Squeezed by debt crisis, Greeks ditch cars for bikes


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


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


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...]

Explosion damages toilet at Japan’s controversial shrine for war dead


Police officers and fire fighters investigate at the south gate of Japan's controversial Yasukuni Shrine where there was an explosion and burned the ceiling and wall of the public bathroom, in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 23, 2015. A blast at Japan's controversial Yasukuni Shrine for the war dead in Tokyo on Monday damaged the ceiling of a public toilet near an entrance, but did not cause any injuries, police said. The incident occurred while more than 100 people were gathered at the shrine for a harvest ritual, marking Japan's Labor Thanksgiving public holiday, but it did not interrupt their celebrations. The Yaksukuni Shrine is regarded as a symbol of Japan's past militarism and visits to the shrine by Japanese politicians have stoked protests from China and South Korea, where memories of Japanese occupation and colonialism before and during World War Two run deep. The authorities have not said what caused the blast, but police are investigating for any … [Read more...]

Wary Parisians vow to keep party going one week after attacks


A drawing which reproduces French photographer Robert Doisneau's picture ''Le baiser de l'Hotel de ville'' (Kiss by the Town Hall) with the words ''Not even hurt'' over it, is seen on a wall near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, November 20, 2015. Parisians braved the cold and rain on Friday to go for drinks and make sure the lights stayed on in the trendy, multicultural eastern parts of the capital that were hit by Islamist militants only a week ago. Many of the 130 victims of last Friday's attacks were enjoying drinks after work on an unusually warm autumn night when Islamic State gunmen sprang from cars and sprayed them with bullets in France's worst violence since World War Two. Tension was still high in Paris at the end of a week in which there were scores of false alarms, episodes of crowd panic and a seven-hour gunfight that left the suspected mastermind of the attacks dead. Though some Parisians were still thinking twice about going out, some 200 figures from the … [Read more...]

Several Paris attackers were on U.S. watchlists: officials


French special police forces secure the area as shots are exchanged in Saint-Denis, France, near Paris, November 18, 2015 during an operation to catch fugitives from Friday night's deadly attacks in the French capital. At least four of the Paris attackers were listed in a central counter-terrorism database maintained by the U.S. intelligence community, five U.S. officials said on Thursday. At least one and possibly more of the attackers was also on a more selective U.S. "no fly list", three of the officials said, though they would not provide a specific number. In coordinated attacks in Paris last Friday, 129 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the worst violence in France since World War Two. The U.S. officials said four of the attackers who have been publicly named by France were listed before the attacks in TIDE, a central, highly classified database of raw information maintained by the National … [Read more...]

At least two die in police raid on group planning new Paris attack

A woman suicide bomber blew herself up in a police raid on November 18 that sources said had foiled a jihadi plan to hit Paris's business district, days after a wave of attacks killed 129 across the French capital. Police stormed an apartment in the Paris suburb of St. Denis before dawn in a hunt for Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian militant accused of masterminding the bombings and shootings, but by evening it was still unclear if he had died in the assault. Heavily armed officers triggered a massive firefight and multiple explosions when they entered the building. Eight people were arrested and forensic scientists were working to confirm if two or three militants had died in the violence. "A new team of terrorists has been neutralized," Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters on November 18 evening, saying police had fired 5,000 rounds of munitions into the apartment, which was left shredded by the raid, its windows blown out and the facade riddled with bullet impacts. A … [Read more...]

Two die in police raid targeting suspected Paris attack mastermind


Members of French special police forces of the Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI) are seen near a raid zone in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, November 18, 2015 during an operation to catch fugitives from Friday night's deadly attacks in the French capital. Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann A woman suicide bomber blew herself up and another militant died on Wednesday when police raided an apartment in the Paris suburb of St. Denis seeking suspects in last week's attacks in the French capital. Three sources told Reuters the raid stopped a jihadist cell that had been planning an attack on Paris's business district, La Defense, after coordinated bombings and shootings killed 129 across the city. Officials said police had been hunting Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian Islamist militant accused of masterminding the Nov. 13 carnage, but more than nine hours after the launch of the pre-dawn raid it was still unclear if they had found him. Seven people were arrested in the operation, … [Read more...]

France seeks global coalition against Islamic State, launches new strikes


French President Francois Hollande (C) flanked by French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (2ndL) and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (2ndR) stand among students as they observe a minute of silence at the Sorbonne University in Paris to pay tribute to victims of Friday's Paris attacks, France, November 16, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool France's President Francois Hollande called on the United States and Russia on Monday to join a global coalition to destroy Islamic State following the attacks in Paris, and hours later French fighter jets launched fresh strikes on targets in Syria. "France is at war," Hollande told a joint session of parliament at the Palace of Versailles, promising to increase funds for national security and strengthen anti-terrorism laws in response to the suicide bombings and shootings that killed 129. "We're not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism … [Read more...]

Vowing to destroy terrorism, France seeks global coalition against Islamic State


PARIS, Nov 16 - French President Francois Hollande called on the United States and Russia on Monday to join a global coalition to destroy Islamic State following the attacks across Paris, and announced a wave of measures to combat terrorism in France. "France is at war," Hollande told a joint session of parliament at the Palace of Versailles, promising to increase funds for national security and strengthen anti-terrorism laws in response to the suicide bombings and shootings that killed 129. "We're not engaged in a war of civilisations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world," he told a packed, somber chamber. Parliamentarians gave Hollande a standing ovation before spontaneously singing the "Marseillaise" national anthem in a show of political unity after the worst atrocity France has seen since World War Two. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday's coordinated attacks, saying … [Read more...]

