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发表于 2008-10-29 04:34:56 AM |显示全部楼层

Russia, China sign landmark oil pipeline deal

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 12:31 am



MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia and China on Tuesday signed a long-awaited deal to build an oil pipeline from Siberia to China after talks between Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The leaders watched as Chinese state energy major CNPC and Russian state pipeline monopoly Transneft signed the deal to build the pipeline from the Siberian town of Skovorodino to the Chinese border.

The pipeline agreed on Tuesday would have a capacity of 15 million tons of oil per year and would be a branch of the main East Siberia-Pacific Ocean trunk pipeline, which is still under construction, officials said.

"We should deepen cooperation in the energy sphere. Long-term cooperation will help economic development and stability on world markets," Wen said at the opening of a Russia-China business conference with Putin in Moscow.

Even after lengthy negotiations on energy ties between the two neighbours, Russia is still only the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil to energy-hungry China, despite being the world's number two producer after Saudi Arabia.

Amid lower energy prices, analysts say China is now seizing its chance.

"We have to aim for real results. We've discussed this for many years but the results do not correspond to what they should be for two neighbouring powers," Zhang Guobao, China's top energy official, told the conference.

"We need to build oil and gas pipelines, increase downstream and upstream cooperation and increase cooperation in the nuclear sphere," said Zhang, head of China's State Energy Bureau, speaking through a Russian interpreter.

The length of the pipeline to the Chinese border would be around 70 kilometres (44 miles). The pipeline is then planned to link into the Chinese pipeline network to reach the oil hub of Daqing in northern China.

Russian newspapers on Tuesday also reported that talks were underway for a multi-billion dollar credit from the Chinese government to Transneft and Russian state-run oil company Rosneft that would help boost energy exports.

The Vedomosti daily quoted Sergei Sanakoyev, a government expert, saying Moscow and Beijing had agreed a contract to supply China with 15 million tons of oil per year in exchange for up to 25 billion dollars (20 billion euros).

But Vedomosti also quoted an official saying there was no deal yet.

"The question of credits for Rosneft and Trasneft was discussed into the evening." If no agreement is reached on Tuesday "then the signing of the deal on oil supplies could be delayed," the official was quoted as saying.

The Kommersant daily quoted a source close to the management of Rosneft saying on Monday: "There is no final agreement but we are oriented on these parameters. We have the whole night ahead to find an agreement."

Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer, has been hit by the financial crisis because of a slide in Moscow's stock markets and its massive exposure to foreign loans that it has used to expand the company in recent years.

During his visit, Wen also said that Russia and China could help boost global economic stability through greater cooperation.

"Russia and China are growing economies with major influence in the world... They can help strengthen the world economy," Wen told investors in Moscow.

"We should strengthen ties, look together at anti-crisis measures and coordinate macroeconomic policy," he added.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:37:50 AM |显示全部楼层

Southern Africa opens ivory sales to China, Japan

Tuesday October 28, 2008, 12:44 pm



WINDHOEK (AFP) - The first legal ivory sales in nearly a decade open Tuesday in southern Africa, with a special auction for Chinese and Japanese buyers bidding for 108 tonnes of elephant tusks.

Four African countries have been authorised by CITES, the international convention that regulates trade in endangered species, to make a once-off sale of ivory to the two Asian powers.

But some conservationists fear that the sudden arrival of so much legal ivory on the Chinese and Japanese markets could provide a way for poachers to slip their ill-gotten wares past the eyes of regulators.

The Asian giants are among the world's largest markets for ivory, which is used for families' traditional seals to stamp documents as well as handicrafts.

Michael Wamithi, head of the elephant programme at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said both nations are also among the top destinations for illegal ivory taken from poached elephants.

"Several multiple-tonne seizures have been made at Chinese ports in recent years. The lack of enforcement for the registration systems in both countries also provides a convenient loophole for illegal traders," he said.

The wildlife trade watchdog Traffic said it has confidence in the auctions, which begin Tuesday in Namibia and then move every three days through Botswana, Zimbabwe and finally South Africa.

"As far as we're concerned, it's a well-managed process," Traffic's national representative David Newton said in Johannesburg.

Despite concerns about China's enforcement efforts, Newton said Beijing had made real efforts to comply with international rules on ivory trade.

"They are taking this a lot more seriously," he said.

"We're always urging caution, and the ivory trade needs to be very strictly managed," he said. "For the one-off trade, we're confident that the monitoring mechanisms are in place."

The auctions, which are closed to the public and to media, will sell off tusks from government stocks.

CITES says it agreed to the sales only in African countries where elephant populations are judged to be healthy and growing. More than 312,000 elephants are living in the four nations.

Most of the tusks were taken from elephants that died from natural causes or from culling of herds, when animals are killed to prevent overpopulation.

CITES said in a statement that it has taken precautions to make sure that the auctions don't encourage poaching.

Willem Wijnstekers, secretary general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), will visit all four countries to supervise the sales.

He will also meet on the sidelines of the auctions with Chinese and Japanese authorities about measures taken to monitor the ivory after the sale, CITES said in a statement.

Profits from the sales must go toward elephant conservation projects, or toward programmes aimed at developing communities who live around elephant ranges, it added.

The ivory can go only to China and Japan, which then must track it to prevent it from being resold overseas, in compliance with CITES regulations.

The international ivory trade was banned in 1989, but since 1997 CITES has authorised Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe -- where it judges the elephant populations to be strong -- to carry out occasional sales.

The last sale in 1999 earned five million dollars. The four countries agreed not to hold a new sale for at least another nine years.

South Africa will hold the biggest sale, with 51 tonnes on the block, followed by Botswana with 44 tonnes, Namibia with nine tonnes and four tonnes in Zimbabwe.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:40:02 AM |显示全部楼层

Korea Cuts Rates To Try and Steady Markets

Tuesday October 28, 2008, 8:07 am






I suppose it would be unfair to call the South Korean central bank a bunch of wimps for their biggest ever rate cut of 0.75%% yesterday, but it looks like that.


