World

Is That a Boy or a Girl?

Photo courtesy of Andy Kopsa

Is that a boy or a girl?

What We Talk About When We Talk About Abortion

A British case is wrongly roped in the reproductive rights debate

(AP Photo/Adrian Dennis)

Monday, a court in England sentenced 35-year-old Sarah Catt to eight years in prison after she pleaded guilty to administering a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage. She was 39 weeks pregnant—a point, by anyone’s measure, at which healthy fetuses are viable—when she induced labor and disposed of what she claims was a stillborn. She has yet to reveal the location of the body, which throws suspicion on her statement that the baby was born dead. Either way, the story is another example of the sad but thankfully rare occurrence of a woman giving birth in private and committing infanticide, abandoning a baby, or improperly disposing of a stillborn—though it does happen.

Mitt Versus the Middle East

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Take a breath and think carefully. Was Mitt Romney's candid-camera comment on how he'd handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really as awful as it sounds at first?

Actually, yes. In fact, it's even worse, especially if you are listening to it in Israel, or the Palestinian territories, or anywhere else in the Middle East. The man who would be president of the United States has said that he would throw the entire region under the bus.

One Day in Uganda

(Photo Courtesy of Andy Kopsa)

Two weeks ago, I heard from Andy Kopsa, an American reporter in Uganda whom I know glancingly as a colleague. While in Kampala reporting for The Washington Monthly on U.S. funding for faith-based organizations there, Kopsa found herself helping “a trans woman [who] was beaten to a pulp”—and who, Kopsa told me, had difficulty getting appropriate medical or police attention, again because she was trans. The beating was brutal, as you’ll read below. One man started it, and bystanders joined in. The police wouldn’t help. Doctors wouldn’t help. All these things are shocking to Americans. But as you will read later in this series, the only thing that stands out about this incident is that the transwoman, Mich, was willing to seek help.

Is America Feared Enough in the Middle East?

Supporting Islamist democracies might actually be the best way to win friends in the region.

(Sipa via AP Images)

The past decade should have permanently cured Americans of the idea that we can dictate events in the Middle East. So it’s hard to take seriously some of the conservative claims and criticisms regarding the continuing anti-American demonstrations in the region.

Senator John McCain has insisted that the Obama administration’s policy of “disengagement” led to the attacks on U.S. embassy outposts last week. "We're leaving Iraq. We're leaving Afghanistan. We're leaving the area,” McCain said on Face the Nation. “The people in the area are having to adjust and they believe the United States is weak, and they are taking appropriate action." McCain characterized the protests as part of “a fight, a struggle in the Arab world between the Islamists and the forces of moderation. And they want America disengaged.”

Why Istanbul Matters

Ankara may be the capital, but as its diplomatic power grows, Turkey's first city remains the jewel of the Bosporus.

AP Images

While foreign policy was once thought to have taken a backseat in this election cycle, the reactions in the Muslim world to an incendiary film about the Prophet Mohammed have refocused attention on the nettlesome politics of the Middle East. Whoever occupies the White House come January will be faced with an altogether new dynamic—and not just in the obvious cases of a bloody Syrian civil war and a tottering post-Mubarak Egypt, but also with the political awakening of Muslims around the globe. Turkey, with its dual European and Asian heritage, is emerging as a key pivot in the region between the long-dominant influences of the West and an increasingly self-actualized East--just this week, it played host to negotiations hoping to slow Iran's uranium enrichment projects.

Going Dutch

Cooler heads prevail during recent elections in the Netherlands.

AP Images

The much-maligned and long-drawn-out project to save the euro faced two crucial tests on Wednesday. The first bit of good news for those who do not want to see the euro area break up came in the morning, when Germany’s constitutional court gave the green light for the operation of the European Stability Mechanism, the Eurozone’s permanent rescue fund. Then, at night, there was further cause for rejoicing: In parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, it emerged that Dutch voters had returned an unexpectedly clear pro-European verdict, rejecting the far right’s anti-bailout populism and the hard left’s more moderate skepticism of the euro.

Following in Chris Stevens's Footsteps

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Middle East has a propensity for producing both the tragic and the absurd, two qualities that converged in appallingly consummate fashion with the attacks this week that killed U.S. diplomats in Libya and threatened American embassies across the region.

