GLOBAL EFFORT ON BEHALF OF DETAINED CHINESE DISSIDENT — Over 160 Nobel laureates, writers and academics sent an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao via the internet last week urging him to release intellectual Liu Xiaobo, who was taken from his home by security officers Dec. 8 and has not been heard from since. Liu, a literary critic and head of the Independent Chinese PEN Center that advocates for free speech, was a leading signatory and mover behind the document, “Charter 08.” The charter was a public call for greater reform and accountability of the Chinese Communist Party, including […]

MOMBASA, Kenya — Kenya won a quiet but significant victory over Somali pirates that have waged a devastating campaign against its maritime economy when a judge at the Mombasa federal court formally charged eight Somali pirates with felonies under Kenyan law on Dec. 11. The eight men were captured by the British Royal Navy in November while trying to hijack a Danish merchant ship near the Yemeni coast. The Dec. 11 hearing was brief. The defense requested more time to prepare, and the case was promptly deferred until January. But the fact that it wasn’t dismissed outright represents a major […]

PEACE MISSION — According to a soon-to-be published book on the history of U.S.-Vatican relations, President George Bush told an emissary of Pope John Paul II in early March 2003 that Jesus was guiding him in deciding whether to invade Iraq. Cardinal Pio Laghi, a senior Vatican diplomat, had come to Washington with a last-minute appeal from the pope to avert an American attack on Iraq. According to the cardinal’s own account, quoted in “Parallel Empires: The Vatican and the United States — Two Centuries of Alliance and Conflict,” his meeting with Bush in the Oval Office began with the […]

article card

By signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) at a ceremony in Oslo earlier this month, 94 countries took bold action to end the use of highly indiscriminate weapons that have maimed or killed tens of thousands of civilians. Meanwhile, a separate international effort that would set less restrictive limitations on cluster munitions may be near collapse. It is time for hold-out countries, especially the United States, to join the emerging international norm and commit to the CCM. Initially designed for use against tank divisions and other mass troop movements, cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse […]