percent to 1,620.34, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.5 percent to 4,443.20.Overnight in New York, the Dow Jones industrial up 2.9 percent to 10,258.99 after China reassured investors it doesn’t plan to sell the European debt it holds. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.3 percent to 1,103.06, and the Nasdaq climbed 3.7 percent to 2,277.68.In currencies, the dollar was trading at 91.28 yen from 90.98 yen. The euro slipped to $1.2313 from $1.2362. Against the , the euro jumped more than a yen from Thursday levels.
Trains collide after blast in India, 25 deadBy Bappa MajumdarRUETER
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Two trains collided after a blast hit a and flung it into the path of a speeding goods train in eastern India on Friday, killing at least 25 people, government officials said.One local government official said the toll could go up to „anywhere around 50-60” because many passengers were trapped inside mangled coaches.The incident occurred in an area known to be a stronghold of Maoist rebels. A said sabotage was suspected, but the involvement of the Maoists has yet to be confirmed.”At this stage I can confirm 25 deaths,” Manoj Kumar, a railway official, told Reuters. „The toll will be much higher.”We can give a final figure only after rescue operations are complete. We have to cut open the compartments and bring out bodies.”A reporter of the Telegraph newspaper described a scene of chaos and panic at the site.”People are crying. Rescuers are struggling to save the survivors and get the bodies out,” Naresh Jana told Reuters.”I can see body parts hanging out of the compartments and under the wheels. I can hear people, women, crying for help from inside the affected coaches.”The incident comes days after a passenger airliner crashed in southern India, killing 158 people.The passenger train was going to Mumbai from the in West Bengal state. The incident occurred in the state’s Jhargram area.”The blast derailed 13 coaches of the Gyaneshwari Express. These coaches then fell on the other track where a goods train rammed into some of them,” Soumitra Majumdar, a railway spokesman told Reuters.Majumdar said sabotage was suspected because the passenger train had been hit by a blast.The Maoist rebels, who often attack police, government buildings and infrastructure such as railway stations, have in recent months stepped up attacks in response to a government security offensive to clear them out of their jungle bases.The rebels blew up a bus in the mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh this month, killing 35 people, about a month after 76 police were killed in another attack.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the insurgency as India’s biggest internal security challenge.The decades-old movement is now present in a third of the country and while they have made few inroads into cities, they have spread into rural pockets of up to 28 states and hurt potential business worth billions of dollars.(Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Sugita Katyal)
A.G. Andrew Cuomo accepts Democratic nomination for New York governorBy David Saltonstall
DAILY NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT DAILY NEWS
Andrew Cuomo accepted the Democratic nomination for governor Thursday with an impassioned defense of his party’s history – even as he slammed Albany incumbents for leading the state into a fiscal quagmire.”My friends, New York state is in a crisis, and it is time that the Democratic Party steps up and makes New York state the Empire State once again,” Cuomo told delegates at the party’s convention in Westchester County‘s Rye Brook.”Today’s approach requires fiscal prudence,” Cuomo told the crowd, which included many of the same state elected leaders that he was implicitly criticizing. „It requires competence and performance in government. The government must work once again.”Rallying the crowd with a tone and cadence that has long been strikingly similar to his father’s, ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo, who sat in the audience, the younger Cuomo used his first big moment as a gubernatorial nominee to sketch out several specific promises. They included:* A clear, no-new-tax pledge. „New Yorkers can’t afford a tax increase at this time,” he said.* The promise of a statewide cap on property taxes „to give New Yorkers the relief they deserve,” he said.* A broad package of reforms aimed at cleaning up Albany’s corrupt ways. „Nothing works without trust,” he said, „certainly not the relationship between citizens and their government.”* An increase in the number of charter schools in the state, now capped at 200, in part to compete more aggressively for $700 million in new federal funds. „It would be a tragedy if we lost $700 million because our state legislature failed to act. It cannot happen.”* A vow to legalize marriage for gay couples. „We will achieve marriage equality in the state of New York!” he said.The speech was a delicate balancing act for Cuomo, who alternated between praising Democratic forbears like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson – and forcefully chastising leaders in Albany for failing to lead the state through choppy economic waters.”As we sit here today, there is still not a state budget that is done,” he said of the long overdue fiscal blueprint.”We know what needs to be done,” he added. „We have to get the economy running again, and to get the economy running again, we have to make the government work again. And we need to get our fiscal house in order.”In a sign of the campaign to come, state Republicans immediately dismissed Cuomo as „Prince Andrew” and blamed him for letting the state slip into „a culture of corruption” in his current role as state attorney general.State Republican chair Ed Cox said he’s not buying the „New Democratic” message at a press conference outside the Democrat’s convention site.”Andrew Cuomo has been a part of the party that’s controlled Albany over the last four years, particularly the last two years. They have driven Albany into a fiscal ditch,” Cox told reporters. „This is not a new party, in fact it’s the old party of bosses.”Cuomo will face one of several Republican candidates: former congressman Rick Lazio, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy or Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, who is associated with the GOP‘s tea party movement.
Senate panel votes to repeal gay ban in military By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A on Thursday took a first step toward ending the policy that allows gays to serve in the military only if they don’t disclose their sexual orientation.In a 16-12 vote, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a provision to repeal the 1993 „don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.Sen. , the only Republican to vote for the amendment to a defense spending bill, said it passed after „vigorous and aggressive debate.”Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who promoted the measure with , D-Mich., said: „It’s time for this policy to go. It doesn’t reflect America’s best values of equal opportunity, and it’s not good for the military.”Repealing the 1993 law, a priority of gay rights groups that President Barack Obama has pledged to pursue, still faces a tough road.The is expected to take up the identical amendment late Thursday and opposition is fierce, particularly among Republicans who cited letters from military service chiefs urging Congress to hold off on the legislation until the Pentagon completes a study of the impact on military life and readiness.The measure could face a filibuster when it reaches the Senate floor.”I think it’s really going to be very harmful to the morale and effectiveness of our military,” said Sen. , the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a leading opponent of the repeal.Still, the vote was welcomed by gay rights groups. „This is the beginning of the end of a shameful ban on open service by lesbian and that has weakened our national security,” said Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights organization.In the House, debate on „don’t ask, don’t tell” dominated an all-day session on a bill that approves more than $700 billion for military operations.Democrats stressed that the measure was a compromise under which the repeal would not go into effect until the Pentagon completes its study, expected in December, and until Obama and military leaders certify that it would not adversely affect the military’s ability to fight.Republicans countered by reading similar letters written by the heads of the military services asking Congress to wait.”I also believe that repealing the law before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward,” wrote Gen. George Casey, head of the Army.Congress going first „is the equivalent to turning to our men and women in uniform and their families and saying, ‘Your opinion, your view, do not count,'” said Rep. Howard „Buck” McKeon of California, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.But Rep. , an openly gay Democrat from Colorado, said most Americans „recognize that on the battlefield, it doesn’t matter if a soldier is lesbian, gay or straight. What matters is they get the job done for our country.”Rep. , a Pennsylvania Democrat who served in the Iraq war and who is the chief sponsor of the amendment, said, „We need to get this done, and we need to get it done now.”The Senate panel’s vote of approval was sealed when Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a conservative Democrat, endorsed it earlier this week. He said then a giving the military the power to decide on the details of implementing the policy was key to his support because it „removes politics from the process” and ensures repeal is „consistent with military readiness and effectiveness.”Advocates hoped the momentum in the Senate would carry over to the House, where several conservative Democrats — including Rep. — threatened to oppose the massive defense spending bill if it included the repeal.Associated Press writer Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed to this report.
