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Friday, 29 January 2016

Faceboook To Replace Like Button With Reaction Buttons



The social networking giant is about to roll out emoji-style Reactions, which will allow you to express your feelings in a more nuanced fashion.

In the conference call with analysts after Facebook's blockbuster financial results, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that Reactions - which are being tested in Spain, Ireland and a few other places - would be shown everywhere "pretty soon".

The idea, the chief executive said, is to add "a little bit of complexity" to something that is very simple. "When you only have a like button, if you share a sad piece of content or something that makes you angry, people may not have the tool to react to it."

So now Facebook users are being given new tools in the form of emoticons labelled "love", "haha", "wow", "sad" and "angry" - or they can still just "like".

There was another button marked "yay" but that has been removed after pilot users apparently said: "Err….what??"

For more than a billion people who visit Facebook every day there may now be a tricky period of adjustment. Do I just like that picture of your dog or do I love it? Should I go as far as telling you I'm "angry" about your views on the issues of the day - or is "haha" enough?

But it's advertisers who will be really going "wow" about this change to the way Facebook works. The latest results show just how much they have bought into the social network's message that it offers a unique way to connect with consumers and learn everything about them. Now they will have a far more complex set of data.

Simon Calvert, head of strategy at the marketing agency Lida, says if the new system accurately reflects human emotions then it will be very interesting.

"Emotions travel five times faster than rational thought," he said. "So the ability to build better emotional connections with consumers is something that advertisers really prize."

Facebook "likes" have become a somewhat devalued currency, as I found out when my Virtual Bagel imaginary business collected more than 4,000 likes from all over the world.

"They're devalued because brands collect them mindlessly," Mr Calvert explains. But he sees advertisers using Reactions in a far more sophisticated way to get insights into the emotions people feel about products.

Another social media marketing expert, Kristal Ireland of Twentysixdigital, says there is always great excitement when Facebook makes a change like this. She believes there is an opportunity to learn far more about what people think of marketing messages but says the real challenge will be to make sense of the flood of new data: "You might end up with such fragmented data that you can't make up your mind what your ad should look like."

But what should we as Facebook users think about laying out our emotions for all to see?
Nick Oliver urges caution. His company People.io aims to help users take control over their social media data and realise its value to advertisers.

"From the consumer point of view they are now giving up their emotional data for advertisers to use and manipulate," he says. "People open themselves up on social media and the data is used in ways they never expect."

He argues that the rise in the use of ad blockers, which are largely ineffective on Facebook, makes this data even more valuable. "The demand for a price of people's attention is getting higher."
Of course, the big question for advertisers is just how honest people will be in expressing themselves via the Reactions buttons.

The social media era has seen millions sharing their feelings with the world - but we are quickly learning just how dangerous that can be.

Decoding the significance of Facebook love, laughter and tears will become an essential skill for anyone in the marketing industry.

News Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35429042

Attack on Saudi Masjid Kills Several

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An attack on a mosque in Al-Ahsa on Friday has left three dead and several injured and an attacker in police custody, according to reports from local media.

Al-Ahsa is in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which last year saw two major mosque attacks.
Last May, a suicide bomber blew himself up during Friday prayer at a mosque in the village of Al-Qadeeh in eastern Saudi Arabia, killing 21 and wounding 100 others. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh condemned the attack as an attempt to divide the nation.

Days later, Khaled Al-Wahbi Al-Shemari, who was dressed as a woman, detonated the explosive belt he was wearing when challenged by security volunteers at the entrance of Al-Anoud Mosque in Dammam. The blast caused panic and chaos as worshippers rushed to get out of the building and several cars were set alight in the parking lot by the force of the explosion. Daesh claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

The Interior Ministry said soon after they had detained 45 suspects in connection with the mosque attacks

News Source: http://www.arabnews.com/news/872236

Zika Virus is Spreading Explosively in Americans Almost 4M Cases Forecast: WHO

Aedes aegypti mosquito
The Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is “spreading explosively” and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

The Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is "spreading explosively" and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

Director-General Margaret Chan told members of the U.N. health agency's executive board the spread of the mosquito-borne disease had gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions. The WHO would convene an emergency meeting on Monday to help determine its response, she said.

"The level of alarm is extremely high," Chan told the Geneva gathering.

"Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively. As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the region," Chan said, promising quick action from the WHO.

The agency was criticized last year for reacting too slowly to West Africa's Ebola epidemic, which killed more than 10,000 people, and it promised to cut its response time.

"We are not going to wait for the science to tell us there is a link (with birth defects). We need to take actions now," Chan said, referring to the condition called microcephaly in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains that have not developed properly.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is like dengue and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms. Much of the effort against the illness focuses on protecting people from mosquitoes and reducing mosquito populations.

