Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Environment Forum:

A historic trip to Antarctica revisited

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First, a bit of Reuters history:

Reuters links with Sir Douglas Mawson, Australia's most celebrated Antarctic explorer, began in 1911 when the company helped finance the young explorer's maiden voyage to Antarctica.

In 1911, the Reuters Telegram Company Ltd sent a hand written telegram confirming it had pledged 1,000 pounds to the Australasian Antarctic Expedition lead by Mawson (see picture above.)

The significance of Mawson's expedition was that it was largely financed and led from Australia, which as a nation was little more than 10 years old. East Antarctica, the greater mass of the Antarctic continent that lies south of Australia, the Indian Ocean and Africa, was one of the least-explored parts of the ice continent.

Mawson sailed a stout whaling ship named Aurora from Hobart in December 1911, bound for Macquarie Island and Antarctica, intent on mapping the unknown coast around Cape Denison, an area west of the region visited by Britain's Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan: the missing piece in the Afghan jigsaw

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One year ago, I asked whether then President-elect Barack Obama's plans for Afghanistan still made sense after the Mumbai attacks torpedoed hopes of a regional settlement involving Pakistan and India. The argument, much touted during Obama's election campaign, was that a peace deal with India would convince Pakistan to turn decisively on Islamist militants, thereby bolstering the United States flagging campaign in Afghanistan.

As I wrote at the time, it had always been an ambitious plan to convince India and Pakistan to put behind them 60 years of bitter struggle over Kashmir as part of a regional solution to many complex problems in Afghanistan.  Had the Mumbai attacks pushed it out of reach? And if so, what was the fall-back plan?

Opposition needs a wizard in Oz

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On the surface, Australia’s opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull won the endorsement of his party when he put his job on the line over his bipartisan support for the PM’s carbon trade plan. ‘Turnbull wins the day’, was the headline on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

But, dig a little deeper, and the picture is in fact quite bleak for the Liberal Party with around 12 months to go before a national election. Within hours of the vote the obituaries for Turnbull’s political career started to appear.

Germany: a tale of two foreign ministers

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“Self-confident”, “smart” and “rhetorically brilliant” – just some of the adjectives the media have lavished upon Germany’s favourite politician as he has covered thousands of miles traversing the globe on his country’s behalf since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new centre-right administration took office late last month.

But Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is not in charge of foreign affairs — a position usually associated with voter popularity. He is defence minister.

For Rudd, now it’s personal

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may be a shoo-in to return to office late next year, but this week his reputation as a transformative leader will be on the line.

The Senate will vote whether Australia will cut its carbon output through an emissions trading system, or ETS. The debate is being closely watched overseas, particularly in the United States where lawmakers are debating their own proposals. The carbon trading scheme was a key promise of Rudd’s 2007 election campaign and he wants the ETS laws passed before December’s global climate talks in Copenhagen.

from DealZone:

Haider’s heirs disown troubled Hypo bank

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When the late Joerg Haider, the hard-right populist governor of the southern Austrian state of Carinthia, sold most of his government's stake in Hypo Group Alpe Adria in 2007, he said, beaming: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Carinthia is rich."

BayernLB, which like many other German landesbanken appears to have never met a toxic asset it didn't like, had just paid 1.65 billion euros for a 50 percent stake in Hypo. Around half of that went into Haider's government's coffers.

The two faces of Angela Merkel

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  The German chancellor was described by Forbes last month as the world’s most powerful woman, listing her as 15th overall in its ranking of the World’s Most Powerful people.  Certainly, Merkel has been known to bare her teeth when it comes to castigating others like Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe and she even rebuked Russia’s Vladimir Putin on foreign trips. She did also raise her voice against Pope Benedict, calling on him to make clear the Vatican does not tolerate any denial of the Holocaust.   

 

But at home in Germany, Merkel has been surprisingly timid on many key issues – especially when they involve her conservative Christian Democrats. Her tendency to avoid clear positions has driven her coalition partners mad. Merkel might be a lion when she’s on foreign stages but she tends to be a lamb at home. One of her favourite sayings is: “If you try to beat your head into a wall, the wall will usually win.”

Dream job or snake pit? UN appoints new spokesman

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By Patrick Worsnip

It’s not uncommon for journalists at some point in their careers to cross the barricades and become the people who dish out the news as spokespersons for an organization or firm, rather than being on the receiving end. It requires a different set of skills that can make the transition tough, and a stern test confronts former Reuters correspondent Martin Nesirky, who has just been appointed spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. After a high-flying career at Reuters that saw him fill senior editorial positions in London, Berlin, Moscow and Seoul, Nesirky has had some time to acclimatize to his new role by working for more than three years as spokesman for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), based in Vienna. But the move to New York brings much more formidable challenges.

Like any U.N. spokesperson, Nesirky, a Briton, will have to take into account the concerns of the 192 nations that belong to the world body. That’s 192 different governments that can get upset by something he might say. But his chief problem may be his boss Ban, whose public image, to put it mildly, could take a little burnishing. Aside from his awkward use of English, which has television producers tearing their hair, Ban has had a rough ride from hostile media that have accused him of failing to use his position to end the world’s conflicts and right its wrongs. (Defenders say he is more effective than he appears, works tirelessly behind closed doors, and has made at least some progress on such intractable issues as climate change, global poverty and the crisis in Darfur.)

Then there is the sprawling and ill-defined nature of the U.N. press and public relations operation, with different officials and factions competing for the secretary-general’s attention and waiting to pounce on any mis-step by one of the others. The outgoing spokeswoman, Michele Montas of Haiti, stuck to the job for less than three years. In trying to stay close to the South Korean secretary-general, Nesirky could benefit from his knowledge of the Korean language from his time in Seoul. He is also married to a South Korean. But these advantages too could be a double-edged sword. U.N. diplomats have long complained that Ban is happiest in a Korean comfort zone and relies too much on a compatriot who serves as his deputy chief-of-staff, Kim Won-soo.

Does the EU need another president?

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The fact that European Union leaders have not yet reached a consensus on who should become president of the 27-nation bloc, with time running out before a summit on who should  be given the post, has compounded my belief that they should scrap the idea all together.

During the horse-trading of the past few weeks I have found myself asking the question: why do we need an EU president, particularly since the bloc has at least one, if not two, capable presidents already.

from Afghan Journal:

Can the West salvage Karzai’s reputation?

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That sure was fast.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told American TV audiences that Afghan President Hamid Karzai needed to take steps to fight graft, including setting up a new anti-corruption task force, if he wants to keep U.S. support. Less than 24 hours later, there was Karzai’s interior minister at a luxury hotel in Kabul -- flanked by the U.S. and British ambassadors -- announcing exactly that. A new major crimes police task force, anti-corruption prosecution unit and special court will be set up, at least the third time that Afghan authorities and their foreign backers have launched special units to tackle corruption.

There are just a couple of days left before Karzai is inaugurated for a new term as president. Perhaps a few more days after that, U.S. President Barack Obama will announce whether he is sending tens of thousands of additional troops to join the 68,000 Americans and 40,000 NATO-led allies fighting there.

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