On Tuesday, a fire at a Muslim school for orphans in Burma killed 13 young boys. Though initial reports blamed “excessively high electric voltage,” local Muslims were suspicious that the fire had been intentionally lit by anti-Muslim Burmese. Surprisingly, the government agreed to launch an official investigation into the matter, and yesterday, they arrested 26-42 people (accounts differed), half of whom were Muslim and half Buddhist. Trials will begin within days. Such a quick response might well have to do with the statements of Burma’s UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, Tomas Ojea Quintana, who said on Saturday that he had received reports that the government had been directly involved in the recent spates of anti-Muslim violence. This is something that we’ve heard before on the Tricycle site, from Burmese dissident Maung Zarni.
The number of magical effects of mindfulness meditation swelled this week with researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara announcing that a two-week crash course in mindfulness based stress reduction raised scores for participants taking a reading comprehension test from the G.R.E. Generally I like to ignore these mindfulness experiments that are usually bad science, anyway—if all of these studies were true, I’d have fantastically low cholesterol, zero stress, and now, great G.R.E. scores, simply because I meditate every day—but this one particularly worried me. Taken in tandem with the tiger mom phenomenon and the nationwide obsession with getting your child into an Ivy League school, the news that mindfulness could be treated in the future as another step up in the rat race to the Ivy League makes me very, very sad. What’s next? Mindfulness trainers-cum-SAT tutors?
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