Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

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.

Opposition leaders said she was desperate and scared her allies in Congress will lose if they face election in October, when the country is in the grip of economic trouble.

Her language in an announcement speech was stark. She said it would be almost suicidal for politicians to campaign while the world falls apart. “We can’t be in a marathon of elections from now to October during this world disaster.” she said. 

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan: has it reached the edge of the precipice?

Maybe this always happens at times of national upheaval. But there is a surprising disconnect between the immediacy of the crisis facing Pakistan as expressed by Pakistani bloggers and the more slow-moving debate taking place in the outside world over the right strategy to adopt towards both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Reading Pakistani blogs since confrontation between the country's two main political parties exploded and comparing them to international commentaries is a bit like watching men shout that their house is on fire, and then panning over to the fire station where the folks in charge are debating which type of water hose works best.

Olmert brings a bit of Beverly Hills to rocketed town

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If anything projects a sense of “what me, worry?” in the Ehud Olmert “travelgate” corruption case, it’s this photo, distributed by the Government Press Office, of the Israeli prime minister paying a visit on Thursday to Sderot, a  town hit repeatedly by Hamas rockets before and during the Gaza war he helped to orchestrate.

“The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows” reads the logo on his jacket. 

from Africa News blog:

Ghana steps back from the brink

Ghana's epic nail-biter of an election has finally ended with opposition leader John Atta Mills being declared the winner by the narrowest of margins: barely 40,000 votes out of 9 million, or less than 0.5 percent of votes from the past week's run-off.

Virtually everybody was expecting a close race, but the contest got tighter and increasingly acrimonious as both rival camps sensed power was within their reach. As the vote went down to the wire, to be decided with delayed voting held in one final constituency on Jan 2, the ruling New National Party (NNP) announced a boycott and launched legal proceedings to postpone the poll and freeze the announcement of results
 
After a year that has seen electoral bloodshed in Kenya and Zimbabwe one analyst who has followed the vote closely warned that incidents of violence during the polls indicated Ghana "may be coming close to that abyss of no-return".
 
Yet shortly after the Electoral Commission announced results on Saturday, Akufo-Addo conceded defeat, congratulated Mills and both candidates were stressing the need for cooperation and consensus between their two parties.

Giving in to Ali Baba

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I once paid a cop 30 ringgit (about $10 then) for making an apparently illegal left-hand turn in Kuala Lumpur. Scores of drivers in front of me were also handing over their “instant fines”, discreetly enclosed within the policeman’s ticketing folder. It was days ahead of a major holiday and the cops were collecting their holiday bonus from the public.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim holds a disc he says contains evidence of judge-fixing in Malaysia 

Poland fetes Dalai Lama

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  Forget the economic crisis, forget climate change — images of an elderly, bespectacled Buddhist monk in a maroon robe have dominated Polish newspapers and television screens all week.

  The Dalai Lama has come to town and it seems everybody, from the president and prime minister to college students and housewives in this still-staunchly Roman Catholic country, want to meet and hear Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

from FaithWorld:

Exercised over yoga in Malaysia

Of all the things to get exercised about, yoga would seem to be an unlikely candidate for controversy. But such has been the case in Malaysia this week.

Malaysia's prime minister declared on Wednesday that Muslims can after all practice the Indian exercise regime, so long as they avoid the meditation and chantings that reflect Hindu philosophy. This came after Malaysia's National Fatwa Council told Muslims to roll up their exercise mats and stop contorting their limbs because yoga could destroy the faith of Muslims.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. ideology stable, “culture trench warfare” ahead?

The U.S. Democratic Party has gained a larger following over the past two decades but America's ideological landscape has remained largely unchanged over the past two decades, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. You can see the analysis here.

What is of interest for readers of this blog may be the implications of this "cultural trench warfare" -- with neither side gaining much ground from the other -- for red-hot social issues such as abortion rights and the future prospects for both the Republicans and the Democrats.

Tense debates in Iraq’s parliament

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On my day off when I grabbed the remote control, my
22-year-old brother yelled “No! Do not change the channel!”

My brother is interested mostly in sports and movies and
doesn’t care at all about politics. But for once he wanted to
watch the session of parliament.

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