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Friday, September 7, 2012

President Obama Accepts Nomination, Says Election “Clearest Choice of Any Time”

U.S. President Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for reelection during his party’s convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, stating that voters faced important decisions at election time in November. “On every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties. When all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation”, said Obama. Among his words were promises of $4 trillion in deficit reductions and more jobs in manufacturing, with an implicit message that his Republican adversary had not made clear how he would go about fulfilling his electoral promises. “They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last 30 years.” Finally, Obama said that he needed more time to implement his plans. “You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades”.

Russia Hosts First APEC Summit, Looks to the Far East

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit saying that his country would be “a direct route to Europe for business in the Pacific region”. The organisation has 21 members, including most countries with direct access to the Pacific Ocean and it is the first time the annual regional economic summit is taking place in Russia. The government spent more than $20 billion upgrading the city of Vladivostok, building hundreds of new roads, a new airport and three new bridges. Besides investments in local infrastructure, the hosts are keen to showcase Russia’s recent entry into the World Trade Organisation and a potential shift in the country’s focus away from Europe to the Far East. The country could benefit from the region’s healthier economic growth as it seeks to increase trade and build investment ties with its Pacific neighbours.

Damascus Hit by Two Bombs, Refugees Flee Into Overcrowded Lebanon

The Syrian capital was hit by two bomb blasts on Friday in a clear sign of the opposition’s encroachment of government strongholds. The first bomb exploded in the northern Damascus suburb of Rukneddine, near the Roukniyeh mosque, killing five members of the security forces and injuring scores of others, according to Syrian state television. A second blast went off between the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Justice buildings in the upscale neighborhood of Mazze, but no casualties were reported. Friday is the first day of the weekend in some Islamic countries, including Syria, and government departments were closed. Meanwhile, Syrian refugees have began pouring into neighbouring Lebanon, where local authorities are unprepared and already overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled the war after Israel’s creation in 1948, as well as their descendants. An activist interviewed by NPR said that Syrians are drawn to the country because they believe Palestinians understand their suffering.

Earthquakes Hit Southwestern China, 200,000 Made Homeless

A series of earthquakes in southwestern China killed at least 60 people on Friday, destroying houses and triggering deadly landslides. The first tremors began with a 5.7 magnitude shock shortly before midday in the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces and were followed by more than 60 aftershocks. Although moderate, the quakes caused extensive damage because of their relative shallowness. China Central Television showed roads made impassable by landslides, preventing rescuers from reaching some of the more outlying areas. Communications were also knocked down by the earthquakes. Chinese state-owned Xinhua news agency reported that 6,650 homes had been destroyed by the tremors and another 430,000 had been damaged, with more than 200,000 people evacuated or in need of relocation.

Canada Expells Iranian Diplomats, Closes Embassy in Iran

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced on Friday that the country had suspended diplomatic relations with Iran, expelling its diplomats and closing Canada’s embassy in Tehran. “Iran is among the world’s worst violators of human rights. It shelters and materially suports terrorist groups”, said Baird, who was attending the APEC summit in Russia. The statement also cited Iran’s support of the Assad regime in Syria, its failure to comply with United Nations resolutions on its nuclear programs and its threats against Israel as motives for its decision to suspend relations. Iranian diplomats were given five days to leave Canada.

Weekend Read: The Absurd Quest for Euro Crisis Images

Photographers’ attempts to come up with images of euro coins in distress are getting ever more inane, but desperate magazine editors are still buying them. In Der Spiegel.

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