Developing a safe and effective vaccine could take a year, WHO Assistant Director Bruce Aylward said, and it would take six to nine months just to confirm whether Zika is the actual cause of the birth defects, or if the two are just associated.

"In the area of vaccines, I do know that there has been some work done by some groups looking at the feasibility of a Zika virus vaccine. Now something like that, as people know, is going to be a 12-month-plus time frame," he said.

U.S. health officials said the United States has two potential candidates for a Zika vaccine and may begin human clinical trials by the end of this year, but there will not be a widely available vaccine for several years.

Marcos Espinal, head of communicable diseases at the Pan American Health Organization, the WHO's Americas arm, forecast 3 to 4 million Zika cases in the Americas.

As the virus spreads from Brazil, other countries in the Americas are likely to see cases of babies with Zika-linked birth defects, according to Carissa Etienne, regional director for the Pan American Health Organization.

Brazil has reported around 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, vastly more than in an average year and equivalent to 1 to 2 percent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas.

The WHO's Chan said that while a direct causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations has not yet been established, it is strongly suspected.

"The possible links, only recently suspected, have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions," she said.

Health and law expert Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University in Washington, who had urged the WHO to act, welcomed Chan's decision to convene an expert meeting, calling it "a critical first step in recognizing the seriousness of an emerging epidemic."

OLYMPICS CONCERNS

With Rio de Janeiro set to host the Olympics from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the IOC will issue guidelines this week concerning Zika.

"We will do everything to ensure the health of the athletes and all the visitors," Bach told reporters in Athens.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there have been 31 cases of Zika infection among U.S. citizens who traveled to areas affected by the virus.

"It's possible and even likely that we will see limited outbreaks in the United States," Schuchat said.

In Washington, U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts called on the WHO and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to explain how they were tackling the virus because many Americans visit the affected region and more are expected to attend the Olympics.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama's administration's concern was focused mostly on pregnant women or women who could become pregnant, given the link to microcephaly.

Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), British Airways (ICAG.L) and JetBlue (JBLU.O) became the latest international carriers to offer rebookings or refunds for tickets to areas impacted by the virus.

Lufthansa and British Airways said they would offer pregnant women the opportunity to change their reservations to another destination or delay travel. They stopped short of offering complete refunds as several U.S. airlines have.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Cancer Kills 7,500 Daily in China: Study



Chronic infections, smoking and pollution have contributed to skyrocketing cases of cancer in China, with an estimated 4.3 million new diagnoses last year and 2.8 million deaths, researchers said Tuesday.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in China, said the report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and led by Wanqing Chen of the National Cancer Center in Beijing.

The report described cancer as a major public health problem in China, where the population is about 1.37 billion.

In the past, the burden of cancer has been difficult to estimate because research was based on small samples of the population — less than two percent — and used old data sets from the 1990s, said the findings.

But higher quality data in recent years has come from a number of population-based registries via the National Central Cancer Registry of China.

The latest report is based on data from 72 local cancer registries, dating from 2009 to 2011 and representing 6.5 percent of the population.

Using that information, researchers projected there would have been 4,292,000 newly diagnosed invasive cancer cases in 2015 in China.

That would equal almost 12,000 new cancer diagnoses each day, and 7,500 deaths.

The most common forms of cancer in men were lung, stomach, esophagus, liver, and colorectum.

In women, breast cancer was the most common, making up about 15 percent of all new cases of cancer in Chinese women.

Following breast cancer, cancers of the lungs, stomach, colorectum and esophagus made up the bulk of women’s cases.

Cancer is more deadly for men than women in China, killing men at a rate of 166 per 100,000 cases, about twice the rate for women.

Mortality rates from cancer since 2006 are down significantly for both males and females — about 21 percent per year.

But due to the aging and expanding population, the overall number of cancer deaths has substantially increased — by 74 percent — during the same period, said the report.

Chronic infections of the stomach, liver and cervix led to nearly one third of all cancer deaths.

Tobacco smoking accounted for about one-quarter of all cancer deaths.


“Outdoor air pollution, considered to be among the worst in the world, indoor air pollution through heating and cooking using coal and other biomass fuels, and the contamination of soil and drinking water mean that the Chinese population is exposed to many environmental carcinogens,” said the report.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sneezing, Congestion and Coughing! Which Remedies Work, Which Are a Waste of Your Time

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Sniffling, sneezing, congestion and coughing — it can be hard to fight off the germs. Before you try your favorite home remedy, here's what works and what may be a waste of time and money.

