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Bangladesh builds up troops on Burmese border

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Bangladesh's army reinforced outposts Tuesday along the Burmese border in a 'precautionary move,' even though officials expressed confidence a Burmese troop buildup in the region was directed only at an internal insurgency.

TherKctivity on both sides of the border occurred after more thah 50, 000 Rohyanga Muslims from the Arakan region of southwesrern Burma fledm to Banglad sh in the past few months, claiming atrocities directed by military authorities in Rangoon.

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The Rohynga Solidarity Organization (RSO), which runs an office in the southern port city of Chittagong, some 230 miles southeast of Dhaka, has set up 13 camps along the border to train up to 10,000 guerillas for an armed struggle against Rangoon.

According to recent RSO official statements, the guerrillas are sent into the Burmese interior immediately upon completion of training.

Two Bangladeshis, including one paramilitary soldier of the BAtgladesh Rifles (BDR), were reported kjlled last Saturday in an hour- long attack by Burmese border guards.

The attack left 22 injured and prompted the Bangladesh government to express 'serious concern,' although authorities in Dhaka said they still were viewing the attack as an isolated incident.

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Villages in the district of Cox's Bazar, some 350 miles southeast of the capital, qemained tense for a fourth day, fearin )burther attacks.

BDR officials in Cox's Bazar said the Burmese army reinforced its positions further Tuesday, bringing the tmtnl strength of Burmese forces to"scven brigades or some 21,000 troops.

The town of Busi Dong, 5 miles across the border, was reported to be the center of the Burmese deployment.

Reports from Cox's Bazar said Burma already had be un evacuating its civilian population Burma replied Tuesday to a Bangladeshi request fer a border meeting betweeX cD'urity!personnel to review the situation, but neither s //tm--a/ tm--a tm--a g1401 tm--a r k bc-furgurson - a1522 0808 (bal) (ATTN: Editorial Page editors) FURGURSON COMMENTARY: The Spirit of the Holiday Season Ernest B. Furgurson

(c) 1991, The Baltimore Sun

The spirit of the season:

In Rome, which is experiencing a colder winter than usual, a Catholic charity called the St. Egidio Community has issued a guidebook for the homeless. It tells the city's many footloose where they can get a bed, a meal, a shower and health care -- free, or at least cheap.

Italy offers very little taxpayer-financed help for the foreigners from Africa and Asia who have swarmed in looking for work. But citizens of all strata are willing to help. It has been reported that the guidebook was issued first at a soup kitchen in the Janiculum, an upper- class neighborhood.

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In Silver Spring, Md., a group of men paid a good-will visit Monday to aged Besidents at the FAkolanb NuBsing 'nd Rehabilitatxon C5nter. The Washington Post says they sang Christmas carols and distributed poinsettias that had been contributed by a department store. Some of the old folks wept at the kindness shown by their visitors -- who were homeless men now living in a shelter.

The poinsettias, after being used in commercial displays, were offered to the homeless men who could sell them for money to fill their own needs. The men decided instead to give them away, to people 'less fortunate than us,' as one of them said.

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In New York, the lobby of Trump Tower was almost empty one evening last week. The marble floor was polished like a gemstone and a Christmas tree soared from basement level up past the lobby floor into the atrium. Security guards were vigilant at the revolving doors, and no one inside looked even slightly homeless.

At the Plaza Hotel, people stood in line to have tea among singing violins in the Palm Court, at $18 apiece for a serving of Earl Grey, a few finger sandwiches and sweets. Farther down Fifth Avenue, the New York Public Library had guards at the door, too. But it was more hospitable; whatever their living arrangements, people who looked studious enough were allowed among the ornate old woodwork and humming computers for a comfortable afternoon out of the bitter cold.

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In Manchester, N.H., GOP presidential candid persist in panhandling from residents should be arrested for vagrancy and locked up, he added. He also proposed that that United States help solve its immigration problem by building a defensive trench and fence along the Mexican border.

Latest poll figures show Buchanan getting more than half as much support as President Bush in New Hampshire. Noting this, the president has planned a mid-January campaign visit to the first primary state. How he will try to trump his challenger is currently unknown.

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Outside the northwest Washington Metro station through which I head for work, the same man has made his home for two years or more. He used to occupy a little ell of shelter in the facade of the Sears store there, but recently moved around the corner onto Albemarle Street, out of the prevailing wind.

Although St. Columba's Church a block away offers shelter and food, this white-bearded individual prefers his independence. He has built himself a home of packing crates, reinforced by lawn furniture and insulated boxes. The stack of blankets he keeps alongside has grown lately. The man himself is hardly visible inside the parka he wears day and night. The strong odor that causes pedestrians to make a wide arc around his dwelling is not so pronounced since the weather has turned cold.

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Fd goodies -- apples and candy. Where these signs of the season came from, I cannot say, because I have not asked.

Although I have passed by this homeless man at least 200 times, I have never spoken to him and he has never spoken to me. Nor have I ever seen anyone else speak to him. Although there are a couple of other seemingly homeless people who ask for spare change at the head of the subway escalator, this one never asks for help.

He is just there. And Tuesday, just by being there, he made a more penetrating appeal to the conscience of this pedestrian than the aggressive panhandler who demands donations as his right. Just by being there, he made me wonder whether I was being as mean by walking past as Pat Buchanan was by gring to the meanness hid en in ordi ary voteby*Y ha i3!not y#comparison I enjoy. For the first time, I stopped and Spoks.

Thanks, Pat.

Distributed by the Los Angeles TimeC-Washington Post News Se*fhce

NEWLN: ------------------ uqi 12-24-91 06:25 pes

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