After all, our Reserve Bank cut our key official rate 1% last month and will line up for another chop of at least 0.25% next Tuesday (along with a certain horse race) and the Fed will cut either 0.25% or 0.50% off its key rate this week.


So the South Korean central bank cut its key rate to 4.25%.


Our economy is in nowhere the exposed state that South Korea's is, despite the similarities of current account deficits and large overseas debts.


We have a different sort of economy though with our dependence on commodities: South Korea's is in exporting manufactured goods, with the ship building industry vital, and a growing source of concern because of huge US dollar payments due on ships that are not now wanted by shippers around the world.


But the South Korean won and the country's major index, the Kopsi, have both slumped sharply this year, much in the same way the Australian dollar and the ASX200 has dropped.


The Reserve Bank intervened in the Aussie dollar's Friday's near free fall in offshore trading.  


The South Korean central bank has been intervening off and on for months trying to support the currency, without success.


The won hit a 10 year low on Friday and has fallen 35% so far this year. Our Currency is down by roughly the same amount from the high of 98 USc (and more against the yen, though). The won was off around 1.4% yesterday.


The Aussie was trading around 62 USc yesterday in Australia. That's a fall of around 36%. Against the yen the rate has almost halved to a post World War II low of just over 56 yen on Friday night. The Aussie dollar was just over 61 US cents this morning.


Our central bank justified its rate cut this month in terms of what it saw coming: the South Korean cut yesterday was justified in terms of what is happening now.


Shares across Asia fell yesterday amid fears that more government measures will be needed to help fend off .


Japan, China, Hong Kong and India were hit hard. Tokyo closed at a 26 year low and Hong Kong fell around 13% in its biggest fall since 1989 and the events in Bejing in June of that year when tanks crushed student protests.


Only South Korea rose, with a late burst that popped the market up 0.8% at the end.


South Korea is a major source of demand for our commodities, and we import cars, machinery and consumer entertainment and technology products. It is our fourth biggest export market.


So what happens in the economy is of vital importance.


South Korea's central bank on Monday cut its key rate, the seven day repurchase rate, by 0.75% to 4.25% after an unscheduled meeting of the bank's main rate setting group.


As the rate cut came less than three weeks after a reduction of 0.25%, the central bank of South Korea isn't a wimp, by our standards. Just a bit rattled, like we all are at the moment.


And, President Lee Myung-bak told parliament the government would boost spending and cut taxes next year and stood ready to inject liquidity into the system until markets calm.


It promised $US130 billion in total in aid and US dollars last week.


The cut is the largest since the central bank started its current system of setting base rates in 1999.


The market bounced for a while, after it fell 20% last week. (Our market was off 3 %.) The central bank said it considered buying up to 10 trillion won ($US7 billion) of bonds issued by local commercial banks to provide extra liquidity for the cash-starved banking sector.


The won continued to slip and was quoted at 1,440.80/42.10 to the US dollar.




President Lee told the  parliament that he would pursue deregulation of the financial services sector despite the global crisis, but would also tighten supervision to ensure capital is safeguarded. (An each way bet.)


The president has already said the country faces even graver danger than during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis when the country was only rescued from default by an IMF-led bailout that totalled $US57 billion.


Already the spending and other measures from the government and the central bank total close to $US150 billion so far this year, and more if you count the billions spent trying to defend the won.


The country has currency reserves of about $US240 billion (before last week's $US30 billion promise to deliver more greenbacks to the country's banks).


So it would seem the country is not looking to the IMF for help even though it could borrow over $US20 billion if need be this time.


It's not that the South Korean economy is in trouble; like ours there's still growth, but it's slowing. It hit an annual rate of growth of 3.9% in the third quarter from last year.


That might have been the slowest pace since 2005 and down from the annual 4.8% rate in the second quarter, but it was growth.  


The UK is sliding into recession, Europe is heading the same way as is the US, and Japan is already there.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:42:52 AM |显示全部楼层

CHINESE INVESTORS READY TO FINANCE POWER PROJECTS IN INDONESIA

Monday October 27, 2008, 6:00 pm



INDONESIA
JAKARTA, Oct 27 Asia Pulse - China Exim Bank and Bank of China have expressed their intention to help finance the construction of Indonesia's second phase power project, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro said.

"We met with them yesterday and they expressed readiness to provide the funds for realization of the power project," the minister said after attending a function observing National Electricity Day here on Sunday.

The minister said for the construction of electric infrastructure, Indonesia would adopt the Independent Power Producers (IPP)'s system.

"So, the first privately run power project, namely the 10,000 megawatts (MW)project, is developed with funds from China," he said.

He said that the second stage power project will be realized by the IPP system. "The president agreed to the scheme that we had proposed, namely the power project run by private companies," he said.

Yusgiantoro said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jin Tao had met in Beijing to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries.

The visit of the president and his ministers to China was to discuss economic cooperation, including in the energy sector and the Tangguh project, because China has large foreign exchange reserves, reaching over US$2 trillion, the minister said

He said that from the capital aspect, China was strong so that Indonesia encouraged it to make an investment in Indonesia. It would be up to China whether it would invest by providing a loan concession or otherwise.

"In the past, Indonesia once obtained a loan concession worth US$400 million which was later added with another US$700 million soft loan, particularly for infrastructure projects" he added.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:44:27 AM |显示全部楼层

Chinese govt boosts railway spending

Monday October 27, 2008, 4:52 pm




China's leaders have approved two trillion yuan ($A474.7 billion) in spending on railway construction, stepping up planned investments to help fend off an economic slowdown, the official Xinhua News Agency says.

