A police officer asks protesters to move to the sidewalk during a demonstration in front of a Raytheon company building in Florida in August 2012 (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The CIA’s drone programme may be classified as covert, but it is increasingly in the public spotlight. On Thursday, John Brennan – Obama’s nominee for CIA director, and the driving force behind the White House’s drone strategy – will appear before the Senate. As Geoff Dyer points out, Brennan’s confirmation hearing will offer a rare moment of public scrutiny of the war on terror – and the ethics of targeted killings.
In the FT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an east Jerusalem settlement in October 2012. (Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)
Israelis go to the polls today in an election widely expected to return Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister for a third term – an historic achievement in the turbulent world of Israeli politics. A hardliner who has not hidden his backing for settlement building on occupied land — despite issuing qualified support for a Palestinian state in 2009 — Mr Netanyahu has successfully portrayed himself as a strong leader who can protect Israelis in a tough neighbourhood in the face of widespread international criticism.
That the already hawkish Mr Netanyahu was outflanked on the right by a charismatic new candidate, Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, has become the main theme of the election campaign. Mr Bennett makes no bones of his opposition to a two state solution with the Palestinians, and advocates the annexation of at least part of the occupied West Bank. His success in the campaign is part of a sharp shift to the right in Israeli politics.
In the FT:
- Naftali Bennett burst onto the political scene when he was elected leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party in November and he is emblematic of Israel’s rightward shift. He and his party campaigned hard in working class areas, underlining their support for Eretz Yisrael (Greater Israel, including occupied Palestinian land). His rise alarmed liberals and pushed Mr Netanyahu to the right on the campaign trail.
A suicide is always a tragedy, but that of 26-year-old Aaron Swartz on Friday has reverberated with particular force across the internet. That’s partly because of the enormous sense of waste – he was a tech prodigy, helping develop the code for RSS when he was just 14 – and partly because the internet was Swartz’s home, where he hung out and talked to people and built things that many of us use today. But it’s also because of a looming and controversial court case, which his family believe contributed to his decision to take his own life – and which put him at the frontline of an ongoing battle over how much of the world’s information should be free. Read more
Demonstrators outside the offices of Southern Weekend in Guangzhou on January 8 (AFP/Getty)
Any government that is intent on controlling public debate has traditionally had a number of tools at its disposal. Direct ownership of the press, punishment of unruly journalists or artists and the promotion of malleable ones, book burning, propaganda … the list goes on. The internet, a sprawling, uncontrollable and ever-growing beast may have given birth to a new set of challenges for modern totalitarian powers, but China has thrown its resources at the problem with gusto, keeping a lid on simmering dissent with a mix of technology, commercial incentives, legal restrictions and carefully selected pressure valves.
That is partly why the open revolt by journalists in Guangzhou this past week was so surprising – because it suggested that, just occasionally, spontaneous anger and frustration could yet circumvent the great firewall of China, even if only briefly.
In the FT
As if concerns over whether Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the wrong hands amid the increasingly violent civil war weren’t enough to worry about, behind the scenes nuclear experts are now expressing fresh fears over the security of what may be 50 tonnes of unenriched uranium in the country.
As the FT’s diplomatic editor James Blitz reported on Wednesday, concerns centre on the whereabouts of this as yet unconfirmed stash. It is believed by some to have been meant for Syria’s supposed al-Kibar nuclear facility – before Israel destroyed it in a secret mission back in September 2007, a mission that David Makovsky dissected in the New Yorker last September.
For its part, Syria has always denied ever having a nuclear programme. So, did it have one or not? Below are some interesting articles that wade into these extremely murky waters. Read more
In wartime, everyone wants a hero. The one that has emerged from Israel in recent days is no individual soldier, but a technology: the so-called ‘Iron Dome’. Read more
The EU summit that begins on Thursday has enjoyed less fanfare – and less frenzied speculation over its potential outcomes – than many others. But don’t be fooled: it still matters. Here’s why. Read more
The deaths of three of President al-Assad’s most senior security officials in a bomb attack on Wednesday could prove a turning point in the Syrian crisis. The World blog looks at Bashar’s inner circle – and how long they will remain by his side. Read more
A family beg on a street on in Athens, June 13, 2012. Oli Scarff/Getty Images
On Sunday, Greeks will go to the polls for the second time in two months. The inconclusive election of May 6, in which no single party gained more than 20 per cent of the vote, reflected the views of an electorate deeply disillusioned with the two political parties that had taken turns to govern Greece since the end of military dictatorship in 1974 – New Democracy on the centre-right, and Pasok on the centre-left.
