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发表于 2008-10-30 04:20:45 AM |显示全部楼层

China to keep resource demand strong: economist

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 6:05 pm






Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk says demand for Australian resource exports is likely to stay strong because of China's growing domestic market.

Mr Smirk has addressed a mining conference in Brisbane.

He says while exports to Europe and the United States are likely to suffer, the current economic volatility gives China more strength to drive prices down.

"We're in an environment of a global slow down with the most risks in the global economy since the 1930s," he said.

"If the Chinese can't negotiate a better price for their products now, they never can."

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:23:00 AM |显示全部楼层

Two Chinese carriers post losses for third quarter

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 4:15 pm





SHANGHAI (AFP) - Two of China's biggest airlines reported heavy losses for the third quarter, a traditionally peak season, as weakening demand and higher fuel costs eroded their profits.

Flagship carrier Air China posted a net loss of 1.94 billion yuan (283.2 million dollars) for the period, compared with a 2.2 billion yuan net profit a year earlier, according to a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The airline also reported a net loss of 657.3 million yuan for the first nine months of this year, compared with a net profit of 3.5 billion a year earlier.

China Eastern Airlines, the country's third largest carrier, posted a 2.33 billion yuan loss for the three months to September, after a 976 million net profit a year earlier.

It returned a net loss of 2.29 billion yuan for the first nine months of the year, compared with a net profit of 1.03 billion a year earlier.

"This is primarily due to the decrease in demand in the aviation market and the fluctuations in crude oil prices ," Air China, the country's second largest carrier in terms of fleet size, said.

It added that jet fuel costs rose by 64 percent in the third quarter from the same period a year earlier.

China Eastern said: "As the fourth quarter is the traditional off-season for the aviation industry and the demands in the aviation markets may not be revived in the near future, the company expects to record a loss for the year 2008."

Analysts said the country's aviation industry may face another gloomy year in 2009 due to the global economic slowdown , although traffic might improve mildly in the fourth quarter as Beijing relaxes strict security controls imposed since before the Olympics.

"We are concerned about fragile demand and overcapacity risks in the global recession," Ally Ma, an analyst with Citigroup, said in a note.

Shanghai-listed shares of Air China fell 0.25 percent to 3.98 yuan while China Eastern lost 0.88 percent to 3.37 yuan Wednesday morning.

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发表于 2008-10-30 04:24:27 AM |显示全部楼层

Sydney company looks to catch solar wind to China

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 9:32 am






Sydney-based renewable energy company Solar Sailor has landed a deal to supply two Chinese commercial ships with high-tech energy generating sails.

The company makes computer-controlled sails that capture the sun's energy and also harness wind power.

New South Wales Minister for State Development Ian Macdonald says the sails can significantly reduce a ship's operating costs and emissions.

"The giant wings are as big as a 747s or an A380 [passenger airliners]. So they're very large," he said.

"They're covered in solar panels. They capture the sun's energy while harnessing the ocean wind. So it's very innovative technology and I look forward to seeing how they go with these two Cosco ships that they'll be building the appropriate sails on."

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发表于 2008-10-30 05:12:55 AM |显示全部楼层

Mekong River residents at risk of arsenic poisoning: UN
By Radio Australia's Liam Cochrane

Posted Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:49pm AEDT
Updated Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:59pm AEDT




The UN says 1.7 million people living along the Mekong River are at risk of arsenic poisoning from their drinking water supplies.

The risk assessment is part of ongoing efforts to survey wells and other water sources in South East Asia.

Cambodia's deputy director of the rural water supply department, Nuon Pichnimith, told ABC Radio Australia that worrying levels of exposure were being found in the four countries which depend of the Mekong river - China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

"Surprisingly we found arsenic problems, especially some wells that are near the Mekong River," he said

"In most of the flooding area, when we tested we saw the arsenic."

Currently UNICEF has half a million arsenic tests logged in a database and a report mapping the high-risk areas of the world is due out soon.

So far, testing has found Asia's hotspots to be in Burma's Irrawaddy delta, the Red River delta of China, Thailand's Chao Praya basin and Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake - as well as the Mekong.

While entire river systems may be considered at risk, it can be difficult to pick the safe wells from the deadly.

"When you actually go and test the wells, you find that there might be arsenic in one well and 50 metres away there would be no arsenic, so it's a very localised problem," said Mark Henderson, UNICEF's regional adviser for water, sanitation and hygiene.

Arsenic is released naturally into some groundwater systems as a result of normal geo-chemical processes, but when people drink it, the poison can build up to dangerous levels, and cause skin lesions and cancers.

