Home' Greymouth Star : June 3rd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 5
Spanish king steps down
Spain’s King Juan Carlos said
overnight he would abdicate in
favour of his son Prince Felipe,
aiming to revive the scandal-hit
monarchy at a time of economic
hardship and growing discontent
with the wider political elite.
“A new generation is quite
rightly demanding to take the
lead role,” Juan Carlos, 76, said on
television, hours after a surprise
Minister Mariano Rajoy that the
monarch would step down after
almost 40 years on the throne.
The once-popular Juan Carlos,
who helped smooth Spain’s
transition to democracy in the
1970s after the Francisco Franco
dictatorship, seemed increasingly
out of touch in recent years.
He took a secret luxury
Botswana in 2012, a time when
one in four Spanish workers
was jobless and the government
teetered on the brink of default.
A corruption scandal in the
family and his visible infirmity
after repeated surgery in recent
years have also eroded public
support. Polls show greater
support for the low-key Felipe,
46, who has not been tarnished
by the corruption allegations.
The king’s younger daughter,
Princess Cristina, and her
husband, Inaki Urdangarin, are
under investigation and a judge is
expected to decide soon whether
to put Urdangarin on trial on
charges of embezzling six million
euros in public funds through his
charity. He and Cristina deny
The king, who walks with a
cane after several hip operations
and struggled to speak clearly
during an important speech
earlier this year, is stepping down
for personal reasons, Rajoy said.
But a source at the royal
palace said the abdication was
for political reasons. The source
said the king decided in January
to step down, but delayed the
announcement until after the
European Union election on
Political analysts said the ruling
conser vative People’s
(PP) was eager to put the more
popular Felipe on the throne to
try to combat increasingly anti-
monarchist sentiment, after small
leftist and anti-establishment
parties did surprisingly well in
The country is just pulling out
of a long recession that dented
faith in politicians, the royal
family and other institutions.
The PP and the Socialists,
which have dominated politics
since the return to democracy,
are committed to the monarchy,
but they polled less than 50%
between them in the recent
Smaller leftist parties Podemos,
United Left and Equo green
party, which together took 20% in
the European vote, all called for a
referendum on the monarchy.
“People are calling for political
regeneration, a change in the
institutional functioning of the
State after around 40 years of
democracy, and they ’ve started
with the royals,” Jordi Rodriguez
Virgili, professor of political
communication at Navarra
Spain does not have a precise
law regulating abdication and
was scheduled to have an
extraordinary meeting later today
to set out the steps for Prince
Felipe to take over as Felipe VI.
The transition will probably be
accomplished by passing a law
through parliament, where the
PP has an absolute majority.
continuously over the last few
months on the necessity for deep
change. The feeling is that the
European elections have been
a turning point and I believe
the decision has been made in
this context,” Rafael Rubio, a
constitutional expert at Madrid’s
Complutense University, said.
speculation over an abdication
since last year, but the
announcement was unexpected.
“ We were very surprised,”
Spain’s tennis champion Rafael
Nadal said when asked for his
response, adding that his country
should be grateful to the king for
the role he had played.
“On a personal note, he was
always very nice to me, very
warm,” the world No 1 said at the
French open in Paris. “ He made
me feel comfortable each time we
Sixty-two per cent of Spaniards
were in favour of the king
stepping down, according to a
January poll by Sigma Dos. That
compared with 45% a year earlier.
Only 41% of those polled had a
good or very good opinion of the
Felipe has a positive rating of
66% and most Spaniards believe
the monarchy could recover its
prestige if he took the throne,
according to the poll.
“ Felipe has a lot more energy
to do the job,” student Alfonso
Romero, 36, said.
The prince, who has had a
growing role in ceremonial events
in the past year, is seen as more
practical and in tune with current
affairs than Juan Carlos, a jovial
skier and sailor once beloved
for his common touch and seen
as much more accessible than
the older generations of British
Juan Carlos will be the third
European monarch to abdicate in
just over a year. Albert of Belgium
left the throne to his son Philippe
on July 2013 and Queen Beatrix
of the Netherlands stepped down
in April 2013 to make way for
her son Willem-Alexander.
Felipe married divorced
journalist Letizia Ortiz in 2004
and they have two daughters.
The royal family began a Twitter
feed on their 10th wedding
anniversary, May 21, with tweets
on both Juan Carlos and Felipe’s
weekend visit to El Salvador
for the swearing in of President
Salvador Sanchez Ceren.
