■ Music players
Students suffer hearing loss
More than half of US high school students report symptoms of hearing loss, a possible result of listening to blaring music on popular digital music players, according to a poll released on Tuesday. The matter has gotten the attention of US lawmakers who called for measures to reduce the risks associated with listening to loud music. Two-fifths of students and adults polled by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association said they set the volume at loud on their iPods, Apple's popular music player. But young people were twice as likely to play their music even louder than adults, according to the poll. The poll found that high school students are more likely than adults to say they have experienced three of the four symptoms of hearing loss.
■ Auto industry
`Magic bumper' unveiled
A new safety feature being developed by Nissan Motor Co causes a car's gas pedal to lift by itself to alert the driver of a possible collision. That new technology combines radar sensors and a computer system to judge a car's speed and the distance to the vehicle in front. When the car senses a possible head-on crash, the gas pedal automatically rises against the driver's foot as a signal to step on the brake. If sensors detect a possible collision, the brake automatically kicks in when the driver lifts his or her foot off the gas. A buzz also goes off in what Nissan engineers tentatively dubbed the "magic bumper." Nissan hopes to offer the feature in about two or three years in Japan, and also aims to offer it in the US and Europe, although no plans have been set.
Malaysian No. 2 to buy rival
Malaysia's second-largest bank, Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings (BCHB), yesterday said it would buy smaller rival Southern Bank for 6.7 billion ringgit (US$1.8 billion), setting the stage for consolidation in Malaysia's banking sector. The sweetened deal, one of the largest buyouts in Malaysia in the last 10 years, comes after Southern rejected a hostile bid last month from BCHB. The deal will leave Malaysia with nine banks and may spur more mergers ahead of financial sector liberalization next year. "Developments here will trigger a second wave of consolidation in the financial sector as the industry prepares for a new age of fierce global competition when Malaysia opens its doors to further market liberalization," Southern Bank chief executive Tan Teong Hean said in a joint statement. BCHB is Malaysia's second-largest lender behind Malayan Banking, while Southern is ranked No. 9 and the country's second-smallest lender.
■ Aviation Fuel
Executive pleads guilty
The former chief executive officer of China Aviation Oil (中國航油) pleaded guilty to six charges yesterday related to the biggest corporate scandal in Singapore since the collapse of Barings Bank. Chen Jiulin (陳久霖), 44, admitted to insider trading, releasing false information, failing to disclose losses and conspiring to deceive adviser Deutsche Bank AG. Subordinate Court Judge Wong Keen Onn did not announce a sentencing date. Four other executives of the China-backed jet-fuel trader have been sentenced for their part in the scandal. Chen resigned as chief executive officer earlier this month. He was charged in June with 15 counts. The other nine will be taken into consideration during sentencing.