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December 6, 2009

US unemployment rate down to ten percent

US unemployment rate down to ten percent

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that unemployment in the country edged down from 10.2% to 10% in November, with fewer jobs lost in the previous two months than anticipated. The latest monthly figure was discussed at a congressional hearing yesterday as president Barack Obama welcomed the news but said he is still not satisfied.

At a hearing of the bipartisan Joint Economic Committee at the Senate, lawmakers from both major US political parties cited the November unemployment figure as welcome progress. However, they also noted the economic pain many of their constituents are still feeling in an economy struggling with deep recession.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, said Americans at all levels, but notably the middle class, continue to struggle. “While parts of our economy are clearly stabilizing, with the Dow Jones over 10,000 again, it is clear that other parts of the economy are still struggling. We need to make sure that all Americans, not just the folks who happen to work on Wall Street, feel that we are digging ourselves out of the hole,” she commented.

Despite a generally upward trend in recent months on Wall Street, Obama, administration officials, and economists continue to caution that employment will lag behind other indicators of economic recovery.

Keith Hall, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said the November figure, which still represents 15.4 million Americans out of work, is the lowest monthly job loss since the official beginning of the US recession in December 2007, and follows moderating figures in three previous months.

But in an economy that has lost jobs for 23 consecutive months, Hall noted that long-term unemployed continued to grow, rising by 293,000 to 5.9 million, with little change in the number of Americans employed part-time but seeking full-time work.

Democrat Carolyn Maloney asked him about economist’s predictions that it would take 10.7 million jobs created to return the country to full employment. “Well, without offering an opinion on that 10.7 million jobs, at that rate though, it would be about three years,” said Mr. Hall.

Opposition Republicans responded to the latest figures by focusing on specific sectors that continue to lag and renewing their assertions that steps President Obama has taken since he came to office, such as the $787 billion stimulus, have had little impact on the economy.

Kevin Brady is the Republican co-chair of the committee. He said while the November figures are good news, there is not much more to celebrate.”We can’t celebrate a 10 percent unemployment rate, especially when the long-term unemployment continues to grow in very troubling numbers.”

But Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings noted what he called a major improvement with job losses going from 700,000 per month at the start of the recession to 11,000 in November. “The report we received this morning is a clear indicator that the economy is slowly returning to growth,” he said.

In an appearance in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Friday, Obama called the jobs figure “modestly encouraging”, but noted that he will not be satisfied until there is sustained significant improvement. “We have still got a long way to go. I consider one job loss one job too many and as I said yesterday at a jobs conference in Washington. Good trends don’t pay the rent. We have got to actually grow jobs and get America back to work as quickly as we can,” he said.

The president had held a so-called jobs summit at the White House this week seeking support from business and union leaders for his economic recovery efforts.

Republicans responded with their own event on Capitol Hill, where economists such as Douglas Holtz Eakin, the former adviser to Senator John McCain who lost the 2008 election to Obama, questioned his approach to recovery. “Job creation in the United States is something that small businesses, entrepreneurs and the private sector will do but they cannot do it if they are burdened by a legacy of debt and the prospect of higher taxes to pay off that debt and that is the most troubling aspect of the policies this administration is pursuing,” he said.

In testimony to Congress this week, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke agreed with economists who caution that despite hopeful predictions of moderately strong economic growth unemployment is likely to remain high well into 2010.



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Three peacekeepers in Sudan killed by gunmen

Filed under: Africa,Archived,Ban Ki-moon,Crime and law,Darfur,Sudan — admin @ 5:00 am

Three peacekeepers in Sudan killed by gunmen

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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According to a spokesman for UNAMID, a peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan, three Rwandan soldiers were killed by gunmen in an ambush earlier today. Two other soldiers were hurt.

The spokesman, Kemal Saiki, commented that the ambush occurred close to a government checkpoint in the town of Saraf Umra, near Darfur. The peacekeeping troops returned fire at the gunmen, wounding one, but they evaded capture. The identities of the assailants was not immediately known.

Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, released a statement in which he expressed his sympathy to the families of the killed soldiers.

With this incident, twenty peacekeepers have been killed in the Darfur region since January 2008, when the African Union and the UN dispatched armed forces to the region. Violence, however, has become less frequent in the past few months.



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Tens of thousands protest in London before Copenhagen climate change summit

Tens of thousands protest in London before Copenhagen climate change summit

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through London earlier today, calling for a deal to be made at this week’s Copenhagen Climate Conference in Denmark. Similar such marches were held in Belfast, Dublin, and Glasgow.

According to the London Metropolitan Police, twenty thousand people attended the march. Organisers, however, claimed that about forty thousand people were present at the demonstrations. The march began at Grosvenor Square and continued all the way to the Parliament building on the Thames river.

The march contained members of groups such as Oxfam, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the World Wildlife Fund. Protestors were asked to dress in blue, supposedly to symbolise a “wave” of people around the Parliament building.

