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CPIM protest against water problem in Jappinamogaru
Osama's son Hamza asks jihadists to attack US, allies
Same-sex marriage bill introduced to Australian Parliament
Intercaste couple goes missing: Hindu outfits demand investigation
Raveena alleges misbehaviour during I-Day celebrations in LA
Morgan Freeman's granddaughter stabbed to death in Manhattan
First batch of Hajj pigrims departs from Mangaluru International airport
Love failiar: Assistant officer of health centre commits suicide
Woman injured as Omni car hits police jeep
Conditional SR2,000 dole disbursement begins

Obama pledges commitment to GCC security ahead of summit

Washington: President Barack Obama welcomed Saudi Arabian leaders to the White House Wednesday amid strains with the kingdom over his pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.

As he opened their Oval Office meeting, Obama said the US and Saudi Arabia were building their relationship “during a very challenging time.” Beyond the Gulf nation’s worries about Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries are deeply concerned about the rise of Daesh and instability in Yemen.

Obama made no mention of the nuclear negotiations, which will be at the forefront of discussions with regional leaders at Camp David on Thursday.

The president also was hosting a dinner Wednesday for representatives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

But Obama’s separate meeting with the Saudis underscores the desert kingdom’s critical role. Saudi Arabia has been among the strongest critics of the president’s Iran overtures and worries not only about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but also its meddling throughout the region.

Obama had planned to meet one on one Wednesday with Saudi King Salman. But the kingdom abruptly announced over the weekend that the king would no longer travel to Washington.

Both the White House and Saudi officials insisted Salman was not snubbing Obama. Still, his decision to skip a visit to the White House and a rare summit at Obama’s presidential retreat raised questions about the effectiveness of the meetings.

The White House is expected to offer the Gulf nations more military assistance, including increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems. The package of assistance would be aimed at reassuring the region that the US will guard its security against potential Iranian aggression.

Some Gulf nations wanted Obama to commit to a formal defense treaty, but US officials have told leaders the president will not agree to such a measure.
  • Published in National

US 'certainly vulnerable' to IS: Senator

Washington: The US is "certainly vulnerable" in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant organisation, Senator Ron Johnson said. The Wisconsin Republican said on Sunday that attacks inspired by IS, like the one against the provocative cartoon contest in Texas a week ago, are allowing the group to convey a "winner's message", CNN reported.

Johnson chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "The best strategy the US can employ to defeat this is actually defeat IS in Iraq and Syria so that the reality is conveyed that this is not a winning organisation, it is a losing organisation," he said. Johnson admitted, though, that tracking IS sympathisers in the US is a particular challenge, since the group has communicated with potential recruits over social media and law enforcement officers cannot track every possible suspect.

"The problem is, what do you do with the not-guilty-yet?" Johnson said. He cited a figure published in March: There are about 46,000 -- though maybe as many as 90,000 -- Twitter accounts that support IS. "... just consider maybe 90,000 people drawn to this barbaric ideology. So we have got a very large haystack. We're looking for a needle in it." Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, said 22,000 foreigners have joined the terror group's ranks in Iraq and Syria.

Of those, McGurk said, 3,700 are from Western nations. One eighty Americans have sought to join the organisation, 15 of those have been charged with supporting IS by the justice department. Other experts said the threat of IS now is greater than what Al Qaeda posed to the US at the time of the 9/11 attack. "Remember back then we thought about Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and a few other places?" said Tom Ridge, who served as secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

"Well, we've seen Al Qaeda metastasize. It is now a global scourge. And you have the ascendancy of IS. The combination of those two groups -- their appeal to the lone wolfs and we see them acting in Belgium and in France and in Canada and the US."

  • Published in World

Former employee sues Facebook for gender discrimination

Washington: A former Facebook employee, who was sacked in 2013, is suing the social media giant for sex discrimination, sex harassment, race discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other allegations.

Chia Hong claimed that the U.S.-based company had a "hostile work environment" where she was belittled, ordered to organize parties and serve drinks to male colleagues, and asked why she didn't just take care of her child, reported The Verge.

Hong contended that she was not just discriminated for being a woman but also for being a Taiwanese and that she was replaced by a "less qualified, less experienced Indian male."

She worked at the company for more than three years, first as a product manager and then as a technology partner in finance. She was fired on October 17, 2013.

The lawsuit named other defendants besides Facebook, including Anil Wilson and John Does.

A Facebook spokesperson commented on the issue by saying that the company worked extremely hard to address issues related to diversity, gender and equality, and added that it believed it had made progress.

The spokesperson further added that the company had substantive disagreements on the facts pertaining to the case and believed that the record showed the employee was treated fairly."

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in San Mateo Superior Court.

Hong is being represented by Lawless and Lawless, one of two law firms currently representing Ellen Pao in her gender discrimination suit against the Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

Hong is asking for punitive damages.
  • Published in World

Forget Washington apples, here's Modi from Italy

Mumbai:Ten months after the Modi wave swept the country, and later maintained its crest during state polls in Maharashtra and Jharkhand, another Modi is making its presence felt at the wholesale market in Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), Vashi – an apple variety from Italy.

