Consumption of Allium Vegetables Like Onion, Garlic May Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Consuming of allium vegetables including garlic, onion and leek, is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, researchers say.

Colorectal cancer is the cancer of the colon or rectum, located at the digestive tract’s lower end.

The study, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, showed that the odds of having colorectal cancer was 79 per cent lower in adults who consumed high amounts of allium vegetable compared with those who consumed them in low amounts.

“It is worth noting that in our research, there seems to be a trend: the greater the amount of allium vegetables, the better the protection,” said researcher Zhi Li from the First Hospital of China Medical University.

Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

“In general, the present findings shed light on the primary prevention of colorectal cancer through lifestyle intervention, which deserves further in-depth explorations.”

For the study, 833 patients of colorectal cancer were matched to 833 healthy controls by age, sex and residence area.

Also Read- Common Heartburn Drug Linked to Kidney Disease Risk, Says Study

Importantly, according to World Health Organization, colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers around the world along with male preponderance with 1.80 million cases and 862,000 deaths in 2018.

In addition, the incidence is on the rise in India. (IANS)

Common Heartburn Drug Linked to Kidney Disease Risk, Says Study

Intake of widely prescribed drugs to neutralise stomach acid by people with heartburn or stomach ulcers could be associated with increased risk of kidney disease, warns a study of over 40,000 patients.

The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, showed patients who took proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) were more likely to experience kidney disease than those who took another type of drug used to dampen down acid production called H2 blockers.

The patients who took only PPIs were 28.4 times more likely to report chronic kidney disease, as well as acute kidney injury (4.2 times more likely), end-stage renal disease (35.5 times more likely) and unspecified kidney impairment (eight times more likely), said researchers including Ruben Abagyan, Professor from the University of California-San Diego.

According to the World Health Organisation, PPIs are essential medicines for many people, helping them to control symptoms that are often painful and disruptive to daily life.

Kidney Injury
Representational image. (IANS)
But Abagyan hopes this initial data will prompt healthcare providers to appropriately warn, educate and monitor patients who require PPIs, particularly if they are at an elevated risk for kidney disease and electrolyte abnormalities.

For the study, the team looked at a data of 43,000 patients who took PPIs and the control group, approximately 8,000 patients who took histamine-2 receptor blockers, such as Zantac or Pepcid, and no other medications.

Also Read- Delhi Government Working Towards Robotic Solutions For Cleaning Sewers, Septic Tanks

Patients who took only PPIs reported a kidney-related adverse reaction at a frequency of 5.6 per cent against 0.7 per cent for patients who took only histamine-2 receptor antagonists.

However, the researchers cautioned the study does not reveal absolute frequency of these kidney-related complaints for all people taking PPIs. A large, randomised, controlled clinical trial would be needed to show causality between PPI usage and absolute risk of kidney disease in humans. (IANS)

Delhi Government Working Towards Robotic Solutions For Cleaning Sewers, Septic Tanks

In an attempt to fully eradicate manual scavenging from the Indian capital, the Delhi government is working towards robotic solutions for cleaning sewers and septic tanks.

To achieve this goal, Delhi Cabinet Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam convened a meeting with experts from IIT, Delhi Technological University (DTU), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Delhi Cantonment Board among others to discuss the possibilities and the need of robotic solution to sewer cleaning task, the government said on Thursday.

The idea was inspired from a Robot named Bandicoot, developed by Kerala-based start-up Genrobotics, that has been commissioned by municipal bodies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

About 80 manual scavengers have been trained in these states to operate the robots in a bid to offset the loss of livelihood.

Bandicoot, a semi-automatic robot, only requires a human operator to stand on the street near the manhole.

technology addiction
It is a natural thing for man to become dependent on technology, and also addicted to it. Pixabay

“The machine with its many cameras, a robotic arm with 360 degree mobility, and a handy bucket to collect the waste does the work. The operator is only needed for navigation when the manhole is of non-standard size or there are multiple sewer lines below,” a statement said.

“The Delhi government has already taken up various efforts to stop the inhuman practice of manual scavenging and would soon introduce fully mechanised system to clean the sewage system and septic tanks. Still there is a need for robotic solutions for smaller lanes and by lanes where machines cannot go,” the Minister said.

During the meeting, experts from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) said the robot is not constructed for the condition of Delhi. So they suggested that the DJB approach the company for demonstration and feasibility to use such machine in Delhi.

Also Read- Tech Giant Google Ends Forced Arbitration For Employees Globally

While some experts suggested usage of censors in the manhole to check the status of toxic gases, some others suggested a database control room for various sewer line related data and a Helpline number for the same.

“The DJB has been asked to constitute a committee for implementation of various methods to use robot and other type of technology. The government will ensure funds to DJB for this purpose,” the Minister added. (IANS)

Tech Giant Google Ends Forced Arbitration For Employees Globally

After facing intense protests over sexual misconduct and discrimination at workplace, Google has decided to end the forced arbitration policy for its employees.

According to a report in Axios on Thursday, the new policy will go into effect from March 21 for Google employees globally.

The decision will not open the door to bringing lawsuits over previously-settled claims, said Google.

“Employees with disputes currently in arbitration who are still employed by the company as of March 21 will be able to choose to sue instead,” it added.

Google employees the world over have called for the practice to end in other cases of harassment and discrimination.

Google
The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

“Google appears to be meeting that demand for employees — but the change will not apply in the same blanket way to the many contractors, vendors and temporary employees it uses,” said the report.

Forced arbitration agreements require employees to waive their rights to make a legal claim in court and instead go through a private system, said TechCrunch.

Google also said it would remove mandatory arbitration from legal agreements it reaches directly with its contract and temporary workforce.

Also Read- NIIT Technologies, Microsoft Partner to Drive Cloud-led Transformation

Last month, Google employees took to Twitter and Instagram to educate the public about forced arbitration

Last November, over 20,000 employees staged a walkout at Google over forced arbitration. (IANS)

NIIT Technologies, Microsoft Partner to Drive Cloud-led Transformation

IT solutions firm NIIT Technologies Ltd. on Thursday announced a global collaboration with Microsoft to accelerate the comprehensive cloud needs of enterprises — from infrastructure to business applications.

The collaboration will offer innovative solutions, enabling enterprises to become more agile, improve reliability and reduce operating costs while transforming customer experiences.

“We believe our collaboration with Microsoft can yield substantial and material benefits to our clients,” Sudhir Singh, CEO at NIIT Technologies said in a statement.

“This symbiotic relationship brings together our deep domain vertical expertise along with our differentiated intellectual property built on emerging Microsoft technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), predictive analytics to accelerate the digital ambition of our clients,” Singh added.

Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

NIIT Technologies and Microsoft have also agreed on a strategic Cloud Solution Provider agreement that enables NIIT Technologies to directly manage the entire lifecycle for its enterprise customers including commercials and support and deliver integrated end-to-end solutions as a managed service on Azure.

Also Read- Donald Trump Demands 6G From US Companies After Samsung’s Big 5G Push

The agreement will enable both the companies to develop and deliver a spectrum of technology solutions for customers globally across banking and financial services, travel and transportation, and insurance segments and also help them migrate to Azure.

“Microsoft’s focus is to not only integrate AI capabilities into its products and cloud services but also enable its partners leverage these AI capabilities to build AI powered solutions, which empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations and transform products,” said Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft Corp. (IANS)

Donald Trump Demands 6G From US Companies After Samsung’s Big 5G Push

A day after South Korean giant Samsung launched Galaxy S10 5G smartphone at a packed event here, US President Donald Trump on Thursday said American companies must step up their efforts or get left behind.

In a tweet, Trump said he wants 5G, and even 6G, to be rolled out in the US as soon as possible.

“I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster and smarter than the current standard,” the US President tweeted.

“American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on…,” he added.

