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Archive for September 2010

Annual Ig Nobel Prizes awarded for 20th time

September 30, 2010 - UNITED STATES

The Ig Nobel prizes will be awarded for the 20th time to risible and thought-provoking research projects. The prizes, awarded at a ceremony at Harvard University in Boston, were started as a spoof of the prestigious annual Nobel Prizes. One of the 10 laureates in 2009 was the inventor of brassiere that, in an emergency, can be converted into two protective face masks. A likely 2010 contender is a study that shows white horses attract fewer flies than dark horses. Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrated her brassiere at the 2009 Ig Nobel ceremony.

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Monumental Hoover Dam turns 75

September 30, 2010 - UNITED STATES

President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the iconic Hoover Dam 75 years ago on Sep 30. Regarded as monument to civil engineering, the 726-foot-high structure at the Nevada-Arizona border remains the highest concrete dam in the Western hemisphere. The Colorado River backs up 110 miles behind the dam, forming Lake Mead. The anniversary is a red-letter day for civil engineers, for historians and for souvenir sellers and collectors. It invites a new round of the dams-vs-environment debate, and even a few protesters.

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Tenth anniversay of intifada a likely flashpoint

September 28, 2010 - PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Palestinians mark the 10th anniversary of their second intifada against Israel weakened by an internal split and by hardship resulting from the Israeli siege on their territories. A controversial visit by Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to al-Aqsa Mosque on 28 Sep 2000 touched off the intifada, or uprising. New tensions at the mosque raise the specter of a third intifada on or before the anniversary.

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Venezuela holds parliamentary election

September 26, 2010 - VENEZUELA

Pro-government parties could face opposition in the 167-unicameral National Assembly election on Sep 26. Opposition parties boycotted the vote in 2005. This time they see votes in Venezuelans’ discontent with the gloomy economy, electricity rationing and revelations of graft. Leftist President Hugo Chavez’ control of the legislature isn’t under threat, but significant gains for the opposition could see him having to work harder to have his way. Reuters sees the chance of instability ahead of the vote.

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European Union defense ministers meet informally

September 23, 2010 - BELGIUM

BELGIUM 23-24 Sep 2010 European Union defense ministers meet informallyThe European Union describes the gathering of European Union defense ministers in Ghent as one of the most important events in the Belgian Presidency of the European Union. HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium will open the meeting. It is intended to showcase EU defense capability, Belgium’s own defense forces and defense industry, and to show off East Flanders. The ministers have to wrestle with the implications of huge anticipated defense budget cuts in many EU states.The potential slashing of tens of billions of euros from defence budgets leaves many major projects in limbo. The European defense industries left standing after the cuts will have one thing going for them. A new directive establishes, in effect, a common market in the bloc for defense equipment. Called the Directive on Intra-EU transfers of Defence Products, it removes EU market barriers for defense equipment by simplifying national licensing procedures to facilitate cross-border exchanges within the bloc. According to an EU memo about the directive, it will alleviate obstacles to intra-community trade while preserving Member States’ control over their defence and security interests. It also notes that the directive will make EU defense industries more competitive, and help EU states meet their military needs at lower cost. Previously heterogeneous and disproportionate national licensing systems hampered the security of supply between member States, cost business over 400 million euros a year; and curtailed market opportunities, according to the memo.

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UN chief hosts Millennium Development Goals summit

September 20, 2010 - NEW YORK

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosts the United Nations High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, also referred to as the MDG summit, with the aim of accelerating progress towards all the MDGs by 2015. Pakistan’s worst-ever floods will be discussed, either as part of the summit or a separate meeting on the sidelines.

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UN nuclear agency holds General Conference 54th Session

September 20, 2010 - VIENNA

Yukiya Amano, who succeeded Mohamad ElBaradei as director-general on Dec 1, will preside over the 2010 conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The veteran Japanese diplomat, who held senior arms control posts in Japan and was Tokyo’s IAEA representative, listed goals when he took office that do not include pressuring Tehran to make a deal or mention sanctions against Iran. The omission suggests he might try to steer the debate away from Iran to other pressing issues.

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Chile celebrates 200 years since start of independence drive

September 18, 2010 - CHILE

Chile marked the centenary of its independence drive in 1910 by inaugurating many public buildings. The bicentennial celebrations in 2010 are likely to see more of the same–plus cultural events that emphasize the country’s rejection of military dictatorships. Coins and stamps, probably depicting Bernardo O’Higgins, can be anticipated. The bicentenary is likely to be a flashpoint for the Mapuche, as 200 years of post-colonial government has not restored their ancestral lands.

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Region marks 40 years since Jordan violently expelled PLO

September 17, 2010 - MIDDLE EAST

Black September, Jordanian King Hussein’s war on the Palestine Liberation Organization, happened 40 years ago in September. It still reverberates. Tempers are raw after the deadly Israeli raid in May on a flotilla delivering aid to besieged Gaza Strip Palestinians. And September also sees the 10th anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and of other events that haven’t been forgiven. In a region committed to vengeance, the 40th anniversary represents yet another prompt for retaliation and counter retaliation.

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Pope Benedict XVI visits

September 16, 2010 - ENGLAND

Pope Benedict XVI will visit England in September. In addition to meeting with the country’s Catholics and politial figures, he is expected to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sep 19, deliver an address at Oxford University and another at Westminster Hall, where Saint Thomas More was tried and convicted before his beheading in 1535. The visit comes amid tensions with Britain’s Anglican church over his invitation to Anglicans who wish to convert to Rome while retaining their Anglican practices, seen as divisory in some quarters.

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World Trade Organization opens its doors

September 15, 2010 - GENEVA

The World Trade Organization, the 153-nation body that deals with the rules of trade between nations, holds a public relations exercise at a time when it needs to explain itself. The Doha Round of negotiations, aimed at fostering global trade, is on indefinite hold after 15 years, and the WTO has irked most of Europe by ruling in favor of United States aerospace company Boeing over its European rival. The event starts with a Public Forum 15-17 Sep, followed by the Open House on Sep 18.

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United Nations 65th Ordinary Session opens

September 14, 2010 - NEW YORK

The 65th Ordinary Session of the United Nations, over which Swiss politician Joseph Deiss will preside, opens Sep 14 with a prayer. General debate runs Sep 23-25 and Sep 27-30. Sustained economic growth and sustainable development top the preliminary agenda for the debate. A review of UN peacekeeping operations and of UN efficiency are also listed for debate. Other expected topics are Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment and Israel’s May 31 raid on Gaza-bound aid boats.

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