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Archive for May 2010

Union of South Africa created 100 years ago

May 31, 2010 - SOUTH AFRICA

The 100th anniversary of the Union of South Africa comes around on May 31. It is one of two of the country’s almost unmentionable milestone birthdays. The other is the 50th anniversary of the Republic of South Africa on 31 May 2011. Both symbolize the extreme policies of racial segregation involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites that became known as apartheid. They represent a then-and-now way to measure progress in post-apartheid South Africa.

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International Criminal Court reviews founding treaty

May 31, 2010 - KAMPALA

The Review Conference of the International Criminal Court Statute will take stock of the state of international justice and consider amendments to the ICC founding treaty, the Rome Statute, to strengthen it. The conference will review the list of crimes within ICC jurisdiction, and potentially add drug trafficking and terrorism. If the United States sends an observer, as it did to the ICC Assembly of State Parties in November, it will be read as a sign that Washington might reconsider its ICC boycott.

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European Space Agency turns 35

May 31, 2010 - PARIS

The European Space Research Organisation and European Launcher Development Organisation merged on 31 May 1975 to form the European Space Agency. The ESA milestones listed in the anniversary tributes won’t include the inauguration of the navigation system Galileo, which was designed to rival the United States’ Global Positioning Satellite system and Russia’s GLONASS. Delay-plagued Galileo won’t be operational until at least 2012.

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Colombians vote for president

May 30, 2010 - COLOMBIA

President Alvaro Uribe, who is still popular enough for a third win, won’t be allowed to run because of a two term limit. The main candidates, two-time mayor of Bogota known for his anti-corruption stance, Antanas Mockus, and former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, have indicated they will continue Uribe’s security campaign against leftist FARC rebels and cocaine traffickers and his pro-business approach. A recent poll gives Mokus a slight lead.

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Pittsburgh hosts annual National Rifle Association meeting

May 29, 2010 - UNITED STATES

At its 140th Annual Meetings and Exhibits in the Pennsylvania city of Pittsburgh, the National Rifle Association will vet potential cantidates for the 2012 United States presidential and congressional election at a time when they might need more firepower than usual. The nation’s porous background-check system allowed Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in January’s mass shooting, to purchase weapons. The organization opposes attempts to close the loopholes. The suspect purchased the handgun that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, in Tucson from a licensed dealer despite indications he was mentally ill. His background check at the dealer came back clean. The NRA, one of the best-funded and most powerful lobbies in the United States, insists the loopholes were not a factor in Tucson.

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Due Date for Nepal Constitution to be finalized

May 28, 2010 - NEPAL

The deadline for the finalization of the Constitution of the Republic of Nepal to replace its Interim Constitution is 28 May 2010. There are fears that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will declare a state of emergency if the Constituent Assembly fails to deliver it by the due date. An unmet deadline for a constitution acceptable to all parties could trigger another civil war, while increasing India’s and China’s tug-of-war for the Himalayan Kingdom.

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Norway hosts 55th Eurovision Song Contest

May 25, 2010 - OSLO

The winner of the 54th Eurovision Song Contest, Norway, hosts the 55th edition of one of the most followed television events in Europe. The original announced date, 22 May, was changed to later in the month because it conflicted with another mega-TV draw, the Champions League football final. The host city is still undecided. Moscow, the 54th host, set a record for spending that the Norwegian host city might or might not choose to match.

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Argentina celebrates bicentenary of revolution

May 25, 2010 - ARGENTINA

On 25 May 1810, revolutionaries deposed the Spanish viceroy and formed a junta. The royalists were defeated in the war that followed, and independence was declared on 9 Jul 1816. Argentina is one of several South American countries marking the bicentenary of their revolution in 2009-2010. It is likely to celebrate the milestone by trying to rescue its own revolutionary heroes from relative obscurity on the continent, where Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan independence leader, has acquired cult status.

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First section of Autobahn completed 75 years ago

May 19, 2010 - GERMANY

The first section of the Nazi-built freeway, a 14-mile stretch between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, was completed on 19 May 1935. Adolph Hitler is generally credited with being the father of the Autobahn, the now 6800-mile national freeway system in Germany that has no posted speed limits. The anniversary invites a harder look at the 1935 date and at how much credit Hitler deserves for the concept. It also invites a look at whether unrestricted speeds and freeways are under threat in Germany.

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63rd World Health Assembly convenes

May 17, 2010 - GENEVA

Up to 3000 delegates from 190 nations are expected at the 63rd World Health Assembly, where pandemic influenza H1N1 will be prominent on the agenda. As of Apr 25 this year, more than 214 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 17,919 deaths. A draft global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol is due at the 2010 assembly, at which the 30th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox will be observed. Polio eradication remains elusive.

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Famed Moscow Metro turns 75

May 15, 2010 - RUSSIA

The first line of Moscow’s architecturally-extravagent Metro train system, the Sokolnicheskaya Line, with just 13 stations, was opened on 15 May 1935. Seventy-five years on, the Metro system has grown into a network of 11 lines and over 160 stations, and new stations open every year. Two recent suicide bombings are likely to accelerate the steep fall in ridership. Officials blame the fall on the country’s economic crisis, which has put many Russians out of work.

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National Rifle Association holds annual meetings

May 14, 2010 - UNITED STATES

Business at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, in Charlotte, North Carolina, includes rallying members to vote in the United States mid-term election for pro-gun candidates, and assessing recent wins and losses for the gun lobby. A new law that allows guns, including semiautomatics, in national parks and wildlife refuges unless banned by state law, ranks as a win: the NRA was its prime backer. The body will be alert for moves to tighten gun laws after several recent mass shootings.

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