The early approval last week by the State Council, or Cabinet, for the spending is meant to help support faltering economic growth, Xinhua cited a Railway Ministry official, Wang Yong, as saying.

The railways development plan calls for two trillion yuan in construction spending by 2020 but the ministry official said total spending is likely to exceed that amount.

China is in a railway-building boom, adding hundreds of kilometres a year in an expansion that rivals the construction of railroads in the 19th century American West.

It is hoping to ease congestion, promote economic growth in isolated areas and bind restive regions such as Tibet and the Muslim northwest more closely to the rest of China.

Plans call for the railway system to expand to 120,000 kilometres by 2020 from the current 78,000 kilometres.

Ramping up construction can help create jobs at a time when the country's economic boom appears to be stalling, with growth in the third quarter reported to be the slowest in five years, although still a robust 9 per cent.

Expanding the rail system would also help alleviate severe bottlenecks, especially for transport of the coal that is used to generate three-quarters of China's electricity supply.

The freight lines now are heavily overloaded, with volume expanding by nearly 9 per cent a year, while freight transport capacity grows by only 3.4 per cent a year, Xinhua said.

Meanwhile, China's economic growth next year will remain below double-digits as the global downturn hits developing nations, the World Bank's chief economist says.

"(China's growth in 2009) is expected to have a two to three percentage points' correction compared with the double-digit growth seen in the past," the Beijing News quoted Justin Lin Yifu as saying.

China's economy grew by 11.9 per cent last year.

Official figures showed that growth slowed to 9 per cent in the third quarter of 2008, the lowest level in more than five years, due mainly to a slowdown in exports.

Lin said developing nations would inevitably suffer from the global crisis, which has so far hit the United States and other developed nations the hardest.

"Impacted by the economic recession in the developed countries, developing countries will see exports shrink sharply and face a shortage of investment funds," he said, according to the report.

Lin said one remedy for coping with the global financial crisis for China was to boost domestic consumption by increasing spending in infrastructure and social welfare, especially in rural areas.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:51:10 AM |显示全部楼层

World leaders urge financial reforms

Saturday October 25, 2008, 9:51 pm




World leaders called for an urgent overhaul of international financial systems and China demanded stricter regulations in the face of dramatic losses on the markets and a sliding world economy.

"Leaders pledged to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems," the 40-member Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing said in a statement released late on Sunday.

"They agreed to take quickly appropriate initiatives in this respect, in consultation with all stakeholders and the relevant international financial institutions," the statement said.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao called for more regulation of the world's financial system.

"We need to draw lessons from this crisis," Wen told journalists after the summit wrapped up.

"We need to handle correctly the relationship between financial innovation and regulation. We need financial innovation to serve the economy better, however we need even more financial regulation to ensure financial safety."

He also pledged China would take an active role in a crucial international summit in the United States next month aimed at tackling the global financial meltdown.

"We will take an active part in the upcoming international financial summit to be held in Washington," he said, although he did not say which Chinese leader would attend the November 15 meeting of leaders from 20 industrialised and emerging powers.

As the Asian and European leaders promised wide-ranging and effective reforms, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for quick and meaningful change.

"The market and regulatory failures that have led to this (financial) crisis must be addressed as a matter of urgency," a joint statement from the UN summit said.

"We reaffirm the need for meaningful, comprehensive and well-coordinated reform of the international financial system and pledge our support to this end."

Stock markets provided a grim backdrop to the ASEM meeting, plummeting on Friday after a raft of pessimistic corporate and economic news pushed markets into further losses, with Tokyo's dizzying 9.6 per cent slump spilling over to Europe, where London's FTSE plunged 5.0 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 312.30 points (3.59 per cent) to close at 8,378.95, capping a week when the US blue-chip index dropped more than five per cent.

The Saudi stock market, the largest in the Arab world, opened trading with a sharp drop of more than nine per cent to its lowest point in four years.

Iceland's government said it had asked for 1.58 billion euros ($A3.05 billion) from the International Monetary Fund, the first Western country to do so since 1976, after the collapse of its banking sector.

The IMF said it had tentatively agreed to the loan and announced it had set aside more cash to rescue stricken nations.

French auto giants PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Renault ordered huge production cuts, while Japan's electronics giant Sony and Europe's biggest airline Air France-KLM issued profits warnings.

In Britain, official figures confirmed the country was about to enter a recession while Turkey's central bank took action to strengthen bank liquidity and prop up its slumping currency.

Chrysler LLC, the number three US automaker, said it would cut up to 5,000 white-collar jobs by the end of the year as prospects in the sector grow dimmer.

New figures showed industrial confidence in both France and Italy had fallen to the lowest level since 1993. In Spain, the unemployment rate jumped to 11.33 per cent - the highest in more than four years.

Britain's economy shrank by 0.5 per cent in the three months to September compared with the previous quarter, official figures showed, marking the first contraction since 1992.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck predicted the financial crisis would last until late 2009 in an interview to be published on Sunday.

"The risk of collapse is far from over. It would be wrong to lift the alarm," he told the Bild am Sonntag weekly.

He said the 480 billion euros ($A927 billion) rescue package for banks approved last week would "certainly be needed" through next year and that it would take until between 2010 and 2013 for Germany to determine the real costs of the plan.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:54:48 AM |显示全部楼层

US: Iraq security pact is 'best offer'
Posted 6 minutes ago




The White House has poured cold water on Iraq's push to reopen talks on a controversial accord governing the US troop presence there beyond December, calling the existing pact its "best offer."

"Anything that they would want to change would have to clear a very high bar for us. We think that the door is pretty much shut on these negotiations," spokeswoman Dana Perino said as Baghdad planned to push for changes.

But Ms Perino said Washington was not completely closing off prospects for new talks, stressing that doing so "would be irresponsible" until US officials see the proposed amendments to the agreement.

