Must-Reads from Around the World: March 9, 2012

  • Share
  • Read Later

Failed Rescue — An attempt to rescue two men held captive by the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram failed Thursday, the Guardian reports. The hostages, Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara, had been held by the al-Qaeda-linked group since May 2011. Their deaths came hours after U.K. Prime Minster David Cameron authorized a rescue mission, and Italian authorities are angry they were not informed of the rescue attempt until it was under way. “The behavior of the British government in not informing Italy is inexplicable,” Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano told reporters Friday.

Down but not Out — The New York Times explores the ever-changing story of the former rising star of China’s Communist Party, Bo Xilai. Bo’s presence at the annual National People’s Congress has been overshadowed by a scandal involving his key deputy, but he tried to put rumors to rest at a press conference on Friday, the Associated Press reports. “I feel like I put my trust in the wrong person,” Bo told reporters. For more on the scandal, read TIME reporter Austin Ramzy’s analysis here.

Hollywood Heavyweight — Foreign Policy wonders how Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein found his way into French politics. The movie exec recently challenged right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen to an ideological war over the film The Intouchables. The French film, which is being released by the Weinstein Company in the U.S. this spring, has caused controversy over its handling of France’s racial problems. Eric Pape posits that Weinstein isn’t really interested in taking on the xenophobic Le Pen, but wants to prove “his film can’t possibly be racist if France’s most notorious living racist actually sees it as a disturbing plaidoyer for people to come together across racial, ethnic, religious and class differences.”

Separate, Not Equal — Afghan youth took to social media to express their displeasure over new restrictive guidelines for women, according to the BBC. The Ulema Council, the country’s top religious body, has ruled that men and women should not mix at work, school or in other aspects of life. President Hamid Karzai has backed the ruling, much to the anger of both Afghan men and women. “The government’s expenditure is going to rise sharply because they’ll have to set up a special parliament for women, and separate universities, banks and shopping malls,” wrote one Kabul resident on Facebook. Another Afghan tweeted: “Girls are only allowed to access Facebook if they are wearing their burkas!”
One World — Following the upheaval of the Arab Spring, does the notion of pan-Arabism stand a chance? The Atlantic’s Massoud Hayoun argues the movement faces the same challenge now as it did when it was pushed by former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s: how to define the Arab identity.