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23 June 2012
Egypt – CNN reported: Hours before Egypt was set to announce the winner of its crucial presidential election Sunday, a former prime minister made a bold declaration on his Facebook page: “President Ahmed Shafik, Egypt 2012.” The claim of victory follows days of conflicting reports on who was leading the race and heightened concerns that Shafik, who served under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, would give new life to the old guard and essentially nullify democratic gains won after last year’s Egyptian revolution. “Did we really have a revolution if Shafik wins?” prominent novelist Alaa al-Aswany said via Twitter. “For the thousandth time this is not a battle between the military and the (Muslim) Brotherhood, it is a battle of the Egyptian people with the military regime that ruled us with an iron fist for 60 years.” Like Mubarak, Shafik is a former air force officer with close ties to Egypt’s powerful military and is “the quintessential candidate of the counter-revolution,” said Khaled . Elgindy, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Israel – The Detroit Free Press reported: Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers threatened to escalate fighting with Israel on Saturday after air strikes killed several gunmen in the coastal territory, while Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel wounded one person and damaged an elementary school in the south. Periodic exchanges of strikes between Gaza and Israel aren’t unusual, but this flare-up is the most serious in months. It started with an attack by a little known al-Qaida-inspired Palestinian militant group but has extended to drag in Hamas. Hamas has largely stayed out of direct confrontation with Israel since a war more than three years ago, although other factions have launched cross-border attacks. An Israeli military spokesman said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz convened “an urgent meeting” Saturday to discuss ways of dealing with a week of persistent Palestinian attacks. Gaza militants fired more than 30 rockets and mortar shells on Saturday alone, more than 150 for the week, the Israeli military said.
Paraguay – The BBC Latin America Corps reported: Governments in Latin America have reacted angrily to the impeachment of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo in the wake of a land dispute scandal. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have condemned the move and recalled their ambassadors for consultations. But Federico Franco, who replaced Mr Lugo as president, denied that Mr Lugo’s removal from office was a coup. In his first news conference, Mr Franco said there had been no break with democracy. A 39-4 vote in the Senate on Friday saw Mr Lugo impeached, in a case stemming from his handling of clashes between farmers and police last week in which at least 17 people died.
United Nations – The International Herald Tribune reported: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has wrapped up in Rio de Janeiro — contentiously so — marking two decades since the first Earth Summit was held, also in Rio, in 1992. The recent three-day meeting was more easily known as Rio+20, but so few specifics, so few targets, so few tangible decisions came out of the gathering that some participants were derisively calling it “Rio Minus 20,” or “Rio Plus 20 Minus 40.” “A failure of epic proportions” was the verdict from Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. More than a year of “sophisticated U.N. diplomacy has given us nothing more than more poverty, more conflict and more environmental destruction,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for conservation at the World Wildlife Fund. “An outcome that makes nobody happy,” was how Sha Zukang of China put it — and he was the Rio+20 secretary-general.
Sudan – Reuters reported: Hundreds of Sudanese joined anti-government demonstrations across Khartoum on Saturday, as protests against spending cuts flared for a second week despite a security crackdown. Sudan’s police force ordered its officers to put an end to the demonstrations “immediately”, state media said, after the protests spread throughout the capital a day earlier expanding beyond the core of student activists initially involved. Angered by a raft of austerity measures meant to tackle a $2.4 billion budget deficit, activists have tried to use discontent to trigger an “Arab Spring”-style uprising against the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Security forces have used teargas and batons to break up the demonstrations in several neighborhoods. On Saturday, teargas hung in the air, broken rocks were strewn across streets and smoke rose from burning tires amid a heavy security presence in the Al-Daim neighborhood, site of some of the larger protests a day earlier.
Pakistan – The International NEWS of Pakistan reported: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Saturday directed the Ministry of Petroleum to ensure supply of 28,000 tonnes of fuel oil daily to the power sector to add 1,200 MW to the national grid. Raja issued these directions while presiding over an energy meeting held at the PM House just a few hours after he was sworn in as the prime minister. It was also decided to provide 15mmcfd to GTPS, Faisalabad which would add another 65 MW to the national grid leading to the easing of pressure. The meeting also discussed providing 100 mmcfd additional supply of gas to the Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation to produce 300 MW which could help KESC in reducing their off take from the national grid of an equal quantity of power making it available for helping in improving the overall supply of electricity.
India – Bloomberg NEWS reported: India boosted the amount of government bonds foreign investors can purchase by $5 billion, seeking to bolster demand for the rupee after it tumbled to a record low against the dollar. Foreign institutional investors can now purchase $20 billion worth of government securities, up from $15 billion, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement today. Long-term overseas buyers such as sovereign wealth funds, central banks and pension funds will be allowed to invest in the debt directly to broaden the base of investors, the Reserve Bank also said. The rupee pared gains after the statement as expectations of wider steps, spurred by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s comments two days ago that officials will announce measures to stabilize the currency, were disappointed. The rupee is Asia’s worst performer of the past year, having tumbled 21 percent versus the dollar, and its decline has contributed to an inflation rate that the central bank deemed last week too high to allow an interest-rate cut.
