Oasis is definitely, maybe banned from China

On his China Rises blog, McClatchy's Tim Johnson reports that Chinese authorities have cancelled performances by British band Oasis because of concerns over singer Noel Gallagher's political views. From the band's press release:

"The licensing and immigration process for the two shows had been fully and successfully complied with well before the shows went on sale. The Chinese authorities action in cancelling these shows marks a reversal of their decision regarding the band, which has left both Oasis and the promoters bewildered.

"According to the show's promoters, officials within the Chinese Ministry of Culture only recently discovered that Noel Gallagher appeared at a Free Tibet Benefit Concert on Randall's Island in New York in 1997, and have now deemed that the band are consequently unsuitable to perform to their fans in the Chinese Republic on 3rd and 5th of April, during its 60th anniversary year.

By now, China should've somehow realized that it's gotta lighten up on those artistic censorship laws. Other superpowers' leaders seem perfectly content to just ignore self-righteous outbursts from ageing foreign rock stars.

Dave Hogan/Getty Images


Cyprus peace deal sets off asparagus fight

Cypriot asparagus harvesters are fuming over a U.N.-brokered peace settlement which has created a buffer zone between the Greek and Turkish sides of the island. The U.N. is preventing the harvesters from entering the zone to pick up wild asparagus as they have done for years:

"This is unacceptable behaviour and I have demanded that action is taken," said Nicos Kotziambashis, leader of the Greek Cypriot village of Mammari which has been particularly hit by the U.N. ban. "The situation is explosive."

"It is not something we particularly like to do but unfortunately if the asparagus is found in the buffer zone the peacekeepers have to do their job, which is to regulate access to that part of the territory," a U.N. spokesman told Reuters.

The story reminds me a bit of a funny anecdote from my colleague Tom Ricks' excellent new book The Gamble, which I am working my way through right now: An American officer asks an Iraqi sheikh why he keeps smuggling sheep into Iraq from Syria. The sheikh replies, "Why did they put the Syrian border in the middle of my sheep?"

Hat tip: Sara Lipka

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images