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Daily Archives: 07/19/2010

PM David Cameron launches the Big Society Bank and announces the first four big society communities

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19 July 2010

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(KATAKAMI / CABINETOFFICE.GOV.UK)   The Prime Minister today gave more detail on his vision for the Coalition Government’s Big Society agenda by outlining plans for a new Big Society Bank, and announcing the country’s first big society communities in Sutton, Windsor and Maidenhead, Eden Valley in Cumbria and Liverpool.

The Big Society Bank will ensure that all the money from dormant bank accounts made available to England is put to good use for the benefit of society.  By expanding the social investment market place and helping to attract extra private sector investment it is expected that over time the Bank will generate hundreds of millions of pounds for charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to fund social projects across the country, creating opportunities for social action and community involvement. As a wholesale organisation, the Bank will invest in financial intermediaries in the social investment market, who in turn will increase access to finance for frontline, social organisations.

The Prime Minister made the announcement to an audience of volunteers and social enterprise champions in Liverpool at the first in a series of planned Big Society events, alongside the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark.

He also announced the country’s first big society communities in Sutton, Windsor and Maidenhead, Eden Valley in Cumbria and Liverpool itself.

These four areas will now receive targeted and tailored help from the Government to ensure they can overcome bureaucratic barriers and take greater responsibility for the decisions that affect the local area and local people.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said

“Today’s event shows just how much of a difference a stronger society, where people do more for each other, can make.

“The funds from the dormant bank accounts will enable us to start stimulating activity where there is none and also help existing charities, social enterprises and community organisations to make changes in their local areas.

“This is about a real cultural shift – we know that the era of big government, just tweaking things at the centre of power, didn’t work.  We want to build a Big Society where local people feel empowered to bring about the changes they know their communities need and they come together to change the things they care about.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

“Today, we are turning Government upside down. Instead of imposing top-down diktats from Whitehall, we are asking people to tell us what they want to do to improve their lives. We will give communities the same support that we Ministers have – people in Government Departments to sort out the bureaucracy that stands in their way.

“No-one knows what’s needed in Liverpool, Sutton, Eden Valley and Windsor and Maidenhead better than the people who live there. That is the essence of the Big Society – trusting people to know what needs doing, with Government enabling them instead of getting in their way.”

The four big society communities have already expressed interest in areas including:

  • Making budget decisions at street-level
  • Taking over local assets such as a community pub
  • Delivering broadband to local communities
  • Piloting the Government’s open-source planning reforms
  • Taking responsibility for generating energy locally
  • Deciding licensing rules locally
  • Building a volunteer programme so they can keep local museums open for longer.

The Government is committed to give these communities all the support they need and is pledging the following measures:

  • A firm commitment to respond constructively to every request made by the big society communities for new rights and powers to take control of their cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods.
  • Dedicated support from officials from the Department of Communities and Local Government to help the big society communities overcome and break down any barriers they encounter as they seek to take power and responsibility.
  • A community organiser to help each community coordinate local support for, and involvement in, its plans.

