Archive for June 2011

Sega attacked, hacker group offers to take revenge

Saturday, June 18, 2011 · Posted in

Japan's Sega Corp joined the rapidly growing club of video game companies whose computer systems have been hacked by cyber criminals, the company said on Friday.

The news capped a week in which the Lulz Security group of hackers launched a cyber crime spree against other video game companies.

In an unexpected twist, Lulz responded to the news of the attack on Sega by offering to track down and punish the hackers who attacked the Japanese maker of video game software.

The drama surrounding the recent round of video game breaches paled compared to what PlayStation maker Sony Corp experienced following two high-profile attacks that surfaced in April. Those breaches led to the theft of account data for more than 100 million customers, making it the largest ever hacking of data outside the financial services industry.

They also exposed what turned out to be a large number of security holes in sites throughout the global Sony media empire. That led to a rash of attacks on Sony systems that undermined confidence in the company and made it the source of frequent jokes by security experts. Its security staff scrambled to repair vulnerabilities in its network as independent experts identified new problems via remote scans and disclosed them to Sony and the public.

Sega said that some personal information about an unspecified number of Sega Pass online network members had been compromised in the attack, according to a letter the company sent to customers on Friday that was published on the PlayStation website.

Customer email addresses and birthdates, which can be read in plain text were taken, as were passwords, which could not be read in plain text because they had been scrambled or encrypted using security software before being stored in the database.

Sega shut down the Pass network on Thursday, the day it learned of the breach, telling customers in a note on its website that it was "undergoing improvements." It was not immediately clear when it would go back online.

The video game developer is a division of Japan's Sega Sammy Holdings, which makes game software such as Sonic the Hedgehog as well as slot machines.

Sega was one of the biggest video game consoles makers in the 1990s, but pulled out of the market in 2001 in response to disappointing sales of its Dreamcast system, which had debuted in 1998 to widespread industry praise. Dreamcast lost ground to newer products developed by Sony and Nintendo.

It now focuses on developing video games for systems made by other companies.


While the FBI is likely to be called in to investigate the attack on Sega, as the bureau typically is in such cases, its agents may find themselves competing for clues with members of Lulz Security hacking group.

In its offer to assist Sega, the Tweet from Lulz hinted that its leaders might count themselves among a small but highly loyal group of gamers who still play on the aging Dreamcast console.

"Sega - contact us," Lulz said in its Tweet to the video game developer. "We want to help you destroy the hackers that attacked you. We love the Dreamcast, these people are going down."

Lulz offered to see that the cyber criminals are punished for attacking Sega shortly after ending its own crime spree that included attacks on several other video game companies.

The Lulz hackers, who publicize their attacks on their own website and via Twitter, said on Friday that they had stolen customer records of some 200,000 users of the online video game Brink. Officials at Xenia Media, the developer of Brink, could not be reached for comment.

Lulz last week also attacked several other industry players, saying it was working on behalf of disgruntled players who had ordered the attacks via telephone hotlines that Lulz set up in the United States and Europe to solicit such requests. and EVE from Innogames were among the victims of the Lulz campaign against video game makers. The hacking group also attacked servers that help run two other online games -- "League of Legends" and "Minecraft" -- and it hit the The Escapist website, which provides video game news.

Lulz had hacked into Nintendo in an attack that it disclosed on June 3, but the incident has not appeared to have serious consequences for the company. The hacking group published a data file over the Internet that it said contained details on the way Nintendo set up one of its web servers.

Such data could be valuable to other hackers planning future attacks on Nintendo because the data potentially could leave clues as to possible security weaknesses in the game maker's network.

Microsoft gets antitrust approval to buy Skype

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Microsoft has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy the Internet phone service Skype, the Federal Trade Commission said in a website posting on Friday.

Microsoft announced in May it was buying Skype for $8.5 billion, its biggest-ever acquisition, placing a rich bet on mobile and the Internet to try and best rivals such as Google Inc.

The approval was announced in a listing of deal approvals that comes out several times a week.

Microsoft's interest in the money-losing, but popular service highlights a need to gain new customers for its Windows and Office software. Skype has 145 million users on average each month and has gained favor among small businesses.

Obama impersonator cut off at Republican conference

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A comedian impersonating President Barack Obama was cut short and ushered off the stage at a gathering of Republican activists on Saturday after a series of off-color jokes.

The Obama impersonator, Reggie Brown, poked fun at Obama's biracial heritage, a gay congressman and several of the Republican presidential candidates before Republican Leadership Conference organizer Anthony Davis cut him off.

As Obama, whose father was black and mother was white, Brown said he celebrated half of Black History Month.

He also made a joke about Democratic Representative Barney Frank, who is gay, mocked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith and said Republican Tim Pawlenty needed a spinal transplant after his failure to confront Romney on healthcare at a debate earlier this week.

As Brown was launching into a joke about Republican Michele Bachmann, the music came up and Davis came on stage to cut him off.


Boeing refuses to rush decision on 737 upgrades

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Boeing Co (BA.N) says it feels no pressure to rush a decision on whether to re-engine or redesign its best-selling 737 narrow-body, despite impressive orders for an upgraded version of the competing plane -- the Airbus A320neo.

Customers will wait for the best, most-fuel efficient plane Boeing can make, and the company cannot risk promising a plane it cannot deliver, said Nicole Piasecki, vice president of business development and strategic information for Boeing Commercial Airplanes told reporters earlier this month.

Piasecki spoke in Seattle at a media briefing Boeing given on the condition that media outlets not publish the information until Sunday Paris time, a day before the start of the Paris Air Show, the aerospace industry's biggest trade show.

