The Global Note: God Save The Queen…U.S. To Europe: “Act Now”…Trouble For Elmo In Pakistan

By Tom Nagorski

Jun 5, 2012 10:49am

THE QUEEN’S JUBILEE: FINAL DAY

-HER JUBILEE SPEECH…Queen Elizabeth II makes a rare address to the nation this afternoon – at the conclusion of festivities marking her 60 years on the throne. Buckingham Palace said the queen recorded the two-minute message on Monday before the evening’s concert outside the palace. The Jubilee celebrations are ending with a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral and a carriage procession back to Buckingham Palace. After her reception in the City this morning, the Queen and her lady-in-waiting travelled to Whitehall for a Diamond Jubilee lunch with members of the City of London Livery Companies. Many of the 700 guests were ordinary people from across the country whose trade or profession was represented by the Livery Companies taking part. Plumbers, carpenters, goldsmiths and clockmakers were just some of the many tradesmen and women invited to Westminster Hall for the celebratory meal. The Queen was joined by Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, and Harry.

-”SHE WOULD BE THERE…” Those were words used by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as he hailed the Queen’s lifelong commitment to the country and Commonwealth at a service to give thanks for her Diamond Jubilee. Dr. Rowan Williams paid tribute to the Queen’s dedication of herself to others in his sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral. He recalled the “simple statement of commitment” she made as a young woman following her father’s sudden death. “What we remember is the simple statement of commitment made by a very young woman, away from home, suddenly and devastatingly bereaved, a statement that she would be there for those she governed, that she was dedicating herself to them.”

-PRINCE PHILIP…The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who was hospitalized Monday for treatment of a bladder infection, is missing the final day’s events. From the U.K. Press Association: “The Duke of Edinburgh may have been more likely to develop his bladder infection because of the conditions during Sunday’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant, experts have said – but it is not something to worry about too much, two consultants said today. Philip showed his determination to spend the day by the Queen’s side, standing next to her on the deck of the Royal Barge for much of the pageant, which lasted more than three hours. But the cold and wet conditions, not drinking enough and infrequent visits to the bathroom while on the Spirit of Chartwell may have contributed to him developing the infection, Dr. Frank Chinegwundoh said. Bladder infections are caused by bugs already in the system, but the conditions on Sunday may have caused it to develop, the consultant urological surgeon said. ‘I don’t think it helps, because he would not have had a lot of fluids nor would he have been peeing to wash out any bugs and all the wet and cold might have reduced his immune system.’”

-DUKE ‘PRACTICING MOVES’ FOR TOUR…The Duke of Cambridge has been practicing his dance moves ahead of their visit to the Solomon Islands, the Duchess revealed today, as the couple met dignitaries from across the Commonwealth to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Duke and Duchess will travel to the Pacific islands later this year and described their excitement about the tour during a reception at the Guildhall in London today. The royal couple told the Governor General of the Solomon Islands Sir Frank Kabui and Lady Kabui they were putting in some special preparation for their trip to the former British protectorate in September. William said: “We’re extremely excited. Both of us have never been anywhere near there.” Kate giggled as she added: “William’s been practicing his dance moves.”

AL QAEDA TARGET – AND U.S. GETS AN EARFUL FROM PAKISTAN

-IS AL-LIBI DEAD?…Pakistani officials tell Habibullah KHAN al-Qaida’s second in command was killed in that U.S. drone strike yesterday; other reports say he was in the house that was hit but that they do not know whether he was killed. U.S. officials have said they were targeting Abu Yahya al-Libi in Monday’s strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area and were “optimistic” he was killed. A local Taliban chief tells the AP Libi’s guard and driver were killed, but that the al-Qaida commander was not there. The CIA has carried out a half-dozen drone strikes in Pakistan in less than two weeks – and Libi’s death, if confirmed, would represent one of the biggest successes against al-Qaeda since bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs 13 months ago. “This would be a major blow to ‘core’ al-Qaeda, removing the No. 2 leader twice in less than a year,” said a senior U.S. official with access to classified reports from Pakistan, where officials from both countries were working to ascertain Libi’s fate. The official said Libi had been serving as “general manager” for al-Qaeda’s main branch, overseeing the terrorist group’s day-to-day operations in Pakistan as well as its links to affiliates around the world.

