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Daily Archives: 07/15/2010

David Cameron condemns Moat sympathy

July 15, 2010

(KATAKAMI / IRISH EXAMINER) There should be no public sympathy for gunman Raoul Moat, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said , describing him as a “callous murderer”.
Cameron told the Commons that any sympathy should be reserved for Moat’s victims.

“It is absolutely clear that Raoul Moat was a callous murderer, full stop, end of story,” he told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Cameron spoke out as it emerged that David Rathband, the police officer shot in the face by the former nightclub doorman, has been left blind.

Cameron was urged by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris to contact Facebook to ask them to take down the webpage of the RIP Raoul Moat group, which he said carried a “whole host of anti-police statements”. Cameron said that he was making a “very good point”.

Later, his official spokesman indicated that a 10 Downing Street official was likely to contact Facebook today.

Online tributes to Moat have been posted on the webpages while around 50 bouquets have been left outside his former home in Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The tributes have already been condemned by Britain’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson, as “extraordinarily disappointing”.

And yesterday Kelly Stobbart, the half-sister of Moat’s ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, echoed the Prime Minister’s comments.

“He’s far from a legend,” she told BBC Look North.  (*)

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Photostream : President Medvedev visits Alekseyevka, Belgorod Region

 

Trip to Belgorod Region. Meeting of the State Council Presidium

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site. With Minister of Agriculture Yelena Skrynnik and Chairman of EFKO Board of Directors Valery Kustov (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU )

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site. With Chairman of EFKO Board of Directors Valery Kustov (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU )

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site. With Chairman of EFKO Board of Directors Valery Kustov (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site (July 13, 2010. All photos from :   The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office  KREMLIN.RU) )

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site. With Chairman of EFKO Board of Directors Valery Kustov (July 13, 2010. All photos from :   The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

Visiting EFKO group of companies production site (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

With Alekseyevka residents (July 13, 2010. All photos from :   The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

During the trip to Belgorod Region (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office  KREMLIN.RU) )

With Governor of Belgorod Region Yevgeny Savchenko (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office  KREMLIN.RU) )

With Governor of Belgorod Region Yevgeny Savchenko (July 13, 2010. All photos from :   The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

Meeting of State Council Presidium On Measures to Accelerate Development of Livestock Breeding as a Priority to Ensure Food Security in Russia (July 13, 2010. All photos from :   The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

At the meeting of State Council Presidium On Measures to Accelerate Development of Livestock Breeding as a Priority to Ensure Food Security in Russia (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

Meeting of State Council Presidium On Measures to Accelerate Development of Livestock Breeding as a Priority to Ensure Food Security in Russia (July 13, 2010. All photos from :  The Presidential Press and Information Office KREMLIN.RU) )

Palin vs. Clinton — duelling weddings on the horizon

Hillary Clinton & Chelsea

WASHINGTON (KATAKAMI / THE STAR.COM)  – It may fall short of Duelling Nuptials. But as an estimated 500 Clintonistas ready for the political wedding of the season, suddenly the Palinistas are rattling their teacups over a surprise re-engagement in the House of Sarah.

First Daughter Chelsea Clinton’s date is firm: she and fiancé Marc Mezvinsky tie the knot July 31 at the Astor Mansion in Rhinebeck, N.Y., 150 kilometres upstate from Manhattan. It will be, by all accounts, a celebrity-studded splash with a guest list ranging from Barbra Streisand to Steven Spielberg.

Teen mother Bristol Palin has no date, nor even, apparently, the approval of mama Sarah, the former vice presidential candidate. But the estranged father of her grandson and often-vocal thorn in her mother’s side, Levi Johnston, 20, is back in the picture, Bristol Palin revealed to US Weekly. Not merely dating but re-engaged, as of two weeks ago.

“It felt right, even though we don’t have the approval of our parents,” the younger Palin said. “It is intimidating and scary just to think about what her reaction is going to be. Hopefully she will jump on board.”

Sarah Palin did not tip her hand in a statement to NBC news, saying only: “Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle put in practice in our daily lives.”

