There is a sleazy underside to what is being protrayed as an important step towards peace in Asia. Visiting New Delhi, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao signed an agreement with India to resolve border disputes dating to the Sino-Indian war of 1962, in which China seized a contested stretch of the Himalayas known as Aksai Chin. Geographically a part of Kashmir (itself contested by India and Pakistan), Aksai Chin is strategic to China not only because it controls a pass through the mountains which could serve as an invasion route, but (perhaps more importantly) because it straddles both of western China's restive internal colonies: Tibet and Xinkiang. Delhi and Beijing have remained at odds over the territory since the brief war, and only restored direct air links in 2002. (See CNN, May 24, 2002)
"Crouching Tiger, Swimming Dragon," an op-ed in the April 11 NY Times by Nayan Chanda, former editor of Far Eastern Economic Review, notes with alarm that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao last week signed a deal in Islamabad for construction of a deep-sea facility at Pakistan's Indian Ocean port of Gwadar. Although it is ostensibly to be built for trade, Chanda fears "a permanent Chinese naval presence near the Srait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil passes." It all gives the historically astute Chanda an uneasy sense of deja vu.
The most prominent separatists in Italy have long been the right-wing Lega Nord, who want to create an independent state called "Padania" in the prosperous Po Valley (yet are, ironically, part of Italy's ruling coalition). But now word comes of a separatist movement in an impoverished (by European standards) corner of Italy, with an apparent ecological sensitivity as well as an antipathy to the ruling oligarchy.
In response to a high-profile petition by historians, C-SPAN canceled its planned broadcast of a speech by David Irving; instead it aired a program (on April 3 and April 4) in which Book TV executive producer Connie Doebele admitted it was wrong to plan to "balance" Deborah Lipstadt's lecture with Irving, and expressed regret; and presented brief excerpts of Irving's remarks with a commentator describing him as a Holocaust-denier, rather than uncritically presenting his speech, as it had originally planned. (US Newswire, April 4)
From the AP, April 1:
Washington - The government requested and won approval for a record number of special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies, 75 percent more than in 2000, the Bush administration disclosed Friday.
Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella revealed the figure in an annual report to Congress. Last year’s total of 1,754 approved warrants was only slightly higher than the 1,724 approved in 2003. But the number has climbed markedly since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as authorities have moved aggressively against terror suspects. In 2000, there were 1,003 warrants approved under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Writes the NY Post:
April 8, 2005 --
Two teenage New York girls are in prison as illegal aliens after stumbling into a federal probe of recruiters trying to sign up homicide [suicide] bombers, The Post has learned.
The unidentified 16-year-old Muslim girls—who reportedly are being held in a Pennsylvania detention center—were taken into custody last month on immigration charges.
The arrests took place after authorities decided it would be better to lock up the girls than wait and see if they decided to become terrorists willing to die for a cause, law-enforcement sources said.
Scores are dead in Yemen, where security forces are battling Islamist forces led by Badruddin Al-Houthi in and around the northwestern town of Saada. A group of opposition parties is calling for the nation's pariliament to immediately launch an investigation into "extra-judicial killings" by government forces in the operation. (Arab News, April 9) The fighting has left at least 70 this week, and 170 over the past month.