The Government will continue to give new powers to neighbourhoods, including greater control over their finances and new rights to take over state-run services, and wants to hear from community groups and individuals who feel they are facing unreasonable barriers to making changes for the benefit of the local community.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Big Society Bank will be an independent wholesale organisation that will work and invest its funds through existing financial intermediaries like social investors and community lenders, who in turn will increase access to finance for frontline, social organisations.
  2. As well as private sector investment, it will be funded by dormant bank accounts as enabled by the Dormant Bank Accounts Act. These are deposits of money in bank and building society accounts that people have lost track of or forgotten about over a period of time. The Big Society Bank will ensure that all the money from dormant bank accounts made available to England is put to good use for the benefit of society.
  3. The amount of funds available for distribution will be determined by the number of banks and building societies participating in the scheme, the success of the ongoing campaign to reunite individuals with their assets, and the sums held back for customer reclaim.
  4. Our target is to establish the Bank by April 2011. A key milestone will be the creation of a Reclaim Fund to protect the interests of deposit holders, as required by the Dormant Bank Accounts Act. Co-operative Financial Services are currently in the process of submitting an application to the FSA to perform this role.
  5. The four big society communities will be taking forward a range of ideas, which all come directly from proposals made by the people in those areas. They include
    1. moving a community centre to a site chosen by the community; building a renewable energy generation project; a community buy out of a local pub; providing community broadband access (Cumbria/Eden Valley)
    2. transparency of local spending decisions; participatory budgeting for parks budget; delegating budgets to streets; devolving further powers to parishes (Windsor & Maidenhead)
    3. boosting volunteering at a number of key museums; creating a social enterprise to produce films and content for digital platforms; developing neighbourhood media and cultural activities in poorer areas (Liverpool).
    4. establishing greater freedom to implement sustainable transport schemes and influence the provision of local public transport; identifying ‘place shaping’ champions who can build good practice in greener living; supporting the creation of a project involving young people that invests in the local community (Sutton)
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Photostream : PM David Cameron Launches the Tories Big Society Plan

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 19: British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses guests at the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University where he launched the ‘Big Society’ drive on July 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England. The idea of the big society was part of the Conservatives general election campaign and aims to put power back into the hands of the public running community and voluntary services. (Getty)

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 19: British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses guests at the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University where he launched the ‘Big Society’ drive on July 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England. The idea of the big society was part of the Conservatives general election campaign and aims to put power back into the hands of the public running community and voluntary services. (Getty)

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 19: British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) listens to speakers at the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University where he launched the ‘Big Society’ drive on July 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England. The idea of the big society was part of the Conservatives general election campaign and aims to put power back into the hands of the public running community and voluntary services. (Getty)

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 19: British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) listens to speakers at the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University where he launched the ‘Big Society’ drive on July 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England. The idea of the big society was part of the Conservatives general election campaign and aims to put power back into the hands of the public running community and voluntary services. (Getty)

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 19: British Prime Minister David Cameron listens to speakers at the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University where he launched the ‘Big Society’ drive on July 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England. The idea of the big society was part of the Conservatives general election campaign and aims to put power back into the hands of the public running community and voluntary services.  (Getty)

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Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron makes a speech the government’s Big Society scheme in Liverpool England Monday July 19. 2010.  (Getty)

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 19: Televison producer and script writer Phil Redmond (L) escorts British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles to the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University where the Prime Minister launched the Conservatives’ ‘Big Society’ drive on July 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England. The idea of the big society was part of the Conservatives’ general election campaign and aims to put power back into the hands of the public running community and voluntary services.  (Getty)

PM Cameron Expected To Discuss BP With Obama

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July 19, 2010

(KATAKAMI / SKY NEWS)  David Cameron is travelling to Washington later for his first official visit to the United States since becoming Prime Minister.

Afghanistan is likely to be the chief topic of discussion when he meets President Barack Obama at the White House tomorrow.

He is also expected to confront criticism of BP over both the Gulf of Mexico spill and claims by US politicians it lobbied for the release of the Lockerbie bomber to secure a deal.

Mr Obama was outspoken in his attacks on BP and the need for them to pay for the devastation caused.

Mr Cameron has been criticised for failing to stand up for the British firm.

After talks with BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg last week, Mr Cameron said he would stress the importance of the firm’s success to both country’s economies.

I couldn’t have been more clear that I thought the decision to release Al Megrahi was completely and utterly wrong.

David Cameron

As well as the White House meeting, Mr Cameron is scheduled for talks with vice president Joe Biden and other senior figures from Congress – where he is likely to face a second front of questions involving BP.

The influential senate foreign relations committee called a hearing for later this month to discuss last year’s transfer of Abdelbaset al Megrahi from a Scottish jail back to Libya.

