Archive | June, 2012

Shenzhou-9 set to dock with Tiangong-1

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

JIUQUAN,(GGS NEWS) — The Shenzhou-9 went into the final phase of pre-launch preparations on Wednesday ahead of China’s first manned space docking mission, as its carrier rocket is being injected with propellant.

The Command Hall of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is in “ready to launch” status, according to Wang Jun, who will be responsible for turning the ignition key during the actual launch.

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which will perform the historic docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, successfully underwent a full-system drill on Tuesday afternoon.

All systems relevant to the mission were found to be in full operating condition, said Cui Jijun, the center’s director.

Cui said improvements have been made to ensure the safety of the astronauts participating in the mission.

Simulated emergency flights were added to the full-system test, while the mission’s duration was extended from 53 to 59 days in order to more safely accommodate the docking process, Cui said.

The command and surveillance systems at the launch site have been upgraded or modified to improve their accuracy and efficiency, he said.

A sound emergency plan is in place and comprehensive escape drills have been conducted, Cui said.

The Tiangong-1 lab module was launched Sept. 29, 2011 and completed the nation’s first space docking mission with the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft in early November.

The module was brought down to docking orbit in early June and is ready for docking attempts by the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, according to a spokesperson from China’s manned space program.

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Egypt military retakes legislative power as election ends

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

GGS NEWS : EGYPT’S Muslim Brotherhood has claimed victory for their candidate Mohammed Mursi in the country’s key presidential vote, the first after a 2011 uprising that overthrew ex-leader Hosni Mubarak.

”Doctor Mohammed Mursi is the first Egyptian president of the republic elected by the people,” read a tweet from the official Twitter account of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm.

The declaration was based on returns the Brotherhood reported from 95 per cent of the more than 13,000 polling stations nationwide. The returns showed Mr Mursi with 52 per cent of the vote, his opponent former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq with 48 per cent. A million votes separated the two, which a Brotherhood spokesman said the remaining votes could not overcome the difference for Mr Shafiq.

The figures were from results announced by election officials at individual counting centers, where each campaign has representatives who compile the numbers and make them public before the formal announcement. The Brotherhood’s early, partial counts proved generally accurate in last month’s first round vote.The final official result is to be announced by Thursday.

As vote counting began, the ruling military issued an interim constitution that handed themselves the lion’s share of power over the new president, enshrining their hold on the state and sharpening the possibility of confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood.

With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals made themselves the country’s legislators, gave themselves control over the budget and will determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country’s future.

That could set Egypt on the path of continued turmoil, particularly if conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood emerges the victor in the presidential run-off against Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak’s former prime minister.

Already, the Muslim Brotherhood was warning that they would launch protests if Mr Shafiq is declared the winner. After polls closed on Sunday night after two days of voting, the Brotherhood claimed an early lead in the hand counting, though it narrowed as more results rolled in. After midnight, Mr Morsi led at 55 per cent to Mr Shafiq’s 45 per cent of the votes from just under half of the country’s more than 13,000 polling stations, according to the Brotherhood.

The figures were based on results announced by election officials at individual counting centers, where each campaign has representatives who compile the numbers and make them public before the formal declaration. The early, partial counts proved generally accurate in the first round of the election last month, which narrowed the field down from 13 candidates to two.

“If it happens that they announce he (Shafiq) is the winner, then there is forgery,” said Brotherhood spokesman Murad Mohammed Ali. “We will return to the streets” – though he added, “we don’t believe in violence.”

Mr Shafiq, a former air force commander, is seen as the generals’ favourite in the contest and would likely work closely with them. So closely that his opponents fear the result will be a continuation of the military-backed, authoritarian police state that Mubarak ran for nearly 29 years.

A victory by Mr Morsi could translate into a rockier tussle over spheres of power between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.

Trying to rally the public in the last hours of voting, the Brotherhood presented a Morsi presidency as the last hope to prevent total control by the military council of Mubarak-era generals.

“We got rid of one devil and got 19,” said Mohammed Kanouna, referring to Mubarak and the members of the military council as he voted for Morsi after night fell in Cairo’s Dar el-Salam slum. “We have to let them know there is a will of the people above their will.”

The Brotherhood seemed to lay the groundwork for a confrontation with the military over its power grab. It rejected last week’s order by the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolving parliament, where they were the largest party, as a “coup against the entire democratic process.” It also rejected the military’s right to declare an interim constitution and vowed that an assembly created by parliament last week before its dissolution will write the new charter, not one picked by the generals.

