Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

European Parliament’s theatre of politics

The European Parliament in Strasbourg

The European Parliament in Strasbourg

Every five years, the European Parliament gets an opportunity to show its muscle as it quizzes candidates for the next European Commission, the powerful body that enforces EU laws.

But rather than a forensic examination of the 26 nominees – the sort of in-the-spotlight inquisition the U.S. Senate puts presidential appointees through — the European Parliament has a tendency just to go through the motions. 

The relevant committees act tough, a range of questions from across the spectrum are thrown at the candidates, the nominees sweat a bit before trotting out safe, well-rehearsed answers, and at the end of three hours everyone says what a rigorous examination it has all been.

That said, this year’s hearings have thrown up one or two candidates parliament looks inclined to reject, meaning the complete line-up put forward by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso may have to be reshuffled or changed. Rejecting a candidate makes the parliament — which is keen to show its teeth — look tough. But at the end of the day it probably reveals more about the behind-the-scenes workings of the assembly, rather than its undying commitment to parliamentary democracy.

EU holds hearings, but who’s listening?

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ashtonIn the United States, Senate hearings to confirm presidential appointments are a Big News Story, with scores of photographers, TV cameras and journalists cramming into the committee rooms to follow the event live.

The European Union — which has 200 million more people than the United States and is a larger trading bloc — has something similar, with hearings before the European Parliament to confirm nominees to the European Commission, the 27-person body that enforces laws across the EU.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan: Through the eye of a needle

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lawyers celebrateFor the first time in many months, the future of Pakistan is being determined not in the fight against Islamist militants, but within its institutions -- its judiciary, its political parties, its government and its military.  Last week's decision by the Supreme Court to strike down a 2007 amnesty given to politicians and bureaucrats has provided Pakistan with a rare opportunity to remodel itself as a civilian democracy based on the rule of law.  But the way forward is so fraught with difficulties that assessments of its chances of success are at best sober, at worst ominous.

The court decision to strike down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) affects some 8,000 politicians and bureaucrats on a list of those who had been covered by the amnesty, including the defence and interior ministers.  President Asif Ali Zardari had also been covered by the amnesty, but remains protected by presidential immunity. Such was the upheaval created by the ruling that foreign exchange markets were briefly shaken last week by unfounded rumours of a military coup. The real impact is likely to be more slow-burning.

from Maggie Fox:

Stimulus package does provide some jobs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 25 years into the AIDS pandemic, scientists finally have a vaccine that protects some people -- but instead of celebrating, they are going back to the drawing board.

The vaccine, a combination of two older vaccines, only lowered the infection rate by about a third after three years among 16,000 ordinary Thai volunteers. Vaccines need to be at least 50 percent effective, and usually 70 to 80 percent effective, to be useful.

Opposition needs a wizard in Oz

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On the surface, Australia’s opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull won the endorsement of his party when he put his job on the line over his bipartisan support for the PM’s carbon trade plan. ‘Turnbull wins the day’, was the headline on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

But, dig a little deeper, and the picture is in fact quite bleak for the Liberal Party with around 12 months to go before a national election. Within hours of the vote the obituaries for Turnbull’s political career started to appear.

from Raw Japan:

Friends with issues

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They may be on first-name terms, but Barack's discussions with Yukio during his 24-hour stay in Tokyo have left unresolved a feud over a U.S. military base and deeper questions about the future.

They agreed to review the five decade-old U.S.-Japan alliance as both countries adapt to China's rising regional and global clout, and they agreed to resolve as soon as possible a dispute over the U.S. Marines Futenma airbase on Japan's southern island of Okinawa.

The Berlin Wall 2.0

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The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago on Nov. 9, 1989. A team of Reuters correspondents and multimedia journalists from Berlin and London will be covering the major event in a completely new way — Berlin Wall 2.0. The team from The Berlin Project are joining forces with the Reuters text, pictures and TV correspondents in Berlin to present real-time coverage and impressions of everything going on in Germany’s reunited capital city.

You can also view the best of Reuters’ content on our Berlin Wall global coverage page, follow the team in Berlin on Facebook and get a behind the scenes look at Berlin 2.0 by visiting The Berlin Project. Please send us your thoughts and memories by commenting on the live blog below.

Does Obama deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

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U.S. President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Obama had been awarded the prize for his calls to reduce the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons and work towards restarting the stalled Middle East peace process.

The committee praised Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Germany’s Greens celebrate victory in defeat

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Sunday’s federal election threw Germany’s Greens into a state of disarray — should they celebrate their best result ever or mourn the fact they failed to prevent a centre-right coalition and languished in fifth place?

“A Victory that is a Defeat”, “Triumph and Bitterness”, “Celebrations despite missing goal,” read newspaper headlines on Monday.

German election live blog

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Welcome to the live blog of the German election, a showdown between Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (right). More than 50 Reuters correspondents, photographers and television crews in Berlin and across Germany will be tracking the story throughout the weekend.

And in this box you will be able to follow the latest twists and turns throughout the weekend. We’re using #germanelection as the hashtag if you want to follow us on Twitter.

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