Risk of stillbirth is double in pregnant women who sleep on their backs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Risk of stillbirth is double in pregnant women who sleep on their backs, study finds

 November 20 at 2:55 PM

(iStock)

Pregnant women might increase their risk of a stillbirth if they sleep on their backs during their third trimester, a new study has found.

The research, published Monday in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, is the largest of its kind and the clearest evidence yet that sleeping conditions during pregnancy could have significant effects on the fetus.

Researchers compared the sleeping practices of more than 1,000 women in Britain, 291 of who suffered a stillbirth in the third trimester and 733 of whom had a live birth during the same period. The study found that women sleeping on their backs had 2.3 times the risk of stillbirth. The results add to earlier findings in recent years from smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia.

Researchers behind the new study said they can’t explain with certainty why sleeping position might affect stillbirths chances, but they pointed to data suggesting that when a pregnant woman lies on her back, the weight of the womb can impose pressure on the vessels carrying blood and oxygen to the baby.

Another hypothesis raised by the researchers is that sleeping on your back can increase the possibility of impaired breathing.

The lead researcher, Alexander Heazell, clinical director at the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Center at St. Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, said women should try to fall asleep on their side and not worry too much if they wake up on their back.

“What we don’t want is for moms to wake up and see their on their back and think, ‘I’ve done something terrible to my baby,'” Heazell said. “You can’t control the position you wake up in. And the position you fall asleep in is the position you hold longest in sleep. So that’s the most important thing.”

Heazell said there is a deep need for more research on stillbirths and miscarriages. When it comes to stillbirths in the Western countries, he said, “There is a huge amount of this attitude of ‘Well, it’s just one of those things’ or ‘it wasn’t meant to be.’ Just responding with platitudes.”

He argued, “That kind of fatalistic attitude is a problem. It’s been holding back research.”

If heeded, the new findings could have a significant effect on stillbirth rates, the researchers say. Combining their data with birth statistics, they estimate that if pregnant women stopped sleeping on their back during the last trimester, stillbirths in Britain could decrease by 3.7 percent.

Stillbirths are a common problem in the United States. Stillbirths occur roughly 3 in every 1,000 births (compared with Britain’s 3.5 in every 1,000 births). And each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States has lagged significantly behind other countries in reducing the rate of stillbirths in recent years, according to recent studies and CDC research.

Better medical technology and improvements to prenatal care have reduced the number of late-term stillbirths in the past few decades, but miscarriages earlier in pregnancy have remained roughly the same.

In Britain, the nonprofit Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Center launched a campaign Tuesday in response to the new findings to encourage pregnant women to sleep on their side. They included these tips to help women in their sleep:

  • Put pillows behind you to prevent falling on your back. It won’t prevent you being on your back for certain but is likely to make it more uncomfortable.
  • If you wake up for any reason during the night, check your position and go back to sleep on your side.
  • If you are likely to nap during the day, pay the same attention to sleep position during the day as you would during the night.

New Zealand’s new leader: We must be ready for ‘climate refugees’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

New Zealand’s new leader: We must be ready for ‘climate refugees’

New Zealand: We may have to take climate refugees 02:03

(CNN)New Zealand’s new leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, tells CNN that her country must be prepared to take in “climate change refugees” from surrounding island nations.

“We need to acknowledge that we are, unless we make dramatic changes, at the front of seeing refugees as a result of climate change,” Arden told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, her first since taking office last Thursday.

Watch the full interview

  
Watch the full interview09:22
“We see a duty of care there — both to champion internationally the importance of acknowledging and responding to climate change, but also doing our bit.”
The country currently takes in about 750 refugees each year, per United Nations mandates, according to the government.
“We’re looking to ways to build in the responsibility we have on climate change and the way that we approach, potentially, climate change refuges in the future amongst our neighbors,” said the prime minister.
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In order to govern, Ardern’s Labour Party entered into coalition with a conservative, anti-immigration New Zealand First Party.
She denied, however, that her government’s policy would be affected in the area of refugees, saying she had worked “very hard” to build consensus, and was committed on doubling the country’s refugee quota.

‘Never too late’ to talk with North Korea

Ardern takes office at a dangerous time in her region.
US President Donald Trump’s upcoming trip to Asia (though not New Zealand) is expected to focus extensively on North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs.
A senior North Korean official told CNN’s Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the world should take “literally” a warning from North Korea’s foreign minister about a possible “strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.”
Ardern said her policy was simple: “It’s never too late to talk.”
“That is a message we’ll continue to send on the international stage,” while encouraging multilateral “dialogue.”

Questioning women in the workplace

At 37, Ardern is New Zealand’s youngest leader in 150 years, and its third female prime minister.
She has spoken openly about being a mother, but has forcefully condemned the idea that women should be questioned about how they balance work and home life. “Certainly it is an issue that’s come up for me personally in the role that I have in politics time and time again,” she told Amanpour.
“It will continue to be so until we speak only about the fact that it’s a woman’s decision when to chooses to have a family. It should not be something that’s raised when her future career prospects are speculated on or even if she enters into a job opportunity or an interview.”

Scientists Take to the Sea to Study a Lost Land (Continent): Zealandia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

The researchers’ ship, the Joides Resolution, contains drilling equipment to help geologists answer lingering questions about Zealandia — such as how and when it formed and what has happened in the area over time.CreditThe Australian National University

SYDNEY, Australia — It’s about half the size of the United States, and it’s been hiding under everyone’s noses — or more precisely, under the waves — for millions of years. Now, scientists are setting sail to finally help solve the mystery of Zealandia, the lost undersea landmass being billed as the world’s eighth continent.

Zealandia, an expanse of 1.9 million square miles, extends from far south and east of New Zealand up to New Caledonia and west to an area off Australia’s northeast coast. It was part of Australia until about 75 million years ago, when it started to break away and move northeast. That movement stopped 53 million years ago, and scientists have slowly discovered the landmass, almost entirely submerged, over the past two decades.

“It’s a long way from anywhere,” said Rupert Sutherland, a Victoria University of Wellington professor who will be on the monthslong voyage from Australia to Zealandia, which began Friday. “A few missions have been going there to look for some specific things, but there hasn’t really been a coordinated plan of attack.”

He continued, “It is quite exciting, this Zealandia exploration. We’ve got an entire continent that has not been explored.”

Scientists who are part of the drilling expedition said sediment would be collected to help answer lingering questions about Zealandia — such as how and when it formed and what has happened in the area over time. They also hope to better understand how the Pacific Ring of Fire, a hot spot for volcanoes and earthquakes, formed.

“What we hadn’t realized until fairly recently was that the formation of the Pacific Ring of Fire greatly modified the continent of Zealandia,” Dr. Sutherland said. “It greatly changed the water depth, and it created topography.”

Earlier this year, in a study published by the Geological Society of America, scientists argued that Zealandia should be assigned continent status, despite the fact that it’s mostly underwater, because of its distinctive geology. The study outlined all that was known about Zealandia and went through all of the criteria used to define a continent and evaluated Zealandia against that criteria. The findings have been widely accepted, said Dr. Sutherland, who was a co-author of the study.

Continue reading the main story

“The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list,” the study concluded. “That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented” makes it useful for “exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”

175 Km Long Crack In Antarctic Ice Shelf: Largest Iceberg In Our Lifetime Is Possible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Plane flies along Antarctica’s giant Larsen crack

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has released new footage of the ice crack that promises to produce a giant berg.

The 175 km-long fissure runs through the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

If it propagates just 20km more, a block of ice a quarter the size of Wales will break away into the Weddell Sea.

Scientists gathered the new video while recovering instrumentation that had been placed on the ice shelf.

Uncertainty about the stability of the region means researchers cannot set up camp as they would normally do, and instead make short visits in a Twin Otter plane.

The most recent sortie enabled the researchers also to fly along the length of the crack, which is 400-500m wide in places, to assess its status.

No-one can say for sure when the iceberg will calve, but it could happen anytime.

At 5,000 sq km, it would be one of the biggest ever recorded.

When it splits, interest will centre on how the breakage will affect the remaining shelf structure.

