Sunday, July 15, 2012
HSBC entered into a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Virtusa, as the preferred banker to provide international banking products and services to meet the financial needs of its highly valued employees.
Under the new MOU signed recently, 'Virtusans' will receive unmatched banking benefits to help fulfill their global aspirations.
The diverse range of retail banking services offered to Virtusans will entail a tailor made entry criteria for HSBCPremier/HSBCAdvance with pre-approved credit cards, loans with overdraft facilities at special interest rates, on-line banking facilities, speedy processing of all HSBC cards/loan products, tariff benefits on deposits and much more along with dedicated banking services.
Sanjeev Palihawadena, Head of HR, Virtusa commented, "We are happy to extend our long standing corporate partnership with HSBC and enhance convenience among our employees with tailor made financial products and services that are of international repute. We trust this new value addition will further strengthen our relationship and benefit all Virtusans."
HSBC is considered the preferred Corporate Bank among many blue chip companies in Sri Lanka with products and services catering to the needs of its globally minded employees. Thus, the new service offering is yet another move towards taking world-class banking to the doorstep of corporate clients and offering them a truly international banking experience at all times.
ICRA Lanka Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of ICRA Ltd., an associate of Moody’s Investors Service, has assigned an Issuer rating of ‘[SL] A-’ with stable outlook to Lanka Orix Leasing Company PLC. The rating indicates adequate-credit-quality and the rated entity carries average credit risk. The rating in Sri Lanka is assigned on an eight-point scale developed specifically for the country and ranges from ‘[SL] AAA’ to ‘[SL] D’. This rating scale ranks the relative default risk associated with issuers in Sri Lanka.
The rating factors in the LOLC Group’s long track record of profitable operations, its position as the market leader in the Sri Lankan leasing business market, professional and experienced management team, adequate risk management systems with strong retail franchise.
The rating also takes into account the committed support and oversight from its largest investor–ORIX Corporation of Japan (rated Baa2 with stable outlook by Moody’s) which has a 30% stake in the entity. ICRA has taken note of the ongoing restructuring exercise wherein it will transition into a holding company and the finance businesses will be carried out in its subsidiaries, leading to moderation of the standalone earnings profile of the HoldCo as the existing lending portfolio runs down.
However, given the significant operational and financial linkages with the subsidiaries (especially pertaining to financial services), ICRA Lanka has taken a consolidated rating view of the HoldCo and the key asset financing subsidiaries. The view is corroborated by the service level agreements between LOLC and its subsidiaries to upstream cash flows. LOLC’s standalone earnings would mainly comprise of shared services fees and dividends from subsidiaries and investment gains.
ICRA has also taken note of the management’s commitment to de-leverage the HoldCo from the current gearing of 2x as on March 2012 to 1.2x by March 2013 by reducing intra-group exposures and the run-down of its lending book. Maintaining stable cash flows and a deleveraging of the HoldCo would remain key sensitivities.
The refinancing risk of the Group is low given the strong franchise, good relationship with lenders with adequate back-up lines, its liquid investment portfolio and the key subsidiaries’ access to retail deposits despite LOLC’s short term asset-liability maturity mismatch remaining high as short term borrowings have been used to fund long term investments. Further, the Group is planning to raise long term funds from overseas lenders which would correct maturity gaps to an extent. ICRA also expects no major equity investments/ acquisitions by the HoldCo in the near term and expects the entity to focus on improving its ALM position going forward.
LOLC Group mainly operates in the area of leasing and hire purchase of automobiles (with over 80% share in total portfolio) and its largest customer segment comprises of small and medium business enterprises for working capital finance. The asset quality of the group’s lending portfolio has been better than that of its peers though marginally affected in the current financial year reducing to 1.8% as on March 31, 2012 from 1.6% as on March 31, 201
Europe's worsening financial and banking crisis and a sluggish recovery in the United States are weighing on developing Asia's growth prospects, according to figures released today from the Asian Development Outlook Supplement (ADOS), published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“Economic growth in developing Asia moderated during the first half of 2012 as slower growth in the US and euro area reduced demand for the region's exports,” the report says. “Worries over the economic strength of important developing economies have also emerged recently.” ADB's latest figures predict developing Asia will expand by 6.6% in 2012 and 7.1% in 2013, lower than the 6.9% and 7.3% forecast in ADB's Asian Development Outlook published in April.
In addition to the impact of Europe's malaise, the region's development in the first half of the year has been hampered by slower growth in the two largest economies,” the People's Republic of China (PRC) and India”as well as the effect of the unwinding of policy stimulus in some countries.
The PRC has seen a fall in net exports, industrial production, and in fixed asset investment, although government spending on health, education and big infrastructure projects should give the economy something of a boost. As the PRC moves to a more sustainable growth model, growth may slow down more than expected.