His comments came a day after Samsung showcased the Galaxy S10 5G smartphone here.

“Samsung is putting the power of 5G in consumers’ hands with Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung’s first flagship 5G smartphone,” said the company.

With Galaxy S10 5G, consumers on a 5G network can download a full season of a TV show in minutes, play graphics-rich cloud games with virtually no lag, enjoy enhanced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences and stay in touch with friends and family via real-time 4K video calls.

Samsung, Apple
Samsung’s retail presence in the US was marked only by pop-up stores and dedicated spaces in franchisees like Best Buy. Pixabay

I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on………

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019₹

….something that is so obviously the future. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019

Trump’s concerns are real as after the US telecom carrier Verizon announced a 5G-enabled smartphone with Samsung, AT&T has also announced plans to grow its mobile 5G device line-up with a 5G smartphone from the South Korean giant in the first half of 2019.

AT&T is also working with Samsung to create America’s first manufacturing-focused 5G Innovation Zone.

Also Read- Apple Users Will Now Be Able To Follow Their Favourite Places on Google Maps

Verizon and Samsung in December announced to jointly launch one of the first commercials of 5G-enabled smartphones in the US in the first half of 2019.

Samsung has also partnered with major European operators to deliver true 5G connectivity on its latest flagship smartphone.

“Samsung is proud to be making 5G a reality for European consumers by collaborating with some of our most trusted operator partners to introduce Galaxy S10 5G to the market this summer,” said DJ Koh, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), IT and Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics. (IANS)

Apple Users Will Now Be Able To Follow Their Favourite Places on Google Maps

Apple users will now be able to stay up to date on their favourite places right from the Google Maps app on iOS, the Internet giant has announced.

Users can search for a place – whether it’s a new restaurant that just opened up in the neighbourhood or that must-try bakery across town – and tap the “Follow” button.

“You’ll then be able to see important updates from these places in your ‘For You’ tab so you can quickly learn about upcoming events, offers and more,” Andrew Cooper, Product Manager, Google Maps, wrote in a blog post late on Wednesday.

google maps
Google is testing video reviews as part of its ‘Local Guides programme. (Representative image) Pixabay

“And now, places and businesses all over the world can see their followers in the Google ‘My Business’ app, and actively post helpful information for their followers to see. The ‘Follow’ button starts rolling out on iOS today,” Cooper added.

Also Read- Norwegians Are Now Favourite Targets of Cyber Crime: Report

This Google Maps feature was initially rolled out for Android devices in October 2018. (IANS)

Norwegians Are Now Favourite Targets of Cyber Crime: Report

Norwegians have become one of the favourite targets of cyber crime and are easier to be cheated than Swedes and Danes, newspaper Aftenposten reported on Thursday.

Mapping of over 120 million users in 45 countries, conducted by software company Symantec, showed that the only nation that is more exposed than rich Norwegian citizens are Saudi Arabians, the report said.

Norwegians are exposed four times higher than Swedes and six times high than Danish citizens to so-called “phishing” attempts, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Norway must have been far up the list for many criminal groups last year when it is so highly exposed. I do not think Norway has been so high on the list before,” Snorre Fagerland, security analyst in Symantec, told Aftenposten.

The reason for Norway being targeted is because it is one of the richest countries in the world and criminals can earn more money if they get hold of Norwegian data, said Fagerland, who together with his colleagues analysed 2.4 billion emails daily in 45 different countries.

On the “black market”, where stolen data is purchased and sold, a stolen Norwegian credit number with personal information may be worth $45.

Cyber crime, U.S. programming
A man types on a computer keyboard in front of displayed cyber code in this illustration picture. VOA

“The criminals are primarily concerned with profitability. When they enter a country like Norway, it requires investment. They must translate texts, reconnaissance and customize the attacks,” Fagerland said.

The way the “phishing” attacks are designed shows that the computer criminals have learned to master Norwegian language.

At Symantec’s list of 45 countries, Norway comes in third place among countries with the highest proportion of malicious links in the emails.

Also Read- Apple Fell to 17th Position in The List of ’50 Most Innovative Companies’: Report

The survey showed that 12.8 per cent of the malicious e-mails contained such fake links in 2018, which is more than twice as much as, for example, Denmark.

Norwegians are also very high placed on the list when it comes to getting spam e-mails and “ransomeware” on mobile phones, when criminals lock mobile phones and then require ransom. (IANS)

Apple Fell to 17th Position in The List of ’50 Most Innovative Companies’: Report

In the wake of dwindling iPhone sales amid overall sluggish global smartphone growth, Apple fell from the first position in 2018 to the 17th spot in the annual “50 Most Innovative Companies list for 2019” by US-based business publication Fast Company.

Last year, on the basis of innovations like AirPods, Augmented Reality (AR) and iPhone X, Apple secured the first spot and this year the company is only credited for its “A12 Bionic” processor which has been incorporated in the iPhone XS and iPhone XR models.

“Apple’s most impressive new product of 2018 was the ‘A12 Bionic’ chip that debuted as the industry’s first processor based on a seven-nanometer manufacturing process,” said the report.

‘A12 Bionic” processor is the industry’s first 7nm chipset manufactured with a six-core CPU, four-core GPU and an upgraded eight-core Neural Engine with 6.9 billion transistors that deliver dramatically faster performance.

Chinese on-demand service platform Meituan Dianping topped the list, followed by Singapore based ride-hailing company Grab. Meituan Dianping helps in faster booking and delivery of services such as hotel stays and food.

Others in the list were Square, Twitch, Shopify, Peloton, Alibaba and Truepic.

Apple, women
The Apple logo is shown outside the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. VOA

“Our 2019 ranking of the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture showcases a variety of ways to thrive in today’s volatile world,” said Fast Company which judged nominations received through an application process.

The innovation benchmarking was done on the most profound impact on both industry and culture.

Amid sales drops and losses, Apple is expected to refresh its offerings in iPad, MacBook Pro, 6K monitors and iPhone categories in 2019.

Also Read- Google Announces to Train Indian Journalists For Fair Election Coverage

In the fourth quarter of 2018, sales of Apple iPhones hit 64.5 million units, recording its worst quarterly decline (11.8 per cent) since the first quarter of 2016, according to Gartner.

Apple saw iPhone demand weaken in most regions, except North America and Asia/Pacific.

For 2018 as a whole, iPhone sales were down 2.7 percent, to just over 209 million units, said Gartner. (IANS)

Google Announces to Train Indian Journalists For Fair Election Coverage

As India elections inch closer, Google on Thursday announced to train journalists in online verification and fact-checking, digital safety and security, YouTube for elections coverage and data visualization for elections.

Google News Initiative, in partnership with independent, third-party organisations DataLeads and Internews would host training sessions in 30 cities between February 26 and April 6 in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bangla, Kannada, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi, the company said in a statement.

“The Google News Initiative is proud to be supporting journalists in India as they prepare to cover the upcoming elections. Since 2016, Google has trained more than 13,000 journalists in India, across over 200 newsrooms and in 40 cities,” said Irene Jay Liu, Google News Lab Lead, Asia-Pacific.

Working journalists and freelancers covering elections can apply for the free training workshops.

Google, Main One, russia
A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

Google would organise the training session in the Delhi-NCR region on February 26.

Google launched the “Google News Initiative India Training Network” last year, focused on online verification and fact-checking.

Also Read- Microsoft Rolling out New Free ‘Office’ App on Windows 10

In six months, the Network onboarded 241 trainers in seven languages, who have so far trained 5,260 journalists across over 40 cities in India.

For 2019, Google plans to train another 10,000 journalists in India under this programme. (IANS)

Microsoft Rolling out New Free ‘Office’ App on Windows 10

Replacing the currently existing “MyOffice” app on Windows 10, Microsoft is rolling out a new free pre-installed “Office” app for users without an Office 365 subscription requirement.

