wiki globe

Posts Tagged ‘Fears’

WikiLeaks chief Assange fears US charges

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said it was “increasingly likely” the US would try to extradite him on charges related to leaked cables as he savoured his first day on bail.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (C) holds up a copy of Britain’s Guardian newspaper as he addreses media in the grounds of Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, eastern England, on December 17, 2010.

Speaking Friday outside Ellingham Hall, a friend’s mansion in eastern England, where he must live while on bail, Assange said he was concerned about potential moves from US authorities.


“The big risk, the risk we have always been concerned about, is onwards extradition to the United States. And that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely,” the Australian told reporters.


The 39-year-old founder of the whistle-blowing website is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women, which he denies.


But Assange said his lawyers believed a secret US grand jury investigation had been started into his role in WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables — a probe he condemned as “illegal”.


Looking relaxed, he said the mansion was a “big improvement” on the London jail where he was held in solitary confinement for nine days before his release on bail Thursday.


Media reports suggest that US prosecutors are trying to build a case against Assange on the grounds that he encouraged a US soldier, Bradley Manning, to steal US cables from a government computer and pass them to WikiLeaks.


Assange said: “I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation, that a lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases.”


He said WikiLeaks had pledged 50,000 dollars (38,000 euros) towards Manning’s legal fund.


But he told ABC television in the US that “I had never heard of the name Bradley Manning before it was published in the press.


“WikiLeaks technology (was) designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never know the identities or names of people submitting us material.”


Meanwhile, the Pentagon defended itself against allegations that Manning was being kept in harsh conditions in a military brig at the Quantico Marine base, Virginia, where he has been placed under a maximum security regimen.


Manning was in solitary confinement because he was considered a national security risk, said prison spokesman First Lieutenant Brian Villiard.


“What I will tell you is that he is not treated any differently than any other maximum confinement detainee,” he said.


In interviews with British media, Assange said Manning “is the only one of our military sources who has been accused and that means that he is in a difficult position.”


Meanwhile, in Washington a report by congressional researchers said the Espionage Act and other US laws could be used to prosecute Assange, but there is no known precedent for prosecuting publishers in such a case.


“Leaks of classified information to the press have only rarely been punished as crimes, and we are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it,” the report said.


On the Swedish case against him, Assange, a former computer hacker, claimed it was part of a “smear campaign” linked to WikiLeaks. But Swedish prosecutors deny their case is related to WikiLeaks.


Assange’s supporters have put up a 240,000-pound (283,000-euro, 374,000-dollar) surety to ensure he does not flee the country.


He has also been electronically tagged, is subject to a curfew and must report daily to a police station near the mansion in picturesque Suffolk.


The mansion is owned by Vaughan Smith, a former army officer and journalist who founded the Frontline Club in London, which acts as WikiLeaks’ British base.


Assange has vowed the allegations against him will not stop WikiLeaks from releasing further documents.


“People like to present Wikileaks as just me and my backpack — it is not true. We’re a large organisation,” he told reporters Friday.


The latest US cables released by WikiLeaks showed that the former New Zealand Labour Party government led by Helen Clark courted China and France in an attempt to curb American and Australian influence in the Pacific.


They also indicated that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir siphoned off nine billion dollars (6.79 billion euros) of oil money into British bank accounts.


Meanwhile, according to yet another cable, the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, said last year the world should focus on climate change in Tibet rather than politics as environmental problems in his Himalayan homeland were more pressing.
 

Source: SGGP

Poison gas fears stall New Zealand mine rescue

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Gold sets record high amid economic fears

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 4:51 am

Myanmar votes in rare election marred by fraud fears

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

French workers take to the streets as airport fears ease

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:26 am

French trade unions staged another massive day of protests Saturday to defend their right to retire at 60, but fears of fuel shortages crippling Paris airports eased as supplies resumed.


Although government estimates of the turnout at the rallies suggested the movement might be losing steam, unions warned that strikes are spreading to more businesses and that a new nationwide protest would be held Tuesday.


Tension has been building since record demonstrations earlier this week with strikes in refineries cutting off fuel supplies to Paris airports and with high school students joining older workers to condemn pension reform moves.


