Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

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.

With lawyers and supporters of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif vowing to blockade parliament later this week over the refusal of President Asif Ali Zardari to reinstate fired judges, the country is steeling itself for violent street protests, which in turn could provide easy targets for suicide bombers seeking to add to the mayhem.  Sharif has talked about "a prelude to a revolution", prompting the government to threaten him with charges of sedition.

Writing in Pak Tea House, a blogger who had insisted right up until February that Pakistan would turn out all right said this had been based on the assumption political parties would pull back from outright confrontation in the interests of the country. "I was wrong. And so faced with altered facts, I have changed my opinion. Pakistan is unraveling."

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.

The political price of recession

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As journalists, we spend a lot of time watching politicians and policies to guage their impact on financial markets and economies. Now, as recession takes an inexorable hold in the Asia-Pacific region, we’re watching for the impact on politicians themselves.

 So far there has been no repeat of the political upheaval triggered by Asia’s economic crisis a decade ago, which culminated in the ignominious resignation of President Suharto in Indonesia and the ouster of Thailand’s prime minister (see previous blog). There are no food riots as there were back then, and Asians are not crowding at  banks’ doors to rescue their savings.

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