The Global Note: Anthony Shadid, R.I.P…U.S. Police Chief To Bahrain…Ahmadinejad & U.S. Friends…Jeremy Lin In China

By Tom Nagorski

Feb 17, 2012 12:38pm

ANTHONY SHADID 1968-2012: “NO ONE TO REPLACE HIM”

A tragedy for those who knew him – a huge loss for those who read his work and learned from him. From his own NYTimes: Anthony Shadid, a gifted foreign correspondent whose graceful dispatches for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil, died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in Syria. Tyler Hicks, a Times photographer who was with Mr. Shadid, carried his body across the border to Turkey.  Mr. Shadid, 43, had been reporting inside Syria for a week, gathering information on the Free Syrian Army and other armed elements of the resistance to the government of President Bashar al-Assad…The exact circumstances of Mr. Shadid’s death and his precise location inside Syria when it happened were not immediately clear. From the Washington Post: “He changed the way we saw Iraq, Egypt, Syria over the last, crucial decade,” said Phil Bennett, the former managing editor of The Post who worked closely with Shadid. “There is no one to replace him.” Many of our own – from Christiane AMANPOUR to Reena NINAN – have written in about his power as a reporter, a writer and an inspiration. On “This Week” a year ago…Shadid said of the Egyptian revolution: ” What we’ve seen in the past 12 days is probably one of the most remarkable popular uprisings in the history of the modern Arab world and what it’s done, I think, in some ways I think you could also make the argument that the revolution has already happened…I think they have won a victory to some extent and the difficulty facing the opposition is can they translate these demands of the street into real political capital.” Said Amanpour today: “A staggering loss. He was a great person. His journalism sought the human face of every conflict he covered.” 

SYRIA: IN HOMS, “WAITING TO DIE”

Residents in Homs were “waiting to die of hunger or bombardment,” as government forces carried out their heaviest pounding of the central protest city in the past 14 days, an activist reached by telephone told Al Arabiya today. Hadi Abdullah, of the opposition General Commission of the Syrian Revolution, said there were three shelters in the town that could no longer accommodate people fleeing their homes.

LIBYA’S ANNIVERSARY

Al Jazeera reports Libyans have begun observances on the first anniversary of their uprising against Moammar Gaddafi, while interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil vowed to act firmly against further instability. The country’s new rulers have not organized any official celebrations at a national level as a mark of respect for the thousands of people killed in the bloody conflict, which left about 15,000 people dead, according to the United Nations. But spontaneous celebrations began nationwide in cities and towns, led by residents of Benghazi, the city which first rose against Gaddafi and his 42-year-old regime.

U.S. POLICE CHIEF SENT TO REFORM FORCES IN BAHRAIN

A controversial U.S. police chief has been hired by the government of Bahrain to train and reform the nation’s security forces. John Timoney spent nearly three decades with the New York City police department before serving as head of police in Philadelphia and Miami. He’s been hired – along with former assistant commissioner of Britain’s Metropolitan Police, John Yates – to reform Bahrain’s security forces after a report was published detailing the torture and death of prisoners held by Bahraini authorities, The Guardian reports.

EGYPT: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WARNS U.S. OVER AID CUT

The Muslim Brotherhood has warned that Egypt may review its 1979 peace deal with Israel if the United States cuts aid to the country, a move that could undermine a cornerstone of U.S. Middle East policy. Washington has said the aid is at risk due to an Egyptian probe into civil society groups that has resulted in charges against at least 43 activists, including 19 Americans who have been banned from leaving the country.

THAI POLICE: IRAN SUSPECTS CAVORTED WITH PROSTITUTES

Police in Thailand say they are seeking two more suspects in connection with a bomb plot believed to have been targeting Israeli diplomats. One of the two men is believed to be a bomb-making expert who trained the three Iranian men detained Tuesday. The other is a man who rented the house the suspects were living in, police told the BBC. The Associated Press reports the three Iranian men had more than terror on their minds in Thailand. Police said Friday they had also cavorted with prostitutes at a beach resort.

HEZBOLLAH DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAELIS

Hezbollah denies involvement in this week’s attacks against Israeli missions in India and Georgia – as Israel called on the United Nations to condemn the attacks it said were plotted by Iran and its ally in Lebanon. “I assure you that Hezbollah has nothing to do with this,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told supporters, Al Arabiya reports.   

AFGHAN ARMY TO COST U.S. BILLIONS – AFTER 2014 WITHDRAWAL

The U.S. military expects that sustaining the Afghan army and police forces after the planned withdrawal of American combat forces in 2014 will cost about $4 billion a year and that most of that money will have to come from the United States and other outside donors, said a senior military official, according to The Washington Post.

AHMADINEJAD EMBRACED BY 2 U.S. ALLIES

Nick SCHIFRIN reports that Presidents Karzai, Zardari and Ahmadinejad held a rambling, at times incoherent press conference in Islamabad today following trilateral talks. The questions and reporters were apparently pre-screened, so there were no up-to-date questions on the attacks on Israeli diplomats, this week’s nuclear announcement, or the Iranians’ vague letter to the EU asking for nuclear talks to restart. Ahmadinejad repeated his usual rhetoric against the west and did seem to gain one advantage: a photo-op of him being embraced by his neighborly brothers Karzai and Zardari — whose countries accept more U.S. dollars than almost any other country. 

CHINESE VICE PRESIDENT WRAPS U.S. TOUR IN L.A.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is wrapping up his four-day visit to the United State with a daylong series of events in Los Angeles with Vice President Joe Biden. They will participate in a trade forum downtown, followed by a luncheon and school visit to meet children learning Mandarin – and will end the day with a governor’s forum at Disney Hall.

OUR VISIT TO LIN-CITY

From Gloria RIVIERA in Pinghu, where she saw some Chinese “Lin-sanity”, up close. “We spent the majority of the day at the Pinghu High School in Zhejiang (pronounced JHAY-gee-an) province.  Jeremy Lin’s grandmother, Lin Chu Muen, is a patron of this school and Lin visited the campus last May. There were two other Chinese media organizations there today (Xinhua News Agency and The People’s Daily) but no other western media have visited. A lot of solid, fun, colorful stuff (including me playing a 3-on-3 scrimmage with the Captain of the basketball team – my side won)…We spoke with a Public Affairs officer who was very positive – made a big effort to demonstrate how China is proud of Lin.” Gloria also met girls who think Lin is “as handsome as he is talented” and watched the team scrimmage and do a “Team Scream” for our guys: “Lin Shu How!” (Good Luck! Good Luck! in Chinese) – and interviewed an English teacher who met Lin last year. Very compelling in his excitement and how much Lin means to these students.

GREECE’S ANCIENT OLYMPIA MUSEUM ROBBED

Not what this debt and austerity-battered nation needed. The Associated Press reports armed robbers seized dozens of items today at the antiquities museum in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in southern Greece, after tying up an employee. Greece’s Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos submitted his resignation after the robbery, state television reported. Local authorities and police said about 60 artifacts are estimated to have been snatched. The robbery is the second major museum theft in the past two months in Greece. 

GERMAN PRESIDENT RESIGNS AMID SCANDAL

German President Christian Wulff resigned this morning after prosecutors asked parliament to strip him of his immunity as they investigate allegations of financial impropriety,  The Telegraph reports. 

JAPAN: THE AILING EMPEROR

From Akiko FUJITA in Tokyo: Emperor Akihito checked in to the hospital at University of Tokyo today, to prepare for his bypass surgery tomorrow. While the surgery is expected to be without complications, his latest health scare has brought questions about succession rules to the forefront, once again. Under a 1947 law, men can only succeed to the throne, and princesses are required to give up their titles, once they marry commoners. Currently there are just 2 men who can ascend to the throne – prince Naruhito (who will assume official roles while the emperor is hospitalized) and his 5 year old nephew Hisahito. Eight of the 23 remaining members of the Imperial family are single women, who will eventually marry out of royalty. As I’ve mentioned in past notes, there is a serious (and more urgent) debate about how to change succession rules so that the imperial family can survive. While nobody wants to say it, Akihito is getting old…his recent health scares means Japan needs to speed up the process of change, if it wants the imperial family to survive at all. Bloomberg had a great quote from a professor at the University of Kyoto who said, “By the time (Hisahito) assumes the throne, he will be the imperial family. You’re looking at a future where the imperial family consists of a single nuclear family. If he doesn’t have a son, what do you do?”

BRITISH SPIES STUMPED BY CHARLIE CHAPLIN MYSTERY

Charlie Chaplin became the subject of a British intelligence investigation after the US pressed for evidence linking him to communism, according to files released in the National Archives. When the movie star arrived in the UK in 1952, the US announced he would be banned from returning there. The FBI asked MI5 to find evidence he was a member of the communist party, but no evidence was ever found. They foiled plots and cracked Nazi codes, but Britain’s spies were unable to solve the mystery of Charlie Chaplin’s birth. Although the entertainer is celebrated as one of London’s most famous sons, newly declassified files reveal that Britain’s MI5 domestic intelligence service found no records to back up Chaplin’s claim that he was born in the city on April 16, 1889.

AUSSIE AIRLINE GOES UNDER, STRANDS VACATIONERS

“Sorry – stuck in Oahu”…that might be a message from some of the 4,000 or so travelers stranded in nice places after their airline went bankrupt. Thousands of vacationers from Hawaii to Thailand had no flights home Friday after budget airline Air Australia ran out of money and went into voluntary administration, immediately grounding its five-jet fleet.  The Brisbane-based international and domestic airline, formerly known as Strategic Airlines, said all flights had been canceled and the airline would not be accepting new bookings because it could no longer pay its bills. Passengers who bought tickets with credit cards or had travel insurance may be given a refund, the airline said. Around 4,000 passengers were overseas with Air Australia round-trip tickets, voluntary administrator Mark Korda said. Some of those affected were stranded in Honolulu and Phuket, Thailand. “Overnight, the company was unable to refuel its planes in Phuket,” Korda told Australia’s Fairfax Radio. “The directors appointed us at 1:30 this morning and the boys have been working throughout the night.”

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