Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix accused Australia of caving in to US pressure to join the Iraq war and called on Canberra to be more independent of Washington, in an interview published yesterday. \nBlix told the Sydney Morning Herald that he believed Australia should have displayed more independence over the US-led invasion of Iraq, although he believed it was difficult for Canberra to stand up to Washington. \n"It may not be easy to be independent vis-a-vis the US because they are so tremendously powerful, but [Australia] ought to be," he said in an interview to publicize his memoirs. \nBlix said sovereign nations needed to display independence on questions of war and peace, and it would be improper for any country to bow to US pressure to join a war in return for favorable treatment in other areas. \n"The US might well go to some small country and say `Look, you don't have interest in Iraq but you have one big interest in the world and that is to be friendly to us, so are you going to vote for your interest or not?'" he said. \nA spokesman for Prime Minister John Howard dismissed the criticism and said Australia had been right to join the Iraq invasion. \n"I reject the criticism that Australia bowed to US pressure," the spokesman said. "It was right for Australia to be involved in the coalition. \n"Understandably, as leader of it, Han Blix had wanted the UN weapons inspection process to continue," the spokesman said. \nAustralia was one of Washington's strongest supporters in the lead-up to last year's Iraq war and one of only a handful of members of the so-called "coalition of the willing" to contribute troops on the ground. \nHoward and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said this month that maintaining a strong alliance with the US was a factor in the decision to commit 2,000 troops to the Iraq campaign. \nThe relationship would have been "very substantially" weakened had Australia not done so, they said. \nAustralia has long battled perceptions that it acts as Washington's "deputy sheriff" in the Asia-Pacific region and last week urged the US to take a more active role in providing financial and training support in counter-terrorism efforts in Southeast Asia.
On a beach in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen, just a few kilometers from Taiwan’s Kinmen, life is carefree, despite some of the worst cross-strait tensions in decades. Ignoring warnings from Beijing, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday — the highest-ranking elected US official to visit the nation in 25 years — sparking a diplomatic firestorm. China yesterday launched some of its largest-ever military drills — exercises set to disrupt one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. However, on Xiamen’s palm-fringed beach, there was little concern. “A war? No, I don’t care,” a young IT worker surnamed
According to Forrest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re going to get.” Now, an Indian remake of the movie has been hit by boycott calls over years-old comments by its Muslim star, Aamir Khan. It is the latest example of how Bollywood actors, particularly minority Muslims such as Khan, are feeling increased pressure under Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Modi. Laal Singh Chaddha, an Indian spin on the 1994 Hollywood hit with Tom Hanks, is expected to be one of India’s biggest films of the year. This is due in large part to its
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Screams from soldiers being tortured, overflowing cells, inhuman conditions, a regime of intimidation and murder. Inedible gruel, no communication with the outside world and days marked off with a home-made calendar written on a box of tea. This is what conditions are like inside Olenivka, a notorious detention center where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers burned to death late last month, said a former prisoner of the camp outside Donetsk in the Russian-occupied east of Ukraine. Anna Vorosheva — a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur — gave a harrowing account to the Observer of her time inside the jail. She spent 100 days in Olenivka