Live coverage: Janet Yellen sits before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday as it vets her nomination to take the helm at the Federal Reserve System, a position for which — if confirmed — would make her one of the most powerful women in the financial world.
Reuters live blog: http://reut.rs/1icQ3Zc
But what does Janet Yellen think of the U.S. economy? Watch her speak live and read analysis and commentary from Reuters staff on what her plans are for boosting economic growth.
Photos: Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Federal Reserve. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The death toll from the massive typhoon that hit the Philippines is likely closer to 2,000 or 2,500 people and not the previously reported figure of 10,000, President Benigno Aquino told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.
"The figure right now I have is about 2,000, but this might still get higher," Aquino told CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour in an interview was posted on CNN’s website. "Ten thousand, I think, is too much," he told CNN. "There was emotional drama involved with that particular estimate."
Photo: A town devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in Samar, Philippines on November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
World Wrap: November 11, 2013
Super typhoon survivors seek aid, Khamenei’s economic power comes from property seizures, and Fukushima residents face the prospect of never going home. Today is Monday, November 11, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Typhoon leaves an estimated 10,000 dead, and survivors begging for help
Residents walk past a cargo ship washed ashore four days after super typhoon Haiyan hit Anibong town, Tacloban city, central Philippines, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
Three days after the typhoon made landfall, residents of Tacloban told terrifying accounts of being swept away by a wall of water, revealing a city that had been hopelessly unprepared for a storm of Haiyan’s almost unprecedented power. Most of the damage and deaths were caused by waves that inundated towns, washed ships ashore and swept away villages in scenes reminiscent of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
According to the U.N., more than 600,000 people have been displaced by the storm. Roughly 2,000 people are missing in Basey, a seaside town destroyed by Haiyan. Tacloban, which was hit hard by the storm on Friday, reported a mass grave containing 300-500 bodies, the U.N. said. Three military transport planes are providing supplies to and evacuating survivors from Tacloban. Several countries are sending funds, personnel, and supplies to the Philippines for as aid. Officials expect the death toll to rise once access to remote areas is reestablished. Click here for live coverage of the storm’s aftermath, here for aerial shots of the destruction and here for information on how to help.
A man takes a break from salvaging reusable woods from his damaged house after super Typhoon Haiyan hit Tabogon town in Cebu Province, central Philippines, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Charlie Saceda.
Khamenei’s capital. Setad, an Iranian company that manages and sells property on order from the Imam, is one of the most powerful firms in Iran – and a key means for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to maintain power.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits next to a portrait of late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini while taking part in a television live programme in Tehran on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Leader.ir/Handout
The company seized thousands of properties from Iranian citizens, including members of the historically persecuted Baha’ai minority. According to the investigation, Setad’s assets are worth $95 billion – 40 percent more than Iran’s total 2012 oil exports. Click through to read the first of a three-part report on the assets of the Ayatollah.
Long way home. Fukushima evacuees are anxious to go back home, but would settle for acknowledgement from the government that some may never return. Japanese lawmakers on Monday said the government should scale back cleanup goals.
Norio Horiuchi, an evacuee from the town of Tomioka speaks during an interview with Reuters in his unit in a temporary housing estate, where 200 former Tomioka town residents also have been evacuated to, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Sophie Knight
The government may offer compensation to residents whose homes were in the most contaminated regions and will not be able to return. So far, 1,539 displaced Fukushima residents have died due to illness associated with prolonged evacuation. Japan is dealing with fallout from the faulty nuclear plant, which was wrecked by earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and is currently leaking nuclear radiation.
Nota Bene: The chief financier of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network was killed in Islamabad.
Gold no-go - Romania thwarts a massive Canadian gold mining plan. (Associated Press)
Dreamscapes - A photographer captures images of Europe’s forgotten nuclear bunkers and hippodromes. (The Atlantic Cities)
Painful protest - A naked artist is detained after nailing his scrotum to Red Square. (BBC)
Shopping police - Venezuelan soldiers occupy stores accused of price gouging. (New York Times)
Fishy solution - An EU ban on discarding edible fish may not be all that helpful. (The Guardian)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: November 7, 2013
Xi’s inability to close labor camps indicates limits to his political clout, Russia scales back its economic growth prediction, and world powers meet with Iran to discuss its nuclear program. Today is Thursday, November 7, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Xi Jinping’s power cuts
China’s President Xi Jinping lets Jordan’s King Abdullah (not pictured) leave first after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Feng Li/Pool
Failure to launch. Chinese President Xi Jinping, expected to usher in reforms when he took office last year, has so far failed to shutter China’s labor camps in an indication of weakness:
Despite holding the three top posts in the country – president, party chief and head of the military – [Xi] is not as strong as he seems, said at least half a dozen sources in the party and government. His two immediate predecessors as president, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, wield considerable clout through allies and protégés they promoted, as do powerful factions within the Communist Party. Xi must keep the two former presidents on his side, but this means an erosion of his power… despite being obstructed on major political and social change, Xi has implemented considerable economic reform in recent months – on interest rate policy, the banking system and converting Shanghai into a free trade zone – in the face of opposition from powerful ministries and state banks, two of the sources said. However, failure to address some of the political and social ills in China – including regional tensions, the rich-poor gap, corruption and degradation of the environment – could affect stability.