Honey

It works! 
Tea with honey or warm lemon water mixed with honey is actually useful in alleviating coughing in children and can help relieve a sore throat in adults.

In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime, according to the Mayo Clinic. With the honey, night coughing was reduced and sleep was easier.

In fact, in the study, honey appeared to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses.
Any type of honey should soothe and coat a scratchy throat. Give a spoonful to your child before bed and as needed.
And remember: Coughing helps clear out mucus so if you or your child is otherwise healthy, you don't need to suppress the cough.
Vitamin C
It doesn't seem to work
Although a few studies suggest vitamin C might shorten the duration of a cold, others find no benefit, and no major studies show that vitamin C eases influenza. Vitamin C doesn't show protection against catching a cold, either.
Research indicates that taking a vitamin C supplement may help treat a cold only if your body has a deficiency in the vitamin. For example, people who live in cold climates may have low levels of the vitamin so a supplement may offer some protection. But you'd get the same benefit from regular, vigorous exercise.
Vitamin C is generally considered safe; however, high doses can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea and nausea.
Zinc
It can help!
An analysis of research found that taking zinc supplements through the first few days of a cold, either as a syrup or lozenge, may shorten the illness. But because supplements aren't regulated, you can't always be sure of the formulation and how effective it is.
It also appeared to prevent colds in people who used it over the course of about 5 months.
While people who have zinc deficiency may have weakened immune systems, that does not necessarily mean that more zinc is better. Whole grains are rich in zinc and a balanced diet may provide all you need.
Zinc is toxic in high doses.
Chili pepper
It doesn't work.
Some people believe chili pepper containing a compound called Capsaicin can clear up congestion and even prevent a cold.
Experts from National Institutes of Health and Duke University says it just isn't so.
The pepper, which is believed to help with pain and stimulate the gut, does not do anything for cold symptoms or prevention.
Hot liquids
They work!
A cup of hot tea can ease sniffles, sneezing and congestion.
Hot liquids have long been promised to help loosen secretions in the chest and sinuses, making them easier to expel and ultimately clearing up congestion.
In December, researchers at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University in Britain looked at whether hot beverages relieved the symptoms of 30 people suffering from the flu or common cold any better than drinks at room temperature. They found that the contrast was marked.
"The hot drink provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness," they reported, "whereas the same drink at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing."
While this was the first study to look specifically at the effects of hot drinks on cold and flu symptoms, others have looked at hot foods like chicken soup and had similar results.

Saudi Shoura Council Calls for Reduction in Internet Fees

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Members of the Shoura Council have called on the country’s telecommunication companies to reduce their Internet and other communication fees.

These costs were too high and were a heavy burden on citizens, particularly since these companies were making huge profits, the members were quoted as saying by a local publication on Tuesday.
Abdulmohsen Al-Mark, a Shoura member, made this appeal during a meeting of the body’s transport, communication and information technology committee, which had been discussing the annual report of the Ministry of Culture and Information for the 2014/2015 financial year.

Another member, Sami Zaidan, questioned the fines imposed on telecommunication companies, saying this would hurt their competitiveness. This was in reference to the Communications and Information Technology Commission fining firms SR552 million last year for various violations.

Last year, a committee of experts had found that telecommunication companies had been cutting telephone cables, providing illegal connections, selling prepaid mobile phone chips without registering identity numbers, making illegal offers and issuing unauthorized telephone service licenses.

The Shoura’s transport, communication and information technology committee recommended in its report that the ministry urgently completes its national strategy on information security, and to work with the Ministry of Finance to approve communication projects and budgets of government agencies.
On a related issue, Abdullah Al-Asheikh, president of the Shoura Council, praised statements made by the speaker of the Parliament in Kuwait Marzouk Al-Ghanem during a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Baghdad, objecting to the views of Iran’s parliamentary speaker about Saudi Arabia.

This was in reference to Al-Ghanem saying at the 11th conference of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC that Iran’s Ali Larijani should not condone his country’s interference in the affairs of Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region.

The Shoura also discussed the report of the education and scientific research committee concerning the annual report of the Ministry of Education for the 2014/2015 financial year.

The committee urged the ministry to ensure quality education in the country, which should include making sure school buildings were adequate for lessons and to prepare properly for each academic year.

With regard to the annual report of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) for the 2014/2015 financial year, the Shoura urged the organization to study ways in which the pensions of retirees could keep up with inflation, so that their purchasing power could be maintained.
The Shoura called on GOSI to review the distribution of its real estate portfolio and reduce its concentration in Riyadh. This would ensure greater equity in economic and social development across the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Shoura approved draft agreements to recruit domestic workers that was concluded recently between the Saudi Ministry of Labor and its counterparts in Djibouti and Niger.

