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Jun 06 2011

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Business

1 Japan’s TEPCO shares down 28% to record-low

by Miwa Suzuki,AFP

2 hrs 38 mins ago

TOKYO (AFP) – Shares in Japan’s TEPCO lost more than a quarter of their value Monday following a media report that the operator of the country’s tsunami-hit nuclear plant would log a $7 billion loss in fiscal 2011.

The stock was also hit by a reported comment by Tokyo Stock Exchange president Atsushi Saito that Tokyo Electric Power Co. should file for bankruptcy protection, a move that could hit shareholders hard.

TEPCO stock fell to 206 yen mid-morning, down 80 yen or 28.0 percent from Friday, the maximum loss allowed for one trading day. It closed a shade better at 207 yen, down 79 yen or 27.62 percent.

AFP

2 Thousands of Greek protesters assemble in the capital

by Will Vassilopoulos, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 11:03 pm ET

ATHENS (AFP) – Thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens on the 12th consecutive day of protests against the government’s draconian austerity measures.

Over 50,000 people, according to police estimates, thronged the capital’s central Syntagma square for a peaceful demonstration responding to calls for gatherings across Europe. Some 3,000 people also gathered in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, according to the police.

“Thieves, thieves,” the crowd chanted waiving Greek flags, but also flags from Spain, Portugal, Tunisia and Argentina.

3 Greek workers in new protest against cuts

by Will Vassilopoulos, AFP

Sat Jun 4, 9:17 am ET

ATHENS (AFP) – Hundreds of people from Greece’s two main private and public sector unions protested in central Athens Saturday to condemn the government’s new bailout deal with international lenders.

Around 1,500 people marched to the capital’s main Syntagma Square, in front of the Greek parliament, with banners proclaiming: “No to the new memorandum” and “Resist!”.

It was the latest in a series of protests as anger grows over waves of spending cuts and tax hikes amid a deep recession and job layoffs, as the government battles to steer the debt-ridden country out of crisis.

4 Apple poised to introduce iCloud

by Chris Lefkow, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 2:40 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is taking a break from medical leave on Monday to preside over the opening of the company’s annual conference for software developers.

And in a break from Apple’s usual practice of shrouding its events in an air of mystery, the California gadget-maker this time revealed ahead of time what it plans to announce at the event in San Francisco.

Sort of.

5 ECB likely to signal next rate hike

by William Ickes, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 3:16 pm ET

FRANKFURT (AFP) – The European Central Bank is set to signal a rate hike this week as market tensions ease after the ECB, EU and IMF appeared to have snatched Greece again from the jaws of a debt default.

A European Union, International Monetary Fund and ECB ‘troika’ agreed after four weeks of tough talks to provide Athens with the next 12-billion-euro (17.4-billion-dollar) tranche of aid under a 2010 bailout so Greece can pay its bills in July.

At the same time, Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the eurozone finance ministers group, said member states could provide even more aid for Greece and crucially that private sector banks were set to help on a voluntary basis.

6 IMF to lend Egypt $3 bn: ministry

AFP

Sun Jun 5, 4:27 pm ET

CAIRO (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund has granted Egypt a loan of three billion dollars over 12 months to help put its economy back on track, Finance Minister Samir Radwan announced on Sunday.

“Egypt announces the end of negotiations with the IMF and the clinching of an agreement with the fund to relaunch the Egyptian economy,” Radwan told reporters.

The two parties agreed to a “three-billion-dollar loan over 12 months… with an interest rate of 1.5 percent,” he said, adding that the loan would help partly offset a budget deficit of $28 billion.

7 Blockbusters rule E3 video game kingdom

by Glenn Chapman, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 7:52 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Blockbuster titles and powerhouse consoles will rule as video game makers from around the world meet in Los Angeles this week for the premier Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

Hotly anticipated games will build on established franchises with slick play mechanics, film-like graphics and increasing sensitivity to how much people love playing online with friends or on the go with mobile devices.

“E3 will be a strange combination of everything from blockbuster retail games like ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Battlefield’ all the way down to apps, social games, and digital downloads,” said TechSavvy Global analyst Scott Steinberg.