But fears that planes would be grounded at France’s main hub Charles de Gaulle eased as pipelines resumed supplies.


“The fuel supply of the Paris airports resumed Saturday afternoon, which keeps the threat of a shortage away from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle,” said the head of the French civil aviation authority, Patrick Gandil.

People demonstrate in Paris as part of a national day of mass rallies against pension reform.

Nantes in western France became the first airport in the country to cancel flights due to shortages, Gandil said, although a Nantes airport official said there had been no cancellations due to fuel shortages.


According to the interior ministry, 825,000 people took to the streets of towns and cities across the country on Saturday, the lowest official total since protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan began in September.


Unions estimated the turnout at “around three million”, arguing that the numbers were around the same as a previous protest on a Saturday two weeks earlier, and labour leaders insisted the campaign would go on.


“The movement is taking root and growing in terms of the number of companies hit by various forms of strike as in the number of employees taking part in the action,” the powerful CGT union said in a statement.


Sarkozy’s works and pensions minister, Eric Woerth, insisted however that there had been a “significant drop-off” in the number of people taking part from the 1.2 million the government said had marched on Tuesday.


“There were, nevertheless, still lot of protesters. That underlines the government’s duty to explain this reform better,” he said.


Labour wants to force Sarkozy into backing down on his plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, which is in the final days of its journey through a parliament in which the right wing leader enjoys a comfortable majority.


“We’re prepared to demonstrate under the snow if it takes that long,” Airbus worker Stephane Thibault, 37, told AFP at a demonstration in the southern city of Toulouse.


“We’re mobilised, everyone seems motivated. With right-wing governments, we know you have to resist,” he said.


Around 30 people were arrested in central Paris after a group of several hundred anarchists set rubbish bins on fire and threw smoke grenades, but they were prevented from interrupting the main march.


Strikes have shut down 10 out of France’s 12 oil refineries, despite riot police being dispatched to fuel depots to protect deliveries amid panic buying.


The government has given oil companies permission to tap into their own emergency stocks, but has resisted calls to use government-controlled strategic reserves.


Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told RTL television that only 230 service stations out of 3,000 had run dry of fuel. “We have several weeks of fuel stocks,” she insisted.

Nevertheless, reporters found several filling stations shutting down.

“We don’t have any left and we don’t know when the next delivery will come,” said a petrol station worker at a hypermarket outside Paris who gave his name as Jean-Claude. “Petrol reserves are also extremely low.”

Strikes against pension and port reforms at oil depots in the south of the country since September 27 have left 63 oil, gas and chemical tankers waiting off the Mediterranean coast on Saturday, Marseille port authorities said.

French truck drivers are also set to join the protests. “There’s impatience, the guys are saying ‘let’s go’,” said transport union chief Maxime Dumont.

Railway operator SNCF said that on average two out of three high-speed TGV trains were running in and out of Paris, although only one TGV in four outside the capital. The Paris metro was running normally.

Source: SGGP

India holds top-level meeting on BlackBerry security fears

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

NEW DELHI, Aug 12, 2010 (AFP) – India’s home ministry held top-level talks with intelligence services Thursday to discuss suspending BlackBerry services if the smartphone’s makers do not satisfy security concerns.


India is one of several emerging-market countries which have asked BlackBerry’s Canadian manufacturers to allow scrutiny of encrypted email and instant message traffic.


“This is an internal meeting and it will address BlackBerry and other telecom issues relating to security,” a senior home ministry official who declined to be named told AFP.


The row with BlackBerry, which has one million customers in India, comes as the country ramps up security ahead of the Commonwealth Games in October.


The meeting in New Delhi follows Saudi Arabia postponing a BlackBerry ban after a deadline passed for finding a solution allowing authorities to monitor encrypted messages.


Home Ministry officials have said India could press for its own deadline for Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturers of the smartphone, to allow access to encrypted data transmitted via the handset.


The Indian government has warned it will allow India’s telecom operators to offer only services which can be intercepted by the security agencies.


The ministry official told AFP that only security agencies and state-run telecom operator BSNL would attend the meeting, which was chaired by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai.


