapped by shear forces, part of the response of crust when it forcible meets other crust.
Home to some of the largest remaining contiguous forests in Southeast Asia, as well as more than 1,700 species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, Myanmar is well-known as a biodiversity hotspot. In 2014 alone, 26 new species were found in Myanmar, including the peculiar Glyptothorax igniculus, a catfish that uses an unusual flame-shaped suction cup on its throat to attach itself to rocks.
Fifty years of relative political and economic isolation have yielded
slow economic growth and contributed to the conservation of many of
Myanmar’s native species. However, the dissolution of Myanmar’s military
junta in 2011 marked the beginning of a new age of increasing political
and economic liberalization and international engagement. Many experts
fear that possible rapid development fuelled by international
investment, improved infrastructure and expanded transport networks,
pose a grave risk to Myanmar’s biodiversity and forests…