Abdelaziz Bouteflika is running for president in Algeria for the fourth time, at age 77. Even with a stroke behind him, it’s thought he’ll win again.Bouteflika has not campaigned this time — given his weak state of health. Others have done it for him. But he has attacked his main opponent in the presidential race — during a visit by Spain’s foreign minister a few days ago.Bouteflika said: “There are calls to violent action, unorthodox behaviour, undemocratic. When a candidate threatens the authorities to pay attention to our families, our children… Meaning what? That is terrorism by television!”Ali Benflis is the candidate he meant — a former prime minister, former magistrate and former chief of staff. He directed Bouteflika’s winning 1999 campaign. Today, he is most credible with younger voters. His ambition is to make it through to a second round of voting. He mocks Bouteflika.Benflis said: “A third term, a fourth term… that’s not my thing, that’s not me.”Algeria’s 22 million voters will have six candidates to choose from. Yet the other four are far less strongly placed.Louisa Hanoune, head of the Workers’ Party is on her third try. FNA conservative candidate Moussa Touati is running for the second time. It’s Ali Fawsi Rebaine of the “Generation of ’54” party’s third try — he’s equated Bouteflika’s past scores with a banana republic. Abdelaziz Belaid, since 2012 head of the FM Front for the Future party, is the youngest, born just after independence from former colonial power France in 1962.But many Algerians feel change is not yet on the cards.Analyst Foudil Boumala says: “These elections do not pave the way for an alternative or for political debate and ideas. They are a problem, heaped on top of the other big problems of Algeria.” Unemployment is around 30 percent in Algeria, and worse for the young. No one likes this, but there was a civil war in the 1990s, and that decade of violence made many fear change and crave stability.
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‘Little England’ was the big winner at the ‘Greek Oscars’, the annual Hellenic Film Academy Awards.Directed by acclaimed film maker Pantelis Voulgaris, the film led the nominations with 13 gongs, winning six awards including best picture, cinematography, costume design and production design.Set on the Greek island of Andros in the 1930s and 1940s, ‘Little England’ is a family saga about the lives of two sisters who are united and divided by a terrible secret – their love for the same man. It is a story of passion, family and loss. Pantelis Voulgaris spoke about the difficulties of making a film: “The big challenge we face in serving our expensive and difficult art is the battle that’s waged in the box office. Our first reward was winning this battle. The awards my team received tonight were a very generous gesture on the part of the Hellenic Film Academy.”‘My Enemy Within’ by Yorgos Tsemberopoulos was the other big winner with three awards – for editing, screenplay and best director. Already a favourite on the festival circuit, the film tells the story of an intellectual who is forced to re-evaluate his assumptions when violence invades his home and shakes his family to the core. “I really want to thank the Hellenic Film Academy, which I strongly support. Two hundred people from the Greek film industry vote every year to award these prizes. Such recognition by all these professionals is very important to me. It is a huge moral boost,” said Yorgos Tsemberopoulos.Kora Karvouni won the best actress award for her performance in ‘September’, directed by Penny Panagiotopoulou. A film about loneliness, it tells the story of Anna who lives alone with her dog and is forced to reach out to her neighbours when her pet dies. “This film gave me a hard time, because I didn’t have many lines. I play a very silent character in the film. My co-stars were mainly kids and a dog. These are very unpredictable factors in a film. But, although it was a very challenging and tiring process, I remember every moment of ‘September’ with love,” said the actress with a smile.After Venice, Themis Panou picked up his second gong for Best Actor for his role in ‘Miss Violence’ by Alexandros Avranas – who also won the Silver Lion in Venice for Best Director.It is the story of an apparently average Greek family that comes under scrutiny after 11-year old Angeliki commits suicide on her birthday. “It’s a really unique experience,” said the actor about his double award. “I didn’t believe that it could happen, not even in my wildest dreams. I still can’t quite believe it.”Costa-Gavras won an honorary award for his lifetime achievement. The Franco-Greek film maker, who lives and works in France, is best known for his films with overt political themes, like the famous thriller ‘Z’.“The problem with awards is that you don’t expect them. After you’ve received an award, you don’t think about it anymore. What matters to me is when I go back to Greece, I am surrounded by the people and world of my youth, they make me the person I am today,” said Costa-Gavras.“Two thousand and thirteen was a very good year for the Greek film industry, with many movies going abroad to be shown at international festivals and receiving major awards. Around half of those films were made by a new wave of young Greek directors. It’s hoped 2014 will be an even better year for Greek cinema,” said euronews’ correspondent in Athens, Yorgos Mitropoulos.
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There is confirmation that eurozone inflation last month fell to its lowest level since November 2009.Year-on-year the inflation rate was just half of one percent, down from February’s 0.7 percent.Prices fell for heating oil, telecommunications and fuel. They rose for tobacco products and in restaurants and bars as well as for milk, cheese and eggs. That keeps pressure on the European Central Bank to intervene to prevent deflation and stagnation. Annual inflation was negative in eight of the 18 eurozone countries. In Greece it was down 1.5 percent. and Cyprus it was minus 0.9 percent. By contrast inflation rates in Austria (+1.4 pct), Malta (+1.4 pct) and Germany (+0.9 pct) were nearer to the ECB’s target of close to but below 2.0 percent.Inflation has now been in the ECB’s “danger zone” of below 1.0 percent for six consecutive months,
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Armored vehicles flying Russian flags have rolled into Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian militia already control the city’s government and administrative buildings. It is believed the convoy is made up of troops from a Ukranian airborne division that have switched allegiance. One unnamed soldier involved in the column elaborated: “These Ukranian paratroopers have switched to the people’s side. You can see how many of us there are, the self defence army of Donbas.” The situation in the east of the country, the former heartland of ousted President Viktor Yanukovitch, is extremely tense. Authorities in Kyiy and western allies claim tens of thousands of Russian troops are now massed along Ukraine’s border. Many fear a Ukranian crackdown on pro-Moscow protesters will spark a full-scale Russian military intervention.
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A man is in custody after a bomb alert in Boston as the US city commemorated the first anniversary of the attack on its marathon.The man, in his twenties, is said to have been behaving suspiciously and dropped a bag containing a rice cooker near the finish line of the race.It was destroyed in a controlled explosion. The US Vice President led tributes to the three people killed and 264 wounded in last year’s bombing.“We refuse to bend, refuse to change, refuse to yield to fear,” Joe Biden said. “That is what makes us so proud of this city and this state, what makes me be so proud to be an American. It’s that we have never, ever yielded to fear. Never.”Other speakers recalled how police officers, spectators and others reacted immediately to help the wounded.The authorities say two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, carried their bombs to the finish line in backpacks.Boston’s public library has a display of 150 running shoes, to remember the victims.There will be heightened security and new restrictions for the tens of thousands of runners expected at this year’s race next Monday April 21.
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Bluefin-21, the drone submarine on the hunt for missing flight MH 370, has aborted a second mission after developing an unspecified technical problem.The six hours of data gathered on the first dive revealed nothing but the Malaysian authorities are determined to keep searching.In a media address, acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said: “We will not scale down. This is the promise that I made to the families of the passengers and we will continue. But as we move forward there might be occasions where some of the countries might want to scale down. There are other countries that have come forward and we have to find creative ways to do that.” Authorities are considering deploying more robust underwater craft able to operate at depths beyond the Bluefin’s capabilities. The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
News of the ferry disaster prompted anxious families of children who had been on board to gather at the Danwon High School in a Seoul suburb.As they waited for news, a fleet of buses carrying many relatives left for the port of Jindo 350 kilometres south of the capital, where the rescued are being brought ashore.“I felt like my heart stopped (when I heard). I can’t describe the feeling with words. I was way too shocked. I can’t even talk about it,” said Jung Kyeong-Mi, 43, the mother of 18-year-old student Kim Soo-Bin. Park Sung-Ho, 50, is the father of another 18-year-old student, Park Eun-Ho: “I can’t even describe how I feel now. I was really nervous. Even specially trained soldiers will have a hard time if they get stranded at sea. What a shock it must be to those kids… I’m sure it must felt like the sky was falling in. It’s even worse for the parents,” he said. Some were distressed, some angry at the lack of news.Earlier an official from the school had said all 338 students and teachers had been rescued. Now, cruelly, this looks like it was a massively over-optimistic assessment.
The ferry disaster off the South Korean coast looks like it could be much worse than first thought.The coast guard now say more than 300 people are unaccounted for, a dramatic increase in the number of missing announced earlier.More than 160 people have been rescued, but the ferry was carrying nearly 500 people – many of them high school students and teachers on a field trip from Incheon to the tourist island of Jeju, sometimes known as the “South Korean Hawaii”.Of the passengers brought ashore, most are said to be in good condition but at least two people are confirmed dead.Navy, coastguard and other ships as well as helicopters are involved in the rescue.It’s not known what caused the ferry to list and capsize in apparently calm conditions. One witness said there was a “loud impact and noise” before it started sinking.Heavy fog had set in overnight leading to cancellations of many ferry services to the islands.As the ferry sank, terrified passengers in lifejackets took to lifeboats; others jumped into the water where rescuers apparently including local fishermen took them on board. Elsewhere there were scenes of chaos at a school south of Seoul as desperate parents clamoured for news of their children.
