Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Europe can’t put out the blaze

Photo

If the world thought that Europe’s finance ministers were running in to put out the blaze spreading through Athens and Rome this week, it might come as a surprise to learn they still don’t agree on the size of the fire or how to deal with it.

Any training course will tell you that if a small fire isn’t tackled quickly, it could make things a lot worse. The Greek crisis is like a small electrical fire that has grown into a dangerous inferno now threatening to gut Italy.

But ministers meeting in Brussels have clearly not been on any fire extinguisher training courses lately — they don’t know their water from their foam and their dry powder. In fact, they appear to be pouring oil on the fire.

Belgium’s Finance Minister Didier Reynders says it is best to try to smother the blaze with a small cloth soaked in a chemical called a financial transaction tax, while Sweden’s Anders Borg and Austria’s Maria Fekter say they can’t spare any of their CO2 extinguishers.

from Jeremy Gaunt:

Democracy and Chaos are both Greek

It seems as if almost everyone was surprised by Prime Minister George Papandreou's decision to hold a referendum on the euro zone's bailout package for his country. At the very least, it can probably be said that he is weary of being hammered from all sides --  his own party, the opposition, the people on the street, Germany, the tabloid press, you name it.

A lot will obviously depend on what question is asked. Do you want an end to austerity, would get a clear yes vote. Do you want to leave the euro zone -- perhaps not.

from Africa News blog:

Could Islamist rebels undermine change in Africa?

Creeping from the periphery in Africa’s east and west, Islamist militant groups now pose serious security challenges to key countries and potentially even a threat to the continent’s new success.

The biggest story in Africa south of the Sahara over the past few years hasn’t been plague, famine or war but the emergence of the world’s poorest continent as one of its fastest growing – thanks to factors that include fresh investment, economic reform, the spread of new technology, higher prices for commodity exports and generally greater political stability.

Did Gaddafi “pass away” or was he executed?

Photo

Libya’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi on Wednesday responded to calls from United Nations officials and human rights groups for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly after his capture on Oct. 20 near his hometown of Sirte. 

Dabbashi told the U.N. Security Council that soldiers loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) who captured Gaddafi did not summarily execute him. Rather, Gaddafi died of wounds he had sustained prior to his capture, he said.

Half time at the euro zone cup final

Photo

Covering a summit of European leaders is a bit like covering a soccer match with no ticket for the stadium and no live TV broadcast to watch. The only way you have an idea of the scoreline is from the groans and cheers from inside the ground.

With EU leaders meeting on Brussels on Sunday and again on Wednesday to try to resolve the region’s debt crisis, the emergency back-to-back summits look like a game of two halves.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

She came, she saw, she confounded: Clinton in Pakistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recently concluded visit to Pakistan has left us none the wiser about how the United States and its allies will end the  Afghan war. In her public comments, she spoke of action "over the next days and weeks – not months and years, but days and weeks".  She promised the United States would tackle Taliban militants in eastern Afghanistan in response to a long-standing Pakistani complaint that Washington had neglected the region when  it decided to concentrate its forces in population centres in southern Afghanistan in 2010 (remember "government in a box"?).

She called, in return, for cooperation on the Pakistani side of the border to "squeeze these terrorists so that they cannot attack and kill any Pakistani, any Afghan, any American, or anyone."  Between the two countries, they would tackle the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Trusting the masses: US tiptoes into democracy in Pakistan

In his book "Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination", an edited collection of his Chapati Mystery blog, historian Manan Ahmed complained about the United States' past support for former president Pervez Musharraf, and its refusal, at the time to trust Pakistan with democracy.  In an entry written in 2007, he described Pakistan as the "the not yet nation" - a country for which democracy might be a good thing in the long run, but  was in American eyes not yet ready.

"We fear the multitudes on two fronts. One is that we conceive of them as masses without politics – forever hostage to gross religious and ideological provocations. Masses which do not constitute a body politic or act with an interest in self-preservation or self-growth. Faced with that absence of reason, we are forced to support native royals to do the job (from Egypt to Pakistan). We justify it by stressing that we may not like these dictators but we know that if we did not have them, the masses would instantly betray us to the very forces of extremism that we seek to destroy," he wrote.

from Afghan Journal:

The Taliban in Afghanistan’s once impregnable Panjshir Valley

Last month driving up Afghanistan's magnificent Panjshir valley, you couldn't help thinking if the resurgent Taliban would ever be able to break its defences, both natural and from the Tajik-dominated populace. With its jagged cliffs and plunging valleys, Panjshir has been largely out of bounds  for the  Taliban, whether during the civil war or in the past 10 years when it has expanded a deadly insurgency against western and Afghan forces across the country. But on Saturday, the insurgents struck, carrying out a suicide bombing at a provincial reconstruction team base housing U.S. and Afghan troops and officials.

They were halted outside the base, but according to the provincial deputy governor they succeeded in  killing two civilians and wounding two guards when they detonated their explosives. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the first suicide bombing in a decade was a message to Western forces that they were not secure anywhere in the country. They said the  bombers came from within Panjshir, which if true  would worry people even more  because that would suggest the penetration was deeper and there could be more attacks.

Waiting for Europe’s “appropriate response”

Photo

Will the euro zone finally act decisively?

Investors are hoping for something big from European leaders at the EU summit on Oct. 23 and of the Group of 20 on Nov. 3. But they also know the 17 nations of the euro have a habit of offering delayed, half-hearted rescues that have cost them credibility.

So there’s been a lot of “urging” and “warning” in Brussels lately — politicians and central bankers have all been demanding Europe act as international alarm grows that its sovereign debt problems may drag the world into recession. “Further delays are only aggravating the situation,” said European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet on Tuesday in his last appearance at the European Parliament, before he hands over the post to Mario Draghi on Nov. 1.

Tragedy or stagecraft: N. Korea’s food crisis

Tim Large, editor of Thomson Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet humanitarian news service, gives the back story to his special report Crisis grips North Korean rice bowl <http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/07/us-korea-north-food-idUSTRE7956DU20111007> . Any opinions expressed are his own.

 

Malnourished children presented at a clinic in North Korea during a guided tour of a disaster-hit province. (Reuters/Tim Large)

  •