Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Iraq: was it all about the oil?

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iraq-oil-minister-2.jpgFive years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, Iraq is throwing open its oil sector to foreign oil firms  in a way Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others in the region are reluctant to. Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani says no company will have any special privilege.

Some  analysts take a different view. They reckon U.S. and British oil majors are in a strong position to help develop the world’s third-largest oil reserves. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP head the queue. They have already built up a relationship with Iraq’s oil officials by negotiating short-term technical deals.

Now Iraq is inviting bids for long-term development contracts at its biggest fields, the “backbone of its industry” in the words of Shahristani. He believes Iraq could become the world’s second- or third-biggest oil producing country, rivalling Saudi Arabia and Russia.
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Are U.S. and British firms obvious choices as partners because of their expertise? After all, before the U.S.-led invasion Iraq often preferred Russian firms. Or are U.S. and British firms reaping the benefit of their governments’ policies?

from Africa News blog:

Zimbabwe election rage

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration in HararePresident Robert Mugabe's re-election has sparked cries of outrage from Zimbabwean bloggers and demands for international intervention.

Mugabe's victory in Friday's one-candidate poll was condemned in the West and by all three African monitoring groups who said the vote was deeply flawed.

from Africa News blog:

Has Mugabe out-foxed the African Union?

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It would be out of character for the African Union (AU) to order any tough sanctions against Zimbabwe's strongman President Robert Mugabe at its summit in Egypt on Monday. But has his swearing-in on Sunday for a new five-year term after a widely condemned election further narrowed the AU's latitude for action? Mugabe defied international calls to cancel a presidential election run-off and negotiate with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who defeated Mugabe in the first-round ballot on March 29 but fell short of an outright majority. Mugabe was the only candidate in the second round after Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic change pulled out because of widely reported government-backed violence and intimidation.

Mugabe was heading for the AU summit after Zimbabwe's electoral commission declared him the winner as expected. He was immediately inaugurated in Harare, extending his 28-year rule. This could force the AU to deal with him as the legitimate head of state of Zimbabwe, in the face of calls from the likes of South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu for the pan-African body not to recognise his election.  A defiant Mugabe vowed to confront his critics at the summit. The wily Mugabe invited Tsvangirai to the inauguration ceremony and pledged at the event to talk to the opposition to solve the country's political crisis. Tsvangirai rejected the invitation.

from Africa News blog:

Has Mugabe out-foxed the African Union?

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It would be out of character for the African Union (AU) to order any tough sanctions against Zimbabwe's strongman President Robert Mugabe at its summit in Egypt on Monday. But has his swearing-in on Sunday for a new five-year term after a widely condemned election further narrowed the AU's latitude for action? Mugabe defied international calls to cancel a presidential election run-off and negotiate with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who defeated Mugabe in the first-round ballot on March 29 but fell short of an outright majority. Mugabe was the only candidate in the second round after Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic change pulled out because of widely reported government-backed violence and intimidation.

Mugabe was heading for the AU summit after Zimbabwe's electoral commission declared him the winner as expected. He was immediately inaugurated in Harare, extending his 28-year rule. This could force the AU to deal with him as the legitimate head of state of Zimbabwe, in the face of calls from the likes of South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu for the pan-African body not to recognise his election.  A defiant Mugabe vowed to confront his critics at the summit. The wily Mugabe invited Tsvangirai to the inauguration ceremony and pledged at the event to talk to the opposition to solve the country's political crisis. Tsvangirai rejected the invitation.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan and the battle for Peshawar

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June 27 photo of Peshawar protestPeshawar is such an important city for Pakistan that it can be hard to write about it without sounding shrill.  It is significant strategically since it lies near the entrance to the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.  But it is also important emotionally -- not only is it a Moghul city and an ancient Silk Route trading hub, but it is also a Pashtun town on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line , the ill-demarcated border between Pakistan and Afghanistan imposed by British colonial rulers that splits the Pashtun people of the region in two. For Pakistan, fighting for control of Peshawar is probably comparable to what France and Germany felt about Alsace Lorraine before World War Two.

