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Hurricane Dean gains strength

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Hurricane Dean gains strength)

Hurricane Dean is gathering strength as it leaves behind Jamaica's battered shores and heads for the Cayman Islands and Mexico.


The category four storm saw winds of up to 240km/h tear across the island, uprooting trees and tearing roofs off houses, as torrential rain caused flooding and mudslides.

VIDEO: Dean bears down

Thousands of Jamaicans took refuge in emergency shelters, while many more braved out the extreme weather behind the battened-down hatches of their homes.

There have been no initial details of any casualties, but looting and power cuts have been reported across the region.

'Shrieking wind'

"It's very, very loud, the wind is roaring and shrieking," charity worker Rhian Holder told the BBC, as the storm closed in.

"The trees are breaking, you're hearing branches snapping, you're hearing thuds, things falling, you're not sure what it is."

"The sea has dumped debris onto the roads," said Portland parish Mayor Bobbie Montague.

Jamaica's government declared a month-long state of emergency, boosting security forces' powers, as the eye of the storm passed close to the country’s south coast.

All of the island's emergency services workers have been ordered to report for work ahead of a major clear-up operation.

'National emergency'

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on all political parties to forget about national elections on August 27 and "put all differences aside as a national emergency is on us."

It is feared the hurricane will increase in intensity over the waters of the Caribbean Sea, before crashing into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Belize early on Tuesday.

Dean has already left a trail of destruction across the eastern Caribbean, killing at least eight people in Haiti, Martinique and the Dominican Republic.

There are serious concerns for the safety of a group of 17 Spanish divers who refused to evacuate the Pedro Cays sandbank, 80km south of Jamaica, which was directly in the hurricane’s path.

The hurricane forced the space shuttle Endeavour to cut short its mission to the International Space Station.

Tourists evacuated

A number of cruise ships have had to change course to avoid the worst of the extreme weather.

For Jamaicans, the storm has revived bitter memories of Hurricane Ivan, which devastated the island, killing 14 people, in 2004.

Many holidaymakers fled the popular tourist destination before its airports were closed on Saturday.

Some 90,000 tourists have been moved from Cancun and the 'Mayan Riviera' before Dean makes landfall there later.

Texan governor Rick Perry has ordered the evacuation of elderly people living in the Rio Grande Valley region in case the storm hits the state in the coming days.

UN seeks bigger role in Iraq

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on UN seeks bigger role in Iraq)

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who co-chaired the meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, outlined plans for a modest hike in the world body's presence but cautioned that although security has been improving in Iraq, "much more needs to be done.



"There was an emphasis by many speakers on the key UN role in helping to promote national reconciliation," Mr Ban says during a joint press conference with Mr Maliki.

‘Don’t ignore Iraq’

"There was clear agreement that the international community cannot turn away from or ignore Iraq," he adds.

The world body has been under strong pressure from Washington to adopt a higher profile in Iraq, despite continuing violence more than four years after US-led troops invaded the country and ousted the regime of the late Saddam Hussein.

On Friday, US Assistant Secretary of State for international organisation affairs Kristen Silverberg said Washington "wants to see more UN officials on the ground in Baghdad".

But while Mr Ban is committed to increasing the world body's role in Iraq, he faces resistance from his staff, many of whom are still traumatised by the August 19, 2003 truck bombing of the Baghdad UN mission, which killed 22 people including special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

‘Security of staff paramount’

"I think that the security situation in Iraq is difficult but improving and certainly, the security of UN personnel will be a very high priority for all of the forces there, the multinational forces," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.

She says there was "a long discussion about the new (Security Council) resolution 1770".

Resolution 1770, adopted last month, extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) by one year and urged it to "advise, support and assist" the Iraqi government on a wide range of issues.

The UN was assigned the task of helping Baghdad promote national reconciliation and dialogue with its neighbours on issues of border security, humanitarian aid and the return of the estimated 4.5 million Iraqi refugees.

International effort

Currently there are 95 UN international staffers in the country – 65 in Baghdad and 30 in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil – in addition to several hundred international security personnel.

Some 235 UN-affiliated staffers also work out of Jordan and Kuwait.

"I am considering enhancing the present UN team in Iraq," Mr Ban says.

"We have staff in Baghdad, we may increase staff in Arbil (Iraq's Kurdish capital), and we will possibly establish an office in Basra."

‘Regional dialogue’

He also offered UN help in improving Baghdad's cooperation with its neighbours, proposing to set up a "small Baghdad-based 'support office' for regional dialogue" following further consultations with Iraq and its neighbours at the end of October.

Mr Ban also stressed the plight of some 4.5 million Iraqi refugees "remains a matter of serious concern".

Mr Maliki meanwhile claimed the security situation in his country "has improved" but stressed the need for national reconciliation which he said "would require a lot of time".

US economy growing at record pace

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on US economy growing at record pace)

However a surge in new claims for jobless benefits showed the US labour market is softening.


The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, which measures the total output of goods and services within US borders, expanded at a 4.9 per cent annual rate in the third quarter, the same as it estimated a month ago and the strongest since the third quarter of 2003.

The effects of the subprime mortgage crisis and the housing slump worsened during the quarter – and continue to cut into the outlook for growth.

In a midmorning news conference, President George W Bush said the economy remained fundamentally strong but also said he was willing to consider all options to give growth a boost.

A separate report from the Conference Board, which showed its index of leading indicators weakening sharply for a second straight month in November, underlined the speed of the slowdown. Seven of the private-sector research group's 10 measures of economic activity decreased from October.

The Labor Department said initial claims for jobless benefits rose 12,000 last week to 346,000 and the four-week moving average of claims – a more reliable gauge of labour market conditions – hit its highest in more than two years.

Higher exports and increased inventory-building accounted for the pickup in third-quarter growth from the second quarter's 3.8 per cent pace, but many economists forecast that fourth-quarter expansion will slow to one per cent or less.

Stock prices rose modestly in initial trading, reacting to favourable corporate earnings rather than the economic data, but were mixed by late morning. Bond prices were steady to slightly lower as investors largely remained on the sidelines.

Analysts said the economic outlook was darkening.

“All in all, the fourth quarter seems headed for between zero and one per cent growth, and as the credit squeeze tightens its grip, we expect little different in the first quarter,” said economist Nigel Gault of Global Insight Inc in Lexington, Mass.

Economist Kurt Karl of reinsurer Swiss Re in New York said that, based on the economy's current performance, the third-quarter GDP figure seemed “outrageously unrealistic” and that the economy's direction looked increasingly perilous.

“The probability continues to rise for a recession,” Karl said, especially in light of the weakening in the labour market. “It's still hiring, not firing, but now we're getting to the firing point.”

