Singapore to review million-dollar cabinet salaries

SINGAPORE, May 21, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien
Loong on Saturday vowed to review the million-dollar salaries of
cabinet ministers after voters expressed their anger over the issue in
the May 7 election.

Lee said he had appointed a committee to review ministers' salaries
shortly after he and his new team from the ruling People's Action
Party (PAP) were sworn in for a new five-year term.

Although the PAP was returned to power at the polls, it lost six seats
to a revitalised opposition and saw its share of the popular vote fall
to an all-time low.

One of the main gripes during the campaign was the high level of
ministers' salaries, along with the large intake of foreign workers
and increasingly expensive housing and living costs.

The government, dominated by the PAP for more than five decades, has
pegged ministerial salaries to the remuneration levels for top
private-sector earners in order to attract talent to public service
and prevent corruption.

Cabinet ministers in 2009 earned between Sg$1.57 million and Sg $3.04
million ($1.30 to $2.45 million) each a year, according to the Straits
Times newspaper.

Singapore President S.R. Nathan swore in the new government, which was
without independence leader Lee Kuan Yew for the first time in 52
years after he retired from his influential advisory post in his son's

In his speech, Prime Minister Lee immediately assured Singaporeans the
new government would listen more and respond better to their problems,
and that no policy, including ministerial salaries, will be spared
from the review.

"We will take a totally fresh look at our problems and policies, and
rethink what is necessary and best for Singapore's future," he said.

Premier Lee, 59, made sweeping changes to the cabinet after the
elections, which analysts said reflected voter resentment against the
government despite Singapore being one of Asia's wealthiest nations.

Analysts have described the swearing in of the current crop of cabinet
ministers as the start of a new era in Singapore's history, without
the the elder Lee's commanding presence.

Three dead as landslide hits Malaysia orphanage

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21, 2011 (AFP) - A landslide caused by heavy rains
hit an orphanage in Malaysia on Saturday, killing three children and
burying at least 15 other people, a local lawmaker and police said.

The incident took place at around 2:30 pm (0630 GMT) at the Children's
Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa orphanage in Hulu Langat, just south of the
capital Kuala Lumpur.

Morni Mamat, fire department deputy director said 24 people -- 20
children and four adult caretakers were buried in the landslide.

Six of them -- one adult and five children -- had been pulled from the
debris alive, he added.
"We have pulled out six victims safely. We have also recovered three
bodies," he said, adding that rescuers will continue their search for
the remaining 15 victims.

Police said the dead children were aged between 11 to 14 years, adding
that one of those pulled out safely from the muddy soil with injuries
was a caretaker of the children's home.

Che Rosli Che Mat, an opposition lawmaker with the conservative
Islamic party (PAS) expressed shock over the tragedy and said efforts
to rescue the victims have been hampered by heavy rain.

Two diggers backed by powerful spotlights are being used in the search
and rescue mission, he said, as rescuers frantically dug for survivors
with spades.

"But the heavy rain is washing down more red earth. I fear they will
probably find more bodies," he said. "I fear for the safety of the

Ismail Omar, inspector-general of police said the operation involved
200 personnel including a specialist search and rescue team.

"The search and rescue operation will continue until all victims have
been found despite the darkness and rain," he said, adding that police
will investigate if the orphanage had been run in line with safety

Earlier, Che Rosli said the orphanage was located on a hill slope in
his constituency, and it had been raining heavily in the semi-rural
area for the past two days.

The tragedy struck when the children were practicing the traditional
Malay drums, "kompang" under a tent near a steep slope, he said.

"The landslide happened very fast. Only a few children managed to
escape. I am surprised an orphanage has been built on a side of hill,"
he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Women, Family and Community development
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she was saddened by the deadly landslide.

"I was just informed by the incident of children being buried in a
landslide. It is a sad news," she said.

Sharizat said she will work with the police to establish the cause of
the tragedy, adding that "I hope the children's home was not build
without the approval of local authorities."

Taiwan, Singapore launch satellite

TAIPEI, May 21, 2011 (AFP) - Taiwan's leading telecom operator
Chunghwa Telecom has launched its second commercial communications
satellite in a joint venture with Singapore Telecommunications, local
media said Saturday.

The launch of the ST-2 satellite took place from the Kourou Space
Centre in French Guiana late Friday local time, Taiwan's state-funded
Central News Agency reported.

The satellite will have a life span of 15 years and will replace the
ageing ST-1 satellite that Chunghwa Telecom and Singapore
Telecommunications put into orbit in 1998, according to the agency.

The two companies announced in 2008 that they had agreed to build the
ST-2 to continue servicing existing customers and to facilitate
expansion into international telecommunications markets.

It will offer customers wider coverage in Asia and the Middle East
when it reaches its orbit slot within the next 10 days, the news
agency said.

At least 20 children buried in Malaysia landslide: report

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21, 2011 (AFP) - At least 20 children were feared
buried in Malaysia on Saturday after a landslide hit their orphanage,
the official Bernama news agency said.

The incident took place at about 2:30 pm (0630 GMT) in Hulu Langat,
just south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Bernama said a body of a child had been recovered. Heavy downpours
have hit the country in the past few days.

India says Sino-Pakistan ties a 'serious concern'

NEW DELHI, May 21, 2011 (AFP) - India views with "serious concern"
growing defence ties between China and Pakistan and says it will have
to bolster its own military capabilities to meet the challenge.

"It is a matter of serious concern for us. The main thing is we have
to increase our capability -- that is the only answer," Defence
Minister A.K. Antony told reporters in New Delhi late on Friday.

The comments followed reports China plans to accelerate supply of 50
new JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat jets to Pakistan under a
co-production pact.

Antony added safe havens for militants in Pakistan is another "main
concern" for New Delhi and told Islamabad to "disband and destroy" all
guerrilla outfits if it "sincerely" wants to improve relations with

The killing of Osama bin Laden by US commandos in Pakistan has
"internationally stamped the nation's position as the core of
terrorist activities in the South Asian region," he said.

India has long accused Pakistan of providing shelter and support to
militant groups planning attacks on Indian soil and has pushed the
global community -- the United States in particular -- to censure
Pakistan accordingly.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars since
attaining independence in 1947, two of them over the disputed
territory of Kashmir.

IMF rejects report of widespread sexual harassment

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund
rejected on Friday a New York Times report alleging that sexual
harassment and extramarital affairs are rife in the corridors of the
world body.

"This is not the Fund we know and work in," spokesman William Murray
said in response to the Times front page story headlined "At IMF, Men
on Prowl and Women on Guard."

The report comes after former IMF managing director Dominique
Strauss-Kahn was arrested on Saturday and charged with sexually
assaulted a hotel chambermaid in his suite in a Manhattan hotel. He
has denied all charges.

The respected daily described a culture of "alpha male economists"
freely harassing female staffers and women who "avoid wearing skirts
for fear of attracting unwanted attention."

It said the Fund was "an institution whose sexual norms and customs
are markedly different from those of Washington, leaving its female
employees vulnerable to harassment."

Murray took issue with that image of one of the pillars of the world
financial system.
"Is it a perfect place? No," he said in a statement.

"But this report creates an impression of institutionalized harassment
and disrespect. That is not the case. Harassment is not tolerated in
the institution."

The IMF published a new official code of conduct Thursday ahead of the
article which tightened its rules on personal relationships in the

It called the new rules, which date to May 6, "strong and consistent
with best practice, including in the United States."

"A close personal relationship between a supervisor and subordinate
presents a potential conflict of interest and must be reported and
resolved, usually by reassignment of one of the individuals to a
different work unit," it said.

"Failure to report and then resolve the potential conflict of interest
constitutes misconduct and is grounds for disciplinary action," it
added in a statement.

The married Strauss-Kahn was criticized nearly three years ago for an
affair he had with a Hungarian economist who worked in the IMF's
Africa department.

The IMF board called the relationship a "serious error of judgment,"
but did not find him guilty of harassment or abuse of power.

Google stops digitizing old newspapers

SAN FRANCISCO, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Google on Friday had stopped
digitizing old newspapers as publishers sought to make money off story
archives instead of having them hosted free online.

People will still be able to find newspapers already converted to
digital format in the Google News Archives at
news.google.com/archivesearch but the collection won't grow.

"We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives,
and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we
collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable
online," the Internet firm said.

"We don't plan to introduce any further features or functionality to
the Google News Archives, and we are no longer accepting new microfilm
or digital files for processing."

Google has digitized more than 3.5 million issues of more than 2,000
different newspaper titles, with the earliest being a March 23, 1752
edition of the Halifax Gazette in Nova Scotia.

Digital copies of archived newspapers will be given to respective
publishers that will be free to host the issues on their own websites.

Archived publications include the London Advertiser from 1895, L'Ami
du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and the Milwaukee Sentinel from
1910 to 1995.

Google launched the project in September of 2008 in a partnership with
publishers to "make more old newspapers accessible and searchable

Facebook and Microsoft battle child porn

SAN FRANCISCO, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Facebook and Microsoft on Friday
formally unveiled an alliance to ferret out child porn and those that
share such images at the world's leading online social network.

Facebook will use PhotoDNA technology developed by Microsoft and
Dartmouth College computer science professor Hany Farid to search for
matches to pictures in a National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children (NCMEC) database.

"We think this is a game changer and we are thrilled to be a part of
this partnership," Facebook assistant general counsel Chris Sonderby
said in broadcast streamed at the social network.

