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Posts Tagged ‘plan’

Russians protest Kremlin time zone plan

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

Several dozen people on the Russian Pacific coast on Saturday rallied against a Kremlin plan to cut the number of time zones to further the sprawling country’s economic integration.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech as he presents the Federal Security Service flag in Moscow on December 17, 2010.

President Dmitry Medvedev surprised the country last year when during his state-of the-nation address he suggested cutting the number of time zones in order to improve coordination across Russia.

At the time of his announcement, the country spanned 11 time zones from Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea to Chukotka on the Bering Sea and earlier this year the number of time zones fell to nine.

Under the Kremlin plan, the country’s Primorye region on the Pacific is to go from being seven hours ahead of Moscow to six next year after Medvedev’s initiative was rubber-stamped by a local legislature.

Most local residents are however unhappy about the move which would mean reduced hours of daylight in the evening and several dozen campaigners including from opposition parties gathered in central Vladivostok to protest against the plan.

Some of the slogans spotted at the rally read “We are not vampires. We do not want to live at night” and “The president’s message: outrun and outdo time.”

In nearby Sakhalin region, which is also seven hours ahead of Moscow, campaigners have already collected several thousand signatures against the Kremlin initiative.

Medvedev has said eliminating time zones could help the residents of some remote Russian regions but critics have derided his idea as silly and proof that he is a weak leader incapable of implementing substantive reforms.

Russia was divided into 11 time zones in 1919. The Soviet Union introduced daylight saving in 1981 and it has continued ever since.

The elimination of the time zone will be accomplished by having residents not set their clocks forward when Russia switches to daylight savings time in March.

Galina Medvedeva, a deputy representing the Communist party in the local legislature, said at the protest the plan did not take people’s opinion into account.

“If they cancel switching from summer to winter time then it will be getting dark in our region virtually in the middle of the day,” she added.

The remote region bordering China has tight economic ties with Asia and its residents often scoff at the Kremlin’s initiatives, their independent streak sometimes manifesting itself in mass rallies unseen in central Russia.

In 2008, authorities had to dispatch riot police all the way from Moscow to break up a protest against higher tariffs on used imported cars.

Source: SGGP

EU finance ministers to meet on Irish aid plan Sunday

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

European Union finance ministers are to meet in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the EU aid plan for debt-ravaged Ireland, a French source said Saturday.

The source familiar with the issue said French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde had called for a meeting of her colleagues from eurozone countries, to be joined afterwards by ministers from the rest of the EU.

Originally it had been planned for them to communicate simply by telephone to approve the package worth 85 billion euros (113 billion dollars) and its conditions, the source added.


Source: SGGP

Ireland unveils 15-bln-euro austerity plan to secure bailout

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 5:20 am

DUBLIN, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – Ireland unveiled a 15-billion-euro austerity package Wednesday required to unlock an international bailout, slashing public sector pay and pensions but refusing to raise corporation tax.

With the eyes of Europe on his debt-ridden nation, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said his four-year package of cuts and tax increases would restore shattered confidence, calling it a signpost on the road to recovery.

A women looks at works of art for sale from the Bank of Ireland auction in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, on November 24, 2010. AFP

“We can and we will pull through this as we have in the past,” Cowen told a news conference.

“We are a smart, resilient, proud people and we are going to come through this challenge because we love our country.”

The 20-billion-dollar plan, to be followed by a budget on December 7, is an essential step towards Ireland receiving a bailout of up to 85 billion euros (114 billion dollars) from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The aim is to slash the public deficit to below three percent of gross domestic product, in line with EU rules, after it ballooned to 32 percent of GDP this year.

Among the key points of the package, sales tax will be raised to 23 percent from 21 percent by 2014, but the 12.5-percent corporation tax rate — a key attraction for foreign companies to invest in Ireland — will be maintained.

The government said it expected unemployment to be brought below 10 percent by 2014, from its current level of over 13 percent.

The minimum wage will be cut by one euro to 7.65 euros an hour, but the government said it would still be one of the highest rates in the EU.

The EU’s economic commissioner Olli Rehn said the package was “a sound basis for the negotiations” on the international bailout.

As Ireland strove to prove it was trying to get its house in order, another heavily-indebted eurozone country, Portugal, was paralysed by a general strike on Wednesday called to protest against deep spending cuts.

The EU fears Portugal will be the next eurozone nation to require a bailout after Greece and Ireland.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was prepared to help Ireland, but its support was conditional on Dublin “making clear what steps (it) must take to get back on a path of stabilisation”.