ADB is predicting that gross domestic product in the PRC will increase by 8.2% in 2012 and 8.5% in 2013. In April, an 8.5% expansion was forecast for 2012, rising to 8.7% next year. India's outlook, meanwhile, is clouded by a combination of high inflation and poor demand, both externally and internally.
Inflation is expected to persist, primarily due to accelerating food prices.
India’s economy is now expected to grow by 6.5% in 2012, down from the previous forecast of 7.0%. In 2013, growth should go up to 7.3%, less than the previously expected 7.5%.
While the weaker global environment is expected to affect growth in Southeast Asia, domestic demand and reconstruction activities should keep growth robust. A strong rebound in Thailand, healthy growth in the Philippines, and increasing consumer demand in Indonesia have helped the subregion and most governments have sufficient policy space to ease monetary policy and provide fiscal stimulus if needed. Southeast Asia's economies are expected to post growth of 5.2% in 2012 and 5.6% in 2013, virtually unchanged from predictions made in April.
Weaker global demand is helping ease international oil and food prices, which is reducing inflationary pressures in the region. Developing Asia's inflation rate should slow to 4.4% in 2012 ”a slight reduction from the 4.6% forecast in April” and will likely continue at the same pace next year.
Friday, July 13, 2012
US: A quarter of Wall Street and British financial executives have witnessed unethical or illegal conduct and as many believe such actions are needed to succeed, an industry survey showed Tuesday.
Twenty-six percent of financial professionals polled by the New York-based law firm Labaton Sucharow said they had observed or had first-hand knowledge of wrongdoing at work.
Some 24 percent said they “may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful” and 16 percent admitted they would commit the crime of insider trading, if they could get away with it.
“When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk,” said Jordan Thomas, head of Labaton Sucharow's whistleblower representation practice.
The survey will do little to boost confidence in the financial sector, which is already at an all-time low.
The industry has faced a string of controversies, legal investigations and denunciations since being blamed for helping to run the global economy into the ground via the 2008 financial crisis.
According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans' confidence in their banks is now at a record low of 21 percent, after the greatest decline of any institution relative to its historic average.
INDONESIA: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said Europe must step up its efforts to establish a free trade pact with booming Southeast Asia.
“I am deeply convinced that Europe has to hurry up in setting up a free trade agreement with this region if it wants to be able to compete,” she said during a visit to Jakarta.
As European nations are struggling to climb out of debt, Southeast Asian nations are experiencing strong growth. Indonesia grew 6.5 percent in 2011 and is forecast to grow at the same pace this year.
On Tuesday, Merkel and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to boost trade, which now stands at around $7 billion, and Indonesian officials forecast it to reach $12 billion by 2014.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union in May 2007 agreed to start free trade agreement talks after years of wrangling over human rights abuses in Myanmar.
The EU has begun negotiating agreements with individual ASEAN states, including Malaysia and Singapore.
Myanmar in April pushed for an EU-ASEAN agreement, citing major reforms in the country.
S KOREA: The mystery woman pictured accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a string of official engagements is a previously married pop star, who his father banned him from seeing 10 years ago, it has been revealed.
Attractive Hyon Song-wol, who used to front the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band, enjoyed chart success with hits including Excellent Horse-Like Lady, Footsteps of Soldiers, I Love Pyongyang, She is a Discharged Soldier and We are Troops of the Party.
According to South Korean intelligence the pair became romantically involved a decade ago after Kim Jong-un returned from an elite private school in the Swiss city of Berne.
A South Korean intelligence said the pair got together a decade ago after Kim Jong-un returned from a private school in the Swiss city of Berne. However his father banned them seeing each other.
His father Kim Jong-il, who died in December last year, reportedly ordered him to end the relationship.
A South Korean intelligence official told the JoonAng Daily newspaper in Seoul: 'The two have known each other since they were in their teens and rumours about the two having an affair have been circulating among Pyongyang's top elite.'
UNITED NATIONS: More than 11,000 child soldiers were freed from military slavery last year, but the United Nations believes hundreds of thousands around the world remain at the mercy of warlords like Thomas Lubanga.
The 14-year jail term ordered against Lubanga by the International Criminal Court on Tuesday is a “historic” signal, according to Radhika Coomaraswamy, who ends a six-year term this month as UN special representative on children in conflict.
The crime of recruiting and using children as soldiers “is now written in stone, nobody can say they are unaware of it,” Coomaraswamy told AFP in an interview.
Governments are starting to get the message. Only Lubanga's native Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan are holding up a UN target to rid all government armies around the world of child soldiers by 2015.
The UN believes hundreds of thousands of children are forced to fight at gunpoint are by the likes of the Taliban in Afghanistan, notorious Congo warlord Bosco Ntaganda, the Shebab in Somalia, Ansar Dine in Mali and other terror groups and private armies around the world.