The far-left Syriza coalition, led by a young firebrand called Alexis Tsipras, surged into second-place, striking fear into the heart of Brussels with a promise to challenge the consensus that Greece had to stick to stringent austerity in order to please its European paymasters.
Billed as the election that could decide Greece’s fate in the eurozone, voters face an almost impossible choice this weekend – between the parties of an old, inept political order, and something new but untested. Here is some of the best news, analysis and comment on the subject from the FT and elsewhere: Read more
Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi at an election rally. John Moore/Getty Images
On Wednesday and Thursday, Egyptians will go to the polls to vote in the first democratic presidential election in their country’s history.
Coming some 15 months after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, the vote is a pivotal step for Egypt; a moment that the demonstrators in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir square could only have dreamed of when they first called for the overthrow of Mubarak in early 2011.
The result remains impossible to predict. There are twelve candidates, of whom five are considered the main contenders, but polls vary wildly as to their chances, and many voters are undecided. Unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote – which seems unlikely – a second round between the top two candidates will be held on June 16 and 17. Meanwhile the actual role and powers of the President have yet to be spelled out. Here’s your background reading: Read more
Today we’re looking at Greece. Yup, again. But over the last week, the possibility that the Mediterranean country of 11 million people might actually leave the eurozone – a scenario long considered taboo – has become increasingly plausible. European policymakers and central bankers have gone from repeated assurances that a ‘Grexit’ would never, EVER happen, to a gradual admission that, yes, it’s possible. And if that’s the case, then the threat of contagion to the larger eurozone economies of Spain and Italy – and thus the broader single currency project – is magnified. Much will rest on the outcome of fresh elections in Greece on June 17. In the meantime: Read more
The eurozone crisis is back with a vengeance. In a Bloomberg poll published on Thursday, 57% of 1,253 Bloomberg subscribers said they believed at least one country would abandon the euro by year-end. No prizes for guessing which country they might be thinking of.
Greece’s political landscape shifted drastically after support for its two biggest parties collapsed in the general election, propelling the far left Syriza party into the spotlight. Spain, meanwhile, is set to miss its budget deficit target for this year and the next. The government also had to part-nationalise the troubled Bankia.
We rounded up the best reads on Spain for you last week. Now we take a look at one of the other countries currently at the centre of the crisis – Greece – and give you the top analysis and comment from the FT and elsewhere. Read more
Luisa Pinales, who could no longer make mortgage payments after her business closed in 2007, sweeps her apartment in Madrid on March 5, 2012. She was evicted on April 27. The graffiti reads "Stop eviction". REUTERS/Juan Medina
Last week it emerged that almost one in four Spaniards is unemployed. For young people, the situation is worse – the jobless rate among under 25-year-olds has reached an eye-watering 52 per cent. As incomes have fallen, many householders find it more difficult to keep up with their mortgage payments; eviction notices – like the one received in January by Luisa Pinales, pictured above – have been served. Meanwhile, the centre-right government of Mariano Rajoy is hewing desperately to a programme of austerity, in the hopes of meeting an EU-imposed target of reducing Spain’s budget deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product in 2013. To get a sense of how difficult that will be, consider that in 2011, Spain’s budget deficit was 8.5 per cent of GDP. Investors in the sovereign debt markets can sense the scale of the challenge, and have demanded a higher premium for lending to the beleaguered government. Read more
Charles Taylor in 1990 (Getty)
Update: Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, was found guilty of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war. Read more
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images
If the latest polls are to be believed, Nicolas Sarkozy will be a one-term wonder. A president who has broken with convention throughout his career will likely do so once again: only one other president of the fifth republic - Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – has tried and failed to be re-elected for a second term.
The man likely to topple Sarkozy is an affable creature of the French elite. He’s had a long career traversing the backrooms of politics, yet never held ministerial office. So who is François Hollande? Read more
Cristina Fernández holds a sample of the first petroleum extraction in Argentina as she makes the YPF announcement (Getty)
On Monday Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president, announced the renationalisation of the oil company YPF, ousting the Spanish group Repsol as majority owner and prompting a furious response from Madrid. With Spain and the European Union pondering how best to respond, we cast an eye back at ten of the most momentous nationalisations of resource/commodity institutions. (We are omitting the across-the-board, everything-must-go nationalisations of Russia and China after their respective Communist revolutions, for reasons of space). Read more