Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

Will Bashir warrant worsen war?

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has seen off other challenges in almost 20 years in power and there is no sign that he is going to give in to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Some supporters of the court's move hope it will eventually persuade Sudan's politicians to hand over their leader in a palace coup, end the festering conflict in Darfur and do more to repair relations with the West.

But many signs point in the other direction, turning Bashir further towards allies such as Russia and China as he strengthens his hold on power.

Some believe the court’s decision could worsen the fighting in Darfur because rebel movements will be emboldened and because Khartoum will feel that there is no longer any point in trying to pander to the West.

Location still counts in central and eastern Europe

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Poles and Czechs, their economies still relatively robust  despite global recession, are up in arms about what they see as international investors’ tendency to tar them with the same brush as their more troubled neighbours such as Hungary, Ukraine and Latvia.

But if history is any guide, investors are unlikely to be impressed, at least in the shorter term.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Has Pakistan become the central front?

In a report released late last month, the U.S. Atlantic Council think tank warned that the ramifications of state failure in Pakistan would be far graver than those in Afghanistan, with regional and global impact. "With nuclear weapons and a huge army, a population over five times that of Afghanistan and with an influential diaspora, Pakistan now seems less able, without outside help, to muddle through its challenges than at any time since its war with India in 1971."

The report, co-sponsored by Senator John Kerry and urging greater U.S. aid, said time was running out to stabilise Pakistan, with action required within months. It's not even been two weeks since that report was released, and already events in Pakistan have taken a dramatic turn for the worse - from the confrontation between President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Tuesday's attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore.

PLAYING WITH FIRE — Life in the shadow of an erupting volcano

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    You’re having breakfast and the earth starts to shudder. Outside, a column of volcanic ash soars miles into the air. Is this the big one that sends millions of tonnes of ash and molten rock crashing down to vaporize what is left of a volcano-ravaged town?
    With Chile’s Chaiten volcano in deepest Patagonia still erupting 9 months after stirring to life for the first time in thousands of years, ripping a hole through the middle of the picturesque town in its shadow, residents like mechanic Cesar Barria Umanzor are running the gauntlet daily.
    Looking at the devastation wrought by the volcano when it erupted last May sending ash 20 miles (32 km) into the stratosphere, you don’t have to be a volcano expert to realize the town is a write-off — especially given true experts warn the volcano’s cone could continue to collapse as it did last month, potentially smothering the remains of the town.
    With the volcano 6 miles (10 km) from the town, residents reckon they would have around 7 minutes to get out of the way if there is a major eruption. But where to? With the road out in places, that leaves jumping into the sea or a scramble uphill along a scree track.
    Houses swept off their foundations as a torrent of ash redrew the course of a river last year lie buried up to their rafters in debris at haphazard angles.  Children’s toys are strewn abandoned in the dirt months on.
    The government has decided to move the town wholesale 6 miles up the road. But not everyone will move.
    “I’m not afraid. I want to stay here. I built this house from scratch. I started out with one nail, denied my kids candy when they were young to pay for it, and now the government just want me to walk away? Well I won’t,” Umanzor said.
    He and his family are among a few dozen die-hard residents who vow to stay put, despite the fact there is no running water and no electricity.
    With no cars to fix, Umanzor is instead using his time to work on energy self-sufficiency. He has a diesel generator, but the authorities will only give fuel to emergency services.
    So he has connected a series of tractor batteries to a transformer to generate current and is now using hoses to connect a homemade water-wheel to a nearby stream to recharge them. Those batteries kept my laptop going. To read more, click on http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN26229857

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan under siege: cricket becomes a target

"Everything is officially going to hell." The verdict of a reader quoted by All Things Pakistan said perhaps better than anyone else why the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore marked a defining moment in Pakistan's agonising descent into chaos.

Six Sri Lankan cricketers and their British assistant coach were wounded when gunmen attacked their bus as it drove under police escort to the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.  Five policemen were killed.

Best reads of February

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Exotic animals trapped in net of Mexican drug trade - From the live snakes that smugglers stuff with packets of cocaine to the white tigers drug lords keep as exotic pets, rare animals are being increasingly sucked into Mexico’s deadly narcotics trade.

End of an era for the Amazon’s turbulent priests - They avoid taking buses, make sure friends know their schedules, and rarely go out when it’s dark. For the three foreign-born Roman Catholic bishops under death threat in Brazil’s northeastern state of Para, speaking out against social ills that plague this often-lawless area at the Amazon River’s mouth has come at a price.

Drugs fuel turmoil in West Africa

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“Nino” Vieira’s past as an old soldier was never far from the surface. It can have surprised few in Guinea-Bissau that the old coup maker’s death came at the hands of troops who turned against him in a country perpetually on the edge of failure because of military squabbles driven by centuries-old ethnic rivalries and the newer influence of drug smuggling cartels.

Covering the campaign for Guinea-Bissau’s first multiparty election in 1994, I found President Joao Bernardo Vieira far from being the most talkative of politicians. Sometimes actions said more. After one campaign stop, and in view of attendant dignitaries, Nino grabbed a military aide by the ear after he had caused offence and twisted it until he squealed in pain.

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