Last week, a car drove into a crowd and burst into flames in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing five including three in the vehicle. China blamed the attack on members of the Xinjiang region’s Muslim minority, calling it part of a holy war against the country. Many Uighur Muslims are upset by official controls on their culture and religion, despite official claims that the group is not oppressed by Chinese policy. Chinese citizens also struggle with housing prices which continue to rise despite a four-year government effort to stabilize rates – perhaps because local governments rely on revenue from property sales for income. Xi has continued cracking down on corruption, currentlytargeting a top executive in the shipping industry, following the high-profile sentencing of ousted politician Bo Xilai. The fate of Xi’s plans for reform plans will likely be determined during the Communist party’s Central Committee’s third plenum meeting from November 9 to 12, when Chinese leaders determine their term agendas. Below, Chinese officials target corruption.
Men look at a screen displaying a picture of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai standing trial on the website of a court’s microblog, in Jinan, Shandong province, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song
Yang Dacai, a former provincial official, listens to a verdict at a court in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Putin backtrack. Russia lowered its growth expectations on Thursday, admitting in public for the first time that its economy would trail behind global growth over the next twenty years. According to Russia’s Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, Russia’s economy will grow 2.5 percent on average in that time period, compared to 5.2 percent average growth in Brazil, China, India, and South Africa.
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on before an award ceremony to mark National Unity Day at the Kremlin in Moscow, November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool
The revision could cost Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has promised to make Russia one of the top five economies by 2020, credibility and power in the future. In an effort to increase patriotism among young people, Putin today asked parliament to pass a law to increase displays of Russia’s flag.
Nuclear negotiations. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with representatives of six world powers – the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain – in Geneva to discuss his country’s contentious nuclear program, calling the negotiations “tough,” but adding that “the talks went well.” He added, “I’m hopeful that we can move forward.”
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) leaves with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after a photo opportunity before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, November 7, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
The leaders seek a “first step” towards a solution over the nuclear dispute. Western powers fear that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities but Iran maintains it is using its nuclear program for energy and science alone. Reuters learned that Iran has offered to ship crude oil to India for free, in a sign that Western sanctions on Iran have taken a toll. Talks continue through tomorrow.
Murderers into martyrs - Reuters columnist David Rohde argues that covert drone strikes are counterproductive. (Reuters)
Femme retail - Voluptuous Venezuelan mannequins reflect plastic surgery trend. (New York Times)
Meteoric warning - Fireball that exploded over Russian city could be a sign of greater risk from meteors. (Associated Press)
Christmas cuts - Spain has cut holiday spending by over 40 percent over the past five years. (Quartz)
Biker ban - Liberia forces hundreds to walk to work with motorcycle taxi ban. (BBC)
Full-time students - French children might have to start going to school on Wednesdays. (Los Angeles Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: November 6, 2013
Chaos in Libya threatens wheat imports, Assad gunmen steal from Damascus residents, and Toronto mayor admits to using crack cocaine. Today is Wednesday, November 6, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Libyan wheat importers face uncertainty
A customer inspects freshly-baked bread in a bakery in Tripoli, October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
Wheat woes. Libya’s unstable government, plagued by corruption and disorder since the Western-backed ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, is threatening importers’ ability to pay for wheat:
Global grain traders say big Libyan buyers are now having difficulty arranging import deals. Exporters abroad are worried about being paid on time, and about the additional risks of unloading ships in chaotic ports where armed militia members run rampant. The chairman of Matahan Tripoli, which buys wheat on international markets and sells flour and other processed foods to the state’s subsidized distribution system, said the government owed it $96.7 million…Without the state funds, the formerly state-owned milling firm would have to delay an order of 50,000 tonnes of wheat, intended to help feed the capital for three months, Idris said.
