EU to unveil plans to boost European firms, rein in US tech giants

first_imgThe European Commission will on Wednesday launch the first of a raft of proposals to help European companies exploit their rich trove of industrial data and at the same time rein in online giants Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Inc .The data strategy and artificial intelligence discussion papers are part of a bigger scheme to help European companies better compete with US tech giants and state-aided Chinese companies in the digital world.European digital and antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and European industry chief Thierry Breton will present the proposals around noon. They will come up with a final draft by the end of the year following feedback from interested parties. The core of the EU’s data strategy is the creation of a single European data market and smaller data markets centered on key industries, according to a draft seen by Reuters last month.Other elements include new rules covering cross-border data use, data interoperability and standards related to manufacturing, climate change, the auto industry, healthcare, financial services, agriculture and energy.One of the possibly controversial proposals calls for doing away with EU competition rules against anti-competitive data sharing.In response to complaints about the power wielded by large online platforms, the Commission is also considering introducing rules to stop these companies from unilaterally imposing conditions for access and use of data or benefiting from this in a disproportionate manner.The discussion paper on artificial intelligence aims to set up a framework to govern the use of this technology used by an increasing number of companies, a draft seen by Reuters showed. The rules would apply to high-risk sectors such as healthcare, transport and predictive policing.More onerous rules known as the digital services act, which could force the tech giants to take on more responsibilities for their actions and content hosted on their platforms, are expected to be announced towards the end of the year.Topics :last_img read more

Google to invest over $10 billion in 2020 on US data centers, offices

first_imgLast year, the company said it would spend over $13 billion on data centers and offices in the United States in 2019.The tech giant’s total costs and expenses surged about 19 percent at $36.81 billion for the recently reported fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.Topics : Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it would invest more than US$10 billion in offices and data centers across the United States this year.The company added that the new investments will focus on 11 states including Massachusetts, New York and Ohio.”These investments will create thousands of jobs – including roles within Google, construction jobs in data centers and renewable energy facilities, and opportunities in local businesses in surrounding towns and communities,” Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.last_img

Coronavirus deaths rise to 145 in Iran, infections near 6,000: Ministry

first_imgTopics : Iran’s death toll from coronavirus reached 145 on Saturday after another 21 people were confirmed to have died during the last day, among them a conservative lawmaker from Tehran, officials and local news agencies said.Announcing the latest deaths from the virus, a health ministry official said in a televised briefing that the tally of confirmed infections had increased by more than 1,000 during the last 24 hours, totaling 5,823 by Saturday.Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for world opposition to US sanctions which he said were draining Iran’s resources needed in the fight against COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus. Iranian Lawmaker Fatehmeh Rahbar was among those who died on Friday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, in another sign that the disease is spreading within state institutions.On March 2, Tasnim reported the death of Mohammad Mirmohammadi. He was a member of the Expediency Council, an entity that resolves disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council – a hardline watchdog body.Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi and another member of parliament, Mahmoud Sadeghi, have said they have also contracted the virus.As authorities work to contain the outbreak, Iran’s Mosque Authority postponed all gatherings and celebrations until further notice, the Mehr news agency said.Iran is the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East as most of the cases reported in the region are either people who were in Iran or who caught the virus from people who had visited the country. center_img “[President Donald Trump] @realDonaldTrump is maliciously tightening US’ illegal sanctions with aim of draining Iran’s resources needed in the fight against #COVID19 – while our citizens are dying from it,” Zarif said in a tweet.”The world can no longer be silent as US #EconomicTerrorism is supplanted by its #MedicalTerrorism,” Zarif said, without referring to any new sanctions.Trump has said he hopes the sanctions will limit Tehran’s ballistic missile program and influence across the Middle East. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and its missiles are for deterrence and defensive purposes.In Zurich, a senior Swiss government official said on Saturday that a Swiss channel to export food and medicine to Iran’s struggling population without running afoul of US sanctions is off to a good start, with dozens of companies keen to take part.last_img read more