“MyOffice” app allows users to access and use their Office 365 — Microsoft’s subscription services with programmes including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — from one spot.

The new “Office” app would facilitate quick access to common Office apps and services, finding a full list of apps and services available along with tutorials and getting documents from any application in one place, the software giant wrote in a blog-post on Wednesday.

Keeping organisations in mind, Microsoft has added several capabilities that would be useful for IT administrators.

Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

“With ‘Office’, people would be able to customize their user experience with branding from the organisation, access third party apps, activate Microsoft Search to find documents and people across the organisation in addition to their own apps and documents in one click,” the post said.

Also Read- Facebook Adding New Privacy Control Feature on its Android App

The new app would become available to Windows 10 users on a rolling basis over the next few weeks and would be installed automatically as an update to the “MyOffice” app.

“The app works with any Office 365 subscription, Office 2019, Office 2016 and Office Online – the free web-based version of Office for consumers,” the post added. (IANS)

Facebook Adding New Privacy Control Feature on its Android App

Facebook is adding a new privacy control feature to its Android app that will allow users to block the app from collecting and saving their background location information.

“We’re introducing a new background location control on Facebook for Android so people can choose if they want us to collect location information when they’re not using the app,” Paul McDonald, Engineering Director, Location Infrastructure, Facebook wrote in a blog-post on Wednesday.

Until now, users using features location like “Nearby Friends” or “Check-in” on Facebook were asked to enable their “Location History” setting.

Enabling the “Location Sharing” feature shared the user location even when the app was not being used, allowing Facebook to store that history.

“With this update, you’ll have a dedicated way to choose whether or not to share your location when you aren’t using the app,” McDonald said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook is also updating the “Access Your Information” feature to include an estimate of users’ primary location at the city or postal code level.

“We’re not making any changes to the choices you’ve previously made nor are we collecting any new information as a result of this update,” McDonald added.

This update announcement came just days after Facebook’s security team had used location information to track missing interns and users deemed to be threats, The Verge reported.

Also Read- WHO Claims Measles Epidemic in Madagascar Takes Hundreds Of Lives

For iOS users though the location setting was not such big an issue as Facebook would send an alert to users who chose to turn on the “Location History” feature so that they could check to make sure their settings are right for them.

The ‘Location Services’ setting for iOS also comes with three choices — Never, While Using and Always — for when an app could access the precise location of the users. (IANS)

Lok Sabha Elections On Priority List Says Twitter

Twitter on Thursday said the 2019 Lok Sabha election is a key priority for the company and it deeply respects the integrity of the election process while being committed to provide a service that fosters and facilitates free and open democratic debate.

“The 2019 Lok Sabha is a priority for the company and our dedicated cross functional team is working to ensure that the health of the public conversation is enhanced and protected at this important time,” Colin Crowell, Global Vice President – Public Policy, Twitter, said in a statement.

Twitter has been accused by the Indian government of being “slow” in removing “objectionable content” from its platform.

elections
According to Twitter, India is the world’s largest democracy, and one of the company’s largest and fastest-growing audience markets in the world. Pixabay

The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology (IT) has summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on February 25 over measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the users and allegations that the social media site is discriminating against “nationalist” posts on its platform.

According to Twitter, India is the world’s largest democracy, and one of the company’s largest and fastest-growing audience markets in the world.

“This is a constant process of learning and we gain insights from every election around the world, which helps inform our approach to this evolving challenge,” said Crowell.

social media
“The Twitter rules were updated to provide clearer guidance on several key issues including fake accounts, attributed activity and distribution of hacked materials,” said the company. Pixabay

In this regard, Twitter on Tuesday announced to bring its Ads Transparency Centre to India on March 11 that allows everyone to view political ads with details like ad spend and targeting demographics.

“The Twitter rules were updated to provide clearer guidance on several key issues including fake accounts, attributed activity and distribution of hacked materials,” said the company.

Twitter said it continues to invest intensively to identify and combat bad faith actors who try to manipulate the service.

“We have formed an internal, cross functional elections group to lead electoral integrity work in India from now through polling day.

Also Read: Google With A New Cloud Computing System, Aims Winning Big-Spending Customers
“Using proprietary-built internal tools, the team proactively protects trends, supports partner escalations, and identifies potential threats from malicious actors,” said the micro-blogging platform.

The team, said Twitter, is working with political parties from across the spectrum, as well as the Election Commission of India, so that they know how to report suspicious, abusive and rule-violating activity to Twitter. (VOA)

WHO Claims Measles Epidemic in Madagascar Takes Hundreds Of Lives

0

The World Health Organization says that an epidemic of measles in Madagascar has caused more than 900 deaths.

According to WHO figures, there have been more than 68,000 cases of the disease in which 553 deaths were confirmed and another 373 suspected from measles since the outbreak began in September.

Those most at risk are infants from nine to 11 months old.

disease
The World Health Organization says that an epidemic of measles in Madagascar has caused more than 900 deaths. Pixabay

The epidemic is blamed on a low immunization rate for measles across the island nation over a period of many years, according to WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic. The vaccination rate is estimated to be less than 60 percent, according to figures from WHO and UNICEF figures, he said.
Also Read: U.S. President Donald Trump Administration Says There Is No Return For US-Born Jihadist
Madagascar has launched a nationwide campaign to try to bring the outbreak under control, through mass vaccination campaigns and surveillance. (VOA)

U.S. President Donald Trump Administration Says There Is No Return For US-Born Jihadist

0

The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist who wants to return from Syria, arguing that she is no longer a citizen.

The Trump administration’s refusal to admit Hoda Muthana, 24, could set precedent and face legal challenges, because it is generally extremely difficult to lose US citizenship.

“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.”

FILE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

“We continue to strongly advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria,” he added.

Pompeo did not elaborate on the legal rationale for why the Alabama native, who is believed to have traveled to Syria on her U.S. passport, was not considered a citizen or where she should go instead.

Pompeo’s statement on Muthana — one of the comparatively few U.S.-born jihadists amid the hundreds of Europeans to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria — is at odds with his calls on other countries to take back and prosecute their own jihadist nationals.

Just this weekend, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to chastise European allies who have not taken back IS prisoners caught in Syria.

US-born, then radicalized

Muthana was born in the United States to parents from Yemen who became naturalized American citizens, according to the Counter Extremism Project at George Washington University, which has identified 64 Americans who went to join IS in Syria or Iraq.

In late 2014, shortly after moving to Syria, Muthana posted on Twitter a picture of herself and three other women who appeared to torch their Western passports, including an American one.

She went on to write vivid calls over social media to kill Americans, glorifying the ruthless extremist group that for a time ruled vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

But with IS down to its last stretch of land, Muthana has said she renounced extremism and wanted to return home.

Muthana, who has been detained by U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, said that she had been brainwashed by reading social media as a closeted teenager in Hoover, Ala.

“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” she said in a note to her lawyer reported by The New York Times.

Hassan Shibly, lawyer for 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, 24, is pictured in his office in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 20, 2019. The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back Muthana, a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist, who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a citizen.
Hassan Shibly, lawyer for 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, 24, is pictured in his office in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 20, 2019. The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back Muthana, a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist, who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a citizen. VOA

She was married three times to male jihadists and has a toddler son.

Hard to lose citizenship

The U.S. decision on Muthana comes amid rising debate in Europe on the nationality of extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who similarly traveled to Syria and wants to return to her country of birth.

Britain asserted that she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship because of her heritage, but the Dhaka government on Wednesday denied that she was eligible, leading her to become effectively stateless.

U.S. citizenship is significantly more difficult to lose. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War as slavery was abolished, establishes that anyone born in the country is a citizen with full rights.

In recent years, it has been considered virtually impossible to strip Americans of citizenship, even if they hold dual nationality.

