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Kyrgyzstan votes for president, hopes for peace

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The people of this strategically important Central Asian nation voted in a presidential election Sunday, seeking an end to years of political turmoil, though some fear the vote could expose the regional and ethnic divisions that nearly tore the country apart last year.

Almazbek Atambayev, who was prime minister until stepping down in September to concentrate on his campaign, was set to win with about 60 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission reported Monday.

It was the first presidential election since the bloody ouster in April 2010 of Kyrgyzstan’s authoritarian leader, Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev. That was followed by an explosion of violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks in the south of the country that led to nearly 500 deaths.

Since then, there have been no other major outbreaks of violence, though people in this former Soviet republic of about 5 million people remain on edge.

The election was being monitored closely by international observers, particularly from the United States and Russia, both of which maintain military bases in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. air base, officially called a “transit center,” at the Manas airport outside Bishkek, is an important supply hub for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“People are tired of protests; they do not want any more blood,” Atambayev said outside a polling place. “We’ve already had enough revolution. It’s time to work.”

Independent analysts said they expected electoral violations to be minimal. Authorities raised eyebrows by banning local cable stations from broadcasting foreign channels like CNN and the BBC as the election approached. And they put Russian channels, which many Kyrgyz rely on for their news, on an hour delay. Officials said they wanted to prevent foreign intervention in the vote.

Still, more than 80 candidates had declared their intentions to run in the election, though that number shrank to 16 by election day.

—Michael Schwirtz, The New York Times

United Airlines tests iPad for ‘paperless flight deck’

Capt. Joe Burns, the airline’s managing director of technology and flight test, took an iPad for a test flight last week in an Airbus A320 simulator in the Denver Flight Training Center.

“This was no small feat,” said Burns, tapping the iPad screen to bring up an approach chart to Denver International Airport. “The time is right to do this with new technology.”

When it debuted in 2010, the Apple iPad was seen as an entertainment device. United — and other airlines — are seeing the iPad has a way to slice fuel use by cutting on-board weight.

The iPad weighs about 1.5 pounds, Burns said, while the flight bag containing paper copies of charts and handbooks weighs about 40 pounds. United estimates the savings will be about 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year and 16 million sheets of paper.

“This is a game-changer for us,” Burns said.

What pilots won’t be able to do with the iPads — just like passengers can’t — is to turn on the devices during takeoffs and landings.

Until the Federal Aviation Administration is satisfied with six months of testing, United’s pilots will be constrained in using iPads below 10,000 feet because of concern about interference.

The difference, Burns said, is that what is loaded on the airline’s iPad is tightly controlled and has shown “zero interference” with aircraft electronics, unlike passengers’ devices such as cellphones.

United pilots also won’t be able to play mobile app games like “Angry Birds,” sort through their e-mail or watch movies.

If pilots need information below 10,000 feet, Burns said they can get it through the aircraft’s computers.

The plan is to have the iPads, called electronic flight bags, in the hands of the 11,000 United and Continental pilots by the end of the year.

—Ann Schrader, The Denver Post

Japanese officials intervene to weaken yen

TOKYO — Japan’s latest effort to shore up the export end of its economy by forcing down the value of the yen came too late to help businesses like the Honda Motor Co. and the Panasonic Corp., which on Monday blamed the strong yen for hurting their profits.

The Japanese government intervened in foreign exchange markets early Monday, selling yen for dollars for the fourth time in a little more than a year.

The strong yen is a burden for Japan as it seeks a path to recovery after natural and nuclear disasters this year. While companies have been quick to rebuild factories and restore supply chains, the yen has undermined revival for the nation’s exporters, which drive much of its economic growth, by making their products less competitive overseas.

Honda said its net income fell 56 percent to 60.4 billion yen, or $796 million, in its fiscal second quarter, compared with 135.9 billion yen a year ago, and sales fell 16.3 percent to 1.886 trillion yen. With the yen trading at an average of 78 to the dollar, compared to 86 a year ago, Honda said exchange rates knocked 36.7 billion yen off of its books.

Honda’s shares fell $2.68, or 8.23 percent, to close at $29.87 on Monday.

Panasonic, meanwhile, cited the yen in warning that it expected to lose 420 billion yen in the 12 months through March, a sharp reversal from an earlier forecast of 30 billion yen in profit.

Its shares fell $0.92, 0r 8.4 percent, to close at $10.06 on Monday.

In early foreign exchange trading Monday, the dollar fell to a post-World War II low of 75.31 yen, apparently prompting Japanese officials to act. As Japan confirmed its unilateral intervention, the dollar jumped more than 4 percent against the yen before falling to 78.20 yen by early evening.

The last time Japan entered currency markets was Aug. 4, when it sold a record 4.5 trillion yen and bought dollars, causing the yen to tumble temporarily. But a week later, the currency was back above its levels before the intervention.

—Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times