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A blog devoted to on-the-ground reporting around the world.

Meeting Mansoor: Afghan translators struggle to come to the US

Of the 7,500 visas set aside for Afghans working with US forces, only 12 percent have been used in the last five years.

 

KABUL, Afghanistan — The first thing you notice when you look at photos of Mansoor, an Afghan translator for the US Marine Corps in the southern provinces of Afghanistan, is that he looks very young. His small, lean frame, his open demeanor, and his boyish features make him look more like a kid brother on a field trip with military officers than like a young man who risks his life every day to help them.

It has been five years since Mansoor first started working for the US military, and now, like nearly everyone in Afghanistan, he is closely monitoring the withdrawal of US troops from his country and worrying about his fate and that of his family.

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Violent clash in Benghazi reveals growing divisions in Libya

A demonstration devolved into an armed clash on Saturday, killing dozens and exposing political currents that are gathering force.
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On Sunday, June 9, hundreds of residents in Benghazi came to the cemetery after services at local mosques. In a parched and barren field, the dead were buried by hand in a long row. (William Wheeler/GlobalPost)

EDITOR'S NOTE: William Wheeler, recipient of the first annual GroundTruth reporting fellowship in the Middle East, is now on assignment in Libya. This is the third in a series of guest posts for this blog and he will soon be filing a GlobalPost Special Report on Libya's struggle to forge a democracy in the smoldering aftermath of the Arab Spring.

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Frontline Club launches network, safety initiative for freelance journalists

The London-based organization offers support to the growing ranks of freelancers, particularly those working in dangerous places.
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Swedish reporters Martin Schibbye (L) and Johan Persson pose on arrival at Arlanda airport in Stockholm on September 14, 2012. Ethiopia pardoned and freed Schibbye and Persson after they were jailed for 'supporting terrorism' for illegally crossing into Ethiopia from Somalia with rebels. (Anders Wiklund/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — We live in perilous times for telling the truth.

Every day, journalists around the world are being detained, threatened, tortured and killed for the work they do. As readers of this blog know full well, last year was the worst year on record for journalists being killed on the job, since the International Press Institute and Committee to Protect Journalists starting keeping track in 1997. This year is not much better.

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Libya's purge of former Gaddafi officials reveals growing power of militias

The new Political Isolation Law has been criticized as too broad — and as a political weapon for punishing dissent.
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Libyan protesters hold placards and banners during a demonstration in support of the Political Isolation Law in Libya's landmark Martyrs Square' on May 5, 2013 in Tripoli, Libya. Libya's General National Congress, under pressure from armed militias, voted through a controversial law to exclude former regime officials from government posts. Gunmen who had surrounded the foreign and justice ministries lifted the sieges when state television broke the news. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

EDITOR'S NOTE: William Wheeler, recipient of the first annual GroundTruth reporting fellowship in the Middle East, is now on assignment in Libya. This is the second in a series of guest posts for this blog and he will soon be filing a GlobalPost Special Report on Libya's struggle to forge a democracy in the smoldering aftermath of the Arab Spring.

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Bahrain shows two sides of ambitious economic development

A continuing uprising shadows Bahrain's quest to become the "next Dubai."
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Bahraini women take a part in an anti-regime demonstration against the death of Sayed Omran Sayed Hameed on June 1, 2013, in the village of Karzakkan, south of Manama. Hameed, 26, died at hospital after developing respiratory complications and his relatives claim that his death is due to the inhalation of poisonous tear gas that riot police used during a protest in May 2013. (Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)

Joshua Eaton is an American journalist who covers religion and politics, international human rights and social movements. He visited Manama, Bahrain between May 14 and May 20 to see the situation there first-hand.

MANAMA, Bahrain — "The name ‘Bahrain’ means ‘two seas,’” our tour guide explained as we walked away from the old Portuguese fort on the outskirts of Manama. “There’s the saltwater sea that surrounds Bahrain. Then there’s the fresh water that bubbles up in the middle of the sea to our north.”

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Palestinians say Kerry's $4 billion aid offer a 'bribe' to give up on statehood

The Palestinian Authority is seen as likely to accept the aid even though many say the issue of Israeli occupation should come before economic concerns.
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A Palestinian youth burns tires during a protest against the high cost of living at Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah on September 8, 2012. (Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

RAMALLAH, West Bank – On a recent drive through this city at the heart of the Palestinian Authority, I was in shock to see all the shiny, towering office buildings, the new apartment blocks and store fronts. There was a vibrant nightlife with cafes and discos. On the surface, it looked like things were better these days in the West Bank.