Libya may have to walk back its generous subsidy program to cut costs. According to data from the International Grains Council, 1.7 million tonnes of wheat are expected to be imported into Libya this year - a slight drop from last year’s 1.8 million tonnes, which breaks down to nearly six kilos per person per week. Last week, local protesters demanding a greater share of the oil wealth and blocking western oil fields for days refused to negotiate with the government, exacerbating the country’s oil crisis. On Tuesday, militias fought in Tripoli in one of the worst clashes in the capital city in weeks. The government now relies on militia soldiers for protection, rather than the weaker army. Last month, militia forces freed Libya’s prime minister after he was briefly abducted by a rival militia group. See more scenes of life in Libya below:
Anti-government protesters demonstrate against bombings and assassinations in Benghazi, November 3, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
Men attempt to move other vehicles to keep them from catching fire after a car bomb blast near a school where a training workshop for municipal council elections was being held in Benghazi, October 26, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
State-sanctioned stealing. Damascus residents complain that militia forces serving Syrian President Bashar al- Assad are stealing their valuables, and that local police officers refuse to investigate. Militias called Popular Committees grant each new member a monthly stipend, Kalashnikov rifle, and a mandate to join vigilante missions with little oversight, transforming even the government-controlled capital into a lawless area.
Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad hold up their weapons and erect a Syrian national flag at the village of al-Azizieh, on the northern edge of Safira, after capturing it from rebels, November 4, 2013. REUTERS/George Ourfalian
On Wednesday, a bomb killed eight people and wounded 50 in central Damascus, according to Syria’s state media. Syrian peace talks slated for this month are stalled by Washington and Moscow’s inability to agree on whether Iran should attend the talks, and who would represent the Syrian rebel movement.
Crack confession. On Tuesday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack during his tenure but said he will stay in office and run for reelection next year. “Yes I have smoked crack cocaine… Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago,” he said.
Nic Bibassis from Toronto holds a sign as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (not seen) attends his weekly radio show at News Talk 1010 in Toronto November 3, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill. See more images of the scandal here.
A poll taken after Toronto’s police chief confirmed the existence of the video showing the mayor smoking crack put Ford’s approval level at 44 percent – a 5-point jump from an earlier count. Support for Ford in City Hall, however, has taken a hit. City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong said he would ask the mayor to take a leave of absence, and one motion would restrict Ford’s powers in office.
Nota Bene: Muslim Brotherhood fail to overturn ban by Egyptian court.
Moo money - Cow insurance reassures pastoral Kenyans. (Al Jazeera)
Cruise control - Italy will limit the number of cruise ships that pass through Venice. (BBC)
Traveling trash - Debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami is heading towards America’s West Coast. (Quartz)
Merry Maduro - Venezuela’s president declares early Christmas. (Time)
Underground show - Parisian musicians vie to perform for commuters. (New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: October 31, 2013
Syria meets its first disarmament deadline, Putin cracks down on Salafists ahead of Winter Olympics, and Maduro mulls Venezuela’s motorcycle problem. Today is spooky Thursday, October 31, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Syria destroys chemical weapons facilities on schedule
Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands, the newly appointed Special Coordinator of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations speaks to the media after meeting Syrian officials in Damascus, October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri
Disarmament deadline met. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reports that Syria has destroyed or made inoperable all facilities used to mix and produce chemical arms, meeting a November 1 deadline that is part of Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament agreement:
The next deadline is November 15, by when the OPCW and Syria must agree to a detailed plan of destruction, including how and where to destroy more than 1,000 metric tonnes of toxic agents and munitions. Under a Russian-American brokered deal, Damascus agreed to destroy all its chemical weapons after Washington threatened to use force in response to the killing of hundreds of people in a sarin attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21. It was the world’s deadliest chemical weapons incident since Saddam Hussein’s forces used poison gas against the Kurdish town of Halabja 25 years ago. “This was a major milestone in the effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program,” Ralf Trapp, an independent chemical weapons disarmament specialist, said.
The inspections team investigated 21 of 23 sites, skipping two that were too dangerous to check, but noting that the weapons there had been moved to sites that they were able to visit. Under the agreement, Syria must destroy its chemical weapons stockpile by mid-2014. Diplomatic sources reported that long-delayed peace talks to discuss a solution to Syria’s civil war are likely to be stalled again. The talks, initially proposed in May, were to be held in Geneva on November 23 but now could take place up to a month later. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government is subject to sanctions by the United States, but is able to reach global markets and get access to food, arms and oil via Russian banks. The Kremlin has remained Assad’s ally, and clashes between Russian and Western leaders over Assad’s future in Syria have contributed to delaying the peace conference. Below, OPCW inspectors train in Germany:
Inspectors of the OPCW look after mock victims after an explosion during a training scenario at the United Nations training center at the German Bundeswehr barracks in Wildflecken, October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Sochi safety crackdown. Russian officials are clamping down on an Islamist insurgency in Dagestan ahead of the Sochi Olympics in February, moving away from previous attempts at dialogue with Salafist Muslims.