"These are big, big decisions," she said. "Until we have confidence we can execute and have the support of customers, we won't bring a plan to the board."

The aviation world had hoped Boeing would issue a decision on the 737 at the air show after Boeing delayed its decision from last year. But the company now says it may not reach its decision by the end of 2011.

Boeing says it is leaning toward a redesigned 737, which is the domestic workhorse of many airlines around the world. But it has not ruled out putting a more fuel-efficient engine in the current design. Boeing has more than 2,000 orders for the airplane on its books and is sold out through 2015. A 737 lists between $56.9 million and $85.8 million.

Re-engining would bring the plane to market faster, but a redesigned plane would offer greater fuel savings.

Boeing says its customers are content to wait for a whole new plane. Boeing's larger rival, EADS (EAD.PA) unit Airbus, announced last year that it would re-engine its A320 and has already received more than 300 orders for it.

The future of the 737 and the A320 -- the two best-selling narrowbodies -- will be a major topic at the Paris Air Show as plane-makers contemplate a massive market for the planes, estimated at $2 trillion.


Boeing, on Wednesday, said it would increase the production rate for its 737 to 42 per month from the current 31.5 per month starting in 2014 to meet growing demand.

Beverly Wyse, 737 program vice president and general manager, said at a media briefing that Boeing would aim much of its 737 production at Chinese markets, where economic growth has generated big demand for short-haul planes.

Wyse said, however, that Boeing has no plans to put a 737 production line in China.

Current 737 models have an 8 percent operating cost advantage over the A320, which they will lose when the new A320 comes out. Re-engining the 737 would restore that advantage, Wyse said.

Boeing has said it would like to incorporate design elements of the light-weight, carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner. Although it is incredibly popular among airlines, the plane is about three-years past due for its first delivery, largely because of snags in the global supply chain.

The delay has been a persistent embarrassment for Boeing, despite logging more than 830 orders for the plane. Boeing plans to deliver the first 787 to Japan's All Nippon Airways (9202.T) in the third quarter.

"We're going to apply the lessons learned from the 787, the strategic imperatives," Piasecki said. "Certain capabilities we want to make sure we have within the walls of Boeing."

Boeing intends to make a splash at the Paris Air Show by flying two new versions of its iconic 747 widebody to Paris for their international debuts.

Boeing plans to deliver the freighter version of that plane to its first customer this summer. The passenger version of the new 747 -- dubbed the 747-8 Intercontinental -- is set for first delivery in the fourth quarter. The company says flight tests for the freighter are about 90 percent complete.

(Writing by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Govt to impose new tariff for imported films

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The Finance Ministry will soon impose a new tariff for imported movies, an official says.

Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said that he had signed off on the new tariff on Thursday, adding that the revised rate would be implemented pending the final approval from the Law and Human Rights Ministry.

“We will impose between Rp 21,000 (US$2.45) and Rp 21,000 per minute per copy for an imported film,” Agus said on Saturday.

Agus suggested foreign film importers open branch offices in Indonesia and partner with local film distributors to improve the distribution of the businesses.

Agus said earlier that the disruption in the shipment of Hollywood movies to Indonesia was not only caused by the change in import duties, but more due to “monopolistic practices” by the country’s film distributors.

Movie importers, including Camila Internusa Film, Satrya Perkasa Esthetika Film and Amero Mitra Film, which are all affiliated with the Cineplex 21 Group, have stopped importing and distributing new Hollywood movies after the government claimed more than Rp 300 billion in arrears on royalty payments that they were unaware of.

The related parties are currently settling their cases at the tax court and will resume their import activities after they settle their disagreements.

Target workers at New York store reject union

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Workers at a Target Corp discount store in New York voted to reject union representation in what would have been the first unionized Target store in the country, while union officials vowed to press for another election.

Employees at the Valley Stream, New York, store voted against union affiliation, 137-85, Target said in a statement released Saturday. The vote was taken on Friday.

"We are looking forward to having another election," said Aly Waddy, director of special projects for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, which wanted to represent workers at the store, located about 15 miles east of Manhattan.

"We are definitely going to be invested in this campaign until we make sure the workers can finally have a fair and free election," Waddy said.

Target employs thousands of workers at 27 stores in the New York City area. The Minneapolis-based company has about 1,755 U.S. stores and none have union-represented employees.

The vote was part of a closely watched battle over unionization in the retail sector.

"At Target, it has always been our goal to have a culture where our team members don't want or need union representation," Derek Jenkins, Target senior vice president of stores in the northeastern United States, said in a statement.

"The Valley Stream Target store is filled with a team of dedicated, enthusiastic team members. We want to thank the team for their faith and confidence in Target," Jenkins said.

Target and the union had already filed unfair labor practice charges against each other with the National Labor Relations Board, according to an agency spokesman, and more charges are likely.

Waddy said some store employees were told the store could close or that they could be replaced if they voted for unionization. The store also rented vans, manned by security guards, to take the employees to work to vote, she said.

"There was a serious level of tension in the store and, obviously, the company ran a really aggressive campaign," Waddy said. "A lot of people were taken aback by the fact that they thought the store was going to close."

Union members make up a small percentage of U.S. retail workers, and the percentage fell to 4.7 percent last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart Stores Inc have long resisted having employees represented by unions at their stores.

(Reporting by Brad Dorfman and Michael Hirtzer; editing by Todd Eastham)

Bali ready to become economic corridor

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BaliThe province of Bali is ready to become an economic corridor, Governor Made Mangku Pastika said here on Monday.

The governor said that for Bali to become an economic corridor was in accordance with the Master Plan of the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI 2011-2025).

