Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

It’s still the economy, stupid, in Pakistan

A few weeks ago I asked a Pakistani diplomat what was, among the multiple threats facing the country, the single biggest challenge?

It wasn't al Qaeda or the Taliban, it wasn't the United States as many Pakistanis believe. And it wasn't even India, for long the existential threat the military and succeeding generations of politicians have invested blood and treasure to checkmate.

It was the economy which has virtually ground to a halt as the global recession erodes exports and investment, the diplomat said. Fix the power shortages, win investors back and get the economy moving, the tide of militancy could begin to be pushed back.

You could of course argue that the miitancy itself has sapped the economy and if it weren't for the militants, Pakistan would have done far better . So tackle them first, and the economy would take care of itself. In the light of the attacks of last week and this, that certainly would seem to be an overiding immediate objective.

U.S. immigrant population dips in recession

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By Tim Gaynor

The foreign born population in the United States dipped slightly last year for the first time in more than a generation, as this nation of immigrants weathered its worst recession in decades, figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week indicated.

The Bureau’s American Community Survey showed the total foreign-born population dipped by around 99,000 people to 37.9 million in 2008, as the U.S. sank into its most extended recession since the Great Depression. It was the first recorded decline since 1970.

Less content, more Merkel in campaign posters

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With two weeks to go before Germany holds an election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have unveiled a new set of election posters, depicting Merkel, Merkel, and more Merkel.

Rather than campaigning on the issues highlighted in their election programmes, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are keeping it simple and hoping to capitalise instead on the popularity of their leader, Germany’s first female chancellor.

Newsmaker: Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan

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Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan will take questions from Thomson Reuters clients on how Australia managed to avoid recession and where the economy goes from here, at 9:15 am AEST on Tuesday (7:30 pm on Monday, EST).

The so-called “lucky country” dodged recession partly because of massive government stimulus, a conservative banking sector and strong Chinese demand for its resources exports, but there are concerns its luck may eventually run out. While other rich nations grapple with record high unemployment, Australia is starting to worry about inflation, a possible housing bubble and an over-reliance on China.

Quake tours, spartan rooms at no-frills G8 summit

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    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.

from FaithWorld:

Pope urges bold world economic reform before G8 summit

popePope Benedict issued an ambitious call to reform the way the world works on Tuesday shortly before its most powerful leaders meet at the G8 summit in Italy. His latest encyclical, entitled "Charity in Truth," presents a long list of steps he thinks are needed to overcome the financial crisis and shift economic activity from the profit motive to a goal of solidarity of all people.

Following are some of his proposals. The italics are from the original text. Do you think they are realistic food for thought or idealistic notions with no hope of being put into practice?

Back to the future in Malaysia with Anwar sodomy trial II

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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.

from FaithWorld:

Could abortion law backfire on Spain’s Zapatero?

zapateroIn a country like Spain, where a large majority still identify themselves as at least more-or-less Catholic, you'd think the government would shy away from taking on the Roman Catholic Church.  In fact, there are probably few things Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero likes better than a brawl with the bishops.

Lingering anti-clerical sentiment in sectors of Zapatero's Socialist Party, particularly on its left-most fringes, means the PM has few more effective tools for rallying his voters than the sight of a protest march led by priests and nuns.

Wealthy businessman takes on Argentina’s Kirchner in mid-term vote

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A wealthy businessman and critic of President Cristina Fernandez is spending millions of dollars in his own money to win the biggest race in Argentina’s upcoming mid-term elections.

Polls show Francisco de Narvaez, who leads a congressional ticket for a dissident faction of the ruling Peronist party, in a close race against Fernandez’s husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, who is widely seen as the government’s top political and economic strategist.

Talk-show stumbles add to Merkel challenger’s woes

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After his Social Democrats scored their worst-ever result in European elections on Sunday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier might have thought things couldn’t get much worse. But then the man who hopes to beat German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September’s federal election sat down for a late night television talk show. During the one-hour broadcast, a tense-looking Steinmeier tried to answer the growing number of critics who say he lacks the charisma for the top job — but to many, he only ended up confirming that view. 

Breaking from his normally polite, soft-spoken manner, Steinmeier frequently interrupted presenter Anne Will. When Will presented him with a video clip of SPD activists questioning his ability to energise the party, Steinmeier tried to sell his ”seriousness” as a vote-winning virtue. Perhaps the oddest moment came at the very end, when an unemployed man from eastern Germany complained about his struggles to find work. After quizzing the gas fitter about his search, Steinmeier announced that he had “two or three ideas” about jobs in the man’s region and promised to personally take charge of finding him a job.  To derisive chuckles, his spokesman was asked at a regular government news conference on Monday whether Germany’s other 3.5 million jobless could count on the SPD candidate to personally sort out their work woes. No, the spokesman said, shifting uneasily in his chair: “The situation yesterday was very special.” 

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