Leela Jacinto is an award-winning international news reporter who has doggedly pursued stories across the globe. Along the way, she has harangued some officials, wined and dined with others, but has always kept her eyes on what’s in it for ordinary folks. A graduate of New York University, Leela has previously worked for ABC News in New York before joining FRANCE 24. In this blog, she provides insights on things you don’t necessarily see in the news bytes.
 

A Tale of Two Indias

Two stories emerged from India this week. One was the case of two Indian women in New York from two contrasting backgrounds being treated very differently in the media. But there’s just one issue in all thess dichotomies...

Sharif goes to Washington, and the drone drama is scripted

A day before Nawaz Sharif met Barack Obama, news editors were reading from the same script – written by human rights groups. The day after, a carefully planted leak in a US daily supplied the other side.

Let’s admit it, we overlooked and underestimated al Shabaab

Westgate has shown that underestimated al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group and now the al Shabaab threat is at our doorsteps – our citizens were the victims, perpetrators, and our immigrant community leaders are being threatened.

Goodbye 'freedom fries': France’s mojo rises over Syria

In the lead-up to the Iraq War, the French were "cheese-eating surrender monkeys". A decade later, France is now America's staunchest ally on Syria. How did France turn from a white flag-fluttering country to a red-blooded nation of hawks?

Malala’s got mail from the Taliban, but what in the world does it mean?

A Pakistani Taliban commander’s letter to Malala Yousafzai is a sort of madcap Islamist version of William Hazlitt’s “On the conduct of life, or advice to a school-boy”.

Coup or whatchamacallit, Egypt is not Algeria, Pakistan, or any ‘stan

The “deep divisions” between secular and Islamist Egyptians are now being superseded by the yawning gap between the “it’s coup” and “it’s not a coup” camps. That’s all a matter of semantics. But one thing’s for sure, it’s not Algeria.

Riding the ‘talking to the Taliban’ train, with the brakes jammed

The “talking to the Taliban” policy was doomed to fail from the start. But it has seeped into the international agenda by osmosis and although the boat is sinking, it’s now too late to desert the ship.

Gimme Headley: NSA offers a bad example of effective US surveillance

What was NSA director Keith Alexander thinking when he brought up the case of the one brown-eyed, one green-eyed Pakistani-American, David Headley, as an example of how controversial surveillance programs can thwart terror attacks among friends?

Lebanese Film Banned: An Attack on ‘The Attack’

Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri’s film “The Attack” has been banned since parts of the award-winning film were shot in Israel. But the film is a nuanced portrait of Israeli Arab identities, a nuance lost on Lebanese officials.

Fathers, sons and brothers: Boston suspects and the Toulouse attacker

The Tsarnaev brothers and Mohamed Merah - the Frenchman of Algerian descent who went on a deadly rampage in Toulouse last year – had very different origins. But their trajectories share distressing similarities.

Egypt’s Jon Stewart ‘insults’ Pakistan, ‘cools’ Qatari relations: The show goes on…

Egyptian prosecutors are probing new complaints against TV satirist Bassem Youssef for “insulting Pakistan” just days after some critics warned that his skit lampooning Qatar would affect Egyptian-Qatari relations.

Old foes, new friends: Mali eases suspicious minds

In the old days, France was wary of the US messing around on its African turf. But the Mali intervention changed that. Then there’s Nigeria, France’s old Anglophone West African bogey, now turned new best friend. What a difference a war makes.

Taliban, CIA...who else can we blame for Pakistan’s polio campaign tragedy?

After a series of attacks killed eight Pakistani polio vaccination workers over two days, much time will be spent trying to figure whodunit. But with lives lost and more lives at stake, it’s time to set the blame-game straight. And it’s not the CIA.

Media-mad US jihadist in Somalia finally kicked out of al Shabaab ranks

America’s best-known jihadist in Somalia, Omar Hammami – also called “al Amriki” – has officially been kicked out of the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab in one of the Islamist group’s smarter moves.

Demagogue Dies Without Facing Justice, But Girl Arrested for Clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook

Bal Thackeray, a Bombat demagogue who incited violence, dies without ever facing justice. But one girl is arrested for posting a Facebook comment and her friend is detained for clicking “like” – nice.

Not a Happy Diwali for Family of Dead Hindu Woman Denied Abortion in ‘Catholic’ Ireland

Savita Halappanavar, an Indian immigrant, died at an Irish hospital after she was repeatedly denied an abortion, according to her husband. “This is a Catholic country,” she was told. It’s also a part of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize-winning EU.

Another Assange-o-rama saga: Run, run, run away

Now that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has had his Eva Peron moment on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, let’s not cry too much for him. The truth is, it’s all about Julian Assange, not freedom of information.

Succession Sagas: Daddy Is a Warlord, Junior Has a Foreign Degree

A new Time magazine article chronicling the return of mujahedin scions educated in “some of the world’s best schools” is surprisingly long on commendation and short on condemnation.

How Asma al-Assad’s Vogue profiler duped herself

Joan Juliet Buck, author of Vogue’s infamous “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert” piece, has given her version of the story in a piece titled, “Mrs. Assad Duped Me”. But the Syrian First Lady didn’t do the duping, that was done by solely by Buck.

Islamists, tribes, trends: Getting it right and wrong in the Libyan elections

The naysayers may now eat their words: contrary to the dire predictions so popular in some circles, the Libyan elections went smoothly. Now what about that much-predicted Islamist wave?