However, the Brotherhood has reached accommodations with the generals at times over the past 16 months since Mubarak’s fall, as it struck deals with Mubarak’s regime itself.

It also has no power to force recognition of the parliament-created constituent assembly, which already seems discounted after parliament’s dissolution and is likely to be formally disbanded by a pending court ruling. Lawmakers are literally locked out of parliament, which is ringed by troops.

The race has been deeply polarising. Critics of Mr Shafiq, an admirer and longtime friend of Mubarak, see him as an extension of the old regime that millions sought to uproot when they staged a stunning uprising that toppled the man who ruled Egypt for three decades.

Mr Morsi’s opponents, in turn, fear that if he wins, the Brotherhood will take over the nation and turn it into an Islamic state, curbing freedoms and consigning minority Christians and women to second-class citizens.

While each has a core of strong supporters – each got about a quarter of the vote in the first round voting among 13 candidates last month – others saw the choice as a bitter one. The prospect that the generals will still hold most power even after their nominal handover of authority to civilians by July 1 has deepened the gloom, leaving some feeling the vote was essentially meaningless.

“Things have not changed at all. It is as if the revolution never happened,” Ayat Maher, a 28-year-old mother of three, said as she waited for her husband to vote in Cairo’s central Abdeen district. She said she voted for Mr Morsi, but did not think there was much hope for him. “The same people are running the country. The same oppression and the same sense of enslavement. They still hold the keys to everything.”

The winner will be officially announced on Thursday. But the result could be known by as early as Monday, based on the results from individual counting stations.

Security was tight in Cairo, with heavier-than-usual army and police presence and army helicopters flying low over the sprawling city of some 18 million people.

Turnout seemed tepid in most places over the two days of voting. A figure significantly lower than the first round’s 46 per cent would be a sign of widespread discontent with the choice and doubts over the vote’s legitimacy. There were no figures yet from the current voting.

Just before the election, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled since Mubarak’s fall, slapped de facto martial law on the country, giving military police and intelligence agents the right to arrest civilians for a host of suspected crimes, some as secondary as obstructing traffic. Then came the high court ruling dissolving parliament.

Now, whoever wins, the military council will hold powers that can all but paralyze the president if it chooses under the interim constitutional declaration issued on Sunday just after polls closed.

According to a copy of the document obtained by The Associated Press, the generals would be the nation’s legislators and control the budget. They also will name the 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution, thus ensuring the new charter would guarantee them a say in key policies like defense and national security as well as shield their vast economic empire from civilian scrutiny.

The president will be able to appoint a Cabinet and approve or reject laws.

Under the document, new parliament elections will not be held until a new constitution is approved, meaning an election in December at the earliest. In the constitution-writing process, the military can object over any articles and the Supreme Constitutional Court – which is made up of Mubarak-era appointees – will have final say over any disputes.

The generals, mostly in their 60s and 70s, owe their ranks to the patronage of Mubarak and are led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the ousted leader’s defense minister of 20 years. All along, activists from the pro-democracy youth groups that engineered the anti-Mubarak uprising questioned the generals’ will to hand over power, arguing that after 60 years of direct or behind-the-scenes domination, the military was unlikely to voluntarily relinquish its perks.

Earlier, the Brotherhood’s speaker of parliament Saad el-Katatni met with the deputy head of the military council, Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Anan and told him the group does not recognise the dissolution of parliament, according to a Brotherhood statement that pointedly referred to Mr el-Katatni by his title.

Mr el-Katatni insisted the military could not issue an interim constitution and that the constituent assembly formed last week would meet in the “coming hours” to go ahead with its work in writing the permanent charter.

Few voters displayed an air of celebration visible in previous post-Mubarak elections.

“It’s a farce. I crossed out the names of the two candidates on my ballot paper and wrote ‘the revolution continues’,” said architect Ahmed Saad el-Deen in Cairo’s Sayedah Zeinab district.

“I can’t vote for the one who killed my brother or the second one who danced on his dead body,” he said, alluding to Shafiq’s alleged role in the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising and claims by revolutionaries that Morsi’s Brotherhood rode the uprising to realise its own political goals.