She spoke after the Iraqi cabinet authorised Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to negotiate changes in the security pact, which sets in motion a timeline for the withdrawal of US combat forces from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The accord, known as a States of Forces Agreement (SOFA), will lay out the rights and responsibilities of US forces in Iraq after the UN mandate that provides a legal underpinning for their presence expires in late 2008.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:56:19 AM |显示全部楼层

Huge surge on Wall St as bargain hunters swoop
By North America Correspondent Michael Rowland

Posted 39 minutes ago
Updated 34 minutes ago




A frenzied buying spree pushed Wall Street up overnight, sending the Dow Jones industrials up 10.9 per cent or 890 points at the closing bell.

The gains came ahead of an expected interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve, with bargain hunters snapping up blue chip stocks.

"Bargain hunting seems to be fueling the afternoon advance, offsetting the plunge in sentiment, which suggested spending may be restrained going into the holidays," analysts at Charles Schwab and Co said.

The US central bank is poised to slash its key rate by up to 0.5 per cent to just 1 per cent. A decision is expected tomorrow.

It will be yet another attempt to breathe life into the flagging American economy.

New figures show US consumer confidence dipped to a record low this month as the global financial crisis took its toll.

Another survey showed national house prices falling 17 per cent in the year to August.

European stock markets also closed sharply higher overnight as investors looked for bargains after recent heavy losses,

The London FTSE-100 index jumped almost 2 per cent to 3,926 points while in Paris the CAC rose 1.5 per cent to end the day at 3,114 points.

The Frankfurt DAX, again powered by big gains for Volkswagen, soared 11 per cent.

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发表于 2008-10-29 04:58:02 AM |显示全部楼层

US consumer confidence sinks to record low
Posted 6 hours 26 minutes ago




US consumer confidence plunged to a record low in October as stressed consumers turned sharply more pessimistic and a global financial crisis bites, the Conference Board said overnight.

The business research firm said its consumer confidence index plummeted to 38.0, down from 61.4 in September, sounding alarms on consumer spending that drives the bulk of the economy, just ahead of the important year-end holiday shopping season.

Most analysts had expected a more modest decline to 52.0.

"The impact of the financial crisis over the last several weeks has clearly taken a toll on consumers' confidence," Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's chief economist, said in a statement.

"This news does not bode well for retailers who are already bracing for what is shaping up to be a very challenging holiday season," she said.

The plunge in consumer confidence followed three consecutive months of modest gains. The research firm revised upward its September index to 61.4, from a prior estimate of 59.8.

Ms Franco noted that the 23.4-point decline from September was the third-largest in the history of the series.

"In assessing current conditions, consumers rated the labor market and business conditions much less favourably, suggesting that the fourth quarter is off to a weaker start than the third quarter," she said.

Looking ahead, consumers are extremely pessimistic, and a significantly larger proportion than last month foresees business and labor market conditions worsening."

Consumers' outlook on their earnings and inflation also soured.

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发表于 2008-10-29 05:00:04 AM |显示全部楼层

McCain and Obama court Hispanic vote
Posted Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:47pm AEDT
Updated Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:41pm AEDT



Some 9 million US Hispanics are eligible to vote in the November 4 presidential election and both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are pulling out all the stops to gain their support.

Both campaigns have tried to forge a closer relationship with the country's largest minority group, especially in the key swing states of Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico - places were the outcome could be determined.

Nationally, Latino support for the Republicans reached some 44 per cent when President George W Bush ran for re-election in 2004, when some 7.6 million Hispanics were eligible to vote.

Today only 23 per cent of Hispanics support McCain, while two-thirds support Obama, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Centre study.

Party loyalty in the swing states, however, is not always clear.

"There are many Latino voters in these states," Jorge Mursulli, director of the advocacy group Democracia USA, said.

"What's more, one cannot firmly place these states in either the Republican or Democratic column."

Mr Mursulli, who leads one of the largest voter registration drives in the country, said the Hispanic population had grown significantly over the past years in those four states.

In Florida, where both campaigns are spending heavily, polls show that Hispanic voters "will be very divided," Mr Mursulli said.

Attitudes towards Cuba are expected to swing some voters.

Jorge Mas, the head of the fiercely anti-Castro Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), wrote a recent Washington Post opinion piece in which he described current US policy towards Cuba as "at best static and at worst counterproductive".

Senator Obama's "forward-looking and proactive approach toward empowering the Cuban people is more in line" with proposals that he outlined "than John McCain's vow to continue the Bush administration's policy".

But like other voters, Hispanics are primarily concerned about the country's troubled economy, health care and education.

"That does not mean that people are no longer concerned about the war in Iraq," Mr Mursulli said. "The issue of the war remains very high on the list of Latino priorities."

Immigration, however, "is the issue that sets Hispanics apart from the rest of the population," Mr Mursulli said.

Immigration was debated during the primaries, but is so controversial it has been largely ignored by both candidates during the general election campaign.

Proposals to introduce immigration reform, both times supported by Senator McCain, were defeated in the US Congress in 2006 and 2007 in the face of opposition from conservative Republicans.

Since the reform proposal failed, polls show Hispanics increasingly supporting the Democrats. The move coincides with an increase in high-profile round-ups of undocumented workers, with thousands arrested by federal authorities since December 2006.

Senator Obama has even recorded three ads in Spanish, the first presidential candidate to do so, said a top Obama aide, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, on Monday.

The 30-second long spots are being broadcast in the four swing states, as well as the battleground state of Virginia.

"I ask your vote not just for me and for the Democrats, but to keep alive this (American) dream for you and your children," Senator Obama says in one spot.

Both candidates have also promised closer ties with Latin America - a region largely forgotten by the Bush administration - but may be hamstrung by the global financial crisis, experts said.

Latin America briefly surfaced in the October 15 debate, in which Senator McCain chastised Senator Obama for not having travelled south of the border, and for opposing the free trade agreement with Colombia.

