The Women Who Watch

February 20, 2010

“It will be good for her” Anat Tueg says to Neta Efroni as they inspect a suitable looking pomegranate and hand it to me “It will give her iron”
Neta nods her head
“Have you eaten one before?”
I haven’t
“You should only eat it naked. In the bath” Anat says, and hands me a bag with two loves of bread.
We are travelling close to the border between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. Suddenly we swerve to a halt so that Neta can buy me a tub of cheese for good measure. As Neta negotiates, the local Palestinian shopkeeper looks up at a small television. Oprah Winfrey bounces out onto the set and opens her show. The three of us, a mixture of multi cultural misunderstandings, watch for a moment as in another world the queen of day time communication works her magic.
“Don’t forget to call, even if you just want to talk” Neta s… [more]

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Arafat's Grave

February 20, 2010

On the day Tony Blair is due to have discussions with the Palestinian leadership, Karen Bartlett, who visited Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah shortly after his death, reports on the political power vacuum and what, if any, chance there is for peace in this troubled region.

Yasser Arafat’s grave is bleak and windswept.
On one side, the tattered Palestinian flag hangs on the building where Arafat, the first President of the Palestinian Authority, once lived.
The building rots in a permanent state of semi-collapse after the continuing Israeli siege of the last few years. On the other side of the compound is a scrap heap of burned out cars. Under a white plastic makeshift awning, Arafat’s body lies attended by some of the hastily arranged trappings of a statesman.
A guard of honour, a pile of flowers, a trickle of mourners. Most prominent is the wreath laid a day earlier by Jack Straw.
Ghassan Khat… [more]

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Ticket to Nowhere…On the John Edwards campaign trail

February 18, 2010

I’m related to an English Queen Tammy says as she pads barefooted around the deserted Kerry/Edwards campaign headquarters in Robbins, North Carolina. Her ancestor was Mary Stuart. Have people in England heard of her? she asks.

Slap bang in the middle of North Carolina, far from the beaches on the East coast, or the mountains in the west that have now become a wealthy centre of alternative medicines and lifestyles, Robbins has a population of little over a thousand. It’s a community still devastated by the closure of the local textile mill a decade ago and resentful of the more successful golfing communities that have sprung up further south in the same county. On a hot summer day the town is shut-up. The single storey shops on the two intersecting main streets look neat, but firmly closed. Cars are parked in a diagonal formation outside the post office and fire stati… [more]

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A Rogueish Queen

February 18, 2010

On a cold winter’s morning in Washington, crowds fill the mall to witness the inauguration of a young President.
The first Democrat to be elected for 16 years, he is keen to stake out what it means to be an American in the closing decade of the 20th century.
The Presidential party has wound its way from Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, whose unequalled position as founding father of the nation and great political thinker sits uneasily beside his role as slave owner, and indeed father of slave children.
In looks the new President cultivates the style of another incumbent of the White House, John F Kennedy. Like President Kennedy he has asked a poet to capture the measure of his dream. The new President, William Jefferson Clinton, chooses someone who has followed much of his own journey. From the scorching, poor, fields of Arkansas, from small towns with coloured drinking fountains and lunch counter… [more]

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