Whaling row simmers

ULSAN: The International Whaling Commission on Wednesday condemned Japan’s proposals to increase its research whaling programme and to extend it to two threatened species. The commission voted by 30 to 27 in favour of an Australian proposal urging Japan to drop a plan to double its hunt from some 440 minke whales a year and to include endangered fin whales and vulnerable humpbacks. Conservationists immediately welcomed the result. — AFP

Oil strike averted

OSLO: Last minute negotiations succeeded in averting an offshore platform strike that could have cut Norwegian oil production by a million barrels a day at a time when crude prices are nearing a record $60 per barrel. The agreement between the Lederne, a union representing those with leadership jobs, and the Norwegian Oil Industry Association came 90 minutes before a midnight (2200 GMT Tuesday) strike deadline after two days of talks. — AFP

Taxing Chinese goods

WASHINGTON: Four Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to require the US government to place tariffs on Chinese imports equal to the amount of advantage they gain from “currency manipulation.” “Our workers and manufacturers are suffering, and a big part of it can be chalked up to the unfair trading practices of countries like China,” said Congressman Mark Green. — AP

Aussie economy slows

SYDNEY: Growth in the Australian economy is slowing and will likely remain subdued for the second half of 2005 and into 2006, a leading bank on Wednesday. Westpac-Melbourne Institute said that its leading index, which gauges the likely pace of economic activity in the next six to nine months, ran at an annualised growth rate of 1.3 per cent in April. — AFP

Troubled NZ economy

WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s economy is facing a harder landing than earlier projected as it slows after five years of strong growth, a private economic research group reported. Business and Economic Research Ltd. said its forecast was based on falling business investment, declining confidence and a growing national external current account deficit. — AP