Squeezed by debt crisis, Greeks ditch cars for bikes

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Greece's dire economic plight has forced thousands of businesses to close, thrown one in five out of work and eroded the living standards of millions. But for bicycle-maker Giorgos Vogiatzis, it's not all bad news. The crisis has put cash-strapped Greeks on their bikes - once snubbed as a sign of poverty or just plain risky - and Greek manufacturers are shifting into fast gear. … [Read more...]

French auto sales struggle, production dives

Workers of the PSA Peugeot Citroen carmaker plant of Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Paris suburb. (AFP/Lionel Bonaventure)

Sales of new cars in France rallied slightly in July when French brands did well with new models, but in the first six months of the year output by French carmakers plunged by 20.8 per cent, trade data showed on Thursday. PARIS: Sales of new cars in France rallied slightly in July when French brands did well with new models, but in the first six months of the year output by French carmakers plunged by 20.8 per cent, trade data showed on Thursday. Overall sales rose by 0.9 per cent to 150,248 in July, the CCFA body representing manufacturers said. But July this year contained one more business day than the comparable period last year and if this were stripped out, sales fell by 3.5 per cent. July is an important month for sales since many motorists buy a car before leaving on their summer holidays. A spokesman for the CCFA said that the July figure marked the first upturn since October 2011. The French market, in common with many others, was hard hit by the effects of the … [Read more...]

Fiat first quarter profit soars

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Italian auto giant Fiat said Thursday its net profit in the first quarter soared ten-fold to 379 million euros ($500 million) thanks to its US partner Chrysler, without which it would be in the red. The group had banked 37 million euros in profit in the first quarter last year -- before snapping up a majority stake in the US automaker in a move which has more than offset poor Fiat results in a sluggish European market. Chrysler, which fell under Fiat's operational command in June 2009 when it emerged from a government-supported bankruptcy, reported its own four-fold leap in first quarter profit on Thursday to $473 million (357 million euros). "Chrysler is firing on all cylinders. I have really no bad news to share with you," Sergio Marchionne, chief of both Fiat and Chrysler, said in a conference call. Built on sales gains that surpassed the industry average, Chrysler's results set an "incredible foundation for 2013," Marchionne said, adding "most of our plants now are being … [Read more...]

As profits surge, Europe’s carmakers rev up global ambitions

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Two years after a world economic downturn all but wiped them out, European carmakers have bounced back to the spotlight with Volkswagen aiming to be the industry leader and Fiat carving out a global brand for itself. Unfettered of their obligations to repay state aid and riding out the expiry of government "cash-for-clunkers" schemes that initially plunged their revenue, carmakers this week gave rosy outlooks for the rest of fiscal 2011. Germany's Volkswagen reported a three-fold profit leap in the three months from January through March to 1.71 billion euros (USD2.5 billion), selling two million cars, a new milestone for Europe's biggest automaker. The comparable figure for 2010 was 473 million euros. Finance director Dieter Poetsch said a cash pile worth 19.6 billion euros gave the group impetus to overtake General Motors and Toyota and become the leading global car maker by 2018. With respect to 2011, Chairman Martin Winterkorn, who has boosted VW's fortunes since he took … [Read more...]

US consumer confidence takes recession beating

Shoppers on Fifth Avenue in New York City. US consumer confidence tanked in October amid growing worries about jobs in the recession-wracked economy, boding ill for the key holiday shopping season, the Conference Board said Tuesday. (AFP Photo)

US consumer confidence slumped in October amid worries about jobs in the recession-wracked economy, boding ill for the important holiday shopping season, the Conference Board said Tuesday. The private research firm said its consumer confidence index declined for the second month in a row, to 47.7 in October from a revised 53.4 in September. The September reading initially was reported at 53.1. The decline in the October index was much steeper than expected by Wall Street, with most analysts expecting a 53.5 reading. The downbeat start of the fourth quarter raised a red flag over consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of activity in the world's largest economy and is particularly crucial for retailers' year-end holiday sales. Lynn Franco, research director of the Conference Board, said that labor market condition played "a major role in this grimmer assessment." "Consumers also remain quite pessimistic about their future earnings, a sentiment that will likely … [Read more...]

