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Archive for October 2009

European Union leaders meet

October 29, 2009 - BRUSSELS

European Union leaders meet for the first summit of the EU presidency of Sweden, the member that has the highest share of renewable sources in its energy use – at around 43 per cent. Its stated goal is to see the rest of the bloc in step on climate issues before the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen in December. A coherent EU climate goal could be elusive as the bloc faces institutional uncertainty and members are battling Europe’s most severe economic depression in decades.

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NASA tests new Moon rocket, Ares 1-X

October 27, 2009 - UNITED STATES

NASA has set Oct 27 for the launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida of the 327-foot-tall Ares 1-X, a test version of the Ares 1 launch vehicle, but vibration problems threaten the plan. Ares 1 and the Orion Crew Capsule are under development as NASA’s Constellation Program to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars. The program has critics, who say Orion and Ares rockets are not the best option to retake a lead in the space race. Funding worries are helping them sell their point.

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Labour Party holds pivotal annual conference

October 27, 2009 - ENGLAND

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he will overcome plunging ratings and lead his Labour Party to victory in the next general election. He might not get the chance. If the opposition Conservatives continue to lead in the opinion polls, the 2009 Annual Labour Party Conference in Brighton is likely to replace him. The resignation of several ministers, Labour’s poor showing in European and local elections and outrage over the release of the so-called Lockerbie bomber have weakened his hold.

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Rival Koreas resume family reunions

October 26, 2009 - NORTH KOREA

The two Koreas reached a deal in August to resume the reunions of families separated for over 60 years by the Korean War. Experts suggest Pyongyang is reaching out to Seoul to ease the financial pain of United Nations sanctions, which were imposed after the North exploded a nuclear device in May. Some 100 families will be reunited at the Mount Kumgang, which is run by an affiliate of the Hyundai Group from the South. The reunions have not been held for two years. The families will be selected by lottery.

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Dutch authorities to say if 13-year-old can sail solo around world

October 26, 2009 - AMSTERDAM

The Dutch child protection agency, evaluating the physical and mental fitness of 13-year-old Laura Dekker to sail solo around the world, is expected to announced its decision. She had planned to set out on Sep 1 on her 26-foot yacht in an attempt to break a world record. A Dutch court ruled on Aug 28 that she is too young and ordered the evaluation. Officials argue that isolation, sleep deprivation, weather hazards and danger in foreign ports would be too much for a 13-year-old.

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ASEAN plans second summit of 2009

October 23, 2009 - THAILAND

Heartened by its success at hosting a foreign ministers’ forum in July without security incidents, the Association of South-East Asian Nations set a date for the 15th annual ASEAN summit. The second summit of 2009, it will meet at the resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin. There, ASEAN leaders will continue talks on a European Union-style economic alliance and the new ASEAN Charter, which critics have attacked as toothless. A high point could be the adoption of a human rights charter for the 10-nation body.

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Asturias ceremony honors mobile phone and e-mail developers, architect, naturalist, WHO, others

October 23, 2009 - SPAIN

American engineers Martin Cooper and Raymond S. Tomlinson receive the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research for contributing to the development of the mobile phone and email respectively. The two lines of research have revolutionized the way thousands of millions of people all over the world communicate, according to the jury. Other 2009 laureates include British naturalist Sir Richard Attenborough, British architect Sir Norman Foster and the World Health Organization.

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Slovakia hosts meeting of NATO defense ministers

October 22, 2009 - BRATISLAVA

A year ago at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting, Russia’s reawakened militarism was the biggest preoccupation. Now, worry about Afghanistan overshadows all else. For the coalition forces, 2009 has been the deadliest year since the United States-led invasion in 2001. Afghanistan tops the priorities of new NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, so US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates might have his help as he tries to coax more troops from NATO allies who see the war as unwinnable.

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(New Date) President of West African country resets parliamentary poll date

October 20, 2009 - NIGER

The uranium-exporting West African country of Niger holds an election for its 113-seat unicameral National Assembly on Oct 20 that results from a decree by its president, Mamadou Tandja. Annoyed at opposition to his attempt to cling to power, he dissolved parliament on May 26 and announced the election. Opposition coalition head Mahamadou Issoufou, a presidential hopeful, condemned what he called a “coup d’etat” by Tandja. Opposition parties plan to boycott the vote.

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European Union foreign policy chief steps down

October 18, 2009 - BRUSSELS

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has represented the bloc for 10 years, plans to step down just as the job he holds could gain real clout. Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty creates the posts of EU president and an EU foreign minister. Solana, a former Spanish foreign minister and NATO secretary-general, would have been in line for the latter. Solana’s successor will have the challenge of trying to unify the bloc’s foreign policy.

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Gay activists plan mass demonstration for rights

October 17, 2009 - WASHINGTON DC

Gay activists plan to march again on Washington to demand Congress act to establish equal rights for the gay community. The first march on Washington, in 1993, attracted 300,000-1,000,000 participants. The 2009 march coincides with National Coming Out Day and the launch of a campaign for equality for the gay, lesbian and transgender community. The announcement preceded President Barak Obama ‘s signing of a memorandum that increases gay rights but falls short of the community’s demands.

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China hosts conference of reproductive rights

October 17, 2009 - BEJING

China hosts the 5th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health & Rights. The question is whether the rights discussed will cause the host country to question its own policies. Its rigid one-baby policy could become a topic at the conference. Apart from any rights issues of the policy, which has led to abortions of girls in families intent on having a boy, it has left the countryside short of females.

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