NY man’s kidney transplant gave him woman’s cancer By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press
NEW YORK – The scenario was unique, as far as doctors could tell: A man had gotten a transplanted kidney from a woman who had uterine cancer and didn’t know it.Vincent Liew decided to keep the kidney after his concluded there was only a slim chance he could be sickened by the feminine cancer — advice that gambled with Liew’s life and lost, a lawyer for his widow told jurors Thursday in what experts say may be the only known case of uterine cancer being transmitted by transplant.Jurors began deliberating the case against NYU Langone Medical Center Thursday afternoon and were to return on Friday.Langone should be held responsible „for taking a huge risk with Vincent Liew’s life” by not urging him to have the kidney removed at once, Daniel Buttafuoco said during closing arguments in the medical-malpractice case, which is refreshing longstanding questions about risks and rewards.NYU Langone Medical Center says it advised Liew of the risk, honored his choice and aggressively monitored the kidney for signs of cancer. Though tests found nothing, Liew suffered back pain and ultimately had the kidney removed about six months after the 2002 transplant. He died about three weeks later of cancer that came from his donor, his autopsy said, without specifying the type of cancer. He was 37.”This should not have happened, but it’s not fault. It’s not (transplant surgeon Dr. Thomas) Diflo’s fault. It’s not Mr. Liew’s fault,” the hospital’s lawyer, Robert Elliott, said in his summation. „The best care that could have been provided was.”Liew’s widow, Kimberly, is seeking more than $3 million in damages in her lawsuit against the hospital.Liew, originally from Singapore, worked in the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York. A diabetic since his teens who was on three-times-a-week dialysis, he had been awaiting a kidney for about five years when he got the transplant Feb. 25, 2002.The donor, Sandy Cabrera, 50, had died of a stroke about a day earlier in Newburgh, N.Y. „No one knew she had cancer,” her boyfriend, Michael Daniels, said in a telephone interview.An autopsy in the days after her death found that she had uterine cancer that had begun to spread to her lungs.The news didn’t reach Diflo until mid-April 2002, according to trial testimony. The hospital that treated Cabrera, St. Luke’s Cornwall, declined to comment.The organization that arranged the transplant, the New York Organ Donor Network, referred inquiries on Thursday to a national transplant group, the , that declined comment.With no medical literature available on uterine cancer being transmitted by transplant, Diflo testified that he told Liew the safest plan was removing the kidney, but that the odds of Liew developing the cancer were slight.In dueling testimony from , the two sides have disputed whether it was indeed uterine cancer that killed Liew, though both acknowledge the malignancy derived from the transplant and caused his death.A cancer expert who reviewed Liew’s records and testified for NYU, Dr. Jeffrey Schneider of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, said Thursday he believed Liew suffered from a type of immune-system cancer that sometimes afflicts .The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 percent of U.S. organ transplants are suspected of transmitting illnesses, though data are sparse.Some 23 transplant recipients in 2007 — out of about 28,000 recipients nationwide that year — were judged to have at least possibly contracted cancers, HIV, tuberculosis and other diseases from their donors, according to a 2009 article in the American Journal of Transplantation. Twelve of the recipients died, according to the article, which examined reports made to the national Organ Procurement and .Potential donors are screened for various diseases, and those with active cancers generally are eliminated from consideration. But some cancers and other diseases can’t always be detected in the short time frame transplants require, usually within a day, said Dr. Jeffrey D. Punch, the University of Michigan Health Systems’ transplant chief.
US economy weaker than estimated in first quarter by Veronica Smith AFP
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The fragile US recovery from recession was weaker than estimated in the first quarter, official data showed, suggesting tougher challenges from the European debt crisis.The Commerce Department said in the first quarter increased at a 3.0 percent annual pace from the fourth quarter of 2009, lowering its original estimate of 3.2 percent.The downward revision for the world’s largest economy surprised most analysts, who predicted — a broad measure of the country’s goods and services output — expanded 3.3 percent.”This is a fairly tepid recovery that is fighting a lot of headwinds,” said Joel Naroff of .”It will be hard to grow rapidly when the economy has to overcome limited credit availability, a modest recovery in housing, high unemployment rates and, as a consequence, depressed consumer confidence… and uncertainty in Europe.”Several analysts said recent economic data pointed to stronger growth in the current second quarter.Nigel Gault, chief US economist at , predicted growth of about 4.0 percent in the April-June period because of a surge in manufacturing output and a rise in home building spurred by an expiring homebuyers’ tax credit.”But that pace cannot be maintained, especially given the renewed turmoil in the financial markets triggered by the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis, and we expect growth to fall back into the 2.5-3.0 percent region in the second half of the year,” Gault said.The Commerce Department said it had shaved 0.2 percentage points from its first estimate on April 30 largely because of higher imports and .It was the third consecutive quarter of expansion since mid-2009, when the US economy ended a full year of contraction in a recovery driven by unprecedented government and Federal Reserve support measures.GDP had increased at a robust 5.6 percent rate in the 2009 fourth quarter, after a 2.2 percent rise in the prior quarter.The weaker first-quarter GDP estimate Thursday was „worrisome,” said Augustine Faucher at Moody’s Economy.com.”With the unemployment rate at 9.9 percent in April, it will take sustained growth in real GDP well in excess of 3.0 percent to make a significant , and it looks like that is still a few quarters away,” Faucher said.The US economy has lost more than eight million jobs since December 2007, when it entered the .Job insecurity has weighed on consumer spending, which usually accounts for two thirds of economic output, and the latest weekly unemployment data showed a slowing decline in unemployment.New claims for benefits fell by 14,000 to 460,000 in the week ending May 22, the Labor Department said Thursday, worse than the 455,000 consensus analyst forecast.Ian Shepherdson at said the jobless claims data „reinforce our view that growth will slow in the second quarter and beyond,” noting that the first-quarter GDP downward revision came „thanks to slightly softer domestic .”Peter Newland at Barclays Capital, however, was upbeat.Disposable income in the January-March period was revised higher and corporate profits showed a 5.5 percent monthly rise from the prior quarter, „the fifth consecutive quarter of robust growth,” he said.”More timely indicators suggest that momentum is building into the second quarter, supported by healthy wage and profit growth.”
