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Archive for May 2011

Anniversary flotilla due to sail for Gaza

May 31, 2011 - TURKEY

Pro-Palestinian activists from 25 countries plan to sail some 15 ships to the Gaza Strip on the anniversary of Israel’s deadly raid on a 2010 flotilla, when Israeli naval commandos shot dead nine activists on the Turkish Mavi Marmara passenger ship. As then, the organizers hope to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip to deliver aid. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the Europe and United Nations to stop the flotilla from setting sail.

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Trial of Italian prime minister in sex case resumes

May 31, 2011 - ROME

The trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office, resumes on May 31. His office says he won’t be present. The trial was adjourned shortly after it opened on Apr 6. In Italy it is illegal to pay for sex with a woman under 18. If convicted, he could face three years in prison and up to 12 years for abuse of power. The controversial premier has weathered 105 judicial probes and trials and 2500 court hearings — by his own count. All were business-related cases.

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Titanic launched 100 years ago

May 31, 2011 - UNITED KINGDOM

The centenary of the launch of the Titanic on May 1, 2011, serves as a prelude to the centenary in 2012 of the sinking of the supposedly unsinkable luxury liner. Both dates invite special auctions of Titanic memorabilia. A brochure timed for the launch in 1911 is expected to fetch £15,000 (US $23,000) at auction in England. The 25th anniversary of the discovery of the wreck falls on 1 Sep. On the night of 14-15 Apr 1912, the liner hit an iceberg and ruptured five of her 16 watertight compartments. There were only places in lifeboats for about half the 2224 passengers and crew on board, and although the Cunard liner Carpathia arrived on the scene within 80 minutes, over 1500 people died in the icy waters.

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Amnesty International celebrates 50th Anniversary

May 28, 2011 - WORLD

On 28 May 1961 British lawyer Peter Benenson discovered two Portuguese students who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for making a toast to freedom of expression. Benenson wrote an article to highlight the injustice, which eventually led to their freedom, and the human rights organization Amnesty International was born. The 50th anniversary of the global, non-political organization, which strives for equality and highlights human rights issues, will be celebrated around the world.

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G8 president France hosts bloc’s 37th annual summit

May 26, 2011 - FRANCE

France hosts the first of the summits of its G8-G20 presidency in Deauville, and the event is unlikely to be fancy. President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised the 37th G8 will cost one-tenth of the figure for the 36th meeting of major industrialized countries, hosted by Canada. French anger over austerity measures promises to bring massive protests to the summit, which is expected to focus on the implications of the Arab world’s revolts and Japan’s nuclear catastrophe.

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China annexed Tibet 60 years ago

May 23, 2011 - TIBET

On 23 May 1951, China annexed Tibet. The 60th anniversary is likely to see the roof of the world closed to foreign visitors, headlines from Beijing about benefits China has bestowed in 60 years on what it calls the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and a possible change in the political leadership of the Tibetan government-in-exile. It could also be an

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OECD Week brings member countries for 50th anniversary forum

May 23, 2011 - PARIS

The 50th Anniversary Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, set up 50 years ago on 14 Dec 2010 as an oracle and policy setter on global issues ranging from economics to innovation, will bring some 1400 representatives from up to 36 member countries to Paris. The forum coincides during OECD Week with the annual OECD ministerial summit. The OECD is about to grow by three countries – Estonia, Israel and Slovenia. Chile is next in line, followed by Russia.

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President Dmitry Medvedev holds first press conference ;

May 18, 2011 - RUSSIA

Dmitry Medvedev holds the first press conference of his three-year presidency, an indication that his news could be dramatic. It could relate to his expected campaign to hold on to his job. His expected main rival in the 2012 presidential election, his predecessor and now prime minister, Vladimir Putin, is widely seen as a shoo-in. The possibilities include measures to tamp down corruption and to attract investment capital, and his reaction to United States-NATO missile plans for Romania.

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Queen Elizabeth II makes historic visit to Ireland

May 17, 2011 - DUBLIN

England’s Queen Elizabeth II flies into Dublin on May 17, according to Irish news media, for a controversial visit that makes history as the first royal visit in 100 years. The visit is presented as an overdue normalization of relations between England and the Irish Republic, but critics see it as premature until the island of Ireland is no longer partitioned. Security will be iron clad as protests can be expected. Centuries of Anglo-Irish struggles and a failed 1916 Easter Monday rebellion touched off strife that resulted in independence from the United Kingdom for 26 southern counties in 1922. Six northern counties (Ulster) remained part of the United Kingdom. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), the paramilitary group that fought for the unification of the predominantly Roman Catholic Irish republic with predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland, ceased armed struggle in the 1990s after a peace deal with paramilitary groups fighting to preserve Northern Ireland’s union with Britain. A leading critic of the queen’s visit is Gerry Adams, the leader of the republicans’ political party, Sinn Fein. He called it premature while partition of the island is in place.

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PrepCom1 prepares for Earth Summit 2012

May 17, 2011 - NEW YORK

The first of several preparatory meetings for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Earth Summit 2012 and Rio+20, convenes in May at UN headquarters. Committees will build the summit agenda around its two main themes — a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The main challenge is building momentum. Climate change will be one of the strands built into the Earth Summit 2012 agenda. Disappointments over failures to nail down concrete action to avert global warming after protracted negotiations in Dec 2009 and Nov 2010, and lagging funding for UN Millennium Development Goals, manifestly lost momentum across the spectrum of UN special missions.

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Commonwealth health ministers tackle non-communicable diseases

May 15, 2011 - GENEVA

Health ministers and senior officials of the Commonwealth of Nations, the bloc of former British Commonwealth countries, meet to discuss how to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) — cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. The meeting is one of several in preparation for a United Nations summit on NCDs in September. Russia held one in April. The 64th World Health Organization Assembly opens in Geneva on the following day.The Secretariat has set NCD issues as a priority for the Commonwealth. In a statement, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

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