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Church bombings, riot kill dozens

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

KADUNA, Nigeria (GGS NEWS) — Suicide bombers killed 21 people in attacks on three churches in Nigeria during Sunday services, exacerbating religious tensions in a West African nation that is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians.

Authorities arrested one of the bombers who survived, said Kaduna State police chief Mohammed Abubakar Jinjiri, but he declined to say who police suspect was responsible for the bombings.

It was the third Sunday in a row that deadly attacks have been carried out against Christian churches in northern Nigeria. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the latest one, but suspicion fell on the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram because it took responsibility for the two earlier weekend assaults.

Boko Haram is waging an increasingly bloody fight with security agencies and the public in Nigeria. More than 560 people have been killed in violence blamed on the sect this year alone, according to an Associated Press count.

On Sunday, the suicide bombers drove explosive-laden cars to the gates of two churches in different parts of the city of Zaria and detonated them within minutes of each other. A similar attack targeted a church in the city of Kaduna about half an hour later at about 9:25 a.m., police said, prompting reprisals by Christian youths.

The attacks in the northern state of Kaduna killed a total of 21 people and wounded at least 100, said an official who works with a relief agency involved in rescue efforts. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.

It wasn’t immediately known if the reprisal attacks caused casualties in the religious flashpoint state, but hundreds of people have died in previous retaliatory violence there.

“The Boko Haram group’s intention in bombing the churches is to attract reprisal attacks from the Christians, draw the battle line between Muslim and Christians and, (by doing so) get moderate Muslims to support them,” said Shehu Sani, the president of the Kaduna-based Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria.

In Italy, the Vatican decried what it called systematic attacks against Christian churches in Nigeria. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement that the “systematicness” of the attacks against Christian places of worship on a Sunday is “horrible and inacceptable” and reflects “an absurd design of hatred.”

Within an hour of the Kaduna city attack on Shalom Church, an Associated Press reporter saw billows of smoke over a mosque in a predominantly Christian part of the city. Some Christian youths quickly mounted illegal roadblocks and were seen harassing motorists. A motorcycle taxi rider in that same neighborhood lay seriously hurt and bleeding by the road side. Motorcycle taxi riders there are often presumed to be Muslim and become easy targets during reprisal attacks by Christians.

“The Christians can’t see Boko Haram,” said Sani, “so they’ll retaliate against Muslims.”

Churches have been increasingly targeted by violence in Nigeria, with Boko Haram claiming some of the attacks. The situation has led churches in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north to boost their security in a nation of more than 160 million people.

Last weekend, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives outside a church in the central Nigerian city of Jos as gunmen attacked another church in the northeastern city of Biu, killing at least six people and wounding dozens. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the two attacks.

The weekend before that, at least 15 people were killed and dozens more wounded after a suicide car bomber drove into Living Faith Church’s compound in the northern Nigeria city of Bauchi and detonated his explosives as worshippers left an early morning service.

Earlier, an Easter Day blast in Kaduna left at least 38 people dead, and Christmas Day suicide bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla near Nigeria’s capital killed at least 44.

For now, Christian leaders in the north are encouraging Christians to keep attending Sunday services.

“They can only destroy the flesh,” said Sunday Aibe, a spokesman for the Northern Christian Association, “and not the spirit.”

But many feel that going to church puts them at risk.

Timothy Musa, an unemployed 25 year old, says he won’t go to church unless he sees the security improve.

“Unemployment in the country is still on the rise and now there is the insecurity of lives and property. How can I?” said the member of Christ the King Catholic Church, one of the three targeted by Sunday’s attacks.

These latest attacks have occurred in the place where they are the most likely to have a ripple effect.

“Targeting religious places of worship is always an inflaming situation in a divided society such as we have here,” said criminologist Innocent Chukwuma.

Kaduna state, which sits on Nigeria’s dividing line between its largely Christian south and Muslim north, has a history of religious tensions.

