Some interesting news that happened to catch my eye today…
This first item is pretty embarassing. After handily kicking many Iraqi asses in the second Gulf War, Americans got STOMPED by Iraqis in a soccer match, 11-0. Of course, most Americans (and probably most of the people who read this blog) could care less. Why? Because it’s soccer! Who cares about soccer?? Well, it is only the best sport on the planet; but other than that, I guess I can see NFL-heads’ point.
Apparently, and happily, it seems SARS is on the downturn. The article I link to below says it is mainly due to the weather change and to careful hygiene. I want to hope that this SARS thing, at least on an epidemic level, has gone away, but that’s probably a little naïve, don’t you think?
How high temperatures and hygiene tamed a killer (Times Online)
Former KGB bigwig, Russian president Vladimir Putin is now staying at Buckingham Palace with his wife. This visit is pretty interesting, because it’s the first time a Russian head of state has paid a visit to Britain since 1874. Anyone know what happened a few decades later? Her Royal Highness’s distant cousin (so I hear) and his family were killed after he was deposed from his czarship (is that a word?). Of course after that, as we all know, that great experiment in human civilization that came out so well drove the two countries further apart. Relations between Russia and Britain and the US are pretty interesting to think about. You’ll notice that if Russia ever calls either of the two an “ally,” it is pretty much always in some limited geopolitical context. I forget where I saw this the other day, but I read a remark made by some anonymous Kremlin aide that the hope is that this visit may be the first step toward becoming allies with Britain. Interesting…
Britain rolls out red carpet as Putin begins state visit (Yahoo! Singapore News)
Meanwhile, here in the US of A, another meeting of heads of state is occurring; perhaps more important (or at least relevant) to Americans. Pervez Musharraf, military coup-appointed leader of Pakistan is meeting with Bush, who is eager to reward him for all his cooperation in “the war on terror.” I don’t know what I think of the guy; sometimes he seems to be a good guy, other times not so great. Anyway, India ain’t too happy that he’s gotten in so well with Dubya. Apparently, the big prize Musharraf has had his eyes on this trip was a hoped-for deal with the US in which Pakistan could acquire some F-16s. And they aren’t intending to use ‘em on the al-Qaida freaks (perhaps including Osama, according to Pervez) roaming around the border region on Pakistan’s Afghanistan side. It’s interesting how the US has been pretty much disengaged from the bickering between India and Pakistan, which has, at times, almost elevated to nuclear crisis level. It seems like there are a million webs of connections between different world entities and geopolitical issues. You pull on one, you get a whole lot you didn’t ask for.
Bush Says Osama, Saddam Will Be Captured (ABCNews.com)
And then there is the ongoing situation in Burma, where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has still not been released. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Lorne Craner, has indicated the US has pretty much had it with Burma’s shenanigans. I don’t know what the State Department is planning, if anything. It’s nice that they’re being so vocal in their opposition to the actions of the Burmese government. I think words will be the extent of it, though. I really don’t know what else can be done in this situation. Well, there are sanctions in place and it looks like there will be more to come, but I am very skeptical of the effectiveness of this form of pressure (cf. Cuba, Iraq, Iran, etc. etc.).
Official Says US Has Lost Patience with Burma (Voice of America News)
And of course there is Harry Potter and his fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This book has broken every record a book can break (well, it seems that way) and the series and its author continue to intrigue me. I’ve experienced firsthand the degree of the unwillingness of most children to read anything. It’s pretty bizarre to me, frankly. It’s also disheartening (as an English teacher) and really perplexing. The Harry Potter books are amazing in that they are breaking records, and the group breaking the records is the very same group that usually “hates” to read. Time has an interesting article on why this may be so. Check it out; it’s a worthwhile read. In the meantime, Christians are still trying to figure out if these books are okay or not. I’ve heard pretty much every view and I think it’s an important question for Christians to keep on asking. I’m still not decided on whether or not I would let my (hypothetical) kids read the books, but I lean toward a more positive stance. At any rate, I have not read them and I would like to, at least to see what all the hype is about. Perhaps some enlightenment on the subject of whether they are appropriate for Christian children to read would come to me as well. Thus, I’ve finally added them to my Amazon wish list, which has simply become a list of books I don’t want to forget about and maybe someday purchase. You should check it out; it is now an impressive nineteen(!!) pages long!
Well, as always, I love to hear what you think about stuff going on in the world, so post it up! Ciao.