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Posts Tagged ‘tells’

Time for banks to pay back to tax payers, UK expert tells seminar

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

Abbas tells US envoy blockade must be lifted

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

 Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Friday told US envoy George Mitchell that Washington must press Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

A handout picture released by the Palestinian Press Office shows US Middle East envoy George Mitchell (C) beeing greeted by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 18, 2010. (AFP Photo)

“President Abbas insisted during the meeting on the need for a continuation of US efforts to achieve the complete end of the Gaza blockade,” his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP following talks in Ramallah, the political capital of the occupied West Bank.


He stressed that lifting the blockade would favour a restart of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that were halted when Israel launched a devastating 22-day offensive in Gaza in December 2008.


Mitchell has brokered indirect talks and has been acting as a go-between since they started in May.


Abbas condemned the blockade as “collective punishment” against Gaza’s 1.5 million residents and dismissed as “insufficient” an easing of the measures announced by Israel earlier this week, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.


Mitchell met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and was due in Egypt on Saturday for talks with its leaders.


 

Source: SGGP

Russia serious about change, Medvedev tells West

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

President Dmitry Medvedev promised the West on Friday that a “changing” Russia was serious about economic reform, saying it needed a boom in foreign investment to modernise its economy.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the annual International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2010.

“We are truly modernising Russia,” Medvedev, Russia’s third post-Soviet president, told business leaders in a keynote speech at the annual economic forum in its second city of Saint Petersburg.


“The changes take time but it will happen,” he declared in the former imperial capital founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 to serve as Russia’s window to the West and to narrow its gap with the West.


“Russia understands the tasks ahead and is changing for itself and for the rest of the world,” said Medvedev.


Medvedev — who took over the Kremlin from his strongman predecessor Vladimir Putin in 2008 — has made modernisation a mantra of his presidency but has been criticised by economists for failing to follow rhetoric with actions.


In a surprise announcement warmly welcomed by the audience, Medvedev said that from 2011 Russia would abolish capital gains tax for long-term direct investment.


“Russia must become a country which attracts people from around the world to realise their dreams,” he said.


He also promised more relaxed visa policies for qualified foreign businessmen working in Russia and a strengthening of the legal basis for business in a country still blighted by corruption.


“Russia needs a genuine investment boom,” said Medvedev.


Medvedev announced he had signed a decree that would cut fivefold the number of firms deemed “strategic” and in which the state is obliged to own a stake, opening the way for broader participation of foreign companies in the country’s top companies.


Under Putin, Russia drew up a list of sectors, first and foremost energy, in which foreign participation is limited.


German Gref, ex-economy minister and now head of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, said this was a crucial development as it showed the “state will gradually withdraw from direct participation in the economy”.


The Saint Petersburg Forum, sometimes dubbed “the Russian Davos” after the annual get-together in Switzerland, is Russia’s most important platform for showing off its economy to the world.


Medvedev asserted that Russia was emerging from the economic crisis with decent economic growth of around four percent in the first five months of 2010.


He also emphasized that the oil- and gas-rich country was being spared the budget crises currently besetting some European Union states, even if Russia had to tighten its belt.


“We have no problem with our sovereign debt. It is minimal,” said Medvedev.


But he added: “We do not have so much money in the budget for structural changes. What we have we can and must use in a different way — more effectively and result-orientated.”


The global financial crisis that broke in late 2008 prompted worries that Russia again risked an economic meltdown of the kind it endured in 1998 when it defaulted on sovereign debt.


The economy contracted 7.9 percent in 2009 but has now started moving into recovery, although economists warn it will take years for Russia to recover pre-crisis growth rates.

Source: SGGP

SocGen trader tells fraud trial bosses ‘encouraged’ him

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel testified Tuesday that he was “encouraged” by his bosses to take risks, on the first day of his trial over the multi-billion-euro scandal at the French bank.


The Frenchman is accused of gambling away 4.9 billion euros (six billion dollars) in risky stock market trades and of hiding these actions from his employers at Societe Generale, one of France’s three biggest banks.