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Daily Hukamnama – June 18

Daily Hukamnama – June 18

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

Dhanaasaree, Third Mehl: Gather in and cherish forever the wealth of the Lord’s Name, deep within; He cherishes and nurtures all beings and creatures. They alone obtain the treasure of Liberation, who are lovingly imbued with, and focused on the Lord’s Name. ||1|| Serving the Guru, one obtains the wealth of the Lord’s Name. He is illumined and enlightened within, and he meditates on the Lord’s Name. ||Pause|| This love for the Lord is like the love of the bride for her husband. God ravishes and enjoys the soul-bride who is adorned with peace and tranquility. No one finds God through egotism. Wandering away from the Primal Lord, the root of all, one wastes his life in vain. ||2|| Tranquility, celestial peace, pleasure and the Word of His Bani come from the Guru. True is that service, which leads one to merge in the Naam. Blessed with the Word of the Shabad, he meditates forever on the Lord, the Beloved. Through the True Name, glorious greatness is obtained. ||3|| The Creator Himself abides throughout the ages. If He casts His Glance of Grace, then we meet Him. Through the Word of Gurbani, the Lord comes to dwell in the mind. O Nanak, God unites with Himself those who are imbued with Truth. ||4||3||

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LA riots beating victim Rodney King dead at 47

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

LOS ANGELES,(GGS NEWS) 17 June 2012 : – Rodney King, the black man who came to symbolize racial tensions in the United States after his 1991 beating by police led to riots in Los Angeles a year later, was found dead in a swimming pool on Sunday in Rialto, California, police said. He was 47.

“Preliminary indications are that this is a drowning with no signs of foul play,” Rialto police said in a statement.

King was discovered by his fiancée, said Rialto police Captain Randy De Anda. The San Bernardino County Coroner’s office will conduct an autopsy, authorities said.King’s death was reported to police Sunday morning in Rialto, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Los Angeles. Police pulled his body from the swimming pool but were unable to resuscitate him, De Anda said.

King became known around the world after he and some friends were stopped by Los Angeles police on March 3, 1991, after a high-speed chase. King was beaten by baton-wielding officers while a bystander videotaped them. The video prompted a national debate on police brutality and race relations.

When the officers were cleared of brutality charges a year later, riots broke out in Los Angeles, resulting in 53 deaths and an estimated $1 billion in damage.

During the riots, King made a famous televised appeal for calm, saying: “Can we all get along?”

Two of the officers were later convicted on federal charges of violating King’s civil rights and were sentenced to prison.

A jury ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay King, who was unemployed at the time of the beating, $3.8 million in damages.

Activist Reverend Al Sharpton called King a powerful civil rights symbol who “made America focus on the presence of profiling and police misconduct.”

“Through all that he had gone through with his beating and his personal demons, he was never one to not call for reconciliation and for people to overcome and forgive,” Sharpton said in a statement.

King had a history of substance abuse and previously appeared on the U.S. cable TV program “Celebrity Rehab.”

This year, two decades after the riots, King wrote a book entitled “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.”

King, who has three children, was engaged to marry Cynthia Kelley, a juror in the civil suit he brought against the city of Los Angeles, according to the biography that accompanied his book.

The Los Angeles Times published a quote that King gave the newspaper earlier this year: “I would change a few things, but not that much. Yes, I would go through that night, yes I would. I said once that I wouldn’t, but that’s not true. It changed things. It made the world a better place.”

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Pro-Bail Out New Democracy Set To Win Greek Election

