■ Genetic engineering
GM peas make mice sick
Australian scientists said yesterday they had abandoned a trial with a genetically modified (GM) crop of peas because field mice that fed on them developed lung disease. "The reaction of the mice to the protein might reflect something that would happen to humans," said Thomas Higgins, deputy chief at the government's CSIRO research body. "There isn't any evidence that would happen, but there is a chance that it could happen," he told national broadcaster ABC. It's only the second time anywhere that a GM field trial has been abandoned because of gene transfer from one crop to another. Higgins' findings, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggest that the lung inflammation in mice was triggered by an altered protein.
HP beats expectations
Computer giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) posted a 62-percent drop in profits on Thursday, due to US$1.1 billion in restructuring costs, in an earnings report that sent the company's shares sharply higher. The world's second-largest computer maker said that it earned US$416 million, compared with US$1.1. billion in the same period last year, as revenue rose to US$22.9 billion from US$21.4 billion, a 7 percent hike. With the results beating Wall Street expectations, the report sent shares of the company some 6 percent higher on Thursday. For the year, HP has seen its value rise by 35 percent as rivals like IBM and Dell have both dropped. In July, the company announced some 14,500 job cuts. Chief executive Mark Hurd said on Thursday that the final figure for the worldwide layoffs would be 15,300. He also said that remaining employees would receive their first bonuses in the five years since the dot-com crash sent the company reeling.
GM says no to bankruptcy
General Motors Corp chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner told employees on Thursday that the world's largest automaker has no plans to file for bankruptcy despite heavy losses in its North American division and the threat of a strike at Delphi Corp, its major supplier. GM shares climbed more than 6 percent, bouncing back from their lowest level in 18 years. "I'd like to just set the record straight here and now: There is absolutely no plan, strategy or intention for GM to file for bankruptcy," Wagoner said in a letter to employees, which was posted on an internal Web site. Wagoner said GM has a clearly defined turnaround plan and "a robust balance sheet," with US$19 billion in cash and US$16 billion in assets in a trust fund for retiree health care.
UFJ acquisition approved
Japanese authorities yesterday formally approved Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's acquisition of UFJ Bank, effective on Jan. 1. The banks combined holding companies to create Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc last month, but their commercial banking operations have not merged due to concerns over linking their computer systems. Financial Agency Commissioner Hirofumi Gomi gave a formal go-ahead yesterday, according to agency spokesman Yoshiki Kamoto. The approval paved the way for Mitsubishi UFJ to begin operations as the world's largest bank in January, which has total assets of around ¥190 trillion (US$1.6 trillion), topping US-based Citigroup Inc's US$1.55 trillion.
Taiwan has donated US$700,000 to two APEC sub-funds to highlight the importance of health and technology amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Taiwan has been a member of APEC since joining the 21-member organization under the name “Chinese Taipei” in 1991. Malaysia, the host for all APEC meetings this year, has informed member states that the second senior officials’ meeting, scheduled for June 15 to 28, is to be postponed due to the pandemic, Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) told a regular news briefing in Taipei. However, a virtual extraordinary senior officials’ meeting for discussing
The Afghan government announced it would free 900 prisoners yesterday, its single largest prisoner release since the US and the Taliban signed a peace deal earlier this year that spells out an exchange of detainees between the warring sides. The announcement came as a three-day ceasefire with the insurgents drew to an end. The Taliban had called for the truce during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. There are expectations that the prisoner release could lead to new reductions in violence, and Taliban officials said they are considering an
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
Americans awoke yesterday to charred and glass-strewn streets in dozens of cities after another night of unrest fueled by rage over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police, who responded to the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets. Tens of thousands marched peacefully through streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Monday last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. However, many demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell: Vehicles and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were