Ahad, 13 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Australia can expect up to 11 cyclones this 'storm season' - official weather bureau


SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia can expect an average cyclone season with up to 11 tropical storms, four of them severe, in the next six months, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast said on Monday.

Australia's cyclone season runs from November 1 to April 30 with storms forming in the tropical waters off the northeast and northwest coasts before making landfall.

Each year, cyclones close shipping lanes and disrupt mining of hundreds of millions of tonnes of iron ore, coal and other commodities in Australia.

Last February, Cyclone Rusty, packing winds up to 200 kms (120 miles) per hour, closed the Indian Ocean ports of Cape Lambert and Dampier ports used by Rio Tinto. It also closed nearby Port Hedland, used by BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals, which handle 500 million tonnes of iron ore annually between them.

Flooding caused by cyclones in eastern Australia in January 2011 disrupted about 40 percent of the world's metallurgical coal exports and 8 percent of the world's thermal coal exports

"Near average tropical cyclone activity is most likely for the Australian region this season," the bureau said, citing a neutral outlook for El Nino and La Nina weather events.

In the absence of El Nino or La Nina, cyclone numbers around Australia are most often close to average, though individual years can be above or below the long term mean, it said.

The last time the number of cyclones exceeded the national average was in 2005/06, when 14 cyclones were recorded, nine categorised as severe.

Only cyclones with winds above 165 kms per hour (100 miles) are classified severe by the bureau.

Australia on average sees its first cyclone make landfall in late December.

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Michael Perry)

Merkel starts crucial week of talks on new German government


BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to pick a new coalition partner this week before moving on to detailed negotiations that could produce a new German government within about two months.

While the rest of the Europe waiting for clarity in its pivotal economy, Merkel has moved slowly since the September 22 election towards making a deal with her two potential partners. She meets the Social Democrats on Monday (1400 GMT) and the Greens on Tuesday.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), emerged as the dominant force from the election but, with 311 of the 631 seats in the Bundestag (lower house), they lack a majority.

She had a first round of preliminary talks last week with the SPD, the largest opposition party with 193 seats, and the Greens, the smallest with 63 seats. No decisions were reached and neither party showed much desire to join her after her last partners, the Free Democrats, failed to win enough votes to remain in parliament.

The battered SPD is seen as Merkel's most likely ally, in a revival of the right-left 'grand coalition' that ruled from 2005-09. But Germany's oldest party is split on whether to join Merkel again after seeing its support crumble as her junior partner before.

"Monday's talks will be of decisive importance to answer the question of whether there is a stable foundation for full coalition negotiations," said SPD deputy leader Andrea Nahles.

The possibility that talks could take months worries Germany's European partners, who fear the negotiations could delay decisions on measures to fight the euro zone crisis - such as a plan for banking union.

Merkel has kept the option of a coalition with the Greens alive, despite resistance from the CSU. Tensions are high between the CSU and the Greens, a left-leaning party with roots in the 1970s peace and anti-nuclear movements.

Although the CDU/CSU-Greens coalition is considered less likely, Merkel, a former environment minister, has nurtured the idea for years and promoted conservative lawmakers open to a newfangled alliance with the old political enemy.

She may need the Greens if the SPD baulks. SPD leaders have promised the party's 472,000 grassroots members, many opposed to another coalition with Merkel, the chance to vote on any government agreement - an unprecedented and risky plan that could backfire.

The SPD wants a national minimum wage in Germany, where there is currently none, and higher income taxes on the rich, demands that the CDU/CSU reject. The SPD said on Sunday that there would be no deal without a minimum wage.

The CDU/CSU would get more ministries and more of its policy aims into a coalition with the smaller Greens party, which shared power with the SPD from 1998 to 2005, than with the SPD.

By keeping the option of a coalition with the Greens open, Merkel hopes to have strengthened her hand in talks with the SPD.

"I didn't have the feeling that Merkel was only talking to us for strategic reasons," Greens parliamentary leader Katrin Goering-Eckardt told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "We'll talk at length with her again on Tuesday."

U.N. voices concern over delay to Guinea election results


CONAKRY (Reuters) - The United Nations and the international community on Sunday called upon Guinea's electoral commission to publish results of a September 28 election aimed at completing a transition to democracy, saying it was concerned over the delay.

Disputes over a published partial count have held up the final result and raised fears of a resurgence of violence that killed about 50 people before the vote.

The opposition is calling for the election to be annulled, dampening hopes for an end to years of instability since a 2008 military coup that deterred investment in the world's largest bauxite exporter.

The United Nations and representatives of the international community including the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, the European Union and the International Organisation of the Francophonie, which brokered a deal with the opposition to end protests and allow the legislative vote, said they were concerned by delays in the publication of the results.

Guinea's "National Election Commission should make every effort to complete the tabulation of preliminary election results for publication in any event before Eid al-Adha," the Muslim feast on Tuesday, said the statement issued by the United Nations and the other entities.

It called upon political parties and the election commission to cooperate in publishing results from the Matoto district in the capital Conakry, one of the country's biggest, which both sides claim to have won.

Partial results from 37 of the country's 38 electoral districts show President Alpha Conde's ruling RPG party leads with 53 seats, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's UFDG has 38 seats and former Prime Minister Sidya Toure's UFR has 9.

No party is expected to win an outright majority in the 114-seat parliament, and parties are expected to try to form coalitions after the results are known.

Opposition groups, which have rejected the partial results, last week pulled their representatives out of the election's organising commission, calling for the vote to be annulled.

"Everyone knows that the opposition won all the five districts of Conakry including Matoto. In that district, we are ahead with over 2,000 votes," Toure told Reuters on Sunday.

The ruling party, however, disputed the opposition claims, arguing that it has requested the vote to be recounted because several result sheets where not included in the count.

(Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Mohammad Zargham)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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