In an emotional hearing that several times broke down into squabbling between the lawyers in the room, Kerviel denied he was to blame for reckless trading, insisting his bosses knew the risks he took and backed him.

French alleged rogue trader Jerome Kerviel (R) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives for his trial at Paris courthouse.

Dressed in a dark suit and a pink and blue striped tie, Kerviel answered questions from presiding judge Dominique Pauthe who pointed to psychological assessments showing a “lack of self-control” that led to his risky behaviour.


But the 33-year-old Kerviel responded: “The daily encouragement from my superiors did not stop me. Rather they encouraged me to continue.”


Kerviel risks a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros if convicted on charges of breach of trust, falsifying and using fake documents and entering false data into company computers.


The court must decide whether he is solely responsible for the losses in a case seen as a symbol of the banking excesses blamed for the financial crisis.


Branded a crook by his ex-employer but seen by others as a scapegoat for those higher up, Kerviel faces criminal charges along with civil suits by the bank and other plaintiffs, including employees and shareholders.


Kerviel looked tense and solemn as he stood before the judges at the start of the trial and identified himself as a “single, computer consultant” earning 2,300 euros per month.


He later spoke of the stressful long days working at Societe Generale.


“Every day I would arrive at 7:00 am. Lunch would be a sandwich at my desk,” he said.


Societe Generale revealed in January 2008 that it had been forced to unwind 50 billion euros of unauthorised deals it says Kerviel made.


In a memoir published last month, Kerviel wrote that bosses turned a blind eye to possible breaches of trading limits as long as earnings were high.


He told the court it would be “impossible” to make the trades he did without others knowing, “not for more than a day, in any case”.


His lawyer Olivier Metzner showed the court a projection of the seating plan in Kerviel’s office to illustrate the point and said that bosses could also view his trades via the computer system at any time.


He also projected a spreadsheet recording the transactions of Kerviel’s trading team, saying it showed that his activities were easily traceable. The bank’s lawyers contested this claim.


Societe Generale’s lead lawyer Jean Veil told reporters afterwards that he would show a video that demonstrates how traders did stressful work on several screens and could not be expected to monitor their neighbours’ activities.


Metzner retorted that this was a “fantastical” claim.

“It seems that Societe Generale is either blind, or it doesn’t want to see,” he told reporters.

Bickering broke out several times in the hearing as the combative Metzner questioned Claire Dumas, a senior manager at the bank who was in charge of getting to the bottom of the losses in the days after they came to light.

About 40 witnesses will be called to the stand over the coming weeks including Eric Cordelle, who was Kerviel’s immediate superior at the time. He is due to testify on June 21.

The first witnesses testify at Wednesday’s hearing, which will examine the trading limits Kerviel was supposedly subject to.

Kerviel spent 38 days in custody after his arrest in 2008 and has since started a job at a small IT company in a suburb of Paris.

Trial hearings are set to end on June 25 and the court is expected to take several weeks to deliberate before delivering a verdict.

Source: SGGP

US tells BP to clarify cleanup intent as Gulf spill gushes on

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Veterinarian Heather Nevill cleans an oil-covered brown pelican at the Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation (AFP photo)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – US officials have told BP to clarify what costs it will pay for cleanup of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with crews employing new tactics Sunday to stem the leak as globs of oil wash ashore in three states.


And while BP scrambles to contain the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil at a minimum that is spilling into the sea each day, The New York Times reported that scientists have found huge plumes of oil in the deep waters of the Gulf which indicate the spill could be far worse than previously estimated.


The latest effort by British Petroleum to stem the disaster involves connecting an “insertion tube” to the leak site on the ocean floor so oil can be siphoned to a container vessel at the surface.


The process was supposed to be completed overnight, but a frame connected to the pipe had to be brought back up to the surface and adjusted, BP said.


The insertion tube was expected to be in place by Saturday night, according to BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles.


The company is under massive pressure from the US administration, including President Barack Obama, who Friday blasted companies involved in the disaster for seeking to shift blame and shirk responsibility.


He accused executives from three firms tied to the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank last month, precipitating the disastrous spill, of creating a “ridiculous spectacle” of finger-pointing and passing the buck.