The deaths of Christopher Stevens, U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three of his colleagues at the American consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday represent a profound tragedy on many levels. First and foremost is the loss of such brave and dedicated individuals, who served their country in a place wracked by chaos, uncertainty and violence. Stevens had a well-deserved reputation as a diplomat with a rare understanding for this complicated region, but in the tributes to his valor, let those who died with him—and the thousands of others who have served alongside them—not be forgotten. Their willingness to put their lives on the line for their country reflects their commitment to making the world a better place, something that those who would do them harm lack the capacity to recognize, much less achieve.

Long Lives the Arab Spring

Many commenters are ready to declare that democratic movements through the Middle East are over. They are wrong.

(Rex Features via AP Images)

Before a day had passed after the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya—in which four Americans were killed, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and as many as ten Libyans trying to protect them—some commenters declared an end to the Arab Spring. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to use the Libya attack and attempted attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt, both reportedly sparked by an American-made anti-Muslim video, to score political points. His statement darkly warned that the protests could represent the end of a trajectory away from authoritarianism and instead a turn toward an "Arab winter."

Even those who weren’t as ready as Romney to declare the Arab Spring over were worried. Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch suggested that the fate of democracy hangs in the balance in the aftermath of the violence, which continues as rioters attack the U.S. embassy in Yemen. Not the events themselves, but how governments and peoples react in the days to follow, he writes, will decide.

Libyan Americans Hold a Vigil

After the Benghazi attacks, expatriates worry about the future of their fragile democracy. 

(AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri)

The wide cement walkway that separates Lafayette Park from the front lawn of the White House is the official no man’s land of Washington, D.C.—just north of it lies the rarified sphere of the West Wing, to the south of it, the banalities of life in a sedate city. On the ordinary park side, haggard West Wing staffers make private phone calls while tourists noodle back and forth happily on Segways. Wednesday evening, on the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue side of the divide, a Secret Service agent made a sweep of the front lawn with his dog at a little before 7 p.m. A flag waved at half-mast in remembrance of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, only hours earlier that left four Americans dead; among them, Ambassador Christopher Stevens—the first American ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.

The Hungarian Solution

If the current wave of Republican criticism of Mitt Romney—due to his ideological uncertainty and the general incompetence of his campaign—keeps up, here’s a suggestion for a replacement candidate: Viktor Orban.

Rebellion in Ramallah?

Israel has managed to outsource the occupation—until now.

(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Thousands of Palestinians take to the streets. In Hebron, demonstrators burn an effigy. In Tul Karm, Ramallah, and other cities, they block streets and set tires ablaze. Teens hurl stones. All of the West Bank's bus, truck, and taxi drivers go on strike for a day. In Bethlehem, truckers park sideways, blocking streets. In Nablus, kindergarten teachers join the strike; elsewhere storekeepers shut their shops. Universities announce they, too, will strike.

The 11th Anniversary of 9/11

I've been looking at the crisp blue sky and remembering when the world went silent. The unspeakable images—which we have not yet shown to our son—are seared into all of us who were adults, then. How strange is it that a generation of young people has come of age who were sitting on school buses or in schoolrooms that day, who didn't watch as hundreds of people burned cruelly to death, as New York City was coated with human ash?

GM's Hunger Games

The hunger strike is just the latest in a long history of labor tensions in Colombia.

(GDA via AP Images)

Hasta la muerte! “To the death,” chanted 12 hunger strikers outside the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. General Motors subsidiary Colmotores had fired the workers a year ago, claiming they were dismissed because of declining productivity. In truth, they were injured on the job and deemed no longer useful. On August 1, they sewed their mouths shut in protest.

Angela Merkel's Bad Medicine

The German chancellor’s remedy of austerity is killing Europe, and the failure to contain financial speculation is spreading the epidemic.

(Flickr/World Economic Forum)

On July 26, as traders were once again deserting Spain’s government bonds, setting up the risk of a default and a deeper crisis of the euro, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank surprised and delighted financial markets. Speaking off the cuff in London, he vowed to do “whatever it takes” to save the European economy. 

Pages