The U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1967 Afroyim decision rejected the government’s attempt to revoke the nationality of a Polish-born naturalized American after he voted in Israel.

And last year a federal judge rejected a government attempt to strip the nationality of a Pakistani-born naturalized American who was convicted in a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

Also Read: Google With A New Cloud Computing System, Aims Winning Big-Spending Customers

But Trump has campaigned on a hard line over immigration and raised the prospect of ending birthright citizenship ahead of last year’s congressional elections.

In 2011, President Barack Obama ordered drone strikes that killed two Americans in Yemen — prominent al-Qaida preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son — but did not believe it was possible to revoke citizenship. (VOA)

Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan Emphasis On Women Education To Bring Child Vaccination Awareness

Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, who has been appointed ambassador for the Swasth Immunised India campaign, says educating the women will help in spreading awareness about the initiative of child vaccination in the most impactful way.

Kareena told the media here on Thursday: “This is a special and personal project for me because I am also a young mother and Taimur is going through the process of vaccination. But at the same time, I would also like to mention that female literacy is equally important to get success in this campaign.

“Without a mother who is educated enough to understand the importance of vaccination…she won’t take her child to the doctor. And I know it as a matter of fact that a mother takes the best care of a child. So, we have to create awareness among the parents and we need a lot of public support to prevent the future generation from diseases, and have a healthy well-immunised India.”

Kareena
Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan. Wikimedia Commons

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, and Natasha Poonawalla were also present at the launch event.

Some women who were a part of the event pointed out that one of the problems they face is when a child suffers from fever after taking the vaccine. So, it makes them hesitant to take their children for vaccination.

Kareena said: “Yes, a mother can be concerned on such grounds, but you should discuss those matters with your doctor. Educate yourself, trust your doctor and understand that by vaccinating your child, you are securing his/her future from some of the fatal diseases.”

child
Some women who were a part of the event pointed out that one of the problems they face is when a child suffers from fever after taking the vaccine. So, it makes them hesitant to take their children for vaccination. Pixabay

On the importance of the involvement of a celebrity with such a campaign, the actress said: “Well, we can see how the polio campaign is successful in our country where we have managed to eradicate polio from a generation. Thousands of people who saw that Mr. Bachchan (Amitabh Bachchan, the brand ambassador of the polio campaign) was urging parents to take their children for the vaccination, they connected with him, so they thought if Mr. Bachchan is saying it’s important, surely it is.

Also Read: Northeast Not Homogenous But Diverse Grouping of Communities
“Similarly, I am sure that many young mothers will feel connected with me because I am doing this for my child. If my baby is growing healthy after taking the vaccine, it is safe for all the babies.” (IANS)

Google With A New Cloud Computing System, Aims Winning Big-Spending Customers

Google has a new cloud computing boss and big ambitions to someday produce more revenue from that business than from advertising. Now comes the hard part: winning over big-spending customers.

Alphabet Inc’s cloud computing division remains a distant third behind Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp in terms of global revenue, according to analysts’ estimates. A few major companies manage their data on Google’s servers. But Google has nowhere near the vast customer base of Amazon, according to a new Reuters analysis of company regulatory filings.

Businesses generally are not required to disclose their cloud vendors. Reuters found 311 out of about 5,000 worldwide that did so in 2018. While not comprehensive, the data provide a window into Google’s challenge.

Thirty five of those companies named Google as a cloud provider. The largest by market capitalization were oil major Total SA and bank HSBC Holdings Plc.

Amazon Web Services led with 227 clients, including travel company Expedia Group Inc and industrials giant Siemens AG. Microsoft’s Azure cloud had 69 firms, among them weapons maker Axon Enterprise Inc and business data firm Dun & Bradstreet Co. Thirty four of the companies cited multiple clouds.

The previously untracked data show the work ahead for Thomas Kurian, who is weeks on the job as chief executive of Google Cloud. Kurian has vowed to double down where Google has seen promising results. Specifically, he plans to target governments and top companies in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, media and finance.

“A lot of our focus as we go forward is making sure that our sales organization has the background and the ability to sell to large, more traditional companies,” Kurian said at a Goldman Sachs investor conference last week. “There’s enormous appetite in those companies to consider Google.”

Google declined to comment or make Kurian available for an interview.

People familiar with his plans said he is looking to reshape his division’s culture. A key part is developing or acquiring easy-to-use, industry-specific corporate applications, an area that Amazon and Microsoft do not dominate.

google
Businesses generally are not required to disclose their cloud vendors. Reuters found 311 out of about 5,000 worldwide that did so in 2018. While not comprehensive, the data provide a window into Google’s challenge. Pixabay

“It’s about the on-ramp onto their cloud,” said Daniel Ives, a New York-based financial analyst following the cloud industry for Wedbush Securities. “The main way to get that is through applications.”

A 22-year veteran of Oracle Corp, Kurian gave the database company fresh life as the product leader behind its move to selling cloud services. His hire is already making potential customers reconsider Google, said Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a Monta Vista, Calif.-based firm that helps businesses negotiate cloud deals.

“They’ve worked with him,” Wang said. “There’s a trust factor that wasn’t there before.”

Kurian also must reassure some investors bewildered by Google’s cloud ambitions: Diversifying revenue beyond advertising is a plus, but it is not coming cheap.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon combined spent nearly $53 billion on capital expenses last year, driven by data center projects to house their clouds.

With gross margins of 20 percent or less, selling cloud storage or tools for which customers need specialized staff is less lucrative for a small vendor, industry experts said. But margins on the type of software Kurian likely wants to offer can top even the 60 percent of Google’s ad business.

“The next wave of growth is going to have to come from the heavy hitting applications,” said Kerry Liu, chief executive at Rubikloud, which helps retailers with cloud projects.

‘Geeky, Techy platform’

Google got serious about the cloud around 2016, five years after Amazon Web Services had become a multibillion-dollar behemoth. But Google’s reputation for limited customer support has attracted mostly newer businesses or those with significant tech know-how.

Mike Fisher, Etsy Inc’s chief technology officer, said Google’s superior AI tools helped win over the New York-based crafts marketplace. Fisher expects data-crunching algorithms to account for 25 percent of its server use this year, up from 10 percent last year.

google
Google got serious about the cloud around 2016, five years after Amazon Web Services had become a multibillion-dollar behemoth. But Google’s reputation for limited customer support has attracted mostly newer businesses or those with significant tech know-how. Pixabay

“We’ve been more pleasantly surprised than we thought,” Fisher said of the cloud’s benefits.

Advertising software company OpenX recently agreed to spend at least $110 million on Google Cloud over five years. The Pasadena, Calif. firm bet its clients would benefit from transacting on the same infrastructure as Google’s ads system. “It’s a bit more of a geeky, techy platform, but we’re that kind of company,” said Chief Technology Officer Paul Ryan.

Kurian’s plan

To attract more traditional corporate clients, Google Cloud will need to do some handholding, executives at its partners and rivals said.

Kurian is well-suited to the role. Two of his former colleagues said his follow-up and candid disclosures about product limitations helped seal deals at Oracle. An early riser, Kurian impressed staff with his meticulous preparation for morning meetings as well as his recall of the tiniest details of clients’ systems from years before.

Kurian also managed billions of dollars in acquisitions at Oracle, including the purchases of software firms BEA Systems and Taleo.

Also Read: Pope Calls On Sex Abuse Prevention, Concrete Action To Respond To The Scandal

Google is testing product recommendation software for shopping apps, a person familiar with the project said, to add to its small set of specialized tools.

Kurian told the investor conference that “you will see us continue to expand our footprint there.” (VOA)

Pope Calls On Sex Abuse Prevention, Concrete Action To Respond To The Scandal

0

Pope Francis warned church leaders summoned Thursday to a landmark sex abuse prevention summit that the Catholic faithful are demanding more than just condemnation of the crimes of priests but concrete action to respond to the scandal.

