Microsoft denies filtering
Microsoft Corp denied yesterday that it was omitting Web sites from its Bing search engine results for users outside China after a Chinese rights group said the US firm was censoring material the government deems politically sensitive. GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group, said in a statement on Tuesday that Bing was filtering out English and Chinese-language search results for terms such as “Dalai Lama,” the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader whom Beijing brands as a violence-seeking separatist, charges he denies. Microsoft, responding to the rights group’s allegations, said a system fault had removed some search results for users outside China.
Core orders fall in Japan
Japan’s core machine orders fell in December the most since 1998, signaling business investment growth could slow in coming months and weigh on a recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy. Core orders fell 15.7 percent from the previous month, the Japanese Cabinet Office said in Tokyo yesterday, compared with the median estimate of a 4 percent decline in a Bloomberg survey of 31 economists. The fall partly reflected a pullback from a gain in November, when there was a big order that exceeded ￥10 billion (US$97.6 million), according to the office. With a sales-tax increase in April forecast to trigger an economic contraction in the second quarter, weakness in private capital expenditure would add to headwinds for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he tries to drive a sustained recovery from 15 years of deflation.
Toyota recalls Priuses
Toyota yesterday announced a global recall of 1.9 million Prius hybrid cars because of a fault that could cause the vehicle to slow down suddenly, in the latest safety blow to the Japanese auto giant. The company said it decided on the call-back — the biggest for the eco-friendly vehicle — after the discovery of problems with software used to control a power converter that posed a risk to drivers. “Because, in the worst case, the car could stop while driving, we do consider this a potential safety issue and that’s the reason why we are implementing this recall,” a Tokyo-based company spokesman said. No accidents have been reported as a result of the defect, the world’s biggest automaker added. In most cases the defect could set off a vehicle’s warning lights and “probably” cause it to enter “failsafe mode,” in which the car can still be driven, but with reduced power, it said.
Xinjiang funds announced
The Chinese government will pump 61.66 billion yuan (US$10.17 billion) in extra funds into the restive far western region of Xinjiang this year to improve housing and employment, Chinese state media said yesterday. Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, has been beset by violence for years, blamed by the Chinese government on Islamist militants and separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. However, the government has begun to recognize the economic roots of some of the upheaval, especially underdevelopment and lack of job opportunities in heavily Uighur areas like rural southern Xinjiang, and has poured money in to rectify the problem. The Xinhua news agency said the new funds would be used to build 259,600 houses, generate 450,000 jobs and improve healthcare for residents.