8 Yemen unlikely to hit oil supplies, price: experts

by Omar Hasan, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 2:54 pm ET

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Yemen’s unrest is unlikely to disrupt oil supplies through the strategic Bab al-Mandab straits, experts said on Sunday after the country’s injured president went abroad for medical treatment.

The clashes intensified with an assassination attempt on President Ali Abdullah Saleh that forced him on Saturday to seek treatment in neighbouring Saudi Arabia after his compound in Sanaa was shelled.

The escalation comes at a time when global demand for oil appears to be waning and as OPEC is expected to consider raising output for the first time in almost 30 months to curb high prices.

9 Slovenians say ‘No’ to pension reform: results

by Bojan Kavcic, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 5:16 pm ET

LJUBLJANA (AFP) – Slovenians overwhelmingly rejected Sunday raising the retirement age to 65, in a referendum that dealt a heavy blow to a deeply unpopular government and raised questions about its public finances.

In a turnout of around 41 percent, 72.17 percent of voters rejected the government’s pension reform plan with just 27.83 percent in favour, according final but unofficial results from the election commission.

An two-year increase in the retirement age is among reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to help Slovenia cope with its ageing population and ensure the sustainability of its public finances.

10 Weak US jobs data sets challenge for White House

by Paul Handley, AFP

Sat Jun 4, 7:02 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama faced a new challenge to his economic agenda after dismal statistics on job creation and an uptick in the unemployment rate sent US stocks plunging.

The economy added a paltry 54,000 new jobs last month, one quarter of the February-April pace, while the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday.

While the White House and economists cautioned that the poor data were likely a monthly blip, they fueled allegations that Obama’s economic policies are failing, 18 months ahead of the next presidential election.

11 US icon Chrysler under control of Italy’s Fiat

by Veronique Dupont, AFP

Fri Jun 3, 8:51 pm ET

NEW YORK (AFP) – Iconic American carmaker Chrysler has officially come under the Italian flag with Fiat announcing it had obtained a majority share after buying out the US government’s stake.

The takeover comes two years after Fiat took a 20 percent stake in exchange for sharing its technology and providing trusted leadership as Chrysler emerged from a government-backed bankruptcy.

President Barack Obama celebrated the news with a visit to a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, where he told workers that the government’s unpopular decision to bailout Chrysler, General Motors and their suppliers had paid off.

12 Russia enters world of Islamic finance

by Nicolas Miletitch, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 3:10 pm ET

KAZAN, Russia (AFP) – Hoping to attract Arab capital, Russia will take its first step into the world of Islamic finance in June by issuing sukuk, Islamic bonds which comply with Muslim religious rules.

The bonds are to be issued by the majority Muslim Russian republic of Tatarstan in the Volga region, which has embarked on an ambitious drive to attract foreign investment.

“Russia will show that it can be interesting for Muslim countries,” one of the project’s backers, Linar Yakupov told AFP.

13 Fears over Myanmar deep-sea port plan

by Alex Delamare, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 8:28 am ET

YANGON (AFP) – Mechanical diggers on the pristine beaches near the sleepy fishing town of Dawei are a sign that change is coming to the remote corner of Myanmar — but not necessarily for the better.

The area has been chosen for a vast port complex that is the latest example of how foreign investment from Asian allies like China and Thailand is transforming the military-dominated nation despite Western sanctions.

Some believe the 10-year, $8 billion Dawei Development Project, led by a Thai industrial giant, could invigorate the country’s impoverished economy and revolutionise regional trade.

14 Thousands in Australia rally for carbon tax

by Madeleine Coorey, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 4:34 am ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – Thousands of Australians across the country rallied on Sunday to support a tax on the carbon emissions blamed for global warming, as a new report outlined the risks of rising sea levels from climate change.

In Sydney, demonstrators carried banners reading “Say yes to cutting carbon pollution” and “Price carbon — our kids are worth it” while similar rallies attracted crowds in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Canberra.

“This should send a clear message to the government to set an ambitious price on carbon that will kick-start investment in clean energy,” said rally organiser Simon Sheikh, national director of the activist group GetUp.