"In the MP3EI Bali is defined as the corridor and gateway for tourists who want to visit East Java, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT)," Governor Mangku Pastika said.

Pastika added that in terms of infrastructure the province has been ready to become gateway of tourism, not only for tourist who wanted to visit East Java, NTB, and NTT, but also to Makassar, Papua, and other destinations across the country.

Even in the near future another international airport will be built at the northern part of Bali, a toll road across the water, an underpass at Dewa Ruci junction in Kuta, and a rail road around the island for railway tourism.

"And again I say that Bali is absolutely ready to support the MP3EI 2011-2025," the governor said.

He asserted that there was no problem whatsoever with tourism spatial planning in Bali as a the gateway of tourism in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, culture and tourism spokesman for human resources development Gede Pitana said that as a gateway of tourism, Bali should be able to be a knot of tourism activities to some other areas, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia.

Therefore he added that to be a tourism gateway, the design of tourism development should be done orderly, systematically, and in a measurable way.


Bali will have world`s highest power tower

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State electricity company PT PLN planned to erect a 376 meters power transmission tower, to be the highest in the world in Gilimanuk to smoothen power transmission from Java to Bali.

This was disclosed by president director of PT PLN Dahlan Iskan on the sidelines of a seminar themed "The Function of Control for Legal Enforcement and Good Governance" in Denpasar on Thursday.

"We call the tower `Bali crossing` which will transmit electricity from Java to Bali with a capacity of up to 3,000 megawatts," he said.

He said that a very high tower would be needed to transmit electricity from the Paiton power plant in East Java, which has a capacity of thousands of megawatts to Bali.

"The construction of the tower will be started by the end of this year or early next year," he said.

Its feet only, Dahlan said, have the size of a soccer field with a lift in the middle, and the width of the upper part of the tower`s cable is 70 meters from one point to the other.

The large width will be made to prevent strong winds to cause the two cables to touch one another, considering that in the last 100 years the speed of the wind over the island paradise had reached 60 meters per minute.

The tower and its cables will be built to enable it to withstand very strong winds blowing up to 70 meters per minute.

"The tower will also be the pride of Bali, as it would be higher than the current highest in the world in People`s China, which is 370 meters high," he said.

He said that PLN will also team up with the forestry authorities in using the tower to help control the forests in Gilimanuk.

PLN also planned to build two under sea circuits with a technological capacity of 200 megawatts.

Dahlan also said the main reason to build the tower was that an undersea cable would not be too reliable because it would be too prone to current, especially that the current in the Bali strait is the strongest in Indonesia`s seas.

Experience in building nine undersea cables shows that only two were left, the rest was destroyed by the strong current, Dahlan said.

If everything goes well in overcoming the need for electricity, the need for electricity in Bali would be met in the next 25 years.

The various efforts in meeting the need of electricity including improvement and repair of damaged power plants and the leasing of 100 megawatts power plants would be abandoned.

"The power to be generated will reach 3,400 megawatts including 3,000 MW from the towers, 200 MW from the undersea cable, and 200 MW from the old undersea cable.

Right now power consumption in Bali reached 600 MW during peak load. PLN also planned to build more power plants in anticipation of undersea cables damage, he added. (*)


Asia to become world largest economic region: Marvell

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AsiaMarvell Technology Group USA predicted that the Asian region will become the world largest economic area in a decade to come.

"Currently there is a shift of economic growth engine from the West to the Asian region," President and Chief Executive Officer Marvell Technology Group USA, Sehat Sutardja said here on Sunday in a joint press conference with chairpersons and vice chairpersons of the World Economic Forum-East Asia (WEF-EA).

The shift of the economic growth engine was accelerated by China`s steps to develop low-cost manufacturing, he said.

"Indonesia with its great number of people and good education will provide an important role, so that the country can also supply the world-class business leaders," Sutardja said.

Marvell Technology Group is the world integrated silicon producer.

Marvell products are widely used in various electronic devices, such as Cisco switches, Blackberry, Apple iPod, Xbox 360 and the output products of electronic companies, such as Panasonic, Huawei, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Sony Ericsson, HP, Samsung, including Hitachi.

Sutardja is determined to make the technology as something that can be used to narrow the gap between the poor and the rich.

"I want to see that the increase in infrastructure and technology can reduce social inequalities," he cited.

In 2006, Sutardja received an award as Inventor of the Year from the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association.

In 2007, the Forbes magazine inserted Dr. Sehat Sutardja as one of the richest men in the United States (U.S.$1 billion List of billionaires), and held over 150 patents in the U.S.

Sutardja was trusted to be one of the WEF-EA 2011 chairpersons.

Currently, Marvell is a technology company which develops storage, communications and consumer silicon solutions.


IMF cuts U.S. growth forecast, warns of crisis

Friday, June 17, 2011 · Posted in

The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth on Friday and warned Washington and debt-ridden European countries that they are "playing with fire" unless they take immediate steps to reduce their budget deficits.

The IMF, in its regular assessment of global economic prospects, said bigger threats to growth had emerged since its previous report in April, citing the euro zone debt crisis and signs of overheating in emerging market economies.

The Washington-based global lender forecast that U.S. gross domestic product would grow a tepid 2.5 percent this year and 2.7 percent in 2012. In its forecast just two months ago, it had expected 2.8 percent and 2.9 percent growth, respectively.

With regard to the global economy overall, the IMF struck a measured tone, saying the slowdown of recent months should be "temporary." It trimmed its forecast for global growth this year only slightly, to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent, and maintained its estimate for robust Chinese growth of 9.6 percent despite recent signs of a slowdown there.