The Larsen B Ice Shelf further to the north famously shattered following a similar large calving event in 2002.

The issue is important because floating ice shelves ordinarily act as a buttress to the glaciers flowing off the land behind them.

In the case of Larsen B, those glaciers subsequently sped up in the absence of the shelf. And it is the land ice – not the floating ice in a shelf – that adds to sea level rise.

If Larsen C were to go the same way it would continue a trend across the Antarctic Peninsula.

In recent decades, a dozen major ice shelves have disintegrated, significantly retreated or lost substantial volume – including Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller, Jones Channel, and Wilkins.

Dr Paul Holland from BAS commented: “Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle, and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow.

“However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration. If that happens, further iceberg calving could cause a retreat of Larsen C.

“We won’t be able to tell whether Larsen C is unstable until the iceberg has calved and we are able to understand the behaviour of the remaining ice.”

The removal of the ice would also enable scientists to study the uncovered seabed.

When Larsen B broke away, the immediate investigation chanced upon new species.

Under the Antarctic Treaty, no fishing activity would be permitted in the area for 10 years.

The big bergs that break away from Antarctica are monitored from space.

They will often drift out into the Southern Ocean where they can become a hazard to shipping.

The biggest iceberg recorded in the satellite era was an object called B-15.

Covering an area of some 11,000 sq km, it came away from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000.

Six years later fragments of the super-berg passed by New Zealand.

In 1956, a berg of roughly 32,000 sq km – bigger than Belgium – was spotted in the Ross Sea by a US Navy icebreaker. But there were no satellites at that time to follow-up.

Many of the bergs that break away from the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica get exported into the Atlantic. A good number get caught on the shallow continental shelf around the British overseas territory of South Georgia where they gradually wither away.

The study of the Larsen C Ice Shelf is led by Swansea University through its MIDAS Project, which involves BAS.

South GeorgiaImage copyright THINKSTOCK
Image caption The remnants of many such bergs end up at South Georgia

[email protected] and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

Hundreds Of Pilot Whales Beach Themselves In New Zealand

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

New Zealand whales: Hundreds more stranded at Farewell Spit

  • 7 hours ago
  • From the section Asia
 Media caption Rescuers help whales return to sea, as more become stranded down the coast

The mass stranding of whales on a remote beach in New Zealand has taken a turn for the worse as 240 more arrived.

Earlier on Saturday, volunteers had refloated some 100 of the more than 400 pilot whales which beached on Thursday.

But a human chain, with volunteers wading neck-deep into the water, failed to prevent a fresh pod making landfall.

The whale stranding, at Farewell Spit at the top of South Island, is one of the worst ever in New Zealand. Dozens of volunteers turned out to help.

More than 300 of the 400 original arrivals died while medics and members of the public tried to keep survivors alive by cooling them with water.

It is hoped that those of the new arrivals that survive can be moved back out to sea during the next high tide in daylight on Sunday.

Media captionOne volunteer said “people from all over the world” were helping to try to save the whales

It is not clear why the whales continue to arrive on the 5km long (three mile-long) beach next to Golden Bay.

One theory is that they may have been driven on to land by sharks, after bite marks were found on one of the dead whales.

Herb Christophers of New Zealand’s department of conservation told the BBC that the whales were trying to get round the top of South Island, but if their navigation went wrong they ended up on the beach.

In the shallower waters, the animals’ use of echolocation was impaired.

“It’s a very difficult place if you get lost in there and you are a whale,” he said.

Map showing Golden Bay in New Zealand

Experts say that whales that become beached will send out distress signals attracting other members of their pod, who then also get stranded by a receding tide.

Sometimes the whales are simply old, sick, or injured.

Andrew Lamason, from New Zealand’s department of conservation, said those refloated had been tagged, whereas the latest arrivals were not, indicating that they were a new group.

He said 20 whales had been humanely killed by conservation workers as they were in a poor condition.


Read more:


Officials have also been looking into how best to dispose of the whale carcasses.

Mr Lamason said that simply towing them out to sea could be problematic as they may become gaseous and buoyant and float into populated bays.

The latest incident in New Zealand was first reported on Thursday evening, but conditions were too dangerous at the time to launch a rescue operation.

