FPF: Week Ending July 27
This week on Front Page Flash: Obama "on tour," justice in Serbia, Bush agrees to an Iraq "time horizon," China preps for Olympic protests, and hurricane season heats up. Plus, election update!
Is Barack Obama the New Bono? [Everywhere]
The Barack Obama “world tour” has dominated the media this week, spawning frequent use of phrases like “pop star,” “rock star,” and “the One.” He started in the Middle East, winning over the King of Jordan, playing hoops with troops in Kuwait, stressing the importance of a stronger front in Afghanistan, and splitting time between Israel and Palestine (he promised to start working toward peace between the two “the minute I step into office”). In Iraq he was bolstered by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s support for his withdrawal plan, and yesterday his focus shifted to Europe as he attracted an unprecedented 200,000 people to a speech in Berlin. In addition to massive media coverage, the story of the tour has been Obama’s focus on national security and U.S. commitments abroad—two areas that are generally considered McCain’s strength.
Infamous Serbian War Criminal Captured after 13 Years on the Run [Newsweek]
Radovan Karadzic was captured this week by the newly installed, Western-leaning Serbian government. He masterminded the slaughter of 100,000 Bosnian Muslims in ethnic cleansing campaigns, was an associate of Slobodan Milosevic, and murdered 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica (described as "the worst massacre in Europe since World War II" by the press). Prior to his arrest, he was able to avoid the authorities by posing as a doctor of alternative medicine, with a puffy white beard to match this persona. Politically, this is a significant arrest as Serbia seeks EU membership. Amongst other conditions, the EU has stated that those responsible for the ethnic cleaning campaigns of Bosnian Muslims be brought to justice for their crimes against humanity.
Bush Finally Agrees to Pull Out [Washington Post]
President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed this week on a "time horizon" for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq. This decision comes as part of a long-term security accord between the United States and Iraq. Bush's decision to agree on a timetable for withdrawing troops is unprecedented, as he and the Republican party have often criticized and ridiculed congressional Democrats like Obama who have been pushing for a similar troop withdrawal. Prime Minister al-Maliki has been saying that he supports Obama's plan for pulling out US troops from Iraq in 16 months. Needless to say, many critics doubt the notion of a "general timeline" means anything and Bush is just being political.
You can Protest in China...if you have a Permit [NYT]
Chinese officials announced last Wednesday that they would permit protesters to rally inside three city parks in Beijing during the Olympic games. Sounds reasonable, right? Of course, the privilege to be a political dissenter in China comes with a catch—you need to obtain a permit from the local police and abide by Chinese law while you protest. Under such restrictions, it seems unlikely that human rights organizations and advocacy groups for causes the Chinese government rejects (e.g., Tibet) will be able to jump the bureaucratic hurdles to rally during the Olympics. In other Olympic news, the International Olympic Committee has banned Iraqi athletes from participating in this year's Olympics. This ban follows the Iraqi government's decision to replace Iraq's Olympic committee with its own appointees, an action which violates IOC's charter to be free from political influence.
Blustery Winds on the Horizon [Christian Science Monitor]
In the aftermath of Hurricane Dolly, which hit southern Texas earlier this week, meteorologists are claiming that this year's hurricane season is going to be intense and highly active. With three tropical storms already named, July 2008 has broken records with its unusually high level of hurricane activity— Hurricane Bertha was the longest-lived July storm on record. Is this another reason to fear global warming (as if Wall-E wasn’t enough)? Probably. According to a research scientist at Colorado State University, the ocean temperatures in the eastern North Atlantic have been warmer than usual, and this combined with low air pressures in the area favors the formations of tropical storms.
Election Update: Poor McCain—with Obamamania spreading worldwide, the only thing that got him in the news this week were his complaints about how he’s not not in the news. Check out this Vanity Fair piece for an interesting breakdown of how media coverage has been split between the two candidates thus far in the race.