Arsenic is difficult to detect in water supplies, as it has no taste or smell, and the side effects can take several years to show up.

Despite the difficulties, Mr Henderson says efforts to contain the problem are making progress.

"We've reached a point where governments pretty much understand the problem, they have a handle on where the hotspots are, they've developed national strategies to address it," he said.

"And now it's a matter of just implementing those strategies, continuing to support those communities who are at risk of arsenic and finding alternative safe water sources for them."

The problem of arsenic poisoning in water supplies originally emerged in Bangladesh and India in the 90s, as the drilling of new wells exposed tens of millions of people to its ill effects.

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发表于 2008-10-30 05:15:07 AM |显示全部楼层

Thousands of lawyers to monitor US election
Posted Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:20pm AEDT
Updated Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:00pm AEDT



It might be 10 years since the voting chaos in Florida, but no-one is taking any chances that similar problems will occur in the US presidential election this time around.

Thousands of lawyers are fanning out across the United States to be on hand if there is the slightest sign of voting irregularities.

Millions of Americans have already voted, with many states opening the polling booths early to avoid what is expected to be a crush on November 4.

Voting may be voluntary but the interest in this election is expected to outstrip previous years.

In Georgia, black Americans like Patricia Lewis are lining up for hours to cast their vote.

"It's okay, I stand in long lines to shop. Six hours to vote is nothing," she said.

Ms Lewis is not alone in her determination.

Beatrice Lyons is volunteering as a staffer, working up to 18 hours a day, and she says she will work even longer if it means letting so many people vote - many of them for the first time.

"Makes me feel real good. They can just come out, stay all night long. I'll be right here," she said.

In Virginia, which is now a battleground state, the state director of America's civil rights group the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), King Salim Khalfani, is anticipating trouble.

The NAACP has already started legal action, claiming the state and its Democratic governor have not organised enough voting machines or staff to operate them.

"We need to ensure that there are no shenanigans in this election," Mr Khalfani said.

"We saw what happened in 2000 and in 2004, and we've said not on our watch in Virginia. We want our people to be able to vote and at the numbers that are listed."

New voters

Half a million new voters have registered since January and the group wants the state to cut expected waiting times to vote to 45 minutes or less.

"Re-allocate the equipment and the workers or rent, lease or buy more voting machines and assign more poll workers to these places," Mr Khalfani said.

"Virginia unprecedentedly has almost 300,000 more registered voters than we had in 2004, and I would estimate that a very high majority of them are African-American."

The NAACP's Virginia president, Rayfield Vines, also wants people to be allowed to vote with pen and paper if the wait for a machine is going to be too long.

"Because of the spirit of the times, there are a record number of persons who are going to be voting and we don't want people to become discouraged because they've got to wait in line four or five hours in order to vote," he said.

There is no hint when the court hearing will take place, but the board of elections has already rejected the NAACP's accusations, saying there are 10,500 voting machines in the state - an 86 per cent increase from 2004.

This is one of the first lawsuits, and it is unlikely to be the last.

Barack Obama's team has reportedly organised 6,000 lawyers to head to Florida - a sign of what might lie ahead.

Based on a report for The World Today by Lisa Millar on October 29

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发表于 2008-10-31 04:20:52 AM |显示全部楼层

Vatican allows gay vetting of priests
October 31, 2008, 6:36 am



The Vatican acknowledges that psychological tests could help identify candidates for the Catholic priesthood who show homosexual tendencies, according to a newly-released document.

While condoning the use of such tests by Catholic seminaries, the document released and approved by Pope Benedict XVI says they must be strictly voluntary.

"Deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and "uncertain sexual identity" are listed in the document along with "excessive rigidity of character" and "strong affective dependencies" as traits that might make a candidate unsuitable for the priesthood.

The document, made public by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, stipulates that psychological testing must always have the candidate's "previous, explicit, informed, and free consent."

Paedophile priest scandals that have hit the Catholic Church in recent years were not the "primary cause" behind the document, as the Church has reflected for decades on the relationship between religious faith and psychology, the Congregation's secretary, Monsignor Jean-Louis Brugues, told a news conference.

But they helped "accelerate" the process and were "certainly a determining factor," he said.

In addition to paedophile priest scandals in several countries, notably the United States, as well as in Latin America and Europe, a seminary in Austria was shut down in August 2004 after revelations that students there openly indulged in homosexual behaviour.

The Vatican document, titled "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood," says: "Errors in discerning of vocations are not rare."

The authors warn that "in all too many cases psychological defects, sometimes of a pathological kind, reveal themselves only after ordination to the priesthood. Detecting defects earlier would help avoid many tragic experiences."