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

LONDON (GGS NEWS) — THAT?S ALL FOR TONIGHT on this tense Greek election, which some had feared could lead to Greece leaving the eurozone. To recap:
-New Democracy, the pro-bailout conservative party, won a narrow victory over Syriza, the radical leftists who are in favour of dropping Greece?s huge EU-IMF bailout.
-Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has said his leftist anti-bailout party will not join a coalition government.
-Pro-bailout parties have enough votes to form a government and negotiations are likely to get under way on Monday to form a coalition as world financial markets also deliver their verdict. AFP?s coverage from Greece will continue.
2022 GMT: My colleague Daphne Benoit in Athens says the celebration party for New Democracy supporters in Syntagma Square was rather muted.
Fewer than 100 cheerful militants gathered to greet Samaras, who was surrounded by reporters.
“The majority of Greek people are very suspicious, very hesitant. They wait and see what the new policies will be before being optimistic about the future and I understand”, said Spiros Stamoulis, 26, one of the supporters.
1954 GMT: That declaration from Tsipras means there will be a lot of Greeks whose opinions are not represented by whatever government emerges.
The discontent felt by many Greeks is therefore likely to continue — will this spill over into fresh unrest?
1950 GMT: Some more now from that press conference by Alexis Tsipras, leader of the anti-austerity leftist Syriza party, where he conceded defeat.
He made clear that the party would not be joining any unity government.
“We will be here as the opposition, we represent a majority of people opposed to the bailout deal,” he said.
1946 GMT: The global financial markets will be opening up again for the week in a matter of hours and it will be intriguing to see how they react.
Despite the New Democracy victory which is good for Greece’s prospects of staying in the eurozone, uncertainty about the shape of the coalition still remains.
1927 GMT: There has been a sudden flurry of comments from some of the key players in this election, so let’s go back to the earlier remarks by the leader of socialist party Pasok.
Evangelos Venizelos said he was ready to form a coalition with New Democracy but only if other leftist parties were included.
“A government of national responsibility should include at least New Democracy, Pasok, the Democratic Left and Syriza,” Pasok leader Venizelos said. “No decision can be taken without this national unity.”
1925 GMT: Some more on that press conference from Samaras. He said Greece would remain “anchored” in the euro and called on political parties which shared New Democracy’s objectives to join forces. He added that New Democracy was “determined to do what it takes and do it fast.”
1916 GMT: New Democracy official Dora Bakoyannis has told AFP in Athens that the party wants to form a “government of national unity.” Talks are expected to start Monday.
1914 GMT: TV pictures show a mass of photographers and camera crews surrounding Samaras as he arrives for the press conference.
1912 GMT: AFP’s Daphne Benoit says that Samaras is expected to hold a press conference soon. A crowd of his supporters supporters have gathered in Syntagma Square in Athens waving flags and celebrating.
“We are happy, New Democracy is the only real Greek party,” said one of them, Savas Kosanidis. “Antonis Samaras is very clever, he will try to change the memorandum.”
1902 GMT: The leader of New Democracy Antonis Samaras looks to have been tonight’s big winner, so let’s find out a bit more about him, courtesy of AFP’s John Hadoulis in Athens.
Samaras is seen as a tough negotiator who has pledged to hold talks with other European leaders to secure more favourable bailout terms for Greece, with more emphasis on growth.
He has also pledged to take a tougher stance on illegal immigrants. A Harvard-educated economist, Samaras is descended from one of Greece’s top families and is the great-grandson of Penelope Delta, one of the country’s most famous children’s authors.
1841 GMT: The prospect of New Democracy and Pasok teaming up is an interesting one.
The pair of them have been the dominant parties in Greek politics in recent times. New Demcracy’s leader Antonis Samaras is an ex-foreign minister who approved Greece’s 2010 bailout — though only after holding out for some time. So both are very much establishment parties, in stark contrast with Syriza.
1836 GMT: Separately, the estimate says that the anti-bailout Syriza is on track to secure 27.1 percent of the vote — 72 seats.
1834 GMT: So if New Democracy can broker a deal with Pasok, they will have a majority.
New Democracy is on course to get 29.5 percent or 128 seats in parliament, according to the official estimate. Meanwhile, Pasok would get 12.3 percent of the vote — 33 seats.
1812 GMT: Westerwelle’s timing is intriguing. Many Greeks feel Germany has been too strict in imposing the terms of the bailout which has led to painful austerity measures hitting everything from healthcare to pensions.
German tabloid newspaper Bild underlined the tensions ahead of the vote by running an open letter telling Greeks their ATMs had euros in them only because “we put them there.”
1807 GMT: German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has just indicated Greece could get more time to achieve the reforms required under that huge bailout.
He told ARD public television that while there cannot be “substantial changes” in the terms of Greece’s bailout, “I can imagine we discuss again a delay” in hitting targets.
1751 GMT: If it is correct that New Democracy is edging ahead, there will be a huge sigh of relief from eurozone leaders including Angela Merkel. Merkel, leader of Europe’s largest economy Germany, said Saturday that it was “extremely important” for the country to toe the line on the bailout.
