Friday, February 27, 2009

Asian stock markets mixed as economic fears weigh

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stock markets were narrowly mixed Friday, with Japan's benchmark up more than 1 percent, as persistent worries about the deteriorating world economy and financial system sidelined many investors.

Trade was listless throughout the region after a bruising, volatile month that saw Asia's export-driven economies sink deeper into recession amid collapsing global demand and their currencies wither.

Sentiment was buoyed somewhat after the British government said Thursday it would prop up ailing banks by allowing them access to government insurance against future losses on toxic assets. Combined with additional bailout measures in the U.S., the action helped lift Asian banking shares.

But most investors seem to be holding back as the flood negative of news about the global economy showed no signs of letting up.

The recession's toll on global economies widened Thursday as Royal Bank of Scotland and General Motors Corp. reported billions more in losses. In the U.S., reeling financial giant Citigroup, which has already taken billions in government aid, was nearing a deal to give the government an ever bigger owernship stake, as much as 40 percent.

And in Asia Friday, figures showed that Japan's industrial production plunged a record 10 percent in January from February as manufacturers continued to slash output. Household spending and retail sales also fell. India's economic growth sputtered to a worse-than expected 5.3 percent in the last quarter_ the slowest in about six years.

Until there was evidence sweeping government measures to jump-start the global economy were starting to work, equities markets were likely to remain lackluster, traders said.

"Confidence remains really beaten up," said Miles Remington, head of Asian sales trading at BNP Paribas Securities in Hong Kong. "Internationally the picture is very negative. A lot of people are very happy to be sitting on the sidelines."

The Nikkei 225 stock average rose 110.49 points, or 1.5 percent, to 7,568.42 — finishing the month down nearly 4 percent and extending this year's losses to almost 15 percent.

In Hong Kong, Hang Seng edged down 14.05, or 0.1 percent, to 12,880.89 in a back-and-forth session. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 1,063.03.

Elsewhere, India's slumping growth figures sent the country's main index tumbling by 2 percent. China's Shanghai benchmark dropped 1.8 percent as investors continued to pocket gains from the market's recent rally. Singapore also sank.

In the U.S., major stock indexes gave up early leads to close lower, with health care stocks bearing the brunt of the selling. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 88.81, or 1.2 percent, to 7,182.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12.07, or 1.6 percent.

U.S. stock index futures were up modestly.

In currencies, the dollar shed some if its recent gains, falling to 97.80 yen from 98.27 yen. The euro trade higher at $1.2715.

Oil prices weakened in Asian trade after an overnight rally. Light, sweet crude for April delivery down 51 cents at $44.71 a barrel. On Thursday, the contract jumped $2.72, or 6.4 percent, to settle at $45.22 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Helan Mountain Guangzong Temple (the South Temple) Ecological Tourism District

Located in the southern foot of Helan Mountain, 90 kilometers from Yinchuan and 30 kilometers from Bayanhot, the district integrates Tibetan buddhism culture with natural sceneries of Helan Mountain. Helan Mountain is in the middle southern periphery of the Mongolian plateau, the biggest one going from the south to north across the northwestern part of China. With 520,000 mu of natural secondary forest, the district is a State grade natural protection area, national forest park and an important ecological barrier in the north-western part of China. With a total area of 50 square kilometers, Helan Guangzong Temple was built in 1756 to 1760 and named by the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing dynasty, the Guangzong Temple, which is famous among Mongolian and Tibetan religious circles for the mortal body tope of the sixth Dalailama enshrined and worshiped therein. With complete set of basic facilities and service functions, the tourist district possesses natural and calm environment which makes people completely relaxed and reluctant to part with.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Package Looks to Science to Grow Economy and Jobs

(Washington, DC) –Today, the House Appropriations Committee released an executive summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, which included substantial funding for agencies under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Science and Technology and funding for enacted legislation that originated in the Committee.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 will strengthen American competitiveness, create high-quality jobs, and improve access to clean, affordable energy,” said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “Research and development have an incredible return on investment for our nation. The U.S. spends less than 3% of the GDP on research and development, but almost half of the growth in GDP over the past 50 years is a result of developing and adopting new technologies. Innovation—especially new energy technologies—is the path to solving climate change, meeting our growing needs for energy, reinvigorating our economy, and ensuring our competitiveness over the long-term. Funding for science, technology and new kinds of infrastructure will help address the underlying problem—our economic competitiveness. If we do not take action, we could create jobs now, only to lose them in the future to foreign competition.”

The Appropriations bill funds the America COMPETES Act at or above the authorized levels. COMPETES creates and strengthens science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs, sets basic research in the physical sciences on a path to double funding in seven years, supports young researchers by expanding early career grant programs, and addresses our need for innovation. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill includes: $3 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF); $1.9 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) basic research into the physical sciences and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities; and $400 million to establish the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency. It includes $300 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting standards for manufacturing.

The Appropriations bill will promote energy independence and clean energy. It includes $11 billion to create a Reliable, Efficient Electricity Grid, a portion of which is will promote research and development, pilot projects, and federal matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electricity grid making it more efficient, secure, and reliable. The legislation includes $2.4 billion for clean fossil energy for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects. It includes $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities to foster energy independence, reduce carbon emissions, and cut utility bills. Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to universities, companies, and national laboratories.

The legislation includes $600 million in funding for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year.

The legislation includes $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

£1.4m Programme to tackle child obesity launched

The £1.4million scheme will target around 2,000 children aged between 7-13 years old and their families over the next three years. It’s the first time that this type of scheme for children will have run on a national level in any country. By international standards Welsh children are comparatively more overweight or obese than in other nations. Around one in five 13 year olds are overweight or obese and many obese children grow up to be obese adults.

Families will take part in a free 10 week course with others in a similar position, combining practical learning about healthy eating – including shopping on a budget – and stimulating active enjoyment of physical activity. Rather than focusing on weight loss, the programme uses an interactive learning approach to teach parents, carers and children weight management skills. Families will also be offered follow-up contact including reunion events and telephone support.

The programme – Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do It! or MEND for short – was devised by experts in child health at the world-renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the University College London Institute of Child Health. Launching the programme, Dr Tony Jewell, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said:

Being overweight can be tough for children both physically and emotionally. Caring for an overweight or obese child can be difficult too, especially if they lack confidence or feel depressed because of their size.

We have evidence that shows the programme raises individuals’ self esteem and supports them in making healthier choices.

It’s vital that we tackle the obesity issue. Welsh children’s rates of obesity are already too high and are increasing. Overweight or obese children are also more likely to be overweight or obese adults. More than half – 57 per cent – of all adults in Wales are already overweight or obese.

The programme has already been run on a limited basis in four areas of Wales. Paul Sacher, founder and research director, MEND, said:

Many parents of bigger children don’t realise that their child is above the healthy weight range for their height and age, or put it down to ‘puppy fat’ that will disappear as their child grows older.

However, being overweight or obese as a child is a serious condition. Overweight children suffer physically and emotionally and it can lead to serious health problems in later life.

MEND programmes help boost children’s self-esteem while changing the way everyone in the family thinks about what they eat and being active. Children and parents also meet others who are in a very similar position so they form their own supportive network.

For families that are not able to be included in the MEND programme, a range of resource materials to inform families on how to eat more healthily and introduce more physical activity into their lives is being rolled out through the Assembly Government’s Health Challenge Wales programme. The programme encourages people to take small steps to eat a healthier diet and take more physical activity.