Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
In the six days since a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, the world has responded with vast amounts of aid and promises of long-term reconstruction, something the Caribbean country’s creaking infrastructure desperately needs.
The World Bank and the United States pledged $100 million each, the United Nations promised $10 million and announced a “flash” appeal for $500 million more, and dozens of companies including Google, Microsoft and Bank of America committed $1 million a piece. Hollywood stars, rap singers and tennis champions all immediately raised money themselves or lent their support to encourage donations to the relief effort.
The European Union was, at least initially, a bit more low-key.
The bloc of 27 countries has a foreign aid budget of nearly 8 billion euros ($11.4 billion), around 45 percent of which is allocated to humanitarian relief and development work. But 24 hours after the quake hit, with fears of up to 200,000 dead, the EU as an institution had promised only 3 million euros of “fast-track funding”. Individual member states had made their own, generous bilateral pledges to Haiti, but the EU and its executive Commission was still battling to coordinate a unified response from the 27 member states as a whole.
Two days after the earthquake struck, the EU’s newly appointed high representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, said EU ministers would meet to discuss the situation. Over the weekend — with bodies still being dug out of the rubble in Haiti — the EU announced that ministers would discuss holding an international conference on Haiti during Monday’s meeting, but didn’t say when any such conference would take place or where, or what the aid funding target might be.
Controversial U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson said on Wednesday that earth-quake devastated Haiti was cursed because of a past pact that the island's inhabitants had made with the devil. The comments, which have spread like wildfire through the blogosphere and eslewhere on the Internet, were made during a broadcast of his Christian Broadcasting Network.
from Africa News blog:
President Barack Obama’s decision to end trade benefits for Guinea, Madagascar and Niger shows some stiffening of Washington’s resolve to act against those seen to be moving in the opposite direction to demands for greater democracy in Africa.
But the fact that new benefits were simultaneously extended to Mauritania may also give a lesson in how would-be coup makers should best behave if they want to get away with it.
Sweden complained that the recent Copenhagen climate change summit was a “disaster.” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described it as “at best flawed and at worst chaotic.” Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, dubbed the outcome confirmation of a “climate apartheid.” For South Africa it was simply “not acceptable.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who for over a year had been urging the 192 members of the United Nations to “seal the deal” in Copenhagen, saw things differently. In a statement issued by his press office, Ban said the two-week meeting had a “successful conclusion with substantive outcomes.” Speaking to reporters, the secretary-general expanded on that: “Finally we sealed the deal. And it is a real deal. Bringing world leaders to the table paid off.” However, he tempered his praise for the participating delegations by noting that the outcome “may not be everything that everyone hoped for.”
In the sound and fury following the U.N. nuclear governors’ censure of Iran last week for its cover-up of a second uranium enrichment site, and Tehran’s rejection of a nuclear cooperation deal with world powers, a broader, festering issue was obscured.
That is the question of “alleged military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear programme — that is, whether Tehran illicitly coordinated projects to process uranium, test high explosives and revamp the cone of a missile to fit a nuclear payload.
Once a year, North Korea’s often vitriolic rhetoric machine fires up with special intensity to attack those who attack its human rights record. The exchanges usually come toward the end of the year when the U.N. General Assembly approves what has become an annual measure criticising North Korea for having one of the worst rights records in the world.
Reclusive North Korea is a member of only a few international organisations so the annual rebuke at the United Nations stings particularly hard for the state that bills itself as a workers’ paradise, or as it said in a state media report on Tuesday: “the best socialist state in the world as it is centred on the popular masses”.
from AxisMundi Jerusalem:
Want to know how it feels to be George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East? Try getting from Jerusalem to Ramallah on a typical weekday at the rush hour. And experience stalemate, frustration, competitive selfishness, blind fury and an absence of movement that even the most stubborn and blinkered of West Bank bus drivers might see as a metaphor for the peace process that is going nowhere fast right now.
It took me 2 full hours to drive the 100 metres (yards) or so from the Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank barrier around Jerusalem to reach the relatively open main street through Qalandiya refugee camp, the gateway to Ramallah. The reason? Well, at its simplest it's traffic chaos caused by anarchy, a vacuum of law and order. Look further, as with much else in the Middle East, and you get a conflicting and contrasting range of explanations.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Very roughly summarised, this 21st century version of the domino theory suggests that a victory for Islamist militants in Afghanistan would so embolden them that they might then overrun Pakistan - a far more dangerous proposition given its nuclear weapons.
By Robin Emmott
Securing the United States’s border from illegal immigrants, terrorists and weapons of mass destruction “continues to be a major challenge,” says the United States Government Accountability Office in a new report. It is also proving to be expensive in both lives and money.
In dollar terms, the outlay is substantial. Every time someone breaks a hole in the U.S.-Mexico border wall, it costs about $1,300 to repair. The estimated cost of maintaining the 661-mile (1,058 km) double-layered fence along part of its 2,000-mile (3,000 km) border with Mexico over the next 20 years is $6.5 billion, the GAO report says.
President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain have deliberately raised the stakes in the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme by dramatising the disclosure that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant. Their shoulder-to-shoulder statements of resolve, less than a week before Iran opens talks with six major powers in Geneva, raised more questions than they answer.
It turns out that the United States has known for a long time (how long?) that Iran had been building the still incomplete plant near Qom. Did it share that intelligence with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and if not, why not? Why did it wait until now, in the middle of a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, to make the announcement -- after Iran had notified the International Atomic Energy Authority of the plant's existence on Monday, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had delivered a defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday and after the Security Council had adopted a unanimous resolution calling for an end to the spread of nuclear weapons on Thursday?