European Court upholds $1.44 billion fine on Intel

Intel had filed an appeal with the EU’s General Court, arguing that the European Commission had not appropriately made its case in 2009 and imposed the 1.06 billion euros penalty

The European Union's (EU) General Court on Thursday upheld a record fine of 1.06 billion euros (about $1.44 billion) imposed five years ago on Intel by Europe’s top antitrust authority. The Court also rejected the appeal filed by the world’s largest computer chip maker against the ruling of European Commission's 2009 order.


Back in 2009, the European Commission imposed a fine of 1.06 billion euro on Intel, for having abused its dominant position on the market for x86 central processing units (CPUs). It was the highest single antitrust penalty that the authorities in Brussels have levied on a single company. Moreover, the Commission ordered Intel immediately to bring an end to that infringement in so far as it had not already done so.


In a statement, the Court said, “Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long-term comprehensive strategy to foreclose Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) from the strategically most important sales channels”.


“None of the arguments raised by Intel supports the conclusion that the fine imposed is disproportionate,” it said, noting that, in fact, the penalty was “at the lower end of the scale” at 4.15% cent of Intel’s annual turnover.


Intel still can appeal the case to Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice.


Is India ready for Narendra Modi 'style' reforms?

According to Rabobank, the newly elected Modi government is most likely to push ahead with large numbers of stalled public sector projects, invite FDI in sectors like railways and bring major administrative reforms

There has been a dramatic transformation in India's prospects over the past 12 months, and particularly since the recent May election results. After receiving a strong mandate from voters, the newly elected Narendra Modi government can push ahead with a large number of public-sector projects that already have funds allocated but which have fallen into a 'development hell', invite foreign direct investment (FDI) in sectors like railways and bring major administrative reforms to tackle widespread bottle-necks and inefficiencies, says Rabobank in a report.


Even though India's GDP growth is sluggish and most private sector indicators are also weak, there still is room for optimism, feels Rabobank. According to the report, there are three major points that can shift the tide:


1. Mr Modi looks set to use his extensive knowledge of India's labyrinthine bureaucracy and administrative structures to push ahead with a large number of public-sector projects that already have funds allocated but which have fallen into what Hollywood refers to as 'development hell'. Official estimates are that 303 such projects in sectors ranging from power, petroleum, industry, coal, shipping, mining, railways, chemicals, roads and steel, all of which are ready to go but are still waiting for an official sign-off, total a massive $116.9 billion. Given that India's total gross fixed capital formation in Q1 2014 from the public and private sector combined was just $140.5 billion, that means there is likely to be a significant lift to investment growth over the next few quarters as these projects are finally rolled out.


2. FDI would be encouraged in a wider variety of sectors, including India's vast railway network.


3. Significantly, and partly due to the lack of a majority in the upper house, Mr Modi has underlined his determination to push ahead with major administrative reforms to tackle widespread bottle-necks and inefficiencies. In short, there is a great deal of 'low hanging fruit' that India can easily pluck to generate substantially higher growth, though the prime minister has stressed what a mammoth task the overall restructuring of the economy will be and argues it will need two full terms to make a serious start on it.


The impact of the recent election is potentially huge and the underlying optimism was evident. "However, " Rabobank said, "in the background there has also been a marked improvement in some of India's key macro-fundamentals that deserves equal attention. In particular, the previously problematic balance of payments (BoP) has shown a huge turnaround in the past two quarters. Whereas in Q4 2012, the current account deficit (CAD) was equal to a worrying 7.0% of the GDP (a flashing red light for Indian Rupee in retrospect), as of Q1 2014, this had narrowed back to just 0.3% as the trade deficit has shrunk from over 11% of GDP to only around 6%."


India's overall BoP has also moved back into significant surplus for two consecutive quarters. Rabobank said, "True, there are perhaps still issues on the 'quality' of those capital inflows. In particular, there is arguably still not enough direct investment in that mix, net foreign direct investment (FDI) was very low in Q1 at just $901 million, even though actual inward FDI hit a nominal high of $9,781 million. However, portfolio investment has certainly picked up again, especially into debt securities, while net deposits from non-resident Indian (NRIs), while well below the surge seen in Q4 2013, are a further useful source of capital."


"Overall, that transition in the BOP is a huge positive for Indian Rupee and by extension will the current account withstand any liberalisation of the current restrictions on gold imports remains to be seen," the report added.


However, Rabobank says not to expect a sudden fiscal or monetary poicy shift from the Narendra Modi government to support meagre GDP growth. It said, "Importantly, the Modi government is aware that it needs to narrow the persistent fiscal deficit in order to keep public-sector debt under control, a gradual decline in the deficit is the most likely path ahead rather than a surge in state-spending. At the same time, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is de facto shifting its focus towards consumer price index (CPI) as a policy target, given persistent upward pressure on inflation from supply side shocks to food prices, which implies that the reverse repo-repo rate corridor will remain at 7.0% to 8.0% for some time ahead, even if the next move is more likely to be down than up."


"The unchanged outlook for Indian rupee over the next 12 months may appear uninspiring, but there is a lot happening behind the scenes. Indeed, Indian Rupee itself may not move outside of a 59-60 band but India's forex reserves are likely to increase significantly," says Rabobank in the report.


