Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Party wins big in Vietnam, but with a few twists

Photo

As has happened every few years since the mid-1940s Vietnam’s Communists won parliamentary elections last month by a landslide, claiming 91.6 percent of the chamber’s 500 seats, officials announced on Friday. No surprises there. The Communist Party has a constitutionally-mandated monopoly on power.

We noted in a story on election day that the vote was rigged to retain party control although the outcome would allow for the legislature’s role in policymaking to continue to grow incrementally.

On Friday the results showed that more self-nominated candidates and more businessmen were elected to the unicameral body this time around than ever before. Four out of 15 self-nominated candidates made it this year, including the vice chairwoman of Hanoi’s young businesspeoples’ association and a doctor who runs his own hospital. Four years ago at the last National Assembly election only 1 of the 30 self-nominees who ran landed a seat.

Voters handed seats to Dang Thanh Tam and Dang Thi Hoang Yen, two of the country’s best known capitalists and perhaps the country’s richest brother and sister duo. They preside over the conglomerate Saigon Invest Group and other companies. Pham Huy Hung, head of VietinBank, the country’s biggest partly-private bank, also got seat. So did Dinh La Thang, chairman of state oil and gas group Petrovietnam, which is probably the country’s most influential company. State media said its revenues this year are expected to be close to a quarter of the nation’s GDP and it makes annual tax contributions that put it in a league of its own.

from Reuters Investigates:

In case you missed them

Just because it was summer, doesn't mean we weren't busy here at Reuters. Here are a few of our recent special reports that you might have missed.

IRAN-OBAMA/ECOMOMYTracking Iran's nuclear money trail to Turkey. U.N. correspondent Lou Charbonneau -- who used to cover the IAEA for Reuters --  followed the money to Turkey where an Iranian bank under U.S. and EU sanctions is operating freely. Nice to see the New York Times follow up on this today, and the Washington Post also quizzed Turkey's president about it.

from Reuters Investigates:

Enter stage left — Brazil’s next president?

BRAZIL-ELECTION/ROUSSEFFNot every president has a police mugshot, but it's not so surprising in Latin America.

A special report out of Brazil today sheds new light on Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla leader who is likely to be elected the booming country's next president. She spent nearly three years in jail in the early 1970s and was tortured by her military captors. She's come a long way since then.

from Reuters Investigates:

Dive in, the water’s fine

Special reports are the best of the best from Reuters, and this is the place to find them. We'll be featuring investigative stories, in-depth profiles and long-form narrative stories here.

Reuters has a global Enteprise Reporting team with editors in New York, London and Singapore, drawing on the work of some 2,900 journalists in 200 bureaus around the world.

Sun setting on Merkel coalition?

Photo

GERMANY-PRESIDENT/As the sun started to set on the west side of the Reichstag on Wednesday evening — and perhaps on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right government as well — delegates to the Bundesversammlung (Federal Assembly) began switching to beer from the preferred beverage earlier in the day — coffee, water and apple juice.
 
There was an unmistakeable air of “Endzeitstimmung” (doomsday atmosphere) on the comfortable rooftop terrace of the historic German parliament building, where the catering is superb and the view of Berlin breathtaking. 
 
The conservative delegates on the Reichstag roof were easy to spot — they were the ones with worried looks on their faces after a couple dozen unidentified “rats” from within their ranks twice failed in votes during the afternoon to give Merkel the votes she needed to get her candidate elected.

The conservatives were drinking their beer and trying to forget the day’s humiliation before going into battle for a third and final round later in the evening.

Work starts for Santos after Colombia election win

Photo

COLOMBIA-ELECTIONS/After weeks of waiting, Colombia’s presidential election run-off was so one-sided it was over in minutes.

Former Bogota mayor and Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus had appealed to voters with his challenge to traditional parties and a call for cleaner government.

from Tales from the Trail:

The coming conflict with China

2008 was the last presidential election when voters didn't know or care about the candidates views on China, argues political risk analyst Ian Bremmer.

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/Bremmer's new book "The End of the Free Market" argues that the Chinese economic model -- which he calls state capitalism -- is so fundamentally different from Western free market capitalism that tensions and economic conflict are inevitable in the years ahead.

Turkey’s EU bid meets another Cyprus roadblock

Negotiating Turkey’s accession to the European Union hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. But it may be about to get tougher still.

