[Daily Nation (Kenya)] Egypt has refused to license eight US civil groups, including the election-monitoring Carter Centre, amid a crackdown on foreign NGOs and a month before presidential polls, state media reported Monday.
Should they continue operating, the groups would be "subject to Egyptian law" which bans non-govermental organizations from operating without licences or from receiving foreign funds, the official MENA news agency reported.
The news agency quoted a government source as saying it refused to license the groups because their activities were "inconsistent with the state's illusory sovereignty on its lands."
An official with the Carter Centre, which observed Egypt's parliamentary elections, held in stages between November and January, said the government had not yet contacted the group.
The NGO, founded by former US president Jimmy Carter ... the worst president ever. Maybe the second worst. The votes aren't all in yet... , had no permanent presence in Egypt, she added, on condition of anonymity.
Egypt placed workers with five foreign NGOs, including Americans, on trial for operating without licences and receiving foreign funding, sparking a crisis in relations with the United States.
The American defendants, and those from other foreign nationalities, were allowed to leave the country in March after posting bail.
The other groups mentioned in the MENA report include Seeds of Peace, which tries to promote dialogue among young people in conflict zones.
Boggles the mind, how breathlessly arrogant these NGOs are that they are accustomed to barging in and interfering in the internal politics of sovereign nations. I've been waiting for someone to do this for a long time.
[Bangla Daily Star] Two people were killed and at least 50 including 10 coppers injured in fierce festivities between pro-hartal pickets and law enforcers at Bishwanath upazila headquarters in Sylhet during the BNP-enforced second straight countrywide hartal ... a peculiarly Bangla combination of a general strike and a riot, used by both major political groups in lieu of actual governance ... yesterday.
The festivities, which lasted over two hours, also saw the
agitators set fire to the upazila parishad building and lay siege to the local cop shoppe.
Of the dead, Monwar Hossain, 30, was an activist of Jubo Dal, while the identity of the other could not yet be known, said police.
Bishwanath is part of the constituency (Sylhet-2) of former BNP politician Ilias Ali, who along with his car driver disappeared in the early hours of April 18 from the capital's Banani area.
Meanwhile, ...back at the wrecked scow, a single surviver held tightly to the smashed prow... the main opposition BNP yesterday declared a third consecutive dawn-to-dusk hartal for today in protest over the disappearance of Ilias and his driver.
"The government is staging a drama over the Ilias issue. It must stop the drama and return Ilias to us," Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of BNP, told a presser at the party's central office in the capital's Nayapaltan yesterday afternoon.
He said, "Since the government has kidnapped Ilias, the agitation will continue until it returns him."
Fakhrul said 371 people including party Vice-Chairman Selima Rahman were placed in durance vile, and 795 more were maimed in attacks by law enforcers and ruling party men yesterday.
Hours after the announcement of the fresh hartal, three buses were torched in the capital's Nayapaltan, Matsya Bhaban intersection and Abdullahpur in Uttara, said police.
Following the second full week of campaigning, Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto enjoys a commanding double digit lead over all three of his rivals, according to polling data supplied by Milenio news daily.
Enrique Pena Nieto
Current data shows preference totals including undecided voters, where the race is the closest. Pena Nieto claims 36.7 percent of voter preference, while Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota is second with 21.7 percent, and leftist alliance candidate Andres Manual Lopez Obrador is third with 17.2 percentage.
Undecided voters comprise 23.5 percent of the total polled, which in a three way race is a significant voting block.
When compared with results of polls from the first full week of campaigning, April 9th, little has changed for any candidate. The April 9th poll had Pena Nieto with 38.4 percent, and Vazquez Mota with 21.1 percent.
Josefina Vazquez Mota
The latest results do not even show a bounce for PAN from the negative ads launched last week. PRI leaders pledged last week not to divide the vote with negative campaigning.
However, that may all be changing as Monday Pena Nieto released a new attack spot ad that responds to charges of lying against him and PRI.
Pena Nieto has to be careful. One wrong word, one misstated fact and his campaign will suffer at the hands of the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE), which closely monitors spot ads produced by the four camps.
Negative campaigning is always dangerous for both the target as well as the camp displaying it. It can easily backfire, as can any responses.
Gustavo Madero Munoz
PAN president Gustavo Madero Munoz also has to be careful. Signs are appearing in Mexican press that some national legislative candidates are trying to distance themselves from the new negative campaigning. The lack of candidate unity among PAN legislative candidate could hurt PAN in those races.
Despite that, data shows that Mexican voters have yet to close escrow on Pena Nieto. His coming counterattack ads could change that calculus.
AFP - Taiwan plans to purchase four warships from the United States as part of the island's efforts to modernise its forces and offset the perceived military threat from China, local media reported on Sunday.
The defence ministry briefed President Ma Ying-jeou on the proposed arms deal during a meeting last month and is prepared to set aside the budget next year, the United Daily News said, without specifying the cost.
If finalised, the arms deal will increase to 12 the total number of such warships owned by Taiwanese navy.
The four Perry-class frigates, separately built in the 1980s and to be retired by the US navy lately, are aimed to replace the Taiwan navy's fleet of eight Knox-class frigates, the daily said.
