Important news from Temika

EU defines nanomaterials in bid to assess health risks


* Nanomaterials seen having potential uses in food, other goodsBy Johanna SomersBRUSSELS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - The European Union’s executive published a definition of nanomaterials on Tuesday, a move that will help regulators identify whether such ultra-fine particles — whose risks are still largely unknown — are present in food and consumer goods.The definition will allow EU regulators to draw up a list of products that contain nanomaterials in order to carry out risk assessments, though products would remain on the market while analysis was carried out, one EU official said.”These products could well be a threat or a benefit. This depends on a case by case basis,” said Willem Penning, head of risk assessment at the European Commission’s health and consumers department.European consumer organisation BEUC said products containing nanomaterials should be proven safe before being allowed onto the EU market.”There is a knowledge gap, but for the moment people are being exposed to nano-products,” said Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC.Nanoparticles behave differently to larger particles and can be easily inhaled through the lungs and enter the blood stream and blood cells, said Peter Gehr, a professor at the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Berne and head of a steering group on the opportunities and risks of nanomaterials.Nanoparticles have been found inside human organs such as the brain, nose, lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract, Gehr said, but their impact once inside these organs is not yet clear.BACKLASH FEARSThe Commission’s definition of nanomaterials included particles between one and 100 nanometres in diameter. Around three hundred million particles each 100 nanometres wide could fit onto the head of a pin.The particles have a variety of potential uses, for example creating foods with the same taste but lower fat, salt or sugar levels, or better packaging that keeps food fresher for longer and alerts consumers if the contents have gone off.But experts have said manufacturers could be reluctant to use nanomaterials in their products, due to fears of a similar consumer backlash that greeted genetically modified foods in Europe.”The goal of the industry, they do not want to poison their clients, this is very sure,” Penning said.But Goyens argued that companies have in the past said that their products are safe before scientific research later proved otherwise, citing examples such as asbestos.”They (industry) want to maximise profits,” she said.Environmental campaigners complained that the Commission’s definition was too narrow, and many products would avoid EU risk assessment as a result.”The European Environmental Bureau is deeply disappointed by the Commission’s decision to use a narrow definition for the term ‘nanomaterial’, indicating that industry lobbying has won over the Commission’s own scientific advisors,” the EEB said in a statement.


PRESS DIGEST - MALAYSIA - Oct 18


THE STAR (www.thestar.com.my)* A major Ugandan sex slave ring that forced its own nationals into prostitution in China and Malaysia was busted by police in a sting operation.* Tax payers will start to feel the pinch as the government intensifies efforts to increase compliance via several amendments to the Income Tax Act 1967 as part of measures to reform the country’s finances, sources said.NEW STRAITS TIMES (www.nst.com.my)* Proton Holdings Bhd is offering a lifetime warranty to resolve the power window problem in its cars, even though its current generation of cars no longer seem to have this flaw, group managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said.BUSINESS TIMES (www.btimes.com.my)* Wijaya Baru Global Bhd is banking on its Indonesian timber extraction venture to help boost revenue by more than 10 times in 2012 to $90 million (282 million ringgit), chief executive officer Faizal Abdullah said.* The Penang state government has cancelled a plan to aloow Boustead Holdings Bhd to reclaim up to 0.16 hectares of land off the Penang Bridge, a statement from chief minister Lime Guan Eng’s office said.THE SUN (www.thesundaily.my/)* Malaysia and Myanmar have agreed in principal to exchange detainees, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced on Monday, sparking concern among human rights groups.* Shares in contractor TRC Synergy Bhd climbed on Monday buoyed by a surprise contract win in Brunei and market optimism about potential new jobs coming in from the Klang Valley mas rapid transit (MRT) project, TRC Synergy said.THE MALAYSIAN RESERVE (www.themalaysianreserve.com.my)* Hng Capital Sdn Bhd, a private vehicle of H’ng Bok San, has tabled an offer of 480.1 million ringgit ($154.9 million) or 1.10 ringgit ($0.355) a share to buy out Leader Universal Holdings Bhd’s entire business and undertakings.* Finance professionals around the world are becoming increasingly pessimistic that the global economy is able to recover, and the constant flow of despressing headlines is not helping such an outlook.(Kuala Lumpur newsroom, +603 2333 8046; fax +603 2161-3340, areuters@gmail.com))($1 = 3.100 Malaysian Ringgit)


