Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Twittering from the front-lines

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Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?

It lives on at www.googlebattle.com where you can enter two search terms, say ‘Lennon vs. McCartney’ or ‘Left vs. Right’, and let the internet pick a winner by the number of search hits each word gets.

As we reported here – the virtual world has become a real battleground in the ongoing Gaza conflict – with all sides deploying significant resources.

For Israel – where hasbara or PR has often been frowned upon as unnecessary pandering to international opinion that never turns in Israel’s favour anyway – the second Lebanon war underlined the need for a coherent media and PR strategy coordinated at the centre of government.

Gaza war – Early test for Obama?

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The slow pace of talks between Hamas and Egyptian mediators on Cairo’s proposal for a Gaza ceasefire is raising speculation in Israel over whether the Islamist group is playing for time, hoping to get a better deal once Barack Obama is sworn in as U.S. president on Tuesday.

Israel also has been in no rush to call off the offensive it began on Dec. 27 with the declared aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks on its southern towns.

Two weeks under fire in Gaza

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

Voices get loud and excited over the radio Reuters news crews use in Gaza to call in the latest information. Some people complain there are no “Western reporters” inside. But we all work for Reuters, a global agency that sets the international standard.

After two full weeks of bombardment we are all worried about our families but we work and work the story. We hope it will stop.

Gaza breakfast turns to horror

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Saturday is my day off from being Reuters correspondent in Gaza and I usually sleep until noon.  This Saturday things didn’t go to plan.

My 7-year-old son Abdel-Rahman and his sister Dalia, who is 12, came home early from school, as they have been doing their mid-term exams, to wake me up and ask me to take them for breakfast at a seafront restaurant not far from Gaza’s port.

Israel’s “Jewish Division”: Northen Ireland redux?

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By Dan Williams

A Reuters investigation into how the Israeli domestic intelligence service Shin Bet is tackling threats from Jewish ultranationalists has raised intriguing parallels with Britain’s handling of the sectarian “troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Radical Jewish settlers who might turn to violence in a bid to wreck Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking are, increasingly, the quarry of the Shin Bet’s shadowy “Jewish Division”, whose operatives draw on a range of spying and interrogation tactics.

Can Obama erode built up hostility in the Middle East?

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 The last time I stayed up all night was in Baghdad when U.S. warplanes bombed the city in an overnight raid that announced the start of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Last night I was up all night by choice.  I wasn’t covering the U.S. presidential elections but I joined the millions of people across the world who were anxious to know who will be taking charge of America — and whether they really would presage change. For anyone from and involved in the Middle East this is no small question.

The Americans have cast their vote for change all right; they have voted clearly for a new America, for a change of direction. People across the Middle East have been eager to see change in America, not just a change of personality but a real change of policy and vision.

The shadows that lie behind Beirut’s glitzy façade

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Jouneih beachIn downtown Beirut, resurrected from the rubble of the 1975-90 civil war, one is spoilt for choice of smart restaurants, trendy bars and lively clubs. Performances by sexy Lebanese divas and belly dancers contribute generously to Lebanon’s gross domestic product by attracting Gulf Arab tourists enchanted with Lebanese talent and beauty — not necessarily in that order.

There is isn’t a single international designer who has not found his or her way to Beirut’s elegant boutiques and jewellery shops. On the other hand, Lebanese designers such as Elie Saab are dressing Hollywood stars these days.

Talking with the Axis of Evil

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george-w-bush.jpg Is the United States going soft on Iran?

 In the past President George W. Bush accused Tehran of belonging to an “axis of evil”, compared negotiations with its president to appeasing Adolf Hitler, and warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would lead to World War Three.

His administration refused to join international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, which it suspects could be used to produce a nuclear bomb, unless Tehran halted enriching uranium. It pointedly declined to rule out military action if a diplomatic solution was not found.

Has Syria come in from the cold?

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assad.jpgThe European-Mediterranean summit in Paris might have produced grand projects ranging from cleaning up the Mediterranean sea to using North Africa’s sunshine to generate power. But that is is not what it will be remembered for.

It will be remembered for the glorious welcome it bestowed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who until yesterday was persona non-grata in the West, an autocrat leading a pariah regime, which many believe orchestrated the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.  

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