記事原文 RESERVE Bank board member Warwick McKibbin has warned that Australia is being caught up in a global bubble that could hit us much harder than the global financial crisis and expose the weaknesses of Labor's economic settings. Professor McKibbin told The Australian the bubble in global commodity prices and property markets in Asia threatened to dwarf the US housing market bubble that led to the GFC in 2008. He warned that the inevitable bursting of the bubble would reverse the surge in Australia's record high terms of trade, push down the dollar and leave the Reserve Bank struggling to fight off rising global inflation pressures. "This is shaping to be much bigger than 2004 to 2007," he said in comparing the new excess of global liquidity with the global financial bubble that led to the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s. "This cycle is even bigger." Professor McKibbin suggested the surge in global liquidity fuelled by US monetary expansion had echoes of the early 1970s surge in food, mining and energy prices that led to global "stagflation", or the combination of high inflation and high unemployment. The Reserve Bank meets tomorrow and is expected to keep official interest rates on hold following a week in which political instability in North Africa and the Middle East has pushed oil to more than $US100 ($98) a barrel.
記事原文 Monday, 28 February 2011 11:19 Capital gains in the property market remained soft in January due to the natural disasters in Queensland, with prices for capital city homes falling by a seasonally adjusted 1.6% to $465,000, according to the latest figures from the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Home Value Index. The figures show that prices for city properties are down by 2.3% for the three months to January, and are up by only 1.2% over the year. For the rest of the country, prices fell by 0.1% in January, by 0.8% in the January quarter and by 0.3% over the year to January, to a median price of $412,000. The lack of confidence in property has been evident in Brisbane, where clearance rates and the number of properties on sale each weekend has dropped substantially from this time last year. He points out with the variable mortgage rate above average at 7.8%, clearance rates below average and a larger than usual number of properties still up for sale, "the level of vendor discounting and average selling times has risen". For the individual cities, results were poor for the January quarter. The biggest declines were in Canberra, where prices fell by 3.8% to $510,000, Perth by 2.6% to $463,000 and in Brisbane by 3.2% to $438,000. Price falls were also recorded in Darwin, which fell 1.4% to $495,000, in Adelaide by 1.3% to $392,000 and in Melbourne by 1.9% to $483,000. Sydney values also fell by 1.4% to $515,000. Hobart was the only city to record a price increase over the quarter, but only managed a minimal gain of 0.6% to $330,500. The highest rental yields were recorded in Darwin, with 5.3% for houses and 5.7% for units, while Melbourne recorded the lowest yields of 3.7% for houses and 4.2% for units. Over the year, results have been minimal. Darwin recorded the highest gains at 4.7%, followed by Melbourne at 3.6%, Sydney at 2.5%, Hobart at 2.2%, Adelaide at 2%, while Canberra fell by 0.6%. Perth and Brisbane both recorded large declines over the year, falling by 3.7% and 3.8% respectively. But according to RP Data and Rismark, the current results are only an anomaly and the rest of the year should be able to produce some solid, if not subdued, capital gains. "However, it is noteworthy that the futures market is not pricing in the first full interest rate increase until February 2012. If the RBA stays on the sidelines in 2011 there will be material upside risks to our forecasts." Lawless says there is good reason to be hopeful, saying that overall disposable household incomes have been growing at 6-7% annualised, and "the interest rate outlook appears to be stable over the short-term". Skilbeck added that the RBA is looking to temper activity in the household sector to make room for a resources boom. If commodity prices drop, the RBA will drop interest rates and use housing to stimulate demand. "The housing market is therefore a powerful hedge against Australia's resources boom running off the rails. A reduction in interest rates will unleash a strong affordability dividend given that house prices have gone nowhere for six months now while household incomes have been rising quickly."