The former Alaska governor’s Twitter feed showed that she was spending the day enjoying a meditative climb up a “tiny sliver” of Mt. McKinley — “cool air & elevation = good 4 the soul.”

In this magazine cover image released by Us Weekly, Bristol Palin, daughter of 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, poses with Levi Johnston and their son Tripp on the cover of the July 26, 2010 issue of “Us Weekly” magazine.  (Getty)

Uncertainty on the Palin side, however, didn’t stop Washington watchers from making hay with the surprise development. Author and journalist Danielle Crittenden quickly posted a mock-invitation at the Huffington Post website, announcing Bristol and Levi’s nuptials will take place at Church of the Rock in Wasilla, Alaska, followed by a reception at “Tailgaters Sports Bar and Grill.”

Crittenden’s make-believe dialogue, written in text-speak, describes an exasperated Bristol pleading for an answer from Sarah after a series of electronic invitations go answered. “Mom, this is getting SUPER AWKWARD!!!! The only time u talk 2 me is like thru the frikkin today show. U and dad HAVE to attend ok??? Like we’re not even asking for a gift. Just b there OK?! Or we r gna b all over the frikkin enquierer again.”

The couple, thrust into the national spotlight as expectant teen parents during Palin’s 2008 vice-presidential run, broke up after their son’s birth. Their romance devolved into a messy tabloid drama as Johnston posed for Playgirl, trashed Sarah Palin in interviews and fought with the Palins over custody.

Then, earlier this month, Johnston told People magazine he was “unhappy and a little angry” after the breakup and told lies about the Palin family. He said that against his better judgment, he said things about the Palins that “were not completely true.” He said he had apologized. He didn’t specify what lies were told.

They tell US Weekly they reconnected while working out a custody plan and got engaged two weeks ago.

The romance between Clinton and her fiancé has received far less attention. Mezvinsky is an investment banker, and son of a former congressman and congresswoman. Clinton and Mezvinsky have known each other since childhood.

For now, the Clinton wedding is a far surer bet — and one certain to challenge the Palins for celebrity gossip space, given the guest list disclosed Wednesday by the Hudson Valley News.

Among those who made the Clinton cut: Singer Streisand, director Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw, media moguls Oprah Winfrey and Ted Turner. Reports also said former British prime minister John Major and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin are among the expected guests.

Oh yes, and President Barack Obama. Him too.

With files from Associated Press

Palin vs. Johnston

“There wasn’t much parenting in that house. Sarah doesn’t cook, Todd doesn’t cook—the kids would do it all themselves: cook, clean, do the laundry, and get ready for school.”

Johnston, in Vanity Fair, October 2009

“We both kept telling her we were definitely not going to let her adopt the baby. I think Sarah wanted to make Bristol look good, and she didn’t want people to know that her 17-year-old daughter was going to have a kid.”

Johnston, in Vanity Fair, October 2009

“She would blatantly say, ‘I want to just take this money and quit being governor.’ She started to say it frequently, but she didn’t know how to do it.”

Johnston, in Vanity Fair, October 2009

“ ‘Where’s my retarded baby?’ … She’d say it kind of regularly. I think she was joking, but that doesn’t make it right.”

Johnston, on the CBS Early Show, October 2009, describing how Palin allegedly referred to her son Trig, who has Down syndrome.

“We’re disappointed that Levi and his family are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship. It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol, than to contribute to the well being of the child.”

Palin family statement, April 2009

“We have purposefully ignored the mean spirited, malicious and untrue attacks on our family. We, like many, are appalled at the inflammatory statements being made or implied. Trig is our ‘blessed little angel’ who knows it and is lovingly called that every day of his life.”

Palin, October 2009, reacting to Johnston’s claim that she referred to her son as “retarded.”

“Consider the source of the most recent attention-getting lies. Those who would sell their body for money reflect a desperate need for attention and are likely to say and do anything for even more attention.”

