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Archive for June 2011

Organizers predict the 49th Paris Air Show could be the biggest ever

June 20, 2011 - PARIS

The organizers predict that the upturn in airlines’ financial prospects will make the 49th Paris International Air Show the biggest ever. The Farnborough International Airshow in Jul 2010 reflected the upturn, with rivals Boeing and Airbus each receiving solid orders for new planes. First seen at Farnborough, the Airbus invisible plane is likely to be a star attraction again at the Paris show. Conceptually, the visionary Airbus plane trumps Boeing’s plastic Dreamliner, but might not be airborne until 2050.

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Pope Benedict XVI visits controversial republic

June 19, 2011 - SAN MARINO

Pope Benedict XVI visits the 1700-year-old Republic of San Marino, with which the Vatican has several things in common: both are enclaves within Italy’s borders; they are two of the three smallest states in Europe; and neither has been able to fight off scandal. The Vatican’s problem of erring priests is well known, but San Marino’s scandal and the republic itself are hardly known outside a small circle. News coverage of the pontiff’s visit can be counted on to enlarge the circle. The pontiff’s one-day visit is pastoral, but includes an official visit to the republic’s leaders, Captains Regent Giovanni Francesco Ugolini and Andrea Zafferani. He will celebrate Mass at a stadium at Serravalle, address political and diplomatic officials, visit the basilica of San Marino.

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Former British protectorate celebrates 50 years of independence

June 19, 2011 - KUWAIT

Kuwait turns 50 on 19 Jun 2011. Its 1899 protectorate treaty with Great Britain, called the Anglo-Kuwaiti Friendship Agreement, held for 62 years and ended on 19 Jun 1961 at the request of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem. Britain will turn on a show for the 50th anniversary, a reflection of its continuing close trade and defense ties with Kuwait. According to an unconfirmed account, Feb 25 was adopted as Independence Day because it is the anniversary of the rule of the emir, Sheikh Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabbah, who negotiated the end to the British treaty. He became emir in 1950.

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Viewers treated to longer lunar eclipse but smaller Moon ;

June 15, 2011 - SPACE

The eastern half of Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and western Australia will see the whole duration of an unusually long lunar eclipse in June, but they will be seeing fractionally less of the Moon since the last eclipse: scientists at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC theorize that the Moon is shrinking. But they are not suggesting it will disappear any time soon.A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon aligns within Earth’s shadow, taking on a reddish glow. The total phase of the June eclipse lasts 100 minutes. The last eclipse to exceed this duration was in Jul 2000.

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President Barack Obama visits

June 14, 2011 - PUERTO RICO

When Barak Obama visits the United States territory of Puerto Rico, it will be the first by a US president since John F. Kennedy’s in 1961. A task force recently called on the United States to resolve the issue of Puerto Rico’s future status and relationship with Washington by 2012, and Obama can be expected to spell out the implications during his visit. Protests could greet him. Residents of Puerto Rico’s Vieques are angry that the US Navy left the island after a long occupation without cleaning up. Puerto Rico’s categorization as a “non-self governing territory” means that the US Congress and US president retain ultimate governance of the island. The latest report from the task force, released in March, recommended that Puerto Rico decide on its own future. The proposed plan is likely to mean two referendums to determine if the island of 4 million people wants to remain a US territory, become the 51st state of the Union or become a sovereign country. Puerto Ricans have voted informally four times on the issue, with inconclusive results. The next vote could result in action.

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Turks go to the polls to elect legislature

June 12, 2011 - TURKEY

Turkish voters go to the polls on Jun 12 to elect the country’s 550-seat Grand National Assembly. Because the economy is stout, the victory of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is assured. The secular opposition among Turkey’s 61 political parties aims to trim the Islamist governing party’s margin of victory. The AKP promises a new constitution, and analysts will be watching to see if it undermines modern Turkey’s secular foundation.

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Two vie for presidency in run-off election

June 11, 2011 - GUATEMALA

Otto Pérez Molina of the right-leaning Patriotic Party (PP) won Guatemala’s Sep 11 election but not by the 50 per cent+1 he needed to avoid a second round. A former civil war general, he faces second-place finisher Manuel Baldizón of the Renewed Democratic Freedom (Líder) party on Nov 11. Pérez, running on a crime-busting platform, is expected to win again. The coup-prone coffee and sugar-exporting country struggles to contain spiraling violence from street gangs and Mexican drug cartels.AP notes that Perez would be the first former military leader elected president in Guatemala after the end of the military dictatorships of the 1970s and ’80s. Some 200,000 people were killed in the country’s 36-year civil war.

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Dissident Catholics plan national conference

June 10, 2011 - UNITED STATES

The American Catholic Council, an organization of dissident Catholics calling for church reforms and greater openness, plans a national gathering in Jun 2011. But for a warning against the conference from the Archdiocese of Detroit, it might not have attracted much attention. Describing it as a misguided effort, the Archdiocese has directed parishes and Church institutions — including priests and ministers — not to participate in the conference. The dissidents claim there is too much secrecy and hierarchy in the Church. They also call for greater acceptance of gays and lesbians, for women in leadership roles and married priests. The group alleges in a newsletter that serious sexual and financial abuses have resulted from problems in the Catholic Church. Their 2011 conference will feature Catholic speakers who have been critical of the Vatican, including controversial Swiss priest Hans Kung. The liberal group says its efforts are done in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, whose 50th anniversary is in Jun 2012.

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Missiles top issue at Russia-NATO defense ministers meeting ;

June 9, 2011 - BRUSSELS

On Jun 9 defense ministers of NATO and Russia will discuss cooperation in anti-missile defense in a climate of ill-feeling. The United States and Romania have announced an agreement to base American antimissile interceptors in Romania as part of a program designed to link Washington and its NATO allies against an Iranian threat. Russia sees the plan as running counter to a previous agreement, and wants written assurances the system won’t be used against Russia.

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Oil ministers meet in Vienna for 159th (Ordinary) OPEC Meeting

June 8, 2011 - AUSTRIA

Oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meet to decide on production quotas in midst of the kind of market volatility that will test OPEC’s new Long-Term Strategy (LTS), adopted at the Oct 2010 meeting. The turmoil across the main oil-producing regions, particularly in Libya, and the nuclear disaster in Japan are among factors causing wild swings in demand, supply – and prices. Hints Washington could tap United States oil reserves could also sway the decision.

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NATO defense ministers hold second meeting of 2011

June 8, 2011 - BRUSSELS

When NATO defense ministers meet in mid 2011, the drawdown of Alliance troops will have started and the Alliance will be have its first look at Afghanistan’s ability to counter the Taliban insurgency. The other security issues include NATO’s involvement in Libya, nuclear proliferation, tensions on the Korean Peninsula and China’s increasingly assertive role in Asia. The Alliance has also voiced security concerns related to China’s rare earths.

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Ex IMF chief arraigned on sex charges

June 6, 2011 - NEW YORK

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on serious sexual charges after an incident at a New York hotel on May 14. Now free on bail with an ankle bracelet and armed guards, he is due in court for arraignment in State Supreme Court on Jun 6. His US $1 million bond reflects the court’s decision that he is a flight risk like film director Roman Polanski, and could skip bail and flee to France, which has no extradition treaty with the United States. Allegedly, he emerged naked from the bathroom at his Sofitel Hotel room and began to grab the breasts of a 33-year-old French-speaking maid from Guinea. The maid had gone to clean his room after he was to check out. Allegedly, he imprisoned her in the room. The seven counts against him include criminal sex act; attempted rape; sexual abuse; unlawful imprisonment; and forcible touching.

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