News Source: http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/871136

Apple Warns iPhone Sales Set to Fall for First Time

Apple store on 5th avenue

Apple has reported the slowest growth in iPhone sales since the product's 2007 launch and warned sales will fall for the first time later this year.The US tech giant sold 74.8 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter, compared with 74.5 million a year ago.

Apple said revenue for the next quarter would be between $50bn (£34bn; €46bn) and $53bn, below the $58bn it reported for the same period a year ago.

This would mark Apple's first fall in revenues since it launched the iPhone.
Despite first-quarter iPhone sales being below the 75 million expected by analysts, it was still a record quarter for the company.

Apple revenue in the three months to 26 December was $75.9bn and net profit was $18.4bn, both of which are the highest ever recorded by the company.
Sales of iPhones accounted for 68% of the company's revenue in the period

News Source : http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35412892

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority To Block Over 400,000 Objectionable Websites



Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is about to begin a major crackdown against websites containing any objectionable content. The telecom regulator has contacted all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block a vast number of websites after Supreme Court’s order to remove any objectionable material accessible to the people of Pakistan.
PTA ordered ISPs on Monday to take down over 400,000 adult websites. Access to any similar sites, which contain pornographic material or smut, will be restricted at the domain level. To be exact, 429,343 websites with pornography were listed in the issued directive.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the PTA to take steps in restricting access to any immoral material available online. The order said that “PTA should take remedial steps to quantify the nefarious phenomenon of obscenity and pornography that has an imminent role to corrupt and vitiate the youth of Pakistan”.
Supreme Court’s order was issued on 12th January 2016. It said that internet is a global necessity as information regarding global developments and access to knowledge are easily available to anyone around the world. Such means of information should be encouraged and promoted so people have to spend less and gain knowledge from international institutions. The order reads, that access to this information should be qualified such that nasty and problematic content is removed before it reaches the general population.
The order says that wicked content “has the potential to corrupt and vitiate the youth. This aspect of the subject has to be thought over holistically so that the negative part of the information may not spoil our young generation.”
The regulatory body says that this is just a pre-emptive measure against objectionable content available online. Initially, the current list of over 400,000 websites will be blocked by each ISP on their networks.
ISPs are saying that the list indeed extensive but it’s a big challenge and will take a lot of time to block all of the content. ISP officials state that blocking websites at the domain level is quite costly and such a large list will require system-wide changes and special equipment alongside a substantial number of man-hours. However, due to legal requirements, all ISPs have begun to implement PTA’s restriction order over their networks.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Pakistan's Powerful Army Chief Says He Don't Believe in Extension, Will Retire on Due Date

Don't believe in service extension, will retire on due date: Army Chief

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif Monday dismissed the news related to extension in his tenure as COAS saying “I don’t believe in extension and will retire on the due date.”
According to Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt-General Asim Saleem Bajwa, the speculations about extension in service of COAS were false and completely baseless.
The army chief further stated that the efforts to root out terrorism will continue with full vigor and resolve, Bajwa tweeted. “Pakistan’s national interest is supreme and will be safe guarded at all costs,” Raheel Sharif added.
The statement comes at a time when several news reports claimed that federal government was mulling over a proposed extension in services of General Raheel Sharif. The reports also suggested that Raheel Sharif could also be promoted as Field Martial and continue serving in Pakistan army after November 2016.
Former army chief General Pervez Musharraf also backed the proposal of extension in tenure of COAS Raheel Sharif calling him ‘a great general who could change the days of Pakistan.’
A petition was also Monday filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan seeking a three-year extension in the service of General Raheel Sharif. It is yet to be decided by the court if the petition was admissible or not.
General Raheel Sharif replaced General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani on November 27, 2013 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formally confirmed his new position. He is due to retire in November this year.
As per rules of armed forces of Pakistan, any army chief can serve for a tenure of three years. President of Pakistan can extend the service of army chief on the advice of Prime Minister of Pakistan if any General also agrees at this.
Former army chiefs General Pervez Musharraf and General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, both were given extensions in the services by then Chief Executive of Pakistan.

Saudia Arabia Denied The Existence of Any Mediation With Iran



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Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has denied the existence of any Pakistani mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, reported BNA on Sunday.

He said many countries have come forward with mediation offers, which have been dismissed by Riyadh. He was speaking on the sidelines of the First Ministerial Meeting of the Arab-India Co-operation Forum on Saturday.

Reports last week said that Pakistan had offered to mediate between the two countries and end a tense situation sparked by the attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad.

“A lot of countries have offered mediation and delivered ideas between Saudi and Iran, but there is no need for this because the Kingdom is aware of its rights and Iran knows what has to be done.” 

