ANKARA, Turkey — Not since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire — the seat of the 400-year old Turkish Muslim caliphate — have Europeans been so preoccupied with Turkey. As poor Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Africa flood the gates of Europe in search of work, the prospect of Turkey’s accession into the EU has provoked the EU’s most heated existential crisis to date. Turkey, the gateway between Europe and the Middle East, began its Europeanizing mission well over half a century ago when it first applied to join what was then called the European Economic Community. Until […]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — When asked about his over-the-top Bush name calling, Hugo Chavez late last month told Time magazine: “Bush has called me worse things: tyrant, populist dictator, drug trafficker, to name a few.” Sticks and stones break bones. And in Washington names and labels can too. Washington watchers say advocates for toothy Chavez containment are searching for new things to call the fiery leader who, if the heavy, hard-to-refine crude in Venezuela ‘s Orinoco region is counted, controls the world’s largest oil estate. In other words, Washington is hunting for a smoking gun to link to Chavez. But […]

South Korean Cements Support in U.N. Race

UNITED NATIONS — South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon seemed assured of becoming U.N. secretary general Monday after emerging unscathed from an informal Security Council straw poll in which each of the other five remaining candidates were vetoed. Ban led the field with 14 out of a possible 15 “encouragements” and no “discouragements,” but one “no opinion” from a non-permanent council member. The five permanent members with veto power — the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France — made no attempt to block his progress. Ban has led the field in all four straw polls the Security Council has […]

Korea Vows to Conduct Nuclear Test

The North Korean foreign minister announced Tuesday his country will conduct a nuclear test, the Associated Press reports. We managed to get our hands on the English version of the nuclear test announcement put out by North Korea’s state-controlled media organ, the Korean Central News Agency. The release doesn’t appear to be posted on the KCNA’s Web site as yet. Reading the announcement gives one a sense of the regime’s propaganda style, and the paranoid, almost desperate, voice that characterizes it: DPRK Foreign Ministry Clarifies Stand on New Measure to Bolster War Deterrent Pyongyang, October 3 (KCNA) — The Foreign […]

What to Pray for During Ramadan and Yom Kippur: Brave and Creative Leaders

JERUSALEM — The usually ferocious Jerusalem traffic moves a little more slowly these days. According to the lunar calendars followed by Muslims and Jews, the holy Muslim month of Ramadan this year coincides with Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, making this a time when both Muslims and Jews, separately but simultaneously, are engaging in reflection and prayer. Their prayers this year ought to include requests for new leaders, brave and creative, for both sides of this conflict. Palestinians and Israelis are giving pollsters mind-bogglingly inconsistent views of what they want. That means they are ready for […]

EU Justice and Interior Ministers have just met in Tampere, Finland, to devise a common immigration and asylum policy by 2010. As contentious as the issue proved, it is ultimately no match for the other issue on the agenda, which set alarm bells ringing in a number of European capitals: changing the EU’s system of qualified majority voting (QMV) on criminal justice and home affairs matters. The changes proposed would mean ending national vetoes on highly sensitive issues — and thus a further significant loss of sovereign control to Brussels. Though the two-day conference broke up with little achieved, EU […]

UNITED NATIONS – A straw poll by the U.N. Security Council Monday could be decisive in selecting a successor to Secretary General Kofi Annan, who steps down Dec 31. The outcome hangs on whether the front runner, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, is blocked by a negative vote from one or more of the five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, Russian, China, and France. The soft-spoken, mild-mannered minister has led the field almost from the start of the council’s secret straw polls, in which the 15 members were asked which of the seven candidates […]

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