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Shanghai Auto Says It Has No Timetable for Rover Deal
Chinese automaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) was set to control a crucial joint venture with Britain's struggling manufacturer MG Rover, the Longbridge-based company said Saturday. With SAIC taking over MG Rover in a £1bn ($1.85bn) deal that will give it a 70% stake in the merged company, what is to stop the Chinese firm switching all production to China? After all, manufacturing costs are obviously markedly lower in Shanghai than they are in Birmingham, and SAIC, China's largest carmaker, has no emotional attachment or loyalty to Longbridge's 5,200 staff. MG Rover chairman John Towers has said that the future of Longbridge is definitely secured, and that the Chinese see the plant as an integral component. Rover has got to get new cars onto the market and get them out quickly, otherwise it just won't survive Automotive analyst Prof Peter Cook. "Our objective, of course, was not to do that, our objective is to produce a partnership where cars are made in China, but also continue to be made at Longbridge."
Automotive expert Professor Peter Cook, from the KPMG Centre for Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Trent University, agrees, predicting Longbridge will become a specialist site when the deal is completed, expected to be in January." I think we might see over time Longbridge focusing on particular models - the upmarket ones, while the Far East building the cheaper price-critical vehicles," he said. Prof Cook added that he thought MG Rover and Longbridge would both be vital to SAIC because they gave it a foothold in Europe, which remained one of the world's two great automotive market places. Despite MG Rover making continuous losses since it was bought four years ago from BMW for just £10, Prof Cook said SAIC, which saw 2003 profits increase by 41.7% to 1.5bn yuan ($181m; £98m), was going to do well out of the coming together. "The Chinese are getting a lot out of the deal, they are getting a brand, getting a foothold in Europe, and getting access to European technologies and management know-how." Professor Stan Siebert from Birmingham Business School, agreed, pinpointing the technological know how at MG Rover as being what most interested SAIC. He also said Rover continued to have "a really good brand name, even though it has become somewhat tarnished over the last few years". And Prof Cook believes that instead of there being a future risk to Longbridge, SAIC, which in addition to making its own cars also produces parts for General Motors and VW, may instead consider opening an additional plant in the US. "There are today three main global car markets - the US, Europe, and the growing Far East market," he said. "The Chinese are going to want to keep things going in Europe." But why is MG Rover so happy to sell off its independence? In stark terms, it simply has no other choice. A number of its models such as the Rover 45 are now rather old in the tooth and the company does not have the multi-millions required to invest in developing replacement cars. Instead MG Rover was recently forced to introduce a new super-mini model - the CityRover - which is actually simply a rebadged Indian car. "Rover is out of line at present," Prof Cook said. "It has got to get new cars onto the market and get them out quickly, otherwise it just won't survive." (BBC)
New Sober Variant Spreading Multilingual Worm
A new worm is wriggling around the Internet. This time it's the latest variant of Sober, which first appeared in October of 2003. The body of the malicious e-mail also has a myriad of possible content ranging from, "Your password was changed successfully!" to "Attachment: No Virus found" among others. Like other mass mailing worms in this family (and others like MyDoom, for example) it contains its own SMTP (define) e-mail engine, which allows it to construct and send outgoing e-mails. The latest Sober variant harvests e-mail addresses from a long list of different types of files on a user's local machine and can use those addresses for both the "Sent to" and "From" fields of outgoing messages. The payload of the worm is user activated and delivered only when the user clicks on the virus-bearing attachment. When clicked, a fake error message is displayed, which may lead users to believe that no malicious activity has occurred, when in fact it has. Like the message generated by the worm, the attachment extensions also vary and may be pif, .scr, .zip or .bat or a combination of extensions.
The new Sober variant is known by different names, depending on the security firm that is reporting it. Symantec labels it W32.SOBER.I@mm. Trend Micro's name is similar to WORM_SOBER.I, and McAfee has dubbed it W32/Sober.j@MM. Like the names it's known by with various security firms, the new worm may also show up under a variety of guises on user's PCs. In spreading, Sober.i adapts its message for German-speaking audiences, inserting a German language version of its pitch message into email addresses belonging to German domains such as those ending in .de for Germany, .ch for Switzerland and .at for Austria, F-Secure said in an advisory. "It appears that the virus originated in Germany," McAfee's Van Oers says. The security firms are reporting a number of different subject lines; Symantec alone has noted over 50 different options. Security firms including Trend Micro, McAfee, Symantec, Panda Software, Sophos and other have all issued patch updates to their anti-virus software tools, which users are encouraged to update immediately. "Although much-publicised virus outbreaks in the past should have made users more nervous of double-clicking on unsolicited e-mail attachments, some still find it hard to resist," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said in a statement. "All users should be reminded to follow safe computing guidelines, and PCs should be kept automatically updated with the latest anti-virus protection." Antivirus software is able to remove the worm, he says.