Vietnamese should be prouder of goods produced domestically

Your Say (11-09-2009) Vietnamese should be prouder of goods produced domestically Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers how to promote made-in-Viet Nam products. Here are some of the opinions we received: Pham Thanh Truyen, Vietnamese, HCM City Vietnamese enterprises need to do more. Unlike other countries in Asia, Vietnamese people prefer foreign products. Ten or 15 years ago, few doubted that foreign products were superior to local ones. Unfortunately, that mindset hasn't changed. It is undeniable that nowadays Vietnamese products have vastly improved in terms of quality and packaging. The difficulty is getting that message across? It's useless to just say "Hey! My products are not as bad as you think". It's also ineffective for enterprises to act on their own. There needs to be central government help. The recent campaign to encourage Vietnamese to consume domestically made products launched by the Politburo is a good example. … [Read more...]

Lifting arms ban creates a normal partnership, expert

Professor Vu Doan Ket

Professor Vu Doan Ket from the Faculty of International Politics and Diplomacy, Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam writes about US President Barack Obama's recent visit to Vietnam. The relationship between Viet Nam and the United States has hitherto been defined as a comprehensive partnership framework. This framework has not accurately reflected this relationship; it is actually a strategic one in specific aspects, according to some observers. If the comprehensive or strategic partnership framework is the de facto high watermark in relations between the two nations, who were enemies at one time before a normalisation process was triggered by then President Bill Clinton lifting the trade embargo on Viet Nam in 1994, lifting the arms ban on Viet Nam, which was announced on Monday, is the ultimate effort to accomplish this process, as well as to reinforce the partnership framework that both nations envision. As a whole, it is more than the cherry on top. Before Obama’s trip to … [Read more...]

Obama calls for world free of nuclear weapons

US President Barack Obama (right) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speak with the Atomic Bomb Dome seen at rear at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, May 27, 2016. (Photo: AP)

(VOVworld) - US President Barack Obama has called for a world without nuclear weapons during a historic visit to Hiroshima, Japan, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb nearly 71 years ago. Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima. At a ceremony at the city’s Peace Memorial Park on Friday, the US leader called on countries that hold nuclear stockpiles to have courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them. He said the world should join hands together to prevent such an incident from happening, saying that memory about the bomb dropping in August 6th, 1945 would never fade. Mr. Obama said scientific advancement without progress in awareness might destroy the world. … [Read more...]

China to open e-commerce, other sectors to foreign investment: newspaper

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China will lift restrictions to investments by foreign firms in a range of service industry sectors, including e-commerce, logistics, accounting and auditing, the China Securities News quoted commerce minister Gao Hucheng as saying. Gao said China would also promote the orderly opening of other service fields including finance, education, culture and health care, the report published on Saturday said without elaborating or giving a time-frame. China's trade in services would exceed $1 trillion by 2020, the minister predicted. The Ministry of Commerce has previously said the value of China's services trade was expected to exceed $750 billion this year. The Chinese government has been attempting to guide the economy away from a reliance on investment and exports to one largely orientated towards services and underpinned by domestic demand. Gao's comments come on the eve of bilateral meetings in early June between China and the United States at which U.S. officials are poised to press … [Read more...]

Three current and former U.S. Navy officers charged in bribery case

WASHINGTON, May 27 -- Three current and former U.S. Navy officers have been charged with participating in an alleged bribery and fraud scheme involving a Singapore-based defense contractor, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday. Retired Navy Captain Michael Brooks, 57, Commander Bobby Pitts, 47, and Lieutenant Commander Gentry Debord, 47, were charged on Wednesday in connection with the case involving Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a company that serviced ships in the Navy's Pacific Fleet, the department said. In all, 13 people have been charged in the case and nine have pleaded guilty, including former Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) Chief Executive Officer Leonard Francis, a Malaysian businessman known as "Fat Leonard." He pleaded guilty last year to bribery charges. Brooks and Debord were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, and Pitts was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of obstruction of justice, the … [Read more...]

