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0927新聞英文選讀 0927新聞英文選讀 Document Transcript

  • 0927 新聞英文選讀  準時上課(週六 0930), 不遲到. 上課手機關機或靜音 1.一週國際財經大事短訊 Business this week (Quick Takes for TV and Radio) America’s government unveiled a plan to end the credit crunch by spending up to $700 billion buying troubled assets from financial institutions. Hank Paulson, the treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, argued that swift and forceful action was needed to stem growing panic about the soundness of the financial system. But many members of Congress, which must approve the plan, complained variously that the government was seizing too much power, letting reckless bankers off too lightly and failing to help struggling homeowners. The Federal Reserve gave America’s last two big investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, permission to change their status to bank holding firms. They will be subject to stiffer regulation, but allowed to take deposits. Goldman Sachs raised $5 billion to shore up its capital by selling shares to Berkshire Hathaway, the firm run by Warren Buffett, a celebrated investor. The next day, it raised $5 billion more from a share offering. Mitsubishi-UFJ, Japan’s largest bank, agreed to buy up to 20% of Morgan Stanley for $8.4 billion. Nomura, a Japanese investment bank, offered to buy bits of the European, Middle Eastern and Asian divisions of Lehman Brothers, an American rival that declared itself bankrupt last week, for an undisclosed sum. Barclays, a British bank, bought Lehman’s main American unit for $250m, and several of its properties for $1.29 billion. Moody’s, a rating agency, lowered its outlook for 12 Russian banks, despite a government rescue package worth$120 billion. The state-owned Development Bank said it would take over Svyaz Bank, a struggling private one. Meanwhile a fund controlled by Mikhail Prokhorov, a former mining magnate, agreed to buy half of Renaissance Capital, a big Russian investment bank, for $500m. 1
  • Chrysler, America’s third-biggest carmaker, said it had lost $400m so far this year. At the same time, it tried to dispel doubts about its future by unveiling prototypes for three different electric vehicles, including a sports car. Six American states were due to set the country’s first mandatory cap- and-trade scheme to combat global warming in motion on September 25th with an auction of permits to emit greenhouse gases. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will impose a limit on emissions from big power stations in ten north-eastern states from the beginning of next year. T-Mobile, a telecoms firm, unveiled the first mobile phone to use Android, operating software developed by Google, an internet-search giant. Android is designed, among other things, to make it easier for people to access the internet from their phones. Google also plans tie-ups with other handset-makers. The oil price was volatile. It shot up by $16 a barrel on September 22nd, mainly for technical reasons, to close at $121. It fell back to $106 two days later. Manufacturing and services activity in the euro area fell in September, reaching their lowest level since 2001, according to the purchasing managers’ composite index. The survey implied that GDP shrank in the third quarter, which would constitute a technical recession after the second-quarter decline. The IFO business-climate index for Germany fell sharply in September, adding further evidence that the European economy is weakening. The outlook for Asian economies is darkening. New forecasts from the Asian Development Bank for GDP growth in 2009 are generally lower than the ones it made in April. Next year’s growth projection for China has merely been shaved, from 9.8% to 9.5%, but forecasts for some countries have been shorn. Vietnam is now expected to grow by 6.0% rather than 8.1%; India by 7.0% compared with 8.5%. The bank says that emerging Asia is being hit by lower demand for its exports in developed economies and by tighter and more costly access to global capital markets as a 2
  • result of the financial crisis. Growth prospects are also dimming because of steps taken in the region to tighten monetary policy so as to contain inflation. 2. 一週國際政治大事短訊 Politics this week (Quick Takes for TV and Radio) South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, was forced to resign by the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). This followed a bitter legal and constitutional struggle with Jacob Zuma, who ousted him as party leader last year. Kgalema Motlanthe, an ANC ally of Mr Zuma, will serve as caretaker president until an election in which Mr Zuma is expected to win the post. Mr Mbeki’s deputy and ten ministers also resigned, of whom six said they would not serve in a new government. Nearly two weeks after a power-sharing agreement was agreed on in Zimbabwe, ministerial posts in a unity government had yet to be allocated. President Robert Mugabe and a large entourage went to New York to attend the annual opening session of the UN’s General Assembly. Iraq’s parliament passed a long-awaited law providing for provincial elections to be held, probably before the end of January, though they had been due next month. Elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk were to be postponed until a separate agreement could be reached. Finland’s prime minister called for tougher gun controls after a gunman shot and killed nine students and a teacher at a college in the west of the country before killing himself. The number of Chinese children admitted to hospital after drinking infant-milk formula tainted with melamine climbed to 13,000. Li Changjiang, the head of China’s quality-control watchdog, resigned. Four children in Hong Kong have also been diagnosed with kidney stones after drinking milk from the mainland. Many other countries have started testing Chinese dairy products or taking them off shop shelves. Suicide-bombers detonated an enormous bomb outside the Marriott Hotel in the centre of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. It killed 53 people and wounded more than 260. A previously unknown group, Fedayeen Islam, 3
