Thursday, April 30, 2009

Islamic Scholars Wrestle With Death-For-Apostasy Issue

An international Islamic body has appointed a committee of six religious scholars to study one of the most contentious issues in Islam today – whether “apostates” should face the death penalty. Read

Sovereignty Concerns in Taiwan, After China Okays Its Attendance at World Health Gathering

The U.S. has joined Taiwan in welcoming China’s decision to okay observer status for the island democracy at this year’s World Health Organization (WHO) session, but some Taiwanese remain wary. Read

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Video Game Featuring Jesus and Mohammed Fighting Is Reworked After Muslim Complaint

Following complaints from a Muslim group, an online game company removed a video game in which “Jesus,” “Mohammed,” “Buddha” and other religious figures engage in combat. But on Wednesday -- one day after yanking the game – the makers uploaded a new, tongue-in-cheek version. Read

‘Swine Flu’ Name Sticks, For Now

Despite efforts by the meat industry, and assurances by international health authorities, the escalating new hybrid H1N1 flu strain continues to be associated with pigs – through the “swine flu” tag – to the concern of pork producers worldwide Read

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia Set to Return to U.N. Human Rights Council

As the dust settles after its controversial Durban II racism conference, the United Nation’s Human Rights Council is now turning its attention to its upcoming annual election. Read

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pakistan Gov’t in Bid to Stem Taliban’s Expansion Drive

Pakistan’s government at the weekend launched a military offensive against Islamists who are trying to expand their control across the country’s northwest by force, but senior officials continue to send out mixed messages about Islamabad’s willingness to bargain with the militants. Read

Swine Flu Tremors Ripple Around the World

Governments around the world were on high alert Monday for the possibility of a swine flu pandemic spreading from Mexico, with health officials urging preparedness and public cooperation but also seeking to avert panic. Read

Friday, April 24, 2009

North Korean Plan to Try U.S. Journalists Seen As Politically Motivated

Days after an Iranian security court jailed an American-Iranian journalist for spying for the U.S., North Korea said Friday it will put two detained American journalists on trial, amid concerns that the two regimes are using the women as pawns in their disputes with the U.S. Read

Iran Demands Respect As NGOs Berate U.N. Racism Conference

Iran’s delegation at the U.N. conference on racism in Geneva on Thursday repeatedly tried to silence speakers from non-governmental organizations as they accused the gathering of providing a platform for anti-semitism and failing to take countries to task for racism and discrimination. Read

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carter Era Agreement Again Cited in Bid to Block Iran Hostage Lawsuit

The Department of Justice has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by former hostages against the government of Iran. It is the latest twist in a long legal and legislative saga arising out of a deal struck with Tehran in the closing days of the Carter administration. Read

Another Controversial Iranian Joins Presidential Race

A former head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a suspect in a 1994 terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires who appears on Interpol’s most-wanted list, announced on Wednesday that he will run as an “independent” in Iran’s June 12 presidential election, Iranian media reported. Read

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

South Africa Election Places Spotlight on Size of Ruling Majority

As South Africans go to the polls Wednesday, the question looming over the parliamentary election is not who will win, but whether voters frustrated about corruption, crime and the slow pace of change since apartheid formally ended 15 years ago will send a strong message to the ruling African National Congress. Read

Troubled U.N. Racism Conference Quickly Adopts Outcome Document

Scrambling to salvage an international conference on racism before it unraveled further, U.N. officials pressed Tuesday for a quick adoption of the “outcome document” even though the event still has three days to run. Read

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ahmadinejad Prompts Durban II Walkout – But Also Gets Applause

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s provocative attack on Israel prompted a walkout by European Union diplomats at the U.N.’s racism conference opening on Monday, but he drew applause from some participants, and a leading Islamic state’s envoy said the issues raised by the Iranian leader resonate in the Muslim world. Read