Cowen meanwhile fought off calls from the opposition Tuesday to call a snap election, insisting the budget must be passed first.

Irish lawmakers are unlikely to vote on the budget until January, meaning that an election could not take place until February or March.

The EU has told the main Fine Gael opposition party that while the plan’s fiscal targets are non-negotiable it will re-negotiate specific details with an incoming government, finance spokesman Michael Noonan said.

Noonan insisted the plan was “disappointing in its poverty of ambition and detail.”

Experts warned that the plan would not immediately ease Ireland’s problems.

“Uncertainty caused by the collapse of the government… will continue to hang over Ireland in the coming weeks,” National Irish Bank economist, Ronnie O’Toole, said.

IHS Global Insight economist Sonia Pangusion predicted “the downtrend in consumer confidence will accelerate,” adding that the plan for an export-based recovery “increases Ireland’s economic risk.”

The government has been under pressure since caving in and agreeing to accept the bailout on Sunday night.

Despite reports that it is worth 85 billion euros, Cowen told parliament earlier Wednesday the amount had still to be decided as negotiations were ongoing.

The international loans to Dublin are in part intended to shore up banks left with huge debts from the collapse of an overheated property market.

But the bailout is also designed to stem fears of contagion in other eurozone nations such as Portugal and even the far larger Spanish economy, which came under pressure on the markets.

Spain’s deputy finance minister Jose Manuel Campa insisted that “an abyss separates us from Ireland”.

Despite the efforts to shore up the single European currency, the euro fell slightly below 1.34 Wednesday after sinking below 1.33 dollars earlier because of fears over the eurozone and the Korean crisis. 

Source: SGGP

US, S.Korea plan war games after N.Korean attack

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:20 am

The United States and South Korea stand “shoulder to shoulder” in their response to a deadly North Korean artillery bombardment and will soon stage combined war games, the White House said.

In their first joint response to Tuesday’s attack on a South Korean border island, presidents Barack Obama and Lee Myung-Bak agreed on the military exercises, as pressure built on China to rein in its wayward ally.

South Korea, after decrying an “inhumane atrocity” against defenseless civilians, said it was suspending promised flood aid to North Korea, and has already called off talks on reuniting families split by the Korean War.

The attack on the Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong, which sent panicked civilians fleeing and depressed financial markets worldwide, has fueled anxiety about North Korea’s intentions after a new nuclear program came to light.

Destroyed houses on Yeonpyeong island after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells on November 23.

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on China to use its “significant influence over North Korea” to tamp down the latest spasm of tensions on the divided peninsula.

A White House statement said Obama telephoned Lee to declare that the United States “stands shoulder to shoulder” with its ally South Korea, which is home to 28,500 US troops.

The two leaders agreed to hold “combined military exercises and enhanced training in the days ahead,” the statement said. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the two nations would start a naval exercise on Sunday.

The intention of the drills is to “continue the close security cooperation between our two countries, and to underscore the strength of our alliance and commitment to peace and security in the region,” the White House said.

The artillery fire killed two South Korean marines and wounded 15 more plus three civilians in one of the worst incidents since the 1950-53 war, sparking outrage in many newspapers in Seoul as the government was urged to hit back.

“A club is the only medicine for a mad dog,” the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said, calling the shelling a “war crime” that demanded a military riposte.

South Korea readied to deploy more artillery on Yeonpyeong, including extra K-9 self-propelled guns to replace shorter-range 105-mm howitzers, after officials said North Korea fired up to 170 artillery shells into its territory.

“We’re going to work with China, we’re going to work with all our six-party partners on a response,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, referring to an international group tackling North Korea’s nuclear drive.

The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment plant — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.

It also comes as North Korea prepares for an eventual dynastic succession from Kim Jong-Il to his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un. The expected transfer is fueling speculation about the opaque regime’s military and nuclear ambitions.

China — North Korea’s main ally and economic prop — has expressed “concern” over the shelling but not publicly criticized North Korea. Its media have given generally sympathetic coverage to Pyongyang’s version of events.

North Korea’s supreme command has accused South Korea of firing first, and vowed “merciless military attacks with no hesitation if the South Korean enemy dares to invade our sea territory by 0.001 mm”.

But the rest of the world has united in blaming North Korea, and China is under mounting pressure to intervene, despite its historic reluctance to do anything to destabilise the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang.

“We should ask China, which has significant influence over North Korea, to make efforts to jointly restrain North Korean actions,” Kan said at a Japanese cabinet task force meeting set up in response to the attack.

Australia called the “outrageously provocative” shelling a threat to the entire region’s stability and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said: “I believe it’s important now for China to bring all of its influence to bear on North Korea.”

