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21 Apr

Transition question back in view as Queen Elizabeth II turns 92

UNITED KINGDOM (WNF) - Queen Elizabeth II turns 92 in apparently sound health but frail enough to fan speculation about her plans for the British throne.
According to Britain’s Daily Mail, Palace sources have indicated that the Queen has told her inner circle that she will ask for the Regency Act to come into force if she is still on the throne at 95. The Act would make her eldest son, Prince Charles, king in all but name.

The newspaper notes that abdication is not mentioned in Palace circles because of the tumult caused when the Queen’s uncle, Edward VIII, quit the throne in 1936 to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.

Elizabeth II's record-breaking reign as British monarch means that over 65 years have passed since the last royal succession – she came to the throne on Feb 6, 1952. She achieved the longest-reign record on Sep 9, 2015, passing the 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes that her great great grandmother Queen Victoria ruled. She added another landmark to her record-breaking reign in Nov 2017 when she and Prince Philip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Prince Charles is next in line to the throne, and the Queen has already passed some ceremonial duties over to him. The Guardian newspaper noted one important milestone in Nov 2017, when the prince laid the wreath at the Remembrance Day ceremony on behalf of his mother, who watched the ceremony from a balcony overlooking the Cenotaph along with other members of the royal family. In a break with tradition, this was the first time the Queen was present at the Remembrance Day service and did not lay a wreath. Prince Charles will also represent his mother at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April, as the Queen no longer makes long-haul trips.

The prince turns 70 on Nov 14, 2018, the longest-serving heir in British history. He will set another record on his coronation because of his age. Prince William, his eldest son, is next in line to the throne.

The birthday falls in the same month as the expected birth of another individual with a close claim to the British crown, the prince or princess born to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge. The baby will be fifth in line, after his or her older brother and sister. #22551 Published: 03/20/2018

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22 Apr

Candidate’s link to dictator a factor in Paraguay general election?

PARAGUAY (WNF) - The South American nation of some 6.7 million people holds a general election, with Senator Mario Abdo Benitez of the long-ruling Colorado Party running for the presidency. His link to Gen. Alfredo Stroessner might not be an asset.
Stroessner, the late Paraguayan dictator who took power in a coup, ruled as president from 1954 until he was overthrown in 1989. He died in 2006.

Abdo, the son of Stroessner’s private secretary, beat ex-finance minister Santiago Pena, a young economist and the hand-picked successor of the incumbent, President Horacio Cartes, to become the Colorado Party candidate. Reuters describes the selection of Abdo as a rebuke to Cartes, who is credited with improving the economy during his five-year term, but who created controversy and civil unrest in 2017 when he tried to cling to power by attempting to change the consitution.

Paraguayans are reported to be distrustful of strong leaders following Stroessner’s harsh rule, and the 1992 Constitution imposed strong checks on executive power and limited the president to a single five-year term.

Abdo’s main opponent is Efrain Alegre of the opposition Liberal Party, who might see benefits to using Abdo’s link to Stroessner against his rival.

Colorado, which has ruled for almost 70 years – with a brief interruption when leftist Fernando Lugo was elected in 2008 and impeached in 2012 – dominates both houses of the legislature. There is little sign that the Liberals or any of the smaller parties can change the picture. #22559 Published: 03/20/2018

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22 Apr

Female pioneer to run London Marathon to celebrate women’s suffrage

UNITED KINGDOM (GN) - The first woman who ran the Boston Marathon will take part in this year’s London Marathon. Kathrine Switzer, now 71, will make her London debut to celebrate the suffrage movement which, 100 years ago, helped to win the right for women to vote.
Women were barred from running the Boston race when Switzer challenged the ban in 1967, disguising her gender by registering simply under her initials, KV Switzer. She was not spotted at the start line but a few miles into the race she was attacked by an angry official who tried to pull her off the course – creating an enduring image of women’s rights history.

Switzer completed the race in four hours and 20 minutes, proving that a woman could run the same 26.2 miles as her male counterparts. She went on to become a tireless advocate for women’s distance running, organising a global series of 400 women’s races in 27 countries.

She won the women’s 1974 New York City Marathon and was involved in staging the Avon International Women’s Marathon in Washington in 1980, an event that convinced the International Olympic Committee to sanction a women's marathon at the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Switzer has wanted to run the London Marathon for some time but until now has been too busy. “The streets of London have been an important part of women's running history as well as women's rights,” she said.