Francis opened the four-day summit by telling the Catholic hierarchy that their own responsibility to deal effectively with priests who rape and molest children weighed on the proceedings.

“Listen to the cry of the young, who want justice,” and seize the opportunity to “transform this evil into a chance for understanding and purification,” Francis told the 190 leaders of bishops conferences and religious orders.

“The holy people of God are watching and expect not just simple and obvious condemnations, but efficient and concrete measures to be established,” he warned.

Pope Francis delivers a speech during the four-day meeting on the global sexual abuse crisis, at the Vatican, Feb. 21, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video.
Pope Francis delivers a speech during the four-day meeting on the global sexual abuse crisis, at the Vatican, Feb. 21, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. VOA

More than 30 years of scandal

More than 30 years after the scandal first erupted in Ireland and Australia and 20 years after it hit the U.S., bishops and Catholic officials in many parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia still either deny that clergy sex abuse exists in their regions or downplay the problem.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, called the summit after himself botching a well-known sex abuse cover-up case in Chile last year. Realizing he had erred, he has vowed to chart a new course and is bringing the rest of the church leadership along with him.

The summit is meant as a tutorial for church leaders to learn the importance of preventing sex abuse in their churches, tending to victims and investigating the crimes when they occur.​

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) President Tim Lennon from Tucson, Ariz., center, and SNAP members Esther Hatfield Miller from Los Angeles, left, and Carol Midboe from Austin, speak to the media in St. Peter's Square, Feb. 20, 2019.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) President Tim Lennon from Tucson, Ariz., center, and SNAP members Esther Hatfield Miller from Los Angeles, left, and Carol Midboe from Austin, speak to the media in St. Peter’s Square, Feb. 20, 2019.VOA

Survivors flock to Rome, seek justice

In the keynote speech, Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle choked up several times as he told the bishops that the wounds the scandal has caused among the faithful recalled the wounds of Christ on the cross. He demanded they longer run in fear or turn a blind eye to the harm caused by clergy sex abuse and their own inaction to halt the problem.

“Faith that would like to close its eyes to people’s suffering is just an illusion,” he said.

Abuse survivors have turned out in droves, coming to Rome to demand accountability and transparency from church leaders, saying the time of cover-ups is over.

Phil Saviano, who helped expose the U.S. abuse scandal by priests two decades ago, demanded that the Vatican release the names of abusers and their files.

“Do it to break the code of silence,” he told the organizing committee on the eve of the summit. “Do it out of respect for the victims of these men, and do it to help prevent these creeps from abusing any more children.”

Lowered expectations

The Vatican isn’t expecting any miracles or even a final document to come out of the summit, and the pope himself has tried to lower expectations.

But organizers say the meeting marks a turning point in the way the Catholic Church has dealt with the problem, with Francis’ own acknowledgment of his mistakes in handling the Chile abuse case a key point of departure.

“Our lack of response to the suffering of victims, yes even to the point of rejecting them and covering up the scandal to protect perpetrators and the institution has injured our people,” Tagle said in his speech. The result, he said, had left a “deep wound in our relationship with those we are sent to serve.”

Statue pulled down

Before the Vatican summit opened, activists in Poland pulled down a statue of a priest early Thursday after increasing allegations that he sexually abused minors. They said the stunt was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church in resolving the problem of clergy sex abuse.

Video footage showed three men attaching a rope around the statue of the late Monsignor Henryk Jankowski in the northern city of Gdansk and pulling it to the ground in the dark. They then placed children’s underwear in one of the statue’s hands and a white lace church vestment worn by altar boys on the statue’s body.

Also Read: Whatsapp Security Bug Allows iPhone Users Bypass Security Controls

The private broadcaster TVN24 reported the three men were arrested.

Jankowski, who died in 2010, rose to prominence in the 1980s through his support for the pro-democracy Solidarity movement against Poland’s communist regime. World leaders including President George H.W. Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited his church in recognition of his anti-communist activity. (VOA)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Stern On Intensifying India-Korea Economic Relations

Making a call to intensify the India-Korea economic relations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Thursday urged more Korean businesses to turn their attention towards India.

“I wish to see more and more Korean businesses turning their attention to India,” Modi said.

Addressing the India-Korea Business Symposium, Modi who is on a two-day official visit to South Korea, said India has become one of the most open countries for foreign direct investment (FDI), recording $250 billion inflow in the past four years.

India
Highlighting the sound fundamentals and that the Indian economy is on its way to become a $5 trillion economy soon, Modi said no other large economy in the world has grown at 7 per cent year after year.
Pixabay

Noting that this was his third interaction with the Korean business leaders in 12 months, Modi said: “Negotiations to upgrade the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) have been fast-tracked to achieve the bilateral trade target of $50 billion.”

India features among the top 10 trade partners of South Korea and is the sixth largest export destination for S Korean goods with the trade volume reaching $21.5 billion in 2018.

Money
Trade Groups Claim, American’s Detention Is A Potential Moment For Russia. Pixabay

“Not just trade, in terms of investment also we are seeing a positive turn. Korean investments into India have reached a cumulative figure of almost $6 billion,” the Prime Minister said.

Noting that the South Korean National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) has opened its India office in Bengaluru to facilitate Korean startups in India, the Prime Minister said both the countries have decided to set up a future strategy group (FSG) and a centre for research and innovation cooperation.
Also Read: Trade Groups Claim, American’s Detention Is A Potential Moment For Russia
Highlighting the sound fundamentals and that the Indian economy is on its way to become a $5 trillion economy soon, Modi said no other large economy in the world has grown at 7 per cent year after year.

India, he said, has jumped to the 77th spot on the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” rankings on the back of reforms and is determined to break into the top 50 next year. (IANS)

Trade Groups Claim, American’s Detention Is A Potential Moment For Russia

0

Last week’s shocking detention of one of Russia’s most renowned and publicly visible American entrepreneurs not only caught fellow foreign investors off guard, it may have prompted a moment of national reckoning about how Moscow handles investor relations, say both Kremlin-aligned and international trade groups.

Baring Vostok founder Michael Calvey’s arrest Feb. 15 on charges of fraud stemming from a lengthy legal dispute with Russia’s Orient Express Bank sparked widespread speculation about whether the days of unbridled “reiderstvo” — aggressive Kremlin-backed asset raids and corporate takeovers synonymous with Yukos, Russneft, Bashneft, Stolichnaya Vodka and VKontakte — were a thing of the past, or whether, perhaps, Calvey had actually committed a crime.

A recent Moscow court decision to extend Calvey’s detention without trial for a minimum of two months on the grounds that his release poses a flight risk, along with indications that he’s been denied consular access in violation of the 1966 Vienna Convention, doesn’t bode well for professionals such as Aleksander Khurudzhi, who has been tasked by the state with rehabilitating Russia’s image as a secure place to invest.

‘This is a shock’

“From my point of view, what happened is in complete contradiction with statements of a Russian president who, from all rostrums, has expressed the same unchanging viewpoint: that Russia is open for investments and that Russia will do its best to attract and safeguard both Russian and foreign investments,” Khurudzhi, deputy ombudsman for the Kremlin office of business ethics, told VOA.

“This is a shock,” he added. “It undermines all the work being conducted by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. All the work that has been done for the last seven to eight years aimed at improving the investment climate. It undermines trust in the system as such … (and our entire) team isn’t sleeping at night. Without any exaggeration, the work is being carried out for 24 hours. This is a challenge for all of us, for our whole team.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Feb. 20, 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

Indeed, during his annual State of the Nation address before Russia’s Federal Assembly on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin, who has been faced with record-low approval ratings, even made a fairly explicit reference to Calvey’s detention.

“To achieve … great (economic) objectives, we must get rid of everything that limits the freedom and initiative of enterprise,” Putin said. “Honest businesses should not live in fear of being prosecuted of criminal or even administrative punishment.”

