Conflict & Justice

Chatter: Obama in Afghanistan




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Need to know:
"I will not keep Americans in harm's way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security," promised President Barack Obama, on a surprise visit yesterday to the Afghan capital. "But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan."

Hours later, explosions were heard in Kabul, triggering a security alert at the US Embassy. Two or more suicide bombers reportedly struck a compound housing hundreds of Westerners, killing at least seven people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

"There will be difficult days ahead," Obama had warned. Indeed. GlobalPost reports from just outside the Afghan capital, where the Taliban is in control and preparing for a wider war.

Want to know:
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has emerged from the US embassy in Beijing and been taken to hospital. He left the diplomatic compound, China's state media said, "of his own volition."

The blind activist, who was widely suspected to have sought shelter at the embassy after escaping house arrest last week, is said to be in good health and will be reunited with his family shortly. China's Foreign Ministry has demanded an apology from the US for sheltering him, just as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Beijing for high-level talks. 

Chen's case has put human-rights issues high on the agenda. Here's GlobalPost's explainer on what Chen and other dissidents are struggling against.

Dull but important:
Aung San Suu Kyi
is now officially a member of Myanmar's parliament, after taking the oath this morning.  

Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy had initially refused to be sworn in, objecting to the part of the oath that requires lawmakers to pledge to "safeguard" the constitution drafted by the country's former, military government.

But today they made that promise – in Suu Kyi's words, "for the country and for the people."

Just because:
Are Indians in Canada aborting female fetuses?

That's the worrying question raised by a new study, which found that Indian-born women in Ontario were significantly more likely than Canadian-born women to give birth to boys if they already had one child. 

The study's authors say that's unlikely to be coincidence, but caution that conclusions are difficult to draw. The controversial issue has nonetheless put a spotlight on an ethnic community of almost 1 million people – and has emerged at a time when some members of Canada's Conservative government are trying to severely restrict abortion.

Strange but true:
Never trust anything that basicially as intelligent as a human, and can swim a whole lot better.

Dolphins may look sweet, but wildlife experts say they're sometimes beastly bullies – as appears to be the case in southern California's Bolsa Chica wetlands, where a lone dolphin has been stranded since last week. Dolphin watchers believe it's perfectly capable of returning to open water, but is instead choosing to hide out from aggressive members of its pod.

Hollywood, is it time to revisit Flipper as a thriller? Anyone? Anyone...?