15 China’s growth, and weakness, on show at IT fair

by Benjamin Yeh, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 2:31 am ET

TAIPEI (AFP) – More Chinese companies than ever took part in Asia’s largest IT fair, which ended this weekend in Taipei, but their growing numbers could not disguise their lingering weaknesses, observers said.

China has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to innovation, not least when compared with the host of the five-day Computex fair, the small but savvy island of Taiwan, which punches above its weight in technology.

“There’s no denying the Chinese have carved out niches in some items, like computer casing and power systems,” said Chang Li, deputy secretary general of the Taipei Computer Association, the co-organiser of Computex.

16 Tunisia seeks way between unrest and uncertainy

by Daphne Benoit, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 1:52 am ET

TUNIS (AFP) – Nearly five months after a popular uprising swept president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power in the first days of the ‘Arab Spring,’ Tunisia looks to rebuild an economy mired in political uncertainty.

Tunisia, used to posting at least five percent annual growth, faces stagnation this year as the authorities try to meet rising aspirations, hold elections and limit the fallout from unrest in neighbour Libya.

Unemployment, which ultimately drove the unrest against the old regime, could reach 20 percent of the workforce this year, up from 13 percent in 2010, the government admits.

17 Investors flee Russia despite oil revenue boom

by Dmitry Zaks, AFP

Sun Jun 5, 12:00 am ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – The billions of investor dollars fleeing Russia each week offer a stark counterpoint to Moscow’s aspirations of soon becoming a global financial centre linking London with Hong Kong.

The world’s leading oil exporter finds itself in the odd position of being flooded with petrodollars and seeing remarkable ruble strength — two prime conditions for local investment — while also bleeding capital at record rates.

The outflow of investor money abroad reached $30 billion by the end of April to nearly match the 2010 total. The May figure is expected to approach $8 billion and a slowdown is not anticipated for some months.

18 British elderly care-home crisis raises fears

by Philippe Valat, AFP

Sat Jun 4, 11:36 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – The financial problems of Britain’s biggest retirement home operator have left 31,000 residents fearing for their future and ignited a debate about relying on the private sector for public services.

Southern Cross has caused shockwaves after deciding to cut rental payments to landlords by a third for the next four months as it struggles to meet a £230 million (262 million euros, $378 million) annual rent bill on its 750 care homes.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to step in and offer a “guarantee” that Southern Cross residents — representing one in 10 of all elderly people in care — will not lose out if the firm collapses.

19 In China, soaring food prices mean leaner diets

by Fran Wang, AFP

Sat Jun 4, 11:31 pm ET

BEIJING (AFP) – Li Ping and her husband, both retirees, pick over the offerings at a Beijing market to prepare traditional dumplings for the Dragon Boat festival. Rocketing food prices are limiting their options.

“We can hardly afford meat now, it’s too expensive,” Li, 67, tells AFP, explaining that they now only enjoy that privilege two or three times a month. Apples are also too dear.

Chinese authorities say reining in inflation is their top priority for the year, and have taken a raft of policy measures to cool prices. But those moves are not yet trickling down to help low-income households like Li’s.

20 Giant open-pit mine raises questions in Uruguay

by Ana Ines Cibils, AFP

Sat Jun 4, 10:51 pm ET

CERRO CHATO, Uruguay (AFP) – A plan to build a giant open pit mine has created a sharp rift between those who think Uruguay’s rich agricultural land should be protected, and those wanting to exploit its wealth.

The Aratiri project, owned by Zamin Ferrous, a London-based minerals company, will cost an estimated $2.5 billion (1.7 million Euros), the largest mining project ever in South America, and equivalent to more than six percent of Uruguay’s gross domestic product.

For the past two years, the company has been permitted to prospect for iron on 120,000 hectares (460 square miles) of land around the village of Cerro Chato in the center-east of the country.

Reuters

21 Greece to start austerity drive as nation seethes

By George Georgiopoulos, Reuters

39 mins ago

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou starts a campaign on Monday to secure a new international bailout by imposing years of austerity on a nation already seething over corruption and economic mismanagement.

