Custom Search

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Philippine election results: Voters test new electronic voting system

Manila, Philippines – Filipinos are awaiting Philippine election results after trooping enthusiastically to the polls Monday to elect a new president, Congress, and local governments, in what is turning out to be a gauge of the maturity of their country’s democracy.
The elections are a test not only of how Filipinos would like to see their country governed but also of the mechanism for choosing their government. For the first time, a computerized vote-counting system is being used, in an effort to stamp out the vote-rigging that has caused chaos in the past.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) estimated that 85 percent of the 50 million-strong electorate turned out to vote, reflecting in part public interest in the novelty of computerization.
Comelec said only about 400 of the more than 80,000 machines malfunctioned during the polling. But there were reports of vote-counting machines malfunctioning in many voting precincts, in some cases causing ill-tempered scenes.
Voting machine malfunctions for top presidential candidate Many voters complained about waiting in long lines, wilting in the scorching sun, as voters ahead of them struggled to understand new, computer-compatible ballot forms. Comelec kept the precincts open for an extra hour to accommodate the crowds.
Among those who were initially unable to vote because a machine malfunctioned

Monday, May 10, 2010

Men In Black III Lands Just Before Our Alien Ancestors Return To Earth

Men In Black III is slated to return back to Earth in 2012, the same year that - according to the Mayan calendar - human civilization will end when our Alien ancestors return to this planet. Sound

After snubs, the red carpet's now out for Karzai

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has tried sidelining, snubbing and strong-arming Hamid Karzai, with little to show for each approach. Now the administration is trying to hold its tongue and show a little love.
The Afghan leader, darling of the previous Republican administration of President George W. Bush, will get red carpet treatment when he comes to Washington for his widest engagement with U.S. leaders since winning re-election in a flawed vote last year.

Gas prices rising nationwide, but maybe not for long

Reports of rising gas prices nationwide could be misleading. 
Gas prices typically rise every year as Memorial Day approaches. For one, refineries are switching over to their summer blend, which is more expensive, and companies expect a rise in demand during the summer driving season.
Gas prices peaked on June 19 last year, for example.
This year is no different with the average gas prices for a gallon Friday at $2.92, up four cents during the past week. States including New Jersey and Texas reported five to seven cent hikes in gas prices during the past week.


Music mogul JAY-Z joins the legendary Betty White as musical guest on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” show May 8.
JAY-Z will make his third appearance as musical guest in studio 8H. Multiple Grammy Award winner, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter has dominated the rap industry and set trends for a generation. JAY-Z has had numerous number ones on the

Obama to unveil Kagan as US Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama will Monday nominate US solicitor general Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, seeking to enshrine a persuasive voice on the bench for years to come, reports said.

Obama tells aides not to be distracted on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AFP) – With Hamid Karzai arriving in the US capital Monday, President Barack Obama has told key members of his team not to be "distracted" by public spats with Afghanistan's president but to focus on shared common goals.
A US official signaled on the eve of the four-day Karzai visit that the United States wanted to overcome the "ups and downs" of its relationship with him and refocus on the fight against the Taliban.

Joe Biden in Spain to discuss Afghanistan war, global economic crisis

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Spain to meet with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos for talks.
The visit follows Biden's trip to Brussels, where he told the European Parliament that Washington remains determined to deploy its planned anti-missile system in Europe to counter the danger of Iran's nuclear program and its long-range ballistic missiles.
In Madrid, Biden is to discuss bilateral issues, the war in Afghanistan and almost certainly the global economic crisis, including Greece, the U.S. Embassy said.
On Friday, Biden met with the king at Zarzuela Palace. On Saturday, he holds talks with Zapatero and visits a Spanish military base to meet troops due to return to Afghanistan.

source: AP ,yahoo

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mohammed Al Fayed sells Harrods store to Qatar Holdings