USAF vehicle breaks record for hypersonic flight By AP
WASHINGTON – An experimental aircraft has set a record for hypersonic flight, flying more than 3 minutes at Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound.The X-51A Waverider was released from a B-52 Stratofortress off the southern California coast Wednesday morning, the Air Force reported on its website. Its scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6, and it flew autonomously for 200 seconds before losing acceleration. At that point the test was terminated.The Air Force said the previous record for a hypersonic scramjet burn was 12 seconds.[Related: Secret X-37B space plane spotted by amateur skywatchers]”We are ecstatic to have accomplished many of the X-51A test points during its first hypersonic mission,” said Charlie Brink, an X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.”We equate this leap in engine technology as equivalent to the post-World War II jump from propeller-driven aircraft to jet engines,” Brink said. The Waverider was built for the Air Force by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing Co.Joe Vogel, Boeing’s director of hypersonics, said, „This is a new world record and sets the foundation for several hypersonic applications, including access to space, reconnaissance, strike, global reach and commercial transportation.”Four X-51A cruisers have been built for the Air Force, and the remaining three will be tested this fall.”No test is perfect,” Brink said, „and I’m sure we will find anomalies that we will need to address before the next flight.”
There may be enough oxygen in the waters of to support millions of tons worth of fish, according to a new study. And while nobody is suggesting there might actually be fish on Europa, this finding suggests the Jovian satellite could be capable of supporting the kinds of life familiar to us here on Earth, if only in microbial form.Europa, which is roughly the moon, is enveloped by a global ocean about 100 miles deep (160 km), with an icy crust that may be only a few miles thick. From what we know of Earth, where there is water, there is a chance at life, so for many years scientists have speculated that this Jovian moon could support extraterrestrials.As we learned more about Jupiter’s effect on its moons, the possibility for life on Europa grew even more likely. Studies showed the moon could have enough oxygen to support the kind of life we are most familiar with on Earth.The ice on the surface, like all water, is made from hydrogen and oxygen, and the constant stream of radiation pouring in from Jupiter reacts with this ice to form free oxygen and other oxidants such as hydrogen peroxide. The reactivity of oxygen is key to generating the energy that helped multi-cellular life flourish on our planet.Still, researchers had thought there was no effective method for delivering any of this oxygen-rich matter into Europa’s ocean. Scientists had assumed the primary way for surface materials to migrate downward was from the impacts it would suffer from cosmic debris, which regularly bombards everything in our . [Photos of Jupiter’s moons.]However, past calculations suggested that even after a few billion years, such „impact gardening” would never lead to an oxygenated layer more than some 33 feet (10 meters) deep into the ice shell, nowhere far enough down to reach the underlying ocean.However, the new study suggests this oxygen-rich layer could be far thicker than before thought, potentially encompassing the entire crust. The key is looking at other ways to stir Europa’s crust, explained researcher Richard Greenberg, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at Tucson.The Europa experiences from Jupiter leads to tidal forces roughly 1,000 times stronger than what Earth feels from our moon, flexing and heating Europa and making it very active geologically. This could explain why its surface appears no older than 50 million years old — its surface underwent complete turnover in that time.A major resurfacing process on Europa seems to be the formation of double ridges, which cover at least half of its surface. may be causing fresh ice from below — probably newly frozen ocean water — to push upward and over the surface, where it would slowly get oxygenated.As ridges pile on top of ridges, older material gets buried, shoving this oxygen-rich matter downward. After one or two billion years, this process alone could spread oxidants throughout the entire crust, thus reaching the ocean, Greenberg calculated.Other mechanisms could help stir Europa’s crust also. Parts of the surface could partially melt from below, leading rafts of ice to break loose and tumble around before they froze back in place. Roughly 40 percent of Europa’s crust appears to be covered with the ensuing „chaotic terrain.” Also, as matter comes up from below and widens cracks, the nearby surface crumples, burying some material. These extra processes could help push some oxidants downward, but it would still take at least two billion years or so before radiation loaded the entire crust with oxygen.As ice on the base of this oxygenated crust melts, even with the most conservative assumptions, after only a half-million years oxidant levels in the ocean would reach the minimum oxygen concentration seen in , which on Earth is enough to support small crustaceans, Greenberg found.In only 12 million years, oxidant concentrations would reach the same saturation levels of Earth’s oceans, enough to support our largest sea life. Given the cold temperatures and high pressures likely seen in Europa’s ocean, it could actually take in more oxygen than Earth’s oceans could before its water reached its saturation point.”I was surprised at how much oxygen could get down there,” Greenberg said.One concern about all this oxygen was that it might actually do more harm than good. The extraordinary reactivity of oxygen could in principle disrupt the chemical processes that are thought to lead to the origin of life and that may have been an aspect of early life.On Earth, life had more than a billion years to evolve, before oxygen became plentiful in the atmosphere, and that delay gave organisms plenty of time to develop genetic mechanisms and physical structures that allowed them to use oxygen, instead of being destroyed by it.The delay of 1 to 2 billion years before oxygen in Europa’s crust made its way into its ocean is roughly the same amount of time it took life on Earth to develop before oxygen became a problem, so life might have enough of a respite to develop on the Jovian moon. Assuming life on Europa respired at rates similar to fish on Earth, the continuous rate of oxygen delivery there could sustain roughly 3 million metric tons of life, Greenberg said.One might not have to wait for a probe to land on Europa to detect any oxygen there. „Spectroscopy done by telescopes on Earth or in orbit can tell what substances are mixed into the ice,” Greenberg said.Greenberg detailed his findings May 6 in the journal Astrobiology.