As king, Felipe will be Spain’s
head of State, representing the
country at summits, official visits
and in meetings with business
Even if he can win Spaniards
over, he will continue to face a
sense that the country does not
need a king. — Reuters
Prince Felipe of Spain and Princess Letizia of Spain celebrate
their 10th wedding anniversary visiting the El Greco exhibition at
the Santa Cruz museum on May 22, in Toledo, Spain.
kills four in
Aviation industry plans to improve
global tracking following the Malaysian
airliner disappearance will be ready
in September, the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) says.
Announcing the date, the association’s
chief Tony Tyler repeated his earlier
message that there must be “no repeat ”
of the flight MH370 incident.
Nothing has been found of the
Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777, which
vanished on March 8 with 239 people
on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur
“The loss of MH370 points us to an
immediate need,” Tyler, IATA’s director-
general and chief executive, told a world
air transport summit in Doha overnight.
“A large commercial airliner going
missing without a trace for so long is
unprecedented in modern aviation. It
must not happen again.
“IATA, the International Civil Aviation
Organisation (ICAO) and experts from
around the world are working together
to identify the best recommendations
for improved global tracking.
“By September, we will deliver draft
options to ICAO.
management project is building the
world’s largest resource of operational
information with data from a global
spectrum of industry and government
“O ur ultimate goal is to predict the
potential for accidents and so ensure
that they don’t happen,” Tyler added.
“This is not science fiction. Each new
data contribution and every improve-
ment in our analytical capabilities moves
this closer to reality.”
Last week, Australia’s Joint Agency
Co-ordination Centre announced an
end to the search in the southern Indian
Ocean for the missing plane, after
nothing had been found.
The agency said that an expanded
search, based on satellite analysis of
the plane’s most likely route, would
probably begin in August after
commercial sidescan sonar operators
were contracted. — PA
Better airliner tracking announced
PICTURES: Getty Images
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.
A massive sandstorm and
record winds have killed at least
four people in Tehran, plunging
the Iranian capital into darkness,
knocking out power supplies,
damaging buildings and causing
The freak weather struck
at 5.10pm, sending residents
dashing for cover as debris swept
across streets and snapped trees
State media reported 110kph
Forecasters on state television
initially warned Tehran residents
to stay indoors, shortly before
the ISNA news agency said the
fatalities were caused by falling
Amin Sabernia, Iran’s chief
emergency official, announced
the deaths and said at least 27
people were injured, 10 of them
in a road accident when the
gloom suddenly descended.
State television later reported
that two people injured in the
storm were in critical condition.
Almost 7000 emergency
workers were deployed within the
hour, city officials said, and Ahad
Vazifeh, in charge of government
weather forecasts, cautioned of
bad weather until tomorrow.
“This is like an apocalyptic
Hollywood movie. I’m scared,”
a woman running into a shop
in the capital’s central business
district to escape the gales said
seconds after the storm hit.
A man inside the same building
said: “I ’ve never seen anything
like this. I was afraid it was an
omen of things to come.”
Residents of earthquake-prone
Iran usually make such comments
when they fear a strong tremor is
After a 15-minute period of
gloom caused by the sandstorm
began to lift, rains arrived with
winds remaining strong.
Pictures posted on social media
showed a giant sand cloud
approaching the city, before it
turned dark and the outside
33degC to 18degC.
An electricity official quoted
by the ISNA news agency said
power had been lost in at least
Flights out of Tehran were
delayed, Fars news agency said,
quoting airport officials.
Internet and telephone ser vices
were heavily affected, with lines
going down before returning
About 90 minutes after the
initial storm, the winds appeared
to ease and more cars were seen
on the streets, although many
people opted for caution, staying
on in office buildings.
With the storm arriving as
people were headed home
in rush-hour traffic, road
monitoring ser vices showed
large areas of Tehran gridlocked
shortly after the worst of the
weather. — AFP
Gunmen opened fire on a church
ser vice in a remote village in north-
eastern Nigeria, killing nine people as
worshippers fled into the bush, police
and a witness said overnight.
A member of the congregation said
people jumped through windows to try
to escape Sunday ’s attack in Attangara in
the Gwoza hills — the main stronghold
of Boko Haram militants waging an
escalating campaign to car ve out an
“As we were holding the ser vice, we
started hearing gunshots and everybody
fled,” Matha Yohana said.
“ More than 10 of them (the gunmen)
were riding motorcycles and one car,”
she said, adding some local people had
pursued the attackers, killing four of
them and capturing three. A police
source said nine people were killed in the
assault on the church.
Boko Haram has killed thousands
since it started its campaign in 2009 and
grabbed world headlines in April when
it abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in
another part of Borno State.
