Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Colombian election heats up

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Just a month ago all seemed set for Juan Manuel Santos to secure Colombia’s presidency. Santos, a former defense minister for President Alvaro Uribe, is credited with some of the most successful operations against the country’s FARC guerrillas. But now Santos has a fight on his hands after the surprising surge for two-time Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus. 

COLOMBIA-ELECTION/ Known as much for his successful city administration as for his off-beat style, Mockus has won supporters with his message of clean government and continuity of Uribe’s policies. Polls now show Colombians are more concerned with bread-and-butter issues like jobs, healthcare and education than with violence from the waning war.

Could Santos be a victim of Uribe’s security success in that Colombians now see the need for someone like Mockus, who promises to crack down on corruption and pay more attention to social and economic development? Or is Santos paying the price for scandals over rights abuses and corruption that rattled Uribe’s second term?

Both men will guarantee the continuity of Colombia’s tough security and pro-business approach. But Mockus has caught voter attention for now with a fresh approach that contrasts sharply with the way conservative Uribe ran the presidency.

65 years after WW2 – should Germans still feel guilty?

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Today marks the 65th anniversary of the end of World War Two. No big deal, you might say. And on the GERMANY/surface there is certainly nothing all that extraordinary about May 7, 2010. There has been none of the celebrating that marked the 40th or 50th or even 60th anniversaries.

But what is interesting about this 65th anniversary of the end of the fighting in Europe is that it means every German (and Austrian) born before the war’s end has now reached retirement age. In other words, the entire war-era generation – even those who were infants on V-E Day – is now in retirement. It means all those running Germany now – in government or management, or running factories or driving busses – had, as documented by their birth certificates, nothing whatsoever to do with World War Two.

Groundbreaking new cancer report?

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chemplantThe President’s Cancer Panel has issued a new report saying that Americans are being bombarded — their words — with carcinogens.

Advocates of more research into the potential chemical causes of cancer had been waiting for the report, which they call groundbreaking.  But it’s made less of a splash than they expected. Asked about the report, one White House spokesman replied,

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Could you pass bin Laden to the left please?

osamaWhatever Osama bin Laden once aspired to, it was not to be passed around the table like a bottle of port  in the British Raj nor worse, handed on quickly  in a child's game of Pass the Parcel. Yet that is the fate which for now appears to be chasing him.

For years, the default assumption has been that bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan-despite failed NY attack, change will be slow in coming

karachiAfter the media frenzy following last weekend's failed car bomb attack on Times Square, you would be forgiven for thinking that something dramatic is about to change in Pakistan. The reality, however, is probably going to be much greyer.

Much attention has naturally focused on North Waziristan, a bastion for al Qaeda, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Afghan fighters including those in the Haqqani network, and the so-called "Punjabi Taliban" - militants from Punjab-based groups who have joined the battle either in Afghanistan or against the Pakistani state.  The Pakistan Army is expected to come under fresh pressure to launch an offensive in North Waziristan after Faisal Shahzad, who according to U.S. authorities admitted to the failed car-bombing in Times Square, said he had received training in Waziristan. Unlike other parts of the tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghan border, North Waziristan has so far been left largely alone.

from Africa News blog:

Yar’Adua death leaves succession wide open

NIGERIA-PRESIDENT/The death of Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua is unlikely to plunge Africa's most populous state into crisis, but it intensifies what was already shaping up to be the fiercest succession race since the end of military rule.

Yar'Adua has been absent from the political scene since last November, when he left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and his deputy Goodluck Jonathan has been running the country since February and has since consolidated his position.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Times Square bombing; was the inspiration from the U.S. or Pakistan?

times squareThe failed car bomb attack on New York's Times Square this weekend is almost certain to rekindle questions about a "jihadi highway" where citizens of western countries, often radicalised at home, seek either inspiration or training from one of many militant groups based in Pakistan.

According to a U.S. law enforcement source, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American arrested on suspicion of driving the car into Times Square this weekend, told authorities he was acting alone. But investigators are also looking into a recent trip he made to Pakistan to see if he had links to Islamist militants based there, which include al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and a host of Punjab-based groups and splinter organisations, some originally linked to the fight against India in Kashmir.

from Afghan Journal:

U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan set to overtake Iraq

(On patrol in Kandahar proivince.Reuters/Jonathon Burch

(On patrol in Kandahar province. Reuters/Jonathon Burch)

At some point this month or early June, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will outnumber those in Iraq, writes Michael E. O 'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. It's an artificial milestone but it is worth noting because it tells you a good deal about the two wars and where the United States stands in each.

The cross-over is also a measure of how big and rapid has the shift been in America's military power toward Afghanistan since President Barack Obama took office last year promising to bring the troops home.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?

gwadarBaluchistan, Pakistan's biggest province, rarely gets much attention from the international media, and what little it does is dwarfed by that showered on Afghanistan.  So it is with a certain amount of deliberate provocation that I ask the question posed in the headline: Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?

Before everyone answers with a resounding "no", do pause to consider that China - renowned for its long-term planning - has invested heavily in Baluchistan, including building a deep water port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to give it access to Gulf oil supplies.  The region is rich in gas and minerals; attracting strong international interest in spite of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatists. 

from Jason Subler:

Expo diplomacy and the Greek rescue

My colleague Edmund Klamann offers this dispatch from the Shanghai World Expo:

Outdoors at the sprawling Shanghai World Expo site on opening day, ubiquitous loud-speakers warned the afternoon crowd of hundreds of thousands that the line to enter the German Pavilion was three hours long and they should visit other pavilions.

But inside the Greek Pavilion, where Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos spoke to a small group of staff and dignitaries at an opening ceremony, the impatience was palpable as his country's larger European neighbours deliberate over rescue measures.

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