When he won the election in Australia and became its Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was known as Kevin 07. But in the 12 months since, his unrelenting work ethic has earned him the nickname Kevin 24×7, while his penchant for foreign travel has prompted others to call him Kevin 747. According to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, he has travelled 1,60,000 km and has spent over 50 days out of the country. The polls suggest that Kevin Rudd is more popular now than he was this time last year, when he ended 11 years of conservative rule by promising risk-free change. Judging by the polls, Australians appear to value his calm, deliberative approach to government and his unflashy style. Traditionally, the country has favoured trusty technocrats over bold visionaries. His deftly worded apology to Aboriginal Australians, the first act of the new parliament, carried incalculable cathartic power. Certainly, it has been a year of great symbolic accomplishment.
Election dates put off
Bangladesh’s army-backed authorities were under pressure on Monday to lift a state of emergency to ensure the country’s first elections in seven years go ahead as planned. The government on Sunday delayed polls in the impoverished nation by 11 days from December 18 to December 29 after ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s allies said they would stage a boycott unless there was a delay. The move is seen as a compromise to ensure the elections are perceived as credible and that all major political parties participate. Zia, whose Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won the last elections in 2001 with a two-thirds majority, has welcomed the new date, but said the government still needed to lift the emergency to make the polls credible.Zia’s bitter rival, Awami Party leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed, also an ex-premier, has said the date change puts her in a “difficult situation” but is yet to say whether she will take part or boycott polls on the new date.
Pakistan will release 101 Indian prisoners as a part of goodwill gesture. Majority of the prisoners are fishermen who were taken into custody after they ventured into Pakistani waters while fishing in the Arabian Sea. The move comes ahead of a meeting between the Home Secretaries of both countries later this week. All of them have reportedly completed their prison terms sentenced by the court. Pakistani Human Rights activist Ansar Burney said that the release of prisoners is likely to take place this week. Pakistan is expecting India will reciprocate by releasing its prisoners in Indian jails at the earliest.
In the spirit of revival
Seeking re-election from the Ganderbal seat, where polling is underway on Sunday, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has said he will “revive” the unfulfilled work that were initiated by his father and late grand-father here if elected. The NC chief said he is “upbeat” and left “my fate in the hands” of the people of Ganderbal, where he tasted defeat at the hands of PDP candidate Qazi Mohammad Afzal in 2002 Assembly elections. “We ran a good campaign. We ran an organised campaign. I think we ran a campaign that reached out to people, that got the essential components of our message across. Now it is in the hands of the almighty and in the hands of the people of Ganderbal,” he said. Asked about the promises he has made to the people of his constituency, Abdullah said: “This constituency has a lot of unfulfilled promises, unfulfilled work that were initiated both by my grandfather (Sheikh Abdullah) and subsequently by my father (Farooq Abdullah) which I believe need to be revived.” Twelve candidates, including Abdullah, are in the fray in this prestigious constituency, once considered as bastion of National Conference.
Home at last!
Five crew members of MV Stolt Valor, the cargo ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates over two months ago, returned home on Monday morning. Santosh Patil, Naved Burandkar, Alistair Fernandes, Ishidore Fernandes and Omprakash Shukla returned to Mumbai from Muscat. The ship was released on November 16 by the pirates who were reportedly paid a ransom of $2.5 million by the Japanese firm owning the vessel. The cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates, off the Yemen coast on September 15. After their release, captain of the ship Prabhat Kumar Goyal and his crew were taken to Muscat in Oman, where they were administered medical and psychological treatment.The other crew members will be returning later on Monday. The vessel is being piloted and brought back to India by a replacement crew.
Compiled by Subajayanthi
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