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December 31, 2012

Iranian Navy conducts drills in Strait of Hormuz

Iranian Navy conducts drills in Strait of Hormuz

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Strait of Hormuz

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The Islamic Republic of Iran says it is conducting naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz. According to the Iranian navy’s Habibollah Sayyari, the “Velayat 91” drills — to be held for a six day period ending on Wednesday — are intended to showcase “the armed forces’ military capabilities.”

Iran’s state-run media reports that the Iranian government warns all ships to stay away until the end of the exercises. According to this report the drills — which began on Friday — are to be conducted over roughly half a million square miles (a million square kilometers) of waters stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the northern part of the Indian Ocean which includes the Gulf of Oman.

The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Scout maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz during joint training in November 2010

The Strait of Hormuz is a major shipping route of great strategic importance. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 17 million barrels of oil passes through this part of the Persian Gulf per day. That is nearly 20% of the worldwide oil trade and about 35% of oil transported by sea.

This is only one in a series of major naval drills held by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Ten days of drills, “Velayat 90”, was conducted last December and “Velayat 89” a year and a half before that in May 2010. Four months ago, the United States with some of its allies also conducted a series of exercises and naval drills, concerned with keeping the strait open. Iran has said it might close the strait if its nuclear program were attacked.



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Lovie Smith fired by Bears

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Monday, December 31, 2012

After nine seasons as the head coach of the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith is waving his goodbyes. He was fired today, because of the Bears failure to make the playoffs, even though they had a great record of 7-1 at mid-season. This is Lovie’s first “surprise” firing in his career.



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Brian is evil.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

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ALAS

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Oxfam eats Cambridge

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Monday, December 31, 2012

LOLWUT Delete this line. «₳₵₩»


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Sebastián Piñera dies

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Monday, December 31, 2012

MORE DETAILS SOON!



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Expected U.S. Senate special election taking shape in Massachusetts

Expected U.S. Senate special election taking shape in Massachusetts

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Monday, December 31, 2012

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With Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts’s nomination and likely approval as U.S. President Barack Obama’s choice to replace the retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kerry’s Senate seat is expected soon to be vacated, making necessary a special election to choose a new Senator. That potential race is now taking shape with two candidates having emerged as the frontrunners for their respective parties’ nominations: Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic Representative Ed Markey.

Republican Senator Scott Brown
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Massachusetts law adopted in 2004 requires a vacated seat to be filled permanently through special election held 145 to 160 days following vacation. This law was passed purportedly to prevent then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, from naming a replacement for Kerry, who was at the time, the Democratic presidential nominee. No such election occurred until long-time Senator Ted Kennedy died in office, vacating his seat in 2009. At the time, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick named Democrat Paul G. Kirk as a temporary replacement. Kirk chose not to run for the seat, and instead the Democrats nominated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who lost to Brown. Now, Patrick reportedly wishes to again name a temporary replacement who will not run in the special election. Candidates for this position include: Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Ted Kennedy; former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis; and the retiring Congressman Barney Frank.

Amid the Senate’s consideration of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, Brown’s 2010 election broke the Democrats’ filibuster-proof super-majority in the chamber. As the first Massachusetts Republican elected since Edward Brooke in 1972, Brown gained a reputation in the Senate as a political moderate, stressing bipartisanship. However, in the most expensive Senate race in the nation’s history in 2012, he lost the seat to the liberal Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, who tied him to conservative Senate Republicans. After the defeat, Republican Senators Dan Coats of Indiana, John McCain of Arizona, and Olympia Snowe of Maine each asked Brown to run for Senate again. He alluded to a potential return during his farewell address earlier in December, noting, “As I’ve said many times before, victory and defeat is temporary … Depending on what happens, and where we go, all of us, we may obviously meet again.” Though former Governor William Weld is also considered a potential Republican primary candidate, Brown leads him in opinion polls by a wide margin. Additionally, a December 17–18 poll conducted by WBUR shows Brown with a 58 percent favorability rate in his state and ahead of potential Democratic nominees Markey, former Congressman Marty Meehan, and Congressmen Mike Capuano and Stephen Lynch.

