Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

The kinder, gentler side of North Korean communists

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                                 By Jack Kim
North and South Koreans have been divided for more than 50 years by one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders. When we come into contact, it is almost always in small and carefully arranged visits.

I was a part of a South Korean group that recently spent four days in the North. Over the course of countless hours of contact with the North Korean minders assigned to our group, conversation turned from heated discussion over international politics and inter-Korean troubles to nationalism and sports. 

We had been told by the officials from the group in the South that arranged the trip to avoid any discussion of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il because this highly sensitive subject would invariably lead to awkward discussions and raise tension.

But there was enough time to get a glimpse of the softer, human side of North Korean officials who were supposed to be tough, propaganda-conscious apparatchiks armed with skills to respond to any kind of challenge to the communist state’s leadership or its ideology.

Ice cream and football on the road to Damascus

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    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband hopes his Middle East trip will help nudge Syria away from supporting the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, but on a visit to Damascus he let slip that other Syrian allegiances were troubling him.

    “People on the streets wanted to talk about politics but also about football,” he told reporters after a tour in which he sampled ice cream from century-old shop in the heart of the ancient capital.

Gangland violence in Israel. A mark of progress?

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A beeper buzzed on the newsdesk of the Jerusalem bureau with a stark message in Hebrew: “Preliminary report – blast on bus on Namir Road in Tel Aviv”.

The information came from the Zaka emergency services, whose ultra-Orthodox Jewish volunteers were usually the first on the scene of suicide bombings on Israeli commuter buses during a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. Their job: to collect body parts for burial.

What should the world do about Somalia?

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Islamist militants imposing a strict form of Islamic law are knocking on the doors of Somalia’s capital, the country’s president fears his government could collapse — and now pirates have seized a super-tanker laden with crude oil heading to the United States from Saudi Arabia.

Chaos, conflict and humanitarian crises in Somalia are hardly new. It’s a poor, dry nation where a million people live as refugees and 10,000 civilians have been killed in the Islamist-led insurgency of the last two years. A fledgling peace process looks fragile. Any hopes an international peacekeeping force will soon come to the rescue of a country that has become the epitome of anarchic violence are optimistic, at best.

Greater freedom in Pyongyang than Seoul?

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                                                           By Jack Kim
For about eight straight years I’ve been covering North Korea, one of the world’s most closed countries with a human rights record that is roundly criticised as one of the worst on the globe.

So it came as a surprise when a North Korean “guide” said on my seventh visit to the communist state that when it comes to restricting freedom of movement, South Korea’s spy agency makes life tougher for North Korean visitors to the capitalist neighbour.

from Global Investing:

Never Mind The Bankers

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Malcolm McLaren, the man who gave us The Sex Pistols, has found the real punks -- bankers. In an interview with Britain's The Observer, he says punk was not just about spiky hair and ripped t-shirts.

"It was all about destruction, and the creative potential within that. It turns out that the bankers may have been the biggest punks of all."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

“Plan C” – Pakistan turns to the IMF.

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Pakistan has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $7.6 billion emergency loan to stave off a balance of payments crisis. 

Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, said the IMF had endorsed Pakistan's own strategy to bring about structural adjustments. The agreement is expected to encourage other potential donors, who are gathering in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a "Friends of Pakistan" conference.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Israel and India vs Obama’s regional plans for Afghanistan

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Will Israel and India -- the first the United States' closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest -- emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.

Baghdad Traffic Woes

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By Aws Qusay

   

I’ve long since told my family to stop phoning me in a panic
every evening when they don’t know where I am.

 

I’m not dead, I’m in traffic.

 

I live just 15 km from the Reuters office in Baghdad. But
nowadays, with the Iraqi capital divided into countless
mini-cities by concrete slabs and roadblocks, my commute across
town usually takes two and a half hours, sometimes three.
Traffic barely moves at all.

from FaithWorld:

Bali bombers: martyrs or monsters?

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Did the "Bali bombers" end up as martyrs or monsters? That's what many must be wondering after the three young men convicted of the Bali nighclub bombings in October 2002 were executed in the dead of the night last weekend in an orange grove on Java. (Photo: Funeral of bomber Imam Samudra, 11 Nov 2008/Supri)

The run-up to the executions turned into a media circus. The three men from the Jemaah Islamiah group -- Imam Samudra, Mukhlas, and Amrozi -- were interviewed extensively by domestic and foreign media before they faced a firing squad last Sunday. They were defiant to the end, calling for more attacks like the one they perpetrated that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists. They had, in fact, become media celebrities and the public was fascinated with them. But as monsters or martyrs?

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