Wednesday, August 10, 2005

News bits:

Yesterday, I was at a loss for particularly interesting things to blog, even though Jerry Garcia was 10 years dead, and Abe Hirschfeld died yesterday.

So, I'll just summarize here whatever might be of interest:

Kansas still doesn't like evolution.

TOPEKA, Kan., Aug. 9 (AP) - The State Board of Education has approved the latest draft of science standards that include greater criticism of evolution.

The board approved the draft on Tuesday by a vote to 6 to 4. It then voted to send it to be reviewed by outside academics. The board is expected to give its final approval in October.

The draft says the board is not advocating the teaching of "intelligent design," which contends that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent creator, not evolution. But the language favored by the board does come from advocates of intelligent design.

Conduct unbecoming an officer

DENVER (AP) -- An Air Force Reserve colonel could face criminal charges for allegedly vandalizing cars at Denver International Airport bearing pro-Bush bumper stickers.

Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau, director of operations for reserve forces at the National Security Space Institute in Colorado Springs, is believed responsible for defacing at least 10 parked vehicles between December and June, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Tuesday.

A bait car left by a police detective was also defaced and the detective tracked down Fecteau, who turned himself in Friday. He was released on bond.

China reveals what's in its basket but not how much:

SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- China disclosed for the first time Wednesday the composition of the basket of currencies used to set the yuan's value, saying it mainly includes the dollar, euro, yen and Korean won.

The currencies of Singapore, Britain, Malaysia, Russia, Australia, Canada and Thailand are also considered in setting the yuan's foreign exchange rate, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank governor, said during a speech to launch a new operations center for the People's Bank of China in Shanghai.

Huawei wants Marconi:

After computers, cars and oil, will China's foreign acquisition target be telephones?

British news reports say Huawei Technologies Inc., China's biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, is in talks with Marconi Corp. PLC on a possible takeover of the struggling British firm, the Associated Press reported.

The news suggests that corporate China hasn't lost its appetite for foreign assets despite the acrimonious, highly publicized withdrawal last week of CNOOC Ltd.'s US$18.5 billion (euro15 billion) bid for U.S. oil and gas producer Unocal Corp.

A Huawei-Marconi deal, if completed, would be hugely symbolic: The purchase of a British industrial landmark -- one that traces its roots to the inventor of radio -- by a 17-year-old firm that represents China's new economic vigor and high-tech ambitions.

A Huawei spokesman declined Tuesday to comment. Marconi issued a statement in London saying it was exploring "all strategic options" with other firms. It didn't confirm whether that meant Huawei and warned that there was no assurance it could make a deal.

Huawei and Marconi make telecom switching equipment -- the guts of a phone system that the public doesn't see but that is critically important in the age of cell phones and the Internet.

Unlike CNOOC's bid, a tie-up between them would have more in common with successful acquisitions involving struggling foreign companies that actively courted Chinese buyers as corporate saviors.

The deal could be worth 560 million British pounds ($1 billion), according to London's Sunday Times.

The Yen is doing well in early trading...

he yen surged higher in European morning trade on Wednesday amid a potent cocktail of buoyant equity markets, a strengthening Japanese economy and signs that Junichiro Koizumi may be returned as prime minister after September’s snap election.

Opinion polls released on Wednesday showed an increase in Mr Koizumi’s approval rating, while a majority of respondents said they supported Mr Koizumi’s plans to privatise the postal service, the issue that brought his government down.

Moreover Japan’s domestic corporate goods price index, a measure of wholesale prices, rose 1.5 per cent year-on-year in July, outstripping forecasts and raising hopes that deflation may be on the way to being defeated.

Furthermore Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock market index rose 1.7 per cent on Wednesday, extending Tuesday’s 1 per cent gain and pushing the index to its highest close since April 2004. Foreign investors are likely to be playing a part in the rally - supporting the yen in the process. In July foreigners bought Y1,323bn of Japanese equities, the highest figure since March 2004.

As a result the yen rose Y1.1 to Y110.83 against the US dollar, Y1.1 to Y137.39 against the euro and Y1.1 to Y198.93 against sterling.

“The yen has clearly been the big mover in the foreign exchange market with a notable pick-up in demand reflecting rising optimism over the economic outlook and falling pessimism over the political outlook,” said Derek Halpenny, senior currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

James Dobson invokes Godwin's law again
, but without any real swastika-wavers, unlike folks who criticize the Minute Men.

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