Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Diesel engine supplier Suzuki Powertrain India (SPIL) will join hands with the country's largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL).
Maruti possesses 30% equity stake in the company, whilst the remaining equity holding is possessed by Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), Japan.
Analysts were optimistic on the amalgamation as it implies enhanced margins for Maruti, whose earnings per share might be promoted by 3-4% after the contract.
Suzuki Power registered a higher ebitda of 12.1% as compared to Maruti's 7.2% during FY12.
It registered a net profit of Rs 115 crore on sales of Rs 4,500 crore during FY12.
In a declaration, the company stated, "With the merger, Maruti will be able to bring its entire diesel engine capacity under a single management control. The proposed merger also promises benefits for the combined entity through synergies in areas like finance, capital structuring and administration and consequent reduction of transaction costs."
The amalgamation, proposed through a share swap, doesn't involve a cash outflow from Maruti.
The swap proportion has been determined at 1:70.
SMC will obtain one Maruti share (of Rs 5 each) for 70 shares (of Rs 10 each) it possesses in Suzuki Powertrain.
Maruti plans to make a fresh issue of 1.32 crore shares to SMC in place of SMC's 70% holding in Suzuki Powertrain.
The merger is likely to be finished by December this year.
The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war, the U.N. head of peacekeeping operations said Tuesday. While his declaration does not carry any specific legal implications, it could carry political weight.
REUTERS - The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war in which the government is attempting to recapture large swathes of urban territory it has lost to the opposition, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.
"Yes, I think we can say that," U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said in an interview with Reuters and one other reporter when asked if the Syrian crisis could now be characterized as a civil war.
"Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory in several cities to the opposition and wants to retake control of these areas," he said.
It is the first time a senior U.N. official has declared that the Syrian conflict is a civil war.
"Now we have confirmed reports of not only of the use of tanks and artillery but also attack helicopters," Ladsous said. "This is really becoming large scale."
Last week the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the fighting in Syria has been so intense in parts of Syria that at times it has qualified as a localized civil war, though he stopped short of saying that it was a full-scale civil war.
If the ICRC were to declare the Syrian crisis as an "internal armed conflict," it would have legal implications regarding war crimes and compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
While Ladsous' declaration does not carry any specific legal implications, it could carry political weight. Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the risk of the Syrian crisis becoming a civil war was imminent.
Ladsous also spoke of a shooting attack on U.N. monitors in Syria on Tuesday, which occurred they were trying to reach the Syrian town of Haffeh but were turned back by angry crowds who threw stones and metals rods at them.
"One of our observers was almost injured," he said. "We thought he was injured, but in fact the bullet did not penetrate (him) but hit his boot."
"There were many impacts in the car," he added. "So it was deliberate."
Three U.N. vehicles were fired upon, though it was not clear who was responsible for the shooting. Ladsous said the shots appeared to come from a crowd of civilians.
MYANMAR: International pressure mounted for an end to religious violence raging in western Myanmar, where armed police on Tuesday patrolled a flashpoint region devastated by rioting and arson.
The United States urged an immediate end to the deadly sectarian unrest, which has forced the United Nations to evacuate foreign workers from Rakhine state, now under a state of emergency.
At least seven people have died since Friday, according to officials, in a cycle of apparent revenge attacks between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya that presents a major test of fragile reforms since army rule ended last year.
Rights organisations fear the real toll could be much higher with one advocacy group which works with the Rohingya, The Arakan Project, saying dozens of people had been killed. AFP could not verify that information and its team of reporters has been unable to visit many of the affected areas for security reasons.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday called for “all parties to exercise restraint”, adding the “the United States continues to be deeply concerned” about the situation.
The United Nations has begun pulling out more than 40 workers -- including foreigners -- and their families from a base in Maungdaw, an area home to large numbers of Rohingya where clashes have also been reported.
Warning that the violence is running “out of control”, New York-based Human Rights Watch called for international observers to be deployed in Rakhine to “put all sides on notice that they were being closely watched.” “The government needs to be protecting threatened communities, but without any international presence there, there's a real fear that won't happen,” said Elaine Pearson, HRW's deputy director.
Gunfire echoed across the outskirts of the state capital Sittwe on Monday as groups of men, who appeared to be ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, roamed the streets wielding sticks and knives. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed.
Rakhine, a predominantly Buddhist state bordering Bangladesh, is home to a large number of Muslims including the Rohingya, described by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants and view them with hostility, describing them as “Bengalis”. An AFP reporter witnessed heavy security overnight in Sittwe, as rumours swirled among nervous residents that groups of Rohingyas were approaching the heart of the city, despite the security lockdown.
Rioting has seen hundreds of homes torched across the state, forcing both Buddhists and Rohingya to flee seeking safety. Bangladesh border guards Monday turned back eight boats carrying more than 300 Rohingya Muslims, including weeping women and children, as it attempts to prevent a influx of refugees reaching its shores. Tensions erupted following the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, allegedly by three Muslims.