The report says, RBI on its part is likely to use the present window of opportunity on BoP to build India's forex reserves, which have been essentially flat for too long and hence have declined in terms of their coverage of both the overall import bill and external debt servicing obligations.




3 years ago

I wanted to send a registered letter to a government official. Since it was urgent I went to the post office that is functioning in the adjacent building where the government office was working. I have asked the post office clerk whether the letter would be delivered by evening. He said "No, Sir. The letter has to go to the head post office and come back and then only it will be delivered to the addressee" !!!!!
And this is the India our great Congress has built over a period of 65 years of their......... misrule !!.


3 years ago

The biggest challenge is the lack of work culture especially of the lower government staff, teachers, and of local bodies.
They do not work and their jobs being politically and legally protected, do not allow others to work. They have become uncaring parasites on the society.
Unless this 1000 kg gorilla in the room is taken care of, all attempts to improve government functioning will fail.

How to select right sunscreen suitable for your skin?

Sunscreens are marketed as a healthy choice, but some ingredients are controversial. Therefore,  consumers need to do their own research before purchasing a sunscreen

Here’s what to look out for while selecting right sunscreen:

Do you really need SPF 50?

Many consumers incorrectly believe that twice the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating means twice the protection, but this is not the case. SPF actually refers to the amount of ultraviolet radiation required to cause sunburn with sunscreen on as a multiple of the amount required without sunscreen.

Calculated this way, SPF 15 blocks about 94% of UVB rays; SPF 30 blocks about 97%.

Consumers may also believe the products with very high SPFs – such as those over 50 – will protect them better, but the FDA has no data demonstrating that sunscreens with an SPF of more than 50 provide any additional benefits compared to those under SPF 50. The agency changed its regulations on sunscreen and is evaluating whether to limit the labeling of sunscreens with SPFs 50 and above to 50+ and whether those above that should remain on the market.

High SPFs can be misleading because the rating does not take into account factors like the time of day, complexion type, or geography, which can all play a role in light exposure and sunscreen effectiveness. Furthermore, consumers rarely apply sunscreen as often or as liberally as they are supposed to. People who do not take these factors into account or who are lulled by the imagined security that a high SPF offers can end up getting burned.

What is Broad Spectrum Protection?

“Broad spectrum protection” is another confusing term for consumers. According to the FDA, a broad spectrum sunscreen is one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer and premature aging, but sunburn is primarily caused by UVB rays. The new FDA regulations mandate that sunscreens labeled as broad spectrum provide protection from both types of rays, though previously many sunscreens only provided protection from UVB rays.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), however, claims that even with these new regulations, the FDA’s definition of broad spectrum is weak. According to EWG’s research:

Half of the U.S. sunscreens that meet the FDA rules would not make it to store shelves in Europe, where, since 2006, sunscreen makers have voluntarily complied with stricter European Union standards.

Waterproof, sweatproof, and water resistent

As of last year, manufacturers can no longer claim that their products are “waterproof” or “sweatproof.” These terms are deceptive because there is no such thing as sunscreen that is completely waterproof or sweatproof. The term “water resistant” is permitted but must include the length of time (40 minutes or 80 minutes) a sunscreen is proven to be effective after swimming or sweating.


About 1 in 4 sunscreens come in spray form, according to EWG.
The FDA has requested additional data on the effectiveness of sunscreen sprays. There is some concern that they may be harmful if inhaled and that consumers have trouble applying enough of the product for it to be effective.

Should Vitamin A be in your sunscreen product?

Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant added to some skincare products with sunscreen for its anti-aging properties. But it may be harmful when applied in sunlight. The NIH’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) published a report in 2011 that concluded that retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid, two forms of Vitamin A, sped up the development of cancerous lesions and tumors in animals treated with UV rays.

Skin cancer prevention

Scientists have found that regular sunscreen use lowers the risk of squamous cell carcinoma, but there is not enough evidence to be sure that it prevents basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. According to the National Cancer Institute, rates of melanoma have tripled over the last 35 years.

FDA regulations allow broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher to say on their labels that they can reduce the risk of skin cancer when used with other sun protection measures, but it does not specify what type of skin cancer.

A typical label reads:

To decrease this risk, regularly use a sunscreen with a Broad Spectrum SPF value of 15 or higher and other sun protection measures including: limit time in the sun, especially from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats and sunglasses.

Scrutinizing sunscreen ingredients

Sunscreens are marketed as a healthy choice, but some ingredients are controversial. Sunscreens are divided into two types: physical sunscreens, which use minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block out UV rays, and chemical sunscreens, which use a combination of UV blocking chemicals and stabilizers. According to the EWG, chemical sunscreens deserve scrutiny because they can penetrate the skin. In particular, the group recommends staying away from the chemical oxybenzone, which is found in 80% of chemical sunscreens, because it may cause allergic reactions or disrupt hormones. The American Academy of Dermatology, on the other hand, believes that oxybenzone is safe. Consumers should know that there is some controversy about these ingredients and do their own research before purchasing a sunscreen.

More information about sunscreens rated by Consumer Reports can be found here.



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