Senator Obama, along with other Democrats in the US Congress, opposed the FTA with Colombia because they said they wanted more protections and rights for Colombian workers in the agreement.

Senator Obama has also said that he wants to renegotiate portions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - signed in 1993, during the Democratic presidency of Bill Clinton - because he wants Mexico to adhere to higher labour and environmental standards.

The next president "should avoid expectations that cannot be fulfilled" concerning closer US interest in Latin America, said Peter DeShazo, who heads the Americas Program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank.

Peter Hakim, who heads the Inter-American Dialogue think tank, believes that reviving the sputtering US economy is essential for better ties south of the border. "Getting our economy back in order is terribly important for Latin America," he said.

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发表于 2008-10-29 05:01:26 AM |显示全部楼层

'Barack-o'-lanterns' light up Democrats' Halloween
Posted Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:17pm AEDT
Updated 10 hours 19 minutes ago



US Democrats won't be frightened this Halloween - not with "Barack-o'-lanterns" burning.

The October 31 festival is a night of witches, ghouls and the jack-o'-lantern, a scary pumpkin with a candle inside.

But this time the holiday falls almost on the eve of election day and youthful Democrats are replacing the pumpkin's traditionally triangular eyes and crooked mouth with the likeness of Barack Obama.

"It's very new. It's definitely cute," giggled student Jessica Larocco, 20, struggling to carve the photogenic candidate's face at a loft apartment in New York's trendy SoHo district.

"I feel like it's part of the movement," added Ms Larocco's friend Tomiko Cary, as she cut a simpler OBAMA into a second pumpkin, the two As in the shape of ghosts.

Rooted in pagan Celtic and Christian feasts, the US version of Halloween is big business - a once-a-year chance for shops to sell mountains of pumpkins and horror outfits.

This year they are offering Senator Obama and Republican John McCain masks and even skimpy beauty queen bikinis in honour of Senator McCain's running mate Sarah Palin.

But when it comes to pumpkins, Senator Obama is the top banana.

A big reason for that is the success of a website called yeswecarve.com launched on a whim by three young Obama supporters.

The site - its name is a pun on Senator Obama's "yes we can" slogan - began with a few pictures of "Barack-o'-lanterns," or "Jack-o'-Bamas," and called for more.

"It went crazy," said one of the founders, Josh Jeter, 25, in Chicago.

"We've had a couple hundred thousand unique visitors already ... our server was crushed with traffic and the site kept shutting down."

The site is not officially linked to Senator Obama, but encapsulates the creative, high-tech and youthful nature of his campaign by marrying an ancient activity to the Facebook lifestyle.

Obama-enthusiasts from every corner of the country send in photos of their creations, then comment, blog, share designs, and organise BYOPs, or Bring Your Own Pumpkin parties.

The only rule is a ban on negative "attack-o'-lanterns," and while Senator McCain faces are allowed, they're not coming in.

Another of the founders, advertising art director Jason Powers, 31, said the fun has a serious point.

"We're supporters because Obama feels like the right candidate at the right time and with the right attitude," he said in New York. "He's fired up a lot of young Democrats and we did this to show our support."

Rich Hanley, journalism professor at Quinnipiac University, said the pumpkin brigades typify a wider phenomenon in the Obama camp.

"It shows that sophistication combined with informality that marks the younger person in the political arena," he told AFP.

"I'd be stunned to see a Republican effort that matches the vitality, informality and sheer joy this site represents. There is something about this candidate that inspires people to lofty thoughts, but also to be creative," Mr Hanley said.

In the SoHo loft, Larocco said she will vote for Senator Obama because of his healthcare policies and desire to get troops out of Iraq.

But for now, with her hands covered in pumpkin juice, she had more immediate concerns.

"I'll be happy if I get through this without cutting myself."

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发表于 2008-10-29 05:02:49 AM |显示全部楼层

Soggy World Series game suspended at 2-2
Posted Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:01pm AEDT
Updated Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:00pm AEDT



Game five of the World Series was suspended in Philadelphia this afternoon (Australian time) with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay deadlocked 2-2 as heavy rain left the field virtually unplayable.

The Phillies lead Major League Baseball's best-of-seven championship series three games to one and would win their second World Series crown, the first since 1980, with one more victory.

Should Tampa Bay pull out the victory when the game resumes Tuesday, the Rays would force a sixth game Wednesday in Florida.

Play was suspended in the middle of the sixth inning. Umpires pulled the players off the field at 10:40 pm (1:40pm AEDT) and sent them to their respective dressing rooms during a downpour.

It started out as a miserable night for the crowd of 45,940 and it got progressively worse with strong winds and driving rain.

Major League Baseball officials halted the action just moments after the Rays had tied the score on a single to left field by Carlos Pena.

Rain also delayed the start of game three in Philadelphia for 91 minutes.

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发表于 2008-10-29 05:06:40 AM |显示全部楼层

'Bridge to Nowhere' Senator guilty of corruption
Posted Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:40am AEDT



US Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been convicted of corruption, a verdict that could endanger the Republican's political future and help Democrats expand their control of the Senate in the November 4 election.

Stevens, 84, was found guilty on all seven counts of lying on Senate disclosure forms by failing to report more than $US250,000 ($415,000) in home renovations and other gifts from an oil industry executive.

In a blistering statement issued after the verdict he accused prosecutors of misconduct and ethical violations.

"I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have," he said.

"I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate."

Stevens has been one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate, using his authority to steer billions of dollars of federal spending to his home state.

He is known for his proposed "Bridge to Nowhere," which became a symbol of out-of-control "pork barrel" spending.

The now-abandoned project would have linked the town of Ketchikan to its airport on nearby Gravina Island, population 50, at a cost of $398 million.

Stevens, who testified in his own defence, showed a fixed frown as he left the court without speaking to reporters.

