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China's imperialist seaward expansion is mildly challenged

China claims 90% of the South China Sea trumping claims from Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, while America's navy riles China in its backyardChina's maritime claim

Manila, Apr.30.─ Philippine and American troops charged ashore from the South China Sea on April 25th in an exercise to show they could jointly recapture a small Philippine island from hostile forces. It was all make-believe, of course: just another round of a game in which China pretends it owns almost all the South China Sea, and the Philippines and four other East Asian countries pretend otherwise.

America says it does not take sides in the squabble embroiling China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines over ownership of all or parts of the South China Sea. The sea has (or had) a rich marine life, and oil and gas. But America does play chicken. It has a mutual-defence treaty with the Philippines, which an American general this month described as "self-explanatory". However, the treaty fails to spell out whether America would help defend Philippine-claimed territory if it was also claimed by China.


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Dalai Lama wins Templeton Prize in science & religion

The announcement was made this morning online at and carries a US$1.7 million award

Pennsylvania, Mar. 29.─ The Dalai Lama, possibly the globe's most famous contemporary voice for non-violence and compassion, was named the winner of the 2012 Templeton Prize today.

The announcement comes three days after Tibetan exile Janphel Yeshi set himself on fire Monday to protest China's control of Tibet. Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama for the incident. Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting New Delhi this week.

Last year, the Dalai Lama, who served as both spiritual and political leader of Tibetan Buddhists in exile since 1959, relinquished his political role. That seems to cut no ice with Beijing, however.

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U.S., China, S.Korea warn about nuclear terrorism

"We should commit to eliminating nuclear proliferation and the roots of nuclear terrorism," Chinese President Hu said (photo)Chinese President Hu

Seoul, Mar. 26.─ The leaders of South Korea, the United States and China issued stark warnings Tuesday about the threat of nuclear terrorism during the final day of a nuclear summit that has so far been upstaged by North Korea's long-range rocket launch plans.

Nearly 60 leaders have gathered for the two-day conference meant to find ways to keep terrorists from detonating an atomic weapon in a major city. The leaders were to release a communique Tuesday about their efforts to lock down the world's supply of nuclear material by 2014.

Much of the drama, however, has centered on North Korea's stated plans to launch a satellite on a long-range rocket around the April 15 celebration of the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.

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Pope in Cuba as "pilgrim of charity"

"I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be, their sufferings and their joys, their concerns and their noblest desires, those of the young and the elderly, of adolescents and children, of the sick and workers, of prisoners and their families, and of the poor and those in need", said the PopeRaul Castro receives Benedict XVI [ Read full Pope's speech ]

Santiago de Cuba, Mar.26 (AP).─ Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday in the footsteps of his more famous predecessor, saying he holds great affection for Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits and heartfelt hopes for reconciliation.

President Raul Castro warmly greeted the pope, who said he was coming as "a pilgrim of charity" as he arrived at the sweltering airport in Santiago, Cuba's second largest city.

The pontiff, who last week said Marxism "no longer responds to reality," gave a more gentle tweak to his hosts by expressing sympathy for all islanders, including prisoners.



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The Military Balance 2012

The Military Balance 2012Mar. 7 (─ The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) just published its annual publication The Military Balance 2012.  This is an annual assessment of the military capabilities and defense economics of 171 countries world-wide that supplements the pictographically detailed books published by Jane's Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis.

This year’s Military Balance includes brief textual summaries of countries’ military capabilities to help inform readers’ understanding of the numerical data. Also for the first time, the book has brief assessments of individual states’ cyber capacities, including relevant organizations and assessed capabilities.  According to the IISS «military cyber power could be defined as ‘the use, or threatened use, of cyberspace and other resources to effect strategic aims in and through cyberspace against the resistance or wishes of others.’»

This edition assesses developments in the Middle East, in particular the recent upheavals in Libya, Egypt and Syria.  In the case of Syria, it considers that “President Assad’s apparent strategy has been to secure regime loyalists, and of course suppress the opposition, while keeping the level of conflict below that which would risk triggering international intervention.” Regarding the Libyan conflict, it “was also noteworthy because of the overwhelming predominance of precision-guided air-launched munitions, setting a new standard for those taking part in future such operations”

The book takes into account that the political and military landscape in the Middle East and North Africa is being reshaped, “with long-held assumptions about regional power balances, military capabilities and deterrence being challenged. For example, the Arab Awakening has seen unprecedented willingness by several Arab governments to back, and participate in, military operations”.


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