Item: In an article entitled “China’s military bluster camouflages toothless bite,” Reuters reported on March 8, "China’s military has far to go before its bite begins to approach its increasingly loud, and for some fearsome, bark.... While China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) looks increasingly fierce on paper, analysts — and even Chinese army officers — say it will be a long time before the country has the means to effectively challenge U.S. power, if ever."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's party, the State of Law Coalition, lost the March 7 parliamentary elections in a fractured vote, but appears to have embarked upon a course of using political violence as a means of erasing the election results. “At least four Sunni Muslim candidates who appear to have won parliamentary seats in Iraq on the winning ticket of secular leader Ayad Allawi have become targets of investigation by security forces reporting to the narrowly defeated Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,” McClatchy news service reported March 27.
In his latest paranoid crackdown on free speech, socialist Venezuelan “President” Hugo Chavez arrested the chief of the last critical television network as well as a popular former governor. Their alleged crimes: criticizing the regime.
The Washington Post has reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met with representatives of Hizb-i-Islami — a major Taliban-linked insurgent group — in a step toward national reconciliation, citing a presidential spokesman’s March 22 statement.
The quartet — a group comprised of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations that focuses on Middle East peace — met in Moscow on March 19. At the meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the proposals offered by the Israeli government to reduce diplomatic tensions with the United States were “useful and productive,” and that the Obama administration would continue talks with Israel in Jerusalem and Washington.