COMMENTS: Dateline Naypyidaw

Dan Harris of ABC is the only American television reporter in the traveling entourage of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as he conducts his United Nations diplomacy in Myanmar. Thus Harris could boast the rarest of datelines, Naypyidaw, "Myanmar's new capital city, a normally off-limits place that typifies the junta's excesses and its paranoia." A Burmese Brasilia, "there are towering buildings under construction, wide eerily empty boulevards and swank hotels." The military regime relocated abruptly under Gen Than Shwe three years ago, "apparently on the advice of his personal astrologer."

Ban announced that Shwe had agreed to upon the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy Delta to disaster relief and international aid workers after almost three weeks of stonewalling. Harris had followed Ban to the delta Thursday where the junta had staged a disaster relief photo-op of sanitized tents. NBC obtained a clandestine report from Tom Ewart (no link) from a village within sight of that neat blue line of canvas: "In the village itself there has been no sign of government help" since Cyclone Nargis struck. The government activity Ewart did observe was trucks carrying riot police, "a sure sign there are fears of new demonstrations with the United Nations in town and the world watching."


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