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THE NEW PRESIDENT AQUINO VOWS TO END PHILIPPINES POVERTY?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
MANILA, Philippines – Benigno Aquino took over as president of the Philippines on Wednesday with a vow to lift his nation out of poverty and wipe out crippling corruption that he said thrived under his predecessor.
  • In his inauguration speech to a mass of supporters wearing his family's signature yellow, the 50-year-old bachelor promised to honour the trust of the millions of Filipinos who delivered him a landslide election victory.
  • "Today marks the end of a regime indifferent to the appeals of the people," Aquino said in one of many stinging criticisms of Gloria Arroyo, whose nearly 10 years in power were marred by allegations of vote rigging and massive graft.
  • "Through good governance in the coming years we will lessen our problems. The destiny of the Filipino will return to its rightful place and, as each year passes, the Filipino's problems will continue to lessen."
  • Aquino said ending poverty by eradicating corruption would serve as the foundation of his administration's six-year term.
  • "Our foremost duty is to lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance," said Aquino, an economics graduate who spent the past 12 years as a member of parliament.
  • Police estimated 500,000 people turned up at a seaside Manila park for Aquino's inauguration, and the event took on a festival-style atmosphere with a popular folk singer belting out songs of hope before the oath-taking.
  • The crowd roared and waved yellow flags as Aquino, wearing a traditional Filipino "barong" shirt, took his oath in front of a Supreme Court judge.
  • "I think he can reduce corruption and improve governance," high school teacher Terlito Malaya, 52, said as he waited for Aquino to be sworn in.
  • "Poverty is also a very big problem and needs a permanent solution... but no one should think right now that he will fail."
  • One crucial factor in Aquino's election victory on May 10 was his status as the son of democracy heroes Benigno and Corazon Aquino, who remain revered for their efforts to overthrow dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
  • His father and namesake was shot dead at Manila airport in 1983 as he returned from US exile to lead the democracy movement against Marcos.
  • The new president's mother took over from her martyred husband and led the "people power" revolution that overthrew Marcos in 1986, then earned a reputation as an incorruptible leader during six years as president.
  • "My parents sought for nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I will carry the torch forward." Aquino said.
  • Aquino repeated his warning to Arroyo and her allies that he would investigate them for their alleged crimes while she was in office.
  • "To those who are talking about reconciliation... we have this to say: 'There can be no reconciliation without justice'," he said.
  • Aquino then referred to a Truth Commission that he announced on Tuesday would be set up to investigate and potentially prosecute Arroyo for alleged corruption, vote rigging and human rights abuses.
  • "Those who are guilty should face justice. We cannot continue with this practice where no one is made to account and they will continue to abuse," Aquino said.
  • Part of Wednesday's events saw Aquino escort Arroyo in a limousine from the presidential palace to the Rizal Park venue for the oath-taking ceremony and transfer of power.
  • They shook hands and smiled for the press at the presidential palace, but Aquino avoided making eye contact in their awkward encounter.
At Rizal Park, the crowd voiced ironic cheers as Arroyo departed before Aquino was sworn in. Although she was an unpopular leader, Arroyo, 63, won a seat in the elections to represent her home town in the national parliament.
East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk were among the foreign dignitaries to attend the ceremony.
Source: AFP
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FRENCH MUSLIMS URGED TO REJECT 'HIGHJACKED ISLAM'?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fillon (centre) delivers a speech during the inauguration of the Al Ihsan mosque in Argenteuil near Paris today, June 28, 2010
PARIS — French Prime Minister Francois Fillon urged France’s Muslims today to reject full-face veils as a sectarian caricature of Islam, a week before Parliament debates a law banning burqas and niqabs in public.
Inaugurating a mosque in a northwestern Paris suburb, he said French Muslims should combat a tiny radical minority using face veils as a way to combat the integration of a tolerant Islam that respects the separation of church and state.
  • “The Islam of France, the Islam you practise daily, has nothing to do with this caricature that dims the lights of your faith,” Fillon, the most senior French politician to inaugurate a mosque in decades, said to applause from the crowd.
  • “You should stand in the front line against this hijacking of the religious message ... it’s up to you to make intelligence triumph over obscurantism and tolerance over intolerance.”
  • France’s five-million strong Muslim community, the largest in Europe, has felt increasingly sidelined in the past year as President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government led a public debate over national identity and decided to ban full face veils.
