News and views from around the world.

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Middle East

October 2001
Northern Ireland: Deadlock in the Peace Process, Again
The Debate over Human Cloning

September 2001
Revising Japan's History Textbooks
Race Riots Scar England
The 2008 Olympics in China

August 2001
Regicide and Conspiracy in Nepal
A Somber Anniversary

Northern Ireland: Deadlock in the Peace Process, Again
BELFAST Belfast Telegraph (Unionist), Aug. 10: As Northern Ireland once more faces an uncertain political future, nobody should forget where the blame lies for the latest impasse. The fundamental reason for the difficulties in which the peace process finds itself today is the refusal of the IRA to honor its obligations on decommissioning. Sadly, the gun has not yet been taken out of Irish politics...but the resilience of the peace process must never be underestimated.

BELFAST Irish News (Nationalist), Aug. 13: Last week, despite positive indications of intent by the IRA, the possibility of full implementation of the provisions of the Good Friday agreement remains problematic. Most political parties continue to face serious challenges and reconciliation hardly appears on the agenda....At the core of our difficulty lies the need for genuine reconciliation. The word is actually disowned in some fundamentalist circles because it is assumed to imply assimilation, but a moment’s thought should indicate that true reconciliation means taking on board the concerns of the others...and openness in relation to political change. —Roy Garland

DUBLIN Irish Independent (centrist), Aug. 8: Once again, what looked like a historic advance in the Northern peace process has been followed by doubts, distrust, complex arguments, and an imminent crisis. At one level, the skepticism of the Ulster Unionist Party is understandable. It accepted Sinn Fein as partners in the power-sharing executive. Then it waited for decommissioning of IRA arms, which did not happen....The onus on the IRA is obvious, but there is an onus on Mr. Trimble too. He cannot be unaware of what is in the minds of the other parties. If he ignores that, and insists on reopening supposedly settled questions like policing, he could imperil all the gains so hard-won over many years of painful progress.

CANBERRA The Canberra Times (centrist), Aug. 8: The degree to which the British and Irish governments are prepared to bend over backward in the hope of bringing a lasting peace to Northern Ireland has yet again been exemplified, this time with an extension to the deadline for responses to the “take it or leave it” peace package they offered last week to keep the 1998 Good Friday accord alive....The governments have on this occasion, and in the past, been sensible enough to grasp that when there is even a glimmer of hope they should be prepared to show patience and allow some leeway to both sides of the conflict.

LONDON The Observer (liberal weekly), Aug. 12: By now it could become ritual. The peace process seems back on track and then hits an obstacle....The IRA could hand over arms tomorrow (as it won’t), or allow Gen. De Chastelain [head of the disarmanent commission] to peer at a few more rusty rifles by moonlight (as it might), and still be able to acquire more weapons. But much more to the point, when Sinn Fein endlessly says that “the guns are silent,” this is simply, horribly untrue....Punishment beatings and knee-cappings—in plain language, torture and mutilation—continue unchecked in the ever-larger areas of Ulster effectively controlled by the IRA....What Mr. Blair’s government has effectively said is that the IRA may be regarded as “on cease-fire” as long as it doesn’t shoot British soldiers or policemen, confining itself to mutilating and exterminating working-class Catholics.

LONDON The Independent (centrist), Aug. 11: Few believe that the present political difficulties will pitch Northern Ireland back to the really bad days, the days filled with death. The sense is still in the air that, for all the turbulence, few want to go back. So, too, is the sense that, even if the [Northern Ireland] assembly goes down this time, there is little alternative but to return in the autumn to continue the painfully slow business of working out how to coexist.
—David McKittrick

NEW DELHI The Statesman (independent), Aug. 9: Whatever the politicians promise, reality will be governed by the levels of violence that accompany another provocative Protestant Orange Order march and by the number of times a dissident IRA faction lets off a bomb and Protestant militias move to retaliate. Optimists will argue that having come so far, the present Sinn Fein and Unionist leadership are skilled enough to defuse whatever tensions may arise….It will be interesting to see, after there are another few years of relative peace and a culture of nonviolence has taken deeper root, how they will take care of their fundamental and unresolved differences.
—Jonathan Power

CHENNAI The Hindu (centrist), Aug. 8: A hundred years of bloody sectarian strife in Northern Ireland is not about to end, but the peace process has definitely been saved for now from the warmongers on both sides of the religious divide....Street clashes between Protestants and Catholics and paramilitary violence have continued even as the British and the Irish governments battled with the peace process….Considering that no terrorist outfit in the world has been successfully convinced by peacemakers to surrender its arms, what Britain and the Irish Republic have wrung out of the IRA and the Sinn Fein is a historic deal. Ulster may yet be beginning to see the light of peace.

