|Asia News Digest
ISAF Implements Ceasefire Opium-Growing Southern Afghanistan
April 24 (EIRNS)In what could be the preparation for a new strategy and part of the endgame in war efforts of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan, confirmed reports indicate all major anti-Taliban operations have been suspended in the southwestern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand, and Uruzgan, which together constitute the bastion of the Afghan Taliban.
A Taliban spokesman also told the Asia Times early this month that under the same initiative, several senior Taliban commanders in the custody of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were almost simultaneously released. Those released include Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, a commander of the Taliban in southwestern Afghanistan.
What could be the likely U.S./NATO strategy? What is evident is that the ceasefire will enable Gen. David Petraeus bring some American troops back home.
Reports from Afghanistan and Pakistan also indicate that the insurgents are gearing up for the usual Summer offensive, and movements of guerrilla groups along the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders have become highly visible.
Russian Cosmonaut: Mars Mission Is Logical Next Step
April 25 (EIRNS)Famed Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Mikhailovich Budarin called for a manned mission to Mars, "as the logical next step" following man's landing on Moon, at the Festival of Russian Cosmonautics, held in New Delhi on April 24. The event was organized in honor of the 50th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight. Budarin, who travelled to space three times on board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the U.S. Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour, has spent a total of 444 days in space.
At a similar event on April 12 in Mexico City, Budarin had said: "I think that man's first flight to Mars will happen in the mid-term timeline. I believe Russia will work closely with the Americans and Chinese." Sharing his views on the long-standing India-Russia space cooperation, Budarin told the Indian audience that since conducting space missions is an expensive affair, both the nations should work together for all future space missions, including the mission to Mars.
In fact, Russia is already working closely with India on space flights. An Indian cosmonaut will first go on a Russian space mission in 2015, prior to the Indian manned mission in 2017, Alexey M. Mzareulov, deputy consul-general of the Russian Federation, announced in New Delhi on April 11. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Russian agency Roskosmos will build the spacecraft for the mission in 2015.
At that event, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M. Kadakin pointed out broader collaboration with India is high on the agenda of Russia's space plans with the recent agreements on deeper cooperation, and in adopting the Glonass Russian satellite navigation system. "Bilateral cooperation will further strengthen and blossom, extending from orbital and lunar flights to the mysterious far reaches of the universe," Kadakin said.
Sun Yat-sen Portrait Placed on Tiananmen Square
April 28 (EIRNS)In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Republican Revolution of 1911, which abolished the imperial system in China, the Chinese government has placed a giant portrait of Sun Yat-sen on historic Tiananmen Square, the center of China's government in Beijing. The portrait is six meters high and weighs nearly two tons.
Sun, the leader of the revolution, founded the Chinese Republic on the basis of his profound understanding of the American System, acquired through his education under American republican missionaries in Hawaii. His famous "Three Principles of the People" which guided the revolution and the Republicnational sovereignty, republicanism, and the welfare of the peoplewere based on his understanding of the principles of the U.S. Constitution, and specifically on Abraham Lincoln's "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Sun also had a deadly accurate understanding of the evil of the British Empire, which was captured beautifully in his 1917 book The Vital Problem of China, arguing against China's involvement on the side of the British in World War I.
Although Sun is revered in both China and Taiwan, his actual works and ideas have in the past been little read or understood in both places, even by many scholars and political leaders. The Schiller Institute took the initiative to publish a new Chinese language version of The Vital Problem of China in 1996 (see http://chinese.larouchepub.com/en/node/174 for both Chinese and English versions), for distribution in China and Taiwan, to address that problem.
Japanese Production Collapses from March 11 Aftermath
April 28 (EIRNS)The Japanese government said production plummeted 15.3% in March from February levels, the biggest decline since records began in 1953, and worse than had been expected. While areas directly affected by the disaster suffered a nearly 32-percent drop in industrial production in March, most of the overall decline came from a 13.5% drop in other parts of Japan, where parts shortages and power outages took their toll on production. Household spending dropped 8.5%.
"As a result of the disaster, the economy will inevitably continue to face strong downward pressure for the time being," the Bank of Japan commented. It cut its growth forecast for the current business year to 0.6% from the 1.6% it had previously forecast. Given the magnitude of the drop in March, the continuing problems this month, forecast power outages this summer, and ongoing crippling of the auto and electronics industries, any actual growth at all appears unlikely.
The Bank of Japan said it was keeping interest rates at near zero and discussed, but did not approve, further "quantitative easing" moves.