Palin, October 2009, questioning Johnston’s credibility (who was about to bare all for Playgirl) after he told CBS he knows things that could get Palin “in trouble and could hurt her.”  (*)

Paul The Octopus To Leave Germany For Madrid – Report

July 15, 2010

(KATAKAMI / GOAL.COM)  Reports from Spain suggest that Paul the oracle octopus could be set for a transfer from his Oberhausen home to Madrid zoo.

The infamous invertebrate, which successfully predicted eight World Cup results including Spain’s historic final win over Netherlands, is apparently set for a switch to the Spanish capital at the behest of football fans, according to AS

The proposed exchange will see another animal from Madrid heading in the opposite direction to the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen and it is suggested that their may even be financial compensation as part of the deal.

‘Paul the Octopus’ now an iPhone app

An octopus named Paul opens a box with decorated with a Spanish flag and a shell inside on July 9, 2010 at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany. (Getty)

July 14, 2010

(KATAKAMI / FRANCE24/ AFP)  – Paul, the psychic octopus who predicted World Cup matches with uncanny accuracy, is now an iPhone application.

The Brazilian software developer behind the program, uTouchLabs, describes it as a “fun way to randomly choose between two options.”

“Cinema or theatre? Pizza or sushi? Skirt of dress? Marcia or Andrea? Ask the Octopus?” it says.

The user types in the options and a cartoon octopus chooses between them.

The program costs 99 cents to download from Apple’s iTunes.

Paul, an octopus at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, earned worldwide attention during the World Cup with his predictions, which included Spain’s victory in the final against the Netherlands.

Mexican president replaces top security official

 

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon (Getty)

July 15, 2010

MEXICO CITY (KATAKAMI / AP)  – President Felipe Calderon has accepted the resignation of Mexico’s top domestic security official, Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont.

Calderon says he has named Baja California state official and former congressman Francisco Blake to replace Gomez Mont.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after a highly publicized disagreement between Gomez Mont and Calderon over electoral alliances with other parties.  (*)

David Beckham: Blame the players, Not Fabio Capello

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England coach Fabio Capello walks past David Beckham (L) during a training session at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg June 24, 2010. (Getty)

July 15, 2010

(KATAKAMI / DAILY EXPRESS.CO.UK ) FABIO Capello returns to work as England manager today with a perfectly timed endorsement from David Beckham that absolved him of any blame for the woeful World Cup display.

Although he is not expected to attend an FA board meeting at Wembley, Capello is due to have planning meetings with Club England chairman Sir Dave Richards, managing director Adrian Bevington, Sir Trevor Brooking and Alex Horne.

It was those four men who decided Capello should continue as boss of the national team five days after telling him they could take up to two weeks to consider his future.

Beckham believes that the FA were right to stick by their man and now feels Capello’s underperforming squad must take responsibility for nearly costing him his job in South Africa.

Capello, 64, vowed to freshen up his squad by bringing in young players. But he has risked renewed criticism by failing to confirm whether he will attend the European Under-19 Championship, for which England travel to France this weekend.

“He [Capello] did everything that he could have done,” said Beckham. “He prepared us right. He worked the players the right amount and he set everything up for them, but the players know it was disappointing.

“We didn’t perform and as players you know that. The manager can only do so much and then it’s down to the players. They go on to the pitch and know if they don’t perform they don’t win games.

“The players are honest about that, but it’s not about individuals. It’s about how we played as a team. It’s a cliche, but you win as a team and you lose as a team.

“You have to take the good days and enjoy those, and the bad days you learn from. The team will do that because we’ve got a lot of young players.”

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England’s injured midfielder David Beckham (L) vies with England’s coach Fabio Capello (R) during the 2010 World Cup round of 16 match Germany vs England on June 27, 2010 at Free State stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein. (Getty)

Beckham faced a public backlash after being sent off in England’s defeat by Argentina during the 1998 World Cup and he fears Wayne Rooney and Co will get similar treatment. “I hope the players don’t get vilified because a lot of them will still be playing for England, but we live in a world where that does happen,” said Beckham.

“You do enjoy the good times, but when the bad times come along you can’t just crumble. If you crumble, then you will get more stick. From the season I came back after 1998, I know it is tough. You have to block that out.”