Volunteers hold a pilot whale upright during a second mass stranding of whales in New Zealand, 11 February 2017Image copyright AFP
Image caption Volunteers have been trying to keep the stranded whales upright

New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world, with about 300 dolphins and whales ending up on beaches every year, according to Project Jonah.

Many of these incidents happen at Farewell Spit.

In February 2015 about 200 whales beached themselves at the same location, of which at least half died.

Idiotic John Kerry And His Idiotic Ideas About Israel And Islamic Terrorism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

After UN veto, Kerry suggests Israel’s West Bank foray spawning ‘terrorism’

Secretary of State John Kerry is defending the Obama administration’s decision to effectively allow the United Nations to condemn Israeli for attempting to build more settlements in the disputed West Bank, saying the “unprecedented” effort has spawned terrorism and violence that jeopardizes lasting peace in the region.

The United States on Friday abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote to adopt a resolution condemning the Israel’s settlement expansion, which allowed for the measure’s passage and disapproval from incoming Republican President Donald Trump.

“Things will be different after Jan. 20,” Trump tweeted minutes after the vote.

Kerry said Israel’s continued and stepped-up attempt to build more settlements, or communities, in the region, which includes East Jerusalem, risks the so-called “two-state” solution between Israelis and the Palestinians, who also lay claim to the region.

“The United States acted with one primary objective in mind: to preserve the possibility of the two state solution, which every U.S. administration for decades has agreed is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Kerry said Friday. “Two states is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors, and freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people.”

He also said the administration does not agree with “every aspect” of the resolution but that it “rightly condemns violence” and calls on both sides to take constructive steps to reverse current trends and advance the prospects for a two state solution.”

The resolution was put forward by four nations a day after Egypt withdrew it Thursday under pressure from Israel Trump.

The U.S. not vetoing the measure is being considered a snub to the country’s key Middle Eastern ally and attributed to outgoing Democratic President Obama, who has had chilly relations with Israel throughout his eight-year tenure.

Reaction from U.S. Republicans and Jewish leaders around the world was swift and sharp.

“It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution,” said Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon. “I have no doubt that the new U.S. administration and the incoming UN Secretary General will usher in a new era in terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blasted the administration for undermining America’s historic Middle East ally.

“This is absolutely shameful,” Ryan said. “Today’s vote is a blow to peace that sets a dangerous precedent for further diplomatic efforts to isolate and demonize Israel.”

Former GOP presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said called the administration’s move “a big mistake.”

Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices, said the contention that settlements, and not Palestinian terrorism, is the obstacle to peace is false.

“This UN resolution represents the Big Lie of modern anti-Semitism,” Bayefsky said. “Palestinians’ backers on the Council, New Zealand and Malaysia, made today’s slander clear, claiming Jews living peaceful, productive lives on Arab-claimed land was the ‘single biggest threat to peace’ and “primary threat to a two-state solution.’

“Seven decades of violent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state prove otherwise.”

The measure was adopted with 14 votes in favor, to a round of applause, after U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power abstained. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

Powers said the U.S. used its veto power in 2007 on a similar matter but that “circumstances have (since) changed dramatically.”

“One cannot simultaneously champion Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution,” she said. “One has to make a choice.”

The Obama White House, under heavy pressure from the Israeli government and its supporters to veto the resolution, kept everyone guessing until the vote whether it would stop shielding Israel from council resolutions and permit it to pass by abstaining.

After the vote, White House officials acknowledged on a conference that Obama made the decision himself after several rounds of discussions with top administration officials.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said afterward that the U.S. has only one president at a time.

Israel believes it has the right to expand settlements in the disputed territories as populations within them expand. Palestinians do not believe the settlements should exist at all, and world condemnation of expansion is seen as a possible first in that direction.

The resolution calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem.” And it repeated the longstanding U.N. position that all settlements on land Israel conquered in 1967 are illegal under international law.

A senior Israeli official accused the U.S. of a “shameful move” after learning that it did not intend to veto the text, the BBC reported.

