Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

From Thuggees to fake WikiLeaks

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lahore mosqueThe 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.

So if the anti-India stories really were an intelligence plant, why did "the agencies" in Pakistan not use actual cables to bolster their allegations, rather than fake cables which could be easily discredited?

In a column in The Express Tribune headlined "Can't they just be spies?",  journalist Aamer Khan blamed it on an inability to manage the media. Recalling a news agency he said was set up by Pakistani intelligence to spread the word about the Kashmir revolt, he said that eventually, "the spooks running the operation went haywire and lost all perspective on what they had set out to achieve. As more and more newspapers started accepting its copy, the agency started reporting a dramatic increase in the number of Indian casualties at the hands of our fearless jihadis."

from Environment Forum:

Polar bears, sure. But grolar bears?

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RUSSIA/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.

Perilous predictions for 2011

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Afghan Boy

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?:

After Holbrooke, chances of political settlement in Afghanistan fall

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holbrookeReading 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.'"

from MacroScope:

The long and short of it

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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.

FRANCE-FASHION/

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.

Top 10 from my Nobel night

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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:

China’s rebalancing act puts consumer to the fore

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consumerWal-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.

This year’s Nobel winner on the importance of a good read

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SWEDEN/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 talks up al Qaeda/Taliban split

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british soldierPakistan 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.

from Summit Notebook:

Does Germany need Europe?

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Jim O'Neill, the new Goldman Sachs Asset Management chairman who is famous for coining the term BRICs for the world's new emerging economic giants, reckons he knows why Germany might not be rushing to bail out all the euro zone debt that is under pressure. Europe is not as important to Berlin as it was.

Speaking at the Reuters 2011 Investment Outlook Summit being held in London and New York, O'Neill pointed out that in the not very distant future Germany will have more trade with China than it does with France.

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