Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic appeared in a courtroom at The Hague today to begin his trial for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. On the run for more than 15 years, Mladic is accused of organizing the slaughter of more than 8,000 civilian men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 and of laying siege to Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, resulting in the deaths of more than 10,000 as commander of the Serbian Army. He was captured in May 2011 hiding in a Serbian farmhouse.
Republican Sen. John McCain has joined Democratic Sen. Jim Webb in calling for a suspension of most sanctions against Burma, also called Myanmar since its military junta formally changed the name in 1989. McCain has traveled to Burma twice in the last year-and as a former Vietnam POW, it could be said that he knows something about Southeast Asia-and believes now that the country's moves toward democratization and reform are sufficient to reopen some forms of trade and relations. "The right kind of investment would strengthen Burma's private sector, benefit its citizens, and ultimately loosen the military's control over the economy and the civilian government. The wrong investment would do the opposite, entrenching a new oligarchy and setting back Burma's development for decades," McCain said in a speech this week in Washington. Under his proposal, McCain would keep in place an arms embargo.
In the good news happens category, one of the newest countries in the world, Timor-Leste, is reporting a dramatic reduction in infant mortality rates. Since the last survey in 2003, reports the UN, the infant mortality rate dropped from 60 to 44 deaths per 1,000 births, while the rate for those under the age of 5 fell from 83 to 64 deaths per 1,000 births. Hooray! The UN, of course, also wants to bring down fertility rates, in keeping with its Millennium Development goals and the prevailing wisdom that big families are only a hardship, but more babies surviving is good for any country. Timor-Leste, once known as East Timor, gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after decades of military occupation.
Elsewhere in Indonesia environs, advancing a more "pure" form of Islamic law is gaining ground in Aceh province, which is about 98 percent Muslim and 1 percent (mostly Protestant) Christian. In late April local administrators shut down 17 places of Christian worship, claiming they were built without permits.
In the bad news perpetuates itself category, I just don't want to say anything about Greece today. Europe's belt-tightening refuseniks are getting way too much press.
Upcoming: Patrick Sookhdeo, head of the UK-based Barnabas Fund and an expert on Islam, will speak in Washington next week. On May 22 he will join a Westminster Institute panel (free but registration required) to discuss the "dangerous embrace" between the United States and Islamists. And on May 24 at the Heritage Foundation (also available live at heritage.org), he will talk on lessons learned in Britain in trying to accommodate Islamic ideology, a policy now in practice in the Obama administration.