The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI said in its quarterly report that the housing market troubles will probably cause the manufacturing sector to experience “turbulent times” next year. The nonprofit research group said it expects housing starts to fall 28 per cent in 2008, foreshadowing the worst housing market in the post-World War II period and preventing manufacturing from growing.

The GDP report showed spending on new-home building contracted at a 20.5 per cent rate during the third quarter, the steepest quarterly fall since the start of 1991 when the economy was headed toward a recession.

A price gauge closely watched by the Fed – personal consumption spending excluding food and energy – rose at a revised two per cent rate, well ahead of the 1.4 per cent pace posted in the second quarter.

Helped by a weaker dollar that makes US-made goods cheaper for foreigners, exports rose at a revised 19.1 per cent rate, the strongest since the final quarter of 2003 and more than twice the second quarter's 7.5 per cent rate of increase.

Companies increased their inventories during the third quarter at a $US30.6 billion ($A36 billion) annual rate – slightly less than the $US32.9 billion clip estimated a month ago but five times the $US5.8 billion rate of increase posted in the second quarter.

Separately, the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank said its National Activity Index, declined again in November, though less rapidly than it did in October.

Burma Rebuilds

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Burma Rebuilds)

The Asian Tribal Ministries (ATM) worker, Karenna Laklem, talks about what it was like helping rebuild Burma's Delta region, while distributing aid.


Photo Gallery: Burma Rebuilds

Photo Gallery: Karenna Laklem in the Dateline studio

Have Your Say: Should the international community step up its efforts to persuade Burma to allow in foreign aid?

While foreign aid is gradually flowing into Burma, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has toured the the hardest hit areas to assess the damage. To this day some foreign nations such as the US and Sweden are still not allowed into the country by the ruling military junta.

So far only a handful of international aid agencies are providing relief efforts.

Headed by her father, Pastor Timothy Laklem, the ATM have been working in war zone areas of Burma along the Thai border for 30 years.

In response to the recent cyclone Nargis and the destructive stamp it left upon the Irrawaddy Delta region, ATM will be sending in relief teams to assist with medical needs, food distribution, water purification, and hope.

Furthermore, ATM is one of the very few international organisations which has been given permission by Burmese authorities to enter the region.

Find out more about the Asian Tribal Ministries here.

Burma: How you can help

See also:

* Aid groups ready to test Burma on access

* Australia to monitor its $25m Burma aid

* Burma agrees to allow 'all aid workers'


It is almost a month now since Cyclone Nargis ripped into Burma, with more than 130,000 dead or missing, and counting. We have all watched, of course, disgusted, as the country's military rulers have pussy-footed about opening their borders to international aid. Only yesterday were UNICEF finally allowed in, joining a small team of religious groups already working in the devastated areas. Earlier today, Karenna Laklem, an Australian from a Christian group, Asian Tribal Ministries, flew into Sydney with some remarkable footage from the hardest-hit region, the Irrawaddy delta. And a warning, there are graphic images in Karenna’s material.

GEORGE NEGUS: Karenna, you're looking pretty tired.


GEORGE NEGUS: You've been through a terrible few weeks. You have arrived back here in Australia only this morning and you have seen probably the worst there is to see of what's been happening in Burma, the death and destruction.


GEORGE NEGUS: It's a silly question, I know, but how are you feeling, traumatised, shellshocked or what, having seen what you saw?

KARENNA LAKLEM: It is heartbreaking but it has made me motivated to do everything that I can to help.

GEORGE NEGUS: How long did you spend there on this occasion, this last time?

KARENNA LAKLEM: On this occasion, one week.

GEORGE NEGUS: One week, that was probably enough to see how bad things were.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, definitely.

GEORGE NEGUS: So you are part of this organisation which has been actually working in the area of Burma and Thailand for some time now.


GEORGE NEGUS: So it would appear – and we're going to look at the footage that you have got in a moment – it would appear that you got pretty reasonable access, you were able to move around a lot, whereas international agencies weren't able to.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, we did have access because we've been working there for the last couple of years, and so we have connections with the authorities, they know our work there. And so we have built that relationship of trust between them so we've been able to get in straight away.

GEORGE NEGUS: Even with the generals themselves?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, with the generals themselves.

GEORGE NEGUS: I would like to talk about that, but before we do, why don't we see if we can't take our viewers with you and I on a journey almost like the one you took.


GEORGE NEGUS: Let's start with this footage we've got here. Where are you there?

KARENNA LAKLEM: We're in a town halfway to the port of Labutta, which is where the aid is reaching up to.

GEORGE NEGUS: So this is how far from Rangoon?

KARENNA LAKLEM: About five, six hours drive.

GEORGE NEGUS: So this is centre of the devastation or are you still only on the edge of it?

KARENNA LAKLEM: We're on the edge of it, but the devastation reaches right down from the most southern point right up to Rangoon. The whole area is devastated but this is sort of the middle in between.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, but you were able to get there by road at this point.


GEORGE NEGUS: And this aid being distributed here, where is it from? It looks like I saw US aid on a box.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, these are the packages that the US cargo planes have sent in.

GEORGE NEGUS: But not the US themselves? They have just dropped off the aid.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, they have dropped off the aid.

GEORGE NEGUS: To be given to groups like yours.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, taken by the military trucks to these port towns.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, so this is all done with the authorities' knowledge and approval.


GEORGE NEGUS: But they won't let the Americans themselves distribute it, but you are able to?


GEORGE NEGUS: Is this a normal village or is this a refugee camp?

KARENNA LAKLEM: This is a refugee camp which is halfway between the port town and Rangoon.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right. So how long have these people been without provisions, without any medicines, without anything at all, really?

KARENNA LAKLEM: These people have been in this refugee camp probably for about 1.5 weeks. They're survivors right from the areas that were directly hit.

GEORGE NEGUS: This looks pretty normal, but these people have been packed into this one place where they got shelter.


GEORGE NEGUS: So they're after food, they are after shelter, medicines, everything, in fact?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, everything and not just for short-term but for long-term for at least six months and then after that more as well to help resettle them.

GEORGE NEGUS: They would be looking forward to this food?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, 'cause..

GEORGE NEGUS: Because I would imagine that because of devastation and then the death and all that went with that, the contamination, there was no food around that they could have got for themselves.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yeah, there was nothing. Yes, that lady that I was talking to, she told me about how when the water started to rise in their village, her husband, who was paralysed from the hip down, and her were trapped, but their son, who was fit and strong, saved his parents, taking them to a safe shelter area and then as the water was continuing to rise he kept going out to save different people and bringing them to that shelter, but in the end the water was just too strong and swept him away. But the people that he saved, they all survived.

GEORGE NEGUS: That's a paradox, isn't it. These refugee camps always look a bit cute, don't they? But in fact, these people's homes have been destroyed, I imagine.