  • claimed responsibility. A few hours earlier Asif Zardari, Pakistan’s new president, made his first speech to parliament. He promised to protect the country’s sovereignty, a message he later conveyed to George Bush in New York. Pakistanis have been incensed by recent American raids on militants on their territory. Among 9,002 prisoners granted amnesties by Myanmar’s ruling junta were a handful of political prisoners, including the longest-serving one, Win Tin. But more than 2,000 are believed still to be detained, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition. Most analysts thought the releases had been timed to influence opinion at the UN General Assembly session in New York. Taro Aso easily won an election to become leader of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party and was sworn in as prime minister, the country’s third new leader in two years. There was speculation that he might call a snap general election, though one does not have to be held until September 2009. North Korea said it planned to restart its plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, which it had pledged to dismantle as part of a denuclearisation process agreed with America, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. UN inspectors were asked to remove seals and surveillance cameras from the plant. Barack Obama and John McCain were due to meet in Oxford, Mississippi for the first of their three eagerly awaited presidential debates. But Mr McCain appealed for a delay while Congress attempted to tackle the financial crisis. Mr Obama declined one, leading to impasse. Russian warships set off to Latin America to take part in joint manoeuvres with Venezuela, for the first time since the cold war. Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, said Latin America needed a strong friendship with Russia to help reduce the influence of the United States in the region. 3. 中國食品管理問題驚嚇全世界 Food regulation in China The poison 4
  • spreads Tainted milk kills children—and harms China’s image abroad WITH each passing day the news about China’s tainted-milk scandal gets worse. It started with reports in the Chinese press on September 10th about tainted baby-formula produced by Sanlu, a large diary firm, but has since spread to 21 other producers, including the three Chinese giants, Mengniu, Yili, and Bright. Four children have died, 53,000 have been taken ill and there is no end in sight. The range of products found to have been tainted with melamine (an industrial chemical used to hide the fact that milk has been watered down) now includes milk, yogurt, sweets and cake. Private testing laboratories, which have sprung up like mushrooms in China recently, are working overtime testing food. Several countries in Asia and Africa have banned imports of Chinese dairy products, and testing has been stepped up in Europe and America. Even if no more problems emerge, damage has been done. A survey by Interbrand, a consultancy, shows that the post- Olympics improvement in the perception of the “Made in China” brand has been wiped out by the scandal. Fonterra, a New Zealand co-operative that owns 43% of Sanlu, has been praised for working with New Zealand’s government to push Sanlu and the Chinese government to disclose information about contaminated products and get them off the shelves and out of homes. But it has also been slammed for not doing more—in particular, for not going public earlier (it first learnt of problems in early August). Several of China’s big internet portals have also been accused of filtering out information about tainted milk from as long ago as December, in order to protect China’s reputation during the run-up to the Olympics. The government’s response has changed, seemingly overnight, from suppression to intervention. The chairwoman of Sanlu has been detained. Four milk dealers have been arrested and 22 others held for questioning. The mayor of the city where Sanlu is based has resigned, along with the local Communist Party leader and the head of China’s national department of quality supervision. Whether all of this will address the problems with China’s food- production system is questionable. The boss of one big food company says 5
