The World Today for March 26, 2019

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NEED TO KNOW

INDIA/PAKISTAN

A ‘Negative Peace’

India’s cricket team recently courted controversy by wearing military caps on the playing field.

The camouflage hats were meant to honor 40 paramilitary officers killed last month in a terror attack in Indian-administered Kashmir, which is under Indian control but Pakistan claims as its own territory, Al Jazeera reported.

Pakistan filed a complaint with the International Cricket Council, saying the team was wrongfully politicizing the sport. The country’s information minister suggested that Pakistani players should wear black bands to “remind the world about Indian atrocities in Kashmir.”

The world would be better off if the dispute between the two South Asian giants was only about hats.

As Reuters explained, India and Pakistan nearly went to war after the Feb. 14 terrorist attack.

Indian officials claimed the terrorists were based in their neighbor to the west and getting financial support there. Pakistani officials denied the charges. But American officials and groups like the Financial Action Task Force, a watchdog based in Paris, have long corroborated the allegations, wrote the New York Times.

Almost two weeks later, India launched retaliatory airstrikes on an alleged terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Then Pakistani jets attacked Indian-controlled territory in Kashmir. A dogfight, which is extremely rare in modern warfare, ensued. Pakistan shot down an Indian plane and captured the pilot.

Pakistan and India have fought wars in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. But only the 1999 Kargil War happened after both countries had nuclear weapons. Today, as both countries have larger and more powerful stockpiles, each new conflict is more ominous than the last. Bloomberg reported that India sent a nuclear submarine toward the coast of Pakistan after the Feb. 14 terror attack.

Pakistan has arrested some suspected terrorists and frozen the assets of others. It has also taken control of facilities operated by the militants who allegedly conducted the Feb. 14 attack in Kashmir, according to NDTV, an Indian broadcaster. India and the US want to see more sustained action, however. Meanwhile, China continues to support Pakistan – India and China have long had territorial disputes besides competing for influence in the region.

The problem is that the fundamental structures of Indian-Pakistani relations remain unchanged. Pakistan still claims Kashmir. Terrorists still operate in the country – on the Afghan, Iranian and Indian borders, the Economist noted. India begins parliamentary elections next month, a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go to great lengths to make sure he does not appear weak.

The Diplomat described the situation as “negative peace.” The two sides might accept that conflicts are inevitable but make sure they don’t escalate into a bigger fight that leads to mushroom clouds.

It’s sad that the threat of mutually assured destruction once again makes sense.

WANT TO KNOW

ISRAEL

Another Disruption

In Silicon Valley-speak, US President Donald Trump once again disrupted the status quo in international affairs by officially recognizing Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.

While the move boosted the election prospects of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the dramatic shift in a decades-long US policy on Monday angered Syria, which once controlled the territory, Reuters reported.

Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981, but the international community had not recognized the move as legitimate.

Syria called Trump’s policy reversal a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty, and UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric was quick to proclaim that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “clear that the status of Golan has not changed,” referring to a 1981 resolution that declared the annexation “null and void.”

Meanwhile, Israel on Monday launched air strikes on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza in response to rockets fired into Israel by Hamas, the agency reported separately.

BRITAIN

Wresting Control

British legislators voted to give themselves temporary control of the parliamentary timetable starting on Wednesday so lawmakers can vote on alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular divorce deal with the European Union.

As a result, Parliament plans a series of “indicative votes” designed to hone in on Brexit terms that can secure majority support. That could result in a so-called “soft Brexit” that maintains close economic ties with the EU or even scrapping the departure altogether.

Earlier, May had admitted that her proposal would again be defeated if she demanded a third vote as things stand, the Associated Press reported.

May’s government said the maneuver “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future.” But May said she would “engage constructively” with the results of the process if it indeed yields a break in the deadlock, though she also said she’s still working to put her twice-blasted proposal to a third vote later in the week.

COMOROS

Crying Foul

Police fired tear gas to dispel crowds protesting alleged irregularities in Comoros’ weekend presidential election after opposition leaders claimed Monday that independent monitors had been barred from observing proceedings and some ballots had been filled out before voting began.

About 300,000 citizens of the Indian Ocean archipelago of 800,000 people voted in Sunday’s polls, Reuters reported. Incumbent President Azali Assoumani is widely expected to be declared the winner when electoral body CENI announces the official results later Monday.

Unrest also greeted Assoumani’s move to extend presidential term limits last year, as the change denied people on the archipelago’s Anjouan island their turn in the country’s rotating presidential system.

A successful referendum overturned the previous system, under which the presidency was rotated around the three Indian Ocean Islands every five years, the BBC explained. Though Assoumani faced 12 opposing candidates, the Supreme Court barred some of his biggest rivals including the former President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who is accused of corruption.

DISCOVERIES

Funk to the Fromage

Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler believed that all sorts of things affected the flavor and texture of cheese.

He tested his theory by applying different genres of music to cheese as it aged and ending up with some peculiar flavors, the Smithsonian reported.

In cooperation with the Bern University of Arts, Wampfler used a mini-transducer to direct sound waves directly into eight wheels of cheese. One wheel aged in silence.

Among the selected tunes, endless loops of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” and “Jazz (We’ve Got)” by hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest were played to different cheese wheels.

The results were staggering: Several tasters agreed that the music-aged wheels had milder flavor compared to the non-musical cheese, but the flavors also differed among music genres.

The hip-hop cheese – which Wampfler was rooting for – had the funkiest flavor, with tasters agreeing it was “remarkably fruity, both in smell and taste, and significantly different from the other samples.”

Michael Harenberg, director of the music program at Bern University of the Arts, said that the experiment introduced his team to the field of sonochemistry, which studies how sound waves affect chemical reactions and processes.

Wampfler now wants to use the science to add more funk to his fromage by playing different hip-hop songs in the future.

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