  • Many French Muslims already consider themselves fully integrated citizens and only a tiny minority wear the all-covering burqas or niqabs that recently have become a butt of hostility in several European countries.
  • As Fillon spoke, a woman in the western city of Nantes was on trial for driving while wearing a niqab. Police had fined her for wearing a garment that blocked her lateral vision, and the case went to court when she and her husband challenged it.
  • Fillon defended the plan to ban full veils, saying the government had to defend some groundrules of society.
  • “This minority practice, which flouts the basic rules of living together and scandalises our citizens, amounts to radical behaviour that does not reflect the reality of Islam,” he said.
  • The prime minister made clear he recognised Muslims’ concern about a growing trend of anti-Muslim feeling they saw in France, noting that six mosques had been defaced or attacked last year and several Muslim graves vandalised early this year.
  • “Thirty per cent of all acts of racist violence (last year), mostly threats, were made against Muslims,” he said.
  • Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Muslim Council (CFCM), said Fillon was welcome after the tensions raised by the national identity and veil debates. “His presence is a gesture of recognition and respect,” he told the daily La Croix.
  • Philippe Doucet, Socialist mayor of suburban town of Argenteuil, where the mosque stands, said the conservative prime minister was making up for the “political mistake” of launching what became emotional debates about identity and veils.
In the trial of the veiled driver, the defendant’s lawyer accused the police of racial profiling and said no law barred drivers from wearing niqabs with only a slit open for the eyes.
“The niqab is no worse than the helmet worn by Formula 1 drivers who spin around the circuits at 320km/h and yet who can still look in their rear view mirrors,” he said.
Source:Reuters
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PROTEST OUT OF CONTROL IN TORONTO DURING THE G20 SUMMIT

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TORONTO – Black-clad demonstrators broke off from a crowd of peaceful protesters at the global economic summit in Toronto Saturday, torching police cruisers and smashing windows with baseball bats and hammers. Police arrested more than 150 people.
Police used shields, clubs, tear gas and pepper spray to push back the rogue protesters who tried to head south toward the security fence surrounding the perimeter of the Group of 20 summit site. Some demonstrators hurled bottles at police.
  • "We have never seen that level of wanton criminality and vandalism and destruction on our streets," Toronto police chief Bill Blair said.
  • The roving band wearing black balaclavas shattered shop windows for blocks, including at police headquarters, then shed some of their black clothes, revealing other garments, and continued to rampage through downtown Toronto.
  • Protesters torched at least three police cruisers in different parts of the city, including one in the heart of the city's financial district. One protester jumped on the roof of one before dropping a Molotov cocktail into the smashed windshield.
  • Blair said the goal of the militant protesters was to draw police away from the security perimeter of the summit so that fellow protesters could attempt to disrupt the meeting.
  • Police arrested at least 150 people Saturday, but Blair said many suspects remain at large. Blair said officers have been struck by rocks and bottles and have been assaulted, but none was injured badly enough to stop working.
  • A stream of police cars headed to Toronto to reinforce security there after the smaller Group of Eight summit ended in Huntsville, Ontario, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) away. Security was being provided by an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers drawn from across Canada, and security costs are estimated at more than US$900 million.
The vandalism occurred just blocks from where President Barack Obama and other world leaders were meeting and staying.
"These images are truly shocking to Canadians," Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement. "We are taking all measures necessary to ensure Canadians, delegates, media and international visitors remain safe."
Previous major world summits also have attracted massive, raucous and sometimes destructive protests by anti-globalization forces.
  • Police in riot gear and riding bikes formed a blockade, keeping protesters from approaching the security fence a few blocks south of the march route. Police closed a stretch of Toronto's subway system along the protest route and the largest shopping mall downtown closed after the protest took a turn for the worse.
  • "Free speech is a principle of our democracy. But the thugs that prompted violence earlier today represent in no way shape or form the Canadian way of life," said Dimitri Soudas, the chief spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
  • A media bus taking photographers and cameramen to a hotel where the G-20 leaders will have dinner was turned back after police deemed it unsafe.
  • Dozens of police officers later boxed in a number of protesters from both sides of a street in a shopping district. The protesters encouraged the media to film it and they sang 'O Canada', Canada's national anthem, before being allowed to disperse.
  • At another location at the provincial legislature police also boxed in demonstrators before tackling some and making arrests.