The only man convicted of involvement in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people in 1988, Megrahi was freed by the Scottish Executive on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But his continued survival, despite originally being given only three months to live, has revived anger in the US over the decision and calls by a group of Democrat senators for an investigation into BP’s alleged role.

Freed Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi speaks to a   doctor

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi

Asked on BBC Breakfast whether the firm had lobbied for Megrahi’s release, Mr Cameron said: “I have no idea what BP did, I am not responsible for BP.”

The PM added: “All I know is as leader of opposition I couldn’t have been more clear that I thought the decision to release Al Megrahi was completely and utterly wrong.”

As part of concerted efforts to calm the row ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary Willian Hague wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night insisting there was no evidence of BP involvement.

The firm acknowledges warning the British Government of a potential “negative impact on UK commercial interests” of slow progress being made concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.

But it insists it had no discussions with London or Edinburgh over Megrahi’s release.

Mr Cameron will conclude the two-day visit in New York with talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and a major trade push in meetings with senior business figures.

The Prime Minister and Mr Obama last met at the G8 and G20 summits in Canada last month, and Downing Street said Mr Cameron was keen to build on “excellent discussions” they enjoyed there. (*)

Clinton unveils $500 million in new aid for Pakistan

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July 19, 2010

ISLAMABAD (KATAKAMI / MSNBC)   — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Monday to convince skeptical Pakistanis that American interest in their country extends beyond the fight against Islamist militants by announcing a raft of new aid projects worth $500 million.

The projects, which included new dams for badly needed electricity and hospitals, are part of a $7.5 billion aid effort to win over Pakistanis suspicious about Washington’s goals here and in neighboring Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are being killed in ever greater numbers in an insurgency with links to Pakistan.

Mistrust over U.S. intentions in Pakistan is in part due to Washington’s decision to turn away from the nuclear-armed country after enlisting its support to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“Of course there is a legacy of suspicion that we inherited. It is not going to be eliminated overnight,” said Clinton following talks in Islamabad.

“It is however our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the United States is concerned about Pakistan for the long term and that our partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies,” she said. “We have moved beyond a standoff of our misunderstandings that were allowed to fester and not addressed … to a position where we’re engaged in the most open dialogue that I think our two countries have ever had.”

Clinton said the U.S. will complete two hydroelectric dam projects to supply electricity to more than 300,000 people in areas near the Afghan border, will renovate or build three medical facilities in central and southern Pakistan and will embark on a new initiative to improve access to clean drinking water in the country.

Strategic partnership
These projects and several others focused on promoting economic growth will cost some $500 million and will be funded by legislation approved by Congress to triple nonmilitary aid to $1.5 billion a year over five years. The initiatives mark the second phase of projects begun under a new and enhanced strategic partnership.

Despite these initiatives, Clinton faces challenges in appealing for greater Pakistani cooperation in cracking down on militants who use their sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch cross-border attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Many analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target Afghan Taliban militants in the country with whom it has historical ties because they could be useful allies in Afghanistan after international forces withdraw.

Pakistan has shown more interest in supporting Afghanistan’s push to reconcile with Afghan Taliban rather than fight them, a tactic that the U.S. believes has little chance of succeeding until the militants’ momentum on the battlefield is reversed.

Clinton said Monday that any insurgents who wish to reconcile must lay down their arms, renounce any partnership with al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan’s constitution.

“We would strongly advise our friends in Afghanistan to deal with those who are committed to a peaceful future where their ideas can compete in the political arena through the ballot box, not through the force of arms,” said Clinton.

The U.S. has pushed Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their often frosty relations and prodded the two countries to seal a landmark trade deal Sunday that was reached after years of negotiation. The pact, which eases restrictions on cross-border transportation, must be ratified by the Afghan parliament and Pakistani Cabinet.

U.S. officials said they believe it will significantly enhance ties between the two countries, boost development and incomes on both sides of the border and contribute to the fight against extremists.

