Sunday, May 8, 2016

Philippine national elections

Malacanang on Sunday assured the smooth transition from the Aquino government to the next administration.Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the smooth transition is expected because of good governance, which is the advocacy of the Aquino administration.
President Benigno S. Aquino III stressed Saturday he is confident the “Daang Matuwid” Coalition will win in the national elections on Monday. President said in a speech during the Daang Matuwid Coalition Miting de Avance held in the Quezon City Circle.
The Daang Matuwid’s primary candidates are former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II as President and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.. A total of 104 foreign groups will be observing the conduct of the May 9 national and local elections in the country on Monday.
According to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista, the foreigners come from the different parts of the world to witness the third automated elections in the country.
“Fifty of them have flown in from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Nepal, Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand, and Korea,” he said.
The poll body chief said that a seminar was conducted for the visitors, where he, Commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) National Chairperson Henrieta de Villa were guest speakers.
“They want to learn more about our automated elections. I spoke first speaker. Senior Commissioner Lim and PPCRV and former Ambassador De Villa also spoke,” he said.
Bautista added, “the Philippines is becoming one of the leaders in automated elections. Instead of us learning from them, it is the other way around, we are sharing our international best practices, especially those looking to transform from manual to automated (polls).”
He said that more than 50 other foreign observers who are members of embassies and international organizations based in the country would like to observe the elections on Monday.
Earlier, the poll body reminded foreign observers to maintain non-partisanship or else be held liable for committing an election offense.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10079, foreign nationals and foreign organizations accredited as foreign observers in the elections must not engage in partisan political activities.
“It shall be unlawful for any foreigner, foreign group, organization, committee or association to engage in partisan political activities, which refer to acts designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to public office,” according to the Resolution dated March 11.
They are also prohibited from aiding any candidate or political party, whether directly or indirectly; as well as to contribute in connection to any election campaign or partisan political activity and taking part or influence in any manner in the conduct of the elections.
Commission of the said prohibited acts constitute an election offense, which carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and deportation after the prison term has been served.
Accreditation of foreign election observers is until June 30, the end of the Election Period.

Saudi Arabia reshuffles eye economic diversification

The new ministers with drastic change are made in the reshuffle to rope in many new sector of industries to give impetus to its national economy.With a major government reshuffle, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have shown their determination to move the kingdom’s economy away from oil, experts say. Necessitate in economic diversification due to  plunging oil revenues over the past two years have accentuated the effort, pushed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed, who heads the main Council for Economic Affairs and Development.
A series of royal decrees announced on Saturday merged various ministries to reflect new priorities under the wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan announced two weeks ago by the deputy crown prince.
Saudi Arabia’s Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister, Ali al-Naimi, was sacked on Saturday as part of a major governmental reshuffle, according to state media reports. Al-Naimi, who had served as the country’s oil minister since 1995, has now been reportedly replaced by former health minister Khaled al-Faleh. Falih replaced Ali Al-Naimi who headed the now-defunct Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources for about two decades as dressing operation to galvanis national economy.  Through a series of royal decrees, a number of other Saudi ministers have recently been replaced, including the heads of transport, commerce, water, and social affairs. Former al-Naimi’s ministry has been renamed and is now to be called the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mining. Amid weak global oil prices, al-Naimi had opposed suggestions that Saudi Arabia ought to cut its oil production. In a bid to stabilize crude prices, a number of major oil producers have been discussing a proposal to freeze oil output, but have failed to reach any agreement on the issue so far.

Egypt attack ‘waving ISIS flags’,death penalty for journalists

Unidentified gunmen opened fire at a police vehicle in Helwan, south of Cairo, killing seven policemen and one officer, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. The attackers were reportedly waving Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) flags prior to opening fire, and immediately fled the scene after the shooting, according to Egyptian newspaper Youm7. The Egyptian ministry confirmed that the policemen were on a routine security patrol when they were attacked, adding that there were at least five gunmen involved.
An Egyptian court has recommended the death penalty for three journalists and three other people accused of endangering national security by leaking state secrets and documents to Qatar. Ibrahim Mohamed Helal, director of news at Qatar-based Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel; Jordanian national Alaa Omar Mohamed Sablan, also identified by the prosecution as an Al Jazeera journalist; and Asmaa Mohamed al-Khatib, a reporter for the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Rassd network, were sentenced in absentia with the right to appeal. They were allegedly involved in leaking sensitive information to Qatari intelligence that exposed the location of weapons held by the Egyptian armed forces. A final decision on the ruling is expected on June 18, after the sentence has been referred to the top religious authority, the Grand Mufti. Qatar had supported former Egyptian president and Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted amid mass protests against his rule. The sentence comes amid a crackdown that followed his removal. Morsi and a number of other Brotherhood leaders are now in jail, and a ruling against him and others charged in the same case has been postponed until the same date.

