Japan won't budge on beef
Japan yesterday refused to budge on its ban against imports of US beef, despite assurances from visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that US beef is "safe." During a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura yesterday afternoon, Rice urged Japan to lift its ban on US beef imports, adding that the time had come to solve the problem. "There is a global standard on the science involved," Rice told Machimura. Her Japanese counterpart told her that Japan will respond "appropriately" to the ongoing dispute without hurting overall Japan-US relations. "I understand US side's feeling but we cannot say when to lift the ban," he told Rice.
■ Cuban Economy
Peso revaluation begins
Increasingly optimistic about his communist nation's economy, Cuban President Fidel Castro has put in motion a gradual revaluation of the national currency and promised to later consider raising the country's low government salaries. The 7 percent revaluation of the Cuban peso went into effect Friday, the first change in the exchange rate since it was frozen in December 2001. Castro told the nation's top leadership late Thursday it was the first step in the revaluation of the currency used for state salaries and government subsidized goods and services. Improved trade relationships with Venezuela and China "have created conditions for a progressive, gradual and prudent revaluation of the national currency," Castro said.
Opera to use SVG technology
Opera Software announced Wednesday that its new browser will be the first to include scalable vector graphics, which automatically scales any Web page to the size of a user's screen, be it a cell phone or a flat-panel monitor. The Oslo-based company said the new technology, also called SVG, would become part of the Internet mainstream as Web pages continue to become complex and sophisticated. Opera is the third-largest browser used by consumers to navigate the World Wide Web, although its share is tiny to Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape. Opera co-founder and Chief Executive Jon S. von Tetzchner said the new beta-version of Opera offers the SVG software as standard, rather than something users would have to download as a plug-in. SVG is an XML-based language for Web graphics developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C.
Court rules against Yukos
Withered Russian oil company Yukos lost another round Friday in its ongoing effort to seek protection in US courts from further Russian government-ordered selloffs of its assets. US District Judge Nancy Atlas rejected the company's request that she protect Yukos' remaining assets while it appeals a bankruptcy judge's dismissal of the company's case filed in Houston in mid-December. Yukos turned to Atlas after US Bankruptcy Judge Letitia Clark last month threw out its bankruptcy and related lawsuits and refused to change her mind a week later. The company lost 60 percent of its oil production capacity with the Russian government-ordered December sale of a key subsidiary in Moscow. Without protection, Yukos claimed the company could disappear before an appeal ran its course if the Russian government orders more asset sales to further pay a disputed US$27.5 billion back-tax levy.