Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

The cash cost of war










We often hear of the human cost of war. We don't often see the cash cost laid out so baldly as in the price list that went with my colleague Abdi Sheikh's feature from Mogadishu on the arms market that thrives in the city amid Somalia's tragedy.

Among popular weapons, a 120 mm mortar costs $700, plus $55 for each mortar bomb. A 23 mm anti-aircraft gun (truck mounted), fetches a hefty $20,000.

Pistols range from $400 to $1,000 according to condition and country of origin. An Indian-made AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle costs $140. Better quality versions from North Korea cost $600 and the Russian original costs $400. Hand-grenades go for $25 each, landmines $100.

Huge weapons systems, such as nuclear missiles, are the stuff of international geopolitics. But in Africa at least, the weapons that are killing people on a daily basis in places like Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur are more modest in scale and can be bought at a relatively low cost.

EU vote result adds to Turkey’s membership woes


The results of European Parliament election have caused deep concern in European Union candidate Turkey, where gains made by conservatives and some far-right parties have been read as a  clear win by the “No to Turkey” camp” and thus a blow to Ankara’s already troubled EU membership quest.


Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, Turkish  Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the vote as a “futile effort by those who cannot digest Turkey’s enormity and strategic importance”. He said politicians who vilified Turkey to win votes in the short term would be judged by history.

from UK News:

Labour MPs reprieve humble Brown – for now

Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meetings are usually drab affairs. The leader turns up, listens to a few grumbles from backbench MPs, a few reporters hang around outside hoping to grab a half-decent quote and in the end a Labour apparatchik puts a rose-tinted spin on proceedings.

Not so on Monday night, one of those rare "crunch time" events for a party leader that creates such a frenzy inside and outside the venue. Parliament's committee room 14 was so full one MP of robust stature tried to force not one, but two doors in an attempt to get in, and ended up with a sore shoulder. Veteran party member Greville (now Lord) Janner, a member of the Magic Circle, gave up trying to get in and instead entertained reporters with a couple of magic tricks. His skills may have been of more use on the other side of the door.

Talk-show stumbles add to Merkel challenger’s woes


After his Social Democrats scored their worst-ever result in European elections on Sunday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier might have thought things couldn’t get much worse. But then the man who hopes to beat German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September’s federal election sat down for a late night television talk show. During the one-hour broadcast, a tense-looking Steinmeier tried to answer the growing number of critics who say he lacks the charisma for the top job — but to many, he only ended up confirming that view. 

Breaking from his normally polite, soft-spoken manner, Steinmeier frequently interrupted presenter Anne Will. When Will presented him with a video clip of SPD activists questioning his ability to energise the party, Steinmeier tried to sell his ”seriousness” as a vote-winning virtue. Perhaps the oddest moment came at the very end, when an unemployed man from eastern Germany complained about his struggles to find work. After quizzing the gas fitter about his search, Steinmeier announced that he had “two or three ideas” about jobs in the man’s region and promised to personally take charge of finding him a job.  To derisive chuckles, his spokesman was asked at a regular government news conference on Monday whether Germany’s other 3.5 million jobless could count on the SPD candidate to personally sort out their work woes. No, the spokesman said, shifting uneasily in his chair: “The situation yesterday was very special.” 

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan renews calls for Kashmir peace deal

One of the more intriguing reports about Pakistan under former president Pervez Musharraf was that it had come close to a deal with India on Kashmir. The tentative agreement failed to see the light of day after Musharraf became embroiled in a row over the judiciary which eventually forced him to quit. His successor, President Asif Ali Zardari, then renewed calls for peace with India, stressing the economic gains of increased trade ties and even offering to overturn Pakistan's nuclear doctrine by offering to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons. Then came last November's attack on Mumbai, blamed by India on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, and all talk of peace was off.  India quashed any suggestion a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would help bring peace to South Asia, insisting that linking Kashmir with the Mumbai attacks would reward acts of terrorism.

Three developments this week pushed Kashmir back onto the agenda.

In the Kashmir Valley itself, protests erupted over the alleged rape and murder of two Kashmiri women.  Residents said the women, aged 17 and 22, were abducted, raped and killed by security forces. Indian authorities denied the killing and said the women drowned in a stream.

Should voting be compulsory in European Parliament election?


As people across the European Union vote in a European
Parliament election
, is it perhaps time to consider making voting in each country compulsory by law?

The build-up to the election has been dominated by talk of voter apathy and how low the turnout will be at the polls. This has drowned out discussion of policies and how to bring about changes in government.