Putin, who met Calvey multiple times since the American arrived in Russia in the mid-1990s, has said he had no foreknowledge of Calvey’s arrest, and that despite his repeated calls to keep commercial disputes and litigation from culminating in spurious charges against foreign investors, he has no direct influence over how Russian courts render their verdicts.

FILE - CEO and co-founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management Bill Browder attends the "Prospects for Russia after Putin" debate in the Houses of Parliament, London on Nov. 18, 2014.
CEO and co-founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management Bill Browder attends the “Prospects for Russia after Putin” debate in the Houses of Parliament, London on Nov. 18, 2014. VOA
 

Vocal Kremlin critics, such as Hermitage Capital co-founder Bill Browder, are deeply skeptical of these claims.

“The arrest of Mike Calvey in Moscow should be the final straw that Russia is an entirely corrupt and (uninvestable) country,” Browder said in a tweet Friday. “Of all the people I knew in Moscow, Mike played by their rules, kept his head down and never criticized the government.”

Browder was denied entry into Russia in 2005 after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, began investigating governmental misconduct and corruption in response to suspicious tax evasion charges brought against Hermitage by Russia’s Interior Ministry.

Magnitsky died under suspicious circumstances in Russian custody in 2009.

Seen as a ploy

For someone like Browder, it would seem Putin’s claim of political impotence in the face of a fully independent judiciary, despite copious historical evidence to the contrary, is nothing more than a cynical public relations ploy meant to portray Russia as a nation of procedural law, while denying justice and consular access to the very foreigners who fastidiously try to abide it.

Even prominent Putin allies, such as Russia’s ex-finance minister Alexei Kudrin, have sounded the alarm, calling Calvey’s arrest an “economic emergency.”

FILE - Alexis Rodzianko talks to Reuters in Moscow, Sept. 16, 2009.
 Alexis Rodzianko talks to Reuters in Moscow, Sept. 16, 2009. VOA

For U.S. citizen Alexis O. Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia and a longtime Moscow resident, the initial shock of Calvey’s detention might, however ironically, reveal a longer-term opportunity to recalibrate Russia’s ties with foreign investors.

“Sure, at this point it’s damaging. It certainly makes every one of us who were here thinking about, ‘Well, you know, how far is it from me to his prison cell?’” he told VOA. “But I think it could be a defining issue for the business climate here. It could be the beginning of a bad streak, or it could be the signal for Russia to actually take some positive action.”

Rodzianko, who’s convinced the charges against Calvey are without legal merit, said he’s personally convinced the arrest stemmed from “a commercial dispute in the usual sense,” and that “people who set it up were not expecting the resonance that it (has) received.”

Asked if he thought Calvey’s arrest could be in any way politically motivated, he said he was convinced it was not.

“But then I think, in the circumstances, it can’t but be political, just because of the current state of affairs, because of the current state of relations,” Rodzianko said. “It’s just too easy to make that connection, which I don’t think is a proper connection, but I don’t see how it can be avoided.

Two possible outcomes

“I think it’s a symptom of a problem that Russia has, and Russia has to deal with,” he added. “It could (have one of) two outcomes.”

One, he said, is that Calvey’s arrest will come to signify a continuation of a malevolently corrupt practice that Russian and foreign investors have come to “face on an endemic basis.”

Also Read: Billion-Dollar Business Goes To The Dog Walkers

Or, “it might actually be a mistake which leads to significant reform, which might improve the situation for both foreigners and Russians investing in Russia,” Rodzianko said.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow district court said that Calvey, who was detained along with other members of the firm on suspicion of stealing $37.5 million (2.5 billion rubles), faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. (VOA)

Eating Nuts May Keep Diabetes At Bay

Eating a handful of nuts daily, particularly tree nuts, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among people with Type-2 diabetes, associated with an increased risk for high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, say researchers, including one of Indian origin.
Tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, hazelnuts and pine nuts were strongly associated with reduced risk of coronary events, cardiac death and total mortality compared with peanuts.
The results showed that eating even a small amount of nuts had an effect.
While the exact biological mechanisms of nuts on heart health are unclear, researchers noted that nuts appear to improve blood sugar control, blood pressure, metabolism of fats, inflammation and blood vessel wall function.
“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of heart attacks, strokes and disability for people living with Type-2 diabetes,” said Prakash Deedwania, Professor at the University of California-San Francisco.
Eat Walnuts to Ward off Diabetes Risk
Eat Walnuts to Ward off Diabetes Risk. Pixabay
“Efforts to understand the link between the two conditions are important to prevent cardiovascular complications of Type-2 diabetes and help people make informed choices about their health,” Deedwania added.
In this study, reported in the Circulation Research journal, the team used data from 16,217 men and women before and after they were diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes.
People who increased their intake of nuts after being diagnosed with diabetes had an 11 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 15 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 25 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, and a 27 per cent lower risk of all-cause premature death.
Each additional serving per week of total nuts was associated with a three per cent lower risk of heart disease and six per cent lower risk of heart disease death.
Adding more nuts to one’s diets proved beneficial probably at any age or stage.
“It seems never too late to improve diet and lifestyle after diagnosis among individuals with Type-2 diabetes,” the researchers said. (IANS)

Exercise May Help You Counter Effects of Jet Lag

Finding it hard to cope with jet lag, shift-based work? Doing some excercise can shift the human body clock and help you adjust to the shifted schedules, suggests new research.

The study, from the Arizona State University, showed that exercise can shift the human body clock with the direction and amount of this effect depending on the time of day or night in which people exercise.

Exercising at 7 a.m. or between 1 and 4 p.m. advanced the body clock to an earlier time, and exercising between 7 and 10 p.m. delayed the body clock to a later time.

Exercising between 1 and 4 a.m. and at 10 a.m., however, had little effect on the body clock, and the phase-shifting effects of exercise did not differ based on age or gender, the researchers explained.

“Exercise has been known to cause changes to our body clock. We were able to clearly show in this study when exercise delays the body clock and when it advances it,” said lead author Shawn Youngstedt, from the varsity.

Lemon
Exercise can help you counter effects of jet lag, shift-based work. Pixabay.

“This is the first study to compare exercise’s effects on the body clock, and could open up the possibility of using exercise to help counter the negative effects of jet lag and shift work.”

The findings, published in The Journal of Physiology, suggest exercise could counter the effects of jet lag, shift work, and other disruptions to the body’s internal clock (e.g., military deployments) helping individuals adjust to shifted schedules.

Also Read- Billion-Dollar Business Goes To The Dog Walkers

For the study, the team examined body clocks following exercise in 101 participants for up to five-and-a-half days.

The baseline timing of each participant’s body clock was determined from urine samples collected every 90 minutes to measure the time of the evening rise in melatonin and the peak of melatonin several hours later. (IANS)

Billion-Dollar Business Goes To The Dog Walkers

0

Americans love their pets.

Almost half of all U.S. households have a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association.

More millennials — people roughly between the ages of 23 and 38 — own pets than anyone else, and are willing to spend more money on their furry friends than any previous generation. Pet owners pay out about $70 billion a year on their pets, according to the APPA, and that includes hiring dog walkers to take the animals for a stroll while their owners are at work, away, or otherwise occupied.

The dog walking industry brought in $1 billion dollars in 2018, according to market research firm IBISWorld.

Also Read- India’s Thermal Coal Imports Can Expect 10% Increase this Year

Heather Rice runs her own dog-walking firm in Northern Virginia. VOA recently spent a day on the job with her. (VOA)

India’s Thermal Coal Imports Can Expect 10% Increase this Year

0

India’s thermal coal imports could rise by about 10 percent in 2019 due to rail transport problems and other logistical bottlenecks, an executive at the country’s largest coal trader Adani Enterprises said on Tuesday.