Cause of Black Hole Outbursts Determined By Jeremy Hsu SPACE.com
This story was updated at 9:50 a.m. ET. appear to light up with hard X-rays when their parent galaxies decide to merge, according to a survey by NASA’s peeping Swift satellite. The new findings solve a mystery that has kept astronomers in the dark for decades.Just 1 percent of supermassive black holes currently put on such exhibitionist behavior by giving off as much as 10 billion times the sun’s energy, as so-called active galactic nuclei (AGN). The supermassive themselves hold anywhere from a million to a billion times the , while the galaxy’s black hole is about 3 or 4 million solar masses.Researchers had scratched their heads over why such high-energy displays occurred, until now. The findings announced today confirm past theories that suggested that violence from galactic mergers can fuel the growth of central black holes.”We find that about 25 percent of black holes found by Swift are in the process of merging,” said team member Michael Koss of the University of Maryland in College Park, during a NASA teleconference.About 60 percent of such active galaxies will merge completely within the next billion years to create .Hard X-ray action-Swift used its Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) to detect any telltale signs of hard X-rays, which rank between gamma-rays and X-rays on the electromagnetic spectrum of light.Such hard X-rays can pass through or dust which otherwise blocks ultraviolet, optical and soft-X-ray light. Infrared radiation can also pass through the material, but may represent emissions from a galaxy’s star nurseries rather than the central black holes.The hard X-ray survey allowed astronomers to feel confident that they had spotted the majority of AGN within Swift’s survey range of about 650 million light-years away. (A light-year is the distance that light can travel in one year — about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).)Koss and his colleagues then followed up by spending 20 nights peering at the AGN with a 2-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz.”Many of these galaxies are very close to us, so we see the severe distortion of the galaxy shapes,” Koss explained. „In addition, we see that the galaxies are very close to each other and therefore will merge and interact very strongly.”Feeding on mergers-The galactic mergers represent a way in which supermassive black holes can feed as they grow, according to Joel Bregman, an astrophysicist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who was not involved with the study. Astronomers had previously known that black holes could grow by either merging with other black holes, or by sucking down nearby gaseous material.”What this work does is it shows us the [black holes] feeding on gas channeled into the center [of the galaxies] at a fairly early stage,” Bregman said. In other words, supermassive black holes can kick into high gear early on before their host galaxies have even begun to merge.Past findings have also show that both merging galaxies and AGN are both much more common in the earlier universe, which had many more small galaxies than now. That indirectly supports the idea of galactic mergers triggering the growth of black holes.But unlike the merger galaxies that spew plenty of hard X-rays, our has a fairly quiet black hole at its center. The black hole likely goes through periods of outbursts and relative quiet, Bregman noted.About 10 percent of similar-size galaxies are much more active than the Milky Way, said Meg Urry, an astrophysicist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who was not a member of the Swift team.”It’s kind of lucky that we’re in the 90 percent that aren’t very active, so there are not a lot of hard X-rays being produced and coming our way and disturbing [Earth’s] atmosphere,” Urry said.Peeking into the past-Swift’s eyes could get a complementary boost from NASA’s upcoming NuStar mission, which is slated for launch in 2012. NuStar would use two sets of mirror arrays that focus hard X-rays to study even more distant galaxies from 7 or 8 billion years ago.”It will find more distant black hole growth and AGN, so the question is whether those are triggered the same way as the [Swift] sample,” Urry said in response to a SPACE.com question. „We think they are, but you’d like to observe them and see if that’s the case.”For now, the continues its main mission of watching for gamma-ray bursts, which represent the most powerful form of energy in the universe since the Big Bang.”We just detected our 508th gamma-ray burst about 30 minutes ago,” said Neil Gehrels, principal investigator for Swift at the in Greenbelt, Md., during the NASA teleconference. NASA celebrated Swift’s 500th discovery of gamma ray bursts back in April.The Swift study will appear in the June 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
New Private Rocket’s Launch Debut Slips to June By Amy Klamper SPACE.com
WASHINGTON — The inaugural of a new commercial rocket has slipped from May 28 to no earlier than June 2, according to its builder Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).The first Falcon 9 rocket, assembled on the SpaceX launch pad at in Florida, is awaiting U.S. Air Force approval of its flight termination system, an explosive charge designed to destroy the rocket if it veers off course during launch. But the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company attributed the most recent delay of the Falcon 9 launch debut to changes in the Cape’s crowded manifest. „Looks like the delay of the [Air Force Delta 4] GPS has taken up a lot of resources at the Cape and in turn pushed the first test launch of Falcon 9 from May 28/29 to no earlier than June 2/3,” spokeswoman Emily Shanklin said in an e-mail sent to reporters late Tuesday. The Air Force has been trying to launch the new GPS satellite since last week. But weather and technical delays have prevented the satellite’s Delta 4 rocket from launching from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They also forced the Air Force to wait until after landed today to try again. The Delta 4 rocket is currently slated to make another launch attempt late Thursday, May 27.The first Falcon 9 rocket will carry a qualification version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which is designed to carry cargo, and potentially humans into orbit and the . Under a $1.6 billion NASA contract awarded in 2008, Dragon and Falcon 9 are set to begin delivering cargo to the space station beginning in 2011. [Graphic: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon.]SpaceX’s medium-lift Falcon 9 rocket is a two-stage booster. It stands 180 feet (55 meters) tall and is about 12 feet (3.6 meters) wide, with a first stage powered by nine of SpaceX’s own Merlin fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene.NASA is banking on the success of SpaceX’s and its Dragon spacecraft, as well as other commercial space vehicle efforts.The U.S. space agency plans to retire its three space shuttles later this year and use unmanned to ferry supplies to the space station until privately built crew-carrying vehicles become available in the next five years or so.
Delta 4 rocket blasts off on GPS mission By AP
ORLANDO – After several days delay due to technical issues, a Delta 4 rocket rumbled into the sky Thursday evening from the Kennedy at Cape Canaveral carrying a GPS satellite. Officials said the military craft would be used for national security and navigation.The craft is the first of a new generation of Global Positioning System satellites going into orbit. There will be a dozen such Boeing-built satellites launched over the next several years to replace 20-year-old satellites now in service.This will be the first GPS mission to launch on a Delta 4, after 49 missions launched atop the smaller Delta 2 between 1989 and 2009. Future GPS spacecraft will be lifted into orbit on the Delta 4, on the Atlas 4 and on ULAs .
Doctor: at least 30 dead in India train derailment By AP
CALCUTTA, India – A doctor says at least 30 people died when an overnight passenger train was derailed by suspected sabotage and then hit by another train in eastern India.E. Mitra, a doctor at a railway hospital, says 30 bodies have been brought to the hospital from the site in West Bengal state following the accident Friday.Government officials say they suspect Maoist rebels sabotaged the train.