Europeans are already divided over the prospect of inviting a largely Muslim nation into their club of 27 states.  And while some are attracted by Turkey’s huge economic potential, that’s  frequently shadowed by its much-criticised human rights record.

from Africa News blog:

Nigerian president on the way back?

Yar'AduaSo Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua has ended weeks of silence with comments on the BBC that he is getting better and hopes to be back home soon.

That at least appears to have answered speculation in local media that he could be brain damaged, in a coma or even dead.

A day with a hyperactive leftist leader, Bolivia’s Morales

Photo

    Spending a whole day with Bolivian leftist president Evo Morales requires a great deal of stamina.
    Morales, an Aymara Indian who has introduced a battery of controversial reforms to give Bolivian Indians more power and has put the state in the driving seat of the economy, is hyperactive, to say the least.
    He tends to start the day meeting diplomats or government officials at about 6 a.m. and often wraps up after midnight.
    In the three years I have been living in Bolivia he has not been on vacation, and it is not unusual for him to visit three or four far-away places in a day.
    Today is one of those days.
    Morales, who herded llamas as a child, lost four siblings to poverty and never finished high school, became the country’s first Indian president in early 2006. He is revered by poor Indians, who identify with his moving underdog story and are benefiting from heavy social spending.
    But he is frowned upon by the middle classes who fear he may try to install a Cuban-style socialist regime in the country.
    Critics see Morales, an ally of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez and Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro, as a dangerous socialist.
    The day we spent together, he was wearing jeans, a wrinkled short-sleeve shirt and unbranded sports shoes. He was good humored and cared little for protocol; addressing me as “comrade” or “brother” and once simply with a “What’s up, boss?”
    “I don’t know how he does it. I can’t keep up sometimes. I’ve got soroche — high altitude syndrome,” said a close Morales’ aide, when I asked about the president’s hectic schedule, which often includes trips from the Andean plateau to the lowlands and back.
    I met Morales, a clear favorite to win a presidential election in December, at a campaign rally at 7 a.m. in El Alto, a sprawling shantytown in the outskirts of La Paz.
    “Evo governs and plays but does not get tired,” chanted hundreds of supporters while he played soccer after the rally.
    Then we took a plane to the country’s constitutional capital, Sucre, to catch a helicopter to Tinguipaya, a tiny Quechua village of adobe houses in the central Potosi region, where no Bolivian president had ever visited before.
    After a campaign event in Tinguipaya we flew to the southern town of Tarija, where he presided over an award ceremony for a soccer tournament, and then off to the northern town of Cobija.
    On the plane Morales bragged about a penalty he scored in an impromptu kick about.
    “I fooled the goalkeeper. Did you see?,” he said.
    By 4 p.m. we had visited four places all over Bolivia — a country of 10 million that is roughly the size of France and Spain combined — traveling by car, plane and helicopter. At one point I tried to take a nap but Morales woke me up listening to loud Bolivian pop music on his cell phone.
    At times during the day he looked over papers handed to him by a military officer and he also had private meetings with the defense minister and a governer during our travels.
    Morales, a bachelor with a mop of thick black hair and copper skin, was going to turn 50 the day after our trip.
    “How are you going to celebrate your birthday?” I asked.
    “I can’t,” he said. “It’s forbidden. I’ve got to work. I have a meeting at 5 a.m. … you have to be there, let’s see whether you can keep up with me.”

   “I don’t think I can. I’m already exhausted,” I told him.
    Morales ate little during the morning and early afternoon, just drinking water and popping propolis lozenges, a health food made of resin from beehives. I told him I was hungry, that I could not believe he agreed to take us around for a day but failed to offer us food.
    He called a flight attendant, who brought out a take-away plastic container with lukewarm chunks of beef and potatoes.
    In no time Morales, Reuters’ photographer David Mercado, an army official and myself were all picking food from the container with our fingers. It was a working-class feast inside a presidential plane.
    In Cobija Morales met government officials, dined with supporters and presided over a second sports ceremony.
    After 14 hours of traveling throughout the country Morales, a keen soccer fan, was still going strong and decided to play soccer with a local team.
    On the flight back to La Paz he finally dozed off for an hour or so. We arrived in El Alto after 1 a.m.
    “Comrades, I see you at 5 a.m. at the presidential palace. Don’t let me down,” he said before waving goodbye.

  •