Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

“Collateral damage” grows in Mexico’s army-led drug war

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I heard the bursts of gunfire near my house in Monterrey as I was showering this morning. Then the ambulance sirens started wailing, and as I drove my kids to school about 20 minutes later, a convoy of green-clad soldiers, their assault rifles at the ready, sped by us. In northern Mexico, where I cover the drug war, it has become a part of life to read about, hear and even witness shootouts, but today I shuddered at the thought: what if those soldiers accidentally ever shot at me?

MEXICO-DRUGS/DEAD

It was in February 2007 that Amnesty International raised concerns over Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s decision, two months earlier, to send thousands of troops across the country to control Mexico’s spiraling drug violence. Echoing worries voiced by the United Nations, the rights group warned that sending the army onto Mexican streets to do the job of the police was a bad idea. Even individual soldiers have commented to Reuters, off the record of course, that they feel very uncomfortable about their new role. MEXICO-DRUGS/

Back then, when there was still plenty of optimism about winning the war against drug cartels, many Mexicans brushed off concerns of rights abuses and the possible deaths of innocent bystanders. Washington praised Calderon for his bold move.

But almost four years on, it would seem Amnesty, the U.N. and a host of other rights groups were right. For the family of slain architect Fernando Osorio, who was shot dead by soldiers who mistook him for a hitman late last month, they were certainly right. Fernando, 34, was killed on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico’s richest city, as he worked on a piece of land soon due to become a housing development. “The army is committing atrocities, they destroyed my family today,” Fernando’s father Oswaldo Osorio told reporters on Oct. 28.

Liu who? UN’s Ban silent on rights in talks with China’s Hu

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(Updates to include U.N. statement on Ban in China)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is gearing up for a campaign to retain his seat as the United Nations’ top official for another five years, U.N. diplomats say. This, rights advocates suggest, may be the reason he sidestepped the issue of human rights during his latest visit to China, his fourth in as many years. Ban did not raise the issue of Beijing’s alleged rights abuses during a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday. Nor did he call on the Chinese government to release jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“It is correct he did not discuss human rights (in China),” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York, adding that he also did not raise the issue of Liu’s detention. He noted that the secretary-general’s Oct. 8 statement on the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize “still stands.”

from Afghan Journal:

U.S. mid-terms and the Afghan war

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A sign directs voters to a District of Columbia polling place in Washington, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed/FilesIt's one of the biggest weeks in U.S. politics, with the mid-term elections to the Senate and the House of Representatives, and it may well eventually impact the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, even though it's not been a campaign issue. If the Republicans win big, as everyone expects them to, what happens to President Barack Obama's war strategy for the two countries, increasingly operating as two full-fledged theatres, rather than a conjoined Af-Pak mission?

Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations says given the Republicans' solid support for the war in Afghanistan, a defeat may not be such a bad thing for Obama so far as his Afghan mission is concerned in the near term. Support and funding for the war could be enhanced if they gained control, which may not be the case if the Democrats, who have serious doubts about the mission, were to return. Big Republican gains will also signal to Afghanistan and Pakistan that America remained serious and committed to the region, despite a deteriorating security environment on both sides of the Durand Line.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will Obama refer to Kashmir in public in India?

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fayazaward2Will President Barack Obama make some public remarks on Kashmir during his trip to India next month?

At a White House press briefing, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes refused to be pinned down on specifics,  beyond saying that the United States would continue to express support for India and Pakistan to pursue talks.

from Tales from the Trail:

Green energy aspirations for Obama’s India visit

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INDIAWhen Barack Obama heads for India next month, he'll be carrying a heavy policy agenda -- questions over the handling of nuclear material, the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and India's status as a growing economic power, along with regional relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel Peace laureate who heads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, hopes the U.S. president has time to focus on clean energy too.

Even as Pachauri and the U.N. panel evolve -- and as Pachauri himself weathers pressure from some quarters to resign -- he urged Obama to work on U.S.-India projects that he said would enhance global energy security.

from Tales from the Trail:

Clinton sees diplomats of the future in cargo pants as well as pinstripes

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CONGO-DEMOCRATIC/

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Congress to finance a major new U.S. push on overseas development aid, arguing that only by building up a global middle class will the United States increase its own national security.

Clinton, in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine which previews a pending State Department report on diplomacy and development, says it is essential for Congress to keep the money flowing even as the United States grapples with its own financial problems at home.

from Reuters Investigates:

Inside the Pirates’ Web

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CHINA-PIRACY/Reuters trade correspondent in Washington Doug Palmer had an unusual assignment: buy a fake Louis Vuitton handbag on the Internet, and take it to a LVMH store for a comparison test, before handing it over to U.S. authorities.

    What was startling was how easy it was to find websites selling a dazzling array of stuff online. This is the new face of
piracy and its costing businesses billions.   No need to skulk around back alleys or some pirate's rental van to browse through footwear, watches, DVDs and whatnot. Just pick out your LV shoulder tote from a virtual catalog on a website based in China. It looks and feels like the real thing at a fraction of the price.

Numbed by Ciudad Juarez’s endless killings, Mexico shrugs off teen party deaths

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The people of Ciudad Juarez are starting to lose all hope. When gunmen burst into a birthday party on Friday and killed 14 people, the horrific act should have at least shocked Mexican authorities into action. But even the sight of blood running out of a suburban patio, the broken chairs and the party-goers’ bodies slumped on the concrete have become all too familiar in the desert city across from El Paso, Texas.MEXICO-SHOOTING/

It was at the start of 2010 that another, gruesomely similar shooting was warning enough that the city was spiraling toward criminal anarchy.

from Afghan Journal:

Obama in India next month; ripples in the region

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U.S. President Barack Obama takes part in a town hall meeting at Concord Community High School in Elkhart, Indiana, February 9, 2009. REUTERS/Jim YoungU.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India is still a couple of weeks away and there is the huge U.S. election before then, but it has already set off ripples in the region. The Chinese have especially cottoned onto Obama's Indian journey, fretting over what they see as a U.S. attempt to ring fence China by deepening ties with countries around it. And continent-size India with a population of over a billion and an economy growing at a clip just behind China's is seen as a key element of that strategy of containment.

Qui Hao of the National Defense University, writes in the Global Times that while U.S. military alliances with Japan and South Korea form the backbone of the "strategic fence" around China, the "shell" is the partnership that Washington is building with India, Vietnam and other nations that have territorial disputes with China.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

“Orientalism” in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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dust storm twoIn his must-read essay on the debate about the state of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, Amil Khan has one of the best opening lines I've seen for a while: "Much is said about Pakistan, but I'm constantly saddened that so many innocent pixels are lost without good cause."

Much the same can be said about the recent flurry of stories on the war in Afghanistan, from upbeat assessments of the U.S.-led military offensive in Kandahar to renewed interest in the prospects for a peace deal with Afghan insurgents.

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