Yet that relatively benign global outlook could quickly fall apart if politicians in the United States and Europe do not start showing more leadership in addressing their countries' debt problems, the fund warned.

"You cannot afford to have a world economy where these important decisions are postponed, because you're really playing with fire," said Jose Vinals, director of the IMF's monetary and capital markets department.

"We have now entered very clearly into a new phase of the (global) crisis, which is, I would say, the political phase of the crisis," he said in an interview in Sao Paulo, where the updates to the IMF's World Economic Outlook and Global Financial Stability Report were published.

In the United States, the political problems include a fight over raising the legal ceiling on the nation's debt. A first-ever U.S. default would roil markets, and Fitch Ratings said even a "technical" default would jeopardize the country's AAA rating.

The IMF said the outlook for the U.S. budget deficit this year has improved somewhat due to higher-than-expected revenues. In a separate report, it forecast a deficit of 9.9 percent of GDP -- better than the deficit of 10.8 percent of GDP it foresaw in April, but still near historic highs.


The fund, which has endured its own political crisis due to the resignation of its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on sexual assault charges, said the global economy "has gained ground" despite a slowdown it deemed "not reassuring."

It attributed the weakness to temporary disruptions such as the Japan earthquake, bad weather pressuring food crops and higher energy prices. Global growth should "reaccelerate" during the second half of the year, the report said.

The fund's forecast for global growth next year remained unchanged at 4.5 percent.

The IMF raised its growth view for the euro area in 2011 to 2.0 percent from 1.6 percent. For 2012, the IMF saw growth at 1.7 percent, little changed from its previous 1.8 percent.

Yet Europe also poses some of the biggest risks to the global economy, Vinals said.

"If you make a list of the countries in the world that have the biggest homework in restoring their public finances to a reasonable situation in terms of debt levels, you find four countries: Greece, Ireland, Japan and the United States," Vinals said.

Greece has edged closer to default as euro zone officials disagree on a planned second aid package for the indebted country. With strikes and protests around the country, political turmoil has added to uncertainty, stoking fears that the government will not be able to tighten its belt enough to reduce crippling deficits.

Fears of contagion in the euro zone have driven global stock markets lower in recent sessions.

The fund raised its forecast for Germany, the powerhouse of the euro zone, to 3.2 percent from 2.5 percent, with growth moderating to 2 percent in 2012.

Forecasts for large emerging markets remained stable or slipped. While China's GDP view stayed unchanged, the IMF lowered its Brazil outlook to 4.1 percent from 4.5 percent.

Those countries, along with Russia, India and South Africa, make up the fast-growing BRICS, a group of emerging economies whose brisk expansion has outstripped that of developed markets recently.

Robust economic growth and rising inflation have caused emerging economies to tighten monetary policy with higher interest rates and reserve requirements, even as many developed nations keep policy ultra-loose to try to boost anemic growth.

The IMF warned that many emerging markets still need more tightening. In China, for example, the high inflation rate means negative real interest rates.

Some emerging markets have been reluctant to tighten too far, fearful of derailing growth or attracting speculative investment flows that could push their currencies ever higher.

(Editing by Brian Winter, Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler)

IMF warns of increased risks to the world economy

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The International Monetary Fund has warned that the risks facing the world economy have increased.

The fund said it was concerned about the continuing Greek debt crisis, the arguments over US deficit plans and the need to curb growth in Asia.

But it said it expected global growth to remain on track, though it lowered its forecasts for the US and UK.

The IMF predicted that the world economy would grow at a rate of 4.3% in 2011 and 4.5% in 2012.

The fund called for greater political leadership in dealing with the eurozone debt crisis and the budget crisis in the US.

"You cannot afford to have a world economy where these important decisions are postponed, because you're really playing with fire," said Jose Vinals, director of the IMF monetary and capital markets department.

The IMF's latest forecasts came as it updated its assessments of financial stability, country finances and the global economy. Its last review was in April.

Greek debt

The fund warned that the continuing Greek debt crisis could destabilise the global financial system.

Many analysts believe Greece will not be able to pay back all the money it has borrowed.

"I don't think there is a question over whether Greece is going to default, it is just a question of whether it is an orderly or disorderly one," says George Magnus, senior economic adviser at UBS.

The IMF warned that if Greece was unable to pay its debts, other countries such as Spain or Portugal may also be affected.

European banks which lent money to these countries would in turn lose out.

"In a serious market event, a shock could be transmitted beyond the eurozone", warned the IMF's financial stability report.

It called on the leaders of European governments to implement long-term policies to prevent further problems.

At the same time, the IMF warned that European banks had not yet built up sufficient capital to withstand a further economic shock.

"Markets may become disorderly if political developments derail momentum on fiscal consolidation and financial repair," the fund warned.

US and Japan

The IMF also highlighted debt problems outside the eurozone.

Japan is struggling to cut its spending in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

In the US, the fund highlighted the "political stalemate" over how to tackle the deficit.

The fund lowered its growth forecasts for the US for the next two years from 2.7% to 2.5% in 2011 and from 2.9% to 2.7% in 2012, and it also highlighted renewed weakness in the housing market as a risk.
Economic growth

In the so-called "core" European countries, such as France and Germany, growth has exceeded expectations.

The IMF raised its 2011 growth forecast for Germany to 3.2% from 2.5%.

This may help to mitigate some of the problems faced by other countries in the eurozone.

The fund pushed up its 2011 forecast for the eurozone as a whole to 2% from 1.6%.

In the UK, the fund downgraded its growth forecast for 2011 to 1.5% from 1.7%.

