Sunday, August 12, 2012

The happiness won't last long... Sir Mervyn King's warns Olympics surge won't alter the economic outlook

Tonight in the Olympic Stadium, the curtain will fall on the most successful show anywhere this year. From Danny Boyle’s magical opening ceremony, celebrating our history with more than a touch of humour, to tonight’s climax, we have been excited and inspired by the world’s greatest sportsmen and women.

The biggest surprise of the Olympics has been the rediscovery of a shared sense of national pride. It is as if, liberated from our traditional scepticism and self deprecation, we are rather enjoying being British. Team GB has done us proud.

And, as we hand over the baton to Rio 2016, Lord Coe and his team should be congratulated on having staged one of the most successful Olympic Games in modern times. Read More

Philippines told to brace for more rains

Manila. Philippine authorities warned Monday an approaching storm could bring more heavy rain to the capital and surrounding areas that are still reeling from devastating floods that have left 92 dead.

Nearly half a million people are packed in evacuation centres, while all in all, more than 3.4 million people have been affected by the floods, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Flooding in Manila has largely subsided, although hundreds of thousands remained cut off by neck-deep floods in low-lying farming towns north of the capital that are natural catch basins.
"These are the people we are most worried about," civil defence head Benito Ramos told AFP.
"We have not yet fully recovered and here comes another storm." Source

20 Boko Haram militants killed in Nigeria

At least 20 suspected Boko Haram militants have been killed in a gun battle with the military in Nigeria's Borno state, Xinhua reported.

The militants were killed in an overnight raid Sunday in the state capital Maiduguri. Col. Victor Ebhaleme, state commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF), said a soldier was also killed in the raid. Two other soldiers were wounded.

The raid took place following an intelligence report that the Boko Haram sect was holding a meeting in the metropolis to probably launch further attacks in the state.

When the military personnel approached the venue of the meeting, the Boko Haram members opened fire, the JTF commander said.

The Boko Haram group's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad". Read More

Lebanon Charges Politician With Syria-Linked Terrorist Plot

BEIRUT—Lebanon's Military Tribunal charged a prominent politician close to Syria and Hezbollah of conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Lebanon and plotting to assassinate politicians and religious figures in the country.

The charges are a blow to the image and influence of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shiite political party. They also mark the first time in the 17-month uprising that the Syrian regime has been publicly named in a judicial indictment for inciting violence in another country.

The charges, according to Lebanese state media, named former Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha, who is considered a close ally of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, as well as two Syrians: Chief of the Syrian National Security Bureau Gen. Ali Mamlouk and a Syrian army officer, Brig. Gen. Adnan, whose full name wasn't stated.

The charges allege that Mr. Samaha, working with Syrian officers, set up an armed group in Lebanon to distribute and plant bombs aimed at inciting sectarian unrest and targeting "the authority of the state and its civil and military institutions," according to Lebanese state media. Read More

Wildfires threaten to burn precious parks in Spain

EL CERCADO, Spain — Fierce wildfires forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and were threatening some of Spain’s most precious natural parks, including one that is a UNESCO world heritage site, officials said Sunday.

Fires on the Canary islands of La Gomera and Tenerife led to the evacuation of more than 4,000 residents beginning late Saturday and the cutting off of many roads as precautionary measures, the regional government said. By mid-afternoon Sunday, residents were still not allowed to return to 18 towns and villages that had been evacuated, eight on the popular tourist island of Tenerife and 10 on La Gomera, the government said.

A statement said firefighting crews working on the islands were “finding it difficult to limit the spread of fire.” Read More

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King: Euro-Area Crisis Has No End in Sight

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said the U.K. must press on with reforms to the banking industry and repeated his gloomy outlook for the euro-area debt crisis, which is impeding Britain’s economy.

“If the rest of the world were growing normally, the rebalancing and recovery of our economy would be much easier,” King wrote in an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “But it isn’t. Even the rapidly expanding emerging-market economies are slowing, and the problems of the euro area continue with no obvious end in sight.”

