Global news bulletin 26/05/2012

Posted: May 26, 2012 in News bulletin

-At least 90 people have been killed in an attack by Syrian government forces and loyalists on Houla, a town in Homs province, activists say. The victims of Friday’s assault included at least dead 25 children, killed after government forces tried to break into the town, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Houla has been the scene of frequent anti-government protests since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year.

-A suicide bombing in central Turkey on Friday morning left one person dead — not including two suicide bombers killed by the blast — and 18 people wounded, the country’s prime minister and interior minister said. The attack happened in front of the local police station in Pinarbasi, a town in Kayseri province, about 170 miles southeast of Ankara.

-The board of directors of Spain’s troubled bank, Bankia SA, has said it has agreed to ask for $23.8bn in state funds. In a statement released late on Friday the bank’s president, Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri said the recapitalisation would “reinforce the solvency, liquidity and solidity of the bank”. The decision came on the same day as credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Bankia and four other Spanish banks to junk status because of uncertainty over their restructuring and recapitalisation plans.

-IMF head Christine Lagarde has urged Greeks to pay taxes, saying she worries more about the plight of children in sub-Saharan Africa than the people of the crisis-hit European nation. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Ms Lagarde suggested it was payback time for Greece.

-Ballot counting is nearing an end in Egypt after two days of historic voting to choose the country’s first democratically elected president, with the Muslim Brotherhood and a former Mubarak-era official likely to face one another in a runoff. According to political campaigns and unofficial vote counts released by local media, the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq placed first and second, respectively, setting up a direct contest for the presidency on June 16 and 17.

-A man who police say confessed to strangling Etan Patz has been charged with second-degree murder, 33 years after the six-year-old boy vanished from his New York neighbourhood. Pedro Hernandez, 51, who worked as a stock boy in a small food store on the Manhattan SoHo street where Patz was last seen on May 25, 1979, was charged on Friday with a single count of second-degree murder, according to court records.

-Britain’s Engelbert Humperdinck will open the proceedings as 26 countries compete today in the final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Baku later. The 76-year-old will be the first to perform in Azerbaijan’s Crystal Hall, with his ballad Love Will Set You Free. Sweden’s Euphoria – a club hit by singer Loreen that has already topped the charts in four countries – is among the frontrunners for the prize.

-World No.1 Novak Djokovic and 16-time grand slam champion Roger Federer have been drawn to meet in the semifinals of the French Open — setting up the likely prospect of a repeat of their classic 2011 clash at Roland Garros.

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

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