KARENNA LAKLEM: The things that they had there, that is all that they have. The mats and the bamboo huts there, that has all been built for them but everything else they've lost.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, so do these people have any idea of what the future holds for them? Are the officials telling them what might happen from this point on?

KARENNA LAKLEM: I think there are plans to resettle after, but this can only happen after the monsoon season. It would be impossible to do this during the monsoon season.

GEORGE NEGUS: No sign of the Burmese military around at any stage of these pictures, at least.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Not these ones, but they have been going around to visit the devastated areas.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, so this of course is one example. There are probably lots of these sort of camps all over that area.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yep, all over.

GEORGE NEGUS: This is where you are able to pick up a boat?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yeah, this is the port Labutta, this is on mainland, the last town on mainland.

GEORGE NEGUS: And as you say, the only way of getting from this point to where – and we still have no idea how many people have been affected. I mean, 130,000 is today's figure of the number people we think are dead or missing, but we still have no idea beyond this point how many other – what, hundreds of thousands, do you think it might..?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Well, it said that there were over 100,000 missing, so we don't know how many of them have survived.

GEORGE NEGUS: And this was a boat you were able to get to put the aid on board?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, this boat was rented by another organisation that we're working with.

GEORGE NEGUS: Not exactly a giant freighter.

KARENNA LAKLEM: No, but it is it enough to hold 20 to 30 people and aid for one village.

GEORGE NEGUS: Heading off down into the actual estuary, into the actual delta. And there is a sign of things that happened just a few weeks ago. Those things look like they've been there forever, but three weeks ago, four weeks ago, life was quite normal there, wasn't it? So it really did hit them like a bomb, didn't it?

KARENNA LAKLEM: It did – their livelihood – most of this area the livelihood of these people was fishing, and so with their boats gone, their nets gone, that is their source of income and everything is gone.

GEORGE NEGUS: What are we seeing here?

KARENNA LAKLEM: These are the dead bodies that are along the way and this is only half-an-hour from that main port town.

GEORGE NEGUS: So dead animals… Dead humans… And as you said, this water is people's livelihood, so pretty smartly it became contaminated. So people were probably bathing in, washing in, cooking in, the same water that the..

KARENNA LAKLEM: Drinking the water, the kids play in the water.

GEORGE NEGUS: No choice, really, is there? They had either no water at all or drinking from contaminated water which would lead to disease… and so on goes the problem like a horrible snowball. Where are we now?

KARENNA LAKLEM: This is the village that we visited.

GEORGE NEGUS: This is one of the villages in the delta?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, in the delta that can be only reached by boat. And this is the first time they have received aid since the cyclone.

GEORGE NEGUS: I guess what I'm wondering again is, why were your group able to come and do this obviously good work when for three weeks the government, the military government were refusing entry by international agencies? What was the difference between your relationship with them and the international agencies from the UN, etc?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Our group, the three groups we were working with, they're all local. So the Adventist Relief aid group were already there, a lot of their team were caught in the cyclone and so they were there on the ground straightaway and able to help. Because they were locals, of course this gave them access to these areas, and also our mission's organisation Asian Tribal Ministries and the Karen Peace Council – all locals that have been working in this area for the last couple of years.

GEORGE NEGUS: So you said earlier, you had the special relationship with the junta that other people haven't had. This village here, how many people were there, do you know, how many families?

KARENNA LAKLEM: I can't say how many people, but there were 70 houses.

GEORGE NEGUS: So probably something, 300, 400 people. How many now?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Now there are 12, only 12 survivors left.

GEORGE NEGUS: And all of them men, by the look of it?

KARENNA LAKLEM: All of them men except for one woman. No kids, no any other women, they didn't survive.

GEORGE NEGUS: And this, of course, is just one village, just one example, there must be who knows how many others in the area.

KARENNA LAKLEM: That's right, this is only one village and this is the closest one, so you can imagine, for them it is easier to get back to the mainland. They are repairing some of their boats, but for those are deep inside who have nothing, no-one has reached them at all. No-one even knows what it looks like in there.

GEORGE NEGUS: And you talked to the survivors, I suppose, what might have happened to them, what their stories might have been.

KARENNA LAKLEM: We asked them to share about what happened and their situation and how they feel.

GEORGE NEGUS: Were they still shocked or was it easy enough to get them to talk about what happened?

KARENNA LAKLEM: They want to talk but I think they just cannot describe it. They want to talk, but they're shocked. A woman, she just told us how there's only one house left and they all share the same room and there is no mosquito nets, nothing there. The only thing that they eat were crabs and little fish. And she lost her two cousins when the water rose and they got swept away, all the children gone, and the first night she shared with us how the first three nights after the cyclone, you could hear screams of survivors out in the fields and in the water still alive, screaming out for help, but obviously wounded or too weak to be able… injured to be able to get out of it and they were screaming for help, but there's nothing that anyone could do.

GEORGE NEGUS: Yeah, I imagine 26 days later there is not much likelihood of many people surviving out there. So it's really what happens now in that particular part of the delta is a clean-up exercise, isn't it. I should thank you for giving us that footage to show people, but these photographs that you showed me earlier are interesting. These are very, very – they are almost happy snaps with members of the military junta. That man is quite a senior military official, isn't he?


GEORGE NEGUS: Speaking there with one of the Karen leaders, you told me. This is what I think people would find amazing. Because the rest of us have been wondering, what the heck is going on in Burma that they won't let the UN or other aid agencies in, but your religious groups were able to, is it because you did not pose a threat, or what?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yeah, because we're local, we're already in there.

GEORGE NEGUS: And you had locals working with you, you weren't bringing in teams of outsiders from other countries. So what do you think is happening now then, because they do appear to be softening their stance? Today we that six UNICEF people were able to get in – Medecins Sans Frontiers are getting in now, so they are finally waking up to the fact that the world is expecting them to let people in.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, they're starting to let people in because I believe we have been able to help convince them and encourage them that people – the world genuinely wants to help and is not trying to come in and take over and take advantage of the situation.

GEORGE NEGUS: You have got a relationship with them and the rest of us see them as paranoid, we see them as undemocratic, we see them as totally ignoring human rights and the like. Do you think the world maybe has approached the junta in Burma incorrectly and therefore they've not been able to help the way they'd like to because the junta has this attitude towards them that they are there to take over the country?

KARENNA LAKLEM: I believe in this situation, yes. I think that the only way to be able to work together with the government, which is what we have to do – we have to work together with the government.

GEORGE NEGUS: Whether we like them or not.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, because it's about the people, right now it's not about politics or whatever their government is, it is about helping the people. So the international community should have an attitude of coming alongside them and encouraging them, which will soften their attitude, I think it's a lot to do with relationship. Past relationship between the Burmese Government and international community has not been a positive one. And so you can't just suddenly say, “Well, this day, yesterday, this is what I thought of you, and today this is what I am going to think of you.” You can't do that, it has to have some process of time and gaining of trust to be able to have that sort of relationship. But it will start only when there is encouragement. Encouragement for the sake of helping the people will help to get that started.