記事本文 Breast milk ice-cream is a hit in London Ice-cream made with breast milk has proved a big hit in a London restaurant, with the first batch sold out within days, its makers say. The ice-cream, called Baby Gaga, is made with milk expressed by 15 women who replied to an advertisement posted on an online mothers' forum. Each serving of Baby Gaga at the Icecreamists cafe in trendy Covent Garden costs STG14 ($A22.38). One of the milk donors, Victoria Hiley, 35, said if adults realised how tasty breast milk was then more new mothers would feel happier about breastfeeding. She expressed the milk at the cafe and it was pasteurised before lemon zest and vanilla pods were added during the churning process. Hiley, who is paid STG15 ($A24) for every 10 ounces (284g) of milk she donates to the company, told the BBC: 'What's the harm in using my assets for a bit of extra cash?' The founder of Icecreamists, Matt O'Connor, said he could not understand people being squeamish about the product. 'If it's good enough for our children, it's good enough for the rest of us,' he said. 'Some people will hear about it and go yuck - but actually it's pure organic, free-range and totally natural.' A spokeswoman for Icecreamists said despite the success of Baby Gaga there were currently no plans to market the breast milk ice-cream more widely.
記事本文 Vale claims it outperforms BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto MINING giant Vale expects "a very, very good year" in 2011, following the company's record financial results in 2010, chief executive Roger Agnelli said today. "2010 was the best," Mr Agnelli told analysts on a conference call. "And higher output of all our products, including iron ore, nickel and copper will make 2011 a very, very good year for Vale." Global copper prices look set to reach record highs this year, the Vale CEO said. The Brazilian company reported fourth-quarter net profits of $US5.917 billion ($5.8bn), a near four-fold increase from $US1.519bn in the same 2009 period, beating analysts' estimates. Annual 2010 net profits leapt to an all-time record of $US17.264bn, stripping 21 per cent ahead of its previous best performance in 2008. Revenues, profit margins and investments also reached record levels, bringing the company a better performance than its peers BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, XStrata and Anglo American, Vale said.
記事本文 JAPAN TO DONATE TO VICTIMS OF KILLER NEW ZEALAND QUAKE Reuters February 25, 2011, 4:23 pm Japanese rugby will make a donation to the victims of the devastating earthquake which killed over 100 people earlier this week in Christchurch, officials said on Friday. "The Japan and New Zealand rugby unions have a strong bond and we feel the deepest sympathy
記事本文 Robot marathon kicks off in Japan 24/2/2011 TOKYO (AFP) – The world's first full-length marathon for two-legged robots kicked off in Japan on Thursday, with the toy-sized humanoids were due to run 42.195 kilometres (26 miles) over four days. The machines began the non-stop race on a 100-metre (109-yard) indoor track in the western city of Osaka after doing knee bends or raising their hands to greet spectators. The bipedal robots -- the tallest of which measures 44 centimetres (17.6 inches) -- must complete 423 laps to reach their goal. The "Robo Mara Full" race is organised by Vstone Co., a robot technology firm based in the western industrial city, in cooperation with the Osaka prefectural government. Competitors are allowed to change batteries and the so-called servomotors which control the robots' speed and other functions. Robovie-PC from Vstone led the race at the start. Video footage from a camera in its head can be seen at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/robovie-pc. A wide view of the race can be seen live at tinyurl.com/4jdubqt
記事本文 AAP February 24, 2011 6:15PM Japan seeks help on Sea Shepherd JAPAN has pleaded with the Australian government to prevent Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling vessels from leaving port. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Dennis Richardson says Japan sometimes asks Australia to do things it cannot do. "They have for instance asked us at times to prevent the Sea Shepherd leaving Australian ports," Mr Richardson told a Senate estimates hearing. "And we can't legally do that." Australia would not intervene to stop peaceful protest, he said. "We have stated that to the Japanese on numerous occasions," Mr Richardson said. The Japanese government last week confirmed it was cutting short this season's whale hunt, citing harassment from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Activists from the US-based Sea Shepherd have pursued the Japanese fleet for weeks to keep its harpoon ships from killing whales. Mr Richardson said Japan's announcement was "encouraging". "But I think it would be premature to jump to a view that it reflects a change in policy," he said.
記事原文 Japan rejects BHP bid for monthly coal pricing
Japan's JFE Steel has rejected BHP Billiton's proposal for monthly pricing for coking coal, rather than the quarterly pricing arrangement that was introduced last year, according to reports. Japan's Nikkei newspaper recently reported that BHP Billiton had told Japanese steelmakers including Sumimoto Metals Industries about its plans to shorten the pricing cycle for coking coal, starting from April. JFE president Eiji Hayashida told a news conference that the steel maker was strongly opposed to such a change and would never accept it. "Such a shift will make steelmakers' earnings unpredictable, and steel-using companies will not be able to draw up stable production plans if prices change frequently," he said. BHP Billiton last year drove the move away from annual pricing settlements for both coal and iron ore to quarterly pricing arrangements when spot prices rose above benchmark prices. UBS analysts said this prompted steep falls in steelmakers' profits as they struggled to pass higher input costs onto customers. BHP Billiton was not immediately available for comment and does not usually comment on pricing. BHP shares were off 28 cents to $46.29 in a broadly weaker market.
