Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Arrivederci Angela! Merkel stops campaign for summer holiday

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Just imagine the outcry if Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain had suddenly gone off on their own separate two-week vacations to, say, Mexico, just two months before the November election? Irresponsible! Reckless! Shirkers! Those and as well as other unprintable terms might be among the comments hurled their way.

Yet as unfathomable as it may be for candidates in the United States or many other countries to take a long holiday break so close to an election, in Germany it is just as inconceivable for politicians to continue to campaign actively during the summer holiday season — even if the election is just around the corner. Begging for votes while their countrymen are relaxing on the beach is simply verboten for Germans.

That is why Chancellor Angela Merkel will be disappearing on holiday to a secretive location for the next 2-1/2 weeks while her challenger, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has already left the country, spending several weeks away from the campaign trail on holiday in the Italian Alps. Campaigning during the summer holiday would only be counter-productive, political strategists and analysts say, even if the outcome of the Sept. 27 election is wide open.

Germans do indeed take their holidays seriously — just think of the cliche about all those Germans rising before dawn in Mediterranean holiday resorts to reserve the deck chairs by the pool with their towels. Many Germans only laugh at you when you ask what happened to the “German work ethic”? There is even a federal law, the Bundesurlaubsgesetz, that governs every imagineable aspect of leave eligibility and duration. Most Germans get at least six weeks leave each year, which is one of the reasons they they sometimes call themselves Weltmeister (world champions) when it comes to travel — 64 percent take their holidays abroad each year.

Web crackdown spreads

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– David L. Stern covers the former Soviet Union and the Black Sea region for GlobalPost, where this article originally ran. –

With less than six months until it takes over the chairmanship of one of Europe’s flagship human rights organizations, Kazakhstan has thumbed its nose to Western governments and introduced a draconian Internet law.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Escaping history in India and Pakistan

When France and Germany put years of enmity behind them after World War Two, they made a leap of faith in agreeing to entwine their economies so that war became impossible. With their economies now soldered by the euro, it can be easy to forget how deep their mutual distrust once ran - from the Napoleonic wars to the fall of Paris to Prussia in 1871, to the trenches of World War One and the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two.

As India and Pakistan begin yet another attempt to make peace, they face a similar challenge. Can they put aside years of distrust to build on a tentative thaw in relations?

Time to go after the drug money

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Drug violence in Mexico is intensifying even by traffickers’ barbaric standards.

In recent days, heavily armed hitmen launched coordinated attacks on federal police stations in western Mexico and dumped the semi-naked, bloodied bodies of 12 federal agents by a mountain highway, killed two U.S. Mormons in their Mexican community and killed a mayor in a northern ranching town.

Swine flu– too many to count

The World Health Organization, which had been patiently publishing every single confirmed case of swine flu, now finally says there are too many too even try counting. This will ease confusion, as the 94,000 confirmed cases were clearly only the tip of the iceberg:

Click here for WHO’s statement.

And while the pandemic is still fairly mild,  government are not taking chances — and vaccine makers are feeling the strain

NASA finally admits…

NASA officials admit that Hollywood really is behind the video images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping onto the surface of the moon 40 years ago this month. Well, the new video, that is. The new, and improved, digitally-enhanced-so-that-you-can-actually-see-something video. The old video — well, they lost that. Erased it to save money. But it’s OK because the new images are way better.

Click here to see the videos.

There is also some cool audio:

1. As the crew members complete their first orbit of Earth after launch, they talk about the beauty of the planet below [Play]

Swapping homes for hotels

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – Some Americans are swapping homes for motels as the ranks of the homeless swell during the recession, crowding out shelters and forcing cities and states across the country to find new types of housing.

In Massachusetts, a record number of families are being put up in motels due to high unemployment and the rising number of homes going into foreclosure, costing taxpayers $2 million per month but providing a lifeline for desperate families.

Czech presidency gets end-of-term report

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The Czech Republic has got what amounted to a disappointing end-of-term report from the European Parliament.

In a debate this week on the six-month Czech presidency of the European Union, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said that although the first six months of 2009 would go down in EU history as a demanding period, Prague had got through “without major hiccups”.

Cancer and healthcare

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network says one in  four families affected by cancer claims to have put off or delay care in the last year because of cost. Nearly third of cancer patients in current treatment cut pills or skipped doses, in the past year, nearly one-quarter delayed a recommended cancer screening or treatment and 1 out of 5 did not fill a prescription.

Today we met a 38-year-old small business owner whose premiums went up and up as she got treatment for her second bout of breast cancer. Finally, her insurance company pulled the plug entirely — yes that is legal when someone has individual coverage — and she must now pay for all her followup care herself. She gave her members of  Congress an earful…

Turkey gives in on energy demands but wants EU favours

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   The natural gas supplies have not been secured and neither have the 8 billion euros to build the European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline, but one thing the fanfare surrounding the project’s intergovernmental signing ceremony on Monday may point to is improved prospects for Turkey’s European Union membership.

    Turkish newspapers have called Monday’s ceremony ‘the signing of the century’ and have said that Turkey’s cooperation in the long-delayed project might be the way for Ankara to gain ground on its EU bid at a time when Turkey’s European journey has come to all but a standstill.

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