While New Democracy wants to renegotiate elements of the deal, its demands are nowhere near as radical as those of Syriza, who has vowed to rip up the EU/IMF bailout on Monday if he wins.
1742 GMT: We are now getting more details of exit polls, this time with all exit poll votes in. These figures put New Democracy on 28.6 to 30 percent, Syriza on 27 to 28.4 percent and socialist party Pasok on 11 to 12.4 percent.
1734 GMT: Let’s look again at the economic background to this election, which Greek newspapers have described as the most important since the end of military rule in 1974.
The country has sought two bailouts for its economy, in 2010 and earlier this year, drawing international assistance worth a total of 347 billion euros ($439 billion). Although the bailouts were crucial for the economy, they have left many Greeks fed up with the tough austerity cuts which accompanied them.
1716 GMT: A tense wait for Greeks, as well as politicians watching around the world. AFP’s Catherine Boitard in Athens reports that politicians from all parties have now hit the TV studios and are launching fierce debates about the significance of what has happened in today’s election. Gripping Sunday night viewing for voters.
1702 GMT: AFP’s Daphne Benoit reports that Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos has been speaking to Skai television in Greece as the exit polls emerge. “You have lost… we will continue to fight you,” he said, addressing the party’s opponents.
1649 GMT: In a more cheerful development for Greeks, the country’s football team is dedicating its success in Euro 2012 to the troubled nation. AFP’s Jonathan Fowler in Serock, Poland, reports that midfielder Kostas Katsouranis has spoken after yesterday’s 1-0 defeat of Russia, which carried Greece through to the quarter-finals.
“We wanted to give everybody back home something to cheer, to celebrate,” the player told reporters. “Everybody in Greece — even our families, our friends, our brothers, our cousins, everyone — is having a really hard time.”
1645 GMT: More exit polls are likely to be published around 1700 GMT, which could give us a clearer picture.
1635 GMT: More coming through on how Golden Dawn, the neo-Nazi party, performed. The early exit polls put the party, whose leader denies the Holocaust, on between six and 7.5 percent of the vote. It scored 6.97 percent in May’s elections.
One of Golden Dawn’s MPs, Illias Kasidiaris, assaulted two female deputies on live TV earlier this month — but is now pressing charges against his victims, claiming they insulted him.
1626 GMT: Another voter interviewed by Daphne voiced relief that the figures indicated Syriza had not won. New Democracy voter Nondas, 21, said: “We’re not really happy but we are relieved because opinion polls had Syriza winning.”
1622 GMT: AFP’s Daphne Benoit in Athens has been speaking to voters following publication of the exit polls — and some of them are concerned there may be another stalemate. “The figures are very tight, there is no majority,” said Syriza supporter Lavros Moustakis. “We may have to rerun the election in a month and in that time, Merkel will ruin us.”
1616 GMT: Politicians and officials in Berlin are likely to be on tenterhooks at the moment, such is the closeness of these exit polls. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that it was “extremely important” for Greece to elect politicians who would respect the bailout. She and others will be watching closely tonight amid wider fears about the impact of a possible Syriza win.
1611 GMT: Athens University politics professor Dmitri Sotiropoulous tells the BBC that Golden Dawn’s figures in the exit polls suggest the party has “sustained most of its power” from the May vote.
1608 GMT: So there seems to be barely a hair between Syriza and New Democracy, the two main contenders in the election, at this stage. Exit polls put New Democracy half a percentage point ahead with between 27.5 percent and 30.5 percent of the vote compared to between 27 percent and 30 percent for Syriza. Still well within the margin of error.
1555 GMT: In a sign of the tension surrounding this election, two grenades were found outside the offices of private media group Skai TV, which supports austerity in Greece, this morning. “Somebody is trying to disturb the holding of the election but this effort will fail,” said government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras.
1550 GMT: My colleague Dario Thuburn in Athens spoke to some voters earlier today who were in no doubt of the importance of this election.
“This is an election that makes people very, very anxious,” said 62-year-old pensioner Andreas Pappas after voting in central Athens. “I want Greece to remain in the eurozone and the European Union. We used to think it was something we could take for granted. We have never faced a situation like this.”
Another, Stavros Logaras, a 53-year-old Communist voter, said people were “confused” but desperate for change. “We would like another style of government, another way for Greek society and for European society,” he said.
WELCOME TO AFP’S LIVE REPORT on the Greek elections. The results of the poll, which closes very shortly at 1600 GMT, will be key to determining whether Greece stays in the eurozone and could send shockwaves through economies in Europe and around the world.
There are two main parties to watch in the poll. The anti-austerity left-wing Syriza party, led by 37-year-old Alexis Tsipras, wants to scrap Greece’s huge EU-IMF loan deal. It is this threat which has prompted doubts about whether Greece can stay in the eurozone if Syriza win.
On the other side is the conservative New Democracy party led by the vastly experienced Antonis Samaras. Samaras says that if his party secures victory, it will renegotiate elements of the loan deal, placing more emphasis on growth. The Greek economy is currently in a dire state, in its fifth year of recession and with unemployment among those aged 15-24 running at 52.8 percent.
The first results are expected by around 1900 GMT — stay with us to see what happens in this crucial election.

