Bridge disaster sparks political recrimination in Italy
Italy launched an investigation into the collapse of a motorway bridge in Genoa on Tuesday August 14th, which killed 39 people.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano emphasised the human tragedy, headlining its Sunday August 19th report of the memorial service for the victims, “The tears of Genoa.”
But other papers reflected anger and political recrimination over the apparent disregard of concerns raised earlier over the safety of the bridge.
La Stampa’s headline highlighted the motorway company responsible for the bridge, “Autostrade in clash with the government”
The Washington Post reported an “alarmed debate about ageing infrastructure” in Italy.
The Times reported concern spreading beyond Italy with news that French President Macron was under pressure to step up spending on infrastructure, “after a government report warned that about 840 road bridges in France are in danger of collapse.”
Turkish woes threaten wider global economy
“New US sanctions threat over jailed pastor jolts Turkish lira’s recovery,” headlined the Financial Times last Friday as the US-Turkey political storm worsened. The paper’s International Affairs Editor, David Gardner, warned President Erdogan that “violent financial tremors in Turkey often crack open its political edifice.”
Most US papers dismissed President Erdogan’s talk of a US conspiracy against his country. New York Times commentator Ruchir Sharma said Turkey’s troubles were homegrown and, “the economic war against it is a figment of Mr. Erdogan’s conspiratorial imagination.”
Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, backed strong US action against Turkey, welcoming the Trump administration’s break with “the passivity of the last two administrations, which preferred to overlook Turkey’s malign policies.” These, he said, had encouraged Ankara to think “it was so valuable an ally that there would be no consequences for its actions.”
As the week went on, fear of the consequences of a Turkish economic collapse on the global economy grew. Sky’s economics specialist, Ed Conway, wrote in The Times that “Britain, or more specifically the City of London, is by far the most exposed to a collapse in the Turkish economy.”
“Terror returns to Westminster”
The Times’ headline on Wednesday reflected widespread fear that a car that ran down people outside the British parliament in London was a terrorist attack like that of March 2017, when a man mowed down pedestrians on nearby Westminster bridge, killing six people and injuring dozens.
Imran Khan promises change at the top
As Imran Khan was sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister, the country’s leading paper “Dawn” warned he could not drive the change he promises in the country’s politics alone. “Over-centralisation of power is a problem itself and quickly leads to governance gridlock, arbitrary decision-making and nepotism.”
Pakistani political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi welcomed Imran Khan’s “conciliatory tone” towards India and Afghanistan. Writing in The New York Times, he said if Khan could, “make the military a partner and enabler of his foreign policy ambitions – including a “mutually beneficial” relationship with the United States, “open borders” with Afghanistan and peaceful trade with India – he will pull off a feat no Pakistani leader, civilian or military, has ever managed.”
World says farewell to “Queen of Soul”
Newspapers in Europe gave equal prominence to the US in reports on the death last week of legendary soul singer, Aretha Franklin.
Papers consistently called her the “Queen of Soul”, praising both the power of her voice and her work for civil rights. The Miami Herald simply said, “The Queen is dead” but that her “sound of righteousness will live forever.”