Global News Journal

Is Turkey reassessing Ataturk’s legacy?

November 10, 2008

The following piece is written by Turkey correspondent Ibon Villelabeitia:

A new and intimate documentary on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the
venerated soldier-statesman who founded modern Turkey after
World War One, has sparked controversy in this European Union
candidate country at a time of national self-absorption.

Where now for Zimbabwe?

November 10, 2008

It was not hard to see which of Zimbabwe’s rivals felt he had come out on top from the regional summit at the weekend.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, India and the rise and/or fall of the nation state

November 10, 2008

When the British left India in 1947, they bequeathed what was arguably a European notion of the nation state on a region for which the very concept was alien. I say "arguably" because anything one writes about Partition or the nation state is open to dispute. And until the financial crisis, I relegated this argument to the realm of historians -- a subject that interested me personally, but did not seem relevant today.

Video Stories from Both Sides of the USA-Mexico Border

November 9, 2008

By Juliana Rincón Parra

Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content of this post — the views are the author’s alone.

Iraqis wait, fuel jugs in hand, for promised services

November 8, 2008

A few days ago, I woke up at six in the morning and set out
to a local gas station to buy kerosene to keep my family warm in
the coming winter, an errand I thought wouldn’t take more than
an hour. How wrong I was.
When I arrived at the station, I saw a long line of people
snaking down the street. Men and women, young and old, all
toting plastic fuel jugs. Some people had their children in tow.
When I took my place at the end of the line, I learned that
one young man nearby had been in line since 4 a.m. I was
astonished that, despite the violence that still shakes Baghdad
daily, he had ventured out in the dark to queue up.
It was only six hours later that I began the journey home,
fuel sloshing inside my plastic jugs.
More than five years after the U.S.-led invasion that
promised democracy, prosperity and freedom, such daily trials
remind us Iraqis how far we have to go.
The U.S. and Iraqi governments have spent billions of
dollars on reconstructing Iraq’s decayed infrastructure, but
basic services are still out of reach for many Iraqis.
Most people get only a few hours of grid power each day and
must pay for private generation. Water supply in Baghdad still
falls far short of demand. Every day, nearly a billion litres of
raw sewage is dumped into Baghdad waterways — enough to fill
370 Olympic-sized pools.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced earlier this year
that 2008 would be the year of reconstruction and services for a
country whose infrastructure is in shambles after over five
years of war and decades of neglect under Saddam Hussein and
international sanctions.
Iraqis shell out large shares of their salaries — those
that are lucky enough to have work — to buy black market power,
water and other services the government still does not provide.
The question is simple: when will this change?
Kerosene is an essential source of warmth for Iraqis during
the winter months, especially since electricity is so erratic.
Each Iraqi family has the right to buy 50 liters of
state-subsidised kerosene each month for around $14. Even for
smaller families that can get by with 50 litres, there are often
shortages and long lines.
Some people are forced to go to the black market, where
prices are as high as $90 for the same amount.
One white-bearded man in the line, near me, who had come
from across the city, said the fuel costs a fortune for him.
The scene outside the gas station was strangely like a
picnic. People brought food and water for the long wait. A
pedestrian vendor was selling cold drinks and candy.
Under Saddam Hussein, kerosene got a bigger subsidy and was
more readily available.
Today, even venturing to buy fuel these days is a risk. I
was nervous as I stood in line, keeping in mind that this
station had been the site of at least two recent explosions,
including one targeting people lining up for fuel. One bomb was
reportedly hidden inside a plastic fuel jug.
Many Iraqis have taken to the street to draw attention to
this epidemic. So far, that hasn’t made things change any more
quickly. Hope may be the only thing we can do for now.

Obama’s “Suntan”

November 7, 2008

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s quip about Barack Obama’s permanent “suntan” almost certainly wasn’t intended to offend. But now he’s battling accusations of racism.