Two of Obama’s top cabinet members also sought to hold BP to public promises it has made to pay all the costs of the containment and clean-up of the spill, which has already run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.


In a letter released Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called on BP chief executive Tony Hayward to provide “immediate public clarification of BP’s true intentions.”


They said BP’s public statements suggested the company would not seek to have a liability cap applied to claims against it, and would not ask for taxpayer dollars or tap into a liability fund.


Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a sponsor of legislation to retroactively raise the liability cap for individual accidents from 75 million dollars to 10 billion, welcomed the government’s effort.


“There should be no legal wiggle room for oil companies that devastate coastal businesses and communities — now or in the future,” he said.


Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard told AFP that oil was washing ashore in at least two new locations — Whiskey Island, Louisiana and Long Beach, Mississippi.


“We sent crews to assess what type of oil, and we determined it’s ‘soft patties’ on Whiskey Island and ‘tar balls’ on Long Beach,” said Petty Officer Erik Swanson.


Oil globs have also washed ashore on barrier islands in Alabama.


The appearance of oil in new locations highlights the urgency of efforts to contain the spill, which experts warn may be growing at a rate close to 70,000 barrels (2.9 million gallons) a day, more than 10 times faster than previous Coast Guard estimates.


The new findings suggest the spill has already eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, the worst environmental disaster in US history.


BP disputes the figures, but has pledged it will do everything to contain and cap the spill.


But multiple efforts over the last three weeks to stop the leak, or even to slow the flow of oil, have failed.


Crews are spraying sub-sea dispersants directly onto the leak to break up the oil into barely visible particles that can more easily be broken down by naturally occurring bacteria under water.


The Times report Saturday quoted scientists saying they found huge oil plumes deep under water, including one 10 miles (16 kilometers) long, three miles wide and 300 feet (91 meters) thick.


“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” the Times quoted University of Georgia researcher Samantha Joye as saying.


Joye is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about the environmental disaster.


BP has also deployed to the seabed a container attached to a siphon tube that could be lowered over the leak to collect and then funnel away the oil to a ship on the surface.


The method was tried once before, but low temperatures and high pressure caused the oil to form sludge that clogged the funnel, so the container has been redesigned with a heating system.


Those options hold only the promise of containing the oil, with the first opportunity to cap the flow altogether not expected until late next week.


Then crews will undertake a “junk shot/top kill” process, where the leak is plugged with a variety of rubber and fibrous materials and then cemented over.


The ultimate solution to the leak involves drilling relief wells, one of which is already under way but could take two more months to finish.


Salazar, on the ground in Louisiana, said Obama had sent him with a message.


“We shall not rest, we shall not take a day off until we get this problem resolved.”

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Source: SGGP

Exhibition tells lives of Mekong residents

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2010 at 4:47 am

Nine stories of the lives, dreams and struggles of the people of three Mekong River countries – Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – are featured at an exhibition in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang.


“The Mekong’s story: Challenge and dream,” a mobile exhibition, was jointly opened at the provincial museum on March 30 by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Department of Heritage and Culture under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Small boats carry tourists in a countryside tour in the Mekong province of Tien Giang, Vietnam (Photo: Thinh Khanh)

The stories focus on the traditional and contemporary customs, and the lives and culture of people in the three countries where generations have relied on the legendary river for their survival.


The stories are told via a collection of 200 artifact and photos, providing visitors an insight into the lives of millions of Southeast Asian residents living along the river as well as their struggles against natural disasters and environmental pollution.


Visitors are enabled to experience and explore the diverse cultures of the three nations through each story, as well as share their own dreams with the local residents.


The exhibition aims to call upon people to contribute to reducing poverty, protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development along the river.


The three-month event is part of a cultural preservation project sponsored by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and carried out by 15 museums and agencies of the three countries over the past four years.


The exhibition will move on to Cambodia, Laos and Sweden from now until 2012.

