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Found 51 results

  1. Google is creating an even more secure login process for users at high risk of online attacks, according to The Verge. On Tuesday, Google announced the launch of a new "advanced protection" setting for Google accounts, which makes it harder than ever for hackers to break into sensitive data on Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube or any other Google outfit. The feature focuses on defending against phishing, accidental sharing, and fraudulent access to accounts and has been introduced for users such as journalists who need to protect their sources or election officials. The programme will use 'security keys', which are small USB or wireless devices required to sign into accounts. Google says they?re the most secure version of two-step verification; they use public key cryptography and digital signatures to confirm a person?s identity. Security keys can be fiddly, so Google says they?re for users who don?t mind carrying them around, using the Chrome browser on desktop, and using Google apps, as the key won?t work with the iPhone?s mail, calendar, and contact apps, The Verge reported further. The 'advanced protection' users will also have extra steps placed during the account recovery process, which will include additional reviews and requests about why a user has lost access to their account. The feature also automatically limits full access to Gmail and Google Drive for specific apps. Earlier this year, Google said it planned to upgrade its two-factor authentication tool after several high-profile hacks, including to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta?s Gmail account in 2016. Google says it will constantly update the security of accounts signed up for the programme. The feature is available to anyone with a regular Gmail account.
  2. WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump launched a tougher strategy to check Iran?s regime on Friday and warned that a landmark international nuclear deal could be terminated at any time. In a much-anticipated White House speech, Trump stopped short of withdrawing from the 2015 accord, but "decertified" his support for the agreement and left its fate in the hands of Congress. And, outlining the results of a review of efforts to counter Tehran´s "aggression" in a series of Middle East conflicts, Trump ordered tougher sanctions on Iran?s Revolutionary Guards Corps and on its ballistic missile program. Trump said the agreement, which defenders say was only ever meant to curtail Iran?s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, had failed to address Iranian subversion in its region and its illegal missile program. The US president said he supports efforts in Congress to work on new measures to address these threats without immediately torpedoing the broader deal. "However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated," Trump said, in a televised address from the Diplomatic Room of the White House. "It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time," he warned. Simultaneously, the US Treasury said it had taken action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and added four companies that allegedly support the group to its sanctions list. Trump?s criticism of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- the nuclear control accord reached between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- had raised global concerns. World governments feared any US move to sabotage the arrangement could dash Washington?s diplomatic credibility and relaunch Iran?s alleged quest for a nuclear weapon, in turn provoking a new Middle East arms race. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear ahead of the president?s speech that his decision does not necessarily mean an end to the accord. ?The worst deal? "The intent is that we will stay in the JCPOA, but the president is going to decertify," Tillerson said. "We?re saying, fine, they?re meeting the technical compliance," he said, indicating that the broader agreement would remain intact for now, and that US lawmakers will have an opportunity to revisit the US sanctions regime. Trump had repeatedly pledged to overturn one of his predecessor Barack Obama?s crowning foreign policy achievements, deriding it as "the worst deal" and one agreed to out of "weakness." The agreement stalled Iran?s nuclear program but opponents, and even some supporters, say it also prevented efforts to challenge Iranian influence across the Middle East. But since coming to office, Trump has faced intense lobbying from international allies and much of his own national security team, who argue the JCPOA should remain in place. Both the US government and UN nuclear inspectors say Iran is meeting the technical requirements of its side of the bargain, dramatically curtailing its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. US concerns about the Guards could also weaken the deal. Trump stopped short of designating the powerful military faction a global terror organisation, as some hawks demanded, but his announcement of targeted sanctions is still likely to trigger an angry Iranian response. "We have considered that there are particular risks and complexities to designating an entire army, so to speak, of a country," Tillerson said. Instead the US will squeeze those directly supporting the corps? ?activities, whether it?s weapons exports or it?s weapons components, or cyber activity, or it?s movement of weapons and fighters around." Snap back Still, Trump?s tough-guy approach could yet risk undoing years of careful diplomacy and increasing Middle East tensions. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at his US counterpart saying he was opposing "the whole world" by trying to abandon the landmark nuclear agreement. "It will be absolutely clear which is the lawless government. It will be clear which country is respected by the nations of the world and global public opinion," he added. Congress must now decide whether to end the nuclear accord by "snapping back" sanctions, which Iran demanded be lifted in exchange for limiting uranium enrichment. Trump will not ask Congress to do that, Tillerson said. "A re-imposition of the sanctions," he said, "would, in effect, say we?re walking away from the deal." But lawmakers may yet decide to torpedo the agreement. Proposals by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Bob Corker to introduce "trigger points" for new sanctions and extend sanctions beyond a pre-agreed deadline have spooked allies, who believe it could breach the accord. But it remains unclear if their proposals can garner the 60 votes need to pass the Senate.
  3. MOSCOW: Russia on Friday launched a European satellite dedicated to monitoring Earth´s atmosphere, the protective layer that shields the planet from the sun´s radiation, live footage from the cosmodrome showed. The Sentinel-5P orbiter took off on time at 0927 GMT from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The satellite - carried by Russia´s Rokot rocket, based on the former Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile - left behind billows of yellow smoke, footage broadcast by the European Space Agency showed. The satellite will form part of the Copernicus project, a joint initiative of the European Union and the European Space Agency to track environmental damage and aid disaster relief operations. It will be the first satellite dedicated to monitoring Earth´s atmosphere for Copernicus, and the sixth satellite to join the Copernicus constellation. Others launched since April 2014 monitor forest cover and land and water pollution.
