News Picks: Arizona shooting, Pakistan, Middle East, Cowen, Dalglish

Arizona Shooting

What we know so far Events are still unfolding in the Arizona city of Tucson following yesterday’s awful shooting at a local shopping mall which, amongst others, claimed the life of 9-year-old girl reportedly born on 9/11. The BBC has a rundown of what is known so far.

Some media incorrectly declare Giffords dead – An interesting rundown of the American media’s initial reporting of the shooting in Tucson where the fact that Rep. Giffords was shot in the head appeared to convince some that she had died as a result.

Sheriff says state has “become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry” – The sheriff of Pima County, where the shooting happened, made some interesting comments in his press conference last night not only about the state of Arizona itself but about the “sad thing of what’s going on in America”. His words are worth a read.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s struggle with extremismThe Guardian’s Declan Walsh has a fascinating insight into the story behind the death of the governor Salmaan Taseer this week. His assassination was in response to his calls for a woman sentenced to death for blasphemy to be released, a campaign he learnt about via Twitter.

Middle East

Israel demolishes historic hotel – What hope for peace talks with stories like this as Israel reportedly demolishes a historic hotel in east Jerusalem to make way for a new settlement.

Ireland

Cowen told to stay away – Ireland’s PM has been told to stay away from any election campaigning with some party members with his popularity at all time low. There’s a suggestion that a General Election in Ireland, originally muted for January, will now be pushed back as far as April, a move that could benefit the current government although they are still likely to lose many seats.

Liverpool FC

Liverpool see sense and turn to Dalglish – Dion Fanning writes a brilliant piece in this morning’s Sunday Independent about the reappointment of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager. He points out that Dalglish was inexperienced when he first became player/manager whilst also pointing out that the Scot is a uniting figure, if nothing else, in contract to the departed Roy Hodgson.

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That’s it, enjoy your Sunday. Come on you Reds!

Wikileaks diplomatic files not as shocking as we’re being told

We may have been shocked by the revelations of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and the brutality of war that was laid before us in a way we’ve never seen before.

But the initial revelations of Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables are not as shocking as many in the media are having us believe. Embarrassing for sure but not shocking.

Channeled through those doyens of investigative journalism The Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times the leaks reveal a lot of honest and forthright views of mainly US diplomats about their foreign counterparts.

But looking at the BBC’s useful breakdown of the main “revelations” there’s nothing truly groundbreaking. Instead much of the releases so far confirm what any of us who have an interest in international affairs probably already expected was going on.

The US has many concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear activity and the level to which they may be exposed to nuclear terrorism. Whilst on the other side Pakistan is reluctant to allow the US to establish any more interest in their domestic affairs than it already holds for fear of a backlash from their own people. This has been widely reported for many years.

The Chinese government engages in computer hacking…as if we haven’t heard that before.

The US looks to tap the sensitive biometric details of those within the UN. Not specifically something reported before but allies spying on allies and involving the Americans is nothing new.

There are also a selection of strong and honest views about various world leaders.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described as “Hitler” by one diplomat. Given Ahmadinejad’s views on Judaism it is hardly an extraordinary leap to associate the two.

Italian president Silvio Berlusconi described as a “feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader”. As if we didn’t know that already given the string of embarrassing revelations in recent years.

Russian president Dmirty Medvedev a “Robin” to Vladimir Putin’s “Batman”. Many analysts said as much when Medvedev was “elected” in 2008.

And Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe,  a “crazy old man”. It would be funny if it wasn’t for the plight of the Zimbabwean people.

So there is little that shocks as much as Wikileaks most explosive leak to date – Collateral Murder

But needless to say it’s embarrassing for the US and all the other countries implicated. And the news coverage over the next few days will remind us of that as well as discussing the wrongs and rights of Wikileaks releasing such material. Simon Jenkins in The Guardian puts that argument to bed in my view.

Perhaps the real story here is not the sheer quantity and seriousness of some of the information released but the extraordinary story of a 22-year-old US army private from Oklahoma, Bradley Manning, who has changed forever the way in which wars and diplomatic relations are conducted.