"I am innocent," he said in the statement. "This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial."

He faces up to five years in prison on each of the seven counts.

But under federal sentencing guidelines he is likely to receive much less prison time or just get probation.

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发表于 2008-10-29 05:09:09 AM |显示全部楼层

Neo-Nazis arrested over Obama assassination plot
Posted Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:19am AEDT
Updated Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:15am AEDT




US authorities have arrested two white supremacists for threatening to kill Democrat Barack Obama during a "killing spree" of African-Americans, court records showed.

The two men planned to kill 88 people and decapitate 14 African-Americans, before assassinating Senator Obama while dressed in tuxedos and top hats, the documents revealed.

Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman were arrested last Wednesday (US time) in Tennessee for possession of firearms and threats against a candidate running for president, the documents from the Memphis court showed.

The men discussed a "killing spree to include targeting a predominantly African-American school ... they further stated that their final act of violence would be to attempt to assassinate presidential candidate Barack Obama," Brian Weaks, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the court.

Cowart, from Bells, Tennessee, and Schlesselman, from Arkansas, met via the internet a month ago and have "very strong beliefs and views regarding 'White Power' and 'Skinhead' views," Mr Weaks said in his statement to the court.

Cowart had bought one rifle and stockpiled two handguns, both stolen from his grandfather.

They planned to steal another high-powered rifle from a gun store in Jackson, Tennessee, as well as a series of robberies to finance their bloody actions.

"Schlesselman stated that they planned to drive their vehicles as fast as they could toward Senator Obama shooting at him from the windows," Mr Weaks said.

"Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt. Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt."

There has been no immediate comment on the incident from Barack Obama's campaign.

Senator Obama, who has made history by becoming the first black presidential nominee of a major political party, is already under secret service protection having received it much earlier in the campaign than any other candidate.

In late August, the alarm was also raised when it was revealed three men were arrested with a weapons cache in Denver, Colorado where the party convention was being held.

US attorneys later said there had been no credible threat against Obama.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:09:30 AM |显示全部楼层

Obama, McCain wage Florida fight as White House race tightens
October 30, 2008, 5:45 am



TAMPA, Florida (AFP) - Democrat Barack Obama Wednesday rolled out a new offensive on the stricken US economy while his White House rival John McCain pressed back with character attacks six days from the historic election.

Polls suggested the presidential race could be tightening a notch, as Obama geared up to deliver a prime-time campaign pitch on national television in the closing stretch of his bid to become America's first black president.

Upping the pace to an intense new level with less than a week to go before next Tuesday's election, the Illinois senator was to hold his first joint rally with former president Bill Clinton at a midnight event in Orlando, Florida.

En route to the Sunshine State, the biggest of the battleground states where the election will be won and lost, Obama said a vote for McCain was a vote to cripple the hard-pressed middle class and reward well-connected fat cats.

"He wants to give more to billionaires, more to corporations that ship jobs overseas, more to the same people whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this crisis," he told 28,000 supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Obama , 47, also derided his Republican opponent's attacks on his own tax proposals as "socialism."

"By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten," he said.

McCain, 72, was also campaigning in Florida where he renewed his attacks on Obama's past links to 1960s radical Bill Ayers, now a professor of education in Chicao.

"I think this whole issue of the relationship with Bill Ayers needs to be known by the American people," the Arizona senator told Spanish-language station Radio Mambi.

" Senator Obama said it was just a guy in the neighborhood. We know much more than that."

Ayers was a member of the "Weathermen" movement which carried out a series of bombings to protest the Vietnam War, including on the Pentagon and US Capitol. Obama's campaign say he has had no contact with Ayers since 2005.

McCain has desisted from mentioning Ayers in recent speeches but his comments could signal a fresh onslaught on Obama's character as the election campaign enters the finishing stretch.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University Wednesday showed Obama with a still sizeable, albeit slightly narrower lead in Ohio and Pennsylvania but with Florida now too close to call.

Obama is now ahead in Florida by 47-45 percent compared with 49-44 percent on October 23, Quinnipiac said, leaving the outcome within the margin of error.

Another poll from Rasmussen Reports meanwhile showed McCain closing to within three points of Obama nationwide for the first time in more than month, trailing 47 percent to 50 percent.

The McCain campaign believes their relentless attempts to portray Obama as an ultra-liberal politician secretly plotting to raise taxes is slowly starting to draw support.

But a ABC News-Washington Post poll said Obama was the first Democratic hopeful since Clinton to lead his Republican rival on taxes, by 10 points. Overall, the Democrat led McCain by 52-45 percent in the poll.

Obama's 30-minute, prime-time television pitch was being taken out at a cost of at least three million dollars on three of the four national networks: CBS, NBC and Fox.

Virtually guaranteeing a huge audience, the "infomercial" was to directly precede the start of the latest and potentially decisive game of baseball's World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Florida's Tampa Bay Rays .

Aides said the ad, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, would be heavy on patriotic odes and feature ordinary voters discussing their financial strains.

The ad "will give the American people an opportunity to hear specifics from Barack Obama about his plans for the country, and how Obama and (running mate Joseph) Biden are going to bring about the change we need," the campaign said.

McCain, vastly outspent by Obama's deep-pocketed campaign, cannot afford anything on the ad's scale -- but offered a wry promise not to interfere with America's national past-time.

"No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I'm president," he said.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:12:28 AM |显示全部楼层

US Fed cuts key interest rate to 1%

Thursday October 30, 2008, 6:12 am




The Federal Reserve has slashed a key interest rate by half a percentage point as it seeks to revive an economy hit by a long list of maladies stemming from the most severe financial crisis in decades.

The central bank on Wednesday reduced its target for the federal funds rate, the interest banks charge on overnight loans, to 1 per cent, a low last seen in 2003-2004. The funds rate has not been lower since 1958, when Dwight Eisenhower was president.