The Debate over Human Cloning
MEXICO CITY La Jornada (leftist), Aug. 7: The eagerness of groups of scientists to clone humans in the near future is not only polarizing the debate but is provoking a chain of misinformation in societies, by confusing the use of therapeutic cloning with reproductive cloning….Before the topic of cloning is taken totally off course, it is vital that, first of all, the international scientific community assume a critical posture in response to those seeking immediate fame (in the media) or their place in history as “the first ones” at the price of enormous risks for humanity.

MONTREAL The Gazette (centrist), Aug. 9: Although a Canadian ban against human cloning will not prevent the production of genetic replicas of humans anywhere else in the world, it will serve to prevent it here. It also will be one more voice of condemnation against an experiment that millions of people around the world find morally and ethically repugnant and that scientists warn would inevitably lead to babies that are deformed or die soon after birth….Governments around the world are surprised to find themselves in the brave new world of cloning. But caught unawares or not, the time has come to act, and the first thing to be done is to ban human cloning.

SINGAPORE The Straits Times (independent), Aug. 4: Undeniably, America remains in the front of leading research in genetics. When those efforts are crimped in any way, the rest of the world is the poorer for it. This is why the issue of cloning should be unbundled to separate the obviously good (medical research) from the patently bad (human copies). Even if the [U.S.] Senate confirms the prevailing morality in America, the scientific lobby needs to push on for subsequent amendment. It is that important.

BEIJING Xinhua News Agency (government-owned), Aug. 12: Much of Asia recoiled in horror as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World moved closer to reality with Italian embryologist Severino Antinori’s plans for “designer babies” cloned in the image of their parents. Muslims in Indonesia and Pakistan, Buddhists in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand, and Roman Catholics in the Philippines spoke with one voice when they said human cloning was meddling with the laws of nature. “Who do they think they are; they are not gods,” said an official in Taiwan, referring to Antinori and his colleagues, who said they would within weeks begin to clone a human being, with the aim of offering hope to sterile couples.


ROME La Repubblica (liberal), Aug. 8: Twenty-four hours after Severino Antinori’s speech at the National Academy of Sciences, France and Germany made known they wanted to stop the Italian scientist. Paris and Berlin have officially asked the United Nations to forbid human cloning worldwide. The two countries didn’t refer to Antinori’s plan. The idea came up during a meeting between the two foreign ministers: Hubert Vedrine and Joschka Fischer.…The European Commission substantially shares this opinion. Brussels is against cloning because it is against the ethics of European citizens.

AUCKLAND New Zealand Herald (centrist), Aug. 7:
British fertility expert professor Lord Robert Winston told a packed public lecture in Auckland that scientists who were trying to produce a human clone were taking a huge risk. “Anyone who decides to try to clone a human being will come to a colossal problem if [cloning] produces an abnormal baby. There may be foolish people who want to try, but much more attention should be paid to the risks of the technology—it’s one thing to clone animals, but cloning humans is quite another issue.”

BOGOTÁ El Espectador (independent), Aug. 9: The cloning practice not only conflicts with Mother Nature’s principle of genetic diversity, but it also goes hand in hand with genetic discrimination, as the scientist has to choose between different genomes; that is, the scientist has to decide which set of genetic information is better than the other.

BANGKOK Krungthep Turakij (center-left business), Aug. 9: Human cloning will drastically change our social structure. Human evolution will be interrupted and deformed by scientific methods. Cloned humans would be without spiritual bonding, which is the source of life and death. Natural birth generates love from generation to generation. In death we mourn the loss and the end of a person. How then would we determine life and death, also in legal terms, of a person? We are opposed to it. We prefer diversity and not uniformity of either kind, physical or intellectual. We disapproved of how our dictators in the past had tried to annihilate ethnic differences in the country.

BUDAPEST Magayar Nemzet (conservative), Aug. 2:
“I understand and sympathize with the Bush administration’s decision. It is drastic and decisive to prohibit interference in human reproduction’s natural process,” said genetics professor Endre Ceizel. [Hungarian writer] Dezso Kosztolanyi once said that human babies are unique; there should be no need to copy a person artificially. But, as professor Ceizel notes, scientists crave fame. The first person to clone a human can expect to become dreadfully famous.