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by UN forces after the war, but north of the sea border declared by Pyongyang. The Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and last November.

Tensions have been acute since the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which Seoul says was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack. Pyongyang has rejected the charge.

Source: SGGP

New Israeli settlement plan sparks outcry

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:21 am

Traditional medicine forum agrees on plan

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Hospital rolls out blindness prevention plan

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

EU leaders wary of plan to re-open Lisbon treaty

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

A fractious European Union summit looms this week as the bloc heads for a hard hurdle — a fresh and risky rewrite of its treaty demanded by France and Germany to shore up the euro.

Leaders of the 27-nation bloc face the challenge at a two-day summit starting Thursday to turn the lessons of the 2008-2009 economic crisis into hard and fast rules tightening debt and deficit discipline.

But a controversial Franco-German proposal issued days ago, denounced by many as a “diktat”, calls for the rules to be enshrined in a new draft of the hard-fought Lisbon treaty, which came into force only last December after eight years of tough talks and failed referenda.

“This is an extremely sensitive isssue that frightens the life out of some nations,” said a senior EU diplomat. “It’ll be the hot theme of the summit.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pictured at a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party in Goslar, Germany, on Saturday, has agreed a controversial deal with France’s Nicolas Sarkozy on the future of EU funding…

The notion of rewriting the fledgling treaty surfaced last week when French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plastered over their own differences over economic governance in a sudden deal.

In efforts triggered by the emergency rescue of Greece and fears of a cascade of national basket-cases, EU leaders had this year created a 440-billion-euro rescue fund — the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) — set to expire in 2013.

Germany, which has been the biggest contributor to EU rescue efforts, favoured a temporary fund to ensure reining in spendthrift nations.

But Merkel last week caved in to Sarkozy’s call for the facility to be made permanent to shore up Europe’s monetary union, which dates back to 1999.

To meet the requirements of the German constitution, however, giving the EFSF eternal life requires a change to the Lisbon treaty, which currently outlaws EU member states from flying to the rescue of a bankrupt eurozone partner.

“The summit will have to indicate how to create a credible mechanism, given concerns in Germany, which refuses to extend it unconditionally,” the diplomat said.

Sarkozy for his part obtained a softening of already tentatively agreed sanctions against deficit offenders, which were supposed to be automatic but now would be more flexible while biting sooner.

The deal has raised hackles across the bloc of half a billion people.

“We’re not happy with what the French and the Germans did,” European Parliament spokesman for economic affairs John Schranz told AFP as lawmakers too prepared to mull the new rules this week.

“We want sanctions to be heavy-hitting and automatic” as opposed to the watered-down vision agreed by Sarkozy and Merkel, he said.

The sanctions climbdown has already been the subject of stern criticism from the head of the European Central Bank, the formal guardian of euro stability.

Budgetary hawks also including the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland do not think the proposed new rules go far enough.

Some in Berlin accuse Merkel of buckling, but others accuse EU finance ministers as a whole of getting “cold feet”.

“It is a step backwards,” said Austrian conservative Othmar Karas.

Worries are high too of opening a new Pandora’s Box in rewriting the Lisbon treaty, though some officials say the new rules could be simply written in when Croatia becomes the EU’s 28th member — which it hopes will be in 2012.

But other members could pile up new demands in exchange for green-lighting the Franco-German accord.

Non-euro Britain for example could come armed with a shopping list, even if senior EU officials insist sanctions will only apply to nations using the single currency.

British Prime Minister David Cameron “will not support anything that involves a transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels,” a government spokesman said.

While Britain ratified Lisbon without a referendum, Cameron is already planning to bring forward legislation that would make any further dilution of “sovereignty” an issue requiring popular assent.

Source: SGGP

Hospitals to be relocated to outer suburbs in capital plan

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Hospitals to be relocated to outer suburbs in capital plan

QĐND – Saturday, October 23, 2010, 23:12 (GMT+7)

A detailed plan is being developed to move Ha Noi hospitals to outer suburbs as part of the capital’s construction plans, a conference between the People’s Committee and the Ministry of Health heard on Thursday.

“City authorities will try their best to facilitate the relocation of the hospitals,” said deputy chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee, Phi Thai Binh.

The city is set to become a hub of high-quality healthcare under plans being reviewed by the Government.

t present, there are 72 hospitals in the city, 32 managed by the ministries of health, public security, national defence, construction and transport, and 40 others run by the Department of Health. Half of these health centres are in four inner districts: Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da and Hai Ba Trung. The conference concluded that hospitals should be treated according to their function. Those that treat infectious or viral diseases and produce large amounts of medical waste will be shifted from populous areas to suburban areas and the abandoned buildings will be turned into medical research centres.