Al-Jubeir added: “There won’t be any mediation because, for 35 years, Iran has adopted a hostile approach toward Arab countries by meddling in their internal affairs, sowing sectarian strife and backing terrorism as confirmed by numerous strong evidences.”

Iran is among the terrorism-supportive countries listed by the UN and several states other than Saudi Arabia, he pointed out. 

“There are governmental agencies in Iran listed as terrorist organizations. There are also officials in Iran's security agencies wanted for their involvement in terrorism. Iran should change its policy and method of dealing with its neighbors on the principle of good neighborliness and refrain from interference in the internal affairs of other countries so that the path will be open to building better relations with its neighbors,” he explained.

“The message is clear – Iran has to change its policies and have a better relationship with its neighboring countries.” 

Saudi Arabia severed all diplomatic relations with Iran on Jan. 3, a move that was followed by several other Arab countries, including Bahrain.

News Source: http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/870191

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Pakistani Ex-Skippers Shocked By T20 Thrashing


Former Pakistan captains Aamir Sohail, Wasim Akram, Ramiz Raja, Rashid Latif and Mohammad Yousuf have expressed disappointment and shock at Pakistan’s back to back thrashing in the Twenty20 International series against New Zealand.

“Pakistan was clearly lacking tactically, in planning and strategy, which proved disastrous,” said Aamir who was a member of Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup winning team. “Our management and captain misread the track completely which was good for batting and sent Kiwis in to bat first and that as a mistake,” lamented the left-handed opener. “After Kiwis put up a massive 196 on the board, our batsmen were under pressure and were not able to score quick runs,” he said.

He also questioned the shot selection of top-order batsmen. “This performance should be an eye opener for the team management, selectors and PCB administrators with only a couple of month left for ICC World T20,” he said.

Former all-rounder Wasim said great focus and consistency is required from the batsmen in future games. “I was expecting some fighting games from Pakistan after the first T20 win, but in the last two matches they surrendered meekly which was a sorry sight.”

Wasim said the shot selection of the players was quite bad and they paid the penalty for their mistakes. “Not many good batsmen are coming up in the national team who can bat sensibly and take pressure,” he observed.”

Former skipper and batting great Javed Miandad said that Pakistan players committed some very basic mistakes. He said that Pakistan should have planned their batting order keeping in view the stiff target. “There was no harm in changing the strategy and reshuffling batting order. Afridi should have placed himself at the upper slot in the batting order,” said Javed. “There was no team work in the entire match everyone seemed to be in in a hurry.”

Ramiz was also a dejecte man on Friday and said Pakistan team batsmen buckled under pressure after losing first couple of quick wickets. “I was surprised to see Pakistan starting with Anwar Ali in bowling instead their fastest bowler Wahab Riaz,” Ramiz said.

He added that the Pakistan spinners could have played better role. “Only Shahid Afridi applied some pressure on Kiwis batsmen, otherwise they were given a free hand. I always rated Pakistan favorites in T20 version against Kiwis but I have been proved wrong by this performance.”

Ex-middle-order batsman Yousuf endorsed the views of other experts.. “Win and loss are part of the game. But they way we surrendered in the last two games was deeply disappointing and it hurts,” he said. “None of our players are learning from their mistakes and that is the reason for our team’s decline.”

Rashid, commenting on the T20 defeats, said performing under pressure is vital for Pakistan team but they once again failed to deliver in such a situation. “Also, I am at a loss to know why we dropped Mohammad Irfan from the T20 series, he would have been a handful for the Kiwi players.”

Rashid added that the team management and the players are equally responsible for the debacle. “We need to work extensively and scientifically on our gray areas to develop the team,” the former wicket-keeper said.

Source : http://dunyanews.tv/en/Cricket/319136-Pakistani-exskippers-shocked-by-T20-thrashing

Google to Pay $185 Million UK Back Taxes, Critics Want More

The neon Google sign in the foyer of Google's new Canadian engineering headquarters in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Power

Google has agreed to pay 130 million pounds ($185 million) in back taxes to Britain, prompting criticism from opposition lawmakers and campaigners who said the "derisory" figure smacked of a "sweetheart deal".

Google, now part of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), has been under pressure in recent years over its practice of channeling most profits from European clients through Ireland to Bermuda, where it pays no tax on them.

In 2013, the company faced a UK parliamentary inquiry after a Reuters investigation showed the firm employed hundreds of salespeople in Britain despite saying it did not conduct sales in the country, a key plank in its tax arrangements.

