Camembert wins battle
France’s creamy raw milk Camembert cheese won a battle of exclusiveness on Thursday after producers and a government body agreed on a revision of criteria for a coveted label after months of conflict. Under new rules the iconic cheese must be made from raw milk from a region half the size of the previous area in Normandy. Major groups Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mere which together make more than 80 percent of Camembert with the Appelation d’Origine Controllee label had contested the exclusive use of raw milk for health reasons.
Brazilian environmental authorities on Friday announced a nearly US$280 million fine on a lumber company owned by a Swedish sporting goods magnate for alleged illegal logging activities. Gethal Amazonas SA was fined 450 million reals (US$279 million) for the illegal logging, transportation and sale of nearly 700,000m³ of timber, the equivalent of roughly 230,000 trees, said Marcelo Dutra, a spokesman for Ibama, Brazil’s environmental agency. Gethal is owned by Johan Eliasch, chairman and chief executive officer of sporting goods manufacturer Head and co-founder of Cool Earth, an environmental activist group based in Britain that seeks to buy portions of the rain forest for preservation purposes.
Caracas seeks investment
Venezuela says it will encourage investment by private companies in part of the country’s oil-rich Orinoco River basin. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez says investment in each of three oil fields will be about US$8 billion. He said the main aim is building heavy crude upgrader plants in partnership with the state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA. The company said in a statement Thursday that it will soon announce a bidding schedule. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government took majority control of the last remaining privately run oil projects last year. US-based Exxon Mobil Corp operated in the eastern Orinoco area before pulling out last year.
Credit Agricole raises capital
French banking giant Credit Agricole launched a 5.9 billion euro (US$9.1 billion) capital increase on Friday aimed at shoring up its resources after suffering losses on its US subprime exposure. Europe’s leading retail bank, which has lost 4.2 billion euros since the start of the subprime crisis in August, wants to boost its capital ratio to 8.5 percent from about 7.7 percent as of late March. Capital ratios measure the financial health of a bank by weighing its own funds against its liabilities. The bank, in a move favoring existing shareholders, will offer shares at 10.60 euros a piece, representing a discount of about 37 percent compared with the closing level on Tuesday.
Amazon hit by glitch
Amazon.com’s Web site experienced problems in North America for more than two hours in the middle of the day on Friday because of system issues, the online retailer said. The company’s retail Web site shut down, giving an error code to anyone visiting it, said Keynote Systems Inc, a California-based company that measures Web site performance. “Amazon’s systems are very complex and on rare occasions, despite our best efforts, they may experience problems,” Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said in a brief e-mail statement. “We work to minimize any disruption and to get the site back as quickly as possible.”
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient