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Posts Tagged ‘hopes’

Robot snag dims hopes for trapped N.Zealand miners

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2010 at 2:33 am

Clinton hopes ‘lame-duck’ Congress will pass nuclear treaty

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

S.Korea hopes to settle currency row at G20 summit

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 at 4:41 am

Sarkozy hopes end in sight for French pension protest

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

President Nicolas Sarkozy hopes to put his titanic battle to raise France’s retirement age behind him this week by signing the measure into law despite a new wave of strikes, rallies and fuel blockades.

With thousands of families heading off for school half-term holidays, and lawmakers expected to give the pensions bill their formal final approval on Wednesday, Sarkozy hopes the mass protest movement will die away.

But, with Sunday newspaper opinion polls showing the embattled president more unpopular than ever, trade unions and student bodies have declared at least two more days of action, and strikes continue in the key fuel sector.

A motorcyclist queues up with drivers at a gas station in Nantes, western France

A poll by the IFOP institute for the weekly JDD found Sarkozy’s approval rating had dropped below 30 percent for the first time, clouding his hopes that passing the pensions law could kick start a political comeback.

French university students are planning to march on Tuesday to defend the right to retire at 60, and trade unions have called their campaign’s seventh one-day nationwide strike and day of rallies on Thursday.

Meanwhile, one petrol station in four around the country has run dry, amid strikes at refineries and blockades of fuel depots by strikers playing a cat and mouse game with riot police sent to disperse them.

Government supporters were putting a brave face on things, however, betting that on Wednesday — when the National Assembly rubber stamps the pensions law already approved by both houses of parliament — the movement will fizzle.

“In France we have a sort of ritual from another century. Strikes, protests, yes, but taking the economy hostage is intolerable,” said Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the right-wing UMP in parliament, in an interview with Le Parisien.

The pensions reform bill was approved by the Senate on Friday, and on Monday the text will be reconciled with the draft passed earlier by the lower house.

Following its adoption, France’s constitutional court may be asked to sign off on its legality and Sarkozy expects to be able to put it into the official gazette on November 15, advisor Raymond Soubie told Europe 1 radio.

“This reform will pass. It’s a victory for France and the French,” he said, noting that recent protests against the reform had failed to paralyse public services and that labour leaders had been “quite reasonable”.

Government expects the merged text will then receive final approval by the National Assembly on Wednesday, raising the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 by 2018 and increasing the period of salary contributions to 41 years.

Sarkozy defends the measure as “inevitable” in the face of France’s rapidly growing population and burgeoning budget deficit, but opponents accuse him of making workers pay while protecting the rich and the world of finance.

The president is due to face re-election in 2012, and the Socialist party has vowed that if its candidate wins, he or she will restore retirement at 60.

While most voters polled say they support the strikes, and each protest day has so far drawn more than a million marchers, Sarkozy is gambling that if he forces the law through he will be hailed as a strong leader by the right.

Strikes continue, however, particularly in the oil industry and around 70 ships are waiting at anchor off the southern port of Marseille unable to dock and unload.

“In the Paris region we have 35 percent of filling stations that have run dry or are out of at least one fuel product, and in the west of the country a third are in real difficulty,” said a spokeswoman for the transport ministry.

An advisor of Sarkozy said in a television interview that one in four pumps were dry nationwide, but said the situation would improve.

Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo warned drivers to expect shortages on Monday, echoing a warning from the association representing retail petrol stations of shortages as many tanker drivers took their traditional Sunday day off, despite the government having exceptionally allowed them to work.

Meanwhile MEDEF, the organisation representing French business, warned about the serious impact the protest was having on its members, citing in particular road and rail disruption.

Source: SGGP

Dollar falls in Asia as stocks surge on hopes over US policy

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

HONG KONG, Oct 14, 2010 (AFP) – The dollar fell to a new 15-year low against the yen Thursday and Asian stocks posted strong gains on growing expectations of new pump-priming measures in the United States.