The mass kidnapping has piled
political pressure on President Goodluck
Jonathan, who on Thursday ordered
a “full-scale operation” against the
militants. He has accepted help from the
United States and other foreign powers
to try to free the girls.
Nigerians have protested almost every
day since the girls were kidnapped,
demanding action to free them.
Overnight, demonstrations were banned
in the capital Abuja on the grounds
they could be hijacked by “dangerous
elements”, a police statement said.
The assault on the church came the same
day as a blast the army said was caused
by a car bomb killed 18 people watching
football on television in Kabang town
in north-eastern Adamawa State —
another Boko Haram stronghold.
The military said they had arrested a
man seen getting out of the vehicle that
was carrying the explosive.
“A key suspect in the terror bomb
community . . . has been arrested by
troops who cordoned (off the) area in
swift response to the explosion,” defence
spokesman Brigadier General Chris
Olukolade said by telephone from Abuja.
Boko Haram, seen as the main security
threat to Africa’s biggest economy and
top oil producer, has set off several
bombs across north and central Nigeria
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe regions are
under a state of emergency declared by
the government in May last year.
The army said overnight it had repelled
an ambush and killed four militants
in the Borno town of Biu and killed
another five in a shoot-out in the State’s
Kawuri area, without saying when the
clashes happened. — Reuters
over girls’ kidnapping
Gunmen kill nine in church raid
War-torn Syria set to vote
Mor well (Victoria)
protection body had
international precedent to draw
on when responding to the
world-first six-week fire in the
Hazlewood coalmine, an inquiry
John Merritt, the chief
executive at the Environment
Protection Agency (EPA) during
the Hazelwood fire, said the EPA
had not previously been called to
respond to mine fires and was
not an emergency air-monitoring
“O ur role had never been to
quickly mobilise air-monitoring
equipment for an emergency
of this nature,” Merritt told an
inquiry into the fire yesterday.
“It was simply without
precedent that we would have
this sort of event of this sort
of duration . . . that would
warrant the emergency readiness
The town of Mor well was
shrouded in smoke and ash
during the 45-day fire, with some
residents advised to leave.
The EPA was called in to help
on February 11, two days after
the blaze started in the open-cast
The agency started transmitting
reliable data from a 24-hour
reading on February 14, Merritt
Merritt said the fire showed
it would be useful to have air-
monitoring laboratories that could
be deployed quickly, but there was
no historical basis for this to occur
before February 9. — AAP
Mine blaze ‘world first ’
Syria has geared up for an
election expected to keep Bashar
al-Assad as president but derided
as a “farce” and only staged in
regime-held parts of the war-
Officially, 15 million people are
eligible to vote in a country bled
dry by the three-year conflict that
flared from a brutal crackdown
on a peaceful protests calling for
only be held in areas under the
regime’s control, far from clashes
between forces loyal to Assad and
the rebels fighting to topple him.
A “security plan” has reportedly
been put in place in Syrian cities
since Sunday, aimed at protecting
voters and polling stations
against possible attacks.
“Military and security forces
are on maximum alert to ensure
the security of Syrians who wish
to vote,” Al-Watan, a pro-regime
newspaper, reported overnight.
More than 9000 polling stations
had been “secured” across the
country, the daily said, advising
voters not to be concerned about
their safety on election day.
For some time, rumours have
swirled that polling places in
Damascus would be targeted by
rebels positioned in the nearby
truck reportedly killed at least
10 people when it exploded in
Haraqi, a regime-held village
in Homs province populated
mainly by people from Assad’s
The Syrian Obser vatory for
Human Rights meanwhile
reported at least 50 people were
killed at the weekend in rebel
mortar and rocket fire targeting
divided Aleppo city. — AFP
Australian researchers have come up
with a blood test that could dramatically
speed up treatment for snakebite victims.
The test determines if a person has
poison in their system, allowing doctors
to give anti-venom much earlier,
preventing irreversible ner ve damage.
Medical guidelines say anti-venom
should be given only if a person has
symptoms or has positive blood results.
However, symptoms can take up to
eight hours to appear, and the current
blood test takes about 12 hours, lead
researcher Dr Kalana Maduwage, of the
University of Newcastle, said.
He is optimistic a one-hour bedside
test will be available within a year.
So far, his test detects venom from all
poisonous snakes in Australia.
The next step is to include all snakes in
the world, Maduwage said at a meeting
of Australian Society for Medical
Research in Sydney yesterday. — AAP
Quick test for snake venom
Links Archive May 31st 2014 June 4th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page