Unease is growing within Papandreou’s ranks about the consequences of waves of budget cuts demanded under successive deals with the European Union and IMF — and this could turn into alarm after at least 80,000 Greeks crammed a central Athens square to vent their anger over the nation’s dire state.

As the government struggles to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debt, the Socialist cabinet will discuss informally on Monday the medium-term economic plan which will impose 6.4 billion euros ($9.37 billion) of extra austerity this year alone.

22 TSE head recommends court-led Tepco restructuring, stock dives

By Taiga Uranaka, Reuters

2 hrs 17 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) should go through a court-led restructuring similar to Japan Airlines, the head of the Tokyo bourse was quoted as saying, sending the utility’s stock tumbling to an all-time low on the possibility of a delisting.

Japan’s government, however, reiterated there would be no such restructuring of the operator of the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which it has said should remain solvent and listed as it battles to restore power output and compensate victims of the nuclear crisis.

Tokyo Stock Exchange head Atsushi Saito, who used to head a state-backed turnaround body, said temporary nationalization for the troubled utility should be considered and that creditors would likely have to forgive loans.

23 Amid debt crisis and slowdown, euro may still rise

By Kevin Plumberg, Reuters

Mon Jun 6, 2:17 am ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The euro hit a one-month high on Monday, heading toward $1.50 ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting later this week, an upward march that could bring commodity prices and emerging market currencies along with it.

The weakest U.S. jobs growth in eight months in May has knocked the dollar lower across the board and pushed down Japanese stocks to a two-month low, confirming for investors that the global business cycle has shifted to slower growth and a defensive stance in portfolios is desirable.

The falling dollar has in turn pushed up the euro, which despite no solution in sight for the euro zone’s debt crisis may find some traction this week and support commodity prices.

24 Drugmakers cut vaccine prices for poorer nations

By Kate Kelland, Reuters

Mon Jun 6, 2:48 am ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Several leading drugmakers are cutting their prices on potentially life-saving vaccines for people in developing countries in an effort to sustain supplies via the GAVI international vaccine alliance.

The price cuts, offered by both generic and branded drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Johnson & Johnson’s Crucell and Sanofi-Aventis’ Sanofi Pasteur, should help the alliance narrow a $3.7 billion funding gap for its commitments up until 2015.

GSK said on Monday it would provide its Rotarix rotavirus vaccine to GAVI at a 67 percent discount to the current public price — bringing it to $2.50 per dose, or $5 to fully immunize a child. Merck said it will offer its Rotateq rotavirus shot at $5.00 a dose initially. “The RotaTeq price will decrease to $3.50 once the purchase volume increases to 30 million doses,” it said.

25 Rolls in costly A350 engine redesign: sources

By Tim Hepher, Reuters

Mon Jun 6, 1:09 am ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Rolls-Royce (RR.L) is set to build a new engine to beef up the A350 jetliner being developed by Airbus in a costly rethink of strategy for Europe’s most ambitious new plane project, industry sources said on Monday.

Airlines have criticized the planemaker’s one-size-fits-all policy that would see the mid-sized A350 built in three separate models all using the same engine, the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB.

Until now, Airbus and Rolls have defended the engine as an all-rounder capable of powering twinjet A350 planes carrying 270 to 350 people, competing with two different types of planes manufactured by rival Boeing (BA.N).

26 Fine line between slowdown and stall

By Emily Kaiser, Reuters

Sun Jun 5, 3:03 pm ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The world economy appears headed for several months of sub-par growth, and there is no clear source of strength to lead it back to health.

After a week filled with disappointing economic data, the debate is no longer over whether the economy has hit a soft patch but how long it will last.

Friday’s poor U.S. employment figures suggest demand will remain subdued in the world’s biggest economy. Europe is still struggling to put an end to its sovereign debt troubles.

27 Saudi to push OPEC to lift oil output, cut prices

By Amena Bakr and Richard Mably, Reuters

Sun Jun 5, 1:41 pm ET

VIENNA (Reuters) – Gulf Arab OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia will push for an increase in supplies at a meeting of the oil cartel this week in an effort to support flagging world economic growth by bringing crude prices back below $100 a barrel.

