Feinstein is a longtime shill for Beijing, but she stunned even seasoned observers in recently proposing a joint U.S.-China presidential commission to initiate an "open dialogue" about human rights. This commission, said Feinstein, should look not simply at China's shortcomings, but also at the National Guard killing of students at Kent State University, the lynching of African-Americans and the beating of peaceful civil rights marchers, the government's forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the police beating of Rodney King.
No one believes Feinstein is sincere in calling for such an inquiry. Her suggestion, the object of great scorn in Congress, is simply a smokescreen to prevent a serious look at China's awful record. "She's a complete fraud," says one longtime congressional staffer. "She has no interest in human rights problems in China."
Feinstein's romance with China dates to the 1970s, when she was mayor of San Francisco and became close friends with Jiang Zemin, then mayor of Beijing and now China's president. In explaining her interest in U.S.-China relations, Feinstein has jokingly said, "In my last life I was Chinese."
It is not possible to confirm this, but her passion for Beijing is more likely tied to the fact that her husband in her current life, merchant banker Richard Blum, has substantial business and real estate interests in China. He manages $750 million in investments for about 70 companies, with a large chunk of that amount tied up in China. Blum is also a director of Shanghai Pacific Partners, a major import-export firm.
In 1994, Feinstein led the effort to renew most-favored-nation trade status for China at a time when her husband was preparing to invest $150 million of his clients' money, along with $2 million to $3 million of his own, in China.
Blum also sits on the board of directors of Northwest Airlines, a company in which he holds a 6 percent share. His interest in the firm may be one reason that China's rulers have been so friendly towards the company. Northwest obtained the first non-stop flights from the United States to China about a year ago. The company also recently formed an "alliance" with Air China, the big government-run airline, which means the two firms will cooperate in areas such as scheduling, marketing and promotions, as well as carrying each others' passengers.
A Feinstein aide denied that Blum's business affairs had any effect on Feinstein's positions on China.
Tempers flared as thousands of worshippers waited to pass through security barricades into Jerusalem's Old City. Some priests and pilgrims shoved and punched police. Inside the church, people scuffled with each other and with officers as they waited for the ceremony to begin.
The Greek and Armenian Orthodox patriarchs in the Holy Land descended into the church's underground tomb to bring out the flame. Worshippers clutching bundles of unlit tapers and torches waited in the darkened church for the church leaders to emerge.
When they reappeared with lighted torches, church bells pealed. Worshippers cheered, shrieked "Christ, Christ," and ululated. The flames were passed around to the thousands of faithful and light and smoke filled the cavernous church within seconds.
The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years. The precise details of the flame's source are a closely guarded secret, but some believe it appears spontaneously from Christ's burial area as a message from Jesus on the eve of the Orthodox Easter that he has not forgotten his followers.
"My connection to Jesus is stronger, my connection to Jerusalem is stronger now," said Jeanette Gennetian, 66, of Watertown, Mass, a member of the Armenian Apostolic church.
Religious observations historically have touched off clashes over protocol among the different Orthodox denominations. Groups of people Saturday shouted, "Armenia, Armenia" in Armenian, and "Greece, Greece" in English.
On Friday, screaming Coptic priests threw punches over where and how long different sects would stand during the Good Friday service.
It's almost as though Berlin was following a capital city checklist when the city was revived as Germany's political hub in the late 1990s. Dramatic government quarter complete with flashy architecture? Check. Headquarters of major think tanks and foundations? Check. National monuments? Check. Lots of flags? Ummmm. Wait a sec. Flags? Somebody forgot the flags.
Berlin is an odd world capital: Whereas cities like Washington, London and Lisbon relish in a little flag-flying patriotism, Berlin shies away from the black, red and gold tricolor. Sure you'll find it on the four corners of the parliament building. But elsewhere? Forget about it. Almost no German corporation flies a flag outside its headquarters, like British banks in The City do. And flags in front lawns Long Island style? No way.
Across the rest of Germany, it's the same story. National pride, especially when it comes to publicly displaying a love, or even a mild affinity, for Germany is still simply taboo. When Horst K�hler left a plum job as head of the International Monetary Fund to become Germany's president -- mostly a ceremonial position -- in 2004, he said in his speech, "I love Germany." Reuters reported at the time that the sentence "sent a hush through the packed Reichstag chamber."
Which goes a long way toward explaining the dearth of the black-red-gold. Sixty-plus years after the end of World War II, German patriotism just ain't in the cards. Even the memorials the country builds these days are more anti-monuments. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is just the most recent example.