Islamists Push to Expand Taliban-Style Shari’a Across Pakistan

Emboldened by the Pakistan government’s agreement to allow the imposition of shari’a in the extremist-controlled Swat valley, fundamentalist clerics are pushing to spread the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law across the country. Read

Monday, April 20, 2009

Event on Durban II Sidelines Turns Spotlight Onto Repressive Regimes

On the eve of the U.N.’s politically-charged racism conference in Geneva, human rights activists and dissidents from some of the world’s most repressive regimes met in the Swiss city Sunday to discuss violations not expected to feature in the conference documents. Read

Boycott-Hit Racism Conference Gets Underway

The controversy-plagued United Nations racism conference known as Durban II got underway in Geneva on Monday, with at least eight Western countries absent and others indicating that they may walk out if they consider it necessary. Read

Friday, April 17, 2009

Christians Wary as India’s Massive Election Begins

This week’s kickoff of India’s multi-stage election was marred by violence carried out by Maoist rebels, but for many of the country’s Christians, Hindu extremists are of greater concern. Read

Durban II Boycott Swells

As negotiations come down to the wire ahead of Monday’s opening of the United Nations’ politically charged racism conference in Geneva, several European countries are expected on Friday to announce that they will boycott the event. Read

Thursday, April 16, 2009

‘Occupation’ Is Back in Durban II Text

Just days before the opening of the U.N.’s “Durban II” racism conference, the draft document has been revised yet again – but this time a reference to “foreign occupation” has been reinserted. The document is at the center of the debate over whether Western democracies should attend. Read

Chavez and Other Left-Wingers Plan to Stand In for Absent Cuba at Summit

Cuba’s Raul Castro may not be at the table when President Obama joins 33 other Western hemisphere leaders at a summit in the Caribbean on Friday, but his left-wing allies intend to use the event to promote the communist-ruled nation’s cause. Read

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Egypt, Hezbollah on Collision Course as Allegations Fly

Relations between Egypt and Hezbollah, already strained over Cairo’s stance during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza last winter, have hit rock-bottom over allegations that a recently uncovered Hezbollah sleeper cell planned to attack Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists. Read

Ahmadinejad’s Plan to Attend Durban II Prompts New Boycott Calls

With the clock running down on an international racism conference in Geneva, news that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to attend will do nothing to allay concerns critics have about the most controversial U.N. gathering in years. Read

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pakistan President Signs Deal Expanding Taliban’s Power

Just days before Pakistan’s government hopes to secure billions of dollars in aid pledges from the U.S. and other countries, President Asif Ali Zardari has signed a law enabling Pakistani Taliban extremists to impose Islamic law in the North-West Frontier Province’s volatile Swat valley. Read

In ‘Strong’ Response to Missile Launch, Security Council to Activate Sanctions Approved 30 Months Ago

The U.N. Security Council -- after a week of deliberation -- issued a non-binding statement Monday, condemning North Korea for its recent long-range rocket launch. Read

North Korea Hits Back, Vows ‘Never’ to Return to Nuclear Talks

Expressing rage over the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of its recent rocket launch, North Korea vowed Tuesday to strengthen its nuclear weapons capability and “never” return to six-party talks aimed at shutting down its nuclear programs. Read

Monday, April 13, 2009

Islamic Bloc Wants to Set Up its Own Human Rights Body

A bloc of the world’s Islamic states, which has been accused of undermining human rights at the United Nations, is planning to establish its own “independent human rights commission.” Read

Spate of Attacks in Iraq Follows Least-Deadly Month Since War Began

A recent spate of violence in Iraq that has cost dozens of lives, including those of seven U.S. soldiers, goes against a trend of improving security that saw fewer American fatalities during March than in any previous month since hostilities began six years ago. Read

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rescued Ship’s Captain Gives Navy All Credit

An American sea captain whose ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates ended in dramatic fashion on Sunday was described as “heroic” by a senior Navy officer, but is giving all credit to his U.S. Navy rescuers. Read