Sri Lanka has received orders for over 100,000 metric tons of rice from several countries in the African and Middle Eastern regions, Cooperatives and Internal Trade Ministry Secretary Sunil S Sirisena said. According to the Secretary, the orders are from Kenya, South Africa, Dubhai, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Rice production in the country has seen a tremendous increase with large tracts of paddy land being brought under the plough after the end of the 30 year conflict.
Ministry Secretary Sirisena said the country has already exported 6,000 MT of rice to South Africa and 3,000 Mt of rice to Dubhai. “Sri Lanka ships 25 containers of rice every week to Dubhai while 15 containers are shipped to South Africa, Ethiopia and Somalia, he said.
Meanwhile, the Paddy Marketing Board yesterday said that it has purchased the largest stock of paddy, amounting to 112, 277 metric tons from the farmers during this Maha season.
The Board has managed to purchase a record quantity of paddy exceeding 23,755 metric tons from the Anuradhapura district as against 18,242 and 22,452 metric tones from Ampara and Pollonnaruwa districts during this season.
The Board official told the Daily News that farmers like to sell their produce to the Board as they are assured of a higher price than that offered by paddy mill owners and private businessmen.
He said that this is the first time that the Board spent over Rs. 3,190 million for paddy during the Maha season.
A number of programs launched by the government to boost agriculture sector in the country have also helped promote paddy production. The fertilizer subsidy and the Divi Neguma programme have made an impact on the promotion of paddy harvest in the country.
US: The United States has withdrawn negotiators from Pakistan after talks failed to reopen vital NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, officials said Monday.
The move signaled further strain in troubled Pakistani-US relations and followed harsh criticism last week from US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that saw Pakistan’s army chief refuse to meet a senior Pentagon official.
The negotiators had been in Pakistan for about six weeks, as US officials believed they were close to a deal with Islamabad to lift the blockade.
Pakistan shut its border to NATO supply convoys on November 26 after a botched US air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
But no breakthrough was imminent and there was no scheduled date for a resumption of the talks, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
“The decision was reached to bring the team home for a short period of time,” Little said.
But Washington has not given up on discussions with Islamabad, he said.
“That’s not to be taken as a sign of our unwillingness to continue the dialogue with Pakistanis on this issue,” he said, adding the negotiators are “prepared to return at any moment.” Members of the negotiating team, which included officials and legal advisers from the State and Defense departments, started to leave over the weekend and the remainder would soon return to the United States, Little said.
Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, refused last week to meet senior Pentagon official Peter Lavoy, who traveled to Pakistan to try to resolve the dispute, officials said.
Lavoy, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, “was hoping to meet with General Kayani to work through this issue,” Little said.
The roads through Pakistan are a crucial logistical link for NATO as it plans a withdrawal of most of the remaining 130,000-strong combat force in Afghanistan, along with vehicles and equipment, by the end of 2014.
But Washington has refused to apologize for the November air raid, infuriating Pakistan, and US officials have refused to pay several thousand dollars for each truck crossing the border, as reportedly demanded by Pakistan.
The White House said an agreement would be reached when Pakistan is ready.
“Most of the technical agreements have been worked out but there are still several issues outstanding. We believe that all can be resolved and we remain ready to conclude this agreement as soon as Pakistan is ready,” spokesman Jay Carney said. AFP
The Sri Lankan rupee fell to a record low of 133.60 against the dollar yesterday on importer demand for the U.S. currency as an IMF delegation went into a sixth day of discussions on the last tranche of a $2.6 billion loan.
“The highest trade was done at 133.60 to the dollar, though we saw only thin volume,” a currency dealer said. “We didn’t see intervention from the state banks or the Central Bank. Probably, their hands are tied due to ongoing discussions with the IMF.”
Four dealers confirmed the rupee was trading at 133.60, breaking the previous record of 133.00 reached on 25 April.
The IMF review team held talks with top Central Bank and government officials on how the $59 billion economy is performing. The IMF, which has long pressed the central bank to allow flexibility in the rupee exchange rate, is expected to release the last tranche of the loan – about $420 million – if it is satisfied with that performance.
The currency has depreciated 17.5 percent since Nov. 21, when the government allowed a three percent devaluation, Reuters reported.
Source : Eelamenews
Jun 12, Washington, DC: The United States State Department will exempt Sri Lanka along with six other countries from financial sanctions after they have agreed to reduce their imports of Iranian oil, the White House has announced Monday.
Along with Sri Lanka the U.S. has exempted India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan and Turkey for six months.
In a statement issued Monday, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton said the seven economies have all significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran.
As a result, sanctions for Fiscal Year 2012 will not apply to the financial institutions of those countries for a potentially renewable period of 180 days, the statement said.
The U.S. actions on Iran oil are to take effect on June 28 and without the exemptions banks of those countries will face the threat of being cut off from doing business with the US financial system.
The U. S. Exempted Japan from the sanctions along with some European countries in March but China, a major oil importer from Iran is not exempted yet although China has cut down one-fifth of its oil imports from Iran.
