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Ezz Steel 2011 net profit falls 20 pct

By Tamim Elyan / Reuters CAIRO: Egypt’s largest steel producer, Ezz Steel, posted a 20 percent drop in 2011 net profit on Tuesday as soaring costs and higher taxes offset a rise in sales during a year of economic and political turmoil. An uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February last year and the turmoil rocked …

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Egypt urban inflation dips to 9 pct in year to March

By Sherine El Madany / Reuters CAIRO: The urban consumer inflation was 9 percent in the 12 months to March, down from 9.2 percent in February, figures on Egypt’s state statistics agency showed on its website on Tuesday. The urban consumer price index for March was 122.6 versus 112.4 a year earlier, the state statistics …

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Egypt government launches CD sale to citizens abroad

By Patrick Werr / Reuters CAIRO: Egypt’s government will begin selling three-year certificates of deposit (CDs) to Egyptians living abroad on Tuesday in a bid to reduce the country’s balance of payments shortfall and help fund its budget deficit. A year of political turmoil has eaten into key sources of foreign exchange for Egypt by weakening …

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Court suspends constitutional panel

By AP CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Tuesday suspended a 100-member panel selected by lawmakers from the Islamist-dominated parliament and tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution. The ruling was a blow to the Islamists, who have catapulted into the center of Egypt’s political stage since the ouster 14 months ago of longtime authoritarian leader …

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Street art and the power to mobilize

By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef It’s after sunset on a Friday night. A few weeks after clashes took place in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, a group of young artists enter Tahrir Square and observe the scene ahead. Their eyes set on the street where hundreds faced death and suffocation — their next target, they set up their gear …

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Bahrain denies hunger striker’s health is critical

By AP MANAMA: Bahrain is claiming that a jailed activist on a two-month hunger strike shows no signs of critical medical problems and has been taking fluids orally or by an IV drip. The health details released by authorities on Tuesday are an apparent attempt to counter growing international pressures on the Gulf state after …

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Iraq parliament approves rights commission

By AFP BAGHDAD: Iraqi MPs have approved the first independent human rights commission in the country’s history, which is to track rights violations here, lawmaker Ashwaq Al-Jaff said on Tuesday. “The main role of this commission is to monitor all violations of human rights in all fields and in all governmental and non-governmental institutions,” Jaff …

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Islamist attack on Yemen army checkpoint kills 13

By Mohammed Ghobari / Reuters SANAA: At least eight Yemeni soldiers and five militants were killed when Islamist gunmen attacked an army checkpoint in the central Maarib province on Tuesday, a local official said. In the southern city of Lawdar, where 57 people were killed on Monday in clashes between government forces and fighters from al …

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Libya violence puts poll timing at risk: analysts

By Dominique Soguel / AFP TRIPOLI: Violence in Libya risks escalating and could even derail elections if the interim government fails to impose its authority by disarming militias and strengthening the judiciary, analysts say. In the southern desert cities of Sabha and Kufra, clashes pitting Arabs against non-Arab tribesmen have cost more than 250 lives since …

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Lady Chichester and Danny Wyler on Royal Opera’s ‘Beloved Friend’

By Joseph Fahim The Royal Opera House’s highly touted production “Beloved Friend” was the highlight of the 8th Abu Dhabi Festival, which closed on April 7. Based on the letters exchanged between Russian music composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky and his muse/patroness Nadezhda von Meck for 13 years, this beautiful, intimate production was the very first Royal Opera …

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Syria violence endangers Annan’s ceasefire deadline

By Oliver Holmes / Reuters BEIRUT: Syrian troops bombarded two restive cities on Tuesday, pursuing an assault on President Bashar Al-Assad’s foes instead of halting the use of big guns and leaving towns as promised under an international peace plan that now looks in peril. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy shelling in …

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ElBaradei to co-found new Egypt ‘revolutionary’ party

By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef CAIRO: Top Egyptian dissident and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei will set up a political party with other opposition figures to represent “revolutionary” forces, a co-founder told AFP on Monday. The future political bloc, known for now as “Party of the Revolution,” will be a “centrist, civilian and revolutionary party,” said Shadi Ghazaly …

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Britain can extradite radical cleric Abu Hamza to US: court

By Agencies STRASBOURG: Britain can extradite jailed radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza Al-Masri and five other alleged terrorists to the United States, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday. The court found “there would be no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights” if …

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Army ‘neutral’ towards candidates for president

By AFP CAIRO: Egypt’s ruling military is not fielding a candidate in next month’s presidential election, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said on Monday. “The armed forces do not have a candidate in the next presidential election,” the official MENA news agency quoted Tantawi as saying, adding …

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Challenges and opportunities

By Yoram Meital Developments in the Sinai Peninsula during the past year clearly reflect dramatic changes in Egypt and highlight the delicate situation at the Israeli-Gazan-Egyptian border junction. Egypt is passing through a transition stage characterized by political power struggles, unprecedented deterioration in domestic security and a worsening economic plight. Most of the forces operating …

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An India-Pakistan thaw?

