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Monday, July 25, 2005

Revaluation buys time

China knows that last week's 2.1% yuan revaluation will not be enough to rebalance its economy and that pressure will grow for a further rise. The renminbi yuan closed a bit firmer in Shanghai at 8.1097 per dollar. The Chinese currency had ended on Friday at 8.1111, a touch below the rate of 8.11 to which it was revalued a day earlier after more than eight years of being fixed near 8.28.
"In the short term, pressure for yuan appreciation will increase further. The change to the currency regime and the small appreciation of the yuan cannot solve China's economic imbalances and the problems of the economy."
Yu was quoted by the China Securities Journal as saying a gradual, controlled appreciation of the yuan in tight ranges could win time for the Chinese economy to adjust. China ditched its peg against the dollar when it revalued and adopted a managed float whereby the yuan's value will be steered in reference to an undisclosed basket of currencies. Zhou Xiaochuan at the weekend called the shift as an "initial adjustment." Comments by Yu suggested that the authorities will put the emphasis on 'managed' rather than 'float'.
"It's not a fixed exchange rate system and it's not completely based on market forces either. Under the new managed floating exchange rate system, the monetary authorities have no clear and committed orbit for the exchange rate."
Sun said the new regime gave the authorities latitude to intervene to hold the rate close to the desired path. Yu said the managed float would allow China to contain speculative forces and reduce excessive fluctuations. Non-deliverable forwards, offshore financial instruments used to bet on the direction of the yuan, showed that traders expected the currency to rise to 7.71 per dollar in a year's time. China has capital controls and other policy tools at its disposal allowing the authorities to limit the impact of any "attack" on the economy stemming from currency appreciation and market expectations of a further strengthening. The revaluation could help redress the imbalance in China's foreign trade and improve its terms of trade. China had a trade surplus of $39.7 billion in the first six months of the year. The revaluation would boost domestic demand and give China more leeway to craft its own monetary policy.
China's yuan holds steady; traders wary CNN

Revaluation an 'initial adjustment' says central bank chief Financial Times
Xinhua - Forbes - Taipei Times - Sydney Morning Herald (subscription) - all 302 related »

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Friday, July 15, 2005

China hopes to launch second manned space mission

China's second manned space mission - called Shenzhou VI - will launch in early October, a state newspaper has reported. This time, authorities will send two astronauts into space and they will orbit the Earth for five or six days.
"The manned spacecraft Shenzhou VI will preferably be launched in early October."
Sun Weigang is director of the Space Department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. China's first manned space flight two years ago made it the third country that is able to launch a humans into space on its own, together with Russia and the United States. Former fighter pilot, Yang Liwei, orbited the Earth for over 21 hours in the Shenzhou V capsule before landing in northern China. China's space programme still operates largely in secret. Yang's name was announced only shortly before his flight and the identities of 14 candidates for the next mission, all former air force fighter pilots, have not been released. China hopes to set up a space station within five years and wants to land an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010. Officials say they will also launch two scientific and experimental satellites by the end of the year, and a further two satellites in 2006 and 2007.

Date set for China space shot BBC News
China hopes to launch second manned space mission Ireland Online - China Daily - Monsters and - Kazinform - all 54 related »
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Monday, July 11, 2005

University warns applicants about hacker

The USC Trojans web site might have been hit by a mere hacker. The security breach is causing great grief among university officials even to the point where they are trying to give notice to over 270,000 individuals who might have used the database over the past eight years. The University of Southern California has announced that a hacker found a security flaw in the online application database that although thousands of student files could have been compromised, the hacker apparently viewed information on fewer than 10 students. Still as a privacy precaution, USC will send letters to all of the potentially affected individuals. According to USC, the hacker didn’t see all the data of the small number of names in the database. The hacker might have had access to student names, addresses and Social Security numbers but not credit card or other financial information. The information leak was discovered when a prospective applicant tried to use the USC website in June and found a flaw. The applicant is believed to have made up to 40 attempts to view student files, but officials estimate he saw only a few. Like a real Trojan, the suspected hacker contacted SecurityFocus to report the flaw, and the publication informed USC. The University’s attempt to notify 270,000 people who used USC´s online for admissions in some way over the last eight years is a substantial undertaking. It underscores the risks of collecting personal information online and the efforts taken by institutions to notify and remediate the security breach. In this case, USC are offering a phone number so those who feel they have been impacted can obtain more information. USC is not the only major institution who has been reportedly breached this year. Some major banking and corporate entities have found themselves vulnerable. The efforts being made by USC to remediate is a sign that institutions consider the threat of a break-in as a real public relations nightmare and personal privacy risks. How the security hole that keeps growing will impact the rise of ecommerce and e-information remains to be seen as the Internet Commerce is working through Version 2.0 after the last Dot Com crash where security incidents undermined confidence in the emerging industry. Hacker Accesses USC Files - USC: Applicants' files may have been read - San Jose Mercury News - CIO Today - - OCRegister (subscription)
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Friday, July 08, 2005

