U.N. rejects export ban on endangered Qatari bluefin tuna
Delegates at a U.N. conference on endangered species in Doha, Qatar, soundly defeated American-supported proposals on Thursday to ban international trade in bluefin tuna and to protect polar bears.
Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin, a fish prized especially by Japanese sushi lovers for its fatty belly flesh, have been severely depleted by years of heavy commercial fishing, while polar bears are considered threatened by hunting and the loss of sea ice because of global warming. The United States tried unsuccessfully to persuade delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to provide strong international protection for the two species.
“It wasn’t a very good day for conservation,” said Juan Carlos Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.N. organization. “It shows the governments are not ready to adopt trade bans as a way to protect species.”
Delegates voted down the proposal to protect bluefin by 68-20, with 30 abstentions. The polar bear measure failed 62-48 with 11 abstentions.
Gaza rocket attack kills Thai worker in Israel
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A foreign worker in Israel was killed Thursday by a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory of Gaza, according to the Israeli military, soon after the arrival here of the European Union’s top foreign policy official.
The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, is the bloc’s most senior official to visit Gaza since Hamas, the Islamic militant group, took power there in 2007. She told reporters in Gaza that she had come to the region to “talk with people and politicians about the need to find a picture of peace and security.”
The rocket attack underlined the challenges Middle East peacemakers face.
The foreign agricultural worker, Manee Singueanphon, 30, from Thailand, was the first person to die from Gaza rocket fire since the end of a three-week Israeli military offensive in Gaza in January 2009. Israel said the primary purpose of its military campaign was to halt years of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.
Fed fights to keep oversight of banks that aren’t big
WASHINGTON — Officials at the Federal Reserve are trying to alter a Senate proposal that would focus the Fed’s regulatory attention on the nation’s biggest banks and strip away its powers over small and medium-size banks.
The proposal, which was introduced on Monday by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, would make the Fed even more centered on New York and Washington and disrupt an institutional balance in place since the central bank opened its doors in 1914, officials said.
“It’s not the central bank of Wall Street,” Thomas M. Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said in an interview. “It’s the central bank of the United States. Let’s not forget that.”
The Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, made the same point in testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. “We are quite concerned by proposals to make the Fed a regulator only of the biggest banks,” he said. “It makes us essentially the ‘too big to fail’ regulator. We don’t want that responsibility. We want to have a connection to Main Street as well as to Wall Street.”
Bernanke, who noted that small institutions were involved in crises from the bank failures of the 1930s through the savings-and-loan collapse in the 1980s, added, “We need to have insights into what’s happening in the entire banking system to understand how regulation affects banks, to understand the status of the assets and the credit problems of banks at all levels, at all sizes.”
Google, Intel, and Sony band together for TV market
Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes.
The move is an effort by Google and Intel to extend their dominance of computing to television, an arena where they have little sway. For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the competitive TV hardware market, the partnership is an effort to get a leg up on competitors.
Some existing televisions and set-top boxes offer access to Web content, but the choice of sites is limited. Google intends to open its TV platform, which is based on its Android operating system for smartphones, to software developers. The company hopes the move will spur the same outpouring of creativity that consumers have seen in applications for cell phones.
The project, which has been under way for several months, was described by people with knowledge of it. They requested anonymity because the partners were not allowed to speak publicly at this point.
Spokesmen for Google, Intel and Logitech declined to comment. A Sony spokesman said he was not familiar with the project.
For Google, the project is a pre-emptive move to get a foothold in the living room as more consumers start exploring ways to bring Web content to their television sets.
“Google wants to be everywhere the Internet is so they can put ads there,” said one of the people with knowledge of the project. The Google TV software will present users with a new interface for TVs that lets them perform Internet functions like search while also pulling down Web programming like YouTube videos or TV shows from Hulu.com.