Monday, March 29, 2004

# Posted 5:30 AM by Patrick Belton  

QUICK ROUND-UP, before beginning my day's work as a performance artist interpreting "Chronic Procrastinator Writes a Dissertation," which the Oxford performing arts council is graciously hosting at the moment at the Bodleian library, lower reading room.

The good news is - there might be life on Mars. The bad news - if so, it seems to have a chronic flatulence problem. Policymakers caution that we may not actually want to be in contact with this life form.

Scientists in Bangalore have released a cheap, accessible computer for India's rural population, called the Simputer.

At the same time that the U.S. considers establishing an MI-5, Britain is creating an FBI. The cinematic possibilities for increased cooperation between mother and daughter countries in this realm are endless (think: Godfather IV: James Bond in the Goomba Who Loved Me).

Jackson Diehl editorializes in the WaPo that the unnoticed story of the year is the emboldening of Arab democrats in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Also in the WaPo, the DC government apparently covered up knowledge of the city water supply's elevated lead levels for at least 15 months before the story broke in the press.

There has been a terrorist attack in Tashkent. Initial suspicion is resting, predictably, on the IMU. This comes at a time when Washington has been considering downgrading strategic ties with Uzbekistan because of the latter's embarrassing human rights record. Also, reports have placed IMU head Tahir Yuldash as possibly having been with Al-Zawahiri in South Wazirstan during the Pakistani operation against an Al Qa'ida stronghold there.

Arab governments are recoiling in embarrassment from the last-hour cancellation of the Arab League summit yesterday in Tunisia, as speculation surrounds the precise reasons for the cancellation. One explanation has been that the Tunisian government was reluctant to play host to a summit which would produce only a tepid call for reform.

Elsewhere, the U.S. and Mexico are considering a revived plan for deep repatriation of undocumented migrants in the US - which is being read as a Mexican gesture of goodwill in the run-up to a more substantial hoped-for change in US-Mexican immigration relations.

Finally, today is, incidentally, the anniversary of the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Vietnam, which makes this an appropriate time to thank all of our veterans; for those who did not come back, we will not forget you.
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