Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Growing sense of fin de siecle in Brussels

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    There is a growing feeling of “fin de siecle” in Brussels  these days, a sense of degeneration, of euro-depression.
    But people across the European Union do not seem to care.

    The collective EU leadership is widely seen as weak and demoralised and the Czech government has collapsed in the middle of its six-month presidency of the 27-nation bloc, an unprecedented event that is bound to leave much unfinished business before an election to the European Parliament in June.

    Nobody knows what the EU’s institutions are going to look
like in the future, with the Lisbon treaty that is supposed to
reform them in limbo.

Another shock announcement from Argentina’s leader

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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.

from Africa News blog:

Hu reassures Africa?

If anyone in Africa was worried that the global financial crisis might dim China’s interest in the continent, President Hu Jintao will be visiting this week to give some reassurances - as well as possibly to temper any unrealistic hopes for the amount of assistance to be expected.

As Chris Buckley reported from Beijing, this visit is also about China showing the wider world that it is a responsible power.

from Africa News blog:

Africa still crying for freedom?

“Sub-Saharan Africa: Year of Regression”. That was the heading used by U.S.-based rights group Freedom House in its survey of political freedom in the world published this week.

Of course the Freedom House survey pointed to the coups in Guinea and Mauritania as well as the situation in Zimbabwe, whose elections were condemned by many countries and where the crisis shows no sign of lessening, but there were plenty of other names on the list too:

from Africa News blog:

What next for Jacob Zuma?

A court ruling that effectively reinstates corruption charges against African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma could hardly have come at a worse moment for him and the party that has dominated South Africa since the end of apartheid.

There appears little doubt that Zuma will be the party's presidential candidate ahead of elections expected around April, but the ANC now faces its toughest electoral test yet with hefty graft charges hanging over its man.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Is Indian “patience” paying off over Mumbai?

Shortly after the Mumbai attacks, I asked whether India faced a trial of patience in persuading Pakistan -- with help from the United States -- to take action against the Islamist militants it blamed for the assault on its financial capital. India's approach of relying on American diplomacy rather than launching military action led to some  soul-searching among Indian analysts when it failed to deliver immediate results.  But is it finally beginning to bear fruit?

Former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar writes in the Asia Times that diplomatic efforts over the Mumbai attacks are entering a crucial phase. "After having secured New Delhi's assurance that India will not resort to a military strike against Pakistan, Washington is perceptibly stepping up pressure on Islamabad to act on the available evidence regarding the Mumbai attacks."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Kashmir’s long road ahead

After India last held state elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 2002, the Kashmir Valley witnessed a period of relative peace only to see it shattered when plans to give land to Hindu pilgrims triggered the biggest protests since the Kashmir separatist revolt erupted in 1989.

The latest elections - which produced a turnout of more than 60 percent despite a boycott call by separatists and ushered in a new state government led by Omar Abdullah - have provided a second chance to change the mood in the volatile Kashmir Valley. But do India and Pakistan, and the Kashmiris themselves, have the ability to turn this second chance into a real opportunity for peace?

The Party’s Over For Merkel

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Suddenly, the outlook has darkened for Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanks to Bavaria’s conservatives who suffered their worst result in half a century in a state vote on Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela MerkelMerkel is used to riding high in polls and had looked to be cruising to re-election in a year’s time.

How much damage will Mauritania’s coup do to Africa?

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a-man-walks-in-front-of-mosque-in-central-nouakchott-february-2-2008.jpgSoldiers took power in a coup in Mauritania on Wednesday after presidential guards deposed President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi when he tried to dismiss senior army officers. Abdallahi took over only last year after winning elections to replace a military junta that had ruled since it toppled the previous president in a bloodless coup in 2005. The largely desert nation, one of Africa’s newest oil producers, has suffered five coups since 1978 but Africa as a whole has transformed its reputation for violent government ousters in recent years after notching up around 80 successful coups and many more abortive attempts between the 1950s and 2004.

There have only been a handful of military seizures in the last five years compared to the heyday of military takeovers in the 1960s. In the mid-70s around half of African countries had military governments. Since then, democracy has gradually made ground and attempts to seize power are strongly frowned upon.

Why is Kirkuk such an obstacle for Iraq?

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kirkuk.jpgIraq’s leaders have overcome many hurdles in their struggle to rebuild their country after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.  But agreeing on the fate of the “ethnic tinderbox” of oil-producing Kirkuk is a particularly testing one.

Why has Kirkuk proven to be such an obstacle? For many, settling its fate seems to be an easy task.

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