RIM was not at the meeting, he said, declining to elaborate.


BSNL, government-run MTNL and a host of private telecom providers like Airtel and Vodafone offer BlackBerry services and have the legal responsibility in India to ensure security agencies can access all services.


Any suspension would likely leave BlackBerry users with only the ability to telephone and browse the Internet.


India is the world’s fastest-expanding cellular market and also one of RIM’s key growth targets.


RIM did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls from AFP.


India, battling insurgencies from Muslim-majority Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast, is sensitive about the potential risks of new technology and has raised fears BlackBerry services could be used by militants to communicate.


In Saudi Arabia the telecoms watchdog this week announced BlackBerry messenger services would remain online, as it reported “positive developments” in efforts to find a solution.


The United Arab Emirates has said that it will ban BlackBerry messenger, email and web browsing from October 11 for security reasons.


BlackBerry is not the only company to feel heat from the Indian government.


The government has been restricting imports from Chinese telecom manufacturers because of intelligence agency fears “spyware” could be embedded in the equipment.


It has unveiled tough new rules for telecom operators and equipment sellers to tackle security issues, saying operators will have to take over equipment maintenance locally and will have to allow inspections.

d
Source: SGGP

US growth slows fueling fears over recovery

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2010 at 11:18 am

US economic growth slowed dramatically in the second quarter, the government has said, stoking fears that the recovery is losing steam and fueling a fierce political debate over how to respond.


Gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell back sharply to 2.4 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said, slamming the brakes on an already tepid rebound and painting a bleak picture of the road ahead.


“The post-recession rebound is history,” said Bart van Ark, chief economist for The Conference Board, a leading business research group.


In the first quarter, growth hit 3.7 percent, up substantially from the 2.7 percent previously reported by government.


Amid weak consumer spending and a widening trade gap, few took solace from fresh data that appeared to confirm the US recession has ended and only marginally failed to meet analysts’ expectations of 2.5 percent growth.


President Barack Obama admitted more work needs to be done, but stressed the economy was on the right path, pointing to four consecutive quarters of growth.


“Our economy is growing again instead of shrinking. And that’s a welcome sign compared to where we were,” he said in Detroit.


“But we’ve got to keep on increasing that rate of growth and keep adding jobs so we can keep moving forward,” he said.


Revisions to previous GDP data Friday showed the recession was much worse than previously thought, with negative growth reaching a whopping 6.8 percent in the final three months of 2008.


“The fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 had the worst two quarterly declines in 51 years,” said Beth Ann Bovino, a senior economist Standard & Poor’s.


Detailed figures for the April-to-June period showed much of the slowdown came from businesses reining in inventory spending, which had grown rapidly in the wake of the financial crisis.


Increased imports — which are subtracted from the GDP figure, as that money flows abroad — also played a strong role.


Americans bought more, but that spending was tilted toward foreign goods and services.


“Purchases by US residents of goods and services wherever produced — increased 5.1 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 3.9 percent in the first,” the Commerce Department said.


“Imports of goods and services increased 28.8 percent, compared with an increase of 11.2 percent,” in the first quarter, it said.


Friday’s data fueled a fierce debate about whether the government needs to again jump start the economy, and how best that could be done.


Obama has clashed with Republicans over the need for government to help the ailing economy, making spending one of the most fiercely fought political battles in the US capital.


Obama’s critics accuse the president of putting Americans’ future at risk by causing US debt to balloon through ineffective stimulus spending.

In Detroit, Obama touted a 64-billion-dollar bailout that kept the Motor City’s automakers afloat, promoting it as the type of “tough decision” needed to avoid economic depression.

The White House claims one million auto jobs were saved by Obama’s actions, and GM and Chrysler have returned to profit.

Businesses offered a possible bright spot in the Commerce Department’s report, as their investment increased 17 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 7.8 percent in the first.

Shoppers and pedestrians walk past an extrance to Macy’s Department Store in New York.

“Business investment was up substantially,” said Stephen Gallagher of Societe Generale, sounding a note of caution.

“Stronger profits are behind the business investment, but unfortunately, these profits are not sparking as much employment growth.”

According to economist Peter Morici, American consumers will have to start spending again if the recovery is to gain traction.