As one the council five permanent members of the council, the U.S. has veto power and has used it to sheltered Israel from condemnatory resolutions. But the Obama administration has long made clear its opposition to Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory, even though it gives Israel tens of billions annually in assistance.

“This last minute political maneuvering is shameful,” said Ric Grenell, former spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and a Fox News contributor. “Today’s abstention by the Obama administration will make it harder to find a peaceful solution because it imposes outside positions on Israel without letting them negotiate directly.”

Fox News’ Eric Linton and Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this report.

New Zealand’s Popular Prime Minister John Key Shocks Nation: Resigns

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS PAPER)

New Zealand’s popular Prime Minister John Key stunned the nation on Monday when he announced his resignation after eight years as leader.Key had been widely expected to contest his fourth general election next year. But he said he wanted to ensure he doesn’t make the mistake that some other world leaders have done, and instead wanted to leave while he was on top of his game.

Speaking in a shaking voice, Key said he had made personal sacrifices for the job and the role had taken a toll on his family.

Key said his National Party caucus would meet December 12 to decide on a new party leader and prime minister, and that he expected to officially hand in his resignation that same day.

Key said he would back his deputy Bill English for the role.

The New Zealand dollar fell by nearly 1% on the news and was trading at USD 0.71.

Read | PM Modi, New Zealand PM Key talk cricket to highlight bilateral ties

Key was a successful currency dealer before first he became a lawmaker in 2002. He had a quick rise, becoming leader of his centre-right opposition party in 2006 and then winning his first general election to become prime minister in 2008.

He won subsequent elections in 2011 and 2014 and retained remarkably high popularity ratings. His party was a clear favourite to win again at next year’s election, at least until his announcement.

Key said that steering the country of 4.7 million through the economic crisis of 2008 and on to relative economic success was a proud accomplishment. He also talked about the importance of standing beside the people of Christchurch after an earthquake in 2011 killed 185 people.

“Simply put, it has, for me, been the most remarkable, satisfying and exciting time of my life,” he said. “But despite the amazing career I have had in politics, I have never seen myself as a career politician. I have certainly never wanted my success in politics to be measured by how long I spent in Parliament.”

But he said the role came with costs.

“For my wife Bronagh, there have been many nights and weekends spent alone, many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend,” he said. “My daughter Stephie and my son Max have transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job.”

He said he wasn’t sure what life after politics would bring, other than he would probably take up positions on a couple of boards. He said he would remain on as a member of parliament long enough that he wouldn’t force a special election ahead of next year’s general election.

“All I can say is that I gave it everything I had,” he said. “I have left nothing in the tank.”

Read | New Zealand’s ponytail-pulling PM John Key gets a dressing down on Twitter

7.8 Quake Jolts New Zealand

 

At Least Two Dead, Tsunami Warning Issued After New Zealand Rocked by Strong Earthquake

Magnitude-7.8 quake struck near Christchurch, prompting warnings of 16-foot waves on parts of country’s east coast

Firefighters gather in Wellington, New Zealand, after a powerful earthquake struck the country’s South Island, northeast of Christchurch, just after midnight Sunday.ENLARGE
Firefighters gather in Wellington, New Zealand, after a powerful earthquake struck the country’s South Island, northeast of Christchurch, just after midnight Sunday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

At least two people died when a powerful earthquake struck New Zealand near the city of Christchurch, causing strong jolts felt more than 120 miles away and prompting a tsunami threat along the country’s east coast.

The quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey initially recorded as magnitude 7.4 but later raised to 7.8, struck just after midnight Sunday and was centered 93 kilometers (57 miles) northeast of Christchurch, on the country’s South Island.

Pacific Ocean

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said at least two people were killed, but provided no details at a news conference Monday morning in Wellington, the capital.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said on its verified Twitter account that a tsunami threat covered all of New Zealand’s east coast, including Christchurch, Wellington and the Chatham Islands, and urged people in those areas to move to high ground or go inland.

The agency later said the first wave had arrived on the northeastern coast of the South Island, but didn’t say how tall it was. “The first wave may not be the largest. Waves may continue for several hours,” MCDEM said on Twitter. At 6.09 a.m. local time, the tsunami threat was downgraded for much of the east coast, although the agency continued to warn of unusually strong currents and unpredictable flows of water close to shore.

