Biden defends stimulus plan
Vice President Joseph Biden yesterday defended a US$787 billion stimulus package adopted to jump-start the troubled US economy, but admitted recovery was a long way off. “We still have a long way to go, but clearly we are closer to recovery today than we were in January,” Biden wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. “The Recovery Act has been critical to that progress.” “We need relief, recovery and reinvestment to cope with our multifaceted crisis — and only 159 days after it was signed by President [Barack] Obama, the Recovery Act is already at work providing all three.”
Internet users at 338 million
The number of Internet users in China is now greater than the entire population of the US, after rising to 338 million by the end of last month, state media reported yesterday. China’s online population, the largest in the world, rose by 40 million in the first six months of this year, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a report by the China Internet Network Information Center. The number of broadband Internet connections rose by 10 million to 93.5 million in the first half of the year, the report said. About 95 percent of townships were connected to broadband by early last month and 92.5 percent of villages had telephone lines that could be used for Internet access, Xinhua said, citing the official data.
Spain expects 10% drop
Spain expects foreign tourist arrivals to drop by up to 10 percent this year because to the global economic downturn, Industry and Tourism Minister Miguel Sebastian told reporters after meeting with sector leaders in the holiday island of Palma de Mallorca. The decline is mostly the result of a sharp fall in the number of visitors from the UK, Spain’s main source of foreign visitors, because of the drop in the value of the pound and severe recession, he said. The number of foreign tourists who visited Spain fell 11.4 percent during the first half of this year over the same time last year to 23.6 million, government data released last week showed.
Schumer calls for ‘flash’ ban
Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the US Senate, asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to ban so-called flash orders for stocks, saying they give high-speed traders an unfair advantage, according to a letter he sent to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro on Friday. “This kind of unfair access seriously compromises the integrity of our markets and creates a two-tiered system, where a privileged group of insiders receives preferential treatment,” Schumer wrote in the letter. Flash orders make up less than 4 percent of US stock trading, Direct Edge and Bats said. Schumer, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said he will introduce legislation to ban flash orders if the SEC doesn’t act on his request.
Paraguay, Brazil end dispute
Brazil agreed on Saturday to triple the amount it pays Paraguay for energy from the massive Itaipu hydroelectric dam on their border, ending a long-running dispute that had soured relations between the two neighbors. Paraguay also won the right to gradually sell excess energy from the dam directly to the Brazilian market instead of doing so exclusively through state-owned power utility Eletrobras. That move will allow Paraguay to fetch more for the power at market prices.