  • Saturday's protest march, sponsored by labor unions and dubbed family friendly, was the largest demonstration planned during the weekend summits. Its organizers had hoped to draw a crowd of 10,000, but only about half that number turned out on a rainy day.
  • Toronto's downtown resembles a fortress, with a big steel and concrete fence protecting the summit site.
  • On Friday, hundreds of protesters moved through Toronto's streets, but police in riot gear intercepted them, preventing them from getting near the summit security zone downtown.
Previous global summit protests have turned violent. In 1999, 50,000 protesters shut down World Trade Organization sessions in Seattle as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. There were some 600 arrests and $3 million in property damage. One man died after clashes with police at a G-20 meeting held in London in April 2009.
At the September G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke and rubber bullets at marchers.
Source: AP
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THE WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE CITIES 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ECA's ranking is based on a basket of 128 goods that includes food, daily goods, clothing, electronics, and entertainment, but not rent, utilities, and school fees, which are not typically included in a cost-of-living adjustment.
ECA researchers and local partners gathered prices in September 2009 and March 2010 for domestic and imported brands that are internationally recognized such as Kellogg's cereal or Sapporo beer.
While lower-priced goods and services are available in these markets, the study estimated the cost of supporting the standard of living expected by expatriate employees, says Lee Quane, ECA's regional director for Asia.
Some of the cities, such as Seoul and Stockholm, jumped up in the ranking as the local currency strengthened against the U.S. dollar. Quane says that while a slowdown in business may tempt employers to scale back compensation, "recessions only last so long" and retaining top talent in these places is critical to companies' success when the global economy recovers.

10 World's Most Expensive Cities 2010

1. Tokyo, Japan
Rank in 2009: 2
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $18
Can of beer from grocer: $3.37
One kg of rice: $8.47
One dozen eggs: $3.78
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $22
Appliances: Washing machine: $879
The strength of the yen has brought Tokyo back to the No. 1 spot on ECA International's ranking for the first time since 2005. In addition to the costs above, rent for a two-bedroom apartment for expats is typically more than $5,000 per month in Tokyo, according to data from EuroCost International. While visitors need more pocket money here than in any other city, the monthly consumer price index in Tokyo's wards has actually dropped year-on-year for 14 straight months as of May 2010, based on figures from Japan's statistics bureau.
2. Oslo, Norway
Rank in 2009: 8
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $43
Can of beer from grocer: $4.71
One kg of rice: $5.66
One dozen eggs: $6.72
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $16
Appliances: Washing machine: $880
Oslo rose above Copenhagen as the most expensive city in Europe when the kroner strengthened against other currencies. ECA International says an upward trend in oil prices, a short recession, and Norway's reputation as a safe haven for investors contributed to the kroner's rise.
3. Luanda, Angola
Rank in 2009: 1
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $47
Can of beer from grocer: $1.62
One kg of rice: $4.73
One dozen eggs: $4.75
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $13
Appliances: Washing machine: $912
Angola's capital slipped to third place this year as the kwanza depreciated. Prices in Luanda have actually increased in the past year, but currency changes offset any inflation, according to ECA International. In addition to everyday goods, EuroCost International estimates that the average expat pays more than $3,500 per month for a two-bedroom flat in Luanda.
4. Nagoya, Japan
Rank in 2009: 3
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $19
Can of beer from grocer: $3.08
One kg of rice: $9.14
One dozen eggs: $3.33
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $20
Appliances: Washing machine: $621
Japan's fourth most populous city, Nagoya is also among the country's most expensive. The city ranks No. 1 for the cost of rice: $9.14 per kilogram, according to ECA International data. As Japan's auto hub, the Nagoya area is an important center of business: about 44 percent of automobiles produced in Japan are made here, according to the Greater Nagoya Initiative Center. Such companies as Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, and General Motors have headquarters, manufacturing operations, or distribution points in the Nagoya region.
5. Yokohama, Japan
Rank in 2009: 4
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $17.39
Can of beer from grocer: $3.26
One kg of rice: $6.54
One dozen eggs: $3.72
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $19.50
Appliances: Washing machine: $630
About half an hour by commuter train from Tokyo, this port city has active shipping, biotechnology, and semiconductor industries. Yokohama is one of the world's most expensive cities, but companies here enjoy lower operating costs compared with the nearby capital. Nissan opened a new headquarters in Yokohama this year and reportedly will sell its office in Tokyo to cut costs.
