Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Chinese shares tumble 8.5 percent in biggest one-day drop since 2007 <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><iframe height="288" src="" width="512"></iframe></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chinese shares slid more than 8 percent on Monday as an unprecedented government rescue plan to prop up valuations ran out of steam, throwing Beijing&#39;s efforts to stave off a deeper crash into doubt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Major indexes suffered their largest one-day drop since 2007, shattering three weeks of relative calm in China&#39;s volatile stock markets since Beijing unleashed a barrage of support measures to arrest a slump that started in mid-June.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The lesson from China&#39;s last equity bubble is that, once sentiment has soured, policy interventions aimed at shoring up prices have only a short-lived effect,&quot; wrote Capital Economics analysts in a research note reacting to the slide.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The CSI300 index .CSI300 of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen tumbled 8.6 percent to 3,818.73 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index. SSEC lost 8.5 percent to 3,725.56 points.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China&#39;s market gyrations have stoked fears among global investors about the broader health of the world&#39;s second biggest economy, hitting prices of growth-sensitive commodities such as copper, which fell on Monday to not far from a 6-year low. [MET/L]</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But, while the recent stock market weakness will have caught out many retail investors and companies who jumped in as stocks more than doubled in a year, the low rate of stock ownership by households and a disconnect between valuations and economic fundamentals mean the impact on the economy is likely to be less than in other markets.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Futures tumble</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Stocks fell across the board on Monday, with 2,247 companies falling, leaving only 77 gainers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More than 1,500 shares listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen dived by their 10 percent daily limit, led by index heavyweights including China Unicom (600050.SS), Bank of Communications (601328.SS) and PetroChina (600028.SS).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>All traded index futures contracts also fell by their maximum 10 percent limit, with the exception of a few tracking the large cap SSE50 index, which declined around 9 percent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some analysts said talk had circulated among traders that the China Securities Financial Corporation (CSFC) had returned ahead of schedule some of the loans it took to stabilize the stock market, highlighting investor concern that Beijing&#39;s commitment to supporting prices may be flagging.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The CSFC became the regulator&#39;s weapon of choice earlier this month, borrowing money from commercial banks to buy shares in Chinese stocks. That helped indexes jump around 20 percent from their recent low, until Monday&#39;s renewed decline.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The CSFC did not respond to calls requesting comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Monday&#39;s fall accelerated sharply in the afternoon, long after investors had digested lackluster data on profits at Chinese industrial firms and a disappointing private factory sector survey on Friday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Chinese stock investors have been celebrating bad economic news for months on the basis it would provoke more aggressive policy easing, seen as positive for stocks because it pushes cheap money into the market.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some saw the government-induced recovery in share prices in recent weeks as itself contributing to the crash.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;After two weeks of steady rebound, both foreign investors and domestic institutions are gradually taking profits, increasing selling pressure,&quot; said Yu Jun, strategist at Bosera Asset Management Co.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;In addition, investor confidence hasn&#39;t fully recovered. There has been no obvious increase in outstanding margin loans, while the amount of fresh capital inflows is much lower than the average level in May and June. With not enough money taking up the baton, a renewed, sharp correction is inevitable.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Confidence game</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China&#39;s main stock indexes had more than doubled over the year to mid-June, when a sudden swoon saw shares lose more than 30 percent of their value in a matter of weeks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Markets finally began stabilizing again in the second week of July, due mostly to Beijing&#39;s effort to pump liquidity into the market while barring investors from selling.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China&#39;s central bank cut interest rates, brokerages formed stabilization funds and regulators lifted restrictions on pensions and insurers investing in stocks, an implied combined total verbal commitment of almost $800 billion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Beijing also cracked down on &quot;malicious&quot; short-sellers in the futures market, froze IPOs to prevent a liquidity drain and looked the other way as around 40 percent of companies suspended trading in their shares to escape the rout.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The campaign even acquired nationalistic tones at times, with local governments calling on retail investors to &quot;defend the stock market,&quot; and domestic media and popular commentators expressing suspicions that the crash was engineered by a foreign cabal.</div> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:13:00 +0000 Reuters 2454822 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/27/484151/china_stocks.jpg Obstacles block Greek bailout plans <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>As officials from Greece&#39;s institutional creditors arrive in Athens on Monday, there is concern that the pace of economic reform is too slow to secure&nbsp;further bailout funds for&nbsp;the cash-starved country.