Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Raw Japan:

Watching the giants fall

Some elections count more than others, and never more than when a longstanding dominant party is sent packing. I've been lucky enough to witness turning points in four countries on two continents.

France, India, Italy, now Japan -- all have rejected one-party dominance for the rough and tumble of alternating majorities. In each case, I was fortunate to behold history.

JAPAN-ELECTION/Japan's election on Sunday marked the end of an era that started not long after World War Two and saw Japan rise from the ashes of defeat to a global economic power. Japan's revival took root in an iron triangle locking the Liberal Democratic Party, bureaucrats and Japanese industry.

Now the LDP is tasting the same bitter fruit as paramount parties in other countries whose voters decided a few decades in power for one party were enough. The circumstances in each country were different, but the democratic impulse was similar and the result much the same.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistani Taliban’s new chief:more ambitious, more ruthless?

The first big suicide bombing in Pakistan this week since the slaying of Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S.-missile strike had a particularly nasty edge to it.

The attack in Torkham, a post on the main route for moving supplies to NATO and American forces in Afghanistan, took place just before dusk, as a group of tribal police officers prepared to break the Ramadan fast on the lawn outside their barracks.

German state elections: Live

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10 p.m. - So it’s a black eye for Merkel and her conservative party four weeks before the federal election with the likely loss of power in two of three states that went to the polls on Sunday. But will it make a difference for the federal election on Sept. 27? Will Steinmeier’s SPD, now in the driver’s seat to win state offices from the CDU for the first time since 2001, be able to take advantage of the momentum? Will the CDU start to get nervous again after squandering big leads in last month of the 2002 and 2005 federal elections? September could be an exciting month in Germany.

 

9:50 p.m.  Bild newspaper’s Nikolaus Blome writes in a column for Monday’s early editions: “It was an earthquake kicking off the hot phase of the national campaign…The CDU has been spoiled by its past success but now has it in writing that the Sept. 27 election is far from decided.”

Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, the world’s most violent city?

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By Julian CardonaCiudad Juarez, a Mexican town on the U.S. border where daylight murders and beheaded bodies have become the norm, could be the world’s most violent city.

With 130 murders for every 100,000 residents per year on average last year, the city of 1.6 million people is more violent than the Venezuelan capital Caracas, the U.S. city of New Orleans and Colombia’s Medellin. That is according to a study by the Mexican non-profit Citizen Council for Public Security and Justice, which presented its report to Mexico’s security minister at a conference this week.

The fight between rival drug cartels over Ciudad Juarez’s local drug market and smuggling routes into the United States broke out at the start of last year and continues to intensify.Reliable global crime statistics are hard to pin down and a study last year by Foreign Policy Magazine placed Caracas as the world’s top murder capital, also with 130 murders per 100,000 residents. (The Mexican study disputes that and puts the Caracas figure at 96).But Ciudad Juarez’s rising murder rate, currently at about 250 per month, appears to put it well ahead of other notorious world crime capitals such as South Africa’s Cape Town, Moscow, Baghdad, and Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, according to the Mexican and Foreign Policy studies.In fact, in Ciudad Juarez during the first day of the conference where the Mexican study was presented, eight people were murdered in the city’s streets, including a prosecutor, a lawyer, two policewomen, a clown performer and a gardener.Ciudad Juarez, a manufacturing city across from El Paso, Texas, already has a stained history with the unsolved murders of hundreds of young women in the 1990s.Perhaps most worryingly is not that 10,000 troops and elite police stationed there have failed to stop the drug violence, but that local officials say they have everything under control.Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz says the city’s fight against drug violence is “a successful process that the world can learn from.” Chihuahua state Governor Jose Reyes Baez, who has long bemoaned the media focus on drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, says that troops can gradually leave as newly-trained police take over. The army denies any scaling back in its deployment.

from The Great Debate UK:

Ghosts of Germany’s communist past return for election

kirschbaum_e- Erik Kirschbaum is a Reuters correspondent in Berlin. -

Will the party that traces its roots to Communist East Germany's SED party that built the Berlin Wall soon be in power in a west German state?

Or is the rise of the far-left "Linke" (Left party) in western Germany to the brink of its first role as a coalition partner in a state government with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) simply a political fact-of-life now so many years after the Wall fell and the two Germanys were reunited?

North Korea tries fast food. Juche Burgers for the masses?

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There are no McDonald’s, Starbucks or KFC joints in reclusive North Korea, but there is the Samthaesong Soft Drink Restaurant, which is the North’s take on fast food complete with waffles on the menu. The communist state, which has its “juche” ideal of self-reliance as a guiding principal, said the restaurant offers the finest fast food in the land made from home-grown ingredients.

Even though the restaurant will serve the masses in Pyongyang, most North Koreans outside the capital struggle to find enough to eat in a country that battles chronic food shortages.

from Raw Japan:

Japan two-party system — long in arriving

Observers of Japanese politics who have long thought the country was ripe for a real two-party system are watching Sunday's election with a dual sense of incredulity -- surprise that it has taken so long to oust the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and surprise that it finally looks like happening.

Media surveys show the decade-old opposition Democratic Party is set to win the poll for parliament's powerful lower house -- and probably by a landslide, ushering in party leader Yukio Hatoyama at the head of a government pledged to spend more on consumers and workers than the companies that benefited most from LDP policies.

from Raw Japan:

No Obama moment in Japan

Opinion polls show the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is set for a runaway victory in Sunday's general election, but voters are showing none of the enthusiasm that swept Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency last year.

When I talked to more than a dozen voters in a small town near Hiroshima, western Japan,  they were interested in the election and had a lot to say about it. And most were looking for change -- but not with a great deal of fervour.

from The Great Debate UK:

Brown must create Afghanistan war cabinet

richard-kemp2- Col. Richard Kemp is a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and the author of Attack State Red, an account of British military operations in Afghanistan published by Penguin. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Disillusionment with the inability of the Kabul administration to govern fairly or to significantly reduce violence played a role in the reportedly low turnout at the polls in Helmand.

‘Dinnergate’ perks up German campaign

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The German election campaign has so far lacked the riveting debates and explosive issues to which voters were treated in previous battles for power, perhaps because Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rival, Vice-Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have worked together in the same “grand coalition” government for the past four years and neither party seems especially eager to rock the boat.

Filling the void have been several somewhat bizarre little scandals that each side has tried to use to tarnish the other, taking pot shots without resorting to full firepower. They are, after all, partners in power.

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