Sri Lanka depends almost entirely on Iran for its crude oil supplies and the country's only refinery at Sapugaskanda that processes 50,000 barrels per day can only process Iranian crude.
However, as the deadline for the sanctions to take effect is approaching, Sri Lanka has sought other sources for its oil requirements.
Sri Lanka's Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in April signed a memorandum of understanding with Oman Oil Co (OOC) to purchase oil from Oman. Sri Lanka is also considering to purchase fuel from Saudi Arabia and Vietnam as well.
The government has also reached an agreement with Qatar to purchase refinery oil necessary for the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery and refined fuel products.
It is alleged that she accrued a fortune worth $110m from illicit liaisons:
HONG KONG: Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi has sued Hong Kong’s leading newspaper the Apple Daily and its sister weekly Next Magazine over reports that she prostituted herself with senior Chinese officials.
The “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” star signed the suit presented to the Hong Kong High Court on Monday, saying the reports were “seriously defamatory” and “false”.
An article in Apple Daily on May 29 said Zhang “is a prostitute” and had sexual intercourse with disgraced top official Bo Xilai and his wealthy associate Xu Ming for money on “numerous occasions”, the court document said.
The tabloid also alleged the 33-year-old actress had sex with other top officials and “unnamed rich persons”, and had accrued a fortune worth 700 million yuan ($110 million) from these illicit liaisons over 10 years.
“The plaintiff has been subjected to public odium, hatred, contempt or ridicule,” the suit signed by the actress said, adding it would seek unspecified damages.
“The plaintiff’s public image has also been seriously and continuously undermined which has caused and will continue to cause loss and damage to her profession and career.” Apple Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper known for racy celebrity gossip and strong criticism of the Chinese communist authorities, did not reply to requests from AFP for comment on the suit.
The story was removed from the newspaper’s website after Zhang threatened to sue last month.
Bo was sacked from his post as boss of Chongqing city in March and then suspended from China’s powerful central politburo for “serious discipline violation” -- code for corruption. He has not been seen since.
His wife, Gu Kailai, is in custody under suspicion of ordering the murder of a British businessman. AFP
Monday, June 11, 2012
Black players taunted with monkey chants, Asian students beaten :
POLAND: Euro 2012 kicked-off in Poland and Ukraine on Friday amid fears that racism and politics could overshadow Europe's premier football showcase, held for the first time in countries once behind the Iron Curtain. Warsaw and Kiev hoped to use the tournament to highlight progress in their ex-Communist countries, but instead have seen it mired in controversy over racist fans and Ukraine's treatment of a top opposition leader. Hours before kick-off at the opening match in Warsaw Friday -- which saw host Poland tie 1-1 with Greece -- Dutch captain Mark van Bommel said his team heard racist chants during a public training session in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
“We all heard the monkey chants,” van Bommel was quoted as saying by the Dutch De Telegraaf newspaper. “We can't accept that.”
A BBC television documentary broadcast last month showed football fans in the two countries making Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey chants, and beating Asian students.
Concern over potential racism-related violence also prompted former England captain Sol Campbell, who is black, to warn fans to “stay home, watch it on TV... don't even risk it”.
The host countries said the claims did not give a true picture of the situation on the ground, with Poland's organisers even extending a personal invitation to Campbell.
Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit said Friday in Warsaw he hoped the racist chants were a one-off “incident” and urged the hosts to address the problem.
“The world is watching, you have the possibility to tackle this -- take this opportunity,” he said.
Much of the spotlight ahead of the opening kick has also focused on Ukraine's treatment of its former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been jailed for seven years on charges the European Union says are politically motivated.
The far-right Greek politician who slapped a woman and threw water in the face of another on live television has threatened to sue his victims, claiming they provoked his attack.
Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman for the Golden Dawn party, has been in hiding since Thursday, when he assaulted the two leftwing politicians and stormed off the podium during a television debate.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, he said he regretted becoming involved in an incident that could damage the party's image ahead of the general election on 17 June, but his adversaries for his actions.
"The events that took place on Thursday morning on 'Antenna TV' were staged with the sole aim of provoking an extreme reaction on my part," he wrote.
"I am sorry that without intending to, I got mixed up in a case that has confused public opinion and was aimed at hitting Golden Dawn. I will go the prosecutor in person to sue those behind the illegal actions that have taken place in the last two days."
He provided no further details and no comment was available from Golden Dawn officials.
The scandal has added a further twist to the election, which could decide whether Greece stays in the euro after five years of deep recession and public anger over painful austerity measures demanded by international lenders.
Golden Dawn, a far-right, anti-immigrant party whose symbol resembles a Nazi swastika, won 7% of the vote in an inconclusive May election and entered parliament for the first time, pledging to stand up for Greeks suffering in the crisis.
The party's image has been severely dented by continuous replays of footage of the 31-year-old Kasidiaris, a former army commando, striking the middle-aged Communist party deputy Liana Kannelli three times.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment in Cairo, as attackers overwhelmed male supporters and molested several of the marchers in Tahrir Square.
Some victims said it appeared to have been an organised attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample the pro-democracy protest movement.