The cut marked the second half-point reduction in the funds rate this month. The Fed slashed the rate by that amount in a coordinated move with foreign central banks on October 8.

In a brief statement explaining Wednesday's action, the Fed said that the "intensification of financial market turmoil is likely to exert additional restraint on spending, partly by further reducing the ability of households and business to obtain credit."

The central bank said that "downside risks to growth remain" holding out the promise of further rate cuts if needed. The rate-cut decision was unanimous.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues pledged that they would "monitor economic and financial developments carefully and will act as needed to promote sustainable economic growth and price stability."

Wall Street had staged its second biggest point surge ever on Tuesday with the Dow Jones industrial average climbing by 889 points in anticipation of the Fed's action. Trading was more subdued on Wednesday with the Dow actually down by about 30 points in the first 15 minutes after the afternoon announcement, and then showing a roughly 30-point gain shortly after that.

Many analysts believe the Fed will not stop at 1 per cent if officials see the need to cut rates further. Some are forecasting another half-point move at the Fed's last meeting of the year on December 16.

But other economists said with rates already so low, the Fed may decide to hold at 1 per cent, leaving some room for a further reduction if needed next year should the country's economic troubles intensify.

In its statement, the Fed indicated it had room to lower rates because the spreading economic weakness was lowering the risks that inflation would get out of control. Indeed, the weakness has caused dramatic declines in the price of oil and other commodities.

While many economists believe the US has already fallen into a recession, they think the aggressive efforts by the Fed to cut rates and take other actions to unfreeze credit markets will keep the country from plunging into a prolonged and deep downturn.

The Fed's action was expected to be quickly followed by a reduction by commercial banks in their prime lending rate, the benchmark for millions of consumer and business loans, by a similar half-point.

The central bank also announced that it was lowering its discount rate, the interest it charges to make direct loans to banks, by a half-point to 1.25 per cent. This rate has become increasingly important as the central bank has dramatically increased direct loans to banks in an effort to break the grip of the credit crisis.

Bernanke pledged in a speech earlier this month that the Fed "will not stand down until we have achieved our goals of repairing and reforming our financial system and restoring prosperity."

In addition to the rate cuts, the Fed has been moving to pump billions of dollars into the banking system to help unfreeze markets that seized up in dramatic fashion last month. The ensuing meltdown of financial markets caused the Bush administration to successfully lobby Congress to pass on October 3 a $US700 billion rescue package to make direct purchases of bank stock and buy up bad assets as a way of getting financial institutions to start lending again.

That money started flowing earlier this week with $US125 billion going to nine of the nation's biggest banks. Other industries, including automakers and insurance companies, are in talks with the administration to get a share of the bailout funds.

And there is pressure from lawmakers to deploy some of the bailout resources to provide mortgage guarantees to encourage more banks to rework home loans to stem a record tide of foreclosures.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:13:57 AM |显示全部楼层

Global stock markets rally on rate cut hopes

Thursday October 30, 2008, 5:35 am




LONDON (AFP) - Global stock markets posted solid gains Wednesday, with investors buoyed by prospects for global interest rate cuts to help the world economy resist a slide into recession.

The US Federal Reserve was later Wednesday expected to slash US borrowing costs to boost the flagging US economy, with the European Central Bank likely to follow suit next week.

Following a strong showing in Asia and a robust performance in Europe, Wall Street overcame early weakness, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.07 percent at 9,162.45 points at mid-day.

Wall Street saw a huge bargain-hunting rally on Tuesday after days of savage sell-offs.

Analysts said the market had been overdue for a rally after big losses stemming from the worst financial turmoil since the 1930s Great Depression, with investors hoping the Fed will announce an aggressive rate cut at the end of a two-day policy meeting.

"Yesterday's explosive rally increases the odds that the current bear market low was made on October 10," said Ed Yardeni at Yardeni Research.

Most analysts expect the Fed to cut its key federal funds rate by at least a half point, to 1.0 percent, matching the lows of 2003.

Some predicted the US central bank, which led a coordinated global rate cut earlier this month, could go even lower in an effort to jump-start lending and ease the global credit crunch.

"Since most traders think the half percentage point cut is already in the market, a higher or lower cut could drive market reaction," said Fred Dickson, analyst at DA Davidson & Co.

Markets in Europe soared, with several jumping 9.0 percent as spirits lifted and recession fears faded.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 8.05 percent to 4,242.54 points while in Paris the CAC gained 9.23 percent to 3,402.57 points.

By contrast, the Frankfurt DAX fell 0.31 percent to 4,808.69, dragged down by Volkswagen. VW shares surged on Monday and Tuesday on news that Porsche had boosted its stake in Europe's largest auto manufacturer.

Shares rose 9.42 percent in Madrid, 9.87 percent in Milan, 9.09 percent in Amsterdam, 6.56 percent in Brussels and 6.18 percent on the Swiss Market Index.

Heavyweight bank stocks were among the day's big winners.

Shares in Spanish lender Santander, the eurozone's largest bank by market capitalization, soared 14.33 percent.

Swiss banking giants UBS and Credit Suisse rose 15.2 percent and 11.40 percent respectively.

Sentiment in Milan was underpinned by a renewed pledge from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that the government stood ready to shore up the Italian banks if they sought such backing.

He said if banks requested it, the government was prepared to intervene through bonds, convertible bonds or a special class of shares "without punitive conditions for management or shareholders."

"Talk of rate cuts is boosting sentiment, with many expecting a cut of at least 50 basis points that would take interest rates in the United States down to 1.0 (percent)," said CMC Markets dealer Ian Griffiths.

"However, many are still sceptical after such huge moves ... there is no doubt that all eyes will be on the (Fed) ... and anything less than the expected 50 basis point rate cut could plunge these markets back to were they started (Tuesday)."