  4. Ever wondered how Pornhub tailors content for you according to your preference? There are some poor souls out there who are tasked with tagging each and every video in Pornhub's library. Well, now the porn streaming website is now going a step further by adding AI to their systems to improve search results for people with specific fetishes. © Pornhub Pornhub announced last night on their website that it has launched a new AI-powered system that will use computer vision technology to automatically identify and detect pornstars by their name. The algorithm has already scanned and recognised over 10,000 adult performers by simply scanning the existing footage. According to Pornhub, the AI system was fed with thousands of videos and images so that it could effectively identify adult performers accurately. Of course, no AI system is perfect so the company has asked users to validate some of the tags provided by the AI system. Users can simply either upvote or downvote the tags and descriptions. In turn, the AI will use machine learning to understand the algorithm better and also get smarter. “Now, users can search for a specific pornstar they have an affinity for and we will be able to retrieve more precise results,” said Pornhub VP Corey Price. “Our model will undoubtedly play a pivotal role moving forward too, especially considering that over 10,000 videos per day are added to the site.” “In fact, over the course of the past month alone, while we tested the model in beta, it was able to scan through 50,000 videos that have had pornstars added or removed on the video tags.” The algorithm is also set up to differentiate between different categories and genres. For example, if a video has been shot outdoors, the video will automatically be tagged in the 'Public' category. Similarly, the system will tag brunette performers in the 'Brunette' category. © Pornhub Porn companies are known to be the masters of the SEO game and this move by Pornhub will surely up their game by a significant notch. The company wants to process its entire 5-million video library through the AI system over the next year so that it will be much easier for users to find what they are looking for. Source: Engadget
  5. An H-2A rocket carrying Japan's fourth and final quasi-zenith satellite, the Michibiki No. 4, lifts off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on October 10, 2017. Photo: Reuters TOKYO: Japan on Tuesday launched a fourth satellite for a new high-precision global positioning system (GPS) it hopes will encourage new businesses and help spur economic growth. The fourth Michibiki satellite lifted off from Japan?s southern Tanegashima spaceport aboard an H-2A rocket taking just over 28 minutes to reach orbit, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. Having four satellites that loop over Japan and Australia in a figure of eight orbit will allow for uninterrupted coverage and puts engineers on course to switch the system on in April. Japanese GPS can locate devices to within several centimetres compared with the commonly-used US system, which has an accuracy of about 10 meters. Japan plans to have seven of the geo-positioning satellites in orbit by 2023.
  6. LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated on Tuesday a motorcycle ambulance service that will be operated by the Punjab Emergency Service ? Rescue 1122. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Sharif said these 900 first responders will be able to reach remote areas of Lahore where a proper ambulance cannot go. The service is initially being launched in Lahore only and will then phase out to the nine divisional headquarters of the province. These rescuers will be able to administer first aid and will also alert the ambulance so it can meet them at the nearest location, added Sharif. The chief minister congratulated Rescue 1122 DG Dr Rizwan Naseer, saying the project materialised in just six to seven months. He also thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey's health minister for training the rescue staff. "The work they [Rescue 1122] have done in the last 10 to 12 years is unmatched. Their spirit reminds us of Abdul Sattar Edhi, who despite being elderly and unwell, proceeded to disaster zones to take part in relief efforts.
  7. The Waymo logo is displayed during the company's unveil of a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, US, January 8, 2017. Photo: Reuters WASHINGTON: Alphabet Inc?s self-driving car unit Waymo and several groups are launching a campaign aimed at convincing skeptical Americans of what they say is the value and safety of driverless cars, as Congress considers how it will regulate the technology. The company said on Monday that it was teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Federation for Blind Children in a campaign called ?Let?s Talk Self-Driving.? The campaign says that self-driving cars could help eliminate most alcohol-related crash deaths and allow the blind broader access to personal transportation. The country is wrangling with how to regulate the rapidly growing technology, with critics arguing that Congress is moving too fast and not ensuring enough safeguards. Waymo, which began as the Google self-driving car project, said the campaign will begin on Monday in Arizona, where the company is testing self-driving cars. It is set to include digital ads, outdoor billboards, fuel pump advertising and radio spots. The company declined to say how much the advertising campaign will cost. Recent surveys show a majority of Americans are unsure about self-driving cars. In March, the American Automobile Association (AAA) said it had found that three-quarters of US drivers said they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car. In February, US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urged ?Silicon Valley, Detroit, and all other auto industry hubs to step up and help educate a skeptical public about the benefits of automated technology.? Waymo chief executive John Krafcik said in a blog post: ?There?s great enthusiasm and curiosity about self-driving cars ? and there?s some confusion, too.? He added that the ?technology can help address some of the biggest safety challenges on our roads today.? US traffic deaths jumped 5.6 percent in 2016 to a decade-high of 37,461, and pedestrians killed rose 9 percent to 5,987, the highest number since 1990, statistics showed last week. On Wednesday, a US Senate panel unanimously gave the green light to a bill aimed at speeding the use of self-driving cars without human controls, a measure that also bars states from imposing regulatory road blocks. The bill still must clear a full Senate vote, but it appears on track to passage. General Motors Co, Alphabet, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for the landmark legislation, while auto safety groups have pledged to keep fighting for changes.