PhotoDNA has evaluated more than two billion digital pictures at
Microsoft services, finding 1,000 matches on SkyDrive and 1,500
matches through Bing image indexing, according to Microsoft Digital
Crimes Unit associate general counsel Bill Harmon.

"It is very efficient technology and will not slow down a network,"
Farid said during the live-streamed presentation.

"It has scanned over two billion images without a single false positive."

PhotoDNA will scan the hundreds of millions photos uploaded daily to
Facebook, blocking pictures recognized as child porn and, hopefully,
leading police to the sources, according to Sonderby.

If caches of such imagery are seized, new pictures will be
"fingerprinted" and made part of the PhotoDNA net, according to NCMEC
chief executive Ernie Allen.

"This is a problem that is global in nature," Allen said. "We think
with Facebook we will be able to identify perpetrators preying on kids
all over the world."

The California-based social networking service is reported to have
more than 600 million members around the planet.

"Facebook is becoming a model for the entire Internet industry," Allen
said, who expressed hope that pressure would be put on other online
services to employ the child-porn-detecting technology.

PhotoDNA will also be scouring Facebook uploads for pictures of
children reported missing, since youths tend to stay connected with
friends at the social network even if they are dodging family,
according to police.

"Facebook joining us is just a fantastic step forward," Harmon said in
the webcast.
"We plan to keep deploying and hope more partners and make this really
big and help children in a large way."

Each month Facebook users share more than 30 billion pieces of content
including pictures, news stories, blog posts, and Web links, according
to Microsoft.

"Identifying graphic child pornography in a sea of content like that
is a daunting task, but PhotoDNA is helping to find the proverbial
needle in a haystack," Harmon said in a blog post.


China police alleges Ai Weiwei firm evaded tax

BEIJING, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Police in Beijing alleged Friday a firm
controlled by Ai Weiwei had evaded "a huge amount" of tax, state media
said, as authorities appeared to ramp up their case against the
detained artist.

Police authorities in the capital, citing an initial probe, also
alleged the company -- Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. -- had
"intentionally destroyed accounting documents", the official Xinhua
news agency reported.

Ai, one of China's most prominent artists and a vocal critic of the
ruling Communist Party, was detained by police on April 3 amid the
government's biggest crackdown on dissidents and activists in years.

The 54-year-old's detention has been loudly condemned internationally,
with the United States and European Union calling for his release.

Up until now, the Chinese government had only said that Ai was under
investigation for economic crimes, but police have so far failed to
issue a formal arrest warrant.

Chinese authorities, apparently spooked by the wave of pro-democracy
uprisings sweeping the Middle East, have detained dozens of lawyers,
artists and other perceived critics in recent weeks.

Many of the detainees have been beaten while in custody.

Ai was able to meet with his wife Lu Qing last Sunday and appeared to
be in good health, his sister told AFP, in what is believed to be the
first known face-to-face contact between him and his family since his

Police authorities told Xinhua that Ai's "right to meet with people
who live with him was ensured in accordance with the law."

Japan ready for talks on EU free trade deal

TOKYO, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Japan said on Friday it wanted to start
talks on an EU-Japan free trade deal to link the world's third largest
economy and the leading global market, a report said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told his cabinet ministers to work on reforms
demanded by the European Union, such as removing non-tariff trade
barriers and liberalising public procurement, Kyodo News reported.

The premier's remarks came as ministers resumed discussions on trade
liberalisation issues, which had been suspended in the wake of the
March 11 earthquake, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Japan has been pressing the European Union hard to announce the launch
of formal negotiations towards a deal at a summit in Brussels on May
27 and 28.

On prompting by Britain, leaders of the 27-nation bloc called in March
for the speedy launch of negotiations for a free trade deal to assist
disaster-struck Japan -- but on the proviso that Tokyo lift trade

Trade ties between the two have consistently shown a strong surplus in
favour of Japan -- the EU currently being Japan's third largest trade
partner while Japan is Europe's fifth largest.

Japan has been eager to launch free trade negotiations with the
European Union as it believes the elimination of EU tariffs on cars
and electrical appliances would benefit Japanese companies.

But the EU is looking to Japan to scrap non-tariff barriers, including
on food, while offering better general access to European firms.

During a brief stop in Brussels this month by Foreign Minister Takeaki
Matsumoto, his spokesman said Tokyo hoped for a quick trade agreement
to ease recovery from the quake and tsunami.

Officials from both sides are currently working at defining a "scoping
exercise" -- a to-do list scheduling the obstacles to overcome before
the launch of free trade negotiations. That is expected to be agreed
at the summit.

China 'to target 1,800 missiles at Taiwan in 2012'

TAIPEI, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - The number of Chinese missiles targeted
at Taiwan is likely to reach 1,800 next year, despite improving ties
between the former arch-rivals, Taiwanese media said Friday.

The Liberty Times newspaper cited a military intelligence report as
providing the forecast.

Taiwanese experts have estimated that China currently has more than
1,600 missiles aimed at the island, mostly deployed in Fujian and
Jiangxi provinces in the mainland's southeast.

The report followed comments made by Taiwan's top intelligence chief
Tsai Teh-sheng in March, saying that China was targeting Taiwan with a
"new type of powerful missile" known as Dongfeng 16.

"Its range is longer, and it increases the threat to Taiwan," Tsai
said then, without giving further details of the weapon or the number
that have been deployed so far.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Ma Ying-jeou became
Taiwan's president in 2008 on a China-friendly platform.

However, Beijing still refuses to renounce the possible use of force
against the island, which has ruled itself since the end of a civil
war in 1949, should it declare formal independence.

The Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress last year that
China's military build-up against Taiwan had "continued unabated"
despite improving political relations.

Taiwan's defence ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Shoe attack on China web censor sparks online buzz

SHANGHAI, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Internet users in China are hailing a
student who claims to have thrown a shoe at the architect of the
country's so-called "Great Firewall" of Internet controls during a
university appearance.

Police in central China on Friday refused to comment on the alleged
attack on Fang Binxing at Wuhan University by a student who identified
himself online only as "hanunyi".

But the student has been hailed by web users -- posts that were later
deleted by authorities under the very system that Fang designed to
snuff out information or comment that the government considers a
threat to its authority.

Supporters immediately offered the student cash, plane tickets, buffet
dinners at five-star hotels, pornography and a virtual private
network, or VPN, to help him scale the "Great Firewall".

"When I think of the shoe hitting Fang right in the face, I'm so
happy," wrote one Twitter user identified as "gaodongmei", who was
presumably using a VPN to access the site which is officially blocked
in China.

Some reports said eggs were thrown at Fang but missed their mark. No
photos or videos of the reported shoe attack were immediately

Thousands of Chinese Internet users vented their anger at Fang in
December when he opened a microblog account on web portal Sina.com,
which operates a tightly-managed Twitter clone. Fang closed the
account within days.

"He is the enemy of all netizens who are forced to scale the wall all
day long," said one typical comment, later deleted by web monitors.

Fang's name has been blocked from Internet searches in China since he
was shouted off Sina.com.

Fang told the Global Times newspaper in a rare interview in February
that he had endured "dirty abuse ... as a sacrifice for my country".

He defended the "Great Firewall" as an urgent necessity and said the
censorship technology should be made even stronger.

"Drivers just obey the rules," Fang said, comparing web controls to
traffic controls. "So citizens should just play with what they have."

Agony for Japan livestock farmers in nuclear crisis

FUKUSHIMA CITY, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - As more people are forced to
leave their homes around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, anger
is growing in a farming community forced to make the agonising
decision whether to slaughter livestock or face ruin.

The desperate lowing of starving cattle echoes out across the valleys
surrounding Katsurao -- the only noise breaking an unearthly silence
which envelopes the hamlet.

No one is seen during daylight except a few farmers making the
difficult and dangerous journey back to their land to feed cows, pigs
and chickens.

Katsurao, 25 kilometres (16 miles) northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant, is among the communities newly designated as
no-go zones, meaning no one will be allowed in from as early as late

More than 10,000 cows -- prized for their marbled beef and rich milk
-- have already been left behind in the scramble to escape Fukushima
prefecture, many of them locked in sheds where they starved to death,
farmers have said.

As the no-go zone spreads, ever more farmers are being forced to make
agonising decisions over whether to move their livestock to safe areas
and incur huge costs, slaughter their animals or -- perhaps the most
unacceptable option -- leave them to their fate.

While local authorities have given no mandatory instructions, they are
"strongly urging" Katsurao farmers to empty their sheds before the
no-go zone is enforced, officials said.

At best they will earn a one-off payment for the meat but they will
get nothing if their livestock are found to be highly contaminated.

Quite what price a cow might raise now is anyone's guess: many
emaciated animals have eaten little for weeks, locked up in sheds by
owners who have long since fled, fearing high levels of radioactivity.
Others, untethered by their desperate owners, roam in search of food.

"That cow, over there, will die in a few days as it cannot come and
eat with the others," said Shinji Sakuma, pointing to one of his 70
milk cows that was too weak to stand by itself.

"I am frustrated," said the overwrought 55-year-old at the Sakuma
Ranch he started 35 years ago.

"Our cows have done nothing wrong, haven't they?" he said, wiping away
tears of anger and frustration.

The authorities have yet to make an announcement on compensation for
affected farmers but the central government says Tokyo Electric Power
Co. (TEPCO), which runs the disaster-hit atomic plant, is responsible
for paying all damages.

Tetsuji, Samuka's 35-year-old son, is not looking for a fortune --
just a safe farm, clean grass and healthy cows.

