Obama vows to remember and rebuild at WTCPresident Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama toured the soaring skyscraper
being built to replace the twin towers destroyed on September 11, 2001, in a poignant visit to mark a new chapter of recovery from the traumatic attack. In-scribing one of the steel beams that will be part of the building’s framework, Obama wrote: “We
remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!” followed by his signature. Obama has touted the killing of Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader behind the attacks on the United States, as one of his top national security achievements and refers to it often as he campaigns for re-election. The president and first lady looked down on the 9/11 memorial from One World Trade Centre’s 22nd floor, which is still under construction, after walking beneath bare pipes illuminated by light bulbs strung from the unfinished ceiling.
Final alleged victim tells of rape by SanduskyThe final alleged victim to testify in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial told jurors on Thursday the former Penn State University assistant football coach sodomised him as a boy in the basement of Sandusky’s home as he screamed in vain for help. His account provided a dramatic bookend to the prosecution’s presentation of graphic testimony over three-and-half days in the closely watched trial in Pennsylvania from eight men who described being sexually abused as young boys by Sandusky. The latest witness, now 18, spoke quietly with his head down as Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan questioned him.
Coca-Cola returns to Burma after 60 years of absenceCoca-Cola will resume business in Burma after a 60-year absence, following a US decision to suspend investment sanctions against the country. Officials suspended the sanctions last month as the country has moved towards democratic reforms. Coca-Cola says it will start doing business in Burma as soon as the US government issues a licence allowing them to do so. The country was one of only three that Coca-Cola does not do business with. The world’s largest soft-drink maker left Cuba after the Cuban Revolution, when Fidel Castro’s government began seizing private assets. They have never operated in
North Korea. In a statement, the company said it would start with importing products from neighbouring countries as it establishes
local operations in Burma.UN rights expert prevented from visiting Darfur
The newly appointed United Nations expert on human rights in Sudan said on Thursday that Khartoum prevented him from visiting Darfur during a five-day trip to Sudan, despite his request to do so. Mashood Adebayo Baderin, speaking to the press in Khartoum at the end of his first visit since being appointed in March, said he was unable to go to the war torn region because the authorities failed to grant him a travel permit. “We requested that we wanted to visit Khartoum and Darfur, but I was informed the time limit was short to make the arrangements,” Baderin said.
The competition watchdog is worried the nation’s major supermarkets are bullying suppliers and picking off small liquor and hardware stores in a move that could reduce choice for consumers. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims said a number of claims brought by suppliers of bullying are being assessed to see if any action needs to be taken, the Herald Sun reported. “We’ve had 40 or 50 people come forward with more or less useful information. Some people have complained about things that aren’t against the law and other people have complained about things that are worth looking into,” he said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has heaped blame for rapidly rising electricity prices onto state governments and says they should be doing more to help families who are struggling to cope. New South Wales’ pricing regulator announced earlier this week that
average annual household electricity bills would rise by up to USD 427 from July 1. It is the same day the carbon tax begins and the hikes have been blamed half on the tax and half on upgrades to the local power grid — the ‘poles and wires’ part of the network.
Asset sales will have to be considered to restore the health of the Queensland economy, the Costello audit has found. State Treasurer Tim Nicholls on Friday released the first interim report of the audit of Queensland’s finances, led by Former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello. The commission regards the treasury’s forward estimates as overly optimistic and says major corrective action will be needed to meet them. It blames a lack of fiscal discipline in past labour governments for a blow out in debt, expected to be USD 64 billion in 2011/12.
A Burmese business delegation led by Dr U Sein Maung, chairman of Myanmar Bankers Association, made a courtesy call on Mehmood Husain, president and managing director of Bank Asia at the latter’s office. They laid importance on harnessing trade and business ties with Bangladesh and working closely with business communities to tap trade potentials for mutual benefits of both the countries. At the meeting, Bank Asia officials gave the delegation an overview on trade, commerce and industries, including the dynamic states of banking sector of Bangladesh with a special focus on Bank Asia. They also highlighted Bank Asia’s software product on core banking which drew keen interest of the delegation, a press statement said.