England, bizarrely, have risen a place in the FIFA rankings to seventh. But Beckham agrees with Capello’s assessment that the nation needs a winter break to seriously challenge countries such as Germany and Spain. “Having played in Spain for four years, I saw the benefit of a winter break because you come back fresh and it’s great,” said Beckham. “It will be difficult to change the tradition of winter football in England, but I’m sure something can happen.

“People say, ‘How can these players be tired because they are playing the same number of games as different nationalities?’ But it is without the break and that is the big thing. If you look at it, the Germans and Spanish had great World Cups, so a break would help the players and help the team.”

Having been ruled out of playing in the World Cup by an Achilles injury, Beckham, 35, travelled to South Africa as a link between Capello’s staff and the players. His role prompted suggestions he could put himself forward as a future England boss, but he has no plans to go into management.

And even though he will be 37 when the Olympics come to London, Beckham has not ruled out the possibility of playing in a Great Britain team.

He said: “I hope I’ll still be playing in 2012. I definitely won’t be coaching the team, but if I am still playing and I am still considered good enough to make a difference then I would love to be involved in the Olympics.

“I must admit management is something I’ve never been interested in. It’s not a passion of mine to be a manager of a football team.

“I’m passionate about the game and being there, and obviously I was wearing the suit so people have thought I could be going into that.

“I spoke to James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon, all the right-sided players. If there’s anything that needed saying from the manager to the players, that was kind of my role.”  (*)

Medvedev, Merkel to discuss Nord Stream project, visa regime

Dmitry   Medvedev and Angela Merkel in the city of Yekaterinburg
Dmitry Medvedev and Angela Merkel in the city of Yekaterinburg
July 15, 2010

(KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI)  The Russian president and German chancellor will meet on Tuesday in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg for a top-level discussion on a wide range of issues — from the Nord Stream gas pipeline project to simplified visa regime.

Dmitry Medvedev and Angela Merkel will meet at a working breakfast on Thursday morning, followed by a meeting with Russian and German businessmen. The two leaders will later attend a session of a Russian-German forum St. Petersburg Dialogue currently underway in Yekaterinburg.

The Russian-German interstate consultations will begin at noon. Trade and economic relations, the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, simplified visa regime between Russia and the European Union, cooperation between Russian and German regions are on the agenda.

An aide to the Russian president, Sergei Prikhodko, earlier said that the two leaders will also address international issues, including violence in Kyrgyzstan, North Korea’s nuclear program and situation in de-facto independent republics of Nagorny Karabakh and Transdnestr.

A total of 10 bilateral documents are expected to be signed, including a memorandum of understanding between the Skolkovo foundation, which supervises the eponymous innovation hub outside of Moscow, and Germany’s Siemens AG.

The Russian companies Rostekhnologii (Russian Technology) and RusHydro will sign a partnership agreement with Siemens AG to establish a joint venture manufacturing hydroelectric power units.

Russian railway monopoly RZD and Siemens will sign a memorandum to establish a joint venture for supply and maintenance of high-speed trains.

Merkel seeks broader economic ties in Siberia

Dmitry  Medvedev and Angela Merkel in the city of Yekaterinburg
Dmitry Medvedev and Angela Merkel in the city of Yekaterinburg
July 14, 2010

(KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI)  German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in the city of Yekaterinburg Wednesday for a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev. Russian-German consultations are a frequent occurrence, but few are as important for both countries as this meeting.

On July 14 and 15, the two sides will essentially be holding a joint cabinet meeting attended by nearly 100 leaders of their largest respective industrial, banking, trade and commodities companies.

Also, this is a rare case where Merkel’s political problems back home are pushing her toward greater economic cooperation with Russia in the export, import, commodity and energy sectors, as well as in investment, innovation and modernization.

Germany and Russia have overlapping interests in the latter three spheres, which could turn the meeting in Yekaterinburg into consultations on mutual economic assistance. The sides will discuss how they can best help each other, both economically and politically.