Privacy fears as India hand stamps suspected coronavirus cases

first_imgIn response, the western state of Maharashtra and southern Karnataka state this week began using indelible ink to stamp people arriving at airports.The hand stamps include the date that a person must remain under home quarantine, and states that those marked are “proud to protect” their fellow citizens.”When I first heard of the stamping in Mumbai, I thought it was fake news,” said Supreme Court lawyer N S Nappinai, an expert in data privacy legislation.”I understand the concern but where does one draw the line? Should fundamental rights be suspended in an emergency like this?” The coronavirus outbreak has enabled authorities from China to Russia to increase surveillance, with the risk that these measures will persist even after the situation eases.Technology is being used across Asia to track and help contain the epidemic.In India, government officials are also pulling out citizen and reservation data from airlines and the railways to track suspected infections.”We found people who were stamped and were travelling. They had signed a self-declaration that they will not travel because they could be carriers of coronavirus,” said Archana Valzade, under secretary in Maharashtra’s health department.”It is their duty as well to stop the infection. Stamping is essential and very useful to reduce the spread,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding no one has raised objections so far.In southern Kerala state, authorities have used telephone call records, CCTV footage, and mobile phone GPS systems to track down primary and secondary contacts of coronavirus patients. Officials also published detailed time and date maps of the movement of people who tested positive.”People have been jumping quarantine and it has been a challenge to track them,” said Amar Fettle, who is heading the coronavirus control team in Kerala.”But we have formed hundreds of squads, including policemen to track and ensure people follow the norms.”As more COVID-19 cases are reported in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged citizens to stay home and follow government instructions.Modi’s appeal came just days after several news outlets reported that stamped people had broken self-quarantine rules.In Mumbai, travellers with a history of having visited coronavirus-impacted countries were asked to get off a train, health officials in Maharashtra said.In the eastern city of Kolkata, a bureaucrat’s son met with friends on his return from a visit to Britain and had to be forced to be admitted in the hospital where he tested positive.”As a doctor who has worked in the public health service and in the community, I find people are not realizing the seriousness of the pandemic,” said physician Armida Fernandez, former head of one of Mumbai’s biggest municipal hospitals.”Knowing the situation of public health in India and that we are dealing with 1.3 billion people … I am for the steps the government is taking,” she said. People suspected of having the coronavirus in India have received hand stamps and are being tracked using their mobile phones and personal data to help enforce quarantines, raising concerns about privacy and mass surveillance.The outbreak, termed COVID-19, has infected more than 234,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 10,000, according to a Reuters tally.In India more than 200 people have been infected and four have died, with officials reporting multiple cases of people fleeing from quarantine.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Australia pulls out of 2020 Games, planning for 2021

first_img“We’ve had to make a call now because of the situation here in Australia and other parts of the world,” Carroll told reporters in Sydney on Monday.”But the IOC is still working through their final decision-making.”Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said for the first time on Monday that the Tokyo Olympic Games may need to be postponed if the event cannot be held in its “complete form” due to the coronavirus pandemic.The IOC said on Sunday after an emergency meeting that it is stepping up its “scenario planning” for the 2020 Games due to start on July 24, including a possible postponement. Topics : The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Monday it could not assemble a team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak and that its athletes should prepare for the Games to be postponed to 2021.AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said the AOC’s executive board had made its decision without waiting for advice from the International Olympic Committee due to changing circumstances with the pandemic in recent days.Carroll’s comments came after Canada announced it would not send its team to the Olympics and Paralympics in the summer of 2020.center_img Carroll said Australia’s decision would give its athletes “certainty” and pushed for the Games to be held off until 2021.”… 2021, it’s 12 months, it has to be a summer Games, it’s an appropriate amount of time but again that’s a decision for the International Olympic Committee.”The AOC said in a statement earlier on Monday that it’s decision reflected the IOC’s “key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport”.Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as US Track and Field and UK Athletics, along with several national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic.More than 13,000 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began. last_img read more