Greece – The BBC reported: Greece’s new coalition government has proposed an extension to the deadline for it to reduce its budget deficit by at least two years, to 2016. In a policy document, the government said its aim was for the fiscal target envisaged by the bailout deal to be met without further cuts to salaries and pensions. Greece is under huge international pressure to fulfil bailout terms. Polls last week ended a two-month deadlock over its implementation. Pro-bailout parties gained a narrow majority in parliament, despite widespread public anger at austerity measures stipulated in the bailout.
Nigeria – The Atlanta Black Star reported: In an effort to help it deal with the brutal violence of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, the Nigerian government has given the U.S. the authority to conduct strikes against the group on Nigerian soil with the tacit approval of the Nigerian government. The communication between governments came by way of a letter from the Nigerian Embassy to the U.S. State Department, written after the U.S. placed three members of Boko Haram—Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi—on its terror watch list. The letter states that should the U.S. make an effort to go after the targeted Boko Haram insurgents, Nigeria declares that its “innocent immediate neighbors should not be harmed. The Nigeria Guardian called the move by Nigeria “a tacit partial surrender of the nation’s sovereignty to the United States of America.”
24 June 2012
Egypt – ABC NEWS via (AP) reported: He spent time in jail during the Hosni Mubarak regime, but not as long as some fellow Islamists. He is well-educated, having studied at the University of Southern California, yet still betrays his rural roots. He rose through the ranks of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood as a lackluster but loyal foot soldier. Now, Mohammed Morsi has made history in breathtaking fashion, becoming the first Islamist to rise to the presidency of the most populous Arab nation. Aiming to defuse anxieties among large numbers of Egyptians who fear an Islamic agenda, Morsi said, “I am a president for all Egyptians.” Morsi also borrowed phrases used by Abu Bakr, the first Muslim ruler after the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad, saying, “If I don’t obey God in serving you, you have no commitment to obey me.”
North Korea – CNN reported: North Korea has reacted angrily to the use of its flag during live-fire drills by South Korea and the United States, calling it “a grave provocative act.” The comments from Pyongyang on Sunday came after the allies held military drills last week less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the North Korean border, involving more than 2,000 military personnel. An unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesman accused South Korea and the United States of firing “live bullets and shells” at the flag, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The act was “the most vivid expression of their hostile policy,” the spokesman said.
Nigeria – The New York Times reported: Members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram stormed a prison in northern Nigeria on Sunday and freed 40 inmates, the police said, in the latest of a string of attacks by the group. The police responded to the attack, in the town of Damaturu, but they were overpowered. Two of the attackers were killed and a number of police officers were wounded, said Patrick Egbuniwe, the police commissioner of Yobe State. “They attacked with rifles, the police and the joint task force confronted them and the Boko Haram members that were shot were carried away by the sect,” Mr. Egbuniwe said. Gun battles between sect members and security forces in Damaturu, Yobe’s capital, killed 40 people on Tuesday. The government’s inability to stem the wave of violence led President Goodluck Jonathan to fire his defense minister and national security adviser on Friday.
Israel – ABC NEWS via (AP) reported: Israel urged the visiting Russian president on Monday to step up pressure on Iran to curb its suspect nuclear program but there was no sign of any concessions from Vladimir Putin. With Russia an influential voice in the international debate over Iran, the outcome of the 24-hour visit could have deep implications for whether Israel decides to strike Tehran’s nuclear facilities or give the international community more time to find a diplomatic solution to the standoff. Israel and Russia enjoy deep economic and cultural relations bolstered by the more than 1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union who now live in the Jewish state. But they have deeply differing approaches to Iran’s nuclear program and the uprising in Tehran’s close ally Syria. Russia has blocked drastic action against the two countries, while Israel has repeatedly hinted it may act militarily to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Pakistan – Bloomberg Businessweek reported: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said solving the power crisis and establishing law and order in the financial capital of Karachi will be his top priorities as he seeks to boost the economy and quell unrest. “Rather than giving targets, I would rather let the people decide if we’re making progress in these vital areas,” Ashraf told reporters after a visit yesterday to the Karachi mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Ashraf, who was elected by lawmakers on June 22 to replace ousted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, faces the challenge of curbing electricity outages lasting as long as 18 hours a day that have shut factories and led to violent protests. Political fighting in Karachi, home to the stock exchange and central bank, has claimed 777 lives in the five months ended May and caused frequent shutdowns in trade and industry.
India – The WSJ reported: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee looks set to become India’s next president, sparking speculation over who will succeed him at a time of wilting foreign investor interest in the nation. During Mr. Mukherjee’s tenure at the finance ministry, investors have soured on India due to a number of controversial policies. It would fall to Mr. Mukherjee’s successor to chart a course for India to bolster economic growth and bring in foreign capital to finance a yawning current-account deficit and boost the country’s currency, the rupee, which has hit all-time lows against the dollar in recent weeks.