Hollande targets banks as French primary looms


"These banks that lent to Greece must take the losses, as they were not careful," Hollande, who like runoff rival Martine Aubry, hopes to be the first left-wing president in 17 years, told Europe 1 radio.France and its euro zone partners are struggling to contain a debt market crisis and produce credible plans to backstop banks rattled by investor fears that Greece could default on some of the huge debts contracted by Athens over the years.Banks hold huge amounts of government debt, typically mostly from their own country, and after the 2007/08 financial crisis regulators often encouraged them to hold more sovereign bonds as they were regarded as highly liquid and risk-free.Banks were also encouraged not to sell sovereign bonds when worries emerged, and Deutsche Bank’s CEO said an obligation to retain Greek bonds had cost it 400 million euros this year.The country’s conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to announce later this year that he will seek re-election, consistently lags both Hollande and Aubry in surveys of voter intentions.Valerie Pecresse, a budget minister and spokeswoman for Sarkozy’s government, said on Monday that French banks were solid but that the financial market crisis was making life more difficult.Governments should only be involved in bank recapitalization if private capital could not be secured, she added.In a Wednesday night television duel with Aubry, Hollande ramped up the rhetoric, signaling that taxpayers should not be forced to pay the bill for the misadventures of the financial industry."Banks that made a profit will have to fund banks that make a loss," said Hollande, who is generally regarded as a moderate left-winger and somewhat less old-school Socialist than former labor minister Aubry.Hollande finished first out of six contenders in the first round of the Socialist primary last Sunday, taking 39 percent of the vote to Aubry’s 30 percent. Two opinion polls since then have pointed to a narrower lead.Both finalists have been forced to contend with an unexpectedly large 17 percent score by Arnaud Montebourg, whose anti-globalization agenda has been catapulted to center-stage as the decider vote in the primary looms.Montebourg, knocked out in the first round, did not plan to tell his supporters who to vote for in the second round, his spokesman Gerard Guibert said.But he might make his personal choice between the runoff candidates known before Sunday, Guibert added.


UPDATE 1-Greek protesters walk off the job, block property tax


* Rebels in ruling party oppose austerity measuresBy Yiorgos Karahalis and Renee MaltezouATHENS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Greek protesters halted public transport in Athens on Thursday and moved to disrupt collection of an unpopular new property tax in a growing wave of opposition to harsh new austerity measures demanded by international lenders.With the beleaguered Socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou fighting to push new cuts through parliament, protests have strengthened ahead of a planned general strike on Oct. 19 which is expected to shut down much of the country.On Thursday, protesters occupied the printing offices of Greek power utility PPC < DEHr.AT >, in a bid to stop the production of electricity bills which will be used to collect the tax on homes and other property.”We came here because we cannot allow electricity to be cut to hundreds of thousands of poor citizens, because this is what will happen with the law this government voted,” Nikos Fotopoulos, president of GENOP-DEH union, told Skai television.Elsewhere, the ancient Acropolis, Greece’s most famous monument, was closed to tourists for a second day as workers in the archaeological service barred the entrance and Athens was hit by strikes by garbage collectors and hospital workers.Thousands of bus drivers and metro staff marched on parliament, angry at steep pay cuts and the growing threat of redundancy in the traditionally protected public sector but the protests went beyond the mass of lower paid workers.Lawyers refused to appear in court, doctors were due to rally outside the health ministry, while a group of patients suffering from kidney cancer rallied outside the finance ministry, which was occupied by striking officials.The protests come as euro zone leaders scramble to put together a new rescue plan to stave off bankruptcy and stop the crisis spreading out of control with growing expectations that banks will have to take steeper losses on their bond holdings.International lenders are demanding further painful reforms but unions say the belt-tightening hurts only the poor and middle-class and will drag Greece’s stricken economy further into recession.”We are fully aware that this is very tough,” the European Commission chief inspector for Greece, Matthias Mors, told the daily Kathimerini in an interview.”But I would say that we are at a critical moment, where Greece has to convince the international community and the other euro area members that it is willing and able to reach the objectives that it has committed itself to,” he said.RECESSIONAnalysts say Papandreou’s government, trailing in opinion polls, will be able to push through parliament a package of new austerity measures in time for a European Union summit on Oct. 23. But discontent is growing and the government is straining to keep even its own deputies in line.”I have no intention of voting against the bill, but no one can stop me criticising it,” said Leonidas Grigorakos, a deputy in the ruling PASOK party. “What is taking place has no precedent, society is in turmoil, there is huge insecurity. We politicians must say where the country is heading.”Greece, trapped in deep recession and fighting to control a public debt expected to reach 162


