BEIJING - While American voters were finally giving President George Bush and his southern-fried Republican Party a richly-deserved, long-overdue drubbing, I was off in China observing a nation that while rigidly authoritarian, is at least governed by capable, intelligent leaders.
The same, alas, could not be said of the Bush Administration's neocon ideological crackpots, dim-witted rural legislators, and evangelical religious extremists who saddled America with two lost wars, now costing over $8 billion monthly, monster budget deficits, and the intense dislike, if not downright hostility, of people around the world.
The City regulator issued a warning to the high street banks yesterday that the "clouds were already darkening" and urged them to prepare for the impact of rising unemployment and the knock-on effect on bad debts.The Financial Services Authority highlighted mortgages based on high multiples to income - as much as five times in some instances - and questioned whether sales of these products would be monitored properly.
Clive Briault, managing director of retail markets at the FSA, said: "While retail banks appear to have adequate financial resources today, the good times will not last forever - indeed, there is evidence that the clouds are already darkening and that banks need to prepare now for the potential storms ahead."
The latest winter storm hammered B.C.'s South Coast Wednesday, with extensive ferry cancellations, road closures and massive power outages.
About 210,000 B.C. Hydro customers are without lights as strong winds blew trees onto power lines, downing them completely in some cases.
Hydro spokeswoman Elisha Moreno said the hardest-hit areas are Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Mission.
MOSCOW, November 15 (RIA Novosti) - More than 20 earthquakes have been registered in the Kuril Islands area, off Russia's Pacific coast, since Wednesday afternoon, the country's Emergency Situations Ministry said Thursday.
"Twenty-two seismic events measuring up to 5.3 [on the Richter scale] struck 75-275 kilometers (47-171 miles) from Simushir Island between 2:30 p.m. Moscow time (11:30 a.m. GMT) November 15 and 6 a.m. Moscow time (3 a.m. GMT) on the 16th," the ministry said.
An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck 75 kilometers southeast of Simushir Island at 2:14 p.m. Moscow time (11:14 a.m. GMT) Wednesday, raising fears of an imminent tsunami.
The city of Clearlake, Calif., is home to an active volcano that may erupt violently within the next 10,000 years, said Lisa Hammersley, professor of geology.
There is a "frightening lack of leadership" on climate change and an urgent need for more effort to avoid major consequences, the UN's secretary general told an international meeting Wednesday.
"Climate change is not just an environmental issue, as too many people still believe. It is an all-encompassing threat," Kofi Annan said in Nairobi, Kenya.
Far from slowing down, global carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than before, said a gathering of scientists in Beijing on Friday.
Between 2000 and 2005, emissions grew four times faster than in the preceding 10 years, according to researchers at the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international researchers. Global growth rates were 0.8% from 1990 to 1999. From 2000 to 2005, they reached 3.2%.
Melbourne, Australia - As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower - by adding air. The scientists have developed a simple 'air shower' device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air.
The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.
Sydney - The Pacific Ocean has given birth to a new volcanic island near Tonga, according to ocean-going eyewitnesses. Crew on board a yacht called the Maiken believed they were the first to see a volcanic island forming a day out from Neiafu, Tonga, while sailing towards Fiji in August, the Matangi Tonga news website reported Wednesday.
"One mile in diameter and with four peaks and a central crater smoking with steam and once in a while an outburst high in the sky with lava and ashes. I think we're the first ones out here," a crew member who identified himself as Haken wrote on the yacht's web log.
Nearly two million children a year die for want of clean water and proper sanitation while the world's poor often pay more for their water than people in Britain or the US, according to a major new report.
The United Nations Development Programme, in its annual Human Development report, argues that 1.1 billion people do not have safe water and 2.6 billion suffer from inadequate sewerage. This is not because of water scarcity but poverty, inequality and government failure.