"We don't need money as long as we can get back what we used to have,"
said Tetsuji, whose family plan to move 20 of their cows to the
northern island of Hokkaido, although Katsurao's authorities, fearing
the spread of radioactive contamination, have urged owners to

His sister Ruriko, 33, who was also visiting the ranch with her
family, said she was scared witless by a series of strong aftershocks
and fears the prevailing wind, which carries with it radiation and the
threat of desolation.

"The east wind is scary," she said. "Radiation is invisible with no
smell. Once things are settled, I will leave Fukushima, where we have
been haunted by radiation fears all day long."

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government banned people from going within
20 kilometres of the plant last month and has recently instructed
farmers in the zone to slaughter thousands of cattle and other

"We are urging our farmers to move their cows outside or auction them
as quickly as possible" as a similar instruction may be imposed on
livestock in Katsurao soon, said Hiroyoshi Tuboi, a village official.

More than 4,000 cows as well as tens of thousands of chickens were
being raised in the village of 1,500 people, mostly farmers and
forestry workers, before the disaster.

The Fukushima plant, where reactor cooling systems were knocked out by
the March 11 quake and tsunami, leaked radiation into the air, ground
and sea in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years

"I thought Chernobyl was someone else's problem," said Toshie Kosone,
another cattle farmer in Katsurao.

"We will dispose of all of our cows even if they can be sold or not,"
Kosone said. "Even if we can come back here there is no guarantee that
contamination can be removed. I have no confidence in resuming farming
here anymore."

But livestock farmers are not the only villagers who are feeling the bite.

Yuko Sugimoto, 56, who ran cottages in Namie, another village newly
designated as part of the no-go zone, had planned to raise and sell
organic vegetables this year.

"We spent years creating chemical-free soil for organic vegetables but
now it's covered with radioactive materials," Sugimoto said. "What an
ironic consequence. The nuclear accident messed up my dream."

Singapore to host Asian tourism festival

LAS VEGAS, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore will host a major travel and
tourism festival in October to showcase business opportunities in a
surging Asian market, organizers said here Thursday.

Called TravelRave 2011, the event will string together a cluster of
related events, from October 17 to 23, they said.

They included an ITB Asia travel fair, a retreat for policymakers and
industry leaders hosted by the UN World Tourism Organization, a
conference on hotel and tourism investment, and an annual meeting of
Asian convention and travel bureaus.

Organized by the Singapore Tourism Board, it is a follow-on to a first
TravelRave last year that drew 8,000 people.

Aw Kaw Peng, the head of the Singapore Tourism Board, said it was the
only "mega tourism and travel festival" in a region that saw 13
percent growth in the number of international visitors last year over

"Asia Pacific will continue to lead the global recovery in tourism,"
with double digit increases in both arrivals and tourism revenues, she
said at a news conference here on the sidelines of a "summit" on
global travel and tourism.

She said co-locating related conventions and conferences was intended
"to make it even more productive for business executives."

Facebook to scan for child porn

SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, 2011 (AFP) - Facebook's chief technology
officer said Thursday that the social network will start scanning for
child pornography and images of missing children.

Facebook is teaming up with Microsoft and the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children to use photo "fingerprint" technology
to search for pictures matching those in the US organization's data

"We care deeply" about stopping abuse, Facebook officer Bret Taylor
said while revealing the alliance during testimony at a US Senate
Commerce Committee hearing in Washington on mobile phone and Internet

Microsoft PhotoDNA technology used at search engine Bing and online
file storage service SkyDrive will be put to work at the world's
leading social network.

PhotoDNA has already evaluated more than two billion digital pictures
at Microsoft services, finding 1,000 matches on SkyDrive and 1,500
matches through Bing image indexing, according to Microsoft Digital
Crimes Unit associate general counsel Bill Harmon.

"PhotoDNA identified horrific images on our services that we would
have never found otherwise," Harmon said.

With Facebook among the world's largest photo-sharing services, "their
participation in the PhotoDNA program will significantly expand the
program's impact," Harmon added.

Each month Facebook users share more than 30 billion pieces of content
including pictures, news stories, blog posts, and Web links, according
to Microsoft.

"Identifying graphic child pornography in a sea of content like that
is a daunting task, but PhotoDNA is helping to find the proverbial
needle in a haystack," Harmon said.

Playboy putting entire 57-year archive online

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2011 (AFP) - Playboy is going to reveal everything online.

The venerable men's magazine founded by Hugh Hefner announced Thursday
it was making every issue available -- all 57 years -- through
i.Playboy.com, a Web-based subscription service.

The new service will offer every issue of the monthly starting with
the inaugural December 1953 edition featuring Marilyn Monroe on the

"iPlayboy features every pictorial, interview, centerfold,
investigative reporting piece, story, advertisement and image that
ever appeared in the magazine, more than 130,000 pages in total,"
Playboy said in a statement.

The site will be updated monthly with the latest issue of the magazine.

Subscriptions cost $8 a month, $60 a year or $100 for two years.

US lawmakers query smartphone 'apps' privacy

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2011 (AFP) - Apple, Facebook, and Google on
Thursday fielded questions from US lawmakers concerned that
smartphones and popular mobile "apps" were putting people's privacy at

"I think online privacy is a basic American right and the companies
that produce apps have to be regulated," Senator Jay Rockefeller said
at the opening of a hearing on consumer privacy and protection in the
mobile marketplace.

"With this new innovation comes gigantic risk."

Members of the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance
Subcommittee questioned a panel that included Facebook chief
technology officer Bret Taylor; Apple vice president of worldwide
government affairs Catherine Novelli, and Google's US director of
public policy Alan Davidson.

"We need companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook to join eBay,
Microsoft and HP (Hewlett-Packard) that have come down on the side of
common sense privacy protections," said Senator John Kerry of

"I reject the notion that privacy protection is the enemy of
innovation," he continued. "People should know when they are being
tracked, why, for how long, and what is done with that information."

Apple, Google, and Facebook were adamant about their devotion to
protecting people's privacy whether on computers, smartphones, tablets
or other Internet-linked devices.

"Mobile services create enormous social and economic benefits, but
they will not be used and will not succeed without consumer trust,"
Davidson said at the hearing. "We focus on privacy protection
throughout the life of our products."

Novelli and Davidson held firm that location-sensing capabilities in
smartphones backed by their respective companies are not used to track
people and can be turned off by users who don't want enhanced

"Apple does not track user location and does not intend to do so," Novelli said.

Sales of hip, fun, or functional software "apps" have mushroomed into
a multibillion dollar market with the unrelenting popularity of
smartphones and tablet computers.

App makers must satisfy lawyers and users while making clear what is
done with data, Morgan Reed, executive director of small business
advocacy group Association for Competitive Technology, said at the

"We in the apps community are doing more to inform consumers on how we
handle their data," Reed said.

"How do I write a privacy policy that holds up to fine lawyers like
yourself, that is easy to explain, and that you hold up on a two-inch
screen?" he asked rhetorically.

Reed contended laws were already in place to deal with misbehavior by
app makers, and that US regulators should "throw the book" at those
who misuse data collected from mobile devices.

"There are considerable enforcement actions already available," Reed
maintained. "The last thing we want to do is constrain an industry
with tremendous growth."

Rockefeller pressed Taylor to explain why a reported 7.5 million
children younger than 13 years of age use the social network in
violation of its policy and a Facebook app at iTunes was rated for
people ages four and older.

The senator referred to Mark Zuckerberg being a college student when
he launched Facebook and asked whether it was the "general idea that
people 20-21 years old really don't have any social values at this

"Whenever we find someone misrepresenting their age on Facebook we
shut down their account," Taylor replied.

Ways for Facebook's more than 600 million members to report bullying,
age deception, and other concerns have been increasingly "baked in" to
the social network, according to Taylor.

"We expanded it with social reporting so it is not just reported to
us, but to teachers, parents or others who can deal with the
underlying issues offline," Taylor said.

One member of the subcommittee held up her iPad and cautioned that the
smart gadget benefits people have come to love could disappear if
lawmakers weren't careful.

"As a parent of teenagers, let me say that at times parents might want
to track children," Senator Mark Pryor quipped during the hearing.


Nokia's mobile market share slips to 25%: Gartner

HELSINKI, May 19, 2011 (AFP) - Nokia's share of the mobile phone
market dropped to 25 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the lowest
for 14 years, down from 30.6 percent at the same time last year,
technology research group Gartner said on Thursday.

"Its market share declined 5.5 percentage points year-on-year, and its
share has reached its lowest since 1997," Gartner said in a study.

Nokia had released its own figures on April 21 putting first-quarter
market share at 29 percent, down from 33 percent in the first quarter
of 2010.

Earlier this year, the company announced a radical restructuring to
overcome increasingly fierce competition in the smartphone market.

The Finnish company, which had a global market share of 40 percent as
late as 2008, nonetheless remains the mobile industry leader.

It still ranking well ahead of second-place Samsung, which holds 16
percent, followed by LG in third with 5.6 percent, Apple in fourth
with 3.9 percent and RIM with 3.0 percent.

Nokia announced in February that it expected a "period of uncertainty"
as it phased out its Symbian platform in favour of a tie-in with
Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system for its smartphones.

But Gartner said the Finnish company was still taking a beating in the
rapidly growing smartphone sector, pointing out that "Android and
Apple's iOS continued to dominate the smartphone operating system

"Smartphones accounted for 23.6 percent of overall sales in the first
quarter of 2011, an increase of 85 percent year-on-year," Roberta
Cozza, Gartner's principal research analyst, said in the report.