Ties between Taiwan and its former rival China have improved drastically since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became president in 2008 promising to boost trade and tourism links. Ma was elected for a second term in January.
China however still claims illusory sovereignty over Taiwan, which has governed itself since 1949, and has vowed to get it back -- by force if necessary -- even though the island has ruled itself for more than 60 years.
China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced weapons, largely from the United States.
Lack of numbers aside, the eight KNOX-class should be more than equal to anything the PLAN has currently.
The above being said, the greatest single threat to Taiwan stems from China's large Airborne + Commando forces [conventional first strike + follow-on] as due to China's doctrinal + political willingness to tolerate prohibitive combat casualties in exchange for decisive
"airhead/bridgehead" tactical success.
China desires TAIWAN + DAOYUS, ETC. FOR LR PLAAF, PLAN, + SECOND ARTY-BASED STRATEGIC POWER PROJECTION IN SUPPORT OF ITS CURRENT + FUTURE "POST-US" STATUS - IFF IT CAN'T DO SO, IT WILL NUKE TAIWAN AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY TO KEEP THE US-ALLIES FROM USING IT AGZ CHINA.
China isn't going to invade. Taiwan will slowly, slowly integrate with the mainland, but it will take 50 years. There is all sorts of investment going on both ways, and recently direct flights and individual tours were permitted. China, master of long-term planning, is willing to wait.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The Dutch government, one of the most vocal critics of European countries failing to rein in their budgets, quit Monday after failing to agree on a plan to bring its own deficit in line with EU rules.
The government information service announced Queen Beatrix had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Cabinet after a meeting in which Rutte told her talks on a new austerity package had failed over the weekend.
Rutte is to address parliament Tuesday to discuss interim measures to keep public finances in order and schedule new elections. No date for elections was immediately announced, but opposition lawmakers called for a vote as soon as possible.
The Dutch government collapse came a day after the first round election victory of France's soft-on-austerity socialist candidate Francois Hollande. It calls into question whether austerity policies that are causing trauma in countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal can be enforced even in "core" European countries such as France -- or the Netherlands, one of the few along with Germany to maintain an AAA credit rating.
Rutte's hopes to clinch a deal to cut the target below the EU's 3 percent target evaporated on Saturday, when his most important political ally, populist euroskeptic Geert Wilders walked out of the talks, saying a slavish adherence to European rules was foolish and would harm the Dutch economy.
That view is shared by some, such as the government's own Central Plan Bureau, and opposed by others, such as Dutch Central Bank President Klaas Knot.
"We don't want our pensioners to suffer for the sake of the dictators in Brussels," Wilders said.
European Commissioner Neelie Kroes called Wilders a hypocrite, since the Netherlands itself, along with Germany, had been one of the loudest in demanding Brussels adopt 3 percent deficit limit in the first place.
"Pointing to Brussels now is dumb, it's untrue, it's distracting, and it doesn't solve anything," said Kroes, who is a member of Rutte's free-market VVD party.
A spokesman for the German finance ministry said that despite developments over the weekend, approval for Europe's plan to tackle government debt by cutting spending is actually "increasing." He didn't give evidence backing that assertion.
"We should not now simply let ourselves be thrown off track by daily developments," Martin Kotthaus told reporters in Berlin.
He said Europe's recent reforms had been well-received at a weekend meeting of the International Monetary Fund. "The road is right; Europe has done its homework," he said.
Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager insisted he still plans to submit an outline budget to Brussels by April 30, as mandated by European rules. He said he was optimistic about prospects for agreeing some cuts with opposition parties in Parliament.
Opposition lawmakers say they are prepared to work with Rutte to draw up a 2013 budget. However, Diederik Samsom, leader of the opposition Labour Party, signaled he would not insist on bringing the Dutch deficit back in line with EU norms next year.
"As far as we are concerned, you don't have to reach 3 percent by 2013," he said.
Although the Netherlands has relatively low levels of national debt, its economy is in recession and it is expected to post a deficit of 4.6 percent in 2012.
The package Rutte had been negotiating with Wilders would have slashed foreign aid and hastened a planned increase in the retirement age to 66 from 65.
Those sound fairly sensible for a small country...
Wilders, who is publishing a book in the US next week about his struggle against Islam, said abruptly Saturday he could not support the package because it was unfriendly to the elderly.
He's a better agitator than he is a leader...
He's right about the Muslim issue and Israel, but he is a Socialist party heretic, with all that entails.
Yields on Dutch bonds were up 0.11 of a percent higher than they were before the weekend. Netherlands government bonds are trading around 2.35 percent for 10-year debt, about 0.6 percentage points more than Germany.
Ratings agency Fitch last week warned the Netherlands stands to lose its AAA credit rating depending on the outcome of the budget talks that failed Saturday. Central Bank President Knot has predicted Dutch interest rates will increase by around 1 percent if the country's rating is cut, making budget reform vital.
Wilders would be a hypocrite if it was HE who had advocated the 3% limit. If the Dutch government, in a fit of euro-philism, had advocated the limit, but Wilders did not, then Wilders is off the hook and Kroes is trash-talking.