Merkel is especially interested in scoring political points. Germans are displeased with the severe budget cuts made in response to the crisis in the euro zone, which have taken a serious toll on their incomes and social benefits. They’ve even stopped calling Merkel “Mutti,” or “Mom.”

According to recent polls, support for Merkel’s CDU/CSU faction has fallen to a record low 35%. At the same time, support for the Social Democrats and the Green party has risen to 45%.

Growing disenchantment with Merkel in the CDU/CSU was not abated by Germany’s third-place finish at this year’s World Cup. Merkel’s government had hoped the victory would overshadow its fiscal sins, but not this time. It will have to do better than that to turn this tide.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (L, front) meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Russia’s Urals city of Yekaterinburg, July 14, 2010. (Getty)

Merkel begins her “big eastern tour” in Yekaterinburg – which Europe sees as the gateway to Siberia – in a bid to pave the way for German exports to Russia and Asia, to secure additional contracts for German companies, and to ensure Germany access to reasonably priced energy. She will then travel to China and Kazakhstan in pursuit of these same goals.

Before departing for Russia, Merkel’s team indicated that the chancellor sees the trip as a welcome break from her political problems at home as well as an opportunity to integrate Germany into the economic modernization programs under way in Russia, China and Kazakhstan.

According to German sources, it was German captains of industry that persuaded Merkel to help Russia modernize its economy and infrastructure so that it will be up to German standards for industrial equipment and product quality. This will allow Russia to purchase more German goods, further stimulating Russia’s economic development.

In other words, Germany wants Russia to improve to the point that it needs more highly efficient German equipment. This is self-serving to an extent, but business is business.

The German delegation includes the heads of the carmaker Volkswagen, the industrial conglomerate Siemens, the aircraft concern Airbus, the chemical giant BASF, the retail concern Metro, and Germany’s main export-import bank Commerzbank.

The sides expect to sign more than a dozen documents in Yekaterinburg, including agreements on Siemens’s involvement in the ambitious Skolkovo high-tech project and on training Russian managers at German universities.

However, the focus of the meeting will be railroad projects. Russia and Germany have been working together in this sphere for decades, and now Russian Railways and Siemens are expected to strike a deal that will provide Russia with 240 modern trains worth 2.2 billion euros.

The Sapsan high-speed trains running between Moscow and St. Petersburg were also supplied by Siemens, and in 2011 Russia will receive Desiro commuter trains, which will be called Lastochka (Swallow) in Russia. They will run to airports in Moscow and other large cities and will be the primary mode of transportation at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Siemens and Synara will supply 220 electric freight locomotives made at the plant in Verkhnyaya Pyshma near Yekaterinburg.

Germany expects Russia to reciprocate by accelerating construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline along the Baltic Sea bed. Merkel has reportedly had a separate conversation with Medvedev on this issue.

Germany depends heavily on energy and other commodities from Russia. In the first six months of 2010, Germany imported 13% more Russian commodities compared to the same period of 2009, while Russia had to cut its imports from Germany by 7%. Berlin hopes that economic modernization and innovation projects will boost German exports of technology and other goods to Russia. This, in turn, will help Russia to shift its economy toward greater industrial production, consumer demand and, ultimately, more German imports.

Russian-German trade and economic cooperation is quite good. According to German statistics, German exports to Russia grew 200% from 2000 to 2009, but fell 40% ($39.9 billion) last year due to the global recession. However, bilateral trade soared by 50% to $15.2 billion from January through April 2010.

The political agenda is much more modest compared to the economic one, indicating that Russia and Germany maintain similar positions on key geopolitical and regional issues.

Germany supports Russia’s proposal for visa-free travel to the EU, but the decision does not hinge on Germany alone. There is reason to assume that residents of the Kaliningrad Region, Russia’s exclave on the Baltic Sea Coast, will be the first Russian citizens to travel to Europe without a visa, as both Germany and Poland support this move.

During their meeting in Yekaterinburg, Merkel and Medvedev will attend the St. Petersburg Forum of Russian and German artists, scientists and politicians, first held in St. Petersburg in 2000. They will also meet with participants of the German-Russian business forum. (*)