Worldwide mobile phone devices sales meanwhile increased by 19 percent
year-on-year, according to Gartner's data, totalling 427.8 million
units sold in the first quarter.

The research group said it expected the total number of mobile phone
sold worldwide this year to tick in at nearly 1.8 billion units.

China backs emerging nations after IMF head resigns

BEIJING, May 19, 2011 (AFP) - China's central bank chief Thursday
pushed for emerging countries to be included in the top leadership of
the International Monetary Fund, after the resignation of embattled
boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

"The make-up of top management should better reflect changes in the
global economic structure and better represent emerging markets," Zhou
Xiaochuan said in response to the resignation of Strauss-Kahn, who
faces sexual assault charges in New York.

He said G20 nations had "already decided that IMF leaders and
high-level management must be elected through an open, transparent and
meritorious process."

Strauss-Kahn, a leading French politician, is in jail awaiting a grand
jury decision on whether to indict him on charges linked to the
alleged sexual assault and attempted rape of a chambermaid at a
Manhattan hotel.

The 62-year-old resigned earlier Thursday. He has denied all seven
counts of alleged sexual assault and attempted rape, as well as
unlawful imprisonment.

The IMF has long been dominated by Western powers and faced growing
calls to adapt to a changing global reality.

G20 leaders agreed last November to reform the Fund's 24-member board
of governors, in a move designed to give emerging economies such as
China a bigger say.

Europe agreed to give up two seats, and Brazil, Russia, India and
China were to be among the top 10 IMF shareholders, with China moving
up to become the third-largest shareholder from sixth place.

But those changes have not yet been implemented.

The official People's Daily -- China's Communist Party mouthpiece --
said Thursday the new IMF boss should be Chinese.

"One of the key jobs of the IMF is to monitor trade and provide
capital assistance, which the rising China is good at,' it said in an
online comment piece.

It pointed to several Chinese who had taken pole positions in global
finance, including Zhu Min, a former deputy governor of China's
central bank and a special advisor to Strauss-Kahn.

Chinese media has speculated that Zhu could be a candidate to succeed
his former boss.

"It will be great sign of respect for a rising China and a symbolic
step of optimizing the international financial order if the 24
executive directors who hold shares of the IMF can see this clearly
and elect a Chinese president of the IMF," the People's Daily said.

The scandal involving Strauss-Kahn comes at a critical time for the
IMF, amid delicate negotiations to help overcome the eurozone debt

Acknowledging the challenges facing the body, Zhou said a "strong IMF"
was currently required.

Singapore raises 2011 growth forecast

SINGAPORE, May 19, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore on Thursday raised its 2011
growth forecast to 5.0-7.0 percent from 4.0-6.0 percent on
expectations that major economies led by the United States will
continue to rebound.

Improved business and consumer spending in the US and Europe, along
with Asia's continued steady growth are expected to boost Singapore's
export-led economy, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a

"The advanced economies remain on a path of modest recovery," the
ministry said. "The near-term external environment is expected to be
conducive to Singapore's growth for the rest of 2011," it added.

Growth in Singapore's key manufacturing sector, which accounts for
nearly a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP), is also expected to
boost the economy, according to the ministry.

It said the opening of new production facilities in the chemicals
industry and better global demand for biomedical products will lift
manufacturing this year.

Despite the revised outlook, the ministry cautioned Singapore still
faces several external risks.

These include Europe's sovereign debt crisis, high oil prices and
disruptions to Japan's industrial sector from the quake-tsunami crisis
in March, the ministry said.

"Barring any escalation of these downside risks, the near-term outlook
for the Singapore economy remains positive," it said.

Singapore's economy, valued at almost Sg$285 billion ($230 billion) in
2010, grew at a record 14.5 percent last year.

The ministry in the same statement said the economy grew an annual 8.3
percent in the first quarter ended March, which was slightly lower
than its initial estimate of 8.5 percent.

Growth in the January-March period was largely powered by the
manufacturing sector which expanded 13.1 percent from a year ago, it

The construction sector grew an annual 2.4 percent and the services
producing industries surged 7.3 percent.

"Overall, first quarter GDP growth has been broad-based and robust,"
analysts from Singapore's DBS Bank said in a commentary.

"Going forward, while we expect economic growth in the second quarter
to be the weakest given the drag from the high oil prices and the
Japan crisis, underlying growth momentum should reaccelerate in the
second half of the year."

China never intends to challenge US: top general

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - China "never intends to challenge the
US" and welcomes its role maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific
region, People's Liberation Army Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde
told US military officers Wednesday.

While the Chinese military has improved considerably in the past
years, there is still a large gap between them and US military might,
Chen told officers at the National Defense University in Washington.

China "never intends to challenge the US," Chen told the officers,
speaking through an interpreter.

China "welcomes a constructive US role in maintaining and promoting
peace stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

Later, responding to a question, Chen said there still exists "a
20-year gap" between China's military and that of the western powers.

Chen earlier invited his counterpart, US Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral
Mike Mullen, to visit China. "I hope he visits China as soon as
possible," Chen said.

In his speech, Chen said it was important to increase "strategic
mutual trust through enhanced dialogues and communication, instead of
being prone to suspicion."

Both countries "share significant responsibilities for regional and
global peace and stability," he said, then quoted President Barack
Obama who said that the two countries are economically "inseparable."

The Chinese general also said it was "imperative" that military to
military relations be "based on mutual respect and mutual benefit."
"The world does not need to worry about, let alone fear, China's
growth," he said.

Chen is on the first trip to the United States by China's top-ranking
officer in seven years.

The Chinese general said he had held talks with Mullen and Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton.
Military relations between the two economic powers have been strained
and lagged behind diplomatic and trade ties, with Beijing objecting to
US arms sales to Taiwan while Washington has voiced concern about
China's military buildup.

The last US visit by a senior leader from the PLA was in 2009, when
General Xu Caihou came to Washington and toured military bases.

When the US defense secretary paid a high-profile visit to Beijing in
January, the Chinese military upstaged Gates with an inaugural test
flight of the country's J-20 stealth fighter.

Yahoo! buys online ad platform 5to1

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Yahoo! on Wednesday announced that
it has signed a deal to buy online advertising platform 5to1.

The California-based Internet pioneer did not reveal financial terms
of the acquisition.

"5to1's innovative platform and premium private marketplace will
further enable Yahoo! to extend our advertising leadership," said
Wayne Powers, senior vice president of advertising sales for Yahoo! in
North America.

"5to1 provides additional access to publishers and unlocks the value
of unsold inventory for premium brand advertisers."

US-based 5to1 launched in 2009 as a market for advertisers and website
publishers when it comes to unsold supplies of premium ads.

One-in-14 software downloads malicious: Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Microsoft on Wednesday warned that
hackers use mind tricks more often than software skills to get viruses
into computers.

Feedback from globally popular Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser
indicated that one of every 14 programs downloaded turned out to be
malicious code, according to the US software titan.

"Social-engineering attacks, like tricking a user into running a
malicious program, are far more common than attacks on security
vulnerabilities," Micrsoft SmartScreen program manager Jeb Haber said
in a blog post.

"SmartScreen" technology has blocked more than 1.5 billion attempts to
slip "malware" into computers since version IE8 was released in March
of 2009, according to Microsoft.

"User-downloaded malware is a huge problem and getting bigger," Haber said.

Microsoft's latest version of the browser, IE9, checks reputations of
websites and their creators to let Internet users know when they are
dealing with unknown characters online.

"Most people would be cautious about buying something online from a
complete stranger," Haber said.

"Using reputation software helps protect users from newly released
malware programs -- pretending to be legitimate software programs --
that are not yet detected by existing defense mechanisms," he added.

US lawmaker blasts welcome for China military chief

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - A top US lawmaker on Wednesday
angrily condemned the Pentagon's red-carpet welcome for China's
military chief, charging it was putting sensitive defense secrets at

"The Chinese military openly regards the United States as an enemy,"
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehinen said in
a statement on People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chief of General Staff
Chen Bingde's visit.

"There can be no doubt that every scrap of information this expert
delegation collects will be used against us," she said.

Chen was to tour four military bases during his week-long visit -- the
first trip to America by the country's top-ranking officer in seven
years -- amid an effort by Washington to defuse tensions and mistrust
with Bejing.

But Ros-Lehtinen warned "we should not undermine our own security by
thinking we can make friends with self-proclaimed adversaries with
hospitality and open arms."

"Congress must immediately review existing prohibitions against giving
Chinese officials access to sensitive information, and determine if
they need to be strengthened," she said.

Ros-Lehtinen said Chen's planned visit to Nellis Air Force Base in
Nevada was "especially troubling, given its key role in our defenses
against cyberwarfare and other high-tech threats."

"China is actively engaged in cyber attacks against the US, including
massive assaults on US government and civilian networks alike,
especially those of the Department of Defense," she said.

"Congress must immediately review existing prohibitions against giving
Chinese officials access to sensitive information, and determine if
they need to be strengthened," said Ros-Lehtinen.

Arms sales to Taiwan damage US-China ties: Chen

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - A top Chinese general said Wednesday
that further US arms sales to Taiwan could damage fledgling military
ties between Washington and Beijing, and that it amounted to American

When asked by a reporter if US weapons sales to Taiwan would affect
defense relations between the two economic powers, China's Chief of
General Staff Chen Bingde said: "My answer is affirmative. It will."