However, it endorsed efforts to cut the deficit, describing the plans as "on track".

Outside Europe, the fund said it expected economic growth in developing countries to remain strong.

This, in turn, presents a risk of overheating - where economies grow too fast leading to a rapid contraction later.

"Too much capital may be moving too quickly to emerging markets," the IMF warned, pointing to higher inflation in some countries.

Property prices in China have also risen sharply posing the risk of a sharp downturn.

The three IMF reports highlight the uncertainty over the economic outlook

UBS's Mr Magnus said: "The standard [IMF] economic forecast is based on all sorts of assumptions, but that is the point. We are being treated to a succession of random and extreme events, which are difficult to predict."

After long delay, PLN to take over Sarulla power plant project

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State electricity company PT PLN will go ahead with a plan to take over the stalled development of the Sarulla geothermal power plant in North Sumatra, despite a commitment from the current developer to continue the project, a PLN executive said.

PLN planning and technology director Nasri Sebayang said Thursday that his company could not trust in the commitment because the consortium – of PT Medco Energi Internasional, Ormat Technologies, Itochu Corporation and Kyushu International Corporation – had failed to show expected progress since it won the tender in 2007.

“The Power Purchase Agreement [PPA] for Sarulla was signed in 2007, but as of today the project has not been started,” he said.

The PPA was revised in April of 2010 stipulating that PLN would buy the electricity produced by the power plant at 6.7 US cents per kilowatt hour with a price escalation of 2 percent per year.

Nasri said that PLN would start the construction of the power plant this year so that in 2015 electricity produced by the power plant could be enjoyed by people in North Sumatra between 2014 and 2015.

“We made this decision because we can’t buy the consortium’s words. If it started construction in 2007, today people should be enjoying power. People there badly need power, they can’t wait any longer,” he said.

The Sarulla power plant was planned to have a total capacity of 3 x 110 megawatts.

PLN’s president director announced earlier that his company had decided to take over the construction of the power plant as the investors did not demonstrate any intention to start the project although all the negotiations with PLN had been settled.

“PLN has completed all negotiation processes, but negotiations among investors and other related parties cannot be completed,” he said.

In a board of directors meeting on May 31, PLN agreed to start the construction of the environmentally friendly power plant late this year.

Earlier this month, Medco said the consortium was committed to continuing the Sarulla project.

Lukman Mahfoedz, the company’s president director, said the consortium had spent around US$20 million in initial investments to support the project. The funds were used to create an engineering design, drill two work-over wells and 33 new wells, acquire land and conduct corporate social responsibility programs, among others, he said.

“I’m very optimistic with the future of this project because we have secured a $1 billion financing commitment from the Japan Bank for International Corporation and the Asian Development Bank,” Lukman said.

To kick off the project, the consortium was currently in the final phase of discussing an amendment to a Joint Operation Contract with PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy and an Energy Sales Contract (ESC) with PLN.

Lukman said if the company could finish negotiations on the two contracts this month, it could start the project very soon and produce electricity from the first unit in 2014, as agreed in the ESC.

“The second and third units will begin operations in 2015 and 1026,” he said.

Nokia and Apple settle patent dispute

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Nokia and Apple have agreed a technology licensing agreement that ends the long-running legal dispute between the two firms.

"The agreement will result in settlement of all patent litigation between the companies," Nokia said.

Nokia sued Apple for patent infringements in 2009 and extended the action in December last year.

Apple had countersued, accusing Nokia of infringing its patents.

Nokia said Apple had agreed a one-off payment, the value of which was not disclosed, and ongoing royalties to use its technologies.

Apple said the deal covered both companies' patents.

Counter claims
"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," said Nokia's chief executive Stephen Elop.

"This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry-leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

Apple said the two firms had agreed to "drop all of our current lawsuits and enter into a licence covering some of each other's patents, but not the majority of the innovations that make the iPhone unique".

"We're glad to put this behind us and get back to focusing on our respective businesses."
'Positive news'

Nokia's various claims against Apple included alleged patent infringements of touch interfaces, caller ID, display illumination, and 3G and wi-fi technology.

Apple had also claimed that Nokia had infringed many of its patents.

Both sides had always denied each other's claims.

"This is the first positive news from Nokia for a long time. They can both focus on their businesses now, and the dispute was settled to Nokia's advantage," said Mikael Rautanen at research group Inderes in Helsinki.

At the end of last month, Nokia said it expected sales and profit margins for the current quarter to be well below its previous forecasts.

The company has been struggling to reposition itself in the rapidly-growing smartphone sector, where it is trying to make up ground lost to competitors such as Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android operating system.

Airlines begin requesting additional flights for school holidays

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AirlinesA number of airlines have requested additional flights to serve an anticipated increase in travelers over the school holiday period in June and July, reports.

According to the Transportation Ministry, four airlines have requested an additional 58 flights in this period.

Indonesia AirAsia has prepared Airbus A320 aircraft for 28 additional return flights between Jakarta and Denpasar from June 17 to 30. Batavia Air has also prepared additional flights for this route as well.

Garuda Indonesia is planning to add three flights for its Jakarta-Denpasar return route and to employ its A330 Airbus for Jakarta –Balikpapan, East Kalimantan flights.

Sriwijaya Air is planning to add six additional flights for its Makassar-Balikpapan routes.