GEORGE NEGUS: Browbeating and criticism, endless criticism, you think, is possibly going to have the opposite effect. They're likely to dig their toes in and refuse I believe that – to accept help.

KARENNA LAKLEM: I believe that is the reason they are not accepting help.

GEORGE NEGUS: I will let you go because you're looking tired and deserve a rest. But thank you very much. Lovely meeting you. And you are going back?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, next week.

GEORGE NEGUS: I thought you would say that.

She's only 20, by the way. There are more images from Karenna's journey on our website sbs.com.au/dateline. And yesterday, the generals extended the term of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by another year.














Parliament approves Fair Work bill

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Parliament approves Fair Work bill)

The deal centres on the definition of small business: Labor wanted that to mean fewer than 15 staff while independent Nick Xenophon and Family First\’s Steve Fielding wanted to up it to 20.


Declaring an end to the controversial “Work Choices” laws, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the government had delivered a key element of its 2007 election campaign.

“Today… we have buried Work Choices,” Gillard said.

“We will now move to the area of fair work under Labor\’s Fair Work bill.

“At the end of the transition period we will deliver in full the election promise we took to the Australian people.”

\’Protection and fairness\’ for workers

Gillard paid tribute to the work of senators Xenophon and Fielding in helping to ensure the success of the long-awaited legislation.

“Family First supports the Fair Work Bill as it strengthens protection and fairness for workers and small business,” said Senator Fielding.

In parliament, government leader Joe Ludwing outlined details of the deal with the two senators:

– the government agreed to a two-phase approach to small business and the unfair dismissal provisions of the bill.

– from January 1, 2011 the threshold used to define a small business will be fewer than 15 full-time equivalent employees.

– the number of full-time equivalent employees is to be calculated by averaging the ordinary hours worked by all employees used in the business over the four- week period immediately prior to the employee\’s termination and dividing that by 38, being the ordinary weekly hours.

24 Ukrainian miners found alive and safe

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on 24 Ukrainian miners found alive and safe)

Twenty-four miners have been found alive in a Ukrainian coalmine more than 24 hours after they were trapped deep underground by a huge explosion, rescue officials say.


The men were rushed to hospital on Monday night, several suffering burns and other injuries. One miner was found dead 750 metres underground.

RELATED: Two found alive after mine blast

RELATED: Workers trapped amid flood fears

Rescuers are racing against rising floodwaters in the mine in eastern Ukraine to find 12 miners still missing after Sunday's methane blast, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's mine safety agency, Marina Nikitina, told AFP.

“The rescuers are doing everything possible and even impossible to assist other possible survivors,” Ms Nikitina said.

Television pictures showed survivors being brought to the surface on stretchers, their faces black from coal dust, using a painfully slow lift system.

Most were found nearly 900 metres below the surface, where they survived an inferno so powerful it burned buildings on the surface near the mine's entrance.

Search continuing

Rescuers had delivered water and medicine to those still waiting below ground to be brought up, said Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Turchinov.

One dead body was also recovered. About 200 rescuers continued the search, their task made more urgent by rising ground water levels, a result of damage to the mine's water pumps.

The blast occurred early on Sunday at the Karl Marx mine in Yenakiyevo, 60km east of the regional capital, Donetsk, the latest in a series of industrial accidents that have blighted Ukraine's mining industry.

In November last year, a gas explosion at the Zasiadko mine killed 101 miners. That accident was the worst of its kind in this former Soviet republic.

Opened in 1858, the Karl Marx mine was one of the country's oldest mines.

It was closed on Saturday due to safety violations and only a skeleton staff was working at the time of the blast, according to the emergency situations ministry.

Safety violations

But some miners told Ukraine's Kanal 5 television work continued as usual into Sunday morning in spite of the closure.

“If the mine was up and running and coal was being produced in spite of the closure, the public prosecutor will get involved and punishment will no doubt be severe,” Mr Turchinov said.

Relatives of the trapped miners gathered in a nearby building, several of them furious at what they said was a lack of information about their loved ones. Some shouted: “Stop making fun of us, you bastards”.

Mine management blocked the entrance to the mine with lorries to stop relatives and journalists from getting near it.

One of the survivors telephoned his wife to come and see him but security officials stopped her arguing that they were not allowed to let her pass.

Work had been suspended at 20 mines in the region following an explosion on May 23 that killed 11 people, one in a string of disasters to strike the region's ageing pits in recent years.

Laws on executive payouts \’long overdue\’

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Laws on executive payouts \’long overdue\’)

The ACTU said new laws on executive payouts were long overdue and more needed to be done to break the link between executive pay and short-term investment decisions.


In an effort to curb exorbitant payouts, the federal government will introduce legislation that would mean payments exceeding one year\’s base pay would require shareholder approval.

Under current laws, company directors can receive payouts seven times their total annual remuneration on termination of a contract.

Those who try to bend the new rules would face criminal charges.

“What we have seen in the last decade under the laws we have inherited from the former government is the retirement gold watch replaced by a truck load of gold bullion,” Corporate Law Minister Senator Nick Sherry said on Wednesday.

The government has also referred the broader issue of executive remuneration to the Productivity Commission, which will provide a final report within nine months.

Former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chief Professor Allan Fels will head the Productivity Commission inquiry.

Government \’copying the Opposition\’

But the opposition said the Rudd government was just copying a coalition plan put forward last year.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said CEOs earning multi-million dollar pay packets wouldn\’t be waiting nine months to sack thousands of more workers.

“The prime minister has fallen into the trap of put off, fudge, dither, delay what the Australian people want, and that is action on the most obscene payouts to CEOs at a time when the economy is in real trouble,” Senator Brown said.

Overregulation \’also a danger\’

Australian Industry Group chief Heather Ridout said she understood community concern but added there was clear evidence many executives and senior staff were already freezing salaries or taking significant pay cuts in response to the current economic climate.

“The crisis is not of their making and they shouldn\’t be overregulated in response to it,” she said.

Australian Shareholders Association (ASA) chairwoman Helen Dent welcomed the initiative, saying it is a “step in the right direction”.

Investigation into \’golden handshakes\’

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the investigation of so-called golden handshakes and sizeable bonuses would be a “professional, dispassionate” examination of the issue.

Community anger over bloated CEO pay-offs and bonuses has intensified with the onslaught of the global financial crisis.

“I say this to executives that are listening to or watching this announcement – the government does expect you to do the right thing by the community and the country, and particularly given our circumstances at the moment,” Mr Swan said.

“What we\’ve seen in the banking system is incentives which have encouraged excessive risk and we are all now living with the outcome of that.”