"As to how bad the impact will be, it will depend on the nature of the
weapons sold to Taiwan," Chen said at a joint news conference with his
US counterpart, Admiral Mike Mullen, who heads the Joint Chiefs of

Chen said the situation in the region had changed dramatically over
the years and that "trying to contain China's development using Taiwan
would be futile."

"Since it (Taiwan) is part of China, why will it need United States
weapons sales to guarantee its security?" said Chen, in a week-long
visit to the United States.

The general said the arms sales represented US interference in the
"domestic" affairs of another country, an approach that could be
described as "hegemonic."

Chen said that in his talks with US lawmakers, some members of
Congress agreed that it was time to repeal legislation that calls for
arms sales to Taiwan.

China cut off defense ties last year with the United States after
Washington announced more than $6 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan.
Beijing considers Taiwan -- where the mainland's defeated nationalists
fled in 1949 -- to be a territory awaiting reunification.


Japan will not abandon nuclear power: PM

TOKYO, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Nuclear power will remain a key part of
Japan's energy policy, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Wednesday, but
the government will review oversight of the industry after the worst
atomic crisis since Chernobyl.

The premier said a special commission would investigate the crisis
that unfolded after a monster tsunami knocked out the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear plant's cooling systems on March 11, leading to
reactor meltdowns and radiation leaking into the environment.

"The investigation commission on the accident, which will start
meeting soon, should discuss the way Japan administers its nuclear
policies," Kan said, adding that he hoped "to lay a basic direction
for a thorough reform".

But Kan backed the principle of nuclear power, telling reporters: "If
we come up with new ways to use atomic power more safely... we will
naturally utilise atomic power further.

"In the first place a thorough review is needed. Everything should
start from there."

Kan announced that reactors currently suspended for routine check-ups
across the nation would be allowed to resume operations if they are
deemed safe.

But local opposition to restarting those reactors has grown since the
disaster. The world's number three economy generates about 30 percent
of its power from nuclear plants.

"Until now, Japan's energy policies were built with two major pillars
of fossil fuel and nuclear power," Kan said. "In addition to that, we
must add two more pillars of natural (renewable) energy and energy

Workers briefly entered a reactor building at the crippled Fukushima
plant Wednesday to measure radiation levels and check for damage, the
operator said.

The investigation was part of work by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)
to bring reactors at the complex to a stable cold shutdown by January
at the latest.

TEPCO said on Tuesday it was on schedule despite signs that damage to
the facility in Japan's quake-battered northeast was worse than
initially thought.

The earthquake and tsunami left nearly 25,000 people dead or missing
and the government has moved to evacuate residents from villages
outside the 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the ageing plant.

TEPCO and the government have yet to release estimates for the payout
bill but analysts say it could range from four trillion yen ($50
billion) to 10 trillion yen, depending how long the crisis lasts.

Representatives of 620 fishermen along the coast of Ibaraki
prefecture, south of Fukushima, visited TEPCO's head office in Tokyo
on Wednesday, demanding the utility pay damages because they were
forced to halt fishing.

They are claiming a total of 425 million yen for loss of earnings in
March, according to Isao Ono, one of the representatives.

Malaysia unveils plan to build 'green economy'

Malaysia unveils plan to build 'green economy'

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Malaysia is launching an ambitious
plan to build a "green economy" with the help of an advisory council
that includes economist Jeffrey Sachs and the UN climate change head.

The initiative is part of economic reforms instituted by Prime
Minister Najib Razak since taking power two years ago, aimed at
pushing the Southeast Asian nation towards developed-nation status by

His administration has already promised major infrastructure projects
and financial market liberalisation to attract foreign investment and
boost growth, but critics say the results have been limited.

Najib on Tuesday convened the first meeting of an eminent 42-member
Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council in New York to help it
achieve ambitions of becoming a science and technology innovation

Malaysia's vision of a "green economy" would see it moving beyond its
status as a manufacturing hub, and establish "low carbon emissions,
highly efficient use of resources, and a healthy, well-educated

"Malaysia's ambitious goal is to simultaneously reduce poverty and
achieve a green economy," Najib said in a statement from New York.

"We see science and technology innovation as key to achieving that
goal, guided by the advice and active support of some of the world's
most distinguished entrepreneurial, scientific and economic experts."

"These experts will liaise and work actively with key Malaysian
agencies and institutions to develop 'quick wins' in the palm oil
industry, in the creation of a smart city and smart village, and in

As well as Sachs and Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN's
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the panel also includes
media tycoon Steve Forbes and two Nobel laureates.

Singapore casino fined for breaching regulations

SINGAPORE, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore on Wednesday fined casino
operator Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) more than US$400,000 for
breaching local gaming regulations.

The city-state's Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) said in a statement
RWS, owned by Malaysian gaming giant Genting Group, flouted the
city-state's regulations on four occasions.

Levying a fine of Sg$530,000 (US$426,000) on the company, it said one
of the breaches involved the reimbursement of the mandatory Sg$100
levy that Singaporeans and permanent residents must pay in order to
enter into a casino.

"The disciplinary action taken serves to remind casino operators to
act responsibly to uphold the integrity of social safeguards put in
place by the authorities," said T. Raja Kumar, the chief executive of

Singaporeans and permanent residents are required to pay the entry fee
as part of efforts to address public concern over gaming-related
social ills.

The other breaches included failure to ensure that surveillance
footage was retained for the specified period required by the casino

RWS said in a statement it has taken action to avoid a repeat of the breaches.

"RWS had cooperated with CRA on its investigations and has since taken
steps to prevent any recurrence," a spokesman said.

"As a responsible gaming operator, RWS respects and seeks to comply
fully with Singapore's gaming laws and regulations."

Marina Bay Sands, owned by US gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson's Las
Vegas Sands, is the other casino resort in the city-state.

The two casinos opened in 2010 and have largely been credited with
turning around Singapore's tourism, helping the country welcome a
record 11.6 million visitors last year.

Lee Kuan Yew fully retires from top posts

SINGAPORE, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore's founding prime minister
Lee Kuan Yew relinquished all major government posts Wednesday after
ceding chairmanship of the Government of Singapore Investment
Corporation (GIC) to his son.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 59, is the new chairman of GIC, a
company founded in 1981 to invest Singapore's foreign reserves, which
stood at close to Sg$300 billion ($243 billion) in April.

Premier Lee said his 87-year-old father will stay on as "senior
adviser" to the firm, one of Singapore's two state investment vehicles
and among the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds.

The elder Lee last week quit his advisory cabinet post -- with the
special title "Minister Mentor" -- after more than half a century in
government, and a much younger cabinet with an average age of 52 years
was unveiled on Wednesday.

He will remain a member of parliament representing the port district
of Tanjong Pagar.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew will be appointed Senior Adviser to GIC," the prime
minister said in a press conference where he announced a sweeping
cabinet revamp after the opposition scored major gains in the May 7
general election.

The overhaul came after the ruling People's Action Party's share of
all votes cast fell to an all-time low of 60 percent, reflecting voter
anger with the government.

"I suppose if they want to make a clean break, it is really the only
way to do so," said Song Seng Wun, a Singapore-based regional
economist with CIMB research.

"He is now just a special adviser and MP... In that sense he only
needs to be called upon for his advice as and when, and will not be as
involved as before," Song told AFP.

Singapore invests its massive financial assets globally through two
vehicles -- the GIC and Temasek Holdings.

The GIC periodically reviews the mix of its investments by assigning
weights to different asset classes such as stocks, bonds, private
equity and prime real estate across the world.

In its latest available annual report, the GIC said 41 percent of its
portfolio as of March 2010 was in public equities in developed

Geographically, 36 percent of its assets were in the United States, 30
percent in Europe and 24 percent in Asia.

Lee Kuan Yew said in a recent book that he set up the GIC to act as a
financial guardian for Singapore's reserves.

"My cardinal objective was not to maximise returns but to protect the
value of our savings and get a fair return on capital," Lee wrote.

The US-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute in March ranked GIC as
the eighth largest in the world.

Singapore PM reshuffles cabinet after poll setback

SINGAPORE, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday announced a sweeping cabinet revamp after the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) was rocked by its worst ever election showing.

The party old guard led by his father Lee Kuan Yew, 87, and Goh Chok Tong, 70 -- former prime ministers who served as advisers to the cabinet -- are out of the new cabinet at their own request, the premier said.

"They have dedicated their lives to Singapore, building up the nation, raising living standards and enabling future generations to enjoy a better life in a transformed Singapore," said Lee, now the oldest cabinet member at 59.

"I have considered this carefully, and decided to accept their decision."

Also out are the former ministers in charge of internal security, housing and transport -- three of the hottest issues in the May 7 polls which the prime minister has called a "watershed" event for the island republic.

In the most notable promotion, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, 54, was elevated to deputy prime minister and also handed the manpower portfolio, a key position in a labour-starved economy grappling with growing anti-immigrant sentiment.

Analysts said it was one of the most dramatic cabinet overhauls ever seen in Singapore, with 11 of the 14 ministries having a new boss.

"One thing we can say is they are really serious about rejuvenation," said Reuben Wong, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore's political science department.

"Obviously they are responding to a lot of public unhappiness," he told AFP.

Lee Kuan Yew had been part of the cabinet since he led the PAP to its first election victory in 1959, when Singapore gained self-rule from Britain, and transformed the sleepy port into an economic dynamo during his 31-year rule.

Goh took over in 1990 and stepped aside in 2004 for the junior Lee as part of what the PAP calls an orderly succession scheme to ensure stability.