Thermal coal imports rose in 2018 after two years of decline, despite moves by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to cut the country’s imports in a bid to reduce the trade deficit.

Rajendra Singh, chief operating officer for coal trading at Adani Enterprises, said thermal coal imports this year could total 174 million-177 million tons.

“We expect a 10 percent increase in imported coal because of an immediate gap in supply from Coal India and power demand and demand from other sectors,” Singh said at the Coaltrans conference.

thermal coal imports, india
Rajendra Singh, chief operating officer for coal trading at Adani Enterprises, said thermal coal imports this year could total 174 million-177 million tons. Pixabay

Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, and over three-fifths of its thermal coal imports come from Indonesia, while over a fifth is imported from South Africa.

India’s 2018 thermal coal imports rose at the fastest pace in four years, adding to India’s trade deficit and hurting the valuation of the rupee, the worst performing major Asian currency in 2018.

The Adani Group, which handles about a third of India’s imported coal, expects “rail transportation challenges” to lead to a “reasonable rise in imports” until fiscal year 2021 when they will stabilize.

Singh said he expects small and medium scale industries such as the sponge iron industry, tile manufacturers, cement producers and textiles to contribute to higher demand for seaborne coal, adding that an industrial shift from petcoke to coal was fueling higher imports.

 

thermal coal imports, india
Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, and over three-fifths of its thermal coal imports come from Indonesia, while over a fifth is imported from South Africa. Pixabay

Petcoke, or petroleum coke, is a refinery byproduct which is a dirtier alternative to coal. Its usage has been banned in some parts of the country, and policy flip-flops over its usage have led to a fall in demand for the fuel.

ALSO READ: Food Apps India’s Growing Gig-Economy, Says Delivery Men

State-run Coal India Ltd, which accounts for four-fifths of India’s coal production, supplies largely to power plants rather than small and medium-scale industries.

Smaller scale industries have used imported coal in a big way, and while higher coal imports may be bad news for India’s trade deficit, they are a boon for international miners and global commodity merchants. (VOA)

Northeast Not Homogenous But Diverse Grouping of Communities

By Vishnu Makhijani

Some years ago, I was startled at a seminar titled “Seeking our collective peace: The northeast India diaspora looks into solutions for peace and development in the region”. Startled because to me, “diaspora” denoted a group of people voluntarily living outside their homeland.

Then I realised it could be a case of misconstrued semantics because, in the words of Professor Anuradha Chenoy, a former dean at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, “This meeting was just a start of a long journey, but the most important lesson learned today is that first the Northeast has to be linked together –politically, economically and culturally — before it can positively influence the peace process in the region.”

Cut to the present day agitation against the now-lapsed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in seven of the eight northeastern states (Sikkim being the exception) and it would seem that the region is pretty much linked together even though there are differences, for instance, on the demand for a Greater Nagaland or the internal squabbles in Manipur, for instance.

Where then, does the faultline lie? It lies within.

“What is called the Northeast is not a homogenous entity. It is rather a diverse grouping of communities — this is mentioned time and again, and is correct, but how it works out on the ground has to be studied as well,” says author-journalist Ankush Saikia in the chapter titled “Man in the Middle” in “Insider Outsider – Belonging and Unbelonging in North-East India” (Amaryllis/pp 244/Rs 399), a compendium of works by 16 writers on various facets of existence within the region.

The creator of the Detective Arjun Arora series of books adopts a rather quaint manner of elaborating on this in the post 1972 scenario when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam and Shillong was no longer the parent state’s capital.

“While in Assam, I was an insider and while in Shillong, I was an outsider, but even there overlaps occurred, as I might be an outsider in certain contexts in Assam, and an insider in certain contexts in Shillong….I think the end result of this was that, again maybe unconsciously, I found it very difficult to chose sides,” Saikia writes.

The Lalung tribe is also known as Tiwa tribe, an indigenous tribal community from northeast India. Wikimedia Commons

And therein lies the rub — a rub that those of my ilk, born in the 1950s realise quite acutely of being neither here nor there.

It raises a fundamental question, as co-editor Preeti Gill, an independent literary agent, puts it in the introduction to the volume.

Also Read- Food Apps India’s Growing Gig-Economy, Says Delivery Men

“Who is an Indian really? Why are we made to wear our nationality, our identity, on our sleeve? Why are we required to constantly prove ourselves as Indian nationalists, as patriotic citizens? Can we not just be human, people who live together as neighbours , very different, very distinct, but still inhabiting the same space in a peaceable, gracious way,” Gill asks. “It is a reality that in this country, and especially in the hill states of the Northeast, there is no space to be just Indian. One remembers the lines by the Sufi poet Bulleh Shah, who wrote: ‘O Bulle, let’s go to that place/ Where people have not too much intelligence/For there, nobody will ask of our roots and look down upon us/And nor do we desire that they look up to us.’

“The challenge for people like us is to find that space. If at all it still exists,” Bakshi concludes. (IANS)

Food Apps India’s Growing Gig-Economy, Says Delivery Men

Suraj Nachre works long hours and regularly misses meals but he treasures his job as a driver for a food delivery startup — working in a booming industry that highlights India’s expanding apps-based gig-economy.

The 26-year-old is one of hundreds of thousands of young Indians who, armed with their smartphones and motorcycles, courier dinners to offices and homes ordered at the swipe of a finger.

A surge in the popularity of food-ordering apps like Uber Eats and Swiggy provides a welcome source of income for many as India’s unemployment rate sits at a reported 45-year high.

But they also shine a spotlight on the prevalence of short-term contracts in the economy, raising questions about workers’ rights and conditions and the long-term viability of the jobs.

“(These delivery workers) are treated as independent contractors so labor laws governing employees are not applicable and they lack job security,” Gautam Ghosh, a human resources consultant, told AFP.

“While jobs created by food delivery apps are crucial, they may not exist in 10 years so for the majority of youngsters they are a stopgap arrangement,” he added.

India’s army of food delivery drivers, mostly men but some women too, became a talking point on social media late last year when a rider for the Zomato platform was filmed sampling a customer’s order.

Swiggy, Uber eats, food apps
A surge in the popularity of food-ordering apps like Uber Eats and Swiggy provides a welcome source of income for many as India’s unemployment rate sits at a reported 45-year high. Pixabay

The video, apparently shot on a mobile phone, showed the man taking bites from several food parcels before wrapping them again. It sparked anger online and he was promptly sacked.

Rushing around

Many internet users rallied to his defense, however. They insisted that the two-minute clip showed he was hungry and desperate, and said Zomato had acted harshly in dismissing him.

“It is a challenging job,” said Nachre, expressing sympathy for the unnamed delivery man who was working in the southern city of Madurai before being fired.

“We work 12 hours straight in soaring heat and heavy rains. Sometimes I don’t even have time to eat,” he added.

Nachre drives for the Scootsy platform. He leaves home at 9:00 am and does not return until after 1:00 am. Navigating Mumbai’s abysmal traffic makes work stressful, he says.

“We’re always in a rush to deliver and customers keep calling us. We know we have to be on our toes all the time or customers might complain and we may lose our jobs,” Nachre told AFP.

India’s food delivery apps, backed by major international investment, are offering new avenues of employment for Indian youngsters who lack higher education but possess a driving license.

Their importance to the likes of Nachre was highlighted recently when a leaked government report said India’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in 2017-18, the highest since the 1970s.

“This job is lucrative,” said Nachre, who has no post-school qualifications and earns a minimum of 18,000 rupees ($253) a month.

In his previous job running errands at an office he made only 8,000 rupees.

The app-based food delivery industry is worth an estimated $7 billion to Asia’s third-largest economy, according to market research firm Statista, and is expanding rapidly.

 

Swiggy, uber eats, food app
Delivery men working with the food delivery apps Uber Eats and Swiggy wait to pick up an order outside a restaurant in Mumbai, India, Feb. 6, 2019. VOA

Swiggy announced at the end of last year that it had received $1 billion in funding from foreign backers including South Africa’s Naspers and China’s Tencent.