The attack on Friday follows a spate of smaller-scale assaults on women in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the uprising that forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down last year.
Earlier in the week, an Associated Press reporter witnessed around 200 men assault a woman who eventually fainted before others came to her aid.
Friday's march demanded an end to all sexual assaults. Around 50 women participated, surrounded by a larger group of male supporters who joined hands to form a protective ring around them. The protesters carried posters and chanted. After the marchers entered a crowded corner of the square, a group of men waded into the women, heckling them and groping them. The attackers chased the the marchers as they tried to flee. Several women were cornered against railings and groped, according to reports. Eventually, the women found refuge in a nearby building.
"After what I saw and heard today I am furious at so many things." wrote Sally Zohney, one of the event's organisers on Twitter.
Ahmed Mansour, a 22 year-old male medical student who took part in the march, said: "Some people think it is targeted to make women hate coming here."
During the uprising against Mubarak last year, women said they briefly experienced a "new Egypt". Women participated as activists, protesters, medics and frontline fighters against the security forces. They have continued to play a leading role over the past 15 months. However, assaults on women protesters have been common, mainly perpetrated by men opposed to their presence and the security forces. Lara Logan, a US correspondent for CBS television, was sexually assaulted by a mob in Tahrir Square on the day Mubarak stepped down, as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians celebrated.
In a defining image of state violence against women, soldiers dispersing a protest in December were captured on video stripping a woman's top off and stomping on her chest, as other troops pulled her by the arms across the ground. That incident prompted a march by 10,000 women through Cairo.
In contrast, the small size of Friday's march could reflect the fear felt by women in the square.
Sexual harassment of women, including against those who wear the hijab, is common in Cairo. A 2008 report by the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights said two-thirds of women in the country experienced sexual harassment on a daily basis. A string of mass assaults on women in 2006 during Eid, the feast following Ramadan, prompted police to increase patrols.
"Women activists are at the core of the revolution," said Ahmed Hawary, who attended Friday's protest. "They are the courage of this movement. If you break them, you break the spirit of the revolution."
Source : Associated Press
JAPAN: Rapper Nicki Minaj has denied claims her dancers were involved in the death of a young Irish fan whose body was found in a hotel room after attending a Tokyo concert.
In a posting on her Twitter account, Minaj, who has worked alongside Rihanna and Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am, expressed her condolences over the death of the 21-year-old student.
“Saddened to learn one of my precious fans; found tragically murdered in Japan. My love & prayers are with the family of Nicola Furlong,” the US star tweeted on Thursday.
Tokyo police last week arrested two American men, 23-year-old dancer James Blackston and a musician, 19, as part of an investigation into Furlong's death, a police spokesman said Friday.
Police have not revealed the name of the musician, who is a minor under Japanese law.
One of the men was with Furlong when she was found dead early on the morning of May 24 in a Tokyo hotel room, an earlier report said.
An autopsy reportedly showed she may have been strangled.
The men were detained on suspicion of giving alcoholic drinks to Furlong's friend, also a 21-year-old Irish woman, and then groping her inside a taxi, police and reports said.
US-based celebrity gossip blog perezhilton.com identified Blackston as a “backup dancer” for Minaj.
But the rapper, whose Pink Friday album enjoyed huge commercial success, denied the arrested men were anything to do with her.
“We do NOT know the men in custody,” she tweeted. “My dancers had nothing to do w/this tragedy. No one in my entourage was questioned or arrested. They all flew home from Japan,” she tweeted.
Earlier reports said after Furlong and her friend left the Tokyo concert they had gone to a hotel in the city with the two men. Furlong went into the room of the 19-year-old American, while the other woman went with the other man, Kyodo News said.
In the early hours of May 24, a hotel guest complained about a loud noise from one of the rooms.
A hotel employee went to the room and found Furlong on the floor lying near the bed and the US teen standing nearby, Kyodo said.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior official of al-Qaeda, was killed at the age of 49 by a missile fired from a drone in North Waziristan, near the western border of Pakistan, U.S. officials said. Many activists are located in the region, and one of the messages circulating on Internet forums used by Islamic extremists summarize the importance of the event: ".. Pray for the brothers in Waziristan is a difficult time "
Libi real name was Mohamed Hassan Qaid, and if a well-known activist, he was not one of the best known extremists or the ablest associated with al-Qaida. That could be described as deputy leader of the group when he died is proof of how shallow their talent pools have become after years of wear.
Libi was born in Marzaq, in the deep south of Libya. He became involved in Islamic activism as a student at the University of Sebha in the early 1980s. The decade would see Islam as an ideology to replace socialism and the major channel of dissent in much of the Arab world.
Like thousands of others, Libi was rendered to Afghanistan to take part in the U.S. and Saudi-backed jihad against the Soviet occupation. He was a scholar of a warrior, and it is not how far it has been exposed to combat. When Moscow withdrew its forces in 1988-89, some of the international volunteers who fought it could return home.