Chairman of the ministry's Domestic Air Transportation Development Sub Directorate, Hemi Pamuraharjo, said airlines would continue to request additional flights. “

June merely consists of graduation holidays, but [other] holidays are coming up as well, so more flight approvals will usually be requested,” he said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Indonesia AirAsia communications manager Audrey Progastama Petriny said his airline would also add international flights between Denpasar and Perth (Australia), Denpasar and Darwin, Denpasar and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Denpasar and Bangkok, Denpasar and Phuket (Thailand), Jakarta and Singapore, and Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

“The public’s favorite route during the holidays is between Jakarta and Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, and Denpasar and Perth,” Audrey said, adding that the additional flights had increased the airline’s number of passengers by 25 percent.

Sriwijaya Air spokesperson Agus Soedjono said his airline was eyeing routes in Eastern Indonesia due to the hefty demands for travel to these areas.

“During the holiday, we will also open a new route between Sorong and Manokwari [Papua],” Agus said.

SEC could file civil fraud charges against some raters

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U.S. regulators could file civil fraud charges against some credit-rating agencies for their role in developing mortgage-bond deals that helped bring about the financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Journal said the Securities and Exchange Commission was reviewing the conduct of companies including McGraw Hill's Standard and Poor's and Moody's Investors Service owned by Moody's Corp on at least two mortgage-bond deals.

The paper said a Standard & Poor's spokeswoman declined to comment, and it quoted Michael Adler, a spokesman for Moody's, as saying: "Although Moody's is uncertain as to what The Wall Street Journal is referring, we would certainly cooperate with any requests we receive from the SEC."

Reuters could not reach Standard and Poor's, the SEC or Moody's for comment.

The SEC is considering whether the credit-ratings firms failed to do enough research to be able to rate adequately the pools of subprime mortgages and other loans that underpinned the mortgage-bond deals, the paper said.

In May, the SEC sought public comment on proposals that the credit-rating agencies needed to reveal more about how they judge financial products and how those ratings perform over time.

(Reporting by Vaishnavi Bala in Bangalore; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

Oracle seeks billions in lawsuit against Google

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Oracle Corp is seeking damages "in the billions of dollars" from Google Inc in a patent lawsuit over the smartphone market, according to a court filing.

The disclosure on Thursday was the first time either side publicly mentioned the cumulative scale of Oracle's damages claims.

Oracle sued Google last year, claiming the Web search company's Android mobile operating technology infringes Oracle's Java patents. Oracle bought the Java programing language through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January 2010.

Some see the lawsuit as a sign of a growing business rivalry between the two companies.

The case is also part of a wider web of litigation among phone makers and software firms over who owns the patents used in smartphones and tablets, as rivals aggressively rush into a market in which Apple jump-started with iPhone and iPad.

Barring any settlements, a trial between Oracle and Google is expected to begin by November.

Google has called an Oracle damages report "unreliable and results-oriented," and asked a U.S. judge in San Francisco to ignore it, court documents show. In disputing Oracle's methodology, Google also asked the court to keep private some damages information Google disclosed in a court filing.

Oracle then accused Google of trying to conceal the fact Oracle's damages claims in the case are in the billions, according to a document filed on Thursday. Oracle said it did not object to having the information about its damages become public.

Due to Oracle's stance, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered Google on Thursday to make public the damages information by Friday.

A Google representative declined to comment.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, 10-3561.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by Dave Zimmerman, Bernard Orr and Andre Grenon)

Pertamina to pay Rp7.12 Trilllion in dividends

Thursday, June 16, 2011 · Posted in

PertaminaState oil and gas firm Pertamina has decided to distribute dividends of Rp7.12 trillion or 42.46 percent of its last year`s net profit of Rp16.77 trillion.

The decision was reached at the company`s general shareholders meeting on Tuesday, Pertamina spokesman M Harun said on Wednesday.

He said the 2010 net profit represented a three percent increase compared to Rp16.27 trillion in 2009.

In 2010, Pertamina suffered Rp2.5 trillion in losses from the sales of subsidized fuels due to the low alpha reference of only Rp556 per liter, he said.

In addition, it also suffered Rp3.24 trillion in losses from the sales of non-subsidized liquefied petroleum gas in 12-kg and 50-kg cylinders, he said.

He said the general shareholders meeting also agreed on the target of Pertamina`s profit for 2015 at Rp54 trillion and a change in its vision from world-class oil and gas company to world-class energy company.

Last year, Pertamina saw oil production increase 9 percent, gas 6 percent and geothermal energy 1 percent compared to a year earlier, he said.

In 2010, Pertamina also acquired a 13.07 percent stake in Offshore South East Sumatera (OSES) Block, raised its stake in Block Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) block to 7.25 percent and increased its placement in Semai II Block by 15 percent through Pertamina Participating Interest (PPI) mechanism.(*)

Three countries ready to supply cattle to RI

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CattleNew Zealand, Canada and Brazil are ready to supply beef and cattle to Indonesia following Australia`s suspension of live cattle exports to the country over alleged abusive treatment of livestock.

Representatives of the three countries expressed the readiness during a meeting with Head of the Agricultural Quarantine Body at the Agriculture Ministry Banun Harpini here on Wednesday.

Banun said actually the ministry invited six countries, namely New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Ireland, to attend the meeting. "However, only three countries attended the meeting and they expressed readiness to supply cattle to Indonesia."

He said Brazil which had so far exported live cattle to India, China, Singapore, Russia and even Australia was ready to export beef to Indonesia in any quantities.

However, Indonesia could not import live cattle from Brazil because Law No. 18 of 2009 on husbandry and animal health stipulated that Indonesia could only import cattle from foot and mouth disease (FMD)-free countries.

"Admittedly, FMD is still found in Brazil. But like Indonesia, Brazil is a large country. Brazil has FMD-free zones and FMD-free zones where vaccination is still given or is not given," he said.

