Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Who’s the biggest bully?

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Ireland’s PMEach side accuses the other of trying to scare voters ahead of Ireland’s referendum on the EU treaty on Thursday.
“No” groups have campaigned on issues ranging from abortion and euthanasia to taxation and Ireland’s military neutrality. They also say new decision-making mechanisms mean small states will lose influence and get trampled by the EU’s heavyweights.

The government’s response is to accuse treaty opponents of scaremongering by campaigning on emotive and extraneous issues that will not be affected by the treaty.
In some cases neutral voices are inclined to agree, with the Catholic archbishop of Dublin and referendum commission weighing in to say there is nothing in the treaty that threatens Ireland’s strict abortion and euthanasia laws.
The government warns of “dire consequences” for Ireland’s economy and diplomatic clout if a nation that has gained so much from EU support and subsidies is ungrateful enough to reject the treaty.
The “No” camp accuses the government of bullying, blackmail and exaggeration. Indeed a number of economists say that while a “Yes” vote would be best for future prosperity, rejection of the treaty is unlikely to have any severe repercussions.
So who is the biggest bully in the playground? Or is it just an inevitable flaw in referendums that they become a lightning rod for irrelevant issues and for politicians who don’t trust us to be able to debate the question we’re being asked?

Truck strike shows Spain’s good times are over

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Protest in Barcelona There’s nothing like the prospect of empty supermarket shelves to convince people that an economic boom is well and truly over, and that’s just what Spain’s truck drivers are doing with their strike over fuel prices.

Even before the truckers started blockading highways and choking off fuel supplies, Spaniards were already shaking their heads and wondering where the good times went. After a decade of growth, people aren’t used to things going wrong here any more. Now house prices are falling, inflation is soaring, consumer confidence plunging and unemployment jumping.  

from Africa News blog:

Is Kenya’s economy back on track?

kenya_safaricom_buyers.jpgOnly a few months ago, it seemed all doom and gloom for the Kenyan economy as post-election violence threatened to wipe out gains and stymy growth.
 
Tourists were cancelling safari and beach holidays in their droves. Gangs were rampaging around the agricultural heartlands. And few would dare to journey on roads full of boulders, burning tyres and knife-wielding youths.
 
Yet even back then, some analysts argued that East Africa's strongest economy should be able to withstand the electoral crisis, provided it was brought to a rapid halt.

And stop it did, after President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga buried their differences over who won the Dec. 27 vote in a coalition government formed in April.
 
Now foreign and local investors have given a resounding thumbs-up to Kenya's economy via the largest InItial Public Offering in the region's history. The offer for mobile operator Safaricom was over-subscribed by 532 percent, shares leapt 50 percent in the first hours of trading and 860,000 people bought shares via the IPO. 
kenya_safaricom_kibaki2.jpgSo is Safaricom indicative of Kenya's recovery, or is there still a long way to go?
 
Have investors got over the shock they received earlier this year?
 
How does Kenya compare to other sub-Saharan African nations -- neighbours Uganda and Tanzania; or heavyweights South Africa and Nigeria -- as an investment destination? Which are the sectors to put money in?
 
And can the shaky coalition hold?
 

from UK News:

Afghanistan – noble cause of the 21st century?

afghanistan.jpgDefence Secretary Des Browne said the conflict in Afghanistan was the "noble cause of the 21st century" as he paid tribute to the 100 British soldiers who died serving in the country.

He said there was not one British serviceman or woman who questioned the rightness of the military operation despite lacklustre public support at home.

from Africa News blog:

What would Obama do for Africa?

obama-in-kenya.jpgWin or not in November, U.S. Senator Barack Obama has already become a hero to Africans.

He is a household name, putting a smile on everybody's lips and spreading pride across the continent.

from Africa News blog:

Should Zimbabwe’s election go ahead?

zimbabwe-posters.jpgOpposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai detained twice in a week, U.S. and British diplomats forced from their cars by police, rallies banned, aid workers stopped from working, reports of violence from across the countryside. The campaign for Zimbabwe's presidential election run-off on June 27 is being hard fought, literally.mugabe.jpg

The opposition accuses President Robert Mugabe of responsibility for violence and says 65 people have been killed. The ruling party blames Tsvangirai's followers and says Mugabe's Western foes and some aid agencies have been campaigning for the opposition.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Food crisis adds to Pakistan-Afghanistan tensions

April photo of man at Kabul flour marketIt would be hard to think of a more complex web of problems.  Pakistan and Afghanistan face, in very different ways, severe domestic political crises which are being exacerbated by soaring prices and food shortages. Both blame each other for failing to crack down on the Taliban and al Qaeda. And now tensions are rising over attempts by Pakistan, the traditional supplier of food to Afghanistan, to curb its wheat exports to make sure it can feed its own hungry population.

For an idea of how significant this is in Afghanistan, it's worth reading this piece in the Chicago Tribune. "Western officials - including officers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force - say the food crisis is potentially more destabilizing to the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai than the insurgency itself," it says.

Obama on Jerusalem. What did he mean?

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Barack Obama said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

Compare that remark with this comment by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert published on January 1 in an interview with The Jerusalem Post: “The world that is friendly to Israel… that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the 1967 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem.”
Obama’s comment infuriated Palestinians.
The United States and other international powers do not recognise Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following the 1967 war. The future of Jerusalem is one of the most divisive issues facing Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators as they try to reach a deal before George W Bush leaves office in 2009.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called it a “pandering performance”

from Environment Forum:

What do you serve for lunch at a U.N. food crisis summit?

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a U.N. crisis summit on rising food prices at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome June 3, 2008. World leaders opened a conference on the global food crisis on Tuesday with the World Bank and humanitarian agencies demanding action to curb soaring prices that could push up to 100 million people into hunger. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (ITALY)What do you serve world leaders for lunch at a U.N. summit trying to solve a crisis caused by soaring food prices?

You clearly want to impress dozens of heads of state but without laying on opulent meals when up to 1 billion people are threatened by hunger.

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