Clinton will later fly on to Kabul for an international conference as the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan runs into mounting doubt in the U.S. Congress. (*)

Photostream : Behind the scenes of former U.S. President George Bush Sr

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ATLANTIC OCEAN – JULY 14: In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, former President George H.W. Bush speaks to officers and crew assigned to the aircraft carrier that bears his name, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 14, 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush spent their time onboard watching flight operations, touring the ship and visiting with the crew. The George H.W. Bush is conducting training in the Atlantic Ocean. (Getty)

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ATLANTIC OCEAN – JULY 14: In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, former President George H.W. Bush speaks to sailors via the ship’s announcing system onboard the aircraft carrier that bears his name, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 14, 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush spent their time onboard watching flight operations, touring the ship and visiting with the crew. The George H.W. Bush is conducting training in the Atlantic Ocean. (Getty)

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ATLANTIC OCEAN – JULY 14: In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, Command Chaplain Cmdr. Cameron Fish and former first lady Barbara Bush tour the library of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), named for her husband, former President George H.W. Bush July 14, 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bushes spent their time onboard watching flight operations, touring the ship and visiting with the crew. The George H.W. Bush is conducting training in the Atlantic Ocean. (Getty)

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ATLANTIC OCEAN – JULY 14: In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, former President George H.W. Bush walks past a portrait of himself and wife Barbara aboard the aircraft carrier that bears his name, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 14, 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush spent their time onboard watching flight operations, touring the ship and visiting with the crew. The George H.W. Bush is conducting training in the Atlantic Ocean. (Getty)

George BushFormer presidents George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush at the Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, honoring the troops. Over 10,000 Houstonians attended the event (July 10, 2010) – Photo by Joseph Ernest

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Former presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush leave the wedding ceremony for the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, John Ellis Bush Jr. , and Sandra Mary Algudady being held at Saint Jude Catholic church in Miami, Saturday May 29, 2010. Former first lady Laura Bush follows behind. (Getty)

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Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, right, kisses his wife, Barbara, after both were shown on the stadium kiss cam video board during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, in Houston. (Getty)

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Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, right, and his wife, Barbara, cheer for the Houston Astros during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, in Houston. (Getty)

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Former President George H. W. Bush tells a fishing story as his grandson John Ellis “Jebby” Bush, Jr. stands by during a special event by the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, “George Bush: The Sports & Outdoors President”, Tuesday, April 20, 2010, in College Station, Texas. (Getty)

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HOUSTON – APRIL 11: Pitcher Jamie Moyer of the Philadelphia Phillies shakes hands with former President George H.W. Bush before the game on April 11, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Getty)

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Barbara Bush, left, takes a photograph of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, right and a fan, center, during an MLB baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros, Friday, April 9, 2010 in Houston. (Getty)

Photostream: Lionel Messi visits Haiti

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Argentine soccer star and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi, center, walks escorted by bodyguards during a visit to an earthquake refugee camp in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, July 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa. (Getty)

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Argentine soccer star and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi, second right, walks escorted by bodyguards during a visit to an earthquake refugee camp in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, July 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa. (Getty)

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Residents run as they try to catch a glimpse of Argentinian soccer player and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi during his visit to Port-au-Prince July 15, 2010. Thousands of Haitians thronged the streets of Port-au-Prince to see Messi during his one-day trip to Haiti, which was affected by a major earthquake in January. (Getty)

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A man holds up a photograph of Argentine soccer star and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi during his visit to a refugee camp in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, July 15, 2010. (Getty)

Medvedev’s visit to Armenia to become new stage in Armenian-Russian relations – Armenian president

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July 17 (KATAKAMI – RIA NOVOSTI)  Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan expressed his confidence that a forthcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Armenia will become a new stage in bilateral relations, Armenian presidential press-service said.

Medvedev is due to pay a visit to Armenia in August.

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Sargsyan met with President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov on Saturday, where the sides stressed that Armenian-Russian relations develop according to a spirit of strategic partnership.

