Unimpressive growth for U.S. economy (1:12)
May 26 – Summary of business headlines: No revision of U.S. first-quarter growth (không điều chỉnh về dự báo tăng trưởng Q1) ; Consumer spending slower than first thought, corporate profits shrink for first time in more than two years; Jobless claims unexpectedly rise. Carmen Roberts reports.
There’s no doubt the U.S. economy has slowed. A second reading of economic growth shows it stayed at the same unimpressive rate of 1.8 percent during the first three months of the year. That’s 42 percent slower than the fourth quarter. The first quarter was also disappointing for U.S. corporate profits. They fell for the first time in more than two years. The drop in after-tax profits likely reflected a slowdown in productivity growth as companies stepped up hiring last quarter. But a rise in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits last week, suggests the pace of hiring may be slowing. Consumers also pulled back more than first thought from January through March, as higher food and gasoline prices kicked up inflation at the fastest pace in 2-1/2 years. And it appears sluggish growth continues this quarter – weighed down by lackluster retail sales and a supply chain disruption from the earthquake in Japan. Carmen Roberts.
Libyan rebels advance towards Tripoli (1:39)
AUG 16 – Libyan rebel fighters take control of the town of Garyan and seize an oil refinery as they advance towards Tripoli. Sunita Rappai reports. ( Transcript )
Victory for Libyan rebels as they take control of an oil refinery in the town of Zawiyah – blocking the main highway north to the capital Tripoli. Zawiyah is just 50 kms west of Tripoli. Recent rebel advances like these are increasing the pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, after months of stalemate. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN REBEL IN MILITARY VEHICLE SAYING: “Gaddafi is finished! He has fallen! This is Brega, it’s the Zawiyah refinery. Libya Freedom despite them! We are her children (Libya) and he is a (Gadaffi) Jew!” Rebel leaders say they fought 150 Gadaffi troops in a battle that lasted two days. Doctors at a nearby hospital say that nine people were killed and at least 45 injured in the fighting. In another significant victory, rebel fighters also celebrate in the town of Garyan – 80kms from Tripoli. They now control the main highway from the south into Tripoli – increasing pressure on the embattled Gadaffi. Cartridge cases littering the street and buildings pockmarked by bullets bear testament to the fighting here. A spokesman for Gadaffi played down the gains and said the government remained in control. The 69-year-old leader’s whereabouts are unknown. Sunita Rappai,
U.S. calls on Syria’s Assad to resign (2:29)
Aug. 18 – For the first time the United States has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign after a brutal crackdown on demonstrators. Deborah Lutterbeck reports. ( Transcript )
The United States says it is time for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to the press after the White House released a statement for U.S. President Barack Obama. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: (English) “The people of Syria deserve a government that respects their dignity respects their rights and lives up to their aspirations. Assad is standing in their way. The time has come for him to step aside and that is what we will continue to work to achieve. This is the first time the US has called on Assad to step down after a brutal crackdown by Syrian forces on demonstrations against his family’s 41-year reign illustrated by this amateur video of Syria which could not be independently verified by Reuters. The moves are intended to ratchet up pressure on Assad, who has used his military and security forces to attack protesters seeking an end to his regime. While the United States has previously called for Assad to embark on democratic reforms or to get out of the way, Obama’s statement marks the first explicit call for him to go and seems to reflect a U.S. conclusion that he is incapable of reform. The U.S. sanctions and demand for Assad’s exit were followed by similar calls from Britain, France and Germany. The new U.S. sanctions immediately freeze all Syrian government assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit any any transactions involving the Assad government. The United States has long accused Syria of being a state sponsor of terrorism, of meddling in the affairs of Lebanon, supporting Palestinian militants and stirring violence against U.S. forces in Iraq. Deborah Lutterbeck,
China shuts schools for migrants (1:55)
Aug 18 – More than 20 schools have been closed around the Chinese capital Beijing leaving the children of migrant workers nowhere to study. Lily Grimes reports. ( Transcript )
Migrant children are barred from Chinese state education so many rely on private schools like this one. But according to state media China has shut more than 20 schools forcing 14,000 students to drop out. The government says they do not meet safety and hygiene standards. But parents worry that if their children stop school now, it will be the end of their education. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) MIGRANT MOTHER, XUE QINGMEI, SAYING: “The other schools are miles away. Who can take my child there and back? None of us parents have the money to get them there and back. So none of us want our children to go there. Plus, they’re not public schools, they’re private too. Why can they carry on while this school closes? What they are doing doesn’t make any sense at all. All of us parents are furious” Some, like New Hope School, have already been destroyed. Students have not been offered places at other schools. Lawyer Peng Jian represents a group of students. He has documents showing that many schools have in fact passed safety inspections. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) LAWYER WITH BEIJING HUAHUAN LAW FIRM PENG JIAN SAYING: “Getting an education is not just a right, it is obliged by law. So what is actually happening here – the widespread, senseless closure of these private schools – will violate the right to education of some of these students.” There are 150 million rural migrant workers in the world’s second largest economy. A state think-tank has warned that unless the migrants receive better welfare their discontent could become a serious threat to stability. Lily Grimes, Reuters
Seven dead in Israel in attack near Egypt border (2:02)
Aug. 18 – A series of shooting attacks in southern Israel has left at least seven people dead. Deborah Lutterbeck reports. ( Transcript )
Wounded Israeli soldiers arrive at a hospital following a series of shooting attacks in southern Israel that left at least seven people dead. Gunmen opened fire on Israeli vehicles near the frontier with Egypt’s Sinai desert, raising concerns in Israel over heightened militant activity along the porous border. The military says gunmen first ambushed a civilian bus and wounded at least seven people on Israel’s Highway 12, a desert road north of the popular Red Sea resort of Eilat. The road passes within meters of the open frontier with Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attacks a grave concern and said Israel would respond accordingly. Hamas has denied responsibility for the attacks. SOUNDBITE: Hamas spokesman Taher el-Nunu: (Arabic) “We stress that we have no involvement in what happened today in Eilat. The Israeli threats made by Ehud Barak and other occupation leaders are but an attempt at expressing discontent with an internal Israeli crisis and an attempt at transferring that crisis into the Gaza Strip.” The Israeli military put the number of wounded at around 25. Special forces were called in and engaged the gunmen as police and military closed roads around Eilat. The military said between two and four gunmen were killed. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.
A quick tumble on Wall Street as investors wonder what impact a potential banking crisis in Europe will have on U.S. banks and on the wider economy. The Dow fell more than 500 points at its worst level of the day so far, and European markets are down between 4 and 5 percent. Stephen Freedman is head of investment strategy at UBS Wealth Management. SOUNDBITE: STEPHEN FREEDMAN, HEAD OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY, UBS WEALTH MANAGEMENT RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: “I would say that, in terms of a really bad scenario, the situation in Europe is more worrisome because it has to do with the banking sector. It is something, which if it is not managed properly, has the potential to turn into something much more ugly; something more like the events that we saw in 2008.” Those jitters add to new concerns about U.S. growth after a series of disappointing economic numbers released on Thursday. Businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region slammed on the brakes this month, with manufacturing activity plunging to its slowest since March 2009. State unemployment lines grew more than expected last week… Consumer prices rose in July at their fastest pace in four months… And sales of previously owned homed surprisingly dropped last month. With investors bracing for weaker growth in the U.S. and across Europe, many are deciding to pile into gold. The price of the precious metal is setting new highs once again. Conway Gittens, Reuters