The Global Note: China crash…Drug Lord’s Baby…Cervical Cancer Fight…Just Stop Texting

By Tom Nagorski

Sep 27, 2011 11:31am

CHINA SUBWAY CRASH

A crash – and another eye-opener for transit trouble in China. Two subway cars collided in Shanghai this morning – and the culprit appears to be the same signaling problem that caused the massive high-speed rail crash back in July. The Shanghai Metro reports that the number of injured passengers now stands at 212, with 3 seriously injured but that number is expected to rise. Karson YIU reports that 500 passengers were evacuated from the station. As Karson YIU reports from Beijing, “the Chinese version of twitter Sina-Weibo is already erupting in popular rage, many comparing it to the deadly Wenzhou high speed train crash in July that killed 40 passengers. Even though this latest incident is considerably less deadly, the comparisons may not be that off base. According to various reports including from caixin.cn, both crashes seemed to originate from a faulty signal system made by the same company Alstom and its joint-venture partner, CASCO Signal Ltd. The company has also provided the signaling systems in five other Chinese cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Changchun, Tianjin and Dalian.” 

EUROZONE CRISIS: A BETTER DAY?

-GREECE TO RECEIVE BAILOUT LOANS “IN TIME” Greece’s Finance Minister said today that the country will receive the next batch of bailout loans in time to avoid a potentially disastrous default. The loans will total over $10.8 billion. The minister said parliament will also vote on the latest austerity reforms by the end of October.-

MERKEL AND GREEK PM TO MEET Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou admits his debt-ridden country has been “mismanaged” but says Greece still has “great potential” and can emerge from its deep economic crisis. Papandreou will meet today with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Meanwhile, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF are due in Athens this week to review Greece’s progress in cutting its debt levels.

-GLOBAL MARKETS OPTIMISTIC…for today at least. All the above sent stock prices higher across Asia and Europe today, with hopes rising that eurozone leaders and the IMF will agree on a comprehensive package to solve their debt crisis. Still – it’s noteworthy that the increased optimism comes despite European Union officials stressing that no grand plan of action has been agreed upon…yet.

-JAPAN READY TO HELP

A noble offer from battered Japan: Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Japan would consider sharing some of the burden related to a Greek bailout, if Europe mapped out a rational plan that could ease market jitters. Azumi’s comments came a day after the Nikkei average fell to a 2 and a half year low. 

MONSTER TYPHOON

 A powerful typhoon has struck the Philippines, triggering floods, cutting power and halting work in the capital Manila. Typhoon Nesat also forced the closure of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the US embassy in the city.  At least two people were killed and another four were reported missing. There has been a lot of strong video out of the Philippines today. Twelve people died today, and waves as tall as palm trees were seen crashing over seawalls.  AP photographers managed to get some very strong shots even as rain obscured the view of anyone on the streets. The AP reports that soldiers and police scrambled to safely evacuate thousands of people in low-lying areas, where rivers and the sea spilled into shanties, hospitals, hotels and even the seaside U.S. Embassy compound. On a historical note, today’s massive flooding comes exactly a day after Manila held two-year commemorations for the nearly 500 people killed during a 2009 cyclone. We just cleared this video of a fallen billboard for use.  

PAKISTAN-U.S.: IT GETS WORSE

 -PAKISTAN TIED TO DEADLY AMBUSH Not what the diplomatic relationship-repairers needed: a damaging account of a four-year-old incident. The New York Times reports that the Pakistanis are directly tied to the 2007 Teri Mangal ambush that left one American dead and three injured. Through interviews with both Afghan and American officials that were present that day, the Times provides a detailed tick-tock of the day. Neither the Pakistani nor American government has confirmed the details of the attack (still trying to hold that relationship together). 

-BLAME GAME

The Washington Post reports that many Pakistanis blame the U.S. entirely for the increase in attacks in their country since 2001. One banker tells the Post: “The government is siding with the United States…The people are not.” Some numbers: more than 10,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed in the decade-long conflict, according to the Pakistani Institute for Peace Studies.

IRAQ & U.S.

-FIGHTER JET DEAL An American general says Iraq has agreed to a $3 billion deal to buy 18 fighter jets from the United States. The agreement for the F-16 jets comes as Baghdad is considering asking U.S. troops stay in Iraq beyond a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline to continue training Iraqi security forces. U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter on Tuesday said either American forces or contractors could train Iraqi pilots on the jets. He said the planes give Iraq a “game-changing capability” to maintain the sovereignty of its air space. The jets aren’t expected to arrive in Iraq until 2013. Iraq has said its air force is not ready to protect its air space alone. Iraqi officials were expected to announce details of the deal later Tuesday.

-ATTACK ON U.S. BASES DROP USA Today reports that counterterrorism operations conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces have interrupted the flow of sophisticated Iranian weapons to militants, including powerful rockets that hammered American bases this summer. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said there is “a clear trend” in recent weeks of fewer attacks by Iranian-backed militant groups against U.S. bases.  

ARAB SPRING 

-LIBYA – GADHAFI STRONGHOLD TAKEN? Alex MARQUARDT reports that the battle for Sirte continues. A NTC commander told AFP they have the port and fighters have made their way close to the center from the east. The New York Times reports that Gadhafi’s hometown is surrounded on three sides, while Gahdafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim claims to be freely going in and out of the city. Gadhafi is “very happy that he is doing his part in this great saga of the resistance,” Ibrahim told Reuters.