So when the New York Times publishes an article about Peshawar being at risk of falling into Taliban hands  we must pay attention.  "In the last two months, Taliban militants have suddenly tightened the noose on this city of three million people, one of Pakistan's biggest, establishing bases in surrounding towns and, in daylight, abducting residents for high ransoms," it says. "The threat to Peshawar is a sign of the Taliban's deepening penetration of Pakistan and of the expanding danger that the militants present to the entire region, including nearby supply lines for NATO and American forces in Afghanistan."

Snapshot of German power at Bild summer fest

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 At any one of the dozen high-powered Berlin summer parties thrown by major media outlets and the political parties in Germany each year you can count on finding a reasonable cross-section of government and industry movers and shakers to rub elbows with. But nowhere in Germany can you find as rich an assortment of A-list government, business, media and entertainment industry types as at the “Sommerfest” held by Bild newspaper.

From Chancellor Angela Merkel and Deutsche Bank chairman Josef Ackermann to heavyweight boxers, assorted actors and actresses, and people famous for just being famous, there is no more eclectic gathering of 750 people who see themselves as Germany’s best and brightest — all on fine form ahead of Germany’s cherished two-month long summer holiday season.

Has U.S. slipped nuclear bombs out of Britain?

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lakenheathprotest.jpg U.S. nuclear weapons in Britain – out with a whimper, not with a bang?

It was once one of the most contentious issues in Europe, inspiring mass demonstrations, “peace camps” and a movement that shaped the politics of a generation. After more than half a century, there are no more U.S. nukes in Britain.

On Thursday, the Federation of American Scientists, a group set up by former Manhattan Project scientists alarmed by the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reported that the United States had removed the last of its nuclear bombs from the Royal Air Force base at Lakenheath in eastern England.

Enter the new farmers

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Wheat field in RomaniaWhat’s with farming these days? The humble, even if slightly romantic vocation, is attracting a new breed of participants as investing in farmland and agriculture becomes the latest fad in the world of investments.
 
With financial markets in tumoil and commodity prices at record highs, traditional financial players such as investment banks and hedge funds, and even sovereign wealth funds of cash-rich emerging economies are increasingly looking at farm land as the next major investment avenue.

The motivations are varied — from pure financial punting to concerns about food security. Underlying all this is the belief that the rapid economic expansion of China and India could add more than a billion people between them to the ranks of consumers of meat and wheat-based products. And then there is the growing demand for land to grow crops for biofuels.

Face to face with Medvedev

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Medvedev gestures during interview What makes Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tick? How independent is he of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin?
Medvedev gave Reuters a chance to find out more about his plans, and get some clues about the questions being asked by Russia watchers, analysts and diplomats, by granting us an interview in the Kremlin.
During a 90-minute question-and-answer session he played down differences with Putin, his long-time ally who is now prime minister, and portrayed himself as a continuity figure but the contrast in style and tone between the two men was striking.
Medvedev made none of the harsh attacks on the West that became Putin’s trademark and used considered, lawyerly phrases that sounded quite unlike Putin’s more direct and earthy language.
Medvedev said Russia’s foreign policy would not be swayed by criticism from abroad, but added that complaints about its policy were normal. He avoided echoing Putin by making charges of Western hypocrisy and double standards.
But he did sound more like Putin when discussing Russia’s media, saying television channels, newspapers and websites were “absolutely free” and dismissing any possibility of special controls on the media in Russia.
Some analysts think Medvedev is a deliberately more liberal choice than Putin who can usher in an era of greater freedom, private property and foreign investment. Others view him with suspicion as little more than a Putin puppet.

 What do you think?

from Africa News blog:

Has Tsvangirai made a fatal mistake?

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rtx789k.jpgMorgan Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of the presidential election on Friday leaves the road open for President Mugabe to win another term in power.

The decision has been met by a storm of international condemnation of the violence, with increasingly powerful voices speaking out from Africa. On Tuesday President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and ANC leader Jacob Zuma joined the condemnation and called for the vote to be postponed.

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