Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Tales from the Trail:

Where’s an embattled leader to go?

Spa treatment or desert retreat?

With so many possible locations from which to choose and no worries about stretching the 401K, where's an embattled leader to settle in retirement? GERMANY/

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has announced he will not run for reelection in September. But protesters who have taken to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities by the thousands are demanding he leave office now.

Mubarak, 82, vows never to flee and says he will die on Egyptian soil.

Nevertheless, a departure with dignity may be among various scenarios under discussion as stakeholders continue searching for ways to bring the crisis in Egypt to an end.

Will it end  with Mubarak traveling to Germany for a prolonged medical stay?

Germany's Spiegel Online reports, based on information it obtained, a luxury clinic near Baden-Baden -- a German spa town on the edge of the Black Forest -- is  favored as a likely destination.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington flatfooted by return of Haiti’s “Baby Doc”

He departed Haiti in 1986 aboard a U.S. Air Force plane, winging to stage-managed exile after weeks of pressure from the Reagan administration.

HAITI-DUVALIER/Haiti's infamous "Baby Doc", Jean Claude Duvalier,  made a surprise reappearance in his homeland this weekend, and Washington's planners had less than an hour to prepare.

Can export bans be challenged at the WTO?

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Russian grain harvest

Russia’s ban on grain exports as a heat wave parches crops in the world’s third biggest wheat exporter has raised questions whether such export curbs break World Trade Organization rules. Russia is not a member of the WTO, and it remains to be seen how its new grain policy will affect its 17-year-old bid to join. But other grain exporters, such as Ukraine, which is also considering export curbs, are part of the global trade referee.

WTO rules are quite clear that members cannot interfere with imports and exports in a way that disrupts trade or discriminates against other members. But in practice most WTO rules aim to stop countries blocking imports – shutting out competitor’s goods to give their own domestic producers an unfair advantage.

Haiti: The journalists behind the story

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The story:  When a massive earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, Reuters journalists raced to the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince. While Reuters has no bureau in Haiti, we have established long-time freelancers to help on our coverage and we go on assignment there regularly for major stories. Logistics post-earthquake became a challenge as commercial flights into the city were canceled and some of our journalists made their way into the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo airport and then journeyed several hours by car to cross the border into Haiti.

The journalists:  As you’d expect, our journalists reported on the devastation and witnessed the thousands of dead bodies and the suffering of many more. Behind the scenes, reporting conditions were rough as one of our reporter’s flak jacket and helmet for safety were taken by border guards. Communications was spotty even with satellite phones. Our team was split for the first week between the airport and the Hotel Villa Creole. While the hotel was mostly habitable, for aftershock fears that were later realized, most visitors and journalists chose the safer quarters of sleeping in the open near the hotel’s swimming pool.

Fishing for chili and hamburgers

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PORT-AU-PRINCE -  Two Haitian men and a boy rowing in a small boat in the Port-au-Prince bay had a lucky catch on Tuesday.
 
QUAKE-HAITI/A U.S. Coast Guard boat ferrying passengers out to the USNS Comfort hospital ship stopped briefly to toss them Meals Ready-to-Eat, a bottle of sunblock and assorted energy bars.
 
“I think you got the cheeseburger and chili mac and cheese. Let me know how you like it,” shouted the boat’s commander. The Haitians seemed to speak no English but smiled broadly and waved in return as they rowed around to fish out the food floating on the water.
 
The high calorie meals are designed for to provide nutrition for military men and women who burn a lot of calories. The meals should last them at least two days, the commander said.
 
Their small boat was dwarfed by everything else in the water, especially the 890-foot-long, 60,000-ton Comfort.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Eliana Aponte (Boaters near the USNS Comfort off the coast of Haiti)

Europe draws inspiration from U.S. Peace Corps

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Carla Bruni, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, talks to a Haitian orphan

Carla Bruni, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, talks to a Haitian orphan

Much criticism has been heaped on the European Union — the vast majority of it by its own member states — for not being seen to do enough to help Haiti after the Caribbean state’s earthquake. 

