Here are our top picks for what the world is saying about the U.S. today.
An American pollster in Israel
You probably didn’t know there was such a thing as the “‘Oscars’ of political consulting.” The party may not be as crazy as the Hollywood version, but professional political strategists take it pretty seriously. This year, reports The Jerusalem Post, the American Association of Political Consultants gave its Best International Campaign award to Mark Mellman for his work on a campaign in Israel.
Mellman helped current Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a former journalist, and his centrist Yesh Atid party win enough seats to join the center-right Likud government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Like other successful political consultants, Mellman has worked for a host of public office-seekers in foreign countries, as well as dozens of politicians in America.
Forget the NCAA
The Russian sports media is paying attention to the U.S., but not because of Louisville’s come-from-behind win over Michigan in last night’s national college basketball title game. No, this morning RIA Novosti, Russia’s state-owned news agency, ran a story about Webster University in St. Louis, which yesterday became the national champions of collegiate chess.
Webster is coached by U.S.-Hungarian grandmaster Susan Polger, and some aspects of chess aren’t that different from the Machiavellian machinations of college basketball recruiting. As RIA Novosti writes: “Polgar has now won three straight President’s Cups as a coach, leading Texas Tech to two straight titles before leaving for Webster—and taking many of her Texas Tech players with her.”
Obama approves arms sales to Somalia
President Obama has authorized the sale of weapons to the government of Somalia, which Washington recently recognized as legitimate for the first time since civil war broke out in 1991. The story comes courtesy of Xinhua, China’s official news agency. The Somali army has dealt a blow to al-Shabaab militants in recent months, retaking several major cities across the country with help from African Union forces. But the withdrawal of allied Ethiopian troops from the south of the country could mean trouble for Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The UN recently lifted a ban on arms sales to Somalia, Xinhua reports, “in an effort to strengthen [Somali] forces against the al-Shabaab fighters.” Heavy weaponry like planes and mines are still prohibited.