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Posts Tagged ‘fails’

UN Security Council fails to reach accord on Korea crisis

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 6:27 am

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19, 2010 (AFP) – The UN Security Council failed Sunday to agree a statement on the Korean military crisis and Russia warned that the international community was now left without “a game plan” to counter escalating tensions.


China rejected demands by Western nations that North Korea be publicly condemned for its November 23 attack on Yeonpyeong island which killed four South Koreans, diplomats said.

South Korean marines patrol on the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 20, 2010. AFP

About eight hours of formal talks by the 15 nation council and private discussions, which brought in the North and South Korean ambassadors, ended without accord.


“We were not successful in bridging” differences between the parties, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters.


He added that unofficial talks would continue, but Susan Rice, the US ambassador and Security Council president for December, said it was “safe to predict that the gaps that remain are unlikely to be bridged.”


She added that “the majority of council members made clear their view that it was important to condemn” the November 23 artillery attack and the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.


Rice called the incidents “unprovoked aggression” by North Korea on the South.


However China even rejected a version of Russia’s statement which did not mention North Korea or the Yeonpyeong name in a proposed paragraph on the November 23 attack, diplomats said.


Britain produced a rival draft statement which said the council “condemns the attack launched by the DPRK on the ROK on November 23.” The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of the North and the Republic of Korea is the South.


Churkin said Russia demanded the meeting on Saturday because of its “grave concern” about tensions between North and South Korea, a region right on Russia’s doorstep.


The South has vowed to go ahead with a live firing drill near Yeonpyeong. The North has threatened to retaliate.


Russia had wanted a call of “maximum restraint” to be sent to the two Koreas and for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send a special envoy to negotiate with the rival states.


Churkin said the idea of a UN envoy had received “strong support” in the talks.


“I hope that this idea can still be pursued because now we have a situation with very serious political tension and no game plan on the diplomatic side,” said Churkin.


Six nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons have come to a standstill “and there is no other diplomatic activity, so we believe that there must be an initiative and this initiative of the secretary general appointing an envoy might be something which will set a political process in track,” Churkin said.


The foreign ministers of Russia and China have called on South Korea not to stage its military drills and this was reaffirmed by Churkin.


“We know that it is better to refrain from doing this exercise at this time,” he said.


South Korea has US backing however and Rice countered that it had a legitimate right to stage the exercises.

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Source: SGGP

Canada fails in U.N. council bid

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 8:07 am

Canada suffered a humiliating defeat on Tuesday when it was forced to withdraw from the race for a seat on the prestigious U.N. Security Council, conceding victory to Portugal in the annual election.


In addition to Portugal, the 192-nation General Assembly elected Germany, India, South Africa and Colombia to two-year seats on the council. Canada had been vying with Germany and Portugal for the two seats in their geographic group but pulled out when it became clear that it lacked adequate support.


There are five veto-holding permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, the victors of World War Two — and 10 temporary elected members without vetoes.


But the elected members have some power because a council resolution needs nine votes in favor as well as no vetoes. Several Western diplomats said the presence of India and South Africa on the council would complicate matters if Washington were to push for new sanctions against Iran in the coming two years.


The five newly elected nations will serve two-year terms beginning in January 2011 and ending in December 2012 on the 15-nation body, the powerhouse of the United Nations with the authority to impose sanctions and deploy peacekeeping forces.


Canada has served six terms on the council and never lost a bid for a seat in the past.


In Ottawa, foreign affairs pundits largely blamed the embarrassing failure on Canada’s belated campaign, as well as on policies which were likely to have alienated many delegations — such as a strongly pro-Israel Middle East policy and reductions in bilateral aid to poor African nations.


But Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon blamed the opposition for what he described as an extremely disappointing defeat.


“I do not think this is a repudiation of Canada’s foreign policy,” Cannon told reporters at U.N. headquarters.


“Unfortunately back home in Canada the leader of the opposition determined that Canada did not speak with one voice,” he said. “He came out clearly indicating that Canada did not deserve a seat.


Opposition Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff had publicly questioned whether Canada under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper deserved to be on the council.


COMPLICATIONS


When South Africa was on the council in 2007/2008, it was a headache for the United States, France and Britain.


It joined Russia and China in voting down sanctions against Zimbabwe’s leaders, was reluctant to sanction Iran over its nuclear program and stood with China against condemning Myanmar. In the end it did vote for two sanctions resolutions against Tehran in 2007 and 2008 after pushing to dilute them.