France police raid homes, vow it’s ‘just the beginning’


Police raided homes of suspected Islamist militants across France overnight following the Paris attacks, and a source close to the investigation said a Belgian national in Syria was suspected of orchestrating Friday's mayhem. Prosecutors said one of the killers had been stopped and fingerprinted in Greece last month, fuelling speculation the Islamic State had taken advantage of the recent influx of refugees fleeing the Middle East to slip militants into Europe. The Paris carnage, which killed 129 people, has led to calls for the European Union to close its borders to asylum seekers. Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned France could be hit by new violence but said the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks in retaliation for French airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, would never win. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told journalists on Monday police arrested 23 people and seized arms including rocket launchers in 168 raids overnight. Another 104 people were … [Read more...]

France launches air strikes in Syria; Paris investigation widens


People gather outside Notre Dame Cathedral where a mass is held following a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 15, 2015. French warplanes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria on Sunday as police in Europe widened their investigations into coordinated attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday's suicide bombings and shootings, which have re-ignited a row over Europe's refugee crisis and drawn calls to block a huge influx of Muslim asylum-seekers. French police have launched an international hunt for a Belgian-born man they believe helped organize the assaults with two of his brothers. One of the brothers died in the attacks, while the second one is under arrest in Belgium, a judicial source said. A further two French suicide attackers have been identified, police said, while the identity of four other assailants, who all died in the violence, was still under review. France has been bombing Islamic State … [Read more...]

Obama urges Russia to join renewed effort to eliminate Islamic State


U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Sunday to step up efforts to eliminate Islamic State and prevent more attacks like those in Paris, while urging Russia's Vladimir Putin to focus on combating the jihadist group in Syria. A White House official said Obama and Putin agreed during a 35-minute meeting on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Turkey on the need for a political transition in Syria, saying events in Paris had made it all the more urgent. The two-day summit brings Obama and fellow world leaders just 500 km (310 miles) from Syria, whose 4-1/2-year conflict has transformed Islamic State into a global security threat and spawned Europe's largest migration flows since World War Two. Obama described Friday's killing of more than 120 people in Paris, claimed by the radical Sunni militant group, as an attack on the civilized world and said the United States would work with France to hunt down those responsible. "The skies have been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place … [Read more...]

Paris attack puts terrorism center-stage as world leaders meet in Turkey


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference after a meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Istanbul. (Credit: Reuters) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged world leaders on November 14 to prioritize the fight against terrorism as they gathered for a summit in southwestern Turkey, saying the Paris attacks claimed by Islamic State showed the time for words was now over. The worst bloodshed in France since the end of World War Two cast a pall over preparations for the two-day summit of the Group of 20 major economies that begins on Sunday and is due to be attended by heads of state including U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. French President Francois Hollande has pulled out of the meetings but told Erdogan by phone that his foreign and finance ministers would attend, Turkish presidential sources said. At least 127 people were killed as bombers and gunmen went on a rampage across the French capital overnight, … [Read more...]

World shows solidarity, tightens security after Paris attacks


A combination photograph from around the world shows vigils and prayer ceremonies for the victims of the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks. The photographs (from top to bottom, L to R ) : vigil in Sydney, rally in Rio de Janeiro, vigil in Tel Aviv, vigil in Lausanne, vigil in Marseille, tribute at the French embassy in Warsaw, tribute at Brandenburg gate in Berlin, lit walls of Jerusalem's Old City, and vigil in Seoul. Photo: Reuters/Staff World leaders responded to deadly attacks in Paris with defiant pledges of solidarity and Europe tightened security after Islamic State said it was behind an assault by gunmen and bombers that left at least 129 dead in the French capital. From Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin and across Europe and the Middle East, leaders expressed their condolences to French President Francois Hollande who said the attacks amounted to an act of war against France. After the worst bloodshed in France since the end of World War Two, European neighbours including … [Read more...]

After Paris attacks, pressure builds for big military response to Islamic State

The Paris terror attacks are likely to galvanize a stronger global military response to Islamic State, after a US-led air war that has lasted more than a year has failed to contain a group now proving itself to be a growing worldwide threat. The United States, long accused of taking an incremental approach to the struggle, is under growing political pressure at home and abroad to do more and it is expected to examine ways to intensify the campaign, including through expanded air power. US officials say Washington will look in particular to European and Arab allies to step up their military participation in the war in Iraq and Syria. It remains far from clear whether Paris and Washington would be willing to radically expand the scope of their current military engagement, given a deep aversion to getting dragged into a large-scale ground war in the Middle East. But President Barack Obama has been committing more to the fight in recent months, and lawmakers and counter-terrorism … [Read more...]

Islamic State claims Paris attacks that killed 127


Police investigators arrive outside the Bataclan concert hall the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 14, 2015. Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for a coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers that killed 127 people at locations across Paris that President Francois Hollande said amounted to an act of war against France. In the worst attack, a Paris city hall official said four gunmen systematically slaughtered at least 87 young people at a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building. Dozens of survivors were rescued, and bodies were still being recovered on Saturday morning. Some 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, the official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium, where Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly soccer international. The assaults came as France, … [Read more...]