PREMIUMDeregulation puts sustainable timber trade at risk

first_imgLinkedin Forgot Password ? LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Topics : A recent regulation by the Trade Ministry relaxing export requirements for timber products has drawn criticism from environmental groups, which said it would restimulate illegal logging and in turn damage the environment.Issued in late February, the Trade Ministry’s regulation on exports of forestry products scrapped the requirement for Indonesian timber companies to secure V-legal documents that certify the wood comes from legal sources before exporting their products.V-legal licensing had represented an important tool of the timber legality verification system (SVLK) managed by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, which has helped improve Indonesia’s reputation in the global sustainable timber trade.Indonesian Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) activist Muhamad Kosar said the scrapping of the V-legal license was a setback for forest protection since it w… Google #Forests forest deregulation #deregulation timber Timber-Legality-Assurance-System-SVLK SVLK #export exports Facebook Log in with your social accountlast_img read more

Italy extends lockdown until ‘at least’ April 12

first_imgItaly on Monday extended an economically crippling lockdown until “at least” mid-April to stem coronavirus infections that have claimed a world-leading 11,591 lives.Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said any easing of containment measures would be done incrementally to ensure Italy does not give up gains it has made against the extraordinary disease.The near three-week shutdown “had been very tough economically,” Conte told Spain’s El Pais newspaper. “It cannot last very long,” he said. “We can study ways (of lifting restrictions). But it will have to be done gradually.”Health Minister Roberto Speranza later announced that “all containment measures would be extended at least until Easter” on April 12.Business closures and a ban on public gatherings were to have expired on Friday. ‘Picture has improved a lot’ Health officials said one of the most encouraging figures was a drop from 25,392 on Sunday to 25,006 on Monday in the number of people in Lombardy testing positive for COVID-19.The figure had grown continuously for more than a month.”The picture has improved a lot over the past four days,” Lombardy’s chief medical officer Giulio Gallera said.The latest data was released nearly three weeks into a national lockdown that has emptied cities and paralyzed most business activity.Store and restaurant closures were reinforced last week by a shutdown of “non-essential” factories.Forecasts by several global banks and analysts point to Italian economic output shrinking by seven percent this year. ‘Flattening of the curve’ Italy was the first Western nation to impose sweeping restrictions to stem a pandemic that has claimed more than 36,000 lives worldwide.Its own toll grew by 812 on Monday and the number of infections reported by the civil protection service surpassed 100,000.But fresh evidence also suggested that COVID-19 was spreading more slowly than when the first victim died in Italy on February 21.The daily rate of new infections dropped to 4.1 percent — a fraction of the 62 percent level registered a month ago.The number of people suffering from the illness at its epicenter in the northern Lombardy region also dropped for the first time.And the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 across the nation of 60 million people hit a new high.”We saw 1,590 people recover in the past 24 hours,” civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.”This is the highest number of recoveries recorded since the start of the pandemic.”Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the latest data showed that Italy might see “a drop in the number of people infected within seven to 10 days”.Italy’s ISS public health institute chief Silvio Brusaferro also felt the infection rate was approaching its peak.”We are witnessing a flattening of the curve,” Brusaferro told the La Repubblica daily.”There are no signs of a descent yet, but things are improving.” Topics :last_img read more

