The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Egypt’s continuing turmoil, the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia, and the debut of al-Jazeera America.
- The situation in Egypt worsened yesterday as Egyptian security forces violently evicted pro-Morsi protestors from two camps they had set up in Cairo. The death toll from the crackdown exceeds five hundred and is likely to go higher. President Obama, who is vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, condemned the crackdown and suspended joint military exercises that were scheduled for next month. He didn’t suspend U.S. aid to Egypt, however. He only warned that “our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.” The behavior of Egypt’s ruling military government thus far indicates that it isn’t worried that Washington is going to cut off funds—or that it doesn’t care.
- Japanese and Russian officials plan to meet next week in Moscow to hold talks on their decades-long dispute over the Kuril Islands (if you are Russian) or Northern Territories (if you are Japanese). In the waning days of World War II, the Soviet Union, which until then had not participated in the fighting in the Pacific, seized the islands from Japan. The Soviets kept them, and Russia inherited them after the Soviet Union ended up on the ash heap of history. The islands have been a sore spot in Russo-Japanese relations, so much so that the two countries still have not signed a peace treaty ending their World War II hostilities. The prospects that next week’s meeting will produce a breakthrough in the standoff are slim. Russia insists that the four islands in dispute, which are now home to some 16,000 Russians, are Russian territory. Meanwhile, the Japanese don’t appear ready to abandon their claim.
- Next week al-Jazeera America enters the already crowded cable news space in the United States. The new news organization has spent the last few months hiring talent from soon-to-be competitors like CNN and ABC News, and it has opened up twelve news bureaus around the country. Nearly 50 million households, or slightly less than half the households that subscribe to cable, will get al-Jazeera America. What remains to be seen is how al-Jazeera America will position itself in a media world in which Fox has the conservative audience, MSNBC targets liberals, and CNN tries to hold on to folks who want just straight news. There is also the question of how many Americans will tune into a news channel run by an organization that earned the nickname “Jihad TV” because it provided an outlet for Osama bin Laden in the first few months after the September 11 attacks.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is Åke Sellström. My Figure of the Week is 0.3 percent. And we debuted a new feature: an audience-nominated Figure of the Week. TWNW listener @NetworkState chose Elon Musk. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:
Violence in Egypt: BBC News follows the situation in Egypt as it develops. Al-Jazeera reports that Morsi supporters plan to continue their protest. Steven Cook argues that not much has changed since the Mubarak era. Isobel Coleman argues that the United States should suspend its aid to Egypt.
Kuril Islands Dispute: BBC News summarizes the background of the dispute. Japan Today writes that both Japan and Russia will have to make “massive concessions” to reach a deal. The Voice of Russia says that Japan rejected a Russian proposal in July that would have created joint infrastructure projects on the islands.
Al-Jazeera America: The Los Angeles Times writes that al-Jazeera will face challenges succeeding with an American audience and details the network’s programing plans. The Wall Street Journal announces that Kate O’Brian of ABC news will be al-Jazeera America’s president. The Huffington Post reports that al-Jazeera English will no longer stream in the United States when al-Jazeera America debuts.