Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Just over a year ago, President Barack Obama suggested during a visit to Beijing that China and the United States could cooperate on bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan. As I wrote at the time, China — Islamabad’s most loyal partner — was an obvious country to turn to for help in working out how to deal with Pakistan. Its economy would be the first to gain from greater regional stability which opened up trade routes and improved its access to energy supplies. And it also shared some of Washington’s concerns about Islamist militancy, particularly if this were to spread unrest in its Muslim Xinjiang region.
The big question was whether the suggestion would fall foul of the zero sum game thinking which has bedevilled relations between India, Pakistan and China for nearly 50 years. India was defeated by China in a border war in 1962 and since then has regarded it as its main military threat. Pakistan has built close ties with China to offset what it sees as its own main military threat from its much larger neighbour India. China in turn has been able to use its relationship with Pakistan to clip India's wings and curb any ambitions it has at regional hegemony.
So where does Obama's suggestion stand now that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has just completed a visit to both India and Pakistan? The answer to that probably depends on how far economics and how far politics determine the behaviour of India and Pakistan in the coming years. China itself is seen as putting its economic interests first, or in the words of the People's Daily, a search for "win-win results consistently dominate China's diplomacy".
In India, Wen offered expanded trade and greater cooperation between two countries which increasingly have reason to align their positions in negotiations within the G-20 economies. That is positive for those whose world view is seen through the lens of economic development --among them Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In an editorial in The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan argues that India needs to stop focusing so much on China as a strategic threat and take advantage of the gains it can reap from Chinese economic growth. And while expanding trade left India with a $16 billion trade deficit with China in 2007-2008, you can argue that India could still be a long-term beneficiary if rising Chinese wages open up space for cheaper Indian manufacturing.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
The fall-out from the fake WikiLeaks cables in Pakistan continues to be far more interesting than the real WikiLeaks cables. To recap, several Pakistani newspapers retracted stories last week which quoted WikiLeaks cables ostensibly accusing India of stirring up trouble in Baluchistan and Waziristan, cited U.S. diplomats as ridiculing the Indian Army, and compared Kashmir to Bosnia in the 1990s. Since the anti-India narrative presented in the stories chimed with the views of Pakistani intelligence agencies, the alleged cables were then dismissed as fakes and most likely an intelligence plant.
However, just to complicate matters, some of the information in the "fake cables" is also in the "real cables". For example, the real cables do contain allegations of Indian support for Baluch separatists, largely sourced to British intelligence, according to The Guardian. The British newspaper, which had advance access to the cables, also cited them as evidence that India practiced systematic torture in Kashmir.
from Environment Forum:
Most people have seen a polar bear, usually at the local zoo. And most zoo-goers know that wildlife advocates worry about the big white bears' future as their icy Arctic habitat literally melts away as a result of global climate change. But apparently more than the climate is changing above the Arctic Circle.
The new mammal around the North Pole is the grolar bear, a hybrid created when a polar bear and a grizzly bear mate. Then there's the narluga, a hybrid of the narwhal and beluga whale. The presence of these two new creatures and others produced by cross-breeding may be caused when melting sea ice allows them to mingle in ways they couldn't before, according to a comment in the journal Nature.
It’s the season to be merry – and to make forecasts about next year. Across the finance industry fine minds spend December crafting outlooks and extrapolations about how the world will fare, in the hope of a decent return over the next 12 months and avoiding the bear traps that will swallow an investment. The banks, strategic advisories and political risk consultants trumpet their analytical prowess, of course, but are also meeting a natural human need to peer into the future. We all want guidance to take the sting out of living in an uncertain world.
Nowhere is prediction more fraught with peril than in politics and world affairs. The success rate is in inverse proportion to the costs that unexpected acts in the real world can impose on the investor. So despite the difficulty of providing a reliable guide to the future there are huge incentives to try to chart the way ahead. Here’s Control Risks, a risk consultancy firm, on its view of 2011, while competitor Eurasia reveals in early January, as does the World Economic Forum. Nomura has a list of 10 political challenges to prosperity that range from the prospect of gridlock in US domestic politics to brinksmanship on the Korean peninsula.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Reading through some of the many thousands of words written about Richard Holbrooke, for me two stories stood out in their ability to capture what will be lost with his death:
The first was in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's obituary in the Washington Post:
"While beleaguered members of Mr. Holbrooke's traveling party sought sleep on transcontinental flights, he usually would stay up late reading. On one trip to Pakistan, he padded to the forward of the cabin in his stocking feet to point out to a reporter a passage in Margaret Bourke-White's memoirs of the time of India-Pakistan partition and independence. Bourke-White quoted Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah telling her that Pakistan would have no problems with the Americans, because 'they will always need us more than we need them.' Mr. Holbrooke laughed, saying, 'Nothing ever changes.'"
Fashionomics followers will be familiar with the Hemline Index, a theory presented by economist George Taylor in 1926 that suggests that hemlines on women's dresses rise along with stock prices.
Based on this theory, micro-minis can be seen in good times as women take more risks, while maxi dresses (floor-sweeping dresses) reflect uncertainty and conservatism during a recession.
The Nobel banquet must be one of the most extravagant annual dinner events on the planet. Every year the organisers allow a few journalists to join the festivities and rub shoulders with prize winners, royalty and other notables. This year, I got to go. The food and wine were certainly fit for a king (a good thing, too, since there was a king dining among us), and there is really nothing quite like dancing to a 20-person brass band. In a time-honoured journalist tradition, I’ve made a “top 10 list”.
10. Bling. Everywhere. Jewel-encrusted handbags, gold tableware and all those tiaras. I was blinded.
from Reuters Investigates:
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more. The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of "compact hypermarkets", using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.
Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one's you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.
The most important thing that ever happened to newly minted Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa? It wasn’t the news two months ago that he had won the prize for literature, or the first time he ever published a book. It was, he said, learning how to read.
Vargas Llosa came to Stockholm to give the traditional pre-award lecture and he told a throng of listeners how books enriched his life, breaking the barriers of time and space. He said writing them helped him create a parallel life where one could take refuge against adversity, where the extraordinary was natural and the natural extraordinary.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Pakistan is increasingly talking up the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan which would force al Qaeda to leave the region. And while there is little sign yet Washington is ready to hold serious negotiations with Afghan insurgents, analysts detect a new tone in Pakistani comments about driving Osama bin Laden's organization out of its haven on the Pakistan border.
A senior security official said the Afghan stalemate could be lifted by setting a minimum agenda in which insurgents broke with al Qaeda. There were indications, he said, they could renounce the organisation and ask it to leave the region. Senior politician Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, a pro-Taliban member of the ruling coalition, also said a settlement "would squeeze the room for al Qaeda." "Al Qaeda will have to fall in line or leave the region," he told Reuters in an interview late last month.