The chief executive of Oxfam, Barbara Stocking, said in a statement that “the UK government must fight for a comprehensive, fair and binding deal at Copenhagen — that is our demand today and we expect it to be fulfilled.

“They must return home with a strong, effective climate deal both for our own sakes in the U.K. and for the millions of poor people already suffering from the effects of climate change around the world.”



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Rescuers in Egypt end search for victims of ferry crash

Filed under: Africa,Archived,Disasters and accidents,Egypt — admin @ 5:00 am

Rescuers in Egypt end search for victims of ferry crash

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Egyptian rescue workers have ended a search for possible victims of a collision between two ferries on the Nile River.

Local officials said that they found no bodies and have accounted for everyone, after initial reports suggested dozens of passengers and crew members were missing following the collision on Friday.

Rescuers searched on Friday night and early on Saturday for possible victims; officials say at least six people were injured.

The two ferries collided near the northern city of Rashid, causing one of the boats to overturn. At least 30 people were on board the boats at the time of the accident. Officials are investigating the cause of the incident.



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Official results say Namibian president reelected after polls

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Official results say Namibian president reelected after polls

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Final results from Namibian presidential and parliamentary elections have indicated that the incumbent president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, has been reelected by a large margin. The ruling party, South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), also retained a majority in the parliamentary elections.

File photograph of Hifikepunye Pohamba
Image: Agencia Brasil.

Pohamba won 76.4% of the vote in the presidential ballots; meanwhile, SWAPO obtained 75.27% in the parliamentary polls. The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) party came in a distant second at 11.31%. SWAPO won 54 out of 72 seats in the National Assembly. The RDP took eight seats.

“I am a happy man. I, on behalf of SWAPO accept the election. I am grateful to the Namibian people who once again trusted me,” Pohama commented after his reelection.

Eight of the thirteen parties competing with SWAPO said that they rejected the results of the polls, and would challenge them in court “for contravening the electoral law of the country.” They claimed that they hadn’t been properly informed about the process of vote verification, and that the speed at which the votes were counted was too slow.

A joint statement released by the parties said that “our eight parties will not accept the election results as the elections were conducted in contravention of the law. Accepting this supposed elections outcome will be tantamount to undermining democracy in Namibia.”

African election observers, however, deemed the Namibian elections free and fair.



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Obiang reelected as president of Equatorial Guinea after elections

Obiang reelected as president of Equatorial Guinea after elections

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Official results from Equatorial Guinea have indicated that Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of the country, has been reelected another term.

The election, held on November 29, saw Obiang take 95.37% of the ballot, or 260,462 votes, according to a statement released on the government website yesterday. An opponent, Placido Mico Abogo, finished a distant second, with 3.6% of the vote.

Obiang said that he was going to make human rights, education, and health reforms in his next term. Equatorial Guinea, the third largest producer of oil in Africa, has recently seen increasing levels of infant mortality and less educational enrollment.

Opposition candidates, however, have claimed that the voting was rigged; some pro-democracy groups also claimed that not enough media attention was devoted to Obiang’s rivals. “In recent weeks it [the government] has stifled and harassed the country’s beleaguered political opposition […] [and] imposed serious constraints on international observers,” stated the Human Rights Watch.



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Martial law declared in Philippine province after massacre

Martial law declared in Philippine province after massacre

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Philippine officials have put a southern province under martial law today, and arrested the patriarch of a powerful clan, following last week’s massacre of 57 people. Government officials say President Gloria Arroyo suspended civil rights in the Maguindanao province.

This comes soon after the Philippine authorities received reports that some groups were arming themselves to resist arrests by security forces.

Officials said that troops took Andal Ampatuan Senior, the local governor, and his son Zaldy Ampatuam, into custody at their home in Maguindanao. Another of Ampatuan’s sons, Andal Ampatuan Junior, is already in jail in connection with the massacre. More than 100 soldiers and dozens of police raided homes belonging to the Ampatuan family Friday. The Ampatuan clan has ruled the southern province of Maguindanao for more than a decade.

“There are more than 80 people suspected of having participated […] We need a massive force to assist ordinary police to be able to arrest them. It appears that if martial law […] is not adapted, the probability of trouble is very high because they will prevent themselves from getting arrested,” said acting defence secretary Eduardo Armita to the Al Jazeera news agency.

Martial law has not been imposed anywhere in the Philippines for the last 28 years.

During the November 23 massacre, about a hundred gunmen attacked and slaughtered members of a convoy traveling to register politician Esmael Mangudadatu for governor — challenging the Ampatuan clan’s hold on power. The dead included Mangudadatu’s wife, sisters, and supporters. More than half the victims were journalists.

President Arroyo has faced intense pressure to take action against the violence because of her political ties to the Ampatuan clan. She continues to promise justice will be served.