  8. SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc?s Google on Wednesday unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge of devices from Apple Inc and Inc. Google?s new products, including a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera, showcase Google-developed operating systems and services, notably the voice assistant. That means usage of those devices should stoke the company?s core ad sales business as buyers of the hardware use Google services like search and maps. Speaking at the launch in San Francisco, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh said the new products ?perfectly demonstrate our strategy of re-imagining hardware from the inside out.? The Pixel 2 smartphone comes in two sizes, with comparable features, including aluminium bodies and no traditional jacks for headphones. Prices for the base model start at $649 (490.18 pounds), while the high-end version starts at $849. The phones will be available Oct. 19. The Pixel phones lack the brand lustre and market share of similarly priced smartphones such as the Apple iPhone or Samsung Electronics Co?s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones. Still, the original Pixel?s camera and software drew acclaim from reviewers, many of whom expect the line to become a robust competitor at the high end of the Android smartphone market. Pixelbook, priced at $999, is the first laptop powered by Google Assistant and will support Snap Inc?s Snapchat, the company said. The keyboard folds behind the screen to turn the 12.3-inch touchscreen into a tablet. It will be available in stores from Oct. 31. Google Home Mini, one of the new speakers, is priced at $49 in the United States and would rival Inc?s popular Echo Dot. It will be available Oct. 19. The Home Max, with dual woofers for more powerful sound, is priced at $399 and with availability by the end of the year. The Pixel Buds, which are priced at $149, arrive in November. Clips, which is pocket-sized camera with object detection and automatic recording capabilities, ?soon? goes on sale for $249, Google said. Videos last only a few seconds and do not contain audio. The Pixel smartphone debuted a year ago, with analysts estimating sales of more than 2 million, pushing Google to record amounts of non-advertising revenue. Google?s ?other? revenue category, which includes both hardware and sales of online storage services, accounted for about 12 percent of overall sales in its most recent quarter. Last month, Google expanded its hardware development capabilities by picking up a 2,000-person smartphone engineering team at HTC for $1.1 billion. ?It?s pretty clear Google is serious about hardware,? said Avi Greengart, research director at consumer data firm GlobalData. ?Given that there is a Pixel 2, and given the financial investment, there must be a longer-term strategic intent.? HARDWARE CHIEF HAS SECOND GO Google moved into smartphones five years ago with the $12.5-billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. But Motorola?s hardware team, under Osterloh, and Google?s Android mobile operating system division remained independent. Google wanted to avoid giving it a special advantage and protect its relationships with Samsung, LG and other distributors of Android. The company later sold the Motorola smartphone business. Osterloh, now working inside Google, moved to bring in-house the HTC team Google contracted to design the Pixel. He enjoys a strong relationship with Hiroshi Lockheimer, the Android division head. The pair have been friends since working together for several years at Good Technology in the early 2000s. Protecting relationships with others in the Android ecosystem has become less of a concern. Samsung ratched down the rivalary with Google after the firms agreed to a major patent licensing deal in early 2014. Other vendors have seen their market share dip. Google?s eye is now on Apple, whose iPhone has become the smartphone to beat. The first Pixel debuted a year ago with a significant marketing push: during the last three months of the year, Google spent an estimated $110 million to air 12 Pixel-related commercials, according to data from advertising measurement firm Apple spent $147 million during the same span, said. Apple has sustained its TV time throughout the last year, while Google?s efforts have tapered off. In the speakers market, Google?s personal-assistant lags Amazon?s Echo devices in market share, according to investment bank Cowen & Co. Last week, Amazon released several new models of the Echo, including one with a display as it tried to find a place in every niche. Rishi Chandra, vice president of product management for Google?s Home hardware unit, said in an interview that Google was being ?a little bit more thoughtful? than the online shopping company. ?Amazon is taking a broad approach,? Chandra said. ?We?re going to iterate until we have a good product story to tell.?
  9. The transgender community faces discrimination in Pakistan and finding employment is a challenge. Photo: Bhasker Solanki ISLAMABAD: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU ) has inaugurated a programme to deliver free education to transgenders. AIOU is known for the uplifting of marginalized sections of the society, The News reported. The varsity's Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Shahid Siddiqui, in a comment, said, ?We have decided to launch a programme for the amelioration of transgender people of Pakistan. Through this programme, we hope to return their long-lost self-respect and dignity to them and make them responsible citizens of the society.? ?We have received a positive response from the community and have already started receiving applications for the programme,? he added. The AIOU has been providing free education from matriculation to PhD level to handicapped, visually impaired students, and jail inmates. The students are provided with computerized facilities to aid their learning. 44 regional offices of the university have been set up in the country, available for access by students all over the country. Programmes in Chakwal, Nankana Sahib, Kharian and Thatta have been launched to educate girls who were pulled out of school for various reasons. ?Under this programme in Thatta, 400 girls cleared grade-8 exams and 377 among them proceeded on to take the matriculation exams,? Dr Siddiqui said.
  10. HMD Global finally launched their flagship offering at an event in New Delhi, today. The smartphone comes packed with features and components that will rival top-end Android smartphones with a very competitive price. The device features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 SoC and has a rear dual camera setup. The device is capable of firing up the rear and front-facing camera at the same time and has been dubbed as thed “bothie”. The smartphone will be available through select offline retailers and also exclusively via Amazon India. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Nokia 8 will retail in India for INR 36,999 and will compete directly with the OnePlus. Nokia 8 comes with 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. Customers can buy the device from October 14th on Amazon India and offline retailers such as Croma, Reliance, Sangeetha Mobiles, Poorvika and BigC. The devices runs on stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat out-of-the-box and will get a guaranteed Android Oreo update in the near future. The Nokia 8 has a 5.3-inch QHD IPS display (1440X25600 pixels) with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5. Ajey Mehta, Vice President - India, HMD Global, said: ”Millennials, today, are always exploring new ways to create and share content. It's these creative content creators who inspired us to craft a smartphone with them in mind. That's why we've worked to bring three world firsts – the debut collaboration with ZEISS, OZO spatial 360° Audio, and real-time live streaming using Dual-Sight mode." Speaking at the launch, Larry Paulson, Vice-President & President, Qualcomm India, said: “ Nokia 8 is the first device from Nokia on the Snapdragon 800 Mobile Platform. With an advanced 10-nanometer design, the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform offers phenomenal mobile performance on the Nokia 8, delivering an exceptional user experience.” © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The dual camera system consists of two 13-MP sensors where one offers optical image stabilisation and is an RGB sensor while the other is a monochrome sensor. All three sensors, including the front-facing camera, has been supplied by Carl Zeiss. The Nokia 8 is also optimised for one-touch live-streaming via Facebook Live and YouTube Live and works with the 'Bothie' mode as well.