The department store Harrods has been sold for a purchase price of about £1.5bn, the BBC can confirm.
Owner Mohammed Al Fayed has agreed to sell the exclusive west London store to Qatar Holdings.
Ken Costa, who acted as an adviser to the deal, said that Mr Al Fayed was retiring "to spend more time with his children and grandchildren".
A colourful and controversial figure, Mr Al Fayed acquired Harrods in 1985 following a £615m takeover bid.
The deal was signed in the early hours of 8 May, BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam said.
Our reporter added that Mr Al Fayed's motivation for selling was unclear, but the price tag was not inconsiderable in a post-recessionary market.
The BBC understands that Mr Al Fayed will stay on in some capacity but will not be involved in running the company day-to-day.
The sale will include all parts of the Harrods group, including Harrods Estates and a charter aircraft service.
Mr Costa, chairman of asset managers Lazard International, who advised the Al Fayed family trust on the sale, said Qatar Holding had been "specifically chosen" by Mr Al Fayed because he believed it had the "vision and financial capacity" to support the long-term growth of the store.
"In reaching the decision to retire, he wished to ensure that the legacy and traditions that he has built up in Harrods would be continued, and that the team that he has built up would be encouraged to develop the foundations that he has laid," Mr Costa added.
Reports in March had suggested that the Gulf-based investor, which works on behalf of the royal family in the Arab emirate of Qatar, had approached Mr Al Fayed about a possible deal.
However, staff were assured at the time that the store was not for sale.
Repeatedly refused
Mr Al Fayed's UK business interests include the Premiership football club Fulham FC and a recent rich list put his fortune at £650m.
During the 1980s, a battle for control of the store formed part of a long-running feud between Mr Al Fayed and the late businessman Tiny Rowland.
Mr Rowland later accused his business rival of breaking into a safety deposit box stored at Harrods.
Egyptian-born Mr Al Fayed waged a 10-year campaign in an attempt to prove that Princess Diana and his son Dodi, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997, were murdered in a conspiracy.
Despite living in Britain for decades, the multi-millionaire businessman has repeatedly been refused a UK passport.
After his first passport refusal, Mr Al Fayed revealed he had paid two Conservative ministers - Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith - to ask questions related to his interests, in the House of Commons. Both left the government in disgrace.
He claimed another political scalp in Jonathan Aitken, the cabinet minister who resigned after the Harrods boss revealed he had been staying free at the Ritz in Paris at the same time as Saudi arms dealers.

Volcanic ash cloud shuts Spanish airports

Spain has closed 15 airports as a cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano drifts south over Western Europe.
National airport management agency Aena said nine airports closed early on Saturday and six more shut from 1200 local time (1000 GMT).
The restrictions would be in place until at least 1800, Aena said
Most flights between Europe and North America are being diverted because of the ash cloud's latest drifting, officials at Eurocontrol said.
Flights are being rerouted north and south of the 1,200 mile (2,000km) long cloud.
On average, 600 airliners make the Atlantic crossing every day, correspondents say.
Aena said the airports affected were Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria, Zaragoza, Pamplona, La Rioja, Santiago, La Coruna, Vigo, Asturias, Santander, Leon, Valladolid, Burgos and Salamanca.
Eurocontrol, the agency that co-ordinates aviation safety in Europe, said airports were also expected to close in northern Portugal and parts of southern France.
In the UK, some flights to Spain were being affected.

At London Stansted, 22 Ryanair flights to the Canary Islands, mainland Spain and Portugal were cancelled, along with three EasyJet flights.
Flights from Gatwick to Portugal, Alicante and Madrid were cancelled and at Heathrow some flights to La Coruna in northern Spain were also grounded.
Last month, thousands of travellers were stranded after ash shut down airspace across Europe.
Recent images have shown activity in the Eyjafjallajokull volcano intensifying.
Experts at the UK's Met Office said it was sending ash up to heights of 30,000 ft (9,100m).
Flights across Ireland and parts of the UK were disrupted earlier this week.

