February 16, 2010
Posted: 1456 GMT

Hello everyone...

Hala is taking a day off, after a wild few weeks of travel - as all of you saw at the I-Desk from Haiti and France. As a result, Jonathan Mann is leading the charge in today's programme.

We're covering several big stories around the world, including the arrest of a top Taliban military commander in Pakistan. But, what does it mean for the overall fight against the Taliban? We're taking a closer look with Reza Sayah in Islamabad.

From the U.A.E. to the Palestinian territories to Ireland, there are new developments in an international murder mystery. Eleven people arrested in Dubai, accused of torturing and killing a Hamas leader. The suspects have passports from several western countries, including Ireland - which announced that they had never heard of the suspects. There are several twist and turns in this story. Paula Hancocks hopes to iron them out from Jerusalem, where she also had reaction from the victim's brother.

At the Vatican, the crisis talks continue between the Pope and members of the Catholic Church in Ireland. We're expecting to hear from Vatican officials in the coming hours, leading up to our show. But, will their comments and the Pope's reaction be enough, after so many years of sex abuse allegations in the Church? We're taking a closer look from Rome.

We also have new CNN poll numbers on Americans' opinion of Pres. Barack Obama. And, for the first time, we're asking: Does Pres. Obama deserve to be re-elected in two-years? And, speaking of the U.S. leader, some people in Indonesia are mad about a statue erected in Mr. Obama's honor. Find out what they're now doing with the statue, at 18:00 in London, 19:00 across Central Europe.

See you then!
J the P.

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Filed under: Barack Obama •CNN •Iran •Israel-Gaza •Terrorism •Today At The I-Desk

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February 5, 2010
Posted: 2318 GMT

Hello I-Deskers...

On Tuesday, February 9th, I-Desk turns one-year-old. It's been a wild and crazy year, full of wild and crazy news stories. We definitely have our favorite, and not-so-favorite moments. But, what are yours???

Let us know, and we'll share some of them on Tuesday!

J the P

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January 22, 2010
Posted: 1935 GMT

Hello I-Deskers:

We apologize for not posting any updates all week. As you might imagine, it's been quite busy with coverage of the situation in Haiti. And, Hala has also been off, on a company trip to the Middle East.

Starting Monday, Hala is going to get a first-hand look at the tragedy, as it continues to unfold in Haiti. She has arrived in the devastated country, and will start to report for CNN. Our hope is to have her anchor I-Desk from Port-au-Prince all of next week, if it's technically possible. As a result of her arrival, Jonathan Mann, who got to Haiti the day after the quake, is returning home. Jonathan and his team have done an amazing job of reporting the reality of the situation, to the rest of the world. Here, here!

Look for Hala's reports on the air, and we'll see if she can add her insights on our blog throughout next week. No doubt, she will bring us an incredible perspective of the story.

And, of course, keep the victims of Haiti in your thoughts. If there's anything you can do to help them, please do so.

See you next week, at the I-Desk!
J the P

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January 4, 2010
Posted: 108 GMT

Happy New Year, everyone!!

We're starting the first full week of 2010, with several challenges around the world:
– Hightened terrorism concerns, following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a plane over the U.S.
– Raging war in Afghanistan, with more and more strikes over the border into Pakistan
– A downsizing war effort in Iraq, as a major election looms
– Protests in Iran, which resurged after the post-election violence in the summer
– Questions about the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea
– A global economic recession which is slowly improving, very slowly

And, that's just to name a few. So, what will the big stories of 2010 be?? Take out your crystal balls, or any other kind of fortune-telling devices, and let us know. We'll take a look at some of your answers, live at the I-Desk, later this week.

See you then!
J the P

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December 23, 2009
Posted: 1141 GMT

Greetings, everyone!

As you may have noticed, Hala is on holiday all of this week. It seems that it's that time of year, when lots of people take a few days off. You go around shopping for that perfect gift. And, you celebrate with family and friends.

In that spirit, we would like to wish all of you very Happy Holidays! You've all been amazing viewers, as we near almost one-year on the air at the I-Desk. We hope you stay safe in the coming days, and Hala will be back soon with her daily "Today at the I-Desk" blogs.

See you then!
J the P

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Filed under: Today At The I-Desk

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October 28, 2009
Posted: 1610 GMT

...THAT is the question.

Today, as in the last 17 years, the United Nations is taking up a resolution, demanding that the United States end its trade embargo on Cuba. Every year, the measure has overwhelmingly passed. This year, the same is expected.

But, this year, the resolution comes with a bit of a change, in the American attitude towards Cuba. Since President Barack Obama took power, he's slowly tried to ease tensions with the communist island. Yet, the embargo remains in place. And, there are no signs that that will change. Some say the reason is simple: Florida.

The southern U.S. state is among the most important, when it comes to national politics. Arguably, no one can become president of the U.S. without winning the "Sunshine State" - as we all saw in 2000, when George W. Bush took the White House, thanks to the close vote in Florida. Cubans make up a significant portion of that vote, in the heavily populated area of Miami. And, in Washington, the Cuban lobby is also quite strong - with 5 Cuban-American members of Congress.

As a result, presidents from BOTH political parties have shyed away from eliminating the embargo. But, will Barack Obama be different?

