Myanmar has been ruled by its military for the
last 16 years [AFP]
In September, Myanmar's military junta shot, beat and imprisoned Buddhist monks and other people for daring to peacefully ask for democracy.

In late October, People & Power went to Mae Sot on the tiny Myanmar border to speak to those fleeing the state's violent repression.

Their accounts revealed how a systematic campaign of physical torture and psychological terror has been waged by Myanmar's security forces since the people's first uprising in 1988.

How, then, does a brutal military regime not only thrive but also prosper despite having international sanctions against it since 1997?

People & Power reports on the lucrative and illegal trade of timber worth $300,000.

Alberta's Oil Sands

Extracting heavy oil can be catastrophic
for the local environment

Alberta is the Texas of Canada, a province of massive oil reserves and rowdy politics. In fact, Alberta is the biggest foreign supplier of oil to the United States.

And as oil prices have climbed in recent years, Alberta has experienced an unprecedented economic boom.

But like the rest of the world, Alberta is running short of light crude oil.

Increasingly, the oil industry is turning its attention to what is called heavy oil - oil trapped in thick gooey tar sands that lie mostly in the northern part of the province around the small city of Fort McMurray.

Alberta is home to the world's largest pool of heavy oil, at 174 billion barrels.

But extracting heavy oil has massive environmental costs. It requires leveling forests, digging up the soil in large open-pit mines, and then steaming the gooey tar to separate the oil from tar - a process that requires huge amounts of water and power.

Alberta is home to the world's largest pool
of heavy oil

The process results in lakes and rivers being polluted and thousands of acres of trees being cut down to make way for 200-foot-deep pits.

Now the oil sands are at the centre of a political storm. Environmentalists, and indigenous people say the industry is destroying their environment and their way of life.

The Miksew Crew band has seen their hunting grounds and fishing waters become contaminated, and claims that cancer rates in Native towns near the oil sands are far above normal.

People & Power speaks to the native and environmental groups, as well as government and oil industry spokespeople about the destructive impact the development is having on humans and the environment.

Watch this episode of Myanmar's ethnic insurgents on YouTube

Watch part two of this episode of Alberta's Oil Sands on YouTube

This episode of People & Power aired from Wednesday,  March, 12  2008

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