The greenback dipped to 81.28 yen in early Tokyo trade, its worst showing since April 1995, while it was also under pressure from the euro and Singapore dollar.

Despite the dollar’s continued weakness against the yen Tokyo’s Nikkei stock index was 1.82 percent higher by the break as resource firms were lifted by surging commodity prices.

Traders are banking on the US Federal Reserve to introduce further monetary easing at its next policy meeting as it tries to kickstart recovery in the sluggish economy.

Hong Kong was 1.31 percent higher, Sydney added 1.55 percent, Shanghai gained 1.85 percent and Seoul was up 0.85 percent, while Singapore advanced 0.38 percent.

BBY senior institutional trader Peter Copeland said: “As long as China remains on track and QE2 (quantitative easing) underpins the US economy and commodity prices, while sending the US dollar down, I see further upward momentum for equities.”

“You now have this perverse situation where bad economic news in the US is good news for equities because it supports the case for QE2,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Minutes from last month’s meeting of the Fed’s Open Market Committee said the central bank was prepared “to provide additional accommodation if needed” to help the economy.

The dollar’s losses have been capped, however, by threats from Japanese authorities that they would intervene again in currency markets to sell the yen.

The Bank of Japan last month stepped into the markets for the first time in six years as the dollar hit 82.86 yen. A strong yen hurts exporters as it makes them less competitive while also cutting their profits when repatriated.

A 0.69 percent rise on the Dow Wednesday provided Asian dealers with the impetus to continue buying as Wall Street welcomed a strong set of quarterly corporate data.

The dollar came under broad selling pressure on Thursday with the Singapore dollar surging against the US unit after the city-state’s central bank announced a surprise tightening of monetary policy.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore made the announcement after the government said the economy was likely to expend between 13 and 15 percent this year, leading to concerns over rising inflation.

Singapore’s monetary policy is conducted via the local currency, which is traded against a basket of currencies of its major trading partners within an undisclosed exchange rate band.

The weaker dollar sent commodities higher, with gold hitting a new high, opening at 1,376.00-1,377.00 US dollars an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Wednesday’s close of 1,359.00-1,360.00 dollars.

And on oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery, gained 71 cents to 83.72 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November advanced 53 cents to 85.17 dollars on its last trading day.

Source: SGGP

China mudslide rescue hopes fade as toll tops 700

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 7:21 am

 Hopes of finding survivors of China’s worst mudslides in decades faded Wednesday as the death toll topped 700, with more than 1,000 people still missing under an avalanche of rock and sludge.

More than 10,000 soldiers and rescuers combed through the mountains of mud that buried a remote area of the northwest province of Gansu at the weekend, but 72 hours after the disaster, the window of survival was quickly closing.

Authorities were increasingly focused on relief efforts, with hundreds of medical workers sent to the disaster zone along with experts in epidemic prevention amid fears of an outbreak of water-borne disease.

Tens of thousands of residents of hardest-hit Zhouqu county were without adequate food and drinking water, with many roads leading to the area damaged. A Red Cross worker said it was hard to find safe ground to erect tents.

Survivors grieve for a relative killed during the deadly flood-triggered landslides in Zhouqu, in northwest China’s Gansu province.

Meteorologists have predicted thunderstorms in Zhouqu over the next few days — which could hinder clean-up efforts and frighten rattled residents already wary of sleeping on unstable ground.

“Mudslides are much more devastating than earthquakes,” one rescuer was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

“There is only a one percent chance that anybody could be found alive here.”

A continuous stream of rescuers trudged through the zone, bearing the dead on stretchers, an AFP correspondent witnessed early Wednesday. Carts of coffins were seen at the roadside.

At least a dozen bodies were laid out at a makeshift morgue in the heat, awaiting identification. Most were covered, but one was out in the open. The stench was overwhelming, causing some residents to gag and others to run past.

The mudslides are the latest in a string of weather-related disasters, as China battles its worst flooding in a decade. More than 2,100 people were left dead or missing and 12 million evacuated before the Gansu tragedy.

