Results of steps on price rise will be visible soon: PM

The prime minister has told a party meeting that necessary steps have been taken in consultation with chief ministers and the results would be visible in the next few weeks

The results of the steps taken to control price rise would be visible within the next few weeks, prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday, reports PTI.

Dr Singh gave this assurance at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in New Delhi which deliberated on the issue of rising prices, according to party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar.

The PM told the meeting that necessary steps have been taken in consultation with chief ministers and the results would be visible in the next few weeks.

Chief ministers of Congress-ruled states gave a presentation on steps taken to control price rise.

"We have been asked to take steps to control rising prices and check hoarding and black marketing," Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said.

The issue of Telangana also came up in the meeting with home minister P Chidambaram stating that the terms of reference of the Srikrishna Committee would be finalised soon.

The issue of 'Mumbai for all' also came up with some leaders being critical of the stand taken by the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Rahul Gandhi was not present as he was away on a tour of Maharashtra. The state’s chief minister Ashok Chavan was among those absent as he was in Mumbai with Mr Gandhi.

This is the first meeting of the CWC in the New Year amidst increasing criticism of the Union government's alleged failure to control prices.

Today's meeting came a day before the conference of chief ministers convened by the prime minister on price rise and at a time when consultations are on for the Union budget to be presented later this month.

The price rise in recent months has led to a veiled attack on agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, with Congress leaders saying that not enough was being done on this front by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a letter to party workers had recently said that the issue of price rise was one of the highest concerns and she had taken up the issue with the prime minister.

The previous CWC meeting on price rise was held in August last year in the wake of the drought situation and rise in prices of essential commodities. The meeting had asked the party and government to observe austerity measures.
 

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Toyota’s woes mount as Prius recall considered

Toyota faces probes of brake problems with its latest model Prius in the US and Japan but remains tight-lipped about adding the gas-electric hybrid to the millions of cars it has recalled

The damage to Toyota Motor Corp's image is growing by the day with the automaker now considering a US and Japanese recall of its Prius hybrids—the vehicle that's a symbol of its technological prowess and green car ambitions, reports AP.

The beleaguered automaker faces probes of brake problems with its latest model Prius in the US and Japan but remains tight-lipped about adding the gas-electric hybrid to the millions of cars it has recalled. Toyota is also investigating possible brake problems with its luxury Lexus hybrid. Nihon Keizai, Japan's top business newspaper, said on Friday that Toyota would soon notify the country's transport ministry and the US Department of Transportation of a recall of 270,000 Prius hybrids.

Toyota said it is considering a recall but no decision had been made. "Nothing has been decided on whether we will recall or not," spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said.

Some owners of the 2010 Prius have reported that their brakes do not always engage immediately when they press the brake pedal, or that the brakes have an inconsistent feel. The problem has been fixed with a software programming change for Prius vehicles sold in Japan and overseas since late January but not for vehicles sold before then.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would assess the scope of the problem in the Prius and the safety risk to about 37,000 cars that could be affected.

Toyota, however, has said that it sold 103,000 of the new Prius in the US since May last year.

The investigation comes as safety questions surround Toyota, which has already issued broad recalls for millions of its best-selling vehicles, including the Corolla and Camry, because of gas pedals that can become stuck.

US officials have blessed Toyota's solution to that problem, a small piece of steel designed to eliminate excess friction in the pedal mechanism, but have criticised Toyota for being too slow in responding to customer complaints.

Takeuchi said Toyota is also investigating possible brake problems with its luxury Lexus hybrid, which uses the same brake system as the Prius. Toyota has not received any complaints about the Lexus HS250h and the probe is to ensure safety, she said.

Congressional investigators expanded their review of Toyota to include the Prius as California Rep Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, asked Toyota for records on its Prius brakes.

The committee plans a hearing next week on Toyota's recalls, the first of two in Congress this month. Mr Issa said he would focus on whether Toyota or NHTSA failed to properly deal with safety complaints or address them quickly enough.

"We think they should have acted more aggressively or quickly," said Mr Issa, who owns four Priuses, none of which fall under the investigation.

Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said that he and attorneys general in other states may take legal action against Toyota over possible deceptive claims to consumers about the safety of the company's cars.
 

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New Google book settlement still raises antitrust concerns: US

The US Justice department has opposed a revised legal settlement reached between Google and American authors and publishers that would allow it to scan and sell millions of books online

The bid by the world's largest search engine Google to get digital rights to millions of hard-to-find books has run into legal hurdles with the US Justice department saying that it threatens to undermine copyright laws, reports PTI.

The Department has opposed a revised legal settlement reached between Google and American authors and publishers that would allow it to scan and sell millions of books online.

In an opinion filed in a New York Federal Court on Thursday, the Justice department said that the amended settlement raises anti-trust concerns.

"The amended settlement agreement suffers from the same core problem as the original agreement, it is an attempt to use the class action mechanism to implement forward-looking business arrangements that go far beyond the dispute before the court in this litigation," the Department of Justice said in its statement in the court.

The government action is a major setback to Google's efforts to win approval for a 15-month old legal settlement that would make it a storehouse for millions of books.

The Justice Department's advise to the court comes even as consumer watchdogs, literary agents, foreign governments and state governments in the US have already filed objections before a US district judge to reject the agreement.

Judge Denny Chin is to hold a hearing on 18th February to consider approving the class action settlement.
 

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