Data indicating that economic recovery may be stalling in the West is worrying OPEC’s core Gulf members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi and its fellow Gulf producers will argue that oil prices are undermining the economic growth that fuels demand for OPEC crude and that more supply is needed to balance demand in the second half of the year.

28 UAW trust not planning quick Chrysler exit: sources

By Deepa Seetharaman and Soyoung Kim, Reuters

Fri Jun 3, 5:52 pm ET

DETROIT/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A United Auto Workers trust fund will retain its shares of Chrysler Group LLC in a bid to maximize returns for retiree healthcare costs rather than follow the Obama administration in a quick exit of its investment, two people familiar with the fund’s strategy said.

The union’s healthcare fund, known as the UAW’s VEBA trust, is considering a range of options to cash in on its 45.7 percent stake in Chrysler at a time when the value of that investment is rising, these people said.

The options could include selling shares to an outside investor, including Chrysler’s majority owner Fiat SpA (FIA.MI), or selling in an initial public offering if the stock is eventually listed. Fiat owns 52 percent of Chrysler.

29 Cooling employment casts shadow on recovery

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

Fri Jun 3, 5:08 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The economy may be in for a long period of soft growth after employers hired the fewest number of workers in eight months in May and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 54,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, just over a third of what economists had expected.

However, analysts saw little chance the economy would slide back into recession, given that temporary factors like high gasoline prices and supply chain disruptions from the earthquake in Japan were constraining growth.

30 Tribune creditors sue ex-shareholders for billions

By Tom Hals, Reuters

Fri Jun 3, 1:43 pm ET

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – Tribune Co noteholders and retirees sued the company’s former shareholders for billions of dollars, alleging the 2007 buyout of the owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times forced it to file for bankruptcy.

“One of the industry’s most highly leveraged buy-outs — lined the pockets of Tribune’s former shareholders with $8.5 billion in cash at the expense of Tribune’s creditors and precipitated Tribune’s careen into bankruptcy,” said Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, one of the plaintiffs.

The unit of Deutsche Bank AG filed lawsuits in several courts on Thursday in its capacity as trustee for senior notes.

AP

31 Stocks remain weighed down by weak US jobs data

By PAN PYLAS, AP Business Writer

1 hr 24 mins ago

LONDON – Weak U.S. jobs figures continued to weigh on stock markets Monday as investors fret about the state of the U.S. economy, while the euro remained relatively well-supported by expectations that Greece will receive another financial bailout to plug a potential funding gap over the coming two years.

Last Friday’s figures showing that the U.S. economy generated only 54,000 jobs during May, a third of what was anticipated, sent shockwaves through stock markets and prompted a big dollar reverse. The data prompted renewed speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its super-loose monetary policy, including benchmark interest rates of near zero percent, for longer than previously anticipated.

A speech Tuesday from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke on the U.S. economic outlook could well be the market highlight of the week.

32 Usually a job engine, localities slow US economy

By PAUL WISEMAN, AP Economics Writer

1 hr 4 mins ago

WASHINGTON – In a healthy recovery, states and localities produce jobs, expand social services and help fuel the nation’s economic growth.

Then there’s the 2011 recovery.

The U.S. economy is moving ahead, however fitfully. Yet state and local governments are still stuck in recession. Short of cash, they cut 30,000 jobs in May, the seventh straight month they’ve shed workers. Rather than add to U.S. economic growth, they’re subtracting from it.

33 Portugal’s new govt faces bailout pressures

By BARRY HATTON, Associated Press

27 mins ago

LISBON, Portugal – Portugal’s center-right Social Democrats had little time to savor their return to power Monday, launching immediately into getting a ruinous debt burden under control despite a shrinking economy.

Social Democrat leader Pedro Passos Coelho scored an emphatic win at the ballot box Sunday, with his party collecting 39 percent of the vote to 28 percent for the second-placed Socialist Party, which had governed for the past six years.

Passos Coelho takes over as prime minister later this month with Portugal in the middle of a financial storm. His new government inherits a record jobless rate of 12.6 percent and an expected economic contraction of 4 percent over the next two years.

