DIE WELT, FRANKFURTHER RUNDSCHAU (Germany)

Worldcrunch

The new book of poems, Eintagsfliegen (Ephemera), by German Nobel prize winner Günter Grass, 84, is already causing controversy.

Reviewers who received advance copies describe "touching texts about aging and death," and call the collection "a declaration of love to Germany." But the poem called A Hero In Our Time is bound to cause a new round of trouble for the laureate, with the poem described by one critic as "awkward for Israel" in its celebration of convicted spy Mordechai Vanunu. Grass calls the Israeli nuclear technician and peace activist, who served 18 years for revealing atomic secrets to the British press, a "hero and model" and calls for the "divulgence of military secrets" worldwide.

Earlier this year, Grass’s poem What Must Be Said caused a furor by portraying Israel as a danger to world peace, describing a “first strike” against Iran by a nuclear-armed Israel as one that could “wipe out the Iranian people.”

His former ties to the Nazi Waffen SS coupled with some of his writings has made Grass persona non grata in Israel.

Following the latest writing, Herzl Chakak of the Hebrew Writers Association in Israel said that Grass is pursuing "an obsessive campaign to shame Israel," reports
Frankfurter Rundschau.

The new collection of 87 poems is being released in time for Grass’s 85th birthday on October 16.

But this time, Israel is not the only one that could take offense to Grass’s writings. The writer also has a go at the Catholic Church that no longer condemns masturbation as a severe sin: "Even our Pope can now do without shame what he has done from early on: We see him smiling, liberated, freed from sin…"

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Geopolitics

The New Iraq, Signs Of Hope Amid The Rubble And Reconstruction

How do you rebuild a country decimated by four decades of war and embargoes? Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military, Iraq faces many challenges, from oil revenues captured by the militias and endemic corruption to religious segregation. However, there are glimmers of hope for the country's future.

Street scene in Erbil, Iraq

Théophile Simon

BAGHDAD — With a vast office located at the top of a tower fiercely guarded by the army and a bell to call the staff, Khalid Hamza Abbas is obviously a powerful character, decked out in an impeccable suit. Abbas runs the Basra Oil Company (BOC), the national company responsible for the exploitation of the oil fields in the province of Basra, in the very south of Iraq, from which four million barrels of crude oil flow daily. It’s the equivalent of 4% of world demand and 65% of central government revenue concentrated in a region of only four million inhabitants.

As he explains the profit-sharing scheme between the world’s major oil companies and his public enterprise, the 50-year-old with thin glasses is suddenly stopped dead in his tracks by the ringing of his telephone. He tries a joke to mask his suddenly worried face: "I'm going to ask you to leave my office for a few moments. If I haven't called you back in 10 minutes, call the police."

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