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Nearly two years after liberation, Libya at a crossroads

William Wheeler returns to Tripoli — where he reported during the Arab Spring — to find a different city than he left.
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Thousands of Libyans celebrate the second anniversary of the Libyan uprising at Martyrs square on February 17, 2013 in Tripoli. The anniversary of the uprising that ended with Muammar Gaddafi's killing in October 2011 comes as Libya's new rulers battle critics calling for a "new revolution" and accusing them of failing to usher in much-needed reforms. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

EDITOR'S NOTE: William Wheeler, recipient of the first annual GroundTruth reporting fellowship in the Middle East, is now on assignment in Libya. Today he begins a series of guest posts for this blog and will soon be filing a GlobalPost Special Report on Libya's struggle to forge a democracy in the smoldering aftermath of the Arab Spring. As a journalist with a good ear for the Arab street, Wheeler was chosen for the $10,000 reporting grant in large part because he embodies the spirit of 'ground truth' and the attributes of some of its greatest adherents, including the New York Times' Anthony Shadid, who died on assignment in Syria, and the American reporter for the Sunday Times of London, Marie Colvin, who was killed in a rocket attack in Syria. Like Shadid and Colvin, Wheeler is all about being there on the ground and taking the measure of a big and complex story in simple, human terms. The GroundTruth reporting fellowship is funded by the Correspondents Fund. 

TRIPOLI, Libya — A few days ago I returned to Tripoli to find what is, in many ways, a very different city than the one I last saw in the weeks after its liberation. On the surface, things look better. Some hotels and cafes have new facades, testament to a brief flush of renewed investment. The sidewalks are thick with vendors, and their tarps stretch overhead like a canopy on some streets, so tightly packed I had trouble at first recognizing familiar sights. You no longer see rebels firing into the air on every street corner. Or families celebrating in Martyr’s Square.

But neither has life returned to normal. Over the last month, in Benghazi, a series of car bomb attacks struck empty police stations, and what may have been an accidental explosion killed three people; in Tripoli, another car bomb hit the French Embassy, injuring two guards and prompting a withdrawal of some foreign embassies’ personnel amid fears the Libyan government is losing its grip on the capital, and militias besieged government ministries, pressuring lawmakers to approve legislation banning those who had worked for the regime from positions in the new government. All in all, it gives the impression, as a jewelry store clerk put it, that “things are getting dangerous again.”

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Why child mining in Africa deserves American attention

Opinion: How hundreds of thousands of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo give up much of childhood so modern electronics can be made.
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A child works at a mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An estimated 800,000 children mine coltan, cobalt and copper for use in modern technologies. (Roger-Claude Liwanga/GlobalPost)

KATANGA PROVINCE, Democratic Republic of Congo — One year after adopting the National Action Plan for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are still struggling to stop the growing scourge of child labor in small-scale mines.

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Aboard the Riveira, Chile's artisan fishermen hunt for what remains

Comparably high wages and open waters lure thousands of Chileans to a difficult profession.
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Crewmen stacking boxes of fish in San Vicente, Talcahuano, in the Bio Bio region of Chile. (Fernando Rodriguez Chancks/GlobalPost)

In this three-part blog series, GlobalPost Special Reports explores what's at stake for Chile's embattled artisan fishermen following the passage of major new federal legislation governing one of the largest fishing industries in the world.

TALCAHUANO, Chile — Captain Patricio Gomez guided the L/M Riveira out of Talcahuano Harbor in south central Chile, trailing dozens of fishing boats making way to a fertile stretch of coastal waters, four miles out and reportedly teeming with anchovy and sardine.

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Chile's fish supply decline 'catastrophic' after years of overfishing

Debate about whether new fisheries law can reverse decades of depleting fish stocks.
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A bad morning for fishing in Bonifacio — an enclave of fishermen near Valdivia, Chile — nothing is on the filleting table. (Fernando Rodriguez Chancks/GlobalPost)

In this three-part blog series, GlobalPost Special Reports explores what's at stake for Chile's embattled artisan fishermen following the passage of major new federal legislation governing one of the largest fishing industries in the world.

PELLUHUE, Chile — Pablo Cesar Recabal skippered his father’s boat, The Eslora, past the five-mile point reserved for artisan fisherman to a distance where the Chilean coast becomes a blur on the surface of the water.

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