34 Socialist setback in Portugal polls after bailout

By BARRY HATTON, Associated Press

Sun Jun 5, 9:50 pm ET

LISBON, Portugal – Portugal’s Social Democrats unseated the Socialist government in an emphatic election victory Sunday, giving the center-right party a strong mandate to enact a grinding austerity program demanded in return for a euro78 billion ($114 billion) international bailout.

Though the severe debt-reduction measures are expected to pitch the country into deep recession and bring sharply lower living standards in what already is one of western Europe’s poorest countries, parties that support the effort to restore fiscal health collected around 80 percent of the vote.

That outcome is reassuring for European leaders keen to draw a line under the continent’s debt crisis which they have battled to vanquish for more than a year, especially as Greece’s financial woes continue to worry investors.

35 Focus shifts to sprouts in E.coli outbreak

By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press

26 mins ago

BERLIN – Official test results Monday are likely to show that sprouts from an organic farm in northern Germany caused the E. coli outbreak that has killed 22 people, sickened more than 2,200 and left Europeans across the continent uneasy about eating raw vegetables.

If sprouts from the farm in the village of Bienenbuettel, between Hamburg and Hannover, are confirmed as the only source of the highly aggressive, “super-toxic” strain of bacteria, it could solve a mystery that has puzzled authorities for weeks. Suspicion for the cause of the deadliest known E. coli outbreak had fallen on lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, initially from Spain.

Even so, authorities say the danger is not over yet. More cases of the illness, which has hit Germany hardest, are likely for at least another week because the contaminated sprouts may have already been delivered to restaurants and grocery stores across Germany and could infect consumers.

36 Vegetable scare hits Europe

By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press

Fri Jun 3, 5:34 pm ET

BERLIN – Schools have pulled raw vegetables from menus, piles of cucumbers sit untouched on shop shelves, and farmers say they’re losing millions.

As scientists scramble to find the source of an E. coli outbreak linked to raw vegetables that has killed 18 in Europe and sickened nearly 2,000, consumers are swearing off lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes just in case.

“Cook it or don’t eat it,” Hamburg kidney specialist Rolf Stahl told reporters at a press conference about the epidemic on Friday. “That’s my personal recommendation.”

37 Gardens help ease rising food costs in Caribbean

By DAVID McFADDEN, Associated Press

Mon Jun 6, 3:06 am ET

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Governments in the Caribbean, where dependence on imported food has ballooned in recent decades, are calling on citizens to tend to backyard vegetable plots and buy local produce to save money and stave off a possible food crisis.

Eager to avoid unrest over the rising cost of food, several island governments are giving away seedlings and gardening kits while promoting a grow-it-yourself approach, just as the U.S. did during World War I and World War II by encouraging citizens to plant “victory gardens.”

In a gritty slum in Jamaica’s capital of Kingston, Beatrice Buchanan is among those who have planted vegetables and fruit as insurance against spiraling food prices.

38 Plans to build electric cars in 3 states stall

By MARK NIESSE, Associated Press

Sun Jun 5, 5:27 pm ET

HONOLULU – Korean electric car company CT&T made a splash in three states when it rolled shiny, tiny vehicles off big rigs and announced with smiling governors that it would hire hundreds of Americans to build them in new factories.

But those plans have stalled in Hawaii, Pennsylvania and South Carolina without anyone hired, any plants constructed or any electric cars assembled.

The South Korean electric car and golf cart manufacturer has apparently abandoned its pledge to the three states – without notice – and deserted its new U.S. markets amid financial difficulties, The Associated Press has learned.

39 Why to buy companies that are spending cash

By DAVID K. RANDALL, AP Business Writer

Sun Jun 5, 3:42 pm ET

NEW YORK – It’s not easy being the most optimistic guy in the room.

Most companies are hoarding cash after two-plus years of cost-cutting. The members of the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index are sitting on a record $960 billion in cash on their balance sheets. All told, companies now have more than 10 percent more cash than the previous peak in 2004. While the days of mass layoffs and eking out another year from ever-older computers might be largely over, few companies are expanding.