UPDATE 1-Greek protesters walk off the job, block property tax


* Rebels in ruling party oppose austerity measuresBy Yiorgos Karahalis and Renee MaltezouATHENS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Greek protesters halted public transport in Athens on Thursday and moved to disrupt collection of an unpopular new property tax in a growing wave of opposition to harsh new austerity measures demanded by international lenders.With the beleaguered Socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou fighting to push new cuts through parliament, protests have strengthened ahead of a planned general strike on Oct. 19 which is expected to shut down much of the country.On Thursday, protesters occupied the printing offices of Greek power utility PPC < DEHr.AT >, in a bid to stop the production of electricity bills which will be used to collect the tax on homes and other property.”We came here because we cannot allow electricity to be cut to hundreds of thousands of poor citizens, because this is what will happen with the law this government voted,” Nikos Fotopoulos, president of GENOP-DEH union, told Skai television.Elsewhere, the ancient Acropolis, Greece’s most famous monument, was closed to tourists for a second day as workers in the archaeological service barred the entrance and Athens was hit by strikes by garbage collectors and hospital workers.Thousands of bus drivers and metro staff marched on parliament, angry at steep pay cuts and the growing threat of redundancy in the traditionally protected public sector but the protests went beyond the mass of lower paid workers.Lawyers refused to appear in court, doctors were due to rally outside the health ministry, while a group of patients suffering from kidney cancer rallied outside the finance ministry, which was occupied by striking officials.The protests come as euro zone leaders scramble to put together a new rescue plan to stave off bankruptcy and stop the crisis spreading out of control with growing expectations that banks will have to take steeper losses on their bond holdings.International lenders are demanding further painful reforms but unions say the belt-tightening hurts only the poor and middle-class and will drag Greece’s stricken economy further into recession.”We are fully aware that this is very tough,” the European Commission chief inspector for Greece, Matthias Mors, told the daily Kathimerini in an interview.”But I would say that we are at a critical moment, where Greece has to convince the international community and the other euro area members that it is willing and able to reach the objectives that it has committed itself to,” he said.RECESSIONAnalysts say Papandreou’s government, trailing in opinion polls, will be able to push through parliament a package of new austerity measures in time for a European Union summit on Oct. 23. But discontent is growing and the government is straining to keep even its own deputies in line.”I have no intention of voting against the bill, but no one can stop me criticising it,” said Leonidas Grigorakos, a deputy in the ruling PASOK party. “What is taking place has no precedent, society is in turmoil, there is huge insecurity. We politicians must say where the country is heading.”Greece, trapped in deep recession and fighting to control a public debt expected to reach 162 percent of gross domestic product this year, has struggled to get on top of a crisis which many economists now predict will end in default.Inspectors from the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank “troika” ended a review of Greece’s progress on a first, 110-billion-euro bailout plan on Tuesday.They gave the green light for the euro zone and the IMF to release an 8-billion euro aid tranche Greece needs to keep paying its bills past November but said Athens needed to take more determined action on reform in addition to more cuts.But the bitter opposition aroused has squeezed the government hard and made it much more difficult to implement what amount to the deepest and most painful cuts in Greece’s postwar history.The fact that much of the impact of the cuts will fall on public servants has complicated implementation of the plan as workers likely to be affected themselves resist cooperating.Tax officials are due to go on strike next week while Thursday’s occupation of the PCC printing site could hit collection of a property tax that will hurt many ordinary people in a country with a high level of home ownership.PPC’s management said the bills would be printed anyway, in another venue and at a greater cost but protesters said they would continue their protest.


