Seers in Varanasi offer prayers to River Ganges, vow to cleanse it

Ganges RiverVaranasi, Oct 23 : Seers in Varanasi offer prayers to holy river Ganges and vow to cleanse it of all the pollutants.

Residents, environmentalists and religious groups, who have formed a ''Ganga Sena'' (Ganges Army-for protection) to save the River Ganga from pollution, took part in the prayers that marked the completion of the first phase of action against pollution.

The plan of action has been divided into three phases. To begin with, the devotees said that they have succeeded in convincing the authorities about the steps that are required to be taken.

Nicolas Sarkozy creates investment fund for "strategic" enterprises

Nicolas SarkozyParis - The French government will establish an investment fund to support the country's strategic enterprises affected by the economic crisis, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday in Argonay, near the Alpine resort of Annecy.

The fund will make available loans to struggling companies in exchange for shares, which will be sold, presumably at a profit, once the company has stabilized.

The aim of the fund, Sarkozy said, will be to protect strategic companies "from predators looking to profit from a firm's undervaluation" to take control of it.

Chidambaram advises investors not to sell in panic

P. ChidambaramNew Delhi, Oct 23 : Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday advised investors not to indulge in panic sale of stocks.

Chidambaram’s comment came after Sensex (the country’s main stock index) plunged to its lowest since June 2006 amidst a gloomy economic outlook all over the world.

The Finance Minister also assured that there was adequate liquidity in the banking system and that banks should lend aggressively.

Benchmarks opened below psychological levels (10,000 for Sensex and 3000 for Nifty) following sharp declines overnight in US and Asian stocks, which tumbled to

Banking groups shares down after Q3 reports

Banking groups shares down after Q3 reports Stockholm - Shares for main Swedish banking groups Nordea, Swedbank and SEB on Thursday declined after they reported third-quarter 2008 results.

While the reports suggested they had weathered the first phases of the financial turmoil, the banks' outlooks were more cautious.

Shares for the three groups initially opened in positive territory but fell off. Swedbank was down 8 per cent and SEB off some 5 per cent early afternoon on the Stockholm bourse.

The fourth major group Handelsbanken, which reported Wednesday, bucked the trend and remained up.

Reserves of Dutch pension funds drop dramatically

dutchAmsterdam- The reserves of Dutch pension funds have dropped dramatically due to investment losses in the ongoing financial crisis, Dutch media reported on Thursday.

The "cover factor" of many funds (a percentage that determines to what extent the funds can meet their obligations to pay pensions) have dropped dramatically in the third quarter of 2008.

Funds are required by law to hold in reserve a minimum of 125 per cent of obligations.

Singaporean get 28 months in jail over Taiwan diplomatic scandal

taiwanTaipei - A Taiwan court Thursday sentenced a Singaporean businessman to two years and four months in prison over the embezzlement of 30 million US dollars intended to be used to persuade Papua New Guinea (PNG) to switch diplomatic recognition to from China Taipei.

"The court has found Wu Shih-tsai guilty of forgery of document(s) and defamation and thus sentenced him to two years and four months in prison," said the Taipei District Court in its verdict.