Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Politics and pop culture mesh in Gaza conflict

Photo

Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza has made headlines around the world.

But beyond the raw realities of war — more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead — the three-week conflict has also created a peculiar intersection with music, literature and cinema, in the surreal way that wars sometimes do.

The latest away-from-the-headlines development is that Israel’s entry for the Eurovision song contest, the annual pan-European song-fest that pits some 40 nations against one another, is suddenly under pressure because of the war.

Israel, which has won the competition before and takes it very seriously, is hoping to enter a singing duo — Mira Awad, a Christian Arab Israeli, and Achinoam Nini, better known as Noa, a Jewish Israeli of Yemenite descent — for the event to be held in Moscow in May.

from Africa News blog:

Africa still crying for freedom?

Photo

“Sub-Saharan Africa: Year of Regression”. That was the heading used by U.S.-based rights group Freedom House in its survey of political freedom in the world published this week.

Of course the Freedom House survey pointed to the coups in Guinea and Mauritania as well as the situation in Zimbabwe, whose elections were condemned by many countries and where the crisis shows no sign of lessening, but there were plenty of other names on the list too:

Hudson River plane crash: Breaking news from the office window

Photo

Passengers stand on the wings of a U.S. Airways plane after it landed in the Hudson River in New York, January 15, 2009.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Reuters bureau in Times Square has a striking view of the Hudson River and New Jersey, but on Thursday the scenery became an afterthought, as a US Airways jet splashed down in the frigid waters right before our eyes.

“I was on the phone when I saw a big splash in the middle of the river and realized it was a plane,” said Reuters correspondent Scott DiSavino. “I put the phone down and yelled, ‘Hey, a plane just crashed into the Hudson River!’”

Ban Ki-moon, Gaza and the little plane that could…

Photo

It’s not easy being the secretary-general of the United Nations.

For three weeks, the South Korean U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has been urging Israel and Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip to stop their fighting.  He has described himself as “deeply alarmed” and said he “deplores” the latest war to erupt in the Middle East. Ban said it has caused an “unbearable” number of casualties – over 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have died since the war began on Dec. 27.

But his appeals – backed by a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution urging an immediate ceasefire – have fallen on deaf ears.  The Israeli offensive has intensified and Hamas militants have continued to fire rockets at southern Israel.

Twittering from the front-lines

Photo

Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?

It lives on at www.googlebattle.com where you can enter two search terms, say ‘Lennon vs. McCartney’ or ‘Left vs. Right’, and let the internet pick a winner by the number of search hits each word gets.

Gaza war – Early test for Obama?

Photo

The slow pace of talks between Hamas and Egyptian mediators on Cairo’s proposal for a Gaza ceasefire is raising speculation in Israel over whether the Islamist group is playing for time, hoping to get a better deal once Barack Obama is sworn in as U.S. president on Tuesday.

Israel also has been in no rush to call off the offensive it began on Dec. 27 with the declared aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks on its southern towns.

German rivals trade smiles, not barbs

Photo

 

German Chancellor Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice  Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier will battle each other in September’s federal election. But on Tuesday, it was hard to imagine the German odd couple campaigning against each other just a few months from now. The leaders of the two rival parties, locked in their loveless grand coalition since 2005, sat next to each other for 90 minutes, smiling politely as they jointly defended a new economic stimulus package their two ruling parties welded together.

“The campaign will start early enough,” said Steinmeier, who also is Germany’s foreign minister. “What we have presented here shows that the parties in this coalition act responsibly.” Merkel, nodding approvingly in response to several of  Steinmeier’s “we’re-on-the-same-team” type of answers at the nationally televisioned news conference, added: “This is a good package. Everybody has made their contribution.” 

from Global Investing:

What a web we’ve woven

Photo

Thanks are due to the World Economic Forum for clearly  explaining the interlinked web of misery currently facing the world.  Make what you will of the details in the graphic below -- and if you can, please do let us know! -- but the overall impact really does spell it all out.

This Vonnegutesque cat's cradle, incidently, comes from the forum's new report, Global Risks 2009, released ahead of its annual meeting in Davos between January 28 and February 1. It shows an interlinked world facing a monumental series of interlinked risk, some of which  investors are having to confront for the first time.  Sheana Tambourgi, head of WEF's global risk network, explains the report in this video:

from Africa News blog:

Selling Africa by the pound

Photo

The announcement by a U.S. investor that he has a deal to lease a swathe of South Sudan for farmland has again focused attention on foreigners trying to snap up African agricultural land.

A few months ago, South Korea’s Daweoo Logistics said it had secured rights to plant corn and palm oil in an even bigger patch of Madagascar - although local authorities said the deal was not done yet. Investors from Asia and the Gulf are looking elsewhere in Africa too.

from Africa News blog:

What next for Jacob Zuma?

Photo

A court ruling that effectively reinstates corruption charges against African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma could hardly have come at a worse moment for him and the party that has dominated South Africa since the end of apartheid.

There appears little doubt that Zuma will be the party's presidential candidate ahead of elections expected around April, but the ANC now faces its toughest electoral test yet with hefty graft charges hanging over its man.

  •