-PAKISTAN’S ANGER…Following the latest drone attacks, Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned newly-minted U.S. Ambassador Richard Hoagland to lodge a protest. Habibullah KHAN sends along the statement from Pakistan’s foreign office. “Ambassador Richard Hoagland was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today…He was informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The Parliament had emphatically stated that they were unacceptable. Drone strikes represented a clear red-line for Pakistan.”

PAKISTAN SAYS IT TESTED NUCLEAR-CAPABLE MISSILE

Habibullah KHAN reports that Pakistan’s military said it successfully test-fired a cruise missile on Tuesday, part of what analysts say is as part of a regional arms buildup with a focus on India. The Hatf-VII cruise missile is also known as Babur, named after Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, founder of the Mughal empire on the Indian subcontinent in the early 16th century.

EUROPE’S CRISIS

-LOOKING FOR ANSWERS…”US to Europe: Act Now!” – that’s the headline in Richard DAVIES’ morning business note. Emergency talks are being held today on the eurozone’s debt crisis – finance ministers and central bank presidents from the US, Canada, Japan and Europe are holding a special conference call. U.S. Treasury Department officials have said Washington expects more action to strengthen the European banking system in the next two weeks before a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in Mexico, later this month. European officials are under growing pressure to add capital to weaker banks to prevent the debt mess from getting even worse. Reuters offers helpful analysis on the expectations for the talks. German Chancellor Merkel has voiced support for a unified eurozone, saying she hoped they could find a way to “more Europe, not less.” 

-EUROPE’S DRAG ON U.S. SALES…As the European crisis intensifies, a growing number of companies in the United States are warning investors that sales in the region are slowing and could get much worse. The New York Times reports that in the technology industry, one of the most exposed to Europe and an engine of the American recovery, Cisco, Dell and NetApp have all recently pointed to unexpected weakness in European sales. Other areas with major exposure to the Continent, including automakers and industrial companies, are beginning to voice similar cautions.

NEWS ABOUT WAR

-IEDS INCREASE MULTIPLE AMPUTATIONS…American troops are suffering more extensive physical damage — measured in lost arms and legs — to buried explosives in Afghanistan than ever before, according to data collected by the Army Surgeon General’s office. USA Today reports that through May of this year, 60% of all combat amputation casualties in Afghanistan — 31 of 52 cases — were troops who lost two, three or four limbs, according to statistics. The vast majority are caused by makeshift bombs known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, the Army says.

-NATO SIGNS TRANSIT DEAL FOR AFGHAN EXIT…Muhammad LILA reports: NATO has signed deals with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to provide a corridor to ship vehicles and military equipment from Afghanistan, as the Afghan mission continues to wind down. This gives NATO an alternative to the Pakistani supply route, which Pakistan closed last November.

-PANETTA TO INDIA: DO MORE…Defense Secretary Panetta has arrived in India, where he’s expected to ask leaders there to take a more active role in the war in Afghanistan. This includes training Afghan soldiers and police.  To date, India has focused mostly on development and reconstruction, but that could change once NATO withdraws and India seeks to further expand its influence in the region.

-CIA PREPARES IRAQ PULLBACK…The Wall Street Journal reports that the Central Intelligence Agency is preparing to cut its presence in Iraq to less than half of wartime levels, according to U.S. officials familiar with the planning, a move that is largely a result of challenges the CIA faces operating in a country that no longer welcomes a major U.S. presence. Under the plans being considered, the CIA’s presence in Iraq would be reduced to 40% of wartime levels, when Baghdad was the largest CIA station in the world with more than 700 agency personnel, officials said.

NIGERIA CRASH

New details are emerging about this weekend’s fatal plane crash in Nigeria that killed at least 153 people. Yesterday we learned that the pilot was from North America, and today the Hartford Courant writes about a Connecticut family who died on the flight en route to a family wedding. But information has been slow to come out of Lagos – this morning, a torrential downpour and strong winds prevented emergency crews from returning to the devastated neighborhood where the airliner crashed. The storm began Tuesday morning before dawn, flooding roads and bringing down power lines and trees in Lagos. From Bazi KANANI: In addition to this family of 6 from West Hartford, Connecticut, we learned today that two sisters from Missouri City, Texas were on the flight – and Nigerian officials say the pilot was American. that would make 9 Americans that we know were killed in the plane crash so far.