Google said late on Friday the 130 million pounds would settle a probe by the British tax authority, which had challenged the company’s low tax returns for the years since 2005. It said it had also agreed a basis on which tax in the future would be calculated.

"The way multinational companies are taxed has been debated for many years and the international tax system is changing as a result. This settlement reflects that shift," a Google spokesman said in a statement.

The deal comes as governments around the world seek to clamp down on multinational companies shifting profits overseas to reduce their tax bills.

EU competition authorities have investigated arrangements used by Amazon (AMZN.O) and a unit of Fiat (FCAU.N) in Luxembourg, Apple (AAPL.O) in Ireland and Starbucks (SBUX.O) in the Netherlands, and may start new probes.

British finance minister George Osborne welcomed the deal, saying on Twitter it reflected new rules that he had introduced, but others were less impressed.

John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the opposition Labour party, said the tax authorities needed to explain how they had settled on the figure of 130 million pounds, which he described as relatively insignificant.

"It looks to me ... that this is relatively trivial in comparison with what should have been made, in fact one analysis has put the rate down to about 3 percent, which I think is derisory," he told BBC Radio on Saturday.

"This looks like another sweetheart deal."

Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at Essex University, agreed.

He said that for a company that enjoyed UK turnover of around 24 billion pounds over the period and margins of 30 percent, the settlement represented an effective tax rate in the low single digits for Google.

“This is a lousy number and we need to know more,” he said. Richard Murphy, a tax expert who has advised the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, on economic policy, said the deal was “a disaster” and that, based on the turnover and margins Google enjoyed, “They should have been paying 200 million pounds a year.”

Between 2005 and 2013, Google had UK turnover of 17 billion pounds and its main UK unit reported a tax charge of 52 million pounds, filings showed. In 2014, it had UK revenues of around 4 billion pounds, according to its annual report, but has not yet published its UK tax charge.

News Source : http://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-britain-taxation-idUSKCN0V10B3

High Fish Consumption in Pregnancy Tied to Brain Benefits for Kids


Researchers followed nearly 2,000 mother-child pairs from the first trimester of pregnancy through the child’s fifth birthday and found improved brain function in the kids whose mothers ate the most fish while pregnant, compared to children of mothers who ate the least.
Even when women averaged 600 grams, or 21 ounces, of fish weekly during pregnancy, there was no sign that mercury or other pollutants associated with fish were having a negative effect that offset the apparent benefits.
“Seafood is known to be an important source of essential nutrients for brain development, but at the same time accumulates mercury from the environment, which is known to be neurotoxic,” lead author Jordi Julvez, of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, said in an email.
In an attempt to balance the potential harms of such pollutants with the general health benefits of fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2014 guidelines encourage pregnant women to eat fish, but no more than 12 ounces per week.
The European Food Safety Authority recently issued a scientific opinion endorsing 150 g to 600 g of fish weekly during pregnancy, Julvez and colleagues note in the American Journal of Epidemiology. But, the study team writes, the effects of maternal fish consumption during development are still not well understood and more research could help give pregnant women clearer guidance.
The researchers analyzed data from the Spanish Childhood and Environment Project, a large population study that recruited women in their first trimester of pregnancy, in four provinces of Spain, between 2004 and 2008.
Julvez and colleagues focused on records of the women’s consumption of large fatty fish such as swordfish and albacore tuna, smaller fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies or salmon, and lean fish such as hake or sole, as well as shellfish and other seafood.
Women were tested for blood levels of vitamin D and iodine, and cord blood was tested after delivery to measure fetal exposure to mercury and PCB pollutants. At ages 14 months and five years, the children underwent tests of their cognitive abilities and Asperger Syndrome traits to assess their neuropsychological development.
On average, the women had consumed about 500 g, or three servings, of seafood per week while pregnant. But with every additional 10 g per week above that amount, children’s test scores improved, up to about 600 g. The link between higher maternal consumption and better brain development in children was especially apparent when kids were five.
The researchers also saw a consistent reduction in autism-spectrum traits with increased maternal fish consumption.
Mothers’ consumption of lean fish and large fatty fish appeared most strongly tied to children’s scores, and fish intake during the first trimester, compared to later in pregnancy, also had the strongest associations.
“I think that in general people should follow the current recommendations,” Julvez said. “Nevertheless this study pointed out that maybe some of them, particularly the American ones, should be less stringent.”
Julvez noted that there didn’t appear to be any additional benefit when women ate more than 21 oz (about 595 g) of fish per week.
“I think it’s really interesting, and it shed a lot more light on the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy,” said Dr. Ashley Roman, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
“I think what’s interesting about this study compared to some data previously is that they better quantify the relationship between how much fish is consumed in a diet and then the benefits for the fetus and ultimately the child,” said Roman, who was not involved in the study.
“They’re able to correlate the fish consumption with protection from autism and I think that is potentially a very important finding,” she added.
Roman said that fish is really important for the fetus’s brain development.
“We still recommend that women avoid the fish that are highest in mercury like catfish, shark, swordfish and giant mackerel, typically the larger fish that have longer lifespans and they tend to concentrate more mercury in their tissue,” she said.