Libi has spent the 1990s moving between African States, to pursue religious studies in Mauritania, then based in Sudan. Although Osama bin Laden in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, roughly the same time, the two men were not associated. A plethora of militant groups were based in or around the city. Libi has been linked to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) by family members. Like other groups of North Africa, it rejected any link with al-Qaida.
However, like Bin Laden to Afghanistan Libi Moved When, from around 1996, militant groups Were no longer welcome in Sudan. His activities There are unclear, it is possible to order ET That Gave religious instruction to one of the Volunteers in training camp-cum-hostel run by the LIFG, or have assisted a cleric is one of the Frontlines: various in the civil war.
In December 2001, Libi WAS Forced to flee Afghanistan as the Taliban collapsed diet under attack from America and Its Allies. After He Was picked up Some months on the run in Pakistan and incarcerated by the Americans at Bagram airport, north of Kabul.After Three Years' captivity, managed to escape Libi, Becoming an instant celebrity in the world of activists. Shortly After Regaining historical freedom, He Is Believed To Have sworn the bayat, the personal oath of fealty, to Bin Laden.
Sri Lanka’s economy is confronted with the continuing large trade deficit underscoring the prevailing structural weaknesses in the national economy. The country still relies heavily on the importation of petroleum products for its energy needs which cost nearly US $ 5 billion in 2011, Treasury Secretary Dr P B Jayasundera told the Daily News.
“The petroleum importation is almost one fourth of total imports.
The economic recovery in the background of post conflict economic revival, the stable exchange rate and interest rate environment with low import taxes that prevailed during 2010 and 2011, fuelled the demand for motor vehicle imports,” he said.
The cost of imports increased to US $ 1,700 million in 2011 with the importation of 500,000 vehicles in comparison to US $ 1,000 million worth of vehicle imports in 2010, Dr Jayasundera said.
Import figures also indicate a continued reliance on the importation of food items and a significant increase in the importation of pharmaceuticals, dairy products, textile, sugar and a range of construction material such as cement, steel, furniture and machinery.
The exports recorded an impressive growth of 22 percent. However, the expansion in exports to emerging markets remained sluggish due to the traditional bias towards established markets.
“Targeting fast growing economies with specific export products should receive exporters’ attention.
Prospects for a higher export growth from high value added apparel, tea, rubber, coconut, spice products, IT and software, machinery and equipment, ceramics, gem and jewellery remained high,” Dr Jayasundera said.
Source : Dailynews- Srilanka
UK: Students at Oxford University have voted against hanging the portrait of the British Queen as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations because she was “born into privilege”. Students at Keble College, whose alumni include the Duke of Kent’s grandson Edward Windsor, disagreed with plans to spend £200 on a picture of Queen Elizabeth saying “the general feeling was that enough is already being” spent on celebrations marking the Queen’s 60th year of reign.
“Nearly 200 pounds to support someone who was born into a certain family is not really economical use of money. The Royal family do nothing but sit on their backsides and wave at people.
They have never had to work in their lives and just live off their ancestor’s money,” said one of the students.
Oxford students’ vote against the hanging of the Queen’s picture comes as the British Queen is celebrating her 60 year on the throne over the extended Jubilee weekend from June 2 to June 5 amid protests staged by anti-monarchy activists.
Furthermore, the students’ refusal to spend £200 on a portrait of the Queen comes after reports said £202 million a year was the cost of the Queen and her family’s lobbying government ministers to promote their financial interests.
UK: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sails on a royal barge down the River Thames Sunday as part of a huge pageant marking her diamond jubilee, in one of the biggest events of its kind in London's history. The flotilla of more than 1,000 boats is the high water mark of the national celebrations for the 86-year-old monarch's 60th year on the throne but the event also poses formidable security challenges.
More than one million revellers are expected to watch the extravaganza of steam boats and tugs, speed boats and historic vessels in the first pageant on this scale on London's river since 1662.
Dunkirk “little ships” that evacuated British forces from Europe in World War II and a Chinese dragon boat are also among the vessels accompanying the queen and other royals on the 11-kilometre (seven-mile) journey.
Avid fans of the royals camped at the riverside from Saturday, enduring heavy rain that hit the city overnight to ensure the best possible view.
“We found out with the wedding last year that it gets very busy. We need to be in front,” said Kelly Craig, 41. “It's a milestone in our life and the life of the royal family,” said Mike Smith, 65, who had travelled from Sheffield in northern England.
The US is set to reposition its Navy fleet with the majority of its warships to be assigned to the Asia-Pacific by 2020. But this military strategy has nothing to do with US-Chinese rivalry in the region, the Defense Secretary assures.
The US would reposition its Navy so that 60 percent of its warships would be assigned to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, compared to about 50 percent now, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told senior civilian and military leaders from about 30 Asia-Pacific nations at an annual security forum in Singapore.
"Some view the increased emphasis by the United States on the Asia-Pacific region as some kind of challenge to China. I reject that view entirely," he said. "Our effort to renew and intensify our involvement in Asia is fully compatible... with the development and growth of China. Indeed, increased US involvement in this region will benefit China as it advances our shared security and prosperity for the future."