  • that at a local level, regulation is the responsibility of the Communist Party officials. Companies close to the party get an easy ride, until there is a breakdown, at which point punishment is draconian. Until the regulatory and judicial systems become independent, there will always be an incentive to ignore problems until they explode. Foreign companies have been concerned about the possibility of such a scandal for some time. Unilever dumped its joint ventures years ago, to ensure it had full control of all domestic Chinese operations. McDonald’s has created its own closed supply chain, spanning beef, fries, bread and pickles. Coca-Cola imposes stringent rules on suppliers of sugar, water and carbon dioxide. This approach is being greeted with increasing approval within China. In monitoring consumer opinions, Coke says it initially found its recent effort to acquire Huiyuan, a large juice company, generated complaints on websites from nationalists opposed in principle to foreign brands. But support for the deal has since grown as a result of the company’s reputation for safety and quality. Chinese firms are just beginning to build up their own brands and have yet to establish the kind of trust that persuades people that it is worth paying more for a better product, says Tom Doctoroff, chief executive in China of JWT, an advertising agency. Never has there been more reason for that to change. 4. 神舟 7 號升空為中國太空科技爭面子 Lift-off for China space mission China has launched its third manned space mission - which is to feature the country's first spacewalk. The Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit atop a Long-March II-F rocket from the Jiuquan spaceport in Gansu province in the northwest of China. The 70-hour flight will include a spacewalk undertaken by 42-year-old fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang. Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other "yuhangyuan" (astronauts) - Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng. The rocket lit up the darkness as it blasted off from Jiuquan at 2110 Beijing Time (1310 GMT). 6
  • China's president Hu Jintao met the three astronauts before the lift- off, wishing them success on the nation's riskiest space mission yet. "You will definitely accomplish this glorious and sacred mission. The motherland and the people are looking forward to your triumphant return," President Hu told the yuhangyuan, who were dressed in flight suits and behind glass to avoid being exposed to germs. The rocket will put the Shenzhou capsule in a near-circular orbit more than 300km above the Earth. Mr Zhai will conduct his extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on either Friday or Saturday. When he steps out into space, Mr Zhai is expected to wear a Chinese-made space suit and will be tethered to the capsule for safety. Liu Boming will monitor the activity, presumably to reel the spacewalker back inside if there is an emergency. Mr Zhai will retrieve an externally mounted experiment and oversee the release of a satellite. At the end of the mission, the Shenzhou re-entry capsule will target a landing in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Dr Roger Launius, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, told BBC News: "It is a demonstration of technological virtuosity. It's a method of showing the world they are second to none - which is a very important objective for [China]." China became only the third nation after the United States and Russia to independently put a man in space when Yang Liwei, another fighter pilot, went into orbit on the Shenzhou V mission in October 2003. Two years later, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a five-day flight on Shenzhou VI. According to the Associated Press, China's official news agency posted an article on its website prior to the lift-off that was written as if Shenzhou VII had already been launched into space. The article reportedly carried a date of 27 September and came complete with a dialogue between the astronauts. Chinese media report that this latest mission is the "most critical step" in the country's "three-step" space programme. 7
  • These stages are: sending a human into orbit, docking spacecraft together to form a small laboratory and, ultimately, building a large space station. The Shenzhou VIII and IX missions are expected to help set up a space laboratory complex in 2010. China launched an unmanned Moon probe last year about one month after rival Japan blasted its own lunar orbiter into space. 5.他山之石 --韓國試圖降低社會壓力—學費高補習多人民苦 S Korea slams high tuition costs President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea has called for measures to reduce the financial burden of private tuition. Latest estimates suggest South Korean households spend an average of $600 (£323) a month on private lessons. Figures from 2006 show expenses with extra-curricular tuition approaching $30bn (£16bn), nearly 4% of annual GDP. South Korea has a fiercely competitive academic system. About half the money used for private tuition is spent on improving English language skills. Although South Korea scores highly in most science-related subjects, its students tend to lack fluency in English. The state-run education system, with its rigid emphasis on rote learning, has been blamed for failing to encourage creativity and proficiency in foreign languages. Anecdotal evidence suggests that despite achieving high marks in English exams, some students remain unable to speak even an easy sentence. Cram schools, known as hagwon, are often the answer. Children and teenagers attend them after normal school hours, studying hard well after nightfall. They spend more time in school than their counterparts in any other developed country. With broadband internet access in almost all households, South Korean students also purchase live interactive tuition packages. These packages allow them to develop comprehension and conversation skills by talking to qualified native speakers overseas. Many also seek education abroad, with Koreans forming the largest foreign student contingent in the United States. But the large sums spent on tuition weigh heavily on the budget of Korean families, particularly at a time of declining economic growth. The amount spent privately now 8