Democratic Representative Ed Markey
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Patrick, Kennedy, Coakley, and Meehan have all denied interest in the seat as have other Democrats speculated to jump in including actor Ben Affleck and attorney Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., Ted Kennedy’s son. Though Lynch and Capuano have expressed interest in the seat, Markey is thus far the only announced candidate. In a statement to The Boston Globe, Markey affirmed “this fight is too important” not to run and “there is so much at stake” in the election. He added that an official announcement would come in January. Markey, who has served in Congress since 1976, previously ran for the Senate seat in 1984 but withdrew before the primary; Kerry went on to win the primary and seat that year. Markey intends to focus his campaign on global warming, gun control, protection of Social Security and Medicare, and government spending for jobs. He has secured endorsements from both Kerry and Victoria Kennedy, and with a war chest of $3.1 million from his congressional campaigns, has significantly more funds than any of his potential primary opponents. According to political scientist Peter Ubertaccio of Stonehill College, that may discourage prominent Democrats thinking about entering the race. Nevertheless, State Senator Benjamin Downing has announced he is exploring a potential bid.

Though Markey has more money than Brown’s $464,000 left from his 2012 campaign, Ubertaccio, in his analysis of the race, notes Brown has more recent campaign experience than Markey, who has not had a competitive campaign lately. Moreover, he finds Markey “very much a creature of Washington, which can be problematic in a tough statewide race.” He sees the rush to support Markey as unusual, and as a way to discourage Democratic challengers to Markey. Jon Keller of Boston’s CBS affiliate notes the rush was likely to allow Markey to begin attacks on Brown rather than Democrats, but he concludes the lack of choice for Democrats may give Brown an advantage as an outsider running against the insiders’ hand-picked successor.



Related news

  • “Scott Brown wins special election for Massachusetts’s Senate seat in upset victory” — Wikinews, January 21, 2010
  • “Republican leads race to fill Ted Kennedy’s vacated US Senate seat” — Wikinews, January 15, 2010

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December 30, 2012

\’The Hobbit\’ hits top box office for third week in a row

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A standee outside the Embassy Theater in Wellington, New Zealand at the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Since its opening Christmas Day, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – a film based on the novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien – has been a hit in movie theaters around the World. In North America, the film has successfully outsold other anticipated movie releases for the past three weekends.

According to Warner Bros, the movie earned $18.1 million its opening day; since then, it has made a North American total of $222.7 million, and a worldwide total of $686.7 million. It was estimated that by the time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day, the movie must have surpassed a total of $700 million.

The movie was directed by Peter Jackson, and is the first of three films based on the famous novel. The Hobbit has been released in multiple formats including traditional 2D, 3D and a special 48 frames per second version which provides a sharper, improved visual experience.

The Hobbit’s competition at the box office include popular newly released movies Les Miserables and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. They came in second and third place over the weekend earning $30.7 million and $28 million, respectively.


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Rape victim\’s death affects new year celebrations in India

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Several state governments, clubs and hotels mainly in north India have either cancelled or toned down new year celebrations amid nationwide grief following the death of a 23-year-old student who was brutally raped in a bus in New Delhi earlier this month.

The Haryana government has announced the cancellation of a luncheon it planned on the eve of the new year.

The Press Club of India (PCI) has also decided against hosting a new year party.

“We are not going to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the club as a mark of respect to the brave girl who died after battling for life for 13 days,” says the general secretary of the PCI as quoted in The Times of India.

Some major hotels in Delhi, Bombay and other cities have voluntarily called off their programmes. Other hotels have reported a lack of interest among people in this solemn atmosphere.

The unnamed physiotherapy student was travelling in a bus with her boyfriend on the evening of Dec. 16 when the couple was attacked by a group of six men. The woman suffered severe injuries. After a treatment in India she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore where her condition worsened and she died.

The incident has sparked a massive outrage among India’s middle class who are demanding justice. The government has assured a swift justice after protests.



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Rebel faction arrives in Addis Ababa for peace talks

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Somali Territories as of May 18th 2007, with the latest territorial exchanges in the various conflicts.

