Why Islam is now America’s burning issue

In lower Manhattan last weekend, an internet evangelist named Bill Keller held a meeting in a makeshift church, not far from what used to be the World Trade Center. He called upon the gathered faithful to help him in his great task: The construction of a “9/11 Christian Centre at Ground Zero”, a counterweight to the Islamic cultural centre which is being planned in the same part of town, and which has been the central topic of an angry and unfocused national conversation all summer.

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Polish presidential election: a welcome end to a strange campaign

  • Warsaw

This has been the strangest political campaign anyone can remember, and no one, from any political faction in Poland, will be sorry to see it end.

The campaign has been strange because of its timing: under normal circumstances, no one would hold an election on what is, in effect, the first weekend of summer vacation. Nor would anyone hold an election just a few weeks after heavy rains caused major flooding throughout the country.

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Polish plane crash: country has shown resilience since President Kaczynski’s death

By the time I met Ryszard Kaczorowski, he was an elegant, elderly man, with no air of tragedy or trauma about him. Yet at the age of 21, he had been arrested by the Soviet secret police – this was 1940, in Soviet-occupied Bialystok – and sent to Kolyma, one of the worst camps of the Gulag. Continue reading “Polish plane crash: country has shown resilience since President Kaczynski’s death”

President Barack Obama reaches out to all nations with vow to ‘remake America’

A friend emailed Tuesday morning from New York: “In tears already and it hasn’t begun.” Another wrote me that her husband, horrified by reports of crowds in Washington, was “afraid there will be a stampede or something awful”.
Which summed it up, really: the levels of emotion built up in advance of the 2009 presidential inauguration ceremony were so high that some wept, some fainted, and some were paralysed by fear. Continue reading “President Barack Obama reaches out to all nations with vow to ‘remake America’”

Barack Obama Taps into the Ivy League For His Cabinet

Not long ago, a European professor who often lectures in the US reminisced to me about how American students have changed. when he visited Harvard and Yale in the 1960s, he told me, the students were all alike: white, male, East Coast. By the 1980s, however, they included blacks, Asians and women. Even the white males were often from Alabama or West Texas. Continue reading “Barack Obama Taps into the Ivy League For His Cabinet”

Why is Vladimir Putin so scared of Georgia?

‘It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” In recent days, this famous Churchillian pronouncement on Russia has echoed through many an analysis. In particular, Vladimir Putin – former Russian president, current Russian prime minister, the man still clearly in charge of the country – has been held up as a great puzzle. Continue reading “Why is Vladimir Putin so scared of Georgia?”

John McCain and Barack Obama have much in common in presidential race

And now, at last, we’ve got to the interesting part: the race between two candidates seemingly so different from one another that their opposing presidential campaigns can actually be described in large, sweeping metaphors. Continue reading “John McCain and Barack Obama have much in common in presidential race”