6. Stavanger, Norway
Rank in 2009: 14
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $33
Can of beer from grocer: $4.76
One kg of rice: $5.71
One dozen eggs: $6.34
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $15.50
Appliances: Washing machine: $749
This small seaside city earned its riches from oil in the North Sea and has become known as Norway's petroleum capital. Stavangerexpats.com says food expenses in Norway are about 50 percent higher than the EU average: A can of soda is about $2.80, and a beer at a bar can be $12.
7. Kobe, Japan
Rank in 2009: 6
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $16
Can of beer from grocer: $3.09
One kg of rice: $8.57
One dozen eggs: $2.81
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $20
Appliances: Washing machine: $470
The city has one of Japan's largest ports and has become home to many heavy machinery, iron and steel, and food product companies. According to the Japan External Trade Organization, 117 foreign and foreign-affiliated companies have offices in Kobe. As the price of Kobe beef, the style of high-grade meat named after the city, suggests, food is costly here, as are other living expenses.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
Rank in 2009: 7
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $36
Can of beer from grocer: $2.10
One kg of rice: $4.85
One dozen eggs: $6.99
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $15
Appliances: Washing machine: $1,196
A 2009 "survey" of 73 international cities by UBS found that employees in Copenhagen have the highest income. Places with higher salaries often have higher prices, but residents here enjoy good living standards overall. Some examples of the cost of living: Renting a DVD costs about $8 per night, a pair of women's jeans is more than $150, and a one-way ticket on public transport costs about $3.70.
9. Geneva, Switzerland
Rank in 2009: 9
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $30
Can of beer from grocer: $2.02
One kg of rice: $3.81
One dozen eggs: $7.64
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $16
Appliances: Washing machine: $1,304
Geneva, home to many companies and U.N. organizations, is one of the most expensive cities for food and household appliances. Food prices in Switzerland are 45 percent more expensive than in the rest of Western Europe, and the cost of electronics and appliances in Geneva is among the highest worldwide, according to a 2009 UBS report.
10. Zurich, Switzerland
Rank in 2009: 10
Food: Lunch at a restaurant: $25
Can of beer from grocer: $2.01
One kg of rice: $3.36
One dozen eggs: $5.81
Entertainment: Movie ticket: $16
Appliances: Washing machine: $974
Zurich, Switzerland's largest city, is the country's main business center and the headquarters city for many financial companies, including UBS and Credit Suisse. Although Zurich had the greatest number of company bankruptcies in Switzerland last year, according to Dun & Bradstreet, the inflation rate started to increase again this year after falling in 2009.
Source:Business Week, Yahoo Finance
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AMID TENSION WITH THE SOUTH, NORTH KOREA TO ELECT NEW LEADER

Sunday, June 27, 2010

North Korea has announced it will elect new party leaders at a rare meeting in September, in what analysts are saying could be a move to strengthen the hand of Kim Jong-il's potential successor.
Kim Jong-il, who reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008, is believed to have been grooming Kim Jong-un, his youngest son to succeed him as leader.
"The political bureau of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party [WPK] decides to convene a conference for electing its highest leading body reflecting the new requirements of the WPK," the country's official Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday.
  • Little is known about Kim Jong-un, including his exact age, though he is believed to be in his mid-20s.
  • However, South Korea's intelligence chief has been quoted as telling a closed-door session of a parliamentary committee this week that a campaign to boost Kim Jong-un's image has been going on behind the scenes due to concerns about his father's poor health.
  • There are reports that Kim may be showing the first signs of alzheimer's disease.The problem is that his son is a young man and has no experience whatsoever and the military, which has gained more power in the last few years, may not be totally on board with this transition.
  • Tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul have been heightened since the sinking of a South Korean warship in late March and it also remains isolated from the international community which condemns its nuclear programme.
    South Korea has accused the North of torpedoing the warship Cheonan and is seeking to have the UN security council penalise it.
    The North has denied the allegation and warned any punishment would trigger war.
Source: Reuters
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MALAYSIAN POLICE TO INTENSIFY OPERATIONS AGAINST SOCCER BOOKIES

Saturday, June 26, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR,Malaysia - Police will intensify operations against illegal football betting as the World Cup enters its second round, Bukit Aman CID chief Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin said.
He said police would increase surveillance, enhance intelligence and carry out more raids nationwide to combat the activity.
"If not for the shortage of manpower, we would have been able to arrest more members of these gambling ring," he said.
