World News Brief, Thursday April 18

Britain marks Margaret Thatcher's passing; Taiwan conducts live-fire military drills; Islamist militant leader narrowly escapes army offensive in Philippines; Musharraf banned from Pakistani elections; more clues in Boston bombings

Top of the Agenda: Britain Marks Thatcher's Passing

Britain today held a ceremonial funeral with military honors (FT) at St. Paul's Cathedral for former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who died last week from a stroke at the age of eighty-seven. Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister David Cameron, and dignitaries from around the world--including former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, and James Baker--attended the 2,000 person service. Thatcher, who led Britain from 1979-1990, was best known for championing unwavering free market policies and for her alliance with former U.S. president Ronald Reagan during the climax of the Cold War. But Britons were divided about her leadership and legacy.


"It is often claimed that Margaret Thatcher was a divisive figure, but the reality is that she inherited a country that was already very divided. Through a mix of cautious strategy and determination, she transformed Britain. Unions were democratized and the closed shop outlawed. Inflation was brought under control and the higher rate of income tax fell from a punishing 83 percent to the growth-inducing rate of 40 percent," says this Daily Telegraph editorial.

"Far from saving Britain, Thatcher's government delivered rampant inequality, social breakdown, disastrous financial deregulation, pulverizing deindustrialisation and mass unemployment. A North Sea oil bonanza was frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthy and a swollen benefits bill as public services were run down, child poverty escalated and social mobility ground to a halt," writes the Guardian's Seumas Milne.

"But she was at least as much a product of her times as she was the master of them, and Thatcherism was not so much a coherent creed as it was something she made up as she went along. Like many public figures, Margaret Thatcher had a touching and naive concern about 'the verdict of history,' but in her case, the only certainty is this: there will be never be agreement as to what that verdict should be," writes David Cannadine for the New York Times.



Taiwan Conducts Live-Fire Military Drills

Taiwan today began conducting its annual military drill on the Penghu Islands, using live ammunition for the first time since 2008. Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou said the exercise was necessary for sustaining "peace in the Taiwan Strait" (BBC).

PHILIPPINES: A leader of Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf, Isnilon Hapilon, narrowly escaped an army offensive in the south of the country that left eight militants dead (Reuters). Hapilon is wanted by the United States over the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in 2001.


Musharraf banned from Pakistani elections

New clues in Boston bombings


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