There has been an outcry over management pay packets, such as at Pacific Brands after its

recent decision to sack 1,850 workers.

The company\’s CEO left with a golden handshake of $3.4 million as a retirement payment rather than a termination payment.

“This loophole will be closed,” Senator Sherry said.

Ingrid Betancourt: tough road to freedom

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Ingrid Betancourt: tough road to freedom)

Following a series of failed negotiations for her release, Betancourt's fate hung in the balance, but today she was rescued by Colombian elite military forces — along with three US nationals and 11 Colombian soldiers also held hostage by the rebels.


RELATED: Timeline of hostage ordeal

The jungle operation brought more than six years in high-profile captivity to a dramatic conclusion.

Betancourt, 46, became the international face of Colombia's tragic hostage crisis after she was seized in February 2002 during her longshot bid for the country's presidency.

Her plight gained new urgency in February when a former hostage warned that Betancourt was very sick and morally spent, prompting tearful appeals for her release from her two children and her mother.

She was the most well-known of about 700 people believed to be held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a four-decade-old insurgency on US and European Union lists of terrorist organizations.

Gaunt and depressed

The former senator and Green party presidential candidate had tried in vain to escape from her captors, but she could never break free from the thick jungle and FARC's firm grip, according to former hostages.

Often chained and spending her evenings sleeping in a hammock, Betancourt appeared gaunt and depressed in a video released in November, the last proof of life.

An emotional letter addressed to her family was also released in which she described her daily ordeal, physically spent by long treks in the jungle and sleeping anywhere “like an animal” with the bible her “only luxury.”

“For several years, I thought that as long as I was alive, as long as I was breathing, I should continue to have hope,” she wrote. “I don't have the same strength. It is very hard for me to continue to believe.”

“Here, we live like the dead,” Betancourt wrote.

The charismatic and rebellious politician became a muted prisoner in the hands of the FARC.

“I try to be quiet,” she wrote. “I speak as little as possible to avoid problems.”

Betancourt was among a group of hostages whom the FARC wanted to exchange for 500 rebels in Colombian prisons. But the government and rebels had failed to agree on conditions for a swap.

There had been hope in January that Betancourt would be freed after the FARC released her campaign manager, Clara Rojas, who was kidnapped with her on February 23, 2002, to the Venezuelan government.

Political career

Betancourt began her political career winning a seat in the lower chamber of Congress in 1994 after distributing condoms during her campaign with the slogan “corruption is the AIDS of our society. Let's protect ourselves.”

She went on to win a Senate seat and wrote a memoir, “Until Death Do Us Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia.”

Born in Bogota on Christmas Day, December 25, 1961, Betancourt was the daughter of legislator and former Miss Colombia, Yolanda Pulecio, and government minister and diplomat Gabriel Betancourt.

She grew up in Paris where her father was attached to the Colombian embassy, and later studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques.

She married a fellow student, Fabrice Delloye, who became a French diplomat, with whom she had two children, Lorenzo and Melanie.

In 1989 she moved back to Colombia and took a position in the Ministry of Finance before running for office.

She divorced in the mid-1990s and, with threats coming in against her and her family, sent her children to live with their father in New Zealand.

Campaigner against corruption

She formed Green Oxygen and began building her political name as a strident campaigner against corrupt politicians, the country's powerful drug trade and insurgents.

Through the late 1990s she built on her anti-corruption campaign, remarried, to Colombian politician Juan Carlos Lecompte, and finally decided to run for president in 2002.

“I returned to Colombia because I felt that Colombia was living in a very difficult crisis and it didn't feel good to be living outside Colombia knowing that my friends and relatives were facing problems in Colombia while I was living abroad,” she said in an interview with online magazine Salon a month before she was captured.

“I had a sense of responsibility,” she said.

The Lost Children of Reunion

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on The Lost Children of Reunion)

REPORTER: Fanou Filali

For almost 40 years, Jean-Pierre Gosse has called France home.


JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): From time to time in the morning, when I feel sad, I open the window and enjoy the view.

As a child, Jean-Pierre was brought here from the French island of Reunion as part of the government migration program. Now he and his wife, Genevieve, are preparing to leave France forever. Jean-Pierre accuses the French government of stealing him from his family.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): I want people to know. I want to denounce France, the mother country. France claims to stand for human rights. It’s an advanced country everything is supposed to run smoothly. I want to challenge this. If France is so great, how come in the ’60s they allowed the kidnapping of children from Reunion?

The French island of Reunion is just a small speck in the Indian Ocean. Over a 15-year period, 1,600 children were transported from Reunion to central France, on the other side of the world. Jean-Pierre was only 14 when he arrived in France, and was placed with a family of farmers in the region of la Creuse. Today, he is taking his wife and stepdaughter back to the farm where he was kept as a virtual slave.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): You see, Angelique, when I was a little, only 14, they took me from Reunion and brought me here. They forced me to work very hard in the fields. Then, instead of going to bed like you in your bedroom, daddy used to sleep out here, under straw to keep warm. And daddy used to share the dog’s food.

Jean-Pierre spent two years working as a farm labourer for 16 hours a day, unpaid.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): You may say the best thing is to cry, but I can’t. It hurts a lot, but I can’t cry. Because I shed enough tears when I was 14.

The architect of the policy that brought Jean-Pierre to France was Michel Debre – a prime minister under Charles De Gaulle and a leading political figure in post-war France. In the 1960s he had the idea of kerbing the island’s growth by sending children to the French countryside where the population had gone into a steep decline.

MICHEL DEBRE, FRENCH MP (Translation): Dear fellow citizens, we know there is still much poverty here. But you know, as your presence here testifies, that your patriotism and efforts are rewarded by the solidarity metropolitan France extends to you.

The children were told they would receive an education and would be able to go back to Reunion on holiday.

ALIX HOAIR (Translation): The truth is, those children were promised holidays, which never eventuated. They were promised high school and never got it. I can’t see how the state can deny that. Promises weren’t kept.

In the 1960s Alix Hoair worked for the government department in charge of the migration program.

ALIX HOAIR (Translation):In a nutshell, the problem is you take children, make all sorts of promises, then once in France, you drop them, abandon them to farmers to do with them whatever they want.

Alix Hoair was responsible for looking after the children from the time they arrived in France until they were placed with families.

REPORTER (Translation): When did you first realise there were problems and how did you become aware of the fact?

ALIX HOAIR (Translation): When the kids started running away from their foster families and telling me about their lives. They said, “We work 20 hours a day for no pay. We’re not slaves. We’d rather cut sugar cane at Reunion than work here.”

Alix Hoair decided to write about his concerns to the politician who’d dreamt up the scheme, Michel Debre. The letter cost him his job.

ALIX HOAIR (Translation): Then they realised I had written directly to Debre. Then if Prefet told me “I’m calling an emergency meeting”. I said “Fine.” At the meeting he told me “We’re restructuring the centre, we no longer need you.”

