Vladimir Putin is “the Man”

20 12 2007

A Tsar in the making, or a Tsar already? Adi Ignatius of Time magazine writes that with the rise of Russian president Putin, a Tsar indeed is born. Putin was voted this year’s “Person of the Year.”

vp.jpgFrom TIME:

“No one is born with a stare like Vladimir Putin’s. The Russian President’s pale blue eyes are so cool, so devoid of emotion that the stare must have begun as an affect, the gesture of someone who understood that power might be achieved by the suppression of ordinary needs, like blinking. The affect is now seamless, which makes talking to the Russian President not just exhausting but often chilling. It’s a gaze that says, I’m in charge.”

Putin said he keeps a bible on his plane. But he does not use e-mails, or even telephones for that matter. Quite impressive how he keeps up with the whole world without the two basic technological needs of this era. After all, he is Putin.

Click here to watch an interview with Putin. Read the text here.


No nuclear arms work in Iran, US intel says

3 12 2007

US Intelligence officials have said that Iran seems “less determined” to make nuclear weapons after an intelligence estimate concluded that Iran had halted the weapons program in 2003.

Read the National Intelligence Estimate’s report.

From the New York Times:

The new report comes out just over five years after a deeply flawed N.I.E. concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons programs and was determined to restart its nuclear program. The report led to congressional authorization for a military invasion of Iraq, although most of the N.I.E.’s conclusions turned out to be wrong. The estimate does say that Iran’s ultimate goal is still to develop the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.

Sorry Bush and Cheney, no World War III anytime soon! If the NIE got it right this time.

Hugo Chavez defeated over reform vote

3 12 2007

From BBC News:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has narrowly lost a referendum on controversial constitutional changes.

chavez1.jpgVoters rejected the sweeping reforms by a margin of 51% to 49%, the chief of the National Electoral Council said. Mr Chavez described the defeat as a “photo finish”, and urged followers not to turn it into a point of conflict.

Correspondents say the opposition could barely hide their delight and that the victory will put the brakes on Mr Chavez’s “Socialist revolution”.

Read Chavez’s reform here.

Calling Teddy Bear a God

30 11 2007

Who would have thought that giving a teddy bear a prophet’s name would shake the diplomatic world within a matter of days?

But Gillian Gibbons now sits in a Sudanese prison while some Muslims ask that she be “shot by a fire squad” for disrespecting their religion. There were also some rumors about lashing Gibbons in the public as a punishment.

Where exactly is the line though? Putting a turban on the prophet’s head with a bomb on it was, I agree, taking it to another level. But should naming a teddy bear Muhammad should have never become this big of a deal.

The prophet’s name is one of the most common Arabic names. According to the BBC,

The Arabic name Muhammad is now the second popular name for baby boys in Britain, adding together its 14 different spellings in English.

And while one political editor of a Middle Eastern magazine says that the Muslim children give their pets the names of characters they like, whatever that may be, things were taken out of context because this was a westerner who Sudanese Muslims feel “offended Islam.”

And now the Sudanese blogosphere is responding to this issue. Many Sudanese bloggers are criticizing the government’s decision to imprison her.

Asking for Gibbons’ release, many have called the issue “pathetic” and termed Gibbons’ acts as “an honest and innocent mistake.”

Read BBC’s compilation of Sudanese blogs which wrote about this.

religion-toys.jpgOn a completely different note, I thought to myself how other religions handle gods, prophets and toys. I found toys of Jesus and Moses, and now of Hindu god Rama and Hanumana. These probably don’t compare to calling a bear [whose name is Teddy] Muhammad [who is a prophet].

But imagine the Christians and the Hindus imprisoning people because they made toys of their gods or called their teddy bears “the son of god” or “Shiva.”

Anyways, Sudan blew things out of proportion. How do they even justify adhering to their religion so strictly when they have killed over thousands and thousands of their own people in Darfur just because they are African Arabs?

I don’t think the prophet is too happy about that, either.

Darfur mission may fail, predicts UN

14 11 2007

One of the most needed missions in Darfur, Sudan could come to an end if the the join African Union-UN peacekeeping force are provided with some 24 helicopters and a fleet of lorries.

Jean Marie Guehenno, head of the UN Peacekeeping Operations has said that six attack helicopters and 18 transport helicopters are needed to perform the mission’s duties effectively.


Guehenno worries that the mission will not be able to “robustly carry out its mandate” without these transportation support.

Amidst so much talk about deploying fresh troops in thousands of numbers by the end of this year, now the UN officials have warned that the joint peacekeeping forces are not prepared to takeover in Darfur.

On the other hand, Sudan continues to object using outside peacekeeping forces. The inclusion of peacekeepers from Norway, Nepal and Thailand has added to their unhappiness. In August, AU Commission Chairman Oumar Konare had said that there was no need for outside infantry because the African nations had pledged enough.

Peace on this side of Africa does not seem will come so easily. However, utmost efforts are yet to be made.

Indian and Russian head of state chat

14 11 2007

23/6 has a funny fake chat between Indian prime minister Man Mohan Singh and Russian president Vladimir Putin in what it calls a “delicate diplomacy between these longtime allies.”

Russia_08: what u want?

India4ever: space! space friends! entire lab 2 moon-2gether. r very own spaceship!

Russia_08: no skanky-ass curried goat in ship, K?

India4ever: why u so neg?

Again, you can read more here.

Bomb hits the Philippines House of Representatives

14 11 2007

At least two people were killed, one of them a Muslim MP, and ten injured in Manila after a powerful bomb planted in a motorcycle exploded near the Philippines House of Representatives.

The bomb killed Congressman Wahab Akbar and his driver.

According to GMA TV, the police has recovered a cell phone from the blast site, which they believe might have been used as a detonator.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has asked people to avoid baseless accusations on any party but at least some lawmakers have casted a shadow of doubt as the bombing happened just an hour ahead of the opening of the Senate investigation into the distribution of cash gifts in Malacañang.

Updates and video from bloggers at GlobalVoicesOnline.