Bangladesh’s overall inflation as measured by consumers’ price index is showing a downward trend, but non-food inflation still remains a challenge, the central bank said. “Throughout the fiscal year 2011-12, non-food inflation has been increasing mainly due to upward adjustment in administered fuel and power prices,” the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said in its report on Major Economic Indicators: Monthly Update for May 2012. “We expect a reduction in non-food inflation in the rest of the 2012 in light of the restrained monetary stance implementing by the BB,” it noted.
Earlier, on January 26, the BB unveiled a restrained monetary policy, aiming to bring down inflation to a single digit by June through discouraging credit flow to unproductive sectors.
China’s biggest milk producer by revenue, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co, has recalled baby formula tainted with
unusual levels of mercury in the latest safety scare for the country’s dairy sector. The recall, during China’s ‘Food Safety Week’ and a day after the cabinet introduced fresh measures to tighten supervision of the sector, sent Yili shares down by their 10 per cent daily limit. It shows how Yili and competitors like second ranked China Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd are struggling to get to grips with food safety four years after a major scandal where tainted milk powder was blamed for the deaths of at least six children. The recall, which began on Wednesday, applies only to Quan You baby formula produced between last November and May, the company said on its website.
China has rejected US criticisms during a review of its trade policies at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and used the
occasion to suggest many US accusations were not only groundless but in some areas hypocritical. US Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke levelled a wide-ranging salvo of criticisms during the two-day trade policy review, which every WTO member has to
undergo on a periodic basis, and said China was falling back into a tighter embrace of state capitalism. But China swatted aside many of the criticisms, which included complaints about its failure to disclose subsidies and a lack of transparency and intellectual property enforcement.
Nissan Motor, the biggest Japanese automaker in China, is to build a five billion yuan plant in the northeast of the country, extending its reach in the world’s largest auto market, a person with knowledge of the plan said. The plant, in Dalian city, is part of Nissan’s 30 billion yuan investment in China by end of 2015, vying with General Motors and other global automakers also looking to the emerging Asian giant for growth as more developed markets stutter. It also illustrates how the big foreign carmakers are now venturing on to each other’s turf in China to broaden their appeal.
The government and central bank will flood Britain’s banking system with more than 100 billion pounds, seeking to pump credit through an economy struggling to escape recession under the ‘black cloud’ of the Euro Zone crisis. In his annual Mansion House
policy speech to London financiers on Thursday, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said the country would launch a scheme to provide cheap long-term funding to banks to encourage them to lend to businesses and consumers. He also said the bank would activate an emergency liquidity tool. Treasury officials said the government plan could support an estimated 80 billion pounds in new loans, while the central bank’s separate scheme will provide monthly five billion pound trenches of six-month liquidity to banks.
Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has demanded that Britain enter negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. President Fernandez was addressing the UN Committee on Decolon-isation on the 30th anniversary of the UK
territory’s liberation from Argentine occupation. She said history and geography backed Argentina’s claim. But an islander told the committee Argentina was “bullying”. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said there would be “no negotiation”. Earlier on Thursday, the Falklands marked the end Argentina’s 74 day 1982 occupation with a service at Port Stanley’s Christ Church cathedral.
Minister of State for Planning, Ashwani Kumar defended India on Thursday, saying its expected growth rates and projects to boost internal trade and development do not warrant a junk status credit rating. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) warned that India could become the first so-called BRIC economy to lose its investment grade credit rating citing slowing economic growth and policy inaction for instituting economic reforms. The rating agency cut India’s BBB minus rating outlook to negative in April, meaning it expects to make a decision within a six- to 24-month time frame. The news knocked the Indian rupee and stocks lower. “People are entitled to ask what are you going to do about delayed decisions, what are you going to do about second generation reforms,” said Kumar. “But I am appalled by the suggestion of S&P that India is compared with junk status,” Kumar told Reuters.
