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Archive for February 2011

Gulf state celebrates milestone birthday ;

February 12, 2011 - ARAB EMIRATES

On 2 Dec 40 years ago, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan brought together seven sheikhdoms to form the United Arab Emirates. A “green” thrust and a recent law venture have set the Gulf state apart from other nations in the region, many of which have been plagued with unrest. The milestone invites a profile of the UAE’s distinct directions. One of them began with a mass tree planting in the desert, and the latest could see the UAE become an international law center. UAE citizens can expect a four-day festival, which focuses on the Gulf state’s cultural heritage, for the anniversary.

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Postponed summit to inaugurate regional bloc, CELAC

February 12, 2011 - CARACAS

The centerpiece of Venezuela’s bicentenary celebration was to be the inauguration of a new regional bloc, the Community of South American and Caribbean States (CELAC), at a summit of the region’s leaders in July. The event was postponed because of President Hugo Chávez’ cancer surgery. The rescheduling of the summit can be seen as a statement by Chávez that he is well enough to stand for reelection. CELAC represents a deliberate snub to the United States and Canada. Founded on 23 Feb 2010 in Mexico, it groups all the countries of the Americas except the United States and Canada. Ahora, a Cuban publication, notes that all Latin American and Caribbean heads of state will attend.

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61st Berlinale opens with new president and another tight year

February 10, 2011 - BERLIN

Italian actress Isabella Rossellini has been chosen to head the jury at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in what could be a difficult year for the event and movie industry in general. The proportion of small-budget films competing for the festival’s Golden and Silver Bear awards, the number of studios and countries represented, the size of festival audiences and the number of buyers will test the conventional wisdom that says the movie industry is recession proof.

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Vast India counts its people and documents caste

February 9, 2011 - INDIA

Some 2.5 million officials will conduct India’s Census-2011 in two phases — a house listing, which began in Apr 2010, and a full headcount in Feb 2011. The 15th census since 1872, it is described as the biggest attempt in history to count and classify the citizens of a single nation. As part of the operation, the nation’s caste system will be documented for the first time since the Raj, and biometric details and fingerprints will be gathered for a national ID database and identity cards.

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World Council Churches Central Committee meets

February 8, 2011 - GENEVA

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches meets at headquarters. The governing body of the WCC, a fellowship of 332 Christian faiths, it is likely to steer clear of Christian doctrine as it prepares for the Peace Convocation in May and the 2013 WCC assembly. The issues that divide many faiths, such as gay marriage and the ordination of women, gay men and lesbians, also divide the WCC. The focus is on areas where accord is achievable, such as climate change and human rights.

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Senegal hosts 2011 World Social Forum

February 6, 2011 - DAKAR

The World Social Forum returns to Africa in 2011. In 2011, unusually, the dates won’t coincide exactly with the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, but it is still intended as a counterweight to the Swiss event. A global entity, the WSF, which started in Brazil 11 years ago and has its critics, brings together anti-globalization, anti-capitalist and social justice movements. The WSF usually attracts left-leaning heads of state. One publication speculates that no African leaders will attend in 2011.

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Ronald Reagan’s birth centenary commemorated ;

February 6, 2011 - UNITED STATES

Republicans could still be weighing the legacy of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, when his centenary comes around in 2011. A revival of the Mount Rushmore scheme could be taken as a sign that any doubts about the policies of “the Great Communicator,” a former Hollywood actor, have been either laid to rest or set aside. Recent warm words for the Republican Reagan from the 44th US president, Barak Obama, a Democrat, appear to have stimulated the debate. Reagan died at 93 in 2004.

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Chinese Year of the pesky Rabbit begins

February 3, 2011 - CHINA

The year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. The animal is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs. For human Rabbits, the association with the animals is unflattering. Rabbits, however cute, are regarded as burrowing, voracious pests and overenthusiastic breeders. A report in July blames rabbits for disrupting a million-pound (UK) project aimed at mapping the history of the universe.Scientists at the University of Portsmouth in England planted 96 low-band radio antennas in a field the size of two football pitches to collect radio signals emanating from Space. A meter-high fence, embedded in the ground is now being built around the site to stop the rabbits from getting in or burrowing underneath. But rabbits are gnawing through the supports of the structures, forcing maintenance teams to visit repeatedly to stop the 4ft 6in antennas from toppling.

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Treasury releases redesigned US $100 bill

February 1, 2011 - WASHINGTON DC

Officials from the United States Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board and the United States Secret Service unveiled the new design for the $100 note on Apr 21, and will release the new currency on 10 Feb 2011. Complete with advanced technology to stay ahead of counterfeiters, the new design retains the look of traditional US currency. The redesigned note includes two new advanced counterfeit-deterrent security features that are easy for consumers and merchants to check when verifying authenticity. The Treasury Department urges merchants and customers to help in the effort to stymie counterfeiters by familiarizing themselves with the new features and examine notes as they receive them.

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