Abdurakhim Magomedov, a Salafi preacher who ran a woman’s madrassa, speaks during an interview inside his house in Novosasitli village in the Dagestan region, September 28, 2013. REUTERS/Ilyas Hajji
According to locals in the North Caucasus, Russian officials have been taking saliva samples from conservative Muslim women to be able to identify their body parts in a suicide attack. An October 21 suicide bombing that killed six people in a major city north of Sochi was blamed on a Dagestan woman, and an October 25 ruling by parliament increases punishment for militant attacks by holding the attacker’s relatives responsible for paying damages. The Kremlin dismissed Dagestan’s leader in January, and has since walked back his flexible religious policies which allowed Salafi leaders to open religious schools and set up rehabilitation programs for rebels. Some fear the crackdown may backfire by prompting an increase in violent attacks.
Maduro’s Motorizado problem. Hordes of Venezuelan motorcyclists, called “motorizados,” are credited with providing quick, cheap transport in gridlocked roads and blamed for increasing violent incidents and road accidents in the country, presenting a problem for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Motorcycle taxi drivers wait for customers in Caracas, October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Silva.
The government plans to meet with motorizado groups in order to agree on basic road rules and to propose laws that could ban late-night driving, block motorcycles from freeways and implement parking restrictions. The number of motorcycles in Venezuela increased sharply over the last 10 years thanks to Chavez-era deals with China.
Nota bene: U.S. spy chiefs defend surveillance by saying Europeans were complicit.
Happiness branch - Venezuela establishes a Vice-Ministry for Supreme Social Happiness of the People. (Foreign Policy)
Move over, Obama - Forbes names Putin the most powerful man of 2013. (Forbes)
Booze brink - We are facing a global wine shortage. (BBC)
Poverty pull - Tourists flock to Brazil’s slums. (Newsweek)
Back to the future - Germany’s bike of the future looks kind of old school. (The Atlantic Cities)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: October 25, 2013
Fukushima workers share their experience, Norway rejects U.S. request for help with Syria’s chemical disarmament, and Madagascar votes for a new president. Today is Friday, October 25, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Exploited Fukushima workers speak out
Tetsuya Hayashi, former worker in Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, poses with a photo showing his ID for the plant issued by TEPCO in Tokyo, July 10, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Over-radiated and underpaid. The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co are relying on unvetted subcontractors to recruit underpaid workers to clean up the worst nuclear disaster in decades. One former Fukushima employee spoke to Reuters about his experience:
[Tetsuya] Hayashi, 41, says he was recruited for a job monitoring the radiation exposure of workers leaving the plant in the summer of 2012. Instead, when he turned up for work, he was handed off through a web of contractors and assigned, to his surprise, to one of Fukushima’s hottest radiation zones. He was told he would have to wear an oxygen tank and a double-layer protective suit. Even then, his handlers told him, the radiation would be so high it could burn through his annual exposure limit in just under an hour. “I felt cheated and entrapped,” Hayashi said. “I had not agreed to any of this.” When Hayashi took his grievances to a firm on the next rung up the ladder of Fukushima contractors, he says he was fired.
Below, see scenes of fallout from the disasters and damage to the Fukushima power plant, and click through for more images.
A doctor conducts a thyroid examination on four-year-old Maria Sakamoto, brought by her mother to the office of Iwaki Radiation Citizen Centre NPO, in Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, some 4 miles from the crippled Daiichi power plant, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Count Norway out. On Friday, Norway denied a request from the U.S. to host the destruction of Syria’s chemical arms. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Oslo and Washington concluded that “Norway is not the most suitable location for this destruction,” due to “time constraints and external factors.” U.S., NATO and Russian officials announced on Wednesday that NATO and Russia could participate in the chemical arms destruction if called upon by the United Nations. It’s illegal to import chemical weapons into the U.S. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to rid Syria of all chemical weapons stocks, a complicated process which is currently at its early stages.
Madagascar votes. Madagascar holds its presidential election in hopes of ending the political turmoil that began when current leader Andry Rajoelina seized power in a 2009 coup. EU observers said there have been issues with voting registration but that there have been no signs of intimidation, and that overall conditions are set for a fair electoral process.
A man walks past campaign posters outside a polling center in the capital Antananarivo, October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Voters hope political stability will help draw investors to the oil- and mineral-rich but economically weak country. There are no clear frontrunners of the 33 candidates, which means a runoff election will likely take place in December.
Nota Bene: Upset by U.S. spying allegations, Germany wants its own Internet.
No more status quo? - Reuters columnist Ian Bremmer says we may be seeing an end to the U.S.-Iran standoff. (Reuters)
Fame and Marxism - Celebrities seek office as members of Venezuela’s Socialist party. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Stuffed animal adventure - A travel agency will take your stuffed animals on a tour of Japan. (The Atlantic Cities)
Boys club - The only female presidential candidate is disqualified in Afghanistan. (Time)
Dope dupe - An elderly Australian couple is scammed into smuggling meth home from Canada. (The Australian)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.