Clegg meets top Lib Dems over election deal with Tories

Nick Clegg has met senior Lib Dem MPs to discuss a power-sharing offer from the Tories, after the UK election resulted in a hung parliament.
He stressed his priorities, including "fundamental political reform", but said they would act in a "constructive spirit" in the "coming hours and days".
The Tories won most seats but were short of a majority and are asking for Lib Dem support to form a government.
Gordon Brown and Mr Clegg spoke on the phone on Friday, the BBC has learned.
But there are conflicting reports about the conversation, with one senior Lib Dem source saying Mr Brown had ranted at Mr Clegg and another telling the BBC it had been a perfectly amicable conversation.
Lib Dem talks
Downing Street sources said the call had been the appropriate constitutional approach, lasted less than 40 minutes and concentrated on "process". Mr Brown, who remains prime minister, has publicly invited the Lib Dems to talk to Labour, if talks with the Conservatives fail.
All three party leaders are attending the VE Day ceremony in Whitehall.
The BBC understands some Labour members are already talking to their Lib Dem counterparts to try to persuade them that a deal with the Tories would be a disaster.
Mr Clegg met his frontbench MPs at 1030 BST and will meet his wider parliamentary party and his party's governing body, the federal executive, later to discuss Mr Cameron's proposals in the wake of the first general election to deliver a hung parliament since 1974.
He will need the support of a majority of MPs and the executive to enter into any deal.
The Lib Dem leader is likely to face opposition from some within his own party to doing a deal with the Conservatives - and Mr Cameron will face a battle from some Conservatives if he allows senior Lib Dems to serve in a Conservative-led cabinet or bows to demands for change the voting system.
'Stable government'
As he entered the talks Mr Clegg said the election result meant politicians had to talk to each other as "people deserve good, stable government".
He said the Lib Dems would enter into talks with other parties in a "constructive spirit" over the "coming hours and days" - implying that a deal is unlikely on Saturday.
He did not take any questions, but said the party would press its case for its four priorities - tax reform to make the system fairer, a "new approach" to education to give a "fair start" to all children and to the economy and "fundamental political reform to our political system".
Electoral reform is likely to be a key battleground - the Lib Dems have long campaigned for the first-past-the-post system to be replaced with a form of proportional representation. The Conservatives oppose changing the voting system.
'No small victory'
Labour minister Ben Bradshaw told the BBC it was "not credible" that the Lib Dems would do a deal with the Conservatives without the promise of electoral reform.
He said Gordon Brown could remain prime minister in a "progressive" coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats, if their talks with the Tories failed.
He added: "I think the fact that we have deprived the Conservatives of a majority is no small victory for Gordon Brown."
Mr Cameron offered an "all party committee of inquiry on political and electoral reform" but has not offered a referendum on changing the voting system - something Mr Brown has pledged if Labour remain in power.
Senior Conservative Liam Fox told the BBC: "It would seem to me very strange in an election that was dominated by the economy...if the government of the UK was held to ransom over an issue that the voters did not see as their priority."
He admitted politicians were "constrained" by the range of views within the party but said the question was whether the parties would focus on their similarities to provide a "stable government for the country" or whether "elements within the parties" would be allowed to focus on their differences.
He said that was not "a free-for-all for politicians cobbling deals after the election".
The Tories secured 306 of the 649 constituencies contested on 6 May. It leaves the party just short of the 326 MPs needed for an outright majority, with the Thirsk and Malton seat - where the election was postponed after the death of a candidate - still to vote.
Labour finished with 258 MPs, down 91, the Lib Dems 57, down five, and other parties 28. The Conservatives got 36.1% of votes (up 3.8%), Labour 29.1% (down 6.2%) and the Lib Dems 23% (up 1%).
Past practice under Britain's unwritten constitution involves the sitting prime minister in a hung Parliament having the right to make the first attempt at forming a ruling coalition.
But Mr Clegg - whose party did worse than in 2005 despite favourable opinion polls - said that he believed the Tories had gained the "first right" to attempt to form a government.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

UK goes to the ballot

 A combination of three photographs taken at different events during the 2010 general election campaign, shows (L-R) Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown; Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron, in this image produced in London on May 5, 2010. Party leaders criss-crossed the country making a final push for votes in the last day of campaigning before Thursday's parliamentary election, as two polls pointed to an inconclusive result. Photo/REUTERS

LONDON, Wednesday
Britain’s party leaders criss-crossed the country making a final push for votes in the last day of campaigning before Thursday’s parliamentary election, as two polls pointed to an inconclusive result.
One poll indicated that Labour, in power since 1997 but battered by recession and public anger over a scandal over MPs’ expenses that has tainted all the main parties, could still win the greatest number of seats in parliament.
Still undecided
Opposition Conservative leader David Cameron campaigned through the night and Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an early visit on Wednesday morning to market workers in northern England to court the one third of voters said still to be undecided.
A YouGov poll for the Sun newspaper suggested the centre-right Conservatives’ support was unchanged on 35 per cent, while centre-left Labour rose to 30 per cent. The Liberal Democrats, who had enjoyed a strong rise in recent weeks, fell four points to 24 per cent.
A ComRes poll for the Independent newspaper put support for the parties unchanged, with the Conservatives 8 points ahead of Labour, making David Cameron’s party the largest in a 650-seat parliament, but denying him outright control.
Both polls suggest a “hung parliament”, in which the centrist Liberal Democrats could hold the balance of power. Britain has not had an inconclusive election result of this kind since 1974 and is unused to the kind of coalition-building familiar to many European countries.
Two senior Liberal Democrats said they would work constructively with whoever voters decided should lead the country but reiterated that they could not support a party that won the most seats despite coming third in votes.
However, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg dismissed suggestion he could be kingmaker come Friday. “There are 45 million people in this country who are entitled to vote, 45 million kingmakers,” he told supporters.
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which is expected to win at least nine seats, is willing to enter a formal coalition with the Conservatives if they fail to win an overall majority, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

US reviews Harare sanctions

 Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (C) with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (L) after signing a power-sharing deal at Rainbow Towers hotel in Harare. A Bill seeks among other things to a create a statement of US policy towards Zimbabwe, provide for technical assistance to the unity government, support land reforms and take action to stop illegal diamond deals. Photo/FILE