Leaders of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the weekend of Dec. 22, with the aim of continuing peace talks with the government of Ethiopia. Talks had come to a halt in October of this year over the factions refusal to acknowledge the Ethiopian constitution. In the talks held in Nairobi and mediated by Kenya, the Ethiopian government had set as a condition that the faction respect the National Constitution of Ethiopia and work within the constitutional framework.

Abdinur Abdulahi Farah, the faction’s spokesperson says that it now recognizes the national constitution and is willing to work with the government towards their common goal of national and regional development. He said, “we can’t refuse to accept the National Constitution. It is what made us equal with all the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia.” However, he said this decision to accept these conditions has not been unanimous. Some groups within the larger organization disagree with this decision and still refuse to acknowledge the constitution.

The faction then led by Admiral Mohammed Omar Osman was responsible for an attack on Chinese-run oil exploration field which led to the death of 65 Ethiopian soldiers and nine Chinese oil workers. This attack and the following government crackdown in Ogaden led to the splitting of ONLF into two of three groups. In 2010, The government signed a separate agreement with one of these group claiming to represent a majority of the rebels. This agreement culminated in the release of faction member imprisoned by the government. The talks held in October in Kenya and continuing now in the capital Addis Ababa are an attempt to negotiate an agreement with the remaining members of the ONLF.

The decision to come to peace talks seems to have created a futher divisions and disagreements within the rebel faction from the Somali Region of Ethiopia. However according to Abdinur, “those members of the front who have rejected the National Constitution have no popular support and they are only few led by Admiral Mohammed Omar Osman who is now hiding in Asmara.”

An ONLF rebel unit in 2006

The ONLF is believed to responsible for many attacks on military and civilian targets since 2007. The Ethiopian government has acknowledged the capture or killing of hundreds of rebels in the past. It has also been accused, by the Human Rights Watch of retaliatory attacks in the Somali Region against a civilian population suspected of sympathizing with the rebels. ONLF has been in conflict—in one form or another—with the ruling party of the government, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front since the first {{w:Ethiopian general election, 1995|national elections} in 1995.


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December 29, 2012

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam criticises UK media portrayal of Africa

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

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Oxfam, an international organisation intending to eliminate poverty, has criticised the way in which Africa is depicted to United Kingdom (UK) audiences. In a press release, the charity said the continent was being portrayed in an “overwhelmingly negative” way which is “undermining popular support for efforts to bring an end to hunger on the continent”. Dame Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam, has said the way in which the continent is being depicted to UK audiences “is obscuring the progress that is being made towards a more secure and prosperous future”.

Oxfam cited a survey of 2000 people conducted by marketing research company YouGov, suggesting three fifths of people have become less sensitive towards footage containing persons suffering from such problems as drought, disease and hunger, while 23% avoid looking at footage of this nature upon sighting it. Oxfam said the way in which broadcast media portrays developing nations, including those in Africa, was perceived to be “depressing, manipulative and hopeless” by those surveyed. Stocking believes “it’s a natural instinct to turn away from suffering when you feel you can do nothing to alleviate it.”

47% of respondents considered hunger to be one of the three largest issues for Africa next year. 43% of respondents thought media portrayal of conditions for persons living in developing areas suggested no hope for improvement. In the 2011 Human Development Report, published by the United Nations Development Programme, over three fourths of the 46 countries ranked under the ‘Low Human Development’ category — the lowest-ranking category in the Human Development Index — were African. The Democratic Republic of the Congo ranked lowest on the list; the other fourteen entries in the bottom fifteen of this category were all African nations. Stocking has said Oxfam does not mean to “gloss over” issues surrounding African citizens at a significant risk of harm and stressed that malnutrition rates “remain stubbornly high”.

However, of people surveyed only one fifth believed they could actively assist in eliminating food poverty in Africa. Meanwhile, 74% believed it is possible to eventually resolve the issue of hunger in Africa.

“[W]e’ve come a long way since the 1980s and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” Stocking said. Band Aid, a charity supergroup created by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, was formed following the broadcasting of footage of Ethiopian citizens experiencing a famine in the mid 1980s.

“We need to shrug off the old stereotypes and celebrate the continent’s diversity and complexity,” Stocking said, concluding: “If we want people to help fight hunger we have to give them grounds for hope by showing the potential of countries across Africa”.



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