Inflation accelerated in May, adding to an avalanche of harsh data for the beleaguered leaders and making it harder for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to revitalise the flagging economy with a widely expected RBI interest rate cut next week. The 7.55 per cent rise in the wholesale price index over a year earlier came as both food and fuel price pressures intensified. The outcome matched expectations in a Reuters poll, but an upward revision to the March number to a 2012 high of 7.69 per cent raised worries of greater pressure to come. “The most important negative is the massive revision to the March number, which means the May headline inflation may be revised
upwards,” said Rajeev Malik, an economist.
The ruling Congress party was in turmoil on Thursday after two key allies signalled they had lost confidence in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose fragile coalition government has struggled to cope with mounting economic problems. The party was forced to spring to the prime minister’s defence, insisting he would remain in his post until general elections due by 2014, after the allies suggested he should be considered for the largely ceremonial position of president. Congress was blindsided by the comments from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has repeatedly thwarted proposed economic reforms despite being a member of the government, and Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Asian shares edged up on Friday and the euro held firm as nervous investors took comfort from plans for coordinated action by major central banks to stabilise markets if today’s election in Greece results in turmoil. Global markets have been volatile this week amid uncertainty about the outcome of the poll, which could set Greece on a path out of the Euro Zone and increase the likelihood of financial contagion engulfing other weak economies in the bloc. “The market looks slightly stronger but that doesn’t mean anyone is feeling any more confident about what’s coming up,” said Fujio Ando, senior managing director of Chibagin Asset Management in Tokyo.
Japan’s lower house is set to pass a bill on Friday to provide government guarantees on insurance for Iranian crude cargoes,
making it the first of Iran’s big Asian buyers to find a way to keep the oil flowing in the face of tough new European Union (EU) sanctions.
An EU ban on member countries importing Iranian oil takes effect on July 1 and includes a ban on EU insurance firms from covering Iran’s exports. That is a headache for Japan, South Korea, China and India, who together buy two-thirds of Iran’s oil exports and rely on EU companies to insure them. EU and the US sanctions aim to cut the oil revenues on which Tehran depends to force the Islamic Republic to curb its nuclear programme.
Japanese pachinko tycoon Kazuo Okada escalated his legal battle against Las Vegas Mogul Steve Wynn by filing a motion for a
preliminary injunction to protect his stake in Wynn Resorts. Okada asked a federal judge on Thursday to immediately restore the rights of his subsidiary, Aruze USA, as the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts and also filed an amended counterclaim against Wynn and
individual board members. Okada, who helped bankroll Wynn’s casino empire starting in 2000, has been fighting to claw back his once 20 per cent stake in Wynn Resorts that Wynn forcibly bought back at a steep discount after producing a report that said Okada had engaged in ‘improper’ activities.
The government is studying the feasibility of an unemployment insurance scheme, amid concerns raised particularly by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the government had yet to decide on such a scheme as the study is ongoing. The minister said it is currently at “fact finding and consensus building stage”, adding that the final outcome will be known once inputs from every stakeholder has been considered. “We hope to resolve the issue in less than three months,” he added. Mustapa, speaking to reporters after presenting the Miti Excellent Service Award, said a tripartite project committee had been formed to oversee the study.
K&N Kenanga Holdings, a Malaysian brokerage backed by Deutsche Bank, said it agreed to buy ECM Libra Financial Group’s investment banking unit for 875.1 million ringgit in cash and shares. The acquisition will allow Kenanga to become Southeast Asian
nation’s third largest brokerage by trading value, the company said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur, overtaking rivals including HwangDBS Investment Bank. It was Malaysia’s sixth biggest equities trader in May, while ECM Libra was number nine, according to the stock exchange’s website.
The government has planned to upgrade 78 blood banks in all provinces to have standard transfusion services for citizens.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Project Director of Safe Blood Transfusion Services Programme, Dr Hasan Abbas Zaheer said that under the project, 13 regional blood transfusion centres will be set up besides initiating programmes to encourage people for blood donation. He said there is also a plan to conduct national level survey to know the number of blood banks functioning in the country, their standard and services being provided at these banks.
