Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Taiwanese Leader Scraps 'China Unification' Committee

Taiwan's president has scrapped a committee set up 16 years ago to work towards the island nation's eventual reunification with the communist mainland. Chinese media predicted the move, effective on Tuesday, would "fuel tensions" across the Taiwan Strait. Read

Monday, February 27, 2006

UN, US on Collision Course over New Human Rights Body

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants the world body this week to approve plans for a new U.N. human rights council, but critics say the reform proposal has been watered down to the point where it should be rejected. Read

Philippines' Political Crisis Deepens

The Philippines government said Monday it planned to extend a state of emergency while presidential advisors consider the security situation in the wake of an alleged plot to overthrow President Gloria Arroyo. Read

Friday, February 24, 2006

'Shari'a Law Has No Place Here'

An Australian politician's comments about Muslims wanting to live under Islamic law (shari'a) has focused attention on the push by Muslim minorities in some Western countries to establish enclaves where Islamic norms and laws hold sway. Read

Adopt Our Values or Go Home, Foreign-Born Muslims Told

Australian Muslims already unhappy with Prime Minister John Howard's criticism about Islamic radicalism are bristling at even tougher comments from the man likely to succeed him, who says any Muslim immigrant who can't accept Australian values should leave. Read

Thursday, February 23, 2006

'Cartoon' Protests Seen As Pretext for Pushing Islam in Nigeria

Nigeria's top churchman believes last weekend's anti-Christian violence instigated by Muslims ostensibly angry about cartoons satirizing Mohammed, is part of a drive to turn Africa's most populous country into an Islamic state. Read

Pope's Choice of Cardinal a Challenge for China

In a decision highlighting his concern for China's persecuted Christians, Pope Benedict XVI has included in his papacy's first selection of cardinals a Hong Kong-based bishop who has been a thorn in Beijing's side. Read

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

UAE Port Deal Brings Charges of 'Islamophobia'

As the debate continues over a deal allowing a Dubai-based company to operate major American seaports, in the United Arab Emirates the dispute is being attributed variously to ignorance, election year posturing, and "Islamophobia." Read

Virgin Mary Cartoon Stirs Debate Over Freedom to Offend

While the Mohammed cartoon controversy rages around the world, a television channel in New Zealand was under fire Wednesday for a decision to show an episode of the South Park comedy series featuring a menstruating statue of the Virgin Mary. Read

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Muslim Leaders Want UN to Outlaw 'Defamation'

Disturbed by Muslim leaders' attempts to criminalize any criticism of Islam, human rights campaigners are urging the United Nations to resist pressure to outlaw religious defamation in a resolution creating the U.N.'s new human rights council. Read

Pregnancy Counseling Plan Raises Questions About Abortion Bias

Buoyed by their success in lifting an effective ban on the RU486 abortion pill, some Australian lawmakers are now hoping to block an initiative by the country's pro-life health minister. He wants to increase spending on counseling for pregnant women who are considering abortion. Read

Monday, February 20, 2006

US Military Quick to Help Again in Asia

When three U.S. Navy ships and thousands of U.S. Marines sailed into the Philippines on Friday to hold annual joint military maneuvers, none knew that within hours they would be called on to set aside disaster relief exercises for the real thing. Read

Christians Targeted as Bloody Cartoon Violence Continues

More than two dozen people have been killed in another weekend of Muslim rioting linked to cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, with the most serious violence occurring in Nigeria, where Christians bore the brunt of Muslim anger. Read

Muslim Anger Over Cartoons Increasingly Directed at US

Muslims protesting the publication in European media of cartoons depicting Mohammed have once again directed their anger at the United States despite the fact most American mainstream newspapers have not reproduced them. Read

Friday, February 17, 2006

Protests Escalate Ahead of Bush's Planned Visit to Pakistan

Protests in Pakistan this week, some of which turned violent and deadly, are building up to countrywide demonstrations planned for March 3, around the time President Bush is due to visit the South Asian country. Read

Bin Laden Sought White 'Sleeper' Agent, Court Told

A court case in Australia has revealed that al Qaeda tried to recruit a Caucasian Australian as a "sleeper agent," an allegation that focuses new attention on the risks posed by individuals who blend into Western societies while doing the bidding of terrorist masters abroad. Read

Thursday, February 16, 2006

One Year On, Kyoto-Enthusiasts Struggle to Meet Targets

Europe's top environment official marked the one-year anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol on Thursday by accusing the U.S. of not doing enough to combat climate change -- despite the fact that many of the treaty's most enthusiastic supporters have done significantly worse than America in dealing with "greenhouse gas" emissions. Read

Abu Ghraib Images Spark Debate

A decision by an Australian television network to release more images of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has set off a debate over the willingness of many media organizations to carry the gruesome pictures when they chose not to publish controversial cartoons depicting Mohammed. Read

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

US Pressed to Provide Peacekeepers for Darfur

Amid growing calls for the U.S. to play a larger role in ending the bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region, the government is playing down suggestions that the United Nations wants America to provide troops as part of a blue-hat peacekeeping mission. Read

US to Pressure China on Internet Control

Prompted by outrage over China's attempts to control the Internet, the U.S. government is turning up the pressure on Beijing and planning a "robust dialogue" with American Internet companies, some of which are accused of complicity in the restriction of civil liberties. Read

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lawmaker: Abortions May Result in Muslim Nation

An Australian lawmaker has set off a storm after comments tackling two subjects many consider taboo -- the country's high abortion rate and fears of a Muslim "takeover." Read