Berlusconi vs foreign media


It is always surprising that, for a media mogul, Silvio Berlusconi has had such a fraught relationship with the foreign press. The mutual dislike has escalated in recent weeks as the unwelcome attention of the foreign and domestic media has focused on the 72-year-old prime minister’s relationship with a Naples teenager.
Now the prime minister and his aides repeatedly accuse the foreign press of waging a campaign against him at the instigation of the left-wing press in Italy, while the Berlusconi family paper Il Giornale makes more targeted attacks on foreign correspondents.
The latest to be struck off his Christmas Card list — he has long been in dispute with The Economist which called him “unfit” to run Italy – are The Times, Financial Times and Independent of London, France’s Le Figaro, Germany’s Die Welt and Spain’s El Pais, which has just released photos of topless women at a poolside party at Berlusconi’s Villa Certosa mansion in Sardinia — photos which Berlusconi has so far managed to prevent being published in Italy. All of these papers have recently published articles and editorials that are highly critical of the one-year-old Berlusconi government. The FT — not exactly a notorious left-wing organ — called him “a ruthless man and “a danger, in the first place to Italy, and a malign example to all”. The Times capped a series of pieces with an editorial entitled “The Clown’s Mask Slips” and El Pais said the latest scandal, regarding the use of state flights to transport guests to the party in Sardinia, “leaves Berlusconi naked, not as a citizen, but as a politician”.
Initially saying it would “laugh off” this criticism, the Italian government then went on the offensive and portray such pieces as an insult to the entire country.
The government’s real ire, however, is reserved for The Times, which is owned by News Corp and Sky TV owner Rupert Murdoch. Berlusconi depicts it as a vendetta over his dispute over a rise on VAT for pay-TV with Sky.
Cabinet ministers have rushed to his support, with Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi telling Il Giornale this week that “behind every international organisation that speaks out against Italy and behind every hostile foreign press article, we must always look for an Italian or Italians”. He accused the foreign press of attacking Italy “for fun … a vice typical of the radical communist left which has no sense of national interest”.
What is perhaps most unusual about Berlusconi’s response — apart from the interesting idea of a leftist plot involving the FT and Murdoch — is that it reacts so loudly and at such a high level to foreign media articles. It is hard to imagine any other prime minister or president of a G8 country responding in person, and so angrily, to a foreign newspaper piece.
This irritability comes at a difficult time for Berlusconi when his high standing in polls and likely strong showing in the European elections contrasts with media scrutiny of his private life, prompted by his wife’s divorce request and her comments about him “frequenting minors” and, enigmatically, being “not well”. The sense of angst is magnified by Berlusconi himself raising the spectre of 1994, when his first government suffered setbacks in the form of a court case and was then toppled by his own allies. Berlusconi is using words like “subversion” when he talks about magistrates investigating him in various cases including, most recently, the fuss over the Sardinian party.
It is not all bad news for Berlusconi in the foreign press: the New York Times ran a story about plans to nominate him for the Nobel prize — and helpfully provided the website of the committee trying to put him up for the honour.
Do you think the foreign press is unfair on Berlusconi and/or Italy? Is it being influenced by “leftists” in Italy? How should the Italian government respond to critical media coverage?

from FaithWorld:

Islamic tone, interfaith touch in Obama’s speech to Muslim world

obama-speech-baghdadIt started with "assalaamu alaykum" and ended with "may God's peace be upon you." Inbetween, President Barack Obama dotted his speech to the Muslim world with Islamic terms and references meant to resonate with his audience. The real substance in the speech were his policy statements and his call for a "new beginning" in U.S. relations with Muslims, as outlined in our trunk news story. But the new tone was also important and it struck a chord with many Muslims who heard the speech, as our Middle East Special Correspondent Alistair Lyon found. Not all, of course -- you can find positive and negative reactions here. (Photo: Iraqi in Baghdad watches Obama's speech, 4 June 2009/Mohammed Ameen)

Among Obama's Islamic touches were four references to the Koran (which he always called the Holy Koran), his approving mention of the scientific, mathematical and philosophical achievements of the medieval Islamic world and his citing of multi-faith life in Andalusia. These are standard elements that many Islam experts -- Muslims and non-Muslims -- mention in speeches at learned conferences, but it's not often that you hear an American president talking about them.

Democracy “foot soldier” craves Solidarity ethos 20 years on


    Unlike millions of Poles who have flocked to Western Europe in the past few years in search of jobs, Jan Malachowski came to Norway in 1986 seeking political asylum and safety from Poland’s communist regime.

    But like many of his compatriots, Malachowski will not celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland’s June 4, 1989 election, which ushered in democracy in the Soviet Union’s backyard and helped pave the way for the collapse of the Berlin Wall five months later.

European Parliament campaign gets tough


By Caroline Linton

The gloves are off in the run-up to this week’s European Parliament election

The Party of European Socialists (PES) has published a list of 11 rival candidates it describes as terrible and invites readers to complete the list by adding a 12th candidate of his or her choice. The PES’ centre-right rivals, the European People’s Party (EPP), has hit back by calling it ”cheap populism”.