-LOCKERBIE – AND THE NEW LIBYA National Transition Council officials also say the Lockerbie “case is closed” and will not release any more evidence, in response to a Scottish request. 

-YEMEN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT? As violence continues in Yemen, there are reports that a suicide attacker driving an explosives-laden car has blown himself up next to the passing convoy of Yemen’s defense minister, who escaped the attack unscathed.

-SYRIA FIGHTING ESCALATES The  Telegraph is in al-Rastan, Syria this morning and reports that Syrian government forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, stormed the strategic town on Tuesday after fighting with army defectors. And — Alex MARQUARDT notes that another Ambassador is battling the regime, at least rhetorically. The British Ambassador Simon Collis has begun a blog:

-SAUDI ARABIA: ONE DAY AFTER REFORM, ACTIVIST IN COURT A Saudi activist will stand trial for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers, revealing clear limits on how far the conservative Muslim land is willing to go to grant women greater rights. This comes just a day after King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections.

DRUG LORD’S WIFE GIVES BIRTH…IN L.A.

Great story from the LATimes this morning: “The spaces for ‘Name of Father’ are blank. But the L.A. County birth certificates list the mother, who happens to be the young wife of a highly sought-after drug lord, Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman. Emma Coronel traveled to Southern California in mid-July and gave birth Aug. 15 to twin girls at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, according to birth records and a senior U.S. law enforcement official. Turns out Coronel, a 22-year-old former beauty queen, holds U.S. citizenship, which entitles her to travel freely to the United States. By being born in California, and to a mother who is an American citizen, her little girls also have U.S. citizenship. Guzman, 54, the multibillionaire fugitive head of the Sinaloa cartel, married Coronel the day she turned 18 in a lavish wedding in the highlands of central Mexico in 2007. She is believed to be his third or fourth wife and is a niece of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a onetime partner of Guzman who was killed in a July 2010 shootout with the Mexican army. U.S. federal agents apparently kept tabs on Emma Coronel even before she crossed the border at Calexico, through her hospital stay and until she left the country to return to Mexico. Although her husband tops most-wanted lists on both sides of the border, Coronel was not arrested because there are no charges against her, the law enforcement official said. 

FIGHTING CERVICAL CANCER…WITH VINEGAR

Great item in the “small fixes” series from the New York Times. It’s about an innovative way to fight cervical cancer in developing countries. Nurses brush vinegar on a woman’s cervix which makes precancerous spots turn white. They can then be immediately frozen off with a metal probe cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide. This is much more effective than the traditional method of testing women via a Pap smear because many countries lack high quality labs and the results can take weeks to arrive. Women who return to distant areas where they live are often hard to reach, a problem if it turns out they have precancerous lesions. 

KNOX TRIAL

Elizabeth VARGAS reports from Perugia: As closing arguments continue, a defense lawyer has suggested the court view Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of killing her roommate, not as the “femme fatale” her accusers describe but rather as a loving young woman. Lawyer Giulia Bongiorno even compared Knox to the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit, saying Tuesday she is faithful, like the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” character. 

COCA-COLA… MADE IN CHINA?

Coca-Cola now sees the U.S. becoming a less friendly business environment than China, its chief executive has revealed, citing political gridlock and an antiquated tax structure as reasons its home market has become less competitive. Muhtar Kent, Coke’s chief executive, told the Financial Times “You have a one-stop shop in terms of the Chinese foreign investment agency and local governments are fighting for investment with each other.”

WOMEN TO TAKE FRONT LINES IN AUSTRALIA

Joining New Zealand, Canada and Israel, Australia will remove all gender barriers in its military over the next five years, opening up positions that had previously been considered too dangerous for women, including front-line combat roles.  According to the New York Times, Australia’s Defense Minister described it as “a significant and major cultural change.”  This comes after recent reports that Libyan women were also taking up arms and heading to the frontlines, attending training in Benghazi just this past weekend.  

RIHANNA AND THE IRISH FARMER

Thanks to Paolo MARENGHI for flagging this from Northern Ireland: Rihanna was recording a video in a barley field - ahead of three shows in Belfast – and stripped to a bikini while she sang. 61-year-old farmer Alan Graham says he’d agreed to have her film there – but then his Christian beliefs and the sight of her dropping garments changed his mind. “She understood where I was coming from,” Graham said today. “We shook hands and parted company on good terms.”

JUST STOP TEXTING

The BBC reports that Indians are sending and receiving so many text messages it is wreaking havoc on the cell phone networks.  Today, the telecoms regulator in India has put a cap on the number of text messages which can be sent from a mobile phone. Under the new rules, no one will be able to send more than 100 texts in a day, officials say. 

LION CUB SAVED BY MOTHER

In a “Lion King”-like scene with a happy ending, a mother saved her cub who was clinging onto a cliff in these dramatic photos.

FATHER DROPS DAUGHTER AT BALLGAME

Whoops, writes Molly HUNTER. In the effort to catch a fly ball at a baseball game in Taiwan, this man drops his daughter. The girl’s mother does not look happy.

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