South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said tone of the issues her country would push is a suspension of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide in Darfur — something the U.S., British and French delegations oppose.


“We’ll give it our best shot,” she said.


India, which has close trade ties with Iran, and possibly Portugal, are also expected to be reluctant if new U.N. sanctions against Tehran are proposed, diplomats said. But Germany, which joined Britain, France and the United States in negotiating previous sanctions, would boost the Western camp.


Berlin ran afoul of the previous U.S. administration during its last council stint by opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In the first round of voting, only Germany managed to cross the 127-vote threshold in the category known as “Western Europe and Others,” getting 128 votes. India, South Africa and Colombia were uncontested in their respective geographic groups and secured ample votes in the first round.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin that the government was delighted with the results.

“Germany will work hard during its term to push ahead on reforms of the U.N. Security Council,” she said. “That is the expectation that a lot of people in the world have.”

Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters that Security Council reform would be high on India’s agenda too.

Germany is one of the top contributors to the United Nations and one of several countries, along with India, Japan and Brazil, that are considered prime candidates for permanent seats on the council if U.N. member states ever expand it.

The five rotating members serving on the council until the end of 2011 are Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria. The five nations leaving the council at the end of this year are Austria, Turkey, Mexico, Japan and Uganda.

Source: SGGP

Space station drama as cooling system fails

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

US space officials planned emergency repairs Monday after a failure of the cooling system on the International Space Station that has forced astronauts to reroute power.


One of two cooling loops shut down Saturday night, triggering alarms throughout the orbiting station, which is manned by three Russian and three American astronauts.


NASA said the crew is not in any danger. But an attempt overnight to close the circuit breaker and restart the pump module that feeds the vital ammonia to the cooling system failed.

 NASA image shows the International Space Station in 2009.

Astronauts closed down two of the gyroscopes that position the station as they rerouted power from the Destiny Laboratory research module to keep the temperature system stable. One gyroscope was later put back on line.


“The station is in a stable configuration with most systems receiving cooling and many systems operating with redundancy following the installation of jumper cables from the Destiny Lab’s power system overnight,” NASA said.


“The crew is not in any danger and is monitoring systems and relaxing on an otherwise off duty day,” it added.


“Temperatures on the main bus switching units, which route power to various systems, are a little higher than normal, but well within normal parameters and are stable.”


Despite the reassurances, NASA approved a preliminary plan for two US astronauts, Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson, to conduct a spacewalk to fetch a replacement pump module.


“Although a final decision on a new spacewalk plan is still pending engineering and timeline analysis, the most likely scenario would call for an initial spacewalk no earlier than Thursday by Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson to replace the pump module and structurally bolt it into place on the S1 truss, with an additional spacewalk by the duo two or three days later to mate fluid and electrical connections,” a statement said.


A briefing to discuss the latest developments and spacewalk replanning was scheduled for 2000 GMT Monday.


According to NASA figures, without thermal controls the ISS’s sun-facing side would roast at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 Celsius), while the outpost’s dark side would plunge to some minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit (-157 Celsius).


A statement posted some years ago on NASA’s website suggested: “There might be a comfortable spot somewhere in the middle of the Station, but searching for it wouldn’t be much fun!”


Before the module can be replaced, any residual ammonia must first be pumped out of the system, according to NASA.


Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson had already been scheduled for a spacewalk on Thursday to do routine maintenance work.


The ISS, which orbits 350 kilometers (220 miles) above Earth, is a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments, helping test the effects of long-term space travel on humans, a must for any trip to distant Mars.


Experts said that the incident could restart a months-long debate about NASA’s future.


The agency plans to retire its space shuttle fleet after two or three more missions – a move that has worried some lawmakers because NASA does not have an immediate replacement spacecraft.


Once the program ends, the United States will rely on Russia’s Soyuz rockets to carry its astronauts to the space station until a commercial US launcher can be developed. That is scheduled for 2015.

The delay has led some lawmakers, such as Representative Bill Posey of Florida, where the Kenndy Space Center is located, to call for the continuation of shuttle flights to ensure that the station can be stocked with crew and supplies until 2020.

Source: SGGP

Pressure on China to censure N.Korea fails

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2010 at 9:14 am

SEOGWIPO, South Korea (AFP) – South Korea and Japan pressed China Sunday to censure North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship, but failed to win its public support for the move after a three-way summit.