Under-aged combatants have existed for time immemorial. Alexander the Great trained as a child soldier, and desperate armies in both world wars enlisted and coerced youth fighters. But the practice has only been on the world “radar” for the past 20 years, said Coomaraswamy.
“Mr Lubanga is the classic case from the Great African wars of the 1990s which was basically child abduction, the use of drugs, children used as soldiers, so he is as bad as they come,” the UN official said.
In civil wars around the world, drugs have been used to turn children against their families. Young girls are turned into sex slaves, or soldiers, or both.
Coomaraswamy attributes her successes in fighting the scourge to the use of UN Security Council threats of sanctions against unwilling states and naming and shaming in annual lists.
On top of the thousands of child soldiers released last year, 19 “action plans” have been signed with governments and groups, the UN representative said. Myanmar signed a deal after five years of talks. Thousands of children are believed to be in the government army and ethnic militias.
The Somali government signed an accord this month to rid its ranks of troops aged under 18. Chad was another deal that took some tough talking.
Coomaraswamy is confident that DR Congo and Sudan will follow. “Now I think we are on track that by 2015 we will no longer have any national army anywhere in the world that recruits children.” Governments can generally be trusted to keep their word once they sign. “They don't like to be on any Security Council list or with the threat of sanctions hanging over them,” the UN envoy said.
Uganda was on the UN blacklist, but signed an action plan in 2007. “Now they have been delisted and are at the forefront of fighting the LRA,” said Coomaraswamy. Lord's Resistance Army chief Joseph Kony, like Ntaganda in DR Congo, is wanted by the ICC.
With groups like the Taliban and Shebab, which are “just very contemptuous of the international community” and refuse to negotiate, the only response is public appeals and mobilizing local populations against the groups, Coomaraswamy said.
Community action in Afghanistan has brought down the number of attacks on schools.
US: Severe droughts, floods and heat waves rocked the world last year as greenhouse gas levels climbed, boosting the odds of some extreme weather events, international scientists said Tuesday. The details are contained in the annual State of the Climate report, compiled by nearly 400 scientists from 48 countries and published in the peer-reviewed Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
The report itself remains “consciously conservative” when it comes to attributing the causes of certain weather events to climate change, and instead refers only to widely understood phenomena such as La Nina.
However, it is accompanied for the first time by a separate analysis that explains how climate change may have influenced certain key events, from droughts in the US and Africa to extreme cold and warm spells in Britain.
“2011 was notable for many extreme weather and climate events. La Nina played a key role in many, but certainly not all of them,” said Tom Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Climatic Center. Last year was among the 15 warmest since records began in the late 1800s, and the Arctic warmed at about twice the rate of lower latitudes with sea ice at below average levels, according to the report.
Greenhouse gases from human pollution sources like coal and gas reached a new high, with carbon dioxide emissions exceeding 390 parts per million -- up 2.10 parts per million from 2010 -- for the first time since modern records began.
Despite the natural cooling trend brought by back-to-back La Nina effects, which chill waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, 2011 was among the 12 highest years on record for global sea surface temperatures. The double La Nina punch influenced many of the world's significant weather events, like historic droughts in East Africa, the southern US and northern Mexico, said the report.
US: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have reached a "private" settlement less than two weeks after she announced their bombshell divorce -- and vowed Monday to honor each other's beliefs over their daughter.
The Hollywood pair issued a joint statement pledging to act in the "best interests" of six-year-old Suri, and to take account of their "respective beliefs" in her upbringing -- an apparent reference to Scientology.
The announcement heads off what some had expected could be acrimonious haggling over the divorce, amid reports Holmes was concerned about the role of the Church of Scientology in their daughter's life.
"The case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life," her lawyer Jonathan Wolfe said.
No details of the settlement terms were given, but Holmes and Cruise's joint statement said: "We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri's best interests.
"We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents," they added. AFP
S Korea: Park Geun-Hye, the daughter of an assassinated dictator, officially launched her bid Tuesday to become South Korea's first female president, with polls placing her as frontrunner in December's election.
The veteran politician, who is expected to secure the ruling conservative New Frontier Party's nomination at its primary next month, softened her message in a speech apparently intended to broaden her appeal beyond conservatives.
Pledging to work for a fair and transparent market economy, Park, 60, vowed to expand welfare and push for "economic democratisation" amid a widening wealth gap and high youth unemployment in Asia's fourth largest economy.
"Our economy has excessively emphasised efficiency and disregarded the importance of fairness, resulting in an increased income gap and imbalances," she told cheering supporters at a shopping plaza in western Seoul.
"I will... create a government that boldly and resolutely enforces laws to make influential companies fulfill their social responsibilities," she said. AFP
LIBYA: Libya's electoral commission on Monday begun unveiling preliminary results for the nation's first free polls, with the liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA) ahead in two western constituencies.