Gore's Remarks in Saudi Arabia Draw Strong Criticism

A speech in which former Vice President Al Gore told a mostly Saudi audience that the U.S. had committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after 9/11 continues to make waves, with critics calling the remarks disloyal and "inappropriate during a time of war." Read

Monday, February 13, 2006

US Planning 'Last Resort' Bombing on Iran's Nukes, Report Says

A report over the weekend saying that the Pentagon is planning for potential military strikes against Iran brought the customary response from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She said the United States wants a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute but no options are off the table. Read

New Claims of Collusion With Chinese Ahead of Internet Hearing

As U.S. lawmakers prepare to question American Internet companies about their willingness to comply with restrictive policies in China, Yahoo is facing more allegations about its role in the jailing of Chinese dissidents. Read

Security Council Discord Expected Over Annan's Successor

The search for a successor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is giving rise to differences within the Security Council, with Russia and China backing the customary procedure of rotating the post among the world's regions, while the U.S. questions the need to do so Read

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bush Hails Cooperation With SE Asia in Remarks on Terror Plot

President Bush's remarks Thursday about a foiled al Qaeda plot to fly hijacked airliners into the tallest building on the U.S. West Coast focused renewed attention on Southeast Asia's links to terrorism -- and on the crucial help of governments that are sometimes reluctant to have their cooperation made public. Read

UK Muslims Call for Changes in Law and Media Guidelines

A Christian leader in Britain has voiced alarm over calls by Muslims to change the law and media industry guidelines to prevent the future publication of images of the Muslim prophet, Mohammed. Read

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cartoon Furor Prompts Protests, Debate in Asia-Pacific

Although the focus of Muslim anger over cartoons satirizing Mohammed remains the Middle East, the issue is also resonating in the Asia-Pacific region, with protests and threats, anxious governments weighing in, and media debating the merits of publishing the controversial pictures. Read

EU Lawmakers Want Solidarity on Cartoon Row

The agenda of the European Parliament's next monthly session is being amended to allow for a discussion on freedom of expression and religion. The E.U. is seeking a unified position on the diplomatic and trade dispute prompted by the Mohammed cartoon controversy. Read

EU Presidency Decries Muslims' Anti-Jewish Cartoon Campaign

The Austrian presidency of the European Union has condemned a campaign launched by a Belgium-based Muslim party, which reacted to the publication of caricatures of Mohammed by posting cartoons lampooning such sensitive issues as the Holocaust. Read

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

UN's Ability to Overhaul its Human Rights Role Questioned

As negotiators wrestle over how a new human rights council at the U.N. should look and work, some scholars believe the U.S. should seek alternatives outside the world body rather than settle for a new rights entity hampered the same problems that blighted its discredited predecessor. Read

Russia, US Have Different Takes on Iran Nuclear Vote

Days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog voted to place Iran's nuclear activities before the Security Council, there are still questions about exactly what the resolution means, and whether governments see eye-to-eye on the matter. Read

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Islamic Scholars' Views on Portraying Mohammed Not Identical

As protests erupt in the Muslim world over cartoon depictions of Mohammed, various media reports stress that Islam forbids any pictures of its founding prophet. However, it's an issue over which -- like so many others in the religion -- scholars appear to differ. Read

Monday, February 06, 2006

USS Cole Plotter Escapes; Co-Conspirator Safe in US Hands

The escape of a terrorist who plotted the deadly bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole has prompted an Interpol warning notice, but a man convicted at the same time on the same charge remains safely in custody, because the U.S. refused to extradite him to Yemen in 2004. Read

'Non-Aligned' Solidarity Crumbles on Iran Referral

A show of international solidarity greeted Saturday's vote by the U.N. nuclear watchdog to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear activities. Read

Friday, February 03, 2006

Commentary: What Ails Islam

The cartoon controversy shows that the war on terror, while important, won’t alone cure what ails Islam. How long must we wait for the Islamic Reformation? Read

As Security Council Referral Looms, Iran Ups the Ante

As the U.N. nuclear watchdog meets to decide whether Iran should -- for the first time -- be reported to the Security Council over its nuclear program, Tehran has given formal notice that it would respond to the move by kicking out U.N. inspectors and beginning full-scale production of enriched uranium. Read

Australia, US Lawmakers in Row Over Oil-for-Food Scandal

The U.S. and Australia are among the closest of allies, but a row has erupted between U.S. lawmakers and Canberra over claims that Australia's national wheat exporting body paid bribes to Saddam Hussein to secure lucrative contracts under the U.N. oil-for-food program. Read

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Weakened Religious Hatred Law a Victory for UK Christians

A new law aimed at combating religious hatred in Britain is set to take effect -- but in a form so watered down that Christians who opposed it are celebrating, while Muslims who supported the bill are expressing disappointment. Read

More Newspapers Challenge Muslims Over Prophet Cartoons

More than four months after a Danish newspaper angered Muslims by publishing 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, a debate over the freedom of speech issue has finally taken off across Europe, where newspapers in at least six countries have now reproduced some or all of the sketches. Read

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bush Reaches Out to Iranians; Says US Winning in Iraq

For the second year in a row, President Bush has used his State of the Union address to deliver a message directly to the Iranian people, while making clear his views on the regime that rules them. Read

'Buy Danish' Campaign Aims to Counter Muslim Boycott

Conservative websites and bloggers are promoting a "buy Danish" campaign, in an effort to counteract the effect of a Muslim boycott of products made in Denmark. The Muslim boycott stems from a Danish newspaper's cartoon depictions of Mohammed. Read