Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Asian Contagion Redux

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    The Indonesian rupiah has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar so far this year and on Friday hit its weakest point since August 1998. Authorities swooped in to take over an
insolvent Bank Century, the first such takeover since the Asian financial crisis a decade ago.

   Are things in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy really that dire to prompt comparisons with the chaotic events of a decade ago? Today’s financial crisis is draining liquidity from many banks across the world, including in Indonesia.  And as was the case a decade ago, domestic capital is swarming hot on the heels of foreign capital in fleeing Indonesia.

    It is the kind of vicious circle that characterised the”Asian Contagion” crisis of 1997/98. Currencies depreciate. Foreign investors liquidate their portfolios and swarm to the exits. Creditors call in loans, plunging institutions into insolvency. More people take their money and run, further undermining institutions and weakeninging the currency … And so it goes.

    Ten years ago, I was covering South Korea’s fraught journey into near national bankruptcy. (More echoes of the Asian Contagion crisis: The South Korean won hit lows not seen in a
decade on Friday
and analysts forecast the economy will shrink next year for the first time since 1997). 

Once popular Greek PM struggling to reconnect

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By Dina Kyriakidou

Once the most popular politician in Greece, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
has seen his ratings decline, hit by a wave of scandals, party rebels and the world economic crisis.

As little as a year ago, he managed to turn his political fortunes around, winning elections after deadly forest fires, a feat admired by friends and foes alike.

Is Turkey reassessing Ataturk’s legacy?

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The following piece is written by Turkey correspondent Ibon Villelabeitia:

A new and intimate documentary on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the
venerated soldier-statesman who founded modern Turkey after
World War One, has sparked controversy in this European Union
candidate country at a time of national self-absorption.

“Mustafa”, which opened on Oct. 29 on the 85th anniversary
of the foundation of the republic, has spawned a lively debate
in newspapers and television shows on the merits of the film.

Austria’s Haider: a hero beyond the grave?

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He may have died in a car crash last month whilst drunk, but Austrian rightist Joerg Haider is not gone.

Haider, who was enmeshed in nearly every part of Austrian political life, is now being hailed for his efforts to help two Austrian hostages being held in the Sahara months before his death.

Was rightist Haider gay? Austria doesn’t care

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 Now that Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider is dead, the German, British and U.S. press are eagerly spilling the beans on his “secret double life”, saying that he had a male lover.

 Just when you thought his story couldn’t get more dramatic — he died on Oct. 11 in a high-speed car crash while drunk — we now learn that Haider, who was married with two daughters, was not only a populist who polarised the public with remarks about Nazism and immigrants, but might have been gay too.

The Party’s Over For Merkel

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Suddenly, the outlook has darkened for Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanks to Bavaria’s conservatives who suffered their worst result in half a century in a state vote on Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela MerkelMerkel is used to riding high in polls and had looked to be cruising to re-election in a year’s time.

Should South Africa’s ANC split?

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Supporters of Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC, chant slogans at the Pietermaritzburg high court outside Durban, August 5, 2008. Zuma appeared in court in a bid to win the dismissal of a graft case that could wreck his chances of becoming the nation’s president next year. REUTERS/Siphiwe SibekoThe African National Congress faces the biggest internal crisis of its history after the decision to oust President Thabo Mbeki following suggestions of official interference in the corruption case against his rival, party leader Jacob Zuma.

South Africa’s ruling party has stressed that the decision of the executive was unanimous. Mbeki’s resignation speech also made clear he was not planning to fight.

Is Mbeki’s time up?

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Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York

South African President Thabo Mbeki did not get to bask long in the success of securing Zimbabwe’s power-sharing deal before finding himself in the firing line again at home.

Now his most strident foes - who can be found within his ruling African National Congress – say he should be pushed from office after a judge made clear he saw political interference in the corruption trial against ANC leader and longstanding Mbeki rival Jacob Zuma.

What should a minister’s wife do in Greece?

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The heir to one of Greece’s most distinguished political families, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, helped his conservative New Democracy party sweep to power in 2004 by convincing Greeks tired of decades of socialist graft that he would clean up Greek politics.

But public discontent with a new set of scandals and a slowing economy has hit the popularity of his government and party. 

Snapshot of German power at Bild summer fest

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 At any one of the dozen high-powered Berlin summer parties thrown by major media outlets and the political parties in Germany each year you can count on finding a reasonable cross-section of government and industry movers and shakers to rub elbows with. But nowhere in Germany can you find as rich an assortment of A-list government, business, media and entertainment industry types as at the “Sommerfest” held by Bild newspaper.

From Chancellor Angela Merkel and Deutsche Bank chairman Josef Ackermann to heavyweight boxers, assorted actors and actresses, and people famous for just being famous, there is no more eclectic gathering of 750 people who see themselves as Germany’s best and brightest — all on fine form ahead of Germany’s cherished two-month long summer holiday season.

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