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Archive for June 2010

Special assembly votes new German president into office

June 30, 2010 - BERLIN

The Federal Council, which brings together the entire membership of the Berlin-based Bundestag parliament and an equal number of representatives nominated by the 16 federal states, votes for a successor to Horst Köhler. The German president resigned in May after coming under fire for linking military action abroad with the defense of German economic interests. For historical and political reasons, German military involvement in Afghanistan and elsewhere is a touchy issue.

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Polar bear protection measure due by deadline

June 30, 2010 - UNITED STATES

The federal government is due to designate areas of critical habitat for polar bears off Alaska’s north coast before a deadline of 30 June 2010 in partial settlement of a lawsuit brought against the United States government by three conservation groups. The areas include oil and gas exploration sites. Conflicting cases and rulings remove any certainty from protection measures. The oil-dependent state of Alaska has sued to strip the polar bear of protected status.

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Court hears case against Gaza-Egypt border barrier

June 29, 2010 - CAIRO

An administrative court hears a case by supporters of Gaza Strip Palestinians against the steel barrier Egypt is building to prevent tunneling under the Gaza-Egypt border. The Palestinian territory has been under a tighter Israeli and Egyptian economic blockade since 2007. Enforced to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons into Gaza, it cut off all but bare humanitarian aid to Gazans, who use the tunnels to bring in supplies of everything else — at black market prices.

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Volatile country holds presidential election

June 28, 2010 - BURUNDI

The presidential vote — a direct election by all voters, not parliament, for the first time — is a potential turning point for vulnerable Burundi. It falls one month into the country’s staggered election, which begins with district polls in May and continues through September. President Pierre Nkurunziza plans to stand again. The presence many former combatants fuels the violence between activists affiliated with the ruling CNDD-FDD or opposition parties, creating an explosive mix.

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Partial lunar eclipse timed for movie release

June 26, 2010 - SPACE

The partial eclipse, during which the Moon will take on a reddish glow, will be visible from much of the Americas, the Pacific and eastern Asia. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight vampire series, will be released four days later. The almost-matching dates suggests the promoters know all about the partial eclipse and plan to use its eeriness to boost the movie.

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Canada hosts G20, G8 summits

June 25, 2010 - CANADA

Group of Eight and Group of Twenty heads of government debate touchy issues such as global economic governance, with the G20 summit emerging as the dominant voice.The global economic crisis remains the top issue for both groups. G8 leaders meet Jun 25-26 in Huntsville, rural Ontario. The G20 summit follows in Toronto, Jun 26-27. The Liberal opposition is taking issue with the Can. $1.1 billion cost of the summit and a fake lake. The government argues the main cost is for security.

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Korean War started 60 years ago

June 25, 2010 - SOUTH KOREA

On 25 Jun in 1950, North Korea unleashed an attack southward across the 38th parallel, launching the Korean War. Though the guns have been silent for decades, the war has not ended. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung marked the 50th anniversary with an historic reconciliation gesture, but Pyongyang used the 59th anniversary to step up its threats. The 60th anniversary, in 2010, sees North-South tensions at a high point because of the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

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International Whaling Commission countries meet in search of compromise

June 21, 2010 - MOROCCO

The 62nd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission takes place in Agadir. The main quest will be for a grand compromise on an IWC ad hoc proposal. It would allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to hunt openly despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, but put their programs under strict IWC monitoring and aim for sharp reductions in their catch over 10 years. A vote by three-quarters of the 88 IWC countries would be needed for any deal, making it doubtful the IWC can find consensus.

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Swedish crown princess marries commoner

June 19, 2010 - SWEDEN

When Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden marries commoner Daniel Westling in Stockholm Cathedral, the fitness trainer gains a title as well as a wife. Thereafter, he will be HRH Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. The 1000-strong guest list for the wedding will include Europe’s crowned heads. The city’s celebratory festival starts Jun 6, National Day. Some 2 million people, including hundreds of foreign journalists, are expected for the big party. And a second royal wedding is in the planning stages.

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Harry Potter theme park opens in Florida

June 18, 2010 - UNITED STATES

Fans of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books will be able to experience the boy wizard’s world at a Hogwarts Castle in Orlando, Florida, starting Jun 18. Muggles who can’t wait until June will be able to preview the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park on May 28. Innovative merchandising features are built into the experience. At the wand shop, they will be able to re-enact a scene from the beginning of the Harry Potter story, in which the young wizard is chosen by his wand.

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British troop ship Lancastria sank 70 years ago: a secret disaster

June 17, 2010 - FRANCE

The British troop ship Lancastria sank in minutes off the French coast after being bombed by German planes in 1940. An estimated 4,000 troops and civilians died. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a 100-year gag on publication of the details. The 70th anniversary will intensify the campaign for official recognition of the sinking as the greatest maritime disaster in Britain’s history, with twice the combined death toll of the Titanic and Lusitania.

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EU leaders meet for last summit of Spanish presidency

June 17, 2010 - BRUSSELS

The June European Union summit represents a useful point to evaluate the Lisbon Treaty-mandated changes in the bloc. Six months into the new system, there are obvious questions. Has there been any movement on issues that concern all 27 EU members? Has the rotating president, Spain, been able to press its own agenda? Madrid’s to-do list includes urging the establishment of a Palestinian state. Are two presidents at the EU helm better than one? The arrangement is seen as ripe for turf wars.

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