Islamabad Development Working Party (IDWP) approved in principal 16 development projects related to health sector,
facilities for district courts as well as police and uplift of rural areas. The formal approval was giving in a meeting chaired by the Chief Commissioner, Islamabad Tariq Mahmood Pirzada which was attended by DIG, Police (Security Division) Chiefs (PP&H), Head of Planning and Development Division, Deputy Financial Adviser, Ministry of Interior, Director of Development/ Finance, ICT, SSP (Headquarters) Police Lines, Director of Regional Planning, CDA, Director of E&M development CDA, Director of Roads, CDA and officials of ICT Administration.
Russian airlines have welcomed an initiative to allow them to sell non-refundable tickets in a bid to increase competition and lower prices. A draft bill published on the Transportation Ministry’s website proposes changes. Under current law, airlines must refund tickets in full if returned or cancelled by customers more than 24 hours prior to scheduled departure, and 75 per cent of the value if returned less than 24 hours before the departure. The amendment, developed jointly by the transportation, economic development and health and social affairs ministries, aims to slash ticket prices by eliminating airlines’ risk of losses from demands for refunds.
Fostering business competition remains a strategic task for the government, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a government session on Thursday. “The creation of conditions for Russia to have honest competition, for us to see things happen as they do in the rest of the world, for there to be opposition to monopolies, remains a strategic task for the government,” he said. In terms of business development, Russia is currently 120th out of 183 countries. “Let’s be frank. The situation is not brilliant, and we are faced with very complicated, even ambitious, tasks: to move up to at least 40th place in the world, with the prospect of entering into the top 20 no later than 2020,” Medvedev said.
Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS) is pushing Thailand to become a medical metropolis or ‘Medico-polis’, focusing on complete medical care services. TCELS Advisor, Honorary Professor Montri Chulavatnatol, said although the policy promoting Thailand as a medical hub is underway; the practice does not cover all medical institutions. He added many of the hospitals still lack technology, medicine and equipment, which have to be imported, resulting in higher medical bills. Honorary Professor Montri explained that if Thailand is able to provide a complete service in terms of locally produced medicines, equipment and technology, it will help lower its medical costs; while earning more income from the services provided.
Thai Oil, led by new Chief Executive Officer Veerasak Kositpaisal, announced that it would invest at least USD 1.8 billion in the next five years on value creation and efficiency boosts for its oil-refinery, petrochemicals and lubricant base, and energy segments. Veerasak said that of the total investment, about USD 989 million had already been approved by the company’s board. Of that, the actual investment will be about USD 673 million, as the company has been awarded USD 316 million in tax privileges from the Board of Investment for its approved projects.
New claims for US state jobless benefits rose for the fifth time in six weeks and consumer prices fell in May, opening the door wider for the US Federal Reserve to help an economy that shows signs of weakening. Though the data released on Thursday showed only a small increase in claims last week, it undermined hopes that a recent slowdown in hiring would prove temporary. “There is very little sign of life,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors in Albany, New York, adding that the economy as measured by
employment conditions has slowed and there does not appear to be any change when you look at the claims numbers. New claims rose by 6,000 last week, the Labour Department said. Claims have been trending higher since February, which may have marked a turning point for the US economy.
Sheila Bair, the former regulator who helped steer the US financial system through the recent credit crisis, said JPMorgan Chase & Co’s multibillion dollar trading loss needs to be put in perspective. Bair told Reuters TV on Thursday that regulators need to accept blame for not catching the trading debacle and said it shows that some banks are too big to manage. But she said all the attention being paid to the trading loss is distracting from pressing issues such as the deteriorating European debt crisis. “I don’t frankly like the piling on. They made a big mistake and I think it proves my point these banks are too big and too complex to centrally manage,” said Bair, who last year left her post as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Sprint Nextel Corp asked a judge on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company by the state of New York for more than USD 300 million in uncollected taxes and penalties. Eric Schneiderman, the state’s attorney general, has accused the
mobile service provider of deliberately failing to collect and turn over to New York more than USD 100 million in taxes for its wireless phone services over seven years. The lawsuit, filed in April, seeks three times the alleged amount of underpayment, along with penalties. But in a motion to dismiss filed in New York State Supreme Court on Thursday, Sprint said the state was attempting to levy taxes on services that are legally excluded from sales tax.