Friday, April 10, 2009

Military Reinforcements Heading to Scene of Pirate Hostage Standoff

A standoff between the U.S. Navy and pirates holding an American ship’s captain off the Horn of Africa continued overnight, as reinforcements headed for the scene to join a destroyer already there. Read

Selective Abortions, Birth Restrictions Continue to Distort China’s Gender Ratio

Sex-selective abortions linked to China’s “one-child” policy along with a traditional preference for boys have resulted in dramatically skewed male-female ratios in the world’s most populous country that are likely to persist for decades. Read

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Iran’s Nuclear Program Moving Ahead As U.S. Pursues ‘Very Careful Engagement’

As Iran marked “national nuclear day” on Thursday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was expected to announce new developments in the country’s nuclear program. This comes a day after the Obama administration announced a major change of policy, saying it will take part in direct, multi-party nuclear talks with Tehran. Read

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Three Days and Counting: No Security Council Action on North Korean Missile Launch

Three days after President Obama declared in response to North Korea’s long-range missile launch that “rules must be binding, violations must be punished,” the U.N. Security Council remains divided over a response. Read

Human Rights Activists Heading to Geneva to Discuss World’s Most Pressing Issues

One day before the U.N. hosts its controversial “Durban II” racism conference in Geneva later this month, human rights organizations from around the world are planning a gathering in the Swiss city “to place the most pressing situations on the world agenda.” Read

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Obama, Former Iranian President Both in Istanbul, No Meeting Planned

As President Obama wrapped up his first European tour on Tuesday, Iranian and Turkish media were speculating on the likelihood of a meeting between the American and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Read

Hezbollah Prepares for Vote, Takes Aim at United States

As Lebanon’s election campaign formally begins, Hezbollah is flexing its muscles, basking in new-found legitimacy in Europe while warning the United States that its ambassador will not dare to intervene in Lebanon’s internal affairs after the June 7 vote. Read

Monday, April 06, 2009

Obama Unsettles Europeans With Comments Supporting Membership for Muslim Turkey in European Union

President Obama’s warm reception in Europe took a chilly turn Sunday after some leaders took issue with his support for Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union. Read

Return N. Korea to Terror-Sponsor List, Invest in Missile Defense, Lawmakers Say

With slim chance of a firm U.N. Security Council response to North Korea’s defiant long-range missile launch, U.S. lawmakers are pressing for a determined unilateral U.S. response, including returning Pyongyang to a list of terror-sponsoring states and stepping up investment in missile defense. Read

Friday, April 03, 2009

Israel’s Lieberman Did Not Reject Two-State Goal

Israel’s new foreign minister has caused a furor by repudiating the 2007 Annapolis agreement with the Palestinians, but much less attention has been given to the fact that, in the same inaugural address, he accepted an earlier deal that has as its goal an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Read

U.N. Security Council May Lack Unified Response to Anticipated North Korean Rocket Launch

The U.S., Japan and South Korea reportedly have agreed to push for a new U.N. Security Council resolution against North Korea if the communist country goes ahead with its anticipated rocket launch in the coming days, but with Pyongyang claiming the legal right to launch a satellite, Chinese and Russian support is far from assured. Read

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Vietnam’s Crackdown on Bloggers Prompts Appeal From U.S. Lawmakers

Five months after Internet giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo pledged to uphold privacy and freedom of expression when operating in repressive environments, a group of U.S. lawmakers is urging them to resist pressure from Vietnam’s communist government. Read

Obama, Medvedev Envision ‘Nuclear-Free World’

President Obama’s first meeting with his Russian counterpart ended with a landmark agreement to reopen negotiations about reducing the two countries’ nuclear warheads, a step towards “achieving a nuclear free world.” Read

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

U.S. Decision to Seek a Seat on Flawed Human Rights Council Stokes Debate

The Obama administration’s decision to seek a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council has drawn mixed reactions, with some close observers of the Geneva-based body questioning whether U.S. membership will make any difference. Read