“Unless spending picks up… once businesses stop piling up unsold goods, layoffs will outnumber hires, unemployment will rise with a vengeance, and the economy will head into a second dip.”

Source: SGGP

Oil comes ashore in Texas as BP dismisses money fears

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2010 at 4:13 am

Clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill extended to Texas and Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, as BP dismissed reports of deeper financial woes.


Officials said crews collected tar balls and waste from Lake Pontchartrain, the vast estuary near New Orleans, as rough weather continued to hamper the containment and skimming effort near the spill site in the Gulf.


US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the huge spill was now threatening all the states along the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas and that rough seas since the passage of Hurricane Alex had hurt the effort.

Oil is cleaned off of a gull at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Buras, Louisiana, on July 5.

The first Atlantic hurricane of the year passed through the Gulf of Mexico last week without too much alarm for the oil containment efforts, but Allen said two nearby storm systems were being closely watched.


“We’re watching very, very closely the swells and waves that might be generated by this current storm system,” he said.


“Sometime in the seven to 10 days we’ll look for a window of opportunity to put the containment cap on at the same time we will go on and continue with the drilling of the relief well.”


A BP spokeswoman in London denied the firm was planning to sell new stock to a strategic investor to raise money, amid reports the British government is working on a crisis plan if the company is sunk by the disaster.


“We are not issuing any new equity,” she said. “We welcome new shareholders to come onto the shareholder register and we welcome existing shareholders who want to take a bigger amount of shares.”


The Times newspaper in London reported that officials at the Department of Business and the Treasury were already considering contingencies for BP’s potential collapse.


“It is not clear how bad this will get, but the government needs to be prepared for any eventuality,” an anonymous source said to be familiar with the talks was quoted as saying.


BP has forked out some 3.12 billion dollars in spill-related costs and has promised to pay another 20 billion dollars into an escrow fund to compensate Americans affected by the spill.


The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22, two days after an explosion that killed 11 workers, unleashing the worst environmental disaster in US history.


Sunday, tar balls from the spill arrived on beaches in Texas, more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) away, though it was unclear how the crude got there.


Tests showed they did come from the BP Deepwater Horizon well but scientists and officials were working to determine if they arrived in Texas by currents or via ships operating in the vicinity of the well head.


The tar balls in Lake Pontchartrain were also being tested.


Some 792 kilometers (492 miles) of Gulf Coast shoreline has been oiled, and fishing ground closures and tourist cancellations threaten financial ruin for residents who have reacted angrily to BP’s failure to cap the spill.


Up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day is believed to be leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, far outpacing the collection efforts of a system that is capturing around 25,000 barrels a day.


Officials hope to more than double that capacity to some 53,000 barrels a day by hooking up a third containment vessel, the Helix Producer, to the system that captures and siphons away the crude.

“There is a partial hookup right now and they can sustain that unless they have really severe sea states,” said Allen, the US official coordinating the spill response.

“We won’t know for several hours whether they’re able to do it. It currently is a work in progress.”

Officials were also testing a mega-tanker, A Whale, which could boost efforts to skim spilled crude from the sea surface.

The ship is believed to be able to suck up to 500,000 barrels (21 million gallons) of oily water a day through its “jaws,” a series of vents on the side of the ship.

By comparison, more than 500 smaller vessels in 10 weeks have only managed to collect some 31.3 million gallons of oil-water mix between them and high waves forced most of the boats to halt operations on Tuesday.

It will likely be mid-August at the earliest before the ruptured well is permanently capped by injecting mud and cement with the aid of relief wells.

The high end of the oil leak estimates means it has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout, which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels (140,000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

Source: SGGP

Divided Europe spreads contagion fears in U.S.

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2010 at 5:19 am

Euro plunges to four-year low as debt fears weigh

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 at 8:59 am

TOKYO (AFP) – The euro plunged to a four-year low in volatile Tokyo trade Monday as fears about eurozone debt continued to hammer the single currency and regional stock markets.


Sentiment remained fragile despite an EU-IMF rescue package worth almost a trillion dollars designed to prevent the Greek crisis from spreading, as fears grew that the single currency is at risk of collapse.