Source: SGGP

Eyes of the world are on you, UN chief tells climate summit

In World on December 16, 2009 at 10:30 am

COPENHAGEN, Dec 16, 2009 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders Tuesday at a “defining moment in history” to put aside selfish national interest and answer a global clamour to halt the juggernaut of climate change.








COP15 President Connie Hedegaard (L), Danish Prime Mininster Lars Loekke Rasmussen, (C) and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (R) during a press conference after the High Level opening ceremony in Copenhagen on December 15, 2009. AFP PHOTO

With just over three days left to broker one of the most ambitious, yet also fiendishly complex, deals in human history, conference chair Denmark appealed for all sides to embrace the spirit of compromise.


But China and the United States — the world’s two biggest carbon polluters — brushed aside European calls for concessions on emissions reductions, the thorniest issue of all.


The summit aims at sealing national pledges to curb the heat-trapping carbon gases wreaking havoc with Earth’s climate system, and set up a mechanism to provide billions of dollars for poor countries facing worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.


Crowned on Friday by a meeting of some 120 heads of state and government, the outline political deal would be fleshed out next year in further talks, culminating in a treaty that would take effect from 2013.


But former US vice president and environmental activist Al Gore, voicing widely held fears that Copenhagen might yield only a partial success, called for world leaders to meet in Mexico City in July to complete the process.


Ban, speaking at the formal start of the full ministerial session known as the high level segment, spoke of a “defining moment in history.


“We know what we must do. We know what the world expects. Our job here and now is to seal the deal, a deal in our common interest.”


Talks were moving too slowly, he warned.


“If they want to leave all these issues to the leaders, it may be very difficult for them to agree in just one or two days,” he later told reporters.


The talks’ chairwoman, Denmark’s Connie Hedegaard, said success was still within reach.


But she added: “We can’t risk failure. No one here can carry that responsibility. That means that the keyword for the next two days must be compromise.”


But both China and the United States appeared in little mood to move on the key issue of emissions.


US President Barack Obama has offered to cut US carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 over a 2005 benchmark, a figure that aligns with legislation put before the US Congress.


The offer by the United States, the world’s second biggest polluter after China, has been widely criticised by other parties as inadequate.


“I am not anticipating any change in the mitigation commitment,” said US chief delegate Todd Stern, explaining that it was tied to legislation currently before Congress.


Beijing’s climate ambassador said China’s voluntary plan for braking the forecast growth in its emissions was not open to negotiation.


“We announced those targets, we don’t intend to put them up for discussion,” Yu Qingtai told reporters.


Europe, which has already pledged to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020 in comparison with 1990 and offered to go to 30 percent if others follow suit, said the big polluters had to relent.


“There are two countries in the world representing half the emissions of the world, and that’s the United States and China,” said Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, representing the 27-nation European Union.


European powerhouse Germany likewise pointed the finger.


“Both want to keep every option open up to the last hours of the conference … We don’t have much time left,” said its environment minister Norbert Roettgen.


The European Union’s new president Herman Van Rompuy also urged other nations to follow Europe’s lead, telling reporters in Lisbon, “We have to deal with other urgent questions. The most important of course is climate change.”


EU leaders last week agreed a package of 7.2 billion euros (10.6 billion dollars) in aid to help developing countries tackle global warming.


But the Group of 77 developing nations — actually a caucus of 130 states that includes China — said the proposal failed to address the issue of setting up long-term financing mechanisms.


In Copenhagen meanwhile, reflecting deadlock, a new draft text gave no figures for a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, a peak for emissions, an intended limit to warming, nor on financing for poor countries exposed to climate change.


These core questions were farmed out to small parties of ministers, charged with brokering a consensus by Friday.


The summit is billed as one of the most important gatherings of the post-World War II era.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Gates tells troops in Afghanistan success in reach

In World on December 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm








A US soldier patrols in eastern Khas Kunar on December 8 (AFP photo)

KABUL (AFP) – US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday toured the nerve centre of NATO command in Afghanistan, telling soldiers that success was in reach, despite the worsening eight-year war with the Taliban.


Gates visited the NATO-run International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) joint operation centre where around 170 people from 42 nations work and praised improved cooperation between the different allied countries.