記事原文 Politicians, Islam, Refugees and truth ACT Greens Multicultural Affairs spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, today called on politicians from all parties to show leadership in developing greater understanding of different religions in the ACT community in the wake of a Challenging Racism Project survey. The survey revealed that while the ACT did better then other states, the Territory still has an alarmingly high number of people (41%) who have an ‘anti-Muslim concern’. “The results of the Challenging Racism Project are startling and show that as a nation, we have a long way to go in terms of understanding and accepting difference in our society,” Ms Bresnan said.
“These statistics show a general lack of understanding towards Islam and the contribution Muslims make to our community.
“The use of asylum seekers and refugees, many of whom are Muslim, as political footballs by both major parties has continued over a number of elections, with misleading and false depictions of ‘queue jumpers’ and ‘illegal immigrants’. “Politicians should instead be clearly explaining to Australians the reality; that refugees who arrive in Australia by boat are usually coming from desperate situations in countries where they can’t apply for a visa or other documentation to leave. “They must also promote the many benefits of ethnic and religious diversity for all Australians. I believe the ACT is a great example of many ethnic and religious groups living in a harmonious and vibrant community. “Events such as the Multicultural Festival promote cultural respect through food and dance, but do not include any religious elements, and a positive reaction to the results of this survey would be an expansion of policy to take on this issue. “The Greens want the Government to review grass roots projects such as the Interfaith and Intercultural Understanding in School Settings project that was piloted in NSW to further improve understanding,” Ms Bresnan said today.
記事原文 Battling US for huge deal, Eurofighter woos Japan TOKYO – In a deal that could be worth billions of dollars and determine one of the primary fighter jets in Asia for decades to come, European aircraft makers are trying to convince Japan to do something it has never done before — snub America. U.S. planes have long been Tokyo's overwhelming favorite, but Japan appears to be wobbling under a strong sales pitch for the Eurofighter Typhoon, coupled with problems and restrictions that have made the American alternatives less attractive. The stakes are high. The contract is expected to be worth upward of $10 billion, and the chosen plane will be the showcase aircraft for Washington's chief ally in the region at a time when both China and Russia are modernizing their air forces. Going European, some analysts say, also could complicate future U.S.-Japan air defense cooperation. Lobbying has intensified as Japan nears a long-delayed decision on what will be its next generation of fighters, or "F-X" fighters, after it retires much of its current fleet. The deal is expected to involve 40 or 50 new planes. Because of Japan's close military ties with Washington, options such as the Lockheed F-35 and Boeing F/A-18 have long been the top contenders, and analysts say the U.S. advantage remains strong. But the four-country consortium that builds the Eurofighter is benefiting from a tail wind created by the U.S. decision not to sell Japan what it really wanted — the stealthy F-22 "Raptor" — and by production delays and cost overruns that have shadowed the F-35. "Eurofighter Typhoon is the most capable aircraft available to Japan. It is the world's leading multi-role platform with outstanding air-to-air capability," Jon Bonnick, a spokesman for the British BAE Systems division spearheading the Eurofighter deal, told The Associated Press in an e-mail. The plane is built by a consortium of European military manufacturers led by BAE Systems PLC, the German-French EADS NV and Italy's Finmeccanica SpA. Planners in Tokyo have been alarmed by the rapidly advancing capabilities of neighboring China, which recently rolled out its next-generation stealth fighter, the much-touted Chengdu J-20. Though that fighter may be years away from actual operations, it is seen as a rival to the F-22 and far superior to what Japan now has. Even without the J-20 shock, Japan was under increasing pressure to replace its aging F-4EJ and F-15 fighters. It had initially planned to make a decision in 2007, but has repeatedly pushed back its deadline amid budget and bureaucratic battles. "This is an issue we must consider," Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa told parliament last week. Some lawmakers have promoted a Japanese-made alternative, but Kitazawa said that was not under consideration. The U.S. Congress nixed the F-22 over concerns about maintaining the secrecy of the aircraft's advanced technologies. Now, delays suggest the F-35, another stealthy, state-of-the-art option, will not be available until 2020, which could leave a longer-than-acceptable gap for Japan. Enter the Eurofighter, which is not as advanced as the F-22 or F-35 — known as fifth-generation fighters_ but is already in service. The supersonic aircraft, which made its first flight in 1994, is used by six countries: Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Austria