They added: "Those who today ask admittance to the seminary reflect in a more or less accentuated way the unease of an emerging mentality characterised by consumerism, instability in family and social relationships, moral relativism, erroneous visions of sexuality... and a systematic negation of values, especially by the media."

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发表于 2008-10-31 04:23:05 AM |显示全部楼层

Shoppers flock to Westfield London
October 31, 2008, 6:38 am



Thousands of British shoppers have forgotten their credit crunch woes and flocked to the opening of Westfield's new London mega-mall.

The STG1.6 billion ($A3.93 billion) centre at White City in London's west is the biggest urban mall in Europe and opened as Britain teeters on the brink of recession.

But the country's economic woes didn't deter curious Londoners from queueing up in the cold autumn weather for more than an hour before the doors opened to more than 200 shops and 50 eateries.

Westfield chairman Frank Lowy told the crowd that he was not worried about the economic climate and was confident the centre would be a success.

"I have 50 years' experience in shopping centres and business cycles come and go and my experience tells me that this cycle will pass and prosperity will return," he said.

"We are fundamentally optimistic.

"We don't make shopping centres like this for today, we build them for generations to come."

London mayor Boris Johnson, who officially opened the centre, urged the crowd to do their bit for the economy and spend, spend, spend.

"I think there are plenty of people sitting on piles of money out there who will come to invest in the shops here," he said.

"I think this shopping centre is a fantastic statement, the world's greatest centre for the buying and selling of goods.

"This shopping centre will still be here after this recession and the one after that and the one after that have faded into memory."

There was a bit of an Australian flavour to the opening, with singer and TV presenter Dannii Minogue popping in to open one of the centre's major clothing stores, Next.

Londoners were also introduced to new stores from Australian designer Leona Edmiston, footwear maker Ugg Australia and accessories chain Mimco.

Mums wandered about the centre's white marble floors warning their children, "don't get lost", while nail bars, jewellers and hairdressers served customers champagne and chocolates.

The queue at the centre's stand-alone champagne bar was several people deep as shoppers lined up to quench their thirst with some bubbles.

The bar sits in the middle of the centre's upmarket designer section, known as The Village.

However, most of the stores, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada kept their doors closed today.

Most have not been able to complete their fitouts on time and have had to delay their opening until November and December.

Westfield has predicted 21 million shoppers will visit the centre, which employs 7,000 workers, each year.

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发表于 2008-10-31 04:24:58 AM |显示全部楼层

Opposition cries foul as Zambians vote for president
October 31, 2008, 6:28 am


LUSAKA (AFP) - Zambians voted Thursday in a tight presidential election as opposition leader Michael Sata accused police of scheming with poll officials to "rig" the result and warned again he would not accept defeat.

Sata was locked in a neck-and-neck race against acting President Rupiah Banda, in a contest to replace president Levy Mwanawasa who died in August after a stroke. The winner will ride out the end of Mwanawasa's term till 2011.

The first official results are expected by Friday morning, with voting beginning immediately after the polls closed at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT).

The 71-year-old opposition leader, known as "King Cobra" for his stinging rhetoric, told reporters after casting his ballot that Banda's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) could not win without cheating.

"There is no way MMD can win," Sata said. "We know the police, the electoral commission are all involved with trying to rig."

Asked if he would accept a loss, he said: "No."

Sata has warned since last week he will not accept defeat if he suspected vote fraud, and his supporters scuffled with police Monday in the tourist town of Livingstone after they tried to stop two trucks carrying election materials.

The activists believed the trucks were carrying ballots pre-marked for Banda, but election officials said they were transporting lanterns for polling stations.

But despite the accusations, election officials said that the day had passed off without serious incident.

"Generally, things have gone well in terms of the conduct of the election," electoral commission spokesman Cris Akufuna told AFP after the polls closed.

Counting of votes was set to begin at a Lusaka polling station with the sealed boxes to be opened in the presence of African and diplomatic observers.

Fearing violence after the close of polls, police and army commanders put their forces on high alert.

Anil Gayan, head of the African Union observer team, said his monitors had seen no evidence to back up the claims of rigging.

"We hear lots of things, but we have not seen any visible sign of rigging," he told AFP.

But the risk of violence weighed on the minds of voters, after Sata's supporters rioted for days in Lusaka following his 2006 defeat to Mwanawasa.

"I've been on the ground, and three-quarters of people are saying they want change. The violence may come up if the results go in favour of the ruling party," said Barry Lukwesa, an unemployed 25-year-old, as he waited to vote.

Zambia's founding president Kenneth Kaunda, who lost power to the MMD in 1991 but has endorsed Banda, urged calm.

"Let us maintain peace after elections. Peace is very important," Kaunda said after casting his ballot.

Banda has vowed not to allow any disruptions to the election.

He has promised to follow in the footsteps of Mwanawasa, who won plaudits in the West for his economic record and his willingness to criticise President Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe .

Sata has campaigned on a promise to transform Zambia within 90 days of taking office, by forcing foreign firms to hand 25 percent stakes to local investors and embarking on social spending to provide better homes and jobs.

Banda is a western-educated economist and experienced diplomat. Sata has had little formal education but is a shrewd political operator who rose from the ranks to become a key minister in earlier governments.

Two other candidates are potential spoilers for either side.

UPND (United Party for National Development) leader Hakainde Hichilema, 46, is seen as a dark horse contender, while former vice president Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party is seen as an also-ran.

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发表于 2008-10-31 04:26:28 AM |显示全部楼层

Bali bombers could be executed any time
October 31, 2008, 6:09 am



The three Islamic militants behind the 2002 Bali bombings could be executed any time from midnight, although authorities have tried to hose down speculation the executions are imminent.

Indonesia's Attorney General's Office last week said the executions would be carried out early in the month of November, but spokesman Jasman Penjaitan rejected reports that the date had been set for November 1.

"We disagree with that, there is no declaration like that," Jasman told the online Indonesian newspaper Kompas.

Security has been building around Nusakambangan Island, where the prisoners are housed, and the mainland in Cilacap, Central Java.

Police have reportedly ordered local fishermen to stop ferrying tourists to the island in anticipation of the executions.

Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra will each face a firing squad over their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians.

However, one of their lawyers, Achmad Kholid told Indonesian journalists the men were yet to receive the formal letter notifying them of their execution, as is custom 72 hours before it is carried out.

And the deputy attorney-general indicated the executions could be conducted any time from November 1 until 20.

Hundreds of elite mobile brigade police are in place on the island, while armed officers are also conducting random vehicle and identification checks on the mainland, in the wider Cilacap area.

It follows reported claims that some extremist sympathisers of the three convicted terrorists might try to make their way to Nusakambangan to personally retrieve the bodies, which will be helicoptered back to their respective villages.

The bombers' themselves have also threatened that their deaths will be avenged.

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发表于 2008-10-31 04:28:44 AM |显示全部楼层

Serial blasts rock northeast India, 61 dead
October 31, 2008, 5:56 am


GUWAHATI, India (AFP) - At least 61 people were killed and more than 300 injured Thursday in a dozen blasts that ripped through towns and markets in the insurgency-hit northeastern Indian state of Assam.

A police spokesman confirmed a total of 12 explosions within the space of about one hour, six of them in the state's main city of Guwahati.

Three other districts in western Assam were also hit.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although state officials said the bombings may have been the work of the rebel United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), which has been fighting for an independent homeland since 1979.

Police were also investigating whether Islamist fundamentalist groups active in Assam -- such as the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami -- may have been to blame.

"Jihadi forces could be behind this in collaboration with local militants," said state police intelligence chief Khagen Sharmna.

The ULFA released a statement denying it was involved in the blasts.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who put the death toll at 61 with 300 injured, described the attacks as "an act of cowardice... designed and carried out to spread terror."

An immediate curfew was clamped on Guwahati as angry residents went on the rampage, attacking police vehicles, fire engines and even ambulances.

"The area was teeming with people, office workers, shoppers and vendors when a very big explosion took place," said witness Arindam Das, who was shopping in one of the targeted markets.

The blasts, including one in front of the Guwahati District Magistrate's Court, were powerful enough to reduce nearby vehicles to a heap of twisted metal.

"Some of the bodies were charred beyond recognition," Deputy Inspector General of Assam Police G.P. Singh said.

Thirty-one people were killed in Guwahati, while 19 were killed in Assam's western district of Kokrajhar and 11 in nearby Barpeta town, officials said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said every effort would be made to bring the bombers to justice.

"Such barbaric acts targeting innocent men, women and children only highlight the desperation and cowardice of those responsible," Singh said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon , in New Delhi on an official visit, condemned what he called an "act of terrorism targeting civilians," according to a statement issued by his spokeswoman Michele Montas.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the attacks were a "terrible reminder of the threat from violent extremism," and vowed continued anti-terror cooperation between Britain and India.

Assam's Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the government's main spokesman, said preliminary investigations showed some of the bombs had been strapped to bicycles and packed with incendiary material to trigger fires.

"The needle of suspicion is on the ULFA," Sarma told reporters. "Most of the bombs were planted in crowded places like markets and office complexes. So it shows that the perpetrators wanted high casualties."

The explosions in Guwahati injured more than 150 people and the city's hospitals were overwhelmed by the influx of casualties.

The attacks came six weeks after New Delhi was hit by a series of bombs in crowded markets that left more than 20 dead. Those blasts were claimed by a group calling itself the Indian Mujahedeen.

In the past two decades, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam, which is known for its tea, timber and oil reserves.

Public support for the ULFA has dwindled in recent years after a series of attacks in public places that claimed heavy civilian casualties.

Non-Assamese people make up nearly one-quarter of the remote state's 26 million people. The state has 800,000 people from Bihar state, many of whom have lived in Assam for decades.

In January 2007, police blamed the ULFA for a wave of attacks in which 62 people were killed, mainly Hindi-speaking migrant workers.

Peace talks between the ULFA and the government fell apart in 2006. Since then the rebels have kept up their attacks.

Violent insurgencies have wracked India's northeastern states -- known as the "seven sisters" -- for decades. More than 50,000 people have been killed in insurgency-related violence in the region since India's independence in 1947.

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:26:02 AM |显示全部楼层

US economy shrinks, Japan primes economy

Friday October 31, 2008, 7:31 am




New data shows the US economy shrank in the third quarter, with consumers and businesses retrenching from the global financial storm, as Japan unveiled a $US277 billion ($A414.95 billion) stimulus package.

Financial markets extended gains amid interest rate cuts in the United States, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and agreements for the US Federal Reserve to lend to central banks in key emerging economies.

But a lot of news remained glum.

A survey showed underlying confidence among consumers and businesses in the European Union had declined to a 15-year-low.

US financial group American Express unveiled 10,000 job cuts worldwide and equipment maker Motorola said it would slash 3,000 positions, with both firms citing weak economic conditions.

The leaders of Europe's two largest economies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, meanwhile were meeting to determine how to respond jointly to the global financial crisis.

In the United States, the possibility of recession came into view with news that the economy contracted at a 0.3 per cent annualised pace in the third quarter.

The drop in gross domestic product (GDP) was the first negative figure since the fourth quarter of 2007, the Commerce Department reported.

Some analysts said the drop could be just the start of a deep and painful recession in the world's biggest economy.

"A heftier decline in real GDP is likely in the fourth quarter, which will confirm that the US economy is in recession," said Dawn Desjardins, economist at RBC Capital Markets.

"Today's GDP report is weak, but it is not unexpected," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

In Japan, the world's second-biggest economy, the government unveiled a Y26.9 trillion ($A413.72 billion) package to cope with what Prime Minister Taro Aso called a "once-in-a-century event."

The measures included tax cuts, benefits sent directly to households and loans for small businesses, he told a news conference.

"In this kind of situation, we need to relieve people's insecurities. We should not be fearful of the violent storm, nor should we just stand and let the typhoon blow us away."

Japan's Nikkei stock index closed up 9.96 per cent, extending its rebound into a third day, while stocks in South Korea leapt 11.95 per cent and Hong Kong shares closed 12.8 per cent higher.

There were also jumps in all Europe's major markets, but not as strong.

The London FTSE 100 index of leading shares gained 1.16 per cent and the Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.15 per cent. The Frankfurt DAX added 1.26 per cent. All three markets had shown heftier rises earlier in the day.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2.2 per cent ahead of the close in another choppy session.

In France, Budget Minister Eric Woerth told a radio station that "there is an extraordinarily strong slowing of the economy and we have to fight that above all."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has put forward a string of proposals to stimulate growth, including the creation of 100,000 new public sector jobs and a national sovereign wealth fund to shelter leading companies from the turmoil.

Germany is to unveil its own package next week after Merkel promised a "targeted, courageous and sustainable" scheme to help avert a deep recession.

The country's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, reported a 75 per cent slump in net profit as it unveiled its third-quarter results after the financial crisis forced it to take new write-downs of 1.2 billion euros ($A2.33 billion).

In Britain, a survey by Nationwide bank showed house prices fell a record 14.6 per cent in October from a year ago.

The looming recession was taking a heavy toll on European business and consumer confidence, which plunged in October to the lowest level since 1993, according to figures from the European Commission.

Standard & Poor's said today it had cut Bulgaria's debt ratings owing to concern over external imbalances and a looming economic slowdown.

"The outlook is negative, indicating that the balance of risks is on the downside," said S&'s credit analyst Marko Mrsnik.

Bulgarian Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski said the move was "not unexpected" given that other countries in the region had seen their ratings lowered recently.

But amid all the gloom, Nobel economics laureate Robert Mundell said the worst of the world economic crisis is over.

"The real economy has not collapsed. The worst is behind us," he said in South Korea.

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:28:24 AM |显示全部楼层

IMF head optimistic on markets, outlook

Friday October 31, 2008, 6:27 am


PARIS (AFP) - IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Thursday he was more optimistic about the global financial crisis now that some calm is returning to markets after action to halt the slide by US and European governments.

"If the extreme volatility of the markets shows that the financial crisis continues to have an impact ... I hope very much that this volatility will calm because the US and European (stability) programmes are solid," Strauss-Kahn told Le Monde daily on Thursday.

"They just need a little time to get going full speed," he added.

The IMF managing director has previously warned of the possible adverse impact the financial crisis will have on the developing world and repeated that he remained "pre-occupied" by this issue.

"I have been insistent in saying that there is another crisis behind the financial crisis -- that in the poorer countries, hit full-on by the rise in food in raw material prices," he said.

"In developed countries, the crisis means a fall in purchasing power. In the weakest (countries), it means the risk of famine for some, malnutrition for many and consequences for a whole generation."

Strauss-Kahn also said that he would propose five avenues to reform the global financial system, with the IMF reasserting a regulating role, when the G20 countries meet in two weeks' time in Washington on the crisis.

He said he expected the meeting of Group of 20 leading economic countries on November 15 to take full account of "the historic situation we are living through."

The meeting should therefore give "a decisive impulse on the basis of the document which we will submit on the lessons of the crisis, for reform of world governance."

The IMF's role as "coordinator of global regulation must be reaffirmed," he told the newspaper, adding that such a move had been advocated by French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

"I will therefore propose to the G20 a new governance plan ... a global regulation strategy" based on five approaches, he said.

"The IMF must develop a new loan able to deal with short-term liquidity problems which certain economies are confronting."

He said IMF resources had to be boosted, as has been urged by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In addition, lessons must be "drawn from economic policies which have produced these repeated bubbles that destroy the real economy when they burst."

Strauss-Kahn also said it would be necessary "to monitor the implementation of new financial regulations drafted -- along with the IMF -- by the Financial Stability Forum, which groups the major central banks."

"A world system must be envisaged that is more coherent because it is simpler and more efficient because it is more coordinated," he told Le Monde.

"In addition to its role as fireman and mason, the IMF can -- for a while -- have an architect's role."

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:30:28 AM |显示全部楼层

Bank of China books 3.8 billion dollars in investment losses

Thursday October 30, 2008, 7:06 pm


SHANGHAI (AFP) - Bank of China said it had posted 26.3 billion yuan (3.8 billion dollars) in potential losses on assets at the end of September, partially related to US subprime mortgage-backed securities.

China's largest foreign exchange bank also reported a net profit of 17.8 billion yuan in the third quarter, up 11.5 percent from a year earlier, according to a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange late Wednesday.

The potential losses on assets for the first nine months of the year more than doubled from 10.8 billion yuan a year earlier due to new paper losses on loans and foreign currency investment securities, the bank said.

Bank of China (BoC) said it held US subprime mortgage-related debt securities valued at 3.3 billion dollars at the end of September. The loss on paper was 2.0 billion dollars on those securities.

The bank said it also owned 6.2 billion dollars in debt securities issued by troubled US mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

In addition, it held 1.4 billion dollars of securities backed by Alt-A mortgage, a category of loans with credit risks between prime and subprime loans.

The bank added it had booked a 65 million-dollar charge for the holdings of 76 million dollars worth of bonds issued by collapsed US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

It also faced a 45 million-dollar charge for 53 million dollars in loans its New York branch had extended to Lehman and its units.

Although the exposure accounted for only a small portion of its total assets of 962.8 billion dollars, analysts said BoC faces a more challenging environment compared to other Chinese banks due to its bigger foreign exchange securities portfolio and overseas operations.

"We expect BoC's performance to be lacklustre for its bond investment in the short term," Victor Wang, an analyst with UBS said, referring to the bank's significant amount of foreign currency debt holdings in a volatile global market.

Meanwhile, earnings growth in the third quarter slowed from the first half when its net profit grew 42.8 percent from a year earlier as bank profits were hurt by a slowing domestic economy and falling interest rates.

China's economic growth weakened to nine percent in the third quarter, the slowest in about five years. The central People's Bank of China cut key interest rates on Wednesday in a bid to spur economic growth, the third such move in six weeks.

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:32:41 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 2008-10-31 05:35:00 AM |显示全部楼层

Global financial woes hit China's 800 million farmers: state media

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 3:51 pm



BEIJING (AFP) - China's 800 million farmers are being hit by the global financial crisis as commodity prices dive, and next year could be even worse, state media said Wednesday, citing government economists.

Rural China is suffering because soybean prices have fallen by about half on international markets in recent months, while the price of wheat is down by as much as 30 percent, the China Daily reported.

"Farm product prices are already falling in the domestic market," said Song Hongyuan, an economist with the agriculture ministry. "This will hurt farmers' income."

China has made it a top priority to raise income levels in rural areas in order to narrow the yawning wealth gap between the rich cities and the poor countryside.

As part of this effort, the government had targeted nine percent growth in peasant incomes this year, but the objective now seems out of reach, the paper reported.

"We would be happy even if the rate reaches seven percent," said Chen Guoqiang, an economist with the Development Research Centre, a think tank under the Cabinet.

China's farmers will take an even greater beating next year because of the financial crisis , the paper said without elaborating.

The rural population is also being impacted in other ways as the crisis has been especially hard on small enterprises that employ migrant workers from the countryside, according to the paper.

"China's labour-intensive sectors, such as textile, have been hit hard," said Cheng. "And they are the major employers of migrant workers."

This could have longer-term implications for basic policy goals set in Beijing, the paper said.

"The country will have a difficult time meeting its target of doubling farmers' income by 2020," the paper said, citing Song.

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:38:10 AM |显示全部楼层

Brown looks to China for crisis funding

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 7:40 am



British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on China and cashed-up Gulf oil producing states to give more money to the International Monetary Fund to help fight the global credit crisis.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Brown said the IMF needed an immediate increase in its $400 billion bail-out fund, to lessen the risk of contagion from Eastern European countries like Hungary spreading around the world.

The British Prime Minister did not rule out a British contribution, but said any additional money to help stave off country collapses should come from China and the oil rich states of the Middle East.

Mr Brown is due to travel to the Gulf at the weekend and is expected to raise his proposals with leaders there.

"It's the countries that have got substantial reserves, the oil-rich countries and others who are going to be the biggest contributors to this fund. China also has very substantial reserves," he said.

Mr Sarkozy and Mr Brown say they will work together to give Europe a common voice in the face of the world financial crisis.

Mr Brown spoke of setting up a special fund to help countries in financial difficulties.

"Our first priority at the moment is to stop the contagion to other countries, including in eastern Europe," he said.

"That's why Nicolas and I will be talking about the global fund the IMF will have now to create to help economies that are in difficulty to prevent contagion coming from their countries into our countries."

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:41:51 AM |显示全部楼层

Devastating tsunami had a predecessor


By Claudine Ryan

Posted Thu Oct 30, 2008 10:40am AEDT
Updated Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:33am AEDT




A full-sized forerunner to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit the region between 500 and 700 years ago, a study suggests.
Two groups of geoscientists report their evidence today in the journal Nature that a similar event occurred around 1400 AD.
Until now there has been no historical record of a predecessor to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the associated magnitude 9.2 earthquake.
More than 220,000 people throughout southern Asia and as far away as the east coast of Africa died in the disaster.
Amy Prendergast from Geoscience Australia worked with colleagues to study the sedimentary record on an island north of Phuket, Thailand to help pinpoint the date of ancient tsunamis.
The 2004 tsunami rose to as much as 20 metres above sea level at Phuket, and ran two kilometres across a grassy beach ridge plain, where it left a sand sheet between five and 20 centimetres thick.
Ms Prendergast and colleagues analysed the low areas between beach ridges, called 'swales', which trap light-coloured tsunami sand sheets between layers of dark organic soil.

Dating materialTo establish the date of the ancient tsunamis the researchers measured the amount of radioactive carbon in the leaf matter contained in the sand sheet, as well bark fragments in the uppermost centimetre of underlying soil, Ms Prendergast said.
"We dug pits and augered holes at more than 150 sites to study the sub-surface sediments and construct stratigraphic cross-sections," she said.
The team studied the sedimentary structures and grain size in the tsunami-deposited sand sheets, which told them about the flow direction of the tsunami.
They also looked at microfossils called diatoms, which showed the sediments came from the offshore marine environment.
The other report in Nature analysed sedimentary evidence from Aceh, in northern Sumatra and also found evidence for the earlier tsunami.
While both teams were able to identify evidence of other ancient tsunamis, it was only the event from 1400 AD that could be correlated in both areas.

Future eventsMs Prendergast says the geological record of tsunamis from Thailand gives tangible evidence that several large tsunamis have occurred in the Indian Ocean during the last 2,500 years.
"Whilst these events are infrequent, the record suggests that such events are likely to occur in the future," she said.
"If the geological records [for] the Indian Ocean region had been well studied prior to 2004, the tsunami hazard may have been recognised and its devastating impact may have been reduced."