Zhukov said that an effective dialogue between the countries at all levels is a firm basis for new programs and further expansion of cooperation.

On Saturday Russia and Armenia signed in Yerevan an agreement on cooperation between their national Olympic committees and iscussed a project to build a sports base near Lake Sevan in Armenia.

Britain Is ‘Junior Partner’ to U.S., Cameron Says

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July 16 (KATAKAMI / BusinessWeek.Com / Bloomberg) — David Cameron, preparing for his first visit to the U.S. as U.K. prime minister, said he sees Britain as America’s “junior partner.”

“President Obama and I have a very good relationship, we get on well,” Cameron told Time magazine in an interview published today before next week’s trip to Washington. “I believe in the special relationship. Britain is, of course, the junior partner. I hope we bring things to that relationship.”

Cameron has faced criticism at home for the way he handled President Barack Obama’s criticism of BP Plc over the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. In June, one newspaper told him to “Stand up for your country” after he said he understood the president’s “frustration.”

“This all fits in with what Cameron has been saying since 2006, that he wants to have a more measured, balanced and less emotional approach,” said Robin Niblett, director of London- based foreign affairs institute Chatham House. “We as Brits need to understand that we’re no longer just sitting in the same sandpit looking out on the world from a Cold War perspective.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday it will call BP executives to testify to address their concerns that the company’s business interests and last year’s release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi were linked. Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., Nigel Sheinwald, wrote to the panel’s chairman, John Kerry, saying he wanted to reject “inaccuracies” that were “harmful” to the U.K.

‘Troubled’

“I am troubled by the claims made in the press that Megrahi was released because of an oil deal involving BP, and that the medical evidence supporting his release was paid for by the Libyan government,” Sheinwald wrote.

It was Winston Churchill who enshrined the term “special relationship” in the aftermath of World War II to describe the closeness of Britain’s ties with the U.S., which won independence from its colonial master in 1783.

Churchill stepped out of the bath in front of Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare he had “nothing to hide,” according to the premier’s wartime secretary Patrick Kinna.

Harold Macmillan, the Conservative prime minister from 1957 to 1963 whose portrait hung on Cameron’s wall in opposition, said he hoped to “play Greece to their Rome,” offering culture and sophistication to America’s might.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were close personally as well as politically. More recently, Tony Blair found himself derided at home as a “poodle” to George W. Bush, after he declared there was a “blood price” to the U.S.-U.K. alliance.

‘Full and Frank’

Blair’s successor Gordon Brown distanced himself from Bush, wearing a suit to their Camp David meeting, and describing the discussions as “full and frank.”

Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field told reporters today that the prime minister was attempting to be realistic about the nature of the relationship.

“Clearly the U.S. is a larger country,” Field said. “Its economy is five times the size of the U.K.’s as is its population. It has a larger army. We need to understand the dynamics of the relationship, and to understand our role. That’s the best way to bring our influence to bear.”

In addition to “of course” discussing BP, Europe’s second-biggest energy company by market value, when he meets Obama at the White House, the prime minister said he expected to talk to the president about Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East and Turkey’s entry to the European Union.

Americans may take offense at the prime minister’s characterization of the U.S. role in D-Day, on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed in Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

“I think of my grandfather going ashore at D-Day, with the Americans in support of the British,” Cameron said. The U.S. landed 73,000 troops on the day, to 83,000 British and Canadian forces. The estimated American casualty number for the day, around 6,600, was more than twice the British figure.

Octopus predicts next Russian president

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (C) delivers a speech, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Russia’s First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva (L) in the background, during a state reception to mark the Day of Russia at Ivanovskaya Square in Moscow’s Kremlin on June 12, 2010.

July 17. 2010

(KATAKAMI / TVNZ.CO.NZ)   One of Russia’s most popular newspapers said it had managed to get Paul, the oracle German octopus which accurately predicted the World Cup results to forecast who will be Russia’s next president.