The USGS said the quake was at a depth of 23 kilometers. The quake was followed by a number of strong aftershocks.

New Zealand Police said one casualty had been reported at a collapsed property in Kaikoura, a coastal town on the country’s South Island. “Police are also trying to access a property at Mt Lyford, north of Christchurch, where a further casualty has been reported, which is believed to be a fatality,” it said.

In Wellington, 214 kilometers north of the quake’s epicenter, people were urged not to travel into the city as train and ferry services were suspended and some roads could be blocked. However, the city’s airport remained open following an inspection of the runway.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had just completed a visit to New Zealand, leaving for Oman hours before the earthquake struck.

New Zealand is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean prone to seismic upheaval. In 2011, a 6.3-magnitude quake killed 185 people in Christchurch—most because of building failures—triggering a nationwide clampdown on unsafe properties.

When the latest quake hit, Christchurch resident Hannah Gin had just sat down in her living room to watch a replay of the recent All Blacks versus Italy rugby union match when her house started shaking, she told the Associated Press. Upstairs, her mother let out a scream.

Ms. Gin, a 24-year-old lifelong Christchurch resident, is accustomed to quakes, so she said she sat calmly and waited, figuring the rumbling would stop in a few seconds. Instead, the shaking just went on and on—for at least three minutes, according to the clock on her phone, she told AP by phone.

The quake was far less violent than the one that struck her city in 2011, she said, adding that there was no jarring up and down or side to side, just a long, rolling sensation. But it went on for much longer than the typical quakes that strike the area, she said.

“I could hear the sliding door sliding back and forth and we’ve got washing hanging up and I could see the washing moving,” Ms. Gin told AP. “It just kept going and going.” Her house, which was damaged in the 2011 quake, didn’t appear to have sustained any damage from the latest quake, she said.

The quake also knocked out New Zealand’s emergency call number, 111, for about 10 minutes, the AP reported, citing police.

Evacuated hotel guests stay warm in a car park in Wellington early Monday, after the earthquake struck.ENLARGE
Evacuated hotel guests stay warm in a car park in Wellington early Monday, after the earthquake struck. PHOTO:GETTY IMAGES

Stephen Horrell runs a bed and breakfast five minutes outside of Kaikoura, 180 kilometers north of Christchurch, where much of the worst damage was reported.

He was asleep on the third floor of his establishment when the quake struck.

“There was a big jolt and there was rolling, he said. “It was so strong that when I tried to get out of bed it just rolled you over. It was impossible to stand.

“We just started grabbing stuff. Blankets, some food, our phones. But there was no power and so no light. It’s amazing what you can’t find when there is absolutely no light.”

Mr. Horrell and some of his neighbors drove up a hill near the property and waited until sunrise before moving on.

In Wellington, 214 kilometers north of the quake’s epicenter, power was knocked out in some places, and some windows were smashed and some chimneys collapsed, the AP reported. It caused items to fall from shelves and windows to break in Wellington, and forced hundreds of people on to the streets as hotels were evacuated, AP said.

“You couldn’t really stand up, you just had to force yourself up from the carpet and try to move along to get hold of the doorway,” said Christine Hay, who runs the Bella Vista Motel in Wellington, a few minutes’ drive from the central business district. Three of the motel’s 16 units were unlet prior to the quake, but quickly filled with guests who had fled high-rise accommodation closer to the city, she said.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said there was no tsunami threat to the country.

Write to David Winning at [email protected] and Lucy Craymer at WSJ

China berates visiting New Zealand defense minister over South China Sea stance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS NETWORK)

China berates visiting New Zealand defense minister over South China Sea stance

The alleged on-going land reclamation of China at Subi reef is seen from Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ritchie B. Tongo/Pool

By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING

China rebuked New Zealand’s defense minister at the opening of a high-profile security forum in Beijing on Tuesday, criticizing his stance on tension in the disputed South China Sea, saying countries “not involved” should not interfere.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

An international tribunal in the Hague ruled in July that China had no historic title over the waters and had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights there. That decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court’s authority.