  11. The payments app uses UPI, allows users to connect bank accounts to service. Photo: File NEW DELHI: Alphabet Inc?s Google on Monday launched a localized payments app for India as it tries to gain a foothold in the country?s rapidly-growing digital payments space. India?s crowded digital payments market, expected to grow ten-fold to $500 billion by 2020, received a shot in the arm after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned old high-value notes last year, forcing people to use e-wallets and card payments. A state-backed payments system, Unified Payment Interface (UPI), has also helped banks enter the fray, forcing wallet players to actively partner with lenders or adopt the platform in the world?s fastest growing internet services market. Google?s payments app named Tez, meaning fast in Hindi, uses UPI and allows users to connect their bank accounts to the service. Google has partnered with State Bank of India, the country?s biggest lender, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank for the service. Tez will compete, among others, with Paytm which is backed by SoftBank and Alibaba. Paytm is the country?s largest e-wallet with more than 225 million users. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who launched Tez in New Delhi said Google was keen on joining India?s transformation into a digital economy, especially after the demonetization. ?The Google team was extremely keen because they saw a great potential, both in the economy and the businesses in India.? Google has increasingly stepped up its efforts to reach deeper into the Indian market. It provides free wifi at several railways stations across the country and launched a version of its video platform YouTube that runs on a slower network. Bharti Enterprises-backed Hike launched a UPI-linked wallet within its messaging platform earlier this year, while Facebook?s popular WhatsApp instant messaging service is also mulling foraying into digital payment services in India, its biggest market and home to 200 million of its billion-plus users.
  12. NEW DELHI: Indian Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Monday started a cross-country march aimed at forcing authorities to clamp down on the widespread sexual abuse and trafficking of vulnerable children. Satyarthi and scores of supporters embarked on the ?India March? at Kanyakumari on the country?s southernmost tip. He hopes to get one million people involved in various stages of the march to New Delhi. ?If our children are not safe in India, if our children are not safe in schools, then we have to change it,? 63-year-old Satyarthi told NDTV television. ?We cannot just wait and watch. One cannot be a silent spectator,? he said, calling child sexual abuse a ?growing menace, a growing epidemic?. The march will finish in New Delhi on October 16 after he and his supporters travel across all 29 states and seven union territories, covering 11,000 kilometres (6,835 miles). More than 9,000 children were trafficked in India in 2016, up nearly 25 percent from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. About 14,000 children were victims of rape and sexual harassment in 2015, data from the National Crime Records Bureau showed. But those figures may only be the tip of the iceberg, with experts saying the government underestimates the numbers in a country where a shroud of silence surrounds such crimes.
  13. Facebook has launched a campaign for suicide prevention as World Suicide Prevention day approaches, the company announced on Thursday. The social media app will use suicide prevention tools and algorithms to spread awareness in its month-wide campaign. Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety, mentioned in a statement ?Throughout September, we?ll connect people with information about support groups and suicide prevention tools through ads in News Feed.? Photo: courtesy Facebook He added, ?We are also launching a new section of our Safety Center with additional resources about suicide prevention and online well being. People can access tools to resolve conflict online, help a friend who is expressing suicidal thoughts or get resources if they?re going through a difficult time.? The recent rise of the ?Blue Whale? game has rung alarms across the globe. These games use manipulation techniques to arouse suicidal behaviour especially among teenagers. Facebook has decided to play its part in ending such trends. ?For those who reach out to us, we provide suggested text to make it easier for people to start a conversation with their friend in need and also provide information and resources for how to best handle the situation. We provide the friend who has expressed suicidal thoughts information about local help lines, along with other tips and resources,? the company added in a press release.