NAB Capital analyst John Kyriakopoulos also pointed to a "thawing" credit freeze that he said had overshadowed gloomy macroeconomic reports, notably sharp declines in US and French consumer confidence.

"It appears that expectations for imminent interest rate cuts by the major central banks and some signs that the credit freeze is thawing overwhelmed more bad news on economic growth.

"Central banks around the world are now taking more decisive monetary policy action to cushion the slump in economic activity," he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Tokyo shares rocketed 7.74 percent as the expected US rate reduction and hopes of a similar move in Japan lifted Asian markets.

Sydney rose 1.3 percent, Mumbai was up 0.4 percent and Hong Kong finished 0.8 percent higher.

The Nikkei business daily said Wednesday that Japan's central bank was considering cutting its already super-low interest rates by 25 basis points to 0.25 percent on Friday -- the first such move since March 2001.

Analysts said a rate cut in Japan now seemed likely and markets would be disappointed if the BoJ does not act.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:16:08 AM |显示全部楼层

Boeing sees China buying 3,710 planes over next 20 years

Thursday October 30, 2008, 4:54 am





NEW YORK (AFP) - US aerospace giant Boeing said Wednesday it sees the booming China aviation market producing orders for 3,710 new commercial aircraft over the next 20 years.

Chinese demand for passenger and cargo planes will be worth about 390 billion dollars, Boeing said in its 2008 Current Market Outlook report.

Worldwide, Boeing predicted demand for 29,400 new planes by 2027, for a total price tag of 3.2 trillion dollars.

"China will continue to be the fastest-growing aviation center in the world, requiring 41 percent of the entire Asia-Pacific region airplane demand. This makes China the largest market outside of the US for new commercial airplanes," said Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing.

Boeing predicted that growth in China's air travel and air cargo market would lead to growth that more than triples to 4,560 airplanes by 2027.

The company noted that the market would be roughly equivalent to the number of airplanes currently in Europe.

Single-aisle airplanes will lead the demand -- accounting for 70 percent of the new purchases, or 2,600 planes -- as the country adjusts to its fast-growing domestic market, the US company said.

Demand for intermediate twin-aisle planes would yield about 780 airplane orders.

The combined single-aisle and twin-aisle market would represent 91 percent of the 390-billion-dollar market, Boeing said, referring to its single-aisle Next-Generation 737 and its twin-aisles, the new 787 Dreamliner and the 777.

The demand for larger aircraft to connect to China with other major world destinations will be limited to about 100 planes, Boeing said, cited its 747 plane "and larger."

European arch-rival Airbus has banked its strategy on the super-jumbo A380, the world's largest commercial aircraft, first delivered in October 2007 to Singapore Airlines.

Boeing noted that China's cargo markets lead the global industry and forecast that Chinese air carriers would add about 370 freighter airplanes by 2027, quadrupling its total freighter fleet size.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:18:06 AM |显示全部楼层

China's central bank cuts interest rates

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 11:05 pm




BEIJING (AFP) - China's central bank on Wednesday cut key interest rates in a bid to spur economic growth, the third such move in six weeks.

The People's Bank of China decided to cut the benchmark one-year deposit rate by 27 basis points to 3.60 percent, it said in a statement on its website.

The one-year lending rate was also reduced by 27 basis points to 6.66 percent, the bank said.

Stock markets soared in Asia and Europe on Wednesday ahead of an expected rate cut in the United States and as hopes rose of a similar move in Japan.

When China last cut interest rates early this month, speculation was ripe that the decision was made in coordination with other central banks, which also slashed rates at the same time.

This is the third time in just over six weeks that China has cut interest rates.

It reduced its benchmark one-year lending rate to 7.20 percent in September, the first such cut since 2002 in a strong indication that it was concerned about the need to spur growth.

Mark Williams, a China economist at Capital Economics, said the latest rate cut showed China was making every effort to prevent a major slowdown.

"It shows that the Chinese government is pulling out all the stops to make sure the gentle economic slowdown we've seen so far doesn't turn into something more serious," he said.

"Interest rates have a very limited impact on the economy so they are seen as a signalling move by the government that it is trying its best to support growth at around nine percent."

Stephen Green, a Standard Chartered economist, said China was likely to cut rates once more this year due to the deteriorating economic situation.

"It's obvious that in the last month there has been evidence of an accelerating slowdown," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

"While Beijing is still thinking about fiscal stimulus, it's clear they're happy to relax monetary policy in the meantime."

China's economic growth slowed to 9.9 percent in the first nine months of the year, as the global financial crisis started to have an impact on the world's most populous nation.

In the third quarter, the economy grew by just nine percent, the first time since the fourth quarter of 2005 that quarterly growth slipped into single digits.

Williams said the government was hoping the move would boost investor confidence.

"ast interest rate cuts have had a positive impact on equity markets but it tends only to last for a few days," he said.

Chen Xingdong, a Beijing-based economist with BNP Paribas, agreed the rate cut would not be very helpful.

"Investors do not make decisions based on interest rates," he said.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:19:35 AM |显示全部楼层

China predict 'climate phenomena' from global warming

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 10:12 pm






The Chinese Government has made dire predictions of increased disasters due to global warming.

In releasing a major policy document on climate change, the Chinese Government has warned that global warming has already had massive adverse effects on China.

A major policy paper on climate change has warned of the difficulty of reducing the country's reliance on coal and the potential devastation that this could cause

According to the so-called White Paper, "Extreme climate phenomena, such as high temperatures, heavy precipitation and severe droughts have increased in frequency and intensity".

Xie Zhenhua, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China's emissions have caught up with the United States and will not fall soon.

The paper also warns that China's coal-dominated energy mix can not be quickly changed making control of greenhouse gasses "rather difficult".

The paper follows China calling on wealthy nations like Australia to contribute 1 per cent of their wealth to fix global warming.

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