In the town of Boussac in the la Creuse countryside, residents celebrate their local saint. Despite a clear attachment to the past, nobody here wants to remember what happened to the children of Reunion.

MAN (Translation): We don’t feel this really concerns us. And we don’t feel responsible for their stay here.

REPORTER (Translation): Heard about the Reunion kids?

MAN 2(Translation): No.

REPORTER (Translation): Are you from la Creuse?

MAN 2(Translation): Yes, I was born here.

REPORTER (Translation): And you, sir?

MAN 3(Translation): I wasn’t yet born then.

Only this man wanted to talk about the children, and why they were brought here.

MAN 4(Translation): The word was that they were taking children to make money.

REPORTER (Translation): Did they make them work?

MAN 4(Translation): More or less.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): Farmers were told here’s free labour, do what you want with it. They don’t eat much, they work hard, they never complain and, best of all, there’s no need to pay them. Because let’s not forget they were paid to care for us.

As a 14-year-old boy, alone and far from his family, the situation was intolerable.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): I tried to kill myself three times. The first time I cut my veins open. The second time I hanged myself with a cow’s chain. The third time I wanted to jump.

REPORTER (Translation): When you tried to kill yourself, did a social worker come to see you?

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): No.

Paule Aron was a social worker in Reunion when she went to France to supervise the migration program. I asked her why children like Jean-Pierre were effectively abandoned.

PAULE ARON, FORMER SOCIAL WORKER (Translation): I can’t say, but not enough checks were done, given the number of children. It was impossible for one person to check on 200 kids. It’s also possible that when the social worker came the kid wouldn’t say anything. If the kid says nothing, you can’t guess at what’s going on. If he doesn’t look miserable, how can you know?

When he turned 21, Jean-Pierre was too ashamed to go back to his family and stayed in la Creuse. Now he’s determined to make a good impression. This afternoon he’ll have his hair cut before the big trip.

Jean-Pierre has only made two short visits to Reunion in the past 30 years. Encouraged by his wife Genevieve, he now feels ready to make a permanent move.

ANGELIQUE (Translation): This is the first time I’ve gone to Reunion.

REPORTER (Translation): What’s it like, do you think?

ANGELIQUE (Translation): I don’t get it.

REPORTER (Translation): What do you think it will be like?

ANGELIQUE (Translation): With sunsets on the beach. Not just a beach, it’s a whole ocean.

REPORTER (Translation): What will you do when you get there?

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): First I will thank God. If there’s a God somewhere, I’ll thank Him. Deep down, I’ve always wanted to go back to my island. To make my dream come true. So of course I think God, if He’s listening to me.

AIR HOSTESS (Translation): Ladies and gentlemen, it is now 10:15 local time. Welcome to La Reunion, where the temperature is 24 degrees.

Jean-Pierre’s younger brother Robert meets the family at the airport. Robert was only a small boy when his older brother was taken.

ROBERT, BROTHER (Translation): Was it an excellent trip?

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): Very good, but I’m so tired.

REPORTER (Translation): How’s the cigarette, Jean-Pierre?

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): Well, after 12 hours without one… And look, I’m very happy to be on my island again.

Jean-Pierre’s mother has recently had a stroke and she’s still not well.

VALERIE, MOTHER (Translation): Did you have a good trip?

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): Yes, thanks Mami. Now I’m going to sit down. To see my mum again, my family, my brother. For me it’s the start of a new life, in spite of my age. It’s a really emotional thing for me.

Two days after he arrived, Jean-Pierre is going back to where it all began. Hell-Bourg is a temporary centre where children were placed by parents who couldn’t cope. Jean-Pierre’s mother sent him here for a short stay after a cyclone had devastated the island and their home.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): It was here in this big room that they gathered us together to ask us if we wanted to go to France. And from here they took us to the airport. And at the airport… Without knowing what was going on, I ended up at the airport ready to go to France.

When Jean-Pierre boarded the plane, his mother Valerie was at work. She knew that social services planned to send her son to France but says she never officially consented to the trip.

REPORTER (Translation): When you gave your permission to send Jean-Pierre to France, did you sign anything?

VALERIE (Translation): No.

REPORTER (Translation):It was just in words?

VALERIE (Translation): Yes, just words. I didn’t sign anything.

REPORTER (Translation): What did the social worker tell you exactly?

VALERIE (Translation): That she was taking him to France. The welfare services would look after him, he would go to school, get a job. But it didn’t happen. They made him a slave… who looked after animals and worked on farms.

REPORTER (Translation): Do you recent her for letting you go away?

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): No. I’m not angry with my mother or anyone else in the family. What I feel most angry about is the government. They lied to my mother, telling her that I was doing very well in France, that I’d be looked after.

Although Jean-Pierre’s mother says she never signed anything, there is a thumbprint on a form authorising her son’s travel to France. But the form doesn’t specify the nature of the trip, nor the length. And it makes no mention of Valerie giving up her rights to see her child. Valerie couldn’t read or write without assistance, but she did her best to stay in touch with her son.

VALERIE (Translation): I remember I wrote him at least one letter to tell him he had a new brother. He’s 35 now. I wrote to him when the child was four months old, saying he had a little brother.

Jean-Pierre, never received his mother’s letter. Last year he found it, unopened, in his official file. It was vital for the children to receive letters from home, otherwise they’d be put up for adoption. This guaranteed the children wouldn’t return to Reunion, which is precisely what the government wanted. As Reunion’s police commissioner wrote to Michel Debre in 1966:

“To prevent any possibility of returning to Reunion, we can essentially select only young children for whom the legal break with the family of origin has been completed.”

In the case of the Begue family, it was the social workers who tricked a mother into giving up her child.

REPORTER (Translation): How does the photo affect you?

FRANCINA BEGUE (Translation): It hurts.

In 1972, Francina Begue took her 3-year-old daughter, Mari-Linda, to a children’s hospital. She was suffering from dysentery and was placed in the welfare centre to recover. After she got better she was at the nursery to recover.

FRANCINA BEGUE (Translation): After she recovered they called to tell me that my daughter was fine and I could take her back in two weeks. That’s when I signed a form to collect her in two weeks. But it wasn’t true because a week later I went with my husband and they told me I’d signed an abandonment form.

REPORTER (Translation): The form you signed was an abandonment form?

FRANCINA BEGUE (Translation): Yes, but I didn’t know. I thought it was to take her back after she got better. But it was to take my child. And since that day I’ve never seen her again.

Francina can’t read and feels she was forced into giving up her daughter. A year after she signed the document, she was told her child had been put up for adoption.

FRANCINA BEGUE (Translation): The social services said it was too late. They said, “You have to look after your other children.” I was pregnant with my third child. Social services said, “Leave this child to others and we’ll look after your other children.” That’s how they put it.