  14. A crewless aircraft blasts off from the Kennedy space center, Florida on Thursday. It was supposed to be a secret, but the cat is out of the bag now! And, we've some juicy info about this secret mission for you. It was SpaceX that launched the US Air Force's super-secret space shuttle as schools and businesses boarded up for Hurricane Irma, which is probably going to hit Florida by this weekend. It was a good day for Elon Musk and his team as it was SpaceX's 16th successful return of a first-stage booster. Though booster rockets are normally discarded at sea but as per SpaceX's normal practice, it landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral for eventual reuse. So to be precise, a crewless aircraft, a technology testing mini-shuttle capable of spending years in orbit, rode an unmanned Falcon rocket on Thursday. © Air & Space Magazine As far as we know, there are two X-37B orbital test vehicles in existence and officials haven't revealed anything about what the spacecraft is doing up there. FYI between the two X-37B's they have already logged five and a half years in orbit. The first mission was launched in 2010 and the last one lasted almost two years and ended making the headline ‘US military's secret space plane lands with sonic boom in Florida' on 7th of May 2010. Earlier, the missions relied on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets. But as SpaceX earned a reputation in the market the company provided a lift for the experimental mini-shuttle. Also, Air force officials said they wanted to use a variety of rockets for the X-37B program. Their objective? To be able to launch as quickly as possible, if warranted. If we talk about the size of the the mini-shuttle, they are 29ft long, with a 14ft wingspan. Now, this is way smaller if compared to Nasa's retired space shuttles which were 122ft long, with a 78ft wingspan. We all know Elon doesn't keep too many secrets from the public when it comes to revealing his company's plans for the future. You can check his Instagram account or Twitter account to stay up to date. It is indeed regularly updated. But this time it was meant to be a secret. So at the Air Force's request, the company stopped providing details about the X-37B's shuttle a few minutes after the lift off. The booster's return to SpaceX's landing zone at Cape Canaveral Air Force station was broadcasted live. No secrets here. When a SpaceX launch controller announced, “The Falcon has safely landed, ” cheers erupted at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. A day well spent! You can watch the launch below:
  15. SpaceX successfully launched a secret US Air Force space plane on Thursday ahead of the arrival in Florida of Hurricane Irma. Live images broadcast by the California aerospace company showed a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the unmanned X-37B drone lifting off at 10:00 am (1400 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The recoverable first stage of the launch vehicle then landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station less than 10 minutes later. There were concerns SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, would be forced to postpone the launch as Hurricane Irma threatens to batter Florida. But skies were clear Thursday and the company managed to complete the launch ahead of the expected weekend arrival of Irma, a powerful Category Five hurricane. It was SpaceX's second mission for the Pentagon this year following a secret satellite launch in May and the private company's first launch of the X-37B. Previous X-37B launches had been performed by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The X-37B, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), is one of two known craft of its type in the US Air Force's fleet and part of a classified program whose details are shrouded in secrecy. A reusable shuttle, Thursday's launch is its fifth mission since its maiden flight in April 2010. "The fifth OTV mission continues to advance the X-37B's performance and flexibility as a space technology demonstrator and host platform for experimental payloads," the Air Force said in a statement. "This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies." On its last mission, the solar-powered X-37B stayed in orbit for 718 days before returning to land on May 7 -- longer than any of its previous flights. Some 29 feet long (nine meters) and 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide, it resembles the space shuttle, the last of which flew in July 2011.
  16. Catalonia's regional parliament passed a law Wednesday paving the way for an independence referendum on October 1 which is fiercely opposed by Madrid, setting a course for Spain's deepest political crisis in decades. The looming showdown comes three weeks after jihadist attacks in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, and a seaside resort which killed 16 people and wounded more than 120. The law was adopted with 72 votes in favour and 11 abstentions after 12 hours of often stormy debate in the regional assembly. Lawmakers who oppose independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain quit the chamber before the vote. After the law was passed, separatist lawmakers, who have a majority in the assembly, sang the Catalan anthem, "Els Segadors", which recalls a 1640 revolt in the region against the Spanish monarchy. Lawmakers approved the bill despite a February ruling by Spain's Constitutional court declaring it would be unconstitutional. Shortly after the law was passed the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and the rest of his cabinet signed a decree calling the referendum, presenting a show of unity in the face of threats of legal action by Madrid, which deems the plebiscite illegal. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said before the law was passed that the government had asked the Constitutional Court to declare "void and without effect the agreements adopted" by the Catalan parliament.parliament.effect the agreements adopted" by the Catalan parliament. She also denounced the regional assembly's agreement to quickly vote on the bill with little debate as an "act of force" characteristic of "dictatorial regimes". At the same time, public prosecutors announced they would seek criminal charges for disobedience against the president of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and other Catalan officials for allowing the vote on the referendum law. 'Lost all legitimacy' In a tweet earlier, Forcadell said she had requested that the 12 judges at the Constitutional Court be disqualified, calling them "another extension of the state which has lost all legitimacy." Most of the court's judges have been nominated by lawmakers from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party. Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people with its own language and culture, accounts for about one-fifth of Spain's economic output, and has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare.output, and has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare. But Spain's economic worries, coupled with a perception that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments and transfers from Madrid, have helped push the cause of secession from the fringes of Catalan politics to centre stage. Adding to the rise in separatist sentiment was a 2010 ruling by the Constitutional Court striking down parts of a 2006 autonomy charter which granted new powers to Catalonia and recognised it as "a nation". Lawmakers who back independence won an absolute majority in the 135-seat regional parliament for the first time in a September 2015 election. The government that emerged from that vote vowed to begin the process of breaking away from Spain. Rajoy responded by promising new investments in Catalonia and regularly sent his deputy to the region, but made no significant reforms regarding the division of powers that addressed Catalan concerns.region, but made no significant reforms regarding the division of powers that addressed Catalan concerns. Evenly divided Caroline Gray, an expert on Spanish independence movements at Britain's Aston University, said Madrid could have defused the rising separatist tide had it offered Catalonia a new financing deal a few years ago. "If some sort of deal had happened in the past, I personally think we wouldn't be where we are today," she told AFP. Opinion polls show that Catalans are evenly divided on independence. But a majority, over 70 percent, want a referendum to take place to settle the matter. Rajoy steadfastly refuses to let Catalonia hold a plebiscite similar to Scotland's 2014 referendum on independence from Britain, which was approved by London and resulted in a "no" vote. His Popular Party and the Constitutional Court argue that the Spanish constitution does not allow regions to unilaterally decide on sovereignty.argue that the Spanish constitution does not allow regions to unilaterally decide on sovereignty. The Catalan government staged a symbolic independence referendum in 2014, when more than 80 percent of participants voted to split from Spain -- though only 2.3 million of Catalonia's 5.4 million eligible voters took part. Spain's Court of Auditors ruled Tuesday that 11 former Catalan officials, including former Catalan president Artur Mas, must repay by September 25 the 5.1 million euros ($6.1 million) in public funds that it cost to hold that vote.