UPDATE 1-Compensation clouds gather over BlackBerry outage


* Vodafone considering options* Providers will try to pass costs on to RIM-analysts* RIM, some users say service recoveringBy Tarmo Virki and Kate HoltonOct 13 (Reuters) - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion faced the prospect of a compensation bill from network providers on Thursday as the world’s dominant provider of mobile email struggled for a fourth day with service glitches.RIM said services were starting to improve in all affected regions, reducing disruption for the millions of users hit by delays and outages.But many in the telecoms industry believe significant damage has been done to a business that already has its share of trouble. They see a risk that this week’s disruption will tip already restless BlackBerry users into the arms of rivals like Apple.Meanwhile the company’s service provider partners were looking at how compensation might be handled.”We are reviewing our options in terms of compensation,” said a spokesman for Britain’s Vodafone , adding that “no decisions have been taken.”Spain’s Telefonica said on its web site it would compensate customers, in line with Spanish law. Spanish Consumer Association FACUA estimated that clients will receive 0.23-1.90 euros ($0.31-$2.62) for each 24 hours of service interruption.The Vodafone spokesman would not be drawn on whether such costs might be passed on to RIM, but analysts said there was little doubt operators would try.”In the past there have been outages but they’ve been limited to an hour here and an hour there and the operators have been tempted to let that go,” said Will Draper, analyst at Espirito Santo.”They haven’t been happy about it but it’s not the kind of thing you go to court over. But this is completely different. This is a three-day outage. This is 10 percent of your working month, so I’m pretty sure there will be compensation claims and I’m pretty sure they’ll try and pass it on to RIM, but my feeling is it will be very difficult to make it stick.”RIM is unique among handset makers in that it compresses and encrypts data before pushing it to BlackBerry devices via carrier networks. Apple and other rivals rely on the carrier networks to handle all routing and delivery of content. However other providers are breathing down RIM’s neck with smarter handsets and copycat service provision.Apple has started rolling out new version of its iOS software which includes BlackBerry-like iMessage service.One analyst said BlackBerry is a victim of its own success in that the huge increase in usage over recent years has made its centralised network architecture vulnerable.”This is the first major disruption to the BlackBerry service since 2009, during which time the number of BlackBerry users has doubled,” said Nick Dillon, analyst at technology specialist consultants Ovum in a note …”Despite the benefits the network brings in real-time delivery of email and data efficiency, it remains significant risk for the company.”SERVICES RECOVERRIM said there had been a significant improvement for services with users saying their services had started to work again, although there were still some delays.”Service levels are also progressing well in the U.S., Canada and Latin America and we are seeing increased traffic throughput on most services, although there are still some delays and services levels may still vary amongst customers,” RIM said in an update on its website.Singapore employees of global news and data provider Thomson Reuters were still having problems on Thursday but colleagues in London, Beijing, Tokyo, Jakarta and Bangkok said BlackBerry service was normal.The outages — and RIM’s sluggish communications with its customers — have fanned rising dissatisfaction with its co-chief executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.Critics have called for a shake-up, saying the top managers have let the company fall too far behind Apple and other rivals in a rapidly changing market.RIM’s shares have already tumbled more than 50 percent this year on a series of profit warnings and product missteps - a sharp reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated the smartphone market.Even before this week’s disruptions, many companies had started to balk at paying a premium to be locked into RIM’s service. Some are now allowing employees to use alternative smartphones, particularly Apple’s iPhone, for corporate mail, and the outage could accelerate the trend.