G8 boosts aid to Africa by $50 billion

The leaders from G8 promised on Friday in Gleneagles to increase aid to developing countries by around $50 billion per year by 2010.
"We speak today in the shadow of terrorism but it will not obscure what we came here to achieve. There is no hope in terrorism or any future in it worth living and it is hope that is the alternative to this hatred."
Blair, who skipped much of Thursday’s session to handle the aftermath of the bombs in London which killed more than 50 people, did not give a timetable for reaching the aid target. Campaigners said they understood the deal was to double overall aid to some $100 billion by 2010, with about half of that to Africa. They had pressed for the boost immediately, saying a delay would cost millions of lives.
"We offer today this contrast with the politics of terror. It isn’t all everyone wanted but it is progress, real and achievable progress. It isn’t the end of poverty in Africa, but it is the hope that it can be ended."
The G8 leaders also agreed a package of aid worth up to $3 billion to help the Palestinian Authority and foster peace in the Middle East, he said. They agreed to start a dialogue on November 1 with the major emerging economies on how to slow down and later reverse the rise in greenhouse gases which cause global warming. Environmental groups have criticized their accord as too vague to pose a serious challenge to climate change. The leaders pledged to end farm export aid but set no deadline. They also called for renewed efforts to conclude a new phase of world trade liberalization by the end of next year. Blair had been determined his twin priorities of action on global warming and African poverty would not be wrecked by the London bombings, which British officials say bore the hallmarks of the al Qaeda Islamic militant group. But he brought forward his closing news conference by one hour on Friday to allow him to head back to London in the early afternoon and take charge of the crisis. Blair has declared the widespread privation and suffering in Africa "a scar on the conscience of the world" and his G8 agenda has attracted high-profile backing from rock stars who staged huge "Live 8" concerts around the world ahead of the summit.

Blair lauds G8 doubling of aid to Africa CNN
Defiant G8 agrees major aid boost for Africa Reuters
Financial Express - Deccan Herald - CTV - USA Today - all 325 related »

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Smashing success for Deep Impact probe

NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft completed after 172 days and 268 million miles of deep space stalking, Deep Impact successfully reached out and touched comet Tempel 1! It's a flawless journey to oblivion early today, slamming into an onrushing comet to vaporize itself in an Independence Day blaze of glory. Scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory cheered as spectacular images taken by a second "fly-by" spacecraft positioned nearby confirmed that the "impactor" had scored a perfect bull's-eye, smacking into comet Tempel 1 at its lower edge at 1:52 a.m. EDT, spewing dust and ice in a column of debris that lit up the heavens.
"Oh, my God, look at that! There's considerably more than I thought. It looks enormous."
The fly-by spacecraft used two cameras and an infrared spectrometer to record the event and its aftermath for 13 minutes, then turned away in "shield mode" as the comet passed by only 310 miles away, traveling at a relative speed of 23,000 miles per hour. The impactor carried a camera that sent back crystal-clear pictures of ridge-like features, apparent craters and sinkholes and other pockmarks that grew to dominate its field of vision as the spacecraft closed in on the comet at 6.4 miles per second. The last image was sent only three seconds before the crash.
"It was just phenomenal, we didn't have to exercise one contingency plan. We're minus one spacecraft, the impactor has been totally vaporized."
The fly-by spacecraft emerged 40 minutes after impact none the worse for its close encounter with the comet. Besides the spacecraft images, a network of about 60 Earth- and space-based telescopes, along with thousands of amateur astronomers, were standing by to participate in the first-ever globally coordinated effort to watch an object dig a crater in a comet. By assessing the shape and size of the crater and chemically analyzing the debris that belched from it, scientists hope to gain new insights into the composition of the solar system at the time of its formation 4.5 billion years ago. Comets periodically migrate in from deep space, their outer layers burning away as they approach the sun. To get to the ancient material within, Deep Impact needed to punch through the boiling crust. Deep Impact, with the impactor attached to the fly-by spacecraft, was launched January 12 for an Independence Day rendezvous with Tempel 1, about 83 million miles away and hurtling through space at 66,000 mph. Early Sunday morning, the spacecraft was 547,000 from the comet, traveling in the same direction, but at 43,000 mph. If everything went as planned, the Manhattan Island-sized comet would overtake the 820-pound impactor like an express train. At 2:07 a.m. EDT Sunday, the fly-by spacecraft released the impactor, then did a 14-minute "divert burn" to take it out of harm's way and put it into position to watch its erstwhile companion be obliterated 24 hours later.

NASA's Deep Impact Mission Projectile Strikes Comet Bloomberg
Impact on Comet 9P/Tempel 1: Update, first European images
Washington Post - People's Daily Online - San Francisco Chronicle - Denver Post - all 1,443 related »
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