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Mon, Nov 10, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ AirlinesAir India to buy 28 planes

India's flag-carrier airline Air India will buy a total of 28 new planes from both Airbus Industrie and Boeing Co over the next five years in a purchase worth US$2.1 billion, news reports said yesterday. The airline will buy 10 long-range A340 jets from European consortium Airbus and 18 short-range 737-800s from its American rival Boeing, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The purchase was approved Saturday at a meeting of the airline's board, airline spokesman Jitendra Bhargava was quoted as saying by The Asian Age newspaper. Airline officials couldn't be reached for comment. The airline has a fleet of 33 planes.

■ Labor

Singaporeans need charity

Increasing numbers of Singaporeans are swallowing their pride and turning to free food centers, a reflection of the economic downturn, organizers said on yesterday. Free meals are available now at more than 15 different locations, with two serving food throughout the day and late into the night, according to The Straits Times. While only about a dozen initially filled their stomachs at the Singapore Buddhist Lodge daily, the number has grown to more than 1,000 and 4,500 on Sundays. Items such as rice, vermicelli and vegetables are donated by the public and freshly prepared by volunteers. At one Sikh temple, about 1,000 people come each day to pray and eat. Acting Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen has said the jobless rate will probably rise to 5.5 percent or higher by the end of the year.

■ Electronics

Hitachi will protect patents

Hitachi Ltd, Japan's biggest holder of patents, plans to accelerate protection of key technologies by identifying them earlier and preventing their transfer to other companies, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. Hitachi, which holds 50,000 patients worldwide, plans to apply for as many as 1,000 patents on technologies in product categories including hard-disk drives in the next few years, the newspaper said, citing company sources it didn't identify. The company views its current system of patenting technologies after product development as too slow, the paper said. Hitachi will also limit patent transfers to other companies to gain an advantage in competition with rival manufacturers in Korea and China, it said. Hitachi earned ?44.3 billion (US$405 million) by offering patent and technology licenses to other companies in the year ended March 31, the report said.

■ Currencies

Forgers copy new US$20

Counterfeit versions of the new US$20 bill are already being circulated, only a month after the introduction of the more intricate bill designed to thwart counterfeiters. Almost 200 fake versions of the new bill have already surfaced, Jean Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the US Secret Service said. On Friday, a Missouri woman was accused by federal grand jurors of passing four fake US$20 bills on Oct. 16, exactly one week after the new notes were introduced, the report said. The Missouri woman was charged with one felony count of passing counterfeit currency, which includes a penalty of as many as 20 years in jail and US$250,000 in fines if convicted. The new US$20 notes include faint traces of peach and blue in parts of the green and black bills, as well as tiny number 20s in yellow on the back of the notes, to make them more difficult to replicate.

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