People pass in front of an electric price index in Tokyo. AFP photo

The euro fell to as low as 1.2243 dollars in Tokyo trade — its lowest since April 2006 — from 1.2358 in New York Friday. It later recovered slightly to 1.2277 in afternoon trade.


Tokyo shares dived 2.17 percent, or 226.75 points, to close at 10,235.76, while Shanghai closed down 5.07 percent, or 136.70 points, at 2,559.93 and Sydney plunged 3.12 percent, or 143.9 points, to 4,467.2. Hong Kong dived 2.48 percent by the break.


The eurozone rescue package was initially greeted with optimism but has since failed to reassure sliding markets, with Europe’s growth prospects stymied by belt-tightening measures announced by Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France.


“Concerns that severe fiscal austerity in the eurozone will crush growth in the region continue to weigh” on the euro, said John Kyriakopoulos of National Australia Bank in Sydney.


“Investors are questioning if tightening fiscal spending really is the right thing to do because it would have a negative impact on the economy,” said Hideaki Inoue, chief forex manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corp.


“The entire economic outlook is becoming increasingly grim.”


There was some support from figures showing Japanese machinery orders, considered a leading indicator of corporate Japan’s appetite for spending, rose a better-than-expected 5.4 percent in March from the month before.


Regional markets followed European and Wall Street stocks lower. On Friday the Dow dropped 1.51 percent on escalating fears for the health of the eurozone.


“While a financial safety net is in place (in the eurozone), that doesn’t remove the considerable economic concerns that burden that region,” Jamie Spiteri, head of trading at Shaw Stockbroking in Sydney told Dow Jones Newswires.


Stocks in Japanese exporters extended losses, with their overseas profits threatened by the euro’s weakness. Sony was down 4.50 percent and Kyocera lost 2.87 percent.


“The market has no confidence in the euro,” Mizuho Corporate Bank market economist Daisuke Karakama said, noting the single currency was lower even though there was no fresh news to drive it down.


Gold has soared to record peaks as investors exit the single currency in favour of safe haven investments, with the precious metal opening at 1,237.00 US dollars in Hong Kong, down from Friday’s record high of 1,249.40 dollars.


The debt crisis began as Greece teetered towards default, triggering fears that other weak economies such as Portugal, Spain and Italy may be next.


Worries that a possible debt default by Greece could hit the world’s financial system in the same way the collapse of Lehman Brothers did two years ago have sent shares and the euro plunging.


IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Sunday that European nations had taken too long to respond to the Greek crisis.


Athens is now paying a painful price for its past overspending with the government forced to slash civil servant pay and pensions while raising taxes as a condition for the 110-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout.


The IMF and EU agreed the Greek bailout only at the beginning of May, and a week later were forced to put together the trillion-dollar euro rescue plan as investors continued to dump the currency and European shares.


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Sunday raised the possibility of taking legal action against US banks, saying they bear “great responsibility” for Greece’s debt crisis, according to a transcript of an interview provided by CNN.


Thai shares were 2.5 percent lower as political violence continued to paralyse the capital with almost 30 people killed as authorities clashed with “Red Shirt” protesters.


Oil was lower. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, tumbled 1.45 dollars to 70.16 dollars a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July delivery slid 1.36 dollars to 76.57 dollars.


In other markets:


— Seoul closed 2.60 percent, or 44.12 points, lower at 1,651.51.


— Taipei ended 2.23 percent, or 173.41 points, lower at 7,598.72.


PC maker Acer dived 6.9 percent to a eight-and-a-half-month low of 75.20 Taiwan dollars, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was off 3.3 percent at 59.20.


— Manila closed 1.23 percent, or 41.11 points lower, at 3,289.31.


Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. fell 0.19 percent to 2,500 pesos while First Gen Corp. dropped 2.17 percent to 11.25 pesos.


But Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. gained 1.77 percent to 57.50 pesos.


— New Zealand fell 0.64 percent, or 20.27 points, to 3,170.74.


Telecom shed 1.4 percent to 2.07 New Zealand dollars and construction company Fletcher Building ended down 0.2 percent at 8.16.

d
Source: SGGP