Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Post card from Ukraine

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This is one in a series of post cards from Reuters reporters across Europe, Middle East and Africa

Ukraine’s famous instability, verbose politicians and haphazard legislation present the investor – and the journalist – many red herrings. While talk of impeachment of President Viktor Yushchenko ring alarm bells, constitutionally it is nonsense. As CDSs go off the rails, Ukraine’s sovereign debt repayments are small and manageable. As Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko calls for the central bank governor’s blood, he is still at the helm. And while Yushchenko and Tymoshenko fight like Itchy and Scratchy, the country – to the amazement of some – has yet to collapse. 

Investors inside Ukraine have long known this and with good lawyers have managed to get on with business as the economy driven by steel and grain exports boomed at 7 percent annually since 2000. They follow political events constantly but are less quick to judge, because often their significance appears later or in fact does not exist. Those outside Ukraine overestimate the consistency of its politics. None of the three major parties – Tymoshenko’s, Yushchenko’s or opposition leader Yanukovich’s can be branded liberal, conservative, socialist, pro or anti Russian. Populism and pragmatism – usually at the last minute — are the key policies.

Now a deep economic recession is upon the former Soviet republic and presidential and parliamentary elections will decide the fate of the country. So what to expect? Not revolutions certainly, but as the country gears up to the polls, expect patience to wear thin amongst the population. Expect a dirty campaign allowing for new faces to appear that will get nowhere in the elections but be included in top jobs because of their fresh credentials. Expect continual constitutional change that may settle the question of who has real power — the president or prime minister.  Expect Tymoshenko to put up a fierce fight and Yushchenko to wither away. And expect Russia’s heavy gaze on this all.  

Vietnamese officers visit U.S. aircraft carrier as China celebrates navy anniversary

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Vietnamese defence officials flew out to visit the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis near Con Dao island off the Mekong Delta coast on Wednesday, marking a small but meaningful milestone in Vietnam-U.S. relations. It was the first time Communist Vietnamese defence personnel had ever been on a U.S. carrier, according to Vietnamese media. They even got to witness an F/A-18F take off an land.

The visit was a sign of how much some things have changed with time – and how little others have.

from Africa News blog:

Zuma sweeps in

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It was South Africa’s most exciting election campaign for a long time, enlivened by the split in the African National Congress and the personality of Jacob Zuma, the man who is now pretty much assured of becoming president despite the best efforts of plenty of people within his party as well as the opposition.

So far, the results don’t look too different from the pre-poll forecasts. An ANC victory was never in doubt and the battle was as much as anything about whether the party could keep its two-thirds majority in parliament, which lets it change the constitution and further entrench its power. That was still in doubt after early figures.

Are the Palestinians getting a hearing at the UN racism conference?

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Although the U.N.’s racism conference in Geneva has been dominated by Middle East politics, Palestinian rights groups say Palestinians have effectively been silenced.On the one hand tough rules by the conference organisers prevented Palestinian NGOs from holding “side events”, they say. On the other hand Monday’s controversial speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, slamming Israel as a “totally racist government” founded “on the pretext of Jewish suffering”, has distracted attention from the issues that actually affect Palestinians.

 

  “One thing that we have noticed in this conference is that there has been a concerted effort to silence the voices of the Palestinian presence and raising the Palestinian issue,” said Wisam Ahmad of Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based advocacy group.

Post card from Prague

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This is one in a series of post cards from Reuters correspondents across Europe, Middle East and Africa, recounting how the financial crisis is playing out in the capitals where they are based.

The Czechs appear to be riding out this crisis but it’s a matter of where you live.

EU stumbles over UN racism conference

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The Czech Republic issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at a U.N. conference on racism in which he called Israel a “cruel and repressive racist regime”.

The statement by the country holding the EU presidency was meant to underline the bloc’s unity but highlighted divisions on the issue.

Post card from Turkey

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This is part of a series of post cards from Reuters reporters from across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Political risk is set to fall in Turkey if the government plays its cards right

Turkey’s ruling party posted its worst election result since 2002 in March local polls as voters penalised the AK Party and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan for failing to address a weakening economy, corruption allegations and a perception that the government was losing touch with voters. In a rare move, Erdogan, a tough politician who keeps tight control of levers of power in Turkey, admitted his party had underestimated the global crisis and promised to focus on the economy, including speeding up finalising a deal with the IMF. He also promised to reach out to the opposition over EU reforms. If he sticks to his promises, the economy will begin to improve, but probably not fully until 2010, and political risk will fall.

Post card from Lebanon

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This is one of a series of post cards by Reuters reporters looking at how the financial crisis is playing out for ordinary people across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

On an Easter break in south Lebanon with visitors from Britain, we see scores of election posters lining the highway ahead of the June 7 parliamentary poll — the first big test of stability here since a Qatari-brokered deal last year calmed an internal crisis that had dragged Lebanon towards renewed civil war. Vague slogans on the slickly produced adverts promise change, democracy, resistance (to Israel) and much else beside. But the election will change little. Power might shift a bit
between Lebanon’s dominant alliances — one backed by the West and Saudi Arabia, the other by Syria and Iran. But voters have scant choice as the sectarian power-sharing system allows party leaders to do deals that stitch up most seats in advance.

Boycott of U.N. racism conference

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A United Nations conference on racism is being boycotted by the United States and many of its allies.

 

They fear the meeting in Geneva will single out Israel for criticism. A previous racism conference in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, was marred by anti-Semitic street protests and attempts to pass a resolution equating Zionism with racism, prompting the United States and Israel to walk out.

In Peru, the first man might be an American

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The American husband of Peruvian lawmaker Keiko Fujimori has become a citizen of Peru, an aide to the legislator said on Monday as she plans a run for the presidency in 2011.

Her father, Alberto Fujimori, 70, was sentenced to 25 years in prison this month for human rights abuses, but Keiko is the already leading the race.

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