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Archive for April 2011

Prince William marries Kate Middleton

April 29, 2011 - LONDON

Prince William, second in line to the British throne, marries long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton in London’s historic Westminster Abbey on Apr 29. His choice of a bride has met general approval, but the date and cost are looming as issues. It almost coincides with a national referendum on a change to the voting system and with voting in devolved and local governments around the kingdom. In Britain’s age of austerity, the cost of the nuptials to the public purse could attract negative attention.

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Shuttle Endeavour lifts off. End of an era?

April 29, 2011 - UNITED STATES

NASA Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134) lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on 29 Apr, its last mission, 30 years after the shuttle program started: STS 1 lifted off on 12 Apr 1981. The final shuttle mission, set for June, passes to Atlantis. Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of the United States Congress member who was gunned down in January, will command the flight. He expects his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, to have recovered enough to watch the launch. The White House has scrapped the shuttle successor, Project Constellation, in favor of commercial space flight. The decision, if not reversed, spells the end of NASA manned space flight after 50 years.

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Earthquake drill aims to prepare midwesterners for disasters ;

April 28, 2011 - UNITED STATES

The organizers of the Great Central United States ShakeOut say the event, centered around a simultaneous drop, cover and hold drill at 10:15 am (CDT) on Apr 28, will involve more than 1 million people. The Japanese earthquake disaster in March and upcoming bicentenary of the New Madrid Earthquakes in December could increase interest in the event. It will be staged in the states impacted by the 1811 earthquakes. Home to some 40 million people, the area is still vulnerable. The member states of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, which is organizing the event, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The epicenter of the historic earthquake was present-day Memphis in Tennessee.

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Green Climate Fund nations meet

April 28, 2011 - MEXICO CITY

Mexico City hosts the first meeting of the 40-country committee tasked with getting the Green Climate Fund, an outcome of the Dec 2010 climate summit, on the road. The fund obliges 40 rich countries to finance US $100 billion a year in climate aid for developing countries from 2020. The aid is meant to help them curb greenhouse gas emissions by switching to fuels from renewable sources. The United Nations was forced to delay the meeting because of a row over which countries would be represented.

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Government scraps, replaces terrorism alert color code system

April 27, 2011 - UNITED STATES

The United States Department of Homeland Security ordered a review in 2009 of the color-coding, called the Homeland Security Advisory System, used to inform the public of the potential for terror. The task force reported that the system suffered from a lack of credibility and clarity, and that it taught Americans to be scared, not prepared. It is due to be dropped by Apr 27 and replaced by the National Terrorism Advisory System, which aims to notify specific audiences about specific threats.

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Ukraine plans summit for 25th anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster

April 26, 2011 - UKRAINE

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych plans an international summit on Apr 19 in Kiev, a few days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion on 26 Apr. He plans to seek more aid to enclose the damaged reactors and address continuing problems from the accident. Donors might balk at the cost. The 25th anniversary will see memorials, vigils and bigger-than-usual protests, with Japan’s Fukushima crisis feeding anti-nuclear sentiment.

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Chadian President runs for a fourth term

April 24, 2011 - CHAD

President Idriss Deby Itno runs again for the presidency in April. So he could stand again, he engineered the removal of term limits from the country’s new constitution in Jun 2005. Five candidates have come forward to oppose him. The force of an opposition threat of boycotts depends on whether a coup-installed leader would care about questions of legitimacy. The vote was postponed from Apr 3 to Apr 24.

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President Evo Morales sets deadline for planting trees

April 22, 2011 - BOLIVIA

President Evo Morales announced a plan in Apr 2010 to plant 10 million trees by 22 Apr 2011, Earth Day. He did not say whether the campaign will embrace two other programs — the Cochabamba Project and the Nestle Waters France project in Peru and Bolivia. Both are massive tree-planting campaigns aimed at reversing Amazon deforestation, but also raising timber for cutting. Peru set out in 2009 to plant 40 million trees.

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Nations compete for 10th Cricket World Cup

April 19, 2011 - BANGLADESH

India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan — four of many countries where the sport is like a religion — were set to share hosting of the Cricket World Cup in 2011. The International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, stripped Pakistan of hosting rights after a terror attack on visiting players on 3 Mar 2009. The decision upset Pakistan, which is considering a boycott. Recent attacks in India suggest it could be at least as vulnerable as Pakistan, and fear could thin stadium numbers and revenue.The competition is held every four years. The ICC says it as the top trophy for a sport it describes as second in popularity only to football (soccer). The competition will use cricket’s One Day International (ODI) format, with 14 national cricket teams competing. According to the ICC, Australia has been the most successful of the five teams to have won the tournament, taking three titles. The West Indies have won twice, while India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have each won once.

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International Monetary Fund and World Bank hold Spring meeting

April 18, 2011 - WASHINGTON DC

Global economic and financial leaders at the World Bank-International Monetary Fund meet next in Apr 2011. They are likely to follow up on decisions taken at G20 meetings in 2010, debate measures to curb currency manipulation, prod China to devalue its yuan, voice concern about unsustainable debt, and fine-tune recent reforms made by both bodies: some reforms gives developing member countries more clout. Ways and means remain elusive.

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Bay of Pigs fiasco occurred 50 years ago

April 17, 2011 - CUBA

Fidel Castro’s forces repelled the Bay of Pigs invasion, a CIA-sponsored effort by 1113 Cuban exiles to overthrow the Cuban leader, 50 years ago. The exiles were defeated in three days. Most were taken prisoner. The incident has become a catch phrase for any fiasco, and it blighted the early days of the John F. Kennedy administration. The anniversary could be the symbolic date on which United States and European Union lift or ease their present trade and travel restrictions on the island. Despite continuing questions about human rights problems in the still-Communist country, there is a bill in the US Congress that would lift the American ban on travel to Cuba and increase American food exports to the island. The European Union is also debating whether to change the Continent’s so-called common position toward Cuba. Havana has long objected to the European Union’s insistence that the regime must show progress on human rights and democracy before it can hope to improve relations with the 27-nation bloc.

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Cuba holds first Communist congress in 14 years

April 16, 2011 - CUBA

Cuba is eager to clear the way for the private sector in order to survive, and Cuban leader Raul Castro has announced plans for the the island’s first Communist Party congress in 14 years to present the party’s program of reforms. The proposal emphasizes that the socialist system in force since Raul Castro’s brother, Fidel Castro, took power in 1959 will not be renounced. Instead, it will coexist with market forces and foreign investment.

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