REPORTER (Translation): Were the children stolen?

PAULE ARON (Translation): No, they were with child protection. Not stolen from their parents. They were with child protection because there were problems. Noone went to take them from their shacks.

Jean-Pierre and Genevieve have now been in Reunion for a week. Jean-Pierre isn’t sure that coming back was the right decision. They’ve come to see Jean-Philip Jean-Marie, president of an association that assists people who want to re-establish themselves here.

JEAN-PHILIP JEAN-MARIE (Translation): I know that some of those who tried to resettle besides Jean-Pierre could not. They had to go back to France.

GENEVIEVE (Translation): It’s true that sometimes I need to cheer him up. Because we only got here a week ago and he says “I want to go back, I won’t make it.”

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): Mentally and emotionally I’m nod ready. I feel like saying I won’t make it because I don’t feel at home.

JEAN-PHILIP JEAN-MARIE (Translation): Between childhood and an adulthood spent elsewhere, something is missing. This school yard full of children. — the school yard full of children. Perhaps the slap from the parent when you were naughty. Then there’s the food, the smells, the whole island.

NEWSREADER (Translation): Today, one of the victims has decided to sue France and claim damages.

It was only after one of the children decided to sue the French Government that an official inquiry was ordered into the controversial migration policy. Only two inspectors were appointed to investigate. Their report, published late last year, made no attempt to find how the children from Reunion had been affected by their experiences.

JEAN-PHILIP JEAN-MARIE (Translation): It’s only a report based on figures. From such a date to such a date so many children were taken. But they haven’t been able to give a reason. There is none. There can’t be any. It’s a crime.

As far as the French Government is concerned, it’s now a closed case. And noone was prepared to speak to Dateline. For Jean Pierre, the report was nothing more than a whitewash.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): I want the state to officially admit that the children from Reunion were deported. That’s the only word for it deportation. The state deliberately deported people from Reunion to France to make slaves of them.

REPORTER (Translation): Was it legal?

PAULE ARON (Translation): Yes, absolutely. We don’t do it anymore, but this was back in 1965. We don’t do that in 2003. Long term temporary placements. But back then it was quite legal to say “We’ll see when you’re able to take him back.”

Jean-Pierre wants more than an apology. He too is now taking legal action against the state claiming 5 million euros in compensation for his suffering.

JEAN-PIERRE GOSSE (Translation): I don’t give a damn about apologies. Saying sorry only takes a second but I had 35 years of suffering. Saying sorry won’t repay a 35-year mess. My deepest wish is to finish my life on my island with people I love, my wife and my daughter, who is here too. I’m going to try and wipe the slate clean. And go forward.

The Sun King

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on The Sun King)

REPORTER: Chris Hammer

In a sports stadium in the regional Chinese city of Wuxi, 3,000 people are sitting down to dinner and a show, at least they are once they secure something to eat.


The stadium is the only place in town big enough to house the annual staff get-together of Suntech Corporation. Last year there were only 1,000 staff to cater for, this time next year there will be 5,000. And presiding over this dinner, as he has presided over the amazing growth of Suntech, is mainland China's richest man – Australian Dr Zhengrong Shi.

Now, one of the most remarkable things about this event here tonight is that just six or seven years ago Suntech didn't even exist. Dr Shi was a research scientist living quietly in Sydney's suburbs. Now he has become one of China's most successful businessman. But he is not content with just making money, he also wants to save the planet. As his staff celebrate a successful year, they are entertained by, of all things, excerpts from Al Gore's environmental blockbuster 'An Inconvenient Truth'. And when Dr Shi addresses his staff, it is to pay tribute to St Al.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI, SUNTECH FOUNDER (Translation): In 2000, Al Gore failed in the presidential election but he did something greater than a president might have done. He spent six years telling everyone around the world the challenge that we face for human survival – that is global warming.

It is a message that doesn't appear to do much for many of the factory workers in the audience.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI (Translation): I feel that the noise in the audience is a bit loud. Can you all please be a bit quiet and let me finish my speech?

Later I ask why lecture his staff on the environment.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: The message that I tried to send the staff is our responsibility with the product we produce is to save the environment, to save the earth, so we should feel proud of what we are doing.

Of course for Suntech and Dr Shi, global warming is actually a rather convenient truth – their fortune has been made producing solar electricity panels. The company is now worth around $6.5 billion and Dr Shi himself is worth more than $3 billion. Yet, he says he is more interested in green products than greenbacks.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Because this global warming issue is really a severe problem. You know, human beings really face a challenge to survive on this planet if we don't control what we're doing now. But average people, they don't understand this.

REPORTER: So you don't want to just make money, you want to save the world?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Yes, that is basically what we do. You know, like what we do in the company, like Al Gore's movie 'An Inconvenient Truth', right. We asked every employee of Suntech to watch this movie, then let them feel, have pride in the job we are doing. So that's why we educate our staff.

This is how Suntech makes its money – producing solar electricity panels to export to the world. It is a perfect marriage of high-tech product with low-cost Chinese labour. These workers soldering fragile silicon wafers together are doing what a machine might do in Europe or the States. It's a formula that has seen Suntech's profits and its New York-listed shares skyrocket. So how does it feel suddenly to be so rich, to have so much money?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: I think for most, if not all, entrepreneurs I think the purpose is not for the personal wealth, although in the end it show up somebody earns so much money. But I think that's a side product of a human being pursuing his career, his dream.

This is our R&D area. This is our R&D lab. So I think this is the best lab in China, I believe.

Dr Shi spent 14 years researching solar technology in Sydney. He is familiar with every machine in Suntech's lab.

REPORTER: And all this technology, you understand it all?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Of course, yes. We developed… The whole lab is basically designed by myself.

The solar power entrepreneur believes his photovoltaic cells will soon become price competitive with fossil fuels.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: You know, I keep telling people in 10 years time, if we do not have any technology innovation, the price will be at least half in 10 years time. So I think solar definitely will become more and more competitive.

REPORTER: So within 10 years?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Within 10 years.

REPORTER: So what would you say to Australian politicians who say, “Look, if we replace coal, we need to replace it with nuclear because solar simply can't do it?”

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Well, I think that is why our politicians need to see solar in a dynamic way. It is not still, stands still. It is changing every day. Australian Government people should keep the quality coal underneath the earth, OK, to keep the value there. They should start to use sunshine.

If I don't solve this problem immediately, it is going to hit the company in the short term.

Keeping up with Dr Shi is no easy task as he is called from the lab to a crisis meeting.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: That's also I'm enjoy doing it, OK.

Suntech is already a massively successful company but it would be even more successful if it had access to radical new technology that Dr Shi himself helped develop in Australia but is not permitted to use. The story of what happened to that technology is instructive for what it says about Australia and for how it has shaped Zhengrong Shi's plans to shake up the global energy business.