An Iraq reporter, stranger in her own country

November 7, 2008

 

Last week, one of my colleagues asked if I would be
interested in going on a day trip with the U.S. military to
visit an oil refinery north of Baghdad.
In my four years working as an Iraqi reporter with Reuters
in Baghdad, I had never before been “embedded,” the process in
which journalists insert themselves into military units and
report on the war under the shield of the U.S. military.
I had seen my foreign colleagues don their flak jackets and
helmets and disappear for days or even weeks at a time,
reappearing looking exhausted, sunburned and filthy.
I agreed immediately, never imagining that what I expected
would be a pleasant afternoon jaunt would turn into a 28-hour
odyssey that was a strange experience for an Iraqi, suddenly
transported to what seemed to be a foreign country within Iraq.
In Baghdad I boarded a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter that took
me and several other journalists to a base near Tikrit in the
north. I was thrilled, imagining how I would tell my father, a
former Iraqi military pilot, about my first helicopter flight.
But once we reached the base, we were informed that the
second leg of the trip to the Baiji refinery was cancelled due
to weather. We would be heading back to Baghdad, they said.
I was disappointed about not seeing Baiji, but it was a good
opportunity to wander around my first U.S. military base. I had
heard so much about the sprawling military cities within walls.
One of the first things I noticed was that, despite my
fluent English, I could barely understand the Americans soldiers
who were escorting us. They used military acronyms nonstop.
The hall where we ate wasn’t a “cafeteria”. It was a “DFAC”,
short for “dining facility”. Inside, I saw my first Halloween
decorations and ate wonderful caramel and strawberry ice cream.
The soldiers I met were friendly. One showed me pictures of
his wife. I imagined it must be hard to be so far from his
family. It was hard already for me to be away for just a day,
especially from my eight-year-old son at home with my parents.
As we waited for our flight in a cold tent, a Sylvester
Stallone movie flickering, I shivered in the autumn chill. I was
growing more worried about getting home that night.
Finally, a Chinook helicopter arrived. Trying not to remind
myself of the Chinook crash that killed seven U.S. soldiers a
few months ago, I climbed aboard. After around an hour’s flight,
I thought we had finally made it to Baghdad. But when we landed,
one of the pilots welcomed us back to the very same base: we had
been sent back to Tikrit because of bad weather.
It was around 9 p.m., and we shuffled back to the same cold
tent to wait for another flight. Around 1:30 a.m., I awoke from
a troubled doze feeling like a refugee. A soldier told us we
wouldn’t be able to return to Baghdad for at least 24 hours.
I was too tired to do anything but be trundled off to a cot
to sleep. The next morning, I woke in woeful need of a shower,
with no change of clothes, no toothbrush, no comb.
Enough of waiting for helicopters: I decided to return by
road. A Reuters reporter based in Samarra picked me up at the
base, and we drove toward Baghdad on a highway that would have
been perilous a year ago but which people said was now safe.
I donned a head scarf so I wouldn’t be noticed in the more
conservative rural areas. When we passed Samarra, I tried not to
think about a female journalist who was killed on the same
stretch of road in 2006.
We reached Baghdad and I hugged my son and mother tight. It
was wonderful to be home.
I won’t win journalism prizes for reporting on this embed,
but it was a learning experience. I was fascinated by the
extraordinary efficiency on the base, with U.S. soldiers working
like bees with their modern gear and funny acronyms.
I joked with colleagues that it was my first and last embed.
But the ice cream from the DFAC? It might just be worth another.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will Obama’s victory boost democracy in Pakistan?

November 6, 2008

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In his new book about the Pakistan Army, "War, Coups and Terror", Brian Cloughley recounts how the British general, the Duke of Wellington,  responded to democracy in his first cabinet meeting as prime minister: "An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them."

from India Insight:

Will an “untouchable” become India’s Obama?

November 6, 2008

Will a Dalit, or "untouchable" become India's Obama? That is the question being posed by some commentators in the India press after the United States elected their first black president.

Austria’s Haider: a hero beyond the grave?

November 5, 2008

He may have died in a car crash last month whilst drunk, but Austrian rightist Joerg Haider is not gone.