On Tuesday, the director of Gansu’s civil affairs department, Tian Baozhong, painted a grim picture, telling reporters the death toll had more than doubled to 702, while the number of missing had dropped only slightly to 1,042.

The mudslides levelled an area five kilometres (three miles) long and 300 metres wide, Xinhua said. Floodwaters up to three storeys high have submerged half of Zhouqu county, where one-third of the population is Tibetan.

The landslides swept homes, cars and debris into the Bailong river running through Zhouqu, choking off the waterway and triggering flooding in the mountainous area, the government said.

In Zhouqu town, workers tried to clear streets buried in thick mud and debris from more than 300 destroyed homes. Workers were also draining an unstable barrier lake created by the landslides, amid fears it could burst.

But some rescuers told state media they could not make much more progress without heavy excavation equipment, which was stuck outside the zone because of flooded roads.

Damaged roads and bridges also prevented much-needed aid from getting through. Yang Long, a doctor running a makeshift clinic at a Zhouqu school, said he had treated several adults and children for diarrhea.

“Unhealthy drinking water and food mainly caused the disease and we need more medicine,” Yang told the China Daily.

The health ministry said Tuesday that no major epidemics had been reported so far.

As homeless residents milled around town, saying they did not know where to go, relief workers said the difficult terrain had

hindered their efforts to provide temporary housing in the form of more than 4,000 tents.

“We have adequate tents, but insufficient space to pitch them,” Zhang Hongdong, a Red Cross worker, told Xinhua.

People who have lost homes will be helped to rebuild, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday, pledging to complete reconstruction before winter sets in or no later than June next year.

Both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended their condolences to the relatives of the victims.

Source: SGGP

Hopes fade for China mudslide survivors

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 at 11:22 am

ZHOUQU, China (AFP) – Rescuers in northwest China on Tuesday battled on with the grim task of searching for over 1,100 people missing in huge mudslides that have killed 337, but hopes faded that many would be saved.

At least three villages were levelled by an avalanche of mud and rocks triggered by heavy rains Saturday in a remote area of Gansu province — the latest deadly disaster as China battles its worst flooding in a decade.

A survivor jumps into floodwaters as rescuers (background) evacuate people from flooded buildings in Zhouqu, causing flooding in northwest China’s Gansu province on August 8, 2010. AFP

With more rain forecast for later in the week, Premier Wen Jiabao — who comforted survivors of the devastation in hardest-hit Zhouqu on Monday — urged rescuers to hurry but acknowledged the task would be an arduous one.

“We must fully realise the difficulties for the search and rescue work,” Wen was quoted as saying by the state Xinhua news agency.

“You must race against the clock and spare no efforts in saving lives.”

President Hu Jintao presided over a meeting of senior Communist Party leaders Tuesday on how to handle the crisis, Xinhua said.

Thousands of soldiers and rescuers armed mainly with shovels, hoes and rope hunted for survivors in Zhouqu, the county seat, where homes were torn apart and streets still buried in mud as deep as two metres (six feet) in places.

“My older brother is buried here. He was on the ground floor,” Chen Xue, 45, told AFP, pointing at a house submerged in mud. Only the third floor poked through the sludge.

Chen said he had travelled a full day from neighbouring Sichuan province to try to find his sibling, who was doing construction work in Zhouqu.

“I will wait here until they bring him out,” he said, acknowledging that his brother had likely died in the disaster, as rescue workers used shovels and picks to go through the mess, some with the help of sniffer dogs.

The landslides swept mud, houses, cars and other debris into the Bailong river running through Zhouqu, blocking the waterway and triggering flooding in the mountainous area, the government said.

The Bailong remained flooded on Tuesday, with only the tops of street lamps visible above the water line, an AFP correspondent saw.

The mudslides levelled an area five kilometres (three miles) long and 500 metres wide, Xinhua said. Floodwaters up to three storeys high have submerged half the county, where one third of the population is Tibetan.