More than 100 female students have been abducted by suspected Islamist insurgents in a raid on a secondary school in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state.Gunmen thought to be members of Boko Haram carried off the teenage girls from the school in Chibok late in Monday night.The raid took place on the same day as a bomb attack killed at least 75 people on the edge of the capital Abuja.With elections due next February, President Goodluck Jonathan is under intense pressure to contain the five-year insurgency, which is posing a growing security risk to Africa’s top oil producer.
A former Turkish MP has been wounded along with his son while his wife and daughter were killed in an armed attack in Istanbul. One of the assailants also died .A car carrying Adnan Yildiz and his family was approached by two people on motorbikes who tried to steal a suitcase. An exchange of gunfire followed. Yıldız was twice elected to Parliament for the former Motherland Party (ANAP). During his terms, he alleged that he had been blackmailed by the head of a criminal gang for $100,000.
An underwater US drone has resumed its search for the missing Malaysian airliner which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. The drone’s first mission ended sooner than expected after it exceeded its 4.5 km depth limit and returned automatically to the surface.A spokesman warned that it could take up to two months to scour a 600 sq Km area of the Indian Ocean where the plane is presumed to have crashed.
Ukrainian forces’ “special operation” to take back Kramatorsk’s airfield from separatist militia has been declared by Kyiv as having been a successful mission carried out with no bloodshed.The troops however were met with shouting and jeering by local civilians – the majority of whom were Russian-speaking and appeared hostile to the government in Kyiv. One local said: “I think this is an aggression by the American state department against Ukraine, led by Turchynov, Yatsenyuk, Avakov and the rest.”While a woman complained at the level of aggression:“Just when we arrived and started to approach the gate there were snipers sitting at every tree over here.”Ukraine’s state security service said it had been an “anti-terrorist” operation but with chants of “you will answer for raising guns against your people”, extending the mission to reassert control in the region is fraught with risk.Our reporter in Kramatorsk, Sergio Cantone said:“Was it a security operation or a realistic rehearsal for civil war? The main fact is that the local population doesn’t seem to welcome the special forces sent here by Kyiv.”
A major rescue operation is underway off the coast of South Korea after a passenger ferry sent a distress signal saying it was sinking.It’s unclear how many people are on board the ship which was taking hundreds of high school children on a field trip to Jeju island.At least one person has been confirmed dead although a local news source had earlier declared all students and teachers had been rescued.It’s not cleared why the ship ran into difficulties although heavy fog had set in overnight leading to cancellations of many ferry services to the islands.
MEPs have given their seal of approval to an EU backstop that aims to reduce the risk of taxpayers having to bail out banks in the future.Under the new rules, creditors and shareholders will be the first to take a hit.Elisa Ferreira, a Portugese centre-left MEP, said: “I am extremely happy. It took us a lot of effort, very difficult negotiations with the council but we managed to get first and the most important thing, that is, we are convinced that taxpayers will not be ever called to rescue banks.”There’s also a new European body that will be able to close or restructure failing banks.But one German MEP argued the new legislation won’t necessarily protect taxpayers.Sven Giegold, a German MEP, said: “There are loopholes in the legislation which can under certain circumstances make it possible to put in taxpayers’ money again. “And that would be a collective effort to close these loopholes as far as possible. The parliament has done it, but mainly France and Italy have assured in the council of member states that these loopholes continue to exist.” Euronews’ correspondent Sandor Zsiros said: “Many think the agreement over the Single Resolution Mechanism is the biggest achievement of this session of the European Parliament. But the financial reform package is still not ready, the decision about the guarantee fund for securing the depositors’ money comes only after the EU elections.”
Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have also been brought in to Slavyansk where pro-Russian separatists have seized the local headquarters of the police and state security service.The operation has significantly raised fears that Moscow might now intervene militarily on behalf of Russian speakers in the region.Moscow has reportedly amassed thousand of troops along the border with Ukraine.Writing on his Facebook page, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described Ukraine as being on the “brink of civil war.”Moscow accuses Kyiv of provoking the crisis by ignoring the rights of citizens who use Russian as their first language, and has promised to protect them from attack.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied that Moscow was stirring up the separatists in the east and southeast as a possible prelude to repeating its annexation of Crimea. “Ukraine is spreading lies that Russia is behind the actions in the southeast,” Lavrov said on a visit to China.Kyiv opposes anything that might lead to the dismemberment of the country. But in an attempt to undercut the rebels’ demands, Turchynov has held out the prospect of a nationwide referendum on the future shape of the Ukrainian state.
Malta’s Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat joined around 1,000 people celebrating a new law on the Mediterranean island which recognises same-sex marriage on a legal par with marriage and gives gay couples the right to adopt.The opposition Nationalist party abstained from the vote and said it had reservations about gay adoptions claiming 80 percent of the population were against the law.