and Saudi Arabia. Its makers are looking to sell the fighter to Greece, Denmark, Romania, Qatar and India. It is believed to cost about $100 million per aircraft. A big part of the Eurofighter sales pitch is that it will not tightly restrict the transfer of technology, which means some of it could eventually be built in Japan — a significant plus for Japanese planners concerned with domestic industry. The U.S. options may not be as generous. "Japan clearly wants a fifth-generation fighter, but if nothing is available, then they will look at what they can buy and also get licensing to build," said Michael Auslin, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. "The Eurofighter group has offered Tokyo lots of sweeteners, including industrial participation," he said. "If the U.S. side can't come up with something equally attractive, then I think it will be difficult for Tokyo to choose a less beneficial deal." Christopher Hughes, a Japan specialist and political scientist at the University of Warwick, said he believes Tokyo may go for the Eurofighter as a gap-filler, then buy the F-35 once it is ready. "My feeling is that the Eurofighter might have a chance, but not as the main F-X," he said. "It ticks a lot of boxes and is ready to go, and whilst not cheap, probably nowhere near as costly as the F-35." Working against the Eurofighter is Japan's track record — it has always bought American. The primary reasons are political and practical. Washington is Tokyo's main ally, and roughly 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan under a security pact. Japan's air forces must work closely with their American counterparts, and using the same or similar equipment makes that easier. "A U.S. platform for F-X would help ensure that these strong military ties continue in the future, with all the corresponding benefits to the stability and security of Japan and the region as a whole," said U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde. Boeing said it remains confident it has the best plane. "We believe the F/A-18EF Super Hornet Block II is the most realistic option for Japan's F-X," said Jim Armington, a vice president at Boeing Defense Systems. Choosing the Typhoon could lead to some bumps ahead for Japan, Auslin said "Not to have what we assume will be the most capable fighter available to allies, the F-35, I think would cause difficulties down the road," he said. "Especially as Chinese and Russian air forces modernize, Japan would not be operating at the level of other U.S. allies, like Great Britain, Australia, and even South Korea." BAE System's Bonnick said Eurofighter's track record of working with the U.S. and NATO should dispel such concerns. The Europeans may also be willing to try harder than the U.S. to get the deal — the Eurofighter is badly in need of some victories on the sales front. Last year, Italian Minister Ignazio La Russa said his country will reduce its order of Eurofighter jets by 25 planes to save euro2 billion ($2.6 billion), while the U.K. is considering defense cuts of up to 20 percent. F-35 EURO FIGHTER TYPHOON
記事原文 New Zealand a blackspot for seismic activity Tuesday February 22 2011 New Zealand records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year because it is on a blackspot for seismic activity. The south-western Pacific country is on the boundary of two tectonic plates - and will always be vulnerable to natural disasters like Tuesday's which killed more than 60 people. The tragedy - the country's worst quake in 80 years - was directly related to other huge tremors which hit New Zealand last September damaging around 100,000 homes, an expert said. That quake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, was one of about 150 that are felt annually though fewer than 10 a year cause any damage. Yesterday's quake would have been an "aftershock", said Professor Ernest Rutter, of Manchester University's structural geology department. "The September quake was much bigger than last night's," he said. "This one is seen as an aftershock, right under the city centre and very shallow. "Aftershocks are incredibly variable. "The main shock was about magnitude 7 but it was a number of miles west of Christchurch and that wasn't as damaging because it was deeper and away from the city centre but the aftershock can rumble on for many many months in the order of magnitude 5. "They don't just happen and switch off." The city, home to about 350,000 people and a gateway to the south island, was still rebuilding from that quake and a December aftershock when the latest one hit. New Zealand sits within a "ring of fire" - an arc of volcanic and earthquake zones taking in the south Pacific, eastern Indonesia, Japan and into Alaska. These areas, because they are so close to plate boundaries, are more likely to be hit by quakes when plates start moving as the earth tries to release heat. "All these places are going to have recurring earthquakes," said Prof Rutter. George Helffrich, professor of seismology at the University of Bristol, said: "There's no escaping this. "Like Japan, which is on the boundary of the Pacific and Eurasian plates." The last time an earthquake claimed lives in New Zealand was in 1968 but 256 people were killed in 1931 when a quake hit the Hawke's Bay region of the north island.