  • exceeds the state's own education budget. Conservative president Lee Myung-bak has blamed the inadequacies of the state-run system for South Korea's failure to achieve higher productivity and catch up with the world's richest nations. In a radical move after he came to power earlier this year, his administration suggested teaching many subjects in English in state schools - including Korean history. The idea proved too controversial to become official policy. The lack of sufficiently qualified teachers would also have been a major obstacle. But Mr Lee seems determined to shake up the system. He told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that he wanted private schools' bills to shrink, and state schools to introduce rankings and competition among teachers. He has also asked his government to look at ways to relieve the financial burden on families in the short term. "New policy measures are now needed to immediately help ordinary households," he is quoted as saying. "Private educational institutions are accused of excessively raising their fees, although their business is irrelevant to global oil prices." 6. 埃及觀光客小心被綁架 Kidnapped tourists taken to Libya Bandits who kidnapped 19 tourists and Egyptians in the desert have moved them from Sudan to Libya, shadowed by Sudanese forces who have said they will not put the hostages' lives at risk. "The kidnappers and the tourists have moved to Libya, about 13 to 15 kilometres (eight to nine miles) across the border," Ali Yousuf, director of protocol at the Sudanese foreign ministry, told AFP. "All hostages are well, according to our information, and we are monitoring the situation... Military forces are in the area, but we are not going to make any move that puts the lives of those being held in any risk." The group of five Germans, five Italians and a Romanian as well as eight Egyptian drivers and guides was snatched by masked bandits while on a desert safari to view prehistoric art in Egypt's remote southwest on September 19. An Egyptian official has said the bandits want Germany to pay a six-million-euro (8.8 million dollar) ransom. "Germany is in contact 9
  • with the kidnappers, and Sudan is remaining in close contact with the Egyptian, Italian, German and Romanian authorities," Yousuf said. Libyan authorities, contacted by AFP, declined to comment on the hostages' whereabouts. An Egyptian source quoted by the official MENA news agency said the group had moved "most probably because of water shortage in the place where they were kidnapped." "Sudanese authorities have informed us they (the hostages) have been moved to Libya," a security official in Cairo said, asking not to be named. "We don't know if they are being released or if the crisis is worsening." The group's latest move means they are heading west around Jebel Uweinat, a 1,900-metre-high (6,200-foot- high) plateau roughly 30 kilometres (20 miles) in diameter that straddles the borders of Egypt, Libya and Sudan. In August, two hijackers of a Sudanese plane surrendered to Libyan authorities after landing in Kufra, an oasis in southeast Libya and some 300 kilometres (200 miles) away. In contrast to the undeveloped Egyptian and Sudanese territory around Jebel Uweinat, the Libyan side has access to roads and also has a continuous military presence. Egypt has said Germany is heading negotiations through the German wife of the Egyptian tour operator who is among the missing. Berlin has only said it has set up a kidnap crisis team. Several different ransom figures have been cited since the group was first reported missing on Monday. The group was taken from Egypt's Gilf el-Kabir 25 kilometres (17 miles) into Sudan to Jebel Uweinat, where Sudanese forces were "besieging the area." Khartoum has said the hostages have not been harmed and it has no intention of storming the area "so as to preserve the lives of the kidnapped persons." 10
  • Travellers in their 70s are among the hostages being held in the desert, where daytime temperatures can hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) even in September. The area of the kidnapping is a desert plateau famous for prehistoric cave paintings, including the "Cave of the Swimmers" featured in the 1996 film "The English Patient." Authorities only became aware of the abduction on Monday when the tour group leader phoned his wife to tell her of the ransom demand. An Egyptian security official has said the kidnappers are "most likely Chadian" after Sudan said they were Egyptians. Other officials have suggested the kidnappers rebels are from one of Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, although several rebel groups have denied this. Kidnappings of foreigners are rare in Egypt, although in 2001 an armed Egyptian held four German tourists hostage for three days in the Nile resort of Luxor, demanding that his estranged wife bring his two sons back from Germany. He freed the hostages unharmed. 11