But the NFA scored a blistering defeat in the city of Misrata, where party party candidates were vying for four seats in the 200-member national assembly, and came fourth with only 6,561 of the votes. It trailed behind the Union for the Homeland, a small party led by a local politician, which scooped 20,606 votes.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party came in second in Misrata with 17,165 of the votes and the National Front, an Islamist party, third with 11,537 votes. Following elections for a national assembly, the first free vote since the ouster of Moamer Kadhafi, the commission is releasing results constituency by constituency in a process that will take at least four days.
In Janzur, a suburb of the capital, which will have three seats in the assembly, the liberal NFA coalition scored a crushing victory with 26,798 votes against 2,423 for second place Justice and Construction Party. AFP
RUSSIA: Russia said Tuesday it wanted to host a new meeting of foreign powers concerning the Syria crisis but stressed that the talks should not decide the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said the attempt made in Geneva on June 30 to save international envoy Kofi Annan's tattered peace plan for the crisis needed to be continued with the involvement countries such as Iran.
"We would welcome organising another Contact Group meeting in Moscow. But we would also not be opposed to Geneva if special representative (Annan) and group participants find this more appropriate," he told the Interfax news agency. AFP
JAPAN: Japan pressed Southeast Asian nations on Tuesday to lift curbs on its exports imposed after last year’s earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Speaking at a regional summit, Tsuyoshi Michael Yamaguchi, Japan’s senior vice-minister for foreign affairs, called for a review of restrictions introduced amid fears some agricultural produce could be contaminated by radiation. “I wanted to ask countries to relax or lift restrictions... based on scientific data,” Yamaguchi told reporters at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Phnom Penh.
“People will find that there’s no more danger,” he said, adding the perception of Japanese goods as being contaminated “was not the case.” Yamaguchi earlier told the gathering of ASEAN foreign ministers -- to which Japan, China and South Korea are also invited -- that he hoped for “fruitful discussions” on the issue.
His comments came a day after Japan posted poor economic figures, underscoring fears about a recovery for the world’s third-largest economy amid turmoil in Europe, a key export market.
Meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in the aftermath of last year’s March 11 tsunami sent radioactive particles into the air and water, contaminating crops grown near the power station and polluting waters where seafood is harvested. The Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia were among a host of countries to impose restrictions on some Japanese produce after the disaster.
Exports of Japanese farm products -- once prized by its neighbours for quality -- fell 7.4 percent in 2011 from the previous year while overseas sales of marine products slumped nearly 11 percent. In April, Japan agreed to try to double trade with ASEAN’s 10 members over the next decade.
According to the World Bank, Japan is already the largest foreign investor in Thailand and the Philippines, and the second or third largest in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. AFP
American adults may boost their life expectancy by two years by sitting for fewer than three hours a day, researchers said Tuesday, while admitting this was a tough task.
Reducing television viewing to under two hours a day could similarly add 1.4 years, the US team said in a paper in the online journal BMJ Open.
A recent study found that US adults spend about 7.7 hours per day engaged in “sedentary behaviour”.
‘We are concerned about the situation in Syria’:
RUSSIA: Russia will not supply new weapons to its Arab ally Syria while fighting there continues, Moscow arms export officials said Monday, while stressing that old contracts would be fulfilled.
“Russia like other countries is concerned about the situation in Syria,” Russian agencies quoted Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the deputy head of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation, as saying.
“We are not talking about new deliveries of new weapons to this country,” the Russian official said at the Farnborough Airshow. “Until the situation stabilises, no shipments of new weapons will be made.” Russia has long argued it has only been fulfilling existing contracts with Syria and is not supplying any of its most modern equipment under deals signed since the conflict began in March 2011.
Some of Russia's military enterprises are still conducting their own negotiations with Syria and strike deals that have, according to news reports, not been fulfilled up to this point.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said: “Obviously, if it were true, it would be a good sign but we are still seeking further clarification from the Russians.” “We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Russian government at a variety of levels. We have expressed our belief that continued arms sales to the regime will only further throw flames on the fire,” he added. AFP
Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) announced the successful implementation of the first phase of its ultra-high speed Broadband Network under its nation-wide network modernisation project i-Sri Lanka which has already driven an increase of 40,000 new broadband connections to the network.
Sri Lanka Telecom CEO Greg Young commenting on the i-Sri Lanka project said: “We are delivering against our strategy to evolve a world class broadband access network accessible to all Sri Lankans, to increase broadband penetration, which directly contributes to economic growth of the country.”
“We are transforming the traditional, copper based access network architecture to a high speed capable broadband network via NGN and FTTX, Young said.
The i-Sri Lanka project is due to be fully completed within a period of 18 months, at which time it will provide ultra-high speed broadband 20Mbps service to more than 90% of our customers by adding capacity for 600,000 new broadband customers to the network. Through the completion of the i-Sri Lanka project, SLT plans to increase the existing customer base of 300,000 customers to 600,000 over the next couple of years to ensure the one million SLT Megaline customers can enjoy broadband and PeoTV (triple play) services.
The government has decided to levy a registration fee of Rs 100,000 and an annual renewal fee of Rs 50,000 from each news website.
This will be done through an amendment of the Sri Lanka Press Council Law to make registration of newscasting websites compulsory, Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said at the Cabinet press briefing at the ministry yesterday.
He said Cabinet approval was granted for this on Wednesday. He said the law was effective for newly registering as well as already registered websites with the ministry.
The minister observed that the main objective of amending the Press Council law is to ensure the contents of the websites do not harm defenceless individuals.
He said that government has a responsibility to make sure that a regular pattern and a certain amount of dignity and decorum is maintained in the field of the media. He observed that the government is of the view that the time is ripe to bring in necessary amendments to the existing law to accommodate new technologies and new methodologies used in this sphere. He pointed out that if certain media are behaving irresponsibly, the government is bound to correct it. He noted that websites did not exist during the time when the Act was brought in 1973.
He said this move is a corrective measure initiated by the ministry. He requested the media to take up this move in the right spirit without narrowly looking at it as a politically driven intention.
"The media should pay proper attention to the language and content they disseminate to the people. He observed that even the so called five star democracies in the world are today talking of controlling websites," the minister said . The minister said the amendments would be presented to Parliament shortly. The minister also said that a revision of registration fee would be considered once again due to complaints that it is too high.
Information Department Director General Prof Ariyaratne Athugala and Information Director Wasanthapriya Ramanayake also participated.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
It was just a few days ago when a high street retailer conducted a poll to present a list of Hollywood ladies with the best cleavages of all time.
Based on what we all saw, we can say that Bollywood actresses would have proved to be tough competition, had they been included in the glorious list.
Here's looking at actresses with the best cleavages in the last five years!
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
The 38-year-old actress, one of the prettiest faces around, has a curvy body to boot.
Despite serious criticism of her post-baby body, the actress trumped us all with her glam avatar at Cannes 2012.
A bomb in a parked car killed seven people and wounded 20 on Friday when it exploded in the central Iraqi city of Ramadi, police and hospital sources.
The explosion in Ramadi, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, killed mostly women in a residential area, the sources said.
"We heard a big explosion and when we arrived at the scene found a car parked in the fire," said a police officer.
"The bodies were scattered everywhere and some houses were destroyed," he said, declining to be identified. He said police had begun to evacuate the wounded and cordoned off the area in case of explosions.
Five of the injured were in critical condition, a hospital source said.
Despite the violence in Iraq has declined since its peak in 2006-07, last month at least 237 people died and 603 were injured in the attacks, making it one of the bloodiest months since American troops withdrew late last year.
Iran's intelligence let the secret services of countries like Israel, Germany, France, Britain and the confused U.S., Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said, Mehr reported.
Moslehi was speaking before Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran recently to discuss the capture of the terrorist groups responsible for eaths several of Iran's nuclear scientists.
Iran Intelligence Agency issued a statement saying that the murderers who were responsible for the deaths of several of Iran's nuclear scientists, including Majid Shahriari, Fars.
Shahriari was killed in a terrorist bombing 2.010, while the university professor Fereidoon Abbasi (now Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran) miraculously survived the explosion.
Moslehi said that these established terrorist groups were brought together by the above countries, and orchestrated from the outside.
He said that world powers were wondering how Iran managed to catch these two groups at 6 months.
Moslehi, said Iranian intelligence ministry continues to protect the interests of the country, provide the necessary security and prevent enemies from harming Iran through Internet cyber-attacks.
MEXICO CITY: Enrique Peña Nieto decisively won Mexico's presidential election, the election office said on Friday, issuing the final voting results after a demand for a recount of his nearest rival.
Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who had challenged the provisional count, won 31.59 percent of the vote, against 38.21 percent for Peña Nieto, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, according to final results in the website independent Federal Electoral Institute.
IFE also gave Josefina Vazquez Mota, to govern the outgoing president, Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party, or PAN, 25.41 percent of the vote.
The results were announced after a vote by vote thorough recount of the results to a little over half the country's polling stations 143.144 which lasted longer than expected. It all started Wednesday and ended early Friday, a day late.
IFE executive director Benito Nacif told Formato 21 radio that the delay was due to "a large number of open tickets", and in some cases, lengthy discussions among election officials about some of the votes in doubt.
Lopez Obrador, who stated categorically that a massive vote-buying scheme had been used, had demanded a full recount.
The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) held a press conference Thursday afternoon by reiterating his claim that the PRI tried to "buy" votes by distributing 1.8 million gift cards worth "billions of pesos ".
He did, however, call for mass protests in the same way as it did in 2006, when he lost by less than one percent, said fraud and demonstrations that paralyzed Mexico City for over a month.
The young Peña Nieto, 45, a former governor of the populous state of Mexico, is married to the glamorous soap star Angelica Rivera and benefited from family connections with the powerful old guard of the PRI political as well as a smart the carefully orchestrated media appearances.
"All this is documented," Lopez Obrador said, adding that his leftist coalition filed complaints with election officials in early February. He noted that "millions of votes bought."
Peña Nieto of the PRI was synonymous with the Mexican state, and who ruled for seven decades until 2000 with a mixture of patronage, repression, rigged elections and bribery.
An anti-PRI "mega-march" has been announced for Saturday in Mexico City through online forums and leaflets delivered in the street, but it was unclear who is organizing it.
PAN also filed a complaint about alleged PRI cards of cash from the bank before the vote. The PRI, in turn filed complaints against two rivals who claim gifts to voters.
Vazquez Mota, the candidate of the ruling party, on Thursday, told reporters that campaign spending should be examined "very closely" - a glancing blow to the PRI. "We can not allow the illegal use of resources to go unpunished," he said.
Peña Nieto, who declared victory on Sunday, inherits a country ravaged by a brutal drug war and the economy of a struggle to create jobs.
Of course Mexico's next president moved quickly to try to dispel fears that the corrupt practices of the PRI's authoritarian turn could make a comeback.
"We are a new generation. We are not going to last. My government is looking to the future," he told foreign journalists on Monday.
World leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and Peña Nieto commended for his apparent victory.
- AFP / of
A woman in Arizona is facing child abuse charges after she admitted pouring beer into the cup to sip your 2 year old children.
Valerie Marie Topete was arrested this week after admitting to police action.
She reportedly told authorities that the child was "get saved" by his beer so poured into your cup. The child was not injured.
However, the 36-year-old now faces charges of child abuse.
According to the Phoenix Police Department, authorities were called to a pizza place in Phoenix on Tuesday night after witnesses reported seeing Topete poured beer on your child's sippy cup.
Witnesses said the boy drank the cup and was alone at the table with his sippy cup.
"The officers interviewed the suspect who made admissions to pour the beer into the glass, because the child continues to reach" the pitcher of beer, "Los Angeles Times quoted police in Phoenix, said in a statement.
"The mother told officers the child first drink of the cup, but later indicated that the child may have drunk some of the content," the statement said.
The child was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, and was later released to the care of his father.
CANADA: A one-time anorexic from Toronto turned world-class competitive eater clinched his fourth straight hamburger title in Washington on Tuesday on the eve of New York's iconic hot dog classic.
Peter Czerwinski, 24, ate 15 hamburgers in the space of 10 minutes at the Z-Burger Independence Burger Eating Championship to win a $1,000 prize plus a similar amount of gift cards for the local burger chain.
"Right now, I feel full, but I'm excited I defended my title," said Czerwinski, who holds Guinness records for eating a raw onion in 43.53 seconds and for swallowing the most Ferrero Rocher chocolates -- nine -- in a minute.
"Some people will find this very gross, but they're still watching. They can't turn away." Czerwinski, who claims to have won most of the competitive eating events that he has entered, was hospitalized for anorexia 10 years ago. Today, he lists bodybuilding among his passions.
In New York, world champion hot dog eaters prepared to flock to Coney Island on Wednesday, the Independence Day holiday in the United States, to determine who can wolf down the most wieners and buns in 10 minutes.
Some 40,000 people are expected to descend on Nathan's Famous hot dog stand on the iconic Brooklyn beach for the competitive eating classic that is held every Fourth of July. AFP
HONG KONG: China's secretive troops stationed in Hong Kong face a slew of restrictions to prevent them from indulging in the city's "capitalist lifestyle", a report said Wednesday, in a rare glimpse of their military life.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) took over defence duties in Hong Kong after Britain handed the southern Chinese city over in 1997, with operations long-shrouded in secrecy.
But after a rare visit granted to the South China Morning Post recently, the paper said the 6,000 troops led a life that was "cut off almost completely from a city that they train so rigorously to defend".
The soldiers, sailors and airmen are strictly confined to their 18 barracks across the semi-autonomous city, and have to spend even their weekly day off in their dormitories, prevented from engaging with the Hong Kong public. AFP
Polls opened Saturday for the first national elections in Libya in more than four decades through acts of sabotage in the east of the protesters who think that their region is under-represented in the new Congress.
In Tripoli, polling stations opened on time at 5 am GMT, with lines of eager voters to elect the National Congress, which will lead the country for a period of transition, a journalist, said.
"Words can not capture my joy, this is a historic day," said Omran Fawziya, 40, one of the first women in line at school, Ali Abdullah Warith in the heart of the capital.
Voters are presented wrapped in black flags, red and green - the colors adopted by the revolutionaries who overthrew the dictator long Muammar Gaddafi last year, mosques, while criticizing the singing of "God is great".
