For discussion tomorrow: whether China can do what many outsiders hope, and be the deus ex machina in the tragedy of Burma. It's pretty to think so, and to hope that Chinese intervention might spare Burmese monks and civilians from what looks like impending crackdown or massacre from the heavily-armed thugs who rule the country. I fear it's not realistic to think that China can or will play such a role. More later.

For now, street scenes from Rangoon, four months ago:

Rangoon city hall, with its somewhat eerie combination of British-colonial and traditional Burmese design. This appears in the background of many current protest videos. Here is how it looked on a weekday midmorning this May:

Entrance to internet cafe (although "foreign" email services like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc were all forbidden, and general services more tightly censored than in China):

Local transport:

School books for sale:

Local toothpaste ad: