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Posts Tagged ‘blame’

Don’t blame Preval for Haiti crisis: 1st Lady

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

He’s been accused of rigging the election of his successor, but Elisabeth Preval, wife of the outgoing Haitian president, says her husband’s not to blame for the country’s political mess.


As Haiti prepares to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that leveled the impoverished Caribbean nation, President Rene Preval has the difficult job in his final weeks of presiding both over a natural disaster and electoral turmoil.


His wife told AFP that despite this he will be remembered positively.


“It’s not Preval who created the poverty and misery in Haiti. To the contrary, he worked for five years to create stability,” she said in an interview.


“Political stability is an important achievement that he left the country,” she said. “And this should be protected so that economic growth and social development get a longterm chance.”


Not all Haitians would agree.


The country, reeling from years of poverty, the deadly 2010 earthquake and a cholera outbreak, now finds itself in yet another round of political turmoil as candidates from a November presidential election bicker about who should go to a second round.


Supporters of the candidate that placed third believe Preval’s handpicked candidate, Jude Celestin, cheated in order to come second, clinching a spot in the run-off vote.


The third place candidate, popular singer Michel Martelly, singled out Preval for rigging the vote and demonstrators set fire to the ruling INITE party’s headquarters in December.


As yet, no decision has been taken on when to stage the run-off round — originally set for January 16 — and, as a result, Haiti finds itself in political chaos just when it needs leadership.


The first lady, who married Preval only a few months before the earthquake, says her husband can’t be blamed.


“Thanks to his political acumen, he has steered around the problems in the country, and brought together opposing groups for dialogue,” she said.


“Haiti was going in the right direction (before the quake). In December 2009, the key indicators showed positive economic growth, political stability, an easing of social conditions and growing investor confidence,” Elisabeth Preval said.


President Preval is due to step down February 7. He says he could stay in power as long as there is no clear successor.


“I am very anxious because the stability of Haiti is in danger if hte electoral crisis is not calmly resolved,” Elisabeth Preval said.


However, she insisted that her husband had no desire to hang on.


“The president and I have finished. There is only a little time left in his mandate. I can assure you that President Preval is determined to leave as soon as the new president and new parliament take office.”


“His role,” she added, “is to protect stability.”


 

Source: SGGP

US probe shares out ‘systemic’ blame for oil spill

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:12 am

A US panel has spread blame for the deadly Gulf of Mexico oil spill beyond BP to Halliburton and Transocean, accusing all three of “systemic” management failures that could happen again.


The presidential commission’s assessment was part of its final report on the deadly April blowout of BP’s Macondo well, which killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over three months.


It said oil services giant Halliburton and offshore drilling group Transocean were also very much at fault in ignoring key warnings and failing to take the necessary precautions to avert the massive spill.

A dead sea turtle lies on a beach in Waveland, Mississippi at the height of the US Gulf oil spill

The blowout “was the product of several individual missteps and oversights by BP, Halliburton and Transocean, which government regulators lacked the authority, the necessary resources and the technical expertise to prevent,” read the advance chapter. The full report is due out next week.


Transocean owned the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon platform that sank in the accident. In October, Halliburton admitted skipping a key cement test before the blowout, but blamed BP for not testing the integrity of the job.


The root causes of the blowout were “systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur,” the report said.


“Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money).”


Saying it supported the presidential commission’s probe into the incident, BP stressed that preliminary findings concluded that “the accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple companies.”


The beleaguered firm said it was working with regulators and the industry “to ensure that the lessons learned from Macondo lead to improvements in operations and contractor services in deepwater drilling.”


It cited launching a new division devoted to safety and operational risk that reports directly to the firm’s CEO Bob Dudley and will provide “independent oversight” of safety-related operational decisions.


The findings “only compound our sense of tragedy because we know now that the blowout of the Macondo well was avoidable,” said former Florida senator Bob Graham, the commission’s co-chair.


“This disaster likely would not have happened had the companies involved been guided by an unrelenting commitment to safety first. And it likely would not have happened if the responsible governmental regulators had the capacity and will to demand world class safety standards.”


According to the report, the Macondo well blew out when a series of “separate risk factors, oversights and outright mistakes combined to overwhelm the safeguards” designed to prevent such an event.


“But most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure — a failure of management,” it added.


“Better management by BP, Halliburton and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blowout by improving the ability of individuals involved to identify the risks they faced, and to properly evaluate, communicate and address them.”


Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator William Reilly, another co-chair of the commission, pointed to a “system-wide problem.”


The seven-member panel was set up by US President Barack Obama and tasked with finding out what caused the accident.

Source: SGGP

Tests blame some Toyota accidents on drivers

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Transportation Department tests of “dozens” of data recorders from Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration found many drivers mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

A Lexus SUV is seen traveling on a highway in Sunrise, Florida. (AFP file)

“The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes,” the report said.


Yet the findings, part of a broad investigation into Toyota’s recalls, “don’t exonerate the car maker from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: ‘sticky’ accelerator pedals that don’t return to idle and floor mats that can trap accelerators to the floor,'” the report added.


The data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration included a sampling of “reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing,” the newspaper noted.


The Transportation Department however, “found that throttles were wide open and brakes not engaged on Toyotas involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration,” the report said, citing unnamed sources.


Toyota has pulled around 10 million vehicles worldwide since late last year, mostly due to acceleration problems.


The company is looking to improve its recall process following heavy criticism of the way it handled safety issues in the United States blamed for more than 80 deaths.


Toyota president Akio Toyoda in June apologized to shareholders for the recall crisis.


In Japan, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said Wednesday: “We haven’t received any official information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet, so I cannot comment.”


He added: “We are still giving them information about our own evaluations. We are still working for solutions on issues such as sticking accelerator pedals and pedals trapped in the mat. In no case have we found electronic throttles control to be the cause of unexpected acceleration.”

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Source: SGGP

Rising sea levels to blame for many HCM City floods

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 8:34 am




Rising sea levels to blame for many HCM City floods


QĐND – Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 20:51 (GMT+7)

Staying one step ahead of climate change and not avoiding direct confrontation with the phenomenon was one of many adaptation strategies proposed on June 14 at a conference in HCM City.


The conference identified several approaches, strategies and measures to adapt to climate change as HCM City pursued its development goals, including learning from the experiences of Rotterdam City.


Nguyen Thai Lai, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the climate change impacts challenge the city, but they should also be seen as an opportunity to “identify directions for development.”


The rise in sea levels, increasing temperatures and rainfall are flooding around 117 wards regularly during the rainy season, said Dao Anh Kiet, director of HCM City ‘s Department of Natural Resources and Environment. “With a 75cm sea level rise in 2050, 10 percent of the city’s area will be totally flooded,” he said.


Outlining the strategy of keeping one step ahead of the weather phenomenon, Dao Xuan Hoc, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development advised the city to stick to its plan of moving towards the sea.


“Developing the city in the eastern direction is one of the ways for us to adapt to climate change actively,” he said.


Vu Thuy Hai of the Urban and Rural Planning Sub-Institute under the Ministry of Construction said the Prime Minister had in January approved a master plan for HCM City for the 2025-35 period that included the development direction to the sea.


Under this plan, the city develops port townships in Hiep Phuoc ward, taking advantage of the Soai Rap estuary, as well as enhances urban development in the way to Cai Mep – Thi Vai estuary in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, she said.


Tredo Vellinga of the Port of Rotterdam said moving ports from the inner city to the coastal area was a wise move that his city had also taken as an adaptation measure, taking back inland spaces for residential development.


He recommended that HCM City assess the effects of climate change on the development of low-lying and flood prone areas and develop research programmes to gather evidence on climate change impacts.


Velinga said it is necessary to keep the original geometry of tributaries and to control the discharge of waste into rivers.


Arnoud Molenaar, climate adaptation director of Rotterdam City praised the initiative shown by HCM City authorities “to act in time and start in time… to adapt well to the situation of climate change impacts.”


He said Rotterdam is trying to ensure that all its plans and projects including supply of water and power are aligned with its long-term development vision.


Some Vietnamese participants at the conference didn’t feel the application of Dutch models might be suited for HCM City because it has a more complex hydrology system compared with Rotterdam.


An official of the Southern Institute for Irrigation Planning called for prioritising pressing needs. “We should deal first with the matter of irrigation for the city and prioritise it rather than finding approaches to move to the sea.”


Kiet noted that the city’s strategy for climate change adaptation and city planning has been approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment but it could not be prioritised because the work needed to be coordinated by the ministry for the whole region, including the Mekong Delta provinces.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Organisers lose contact with Gaza aid boat, blame ‘sabotage’

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

JERUSALEM, June 4, 2010 (AFP) – Organisers of the Gaza flotilla said they lost contact with the Gaza-bound MV Rachel Corrie on Friday just as they are seeking to delay the latest bid to bust the embargo with an aid-laden ship.


The ship had been on course for arrival in the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, just five days after Israeli commandos killed nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in a botched raid that plunged Israel into a diplomatic crisis.


“The situation is we lost all contact with the boat. We assume this was sabotage by the Israelis,” said Audrey Bomse of the Free Gaza Movement.


It was now unclear whether the Irish and Malaysian activists aboard the ship would turn around or steam on towards the Hamas-run Gaza which is under a crippling blockade Israel says aims at halting Palestinian rocket fire.

Protestors attend an anti Israel demonstration in front of the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur on June 4, 2010. AFP photo

Monday’s raid sparked worldwide outrage with more massive protests expected on Friday, particularly after weekly prayers in Muslim countries.


In Kuala Lumpur, some 5,000 Malaysians rallied outside the US embassy where the Israeli flag was burned


Some demonstrators burned the Israeli flag while others brandished posters that said “Destroy America, Destroy Israel — Long Live Islam” and “Allah will destroy you Israel”.


Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called for a mass rally in Beirut Friday evening where he said he would announce “serious measures.”


In Jerusalem, police restricted access to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound and deployed in force in and around the Old City.


Angry anti-Israel protests have been staged across the Middle East and in major cities since Monday’s deadly raid, with vast crowds taking to the streets to demand an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.


A massive rally was staged on Thursday in Turkey — a key Israeli ally — whose activists played a major role in the six-ship flotilla and whose president warned that ties with Israel “will never be the same” after the attack.


Turkey sent two medical planes to Israel early Friday to bring back five of its nationals wounded during the assault on the flotilla in which eight Turks and a US national of Turkish origin were killed, the Anatolia news agency said.


Israel has warned it also will stop the blockade-busting bid by Rachel Corrie — a 1,200 tonne cargo ship named after a US activist killed in 2003 as she tried to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from razing a Palestinian home.


“As a result of these threats, we’re going to pull Rachel Corrie into a port, add more high-profile people on board, and insist that journalists from around the world also come with us,” the Free Gaza movement said.


But Bomse later said the decision couldn’t be communicated to those aboard the vessel, who include Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, 66.


“We’re hoping communications get turned back on so we can inform them of the decision,” Bomse told AFP.


On Thursday afternoon, organisers said the Rachel Corrie was about 250 miles (400 kilometres) from the spot in international waters the six boats were boarded on Monday.


Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has said that the ship must be allowed to reach Gaza and warned of “the most serious consequences” if Irish citizens are injured.


The US administration has so far refused to explicitly single out the Israeli government for blame.


Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas will ask President Barack Obama to make “bold decisions” on Middle East peace when the two meet in Washington on Wednesday. He will first travel to Turkey to pay his condolences.


The Israeli authorities and the activists had conflicting versions of what happened during Monday’s pre-dawn raid.


Bulent Yildirim, head of the Islamic charity Foundation of Humanitarian Relief, which spearheaded the Gaza aid fleet, said Israeli soldiers fired indiscriminately when they stormed the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara.


He said activists used iron bars against the Israeli forces “in self defence”. They also seized the soldiers’ weapons but threw them in the sea, he added.


Israel has said the commandos only opened fire after they came under attack with clubs, knives, guns and other weapons. It said two pistols taken from soldiers were found, their magazines empty.


Israel rejected a bid by the UN Human Rights Council to set up an investigation.

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Source: SGGP

EU refuses blame for air traffic chaos

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

STRASBOURG, April 20, 2010 (AFP) – The European Union’s top transport official rejected Tuesday growing criticism that the EU failed to adequately address the air traffic chaos caused by the volcano eruption in Iceland.


Hitting out at what he called “deliberate attempts to confuse things”, notably in countries where elections are due, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas insisted that flight restrictions were not imposed from Brussels.

Passengers arrive at Glasgow airport as Scottish airspace re-opened on April 20, 2010. AFP photo

“After the volcano eruption all decisions were made based on existing agreed models on how to handle those things,” he told members of the European parliament in Strasbourg.


“Aerospace is national competence, not the commission giving orders,” he said. “The rules governing are national.”


“To say that the European model completely failed is totally wrong,” he went on. The eruption in Iceland “is an extraordinary event”.


He conceded however that the current model could be re-examined, and said that EU transport ministers, in an extraordinary meeting via video-conference on Monday, had begun to do so.


Many European nations began opening airports again Tuesday — some closed completely since April 15 — following chaos that has hit some seven million passengers and cost airlines millions of euros.

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Source: SGGP

China says trade deficit proves yuan not to blame

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

China said Saturday its first trade deficit in six years proved the nation’s exchange rate did not play a decisive role in global economic imbalances amid pressure to allow the yuan to appreciate.


International critics say Beijing has kept the currency artificially low to boost exports, resulting in massive trade surpluses with the United States and Europe. The issue has become a major sore point in Sino-US relations.


But China has defended its exchange rate policy as necessary for the survival of Chinese manufacturers and to support jobs growth.


Customs authorities announced on Saturday that the nation had posted its first trade deficit in six years in March, at 7.2 billion dollars.


Exports rose 24.3 percent to 112.1 billion dollars from the same month a year earlier, while imports soared 66 percent year-on-year to 119.3 billion dollars, they said.


Commerce minister Chen Deming had warned last month that the deficit was likely, but said it would only be a short-lived phenomenon for the nation’s export-dependent economy.


And on Saturday the ministry, which is reluctant to allow a stronger yuan, was swift to respond to the figures.


“Under the situation where the yuan exchange rate was maintained basically stable, China’s trade surplus continued to shrink, with a deficit occurring in March,” Yao Jian, spokesman for the ministry, said in a statement.


“This again shows that in an era of economic globalisation, the deciding factor for balanced trade is not the exchange rate, but other factors such as the relationship of supply and demand in the market.”


Mark Williams, London-based senior China economist at Capital Economics, said the nation’s deficit “might win it some respite from pressure to do more over its exchange rate.”


“But the calm won’t last. China’s trade surplus will soon reappear. Indeed, the surplus that matters most politically — that with the US — is already rising again and not far off a record high,” he added.


Ken Peng, a Beijing-based economist for Citigroup, agreed. “It could alleviate some of the external pressure, but this is a temporary trade deficit and the yuan is not the only reason for global imbalances,” he said.


Brian Jackson, senior strategist at Royal Bank of Canada, said China could still let its currency appreciate for domestic reasons, and “not to placate international pressure.”


“They will want to move because it’s in their own domestic interest to do so, in terms of dealing with inflationary pressures,” he said.


Jackson added the deficit was partly the result of seasonal factors, as Chinese exports tend to pull back at the beginning of the year after having surged in the previous quarter ahead of the US holiday season.


“There has also been an adjustment in the yearly trade balance,” he said.


“If you do a 12-month rolling sum of the trade balance, that shot up to very extreme levels from 2006 to 2008, and it started to come back down.”


The financial crisis took its toll on China’s exports, forcing the world’s third largest economy to start adjusting its focus onto domestic demand.


Beijing has tried to play down expectations for a strong pick-up in exports this year, with commerce minister Chen saying last month that it could take up to three years to return to pre-financial crisis levels.


And China’s growth has rebounded much faster than the rest of the world, which has led its imports to grow faster than its exports.


The Asian nation returned to double digit growth in the last quarter of 2009, and expanded by a total of 8.7 percent for the whole year on massive public spending and rampant bank lending.

Source: SGGP

Ships ‘not to blame for river pollution’

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2008 at 2:34 pm

HCM CITY — The Dong Nai Province Department of Natural Resources and Environment announced at a meeting on Wednesday that there is not enough evidence to blame the corrosion of ship hulls docked at Go Dau Port on water pollution in the Thi Vai River.


The meeting was convened to address port businesses and workers’ complaints and petitions that the area’s environmental conditions are damaging their health and assets.


Japanese cargo ships recently refused to dock at Go Dau for fear that the tainted water might corrode their ships’ underbodies, according to the Dong Nai Port Joint Stock Company.


Several shipping companies filed complaints with the Dong Nai Port Company about the problem and others have threatened to dock elsewhere if the situation persisted.


The Dong Nai Port Company said polluted water shortened the life span of the wharf, machinery and boats.


Research conducted by scientists as well as various departments and offices on the water and mud from the riverbed indicates no scientific basis to the businesses’ complaints, according to the Dong Nai’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment.


Hoang Van Thong, head of Dong Nai’s Environmental Protection Department, said the polluted water at Go Dau Port had a pH level of 6.8-7.4, not enough to wear away at a boat’s hull.


Staff at Go Dau Port complained of sinusitis and headaches caused by the stench of the river. A representative of the province’s Health Department said more time would be needed to look into the workers’ claims.


Rivers not in the clear


However, the Dong Nai Basin is in a state of emergency, according to the Environmental Protection Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.


Research indicates that pollution from floating and solid organic substances of the section of the Dong Nai River from the Thien Tan Water Supply Plant to Long Dai exceeds the permitted level three to nine times.


Water downstream from the area is too unsanitary for daily needs or agricultural production.


The most polluted of Dong Nai’s waterways, the Thi Vai River has a 10 km section from Suoi Ca-Thi Vai to the My Xuan Industrial Park known as a “dead river.” The blackish brown water there is contaminated with organic materials and smells during both high and low tide.


Mercury and zinc levels in the river is 1.5 to 4 times and 3 to 4 times higher than permited, respectively. Coliform, a bacteria causing gastrointestinal disorders, is hundreds of times higher than permitted.


According to the Environmental Protection Department, untreated wastewater from millions of households and thousands of factories is the principal culprit of the Dong Nai River’s sorry state.


There are around 60 industrial zones in the Dong Nai Basin, but only a third have water treatment systems. —