Therefore, there had been an idea of amending the law, he said.

He said New Zealand offered to export beef because the country did not export live cattle according to its policy.

Meanwhile, Canada offered to export young cattle to Indonesia to increase the country`s cattle population, he said.

The Australian government decided last Wednesday to suspend all cattle exports to Indonesia following an outcry over alleged abusive treatment of livestock in the country.

Australia said the suspension would remain until Indonesia establishes new regulations to protect livestock from mistreatment.

Australia exports about 500,000 cattle a year to Indonesia, accounting for 60 per cent of its livestock trade.(*)

Editor: Heru

RI, PNG to discuss strategic issues in Batam

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The governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) will discuss strategic issues in Batam, Riau Islands, next week, a regional legislator said.

"The two countries will discuss defense, economic matters, state boundaries and other issues of mutual concern," Chairman of Commission I on foreign affairs of the Riau Islands Regional Legislative Assembly (DPRD) Sukhri Fahrial said here on Wednesday.

He said that the meeting of the two governments would provide ample opportunity to enhance cooperation in the defense and economic sectors.

The lawmaker said that the Indonesian government also planned to have meetings with the Malaysian and Singapore governments but the schedules for that purposes were not yet decided.

"The government will also meet to discuss strategic issues with other neighboring countries after the meeting with the PNG government," he said.

He said that the Indonesian government hoped sea and land border problems with neighboring states would be settled soon so that it would not create bigger problems later on.

Sukhri said that sea and land border problems if remaining unsettled could affect the defense, security and economic system with neighboring countries.

Talks on the border areas in Riau with Malaysia were almost finished but those with Singapore were no yet, he said.


Google invests $280 million to spur home solar

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Google is making its largest investment yet in clean energy in an effort to help private homeowners put solar panels on their rooftops.

The $280 million deal with installer SolarCity is the largest of its kind. SolarCity can use the funds to pay for a solar system that it can offer to residents for no money down. In exchange, customers agree to pay a set price for the power produced by the panels.

Google earns a return on its investment by charging SolarCity interest to use its money and reaping the benefits of federal and local renewable energy tax credits.

"It allows us to put our capital to work in a way that is very important to the founders and to Google, and we found a good business model to support," said Joel Conkling of Google's Green Business Operations in an interview before the company announced the investment Tuesday.

Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page wants Google's operations to eventually produce no net greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, Google has invested in wind farms in North Dakota, California and Oregon, solar projects in California and Germany, and the early stages of a transmission system off the East coast meant to foster the construction of offshore wind farms. The SolarCity deal brings the total value of these investments to $680 million.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is emerging as one of the biggest corporate users of energy as it continues to build data centers packed with computers that run its search engine and other services.

This type of fund Google is creating is common in the residential solar industry, A typical rooftop solar system costs $25,000 to $30,000, too much for many homeowners to lay out. Instead, solar providers like SolarCity and competitors SunRun and Sungevity can pay for the system with money borrowed from a bank or a specially-designed fund. The resdent then pays a set rate for the power generated. The rate is lower than or roughly the same as the local electricity price.

A typical 5-kilowatt system will generate about 7,000 kilowatt-hours of power in a year, or about 60 percent of the typical household's annual use. The homeowner buys whatever remaning electric power he needs from the local utility. The homeowner typically enjoys lower overall power bills and is protected somewhat against potentially higher traditional electricity prices in the future.

Electricity prices have not risen in recent months, unlike gasoline and heating oil. But they're expected to creep up in coming years as the cost of increasingly stringent clean-air regulations are passed on to customers.

These types of programs don't work well forall homes. In order for both the solar company to make money and the homeowner to save money there must be some combination of high local electric rates, state and local subsidies, and low installation costs.

And, of course, sunshine. A home needs a roof, preferably facing south, that is not shaded by tree or structures.

Google's $280 million is expected to pay for 10,000 rooftop systems that will be installed over the next 18 months. These types of programs originated in California, by far America's largest solar market, because the state has offered generous incentives, power prices are high and there is mple sunlight.

In recent months, though, SolarCity and its competitors have announced expansions to other states, and the establishment of new funds to pay for new systems. SolarCity, based in San Mateo, California, offers service in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Yrk, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.

SolarCity established a $158 million fund in May while SunRun set up a $200 million fund, both with U.S. Bancorp. SolarCity has now raised $1.3 billion in total. Also last month, Sungevity announced it would offer services through Lowe's stores in eight tates.

Customers typically choose to finance their systems. SolarCity says of the 15,000 systems it has installed, 12,000 were financed.

Google's investment generates returns three ways. Google gets a tax credit from the federal government of 30 percent of the cost of the solar projects, in this case $84 million. It also can write off the total value of the systems in the year they are built, an accounting benefit called accelerated depreciation. The value of state and local tax credits also flow to Google.

Finally, SolarCity pays Google interest for the use of the funds through the rates it charges customers, though neither company will say how much.

Google also declined to compare the return on its solar fund with the company's overall profit margin. In 2010, Google earned $8.5 billion on $29.3 billion in sales, a profit margin of 29 percent.

Google investors have questioned investments that have little to do with the company's main Internet businesses and that may be potentially risky or generate lower returns. In a meeting with investors last month, Google CFO Patrick Pinchette said tax benefits of these projects can generate high returns.

"In order for us to invest in them they have to do very well from a returns perspective," Pinchette said.

Nathaniel Bullard, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, estimates that these types of residential solar funds generate returns for the primary investor of well over 10 percent, and perhaps as high as 20 percent, including the value of the tax benefits.

Google - and solar installers - hope that this investment will inspire other corporations to establish similar funds.

