International Papers

Magic Carpet


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The Venice newspaper Il Gazzettino reported on its front page Thursday that a 4-year-old girl who had seen the Disney cartoon film of Aladdin many times on television had thrown herself out of her third-floor bedroom window on a blanket believing she would be able to fly. She was miraculously unhurt when she landed on the sidewalk in a cross-legged sitting position. The girl, who lived with her parents in a village on Lake Como, was of Turkish origin, the newspaper said.

The South China Morning Post said in its main editorial Thursday that President B.J. Habibie of Indonesia “may survive in office far longer than anyone initially expected.” While students would not be deterred from trying to bring down another unpopular leader even by threats of military force, “there is no longer the strong national consensus that existed in the days immediately prior to Mr Suharto’s downfall.” “Having originally been written off as a stop-gap solution, the new President seems to have acquired a surprisingly firm grip on the reins of power,” the newspaper observed. In Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald said Friday in an editorial that Habibie should speed up his timetable for free elections to “possibly prevent a descent into anarchy.”

The Straits Times of Singapore expressed concern in an editorial Thursday that the new president of the Philippines, former movie star Joseph Estrada, would fail in his promises “to press ahead with economic reforms, establish law and order, stamp out corruption, and above all help the poor who form the bulk of the country’s 70 million people.” It said that Estrada, “whose hero is another actor turned politician, former US President Ronald Reagan, could change the Philippine political landscape over the next six years if he carries out what he promises to do: abolish pork barrel politics.” “That, indeed, would be his greatest performance,” it added.

The Times of India sought to persuade the United States that “India’s nuclear weapon capability is a source of stability for the wider region.” “A knee-jerk response to India’s legitimate strategic concerns will only reinforce the China-Pakistan nuclear axis, with fearful consequences for US interests in West Asia,” the newspaper said. The Pakistani newspaper Dawn devoted its main editorial Thursday to Iranian support for Pakistan’s nuclear tests. It said that Iran, despite its opposition in principle to nuclear proliferation, had “left no doubt that Teheran regarded Pakistan’s nuclear capability not only as essential for maintaining a correct strategic balance in South Asia, but also as a source of assurance for Muslim countries generally.”

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz led Thursday with an exclusive report saying that the latest draft of the U.S. peace initiative required that Israel stop expanding its West Bank settlements and “refrain from demolishing 1800 [Palestinian] homes currently slated for demolition.”

In Russia, the Moscow Times said it would be “hard to imagine a more humbling scene for Alexander Solzhenitsyn” than the print run of 5,000 copies given to his latest “vitriolic indictment of post-Soviet society”–his book Russia in the Abyss. “Former presidential bodyguard Alexander Korzhakov’s memoirs of his time as a member of Yeltsin’s coterie came out in 50,000 copies,” the paper said. “Even a biography of English Queen Elizabeth II to be published in Russian next week has a print run of 10,000 copies.”