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Petrol to cost 92 paise less, diesel up by 37 paise in Delhi

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

GGS NEWS : Petrol price will come down by 92 paise while cost of diesel will go up by 37 paise from midnight tomorrow in the capital, with the Delhi government issuing a notification in this regard.

Petrol will cost Rs 70.24 per litre from current Rs 71.16 per litre and diesel will cost Rs 41.28 per litre as against the current rate of Rs 40.91.

“We have issued a notification slashing the VAT on the hiked component of petrol while the relief of 37 paise being provided since September last year will be withdrawn on diesel. The new rates will come into effect from midnight tomorrow,” a senior Delhi government official said.

Delhi government had a fortnight ago decided to slash the VAT on the hiked component of the petrol price.

The city government had withdrawn 12.5 per cent VAT on the increased component of diesel when oil companies had hiked diesel price by Rs 3.37 in June last year.

The government had arrived at the figure of 37 paise for cut in diesel price by removing the 12.5 per cent VAT component on the hike of Rs 3.37.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, while presenting the Budget in the Delhi Assembly on May 28, had announced withdrawing the 20 per cent VAT on increased component of petrol to provide some relief to people battered by high inflation.

The relief on account of withdrawal of VAT on hiked component of Rs 6.28 was calculated at Rs 1.26 but as oil companies slashed prices by Rs 1.68 on June 2, the reduction in VAT on per litre of petrol was revised at 92 paisa per litre.

The Delhi Budget in which Dikshit had made the proposal to forego the VAT on hiked component was passed by the Assembly on June 4 but officials said there was a delay in issuing the notification due to procedural reasons.

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Saina Nehwal clinches her 3rd straight Indonesia Open title

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

Jakarta,(GGS NEWS)  India’s top seeded Saina Nehwal won her third Indonesia open title by defeating China’s Li Xuerui here on Sunday. The win is seen as a big boost prior to London Olympics.

The World No. 5 upstaged the reigning All England and Asian Champion 13-21, 22-20, 21-19 after a tantalisingly close match for her maiden Super Series Premier crown and second in as many weeks following the victory at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold event in Bangkok last Sunday.

For the Chinese, it was her first loss in five straight finals and first to Saina in two years, making the head-to-head record 4-2 in her favour.

With the win, the Hyderabadi continued her love affair with Indonesia where she won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 besides reaching the final in 2011. “I just love coming here. I get great crowd support and I feel like a champion everytime I step on the court,” said Sania of the tournament which was awarded Super Series Premier status from Super Series tag last year and is at par with the prestigious All England Championships.

The final lasting 1 hour 5 minutes provided a great spectacle to the badminton fans with both players indulging in long rallies ending with power-packed smashes. Saina was at the receiving end before pulling off a memorable win.
She looked out of sorts in the first game and posed little resistance against her opponent’s down the line smashes and crafty net play. Li was one game up 15 minutes into the contest.

The Indian, realising the need of a change in strategy, attacked more in the second and gained a 13-8 cushion. That was when Xuerui’s fighting capabilities came to the fore as cut Saina’s lead to 13-12 and then went on to take six straight points from 14-18 to secure two match points. Saina, however, managed to regain her composure to level the match.

The decider had everyone on the edge of their seats with Saina trailing 10-11 at the mid-game break. Saina, however, did manage to maintain a slender lead from there on. Unforced errors started to creep in from Li’s racquet and Saina earned crucial points by attacking more on the body and was ahead 19-16. The 22-year-old did not squander the advantage this time around and shut the door on her opponent with a forehand winner.

A couple of net cords going either way added more excitement towards the finish.

Saina pocketed $48750 as prize money while Xuerui received approximately half of it.

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Afghanistan: Taliban hail ‘significant’ India

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

KABUL,(GGS NEWS)  India has done well to resist US calls for greater involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban said in a rare direct comment about one of the strongest opponents of the hardline terrorist group that was ousted from power in 2001.

The Taliban also said they would not let Afghanistan be used as a base against another country, addressing fears in New Delhi that Pakistan-based anti-India militants may become more emboldened if the Taliban return to power.

The Afghan Taliban have longstanding ties to Pakistan and striking a softer tone towards its arch rival, India, could be a sign of a more independent course.