記事原文 Not having a whale of a time behind farm fence National times February 21, 2011 The decision by Japan to quit the whaling season early is great news for whales and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has stalked and harassed the whaling ships for the past few summers. Unfortunately, in the big scheme of things, little has been accomplished in mitigating animal suffering. Size has no correlation to the capacity for suffering. Hence, as a species we are even more aghast at pain inflicted on children than adults. In the sport of animal cruelty, it's numbers and pain intensity that counts, not the size of the animal. The Japanese are rightly condemned for their annual whale massacre. But we have no right to project the condemnation. Our treatment of animals is no less appalling. The elimination of severe distress is the first priority of any moral code and there is no logical or moral basis for ranking animal pain lower than its human equivalent. Suffering is suffering. It is always ugly. It is always unwelcome. It always needs to be stopped. There are no exceptions. A person with the capacity but not the inclination to cease suffering is morally incomplete. We have all been struck at some point by the intensity of animal pain. It is reflected in the enormous lengths - and sometimes heroic efforts - that people go to to rescue animals withering and shrieking in pain as a result of injury by a car or natural events. More generally our treatment of pets - especially our own - underlines the compassion we feel for animals. But as a nation we are culpable of almost indescribable cruelty in the treatment of farm and wild animals. One of the most bizarre social paradoxes is how as a species we can shut off our compassion gland when it comes to the plight of obviously pain-sensitive creatures that ultimately end up on our plate - yet we go to such extreme lengths to comfort pets. The supposed moral enlightenment that is reflected in the human rights movement since World War II has bypassed non-humans. During this period, remarkably, we have become more inhumane in the way we treat most farm animals. Australia still allows the practice of slaughtering animals by cutting their throats without stunning them to appease Middle East markets. Cutting the throat of a live and fully conscious cow or sheep to bleed it to death is abject cruelty. And the pain does not end with cows and sheep. For most of their lives, sows are confined in concrete pens so small they cannot turn around. They are denied contact with other pigs, suffer depression and develop sores from standing on hard floors. Community pressure has resulted in the pig industry saying it will voluntarily phase out sow stalls by 2017. But as with most voluntary regulation, it is likely to be honoured more in the breach than observance. Most of the chickens we eat spend all their lives squashed in a cage holding 20 birds per square metre. Their cage is never cleaned and the faeces that accumulate often burn their body. Their six-week life - the time it takes to ''grow'' them to maturity unnaturally - is a catalogue of suffering. So much so that up to 20 million birds a year die before six weeks from ''natural causes'' such as being squashed or thirsty because they're injured and unable to get to food or water. Their only ''salvation'' occurs when they are hung upside down with their feet in stirrups to have their throat cut. Mahatma Gandhi noted: ''The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated''. What he did not observe was that there is normally a direct correlation between human prosperity and animal welfare. Unfortunately, Australia fares poorly on this measure. This is largely because most of us don't know the intolerable conditions in which farm animals are kept. This ignorance might be blissful but we are better off knowing the facts. We need to become less adept at ignoring the shrieks from behind the farm fence.
