Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

Will Zimbabwe power-share work?

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai became the new prime minister on Wednesday, sworn in by President Robert Mugabe -- his old political rival.

Tsvangirai vowed to rescue the stricken economy and called on the international community to help salvage the economy of Zimbabwe where unemployment is above 90 percent, prices double every day and half the 12 million population need food aid.

The new unity government will also have to grapple with a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 3,500 people, the worst outbreak of the disease in Africa in 15 years. Millions of Zimbabweans who fled the country will be cautious about coming back until they see results.

Foreign investors and Western donors have made it clear money will come only when a new democratic government is formed and bold economic reforms are taken - such as reversing nationalisation policies.

from Africa News blog:

Hu reassures Africa?

If anyone in Africa was worried that the global financial crisis might dim China’s interest in the continent, President Hu Jintao will be visiting this week to give some reassurances - as well as possibly to temper any unrealistic hopes for the amount of assistance to be expected.

As Chris Buckley reported from Beijing, this visit is also about China showing the wider world that it is a responsible power.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghanistan: the Great Name Game

Afghanistan is beginning to accumulate cliches. If it's not "Obama's Vietnam", then it's the "graveyard of empires".  (The British press, never one to be bamboozled by the big picture, says it's the end of bully beef for the troops.)

It is perhaps a measure of how little people really know about Afghanistan after more than seven years of war that such a complex conflict has to be simplified into labels.  Afghanistan's history of defeating the British in the 19th century and the Soviet Union in the 20th century certainly lends itself to dramatic comparisons. But they are not entirely accurate. Britain's failed Afghan campaign in 1838 was not the graveyard of the British empire -- it went on to defeat the Sikhs and rule India for another 100 years.  And the Soviet Union's disastrous occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 may simply have accompanied rather than precipitated the collapse of an empire that had been rotting from within years before Soviet troops reached Kabul. 

Restarting life in Albania after Guantanamo Bay

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Guantanamo Bay prison

By Benet Koleka
Abu Bakkr Qassim, a Uighur from far western China, has seen a number of the world’s more remote corners for a middle aged fruit vendor who is now learning how to make pizzas for a living. He is one of four Uighurs living in Albania since 2006 because they could not stay in the United States nor go to China which sees them as terrorists.

Found innocent of terrorism after three and a half years in the U.S. jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he feels vindicated by President Barack Obama’s decision to close down the notorious prison eventually. “I was happy. First of all, President Obama understood the mistake that happened to us in Guantanamo. We want him to repair the mistake although it is not easy,” said Qassim, 39.

Everybody’s doing it

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Few politicians so far are calling for protectionism.

Among economic and diplomatic policy-makers, openly advocating protectionism is about as socially acceptable as promoting child pornography.

So how to explain the slew of tariff hikes, export subsidies, non-tariff barriers, stimulus packages and bailouts — highlighted in a report at the World Trade Organisation – which all have the effect of slowing imports, boosting exports and generally promoting jobs at home at the expense of competitors?

“Dilemma of Australian bushfires: Defend homes or outrun the flames”.

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 (A bushfire burns through a forest on the outskirts of Labertouche, east of Melbourne on Feb. 7 REUTERS/Mick Tsikas)

    By Mark Bendeich

    No matter how clever we become at predicting disasters, or how quickly we can respond to them, your last and best defence against an Australian bushfire could still turn out to be a good plan and plenty of courage to stick with it.

from Global Investing:

On Bankers and Busing

Bankers are having a rough time of it lately.  It is not just that their companies are collapsing beneath them and their bonuses are the subject of global hate and derision. They also have to put up with the barbs of journalists (who are very familiar with being at the bottom of the popularity pile).

The latest example comes from Tim Dowling, scribbling away for Britain's Guardian newspaper.  Mr Dowling has penned a useful primer for bankers who suddenly find themselves living in the real world.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Tzipi Livni – man of the moment?

jfl_mg_7797-2Sex has rarely been far from centre-stage in an otherwise low-key campaign for Israel's election on Tuesday. The fact that the ruling Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni is a woman has, however, been largely debated by allusion and suggestion, often in a  far from gentlemanly way in the still macho world of Israeli politics. So it's striking then, in the campaign's final days, to see Livni herself, bidding to become the country's first woman leader since Golda Meir in the 1970s, putting the issue front and centre. Take a look at this poster, photographed in Jerusalem by my colleague Jerry Lampen.  It reads, in French, "Tzipi Livni - Man of the Moment", or perhaps "The Right Man for the Job". It looks like a direct response to repeated attacks from right-wing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu especially that "she" is not ready to lead a country facing threats on numerous fronts. "She's not up to the job," runs one ad from Netanyahu's Likud party. It shows Livni, slumped, with her head in her hands.

On Tuesday at 10 p.m.  (2000 GMT) we should know if Livni has been able to turn around Netanyahu's opinion poll lead. Even if she does, it is not guaranteed that she can form a coalition government. The reason this election is being held over a year early is because Livni, taking over from the corruption-hit Ehud Olmert, was unable to cobble together a workable coalition. As my colleague Jeffrey Heller had predicted when she took over her party's leadership, many believed the former soldiers running the other leading parties found it hard to accept her. Some saw the refusal of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party to join her cabinet as a reflection of religious sexism. That wasn't the official reason. But Livni, a secular denizen of liberal Tel Aviv, did go out of her way, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to appeal to religious tradition. She donned monochrome clothing and swapped her favoured pant suits for long skirts when meeting Shas leaders. Even so, the Orthodox press would not even print her picture. They would airbrush her out of group photos. Or, as for other women, they might photoshop her into "a tree, or something", one journalist at an ultra-Orthodox paper told my colleague Dan Williams.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

A yawning gap

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With just two days to go before Israel's general election, opinion polls show more than a quarter of the electorate is still undecided.

Call it the yawning gap in an election race that's largely been one big snooze.

Israelis could be forgiven for failing to be energised by a lacklustre campaign waged by familiar faces and interrupted by a 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip. Political positions are well-known and well-entrenched.

What will Biden say? I know, Sarkozy says

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To many of the hundreds of defence experts, heads of state, ministers and journalists at the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s speech was the keenly awaited highlight of the three-day gathering in Bavaria. Biden, on his first trip to Europe in his new role, was expected to lay out the foreign policy priorities of President Barack Obama’s administration to European allies, including Washington’s future policy on Afghanistan and Iran.

But well before Biden took the stage in the plush Munich hotel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the audience that he, at least, was already in the know about Biden’s speech. As Biden watched on from the front row, Sarkozy deviated from his speech on France’s policies towards NATO and the defence priorities of the European Union, and said with a smirk: ”I already know what the vice-president will say … because he sent me his manuscript in advance. “That’s part of good management,” Sarkozy said to loud laughter from the audience. Biden smiled, listening to Sarkozy’s comments over headphones through a translator.

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