- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

Insider notes from United Press International for March 7 …


The anti-war movement in Europe is starting to have real impact beyond politics. Ireland's Shannon International Airport has been virtually closed to flights and refueling stops of U.S. troops and supplies by a relentless campaign of protest. Three of the four U.S. airlines hired by the Pentagon for the transports have now said they will no longer use Shannon. Over the last three weeks, demonstrators have gotten inside the perimeter and into the hangars three times, smashing aircraft with hammers, dousing their lamps and windscreens with paint. Last week, over 1,000 anti-war protesters, citing Ireland's traditional neutrality and the failure of a United Nations mandate, tried a mass trespass onto the airport, to be held back by police backed up by Irish troops. The aircraft are now using Frankfurt airport instead, and the now well-connected European movement is planning more direct action there. Belgian police last week rounded up 150 activists who were trying to stop military convoys from U.S. bases in Germany to the port of Antwerp.


Just when you thought these were the last days of the last dictator, the granddaddy of them all may be coming back. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stalin's death,

Aleksandr Kuvaev, leader of the Moscow Communist Society, has proposed cloning Uncle Joe, the man fellow Bolshevik (and victim) Nikolai Bukharin once described as "Genghis Khan with a telephone." There might be one slight problem with reviving the old thug, however; among the recent revelations is that Stalin's cronies may have poisoned him with the rat killer warfarin.


Indian officials have been trying hard to damp down reports of their new military understandings with Iran, insisting that their deal to upgrade and modernize Iran's Soviet-made T-72 tanks and MiG warplanes does not mean India is seeking basing rights and the possibility of opening a second front against Pakistan. But the relationship is certainly intensifying fast. A team of Indian Army engineers and Navy logistics officers is now installed at Iran's Shah Bahar naval base. The cover story is that India will be helping improve the infrastructure at the civilian port and local communications, and are running a feasibility study on boosting crude oil shipments from Iran.


More than half of Argentine voters want the chance to elect neighboring Brazilian president Lula in their own election in April. Research carried out by the Consultoria Graciela Romer and Associates on the image of the Brazilian president in Argentina found that Lula's support was particularly pronounced among the middle and upper classes, with 56 percent choosing Lula to lead the country. Lula also withholds the majority of the support of the voters who define themselves as center-left (71 percent) and left (66 percent). Understandable, given the performance in recent years of the Argentine politicians.


Argentina's new ambassador, Eduardo Amedeo, has a novel idea for raising his battered country's profile in Washington — and easing tension. He's starting weekly tango lessons at the embassy. With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's current ban on importing Argentinian beef during the crisis, he argues, the national dance is his only recourse. He's an excellent tango dancer himself, but has now hired a couple of teachers, and says the tango is an ideal way of creating harmony for these tense times. "When you're dancing as close to someone as you have to in the tango, you can't be unfriendly," Amedeo says. Argentinian wine will be served.


Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, furious at the constant foot-dragging over his country's application to join the European Union, is trying a flank move. He is going to apply for his AK (Justice and Development) Party to join the European Peoples' Party, the umbrella group of center-right that currently dominates the EU Parliament. On paper and in principle, the bid will be hard to stop. But most EPP member parties are Christian Democrats, wary of embracing Erdogan's 'moderate Islamic' party.

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