The new cabinet appointments will take effect Saturday when the new ministers are sworn into office by President S.R. Nathan at the Istana state complex, said a statement from the prime minister's office.

Foreign Minister George Yeo, 56, who lost his seat to become the biggest casualty of the election, will be replaced by Law Minister K. Shanmugam, 52, who will hold both portfolios.

The overhaul came after the PAP's share of all votes cast fell to an all-time low of 60 percent in the general election, reflecting voter anger with the government despite Singapore's rapid economic progress.

The PAP has suffered a continued drop in popularity since it garnered 67 percent of the popular vote in 2006 and 75 percent in 2001.

Only a controversial group-voting system under which most lawmakers are elected in clusters prevented the opposition from winning more than the six seats it secured out of 87 at stake in the recent election.

In a normal one-on-one parliamentary contest in each district, its 40 percent share of the vote would have translated to 35 seats.

Singapore PM reshuffles cabinet after poll setback - 2ndlead

SINGAPORE, May 18, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday announced a sweeping cabinet revamp after the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) suffered a major poll setback on May 7.

The party old guard, led by his father Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, both former prime ministers, are out of the new cabinet.

So are the ministers in charge of internal security, housing and transport -- three of the hottest issues in the polls.

The most notable promotion was that of Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is now concurrently deputy prime minister and manpower minister.

Lee Kuan Yew and Goh had offered their resignations from the cabinet on Saturday to give way to younger leaders.

In the May 7 parliamentary election, the PAP's share of all votes cast fell to an all-time low of 60 percent, which analysts said reflected widespread anger with the government's policies and performance despite Singapore's rapid economic progress.

Only a group voting system prevented the opposition from winning more than the six seats it secured in the election.

The PAP, in power since the former British colony gained self-rule in 1959, garnered 67 percent of the popular vote in the last election held in 2006 and 75 percent in 2001.

Dell profit nearly triples

SAN FRANCISCO, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - US computer maker Dell on Tuesday
reported that its profit nearly tripled in the recently-ended quarter
on strong sales to businesses.

Revenue inched up one percent to $15 billion while net income leapt to
$945 million from $341 million in the same three-month period a year
earlier, according to the Texas-based company.

"We're off to a solid start in our fiscal year 2012," said Dell chief
executive Michael Dell.
"Our substantial profit increase demonstrates that our strategy is
working and our execution is improving."

Dell predicted revenue growth in the current quarter would be slightly
better than usual, with improved sales to governments, schools, and
small businesses.

"We continue to build momentum with our strategy to expand our
enterprise solutions and services business, and it's contributing to
our strong financial results," said Dell chief financial officer Brian

"We have built an $18 billion enterprise solutions and services
business with exciting growth potential and our execution in the core
client business continues to be very good."

Boosts in sales to businesses and public institutions more than offset
a seven percent slide on the consumer side, which was softer than
expected, according to Dell.

Dell stock price rose more than five percent to $16.76 a share in
after-hours trading that followed release of the earnings figures.

Dell earning news came hours after rival Hewlett Packard reported
strong profits in the recent fiscal quarter but saw its stock sink
with word that the US computer colossus was bracing for tough times
later in the year.

HP reported that it made $2.3 billion in profit on $31.6 billion in
revenue during the fiscal quarter that ended April 30 in a showing
that bested the same period a year earlier by five percent and three
percent respectively.

Netflix video "king" of US Internet traffic: study

SAN FRANCISCO, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - Films and television shows
streamed online by Netflix amount to nearly 30 percent of the content
racing downstream on the US Internet during peak periods, according to
a study released Tuesday.

"Netflix is now the undisputed bandwidth king of the Internet in North
America," Canadian networking gear company Sandvine concluded in a
Global Internet Phenomena Report.

"Subscribers have clearly embraced the Netflix streaming service,
fundamentally altering the Internet landscape," the firm continued in
its findings.

"Furthermore, the success of Netflix's expansion into Canada suggests
that it is not a phenomenon localized to the United States."

Netflix expanded from the United States to Canada in September with
the addition of a streaming online movie rental service in that
country. Subscribers pay monthly fees to watch films or television
show episodes.

In its most recent earnings figures, Netflix claimed to have 23.6
million subscribers, 800,000 of which were in Canada.

The bulk of Netflix shows were watched using videogame consoles or
personal computers, according to Sandvine.

LinkedIn IPO stirs Internet bubble fears

NEW YORK, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - LinkedIn, the professional-networking
website firm, said Tuesday it expects to be worth as much as $4
billion when it goes public soon, sparking fears of another Internet

LinkedIn raised the share price for its public listing by some 30
percent, lifting the company's value as high as $4 billion and testing
the market's lust for Internet companies.

For what will be the first initial public offering by a major US
social-networking firm, LinkedIn jacked up its expected share price
for 7.84 million shares to between $42 and $45, just a week after it
first set a target of $32-35 per share.

The IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, as early as Thursday, could
bring in more than $350 million.

 LinkedIn, whose members cultivate and manage their careers and
business networks online, said it plans to use the money raised on the
stock market to fuel expansion.

But the dizzying spike in the IPO price range has set off alarms.

According to The Wall Street Journal, it is the first time since the
dot.com bubble burst in 2000 that a firm has hiked its price range by
so much ahead of its share float.

The LinkedIn market debut will be the biggest in the United States
since Internet search giant Google went public in August 2004, IPO
specialist firm Renaissance Capital said.

In a survey of investors and traders about the share pricing,
financial website 24/7WallSt.com found that two thirds thought "it's
already too high."

Although LinkedIn more than doubled revenue in 2010, to $243 million,
it says it expects a loss in 2011 and slowing growth.

The Mountain View, California-based firm swung into profit of $3.4
million in 2010 after a $4.0 million loss the prior year.

A recent Internet market flotation has provided food for second
thoughts. Investors who two weeks ago snatched up shares in
social-networking site firm Renren, seen as China's answer to
Facebook, have watched their shares drop by nine percent from the IPO
price -- which was also hiked by 27 percent days before the
subscription period.

But Lou Kerner, an analyst specialized in social networking firms at
Wedbush Securities, was not surprised by LinkedIn's attraction.

"There's very significant investor demand for what's going to be the
premier public equity in social media," he said, dismissing the
speculation about a new Internet bubble.

The talk "misses the bigger point, which is that there is a tremendous
amount of shareholder wealth being created in social media today, and
there are very few ways for public investors to play it."

For many market players, LinkedIn's IPO is an opening act for the
blockbuster float of social-networking giant Facebook, which could
come in early 2012.

With currently more than 500 million users worldwide, Kerner estimated
that Facebook's IPO could drive the firm's valuation to a whopping $85
billion and to $235 billion by 2015.

Until then, he said, investors could look at shares in companies
potentially worth twice that of LinkedIn and expected to go public:
online social game star Zynga and online coupon giant Groupon.

Morningstar IPO analyst Bill Buhr agrees that market appetite for
social-media stocks is understandable, but not necessarily justified.

"If you consider Facebook, for instance they're talking about a $100
billion valuation, on $4 billion of expected revenue, which puts them
at about 25 times sales multiple. Google has a five times sales
multiple," he said.

The market enthusiasm for Groupon is even more astonishing, he said,
with people talking about a valuation of around $15-20 billion.

"For an online coupon company that the only thing they've really done
correctly is be the first mover, maybe that's not justified."

LinkedIn's valuation at $4 billion represents represents a 16 times
sales multiple.

The fast-growing LinkedIn has more than 100 million members in over
200 countries and territories. Forty-four million live in the United
States and 56 million outside of the country.

Membership grew by 428 percent in Brazil last year, 178 percent in
Mexico, 76 percent in India and 72 percent in France.

Kadhafi air force 'wiped out': France

PARIS, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - NATO-led bombardments have "wiped out"
Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's war planes and heavily depleted his
army, France's defence minister said in comments made public on

"The air force seems to have been wiped out with 80 percent of its
aircraft out of action and only helicopters left," minister Gerard
Longuet said last week, according to a transcript of a Senate defence
commission hearing.

"The army has suffered heavy losses with a third of its heavy
equipment destroyed and about half of its munitions stocks," he added,
in a summary of the strikes against Kadhafi's military sites since
March 19.

"Only the navy has been spared, but that presents no great danger and
its ships have stayed in port where they pose no threat. The anti-air
defences have also been seriously hit."

NATO took over the command of the operations started by British,
French and US forces aimed at curbing Kadhafi's assault in order to
protect civilians in his battle with Western-backed rebels seeking to
oust him.

Pressure piled on Kadhafi on Tuesday as his oil minister Shukri Ghanem
appeared to have defected, Moscow issued a rebuke, NATO jets pounded
Tripoli and a leading prosecutor sought his arrest for crimes against

Fwd: Pakistan PM hails China ties amid strains with US - 4thlead

BEIJING, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - Pakistan's prime minister declared China
his country's best friend in an apparent dig at Washington as he began
a visit to China on Tuesday with US ties tested over Osama bin Laden's

Yousuf Raza Gilani's trip follows the killing of the Al-Qaeda leader
by US special forces on Pakistani soil this month in a raid that has
cast a pall over US-Pakistan ties and was seen potentially pushing
Islamabad closer to Beijing.

"We appreciate that in all difficult circumstances, China stood with
Pakistan. Therefore we call China a true friend and a time-tested and
all-weather friend," Gilani told China's official Xinhua news agency
in an interview.

