Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Panda-mania rocks Taiwan


By Ralph Jennings

Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan arrived in a city gripped by panda-mania today. You would think David Beckham or Tom Cruise had just flown into Taipei.

Local TV stations announced the arrival of the two giant pandas from China with the rolling headline: “We’re coming!” TV anchors working the story have given viewers across Taiwan every detail imaginable about the four-year-old pandas — from the fruit and corn buns they love to eat to hopes they will mate at the Taipei zoo and produce a cub.

Michael Turton, a widely read English-language blogger in Taiwan, said China had scored a public relations coup by donating the pandas to its political rival across the Taiwan Strait. “Pandas are so non-threatening … They’re so cute and they’re so widely accepted all over the world as a symbol of China. It’s very successful.”

Not long ago, the pandas would probably have flown to Taiwan via Hong Kong. But since Taiwan’s pro-China President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May, once icy ties have warmed and the pandas flew direct from China, courtesy of direct daily air links that took effect last week.

More power-sharing in Africa?


Kenya’s power-sharing government was only born after weeks of election violence that killed 1,300 people. Zimbabwe’s power sharing agreement is yet to bear fruit as southern Africa’s former breadbasket crumbles into economic ruin.

So will power sharing in Central African Republic, where one of Africa’s most forgotten conflicts has been simmering for more than half a decade, fare any better?

from FaithWorld:

Lots of advice for Obama on dealing with Muslims and Islam

President-elect Barack Obama has been getting a lot of advice these days on how to deal with Muslims and Islam. He invited it by saying during his campaign that he either wanted to convene a conference with leaders of Muslim countries or deliver a major speech in a Muslim country "to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular”. But where? when? why? how? Early this month, I chimed in with a pitch for a speech in Turkey or Indonesia.  Some quite interesting comments have come in since then. (Photo: Obama image in Jakarta, 25 Oct 2008/Dadang Tri)

Two French academics, Islam expert Olivier Roy and political scientist Justin Vaisse argued in a New York Times op-ed piece on Sunday that Obama's premise of trying to reconcile the West and Islam is flawed:

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Do Obama’s Afghan plans still make sense post-Mumbai?

The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan by the beginning of next summer, according to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The plan is not unexpected, and from a military point of view is meant to allow U.S. and NATO troops not just to clear out Taliban insurgents but also to bring enough stability to allow economic development, as highlighted in this analysis by Reuters Kabul correspondent Jon Hemming.

But does it still make sense after the Mumbai attacks -- intentionally or otherwise -- sabotaged the peace process between India and Pakistan?

Hu hiccup gives vent to China power speculation


By Benjamin Kang Lim and Simon Rabinovitch

When Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke to the nation this week, an unusual six-second pause may have said more about elite politics in this secretive state than the other 90 minutes of
stolid Communist Party rhetoric. In an address marking 30 years of economic reforms, Hu appeared to lose his place in the middle of a sentence, halting awkwardly for 6.5 seconds — the only such break in his speech and an extremely rare bump for Chinese officials long-practised in flawlessly reading out speeches.

When Hu picked up again, he skipped a chunk of the prepared comments, forming a sentence that appears in none of the official transcripts of his speech, nor any Chinese press report. “One
centre”, he said, then went silent before continuing, “is the lifeline of our Party and our nation.” The official transcript read, “one centre and two basic points are mutually linked,
mutually dependent”, a slogan coined in the 1980s in which “one centre” has a purely economic meaning.

Protesters rule the web in internet backwater Greece


      Greek youths long angry with dim
prospects in a society they see as corrupt
and unfair, lashed out last week in the
country’s most violent and destructive riots
in decades.     Sparked by the Dec. 6 police killing of
a 15-year-old, the protests quickly
travelled through Greek communities and
other sympathisers from Moscow to New York, and rang a warning bell for Europe as the
global crisis starts to take its toll.     The Greek youths’ message moved so fast
over the Web and the
international response was so immediate that
it surprised many in a country seen as the
Internet backwater of Europe.     “They seem to have quickly developed an
alternative, electronic news forum, which
has no limits, no taboos,” wrote commentator
Antonis Karakousis in the major daily To
. “We are obviously living in different times.”     Greek youths appeared to reject
traditional media and set up their own ways
to communicate – internet and SMS messages.     Facebook profiles were quickly set up for the killed
teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The
policeman who shot him has been charged with
murder and ordered jailed pending trial.     Through SMS, students quickly called for
the occupation of university buildings and
gatherings. Sites such as transmitted
their message, mobilised and drew support
for their protests.     “Legal help: what to do if you are
arrested,” is one link on indymedia, while
the site keeps the daily roster of protests
updated to the minute.     “Let’s keep this to our original
reporting, information we collect ourselves
and let’s leave outside what the media
establishment says,” one contributor wrote.     A group of young protesters showed their
contempt for mainstream television by
gathering in the central Monastiraki square
and smashing TV sets. They did not allow
news cameramen to film them.     Another group calmly walked through the
gates of the state television building and
briefly took over the news studio. They came
on the air and silently held up signs
protesting the teenager’s killing and
coverage by the media, which many young
Greeks see as part of the establishment.     “We must not be afraid, we must turn off
our TVs, get out of our homes, continue to
fight, take life into our own hands,” read
pamphlets they handed to employees as they
left the building.     “Young people are shouting ‘No’ to a
miserable present and a dead-end future,”
wrote Yannis Yannarakis in Ta Nea. “And they
are shouting it through the internet.”  

Giving in to Ali Baba


I once paid a cop 30 ringgit (about $10 then) for making an apparently illegal left-hand turn in Kuala Lumpur. Scores of drivers in front of me were also handing over their “instant fines”, discreetly enclosed within the policeman’s ticketing folder. It was days ahead of a major holiday and the cops were collecting their holiday bonus from the public.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim holds a disc he says contains evidence of judge-fixing in Malaysia 

North Korea’s Kim Jong-il: Proof of life


                                                          By Jon Herskovitz

It is not often that I am reminded of Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan in our coverage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.  But I thought of the 2000 movie starring Ryan and Crowe called “Proof of Life”   North Korea this week when  served up pictures of its Dear leader Kim and a communist party newspaper with a clearly marked Tuesday date.

Britain prepares to leave Iraq


BASRA – It may not be the end-game Britain was hoping for when it ventured into Iraq, but it’s the end of the game nonetheless.

By the end of next May, almost exactly six years after 42,000 British troops joined the U.S.-led invasion and overthrew Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Britain’s remaining 4,100 troops will be out of Iraq and his country’s role in the war over.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

And now the Chinese navy in Somali waters…

Chinese naval ships may soon be steaming into the Gulf of  Aden to join a growing fleet of international warships fighting  Somali pirates.

A first probably for a navy that has long confined itself to its own waters, the move is certain to stir interest in the strategic community stretching from New Delhi to Washington.