Never mind the fact EU states and the European Commission have promised a combined 400 million euros  ($575 million) in aid and long-term reconstruction. In public relations terms, the sums have all but been eclipsed by images, beamed around the world, of  volunteer U.S. firemen pulling victims from the rubble, and emergency aid workers from the likes of Israel and Brazil running much-needed field hospitals.

‘my office is my laptop’

girlEdwin Paraison, Haiti’s new Minister for Haitians Living Abroad, was working in his office on Tuesday, Jan. 12, when the walls started shaking and the building fell down. The doors were blocked, but he and his assistants escaped through broken windows as Haiti’s capital was torn apart by an earthquake feared to have killed as many as 200,000 people.
 
They then spent four hours working to free two colleagues trapped inside the ruined building. “The four of us, we got a pickup truck, and tied a rope, and used it to pull off the rubble,” the minister said.
 
Since then, Paraison has been working non-stop. As the man responsible for relations with Haitians living outside their country, Paraison, who is also an Anglican priest, has served as an essential conduit for information about friends and relatives for thousands and thousands of expatriates frantic for information about loved ones.
 
“All I was doing was helping people, helping people,” he said. “As a priest that is what I should have done.”
 
But like the other government ministers, who have been reduced to holding meetings on sidewalk, Paraison has been working without an office or even a desk. But he said he felt lucky because the Minister of Finance lost his son, and the Minister of Tourism lost his mother and father.
 
“My office is my laptop,” he said ruefully on Saturday, during a stop at a partially collapsed hotel in the capital, Port-au-Prince. “I came here because I heard that there is Internet here and it is free.”
 
Paraison said he started his job two months –- to the day -– before the quake struck, after 26 years living in the Dominican Republic, first within the church, later as Haiti’s consul general and finally as a consultant.
 
“The prime minister, who is a good friend, called me, and asked me to please take the position,” he said, adding that he has no regrets about the timing.
 
“All of us who are here are writing a new history, and I feel, as a result of the tragedy, the chaos, will be a new life for those who were saved by God,” he said. “And I feel a commitment to the reconstruction.”
 
Photo Credit: A young Haitian girl waits at a makeshift refugee camp as her country struggles to rebuild for a powerful earthquake believed to have killed 100,000 to 200,000 people.  Reuters/Eliana Aponte

Haiti and “the bad dream of newspaper headlines”

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By Tom Brown

MIAMI – Since my return from Haiti, many have asked me what it was like that first week after its devastating earthquake. Here are but a few impressions:

    
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What were the 9,000 United Nations police and troops already stationed in Haiti supposed to be doing there in the immediate aftermath of the quake? It flattened the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by the acronym MINUSTAH and killed dozens of U.N. employees, including the mission chief, Hedi Annabi.

Will EU ever move on from “soft touch” diplomacy?

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Miguel Angel Moratinos (centre)

Miguel Angel Moratinos (centre)

Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos recalled this week that it had been said of the previous U.S. administration that what American diplomacy needed was “regime change”. Europeans, meanwhile, he said, simply needed “a regime”.

America got its regime change with President Barack Obama, Moratinos explained this week, while Europeans got a new regime with the Lisbon treaty, a document that is supposed to help bolster the EU on the world stage and creates a more powerful foreign policy chief for the bloc.

Haiti’s plea: “We need help”

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QUAKE-HAITI/
-This is a guest post from Rigoberto Giron, who is heading up CARE’s emergency response efforts in Haiti from CARE HQ in Atlanta. Any opinions expressed are his own.-

Just outside of CARE’s offices in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, hundreds of newly homeless people are camped out in a public square. During the day, they wait patiently in the scorching sun. But at night, when hunger and thirst overtake them, groups of people can be heard clapping and chanting. Daybreak reveals new banners that read, in English and Creole, “We need help!”

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