記事原文 Japan ties amicable despite whaling row: Rudd ABCSat Feb 19, 2011 1:36pm AEDT Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed Australia's ambassador to Japan was called in for a meeting about whaling but says relations with Japan are still amicable. Japan cancelled this season's Antarctic whale hunt yesterday and called in ambassadors from Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, demanding their governments take action to stop Sea Shepherd activists from harassing its fleet. Japan's foreign minister Seiji Maehara said yesterday his ministry had invited in the three envoys and "conveyed a sense of regret and reiterated a strong request to take effective measures to avoid the recurrence of Sea Shepherd's obstructionist activities". A DFAT spokeswoman also refused to comment on the details of the meeting but says the Australian Government shares Japan's concerns about safety at sea and has repeatedly condemned dangerous or unlawful behaviour. Meanwhile, the Greens say there is nothing to suggest that anti-whaling activists have acted illegally, despite assertions by Japan. Greens Leader Bob Brown says he hopes DFAT's statement does not mean Australia is accepting Japan's position. "The Australian Government should be much more vigorously pursuing the Japanese whaling fleet, who are illegally whaling in Antarctic waters, and making sure that when they get home to Tokyo that they never return this side of the equator," he said. Earlier, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson hailed Japan's decision and pledged to stop any future hunts. "It's great news. We will, however, stay with the Japanese ships until they return north and make sure they're out of the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary," he said. "Personally I don't trust them, but I will take their word on this and we will follow them out. We're just not going to leave them until we know for sure they're out of the Southern Ocean." The environmental group has pushed environmental militancy to new levels in its fight against the whalers. In recent years its tactics have included moving their ships and inflatable boats between the whaling ships and the whales, as well as throwing stink and paint bombs at their crews.
記事原文 Japan media divided on ending whaling Sunday, February 20, 2011 » 04:07am Japanese newspapers are divided on whether the nation should continue its whaling program after calling off a mission this season due to harassment by militant environmentalists. The country's media were united in condemning harassment by Sea Shepherd which prompted Tokyo on Friday to halt its 2010-2011 whaling mission a month early, calling the group's actions 'outrageous' and 'unforgivable'. But they differed on whether or how Japan should maintain its whaling program, which it continues using a loophole to a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling that allows lethal 'scientific research' on the sea mammals. The Nikkei business daily supported the whaling scheme and said that 'it was regrettable that research was called off as a consequence of violence'. 'It is undesirable to respond in a way that could make the international community think Japan would buckle to demands if they were pushed hard against all reason,' it said in an editorial. 'Japan should take a firm stand and carry out investigation on repeated piracy acts in order to secure the safety of research whaling in the future,' it said. The liberal Mainichi Shimbun proposed Japan make 'a drastic review (in its policy), including the possibility of freezing research whaling. 'Many Japanese people support continuation of research whaling as they are displeased with the idea of ending it due to 'foreign pressure',' the Mainichi said. 'But people are not consuming whale meat much, undermining the significance of continuing research whaling. A change in the Japanese eating habit poses a tougher problem to research whaling than Sea Shepherd,' it said. The conservative Yomiuri Shimbun said: 'What causes worry is the possibility that the halt of the mission (this season) may give anti-whaling groups the impression that 'Japan succumbs to obstructions'.' Japan 'needs to make a fresh appeal to the international community about the legitimacy of research whaling,' it said in an editorial. But Yomiuri said Japan may as well consider scaling back whaling in the Antarctic ocean. The chairman of the International Whaling Commission at a convention last year proposed slashing Antarctic whale culls by Japan in return for resumption of commercial whaling in Japanese coastal waters. 'Considering low demand for whale meat, Japan's whaling policy should be reviewed in line with the IWC proposal,' the Yomiuri said.
20/2/2011 AUSTRALIAN Greens leader Bob Brown has called for an interim court injunction to prevent Japan's whaling fleets returning to the Southern Ocean. Japan's harpoon ships were ordered home this week, about a month early, after weeks of harassment by members of the Sea Shepherd conservationist group. Australia's ambassador to Japan was summoned to a meeting on Friday to discuss the issue, with Japan demanding that Australia take action against Sea Shepherd. But Mr Brown said it was the Japanese whaling fleet that should have action taken against it. ``It's the Japanese whaling fleet that's behaving in an illegal fashion and it's them who should be the subject of an interim injunction - court action now - to see that they don't come back into the southern hemisphere,'' he told reporters on Saturday in Sydney. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed the meeting took place in Japan but refused to discuss what was said. ``Yes our ambassador attended a meeting at the Japanese foreign ministry in Tokyo yesterday (Friday),'' Mr Rudd told reporters. ``As I'm sure you'd understand and respect the contents of diplomatic conversations should remain confidential.''
