South African police chief praying for a U.S. World Cup loss

If you were in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago you might have noticed the enormous security measures taken for the 46 world leaders who convened for the Nuclear Summit. A huge portion of the city was closed, sidewalks were lined with D.C. police, and streets were regularly blocked off for passing twenty-car motorcades.

South Africa will be in a similar position with the start of the World Cup next month, with 43 leaders already having confirmed their attendance. Turns out though, 43 leaders isn't seen a big problem -- rather, it's the potential of a 44th visitor that has South Africa's police department sweating. And, surprisingly, he happens to be the 44th president of the United States.

Speaking before a cabinet meeting on World Cup security, South Africa's police chief, General Bheki Cele, estimates that a visit by the U.S. president, and the subsequent crowds that would clamor to see him, would double the scale of the security requirements, saying, "that 43 will be equal to this one operation." It would be such a headache that the police chief is "praying" that the U.S. is eliminated after the first stage because of rumors that Obama might visit if the U.S. national team makes it any further.

Here's hoping his prayers aren't heard.



Why a sex scandal could be good for Turkish democracy

A political party's electoral prospects are generally harmed when one of its leaders is taken down by a tawdry sex scandal. The resignation of Deniz Baykal in the wake of the release of a grainy video showing him in a bedroom with a female politician from his party, however, just may be the exception.

Baykal led the staunchly secularist CHP, which was created by Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is one of the primary parties in opposition to the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, the party has stagnated under Baykal: It was trounced by the AKP by double digits in Turkey's 2002 and 2007 general elections, and all signs point to a similar result in the upcoming 2011 campaign. However, due to the hierarchical nature of Turkish politics, Baykal was unlikely to be removed from his leadership role despite his obvious lack of electoral appeal.

The moribund state of the CHP was reinforced for me during a trip to Turkey in March. Our delegation met with one of Baykal's top deputies, one of the more unimpressive officials we encountered. Like Baykal, his message stuck to the party's dogma, which hasn't changed noticeably since the days of Ataturk. If Baykal's likely successor, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is smart, he will seize this opportunity to update the CHP's message in a way that speaks more clearly to Turkey's modern-day challenges -- and, in doing so, revitalize its appeal to the Turkish electorate. Who knows, perhaps a sex scandal is just what the Turkish opposition needs to get its act straight.