Iranians fearful as virus infections rebound amid eased lockdown

first_imgWhile many people in Iran’s capital are taking advantage of loosened COVID-19 controls, some worry about a new spike in infections in what remains the Middle East’s deadliest virus epicenter. “The line of fools,” muttered shopkeeper Manouchehr, peering disdainfully at a queue of customers outside a foreign currency dealer in the Sadeghieh district of western Tehran.Many in the long line stood close to one another and did not wear masks. Topics : ‘Endangering our lives’ The capital’s streets, bazaars and malls are now bustling after being nearly deserted for weeks.Milad, a shopkeeper in a mall, was conflicted about the easing of movement restrictions.”All these customers coming in will endanger our lives — us who are forced to come” to work, he said.The mall gets very busy in the evenings, noted the 22-year-old, who did not wear any protective equipment.The COVID-19 respiratory disease has killed 6,640 people in Iran since the first two fatalities were reported in the city of Qom on February 19, according to authorities.Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has called Tehran the country’s “Achilles heel” in the fight against the virus.Its eight million residents are densely packed together and the capital is a magnet for hundreds of thousands of workers from other provinces. The government moved to ease restrictions even as Tehran remained at red, the top level of its color coded risk scale.Schools, universities, cinemas and stadiums remain closed for now. A traffic policeman told AFP such queues have appeared regularly ever since the money changers re-opened. People rarely observe basic anti-contagion protocols, he complained.The government began paring back coronavirus controls outside Tehran a month ago, arguing that the economy — already sagging under punitive US sanctions — needed to get back to bare bones operations.It allowed small businesses to reopen in the capital a week later, before permitting malls to welcome customers on April 21 and barbers on Wednesday.At 802, declared daily infections in Iran on May 2 had reached their lowest level since early March.center_img ‘Life costs money'”People being careful made infections drop, but as soon as the disease was deemed less of a concern, we saw cases grow,” said Masoud Mardani, an infectious disease expert at the health ministry.The rise is “partly due to the reopening and people going out shopping,” he told the semi-official ISNA news agency, while also citing an increase in travel in Tehran province.Health officials have vowed to re-impose stringent measures if cases continue to climb, and have already done so in the southwestern Khuzestan province.But many Iranians remain adamant that they have to work to avoid financial ruin.”Life costs money,” said Hamed. “People have to go to work since this virus has been with us for about three months now.” The 22-year-old was among those out on the streets without a mask, deeming such protection “largely ineffective”.He had travelled over 150 kilometers from Qom to Tehran for banking business for the private firm that employs him.It is a trip he has to undertake every few days and says he cannot refuse for fear of losing his job.A few streets away, pedestrians were shopping for fresh vegetables and dried fruit — mostly women or older men, but this time, mainly in masks.”I think maybe only half the people follow health protocols” across the capital, said Zahra, a 30-year-old accountant. “Either people don’t care or don’t have the patience” to wear a mask, she said.Mohammad, a former building contractor, complained that masks were expensive and in short supply. A disposable surgical mask can cost from 49,000 rials (30 US cents, using the unofficial rate) to 10 or 15 times that amount for the better quality durable coverings.”They should have given them to people for free,” said the mask-less 58-year-old.But Mohammad’s biggest gripe was overcrowding on buses, where red crosses marked on half of the seats to ensure social distancing are routinely ignored. But this critical daily number has since begun resurging, breaching 1,500 on Saturday and, the following day, taking the total number of confirmed infections beyond 107,000.”The situation should in no way be considered normal,” said health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, who warned of “a critical situation” in parts of the country.In the capital, a member of the virus taskforce warned that current health protocols could not contain the spread of the illness in Tehran.”With businesses reopening, people have forgotten about the protocols,” Ali Maher told ISNA news agency, adding that “maybe it was too soon” to return to normal life.last_img read more