“We have all the pieces coming together to be successful here,” Gates told staff in the imposing command room full of banks of telephones and computers where commanders coordinate operations throughout Afghanistan.


Gates is the first top US administration official to visit Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops into battle against the Taliban as part of a sweeping new strategy to start withdrawing forces in 2011. Related article: Rebuilding efforts under fire


He spoke after the overall NATO commander in Afghanistan predicted the US troop surge will reverse the momentum of Taliban insurgents “by this time next year” and ensure their ultimate defeat.


“By the summer of 2011, it will be clear to the Afghan people that the insurgency will not win, giving them the chance to side with their government,” General Stanley McChrystal told US lawmakers in Washington. Related article: US general confident on surge


McChrystal, who stands at the centre of a renewed push in the Afghan war, said he was confident of success because the Taliban were unpopular and Afghans see foreign troops as a “necessary bridge to future security and stability.”


The additional 30,000 troops ordered by President Barack Obama will turn back insurgent momentum “by this time next year” and cut off the Taliban from the population, McChrystal, said.


The general, testifying before the House and Senate armed services committees, said that “by the summer of 2011, it will be clear to the Afghan people that the insurgency will not win, giving them the chance to side with their government.”


McChrystal, who stands at the center of a renewed push in the Afghan war, said he was confident of success because the Taliban remained unpopular and that Afghans did not see foreign troops as occupiers but as a “necessary bridge to future security and stability.”


The Taliban “are not a national liberation front that people inside are just waiting for their success,” the general said. “They succeed largely on their coercion.”


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

India tells G20 ‘world economy not out of woods’

In World on September 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday that the world economy was still “not out of the woods” as he set off for the G20 summit of wealthy and emerging nations.


He also called for further progress on reforms of international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, and called for a “strong message” against protectionism.


The global economy has shown “distinct improvement” since the global financial crisis erupted but “we are still not out of the woods,” he said.


Leaders of the Group of 20 leading world economies are to meet in the US city of Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday for a summit expected to plan a coodinated route out of the crisis.


As the world economy improves, the next step for governments will be exiting the unprecedented stimulus measures taken during the global financial crisis which are credited with staving off another Great Depression.


Singh said India would also “like to see a strong message to emerge from Pittsburgh against protectionism in all its forms, whether trade in goods, services, investment or financial flows.”


He added that there was “a need to carry (on) the process of governance reform of international financial institutions further to give greater voice and representation to under-represented countries.”








An Indian labourer carries a section of an iron pipe in Mumbai

India, along with Brazil and South Africa, have championed reform of the IMF to include a greater say for emerging countries.


Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of Brazil, India and South Africa said signs the global crisis was easing should not stall plans to overhaul the world’s financial system, including reform of the IMF.


They issued a joint statement calling for a continued expansion of the International Monetary Fund’s reserves and a shake-up of countries’ representation and voting rights.


India with its mainly domestically focused economy approaches the G20 summit “with a sense of confidence,” Singh said.


“Our growth is primarily driven by domestic demand, our savings rate is robust and the external sector has exhibited resilience,” he said.


Capital cash flows have also started picking up and India is an “attractive investment destination,” he said.


India forecasts “six percent plus” growth this year, lower than the 6.7 percent the country logged last year, and sharply down from the annual nine percent levels it clocked during the three previous years.


But private economists expect India’s growth to start gaining steam next year.


Singh noted that this is the third summit of G20 Leaders in less than a year.


He said the meeting reflected the seriousness that the G20 countries attach “not just to the recovery of the global economy and financial system, but to a recovery that is coordinated, sustainable and enduring.”


He added that steps taken by the G20 to augment the resources of multilateral development banks have led to a substantial stepping up of World Bank lending to India.

The Washington-based World Bank on Tuesday announced 4.3 billion dollars in loans to India, including 2.0 billion for the banking sector, to help strengthen its economy amid the global economic crisis.

The four projects worth 4.3 billion dollars to India are “designed to support the government’s infrastructure agenda and bolster its economic stimulus program,” the Washington-based development lender said.


Source: SGGP