But in laying out core US principles in the region, Panetta made clear Washington opposed any attempt by Beijing to make unilateral moves in its push for territorial rights in the oil-rich South China Sea.
Panetta's comments came at the start of a seven-day visit to the region to prove to its Asian allies that it intends to remain a crucial military and economic power in the region to counterbalance China's growing influence. The trip includes stops in Vietnam and India, and comes at a time of renewed tensions over competing sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, with the Philippines, a major US ally, and China in a standoff over the Scarborough Shoal near the Filipino coast.
The US aims to reassure its allies that Washington would act to counterbalance China's growing influence on the South China Sea as part of its foreign policy known as the "pivot to Asia".
Panetta said the US will be committed to alliances instead of new permanent bases and mentioned treaties with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia as well as partnerships with India, Singapore, Indonesia and others. Panetta said Washington also would work to increase the number and size of bilateral and multilateral military training exercises it conducts in Asia-Pacific. Officials said last year the US carried out 172 such joint drills in the region.
Panetta reiterated he was committed to a "healthy, stable, reliable and continuous" military-to-military relationship with China, but underscored the need for Beijing to support a system to clarify rights in the region and help to resolve disputes.
"China has a critical role to play in advancing security and prosperity by respecting the rules-based order that has served the region for six decades," he said.
Friday, June 8, 2012
The top members of the British royal family are worth more than $1 billion, with Queen Elizabeth II topping the list at $510 million, according to a recent report.
That tops soccer star David Beckham’s net worth, reported to $ 260 million.
And is more than the value of the reigning soccer champions of England, Manchester City Football Club, reportedly worth $ 443 million.
In honor of the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, financial firm Wealth-X calculated the net worth of the top members of the British royal line of succession. The figure does not include the Crown Jewels or the Royal Collection of art.
Prince Charles, the monarch’s son and first in line to the throne, had the second-highest net worth of the family. His worth is estimated at $210 million, according to Wealth-X.
Prince Andrew, who is Charles’ brother and was once married to Sarah Ferguson, is worth $75 million, according to the study.
Princes William and Harry, sons of Charles and the late Princess Diana, are worth $19 million and $16 million, respectively.
According Business Insider, Mykolas D. Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X, said, “The fact that the combined wealth of the top 14 members only reached $1 billion reflects what has been suspected for some time: that new wealth is overtaking old wealth in Britain.”
In comparison, Wealth-X calculated the net worth of the British Cabinet at $108 million, with Prime Minister David Cameron worth $5.87 million; it was reported in the telegraph.
Wealth-X bases its worth figures on salaries as well as on declared shares and properties, according to the Telegraph.
UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is increasingly worried about the unarmed observers it has sent into Syria to monitor the war between President Bashar al-Assad’s troops and opposition rebels.
The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) is caught between hostile troops accused of firing at its patrols and increasingly bitter Syrians who cannot understand why it has not halted the bloodshed, officials said.
Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, likened the monitors to “300 sitting ducks in a shooting gallery, one IED from a disaster,” at a recent UN Security Council meeting.
An Iraq-style Improvised Explosive Device, or roadside bomb, exploded in front of a convoy of UN ceasefire monitors last month, without wounding anyone.
On Thursday, shots were fired at another UN patrol as it tried to get to Al-Kubeir, a village near Homs, where a fresh massacre reportedly left dozens dead. No monitors were wounded, and they planned to try to return on Friday.
The Security Council has ordered a review of the mission to be ready before its 90 day mandate ends on July 20.
According to diplomats and UN officials, options being studied range from sending more observers with armed protection to a complete withdrawal if UNSMIS suffers casualties. All stressed that no decision has yet been taken.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan say government-inspired violence has been reduced in areas where monitors are present.
But neither wants to increase the force because of the threat to lives, diplomats said.
Ban highlighted the regular attacks and near-misses that the observers have endured at a Security Council meeting on Thursday. AFP
A search and rescue mission battled snow and fog Friday to hunt for eight South Koreans, three Europeans and three Peruvians whose helicopter is missing in the mountains of southern Peru.
The bad weather prevented aircraft from participating in the mission, while mountain patrols that left Thursday from the villages of Ocongate and Marcapata saw their progress hampered by deep snow.
"The conditions are very adverse. Snow in the area is now about 30 centimeters (12 inches) deep and fog makes it impossible to view the ground from the air," said Cusco police chief General Hector Dulanto.
The helicopter left the city of Mazuco in the southeastern region of Madre de Dios late on Wednesday and set off across the Andes for the tourist hub of Cusco -- but never showed up at its destination.
Officials held out hope that it could have made an emergency landing in the remote Hualla Hualla region, which is at an altitude of 4,725 meters (15,500 feet), about 140 kilometers (90 miles) from Cusco.
On board the Sikorsky S-58 were eight South Koreans, a Czech, a Swede, a Dutch citizen and three Peruvians -- two of them crew members -- according to helicopter owner HeliCusco.