"We are proud to have China as our best and most trusted friend, and
China will always find Pakistan standing beside it at all times,"
Gilani added, ahead of his arrival in Shanghai late Tuesday --
confirmed by a Pakistani official.

His comments appeared to underscore tensions with Washington following
the May 2 US raid on a compound where bin Laden was living in northern
Pakistan, which left the country's civilian and military leaders angry
and embarrassed.

On Monday, US Senator John Kerry demanded Pakistan make progress
against terrorism through "actions, not by words" in a visit to the

The fact that the terrorist mastermind had been hiding out in
Pakistan, possibly for years, has raised accusations the country's
powerful security establishment was either incompetent or complicit in
bin Laden finding a haven.

Further fuelling tensions, NATO helicopters from Afghanistan wounded
two Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border attack Tuesday, triggering a
"strong protest" from Islamabad.

Gilani had no engagements in China until a speech Wednesday at a
cultural forum in the eastern city of Suzhou, Pakistani officials

He was then to travel to Beijing to meet Chinese leaders including
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The two sides are expected to sign a series of cooperation agreements
and discuss how they can better combat extremism.

China is the main arms supplier to Pakistan, which sees Beijing as an
important counter-balance to Pakistan's traditional rival India. New
Delhi has recently improved its ties with the United States, causing
worry in Islamabad.

China and Pakistan were expected to reaffirm their "all-weather"
friendship during Gilani's stay.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that Beijing "unswervingly"
supports Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts.

"Pakistan has made very important contributions in international
counter-terrorism cooperation as well as great sacrifices," she told

By contrast, Kerry stressed that US lawmakers were demanding a review
of billions of dollars in aid money to Pakistan.

"Ultimately, the Pakistani people will decide what kind of country
Pakistan becomes, whether it is a haven for extremists or the tolerant
democracy" it was founded as, said Kerry, chairman of the US Senate
Foreign Relations Committee.

Facing weak Western investment in its moribund economy and crippling
power shortages, Pakistan is looking for closer trade and energy ties
with China.

Pakistan last week opened a 330-megawatt nuclear power plant in
central Punjab province with Chinese help and said Beijing had been
contracted to construct two more reactors.

The plans have triggered US concern over the safety of nuclear
materials in the unstable, violence-plagued country where Muslim
militancy is strong.

However, political analysts have said a wary Beijing was unlikely to
buttress its verbal backing of Islamabad with significant aid money or
other new support out of fear of getting too entangled in the troubled
nation's fortunes.


Japan to review strategies for energy, economy after quake

TOKYO, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - Japan is to launch a review of economic
and energy policies in the wake of the country's March 11 natural
disaster and the ongoing nuclear crisis it spawned, the cabinet said

The government agreed new guidelines on policy-setting that will mean
a reassessment of a growth strategy that has relied heavily on the
export of large-scale infrastructure systems, including nuclear power
plants and high speed rail.

Before the earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear power plant and
triggered a nuclear emergency, Japan -- battling to revive its economy
-- was hoping to sell a range of high-tech goods abroad, from atomic
technology and renewable energy systems to bullet trains.

But on Tuesday Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government said it "will
reexamine the strategy for overseas development of packaged
infrastructure systems," an official statement said.

It will also start "studying innovative energy and environmental
strategies which will meet the needs for safety, stable supply,
efficiency and environment," the statement said.

After the cabinet meeting, Koichiro Genba, a state minister for
national policy, said that the government "will focus on new energy
sources and energy saving technologies," according to the Mainichi

Japan also said it was delaying a decision on whether or not to join
negotiations for a US-backed trans-Pacific free trade pact.

The new policy guidelines included a plan to "consider comprehensively
when to make a decision" on whether to enter talks on joining the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

There is no reference to a specific timing in the new guideline,
according to a trade ministry official.

Gemba told reporters that strengthening agricultural exports would be
difficult near-term.

Kan has pushed for the country to join the pact despite vehement
opposition from farmers fearing cheaper imports, saying his government
aimed to make a final decision around June.

For now the TPP has just four signed-up countries -- Brunei, Chile,
Singapore and New Zealand -- but five others are in talks to join the
group: the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.

HSBC to go on massive hiring spree in China, Singapore

HONG KONG, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - Banking giant HSBC said Tuesday it
will employ at least 2,000 extra people in mainland China and
Singapore over the next five years, as it seeks to tap the
fast-growing Asia Pacific markets.

The Asia-focused British lender plans to hire at least 200 staff in
China each year until 2016, and another 1,000 in Singapore during the
period, a spokeswoman from HSBC Hong Kong's office told AFP.

"Asia is a very important part of our overall growth strategy," she
said, adding "we continue to invest and attract the best talents in
Asia to capture the wealth segment in Asia."

The bank, which is headquartered in London, currently has 5,000
employees in mainland China and 3,500 staff in Singapore. The
spokeswoman said the hiring plan did not specify in which areas the
new employees will be hired.

The massive hiring plan comes after HSBC, which survived the 2008
global financial meltdown without state aid -- unlike many of its
rivals -- said last week it would seek to save $2.5-3.5 billion in
costs over two years.

Its new chief executive Stuart Gulliver has said the savings would be
ploughed back into fast-growing markets around the world, especially
in Asia.

The banking titan was also looking into selling its US branch network
and cards business. Other cash-saving measures include a streamlining
of IT operations.

HSBC was founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865 and the bank
regards Asia as its most important region. It is listed on the London
and Hong Kong exchanges.

Asian shares lose ground on Wall St, Europe fears

HONG KONG, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - A limp performance from Wall Street
and continuing disquiet over European debt woes combined Tuesday to
produce a mostly negative performance on Asian stock markets.

Policymakers continued their debate on how to rescue debt-swamped
eurozone economies, as International Monetary Fund chief Dominique
Strauss-Kahn was refused bail by a New York court after denying sexual
assault charges.

The IMF executive board met late Monday to discuss Strauss-Kahn's
situation, but made no public announcement on his fate at the helm of
the US-based lender.

Meanwhile the Fund signed off on a 78-billion-euro ($111 billion)
EU-IMF bailout for Portugal, and approved 1.58 billion euros in new
assistance to debt-laden Ireland.

Portugal, under pressure from the markets for months, finally sought a
bailout in April after the minority socialist government and
right-wing opposition failed to agree on a new round of budget cuts.

But the move failed to inspire the markets, with Tokyo 0.44 percent
lower by the break, Hong Kong down 0.58 percent mid-morning and
Shanghai off 0.17 percent.

Seoul lost 0.34 percent, but Sydney proved the exception, rising 0.17 percent.

Tokyo suffered from the weak Wall Street lead and the continuing
ramifications of the country's nuclear disaster, sparked by the March
11 quake and tsunami.

Sentiment was also hurt after Morgan Stanley Capital International on
Monday said it would delete 20 Japanese stocks from its MSCI Global
Standard Indices on May 31.

"It looks like investors in the US and Europe are starting to hold
back on buying Japanese stocks, so the attention is on whether demand
will come from Asian investors," said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a strategist
at Okasan Securities.

TEPCO, the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant was
off 4.3 percent, and other power companies were also down.

A mooted debt waiver for TEPCO was also battering financial plays,
with Sumitomo Mitsui FG down 1.1 percent and Mizuho FG off 0.8

Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager at Daiwa Securities, said he did
not expect heavy selling pressure after a 3.1 percent drop on the
index over the past three sessions.

"It doesn't seem like there will be additional major selling for
today," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

On Monday slumping tech stocks pulled US markets down as the country
struck its limit on borrowing with no increase in sight, putting more
pressure on the government to slash spending.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 47.38 points (0.38
percent) at 12,548.37, with technology and consumer stocks leading the
way down.

The euro eased against the dollar in Asian trade amid continued
investor concerns about European sovereign debt.

The unit was at $1.4149 in Tokyo morning trade, down from $1.4153 in
New York late Monday.

The single European currency rose to 114.59, compared to 114.34 yen in
late New York trade. The dollar rose to 80.98 yen from 80.76 yen.

Oil slipped as demand concerns continued to cast a shadow on
sentiment, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June delivery was off
27 cents to $97.10 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude eased 30 cents
to $110.54.

The two contracts had closed weaker Monday in US trade.

"Obviously we were down in the US session," said Ben Westmore, a
Melbourne-based commodity economist with National Australia Bank.

"A lot of that has to do with concerns for US demand," he told AFP.

Gold opened in Hong Kong at $1,491.50-$1,492.50 per ounce, down from
its Monday close of $1,496.00-$1,497.00.

YouTube channel honors fallen journalists

SAN FRANCISCO, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - Google on Monday launched a
YouTube channel honoring fallen journalists and enhanced its online
news pages.

Google teamed with the Newseum based in Washington, DC on a
Journalists Memorial channel dedicated to the works and lives of those
around the world who have died while reporting news.

"The risks and sacrifices that many have made in order to provide us
with accurate information are remarkable," Steve Grove of YouTube News
and Politics said in a blog post.

"Their stories are incredible: heading into a street battle with no
weapon other than your camera; talking about politics over the radio,
only to be beaten to death with iron bars by a group of thugs on the
way to work."

The channel at youtube.com/journalistsmemorial was described as a
digital version of the annual Newseum Journalist Memorial devoted to
remembering news reporters who died doing their jobs in the preceding

Google on Monday also enhanced its online news.google.com website to
provide "greater story diversity with less clutter."

Bing and Facebook grow closer

SAN FRANCISCO, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - Microsoft on Monday began letting
Bing search results reflect "likes" of people's friends at Facebook as
the social networking star and the software colossus grew closer.