But shhhhhh…Komsomolskaya Pravda said the results of Paul’s prediction for the 2012 presidential election have been sealed until election year.

The paper said one of its reporters approached Paul, who lives at the Sea Life attraction in the German city of Oberhausen and put two sheets of paper with the names of Russiam Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev in front of the soothsaying invertebrate, which pointed to one of the names with a tentacle.

Since Medvedev replaced Putin as president in 2008, with the latter taking over the cabinet, it has been unclear who is the number one decision-maker in a country with a tradition of strong, individual rulers.

A recent poll conducted by Russia’s Levada-Center shows that 76% of respondents believe Putin is the country’s most influential person, while 67% see Medvedev as top leader.

Both politicians at some point said they were considering running for president in 2012. In April Medvedev said they would decide together who is going to run. Putin said in June they would talk about it closer to the election date.

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Paul the octopus became famous for accurately predicting the outcome of Germany’s World Cup campaign and the World Cup final between Spain and The Netherlands.

His Russian presidential pick has been conducted in a fashion rather different to his World Cup prognostications, where he predicted football matches by picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank, each adorned with the flag of one of the matches’ competitors.

The paper also features a short “interview” with Paul.  (*)

Photostream : Prince Albert II of Monaco – from Cradle to Engagement

Prince Albert  II assumed the throne of the principality of Monaco on July 12, 2005.  Albert Alexander Louis Pierre Grimaldi is one of the most eligible  bachelors in Europe and a great lover of sports.

Prince Albert II assumed the throne of the principality of Monaco on July 12, 2005. Albert Alexander Louis Pierre Grimaldi is one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe and a great lover of sports. (All photos from RIA NOVOSTI)

His Serene  Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was born on March 14, 1958 at the  Prince's Palace of Monaco. He is the son of Prince Rainier III Louis  Henri-Maxence-Bertrand (31 May 1923-6 April 2005) and American actress  Grace Kelly (Philadelphia, United States, 12 November 1929-Monaco, 14  September 1982).

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was born on March 14, 1958 at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco. He is the son of Prince Rainier III Louis Henri-Maxence-Bertrand (31 May 1923-6 April 2005) and American actress Grace Kelly (Philadelphia, United States, 12 November 1929-Monaco, 14 September 1982).