Spain passes austerity plan by one vote by Denholm Barnetson AP
MADRID (AFP) – Spanish deputies passed an by just one vote, saving the Socialist government from probable collapse and easing markets’ fears that the financial crisis would engulf its economy.The unpopular 15-billion-euro (18.5-billion-dollar) plan, which includes a pay cut for , was passed on Thursday with 169 votes in favour, 168 against and 13 abstentions.The governing Socialist Party backed the bill, while the conservative opposition Popular Party and other parties opposed it.Crucially however, the 10 deputies of the Catalan nationalist CiU party were among those who abstained. Prime Minister does not hold a working majority and must rely on smaller parties to govern.Observers had feared that a government defeat could have forced new elections, with disastrous repercussions on financial markets already nervous about the poor state of public finances in Spain.The country has only just emerged from a long recession.”Everyone knows what would happen if the government had not been able to pass the bill,” said Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, secretary general of the Catalan nationalists, explaining his party’s decision to abstain.”The stock market would plunge and our debt would be hit. Our responsibility is to ensure that Spain does not fall into a deeper hole. I don’t want Spain to come under protection like Greece.”But Duran i Lleida had harsh words for Zapatero, who appeared stony-faced in the chamber.”Your time is finished…,” he told him.”When the (2011) budget vote comes and when you cannot pass it, call elections that the country wants and needs.”Zapatero, under pressure from both Spain’s and the markets, announced the austerity measures on May 12 in a bid to shore up Spain’s public finances amid fears it could follow Greece into a debt crisis.The cuts are on top of a 50-billion-euro austerity package announced in January designed to slash the to the eurozone limit of three percent of gross domestic product by 2013. Last year it stood at 11.2 percent.Unions representing public sector workers have called a strike for June 8 over the plan while Spain’s largest trade union, the CCOO, said last week it would „probably” also call a national .The plan would lead to weaker growth, „hindering economic recovery and probably generating an increase in unemployment,” CCOO leader Ignacio Fernandez Toxo said Thursday.He also warned of a general strike if the government went ahead with „prejudicial” reforms to the country’s strict labour market rules.Unions are negotiating with the government over labour reforms announced by Zapatero in February.The latest austerity measures include an average five-percent pay cut for public sector workers from June and a pay freeze from 2011. Pensions, except for the poorest, will also be frozen in 2011.In what was seen as a bid to boost plummeting public support for his government, the prime minister also plans to announce a new tax on the richest people in the country.”These measures are painful but essential,” told parliament. German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle hailed the Spanish approval of the „severe” austerity measures. „We can only achieve durable stability of the euro if each eurozone member contributes to structural measures,” he said.Analysts said the vote would help calm the markets, but the government still had to avoid any temptation to water down the proposals or the labour reforms. „The government needs to demonstrate a strong control of the situation, helping to ease market fears that the current administration will be unable to deliver better fiscal discipline or implement effective labour market reform,” said Raj Badiani, senior economist at IHS Global Insight. Spain entered recession in the second quarter of 2008 as the compounded a crisis in the property market, a major driver for growth in the preceding years.Official data released last week showed the economy returned to growth in the first quarter but analysts have warned that any pick-up could be short lived.The long period of negative growth sent soaring to more than 20 percent in the first quarter, the highest in the 16-nation eurozone.
Geithner: US, Europe broadly agree on reformBy GEIR MOULSON, Associated Press
BERLIN – The United States and Europe broadly agree on the need for reform of the financial system, but global cooperation is needed, U.S. said Thursday. He also said countries are working together to balance cutting back deficits with supporting economic growth.Geithner met German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a two-day visit to Europe that also took him to Britain and to the .The trip comes amid ongoing market volatility following European nations’ agreement this month on a euro750 billion (nearly $1 trillion) loan backstop for governments in danger of defaulting on debt — coupled with efforts to cut .Germany, the eurozone’s biggest economy, pushed that deal through parliament last week. Geithner welcomed Berlin’s „leadership role” in putting together „this very strong framework,” as well as its speedy action to implement it.He deflected worries that could lead to an economic setback. He underlined the need to reduce debt „to sustainable levels over the medium term” and added that „we’re going to get there at somewhat different paces.”We are working very closely together to try to make sure that we are strengthening and reinforcing this global recovery,” he said.Schaeuble noted that the rules governing the euro are titled the „stability and growth pact” and said countries would try to do justice to both elements.The eurozone rescue package — preceded by a rescue for Greece that remains unpopular in Germany — has been accompanied by renewed European determination to advance of the financial system. Many on the continent contend that speculative market practices exacerbated the debt crisis.Last week, European Union governments overrode British objections and U.S. worries to for hedge funds, and Germany unilaterally announced curbs on traders of government debt and bank stocks — a move that rattled markets.Geithner accentuated areas of trans-Atlantic agreement but stressed the U.S. commitment to a „a cooperative global approach” leading up to next month’s summit of the , which combines rich countries with emerging nations such as China and India.”The United States and Europe are in broad agreement on the importance of putting in place more conservative constraints on risk-taking, more conservative capital requirements, bringing transparency and disclosure to derivatives markets, making sure that the regulators and supervisors can do their job,” Geithner said.He acknowledged that „we’re going to have slightly different approaches because we have different systems.”But „we all agree on the need for a common framework,” he added. „These are global markets, you need common standards — you don’t want to just let risk move outside the scope of regulation.”He didn’t comment directly on the German ban on so-called naked short-selling and planned legislation to cement it in law.Schaeuble — who acknowledged that „the American approach is a somewhat different one” — renewed his defense of the move, saying it was justified given recent months’ experiences and could be superseded by future European regulation.One area of agreement is the need for a levy on major banks to ensure that they cover the costs of any future banking crisis.In Paris Thursday, one of President Barack Obama’s top advisers said it would be a mistake for the U.S. to rapidly wind down stimulus measures to cut its deficit.”It would be wrong to tighten fiscal policy immediately, as that would nip the nascent economic ,” said Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.She advocated further measures such as fiscal relief for state and local governments and extension of emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed.Both Geithner and Schaeuble argued that it was no problem to take varying approaches.”The balance is going to be different in different countries,” Geithner said. „That’s a necessary, desirable thing. We all have slightly different room for maneuver.”Schaeuble said European countries with aging populations and lower potential growth have „narrower room for maneuver” on sustaining deficits than nations such as the U.S. with a strong growth dynamic.
AP tally: 1,000th US military death in AfghanistanBy ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military suffered its 1,000th death of the Afghan war Friday, according to an Associated Press count, when NATO reported a service member was killed by a roadside bomb in .The NATO statement did not identify the victim’s name or nationality, but U.S. spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said the service member was American.The Associated Press bases its tally on U.S. Defense Department reports of deaths suffered as a direct result of the Afghan conflict, including personnel assigned to units in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Uzbekistan.Other news organizations count deaths suffered by service members assigned elsewhere as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes operations in the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.The NATO statement gave no details of the bombing Friday, nor did it specify where the attack occurred. U.S., NATO and Afghan forces are gearing up for a major operation in the south in a bid to shore up government control of Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan and the Taliban’s former headquarters.The list of American service members killed in combat in Afghanistan begins with Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman of San Antonio, Texas. The 31-year-old career Special forces soldier was ambushed on Jan. 4, 2002, after attending a meeting with Afghan leaders in Khost province. He left a wife and two children. The base where a suicide bomber killed seven CIA employees in December bears his name.The latest death was reported just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend in the United States when Americans honor their dead in all the nation’s wars.Elsewhere, Afghan officials said a who spearheaded the takeover of Pakistan’s Swat Valley three years ago may have been killed in a fierce battle with Afghan forces in remote eastern Afghanistan.Hundreds of militants have been trying since Sunday to seize control of the Barg-e-Matal district of Nuristan province along the Pakistani border, provincial officials said.Following a strong attack Wednesday night, villagers who took part in the fighting reported that they had killed the Taliban commander, Maulana Fazlullah, along with six of his fighters, according to Gen. Mohammad Zaman Mamozai, commander for Afghan border police in .Nuristan police Chief Mohammad Qasim said authorities were unable to confirm the death of Fazlullah, who gained prominence in 2007 as the „Radio Mullah” for his vehemently anti-Western sermons on local radio stations in the Swat Valley. The former mountain resort area fell under Taliban control until Pakistani forces drove them out last year.In Pakistan, Maulana Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban chief in the Bajur area, told The that Fazlullah had gone to Nuristan with his fighters.”We are trying to contact him,” he said. „We believe that he is safe and he has not been killed.”Another in Bajur, Asad Ullah, insisted that Fazlullah was alive.”Maulana Fazlullah was the guest of Taliban in Nuristan, and we don’t think he can be killed so easily,” he said.The Afghan Interior Ministry said one police officer had also been killed in the Nuristan fighting, which continued Thursday. Officials said about 500 Pakistani Taliban were involved in the siege.The insurgents first attacked the district government building on Sunday. Provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Qasim Jangulbagh said joined the fight against the Taliban because they heard Fazlullah had issued a fatwa, or religious command, to kill those who supported the government.Nuristan is a rugged, mountainous province whose people have a reputation for fierce resistance to outsiders.Associated Press writers Habib Khan in Bajur, Pakistan, Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Amir Shah and Heidi Vogt in Kabul contributed to this report.
UK ships cross channel to mark Dunkirk evacuation By AP
LONDON – Dozens of World War II-era ships crossed the on Thursday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation — an event that holds a special place of pride in the British memory.Former troops saved in the rescue, Operation Dynamo, took part in the flotilla that re-enacted the time when Britain called upon every possible vessel to help save troops trapped on French shores by advancing during World War II. Among them was 93-year-old Lionel Tucker, who recalled his exhaustion upon reaching a boat called the Maid of Orleans.”When I got on board I flopped down and went to sleep and never woke up until I got there and saw the white cliffs of Dover,” he said.The had swept through western Europe in spring of 1940, beating back both French and British forces. The advancing forces trapped the British soldiers on the beaches of the French city of , where shallow waters prevented ships from coming too close to shore.After the appeal went out for smaller vessels, some 800 responded and ferried the soldiers to the larger vessels based in deeper waters.German fighters and bombers launched attacks, but Panzer units were halted by . This gave British forces critical time to pull men off the beaches, and is seen as one of the first major German mistakes of the war.Some 338,000 troops were rescued from the French beaches between May 27 and June 4, 1940.Included in the flotilla Thursday were 50 of the original „little ships” — yachts, fishing boats and barges — involved in the evacuation. described the evacuation as a „miracle of deliverance,” and it is an event — even 70 years later — that is seen as capturing Britain’s national spirit of resilience.”We can all be very proud of the ‘little ships’ of Dunkirk,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement.
Parents visiting Pakistani in Chile bomb probe By AP
SANTIAGO, Chile – A being held in a terrorism investigation in Chile is getting a visit from his parents.Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman Khan was arrested at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago this month after authorities said they of explosives on his things.Khan contends the readings were a mistake, saying he wants America to be safe and secure. His parents are expressing hope Chilean courts will find him innocent.Father Mahmood said Thursday in Santiago that he believes and trusts in Chilean justice. But mother Parvin Mahmood says she fears for her son’s well-being.A spokesman for Chile’s prison police force said the Khans will be able to visit their son in a no later than Friday.
UN rift widens over Brazil-Turkey deal with Iranby Aldo Gamboa AFP
BRASILIA (AFP) – A bitter rift between the world’s top powers led by the United States and emerging nations Brazil and Turkey widened Thursday as differences over how to tackle erupted into sharp exchanges.Turkey accused critics of a deal brokered with Iran last week for a nuclear fuel swap of being „envious” of the „diplomatic success” it represented — in an implicit swipe at the United States.US acknowledged „very serious disagreements” with Brazil over its insistence that the deal it helped to draw up be considered before a US push for new UN sanctions against Iran is decided.The row threatens to split the UN Security Council, on which the United States sits as a permanent, veto-wielding member alongside temporary members .It also highlighted the growing assertiveness of Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy, and NATO member Turkey in carving out their own diplomatic tracks independently of the United States.The United States accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its atomic energy program, something Tehran denies.Turkish , speaking in a joint media conference in Brasilia with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, slammed detractors of the May 17 deal they worked out with Tehran.”The countries criticizing this accord are envious. Because Brazil and Turkey brokered and pulled off a diplomatic success that other countries had been negotiating without result for many years,” he said.He stated that Brazil and Turkey had „assumed the responsibility” that went with their seats on the UN Security Council.Lula urged that the UN nuclear watchdog, which this week received details from Tehran of the Brazil-Turkey proposal, to show „sensitivity in understanding the political moment” represented by the deal and to analyze it accordingly.” are working for peace. Up to now, Iran has met the obligations of its accord with Turkey and Brazil,” he stressed.Their words showed a stubborn refusal to allow the United States to dismiss their deal in its rush to secure a fourth against Iran in the UN Security Council.US officials say they already have the backing of the four other permanent members — allies France and Britain, as well as Iran’s investment partners China and Russia — and were confident they would win the nine votes needed on the 15-seat Security Council to impose the sanctions.Non-permanent members Brazil and Turkey are opposed, along with Lebanon, which has through its Hezbollah militia.Brazil was being especially fierce in fighting to save the Tehran fuel swap deal, both in official declarations and in what appeared to be a leak of a letter from to Lula ahead of negotiations over the accord.The daily Folha de Sao Paulo reported Thursday that Obama had sent a letter to Lula three weeks ago suggesting negotiation points with Tehran and stating that he „would keep a door open to a compromise with Iran.”The letter reportedly also said Obama warned he would simultaneously push forward with the UN resolution for .The Brazilian government has not officially confirmed the authenticity of the letter, but Lula has insisted that the Tehran deal largely addressed the demands made by the United States months ago.Under the terms of the deal, Iran would deposit around half its stock of low-enriched uranium in Turkey in exchange, within a year later, for reactor fuel enriched to a level needed for research and medical use — but well below the level required for military ends.The United States and its European allies say the deal is insufficient, partly because the amount of uranium to be handed over is too little, but mainly because Iran insists on enriching part of its remaining stock to 20 percent anyway., speaking at the opening Thursday of a UN „Alliance of Civilizations” conference in Rio aimed at better cross-cultural understanding, addressed the rift.”This crisis, it seems to me that there is a serious lack of optimism and trust towards Iran in its core,” he said.He said Iran’s plans to enrich its uranium „has caused serious concern” and stated: „It would be helpful if Iran agreed to stop trying to enrich uranium at 20 percent.”Without mentioning the US-led push for sanctions, Ban praised Lula and Erdogan’s efforts „to resolve this issue with peaceful negotiation.”He acknowledged, though, that „there are different opinions about the approaches and possibilities concerning this issue.”