</p><p>Although the Greek parliament has passed the reforms imposed by the bailout agreement, some of the 18 other members of the eurozone are demanding further reforms before any payment is made.</p><p>The greatest pressure is from Greece&rsquo;s largest creditor Germany. In an interview with newspaper the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, former Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck complained that the European Central Bank (ECB) was too easily handing over money to troubled Greek banks.</p><p>&ldquo;Overall, the politics of saving Greece has been a failure,&rdquo; Steinbruck said.</p><p>Demands for additional economic reform are reportedly based on the original bailout agreement of 2010, which officials from Greece&rsquo;s creditors such as the EU, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) maintain are needed to restore the Greek economy.</p><p>However, Greece and its creditors are racing against the clock. On Aug. 20 Greece is due to repay another debt installment of 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion) to the ECB. A default would jeopardize bailout plans.</p><p>While the talks are ongoing, Greece is still operating under stringent financial controls. The banks are restricting withdrawals to 60 euros a day although some restrictions on taking money abroad and making international payments have been eased.</p><p>The Athens stock exchange remains closed and Greek officials must come to an agreement with the institutional creditors about when it may reopen.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Greek economy is faltering. Greek GDP is forecast to contract by up to 4 percent in 2015, compared to the 0.5 percent growth predicted earlier this year, according to EuroStat, the European Commission&rsquo;s statistical service.</p><p>Next year, the economy could shrink by as much as 1.75 percent, the commission said, and Greece is not expected to see a return to growth until 2017.</p><p>Greece made its July 20 payment of around 4 billion euros to the ECB after it received an emergency bridge loan of 7.16 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Mechanism.</p><p>The country has paid its arrears to the IMF but on Friday requested a new loan, which cannot be decided until the IMF board meets, a spokesman said.</p><p>Despite the beleaguered financial condition of the country, resistance to the bailout has not weakened. The health and labor ministries are reportedly resisting cooperation with international creditors, causing delays in the bailout negotiations.</p><p>On Monday, disaffected members of the Syriza coalition will hold a demonstration in Athens against the bailout agreement.</p> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:39:00 +0000 Anadolu Agency 2454806 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/13/501010/greece_07-13-15.jpg Critics fear Pacific trade deal favours big business over states <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1040">With the end game in sight to what could be the world&#39;s most ambitious trade deal, critics fear a controversial mechanism to protect investors will strengthen the hand of big business while eroding national sovereignty.</p><div><div><div id="mediacontentrelatedstory_container">&nbsp;</div></div></div><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1030">The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- a wide-ranging accord that would encompass 40 percent of the world&#39;s trade -- could be sealed in Hawaii this week after more than five years of talks.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1028">The United States, the chief architect of the ambitious pact which takes in 11 other Pacific Rim countries, says it would loosen trade restrictions, drive jobs growth and encourage investment by strengthening legal protection for companies.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_999">But critics say it favours multinational corporations over state interests and individual consumers, pointing in particular to a proposed investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that would allow foreign companies to sue governments, likely through international tribunals.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1001">They warn ISDS cases might expose states to potentially huge liability claims -- a bigger risk for developing countries that do not have deep pockets -- and may also threaten their ability to introduce health and environmental laws.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1015">That is a particular issue because there are several developing countries among the prospective members, which are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1026">&quot;There are risks for all governments involved in the TPP in relation to the investor-state dispute settlement,&quot; Matthew Rimmer, an intellectual property expert at the Queensland University of Technology, told AFP.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1177">&quot;Under the regime, investors -- particularly multinational companies -- can bring actions against governments, but governments cannot bring actions against corporations.</p><div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div>Australia was sued by tobacco giant Philip Morris after it became the first country to introduce pla&nbsp;&hellip;</div></div><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1189">&quot;So it&#39;s a very one-sided regime and it can provide special rights to foreign investors that are not present for domestic investors.&quot;</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1191"><strong>- Cases on the rise -</strong></p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_997">The issue has become a particularly hot topic in Australia, which was sued by tobacco giant Philip Morris after it became the first country to introduce plain packaging laws for cigarettes in 2012.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1193">Canberra refused to reveal its legal bill for defending the claim from Philip Morris, which argued the legislation breached a bilateral investment treaty.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1195">The case, and broader concerns about ISDS processes, saw Australia&#39;s top judge Chief Justice Robert French warn last year that claims tribunals could undermine domestic legal jurisdictions.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_995">Philip Morris&#39; suing of Uruguay after the country ordered that the health warnings be larger on cigarette packets helped prompt billionaires Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg to launch a fund to support developing states in their legal battles with tobacco giants.