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Archive for October 2011

Asturias Awards – Spain’s equivalent of Nobel prizes – presented

October 21, 2011 - SPAIN

Prince Filipe of Asturias presents eight 2011 Asturias awards at a ceremony in Oviedo for the 31st time in October. The winners of the award for International Cooperation, New Yorker Bill Drayton, was honored for his work with social entrepreneurs. Drayton coined the term to describe those individuals who combine the pragmatic goal-oriented methods of business with the aims of a social reformer. Noted Canadian poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen and the British Royal Society were among the other laureates.The 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord has been bestowed on the heroes of Fukushima as a group representing the highest values of the human condition by trying to prevent the nuclear disaster caused by the tsunami that struck Japan from multiplying its devastating effects, disregarding the grave consequences to their lives.

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Judgment Day, leading to end of the world?

October 21, 2011 - WORLD

Some doomsday experts say we don’t have until 21 Dec 2012 to repent. For them, the big day is 21 Oct 2011, and the lead-up begins five months earlier. According to the doomsday calendar they have built from Genesis and other books of the Bible, the dead will rise from their graves on Judgment Day, 21 May. Five months of torment follows, culminating in The Rapture, when the world goes up in flames. The bloggers are already on top of the event, and blogging frenzy can be predicted as 2011 nears.

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Europe launches Galileo spacecraft at last

October 20, 2011 - FRENCH GUIANA

The European Space Agency launches the first two operational spacecraft of the Galileo satellite navigation system, Europe’s answer to the United States GPS system, from its spaceport in Kourou. If all goes to plan — the project is some seven years behind schedule — the ESA will be launching two spacecraft every three months. A Soyuz rocket, the inaugural Soyuz flight from its new facilities at Kourou, will launch the two satellites, the first of a global constellation of 30 satellites.

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Metrology conference to redefine kilogram, other units

October 17, 2011 - PARIS

The 24th Convocation of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), which meets every four to six years in Sèvres, a Paris suburb, is expected to announce new definitions for the kilogram, ampere, kelvin, and mole. All are units of the International System of Units (SI). The present kilo is only very nearly equal to the mass of 1,000 cubic cm of water. Metrologists say it needs to be exactly equal and stable as many units in the SI system are defined relative to the kilogram.

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D r a f t of new constitution expected in parliament

October 15, 2011 - ZIMBABWE

The committee rewriting Zimbabwe’s constitution expects to present a draft of the document to parliament on Oct 15, according to The Nation. The presentation paves the way for a constitutional referendum in January. The new charter is a prerequisite for new elections. The writing of the document, which will replace the 1980 charter that accompanied independence from Britain, has been delayed by a lack of funding and disputes between parties in the unity government on reforms.

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G20 finance ministers polish proposals for global economic reform

October 14, 2011 - PARIS

At their fourth meeting of 2011, the finance ministers of the Group of 20 developing and developed economies will be polishing proposals for G20 leaders to consider at the November summit. The proposals are refinements to the G20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth of 2010. The package includes a proposal by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the G20’s regulation task force. It’s aimed at shielding taxpayers from having to rescue failed banks again.

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Arizona town wants its own running of the bulls

October 14, 2011 - UNITED STATES

Cave Creek in Arizona is organizing a Running of the Bulls Festival, but opposition from animal rights group PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) could scuttle the plan. The organizers aim to emulate the celebrated 400-year-old bull running tradition in Pamplona, Spain. For the Cave Creek event, 40 1500-pound bulls will run six races down a main street track, with daredevils by the thousands trying to outrun them. It is promoted as a $25 Adrenaline rush, and better than drugs.

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Guadalajara hosts 16th Pan-American Games

October 14, 2011 - MEXICO

The Pan-American Games, the quadrennial sports event for the Western Hemisphere, will be a dry run for athletes with sights on the 2012 Summer Olympics. The event also offers top medal-winners Cuba and Canada an opportunity to bump the United States from first place on the medals chart, and for Mexico to be seen outside the context of its drug wars. The question is whether fear will shrink the games. One powerful drug cartel is named after Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city.During a presentation on the Games in President Felipe Calderón said the competition will provide a magnificent opportunity to raise the country’s international profile.

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Arizona town wants its own running of the bulls

October 14, 2011 - UNITED STATES

Cave Creek in Arizona is organizing a Running of the Bulls Festival, but opposition from animal rights group PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) could scuttle the plan. The organizers aim to emulate the celebrated 400-year-old bull running tradition in Pamplona, Spain. For the Cave Creek event, 40 1500-pound bulls will run six races down a main street track, with daredevils by the thousands trying to outrun them. It is promoted as a $25 Adrenaline rush, and better than drugs.

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Jury trial begins for suspected Russian arms dealer

October 11, 2011 - NEW YORK

Former Soviet military officer Viktor Bout, accused by the United States of offering to sell weapons to terrorist groups, goes on trial in federal court. The extradition of Bout, dubbed the Merchant of Death, from Thailand to the United States upset the Kremlin. The Russian Foreign Ministry says it was political, and his wife complains he was kidnapped. Judge Shira Scheindlin worries that Bout is so notorious that Googling his name could ruin a juror’s impartiality.

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South Korea hosts key UN conference on desertification

October 10, 2011 - SOUTH KOREA

Representatives of all 194 signatory nations meet in Changwon for the 10th Conference of the Parties to United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification. Described as the most important meeting of the parties, it is where decisions concerning the implementation of the convention are taken. Not all the news is bleak. Tree planting is showing promise, and the UNCCD web describes one program, in the Sahel, the drylands belt of Africa, where man is beating back the encroaching desert. Drylands cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s land area, and are found in 100 nations. The World Day to Combat Desertification 2011 was observed on Jun 17. It highlighted that desertification is on the rise in many countries due to the pressure on cultivatable lands from growing populations.

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Centenary of revolution celebrated

October 10, 2011 - TAIWAN

The centenary of China’s revolution will be celebrated with pomp and parades on both sides of the Strait, and in Chinatowns around the world. The mainland, Hong Kong and Macau celebrate Oct 10 as Xinhai Revolution Day. For Taiwan, it is Double Ten Day. The centenary can be counted on to stoke tensions over sovereignty and independence. If the tone is of the events is militaristic, the pragmatism that has characterized relations in recent years will be under threat.The anniversary marks the overthrown of the Qing Dynasty, the last in a 4000-year line of dynastic, autocratic rule in China. The Qing (1644-1911) was ruled by the Manchu ethnic dynasty in the Han-dominated country.

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