Host President Lee Myung-Bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama teamed up at the two-day summit to urge Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to hold Pyongyang responsible for the March sinking of the South Korean corvette.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is greeted by flag-waving children in Seoul on May 29. AFP photo

But Wen gave no sign China is ready to back United Nations Security Council action against its ally over the sinking.


“The urgent task now is to defuse the impact of the Cheonan incident, change the tense situation and avoid clashes,” Wen told a joint press conference.


“China will actively communicate with relevant parties and lead the situation to help promote peace and stability in the region, which fits our common and long-term interests best.”


South Korea announced reprisals against the North after international investigators reported on May 20 that a North Korean submarine fired a heavy torpedo to sink the Cheonan.


The North denies involvement and has responded to the reprisals with threats of war, fuelling regional tensions.


Wen, whose country is the North’s economic lifeline, has been cautious since arriving in South Korea Friday.


At a meeting with Lee that day, he said Beijing would review the probe results before determining its position but would not protect whoever was responsible.


Lee told the press conference in the southern resort island of Jeju that he expects “wise cooperation” by neighbouring countries in handling the disaster.


Hatoyama, whose country Friday announced new sanctions on the North over the incident, said the three leaders agreed “that this is a serious issue related to peace and stability in Northeast Asia”.


South Korea, at least in public, appeared fairly satisfied with the outcome.


“The inclusion of those remarks on the Cheonan in the joint press announcement in itself has significance,” said senior presidential spokesman Lee Dong-Kwan.


But Paik Haksoon, of the Sejong Institute think-tank, said Wen’s comments “indicate that China is still questioning the authenticity and authority of the investigation”.


“There would be no point of taking this issue to the UN Security Council without securing support from China in advance,” Paik told AFP.


The North says the South’s government faked evidence to incite tensions and boost its support before local elections this week.


South Korea, the United States and Japan need the support of veto-wielding member China to sanction — or, at least, to censure — the North at the Security Council.


The South’s reprisals include a trade cut-off and preparations to resume cross-border loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts. The North has threatened to shell the loudspeakers now being installed along the tense frontier if the broadcasts go ahead.


The North has cut all ties with the South, scrapped pacts aimed at averting accidental flare-ups along their disputed sea border and vowed to attack any intruding ships.


It has threatened to shut down a jointly run industrial park at Kaesong, the last reconciliation project still operating.


The South plans to send a letter to the Security Council chairman this week, an unidentified official told Yonhap news agency. “If it’s too late, we might lose momentum,” said the official.


Hatoyama promised Japan’s “leading role” in mustering international support for the South at the council, according to Lee’s spokesman.


At Hatoyama’s suggestion the three leaders observed a moment of silence when the summit began Saturday to mourn the sailors.


In its latest response, North Korea again flatly rejected evidence that it torpedoed the ship. It said it did not possess the type of small submarine allegedly used for the attack, according to Pyongyang’s official news media.


Other issues raised at the summit included a possible three-way free-trade agreement and November’s G20 summit in Seoul. The leaders called for free-trade talks aimed at eventually creating a single economic bloc to be speeded up.

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Source: SGGP

‘Top kill’ fails to stop Gulf oil leak

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2010 at 5:16 am

Oil mixes with water off the coast May 29, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico near Venice, Louisiana. AFP photo

Louisiana, May 29 (AFP) – BP’s “top kill” operation to plug the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico has failed, the energy giant said, in a stunning setback to efforts to stem the worst oil spill in US history.


BP and federal authorities said they are now turning to a new strategy to stop the leak, but it will take at least four to seven days before it can be put into place.


At least 20 million gallons are now estimated to have gushed into the ocean since the disaster unfolded five weeks ago, threatening an environmental and economic catastrophe across hundreds of kilometers of the US Gulf Coast.


“After three full days of attempting ‘top kill,’ we have been unable to overcome the flow from the well, so we now believe it’s time to move on to the next of our options,” BP Chief Operations Officer Doug Suttles told a press briefing.


President Barack Obama called the developments “enraging” and “heartbreaking.”


Engineers had spent days pumping some 30,000 barrels of heavy drilling fluid into the leaking well head on the ocean floor in a high-pressure bid to smother the gushing crude and ultimately seal the well with cement.


But the effort failed, and when asked specifically why, Suttles had no direct answer.


