Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from MacroScope:

Unlocking the Yuan

Reuters's top news and innovation teams have put together a web site on the yuan and the debate over its revaluation. Particularly worth a look after the weekend's statement by China that it would allow more flexibility in its currency exchange. You can access it here, but it looks like this:

Yuan2

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

U.S. should look at nuclear deal for Pakistan if militancy tackled-RAND report

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damadola2The United States should consider offering Pakistan a civilian nuclear deal in return for a real and verifiable commitment to eradicate all militant groups operating from its territory, a new report by the RAND Corporation says.

The report, by Seth Jones and Christine Fair, echoes a criticism often levelled at Pakistan that it is only willing to tackle those militant organisations which threaten it directly, while retaining links with groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba which can be used to expand its influence in Afghanistan or against India.  It argues that Washington needs to find a new mix of incentives and sanctions to convince Pakistan to abandon the use of militant groups as a foreign policy tool. 

The party’s over in Ciudad Juarez

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Rubble lines the forlorn streets of Ciudad Juarez’s historic center just across the Rio Grande and the sleek glass towers of El Paso, Texas in the distance. MEXICO/Huge piles of grey debris lie on the roadsides as dogs sniff in the ruins of the destroyed Vampiro nightclub, its pink concrete walls nothing but a mountain of steel and dust.

The desolate remains of buildings in the Mexican border city look like the place has been bombed. This is a war zone, the bloodiest front in Mexico’s drug war where a staggering 5,500 people have died over the past 2-1/2 years.  But there are no bombers flying over head.

N.Korean succession leads to occupation…of the U.S.

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There may be no bigger question mark hanging over North Korea these days than who will succeed the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, who has ruled with an iron fist since taking over when his dad, the “Great Leader”, died in 1994. Kim is 68 years old and believed to have suffered a stroke in August 2008.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton (seated L) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il (seated R) pose for a picture in Pyongyang in this photo released by North Korean official news agency KCNA August 4, 2009. Clinton made a surprise visit to North Korea on Tuesday to try to win the release of two jailed American journalists, and met the country's reclusive leader Kim. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY) QUALITY FROM SOURCE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. NO COMMERCIAL USE

His economy is in a shambles. Food is becoming more scarce. Trade links with the rest of the world are nearly non-existent. And tension on the Korean peninsula is at its highest in decades after the March sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul blames on the Stalinist North.

Defiant North Korea takes case to UN press corps

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North Korea's UN Ambassador Sin Son-ho (center)

North Korea's UN Ambassador Sin Son-ho (center) speaks to reporters at UN headquarters.

Officials working for the government of communist North Korea seldom appear in public — especially in front of reporters from countries they view as hostile. But Pyongyang’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sin Son-ho, turned to the U.N. press corps in New York on Tuesday to defend his nation against Seoul’s allegtions that the North Korean military torpedoed a South Korean naval ship on March 26, killing 46 sailors.

Blair hopes Israel will present softer Gaza blockade plan “in a couple of days”

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Middle East Envoy Tony Blair hopes Israel will present measures within “a couple of days” that will allow goods for normal daily life into Gaza, but stop weapons from entering the coastal Palestinian territory.  Blair told Reuters during an interview in New York that softening the the 3-year-old Israeli blockade on Gaza would be a very significant step forward and would change the lives of people in Gaza.  “I hope within the next couple of days that the Israeli government will bring forward the measures that will allow us to draw the clearest possible distinction between not letting weapons into Gaza and letting into Gaza, as a matter of course, the items necessary for normal daily life, for people to have access to proper services and for legitimate business to be able to operate properly,” Blair said.  International pressure has mounted to lift or ease what Israel calls its “closure” of the enclave, run by Hamas Islamists, since naval commandos stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists.  Israel imposed the blockade soon after Hamas, which has spurned Western calls to recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist, won legislative elections in 2006. Restrictions were tightened after Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007.  “The reasons why I have always argued that this policy is counterproductive in the interests of Israel, nevermind the interests of the people in Gaza, is that if we stop stuff coming in the legitimate crossings, it just comes in smuggled through the tunnels and that’s why it’s sensible to change it,” he said, referring to secret tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.  The former British prime minister said that Hamas also needed to release an Israeli soldier it has held captive since 2006.

from Afghan Journal:

Afghanistan’s treasure trove: a reality check

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(An oil installation near Herat, western Afghanistan)

(An oil installation near Herat, western Afghanistan)

A team of U.S. geologists and Pentagon officials have concluded that Afghanistan is sitting on untapped mineral deposits worth more than $1 trillion, officials said. The deposits of iron, copper, cobalt and critical industrial elements such as lithium are enough to  fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the war itself, the officials said.

Lithium is a key raw material for the manufacture of batteries for laptops and mobile phones, and the potential reserves of the metal are so huge that the country may well become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium", a Pentagon memo said.

Japan’s new “voluntary militia” cabinet under PM Kan

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Newly-appointed Banking Minister Shozaburo Jimi bows to the Japanese national flag  after a news conference. REUTERS/Issei Kato .

Newly-appointed Banking Minister Shozaburo Jimi bows to the Japanese national flag after a news conference. REUTERS/Issei Kato .

When Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshito Sengoku, was asked — as new Japanese leaders often are — to characterise the government’s new cabinet line-up, he fumbled a bit and then awkwardly said something about it being “fresh and hardworking.”

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

New report accuses Pakistan’s ISI of backing Afghan insurgents

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us soldiersAccording to a new report published by the London School of Economics, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency not only funds and trains Taliban fighters in Afghanistan but is officially represented on the movement's leadership council, giving it significant influence over operations.

The ISI has long been accused of backing the Taliban - an accusation Pakistan denies, saying this would make no sense when it is already fighting a bloody campaign against Islamist militants at home. But the report is worth reading for its wealth of detail on the perceptions held by Taliban commanders interviewed in the field. You can see the Reuters story on the report here and the full document (pdf) here.

from Afghan Journal:

Potential allies: Karzai, Pakistan and the Taliban?

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(Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Razai Gilani)

(Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani)

If you still thought things hadn't dramatically changed on the Afghan chessboard ever since U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to begin pulling out from mid-2011, you only need to look at President Hamid Karzai's recent utterances, or more accurately the lack of it, on the Taliban and Pakistan, the other heavyweights on the stage.

For months Karzai has gone noticeably quiet on Pakistan, refusing to excoriate the neighbour for aiding the Taliban as he routinely did in the past, The Guardian quoted  a source close to the country's former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh as saying.

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