Australia houses of the Parliament dissolved

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday to have a double dissolution election on July 2 officially kick-started an eight-week long election campaign.
Turnbull paid a visit to Governor General Peter Cosgrove who has accepted the prime minister’s request of having a double dissolution of the Parliament and holding the federal election on July 2.
“At this election Australians will have a very clear choice; to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor, with its higher taxing, higher spending, debt and deficit agenda, which will stop our nation’s transition to the new economy dead in its tracks,” Turnbull said at a press conference after his visit to the governor general.
Briefing media  he listed the government’s major policy arrangement which covers science and innovation, trade, defense, youth and women employment, taxation, among others.
The major economic policies have been released under the budget 2016-17 which was unveiled by Treasurer Scott Morrison on May 3. The center piece of the budget is the tax break for small businesses and raising of personal income tax threshold.
“Our tax system is a key part of our plan. It is one of the biggest influences the federal government has on our economy. We are reforming our tax system to make it more sustainable and fit for purpose in the 21st century,” Turnbull said.
“We have established and are establishing the toughest anti-avoidance laws in the developed world. We believe in lower taxes. We do. But it is not optional to pay them. Multinationals will have to pay their fair share in Australia. The laws we are setting in place are the world’s best.”
He said the Innovation and Science Agenda, unveiled a few months ago, will ensure that Australians are more innovative in business, in academia and in government.
Under the Agenda, the government will encourage more collaboration between researchers and businesses in the transferring research achievements into business opportunities.
He urged the Australians to seize the opportunities brought by the remarkable growth in Asia.
“Little more than a generation ago, China was an impoverished nation barely part of the global economy. It is now the world’s largest or on some measures the second largest economy. That is just part of the changes we have witnessed.”
“In a few years more than half of the world’s middle class will be living in Asia. The opportunities for Australia are enormous. But we have to have the means to seize them. And we have established export trade deals right across the region with Korea, Japanand with China itself.”
Turnbull warned that his opponent, Labor leader Bill Shorten, will make very big promises or continue to make very big promises of higher spending.
“And I ask Australians when they hear these promises from him and from Labor to remember that Labor has no credible or coherent way to pay for them,” he said.
Shorten has fired back at a press conference held in Tasmania after the prime minister announce the date of election.
He promised to protect schools, hospitals, workers’ pay and conditions and to act on climate change while stressing Labor’s unity of purpose and commitment to fairness.
He said Labor would deliver “fairness twinned with economic growth,” whereas re-electing the Coalition would deliver three more years of dysfunction and dithering.
“Trust Labor to stand up for schools, TAFE, child-care, universities. Trust Labor to protect Medicare and bulk billing. Trust Labor to take real action on climate change.”
Turnbull said he called the double dissolution is because the Senate has twice refused to pass legislation relating to the accountability of unions and employer organisations, and has twice refused to pass legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
A double dissolution election will see that both houses of the Parliament dissolved and all of the 150 House of Representatives seats and 76 Senate seats up for grab

Rescue operation in Fujian landslide

Thirty-four people were missing and another seven were injured after a landslide hit Taining County in Fujian at around 5 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Xi urged the Fujian local government and related departments to organize rescue work as quickly as possible.He demanded all-out efforts to search for buried and missing people, and stressed proper treatment for the injured, while consoling the relatives of the injured and missing.
Xi also urged strengthening local monitoring and safety checks for hidden dangers to prevent secondary disasters.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a written instruction calling for full efforts to search for and rescue those missing in the landslide and to treat the injured.
Li also asked the Ministry of Land and Resources to take the lead to form and dispatch a work team under the State Council to Fujian to oversee and help with rescue work.
The landslide, which buried the builders’ temporary shed in a construction site of a hydropower station and damaged its offices, was triggered by heavy downpours that unleashed 191.6 millimeters of rain in 24 hours starting on Saturday.
National Meteorological Center (NMC) renewed a blue alert for rainstorms, saying torrential rain will hit the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Parts of those regions will see thunderstorms or hail from Sunday to Monday morning, according to the NMC.
On Monday, the rain will spread southward without signs of relenting, the NMC said.
China has a four-tier color-coded warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
The NMC warned the public to stay away from mountainous areas and river valleys as floods, mudslides and rock flows are possible.

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