Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

The Islamists and the Great Flood of Pakistan

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(Flood victims in Pakistan's Sukkur)

(Flood victims in Pakistan's Sukkur)

Pakistan's floods are now considered to be more damaging than the massive earthquake that devastated its part of Kashmir in 2005, not least because of the inability of the administration to respond quickly to the crisis.  Pakistan is not alone in the region ill-prepared  to cope with natural disasters. Bigger, richer India is just as unable to either eliminate or limit the destruction that its bountiful rivers unleash each monsoon, and you hear the same chorus of criticism of government apathy. Bangladesh, too, gets more than its share of cyclones and floods each season, and yet successive governments are overwhelmed each time disaster strikes.

But the one difference in Pakistan is that Islamist charities, some believed linked to militant groups, are ready to step into the breach. And that is worrying a lot of people, as the flood waters sweep over Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, the province in northwest Pakistan which has been the main battleground in the fight against militants, down to the heartland province of Punjab and into Sindh.

The concerns centre on Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity arm of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the  banned Pakistani militant group blamed for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed. The Jamaat, which was banned by the U.N. Security Council last December, is working with Fatah-i-Insani Foundation, which is also suspectedof links to extremists, setting up relief camps and sending medical camps to the flooded northwest. It had also organised medical ambulances for emergency treatment, survivors said.

While foreign and government officials debate the security risks from venturing into the troubled northwest, the Islamists groups have penetrated even remote villages with ease, they said. As our correspondents report, they may not bring huge resources to bear, but they establish a presence in the affected areas, often setting up a canvas awning beside a road, with a banner appealing for donations and table covered with bottles and jars of basic medicine. At one village near the swollen Indus in Punjab province, our reporters saw workers of the Jamaat preparing food in huge pots over a smoky fire while four burqa-clad women sat at a charity medical post.

from Tales from the Trail:

State Dept seeks new ally vs. North Korea: PETA

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North Korea -- you have been warned.

The State Department on Monday held out the possibility that the isolated Stalinist state's belligerent rumblings could earn it a powerful new foe on the world stage:  animal rights activist group PETA.

RTRFRGY_CompAsked at a news briefing about North Korea's latest move, which saw it fire a barrage of artillery shells into the ocean near South Korea, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was blunt:

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

A Pakistani Abroad: Zardari’s ill-fated trip to England

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pakchopperPresident Asif Ali Zardari's trip to Britain was particularly ill-fated. When he first planned a visit which should have culminated in him bringing his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, out into the political arena, no one could have predicted such a bewildering series of crises. A row with Britain over remarks made in India by  British Prime Minister David Cameron that Pakistan must not "look both ways" in its approach to Islamist militants. Pakistan's worst floods in 80 yearsA  plane crash, and then riots in Karachi.

So it was perhaps par for the course that his final event in Britain, a political rally in the city of Birmingham for British Pakistani supporters of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), should be dogged by controversy.  Zardari faced a firestorm of criticism for going ahead with the visit while his country faced so many problems, and the combination of protesters outside the rally and a shoe-thrower inside appeared to mark the culmination of a disastrously ill-judged overseas tour.

Whatever happened to Europe’s debt crisis?

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If people stop commenting on the financial crisis, does it still exist?

A month ago, Europe was in the throes of fretting about Greece’s debt problems and whether they were going to spill over to Portugal and Spain, bringing down the euro and a decade of monetary union with it. At the same time there was intense anxiety about impending results from stress tests on nearly 100 European banks.

Every day — and sometimes several times a day – European Union officials, ministers, leaders or central bank governors would say something about the crisis, providing more fodder for frazzled financial markets to make another round of cliff-hanging calls over whether things were getting better or worse.

U.N. plays down “guidance” on Kashmir

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U.N. chief Ban Ki-moons spokesman says Ban never said a word about Kashmir.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says "guidance" on Kashmir was not an official statement from Ban

(Updated August 6, 2010 at 5:05 p.m. EDT with new remarks from U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.)

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Dreams from my father: South Asia’s political dynasties

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bilawal"Whatever the result, this meeting will be a turning point in Pakistan's history," Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told his daughter Benazir as he prepared for a summit meeting with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972 in the Indian hill resort of Simla after his country's defeat by India in the 1971 war. "I want you to witness it first hand."