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_977">On a global scale, the number of cases brought by companies against governments has been on the rise in recent years, according to figures from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).</p><div id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1739"><div id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1737">&nbsp;</div><div>Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has said the ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge US &nbsp;&hellip;</div></div><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_975">Out of 608 known cases brought between 1987 and 2014, more than a quarter of them were over the past three years, UNCTAD said, adding that confidentiality agreements meant there were likely more.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_993">Of particular concern to ISDS opponents, less developed economies have faced a larger proportion of such suits, although the relative share of cases against developed countries is on the rise.</p><p>Meanwhile, most litigation was started by investors from developed countries -- particularly from the US, Canada and several European Union nations -- accounting for more than 80 percent of all claims.</p><p><strong>- &#39;Blunt instrument&#39; -</strong></p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1197">Tim Harcourt, former chief economist at Australia&#39;s trade promotion body Austrade, said the ISDS was a &quot;blunt instrument&quot; to protect companies&#39; interests.</p><p>&quot;Giving international companies the right to sue countries left, right and centre is probably not the way to build those (free trade) institutions,&quot; he told AFP.</p><p>&quot;The way to protect investors is by building local institutions so they&#39;re transparent, and ultimately countries that don&#39;t have transparent institutions like Venezuela, people won&#39;t invest there.&quot;</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_973">Concerns have also been raised in the United States, including by influential Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.</p><p>&quot;ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge US laws -- and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers -- without ever stepping foot in a US court,&quot; she said.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1253">But Alan Oxley, the first Australian to chair the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization&#39;s predecessor, said fears that the ISDS favours international business over governments were overblown.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1255">He said an international arbitration tribunal would be an effective way to settle claims as it gave foreign investors an automatic right to appeal without government approval.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1257">Australia&#39;s foreign affairs department has released a &quot;myth versus realities&quot; TPP document that stresses an ISDS tribunal &quot;could not overturn domestic court decisions nor force Australia to change its laws&quot;.</p><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1437985781866_1239">&quot;If you talk to anybody in business, they&#39;ll say that&#39;s a good idea, whereas the opposition is coming from quite a small fringe group,&quot; Oxley, who heads up the Australian APEC Study Centre at RMIT University, told AFP.</p> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:11:00 +0000 AFP 2454775 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/27/499612/an_advertisement_in_washington_dc_protests_the_passage_of_the_trans-pacific_partnership.jpg Young Nepalese boy murdered in human sacrifice ritual <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A Nepalese man has confessed to the murder of a young boy after claiming a shaman advised him that a human sacrifice would heal his ailing son, local police said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The body of 10-year-old Jivan Kohar was found on July 24 on the outskirts of the Kudiya village, in southwest Nepal. The child had gone missing three days earlier.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police superintendent Nal Prasad Upadhyaya, who headed up the investigation, told CNN Monday that Kodai Harijan admitted committing the gruesome crime after consulting the shaman. In some cultures, shamans are believed to have magical or spiritual powers to cure the sick.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to testimony given to police, Harijan and his relatives found the child playing with friends in the village and lured him away by giving him a pack of biscuits and promising him 50 rupees (US49 cents).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The boy was taken to a temple on the outskirts of the village where they performed a religious ritual. He was then taken to a field nearby where three people held him down as another slit his throat. When police found him, the boy&#39;s head was almost severed from his body completely.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Eleven people in total, including the shaman, have been arrested for their involvement, with the perpetrators facing a life sentence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Untouchables</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The village, in the Nawalparasi district bordering India, is home to some of the country&#39;s poorest and uneducated people -- often known as &quot;untouchables&quot; in the traditional caste system. Both the victim and the accused in this recent killing are from this social class.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Superstitions such as the sacrificial slaughter of animals such as water buffaloes, goats and chickens are common among the country&#39;s mainly Hindu population. The ritual killing of animals during the Gadhimai festival -- celebrated every five years -- takes place in the belief it will bring prosperity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;[It&#39;s] very unfortunate what happened,&quot; said Hari Prasad Mainai, Nawalparasi&#39;s chief district officer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;From the government level, we are going to launch (an) awareness program against these superstitions in the villages of Nawalparasi district.&quot;</div> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:17:00 +0000 CNN 2454765 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/27/501010/nepal_07-27-15.jpg