Injured Nadal out of French Open as Murray, Wawrinka cruise

Spain's Rafael Nadal gives a press conference to an nonce his withdrawal from the French Open at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open in Paris on May 27, 2016. (AFP/Miguel Medina)

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal rocked the French Open when he pulled out with a left wrist injury as Andy Murray and defending champion Stan Wawrinka moved closer to a semi-final showdown. PARIS: Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal rocked the French Open on Friday (May 27) when he pulled out with a left wrist injury as Andy Murray and defending champion Stan Wawrinka moved closer to a semi-final showdown. Nadal, 29, said he had been playing with an anaesthetic injection in the wrist in the first two rounds and that MRI scans had shown that the injury to the tendon was getting worse. "It's not broken, but if I continue to play it will be 100 percent broken in a few days," said an emotional Nadal, the fourth seeded winner of 14 majors. "To win the tournament I need five more matches, and the doctor says that's 100% impossible." Nadal, plagued by knee and wrist injuries througout his career, added: "This is a very bad position, but that's life. "It's obvious that if it's not Roland … [Read more...]

Argentine court finds 15 guilty in Operation Condor conspiracy

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Argentina's former President and Army Chief Reynaldo Bignone sits in a courthouse during the first day of his trial, accused of participating in 'Operation Condor', in Buenos Aires March 5, 2013. Fifteen ex-military officials were found guilty by an Argentine court on Friday of conspiring to kidnap and assassinate leftist dissidents as part of the Operation Condor program. The ruling was hailed by rights activists. Condor was coordinated by dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia to hunt down and kill exiled opponents in the 1970s and '80s. Former Argentine dictator Reynaldo Bignone, 88, the highest ranking figure on trial, was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Fourteen of the remaining 16 defendants got eight to 25 years behind bars. Two were found not guilty. Some individual crimes committed under Operation Condor had already been the subject of previous trials. Friday's verdict was the first to focus on participation in the plan itself. "This … [Read more...]

Hiroshima trip will underscore ‘very real’ conflict risks: Obama

US President Barack Obama speaks during the G7 summit meetings in Ise Shima, on May 26, 2016. (Photo: AFP/Jim Watson)

Barack Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima will underline the dangers of warfare and the need to work towards peace, the US president said on the sidelines of the G7 in Japan, on Thursday. ISE-SHIMA, Japan: Barack Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima will underline the dangers of warfare and the need to work towards peace, the US president said on the sidelines of the G7 in Japan, on Thursday (May 26). Obama, who will Friday become the only sitting US president ever to visit Hiroshima - the site of the world's first nuclear bomb - said the Aug 6, 1945 attack was "an inflection point in modern history". "It is something that all of us have had to deal with in one way or another," he told reporters at the summit in Ise-Shima, 300 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of Tokyo. The bombing claimed the lives of 140,000 people, some of whom died immediately in a ball of searing heat, while many succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses in the weeks, months and years … [Read more...]

US ending catfish inspection: Good news for Vietnam’s tra industry

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The US Senate’s approval of a bill that would repeal the US Department of Agriculture’s catfish inspection programme is good news for Vietnam’s tra fish industry, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The US Senate has supported scrapping of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s catfish inspection programme because critics argued that the programme was wasteful and unnecessary. The vote took place on May 25 and the Senate approved by 55-43 a resolution that would make the regulations void. Supporters, including Senator John McCain, said the programme violated commitments to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and would result in a lawsuit that would cost the US its agricultural exports. They criticised its intention to protect US catfish producers by raising barriers for catfish imports from Vietnam and other nations. us ending catfish inspection: good news for vietnam’s tra industry hinh 0 The … [Read more...]

U.S. health official says Zika not a reason to cancel Olympics

Material to prevent Zika infection by mosquitoes are displayed at the 69th World Health Assembly at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 23, 2016.

The widespread Zika virus outbreak in Brazil does not pose enough of a threat to warrant canceling or putting off the Olympic Games set to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, a leading U.S. health official said on Thursday. "There is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a luncheon at The National Press Club in Washington. A controversial paper by a Canadian professor published earlier this month in the Harvard Public Health Review called for the Games to be canceled or moved because it said they would likely speed up the spread of Zika throughout the world. Several health experts have disputed the report as lacking evidence for such a move. "The risk to delegations going and athletes is not zero, but the risk of any travel isn't zero. The risk is not particularly high other than for pregnant women," Frieden said. Zika infection in pregnant women has been shown to be … [Read more...]

U.S. sees first case of bacteria resistant to all antibiotics

The mcr-1 plasmid-borne colistin resistance gene has been found primarily in Escherichia coli, pictured.