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:45:20 AM |显示全部楼层

Ivory auction 'will expose elephants to poaching'
Posted Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:37pm AEDT
Updated Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:07pm AEDT




The trade in ivory has been banned for decades, but in southern Africa a one-off auction of ivory stockpiles is now taking place.

More than 100 tonnes of elephant tusks are being sold to Chinese and Japanese buyers, but conservation groups are warning that the auction will only encourage elephant poaching.

The Government of Namibia opened the ivory sale with the auction of seven tonnes of elephant tusks under a veil of secrecy.

The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) gave the go ahead for the ivory sale and its enforcement officer, John Sellar, who policed the event, says the sale had high security.

"The level of security taking place here you might find, for example, if you're having an auction of diamonds or any other valuable product," he said.

"What is taking place is a sale that involves goods that are probably going to be worth many millions of dollars."

But the ivory sale has drawn criticism from animal welfare groups.

A spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Michael Wamithi, said the sales will "expose elephants to more poaching in Africa".

"We are afraid that this sale will send a message to the poachers that the ivory trade internationally is now opening up," he said.

Namibia is one of four southern African countries that have been permitted to sell stockpiles of ivory.

Over the next week Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe will also hold auctions.

In total, 108 tonnes of elephant tusks will be sold. That accounts for more than 10,000 dead elephants.

'No poached invory'

Mr Sellar says only legally obtained ivory is being auctioned.

"Either they (elephants) were from problem animal control or, in the majority of cases, they came from natural mortality, from elephants that simply had reached the end of their natural life, had died and their tusks had been recovered," he said.

"There is no opportunity for poached ivory to get into this system.

"This is a closed-loop system, if you like. No poached ivory can enter this system in the Africa end."

The ivory's buyers are exclusively from China and Japan where demand is strongest.

Authorities are convinced that those countries can adequately police the ivory trade, but Mr Wamithi is not certain.

"[It] may provide an incentive for some of these countries to say that they need cull," he said.

"What will happen is that more elephants will be killed now to fill that demand that you have created."

The auctions are expected to raise about $300 million, which will be put into elephant conservation and community development programs.

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:47:17 AM |显示全部楼层

French growers rally against wine tasting bans
Posted 1 hour 5 minutes ago


Hundreds of French winegrowers have staged rallies against plans to ban free wine tastings and online advertising for alcohol, saying it would amount to "prohibition".

Winegrowers are alarmed by plans, unveiled in a health ministry bill last week, to ban open bars and the handing out of free alcohol, which would include tastings in winegrowers' cellars.

The wine industry is also urging the government to clarify a 1991 law that tightly restricts advertising for alcohol, to officially allow wine ads on the internet - despite fierce opposition from anti-alcohol campaigners.

In the south-western wine capital Bordeaux, some 150 wine professionals and lawmakers from the region gathered to press their point home.

"I am committed to fighting alcoholism, but history shows that prohibition is not the answer," said the city's mayor, former prime minister Alain Juppe.

The head of the Bordeaux great wines federation, Laurent Gapenne, attacked the idea of a wine tasting ban as "disastrous" for the industry.

Another 200 to 300 winegrowers joined a rally in the western city of Angers, while several hundred more protested in south-eastern Lyon against what they called "censorship" towards their industry.

"If they wanted to kill off winegrowers altogether, this would be the right way to go about it," charged Agnes Payan, head of France's Independent Winegrowers' association.

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发表于 2008-10-31 05:49:23 AM |显示全部楼层

Congo PM to resign, cites old age
Posted Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:42am AEST
Updated Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:41am AEST



Democratic Republic of Congo's Prime Minister, Antoine Gizenga, has announced he is resigning because of his age.
"I've decided today to present my resignation to the President," Mr Gizenga, who is in his 80s, said in a statement broadcast on state television.
He said that although his spirit was still strong, he had realised that his ageing body was no longer up to the task.
After winning elections in 2006, President Joseph Kabila had appointed opposition veteran Mr Gizenga to head the Government as a reward for the support of Mr Gizenga's Socialist-leaning Unified Lumumbist Party (PALU) in the presidential poll.
Meanwhile the Catholic aid agency, Caritas, says 75,000 people have fled from their homes in northern Congo, following attacks by rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army.
Caritas says there are reports of villagers being killed and children being abducted.
The refugees have sought shelter in the town of Dungu, where the Congolese army has a base.
The rebels used to base themselves in Uganda, but are now active in the far north of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.

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