Pakistani officials refuse to submit to x-ray scan

U.S.-Pakistani relations tend to be defined by a certain set of core issues, which include the ISI's double-dealing with the CIA, the 2005 Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, and Pakistani nuclear security. While these issues are undoubtedly important, sometimes it's refreshing to see something new crop up, if only for variety's sake.

This is just what happened at Reagan National Airport on Sunday, Feb. 7, when a delegation of Pakistani legislators visiting Washington to meet with senior administration officials refused to submit to a full body X-ray scan. As a result, the legislators, who had already concluded their business in Washington and were attempting to fly to New Orleans, were prohibited from boarding the airplane. Insulted, the legislators promptly left on the next flight for Pakistan, leaving behind a public relations nightmare for the State Department, which had assisted the American Embassy in Islamabad with organizing the trip.

While the fallout from this episode is certain to be short-lived, the anecdote nevertheless serves as a nice illustration of the challenge the United States faces in trying to balance its national security interests with its need to improve relations with the Pakistani government.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images


Have Big Macs ruined Russian sports?

At FP, we've been following Russia's soul-searching  following its subpar Olympic performance. This has included the sacking the country's sports minister and the admission by Prime Minsiter Vladimir Putin that funds may have been misspent. 

But, as RFE reports, a group of young nationalist activists sees a different (American, naturally) culprit: 

On March 3, a handful of activists from Zdravmol, a youth organization and a joint project of the Federal Agency for Youth Policy and the obstreperous youth movement Nashi, gathered in front of a Moscow McDonald’s and chanted: “Thank you, McDonald’s, for our 11th ranking.” They were venting their anger at one of Russia’s poorest medal tallies ever at a Winter Olympics – only three golds at the Vancouver games.

Zdravmol was founded in December 2009 with the aim of raising awareness of health matters among young people. Flash mobs are among its favorite tactics.

This time, they were not frightening smokers on the street but reenacting the Winter Games dressed as obese Olympians, within a stone’s throw of the Olympic sports complex. The site was aptly chosen, although they had to postpone their picketing and revamp their posters as Russia slid ever further down the medals table.

I don't suppose it occured to these folks that Americans and Canadians eat an awful lot of McDonalds too. We even have commercials  promising us that chicken nuggets are the path to Olympic glory.

Check out Nashi's site for a write-up of the protest (in Russian) and more pictures.