"The best decisions are not just fueled by facts, they require the
opinions and emotions of your friends," Bing senior vice president
Yusuf Mehdi said in a release.

"We're marrying fact-based search results with your friends' street
smarts to combine the best data on the Web with the opinions of the
people you trust the most and the collective IQ of the Web."

Microsoft also added a "Bing bar" button that Facebook members can use
to indicate a "Like" for any web page they visit.

In October, Facebook and Microsoft announced they were working
together to personalizing Internet searches.

"This is just the beginning; there is going to be a whole lot more to
come over time," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said as the
collaboration was revealed.

Likes, interests and other information shared at Facebook hold the
potential to let search engines tailor online searches to individuals
and personalize results.

Microsoft's partnership with Facebook dates back four years to when
the social networking service had just 100 employees and seven million

Microsoft paid 240 million dollars in late 2007 for a 1.6 percent
stake in Facebook. Bing is used to power Internet searches at the
social network.

Bing has been striving to close ground on Internet search king Google,
which dominates the US market. Google executives have discussed the
importance of making searches more personal and social.

Apple, Google to attend hearing on mobile privacy

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - US lawmakers have invited Apple,
Facebook and Google to attend a hearing on mobile phones and privacy
on Thursday -- the second Capitol Hill appearance in a week for
executives from Apple and Google.

Senator Jay Rockefeller said the hearing of the Senate Consumer
Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee would focus on
"industry practices with respect to online mobile data collection and

"The hearing will also explore the possible role of the federal
government in protecting consumers in the mobile marketplace and
promoting their privacy," the Democrat from West Virginia said.

Among those listed as witnesses are Catherine Novelli, Apple's vice
president for worldwide government affairs, Bret Taylor, Facebook's
chief technology officer, and Alan Davidson, Google's director of
public policy for the Americas.

Davidson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy,
Technology and the Law on May 10 along with an Apple executive, Bud
Tribble, vice president for software technology at the California

During that hearing, Senator Patrick Leahy expressed "deep concern"
about reports that Apple iPhones and Google's Android phones were
"collecting, storing, and tracking user location data without the
user's consent."

Davidson and Tribble both said their respective companies were
committed to privacy protection and were not tracking their users.

Tribble said popular location-based services on mobile devices such as
the iPhone and iPad do require some data collection, however, and
users are able to opt out if they wish with easy-to-use tools.

Davidson stressed that "location-sharing on Android devices is
strictly opt-in for our users, with clear notice and control."

White House unveils global cyberspace strategy

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - The White House unveiled a set of
policy proposals Monday for international cooperation in ensuring an
open and secure Internet.

"Together, we can work together to build a future for cyberspace that
is open, interoperable, secure, and reliable," US President Barack
Obama wrote in an introduction to the 25-page "International Strategy
for Cyberspace."

Obama, who has made cybersecurity a top priority along with diplomatic
engagement, wrote that the document "outlines not only a vision for
the future of cyberspace but an agenda for realizing it.

"It provides the context for our partners at home and abroad to
understand our priorities and how we can come together to preserve the
character of cyberspace and reduce the threats we face," he wrote.

The policy document is short on specifics but provides goals and a
framework for international cooperation in promoting the US vision for
cyberspace in what it called seven priority areas.

Obama did not personally attend the unveiling of the document but the
event drew top members of his cabinet including Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano,
Attorney General Eric Holder and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt, Deputy Defense
Secretary William Lynn and Obama's counter-terrorism chief, John
Brennan, also addressed the gathering, attended by diplomats and
leaders of private industry.

Schmidt said the document explains "what the US stands for
internationally in cyberspace, and how we plan to build prosperity,
enhance security, and safeguard openness in our increasingly networked

Clinton said the strategy hinges on seven key policy priorities
including promoting Internet freedom and economic engagement to
encourage innovation and trade while safeguarding intellectual

"We want to do more together to protect privacy and secure fundamental
freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, online as we do
offline," she said.

Other priorities include enhancing the ability of law enforcement to
respond to cybercrime and military cooperation to "help our alliances
do more together to confront cyber threats," Clinton said.

"It is not a series of prescriptions," she said. "There is no
one-size-fits-all, straightforward route to that goal.

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said the policy paper was not a "particularly
bold document" but was a good first step.

"It's a continuation of the Obama national security strategy that says
the US will engage with people and try to work with them," he said.
"So saying the United States wants to engage and here's what we'd like
to achieve -- an Internet that's open and stable and secure -- that's
a good thing."

The White House document also calls for a robust response to cyber threats.

Lynn, the deputy defense secretary, said Pentagon networks "are probed
millions of times a day and more than 100 foreign intelligence
agencies have tried to penetrate our networks or those of our
industrial partners."

"When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in
cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country," the White
House said in a fact-sheet.

"We reserve the right to use all necessary means -- diplomatic,
informational, military, and economic -- as appropriate and consistent
with applicable international law, in order to defend our nation, our
allies, our partners, and our interests," it said.

Dean Garfield, president and chief executive of the Information
Technology Industry Council, welcomed the White House initiative.

"A growing number of governments worldwide are enacting
cybersecurity-related laws, regulations, and other requirements that
are inconsistent with generally accepted norms and standards,"
Garfield said.

"This growing policy patchwork not only results in decreased security
for nations, but also disrupts global commerce and ignores the
borderless nature of the Internet.

"To date, the international community has lacked the collective
willingness to engage in a meaningful conversation on the need for a
global approach," he said. "US leadership is critical to reaching a
consensus solution."


French products top choice for China luxury consumers

HONG KONG, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - French labels are the most
sought-after luxury products for Chinese shoppers, a survey showed
Monday, as a booming economy creates a growing legion of newly
affluent consumers.

French brands are the top choice for mainland buyers, followed by
those from Italy and Hong Kong, consultants KPMG said in their report
"Luxury experiences in China", based on a survey of 1,200 consumers
from 24 cities.

"China continues its march towards becoming the largest luxury market
in the world," said Nick Debnam, the firm's head of consumer markets
for Asia Pacific.

"Year-on-year as this market becomes more crowded, it is harder for
luxury brands to enter this space. We also see rising brand
recognition," he added.

According to the Hurun Rich List, the Chinese equivalent of the Forbes
or Sunday Times rich lists, there are now 875,000 Chinese people worth
over a million US dollars, and almost 200 of these are billionaires.

The KPMG study found that they are most fond of French cosmetics and
perfumes, clothing and bags, Italian footwear and Swiss watches, while
they opt for domestic brands when it comes to alcohol.

The survey also found that about 70 percent of respondents search
online for information on luxury brands at least once a month.

 "Luxury companies need to think about how their strategies reach key
online influencers," Debnam said.

The 1,200 Chinese consumers polled in the survey were aged between 20
and 45, and earned at least 5,500 yuan ($850) a month.

Inspired by Facebook, Israeli couple name baby 'Like'

JERUSALEM, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - Stumped for an original name for their
newborn daughter, an Israeli couple took inspiration from social
networking site Facebook and named her "Like," Israeli daily Maariv
reported on Monday.

The parents lifted the name from the popular feature on the site,
which allows Facebook users to click on the word "like" and give the
thumbs-up to comments, links and pictures posted by other users.

"We named her Like because it's modern and innovative," father Lior
Adler told the mass-circulation paper. "I checked that the name does
not exist elsewhere in the country, that was the main condition for
me," he said.

"In our opinion it's the modern equivalent of the name Ahava (Love) he
added. "It's just my way of saying to my fantastic daughter, 'love.'"

Adler and his wife Vardit have in the past strayed into unusual
territory in naming their offspring.

The pair share a love of cooking and so decided to name their other
daughters "Pie," using the English word for the name, and "Vash,"
Hebrew for "Honey," Maariv reported.

As might be expected, the couple's newest arrival was quickly
announced to their friends and family on Facebook, where she was an
instant hit, her father told the paper.

"When I posted her picture and name on Facebook I got 40 'likes,'" he
told Maariv.

"Considering that I have only a little more than 100 friends on the
network that's a lot."

RIM recalling 1,000 PlayBook tablets

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2011 (AFP) - Blackberry maker Research In Motion
(RIM) said Monday it is recalling around 1,000 PlayBook tablet
computers because of an operating system issue.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said most of the affected devices
were still in the distribution channel and had not reached customers.

RIM said the affected PlayBooks may not be able to properly load
software upon initial set-up.

"RIM is working to replace the affected devices," it said in a statement.

"In the small number of cases where a customer received a PlayBook
that is unable to properly load software upon initial set-up, they can
contact RIM for assistance," the company added.

According to technology blog Engadget, the faulty PlayBooks were
shipped to  US office supply giant Staples.

RIM shares were down 1.30 percent at $42.68 in pre-market trading.

RIM released the PlayBook in April to mixed reviews. The device is
RIM's answer to Apple's hot-selling iPad and its first foray outside
the mobile phone realm.

RIM is offering three models of the PlayBook. A version with 16
gigabytes of storage for $499, a 32GB model for $599 and one with 64GB
for $699. The prices are the same as for comparable models of the

RIM describes the PlayBook as the first "professional-grade" tablet
and has stressed its integration with its BlackBerry smartphone, a
favorite among business users.

The PlayBook has a seven-inch (17.8-centimeter) touchscreen, smaller
than the iPad's 9.7 inches (24.7-cm) and at less than a pound (425
grams), the PlayBook is lighter than the iPad 2's 1.3 pounds (590