“We don’t know that for certain,” he said, adding that “we were unable to sustainably overcome the flow.”


The announcement marks the latest failure for BP, which despite a series of high-tech operations over the past month has appeared powerless to bring the disaster to heel since an explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig April 20 which killed eleven workers. The rig sank two days later.


The British energy giant had stressed that “top kill” was the best chance at stopping the leak other than drilling an entirely new relief well, a process that has already begun but is expected to take another two months.


“Obviously, we’re very disappointed in today’s announcement and I know all of you are anxious to see this well secured,” US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry told the briefing.


“It’s been our number one goal since day one, but we also want to assure you we’ve had a very, very aggressive response posture and we’re going to continue to do so,” she said.


Efforts will now focus on severing the damaged riser pipes that lay crumpled on the ocean floor, then installing a containment device that could capture the leaking oil and syphon it to the surface.


BP and the Coast Guard said it would take four to seven days before the contraption — dubbed the “Lower Marine Riser Package,” or LMRP — can be put in place.


And Suttle said even if LMRP works, it would only contain a majority of the oil and not all of it.


BP chief executive Tony Hayward said he was “disappointed” in the operation’s failure but stressed that company officials “remain committed to doing everything we can to make this situation right.”


The setback came a day after President Barack Obama visited the region for the second time since the oil spill began 40 days ago, in an attempt to bring new urgency to the response.


Obama toured some of the affected areas in Louisiana on Friday and pledged “to continue to do whatever it takes to help Americans whose livelihoods have been upended by the spill.”


Obama said he would triple the number of workers clearing up soiled beaches, after he saw the effects of the spill up close, picking up and examining tar balls that washed ashore in Louisiana.


“I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind,” he promised to local residents.


Since the oil spill began, an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude have been gushing into the Gulf each day.


The disaster has already closed stretches of coastal fishing waters, endangering the seafood industry and tourism businesses, and threatening a catastrophe for Louisiana marshes, home to many rare species.


Government data released Thursday suggested between 18.6 million gallons and 29.5 million gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf — far more than the roughly 11 million gallons of crude spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.


Amid the environmental catastrophe, there were also growing fears for the health of cleanup workers exposed to the oil and chemical dispersants.


Four more crewmen aboard ships helping burn off surface oil were evacuated to hospital late Friday after falling ill, a day after the Coast Guard announced that seven workers were evacuated for medical emergencies.


Landry said Saturday that the Coast Guard would continue to use subsea dispersants, chemicals which help break up the crude into droplets that can evaporate or biodegrade more quickly, but which critics say could be a health hazard.


On Saturday, Louisiana state officials called on BP to create a 300-million-dollar fund to mitigate the immediate and long-term impact of the spill on businesses and local residents.


State agencies also sent a letter to the British oil giant seeking another 457 million dollars to fund a 20-year seafood safety plan, warning that “the future of this industry is in peril.”

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Source: SGGP

VN swimmer fails to splash at Beijing Paralympics event

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2008 at 4:55 pm








I’ll be needing a spotter: Weightlifter Le Van Cong (men’s under 48kg) was unable to finish his lift yesterday after three attempts. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Khanh


HA NOI — Vietnamese swimmer Nguyen Quang Vuong disappointed fans as he failed to qualify for the men’s 100m breaststroke finals at the National Aquatics Centre yesterday.


Vuong completed his heat in one minute 23.46 seconds, and came in fifth out of seven athletes.


Weightlifter Le Van Cong (men’s under 48kg) was unable to finish his lift yesterday after three attempts; Nigerian Ruel Ishaku placed first in the category with a total lift of 167.5kg.


Nguyen Thi Hai finished 12 out of 14 in the women’s shot-put yesterday.


She tried her best and achieved a 7.6m throw after three attempts.


Wheelchair racer Nguyen Thi Thanh Thao managed 1:08.75 in the women’s 400m, but it was not enough to qualify her for the final race.


Vietnamese athletes continue their competition today with Chau Hoang Tuyet Loan contesting in the women’s 48kg weightlifting, and Dinh Thi Nga will be lifting in the women’s 52kg.


Viet Nam sent nine athletes to compete in athletics, swimming, weightlifting and judo at the Summer Beijing Paralympics.


About 4,000 athletes from 150 nations will be competing in 20 events at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, which will continue until next Wednesday. —