February 13, 2010 |
It isn't often that cynical singles and religious police find themselves on the same side, but in Saudi Arabia they are standing united against a common threat: Valentine's Day. Saudi Arabia's religious enforcers, backed by the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are doing their annual purge of anything Valentine-related: flowers, gifts, candy -- even the color red. The broader region, however, is not so sure. And Saudis themselves are far from unanimous.
November 30, 2009 |
Chisel, scrape, chisel, scrape. Blow the dust. Chisel, scrape. The band saw hums. Wood curls spill from the planer, putty and lacquer men smooth and polish, upholsterers tighten copper-colored springs, trucks loaded with painted chairs race over streets and sandpaper boys hurry through alleys, dusted, like ghosts. The seaside echoes with work. Furniture work. It moves fast and begins with raw wood passed from craftsman to craftsman until it is cut, carved and glued into tables, chairs and cabinets that match the decor of the palace of an Italian count or the boudoir of a naughty French queen.
February 19, 2010 |
To its planners, the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud Mabhouh must have first seemed like the perfect spy operation. They slipped into Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on fraudulent travel papers. They quietly killed the militant leader long wanted by Israel, reportedly smothering him with a pillow, and discreetly left the country. But now the entire episode appears to have gone terribly out of control, more Coen brothers than John le Carre, with police releasing images of the alleged operatives in shorts and baseball caps traipsing around the corridors of the hotel where Mabhouh stayed, fumbling with their bags and looking straight at surveillance cameras.
March 9, 2010 |
In the midst of a high-profile trip by Vice President Joe Biden, Israel unveiled plans for new housing in disputed Jerusalem on Tuesday, a surprise step that embarrassed and angered the highest ranking Obama administration official yet to visit the country. Biden, who had come to try to smooth relations with a longtime ally and promote new peace talks, denounced Israel's plans to build 1,600 housing units in traditionally Arab East Jerusalem as a threat to the search for peace. "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem," Biden said, calling it "precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now."
February 10, 2010 |
The Gaza Strip's beleaguered residents face worsening power outages, even as winter temperatures drop, because of a financial dispute between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza's electricity distributor. The authority says it pays about $30 million a month to provide electricity to Gaza's 1.5 million people. But officials say the Gaza Electricity Distribution Co., which collects payments from Gaza customers, is sending back only about one-tenth of that amount from bill collections.
March 10, 2010 |
Media Titan to Rivals: Drop Dead! edia Titan to Rivals: Drop Dead! That's tabloid shorthand for the Darwinian clash unfolding between Israel's three biggest newspaper barons. The story begins with a publicity-shy publisher who built a paper so popular and powerful it was deemed a monopoly. Nipping at his heels is a scrappy businessman who once wiretapped competitors and later destroyed an incriminating document by swallowing it. But it didn't become a battle royal until a Jewish-American billionaire, borrowing a page from Fox News, launched a "fair and balanced" newspaper to counter what he called liberal media.
March 22, 2010 |
Iraq's political process lurched toward crisis Sunday as the country's prime minister, president and interior minister threw their weight behind a ballot-by-ballot recount of the nation's parliamentary elections. In addition, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, whose election slate is locked in a tight race with that of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, invoked his military powers as Iraq's commander in chief to insist that the Independent High Electoral Commission respond to the recount demand issued by his political bloc and others.
January 5, 2010 |
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Monday that Yemen is a threat to global security but warned that the Obama administration would continue accelerating U.S. aid only if the Yemeni government met U.S. demands to take steps toward stability. Clinton signaled a growing U.S. focus on the beleaguered Arabian Peninsula nation, saying Yemen had become a launching pad for terrorist attacks on distant corners of the world. She singled out the attempted Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound jetliner, allegedly by a Nigerian man trained by Yemeni militants.
December 25, 2009 |
The Judo family stayed away from Christmas Eve Mass in Baghdad. Because of recent sectarian violence in the capital and other areas of the country, they were worried that churches might be targeted by armed groups. By nightfall, their worst fears had been realized. Not only had a Christian been killed in the northern city of Mosul, but the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura, which this year begins one day after Christmas, had made the situation even more volatile: 27 people killed in attacks on Shiite neighborhoods.
January 4, 2010 |
President Obama's leading counter-terrorism advisor said Sunday that human error, not turf battles among federal intelligence officials, allowed an Al Qaeda-trained operative to carry out an attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound passenger plane on Christmas Day. Deputy national security advisor John Brennan, in appearances on several morning television news programs, also said there was "no smoking gun" of intelligence gathered by American officials that...