Global news bulletin 19/05/2012

Posted: May 19, 2012 in News bulletin

G8 leaders said today it is “their imperative” to promote growth and jobs to reinvigorate the global economy, and gave their backing to Greece remaining in the eurozone. “We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive Eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the eurozone while respecting its commitments,” the leaders said in a ommunique after meeting at Camp David. Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone was high on the agenda, following inconclusive elections. US President Barack Obama has said the G8 was committed to growth, stability and fiscal consolidation, as leaders tried to bridge divisions on how to deal with the deepening eurozone crisis.

-A bomb blast outside a school in the south Italian city of Brindisi has killed a teenage girl and injured five other people, at least one seriously. Students were arriving for Saturday morning lessons when a device planted in a waste bin exploded, city mayor Mimmo Consales told reporters. No-one said they had planted the device but Mr Consales suggested a Mafia link. A crowd of stunned local people gathered at the scene of the blast, which has shocked Italy. The school is named after Judge Francesca Morvillo Falcone, a victim of a notorious Mafia bombing in Sicily nearly 20 years ago.

-A rally car in the Var region of southern France has ploughed through a crowd of spectators, killing two people and injuring 17. The car left the road at Plan-de-la-Tour, near Toulon on France’s Mediterranean coast, after the driver apparently made an error. One of the dead is said to be a rally marshal and several children are believed to be among those hurt. The Pays des Maures rally was being held for the 14th time.

Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking site, has raised $16bn for itself in a highly anticipated stock market debut. The social networking site floated 421 million shares of common stock at $38 in Friday’s initial public offering (IPO), valuing the company at $104bn and making it the third-biggest public offering in US history. But the company’s new stock closed barely higher than its opening price at $38.15. “The negativity in the market overall has put a damper on the IPO,” said Darren Hayes, a Pace University professor. “It’s not uncommon in an IPO to see a big rise and then for the price to come back down, but I’m a bit surprised after all the hype”. More than 500 million shares exchanged hands, setting a US record for volume on the same day of an IPO.

-Prominent human rights activist Chen Guangcheng had neither passport nor visa in hand when he was shuttled to the airport today in Beijing. Hours later he was on United Flight 88, scheduled to arrive in the United States in the evening. His last hours in his native China were as frenzied as the political firestorm over his status after he escaped house arrest a month ago. Chen had been in a hospital for the past few weeks, awaiting documents to travel after New York University offered him a fellowship. He was given passport applications for himself and his family on Wednesday.

-Rights activists have denounced a mass wedding in Nigeria where 100 couples were married at once. Islamic police in the northern city of Kano recently organised the arranged marriage ceremony to fight a stigma that exists in the country of being widowed or divorced. Many of the women had been previously married off at a young age for money to men who were old enough to be their fathers.

-The launch of the American SpaceX company‘s re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed by at least three days. The company was forced to abort the flight just as its Falcon rocket was about to leave the pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Early data indicated unusual pressure readings in one of the nine engine combustion chambers under the vehicle. The company says it hopes to try again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

-The Olympic torch began its 70-day, 8,000-mile journey around Britain today from Land’s End in Cornwall, with three-time Olympic gold medal winner Ben Ainslie the first to carry the torch. Ainslie, a sailor who grew up in Cornwall, southwest England, passed the torch on to 18-year-old surfer Anastassia Swallow, the second torchbearer. More than 100 people will carry the flame on the first day of its long voyage, during which it will take in towns, villages and cities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland before reaching London.

-On home ground and hoping for a fifth triumph in Europe’s premier Cup competition, Bayern Munich fans have been parading through the city centre since early morning. It will be a bright end for their supporters if the team defeats Chelsea. Bayern Munich’s domestic season has been miserable and trophy-less.

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

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