The world is vanishing from Americans’ awareness.
22 December 2009
If you get your news from the sources most Americans do, you will not know that India recently test-fired the Agni II, an intermediate-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. Nor will you know the test’s results, which were reported all over the subcontinent but not in America. You will probably be unaware of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow prison, or of who he was; the news was barely reported in the United States.
America should learn from Britain’s disastrous takeover of its biggest auto company.
Communism’s Defeat, 20 Years Later
Several weeks ago, the British press, led by the Times of London, reported “explosive” evidence from Soviet archives indicating that Margaret Thatcher—of all people!—had tried to keep the Berlin Wall from falling. Indeed, said the paper, she secretly urged Mikhail Gorbachev to “do what he could to stop it.” The Times based this revelation on Kremlin notes, still officially classified, of a Moscow meeting between Thatcher and Gorbachev in September 1989. These and many other documents were spirited out of Russia in 2003 by Pavel Stroilov, a researcher at the Gorbachev Foundation. MARGARET THATCHER WANTED BERLIN WALL TO STAY, reported the Australian. MR. GORBACHEV, KEEP THIS WALL UP! marveled The Economist, leading the article with a breathless “WHOA.” Andrew Sullivan titled his blog entry MARGARET THATCHER, SECRET DEFENDER OF SOVIET SECURITY, declaring the news “staggering.” But these are all mischaracterizations and misunderstandings of the Kremlin document; nothing about it is shocking in the least.
November 3, 2009
ISTANBUL Some of the writers who gathered on Tuesday evening to read selections from their work at the D& R bookstore on Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul’s main pedestrian boulevard, had trouble understanding one another. The reading was one of dozens of events held city-wide as part of the four-day long, inaugural Tanp?nar Literature Festival, organized by Istanbul’s Kalem literary agency. The festival, billed as the city's first international event of its kind, attracted some 90 writers from 32 countries. It featured readings, debates, book signings and lectures on topics ranging from “Being European,” to “Trends in International Publishing.” But translators were in scarce supply, with predictable consequences: Turkish and foreign authors found each other mutually incomprehensible. This was the very problem the festival was meant to redress.
October 10, 2009
In Beyo?lu, north of the Golden Horn on the European side of Istanbul, it is almost impossible to walk down the crowded streets without passing a film crew. But this is not a world of ripped abs and bronzed silicon starlets. These Turkish filmmakers are wan and drawn, desperately earnest, deeply preoccupied with Turkey's rapid social transformation. The one thing they have in common with their Hollywood confreres is a sense that the film industry is a good place to make money. About that, they are right.
Immigration, Islam, and the West
By Christopher Caldwell
Doubleday. 422 pp. $30
Ten years after a devastating earthquake, a First Post writer finds building regulators are still fatally corrupt
JULY 27, 2009
Almost 10 years ago exactly, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Turkey, killing as many as 40,000 people. Thousands were crushed in their beds when their buildings, such as the one pictured above in Kaynasli, collapsed.
An outcry ensued over the shoddy construction material, loose building codes and widespread corruption among licensing officials: these were correctly blamed for the high death toll. Seismologists warn the next quake will be much nearer to Istanbul, which lies directly on the fault line.
At noon last Monday, I was in my apartment in Istanbul when I heard an explosion. The building shook. Furniture in my apartment fell over, and books flew off my shelf. Everyone in the neighbourhood began screaming.
RADIO FREE EUROPE
Very few people in Turkey are exercised by the YouTube blackout, now in its second year. Despite the ban, the video-sharing site is believed to be the ninth most popular site in Turkey. Almost every Internet user -- from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the humblest teenage porn connoisseur -- knows how to circumvent it with proxy browsers. "I get in," Erdogan told reporters in November, 2008. "You can do so as well."
But maybe they should be more concerned. Blocking the exchange of information through the Internet is a top priority with some of the world's most oppressive regimes. China is devoting considerable energy to developing technology to block the best Web 2.0 sites, for example. Inexorably, a line is between drawn between countries that restrict their citizens' access to information and those that do not. And which side of that line does Turkey – with its European Union membership aspirations – find itself on?
Crippling economies around the world.
In 1997, I moved to Laos to work for the United Nations Development Programme. Laos was desperately impoverished. The country’s infrastructure was primitive. A fifth of the nation’s children died in infancy. Adult life expectancy barely exceeded 50 years. Less than half the population was literate. The UNDP spent most of its time endeavoring to raise funds from international donors to rectify this situation, and what time it did not spend this way, it spent holding elaborate conferences on the theme of how better to raise funds to rectify this situation.
Despite government reassurances, Britons feel under siege—with good reason.
Just before midnight on January 12, 2006, Tom ap Rhys Pryce, a 31-year-old lawyer, left a London party and telephoned his fiancée to say that he was on his way home. He emerged from the tube station at Kensal Green about 20 minutes later and began walking toward their apartment. That was when two teenage gang members attacked him. Donnel Carty kicked Pryce in the back, sending him flying to the ground, and Delano Brown kicked him in the face. When Pryce tried to defend himself, the attackers stabbed him in the legs, hands, face, and heart. Then they took his cell phone and public-transportation pass, the only valuables in his possession, and ran off, leaving him dying on the ground. The paramedics who strove unsuccessfully to revive him found his wedding vows strewn on the pavement.