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Liberal Party of Australia win Bradfield, Higgins by-elections

Liberal Party of Australia win Bradfield, Higgins by-elections

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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2009 Australian by-elections
  • 6 December 2009: Liberal Party of Australia win Bradfield, Higgins by-elections
  • 3 December 2009: Wikinews interviews Goronwy Price about the upcoming by-election in the Bradfield electorate of the Australian parliament
  • 1 December 2009: Wikinews interviews Stephen Murphy about the upcoming by-election in the Higgins electorate of the Australian parliament
  • 2 November 2009: Wikinews interviews Dr Clive Hamilton about the upcoming by-election in the Higgins electorate of the Australian parliament
  • 1 November 2009: Wikinews interviews Zahra Stardust about the upcoming by-election in the Bradfield electorate of the Australian parliament
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Tony Abbott became Liberal Party leader during the campaign
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The Liberal Party have retained both the Bradfield and Higgins seats in the Australian House of Representatives, despite some predicting a voter backlash after their recent leadership change and splits over environmental policy.

The seats were previously held by former Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and former Treasurer Peter Costello, respectively.

Higgins

In Higgins the victorious candidate was Kelly O’Dwyer. Ten candidates contested this by-election, though the governing Labor Party did not field a candidate.

“I think it sends a clear message to Kevin Rudd that they cannot take their voters for granted,” she said. “Their voters will come to the Liberal Party if given an opportunity.”

Green candidate Dr Clive Hamilton was also happy with the result. “The Greens have achieved a vote of 35 per cent or so, which is easily the highest vote the Greens have scored in a House of Representatives election,” Dr Hamilton said. “That means about a quarter of the voters of Higgins who once voted Labor or Liberal have decided to trust their vote to the Greens.”

Hamilton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Ms O’Dwyer “will toe the party line on climate change.”

“I think Kelly O’Dwyer will fit in perfectly well with Tony Abbott’s sceptical Liberal party,” he said. “I don’t think she will really take the climate change message to Higgins, so effectively 35 per cent of her voters are completely disenfranchised on the most important issue that concerns them.”

Bradfield

The victorious candidate in Bradfield was Paul Fletcher. 22 candidates contested this by-election, again without one from Labor.

“My experience as I talked to people during the campaign was that people were concerned about private health insurance, overdevelopment, economic management and so on,” Fletcher, a former Optus executive, said. “Climate change came up as an issue, but it wasn’t the number one issue. Certainly the Liberal Party needs to have a response on climate change as our leader Tony Abbott has said. But it is not the only issue to campaign on.”



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Guinean junta head in \’stable\’ condition after shooting, soldiers searching for gunman

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Guinean junta head in ‘stable’ condition after shooting, soldiers searching for gunman

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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File photograph of Captain Camara, taken in August 2009

Soldiers in Guinea are searching for the former head of the presidential guard whose men are accused of shooting and wounding the country’s military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Camara is being treated at a hospital in Morocco, where he is reportedly in “stable” condition.

The country’s security forces are searching for former aide-de-camp Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, whose men opened fire on military ruler late on Thursday, according to officials.

The former aide, who is also known as Toumba, escaped after the assassination attempt and is still at large with a small group of the presidential guard. Toumba has been identified by several witnesses as the man who gave the order to open fire on opposition demonstrators two months ago.

In a telephone call, Diakite commented that he was located “in a safe place” within Guinea. “I am in Guinea, I am free to move about,” he said, as quoted by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

Meanwhile, spokesman Idrissa Cherif said to the AFP that Camara’s life was not in danger, and that the wound was not life-threatening. “He is very well. We have spoken on the telephone, there are no problems and his condition is stable,” Cherif said, adding that “the bullet did not penetrate his head but grazed it.”



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First snowfall of the season impacts the Northeast US

First snowfall of the season impacts the Northeast US

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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A snowstorm, in many areas the first of the season, has impacted much of the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada today and is expected to continue until early on Sunday morning. Cities closer to the coast first received rain this morning and early afternoon, but precipitation has changed over to snow as the low pressure system moves northeastward and gains strength.

Forecasters say the storm is related to the same system that brought record-breaking snowfall to the Houston, Texas region a few days ago.

Most locations will pick up a few inches of snow when all is said and done, enough to cause widespread travel delays and traffic accidents throughout the area. Accordingly, the National Weather Service has issued several winter weather warnings stretching from the South through Maine. Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for Atlantic Canada and is expecting 15 to 30 centimeters of snow.

By midday Sunday, the storm will have pulled out of the region, leaving behind clearing skies.

Meanwhile, a winter storm hit southern Alberta, Canada on Friday causing blizzard like conditions and dumping over 20 centimeters of snow.

Picture gallery

The first snow of the season in southern New York State.
Image: User:Juliancolton.

The first snow of the season in southern New York State.
Image: User:Juliancolton.

The first snow of the season in southern New York State.
Image: User:Juliancolton.

The first snow of the season in southern New York State.
Image: User:Juliancolton.

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