Global News Journal

Ireland’s boasts come home to roost

October 1, 2010
Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan

Irish literature and legend is full of boasts, like the claim by Christy Mahon in Synge’s “Playboy of the Western World” that he has killed his da with a loy (Irish for spade), only to have the old man track him down in another town.

from Ralph Boulton:

Former British Ambassador recalls German unification

October 1, 2010

Sir Christopher Mallaby, deputy chairman of the Thomson Reuters Trustee Directors, had a front row seat to German Unification as Britain's ambassador to Germany from 1988 to 1992. Mallaby, who was later ambassador to France, served in the British Diplomatic Service from 1959 to 1996. He was also a managing director of UBS Investment Bank from 1996 to 2006. He has been a Reuters Trustee since 1998.
GERMANY/I arrived in the Federal Republic as Ambassador in March 1988. At that point, there was no indication of the dramatic change that soon would transform Germany. I wrote to the Foreign Office in June 1988:
“Amid the mounting display of the failure of communism in Europe, the Berlin Wall is still the greatest admission of its failure. West Germans and West Berliners see no prospect of its going.”

from UK News:

From Celtic Tiger to road kill: Ireland’s rapid economic descent

September 30, 2010

How the mighty have fallen. When I lived in Ireland five years ago, the country had a spring in its step. Its property magnates were snapping up prime real estate in central London, or paying eye watering sums for prestigious sites in crowded Dublin. Their banks were some of the top-rated in Europe, busily acquiring businesses in the United States and eastern Europe. High-end housing estates mushroomed, a gleaming new tram system was installed, and the finance district buzzed and hummed with industry as international businesses flocked to a country they praised for its low taxes and well-educated workforce.

from Tales from the Trail:

Special Relationship? How quickly they forget….

September 29, 2010

So much for "Hilly-Milly".

Just last year U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gushed to Vogue magazine about  former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband,  calling the young diplomat a dashing addition to the international scene. AFGHANISTAN/

The dark side of German reunification

September 29, 2010

Germany will mark the 20th anniversary of its reunification on October 3 — but not everyone in Germany will be SPORT SOCCER WORLDcelebrating two decades together.

from Reuters Investigates:

Morbid money-spinners

September 28, 2010

If the life settlements market seems ghoulish, here’s a British scandal which isn’t doing the image of the business any favours. It’s one of the worst the country’s seen.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Does that U.S. “retribution plan” for Pakistan still stand?

September 27, 2010

flagburningOne of the more interesting details in the advance reports of Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars" is that Washington had prepared a "retribution plan" in the event of a major attack on the United States which is traced back to Pakistan.

Madeleine Albright pumps iron — and vouches for healthy lifestyle

September 24, 2010

CZECH/We knew she was tough — but this tough?

“I can leg press 450 pounds,” the former U.S. Secretary of State modestly told a panel on health in Mexico City on Friday.

Colombia kills a top rebel leader, any chance for peace?

September 24, 2010

Colombia has killed a top rebel leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym FARC. The aerial bombardment of Mono Jojoy’s jungle camp – which was complete with tunnels and a concrete bunRebel commander of the FARC, Jorge Briceno, known as "Mono Jojoy"ker – was one of the hardest blows to the guerrillas in their more than four-decade-old insurgency. Since the launch of a U.S.-backed offensive in 2002, the rebels have been on the run, pushed back to remote hideouts and forced to use ambushes and other hit-and-run tactics. The new government of Juan Manuel Santos says that there can be no talks until the FARC stop attacks and release security forces held by the rebels. The Marxist insurgents have called for talks before and used discussions to regroup. Colombia had dealt significant blows to the group before, but has been unable to completely defeat the guerrillas. Can the insurgents be defeated militarily? What should Colombia do to end its conflict?

Mexican reporters decry gagging in brutal drug war

September 24, 2010

MEXICO-DRUGS/After his newspaper printed a series of reports about a drug gang with ties extending from the Mexican state of Chihuahua to Los Angeles, California, the editor of El Diario in Ciudad Juarez, Pedro Torres, received a chilling phone call. “If you publish other news about this … we will kill your people,” said the voice on the other end of the line. 
Threatened and intimidated by drug cartels and seemingly abandoned by authorities, journalists covering Mexico’s violent drug war are increasingly self-censoring in order to stay alive. Patricia Mercado of Imagen de Zacatecas put it simply:    “We’re not doing investigations because we’re being threatened and we can’t say anything about the drug gangs.”  Mexico today is considered one of the world’s most dangerous places for reporters since President Felipe Calderon launched a war in 2006 on violent cartels fighting for dominance in the lucrative drug trade. Robberies, extortions, kidnapping, threats — and worse — are part of the daily landscape for many living in Mexican border towns today.
The violence has so far claimed the lives of over 29,000 people, undermining the global image of Mexico.  More than 30 media workers have been killed or disappeared since late 2006, according to U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). A recent report by the CPJ on “Silence or Death in Mexico’s Press” can be found here.  Reporters covering Mexico’s escalating drug war not only are forced to contend with the drug traffickers, but corrupt local and state authorities who operate with impunity, said participants at a full-day conference on Sept. 23 sponsored by the Interamerican Press Society (SIP) and the CPJ. “We’re in the middle of two forces that are trying to limit our ability to do journalism,” said Torres. “What they’ve managed to do is to pressure us to report only the most basic news.” 
Mercado said local authorities are “washing their hands of it all.” “They’re not imposing the law, their police have infiltrated the narcs. Unfortunately the federal government isn’t doing anything either,” said Mercado. “I don’t feel protected.”  Last week, a photographer from El Diario, which publishes across the border from El Paso, Texas, was killed by drug gang hitmen, the second journalist from that paper to be killed in the last two years.  The newspaper published an editorial on Sunday addressed to the cartels, asking them to tell the newspaper what was wanted of them, in order to avoid more deaths.   That controversial stance spurred a sharp rebuke from the federal government, which vowed never to make a truce with the cartels. Members of the CPJ and SIP say they’re encouraged by recent assurances by Calderon that he will push for legislation that would make attacks on the press a federal crime. Similar legislation stalled in Congress two years ago. “It pains me that Mexico is seen as one of the most dangerous places for the profession,” the CPJ said Calderon told them in a meeting this week at the presidential palace. 
But journalists on the front lines are increasingly skeptical of the ability of any authority — local, state or federal — to control the bloodshed.  The United States granted asylum this week to Ciudad Juarez-based journalist Jorge Luis Aguirre, who had received a threatening phone call in November 2008, minutes after the murder of a fellow reporter, in which he was told he was the next reporter to die.
Drug violence has now spread from the border region to the northern business center of Monterrey, and has even cropped up in previously sheltered tourist havens like Puerto Vallarta and Cuernavaca, outside Mexico City. Another challenge to press freedom and safety is coming from inside the media organizations themselves.  Some reporters and editors working for  border area newspapers are paid off by the cartels, who pressure them not to publish certain stories. 
The Pacific state of Sinaloa has a big problem with corrupt journalists, said Ismael Bojorquez of Sinaloa’s Rio Doce. Papers, he said, need to “clean house.”  “You can’t do your job as a journalist if you’re on the payroll of an organized crime group,” said CPJ executive director Joel Simon. “It’s happening on a large scale.” Given the risks, reporters have drastically scaled back coverage of the drug wars and violence in their cities. Specific incidents of violence mostly go unreported now, with papers publishing broader analyses, or statistical reports to keep their readers informed — and the cartels at bay.