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa


ISLAMABAD (Web Desk / AFP) - A 5.0-magnitude earthquake jolted parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provice on Saturday morning, Dunya News reported.

The quake was centred near Afghanistan-Tajikistan Border Region.at a depth of 80 kilometres, sending people fleeing shaking buildings in Chitral, Swat, Malakand and adjoining areas. 

No loss of life or property damage has been reported so far.
According to U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake with magnitude 5.0 occurred near Feyzabad, Afghanistan.

Earlier in October, a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing nearly 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain.

For many in Pakistan, October‘s quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In Nepal, a quake in April and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.

Google Disabled 780 Million Suspect Ads in 2015


Google revealed on Thursday that it sidelined more than 780 million ads deemed rude, dishonest or dangerous in 2015 in a leap from the 524 million targeted a year earlier.

"Some ads are just plain bad -- like ads that carry malware, cover up content you’re trying to see, or promote fake goods," Google senior vice president of ads and commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy said in a blog post.

"Bad ads can ruin your entire online experience, a problem we take very seriously."

Google has a team of more than 1,000 people around the world devoted to fighting "bad ads," and has armed them with sophisticated technology, according to Ramaswamy.

Google disables ads for violating the California-based Internet giant’s policies.

More than 10,000 websites and 18,000 accounts were suspended for hawking counterfeit goods such as designer watch knock-offs, and Google blocked more than 12.5 million healthcare-related ads that included offering drugs that were approved for use or made claims that weren’t properly supported.

Weight-loss scams were among top complaints by Google users last year, and the company responded by suspending more than 30,000 websites for making misleading claims, Ramaswamy said.

Google also blocked nearly 7,000 "phishing" websites crafted to looked like online pages of legitimate businesses such as banks but intended to trick people into entering passwords or other personal information.

"We got even tougher on ads that mislead or trick people into interacting with them -- like ads designed to look like system warnings from your computer," Ramaswamy said.

"In 2015 alone we rejected more than 17 million."

Google vowed to ramp the war on bad online ads this year along. It also said it will increase defenses against malicious software and computer networks known as "bots" programmed to automatically click online ads to drive up revenue from pay-per-click marketing messages.

Friday, 22 January 2016

How Eating Good Fats Could Save 1 Million Lives Per Year

According to research carried out by the American Heart Association, replacing refined carbohydrates and saturated fats with vegetable oils could save 1 million lives per year.
The association between eating a diet high in saturated fats and heart disease is well documented.
The relationships between different types of fats and their consequences on health are a little more complex.
New research and analysis, carried out on a global scale, shows how changes in diet are necessary throughout the world if lives are to be saved.
In all, the team investigated diet and food availability information from 186 countries. They also reanalyzed and collated previous longitudinal studies looking at how specific fats impact heart disease.
For the first time, the global burden of heart disease has been measured in relation to the consumption of too many saturated fats compared with too little polyunsaturated fats.
Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, senior study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian explains the findings:

"Worldwide, policymakers are focused on reducing saturated fats. Yet, we found there would be a much bigger impact on heart disease deaths if the priority was to increase the consumption of polyunsaturated fats as a replacement for saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, as well as to reduce trans fats."

The benefits of polyunsaturated fats

Not all fats are necessarily evil; none should be eaten to excess, but the physiological profiles of saturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats are different and need to be treated in different ways.
It is important to remember that fats are essential for the body to function. Fats are not only used as an energy source for cellular and physical activity, they also influence the inflammatory response, mood and are vital for intercellular communication.
Polyunsaturated fats are predominantly found in plant-based foods and oils. Consuming these oils can actually improve cholesterol levels in the blood, decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. There is also evidence that polyunsaturated fats can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Polyunsaturated fats can be found in a myriad of foods, including soybean, sunflower oil, tofu, nuts, seeds and fatty fish (for instance, omega-6 oils).