Direct talks with the US – which have since been suspended – and an agreement to open a Taliban office in Qatar to conduct formal peace talks have been seen as signs of a more assertive stance.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta this month encouraged India to take a more active role in Afghanistan as most foreign combat troops leave in 2014. The Taliban said Panetta had failed.

“He spent three days in India to transfer the heavy burden to their shoulders, to find an exit, and to flee from Afghanistan,” the group said on its English website.

“Some reliable media sources said that the Indian authorities did not pay heed to (US) demands and showed their reservations, because the Indians know or they should know that the Americans are grinding their own axe.”

There had been no assurance for the Americans, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters on Sunday. “It shows that India understands the facts,” he said.

India is one of the biggest donors in Afghanistan, spending about $2 billion on projects ranging from the construction of highways to the building of the Afghan parliament. It has also won an iron ore concession in an $11 billion investment.

But New Delhi has avoided involvement in bolstering Afghan security, except for running courses for small groups of Afghan army officers at military institutions in India.

“No doubt that India is a significant country in the region, but is also worth mentioning that they have full information about Afghanistan because they know each other very well in the long history,” the Taliban said.

“They are aware of the Afghan aspirations, creeds and love for freedom. It is totally illogical they should plunge their nation into a calamity just for the American pleasure.”

India backed the Northern Alliance during the civil war and was frozen out of Afghanistan once the Taliban took over in 1996 until their ouster by US forces. It has since developed close ties with Kabul, prompting Pakistani fears of encirclement.

Vikram Sood, a former chief of India’s intelligence agency, said the Taliban statement held an implicit warning for India.

“It’s more a gentle reminder asking India not to mess around in Afghanistan after the Americans leave,” he told Reuters.

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Race to President’s post still open, says BJP

Posted on 18 June 2012 by GGS News

NEW DELHI,(GGS NEWS)  Two days after the UPA chose Pranab Mukherjee for presidency, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was divided on Sunday over the presidential elections. But former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma refused to quit the race despite appeals from his leader Sharad Pawar.

A meeting of the NDA attended by leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Akali Dal, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Haryana Janhit Congress and Janata Party’s Subramanian Swamy failed to agree on a possible candidate after contrasting views emerged.

To make the matters worse, the Shiv Sena stayed away, apparently peeved over the NDA’s delay in picking a presidential candidate.

With the NDA divided over supporting Mukherjee — perhaps in return for the UPA allowing the NDA to select a vice-president — or backing Sangma or a third person, no decision could be taken on Sunday.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani has been authorized to talk to have wider consultations with NDA chief ministers and other parties.

NDA convener Sharad Yadav of JD-U, which is said to favour Pranab Mukherjee, said: “NDA will meet sometime later again to take a decision in this regard.”

The Shiv Sena is against Sangma, the presidential candidate of the AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal.

While JD-U and Akali Dal don’t want the NDA to put up a candidate against Mukherjee, the Shiv Sena and Janata Party want a contest.

In 2007, the Sena went against the BJP and voted for Congress candidate Pratibha Patil because she is from Maharashtra.

With a peeved Pawar finally letting Sangma know that he should quit the race, the NCP leader from Meghayala Sunday requested Pawar to support him.

“I am still in the race,” Sangma told reporters here. “Pawar is saying he will appeal to me to withdraw, and I appeal to him to support me.”

He underlined that he was a candidate of the Tribal Forum of India, which had nothing to do with any political party.

Sangma admitted after talking to several NDA leaders that “they have some differences” over next month’s presidential battle.

“I talked to Mamata Banerjee. She said she is supporting (former president APJ Abdul) Kalam. I said as Kalam has opted out of the race, so you should support me.”

The BJP, with the 2014 Lok Sabha election in mind, is trying to win over both Mamata Banerjee, whose ties with the UPA are strained, and YSR Congress founder Jaganmohan Reddy, the emerging force in Andhra Pradesh.

“We will consult all non-Congress parties. The aim is to build stronger relations (ahead of the) Lok Sabha poll,” said a leader.

The Left parties will meet Thursday to take a final call on the presidential battle, said general secretary Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

As of now, Mukherjee is far ahead of everyone in the race. Even if Sangma contests with NDA support, Mukherjee is set to garner nearly half of all votes.

The presidential electoral college is made up of MPs and members of state assemblies.

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