Global news bulletin 16/05/2012

Posted: May 16, 2012 in News bulletin

-Greek elections will be held on June 17, while Council of State president Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the head of Greece‘s top administrative court, will be named as caretaker prime minister. In the meantime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she wants to keep Greece on the common euro currency and would be open to “stimulus” that would help foster growth in the troubled European country. But she held firm to her insistence that Greece had to live up to the commitments it made when it signed onto a $165 billion bailout this year.

-Government changes continue afoot in France. Outgoing Prime Minister François Fillon left Matignon, the premier’s official residence making way for Jean-Marc Ayrault. The 62-year-old former German teacher and long time ally of President François Hollande will head a cabinet, the names of whom are expected to be announced today.It has been reported the cabinet will not include Socialist Party boss Martine Aubry, a veteran who oversaw France’s shift to a 35-hour working week despite initial expectations she would be handed a major brief.

-The trial of General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army chief accused of orchestrating war crimes and a campaign of genocide, has begun at a special UN court at The Hague in the Netherlands. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia made their opening statements against Mladic almost a year after his arrest in Serbia and subsequent deportation after years on the run. Mladic is accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including orchestrating the week-long massacre of over 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian war.

-Riot police have moved in to clear anti-Putin demonstrators from a park in the Russian capital Moscow. The protesters had maintained a round-the-clock sit-in for a week, to vent their anger over Vladmir Putin’s controversial return to the presidency. The size of the crowd taking part in the Occupy-style action varied from a few dozen to 2000.

-The Spanish government has refused to hold talks with Basque separatist group ETA. The militant organisation, which has been blamed for 829 deaths over four decades, announced an end to violence seven months ago. In a statement released to the French press, ETA says it wants to negotiate with the government. However, Spain’s government is flatly refusing to meet with the group.

-Final results confirm that Algeria’s ruling party, the National Liberation Front, came out on top in last week’s parliamentary elections. Its partner in government, the National Democratic Rally, finished second – taking the overall majority for the two parties to 291 seats. Dozens of political groups took part in the poll, after Algeria’s president gave the all clear for new ones to be formed. A year on after Arab Spring protests elsewhere, an alliance of Islamist parties failed to win over many voters – coming away with just 47 seats.

Facebook says it will sell 25% more shares than first planned in its flotation in response to strong demand. The move comes one day after the social networking giant said it would raise the price of the shares by 21% to between $34-$38 a share. It also comes despite doubts about the profitability of the site, which is largely used for social updates.

-The curtain goes up at the Cannes film festival, kicking off 12 days of screenings in the glamourous French riveria resort. Comedy will dominate the opening, with a showing of US director Wes Anderson’s child fantasy “Moonrise Kingdom.” Organisers are hoping to defy the economic gloom in Europe with a spate of sales.

-The withdrawal of one of two massage therapists from a sex battery lawsuit against John Travolta “completely vindicated” the actor. The lawyer representing the therapists filed papers yesterday dropping the client identified as John Doe #1 because he had misstated the date of the alleged incident at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The remaining plaintiff claims Travolta groped him during a massage at an Atlanta hotel last January.

Sources: BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters, euronews, NYT, WSJ

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