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Dec
2017

Replacement host chosen for 2022 Commonwealth Games

UNITED KINGDOM (WNF) - The Commonwealth Games Federation in London announces the replacement host for the XXII Commonwealth Games in 2022. Durban was withdrawn as 2022 host over concerns that South Africa could not afford to deliver the tournament. (December 2017
The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organization of 52 member states that are mostly former British colonies. As the Commonwealth represents some one-third of the world’s population, the Games are second only to the Olympics in scale and importance. They are held every four years.

Birmingham, currently the front-runner, beat out Liverpool in a battle to prove to the British government that they could be relied upon to prepare for 5,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands of visitors in record time.

Kuala Lumpur, which hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998, presented its established tournament infrastructure and success at hosting the recent Southeast Asian Games as reasons why it should win hosting rights, but the Malaysian government is thought to be more interested in staging the 2026 event.

The Canadian city of Victoria was forced to withdraw from the 2022 contest following the refusal of the provincial government to fund the event. Prior to the withdrawal, arguing the benefits to Canada of hosting, the city pointed out that the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia expects a viewing audience of 1.5 billion. Victoria predicted its viewing audience would be bigger than Australia’s because its Games will also play to the Internet, “with cameras 24/7 on each venue.”

Australia will host the XXI Commonwealth Games in Apr 2018. #22293 Updated: 11/23/2017 UPDATE 23 Nov to reflect latest developments

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15 Dec
2017

Resistance and First Order face-off again in Star Wars Episode VIII

UNITED STATES (GN) - Star Wars: Episode VIII is the latest addition to the most successful movie franchise in cinematic history, said in 2015 to be worth U.S.$41.9bn. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, this is the second in the sequel trilogy, after The Force Awakens (2015).
In this first sequel to JJ Abrams’ Episode VII, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order and the original wisecracking Han Solo might be back as a ghost.

The Last Jedi will begin right where Episode VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens ended. Mark Hamill will play Luke for the fifth time, and Daisy Ridley returns as Rey. John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong’o will also reprise their roles. Princess Leia returns in Episode VIII, though actress Carrie Fisher died in Dec 2016 before filming was wrapped up.

Futurism.Media describes Episode VIII as a Han Solo and Chewie origin story, and is one of several movie publications that cite the Han Solo ghost rumor. Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, was killed by his own son in Episode VII. The magazine points out that other main characters – Anakin, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi – have made it back into the franchise as Force ghosts. #21960 Published: 11/22/2017

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16 Dec
2017

ANC convenes to elect party executives with eyes on 2019 election

SOUTH AFRICA (WNF) - The African National Congress (ANC) holds its 54th elective conference in Gauteng to choose party executives, with President Jacob Zuma expected to step down as ANC leader. His successor will be the frontrunner for the presidency – if the ANC can hold on to the National Assembly.
The legislature indirectly elects the president for a 5-year term, and the choice of the country’s next president might not be the ANC’s. In Aug 2016 the party – which assumed power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela after the end of apartheid – recorded its worst-ever local election results.

Zuma has endorsed his former wife, African Union chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as his successor. He said that the ruling ANC is ready for a female leader.

She will have a strong rival in Cyril Ramaphosa, the Deputy ANC president, who has the backing of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), according to News24. The South African news publication also sees the South African Communist Party (SACP) endorsing Ramaphosa. The ANC treasurer-general, Zweli Mkhize, is other potential Zuma successor.

Zuma, 74, has been engulfed by corruption scandals and a sluggish economy since he came to power in 2009, but still appears to have enough support to serve a full second term until the general election in 2019. #22011 Published: 01/17/2017

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17 Dec
2017

Conservative Pinera faces Socialist Guillier in run-off for presidency

CHILE (GN) - Conservative Sebastian Pinera faces Socialist contender Alejandro Guillier in a run-off for the presidency. The 67-year-old billionaire, who was president from 2010 to 2014, won the first round in November but with fewer votes than expected.
Incumbent leader Michelle Bachelet is unable to seek re-election under Chile’s constitution. #22361 Published: 11/28/2017

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19 Dec
2017

Germany marks one year since terror attack on Christmas market

GERMANY (WNF) - Berlin inaugurates a memorial, a golden crack in the ground in front of Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, to the victims of the Christmas market terror attack on Dec 19, 2016.
The attack happened when Anis Amri, a Tunisian, ploughed a truck into visitors to the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz. Amri killed the driver of the truck he hijacked, then 12 people at the market. More than 60 others were injured.

Broadcaster DW reports that the Berlin parliament has launched an inquiry to find out why Amri was not caught before carrying out the rampage. He was known to authorities and had been under surveillance at times.

An inscription on the memorial will read: “In memory of the victims of the terror attack on the Christmas market on December 19, 2016. For the peaceful coexistence of all people.” The names of the victims and the countries they came from will also be inscribed at the front of the steps to the church, according to the German broadcaster. #22311 Published: 09/17/2017

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21 Dec
2017

Catalonia votes for new parliament after Madrid announces direct rule

SPAIN (WNF) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reacted to the Catalan parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence on Oct 27 by announcing direct control over the region and the December regional parliamentary election.
The prime minister also sacked the president of the autonomous region, Carles Puigdemont, and its cabinet.

The parties contesting the election include Puigdemont’s Catalan European Democratic party and the Catalan Republican Left, the party of ex-vice president Oriol Junqueras. Puigdemont, who is in Belgium, and several others from his government face the possibility of prosecution for rebellion and sedition. The anti-independence, centrist Citizens party, the Catalan Socialist party, En Comú Podem-Catalunya en Comú – a coalition of the anti-austerity Podemos party and various green and leftist groupings – and the local branch of Spain’s ruling conservative People’s Party are also on the ballot. Britain’s Guardian newspaper notes that unless those facing charges are convicted and barred from holding public office, they will be eligible to stand.

The Catalan ex-president called for peaceful “democratic opposition” to Madrid’s takeover, but the independence bid and Madrid’s reaction are seen as a formula for strife. The Guardian reports that activists had offered to form human chains around buildings to protect officials, and some of the region’s 200,000 civil servants have already said they will not accept orders from Madrid.

The orders provided an outline for a takeover approved by the Spanish senate on Oct 27, according to the newspaper, and Rajoy now faces the challenge of implementing it.

Worried about secessionist movements in their own countries, other European governments and Washington have mainly rallied behind Madrid. #22353 Published: 11/15/2017

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