China PM visits South Korea amid storm over warship sinking By Jack Kim REUTERS
SEOUL (Reuters) – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao begins a two-day on Friday for talks with East Asian trading partners, but the issue of how to reign in provocative North Korea is expected to dominate.With Seoul and Tokyo convinced that North Korea torpedoed a the in March, China’s attempts to balance those ties with its traditional support of North Korea will see Wen face his neighbors’ disquiet over Beijing’s reluctance to press Pyongyang.Wen will be the first Chinese leader to meet after Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing its corvette and will also meet Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at the three-nation regional summit on the resort island of Jeju at the weekend.U.S. officials said this week that there were signs that China, the North’s main benefactor and ally, is reviewing ties with the a week after an investigation headed by Seoul released evidence accusing the North for the sinking.But South Korean officials were more skeptical on whether Beijing will make the dramatic gesture of siding with the South, and the United States, when Seoul takes the North to the U.N. Security Council.A senior South Korean official said Seoul did not expect Beijing to come forward on the side of condemning Pyongyang or imposing but will in the end not block the move to censure the North at the Security Council.North Korea has escalated blistering rhetoric since the release of the investigations’ findings, threatening to sever all and possibly shut down the factory park, which is the last remaining major commercial link between the rivals that had been a symbol of reconciliation.On Thursday, the North’s military said it was taking the first steps in severing the border link which provides access for to the Kaesong project.The move has fueled concerns in the South that some of the hundreds of its workers who stay in the North Korean border city on a typical day may become stranded.The South will send in troops if the North shuts down the border and holds its citizens hostage in Kaesong, the South Korean official said on Friday on the condition of anonymity.Such a move would be a major escalation of tensions that have so far remained bluster on the part of Pyongyang following the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan that killed 46. between the two Koreas has unnerved investors, worried the bitter rivalry could spill over into conflict.South Korea’s navy is conducting a three-way exercise aimed at better deterring submarine infiltration by the North, having upgraded its alert. But its defense minister was quoted as telling senior that there were no indications that North Korea may be getting ready for further provocations.Most analysts say that neither side is ready to go to war but warn there could be more skirmishes, especially along their disputed sea border off the west coast.Traders said the issue continues to hang over the market, although it is no longer driving prices down as it did early in the week.(Additional reporting by Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by Michael Perry)
NKorea scraps sea accords; SKorea holds navy drill By KELLY OLSEN, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea – on the Korean peninsula rose Thursday after North Korea threatened to attack any South Korean ships entering its waters and Seoul held anti-submarine drills in response to the March sinking of a navy vessel blamed on Pyongyang.Separately, the chief U.S. criticized the North over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in which 46 sailors died, telling the communist country to stop its aggressive actions.North Korean reaction was swift. The military declared it would scrap designed to prevent armed clashes at their maritime border, including the cutting of a military hot line, and warned of „prompt physical strikes” if any South Korean ships enter what the North says are its waters in a disputed area off the west coast of the peninsula.A multinational team of investigators said May 20 that a North Korean torpedo sank the 1,200-ton ship. Seoul announced punitive measures, including slashing trade and resuming anti-Pyongyang propaganda over radio and loudspeakers aimed at the North. North Korea has denied attacking the ship, which sank near disputed western waters where the Koreas have fought three bloody sea battles since 1999.”The facts and evidence laid out by the joint international investigation team are very compelling. That is why I have asked the Security Council to fulfill their responsibility to keep peace and stability … to take the necessary measures, keeping in mind the ,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he opened a conference in Brazil meant to help find solutions to global conflicts.Inter-Korean political and economic ties have been steadily deteriorating since the February 2008 inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who vowed a tougher line on the North and its nuclear program. The sinking of the Cheonan has returned military tensions — and the prospect of armed conflict — to the forefront.Off the west coast, 10 South Korean warships, including a 3,500-ton destroyer, fired artillery and other guns and dropped anti-submarine bombs during a one-day exercise to boost readiness, the navy said.South Korea also is planning two major military drills with the U.S. by July in a display of force intended to deter aggression by North Korea, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.Gen. Walter Sharp, chief of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, said the United States, South Korea and other members of the U.N. Command „call on North Korea to cease all and to live up with the terms of past agreements, including the armistice agreement.”The U.S. fought on the South Korean side during the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. North Korea has long demanded a permanent peace agreement.The prospect of another eruption of serious fighting has been constant on the Korean peninsula since the war ended. But it had been largely out of focus in the past decade as North and South Korea took steps to end enmity and distrust, such as launching joint economic projects and holding two summits.The , however, clearly caught South Korea — which has a far more modern and advanced military than its impoverished rival — off guard.”I think one of the big conclusions that we can draw from this is that, in fact, military readiness in the West Sea had become very lax,” said , an expert on Korean military relations at the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, calling it nothing short of an „indictment” of Seoul’s preparedness.South Korean and U.S. militaries are taking pains to warn the North that such an embarrassment will not happen again.South Korean media reported Thursday that the U.S.-South Korean combined forces command led by Sharp raised its surveillance level, called Watch Condition, by a step from level 3 to level 2. Level 1 is the highest.The increased alert level means U.S. spy satellites and U-2 spy planes will intensify their reconnaissance of North Korea, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said, citing an unidentified South Korean official.The South Korean and U.S. militaries would not confirm any changes to the alert level. It would be the first change since North Korea carried out a nuclear test in May 2009, a South Korean said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.A South Korean Defense Ministry official said Seoul will „resolutely” deal with the North’s measures announced Thursday, but did not elaborate. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department policy. South Korea’s military said there were no signs of unusual activity by North Korean troops. Despite the tensions, most analysts feel the prospect of war remains remote because North Korea knows what’s at stake.”I don’t think they’re really interested in going to war,” said Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank. „Because if it’s all-out war, then I’m convinced it would mean the absolute destruction” of North Korea. „And their country would cease to exist.”Thousands of of the Korean and Vietnam wars rallied Thursday in Seoul, beating a life-sized rubber likeness of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il with wooden sticks and stabbing it with knives. „Dialogue won’t work with these North Korean devils,” said Mo Hyo-sang, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran.In Moscow, the Kremlin said President Dmitry Medvedev sent a group of experts to Seoul to study the findings of the investigation into the ship disaster.”Medvedev considers it a matter of principle to establish the reason for the ,” it said.Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Sangwon Yoon in Seoul, David Nowak in Moscow and Marco Sibaja in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
Indian president makes rare state visit to China By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press
BEIJING – Indian sought to soothe trade disputes and recent border tensions in meetings Thursday with Chinese leaders in Beijing.Patil is the first Indian head of state in a decade to visit her country’s , an illustration of how ties remain cool almost 50 years after the two countries fought a brief border war.In their meeting, Chinese President Hu Jintao told Patil her visit would boost „mutual understanding and friendship and advance the development of the China-India strategic partnership,” state broadcaster CCTV reported.Hu said the two sides should utilize both bilateral and multilateral forums to increase cooperation and coordination, a nod to the common cause found at last year’s climate change talks in Copenhagen where they united to resist a push by industrialized nations to reach a new legally binding treaty.China and India have also sought common stances on global finance and other international issues as the two largest of the so-called BRIC nations, which also include Russia and Brazil.CCTV quoted Patil as saying she hoped for „harmonious, friendly, energetic, and constantly developing relations.”Patil met also with and attended a signing ceremony for a number of bilateral agreements, details of which were not immediately available.Patil’s six-day visit will also take her to the India pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai and to the central city of Luoyang, where she will attend a temple ceremony commemorating the arrival of from India 2,000 years ago.Such exchanges mark a push to strengthen ties between the two countries beset by mutual suspicion and a sharpening rivalry over resources and global markets to fuel their surging economies.Indians frequently complain about a flood of Chinese products that account for about two-thirds of bilateral trade, which grew by about 33 percent in 2008 to nearly $52 billion, but declined by as much as $10 billion last year amid disputes and the global economic slowdown., India last year issued a six-month ban on Chinese toys that dominate the local market, and launched investigations into other Chinese products ranging from steel to pharmaceuticals.In April, New Delhi also banned telecom equipment from Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE, citing national security concerns. The ban came less than a week after media reports that Chinese hackers had broken into the computer networks of , defense and diplomatic establishments.The most glaring disagreement remains the remote, mountainous China-India border, over which the two fought gun battles in 1962. The two lack even a commonly designated line of control, despite 13 rounds of settlement talks, and India recently beefed up its military presence along the frontier following accusations of increasing incursions by Chinese troops.China, meanwhile, resents the presence in India of the self-declared headed by the Himalayan region’s Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled across the border during an abortive rising against Chinese rule in 1959.Beijing last year angrily protested a weeklong visit by the Dalai Lama to the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims is . China, meanwhile, occupies a part of Kashmir claimed by India.