U.S. health officials on Thursday reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infection resistant to all known antibiotics, and expressed grave concern that the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads. "We risk being in a post-antibiotic world," said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not travelled within the prior five months. Frieden, speaking at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., said the infection was not controlled even by colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against "nightmare bacteria." The infection was reported Thursday in a study appearing in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. It said the superbug itself had first been infected with a tiny piece of DNA called a plasmid, which passed along a gene called mcr-1 … [Read more...]

World economy is an ‘urgent priority': G7 leaders

(From L) David Cameron, Francois Hollande, Justin Trudeau, Jean-Claude Juncker, Shinzo Abe, Donald Tusk, Matteo Renzi, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel participate in a G7 working session in Shima AFP/Carolyn Kaster

The group also said it would stand by earlier pledges to stay committed to "mutually-reinforcing fiscal, monetary and structural policies". ISE-SHIMA, Japan: Pumping up the world economy is an "urgent priority" G7 leaders said Friday (May 27), but left the door open for a go-your-own-way approach in a sign of lingering divisions over how to boost growth. Wrapping up their meeting in rural Japan, the leaders of the Group of Seven endorsed a pick-and-mix approach to dealing with the malaise that has lingered since the global financial crisis struck in 2008. "Global growth is our urgent priority," the G7 said in a final statement. "Taking into account country-specific circumstances, we commit to strengthening our economic policy responses in a cooperative manner and to employing a more forceful and balanced policy mix, in order to swiftly achieve a strong, sustainable and balanced growth pattern." The strained consensus reflects behind-the-scenes clashes that erupted on Thursday, … [Read more...]

Global economy is ’urgent priority’: G7

(From left) David Cameron, Francois Hollande, Justin Trudeau, Jean-Claude Juncker, Shinzo Abe, Donald Tusk, Matteo Renzi, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel participate in a G7 working session in Shima. — AFP Photo

Pumping up the world economy is an "urgent priority" G7 leaders said on Friday, but left the door open for a go-your-own-way approach in a sign of lingering divisions over how to boost growth. Wrapping up their meeting in rural Japan, the leaders of the Group of Seven endorsed a pick-and-mix approach to dealing with the malaise that has lingered since the global financial crisis struck in 2008. "Global growth is our urgent priority," the G7 said in a final statement. "Taking into account country-specific circumstances, we commit to strengthening our economic policy responses in a cooperative manner and to employing a more forceful and balanced policy mix, in order to swiftly achieve a strong, sustainable and balanced growth pattern." The strained consensus reflects behind-the-scenes clashes that erupted on Thursday, with disputes over just how bad things actually are. In a plenary session Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued that the global economy faced a risk of … [Read more...]

CNN interviews Vietnamese rapper Suboi about her chat with President Obama

Play Thanh Van

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnamese rapper Suboi, 26, was interviewed live on CNN via Skype on May 25 after her exchange with US President Barack Obama in HCM City during a town hall meeting with a group from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). In talks between President Obama anda group of YSEALI members in HCM City on Wednesday, rapper Suboi attracted the attention of the US media when she rapped at the request of Obama. CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times wrote about the Vietnamese rapper. Obama had also asked her what the rap meant. "I was just talking about how some people have a lot of money, have big houses, but actually are they really happy?" she told Obama. At the meeting, Obama spoke about the importance of the arts in international politics, making some music of his own to drop a very brief beat for rapper Suboi during the final moments. The 26-year-old rapper asked Obama about the role of the arts in international relations. "I want to know … [Read more...]

As ties deepen, elite U.S., Vietnam forces eye possible opening

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TAMPA, Fla., May 26 - Special operations forces from the United States and Vietnam are signaling a readiness to start forging ties should their governments choose to do so, in what would be a major step in relations between militaries that were at war 4-1/2 decades ago. Rear Admiral Colin Kilrain, who leads U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Asia-Pacific region, told Reuters in an interview that he met the commander from Vietnam's elite forces on the sidelines of a conference in Tampa, Florida, this week. "Both of us would like to deepen the relationship but we're also very mindful that we go at the pace of what our governments want to do," Kilrain said, disclosing the details of the meeting. The talks, which lasted about half an hour on Wednesday, came two days after U.S. President Barack Obama ended the U.S. arms embargo on Vietnam during a visit to that country on Monday. Obama's trip to Vietnam, which borders China, underscored shared concerns about China's growing … [Read more...]