Reversing a policy instated by his own father, President Bush has authorized the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan—a move India has warned could destabilize the region. The US banned the sale of such potential nuclear delivery systems to Pakistan in 1990 due to concerns about its nuclear weapons program.
Bush has fingered Stephen L. Johnson as new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, replacing Mike Leavitt, who has been nominated for Secretary of Health. As the EPA's assistant administrator for toxic substances, Johnson has taken some controversial positions. Writes Gene C. Gerard in a commentary for Intervention magazine:
We don't care. But isn't it pretty damn perverse that this is dominating the headlines, while Darfur (for instance) has disappeared? We never get tired of bemoaning the obvious, I guess...
Brian Grogan, a spokesman for Jan Egeland, the UN emergency relief coordinator, told the UK Guardian that an average 10,000 civilians are dying each month in Darfur, totalling 180,000 over the past 18 months. These are only the victims of starvation or disease in refugee camps after being driven from their villages by government-backed militiamen. The estimate excludes those directly killed.
World media reported just yesterday that opposition lawmaker Ishenbai Kadyrbekov had been appointed interim president by Parliament following the ouster of Kyrgyzstan's long-ruling strongman Askar Akayev in a popular uprising. But on March 25, AP reports that a better-known opposition figure with a questionable past, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has been named interim president—and prime minister. Reads the report:
JTA reports that more than 500 scholars have now signed a petition blasting C-Span's decision to air a talk by Holocaust-denier David Irving. JTA reports, "The petition was organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in response to the U.S. cable network's decision to broadcast a talk by David Irving alongside a lecture by Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt. Lipstadt later rescinded permission for C-Span to tape her talk. Irving lost a lawsuit against Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, in 2000, after Lipstadt accused Irving of being a Holocaust denier.
With Afghan opium cultivation up 64% in 2004 over the previous year, far exceeding even the gravest predictions, the Pentagon is broadening the scope of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan to allow direct involvement in drug enforcement. Writes the NY Times March 25:
In a gunbattle in a village near the Pakistan border in Afghanistan's Paktika province, US troops apparently killed Raz Mohammed, described by a US commander as a "high-level Taliban."