One thing going in his favor is the growing generational divide within the Cuban-American community. Namely, younger Cubans are more and more inclined to support the end of the embargo. I can make that claim, because I am one of those young Cuban-Americans. My generation (known by some, as "Generación Ñ") did not grow up, during the early years of the Castro regime. We did not experience the brutality of the revolution. We did not see the drastic changes that happened in Cuba, after Fidel Castro took power. And, for a large group of us (myself included), we weren't even born on the island. Therefore, a lot of people in "Generación Ñ" see the embargo elimination, as a good change. After all, the embargo hasn't resulted in democratic change on the island. So, a new plan is probably a good idea. No??

Only time will tell what Pres. Obama plans to do. But, like he said during the presidential campaign, it's time for a "change" - both in U.S. policy and in Havana's government.

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Filed under: Cuba

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October 26, 2009
Posted: 1110 GMT

Hey there, everyone...

First of all, Hala continues to be off for most of the week. She'll be back, before you head back to your weekend. Isha is manning the later edition of I-Desk, while Hala is on holiday this week.

Now, for the news - It was a busy and deadly weekend in Iraq and Afghanistan. Starting in Iraq, where the country is mourning the deadliest attacks in two years. Well over 100 people were killed in Baghdad, hundreds more wounded. In Afghanistan, helicopter-related deaths ruled the weekend, as more than a dozen NATO servicemembers, most of them American, were killed. So, what's the solution in either country? For Iraq, the U.S. still plans on pulling out, despite the surge in violence after their forces left small towns in June. In Afghanistan, the opposite plan appears to be in play, with U.S. Pres. Barack Obama considering an increase in boots on the ground. Are these the right courses of action?

Now, for the accused war criminal. Radovan Karadzic refused to appear in court Monday - essentially, boycotting his own war crimes trial at the Hague. Karadzic claims he hasn't had enough time to prepare for his trial. Should the judge force him into court? Or, should he grant more time?

Those are the biggest stories we're following right now at the I-Desk... Of course, if that changes, we'll have the latest for you.

See you then!
J the P

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Filed under: Afghanistan •Barack Obama •Iraq •NATO •Today At The I-Desk

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October 18, 2009
Posted: 1525 GMT

Hey there, everyone...

Hala is on holiday all week. Isha is filling-in most of the week. When she's not in, we'll have a guest appearance from BackStory's Michael Holmes.

No matter who's at the helm of the I-Desk, we'll continue bringing you the latest stories with live reports from around the world. And, from what we can tell from this weekend, Pakistan and Iran will most likely be among our biggest stories this week - with a suicide attack in southern Iran, and the military offensive in Pakistan.

Starting with Iran, dozens of people were killed. Some leaders in the government are blaming the United States, for having some kind of hand in the attack. What do you think?

And, in Pakistan, the military offensive is in full swing in South Waziristan. Is that going to be enough, to stop the Taliban?

Let us know your thoughts... We'll share some of them throughout the week. See you then, at the I-Desk!

J the P.

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Filed under: Iran •Pakistan •Today At The I-Desk

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September 15, 2009
Posted: 1731 GMT

A few minutes before today's first edition of I-Desk, we got word of a bill approved by France's lower house of parliament. Normally, this wouldn't make news. But, this time, it caught our attention. And, here's why:

The bill aims at cracking down on illegal internet downloads. It's an issue that has plagued the "information superhighway" for several years. Countries all over the world have made attempts at stopping internet piracy... And, frankly, most have failed. But, in this law, France proposes suspending internet use for people caught performing illegal downloads. That's right, lawmakers want to cancel the internet for online criminals.

The law has already gone through legal wranglings, including a ruling from a constitutional court. And, it's expected to continue moving through the court system. Yet, some are commending France's aggressive moves to stop internet piracy - namely, recording artists, artists, and producers. But, is the proposal going too far? And, more importantly, can it even be enforced?

For now, the law remains in parliament. The next step is for a joint committee to take a look at it and vote. But, there's little doubt, that if it's approved, the law could have a significant impact on internet users everywhere.

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Filed under: France •Internet

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September 10, 2009
Posted: 1806 GMT

Hey there, everyone...

Our good friend, Michael Holmes, is back at the I-Desk. And, we're following several stories, where the common them is: anger.

First, in Afghanistan, where journalists are outraged about what happened, when troops rescued a British journalist this week, BUT left an Afghan journalist behind. We're talking live with Michael Ware in Kabul, about what people there are saying.

Anger is also coming to the forefront in Turkey. Thousands of people are now living in filth, following this week's deadly floods. That's enough reason to be mad. But, for these innocent victims of Mother Nature, they're also ticked at the government for what happened before the storm. We're talking live with Ivan Watson in Istanbul, to explain.

And, the lighter side of the anger theme comes to us from Argentina. There's little doubt that football, or fútbol, is the 2nd religion in that country. And now, for the first time in nearly 40 years, the South American football giant is about to be eliminated from the World Cup. As you might imagine, every Argentine has an opinion on what's gone wrong, including blaming the country's football icon - and the team's manager - Diego Maradona.

Finally, yesterday, we weren't able to bring you the "happiest cities in the world" list, due to breaking news out of Mexico. But, we have that list for you tonight... And, once again, Michael is smiling!

Find out why... at the I-Desk!
J the P.

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Filed under: Afghanistan •Today At The I-Desk

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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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