But there are exceptions, those companies that are bold – or some might say, crazy – enough to invest for the next boom while others remain cautious.

40 Cellphone cancer warning falls lightly on US ears

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer

Sun Jun 5, 3:21 pm ET

NEW YORK – News last week that an arm of the World Health Organization said cellphones might raise the risk of brain cancer has been greeted by Americans mostly with a shrug of the shoulder – one that’s pinning a cellphone to the ear.

Google searches for “cancer” and “cellphones” spiked this week. And some people vowed to get headsets to shield themselves from radiation. But most seemed to either dismiss the warning as too vague, or reason that if the most useful device in modern life poses a slight health risk, then so be it.

“I was watching the news about it, and I thought, `I’m already screwed because I’ve been talking on the phone for seven years,'” said Genevieve Chamorro, a 31-year-old New Yorker who was shopping for a phone.

41 Egypt gets $3b IMF standby loan

By TAREK EL-TABLAWY, AP Business Writer

Sun Jun 5, 3:58 pm ET

CAIRO – The International Monetary Fund on Sunday agreed to provide Egypt with $3 billion in financing to help the Arab world’s most populous nation ease the blow to its economy sustained by the popular uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

The loan announcement comes days after the government unveiled a draft budget that projects the deficit swelling to nearly 11 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, as officials look to boost social services spending to meet persistent demands by a population that complained of gross economic inequity under the former regime.

The 12-month standby arrangement spans fiscal year 2011-2012, which begins in July, and carries a 1.5 percent annual interest rate – a level which Finance Minister Samir Radwan said fell far below the international borrowing costs Egypt would have had to agree to had it turned to the open market for assistance. The loan, which must still be approved by the IMF’s executive board in July, is to be repaid over five years, with the payments due to begin three years and three months after its disbursement.

42 Study: Pfizer lung cancer pill may double survival

By LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Business Writer

Sun Jun 5, 4:03 pm ET

TRENTON, N.J. – A much-anticipated drug for advanced lung cancer from Pfizer Inc. appears to double survival over standard drugs against tumors with a certain genetic mutation, according to research presented Sunday.

The drug, called crizotinib, would be the first targeted treatment for the roughly 50,000 people who get this cancer each year worldwide. It might eventually produce annual revenue for Pfizer exceeding $2 billion.

The first overall survival data for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer treated with the drug, called crizotinib, showed 74 percent were still alive after a year and 54 percent after two years, researchers announced at a huge cancer specialists conference.

43 Studies find new drugs boost skin cancer survival

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer

Sun Jun 5, 4:21 pm ET

CHICAGO – They’re not cures, but two novel drugs produced unprecedented gains in survival in separate studies of people with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doctors reported Sunday.

In one study, an experimental drug showed so much benefit so quickly in people with advanced disease that those getting a comparison drug were allowed to switch after just a few months.

The drug, vemurafenib, targets a gene mutation found in about half of all melanomas. The drug is being developed by Genentech, part of Swiss-based Roche, and Plexxikon Inc., part of the Daiichi Sankyo Group of Japan.

44 China shops for Latin American oil, food, minerals

By IAN JAMES, Associated Press

50 mins ago

CARACAS, Venezuela – Latin America is blessed with a wealth of natural resources such as oil, copper and soy, and seeks investment and loans to capitalize on them. China needs the commodities to keep its economy growing and has about $3 trillion in reserves to burn.

Those interests have come together in a burgeoning and unorthodox partnership, as China lends and invests tens of billions of dollars in countries around Latin America in return for a guaranteed flow of commodities, particularly oil.

Recent deals have made China a key financier to the governments of Venezuela and Argentina. At the same time, Chinese companies have secured a decade’s worth of oil from Venezuela and Brazil, and steady supplies of wheat, soybeans and natural gas from Argentina.

45 Conservative leader claims 3rd term in Macedonia

By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES, Associated Press

Sun Jun 5, 7:51 pm ET

SKOPJE, Macedonia – Macedonia’s conservative coalition government claimed victory in Sunday’s early general elections, and the opposition conceded defeat.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski called the election a year before the end of his four-year term, following the opposition’s walkout from the legislature. It was sparked by the jailing of a popular television channel’s boss and the freezing of his bank accounts.