  17. Pop superstar Taylor Swift showed a new dark, bad-girl image as she premiered her latest video Sunday during the MTV Video Music Awards. The video for "Look What You Made Me Do," a dance track that quickly topped streaming charts after its release Friday, opens with imagery of a cemetery. The camera zooms to a grave that says "Here Lies Taylor Swift's Reputation" - a theme that will apparently weigh heavily on Swift's newly announced album, which is entitled "Reputation" and comes out on November 10. The video proceeds to show Swift in Halloween-like makeup and then crashing a car, with paparazzi quickly appearing to show her mishap to the world. The 27-year-old singer, usually known for her squeaky-clean image, appears in the video smashing up a store with a baseball bat and riding on top of a motorcycle in a spiked leather jacket. Swift heads into more expected territory as she leads a troupe of dancers to the house beat of the chorus to "Look What You Made Me Do." When Swift released the song, fans immediately speculated that she was taking aim at the rapper Kanye West. He outraged Swift with a song last year. Swift reinforced the fans' theory on the song's meaning by ending the video saying she would "very much like to be excluded from this narrative" - a turn of phrase that she previously used to describe the feud with West. Swift's last album, "1989," was one of the top-selling works of the past decade.
  18. DUBAI: Major Qatari shipping conglomerate Qatar Navigation (Milaha) is launching a direct service between Qatar and Karachi in Pakistan, the company said on Sunday, as it seeks to counter economic sanctions against Doha by other Arab States. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Doha on June 5, ending the use of Dubai?s Jebel Ali port as a trans-shipment centre for goods flowing to and from Qatar. As a result, imports into Qatar plunged by more than a third from year-earlier levels in June and July, forcing Doha to establish new shipping links and develop other trans-shipment centres in Oman and on the Indian subcontinent. The new Pakistan service, focusing mainly on perishable products and food, will operate weekly between Qatar?s Hamad Port and Karachi with a transit time of four days, making it the fastest direct connection between the countries, Milaha said. The company said it would also next month start a service linking the Qatari ports of Mesaieed and Hamad with Karachi and the Indian port of Mundra. Last week, it launched a direct Qatar-Turkey service and earlier in August, a container service to Kuwait.
  19. QUETTA: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday launched ?Refinance and Credit Guarantee Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs in Underserved Areas? at an impressive ceremony in Quetta. Governor SBP Tariq Bajwa, while addressing the launch ceremony, reiterated the institution's commitment towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth across Pakistan. ?Women are central to this growth paradigm," said Bajwa. The governor informed the audience that it is for the first time in Pakistan's history that a scheme with zero per cent refinance rate and 60pc risk coverage for small businesses run by women entrepreneurs has been rolled out. ?This scheme is an affirmative action by the State Bank to encourage the flow of funds to small enterprises run by women in underserved areas of Pakistan. The scheme earmarks, at least 20pc of funds for Balochistan? said the SBP governor. He also expressed his firm hope that banks will make all out efforts in making the scheme a success. He also told the banks that SBP will monitor the progress of the scheme closely. Chief guest on the occasion, Speaker Balochistan Assembly Rahila Durrani, lauded SBP?s scheme for small businesses run by women entrepreneurs of Pakistan, particularly Balochistan. She also expressed hope that such attractive financing schemes would help poor women overcome their financial problems and hence bring prosperity to the entire province. Earlier in the day, the SBP governor called on Governor Balochistan Mohammad Khan Achakzai and apprised him of SBP?s special focus on agriculture, SMEs and low-cost housing in all underserved areas of Pakistan particularly Balochistan. Governor Balochistan thanked Bajwa for his efforts in promoting access to finance for the underserved and the under banked. Bajwa also met with members of Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI). The office holders of QCCI, while welcoming governor SBP, apprised him of issues being faced by the business community of Quetta. The governor assured members of QCCI of his help in resolving their genuine grievances. Salient features of the scheme ? This facility is for women entrepreneurs in underserved areas of the country for setting up of new businesses or expansion of existing ones ? SBP will provide refinance to banks at 0pc. ? Maximum financing amount is Rs1.5 million. ? Maximum financing period is 5 years with grace period of up to 6 months. ? End user rate is 5pc which is locked in for financing period. ? 60pc risk coverage is available against outstanding principal.
  20. SL suffered a 3-0 Test whitewash against India on home soil recently COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is launching an investigation into the woeful state of cricket on the island, the sports minister said Thursday, amid a string of humiliating losses and calls for an administrative overhaul. Dayasiri Jayasekera said he was inviting former administrators, players, sports experts and journalists to brainstorm ideas about how to revive the game, beloved in Sri Lanka. "I am hoping to get all these experts at a single forum and thrash out issues," Jayasekera told AFP. "There is no point in blaming administrators or the players without an in-depth study. The idea is not to apportion blame, but address the deficiencies and rally behind the national team." He has rejected a suggested clear-out of the cricket board, an idea pushed aggressively by former World Cup winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga following this month´s 3-0 Test whitewash against India on home soil. That compounded the misery for the national side after they suffered a humiliating ODI home series defeat against bottom-ranked Zimbabwe and bowed out early from the Champions Trophy in England. "I don´t want to interfere in the administration," Jayasekera said. "That might lead to isolation by the ICC (International Cricket Council)." For years Sri Lanka´s cricket was governed by state-appointed boards, before a switch in 2016 to democratically-elected office bearers. Ranatunga, who wanted a key role in the administration, was defeated at those elections. The ICC had briefly suspended Sri Lanka´s voting rights before the 2016 reforms. Jayasekera said player fitness was also an issue that contributed to Sri Lanka´s poor showing of late. The sports minister had already caused a stir by labelling the squad too fat and unfit to field five-day matches. It is hoped the proposed forum, which has asked interested parties to submit written submissions about how to improve the game, will be held within a fortnight.