Albert II’s  official shortened title is His Serene Highness the Sovereign Prince of  Monaco. However, his many other titles are as follows: Duke of  Valentinois Marquis of Baux, Count of Carladès, Count of Polignac, Baron  of Calvinet, Baron of Buis, Lord of Saint-Rémy, Sire of Matignon, Count  of Torigni, Baron of Saint-Lô, Baron of La Luthumière, Baron of Hambye,  Duke of Estouteville, Duke of Mazarin, Duke of Mayenne, Prince of  Château-Porcien, Count of Ferrette, Count of Belfort, Count of Thann,  Count of Rosemont, Baron of Altkirch, Lord of Isenheim, Marquis of  Chilly, Count of Longjumeau, Baron of Massy, Marquis of Guiscard. In the  photo: Prince Albert II of Monaco as a baby 1959.
Albert II’s official shortened title is His Serene Highness the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. However, his many other titles are as follows: Duke of Valentinois Marquis of Baux, Count of Carladès, Count of Polignac, Baron of Calvinet, Baron of Buis, Lord of Saint-Rémy, Sire of Matignon, Count of Torigni, Baron of Saint-Lô, Baron of La Luthumière, Baron of Hambye, Duke of Estouteville, Duke of Mazarin, Duke of Mayenne, Prince of Château-Porcien, Count of Ferrette, Count of Belfort, Count of Thann, Count of Rosemont, Baron of Altkirch, Lord of Isenheim, Marquis of Chilly, Count of Longjumeau, Baron of Massy, Marquis of Guiscard. In the photo: Prince Albert II of Monaco as a baby 1959.
In 1976,  Prince Albert II graduated from the Albert I Lycée in Monaco with  distinction. He studied at Amherst College in Massachusetts, United  States from 1977-1981 and graduated with the title of Licentiate in  political science. He also studied economics, psychology, philosophy,  art history, anthropology and sociology. In addition, the future ruler  of Monaco sang in the university choir and travelled around Europe and  the Middle East.
In 1976, Prince Albert II graduated from the Albert I Lycée in Monaco with distinction. He studied at Amherst College in Massachusetts, United States from 1977-1981 and graduated with the title of Licentiate in political science. He also studied economics, psychology, philosophy, art history, anthropology and sociology. In addition, the future ruler of Monaco sang in the university choir and travelled around Europe and the Middle East.
In 2002, to  ensure the succession to the throne and to guarantee the preservation of  the 700-year-old Grimaldi dynasty, some changes were made in the Monaco  constitution. The amendments state that siblings, nephews and nieces of  a ruler have the right to inherit the throne. After Albert, the throne  could therefore be passed on to his sisters - Stephanie and Carolina -  or any of their seven children. In the photo: Grimaldi family (1975): Prince Rainier, Grace Kelly,  Prince Albert II and his sisters, Stephanie and Carolina.
In 2002, to ensure the succession to the throne and to guarantee the preservation of the 700-year-old Grimaldi dynasty, some changes were made in the Monaco constitution. The amendments state that siblings, nephews and nieces of a ruler have the right to inherit the throne. After Albert, the throne could therefore be passed on to his sisters – Stephanie and Carolina – or any of their seven children. In the photo: Grimaldi family (1975): Prince Rainier, Grace Kelly, Prince Albert II and his sisters, Stephanie and Carolina.
The children  do not have any rights to the throne. In the photo: Prince of Monaco  Albert II accompanied by actress Isabella Rossellini.
The children do not have any rights to the throne. In the photo: Prince of Monaco Albert II accompanied by actress Isabella Rossellini.
In 2000, Duke  Rainier III said he would only hand the throne down to his son after  Albert was married. On the photo: Prince of Monaco Albert II with Janet  Jackson, 1999
In 2000, Duke Rainier III said he would only hand the throne down to his son after Albert was married. On the photo: Prince of Monaco Albert II with Janet Jackson, 1999
Albert II  announced his engagement to South African Olympic swimming champion  Charlene Wittstok (32) on June 23, 2010. In the photo: Prince Albert II  of Monaco and Charlene Wittstok’s arrival at the wedding ceremony of the  Crown Princess of Sweden and Danial Westling, 2010.
Albert II announced his engagement to South African Olympic swimming champion Charlene Wittstok (32) on June 23, 2010. In the photo: Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstok’s arrival at the wedding ceremony of the Crown Princess of Sweden and Danial Westling, 2010
Prince Albert  is a known sport lover. He plays football and handball, and enjoys  swimming, track and field athletics, and judo.
Prince Albert is a known sport lover. He plays football and handball, and enjoys swimming, track and field athletics, and judo
Prince Albert  is the only live monarch to have visited the South and North Poles. In  January 2009 he went to the South Pole (photo), and in April 2006 he  spent two weeks on the North Pole.
Prince Albert is the only live monarch to have visited the South and North Poles. In January 2009 he went to the South Pole (photo), and in April 2006 he spent two weeks on the North Pole

Uganda ‘suicide bombers’ images released

Composite image of bombing suspects (Pics: Interpol)
Interpol has released two pictures of each of the men it says may have been bombers
July 28, 2010

(KATAKAMI / BBC)  Images of two men police believe carried out deadly bombings in Uganda a week ago have been released.

Interpol is circulating reconstructions of what the two might have looked like.

Police found two unidentified heads in the wake of the Kampala bombings that killed at least 73 people, and believe the pair were suicide attackers.

At least 73 people died at a rugby club and a restaurant during the World Cup final. Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has said it was behind the blasts.