19/02/2011 Japan's farm lobby a formidable opponent WHEN it comes to describing Japan's peak agricultural lobby group, even the word "immense" is an understatement. JA, the federation of Japanese agricultural co-operatives, is a sprawling octopus with its tentacles wrapped around many facets of rural, economic and political life in Japan. Australians, used to comparatively lean organisations such as the National Farmers Federation, might be stunned to learn that JA has 224,000 salaried employees. It runs the best-known Japanese bank on Wall Street, the Narinchukin Bank, which also happens to be Japan's third largest. It has a similarly powerful insurance arm and it has a finger in pretty much every agricultural pie in Japan. The Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper recently reported that JA's insurance contracts were worth Y330 trillion ($3.9 trillion), making it one of the world's largest insurers. It collects crops from farmers for a commission and it supplies them with inputs such as fertiliser, insecticide and machinery. Such is its level of influence over Japanese agricultural life that sometimes when farmers try to escape its clutches they find themselves ostracised. JA is the main stumbling block to trade liberalisation in the world's third largest economy and is the key force opposing its government's attempts to join a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific (the US-backed TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership) and finalise a free trade agreement with Australia. The question is: will the combined will of the Japanese and Australian governments be strong enough to defeat the Godzilla of Japanese agriculture? Kazuhito Yamashita , a former trade negotiator for Japan and a staunch critic of JA, says the organisation exercised tight control of rural areas before World War II and fast became a potent political force. In the aftermath of the war, it operated with government approval, collecting rice from farmers to prevent them from selling on the black market. Then, when the government increased the rice price, it began to organise farmers and led protests that achieved successive price increases of around 10 per cent in the 1960s and 1970s. JA received commissions on sales and became wealthier. When rice farmers began turning their plots over to housing development, JA was on hand to provide home loans and banking services. It also kept these retired farmers on its books, so it still had 10 million members despite a dramatic fall in the number of farmers. Yamashita, who strongly supports Japan's trade liberalisation push, says the organisation operated in lockstep with the Liberal Democratic Government that ruled Japan for 55 years until 2009. But while JA's membership remains huge, some farmers are breaking away from the organisation. "The full-time farmers aren't on good terms with JA because they would like to sell their products direct to consumers or supermarkets," Yamashita says. Shigeaki Okamoto, a farmer from Aichi Prefecture in the centre of Japan's main island of Honshu, split with JA 10 years ago and later published a book, My 30-year battle with JA. Okamato says smart farmers have nothing to fear from trade liberalisation and he accuses JA of neglecting its members. The firebrand farmer runs a 100ha rice paddy and market garden. He says he doesn't need JA because 80 per cent of his produce is grown to order for supermarkets or restaurants. He says he has been able to find export markets for himself instead of paying JA a commission to sell his produce. "There were only disadvantages" to being a member of JA, he says. He says that Japan's farmers might be outgunned on price by imported products in some areas, but they could compete internationally on quality in others and find lucrative niches. "Japanese farmers' skills are equal to the world's best, so there is nothing to fear." It is "a sophistry" to say that Japanese agriculture would be crushed by free competition, he says. "As long as there are sales channels to sell their products freely, the Japanese farmers can surely win." He says JA has sold out rural areas and lost sight of the needs of farmers. Melanie Brock, the Tokyo head of Meat and Livestock Australia and chairwoman of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan, says JA is organising a series of protests against trade liberalisation and the Japan-Australia free trade agreement. She says the farm lobby enjoys some public support but consumers are beginning to realise that trade liberalisation would mean lower shopping bills. "I think people are in a quandary -- they realise Japan can't provide for its food needs but they do want small farmers to be supported," she says. She is hopeful that the organisation's protests fall on deaf ears and that Japan will embrace trade liberalisation through the FTA and TPP. Proponents argue that an FTA with Japan would boost Australia's GDP by $39 billion over 20 years. And while agriculture is not the only intended beneficiary, the tariffs on agricultural imports are punishingly high. Australian beef faces tariffs of up to 38.5 per cent, dairy products up to 30 per cent, wheat 252 per cent and sugar 328 per cent. Rice tariffs are even higher but Australia exports little rice. JA declined to respond to specific questions but supplied fact sheets stating both the TPP and the Australia-Japan FTA would be damaging to Japanese agriculture.
ABCSaturday, February 19, 2011 08:00:00 Tokyo has called in the ambassadors from Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands and demanded their countries take action to stop the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd harassing Japanese whalers.
