Hear all about it! Today’s American stories in the global media

U.S. in secret negotiations with Iran, Esquire reporter in trouble in Russia, and Pakistanis obsessed with Twitter

By Nicholas Nehamas

The U.S. holds a special place at the center of global culture. But what are people around the world saying about us? Everyday Latitude News brings you three American stories the foreign press is covering.

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney meets with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (Reuters)

1) Israel is playing a big role in the 2012 presidential elections. Voters want to know how Obama and Romney will react if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bombs Iran’s nuclear facilities. Meanwhile, Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are old friends, fellow consultants from their (not-so-wild) youths. And Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who’s one of Romney’s biggest backers, also supports Netanyahu. “Bibi” and Obama, perhaps not surprisingly, are quite cool on each other, according to the National, a newspaper from the United Arab Emirates. Citing anonymous sources quoted by the left-leaning Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth, the National also reports that the U.S. is conducting secret negotiations with Iran. Their goal? To keep the U.S. out of a regional war if Netanyahu does move against the Iranians. The White House has denied the report, but it surely has Adelson and other wealthy, conservative American Jews breaking out their checkbooks for Romney, who’s far more hawkish than Obama on Iran.

2) Journalists who cover the war in Chechnya are routinely arrested, beaten up and even murdered. Some critics of Vladimir Putin allege that Russian security forces are involved in the intimidation. Now, the Moscow Times has run a story saying that the FSB – the main successor to the Soviet KGB – has been grilling Svetlana Reiter, a journalist for the Russian edition of Esquire, over one of her Chechen contacts. The source in question, Igor Kalyapin, is accused of divulging classified information. In a much talked about 2011 article by Reiter, Kalyapin accused security forces  of kidnapping a Chechen man and keeping him chained to pipes in a basement for four months.

(Courtesy Twitter)

3) In Pakistan, Twitter is the new religion. An article in a Pakistani paper, Dawn, suggests that, for web users, the social media service has replaced traditional street corner dialogue as the best way to gossip, keep in touch and talk about the news. Pakistan’s Twitterati gather around popular Tweeters, just as the faithful follow traditional spiritual leaders called peers. The most popular Tweeters in Pakistan are – no surprise here – Western singers like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber but also politicians like the former World Cup-winning cricketer Imran Khan, who may be Pakistan’s next President or Prime Minister.