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are enjoying one of the better periods in their turbulent relationship. Recent months have witnessed no terrorist incidents, no escalating rhetoric, and no diplomatic flashpoints. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari just made a successful, if brief, personal visit to India (mainly to visit a famous shrine, but with …

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Decolonizing the franc zone

By Sanou Mbaye DAKAR: France is wrestling with a burden of debts and public deficits that led Standard & Poor’s recently to downgrade its credit rating. Even as the risk of recession looms, the country has been forced to implement a drastic austerity program. But France’s woes are also being felt far beyond its borders, sparking …

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Israeli historian: Israel needs borders for its own good

By Ben Lynfield JERUSALEM: With international attention distracted by Iran and Syria, Israel’s fateful entanglement in the West Bank hardly gets a mention in the news these days. Over the years, much has been written about the now 45-year-old Occupation’s deleterious effect on Palestinians. But in a significant new book, The Unmaking of Israel, launched recently …

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Riot police fire tear gas, charge protesters in Tunis

By AFP TUNIS: Riot police fired tear gas and baton-charged protesters Monday who staged demonstrations on a Tunis avenue where rallies are banned, in some of the worst violence seen in the Tunisian capital in months. As hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets, the head of the Ennahda Islamist party which dominates parliament called …

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Court hears case to bar Mubarak aides from presidency

By Sherine El Madany /Reuters CAIRO: An Egyptian court will hear a suit seeking to prevent Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief and his last prime minister from running for the presidency, a judicial source said on Monday. Omar Suleiman, 74, who served for years as Mubarak’s head of military intelligence and General Intelligence Service and was …

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MPs push for no-confidence vote as PA continues to slam gov’t report

By Safaa Abdoun CAIRO: The People’s Assembly (PA) criticized the government’s first annual report for its lack of vision and plan during the transitional period and its failure to propose urgent solutions to the ongoing crises as it continued to discuss the report Monday. Some MPs implied that the discussion has dragged on more than needed, …

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Abol Fotoh struggles to keep focus on platform and away from voter polarization

By Sarah El Sirgany CAIRO: In a continuously changing political scene, presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh struggles to keep the focus on his electoral program. He condemns the polarization that’s already taking its toll on his bid, but also has nothing but disdain for the nomination of Omar Suleiman, the vice president appointed before the …

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MB presidential hopeful Al-Shater launches ‘Renaissance Project’

By Mai Shams El-Din CAIRO: Former deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood group and presidential hopeful Khairat Al-Shater outlined on Monday his presidential platform with a campaign titled “Egypt’s Renaissance: The People’s Will,” emphasizing its Islamic frame of reference. “Any project should have a frame of reference. In the West they use the capitalist frame; …

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One-on-one with Oscar-winning writer Sir Ronald Harwood

By Joseph Fahim It’s not every day that you watch a Royal Opera House production in the Arab world, let alone a gala production that has only been staged twice before, the second time at Buckingham Palace for the Royal Family. To call the showing of the Royal Opera’s 2009 production “Beloved Friend” — performed at …

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Sinai spring? Not really

By Normand St. Pierre The Sinai Peninsula is beautiful, blessed by wonderful beaches, high-reaching mountains, a desert that changes color with the moving sun, and natural resources aplenty. It is also a land on which warriors have moved back and forth, leaving behind all manner of munitions and mines. Enjoying the beauty and enduring the conflicts …

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The internationalization of Tahrir Square

By Karim Kasim In the last week of July, the United Nations held its High Level Meeting on Youth as part of the closing of the International Year of Youth 2011 in the General Assembly. This year was definitely a historic year that witnessed the massive mobilization and leadership of youth in the Arab world. The …

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Obama’s blunder at the bank

By Jagdish Bhagwati NEW YORK: The selection of a successor to Robert Zoellick as President of the World Bank was supposed to initiate a new era of open meritocratic competition, breaking the traditional hold that the United States has had on the job. Indeed, Zoellick’s own appointment was widely regarded as “illegitimate” from that perspective. But …

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Abdul Sattar Edhi: a beacon of hope in Pakistan

By Zeeshan Suhail ISLAMABAD: At the request of the Prime Minister, the government of Pakistan submitted an official nomination to the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Committee for a Pakistani humanitarian, Abdul Sattar Edhi, late last year. This is encouraging news, considering the political and economic instability which Pakistan continues to face. With such challenges, it’s important …

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Greek lender EFG to sell Turkish arm to Kuwait

By Dinesh Nair / Reuters DUBAI: EFG Eurobank will sell its Turkish arm to Kuwait’s Burgan Bank in a $355 million deal which will help shore up the struggling Greek lender’s capital base. Burgan, the commercial banking arm of Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO), will also absorb $280 million of loans issued by EFG to the Turkish …

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Egypt sells 3- and 5-year bonds worth LE 3.5 bln

By Reuters CAIRO: Egypt’s central bank said it sold LE 3.5 billion ($579.8 million) in three and five-year bonds on Monday, the same amount it had offered. It sold LE 2 billion in reopened three-year bonds at an average yield of 16.12 percent, with yields ranging from 16.05 to 16.15 percent. The bonds have a …

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