Additional facilities will be built elsewhere for hospitals with no room for expansion. All new hospitals managed by the city’s Health Department must be built at least 25km from central Ha Noi and near State- and district-level hospitals to ensure that technology can be transferred efficiently.

Ha Noi hopes to build five multi-functional medical complexes in the future on a total area of 600 hectares in the Gia Lam, Long Bien, Soc Son, Son Tay and Phu Xuyen districts. The quality gap between district and provincial hospitals and State-level hospitals is causing State hospitals to be overcrowded with patients.

Key hospitals, including Bach Mai Hospital, the National Obstetric and Gynaecological Hospital and the Viet Nam National Hospital for Paediatrics in Ha Noi, overbook their hospital rooms and do not have enough beds to meet demand.

During the first six months of the year, Bach Mai hospital, one of biggest hospitals in the country, has operated at 47 per cent above its capacity level.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Health Strategy and Policy in 2007 showed that State hospitals, particularly obstetrics and children’s hospitals, were unable to meet demand.

Source: VNS/VNN

Source: QDND

A million protest pensions plan as fuel shortages bite

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 4:07 am

PARIS (AFP) – Strikes threatening to paralyse France’s economy looked set to rumble on into Wednesday after a million people took to the street for their right to retire at 60 and fuel shortages began to bite.

Clashes erupted between youths and riot police in several towns Tuesday and shops in the city of Lyon were looted as workers and students came out in force around the country to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s unpopular reform.

People demonstrate in Marseille, southern France. AFP

Sarkozy refused to back down however and leading unions in some sectors including airports called for stoppages to continue on Wednesday, while oil refineries remained blocked, hit by a week of strikes.

The DGAC aviation authority said a quarter of flights from Orly, Paris’s second-biggest airport, would be cancelled on Wednesday morning but did not detail further disruption at the main hub, Charles de Gaulle.

Around one in three flights at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and regional airports were cancelled on Tuesday, while one in three filling stations ran out of fuel, the government said.

The latest day of protests, the sixth since September, drew around 1.1 million people onto the streets, police said, slightly fewer than the 1.23 million on the last comparable day, October 12.

The CGT, France’s biggest union, told AFP it estimated overall turnout at 3.5 million, equal to its estimate for October 12. Unions’ estimates have habitually been several times higher than those of police.

With more than 200 protests on Tuesday, all 12 French oil refineries shut down by strikes and truckers blocking roads, Sarkozy instructed the cabinet to draw up a plan to stop France grinding to a standstill.

Environment and Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said that “a little under 4,000 petrol stations are awaiting deliveries.” There are around 12,500 filling stations in France.

French fuel and heating federation FF3C said the “extremely worrying” situation “should definitely be called a shortage”, while the International Energy Agency said France has “sufficient stocks” to deal with the situation.

Authorities in Normandy requisitioned 12 petrol stations for use by rescue and emergency services, while Prime Minister Francois Fillon said a third of departments or local administrations were experiencing fuel shortages.

Fillon chaired a meeting with several ministers and oil industry officials on how to deal with the crisis and ministers later held talks with Sarkozy.

Fillon’s office said the government would ensure access to fuel depots, many of which are blocked by strikers, and that distributors would pool their fuel and trucks to help needy stations.

The interior minister promised tough action as clashes erupted anew outside a secondary school in Nanterre, near Paris, where youths burned a car and threw rocks at riot police for the second day in a row.

Police fired tear gas and arrested nine youth protestors in Lyon who had overturned cars and set one alight. At least five shops were later looted, police said.

Nine people were arrested Tuesday in Paris, police said.

The ministry said that 1,158 troublemakers had been arrested at demonstrations since the start of the week, 163 of them on Tuesday morning.

The powerful CGT union’s transport section called for their strike action to be renewed on Wednesday, encompassing airport staff, air traffic controllers, public transport workers and employees of national railways operator SNCF.

Unions want to force Sarkozy to abandon a bill to raise the minimum retirement age to 62, which is in the final days of its journey through a parliament in which the right-wing leader enjoys a comfortable majority.

Most French back the current protests, with a poll published Monday in the popular Le Parisien daily showing that 71 percent of those asked expressed either support or sympathy for the movement.

A poll published Tuesday showed that Sarkozy’s approval rating dropped this month to its lowest in three years at 30 percent, two percentage points less than when the main pension protests started in September.

Source: SGGP