King’s comments came days after the Bank of England cut its growth forecasts and said the outlook is “unusually uncertain.” A sports fan who attends the Wimbledon tennis tournament every year, he pointed to London’s Olympic Games and said achievements such as winning a gold medal take “years of hard work.” The same applies to the economy, he said. Read More

Employers face 'make-or-break' time, says CIPD

Employers are facing a "make-or-break moment" as many will have to make job cuts if the economy does not pick up, according to a report.

The survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that a third of private sector employers had kept on more staff than they needed to avoid losing skills.

But almost two-thirds said they would have to cut back if economic growth did not pick up in the next year.

Unemployment has been falling in 2012. Read More

Syrian Jets Pound Rebel Positions as Opposition Presses for No-Fly Zone

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian jets fired on areas in and around Aleppo again on Sunday, continuing an escalation of force that has led activists and rebels to demand that foreign forces establish a no-fly zone to counter the government’s air superiority.

Over the weekend, the United States and Turkey discussed a variety of measures to aid the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, including a no-fly zone, though no decisions were reached.

While the fighting raged in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, the Syrian authorities on Sunday reported two bomb attacks in Damascus, the capital.

The bombings occurred in the Marjeh district of Damascus, suggesting the rebels were still active in the capital and were increasingly turning to explosives in their evolving guerrilla campaign. Last week, a bomb tore through Syria’s state television headquarters; a month ago, an explosion killed four senior military and intelligence officials. Read More

Israeli Asks Nations to Say Diplomacy on Iran Has Failed

JERUSALEM — Amid intensifying Israeli news reports saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is close to ordering a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, his deputy foreign minister called Sunday for an international declaration that the diplomatic effort to halt Tehran’s enrichment of uranium is dead.

Referring to the Iran negotiations led by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, the minister, Danny Ayalon, told Israel Radio that those nations should “declare today that the talks have failed.” After such a declaration, if Iran does not halt its nuclear program, “it will be clear that all options are on the table,” Mr. Ayalon said, not only for Israel, but also for the United States and NATO.

Asked how long the Iranians should be given to cease all nuclear activity, Mr. Ayalon said “weeks, and not more than that.” Read More

UN chief "deeply saddened" by deadly earthquake in Iran

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Sunday said that he was "deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives" and the destruction in the wake of Saturday's strong twin earthquakes in northwest Iran.

"The secretary-general is deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives, the many injuries and the destruction in the Islamic Republic of Iran as a result of earthquakes that struck areas near the city of Tabriz on 11 August," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman.

Ban "extends his sincere condolences to the Iranian government and people, particularly the families of those who have been killed or otherwise affected in this disaster," the statement said.

The death toll of Saturday's strong twin quakes in northwest Iran has risen to some 300, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency cited a local Iranian official as saying on Sunday.

A 6.2-magnitude temblor, with a depth of 10 km, hit Ahar at 4: 53 p.m. (GMT 1223) on Saturday, while another 6-magnitude earthquake, also with a depth of 10 km, struck nearby Varzaqan at 5:04 p.m. (GMT 1234), according to the Iranian Seismological Center. Read More

Egypt's President seizes powers back from Army

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi has ordered the retirement of the Defence Minister and Chief of Staff and made the boldest move so far to seize back powers that the military stripped from his office right before he took over.

Mohammed Morsi has been locked in a power struggle with the military since he took office on June 30. But after militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers a week ago at a border post with Israel in Sinai, he has sought more aggressively to assert his authority over the top generals.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Morsi’s surprise decisions had the military’s blessing. But the appointment of outgoing Defence Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Annan as presidential advisers and awarding them some of the nation’s highest honours suggested they may have agreed, perhaps grudgingly, in advance.

Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency, quoting an unnamed military official in a brief report, said late Sunday that Mr Morsi’s moves were “deliberated and coordinated” in advance. It said there were no “negative reactions” from within the military. Read More