Spanish football federation allowing La Liga to play every day, for now

first_imgTopics : La Liga accused the federation of wanting a bigger cut of the increased television revenues and went to court.The two played to a draw in August, when a court allowed the league Fridays but not Mondays.The legal replay ended on Wednesday in complete victory for the RFEF as Madrid judge Andres Sanchez handed down a ruling which potentially gives the federation the power to stop the league playing any day except Saturday and Sunday.The RFEF said in a statement that it took “maximum satisfaction” from the decision but added that it would permit games on every day for the remainder of coronavirus-interrupted championship as a gesture of “goodwill”. The RFEF said it “wants to help allow the current season to finish without any problems.””Nothing is being asked in return for this over this period of a month and a half.”It also said that it might continue to allow games on those nights if next season starts behind closed doors. But it now has the power to prevent league games on those Mondays and Fridays.The league responded to the judgment with a brief statement that expressed “its respect but absolute disagreement with the ruling.” It indicated it would appeal.The league argues that has the authority to set the dates and times of its games. The RFEF says the league can pick times but not days. On Wednesday, Judge Sanchez said the league had some autonomy to organize its competition, but with a “necessary and mandatory coordination with the RFEF.” He said that the only official league days were Saturday and Sunday. The footballing bodies already have a deal in place covering midweek evenings.  He said the “RFEF and the League must negotiate in good faith” over Fridays and Mondays. The league’s television contracts are worth more than 2 billion euros ($2.2bn) over three years. It said the RFEF would be willing to accept the extra game days in exchange for “payment of 30 million euros”, which it said was too much.center_img The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) won a legal judgment on Wednesday handing it control over league scheduling and then said it would allow La Liga to play every day when this season resumes.The two Spanish football bodies have been battling since last summer after the league decided to add games on Mondays and Fridays for this season.The RFEF objected, saying it was standing up for fans who would have trouble going to games on those nights. last_img read more

Insurance ‘myths’ contribute to public reluctance

first_imgInsurance is expensiveFinancial coach Philip Mulyana said during the webinar that people could essentially determine for themselves the kind of protection they wanted based on how much they were willing to pay, as insurance “is a flexible product that you can structure” accordingly.“Insurance companies can cover a huge amount of money with the small amount that you spend,” said Philip.“The price of an insurance premium depends on your coverage and age. The more coverage you want, the higher the premium,” Karin said.She explained that an insurance premium included the cost of risk and cost of administration to cover the customer’s policy. If the product has a cash value or an investment component, it also builds up to the pricing of the policy.Indonesians’ purchasing power has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in business closures, layoffs and furloughs across all business sectors. This is evident in recent consumer surveys and inflation rate touching the lowest level in 20 years at 0.07 percent in May.My employer covers my insuranceThe difference between what is offered by employers and independent health insurance is that the benefit of the former is only offered as long as the person is employed to that company, Philip explained. “If you are ill and you can’t continue your employment, you can’t continue that health benefit,” Philip noted.For Karin, the problem she has encountered frequently when discussing insurance coverage by employers is that many times the employee is not aware of the degree of coverage.  “Find out what’s covered and whether your spouse and dependents are also covered,” Karin said.This is an issue common to the “sandwich generation”, or those who have to provide for both their young family and old parents at the same time. These aging parents will need protection as well and might not be covered by existing insurance plans, Karin noted.It is difficult to access insurance“Information is available, you just need to do the research and spend time to read the offer,” Karin suggested.Customers can engage with insurance companies on social media, as well as other digital platforms, including buying policies on e-commerce platform Bukalapak or the Gojek app.Throughout 2019, 92 percent of policies were submitted electronically, while 15 to 20 percent of issuance policies were delivered within 5 minutes, down from policy issuance of seven to nine days prior. Aside from that, the share of e-policies has reached 46 percent.Topics : Young people do not need insurance“When you’re young, you think you’re bulletproof,” Karin said. “Unfortunately that is not always true”. She noted that the average age of a person making an insurance claim was 37 years old, with many illnesses deriving from unhealthy lifestyle choices. Apart from promoting a healthy lifestyle to prevent unwanted risks, insurance has become a financial vehicle that more young people are gravitating toward to hedge against risks.  “The cost of having insurance is cheaper when you’re younger because you have lower risk, and hence, a lower premium,” Karin noted.  Several myths surrounding insurance have contributed to the reluctance among the public at large to purchase its products, according to major insurer Allianz Life Indonesia.Allianz Life Indonesia chief marketing officer Karin Zulkarnaen explained that these myths persisted despite rising awareness about the importance of being insured due to the pandemic. Insurance penetration in Indonesia has been low for a long time, with 2017 data from the World Bank pointing to 1.3 percent life insurance premium volume to GDP.During The Jakarta Post’s webinar Jakpost Up Close on Monday, titled “How to navigate insurance during a pandemic”, Karin debunked the four most common insurance myths.last_img read more