A police patrol helicopter flew Thursday over the area where the aircraft went missing but did not spot it, although the weather conditions again were very poor.
In Seoul, a foreign ministry statement confirmed that eight South Koreans were among the 14 people on board the helicopter.
It said they were engineers and officials from four South Korean companies returning to Cusco after conducting aerial surveillance on a possible site for a hydroelectric project near Puno in southern Peru.
"Attempts were made to reach them by mobile phones but calls were not answered. There were no automatic distress signals either, which should come from the helicopter if it crashes," the ministry statement said.
A diplomat at the South Korean embassy in Peru told South Korea's news agency that the Peruvian air force picked up a GPS signal believed to be coming from the helicopter.
A search helicopter was dispatched to the coordinates but was unable to approach the site because of bad weather, the diplomat said.
Two officials from the South Korean embassy in Lima were in Cusco to monitor the search and rescue operations, Peruvian police said.
Posted by canandanews at 8:19 PM
The construction of the much awaited and long due Express train link from Fort to Colombo International Airport and other related development work for the project will commence by end of 2012.
The feasibility study of the project conducted by the KPMG of India has now being completed and the investor consortium had also managed to raise US $ 650 million for the project also under lining the global investor confidence for a novel project of this nature for Sri Lanka. Chairman, Airport Express Air and Rail Company Limited, Dr. Praimmalan Rajo Isa Michael said that they have found investors as well as suppliers for the project.
He said that it was easy to market this project, as the would be international investors are following the massive post war development in Sri Lanka and are confident that this project would be a success.” He said that this has prompted the company to look at similar express train projects in other SAARC countries which do not have a ‘speed train’ link of this nature.
He said that this is a viable investment since it is backed by hotels, shopping malls and other entertainment projects. The proposed Lotus station in the Fort would be a first in the SAARC region, providing all entertainment facilities, attracting a transit passenger to visit to Fort and enjoy these luxuries before catching the flight.
The Lotus Terminal site will comprise an architecturally modern and versatile 32-storey tower, which would function as a city centre for the local or foreign business person, who would be spending a few days in the capital city. Dr. Michael said, the next they would take is the proposal for the Board of Investment approval and construction would start by next September.
“We hope to complete the project in less than three years,” he said. The track would be constructed parallel to the main Expressway along the 30-metre reservation area, a distance of 30 kilometers, the journey would take less than 20 minutes. The train would have special seating with adequate space to store luggage. It would also have special seating for disabled passengers.
As three planes violated the flight-ban in airspace over LA during his visit:
US: Two F-16 fighters were scrambled Thursday after three small planes violated a flight ban imposed for a fundraising visit by President Barack Obama in California, officials said.
The military jets intercepted a Cessna 206 at around 9:00 am (1600 GMT) and a Cherokee PA 28 about 30 minutes later in airspace over Los Angeles, said North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Lieutenant Commander William Lewis. Both planes are single-engine, light aircraft models.
“The fighters responded after the aircraft entered a temporary flight restricted area, and escorted them until they departed the area,” Lewis said in a statement.
Earlier in the morning, a Mooney M20 violated the airspace near Fullerton, east of Los Angeles, at around 6:00 am and was forced to land at Chino Airport, said a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The incidents brought to six the number of aircraft intercepted in California for violating air space restrictions during Obama fundraising visits since the start of this year.
On Wednesday, an F-16 fighter intercepted a Cessna airplane until it landed at Camarillo Airport in Ventura County. On May 11, a small private plane was intercepted by fighter jets and forced to land at El Monte Airport.
On February 16, a Cessna was intercepted by two F-16s and forced to land at Long Beach Airport, south of Los Angeles, where authorities found marijuana on the plane.
Obama arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday from San Francisco, and left Thursday for Las Vegas, a few hours after the latest air security incidents.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday met His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in Rome. Earlier, during his visit to Britain in connection with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II, President Rajapaksa had a series of useful meetings with a wide range of British political leaders.
‘Sri Lanka could be pleased with the way things are turning out with regard to the conduct of its international relations,’ External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris told the Daily News in a telephone interview from Italy yesterday.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa meeting His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in Rome
while in Britain, the President met Queen Elizabeth II on three separate occasions.
The President also met British Prime Minister David Cameron, Opposition Leader David Miliband and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth relations William Hague. Later, at the residence of the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Britain, Dr. Chris Nonis, the President met leading personalities of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, numbering around 25 such personalities.
He also met the Sri Lankan community based in Britain and had fruitful discussions.
- Discuss 2013 Commonwealth Summit in Colombo
- Meets Queen on three separate occasions
While in Britain, President Rajapaksa also met Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma and discussed arrangements for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in 2013 and also dealt with a range of other Commonwealth matters.
Meanwhile, Prof Peiris will meet the Italian Foreign Minister in Rome.
Prof Peiris said while in Britain, he had a useful meeting with the British Foreign Secretary.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Here she comes, Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo. The 20-year-old Miss Rhode Island has moved away from the Miss USA with top honors Sunday after impressing the judges with her body (the swimsuit competition), and her mind.