Ugandan troops are part of an African Union force supporting a fragile interim government in Somalia.

‘No coincidence’Two bodies which seemed to have borne the brunt of the blasts remained unclaimed and unidentified, police in Kampala said, leading them to conclude suicide bombers were responsible.

“These attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. The evidence is overwhelming,” police chief Kale Kayihura told a news conference in the Ugandan capital.

“Two heads have not been claimed, neither have they been identified. It can’t be a coincidence.”

Families mourn at funeral for Eritrean victims of Kampala attacks
Most of the victims were Ugandans, Ethiopians and Eritreans

Mr Kayihura also said facial reconstruction of the suspected bombers suggested that one was of Somali origin and the other a black African of undetermined origin.

At the request of the Ugandan police, Interpol published photos on Sunday of the possible appearance of the suspected suicide bombers, based on their facial reconstructions.

“By making these photos public, we believe someone, somewhere could recognise one or both of these men,” Mr Kayihura said.

Ugandan authorities have arrested more than 20 people as they investigate the attacks.

At least 60 of those killed were Ugandan nationals. The other victims included Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian and Congolese nationals as well as an Irish and a US citizen.

Dozens of other people are still being treated in hospital for their injuries.  (*)

Pope Benedicy says Make Time for God on Vacation

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(18 July 10 – KATAKAMI / VATICAN RADIO ) In his second Angelus address from his Summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI once again spoke about vacation time, reminding the thousands of pilgrims who packed the courtyard and square outside the palace, to give pride of place to the Word of God and not their daily activities:

“Dear brothers and sisters!

We are now in the heart of summer, at least in the northern hemisphere. This is the time when schools are closed and most on holidays. Even the pastoral activities of the parishes are reduced, and I too have suspended my audiences for a period. So it is a favourable moment to give first place to what is actually most important in life, i.e listening to the Word of God. This Sunday’s Gospel also recalls us of this, the acclaimed episode of Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary, narrated by Saint Luke (10:38-42).

Martha and Mary are two sisters, they also have a brother, Lazarus, but does not appear in this he case. Jesus passes through their village and – the text says – it hosted Martha (cf. 10:38). This detail suggests that of the two, Marta is the oldest, the one who rules the house. In fact, after Jesus has settled, Mary sits down at his feet and listens to him, while Martha is busy with many tasks, due to the certainly exceptional Guest. We seem able to picture the scene: a sister who moves about busily, as the other is held hostage by the presence of the Master and his words. After a while Martha, apparently resentful, most can no longer resist and protests, even feeling entitled to criticize Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me”. Martha would even teach the Master! Instead, Jesus calmly responds: “Martha, Martha – and this repeating of her name expresses affection – you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her”( 10.41-42). Christ’s words are clear: no contempt for the active life, let alone for the generous hospitality, but a sharp reminder to the fact that the only thing that is really needed is another: listening to the Word of the Lord; and the Lord in that moment is there, present in the person of Jesus! Everything else will pass and will be taken from us, but the Word of God is eternal and gives meaning to our daily activities.

Dear friends, as I said, this Gospel page is very much attuned to the vacation period, because it recalls the fact the human person must work, engage in domestic and professional activities, but needs God first of all, who is the interior light of Love and Truth. Without love, even the most important activities lose their value, and give no joy. Without a deeper meaning, everything boils down to do our sterile and unruly activism. And who gives us Love and Truth, but Jesus Christ? May we learn therefore, brethren, to help each other, to cooperate, but before everything else to choose together the best part, which is and will always be our greatest asset.

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here in Castel Gandolfo. In today’s Gospel we are reminded of the need to rest from our daily labours, so that we may give time to the one thing that is truly necessary in our lives – listening to the word of God in attentive stillness. It is Mary, not Martha, who chose the better part. At this time when many of you are on holiday, I pray that you and your loved ones may be truly refreshed in body and spirit, so that you may return with renewed vigour to the responsibilities of your daily lives. May God bless you all!