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.

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?

Al Libi’s gone and Pakistan blasts perfidious foreigners bumping off perfidious foreigners on sovereign soil

As Pakistani officials condemn the US drone strikes that killed Qaeda’s No. 2 Abu Yahya al Libi, the country’s leading lawyer and human rights activists says the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment is plotting to kill her.

Does a US-born jihadist’s video revelation point to divisions in the ranks or that he’s just insufferable?

In a new video statement, by US-born al Shabaab militant Abu Mansoor al Amriki said his life was threatened by fellow militants. But does that point to divisions in the Somali Islamist group’s ranks or that al Amriki is just an insufferable blowhard?

On Afghan Child Brides, Drug Lords and Chatting With One Insanely Courageous Reporter

When it comes to the Afghan drug business, there are plenty of statistics and reports. But few have managed to paint a human face of the multibillion dollar drug trade the way Fariba Nawa has done in her new book, “Opium Nation”.

Goodbye Haqqani, Hello Rehman, Pakistan’s New Woman on the Job

There are two men at the center of Pakistan’s “memogate” scandal: the whistleblower and the victim. They come from the opposite ends of the credibility spectrum. Now one man’s gone and there’s a woman replacing him. End of story? Oh no.

Keeping the ‘mzungu’ safe from kidnappers in Kenya's Lamu

Walking down Kenya’s Lamu Island’s waterfront with my local guide, a young man mutters something as he passes us.

No Surprises: An Islamic State in the Country of Men

When Libya’s top leader said the country would follow Islamic law, some experts were shocked. But in the country of men, this has been coming for the past eight months.

Gaddafi’s gone and Libyans must come together – but how?

Okay, it’s the end of the long, loud road to revolution. Muammar Gaddafi is dead and now we start the longer, laborious road to democracy – or some form of it – in Libya.

Killing, resurrecting, capturing or ‘un-capturing’ a Gaddafi son: Let confusion reign…

Mutassim Gaddafi has been captured. No, he’s not. He’s free. No he isn’t. Khamis Gaddafi is dead. No, he’s not. He’s alive. No, he’s not alive. But he’s not not-dead. Half-dead then? Or half-alive?

The Burma Conspiracy: Sanctions Debate Intensifies

The signs were clear the night I took my first stroll through the then Burmese capital of Rangoon – and they were in red.

In death, as in life, Rabbani fails to bring peace

Burhanuddin Rabbani, the man who oversaw Afghanistan’s descent into a brutal civil war, was killed while trying to make peace with an old enemy. But whoever thought the canny septuagenarian could have brought peace in the first place?

Welcome to the Hotel Intercontinental, Where the Past Is Another Country

For decades, Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel has seen it all – invasions, coups, wars, as well as the major milestones in the lives of ordinary people. Like the name and the city it overlooks, the Intercontinental will survive.