  • The World Cup 2010, which kicked off on June 11, now enters the knock-out round before culminating into the final on July 11.
  • Bakri said police had turned the heat on football bookies following intense operations, forcing some of them to flee the country to escape the dragnet. Some of those involved in the activities were personalities with a "Datuk" title, he said.
  • Bakri warned the bookies that there would not be any safe refuge for them abroad as the Malaysian authorities, in collaboration with international enforcement agencies such as the Interpol, would smoke them out of their hideout.
  • "We have identified them and know where they are. We will continue to hunt them with the help of the Interpol and international intelligence network," he told Bernama.
  • He said that since June 11, police carried out 156 raids of which 90 of them netted 120 members of football betting syndicates and gamblers aged between 15 and 73 years.
  • Most of the raids were in Penang, Johor, Selangor and Melaka. He said that in Selangor alone, police crippled 13 syndicates, seized nearly RM5mil in bets and arrested 21 people including a woman.
Bakri reminded the public not to be easily influenced by these bookies because those who placed bets would also be hauled up.
He added that gambling would only lead to other social ills such as involvement in crimes and becoming victims to illegal money lenders.
Source: mStar, Bernama
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ISRAEL TO USE MILITARY FORCE TO TAKE OVER LEBANESE GAS

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Israel has threatened to use military force to take the full control of a newly-discovered gas field partly in Lebanese waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel's Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau made the remarks after Beirut announced that parts of the giant reserves actually belong to Lebanon and that it does not allow Tel Aviv to loot Lebanon's resources.
  • "Israel is racing to make the case a fait accompli and was quick to present itself as an oil emirate, ignoring the fact that, according to the maps, the deposit extends into Lebanese waters," Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri said, adding that "Lebanon must take immediate action to defend its financial, political, economic and sovereign rights".
  • Lebanon has also called on gas drilling companies to respect its territorial integrity and warned them against working close to its economic zone. Israel, however, insists the entire gas field lies on its territory.
  • The newly discovered field is estimated to contain 15 trillion cubic feet of gas worth some USD 40 billion and might enable Israel to export gas to other countries in the future.
Source: Press TV
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LEADERS FACING SERIOUS DIFFER ON HOW TO NATURE GLOBAL RECOVERY

Friday, June 25, 2010

TORONTO – World leaders, facing serious differences over the best way to nurture a fragile global recovery, are agreeing to disagree in a variety of key areas.
Even before the economic talks were to begin over lunch Friday, the leaders engaged in a series of dueling letters and interviews that exposed their conflicts.
  • The three days of talks were starting at a lakeside resort north of Toronto where the Group of Eight countries — the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia — will discuss proposals to increase support for maternal and child health care in poor nations and hold an outreach meeting with leaders of seven African nations.
  • The G-8 will also spend time exchanging views on hot-button issues, such as Iran's nuclear program and possible sanctions on North Korea following the sinking of a South Korean warship.
  • President Barack Obama, who was arriving after a tough two months dealing with the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, was not getting a lot of support for his cautionary warnings that countries should not pull back their stimulus efforts too quickly.
  • Britain, Germany, France and Japan have all unveiled deficit-cutting plans. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the host for the summit meetings, was urging the countries to agree to concrete deficit-reduction goals as a way of restoring investor confidence following the turmoil caused by the Greek debt crisis.
  • Asked about the disputes over stimulus spending versus deficit reductions, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said, "One size doesn't fit all."
The countries were also struggling to resolve major differences over reform of the financial system, including setting tougher standards for bank capital, the cushion banks must hold to cover losses, and over whether countries should impose taxes on banks to reimburse taxpayers for the bank bailouts and to build up funds to cover future bailouts.
Toronto was braced for the potential of disruptive protests that so far have not materialized.
  • Toronto's downtown core resembled a fortress with a big steel and concrete fence erected over several blocks to protect the summit site. Canadian police patrolled the Lake Ontario waterfront from boats and jet skis. The number of security forces protecting the summit meetings was estimated to total 19,000, drawn from all over Canada.
  • The G-20 leaders' summits began in the fall of 2008 in response to the global economic crisis that struck with fury after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a major U.S. investment bank.
  • At that time, the leaders joined to assemble multibillion-dollar support packages to restart economic growth and financial rescue efforts to rescue a froze global banking system.
  • But now that the banks are back from the brink and the world's economies are growing again, unity is proving more elusive.