Libyans vote for a national assembly, the first election since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, after a series of acts of sabotage that have caused tensions in the east.
The vote will probably be a very different experience for residents of Tripoli, which has enjoyed a season of calm in the cities in eastern Libya, which have been subject to outbreaks of deadly violence and threats to disrupt the vote.
On Friday, the fire came a helicopter in eastern Libya, killing a poll worker.
Ian Martin, head of the United Nations mission to Libya, urged "all voters to exercise their hard-earned democratic rights to elect their representatives in Congress" while condemning the deadly attack.
The Brussels-based group International Crisis has warned that the electoral process in Libya is "endangered by armed protesters ... are threatening to disrupt voting in the eastern part of the country.
Also in the run up to elections, five oil facilities have been forced to cease production by the armed protesters who want a greater representation of this, at the entrance of 200 members of Congress.
Armed protesters on Sunday sacked the electoral commission office in Benghazi. Arsonists in nearby Ajdabiya later set fire to a warehouse with voting materials.
The composition of Congress has been a topic of heated debate, with political factions, as the federalist movement demanding more seats.
The decision of the National Transitional Council (CNT) said seats are distributed according to demographic considerations, with 100 seats going to the west, 60 east and 40 south.
However, the factions in the East wants an equal division of seats in the assembly and have threatened to sabotage the vote on Saturday, if this demand is not met.
The authorities dismiss these minority groups as a disruptive, noting that more than 2.7 million people, about 80 percent of the electorate, have registered to participate in the survey history.
Libya has not seen since the time of elections late monarch King Idris Gaddafi deposed in a bloodless coup in 1969.
Parties were banned as an act of treason for 42 years of Gaddafi iron-fisted rule. Now there are 142 parties to present candidates.
A total of 80 seats are reserved for party candidates, while 120 people are open to individual candidates. In all, 3,707 candidates are running in 72 districts across the country.
Since the parties, the coalition of former wartime Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril is seen as a key competitor among liberals, facing stiff competition from two Islamist parties - Justice and Development, and Al-Wattan.
The next Congress will have legislative powers and appoint an interim government. But no longer has the right to designate a constituent power, under a last-minute amendment issued by the NTC output.
The winds of spring began Arab Islamists to power in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, and can bring the same result on Saturday in the first national elections since the overthrow Gaddafi.
An uprising of February 2011 ended more than four decades of dictatorship that was killed, while in the long past October.
UK: Bob Diamond was set to face tough questions from British lawmakers on Wednesday, the day after he quit as Barclays chief executive and a bank rate-rigging scandal claimed a third top-level scalp.
Diamond, 60, stepped down from the top job on Tuesday over revelations that Barclays traders tried to manipulate inter-bank lending rates.
Barclays chief operating officer Jerry del Missier also resigned hours later over the affair, which claimed the job of the bank's chairman Marcus Agius on Monday. Diamond was facing questions on Wednesday by parliament's Treasury Select Committee, particularly over a phone conversation he had with Paul Tucker, the deputy governor of the Bank of England (BoE), in 2008. Lawmakers are likely to focus on whether or not the BoE was implicated in the manipulation of Libor - the rate at which banks offer to lend money to each other. On Tuesday, Barclays released Diamond's note to del Missier -- then president of the firm's investment banking arm Barclays Capital -- summarising his call with Tucker.
Barclays said that from this, "del Missier concluded that an instruction had been passed down from the Bank of England not to keep Libors so high and he therefore passed down a direction to that effect."
However, the bank added that: "Bob Diamond did not believe he received an instruction from Paul Tucker or that he gave an instruction to Jerry del Missier."
Agius told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that Missier had been "the most senior officer (at Barclays) who gave instructions to lower Libor rates. That obviously puts him in a very difficult position." AFP
INDIA: India and Pakistan's foreign secretaries were to meet yesterday to bolster a fragile peace dialogue undermined by political flux in Pakistan and fresh tensions over the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
A senior Indian government official said the talks in New Delhi between Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani had the sole aim of keeping the “dialogue process on track.”
Their meeting was to have taken place at the end of last month, but was postponed in the uncertainty that followed the Pakistani Supreme Court's dismissal of Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister.
Analysts said the upheaval in Islamabad had taken some of the momentum out of the peace dialogue between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals, who have fought three wars since the sub-continent was partitioned in 1947.
Moreover, the atmosphere has been soured by India's arrest of a man suspected of being a key handler for the 10 Pakistan-based militants who carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, killing 166 people.
India says the suspect has admitted helping to coordinate the deadly assault from a command post in Karachi, and his testimony has renewed Indian accusations that “state elements” in Pakistan were involved.
“The blame game has started again and the secretaries' meeting comes at a crucial juncture,” said Wilson John, a foreign policy analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank in New Delhi.