Gruevski was in line to be re-elected for a third term, according to preliminary results, and he declared victory at his party’s headquarters. Final results will be known Monday.

46 Studies find new drugs boost skin cancer survival

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer

Sun Jun 5, 4:21 pm ET

CHICAGO – They’re not cures, but two novel drugs produced unprecedented gains in survival in separate studies of people with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doctors reported Sunday.

In one study, an experimental drug showed so much benefit so quickly in people with advanced disease that those getting a comparison drug were allowed to switch after just a few months.

The drug, vemurafenib, targets a gene mutation found in about half of all melanomas. The drug is being developed by Genentech, part of Swiss-based Roche, and Plexxikon Inc., part of the Daiichi Sankyo Group of Japan.

47 Iraq finalizes 2 promising gas deals

By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press

Sun Jun 5, 2:45 pm ET

BAGHDAD – Iraq on Sunday finalized deals with a pair of international consortiums to develop two promising natural gas fields, the latest step by the war-ravaged country to tap its own resources to fuel its growing power demands.

Iraqis have been struggling to rebuild their damaged electricity grid and improve power stations and lines. Blackouts are still common. Last summer, power shortages spurred demonstrations that turned deadly when security forces fired into crowds.

Turkey’s TPAO-led consortium will develop the 4.6 trillion cubic feet Mansouriya field in eastern Iraq for $7 per barrel of oil equivalent. It plans to reach a peak production of at least 320 million cubic feet per day.

48 Greenhouse gas emissions hitting record highs

By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press

Sun Jun 5, 6:59 am ET

AMSTERDAM – Despite 20 years of effort, greenhouse gas emissions are going up instead of down, hitting record highs as climate negotiators gather to debate a new global warming accord.

The new report by the International Energy Agency showing high emissions from fossil fuels is one of several pieces of bad news facing delegates from about 180 countries heading to Bonn, Germany, for two weeks of talks beginning Monday.

Another: The tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster in March apparently has sidelined Japan’s aggressive policies to combat climate change and prompted countries like Germany to hasten the decommissioning of nuclear power stations which, regardless of other drawbacks, have nearly zero carbon emissions.

49 Improving life along Danube: At nature’s cost?

By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press

Mon Jun 6, 12:01 am ET

CALARASI, Romania – For much of its course from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, the Danube is constricted between concrete walls or uniform stone banks, flowing through some 60 power stations and busy docks.

But down here, for the last few hundred miles before it splays out into a vast delta, much of the river is as nature designed it – broad, lazy, broken up with shoals and islands where pelicans nest, its banks anchored by weeping willows that drip water even on sunny days.

The Danube is a watery thread 2,857 kilometers (1,775 miles) long that binds the diverse peoples of 19 nations sharing its basin, weaving together economies and cultures from the richest nations of Europe to the poorest.

50 India health costs a crisis impoverishing millions

By KATY DAIGLE, Associated Press

Sun Jun 5, 12:01 am ET

ALIGARH, India – When Nasir Khan cried out at night from the searing pain of kidney stones, the entire slum could hear him.

A magic healer promised an inexpensive cure through chanting while pinching his side where the kidney stones were lodged, but it only made it worse. His condition became life-threatening, and doctors said he would need surgery for a fourth time.

The operation cost him – and his extended family – their home.

51 Japan nuke plant gets tanks for radioactive water

By YURI KAGEYAMA, Associated Press

Sat Jun 4, 7:37 am ET

TOKYO – Tanks for storing radioactive water were on their way Saturday to the crippled nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan where reactor cores melted after the massive earthquake and tsunami.

The new tanks should help prevent further environmental damage in the evacuated area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant by providing a secure place to store the contaminated water being used to cool the reactors as workers continue their battle to bring them under control.

Radioactive water has been leaking from the plant since it was struck by the March 11 disasters, with tons having already flushed into the sea and more continuing to pool across the complex.

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