Donor nations said they were ready to provide Myanmar with more than $100 million to help it recover from Cyclone Nargis, but warned the ruling junta Sunday they will not fully open their wallets until they are provided access to the hardest-hit areas.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking after a one-day meeting of 51 donor nations, said he believed a turning point had been reached in getting Myanmar’s isolationist junta to allow foreign aid workers unhindered entry into the devastated Irrawaddy delta.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that this could be a turning point for Myanmar to be more flexible, more practical, and face the reality as it is on the ground,” Ban said.
But Myanmar’s leaders – and potential donors – continued to take a guarded tone.
The prime minister, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, said international aid “with no strings attached” was welcome. But he hedged on the sensitive issue of direct access, saying only civilian vessels could take part in the aid operation, and they will have to go through Yangon.
That seemed to nix plans for U.S., British and French warships loaded with humanitarian supplies to join in the relief operation. The ships have been off Myanmar’s coast for more than a week.
France said Sunday it would unload the 1,000 tons of aid on its ship in Phuket, Thailand.
SAO PAULO, Brazil
Millions celebrate gay pride in Brazil
Millions of people waving rainbow flags and wearing lavish Carnival costumes danced and cheered their way through South America’s largest city on Sunday to celebrate gay pride and demand an end to homophobia and sexism.
Gay men, lesbians and cross-dressers paraded down skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo’s financial heart, to the beat of loud music blasting from more than 20 sound trucks.
Organizers said about 5 million people attended the 12th annual Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade, traditionally one of the world’s biggest. Local authorities did not give a crowd estimate, but said millions were likely present.
Sao Paulo’s department of tourism said the parade was expected to attract nearly 330,000 visitors, 20 percent more than last year’s event. The event also was projected to bring about $115 million to the city and help create 13,500 direct and indirect jobs.
Emissions goal set for 2050
Environmental ministers from the world’s top industrial countries say they have the political will to move toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
However, the announcement today by ministers meeting in Japan stopped short of setting a more contentious goal of slashing emissions by 2020.
The G8 statement said that rich nations have the responsibility to take the lead in cutting emissions. The statement is aimed at setting the stage for the Group of Eight summit in Japan in July.
Some G8 members had pushed for a commitment on a 2020 target.