Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Hiking through rubble-strewn streets, taking in a quake exhibit or bedding down in a concrete police compound — leaders at this week’s G8 summit in the Italian town of L’Aquila are in for a change of pace from the routine luxury spa and resort experience of past summits.****** Devastated by an April earthquake that killed nearly 300 people and ringed by tent camps with portable toilets, L’Aquila is a far cry from previous G8 host cities like the Baltic seaside town of Heiligendamm, French lakeside resort Evian and Scottish golf resort Gleneagles.************ ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders are being housed in a grey police school building on the outskirts of the mountain town, where they are to stay in spartan rooms with granite floors and cream-coloured walls and furnished with little more than simlpe wooden beds with white sheets.****** “There won’t be the luxuries of hotels on (Sardinia’s) Emerald Coast or (Rome’s) Via Veneto, but there will be dignified accommodation worthy of welcoming such important people,” said Italy’s emergency services chief, Guido Bertolaso.****** Room service menus will be absent, but each room will be supplied with instructions on what to do in the event of another earthquake. Aftershocks have been persistent and plentiful in the run-up to the summit.****** In their free time, leaders can browse through an exhibit on “100 years of earthquakes” in Italy or take up Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s offer of a guided tour of areas laid to waste by the tremor, like Germany’s Angela Merkel did on Wednesday.******Earthquake victims have even welcomed leaders with a giant sign on a hill near the summit site declaring “Yes we camp” to protest the slow pace of reconstruction in the area.****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******For all the lack of luxury, L’Aquila does guarantee voters back home will see images of their leaders rolling up their sleeves under the hot Abruzzo sun at a time of recession and financial turmoil.****** “I think it’s better to have (the summit) in a damaged zone than in an ultra-touristy region where people are spending millions of dollars on their vacations, while the leaders are there to discuss solutions to the global economic crisis,” said Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, ahead of the summit.****** Italy was initially set to host the annual summit of leaders from the world’s richest nations on the picturesque island of Sardinia, but hastily moved it to L’Aquila citing solidarity with victims when faced with complicated logistics and spiralling costs.****** One thing that won’t be lacking at the summit is fine Italian cuisine, since good food is not a luxury given up easily in Italy. Among the local delicacies on offer are goat on skewers, baby lamb, rabbit from the small town of Goriano Valli, artichokes from Prezza and red garlic from nearby Sulmona.
By Barani Krishnan
A decade ago, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was on trial for sodomy and corruption in a trial that exposed the seamy side of Malaysian justice and the anxieties of a young country grappling with a crushing financial crisis and civil unrest.
Anwar is Malaysia’s best known political figure, courted in the U.S. and Europe and probably the only man who can topple the government that has led this Southeast Asian country for the past 51 years.
Climate health costs: bug-borne ills, killer heat
Tree-munching beetles, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and deer ticks that spread Lyme disease are three living signs that climate change is likely to exact a heavy toll on human health. These pests and others are expanding their ranges in a warming world, which means people who never had to worry about them will have to start.
Moving a 17-metre high monument to Christopher Columbus 100 metres down the road is how the Spanish government is interpreting the advice of John Maynard Keynes. The economist once argued it would be preferable to pay workers to dig holes and fill them in again, rather than allowing them to stand idle and deprive the economy of the multiplier effect of their wages.
Now, he’s looking to showcase a softer side as he returns to the campaign trail — this time as a candidate for Congress.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday stepped out from behind the podium, took off his suit jacket and dispensed with the teleprompters to defend his budget, attack Republicans who label him a tax-and-spend Democrat and express outrage at the bonuses paid at insurance giant AIG.
Obama, who has made no secret of the fact he chafes in the White House “bubble” and enjoys engaging directly with Americans, headed west to California to hold a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, a town of about 113,000 in Orange County that has been hard hit by the recession.
Obama’s critics say his comments expressing outrage at the AIG bonuses and other Wall Street scandals lack passion because they are often scripted and read from a teleprompter.
But on Wednesday, Obama sounded like he was back on the election campaign trail as he rounded on Republicans for criticizing his $3.5 trillion 2010 budget, which he says is crucial to tackling the worst economic crisis in decades.
“Most of these critics presided over a doubling of the national debt. We are inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit. So they don’t have the standing to make this criticism, I think, given how irresponsible they’ve been,” he said.
Under the glare of hot lights in an uncomfortably warm hall at Costa Mesa’s state fairgrounds, Obama invited his audience to ask him questions and feel free to take him to task and tell him if he was a “bum and doing a bad job”.
But there was little danger of that. When he entered the hall, he received a rockstar welcome.
Obama at times spoke with passion, his voice rising above the cheers, while he was at times professorial, explaining credit default swaps and mortgage-backed securities and breaking his promise to keep his answers short as he explained how and why America’s economy had plunged to such depths.
Despite the fact that he has only been in office two months, one of the first questions he fielded was from a woman asking him if he would run for re-election in four years’ time.
“I would rather be a good president taking on the tough issues for four years than a mediocre president for eight years,” he replied.
And if he fails to deliver on his promises on health care, education and fixing the economy, then it will be the voters and not he who decides whether he runs again.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama at town hall meeting in California)
Argentina’s economy is slowing dramatically after seven booming years, but people here still haven’t felt much pain. The government has announced stimulus measures to buffer against the global crisis, fudged some economic statistics and persuaded carmakers and steelmakers to hold on to employees part time rather than lay them off. The effect of the crisis here has been so delayed that it was becoming easy to believe Argentine might be immune.
But Argentine President Cristina Fernandez made it startingly clear on Friday that the impact is coming and it’s going to hurt. In a surprise announcement she said she was seeking to get election rules changed so mid-term elections — to renew half of the lower house and a third of the Senate — can be held in June instead of October. She said this was so politicians can quickly wrap up campaigns and all get together to concentrate on healing the economy.
Some 25,000 people attended his funeral, countless books have been written about him, a bridge was named in his honour and now the spectre of Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider is dominating a regional election in Austria.
George Alogoskoufis is a hardly a household name outside Greece and EU financial circles. But the newly sacked Greek finance minister could yet become a poster child for politicans struggling to fight off economic decline and banking industry collapse. His demise was in large part due to a public perception that he was helping out the banks but ignoring rising joblessness.
Greece, of course, is a special case at the moment, still recovering from riots over the police shooting of a teenager. But finance ministers, central bankers and other responsibles are probably not immune from Alogoskoufis Syndrome. Balancing the need to bail out the finance industry with rising economic misery among everyday people is not easy. Fat cats are not exactly in favour at the moment.