What the world is reading

As Francois Hollande’s election put an end to Nicolas Sarkozy’s term,Bruno Burnard says Sarkozy was “pragmatic,proactive,transparent and media savvy

Written by Shreya Sareen | Published: May 8, 2012 3:53:55 am

The guardian

Why Sarkozy was an extraordinary prez

As Francois Hollande’s election on Sunday put an end to Nicolas Sarkozy’s term,Bruno Burnard says Sarkozy was “pragmatic,proactive,transparent and media savvy. Is the new president,François Hollande,ready to be like that? Five years after electing him enthusiastically,the French decided they would rather have an ‘ordinary’ president than an ‘extraordinary’ one. Sarkozy was extraordinary in the sense that he was fundamentally different from the traditional French political elite,a lawyer of Hungarian descent born and raised in a Parisian suburb. Unlike France’s new president,there were no grandes écoles,no political rural roots and no bourgeois family for Sarkozy.” For Burnard,Sarkozy was “a breath of fresh air,internally and internationally who brought France back into Europe. He changed the face of French politics by limiting the number of presidential mandates,by institutionalising the control of the Elysée’s budget by France’s national audit office,and by allowing the opposition to hold powerful offices (such as chair of the finance select committee in the national assembly).”

Foreign policy

How not to write about Africa

Laura Seay writes why media coverage of Africa makes her cringe. Speaking of the conflict in Mali,she says,“The situation is by far the worst unfolding humanitarian crisis in the world today,but compared with Syria or Afghanistan,you probably haven’t heard much about it. Western reporting is often fraught with factual errors,incomplete analysis,and stereotyping. A quick search of the Google News archives for ‘Congo’ and ‘heart of darkness’ yields nearly 4,000 hits…while conjuring up stereotypes of race and savagery.” Why is media coverage of Africa so poor? “Many major Western media outlets assign one correspondent for the entire continent—more than 11 million square miles.” The other worry is the lack of journalistic ethics. “It is very common to see pictures of starving children or rape victims in the pages of Western newspapers,” writes Seay.

The Washington Post

Why China’s Chen Guangcheng matters

Referring to the news that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and his family might be allowed to leave China for a university fellowship in the United States,Kathleen Parker says it “brought relief not only to Chen but also to dissidents around the world. The outcry over how the State Department initially handled Chen’s dramatic escape from house arrest to the US embassy in Beijing ultimately may have helped persuade Chinese officials to concede to amped-up pressure from the US.” Parker says that “if all goes according to plan,they not only may have saved Chen’s life but also will have invigorated the spirits and convictions of others around the world who still look to the US as a beacon of freedom and protector of human rights.”

The New Yorker

Biden’s gay marriage slip-up

“Gay marriage has always been a delicate thing for Obama. For public consumption,he says he is in favour of equivalent legal rights for same-sex couples,though not equal status. And then there’s his Vice President Joe Biden—there aren’t many people who can threaten years of careful triangulating with a few comments the way he can,” writes Alex Koppelman. Biden comment was interpreted as an official endorsement of gay marriage. ”But we shouldn’t blame him. The problem he faced is one his boss has had a hard time with as well: they can’t give a coherent explanation of their position because they don’t have a coherent explanation to give”,Koppelman says.

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