  21. A H-IIA rocket carrying Michibiki 3 satellite, one of four satellites that will augment regional navigational systems, lifts off from the launching pad at Tanegashima Space Center on the southwestern island of Tanegashima, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 19, 2017. Photo: Reuters 1 TOKYO: Japan on Saturday launched an H-2A rocket carrying a geo-positioning satellite into orbit after a week-long delay, the government said. The launch of Japan's third geo-positioning satellite is part of its plan to build a version of the US global positioning system (GPS) to offer location information used for autopiloting and possible national security purposes. The government postponed the launch a week ago because of a technical glitch. "With the success of the third satellite, we have made another step closer for having signals from four satellites in the future," Masaji Matsuyama, minister in charge of space policy, said in a statement. The government plans to launch a fourth satellite by the end of the year to start offering highly precise position information by next April. Japan plans to boost the number of its geo-positioning satellites to seven by 2023, making its system independently operational even if the US GPS becomes unavailable for some reason, a government official said previously. The satellite was manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Corp and was blasted into orbit by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
  22. SEOUL: China and Russia pushed Tuesday for talks to defuse the "confrontational spiral" between the US and North Korea after Kim Jong-Un stepped back from a planned missile strike near Guam. The North Korean leader said he would wait and see how the United States behaved before deciding whether to execute the planned launch of four missiles over Japan towards the tiny US territory in the Pacific. Some analysts suggested Kim was opening a possible path to de-escalating tensions, which spiked dramatically with recent bellicose exchanges between US President Donald Trump and Pyongyang. The North´s official KCNA news agency said Kim was briefed on the "plan for an enveloping fire at Guam" during an inspection on Monday of the Strategic Force command in charge of the nuclear-armed state´s missile units. But it said Kim would "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" before executing any order. "In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the US to make a proper option first," he added. His remarks prompted joy in Guam, where officials described themselves as "almost ecstatic that Kim Jong-Un has backed off". China said Tuesday that the North Korean nuclear crisis had reached a "turning point" and it was time to enter peace talks. Beijing, which is Pyongyang´s main diplomatic ally, has repeatedly called on the United States and North Korea to tone down their rhetoric in recent days. "We now hope that all the concerned parties, in what they say and what they do, can contribute to extinguishing the fire, rather than adding fuel to the fire," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday in a telephone conversation focused on "ways to get out of the confrontational spiral on the Korean peninsula", according to the Russian foreign ministry. A ministry statement said both countries had "stressed the lack of any alternative to a political and diplomatic resolution" and called for "all the sides involved -- with the support of the global community - to move towards setting up dialogue". De-escalating US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was "interested in finding ways to get to dialogue" but stressed the ball was in Kim´s court. The US has long maintained that the North must show some tangible commitment to denuclearisation before official talks can begin - a pre-condition rejected by Pyongyang. Kim´s remarks about future US conduct were seen as a clear reference to large-scale military exercises held every year by South Korea and the United States that are expected to kick off later this month. The North has always denounced the drills as provocative rehearsals for invasion and has in the past offered a moratorium on further nuclear and missile testing in exchange for their cancellation - a trade-off promoted by Beijing, but repeatedly rejected by Washington and Seoul. Some analysts said Kim was seeking a similar quid-pro-quo this time around, using the Guam missile threat as leverage. "This is a direct invitation to talk reciprocal constraints on exercises and missile launches," said Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul said Kim was "de-escalating, putting Guam plan on ice" - at least for now. The United States and South Korea insist their annual joint exercises are purely defensive, and cannot be linked to the North´s missile programme, which violates a host of UN resolutions. Fire and fury Tensions have been mounting since the North tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month, which appeared to bring much of the US within range. Responding to the tests, President Trump warned Pyongyang of "fire and fury like the world has never seen", while the North responded with the Guam threat. South Korean President Moon Jae-In weighed in on Tuesday, saying Seoul would avoid a second Korean War at all costs and stressing that "no one may decide to take military action without the consent of the Republic of Korea".