SYRIA: ‘CEASEFIRE’ OVER

-HEAVY FIGHTING, HIGH TOLL…The Free Syrian Army has declared it is no longer bound by the ceasefire plan brokered by Kofi Annan. The rebels authorized resumption of full scale war – and they have killed at least 80 soldiers in the last 48 hours alone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The rebels themselves claimed to have killed more than 100 members of the security forces. Annan is expected in Washington on Friday to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

-U.S. DIPLOMAT ON SYRIA…Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley pens an op-ed today for the BBC, taking the time to explain the various actors’ approach to the Syrian tragedy but doesn’t offer a solution.

-PUTIN ARRIVES IN CHINA…SYRIA ON AGENDA…Russian President Vladimir Putin is beginning a three-day visit to China, with energy, trade, Syria and other foreign policy expected to dominate the agenda.

EGYPT: THE FURY LINGERS

Alex MARQUARDT reports: Large protests are planned across Egypt after sunset prayers this evening – against the Mubarak verdict and the candidacy of his former Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq. The protests are backed by the Muslim Brotherhood as well as liberal youth “revolutionary” groups. Three of the main candidates who didn’t make the second round visited the Tahrir Square sit-in last night, calling for the formation of a presidential council rather than a second round. They argue the law barring Mubarak officials from running is being ignored.

CHINA TO U.S.: STOP REPORTING ON BAD AIR QUALITY

A senior Chinese environmental official has told foreign embassies to stop publishing their own reports on air quality in China, a clear reference to a popular U.S. Embassy Twitter feed that tracks pollution in smoggy Beijing. The official said that only the Chinese government is authorized to monitor and publish air quality information and warned that data from other sources may not be standardized or rigorous. The U.S. Embassy gives hourly readings of Beijing’s air quality via a Twitter feed that has more than 19,000 followers.

THE VATICAN BUTLER

Per Phoebe NATANSON in Rome: The Pope’s butler - implicated in that “Vatileaks” story will be questioned formally either today or tomorrow. Some media are reporting that he has already given the names of others in the Vatican and the five Italian citizens he was in contact with. Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, gave an interview to Italian TG1 news last night. He denounced the continued leaks of Vatican documents and said the Pope isn’t intimidated by what he called the “fierce” and “organized” attacks. “Those who are near him and work by his side are sustained by the Pope’s great moral force,” he said, reading from notecards.

U.S. CANCELS SESAME STREET…IN PAKISTAN

Muhammad LILA reports from Islamabad: The U.S. Agency for International Development has cut off funding for the Pakistani version of Sesame Street.  The reason?  Corruption. One headline today reads:  “Elmo Caught With Hand in the Cookie Jar.” The program, called “Sim Sim Hamara” began airing late last year with Elmo and a full cast of Pakistani characters, including a young girl in a lead role.  It was meant to improve literacy, education, and tolerance.  The project was a co-production between Sesame Workshop and a local Pakistani puppet company.  That company, Rafi Peer Theatre workshop, has been dogged by allegations of corruption, including building a fancy residential complex with swimming pools, etc.  Now the US has pulled the plug on the project, leaving its cast of characters with nowhere to play and no songs to sing. Proof that in Pakistan, even Elmo can’t escape charges of corruption.

FROM JAPAN: SOFT-SERVE BEER

From Akiko FUJITA in Tokyo: With the country facing the prospect of yet another summer with limited air conditioning, one beverage company has come up with a creative drink to keep cool: beer topped with frozen froth. Kirin says the drink can be made using a machine similar to ones that make frozen yogurt. As Reuters writes, it “freezes the head of the beer into something that looks like serving of soft vanilla ice cream, helping to keep pints frosty cold even as the mercury tops 104 F.” Kirin says the frozen froth keeps the beer chilled for at least 30 minutes …well over the average of 22 minutes it takes to finish a pint. Kirin’s hoping to set up more than 1000 machines in restaurants across Japan – and says they’ve also gotten interest from the US and Europe.

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