We “hope that countries who are not involved in the disputes respect the countries who are having the disputes to … work among themselves,” Fu Ying, chairwoman of China’s foreign affairs committee for parliament, said at the Xiangshan Forum, which China styles as its answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore.

“Outside involvement, I think the developments have shown, interferences, can only complicate the differences and sometimes even add to the tension,” said Fu, a former deputy foreign minister who was chairing the session.

Fu’s comments came in response to remarks by New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee about his country’s concerns over the South China Sea.

“We oppose actions that undermine peace and erode trust and would like to see all parties actively take steps to reduce those tensions,” Brownlee said.

“As a small maritime trading nation, international law and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is important for New Zealand. We support the arbitrary process and believe that countries have the right to seek that international resolution,” he said.

This is not the first time China has clashed with New Zealand over the dispute.

In February, New Zealand urged Chinese restraint after Beijing’s apparent deployment of an advanced missile system on a South China Sea island, while Beijing said New Zealand’s proposal was “nonconstructive”.

Brownlee on Tuesday honed in on the issue of China’s building of artificial islands in the territory, including new airstrips, which has rattled nerves around the region.

“A particular cause of … heightened tension has been the reclamation and construction activity and deployment of military assets in disputed areas,” he said.

China says much of the building and reclamation work it has been doing in the South China Sea is to benefit the international community, including improving civilian maritime navigation.

After Fu’s response, Brownlee told Reuters it was reasonable for New Zealand to express its concerns, which represent smaller countries as well, as all parties are able to have a say.

Since the ruling, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) have been trying to reduce tension in the region.

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan told the forum that China and ASEAN would hold maritime drills next year, though he gave no details, adding China was willing to “manage disputes”.

A Malaysian general told Reuters on the sidelines of the forum that China had been exercising restraint, with no increase in Chinese military activity in the parts of the South China Sea Malaysia claims.

“In fact we are establishing military cooperation with China to build up confidence so that we understand one another better,” said Malaysia Armed Forces chief Zulkefli Mohd Zin.

(Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

China’s Factory Output Picking Up Pace In August

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

Factories pick up the pace in August

CHINA’S manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace in nearly two years in August, according to figures released yesterday, but private manufacturers posted data that was weaker than expected.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index, which mainly tracks large state-owned companies, rose to 50.4 last month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, its highest reading since October 2014.

The Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI survey, focusing on small and medium-sized firms, came in at 50 last month compared to July’s 50.6 reading. A third survey, meanwhile, revealed the official services PMI fell to 53.5 in August, down from 53.9 in July. Figures above 50 indicate growth.

“This data suggests the forthcoming industrial production and export data for August may improve somewhat,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a research note. “The improved business conditions should offer some relief for some industries in the course of capacity reduction.”

Zhao Qinghe, a senior analyst at NBS, said: “August is the beginning of China’s manufacturing peak season, and we expect the official PMI will go higher in the coming months.

“High-tech and consumer goods are doing well. It’s a positive sign that China’s manufacturing is changing from the low-value-added end to the higher one.”

But there are concerns the gains aren’t shared equally, analysts said, as the different performances by firm size reflects a deteriorating business environment for smaller enterprises with credit risks in the segment likely to increase. Among small and medium-sized manufactures, production and new orders both rose at slower rates while export sales continued to decline in August, Caixin said, calling current operating conditions “stagnant.”

“The big question is where growth momentum on a sequential perspective is going over the next few quarters. There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” said Zhu Haibin, chief China economist and head of China economic research at JP Morgan.

He added that a depreciating yuan and tepid global demand continued to weigh on Chinese factories.

The “stagnant” status of economic stability was also partly due to a short-term tightening up of fiscal support, Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, said in a note after the PMI report.

“China’s economy is still facing downturn pressure in aspects such as external demands, property market and production reduction,” Zhong said. “A relatively loose fiscal policy is needed to maintain a stabilized economy.”

While the government has said several times that a large-scale monetary stimulus is unlikely this year and extra loosening is not needed at present, analysts warn that falling private investment and volatile housing policies should be the next things to worry about.

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