Fats and heart disease on a global scale

As one might imagine, a research project with such immense scope churned out a vast amount of information. Below are some of the most notable findings:
§  10.3% of the total heart disease deaths (711,800 people) worldwide are attributed to eating too little polyunsaturated fats as a replacement for saturated fats
§  3.6% of the total heart disease deaths (250,900 people) were attributed to excess consumption of saturated fats. The marked difference between these two figures is believed to be thanks to the protective properties of polyunsaturated fats
§  7.7% of the total heart disease deaths (537,200 people) were attributed to excess consumption of trans fats. These fats are found in baked and fried food as well as the cooking fat used in some countries
§  The highest rates of heart disease deaths due to low consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats were found in countries of the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine.
As part of the analysis, the team compared data from 1990 and 2010 to chart any significant differences in mortality rates:
§  Deaths due to insufficient omega-6 oils dropped by 9%
§  Deaths due to high saturated fat consumption declined by 21%
§  Deaths due to high consumption of trans fats rose 4%.
In relation to the global trends in heart disease caused by diet, Dr. Mozaffarian said:
"People think of trans fats as being only a rich country problem due to packaged and fast-food products. But, in middle- and low-income nations such as India and in the Middle East, there is wide use of inexpensive, partially hydrogenated cooking fats in the home and by street vendors.

Because of strong policies, trans fat-related deaths are going down in Western nations (although still remaining important in the United States and Canada), but in many low- and middle-income countries, trans fat-related deaths appear to be going up, making this a global problem."

Top 25 Worst Passwords of 2015



SplashData, which makes password management applications, released its annual list of the 25 worst passwords. The list was compiled based on files containing over 3.3. million passwords leaked in 2014.
Once again, "123456" and "password" were the worst passwords of 2015, according to stats from SplashData, the company found that the two worst passwords are also the most-used passwords, and therefore easily cracked by malicious hackers.

Every January, SplashData releases its list of the worst passwords, based on analysis of over 2 million leaked passwords it has found. Since the company started compiling data in 2011, "123456" and "password" have consistently topped the list.

Malicious hackers use a wide range of tools, including bots, to crack passwords. But more often than not, they start with simple codes, like "123456." As SplashData's report suggests, some hackers will hit pay dirt with those terms.

For that reason, companies urge people to use alphanumeric passwords with special characters. Users can also use password managers, which create random passwords for different accounts. In that case, they're only required to remember one password; account credentials are populated by the app.

"As we see on the list, using common sports and pop culture terms is also a bad idea," SplashData CEO Morgan Slain said in a statement.

Here is the full list of the worst passwords of 2015:




3 Journalists of Aljazeera Network Kidnapped in Yemen


Three Al Jazeera journalists working in war-ravaged Yemen who went missing this week likely have been kidnapped, the satellite news network said, the latest reporters targeted in the civil war gripping the Arab world’s poorest country.
Reporter Hamdi Al Bokari and crew members Abdul Aziz Al Sabri and Moneer Al Sabai were last seen Monday night in Taiz, a city in southern Yemen that’s been the scene of heavy fighting for months now, the Qatari broadcaster said.
The network said it was “in contact with related parties in Taiz” to find the men and ensure their safety.
In a statement late Thursday night, Al Jazeera’s acting director-general Mustafa Souag called for the men’s immediate release.
“Our colleagues were simply doing their job of reporting the story and informing the world on what is taking place in Yemen,” Souag said. “It is tragic to see that in times of conflict, news organisations continue to be targeted. Journalists should have the freedom to do their work without the fear of intimidation, abduction or unlawful arrest.”
The network said Al Bokari, a Yemeni national, has worked for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel since 2006. Al Sabri is also a reporter for Al Masdar newspaper, while Al Sabai works as a driver, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Yemen’s civil war began when Al Houthi militiamen took control of the capital, Sana’a, in September 2014. In March, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia began air strikes and later, a ground operation to retake the country from Al Houthis, who are allied with forces loyal to Yemen’s former president and have received support from Iran.
Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city prior to the war, sits in the country’s rugged interior mountains. It is of strategic importance because it lies along a main route from the port city of Aden, which Saudi-led forces hold, leading to the rebel-held Sana’a.
For months, residents and aid groups say Al Houthis have been indiscriminately shelling Taiz and blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid there.
Yemen’s conflict has killed some 5,800 people since March and left over 80 per cent of the country’s population in dire need of food, water and other aid, according to the United Nations.
Journalists also have been targeted in the conflict. Al Houthis have detained reporters while at least four journalists have been killed in air strikes, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
On Sunday, 35-year-old reporter Al Miqdad Mohammad Ali Mojalli, who contributed to the Voice of America, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper and the Nairobi-based Integrated Regional Information Networks, was killed in an attack outside of Sana’a.
“Security in Yemen has rapidly deteriorated in the past year, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist,” Sharif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement Thursday night. “We call on all parties to cease targeting journalists and to free immediately all members of the media that they are holding.”
 
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