The United States is reviewing the decade old sanctions against Zimbabwe. But the measures are unlikely to end the travel restrictions and asset freeze imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle for alleged human rights violations.
A bill that seeks to amend the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) of 2001, which introduced wide ranging sanctions on the southern African country, was introduced in the US Senate on Tuesday.
Sponsored by Senator Feingold along with Republican Senator Johny Isakson and fellow Democrat Senator John Kerry, the proposed Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act will seek to direct new US policy towards Zimbabwe.
The Bill seeks among other things to a create a statement of US policy towards Zimbabwe, provide for technical assistance to the unity government, support land reforms and take action to stop illegal diamond deals.
The US and its European Union counterparts have maintained sanctions on Zimbabwe despite the formation of the unity government between Mr Mugabe and his former arch rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The bill states that the US should continue to provide humanitarian assistance, promote trade between US companies and Zimbabwe push for the implementation of the power sharing agreement,” said a summary of the debate on the bill.
ZDERA is being amended to reward the transitional government and allows for debt relief and multilateral financing.
However, the senators also want US president Barack Obama to be able to push for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Kimberley Process.

IIEC extends Kenya voter registration

 interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan during a press conference May 5, 2010 where he announced the deadline for voter registration has been extended to Sunday. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

Voter registration has been extended by four days giving a chance to millions of people who missed Wednesday’s deadline.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission said the extension had been requested by organisations such as the Federation of Women Lawyers- Kenya chapter.
“All our staff have been asked to open the centres tomorrow (Thursday). Our programme is congested and we will not extend the deadline again,” said chairman Issack Hassan at a press conference on Wednesday night.
The registration will now end on May 9, 2010.
A meeting between Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Attorney General Amos Wako agreed to give the process more funds.
The commission is on Thursday morning expected to send a team to Treasury for the release of the extra funds.
It costs Sh52 million a day to register voters countrywide and the total cost of the extension will be Sh208 million.
Mr Hassan said about 1.5 million extra voters are expected to enter the voters’ roll in the four extra days.
The chairman said the commission will now spend longer compiling the final register because of the time it takes scanning the information from the forms before transferring it to computers for compilation.
Queues at registration centres lengthened on Wednesday as the commission announced that it had surpassed its 10 million target.
By last Friday, 10,036,415 voters had enrolled, an increase of two million in a week.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bank rate cuts spur price wars

CBK has made six rate cuts since December 2008. Photo/FILE 

In what is the biggest win for Central Bank of Kenya in its push to have banks cut their lending rates, the country’s largest lenders have entered into a price war on unsecured loans

Now ICC probe team starts work

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is expected to fly into the country on Saturday. PHOTO/ REUTERS

An advance team from The Hague arrives on Wednesday morning to set the stage for investigations into post-election violence.

UK candidates in final push for votes

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, accompanied by his wife Sarah (L), speaks to students at Warwickshire College, in Leamington Spa, central England May 4, 2010. Britain's political leaders planned to campaign through the night on Tuesday in a final push for votes, two days before a parliamentary election that opinion polls suggest will be the closest in nearly 20 years. Brown's ruling Labour Party, in power since 1997, trails the opposition Conservatives by seven and 11 percent before the May 6 vote in the two latest opinion polls. REUTERS 

Britain’s political leaders planned to campaign through the night on Tuesday in a final push for votes, two days before a parliamentary election that opinion polls suggest will be the closest in nearly 20 years.

Zimbabwe slowly returning to normalcy

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe welcomes his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Harare International Airport, on April 22. Ahmadinejad was in Zimbabwe for a two-day visit condemned by Mugabe’s opponents as a meeting of despots which could further isolate Harare. Photo/REUTERS 

The hordes of black-market currency traders in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare have gone out of business.
Just over a year ago, Zimbabwe had the world’s worst modern-day hyperinflation and the national currency was worthless.

AG given go-ahead to publish draft

Attorney General Amos Wako was on Tuesday given the go-ahead to publish the draft constitution after scrutiny by a parliamentary committee confirmed that no major changes had been made to the document endorsed by MPs.

Accidents kill 170 in one month

 Three people died instantly and 12 others were seriously injured when the matatu they were travelling in collided with a truck on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway on Tuesday. Photo/ANTHONY OMUYA 

Road accidents killed 170 people in the last one month.
This is is fewer than in 2008 when 224 people died. In the previous year, 266 people were killed over the same period.
Nineteen of the 170 died between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, according to the traffic commandant Joseph ole Tito.

New rules heat up mobile phone wars

                             Safaricom CEO, Michael Joseph. Photo/FILE

The gloves are off in what could be an increasingly messy fight for the mobile phone service market.
Dominant player, Safaricom, is up in arms against new rules published by the Communications Commission of Kenya that it says are meant to help its smaller rivals, Zain, Orange and Yu.