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Archive for September 2009

Soyuz blasts off for ISS with circus founder

September 30, 2009 - KAZAKHSTAN

When Soyuz TMA-16 blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, it will be carrying the seventh and possibly the last space tourist to the International Space Station. The Canadian Cirque du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte, will be occupying the third seat in the spacecraft, which, once the NASA shuttle is retired, will be needed to rotate the six-member ISS crews. Russian supermarket mogul and Duma member Vladimir Gruzdev had been named, but bowed out. Some reports say he was outbid by Laliberte.

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ICANN agreement with United States government expires

September 30, 2009 - UNITED STATES

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers governs the world of 1.5 billion Internet users under an agreement, which expires on Sep 30, with the United States Commerce Department. The European Commission wants the agreement for US government oversight of ICANN dissolved, replaced by an independent judicial body described as a “G12 for Internet governance.” The issue could result in a showdown between the European Union and the United States.

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European Union defense ministers meet informally

September 28, 2009 - SWEDEN

European Union defense ministers meeting informally in Gothenburg will look for progress in developing the bloc’s military capabilities and at the next steps in achieving the so-called Headline Goal 2010. The bloc is short of consensus on how to achieve it. The goal is to increase EU forces, to make them more flexible, mobile and interoperable, to make better use of available resources by pooling and sharing assets and increasing the responsiveness of multinational forces.

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Pope Benedict XVI visits ahead of election

September 26, 2009 - CZECH REPUBLIC

Pope Benedict XVI visits during a time of political turmoil in the Czech Republic. The center-right minority cabinet collapsed in a no-confidence vote in March. A caretaker government replaces it. The Pontiff’s visit is described as apostolic and coincides with the feast day of the country’s patron saint, St. Wenceslas, but its timing ahead of an October early parliamentary election could be viewed as political. It will raise the profile of candidates with whom he is photographed and of Catholic candidates in general.

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FIFA World Cup 84-country Trophy Tour begins in Egypt

September 24, 2009 - CAIRO

The trophy for the world’s most followed sporting spectacle, the FIFA World Cup, begins an 84-country, 215-day global tour that ends in South Africa on May 4, ahead of the 2010 competition in June. At each city along the way, soccer fans will be given the opportunity to have their photo taken with the solid-gold trophy. It is awarded to the national team that win’s football’s most famous prize. The winners retain it until the next tournament, and are awarded a replica.

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G20 leaders meet to assess global economic health

September 24, 2009 - UNITED STATES

The leaders of G20 countries will meet in Pittsburgh to assess the effectiveness of measures agreed at the April G20 summit. The growing swine flu epidemic could make the global economy even sicker, pushing the leaders into stronger measures than they agreed to at their April summit. They agreed on coordinated actions to revive the global economy, reform the financial sector, create an early warning systems, restructure the big international financial institutions, improve accountability and help developing countries.

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United Nations marks World Peace Day with campaign ;

September 21, 2009 - WORLD

For the 2009 Day of Peace, using Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, the United Nations plans to broadcast a message about the dangers of nuclear weapons. The UN is calling for short videos on nuclear disarmament/non-proliferation for its WMD – We Must Disarm campaign. Millions will rally for peace around the world, and two Australians will attempt to set a Guinness Record for the world’s longest handshake. The theme invites retrospectives on the Cold War and nuclear attack on Japan.

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Muslims mark fasting month of Ramadan

September 21, 2009 - WORLD

The first sight of the new crescent moon is the signal for Muslims around the world to begin a month of fasting and prapyer. In recent years insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have waited for Ramadan for major offensives, and the Taliban in Pakistan vowed to step up their attacks in Ramadan 2008. Any increase in violence poses an ethical dilemma for the other side of the conflicts–whether to back off the fight during Ramadan out of respect for Islam or to retaliate with full force.

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64th Session of UN General Assembly convenes

September 15, 2009 - UNITED NATIONS

The leaders of the 192 member states of the United Nations gather on Sep 15 to open the 64th General Assembly. General debate begins Sep 23, and some leaders will stay on for focus summits: climate Sep 22; maternal health Sep 23; and a Security Council summit on nuclear arms, led by President Barak Obama, Sep 24. Sixty-fourth session business includes follow-up on two recent UN initiatives — reforming UN peacekeeping operations and naming and shaming governments that recruit child soldiers.

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World Suicide Prevention Day aims to prod governments

September 10, 2009 - WORLD

World Suicide Prevention Day aims to remind governments that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. It’s also a day to revisit famous suicides, like Vincent Van Gogh’s, and the ones that include the deaths of other people, suicide-homicides. A recent Pakistan news story suggests prevention of this class of suicide-homicide, where it is attempted, could lie in rescuing trained suicide attackers before they kill, and reversing brainwashing that can begin at an early age.

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Santa Fe in New Mexico begins 16-month party for 400th birthday

September 5, 2009 - UNITED STATES

Invitations have been sent to President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and the Spanish royal family to attend the 400th brithday party of Santa Fe, which bills itself as the oldest capital city in the United States. Called VIVA! Santa Fe, the celebration begins on the Labor Day weekend 2009 and ends on New Year’s Eve 2010. New coins will mark the anniversary. For descendents of the Puebelo Indians on the wrong end of the conquest, the centenary is not a happy milestone.

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European Union foreign ministers meet informally

September 4, 2009 - STOCKHOLM

The 27 foreign ministers of the European Union meet in the capital of expansion-friendly EU president Sweden. Iceland’s foreign minister could be invited to sit in on both days. Its EU bid is likely to be fast-tracked to give the bloc a bigger voice in Arctic issues. The ministers of EU candidate countries Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey will sit in on the second day. Croatia’s and Macedonia’s accession bids have been set back, but Turkey’s bid might have been helped by a recent pipeline deal.

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