In the maintenance portion of the competition, Culpo, which is active Twitter user, asked a tough question from another Twitter user: "Would you feel it's fair that a transgender woman won the title of Miss USA on a woman baby? "Culpo addressed the issue with great aplomb.
" I do not think it would be fair, but I can understand that people are a little apprehensive about taking this route because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today when there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change to a happier life, I agree because I think it's a free country. "On Monday morning, Twitter Food Culpo was filled with updates, as she made her way to New York. She wrote:" @ time MissUSA airport road to New York with @ and @ MissTeenUSA MissUniverse :))) # NewYorkCity! ". For those curious about his airport eating habits of the new Miss USA posted a photo of herself digging into Cinnabon. Who says you can not have your stickybun and eat it too?
‘Killing Fields’ Protest: Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Lunch Hit By 3,000 Strong March In Central London – Evening Standard
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
By London Evening Standard
The president of Sri Lanka was forced to cancel a keynote speech in London today as more than 3,000 Tamil protesters staged a flash demonstration at a Jubilee event attended by the Queen.
Police estimated that more than 1,500 pro-Tamil demonstrators turned out on the streets but eye witnesses at Pall Mall said there were closer to 3,000.
The Queen attended a lunch today with leaders of the Commonwealth as protesters massed outside.
She attended the event alone as the Duke of Edinburgh remained in hospital with a bladder infection.
She was joined by more than 70 guests, including Prime Minister David Cameron and leaders from across the association of nations, as they arrived to angry scenes.
A large group gathered outside Marlborough House in central London in opposition to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s presence at the meal.
Their chants echoed around the forecourt as guests arrived.
Mr Rajapakse was jeered as he swept through the main gate in a Range Rover. His car did not carry a flag because of security concerns.
The Queen spent a brief moment with Mr Rajapakse and appeared to fleetingly shake hands with him as she met guests at a reception in the Blenheim Saloon inside Marlborough House.
He was seated on the table directly to the Queen’s left with Babli Sharma, wife of the Commonwealth Secretary- General, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his wife, and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and his wife.
The 11 tables were named after flowers, with the Queen seated on the Golden Wattle table.
Mr Sharma welcomed the guests, saying: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all on this very special day in the history of the Commonwealth.”
The guests were served a Brie and avocado terrine followed by wild sea bass then an apple crumble souffle, apple pie ice cream and caramelised apple.
The meal was accompanied by South African wines.
Heads of state and representatives from Australia, Canada and the African nations were welcomed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.
The Queen wore a floral print silk dress in shades of blue and grey by Stuart Parvin and a blue wool crepe hat to the formal lunch.
She seemed relaxed as she was handed a bouquet of flowers by nine-year-old Aduke Badale, the daughter of a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat staff.
Sri Lankan president Mr Rajapaksa, who has been accused of presiding over human rights abuses after allegations of war crimes by Sri Lankan armed forces, earlier cancelled an address in the City of London amid concerns about the protest.
Today’s protest was the first major Tamil demonstration in London since a series of massive demos across London three years ago.
Then tens of thousands of Tamil protesters caused huge disruption on central London and made several attempts to storm Parliament, costing Scotland Yard more than £12 million in overtime costs.
Police said today they were monitoring the gathering at the corner of St James Street and Pall Mall, close to where the Queen was attending the lunch.
Channel Four’s foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller tweeted: “Tamil protesters are wielding effigies of Rajapakse hanging from a gallows.”
Veno Siba, 22, a student from Ilford, said her parents left Sri Lanka to seek asylum 20 years ago.
She said the president should not be “eating with the Queen” when he is accused of committing war crimes.
She said: “We came here to stand and protest that he’s coming to London. How can the Queen not have seen what he’s done?
“It’s affected many people in many ways because they’ve lost family members or had people go there on holiday and not return.”
Mr Rajapaksa was due to give a keynote speech at a special Diamond Jubilee meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Forum on Wednesday morning, but the event’s organisers, the Commonwealth Business Council, stated on its website: “After careful consideration, the morning sessions of the Forum … will not take place.”
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said it had agreed to guarantee the president’s security but the CBC had “decided it was not in their interest to stage the event” because of the extent of the policing required and the likely disruption to the City of London.
Fred Carver, campaign director of the Sri Lanka Campaign, welcomed the news, calling it a “testament” to the campaign.
The protest was also aimed at the Hilton hotel on Park Lane where the president is staying.
There were huge protests in 2009 when the 26-year war in Sri Lanka, which claimed an estimated 70,000 lives, ended with government forces defeating the Tamil resistance.
The protests come after a Sri Lankan man, who was left scarred and suicidal after two weeks of torture, accused the British government of forcibly deporting asylum seekers who are then tortured in Sri Lanka.
The victim told the Guardian newspaper he was tortured over the space of 17 days after being deported from the UK last year.
His torturers accused him of passing on to British officials information about previous beatings at the hands of state officials and other human rights abuses to ruin diplomatic relations between the two countries.