Obama sent a letter last week warning that removing the massive government stimulus spending too quickly could represent a repeat of the disastrous mistakes of the 1930s that prolonged the Great Depression.
But Harper sent out his own letter urging establishment of firm deficit reduction goals.
  • Some leaders didn't appreciate being lectured by Obama on the need for countries running trade surpluses, which would include China, Germany and Japan, to do more to boost domestic spending to help the global economy while U.S. consumers, long the driver of global growth, begin to save more.
  • "German export successes reflect the high competitiveness and innovation strength of our companies," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview published in The Wall Street Journal. "Artificially reducing Germany's competitiveness would be of no use to anyone."
  • Britain, Japan and, unexpectedly, Australia were sending new leaders to the G-20 summit. Australia's ruling Labor Party abruptly ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Julia Gillard replaced him, becoming Australia's first female leader. Wayne Swan, her new deputy and the country's finance minister, was to represent Australia at the Canadian meetings.
  • It will be the first appearance at the G-20 table for British Prime Minister David Cameron and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. And both were bearing deficit-cutting messages.
Cameron comes after his Conservative government unveiled an emergency budget Tuesday that contained higher taxes and the toughest cuts in public spending in decades. And Kan said this week that deficit reduction would be his top agenda item at the Canadian meetings and that Japan would soon start debating a possible sales tax increase to rein in the nation's bulging deficits. Both are trying to avoid Greece-style government debt crises.
  • Talking to reporters on the flight from London, Cameron sought to play down any differences with the United States.
  • "This weekend isn't about a row over fiscal policy. We all agree about the need for fiscal consolidation," he said. "This is about putting the world economy on an irreversible path to recovery."
  • After the G-8 discussions in the Muskoka lake region of Canada, Obama and the other G-8 leaders will reconvene in Toronto for the G-20 summit.
The larger group of nations, including such major developing powers as China, Brazil and India, will begin discussions over dinner Saturday night and will wrap up after further talks on Sunday.
The G-20 final statement expected to be issued on Sunday notes that "while growth is returning in many countries, the recovery is uneven and fragile, and unemployment remains at unacceptable levels," according to an early draft that the environmental group Greenpeace said it obtained.
Source: AP
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A SWISS MAN COULD BE CANED FOR VANDALISM IN SINGAPORE

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oliver Fricker of Switzerland, right, arrives with his lawyer Derek Kang, left, at the subordinate courts
SINGAPORE – A Swiss man pleaded guilty Friday to spray-painting graffiti on a Singapore subway car and could be caned as punishment.
Oliver Fricker, 32, pleaded guilty to one count each of vandalism and trespassing for breaking into a train depot and drawing graffiti on a subway car on May 16. Prosecutors dropped a second vandalism charge but submitted it to the judge for consideration in Fricker's sentencing, which is scheduled for later Friday.
  • Fricker and his lawyer, Derek Kang, did not speak to reporters at the courthouse.
  • Vandalism in Singapore carries a fine of up to 2,000 Singapore dollars ($1,437) or up to three years in jail, in addition to three to eight strokes of a cane.
  • Singapore caned American teenager Michael Fey for vandalism in 1994 — ignoring pleas for leniency by then-President Bill Clinton — in a case that drew international attention to the country's harsh punishments.
  • Singapore reiterated a ban on the sale of chewing gum this year and announced a crackdown on littering last month. The city-state has one of the lowest violent crime rates and highest standards of living in the world.
  • Prosecutors said Fricker, who is free on SG$100,000 ($72,000) bail, committed the crimes with Lloyd Dane Alexander, a British national who is at large. Police issued an arrest warrant for Alexander, 29, earlier this month, and prosecutors said he fled to Hong Kong last month.
  • Fricker, who has worked in Singapore as an information technology consultant since 2008, and Alexander cut through a security fence and caused about SG$11,000 of damage by painting 'McKoy Banos' on a train car, prosecutors said.
  • Prosecutors said their version of events was revealed through police investigations, but didn't specify how Fricker was identified.
Singapore's subway operator, SMRT Corp, apologized earlier this month for the incident, which led local media to question the city-state's preparedness against possible terrorist attacks.
SMRT said it has beefed up security at train depots by adding razor wire to perimeter fences, more cameras and foot patrols by guards. SMRT didn't report the incident to police for two days because staff thought the brightly colored graffiti was an advertisement.
Source: AP
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