Japan has recalled its whaling fleet a month early, citing concerns about the safety of the crew on board.
Here, the Federal Opposition and conservationists are calling on the Government to step up its legal action against the whalers.
本文 NZ NEWS Japan has called on New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands to take action against the anti-whaling protest group Sea Shepherd. After the Japanese fisheries ministry called off this year's whale hunt in the Southern Ocean because of continuing harassment by Sea Shepherd, the Japanese Government called in the three countries' ambassadors. Sea Shepherd crew members watching the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru. Japan's whaling organisation the Institute of Cetacean Research says New Zealand needs to heed advice from the Japanese Government and ban Sea Shepherd from this country's waters. Institute spokesperson Glenn Inwood says that, while no Sea Shepherd vessel is New Zealand-flagged, its ships do use this country to refuel. Mr Inwood says Sea Shepherd is a vigilante terrorist group committing acts of violence on the high seas, and New Zealand has responsibilities under international law to make sure its ports are not used to harbour those who commit criminal acts. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has welcomed the Japanese Government's announcement but rejected the Institute of Cetacean Research's call for Sea Shepherd to be banned. Mr McCully says New Zealand operates a policy of open ports and there would need to be a very good reason to deny access. Currently, he says, there is no reason to do so. '900' whales saved Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson says the protesters won't stop until Japan stops hunting whales for good. He says the whaling fleet is heading home after taking less than a tenth of its quota this season, which means 900 whales have been saved. Mr Watson says Sea Shepherd plans to escort the fleet for a thousand miles to make sure the ships are well and truly out of the Southern Ocean. While he hopes the cancellation is a permanent measure the battle is not over, he says, and if the ships return next year the protesters will too.
本文 18/2/2011 Less than 48 hours after Borders in the US declared bankruptcy, REDgroup Retail, which owns and operates Borders in Australia, has entered into voluntary administration. REDgroup Retail, which also owns and operates Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls in New Zealand, has appointed Ferrier Hodgson partners as voluntary administrators. Ferrier Hodgson partner Steve Sherman said the retail outlets will continue to operate as normal.
“It would be business as usual while the Administrators conduct an urgent assessment of the business’s financial status and prepare for the first meeting of creditors,” he said in a statement.
Despite this, on the Borders website, it said, as part of the administration process, customers can redeem existing gift cards in store but need to spend double the value of the card.
“To redeem a gift card, you must spend at least twice the face value of the card (i.e. to redeem a gift card with a face value of $25, you must make a total purchase of $50 or more),” it said.
Between them, Angus & Robertson, Borders and Whitcoulls are Australia and New Zealand’s largest book retailers, with about 260 stores. Whitcoulls is New Zealand’s dominant book retailer.
The first meeting of creditors is likely to take place in the first week of March.
Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd has declared its first dividend to shareholders while booking a seven-fold leap in first half net profit. Fortescue on Friday posted a net profit after tax for the six months to December 31 of $US314.1 million, up 628 per cent from $US43.2 million for the prior corresponding period. Revenue more than doubled to $US2.53 billion.
本文 Fri18／2／2011 TOKYO – Japan's government announced Friday it is ending this year's Antarctic whale hunting season early due to repeated harassment from activists at sea. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the Japanese fleet will be returning home soon, though it did not provide an exact timeline. The season usually runs from November or December to late Febuary or early March. The government blamed repeated harassment of its whalers by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships. Sea Shepherd ships have been chasing the Japanese fleet for weeks in the icy seas, trying to prevent the whalers from filling their seasonal quota of 945 whales
本文 The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) planned to carry out feasibility studies before making a final decision to send the robot to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as 2013, a JAXA official said Thursday. Under the project, the Japanese-made robot is expected to stay in the ISS to help communicate with Earth while, for example, astronauts are asleep, said JAXA engineer Satoshi Sano. The robot is also expected to take pictures and send messages through microblogging website Twitter, Sano said, adding that it can "tweet" simple words such as "good morning" and "good night" as well as indicate its location above Earth. The robot will also analyse astronauts' stress levels by detecting changes in their tone of voice and facial expressions, which will be used to study the effectiveness of stress relief measures. NASA plans to send a humanoid robot of its own, developed with General Motors, to the ISS onboard the space shuttle Discovery on February 24 to support astronauts' operations.