“Too much heat and dust has been stirred up at various levels.” AFP
RUSSIA: Western nations led by the United States are seeking to persuade Russia to host President Bashar AL-Assad in exile as a way out of the escalating Syria crisis, a Russian newspaper report said Wednesday.
But Moscow so far has not been receptive to the idea, even though Kremlin sources put Assad's chances of political survival at “10 percent”, the Kommersant daily said.
Quoting a Russian diplomatic source, Kommersant said Western nations led by the United States were making “active attempts” to persuade Russia to offer a home to Assad, whose fate has become a major sticking point in the crisis.
But the source added: “We (Russia) have no and have had no plans to host Assad.” Russia and other world powers at a meeting in Geneva on Saturday agreed a plan for a transition in Syria which did not make an explicit call for Assad to quit power.
However much to Russia's annoyance, several Western states have since said the accord clearly implies that there is no future for Assad. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday accused the West of seeking to “distort” the agreement.
But Kommersant said that Russia was not protecting Assad personally and the positions of Moscow and the West were not as distant as their public statements indicated.
“We are not defending Assad,” it quoted a source close to the Kremlin as saying.
“The Syrian president has lost time. The chances of him holding out are not great -- 10 percent. And we are not against the Syrian opposition. But we are against outside armed intervention in Syria,” the source added.
Russia has been under sustained pressure from the West to publicly call for Assad to quit amid a spiralling conflict that has already claimed over 15,000 lives but Moscow has rejected imposing any outside solution.
US: US President Barack Obama saluted 25 newly-minted US citizens on Wednesday in an Independence Day pitch for immigration reform four months before he faces re-election.
“Immigration makes us more prosperous,” Obama told the active duty service members originally from 17 countries -- including Bolivia, El Salvador, Nigeria and Ukraine --during a ceremony at the White House. “And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had administered the oath of allegiance to the group in the East Room as guests looked on. In a historic development last month, five months before he faces re-election, Obama suspended the deportations of young illegal immigrants under 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16.
The plan was largely welcomed by the Latino community and analysts say it could boost Obama's chances for re-election on November 6. In his comments Wednesday, Obama referenced his administration's recent move and called for more steps to be taken, saying “the story of immigrants in America isn't a story of 'them,' it's a story of 'us.'” “For just as we remain a nation of laws, we have to remain a nation of immigrants,” Obama said. “It's why we need -- why America's success demands -- comprehensive immigration reform.” Specifically, Obama called for the so-called DREAM act -- a bill that aims to lead young illegal immigrants to permanent residency that has been blocked by his Republican opponents -- to be given another chance in Congress.
There are 11.5 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, mostly of Hispanic origin, and efforts to deal with their status have foundered over sharp political divisions.
Obama promised to work towards comprehensive immigration reform when he ran for office four years ago but has made little progress. AFP
Friday, July 6, 2012
Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday said that no power cuts will be imposed in the country though water levels in hydro-power reservoirs have dropped drastically due to the drought.
The CEB loses Rs 200 million daily as it relies on fuel guzzling thermal power. But is has provided a subsidy worth around Rs 17 billion for household electricity users as well as for industries. The thermal plants alone can generate around 1,500MWs and to meet the daily peak capacity, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) can use the remaining hydro-power and supply electricity without power cuts, he added.
The minister was addressing a press briefing at the Power and Energy Ministry to explain the current situation with regard to electricity supplies in the context of the prevailing drought.
Inter-monsoonal and monsoon rains were interrupted thrice for the first time and it is the reason for the drop in water levels in the hydro power reservoirs in the country, he said.
As a result of the drop in water levels, 85 percent out of the total daily power requirement had to be provided through thermal power.
“The Victoria and Lakshapana reservoirs are the main hydro power reservoirs in the country and they still have enough water levels to generate hydro power requirement. Sri Lanka’s daily power requirement is around 31 gigawatts and seven gigawatts out of the total is generated by hydro power,” Minister Patali explained.
Denying the various allegations on the reasons for the reservoirs running dry, the minister asserted that the drought condition was the only reason for the power crisis.
“Sri Lanka is the only country which provides a 24 hour electricity supply at fair rates. The government has already provided electricity to most parts of the country and it will provide electricity to the whole country by the year 2016, “ he said.
“The power generation capacity in hydro-power reservoirs had fallen to low levels because of the drought forcing the CEB to use more thermal power plants,” the minister said.
The ministry urged the public to pay attention towards energy conservation not merely at peak time, but, also throughout the day.
The minister stated that this is not a personal request or a request made according to a personal agenda. This is a national request made according to a national agenda.
It is up to the people to act in a manner that would eliminate the need to impose power cuts,the minister further stated.Power and Energy Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara, CEB Vice Chairman Anura Wijayapala, Deputy General Manager (System Control) T.D.Handagama were also present.