Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will Pakistan become a quagmire for the United States?

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File photo of Pakistani soldiers at a post overlooking Wana in South WaziristanFollowing up on yesterday's post about U.S. military action in Pakistan, I see the New York Times is reporting that President George W. Bush secretly approved orders in July allowing American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government.

The new orders, it says, relax firm restrictions on conducting raids on the soil of an important ally without permission.

The paper also quotes two American officials as saying that last week's raid by U.S. troops involved more than two dozen members of the Navy Seals who spent several hours on the ground and killed about two dozen suspected al Qaeda fighters. "Supported by an AC-130 gunship, the Special Operations forces were whisked away by helicopters after completing the mission."

This is big stuff, with enormous potential for escalation, should the raids continue. What happens if a ground assault goes wrong and some U.S. troops are kidnapped and handed over to al Qaeda? An enormous publicity coup for al Qaeda, which would no doubt provoke more raids, in turn requiring air support to cover the U.S. troops on the ground.

from FaithWorld:

No big change at Lourdes, despite eased miracle rules

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A pilgrim prays at Lourdes, 5 Nov 2006/Regis DuvignauBishop Jacques Perrier of Lourdes caused a stir two years ago when he announced the Roman Catholic Church wanted to create new categories for recognising sudden healings at the famous shrine because so few of them claimed there actually qualified under current rules as certified miracles. Sceptics promptly dubbed the new categories "miracle lite" and even Catholics wondered what was going on.

The bishop patiently explained that Lourdes only had a very simple yes/no approach to recognising a healing as a miracle. He wanted to provide some kind of official Church recognition for a pilgrim's sudden recovery and the spiritual experience that went with it, even if it did not clear all the hurdles to be declared miraculous. These recoveries certainly felt miraculous to the recovered pilgrims involved and also strengthened their faith, he said. Asking the binary question "was it a miracle or not?" did not do justice to the whole experience these pilgrims had. Lourdes needed new categories of declared, unexpected and confirmed healings to take that into account.

What should a minister’s wife do in Greece?

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The heir to one of Greece’s most distinguished political families, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, helped his conservative New Democracy party sweep to power in 2004 by convincing Greeks tired of decades of socialist graft that he would clean up Greek politics.

But public discontent with a new set of scandals and a slowing economy has hit the popularity of his government and party. 

Big Bang experiment – the end of the world as we know it?

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Scientists said they simply didn’t know what surprises might emerge when they started up the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest and most complex machine which until Wednesday lay benignly in its underground home on the outskirts of Geneva. 
                                                    Scientists look at a computer screen at the control centre of the CERN in Geneva September 10, 2008. Scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) started up a huge particle-smashing machine on Wednesday, aiming to re-enact the conditions of the “Big Bang” that created the universe. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool (SWITZERLAND)                                                        
Perhaps crashing together millions of particles at close to the speed of light would replicate the conditions just after the Big Bang that created the universe.           

Perhaps the high-energy collisions, which will generate temperatures more than 100,000 times than the heart
of the sun, would lay to rest an unproven theory of physics.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

U.S. and Pakistan: Is there method in the madness?

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File photo of national flagLast week, after U.S. forces were reported to have launched their first ground assault in Pakistan, the website Registan.net asked the obvious question: "Did We Just Invade Pakistan?"  Nearly a week and several missile attacks by U.S. drones later, I am still pondering the same question.

We have just witnessed what may have been the most sustained U.S. military action against targets inside Pakistan, not just since 2001, but since 1947 when the country was founded.  Yet it is not any clearer what is going on.  The Council on Foreign Relations has produced an excellent round-up of media reports on Pakistan, published by the Washington Post. But I'd defy anyone to read through them and come up with a coherent hypothesis that does not immediately run into a contradiction.  Here are some of the ideas being discussed:

from Environment Forum:

A Silver Bullet or just ‘Greenwash’?

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A truck with a CO2 tank stands in front of the mini plant “Schwarze Pumpe” before the first official run in Spremberg SeptemberCan carbon capture and storage (CCS) save the world?

Is this the silver bullet everyone's been waiting for? Or just pie in the sky? Is capturing and storing carbon dioxide the technology breakthrough to cut greenhouse gas emissions without getting in the way of economic growth and industry's "addiction" to fossil fuels? Or is it just a "greenwash" -- a token gesture by some of the utilities responsible for so much of the world's CO2 to try to persuade an increasingly green public that the great emitters are doing something to fight climate change?

Those are the questions that were hurled at Vattenfall executives on Tuesday when the Swedish-based utility opened the world's first CCS plant in a small town south of Berlin called Schwarze Pumpe. The company believes it will be economically feasible before long to capture carbon, liquify it, and store it permanently on a large scale underground. This is only a small pilot plant producing enough power for a town of 20,000. But if it works, Vattenfall plans to build two conventional power plants 10 times larger in Germany and Denmark by 2015 and from 2020 they hope CCS will be a viable option for large-scale industrial use.

Bush, Iraq and the military brass

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bush-mullen.jpgWASHINGTON – The Bush administration is often accused of ignoring military advice, using too few troops to invade and occupy Iraq and paying the price with a war that has lasted far longer and claimed many more lives than expected.

Despite that criticism, a new book by U.S. journalist Bob Woodward shows President George W. Bush again went against the advice of top military officers in 2007 by ordering a “surge” of extra troops when violence in Iraq was at its worst.

The Russians are coming — Caribbean Crisis redux?

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The 19,000-ton nuclear-powered cruiser “Peter the Great” is seen in this June 2003 file photo. Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat battleships. REUTERS/Stringer (RUSSIA)The thought of Russian warships cruising the waters of the Caribbean instinctively revives memories of such Cold War episodes as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Russia is sending a heavily armed nuclear-powered cruiser and other ships, aircraft and troops for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first big manoeuvres in the United States’ self-declared backyard since the end of the Cold War.

Welcome to Israel

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olmert.jpg Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was all smiles a day after police recommended that he face criminal charges in a corruption scandal.

 Declining to answer reporters’s questions, an ebullient Olmert grinned broadly and waxed patriotic as he greeted a jumbo jet-load of new immigrants from the United States.

How well can African elections work?

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By the standards of other recent African elections, the aftermath of Angola’s parliamentary ballot at the weekend has been fairly tame.

But polling station chaos that led to an extra day of voting and accusations of cheating from the opposition badly undermined Angola’s hope that the ballot would set a example for the continent after elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

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