President says US rooting for World Cup squad By AFP
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama told the US World Cup squad he’d be pulling for them as they represent the country on one of sport’s greatest world stages next month in .Obama acknowledged that the footballing extravaganza didn’t always resonate with US sports fans more attuned to baseball, basketball and gridiron football, but he told the team they had plenty of support.”Everybody is going to be rooting for you. Although sometimes we don’t remember here in the United States, this is going to be the biggest world (stage) and you’re going to be representing all of us,” he said. „We are incredibly proud of what you’ve done already.”Known as an avid basketball fan, Obama said he’d be keeping tabs on the footballers’ World Cup progress.”You will have somebody in the Oval Office who’s going to be watching ESPN to make sure that things are going OK,” he said.Vice President Joe Biden, who will attend America’s against England on June 12, was also at the White House to greet the team.Also on hand was former President Bill Clinton, who was recently named the honorary chairman of the trying to bring the World Cup back to the United States in 2018 or 2022., who also plans to attend some World Cup matches, was taken with the team’s attire for the visit – particularly their tan dress shoes.”I want to be on this team just for the shoes,” Clinton said. „This is the only team that I’ve ever seen that had these cool shoes.”Obama, who earlier in the day met with Duke University’s collegiate champion basketball team, agreed the were winners in the fashion stakes.”Those are some sharp shoes,” he agreed.The United States host Turkey in a friendly match at Philadelphia on Saturday and depart for South Africa on Sunday.
South Africa transport strike to end after new deal By Agnieszka Flak and Olivia Kumwenda REUTERS
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African logistics group Transnet reached a deal with striking workers on Thursday to end a long-running dispute, but a labor federation threatened fresh industrial action during the soccer .The transport strike, in its third week, disrupted railways and ports in Africa’s largest economy and affected coal exports in one of the world’s main suppliers of the power station feedstock to Europe and Asia. It may threaten the country’s coal export target of 65 million tonnes this year.The stoppage also dented exports of metals, cars, fruit and wine to Europe, as well as imports of vehicle parts and fuel, costing the economy at least 7 billion rand ($890 million) in lost production and sales.The South African Transport and (Satawu) said a majority of its members had voted for Transnet’s new offer, which included a one-off 1 percent payment on top of an 11 percent wage increase.”The offer has been accepted … and the understanding is that the workers will start going back to work tomorrow,” Robert Mashego, Deputy President at Satawu, told Reuters.The (ANC) had demanded a quick solution to the standoff, warning the dispute could hurt the soccer World Cup, which runs for a month from June 11.Satawu, which represents some 21,000 workers out of 54,000 staff, had called for sympathy stoppages at other transport firms, including at the national airline and the coal export terminal.While the Transnet action looks to have been resolved, Labour federation COSATU, which has nearly 2 million members and is a powerful ally of the ANC, demanded a greater say in economic policy and hinted at withdrawing from a formal alliance with the .The labor federation also threatened a strike during the World Cup over sharp power price increases by utility Eskom if a mediation meeting planned for June 14 fails.COSATU also said it may call a from October 7 if labor brokers, who provide contract workers to companies, are not banned.STOPPAGES-Recent strikes have drawn criticism from economists and the central bank, which say unions are trying to hold the government and state enterprises to ransom by staging strikes close to the World Cup, to squeeze pay hikes above inflation of 5.1 percent.”We are seeing continued upside pressures on wages in both the public and private sectors,” said Peter Attard Montalto, emerging market economist at .”Wage settlements are still unanchored from inflation and will cause a range of second-round inflation effects through the second half of the year … leading ultimately to rate hikes.”Late on Tuesday, the called off a strike at Eskom due to start on Wednesday after the state-owned firm obtained a last-minute court order declaring the planned industrial action illegal.BILLION LOSSES-With a backlog that will take at least a month to clear, the strike has taken its toll on the country’s mining, transport and and hurt producers of perishable goods.Transnet said that with 65 percent of its workers back on the job after the company’s bigger union accepted a previous wage offer, the logistics group had managed to move a backlog of crucial shipments, including World Cup cargo and jet fuel. Shipping companies are asking clients to pay a surcharge to partly recover their losses. Fruit producers began using costly air freight to export their produce and car manufactures have opted to fly in some parts to be able to keep production going.All automotive plants were limping along due to the backlog at ports, an industry body said.Fuel imports through to landlocked Botswana have fallen by half, but supplies within South Africa itself have been unaffected.Analysts said the strike is likely to have long-lasting consequences on the country’s exports, with South Africa losing some contracts to other markets such as India or Brazil. Job cuts may also be looming, they said. Global miners with operations in South Africa, including Anglo American Plc, Xstrata and the world’s top steelmaker ArcelorMittal have declared force majeure on the supply of iron ore, ferrochrome and steel.(Additional reporting by Peroshni Govender; Editing by James Macharia and Matthew Jones)