"The number one constraint for the last few years has been the lack of project financing," said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. "Once corporations start entering this space it will bring more affordable solar to millions of homes."

Consumers feel pinch as beef prices go up

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Australia’s six-month ban on cattle exports may be considered a blessing to local players, but the sudden cut in a supply chain that contributes a significant slice of the cattle market has been a pain for consumers and shaken the country’s food sufficiency program, a minister said.

“Domestic cattle producers can only supply 70 percent of the annual national demand. Normally we import the other 30 percent, which is equal to 550,000 live cows,” Agriculture Minister Suswono said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Last year, Indonesia imported 500,000 head of cattle from Australia and 120,000 tons of beef and offal from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. Indonesia’s beef and offal demand reached 400,000 tons in 2010.

As local farmers were unlikely to meet demand in the short term, Indonesia would have to import from other sources, namely New Zealand and the US, Suswono said.

“At the same time, we should improve conditions in the 12 slaughterhouses by collaborating with private companies so they will be equipped to international standards,” he added.

Suswono said Australia’s ban should be viewed as a lesson and be used as momentum to expedite measures to achieve the goal of

Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig told the Australian media on Wednesday that the country would initially impose a six-month halt in live cattle exports to Indonesia, worth US$342 million, and review live export trade to all overseas markets, after a television broadcast depicting cattle being beaten, whipped and maimed prior to slaughter in several slaughterhouses created an uproar.

The impact on Indonesian consumers was felt immediately. State news agency Antara reported on Thursday that beef prices in a traditional market in Tangerang were up an average of 20 percent.

Indonesian Cattle and Buffalo Breeders Association chairman Teguh Boediyana the increases would not exceed 15 percent. He estimated the price of beef in cities would increase to Rp 25,000 (US$2.93) per kilogram, up from Rp 22,000 prior to the ban.

“This is the positive side of the ban. It will benefit the welfare of local [cattle] breeders,” he said.

Ali Gus, an animal science professor from Gajah Mada University, said the impact of the ban was immediate and that the price of beef in traditional markets in Yogyakarta had jumped from Rp 16,000 to Rp 19,000 per kilogram.

A breeder from Srigading Village, Bantul, Central Java testified to the ban’s “positive impacts”, saying that, a month and a half ago, he was offered Rp 7 million for his two cows.

“After the ban, the price has increased, as a buyer has offered Rp 8.5 million per cow, Rp 750,000 more,” he said. In many traditional markets such as in Bantul, the price of cattle has increased between Rp 300,000 and Rp 500,000.

However, the situation could worsen soon, as the fasting month of Ramadhan approaches. Ramadhan, which starts Aug. 1 this year, is notorious for the impact it has on inflation in the country.

“We will import if the situation becomes urgent,” Suswono said.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu tried to gloss over concerns on the ban’s impacts.

“For now, there’s no need to be worried about a beef shortage in the lead up to the fasting month and Idul Fitri. ... Concerns are unnecessary because the domestic stock will be more than enough,” Mari said.

“There’s no threat of price volatility. We have enough [cattle],” she added.

According to Mari, a plan to improve animal welfare at abattoirs was already in place, and the Australian ban would push the Agriculture Ministry to intensify its work on resolving the plan.

China's May imports accelerate, exports weaken

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China's import growth accelerated in May despite government efforts to cool an overheated economy, while exports weakened.

Imports rose 21.8 percent, up from April's 28.4 percent and beating most forecasts, data showed. Export growth eased to 19.4 percent from April's 21.8 percent in a sign of weakening global demand.

China's politically sensitive monthly global trade surplus widened to $13 billion, the highest level this year and an increase over April's $11.4 billion but about the same level as a year ago.

Indicators of industrial activity have weakened in recent months as Beijing tightened credit and investment curbs, prompting forecasts of a decline in Chinese demand for oil, iron ore and other imports.

The government is trying to steer the economy toward more sustainable growth following a stimulus-driven boom.

The import strength could help to ease concern that the world's second-largest economy might be headed for a hard landing. Many private sector analysts expect a controlled decline in growth.

May imports were $144.1 billion, while exports were $157.2 billion, the General Administration of Customs reported.

China's economy grew by a rapid 9.7 percent in the first quarter of this year, but other data show manufacturing, bank lending and other activity cooling following four interest rate hikes since October.

A gradual rise in China's yuan against the dollar in recent months could help to support demand for imports by making prices cheaper in local currency terms.

Beijing is under pressure from Washington and other trading partners to ease controls that they complain keep the yuan undervalued and swell China's trade surplus. The government has allowed the currency to rise but not as fast as critics want.

China recorded a trade deficit for the first three months of 2011 and a surplus of just $140 million for March.

Analysts expect China to show a global trade surplus for the year of $160 billion to $200 billion. Last year, China ran a trade surplus of about $16 billion a month.

An index of manufacturing issued by the government-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing found new orders, production, new export orders and purchasing prices fell in June.

Govt to increase tax on imported movies

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The government is expected to raise the tax of imported movies to up to 100 percent, to help protect and stimulate the production of local movies.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said the finance ministry's directorate general for taxation had approved the proposed raise.

“We are waiting for an official letter from the finance minister regarding the decision. I hope it will be issued next week,” he said Sunday in Nusa Dua, Bali.

The tax-raise plan earlier gained negative responses, from movie importers in particular.

“But we've continued with our plan because we think this is the most appropriate decision in order to support local movies,” the minister added.

He also said the government would reduce tax on Indonesian movies.

“We hope the tax reduction will push the production of local movies,” Jero said as quoted by Antara.


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