If there is a slightly surreal quality to President Asif Ali Zardari's controversial state visit to Britain - where he is expected to launch the political career of Oxford graduate Bilawal Bhutto at a rally for British Pakistanis in Birmingham on Saturday - it is perhaps no more surreal than taking your daughter, herself then a student at Harvard, to witness negotiations with India after a crushing military defeat.

from Environment Forum:

Crustaceans rule!

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Mex_00-hrEver wondered what kinds of wildlife dominate the world's seas and oceans? Now there's an answer, at least in terms of the number of species in different categories. It's not fish. It's not mammals. It's crustaceans!

A mammoth Census of Marine Life has revealed that nearly one-fifth, or 19 percent, of all the marine species known to humans are crustaceans -- crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, barnacles and others far too numerous to mention here. The census didn't count the actual numbers of animals beneath the waves -- that would have been impossible -- but it did count up the number of species in 25 marine areas. The aim is to set down a biodiversity baseline for future use.

from Tales from the Trail:

Senate Republicans ask: What’s the hurry on the new START treaty?

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When it comes to ratifying President Obama's nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians, Senate Republicans say: don't rush us.

Obama has said he would like to see the Senate ratify the new START treaty with Moscow this year. But he will need some Republican support to get the 67 votes required for ratification. And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans don't yet have the answers to their questions about the agreement and related concerns about how much money will be spent modernizing U.S. nuclear forces.

Germany’s king of the ‘Sommerloch’ silly season

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PORTUGAL/The Germans have a lovely word to describe the slow news period during the summer doldrums — Sommerloch  (“summer hole” or “silly season). It’s the time in July and August when the main newsmakers in Berlin disappear to holiday retreats in the Alps, to the North Sea island of Sylt or the Baltic Shore. It’s also the time when the second-tier politicians — eager to fill the void — know that it can be relatively easy to get into the headlines with a bit of cunning, good fortune and good timing.
 
Rainer Bruederle is not normally someone many Germans pay a lot of attention to. The Economy Minister from the pro-business Free Democrats party, junior coalition partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right government, does not have a lot of clout and few of his ideas have ever gone beyond the proposal stage. Bruederle,  65, has been called one of the most ineffective ministers since Merkel’s centre-right government took power nine months ago.

But now — with the big cats out of town — Bruederele has turned into mighty mouse. He has played the German media like a fiddle, floating one trial balloon after another with a near daily deluge of newspaper interviews. With little else to write about, German correspondents are filling their columns with Bruederle.
 
“Koenig des Sommerlochs” (King of the summer hole) was the headline in Stern magzine’s website on Monday after a fresh batch of Bruederle proposals over the weekend. “No one has jumped into the Sommerloch with as much vigour as Bruederle,” wrote Hans Peter Schuetz of Stern magazine. “But, let’s be honest about this, Bruederle is helping journalists like me get through the Sommerloch.”
 
Like with most Sommerloch proposals, Bruederle’s will likely not get anywhere close to becoming law. And Bruederle knows that. He also knows his ideas will only cause tensions in the ruling coalition anger Merkel and almost everyone else in her Christian Democrats — and many of her deputies have already rejected his suggestions. But he also knows the publicity could help him raise his profile a bit.
 
Bruederle first said the government should scrap its 2009 promise for a guaranteed minimum pension level, an idea widely picked up in the German media for a few hours one day last week. It was summarily rejected by Merkel’s party. Yet that didn’t stop Bruederle. A few days later, in another newspaper interview, he suggested relaxing rules to allow more foreigners into Germany to counter a looming labour shortage of skilled labour, comments that filled airwaves for a few more glorious hours.
 
GERMANY/And then Bruederle criticised Merkel’s party, the coalition partners, for not having enough enthusiasm about reforms — just a few weeks after party leaders had promised to stop that very same sort of sniping that had sent the government plunging to record low levels in opinion polls. On Monday, Bruederle was at it again with a new banking proposal.
 
“Bruederle is doing his best to fill the Sommerloch,” wrote Sascha Raabe in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.  But he attacked Bruederle as a “colourless minister with an addiction to headlines”.  He pointed out, for instance, that Bruederle’s ideas on cutting pensions actually contradicted the position of his own ministry, which views the steady pension levels as an important pillar of economic growth. “If Bruederle had only read the position of his own ministry instead of frightening millions of pensioners,” Raabe wrote. “Maybe it’s time for Bruederle to retire himself.”

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