February 05, 2008

Bodh Gaya Controversy; Hard Winter in China; Sri Lankan Jet Fighters

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, IndiaMore on the alleged wrongdoing in Bodh Gaya. Did the tree's custodians cut off and sell a branch of the tree to the government of Thailand for $1.5 million? Did attendant priests sell fallen leaves to pilgrims? And where are the missing Buddha statuette hat used to fill the niches around the site? In addition to this controversy, the site is shared by Hindus and Buddhists and, especially now when there is trouble, tension is rising.

The U.S. is wrapped up in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that cost lives and money (possible into the trillions of dollars) and don't gain anything but Freedom From Terror. Meanwhile China is extending its influence all over Africa and getting oil and resources in return. Here they are in the Sudan "keeping the peace" and helping shield Khartoum from criticism over the genocide in Darfur:

At the airport in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, the Sudanese military has for years parked several Chinese-made fighter jets. An Associated Press reporter has repeatedly seen them operate in Darfur despite a U.N. ban on military flights over the region.

Because of those ties, some Darfur rebel groups don't view the Chinese as neutral peacekeepers and have opposed their deployment. There have also been rebel attacks on Chinese-owned oil fields near Darfur.

China is also building a hydropower plant in Laos, its neighbor and fellow Communist government. The U.S. literally can't afford to do this kind of thing anymore. Just keep putting the war on the national credit card with money from China, who's busy building goodwill around the globe by working on projects like this.

Terrible suffering continues in China with the unusually severe winter weather. Many people greeted the New Year without power, and some were unable to even get home on the nation's stressed rail system.

Speaking of New Year's, the story of Tibetan New Year.

After the recent suicide bombing in the main train station of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, the army has stepped up it offensive against Tamil rebels in the country's north, using jet fighters and speedboats. No end in site to the war that has claimed 60,000 (Reuters says 70,000) lives in more than twenty years of fighting.

Is cloned food that bad? A plea to cut down on the hysteria on both sides and take the middle path.

A former Buddhist temple in Japan is now enjoying a new life as a community center, complete with hot springs.

(Image: REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

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