Please clarify for me

I have a question. Is it Burma, or is it Myanmar?

If I am listening to NPR, it’s Myanmar. Granted, in college we were told that the name had changed and we were to pronounce it MY-an-mar, and when Carl Cassell reads the news he pronounces it ME-in-mar. But still, it’s the second of the two–you never see Burma or Rangoon, it’s always the alternative versions.

Yet when I read the paper, it’s Burma. USAToday, the Washington Post, even my local paper has Burma. And to further confuse the issue, when I look at online papers that also have television news like CNN.com or MSNBC.com, they use Myanmar.

Is it a printing issue? Is it because Burma only has five letters as opposed to the alternative seven and takes up less space on the printed page?

I am so confused.

And more to the point, wouldn’t you think that a country that is roughly the size of Texas that is facing almost 100,000 dead and complete destruction of many villages and cultures would drop the chip on its shoulder and allow the aid that the US is willing to give? As of right now, it has allowed UN visas but is still refusing US assistance. I know that the US established trade embargoes against Burma/Myanmar in October 2007 due to human rights issues and military rule, but there are exceptions to the rule when it concerns humanitarian aid.

It’s like saying if another hurricane hit New Orleans that FEMA’s help wouldn’t be allowed. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be criticized, scrutinized, and discussed, but it would be allowed–there are too many people that depend on the aid to turn it away, too many that have no other hope other than the government’s meager offering to look elsewhere for assistance.

So why won’t Burma/Myanmar allow the plane that is currently sitting in Thailand to make the remainder of the journey and deliver its supply of vital first aid items and food? This is why I could never be in politics. It’s too black and white to me, and I don’t get the finesse of the gray area that the majority of politics requires. Here’s hoping that the country gets the help they need, and quickly. If not from the US, then from the UN or China or another country with which it has favorable relations.

And once they have everyone patched up and set up in some sort of housing, with all their needs taken care of, maybe they can tell me why some people keep using Burma, and others keep using Myanmar.

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