  23. Trade tensions between the United States and China heated up on Tuesday as Beijing warned that it "will not sit idle" if a US probe into its intellectual property practices leads to sanctions. President Donald Trump's decision to order the investigation comes on top of strains between the two nations over how to handle Beijing's ally North Korea. Trump on Monday signed a memorandum directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether Chinese policies hurt American investors or companies - with retaliatory measures a possible outcome. "We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs," Trump said. "Washington will turn a blind eye no longer," Trump said, vowing to safeguard copyrights, patents and other intellectual property that are "vital to our security and to our prosperity". The president said the US would no longer tolerate Beijing's "theft" of US industrial secrets, long a concern of major foreign corporations seeking a share of the huge Chinese market. "We will engage in a thorough investigation and, if needed, take action to preserve the future of US industry," Lighthizer said. China's commerce ministry issued a statement voicing "serious concern" and warning that any US trade protectionism "will definitely harm bilateral trade relations". "If the US side take actions that impair the mutual trade relations, disregarding the facts and disrespecting multilateral trade rules, China will not sit idle," the statement said. The ministry said the country "is definitely going to adopt all appropriate measures to vigorously defend the lawful rights and interest of China." The United States is China's second-largest trading partner after the European Union, but Washington and Beijing have seen their relations grow increasingly fraught since a promising summit between Trump and China's Xi Jinping in April. Multiple trade disputes The new intellectual property inquiry joins numerous investigations launched by Washington into Chinese trade practices, notably those concerning steel and aluminum and their national security consequences, which the Trump administration began earlier this year. However, the start of a US probe will not immediately result in open confrontation. Lighthizer will first need to reach a preliminary finding of unfair practices by China before opening a formal investigation, which could take as much as a year, administration officials said. The Chinese commerce ministry said the country has "always been paying high attention to intellectual property right protection, continuously perfecting the legislation", and that the progress it has made on that front is "obvious to all". Yang Zhao, chief China economist at Nomura research firm, said a US tariff penalty would only cause minor impacts on the Chinese economy and fall short of a full blown trade war. "The decision to launch this probe may raise the risk of tit-for-tat trade protectionism," Zhao said in a note. "But we believe the Trump administration's strategy is more likely to be one that looks to raise its bargaining power to reach a better longer-lasting solution over the start of, or the threat of, a real trade war." Since launching his successful run for the White House and then taking office, Trump has frequently accused China of undermining the US economy. The bilateral US trade deficit with China approached $350 billion in 2016, and Trump has repeatedly blamed Chinese imports for gutting employment in US sectors such as steel. Last week, Washington announced preliminary sanctions against Chinese imports of aluminium foil. But so far, the US has not imposed heavier trade measures on Chinese goods. North Korea a bargaining chip? On Thursday, Trump reiterated the suggestion that he could soften his position on trade if Beijing were to do more to help rein in nuclear-armed North Korea. China said it would halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea starting Tuesday, in accordance with new UN sanctions that Beijing voted to approve. US administration officials, however, have denied any link between the latest trade action and Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Beijing echoed this view Monday, with the foreign ministry saying the two matters were "totally different." Despite Monday's expected action, Trump has so far refrained from making good on threats of retaliatory trade measures against China. This includes in particular concerns over Beijing's requirement that foreign companies establish local joint ventures. According to Washington, this can mean surrendering technological know-how to Chinese partners.
  24. Dragon cargo ship blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. -AFP MIAMI: SpaceX on Monday blasted off its unmanned Dragon cargo ship toward the International Space Station, carrying a host of science experiments and the most powerful computer ever sent into orbit. "Three, two, one, and liftoff," a SpaceX commentator said as the white Falcon 9 rocket climbed into the blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1631 GMT. Three minutes after launch, the rocket separated as planned, with the long, tall portion - known as the first stage - arcing back toward Earth and the second stage continuing to propel the cargo ship to space. The first stage of the rocket then powered its thrusters and operated its grid fins to set itself down on solid ground at Cape Canaveral for a controlled, upright landing at Landing Zone 1. Clouds of brown dust encircled the rocket as it touched down. "X marks the spot for yet another picture perfect landing," a SpaceX commentator said. The California-based company, headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, has successfully landed multiple rockets on land and on ocean platforms, as part of its ongoing effort to re-use costly rocket components instead of jettisoning them into the ocean. Moments later, SpaceX confirmed that the Dragon had safely arrived in the correct orbit around the Earth. It will arrive at the ISS on Wednesday. The mission is the 12th of 20 supply trips under a $1.6 billion SpaceX contract with NASA to send supplies to the astronauts living at the space station. The cargo ship is packed with 2,900 kilograms of supplies, including a sophisticated super-computer made by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), called The Spaceborne Computer. The goal is to test the computer for one year to see if it can operate in the harsh conditions of space, about the same amount of time as it would take for astronauts to arrive at Mars. If it survives the intense space radiation, such computers could help crew operate on long-duration missions to deep space. NASA has said it hopes to send the first astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.
  25. Apple now has an official account on Instagram. The company has been advertising their products on the popular social media platform but the company is now going to up the ante by sharing their own posts on their own account. The account is currently winning many hearts as it is sharing photos and videos taken on iPhones as part of its 'Shot on iPhone' campaign. © Instagram The Apple Instagram account has the handle you would expect because you know the company will never settle for less. You can follow them @apple ( on Instagram, and it also verified for its authenticity. Even though Apple is a firm believer of dictating their message through their own channels, the company has now started embracing Social media, although they still need to Tweet something. © Instagram The account is currently posting a set of images and galleries taken by various photographers using iOS/Apple equipment. Apple has also been sharing interviews with some of the artists who are behind these amazing images and uses it as a voiceover track. © Instagram The description of their account is rather straight forward, it includes quotes by the photographers of the featured images in each post. Apple is also giving credit to Instagram accounts of photographers so that the world can be exposed to their work. © Instagram Apple has also invited their fans and users to share their own iPhone photography on Instagram and use the apt hashtag i.e. #ShotoniPhone. Apple had a great relationship with Instagram until the social media giant came to the Android platform. Phil Schiller abruptly shut down his account as soon as the application was available for Android smartphones. A look through the lens of iPhone users around the world. Tag #ShotoniPhone to take part. - Words and images by @koci, @itsreuben, @danilo, @_xst, @subwayhands, @marcelonava, @brockdavis, @lanadeathray, @thesdcowgirl, @inomad, @_yaisyusman_, @dawn_denfeld, @pauloctavious, @jeremysnell, @laurazazanis, @ryanpernofski, @abstractconformity, @mirafilm, @joez19, @daniil, @oli_op, @fotombo, @j9ryl, @tertiusalio, @maggiefortsonphoto, @trevorpaulhus, @rodrigomartinezfotos, @louiegraphy, @vmiura, @lfleischer, @vasjenkatro, @stevenxuex, @ianteraoka, @easonhsiung, @omidscheybani, @tamon_, @jaywilliamsphotography, @holephoto, @bigheadtaco, @mamacaxx, @aconica, @joshuakissi A post shared by apple (@apple) on Aug 7, 2017 at 5:15am PDT