Roads and bridges have also been destroyed.

Aerial photos published by state media showed Zhouqu essentially split in two by a massive river of mud.

In the centre of town, the pungent odour of death permeated the air. Residents wandered about, searching for their relatives. Tibetan women cried and chanted in mourning for the victims.

The death toll jumped to 337 Monday, Xinhua said, quoting Chen Jianhua, communist party chief of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous prefecture. Another 1,148 others were missing.

Chen said 218 injured survivors had been taken to local hospitals. More than 40 people with serious injuries were transferred to the provincial capital Lanzhou for treatment.

He told a press briefing that families of dead will be given a payment of 8,000 yuan (1,200 dollars) for each family member lost in the disaster.

In Zhouqu, residents queued for food and bottled water, an AFP correspondent saw. Tens of thousands were reportedly in need, and aid agencies were rushing supplies to the disaster zone.

Authorities have sent more than 4,500 soldiers, police, firefighters and medics to help in search and rescue efforts. Signs of life were heard on Monday, Xinhua quoted rescuers as saying.

More rain was forecast for the area from Wednesday.

The government had said more than 2,100 people were dead or missing nationwide in flood-related disasters before the Gansu mudslides. More than 12 million others have been evacuated from their homes.

Source: SGGP

US hopes for quick end to Thai state of emergency

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm

BANGKOK, July 16, 2010 (AFP) – A senior US envoy expressed hope Friday that a state of emergency imposed in parts of Thailand since April in response to violent street protests would be lifted “as soon as possible”.

But William Burns, the State Department’s number three, stressed that Thailand was able to find its own way out of the political crisis, reiterating US calls for a democratic and peaceful solution.

“Clearly the US hopes that the state of emergency … can be lifted as soon as possible,” Burns told reporters after discussions with Thai officials.

He said Americans had been “deeply saddened” by the violence and deaths suffered during the two months of opposition demonstrations in Bangkok that ended with a bloody army crackdown in May.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjaiva (R) shakes hand with William Burns at Government House in Bangkok on July 16, 2010. AFP

Ninety people, mostly civilians, were killed and nearly 1,900 were injured in violence sparked by the anti-government “Red Shirt” rally.

The emergency powers — enabling authorities to detain suspects without charge for up to 30 days and shut down anti-government media — were extended last week for three more months in Bangkok and 18 other provinces.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has set out a five-point reconciliation plan, which the US Congress has said should form the basis of efforts by all parties in Thailand to resolve their differences.

The next stop on Burns’ regional tour will be Phnom Penh on Saturday for events marking the 60th anniversary of relations between Cambodia and the United States.

He is then set to head to Indonesia, with which President Barack Obama has been seeking stronger ties, and will round off his trip on Monday and Tuesday in the Philippines, another close US ally, for talks with the new administration of President Benigno Aquino.

Source: SGGP

Obama hopes for direct Mideast peace talks by September

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2010 at 4:14 am

 US President Barack Obama said Tuesday he hoped for direct Middle East peace talks to start before the end of September, as he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied reports of a rift.

The two leaders sat close together in the Oval Office and staged a prolonged handshake for the cameras, seeking to put to rest a tense, behind closed-doors White House encounter in March.

“I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace,” Obama said, and strongly disputed a question which suggested the bond between Israel and the United States had frayed.

“The fact of the matter is, is that I’ve trusted Prime Minister Netanyahu since I met him before I was elected president and have said so both publicly and privately.”

The talks went ahead amid intense interest on a partial Israeli freeze on settlement building which is due to expire at the end of September.

US President Barack Obama (R) addresses the press alongside Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during meetings in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC

Obama finessed the issue by saying he hoped progress towards direct negotiations from indirect US-brokered proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians would render that deadline irrelevant.

“My hope is that once direct talks have begun, well before the moratorium has expired, that that will create a climate in which everybody feels a greater investment in success,” he said.

Netanyahu says he is ready to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at any time, but the Palestinians have yet to commit to direct talks, accusing Israel of undermining the atmosphere with continuing settlement activity.

He said he and Obama had discussed “concrete” steps that could be taken now.

“When I say ‘the next few weeks,’ that’s what I mean. The president means that too.”

The challenge now will be to get the Palestinians to accept the time frame that Obama has in mind. The initial reaction from the Palestinians hinted at the difficulty of an ambitious timeline.

Abbas “insists on the necessity of progress in indirect negotiations on core issues (borders, security) before going to direct negotiations,” his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP by telephone.

The Israeli leader is under extreme pressure from his right-wing coalition not to cave in to any US pressure to extend the moratorium, announced in November after Obama pushed for concessions to the Palestinians.

Obama’s comments may be a sign he has concluded that Netanyahu’s tricky political position will prevent an extension.

Netanyahu warned that the prime threat facing Israel was Iran’s nuclear program, and praised new US sanctions against Tehran as having “teeth” while calling for “much tougher” action from other nations.

And he said suggestions that Israel and the United States were drifting apart were not just “premature” but “flat wrong.”

Obama also reassured Netanyahu that his administration had made “no change” to its policy regarding Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, amid concern among Israelis over his campaign for a nuclear free world.

Obama and Netanyahu appeared friendly towards one another, but their stern expressions at times reflected the grave nature of their talks. Both sides however seemed to want to put their spat into the past.

Netanyahu said it was “about time” that Obama visited Israel. “I’m ready,” Obama said, without mentioning a date.

In March, Netanyahu was denied even a photo-op with Obama as a row raged over settlement expansion. This time, reporters were invited to watch the US leader see the premier to his limousine and give him a wave goodbye.

Cementing the friendly tone, US First Lady Michelle Obama invited Netanyahu’s wife Sara for afternoon tea.

Obama and Netanyahu were meeting for the first time since Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla headed for Gaza in May, which killed nine Turks, and triggered a regional diplomatic crisis.

Israel on Monday gave the go-ahead for the international community to import construction materials into Gaza for projects under international supervision.

Obama commended Netanyahu for the move.

“We’ve seen real progress on the ground. I think it’s been acknowledged that it has moved more quickly and more effectively than many people anticipated.”

Both sides appeared to have decided to keep any disputes behind closed doors.

“There are going to be times where, you know, he and I are having robust discussions about what kind of choices need to be made,” Obama said.

“But the underlying approach never changes, and that is, the United States is committed to Israel’s security.”

Source: SGGP

Japan still hopes to sell bullet train to Vietnam: minister

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

TOKYO, June 22, 2010 (AFP) – Japan said Tuesday it will push on with efforts to sell its bullet train technology to Vietnam despite the project’s rejection in a rare show of defiance by legislators in Vietnam.

“We hope Vietnam will introduce Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train system,” Japan’s Transport Minister Seiji Maehara told a Tokyo press conference, after the vote in the National Assembly in Hanoi Saturday.

“Japan will try to help Vietnam introduce the Japanese system by cooperating with the Vietnamese government to draw up a feasible plan so that the National Assembly will approve it,” Maehara told reporters.

Vietnam’s legislators, who usually back government plans, rejected the 56-billion-dollar project, arguing that the country has more pressing development needs.

Vietnam has seen rapid economic growth, but roughly half the population still works in agriculture and per capita income is about 1,000 dollars.

Under the government’s proposal, the train would link the capital Hanoi with the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City 1,570 kilometres (975 miles) away, at speeds of 300 kilometres an hour, by 2035.

Japan, battling to revive its economy, hopes to sell its cutting-edge technology — from nuclear plants to renewable energy systems to bullet trains — abroad, especially to Asia’s emerging economies.

It is also among bidders hoping to help build a high-speed rail network in the United States under a plan proposed by President Barack Obama.

Maehara said his government would study ways to help Vietnam import the expensive train technology, such as by giving official development assistance or creating a fund to support such infrastructure exports.

Source: SGGP