Her race bib will sport the number 261 in London, the same number she wore in Boston in 1967. #22561 Published: 03/22/2018

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23 Apr

Mexico furthers its trade interests at 2018 Hannover Messe

GERMANY (WNF) - Chancellor Angela Merkel invited Enrique Peña Nieto to open the 2018 Hannover Messe with her, a boon for the Mexican president as it puts him in position to update Mexico’s trade links with Europe before he leaves office.
Mexico has been negotiating its 17-year-old agreement with the European Union since 2016, and time is running out for the Mexican president, whose term ends in 2018.

Germany and Mexico are in the midst of a dispute with United States President Donald Trump because they run trade surpluses with that country. He claims that their gains have come at the expense of U.S. manufacturers, according to Reuters, and he has repeatedly attacked the two countries. He has also vowed to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an issue for Mexico that leaves it keen to find other trade partners, if he cannot renegotiate it in favor of the United States.

Reuters notes that Merkel lent her support to Mexico over NAFTA during her trade and investment visit to Peña Nieto in Jun 2017.

Many of the biggest names in German manufacturing have factories in both Mexico and the United States, including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler.

Hannover Messe, which describes itself as the world’s leading trade show for industrial technology, expects some 5,000 visitors from 75 countries. The theme is Integrated Industry 4.0. Integrated energy is another core focus, and there will be six parallel show areas, according to the organizers: Industrial Automation, Motion & Drives, Digital Factory, Energy, Industrial Supply and Research & Technology. #22562 Published: 03/29/2018

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24 Apr

Suffragist Millicent Fawcett joins distinguished lineup in Parliament Square

UNITED KINGDOM (WNF) - The fight waged over the decades by British suffragists won them limited voting rights on Feb 6, 1918, and events to mark the centenary are being held throughout the year. They include the unveiling in London’s Parliament Square of a statue of suffragist Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the first woman to be honoured in the square.
The anniversary invites a retelling of the sometimes-militant suffrage movement, and a debate over which strategies employed by the women delivered the vote. Women had campaigned for better rights since the 1860s.

All 11 statues in the square are men. Fawcett joins a distinguished line-up there. Her statuary companions include Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela.

Some women will revel over her inclusion and others will be irked that it has taken 100 years to achieve recognition of the struggle for women’s rights.

As well as being the first ever statue of a woman to stand in this famous square, it has been created by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing, making it the first statue in Parliament Square designed by a woman. #22138 Updated: 04/14/2017 UPDATED FOLLOWING CONFIRMATION OF APR 24 UNVEILING

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24 Apr

French President Macron makes trade-themed state visit

UNITED STATES (WNF) - French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington DC for the first state visit of the Donald Trump presidency. The focus will be trade, and both leaders appear to have set aside earlier animosity to strengthen the Élysée-White House bond.
Forbes Magazine describes France as the United States’ eighth most important trade partner and the third most important in Europe after No. 5 Germany and No. 7 the United Kingdom.

“This visit will advance American and French cooperation on economic and global issues and deepen the friendship between the two countries,” according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

A series of mutually-aggressive handshakes, which were widely noted, marked the first meetings of the two leaders. Trump had openly backed Macron’s opponent, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, ahead of the French election in Apr-May 2017, and Macron openly snubbed Trump at the 2017 NATO summit just after he took office.

Macron’s invitation to Trump to attend the 2017 Bastille Day Parade in Paris appears to have started a fence-mending mission, with the state visit for Macron a reciprocal gesture.

For his state visit, Macron can expect full honors on arrival and departure, a 21-gun salute, and a state dinner.

USA Today notes that Trump has hosted several foreign leaders since taking office, but none has been an official state visit. #22554 Published: 03/16/2018

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27 Apr

Korean leaders hold rare summit

KOREA (WNF) - The leaders of North and South Korea are expected to meet in the border village of Panmunjom, the first North-South summit in over a decade. The summit announcement did not indicate whether South Korean President Moon-Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will talk about the North’s nuclear arsenal.
The other significant unknown is how Kim’s visit to Chinese President Xi Jinping in March in Beijing, which preceded the summit, will impact the April meeting. In Beijing Kim is widely reported to have repeated an offer to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

The New York Times notes that Kim raced ahead with breakthrough tests of missiles capable of hitting the United States mainland and what he claimed was a missile-ready hydrogen bomb, then used the Winter Olympics to seize the initiative. He offered a rapprochement with the South and a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

It will be only the third time leaders of the two countries have met since an armistice was signed to conclude the Korean War in 1953.

Should the Trump administration set aside doubts about the North Korean leader’s intentions, the U.S.-North Korea summit could happen as early as May. #22571 Published: 03/29/2018

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