Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Morning Brief: Afghanistan's battle with the Taliban turns personal; Google Doodle celebrates the 450th anniversary of the completion of Moscow's Saint Basil's Cathedral

The endless war in Afghanistan, fought between its government and the Taliban, the US and the Taliban, and the US and the Afghanis, turned a little more personal today with the assassination of Ahmad Wali Karzai, the chairman of the Kandahar Provincial Council and the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai.

Apparently the work of one of his own bodyguard, the assassination may harden Afghanistan's government position towards any negotiated peace, and extend out even further the involvement of US troops.

The TelegraphG describes the impact this way: "(Ahmad Wali Karzai's) assassination is likely to drive home a very stark message to the Afghan population, that the Afghan state under President Karzai is incapable of providing security, even for its own leadership. As such, this will make it much harder for Nato to persuade the local population to switch their allegiance to the Afghan government as ISAF forces begin to hand over the security lead to Afghan.

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the 450th anniversary of Saint Basil's Cathedral, located in Moscow's Red Square, and completed in 1561.

The cathedral is one of the most distinctive in the world, and has been as much synonymous with Moscow as the Effel Tower is synonymous with Paris.

The final edition of the News of the World reportedly sold 3.8 million copies, and it is this fact that probably lies behind the whole phone hacking scandal. It is the question appears to lie at the heart of today's popular press: does the insatiable thirst of consumers for celebrity news and private details justify the methods the press (and especially the Murdoch press) use to obtain such information? Is 3.8 million the answer to the question "at which point does economics trump morality and professionalism?"

"Retailers were hit by unprecedented demand as people swept up copies of the newspaper, which included a 48-page souvenir pullout charting some of the paper's famous scoops over its 168-year history," News International said in their press release.

But as the actor Hugh Grant said the other day, there is the issue of what interests the public, and what is in the public interest.