Foreign investment

That put the valuation of the five-year-old company, headquartered in Bangalore, at more than $3 billion.

Zomato, Swiggy’s nearest challenger for market dominance, is being aggressively backed by Alibaba’s Ant Financial. The Chinese giant recently pumped in $210 million, valuing the Delhi-based startup at $2 billion.

The food delivery platforms are soaring as India’s growing middle classes take advantage of better smartphone connectivity and cheap data plans that are fueling a gig economy centered on technology.

Informal, casual labor has long been the bedrock of India’s economy but now Indians can access a host of services on their phones from hiring a rickshaw to booking a plumber or yoga teacher.

FlexingIt, a global consulting agency, estimates the country’s gig economy has the potential to grow up to $30 billion by 2025.

Analysts say it is time the government started to regulate the sector.

“There is no regulator overlooking this sector. Working conditions definitely need to get better for these workers,” Anurag Mahur, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers told AFP.

ALSO READ: Whatsapp Security Bug Allows iPhone Users Bypass Security Controls

Thirty-year-old Tushar Khandagale, who delivers for Zomato, is the sole breadwinner in his family.

With millions of youngsters entering India’s workforce every year and looking for a job, Khandagale would relish a long-term contract that offered him some security.

“I hope to stay in this job. It pays well and my family depend on me,” he said. (VOA)

Micro-blogging Site Twitter To Test Redesigned Conversations Layout With Wider Set of iOS Users

The Micro-blogging site Twitter is launching a test of its redesigned conversations layout with a wider set of iOS users and is accepting survey-based applications from people who are willing to try the new interface out.

“Twitter is exploring new ways to make the conversations you care about easier to read, understand, and join. Apply to be part of our Twitter Prototype Programme and look out for an email with an update on your application status,” the company informed via a post on Wednesday.

A new rounded shape to replies makes a Twitter thread look more like text messages. Replies from people you follow appear in blue and replies from the original tweeter are in gray, The Verge reported.

The micro-blogging site is also experimenting with various options it could add for the viewing of likes and retweets of posts.

Twitter testing redesigned conversations layout with more iOS users. Pixabay

“The number of likes and retweets that a reply has received are now hidden until a user clicks on the reply, along with sharing options and other details about the tweet,” the report said.

In October last year, the company said it was redesigning conversations on the platform to encourage friendlier and more useful discussions with features like “presence indicators” and “ice breakers”, the media had reported.

Also Read- Reliance Jio Adds 85 Lakh Subscribers in December; Airtel, Vodafone Idea Lose Users

It remains unclear by when the Prototype Programme reach Android and web users would be able to register and test Twitter’s redesigned conversations interface. (IANS)

Reliance Jio Adds 85 Lakh Subscribers in December; Airtel, Vodafone Idea Lose Users

Reliance Jio continued to increase its subscriber base in December as other major telecom operators Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel lost users during the period, data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) showed on Wednesday.

Reliance Jio added 85.6 lakh subscribers during the month under review, taking its total subscriber base to 28.01 crore.

“Total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA and LTE) increased from 1,171.76 million (117.17 crore) at the end of November 2018 to 1,176.00 million (117.6 crore) at the end of December 2018, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.36 per cent,” TRAI said in a statement.

Reliance Jio. Source: www.reliancejio.website

Vodafone Idea, the largest telecom operator in terms of subscribers, lost around 23.32 lakh subscriptions and its base by December-end stood at 41.87 crore.

Also Read- Saudi Arabia to Cooperate with India in Combating Terrorism

The total subscriber base of Airtel was 34.03 crore, down 15.01 lakh from November, the data showed.

On region-wise subscription trend, TRAI said that “during the month of December 2018, all service areas except the northeast, showed positive monthly growth in their wireless subscribers”. (IANS)

Saudi Arabia to Cooperate with India in Combating Terrorism

0

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in New Delhi that terrorism is a common concern and his country would cooperate with India in combating terrorism and extremism.

On a visit to New Delhi, Prince Salman said Wednesday that there were potential opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India.

His trip to New Delhi has coincided with spiraling tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of a terror attack that killed 40 paramilitaries in Indian Kashmir.

Prince Salman’s meetings with Indian leaders came two days after he went to Pakistan. He did not mention the attack on Indian soldiers, but at a joint press appearance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi he said “we reaffirm to India that we are ready to work in the intelligence sharing and political arenas to coordinate our efforts on terrorism.”

Referring to the recent “barbaric” attack in Kashmir, Modi said that the two countries had agreed that “it is extremely important to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting terrorism in any way.” The Indian leader said that destroying the infrastructure of terrorism, and punishing terrorists and their supporters is necessary.

India, Saudi Arabia, terrorism
The two countries signed five agreements in the areas of investment, tourism, housing and communications. Wikimedia

New Delhi, which accuses Pakistan of giving sanctuary to terror groups that carry out strikes in India, is trying to build diplomatic pressure against Islamabad. It gave Prince Salman a warm welcome with Modi breaking protocol to receive him personally at the airport on Tuesday.

The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, who also was warmly welcomed in Pakistan, had pledged investment deals worth $ 20 billion during his Islamabad visit.

Modi said that India and Saudi Arabia had agreed to to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism, naval and cyber security.

As both leaders hailed deepening ties, they also sounded an optimistic note on building business and trade ties. The Saudi Crown Prince, who came to New Delhi with a large business delegation, said that Riyadh had invested $44 billion in India since 2016. He said that there were opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India in areas such as energy, agriculture and technology.

Two-way trade totaled over $ 27 billion last year. Saudi Arabia is a top supplier of oil to India, which is one of the world’s largest oil importers and provides about one fifth of its crude.

India, saudi arabia, terrorism
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center left, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, center right, witness the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Petroleum, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2019. VOA

The two countries signed five agreements in the areas of investment, tourism, housing and communications.

Prince Salman said that his visit to India will improve centuries-old ties between the countries, which he said are “in our DNA.” Ties between the two countries have been on an upswing since Modi visited Riyadh in 2016 as part of efforts to strengthen ties with Middle East countries.

ALSO READ: Saudi, India Admit of Putting Pressure on Countries Supporting Terrorism

The Saudi crown prince is on his first major overseas tour since the storm over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. He is expected to visit China after India. (VOA)

Social Networking Giant Facebook Interested in Blockchain-based Authentication, Says Mark Zuckerberg

You may soon login to Facebook with Blockchain-based authentication, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated.

In a public interview with Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain late on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said he is “potentially interested” in putting the Facebook login on the Blockchain technology.

“I’m thinking about going back to decentralised or Blockchain authentication. Although I haven’t figured out a way to make this work out but this is around authentication and basically granting access to your information and to different services,” Mark Zuckerberg told Zittrain.

According to him, Blockchain could give users more powers when granting data access to third-party apps.

Facebook last year promoted one of its senior engineers Evan Cheng as the Director of Engineering at its recently launched Blockchain division.

Earlier in May, Facebook set up a group within the company to explore Blockchain technology and its potential use for the platform, headed by Messenger chief David Marcus.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Media reports also said Facebook was exploring to develop its own cryptocurrency.

Facebook has over 2.3 billion users globally and launching cryptocurrency will allow them make payments using a virtual currency like Bitcoin.

In a statement, Facebook said: “Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of Blockchain technology”.

Also Read- Whatsapp Security Bug Allows iPhone Users Bypass Security Controls

According to The Verge, the risk of further data-sharing scandals is one of the main reasons why Facebook is wary of implementing the change.

“You basically take your information, you store it on some decentralised system and you have the choice of whether to log in different places and you’re not going through an intermediary. There’s a lot of things that I think would be quite attractive about that,” said Mark Zuckerberg. (IANS)