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Die

Curtain Closes on 'Unpopular' Sarkozy Presidency

sarkozy
France's outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power in May 2007 on a promise to change French politics, but his approval rating soon sank as the French grew to dislike his brash behaviour and extravagant style.


Outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy is leaving office as one of the most unpopular presidents in France's history and with the unwelcome distinction of being only the second French head of state to fail to win re-election since World War Two.

Sarkozy, who has suggested he will quit politics when he steps down on May 15, has kept a low profile and avoided encounters with the media in the last days of his five-year mandate.

The subdued finale has contrasted sharply with the boisterous presence that people have grown to expect - and to dislike.

"Sarkozy's approval rating went through several different phases, but it was often under 30% and taken as a whole was the lowest we've recorded for any [French] president," said Eric Bonnet, head of opinion surveys for the French polling firm BVA.

Sarkozy's "bling-bling" style was not the only thing the French loved to loathe. Many disillusioned voters felt Sarkozy had failed to deliver on campaign promises and that several of the reforms he championed, such as pushing the retirement age from 60 to 62 years and offering tax breaks to France's wealthy, were unjust.

Mr. Potato

Hollande to Take Over French Presidency, Dash to Berlin

hollande
© ReutersFrançois Hollande.
Socialist Francois Hollande was to be sworn in as France's president Tuesday before naming a prime minister and dashing to Germany to battle with Berlin over how to tackle Europe's debt crisis.

Nine days after he defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in a fierce campaign, Hollande, 57, was to be inaugurated at the Elysee Palace and only hours later head to Germany for his first foreign visit as president.

He was also set to make the much-anticipated announcement of who will lead his government as prime minister, with Jean-Marc Ayrault, the head of the Socialists' parliamentary bloc, tipped as the heavy favourite.

Hollande is expected to be sworn in shortly after meeting Sarkozy at the Elysee at around 10:00 am (0800 GMT).

The ceremony itself will be relatively simple, with no other heads of state invited, and Hollande accompanied only by his partner, journalist Valerie Trierweiler.

After the swearing in, Hollande will take an open-topped ride in a Citroen DS5 hybrid up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, waving to the crowd.

Attention

MKO Terrorists Receive Funds from Saudi Arabia, Israel: MKO Defector

A Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization defector says the terrorist group receives funding from Saudi Arabia and Israel, emphasizing MKO's role in the suppression and massacre of Iraqis under the former Baath regime.
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© Press TVFile photo of the members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO)
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Ashraf News website in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Saturday, Maryam Sanjabi said there is evidence about the relations and cooperation between the MKO and the Saudi kingdom.

She added that the group has used the tactic of establishing relations with Jordanian lawmakers in order to expand their activities in Jordan with the help of Riyadh.

She also called on the remaining MKO members in camp Liberty in Iraq to think rationally and take advantage of the Iraqi government and UN decisions about their re-settlement in another country.

Handcuffs

Top Joseph Kony Commander Captured

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© Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesCeasar Acellam, a senior member of the Lord's Resistance Army, was arrested by Ugandan forces in Central African Republic.
Kampala, Uganda - Ugandan forces captured a senior commander of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army after a brief fight with rebels near the Congo-Central African Republic border, an army official said Sunday, in what an analyst said was an "intelligence coup" for forces hunting for Kony.

Lt. Col. Abdul Rugumayo, intelligence chief for Uganda's military operation against the LRA, said Caesar Acellam was captured Saturday with two other rebel fighters as they tried to cross a river called Mbomu.

Although Acellam is not one of the LRA commanders indicted along with Kony in 2005 by the International Criminal Court, Ugandan officials say he was one of Kony's top military strategists and a reliable fighter.

"He is in good condition," Rugumayo said of Acellam. "He was captured with two other rebels. They were in a group of 30 rebels."

He said the others escaped.

Details of precisely how Acellam was captured were not available, but some analysts said it was possible he had just walked into the hands of Ugandan army officials.

"He's been on the defection shelf for a long time," said Angelo Izama, a political analyst with the Kampala-based security think tank Fanaka Kwawote. "This is a big intelligence coup for the Ugandan army."

Attention

Electromagnetic Pulse Could Bring Civilization to a Halt

Nuclear Blast
© http://www.ordinary-light.comAtomic weapons testing on Bikini Atoll, 1954. Defence scientists quickly realized the potential for generating electromagnetic pulses with high-altitude nuclear explosions.
An electromagnetic pulse attack could cripple Britain's infrastructure, defence experts fear. This is how they occur.

Defence experts believe detonating a nuclear device above the earth could cripple electronic systems, knock out water and electricity supplies and bring civilisation to a halt.

The abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation from a large explosion, such as that produced by a nuclear weapon high above the earth, produces rapidly changes electric and magnetic fields. They generate surges in voltage and current inside electronic equipement - burning out microchips and circuitry.

A nuclear electromagnetic pulse produces three waves of energy. The first is a very fast-moving, brief and intense electromagnetic field. It is created when gamma radiation from the nulcear explosion knocks electrons out of atoms in the earth's upper atmosphere. These electrons start moving downward and interact with the earth's magnetic field - creating a very large, brief pulse.

The second wave is generated by scattered gamma rays. It is similar to the pulses caused by lightning strikes and as such tends to be less damaging to equipment.

Stormtrooper

Police State: Report Exonerates RCMP for Actions During Violence-Marred G20 Summit

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© Reuters
The RCMP abandoned its policy of allowing protesters to peacefully disperse when it assisted the municipal Toronto police force in three "kettling" incidents during the G20 summit in June 2010, a watchdog report says. RCMP officers on the ground during the summit expressed concerns about using the "kettling" tactic - forcibly boxing in protesters - but relented because they were officially under the command of other police forces.

Other than that criticism, however, the report from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP nearly completely exonerates the force's actions during the summit, for which more than two dozen complaints were filed. The national force acted in a "reasonable and appropriate" manner during the violence-marred summit, the report said.

Jake Edmiston and Josh Visser take a look at the report and the reaction.

War Whore

NATO Strikes Last Year Killed at Least 72 Libyan Civilians, Report Says

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© Agence France-Presse/Imed LamloumHuman Rights Watch wants NATO to probe alleged civilian deaths during last year's bombing campaign
At least 72 Libyan civilians were killed last year by NATO air attacks, a third of them children and teenagers, according to a report by Human Rights Watch released Monday.

The report raises questions about whether the Western alliance bombed Libyan villages that were not legitimate military targets, despite NATO's insistence that its own review shows that all bombing sites were valid targets.

NATO said it used "unprecedented care and precision" to spare civilians during the air assaults, meant to protect the Libyan people against military attacks carried out under strongman Moammar Kadafi. The air attacks were part of a campaign in Libya authorized by the United Nations Security Council in March 2011 that helped oust Kadafi, who was captured and killed in October.

"Not one of the targets struck was approved for attack, or was in fact attacked, if NATO had any evidence or other reason to believe that civilians would be injured or killed in a strike," the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said in a February letter to a United Nations commission investigating human rights violations in Libya.

Shoe

Ukraine Warns of Football Boycott 'Humiliation'

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© unknown
Ukrainian Presdient Viktor Yanukovich has warned the West that he will not allow his country to be humiliated, as European Union leaders consider boycotting next month's Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine.

European Union commissioners have said they will not attend games in Ukraine, and several EU leaders are considering similar action in protest at Kiev's treatment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been sentenced to jail for seven years and says she is in poor health.

The former prime minister was convicted last October of abuse of office, in a case that the EU and United States describe as politically motivated. Several of Ms Tymoshenko's allies have also been prosecuted since her long-time foe Mr Yanukovich came to power in early 2010.

Ms Tymoshenko (51) is now being treated in a Ukrainian hospital by a German doctor for a back problem and the effects of a 19-day hunger strike, which she started in response to alleged mistreatment by prison guards. Ukraine denies that she has been in any way abused.

USA

Fabricating Lies to Wage War on Iran

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Turning Iran into a reliable pro-Western puppet state is a long-sought US goal. All options are considered, including war.

Tactics include calling Iran a threat to world peace, falsely accusing Tehran of terrorist attacks, and fabricating lies about an alleged nuclear weapons program despite no corroborating evidence whatever.

Focusing largely on defense and security issues, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) advances US interests "to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world." It's closely connected to high level administration, congressional, and Pentagon officials.

Its trustees include top corporate and former high level political ones. They include Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Armitage, Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, and William E. Brock.

Megaphone

Palestinian Prisoners Agree to End Hunger Strike

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© Voice of AmericaPalestinian women hold photos of relatives held in Israeli jails
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have agreed to end a weeks-long hunger strike in exchange for promises of better conditions, averting fears of widespread unrest if any of the inmates had died.

Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman confirmed late Monday that a deal had been reached. Egypt and Jordan played key roles in mediating between the Israelis and prison leaders representing all Palestinian factions.

The Palestinians won key concessions, including more family visits and limits to a controversial Israeli policy that can imprison people for years without charge.

The agreement also saw roughly 20 prisoners released from solitary confinement back into the general prison population. These include Hamas member Abdullah al-Barghouthi, serving 67 life sentences for helping to plan a series of suicide bombings that killed scores of civilians.

In return, Israel extracted pledges by militant groups "to prevent terror activities," and averted the potentially explosive scenario of prisoners dying in a hunger strike.