IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 25 January
E-voting equipment set for disposal | Microsoft signs contract with Arvato
The Irish Times reports that e-voting equipment that cost the State EUR50 million but has never been commissioned is now likely to be cast off completely, the Minister for the Environment John Gormley has confirmed. Gormley said a task force that has been examining disposal options for the machines will soon complete its work. In a response to a parliamentary question from Labour's Ciaran Lynch, Gormley said that priority was to "achieve the maximum recovery cost", but he accepted that selling the machines on might prove problematic.
The paper also says that Microsoft has signed a contract understood to be worth EUR205 million with Arvato, one of the world's largest networked services providers, that will be supported out of offices in Dublin and five other locations around the globe. The five-year contract creates a global business process outsourcing (BPO) partnership between Microsoft and Arvato and sees Microsoft consolidating operational activities for several key business lines previously handled by multiple suppliers. Arvato employs about 450 people at its offices at Eastpoint in Dublin.
The Irish Independent reports that all motorways in Ireland will be equipped with emergency SOS phones before the end of the year. The National Roads Authority has made a pledge to install the phones, which will connect anyone who makes a call from them to the Emergency Services Operations Centre.
The paper also reports that Dublin-based software and outsourcing group Percana is to double its workforce to more than 220 staff, after sealing a deal with UK life assurer Pearl. About 110 Pearl employees based in Dublin will transfer to Percana, and the Irish-owned firm expects to hire as many as 50 people this year, depending on possible new business wins. Percana and Pearl signed an 11-year contract which will result in the Irish company handling front- and back-office administration of Pearl's life and pensions business in Ireland, as well as call-centre support.
The Irish Examiner says that a business boot camp will see 600 students from Kerry and Limerick put their ideas to the test in front of a panel of Irish entrepreneurs and business people, as part of the annual Young Entrepreneur Programme and Awards. Satellite navigation hiking boots, a medical receipts card that eliminates paper receipts and a milk carton crusher for waste disposal are among the emerging ideas students will be pitching at this year's event, which takes place on 29 January at the Brandon Conference Centre in Tralee.
According to the Financial Times, telecoms equipment firm Ericsson has posted fourth-quarter operating profit in line with market expectations. Operating profit, excluding loss-making joint ventures and restructuring costs, came in at SKR7.5 billion (USD1 billion), almost matching forecasts. Sales reached SKR58.3 billion, compared with a forecast of SKR59.8 billion "We maintained market shares well in all segments, cash flow was good and our financial position is strong," said Chief Executive Hans Vestberg. Ericsson did not give an outlook for the current year.
The Wall Street Journal says that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin each intend to sell about 5 million shares of the company, as part of a five-year stock trading plan. In a regulatory filing, the co-founders said they would reduce their combined holdings in Google from about 57.7 million common shares, or around 18 percent of outstanding capital stock, to 47.7 million shares, or about 15 percent of the company. Under the stock trading plan, the two would also reduce their combined voting shares from 59 percent to about 48 percent. "These pre-arranged stock trading plans were adopted in order to allow Larry and Sergey to sell a portion of their Google stock over time as part of their respective long-term strategies for individual asset diversification and liquidity," the filing said.
The paper also says that China has escalated its verbal feud with the US over internet freedom, with a commentator in the Communist Party's main newspaper saying the US is seeking to control the internet and alleging that the US used the web to incite election protests in Iran last year. "I'm afraid that in the eyes of American politicians, only when information is controlled by the US does it count as free information," said the article in the People's Daily newspaper. The article was one of a series of Chinese statements aimed at rebutting remarks made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a speech on internet freedom.
The Sunday Business Post writes that plans for Ireland's new Saorview digital television service are going ahead, despite the absence of any agreement on the commercial side of the project. The paper says that RTE is appointing a company to test receivers for the new signal, which will give users free access to RTE1, RTE2, TV3, TG4 and several other channels. TV viewers will also be able to sign up for paid-for packages from TV operators such as Sky or UPC. The analogue signal is due to be switched off in 2012. There has been some difficulty in reaching agreement between RTE and the consortium awarded the commercial DTT contract, OneVision, on guarantees and transmission costs.
The Sunday Tribune says that a webpage devoted to the 'Volvo Gang' on Facebook has six members of An Garda Siochana as fans. The page has 16 members in total. The Volvo Gang has been involved in a number of violent raids in the Midlands, most active in the 1990s. The gang stole high-powered Volvos and used them for smash-and-grab raids around the country.
The Sunday Times reports that military personnel are being disciplined after posting information on social networking site Twitter. As many as ten people have been disciplined in 18 months as at least 16 potential security breaches were spotted. New guidelines from the Ministry of Defence in Britain ban service personnel from blogging on certain matters, and they are required to get permission before they publish any information on operations.
The same paper reports that prisoners in Scotland are to be given access to Nintendo DS games consoles and 'brain training' software to improve literacy and numeracy skills. Scottish government officials believe using the devices will cut the chances of reoffending by improving employment prospects for prisoners once they are released. The trial is being undertaken on advice in a government study into the education of prisoners.
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