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Watch this special video message from John Kerry
Sign John Kerry's "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:
Sign the pledge
I want to thank you personally for what you did in the election -- you rewrote the book on grassroots politics, taking control of campaigns away from big donors. No campaign will ever be the same. You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio. And your efforts count now more than ever. Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world. Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm. I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.
I ask you to join me in this cause.
And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans. There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation. That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance. Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:
This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again. Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.
Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.
Dollar Dives on Greenspan Warning
Big trade deficits may threaten the economy by souring foreign appetites to invest in the United States, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned Friday. The dollar, already sliding, took another nosedive after his remarks. Greenspan's remarks at a banking conference in Frankfurt referred to the broadest measure of U.S. trade, the current account deficit. That swelled to a record $166.2 billion in the second quarter of this year, the most recent figure available. This deficit is considered the best measure of a country's international economic standing because it tracks not only goods and services but investment flows between countries as well. For all of 2003, the current account deficit mushroomed to an all-time high of more than $500 billion. Foreigners are willing to lend the United States money to finance its current account imbalances. The worry is that at some point foreigners might suddenly lose interest in holding dollar-denominated investments. That could cause them to unload investments in U.S. stocks and bonds, which would send prices of the stocks and bonds plunging and interest rates soaring. Japan, followed by China and then Britain are the biggest holders of U.S. Treasury securities. The sinking value of the U.S. dollar, which reflects in part investors' fears about the big U.S. trade and budget deficits, has some private economists more worried about this potential risk. "It seems persuasive that, given the size of the U.S. current account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point," Greenspan said. That could elevate the cost of financing the deficit. Although the Bush administration publicly espouses a "strong dollar" policy, officials have done nothing meant specially to stem the dollar's decline. Private economists believe that's because the administration is OK with what so far has been a relatively orderly decline of the dollar. Greenspan did not specifically discuss the value of the dollar. He said that forecasting exchange rates "has a success rate no better than that of forecasting the outcome of a coin toss." The Fed chief also didn't talk about the future course of interest rates in the United States. President Bush says the best ways to handle the yawning trade deficits is to persuade other countries to remove trading barriers and open their markets to U.S. companies. Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry have blamed Bush's free-trade policies for the loss of U.S. jobs. "What Greenspan is saying is that the United States is being financed by the rest of the world. We cannot continue to keep on spending. Sooner or later we have to pay our debt," said Oscar Gonzalez, economist at John Hancock Financial Services. Greenspan said that although there's been evidence that "among developed countries, current account deficits, even large ones, have been diffused without significant consequences, we cannot become complacent." Reducing the federal budget deficit or moving it to surplus, Greenspan said, would be an important action to boost U.S. savings. The deficit hit $412 billion, a record in dollar terms, in the budget year that ended Sept. 30.
By Associated Press
Four million e-mails per day are addressed to Bill Gates!
Microsoft chairperson Bill Gates receives four million e-mails daily, most of them spam, and is probably the most spammed person in the world. But unlike ordinary users, the software mogul has an entire department to filter unsolicited e-mails and only a few of them actually get through to his inbox, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said in Singapore on Thursday. Ballmer was speaking to government information technology and development officials from the Asia-Pacific at the start of a two-day Microsoft-sponsored Asia Leadership Forum in Singapore.
"There are two people who probably are the number one spam recipients in the world," Ballmer said, referring to Gates and himself. "Bill Gates is number one because he is Bill Gates. Bill literally receives four million pieces of e-mail per day, most of it spam. "And so we have special technology which just filters spam. Literally there's a whole department almost that takes care of it." Ballmer said he was "probably also amongst the most spammed people in the world" because he gave out his e-mail address -- email@example.com -- in all his public speeches. "I receive many pieces of spam but only about 10 of them actually make it into my inbox because of the spam technologies that our IT department implements." - Sapa-AFP
Sina Rumored To Acquire Zhongsou.com Search Engine
Local technology media sources are reporting that Sina
may be eyeing a takeover of search partner Zhongsou
specialized search activities. Sina's
proprietary search directories and engine have been a weak spot for the company, and Sina
has bolstered itself by partnering with various companies over the years. Sina
started in 2000 with a partnership with Baidu
but that relationship ended after only a few months. Later in August 2002, Sina
cooperated with Huicong
and formally adopted the company's search engine. In April 2003, it entered another alliance with Zhongsou
While strengthening activities with Zhongsou
has also been busy making adjustments to its services structure. It transferred its search engine service division to a new Enterprise Service Department and created a dedicated core group of engineers to deal with search activities. Zhongsou
is one of the largest search engine technology providers in China. It was co-launched and established by Huicong
and China Internet News Center
in September 2003 and enjoys a good reputation in China for large webpage coverage, fast data upgrades, and fast Chinese searches.