Zhengrong Shi arrived here at the University of New South Wales back in 1988 to study for a PhD, but he had no real interest in solar power. In fact he had no real interest in research at all. He says what he really wanted was to find a way to stay in Australia and not come back to China.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Well, supposedly I should come back because that's sort of part of an agreement I had with the institute I used to work for. But from the bottom of my heart I did not plan to come back.

Then two life-changing events occurred, Zhengrong Shi and his wife were granted Australian citizenship and the young researcher talked his way into a position here with this university's world-leading solar electricity program.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: When I really started my research, OK, and then I realised it is so enjoyable. I keep telling people I never thought research…there was so much fun in doing research. And I could be a good scientist. I never thought of myself I could be an experienced or talented scientist. Before, I never thought of it, when I was in China.

Graduating with a PhD, Shi had helped develop a revolutionary new technology that used a fraction of the costly silicon used in traditional solar wafers. He continued that research at Pacific Solar, a company connected to the University of New South Wales, but it burnt through $25 million in research money without commercialising the technology.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: So I can tell you at that time if there were investors in Australia who can really see what is to happen to this industry or to especially this technology, can fund the technology in Australia, I guess Pacific Solar would have stayed in Australia.

With money drying up, Dr Shi suggested Pacific Solar start its own manufacturing in China.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: I proposed this to the managing director at the time – if Pacific Solar, instead of just focusing on pure research, if Pacific Solar started, apart from research, also started some manufacturing using conventional technology, Pacific Solar would have been very, very successful.

REPORTER: So if Pacific Solar had listened to you and had invested in manufacturing in China, this huge company, instead of being based in Shanghai could have been headquartered in Sydney?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Could well be. Could well be.

The new technology Dr Shi helped develop has now been put into commercial production at this factory near Leipzig, in Germany. But it is protected by patent – he might have helped develop it but the Sun King can't use it. Indeed the failure by Pacific Solar to commercialise the technology so disheartened Dr Shi at the time that he considered giving away research altogether and starting a restaurant or a supermarket in Sydney.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: I just feel bored. So then I talked to my wife and said I want to do something different to fill my life in because I want myself always busy. And that is all. We talked, we started chatting about it. Definitely she would never agree. But on the other hand, I mean, I was just, sort of I don't think I was serious about doing that anyway myself.

REPORTER: You must be glad you didn't?


Meanwhile, in Dr Shi's absence, China had been undergoing a remarkable change. A new entrepreneurial culture had taken hold and the economy was booming. The government was now keen to lure back the generation which had been lost to the West. Dr Shi visited China and, convinced things had changed, established Suntech in 2001.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: So I realised if I come back here, I can really do something because I have so much more advanced experience and knowledge than people here do. So I think this country needs me. So with that Of course that's also egoism, right? So I can show my value here.

REPORTER: So the real reason you came back to China was because, unlike Australia, you felt that here you could make a difference?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Yeah, right. Yeah, right. That sort of summarises it, yes.

Six years later Dr Shi and his wife have transformed $6 million in seed capital into a $6 billion company. They live in an apartment in this well-to-do neighbourhood populated largely by expats. Their two sons, both born in Sydney, go to an international school but still miss Australia.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Oh, they miss Sydney a lot. My boys like a couple of years ago they said, “I don't understand why my dad come here. Sydney is so beautiful “and so many beaches and nice waves all the time.” So they do miss Australia and Sydney a lot. But basically, although we live in China but behind closed doors our lifestyle is still very much similar to what we had in Sydney.

Indeed, the entrepreneur remains an Australian citizen and flies an Australian flag outside his headquarters in Wuxi.

REPORTER: Why? Why have the Australian flag?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Because, you know, still Australian flag because we have Australian shareholders. Still about 25% of shareholders are Australian shareholders.

REPORTER: So how do you think of yourself now – as Chinese or as Australian?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: I think of myself as both actually. Because I still think of myself as Australian-Chinese because I am not Australian as a race but 14 years is my golden time that I spent in Australia. I learned a lot, especially the philosophy and the mentality type of thing and I find it is really important. People are very open, very straight, very honest and very objective in a certain sense.

Yet there are aspects of the Australian character that Doctor Shi is not so impressed with. He has opened his door to small entrepreneurs from around the world. Here he is meeting with a Chinese-American hoping to interest the Sun King in a new venture.

MAN: OK, so how we can use this? Firstly we have a plan for 25%.

Dr Shi says such dealings are based on trust but says it's something some Australians seem to have in short supply.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: So what we found is there is always a trust issue in the beginning. So I find some Australian companies' mentality seems always, “Maybe Doctor Shi wants to steal my technology or Suntech wants to steal my technology and try to copy it.” But I keep telling them “I am Australian, OK?” I lived in Australia for 14 years. I came here to start a business. We are so successful. We make a lot of money. It is like we are not like a start-up company which depends on your technology.

REPORTER: So in many ways they're more interested in not being ripped off than they are about succeeding?

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Yes, yes. So that is the thing.

And yet Dr Shi's new business plan includes Australia. He learned from his time at Pacific Solar that research works better if it is married to manufacturing. Now he wants to vertically integrate his company even further by mining his own silicon in Queensland or Western Australia and refining it in Tasmania.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: So to refine silicon will require high purity quartz and cheap electricity and also some good engineers. I think Australia has all this.

Suntech currently exports the great majority of its production but as it builds a massive new plant in Wuxi, Doctor Shi is carefully cultivating the market that holds the greatest potential for his company – China itself. Suntech has built a number of small-scale demonstration projects like installing solar panels on the roofs of these apartments that feed power into the nearby grid, and this car park, where the lighting is solar-powered. The parking is for visitors to Wuxi's lake – a famous beauty spot now clouded, like much of the country, in a perpetual haze of pollution.

The Chinese Government has recently declared the twin aims of improving energy efficiency and reducing pollution. Dr Shi believes that within five years it will embrace solar power. Looking out over Shanghai from Suntech's 63rd-storey office, he lets me in on the final stage of his plan. As well as mining and processing silicon, developing world's best solar panel technology and manufacturing the panels, he wants to start selling the power they generate.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: In 20 years time we are more thinking about the company as an energy company, it not just produce solar panels. As an energy company, as you can imagine, like BP or Shell.

Zhengrong Shi's vision would turn the energy industry inside out – solar would no longer be an alternative fuel and Suntech would be at the centre, competing with the fossil fuel giants of today.

DR ZHENGRONG SHI: Maybe in the future we are reaching the same scale of BP or Shell but we are a solar energy company not an oil energy company.


TX: 21/3/07 Ep: 5/2007

Feature Report: The Sun King










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Feature Report: Singapore’s Taste Test







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