Moments after the third consignment of the fruit arrived at the APMC market, it was sold in no time. Last year, apples under this brand had arrived at Vashi only once, and there were hardly any buyers who could remember selling the commodity.

"Modi name is helping the brand in gain popularity," said a trader, adding that the apples are genuinely better than other imported products. "They are juicy and tastier."

According to Ramesh Shah, a trader at the APMC market, "An 18 to 20-kg basket of Modi apple is commanding a price between Rs 2400 and Rs2600, while the other imported apples are available at a maximum Rs2200 for the similar quantity."

Fruit dealers said they don't see any marketing gimmick behind the product. "This is not the first time Modi brand apple has arrived from Italy. It has nothing to do with the name of prime minister Narendra Modi," said APMC director Sanjay Pansare.

This year, traders said, they are receiving a variety of brands entering the market. "The market is full of imported apples and most of them are from Italy, including Modi," said another trader.

Modi is an international brand that began production in Italy with the establishment of the Modì Europa consortium in 2007. Today, it boasts of prestigious partners all over the world.

The producers claim that they believe in people who work together, with great passion and professionalism, to develop a quality product. Modi apple is mainly grown in Europe, Turkey, Serbia, Russia, Uruguay and Australia.

The brand also claims to be the first apple with a carbon footprint marker – measured by the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Bolzano. Its carbon monoxide emissions are less than that of other varieties, grown under the same conditions as Modi.
  • Published in Mumbai

People with bigger social networks survive crises more efficiently

Washington, Feb. 6 : A new study has recently revealed that people with bigger social networks are able to manage their crises more effectively than those who have few friends.

University of Arizona suggested that the more people know their neighbors, the better off they may be when disaster strikes.

Researchers in the UA School of Anthropology examined social networks in the late pre-Hispanic Southwest and found that communities that were more connected with their neighbors had a better chance of being able to successfully manage a crisis than did communities with fewer outside connections.

Lewis Borck and his study co-authors, including UA anthropology professor Barbara Mills, focused specifically on the period of A.D. 1200-1400, which included the 1276-1299 megadrought in the region that is now the southwestern United States.

They found that during the 23-year drought, relationships between many groups grew stronger, as people turned to their neighbors for support and resources, such as food and information.

In general, the communities with larger social networks had a better chance of being able to withstand the drought without having to migrate, and for a longer period, than the more insular groups.

There was one exception: the Zuni people, who, despite not having strong external social networks, remain in western New Mexico to this day. Their unique success probably was due to their large population size and the diversity of resources available within the area they inhabited.

It's a finding that could have implications for crisis management research today.

The study will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.
  • Published in Technology

Google Glass to soon get competition

Washington: San Francisco-based Osterhout Design Group (ODG), which develops heavy-duty smart glasses for the military, is set to roll out a consumer-friendly version this year, Forbes reported.

 For less than $1,000, the augmented reality glasses can display high-definition video, record video and lay visuals over the real world.

 ODG’s glasses have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a global navigation satellite system and sensors for figuring out where you are looking.

 These can track your head movement so you can be placed into a 3D picture or video feed like you would with a pair of virtual reality goggles, the report added.

 The operating system that ODG uses is a modified version of Android.

 Battery life can range from an hour or two to nearly all day on a single charge.

 ODG will soon release its own developer kit for third-party players to start building applications for the glasses.

 The most recent version of ODG’s smart glasses released last year are bulkier and more rugged to fit with military equipment specification.

 Google Glass currently costs $1,500.
  • Published in Technology

Richard Rahul Verma to be sworn-in as US Ambassador to India

Washington: Richard Rahul Verma will be sworn-in as US Ambassador to India tomorrow, becoming the first Indian-American to hold the post. Verma, 46, was confirmed by the US Senate by a voice vote last week. Secretary of State John Kerry would host the swearing in
ceremony of Verma.

Verma is expected to head for New Delhi and present his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee, ahead of the visit of US President Barack Obama to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26.

The US Embassy in New Delhi is currently headed by charge d'affaires Kathleen Stephens. Verma's association with Obama goes back to 2008, when he worked on presidential debate preparations for the then Illinois senator. His parents came to the US in the early 1960s. Verma will replace Nancy Powell.

  • Published in World

'G20 summit fails to make substantive progress on black money'

Washington: The G-20 summit in Australia failed to make substantial progress on financial transparency and illicit flows, an eminent international think-tank famous for its pioneering work on black money has claimed. "The G20 passed up a golden opportunity to begin tackling this global scourge by curbing the abuse of anonymous companies and instituting public country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations," said Raymond president Baker Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

Considered to be a longtime authority on financial crime, Baker had recently co-authored an open letter to G20 leaders on the topic prior to the summit. "Illicit financial flows - fuelled by anonymous companies and tax haven secrecy - undercut economic growth and tax revenues, drain roughly USD 1 trillion per year from developing and emerging countries and facilitate crime and corruption on a grand scale," Baker said.

 G20 summit noticeably lacked in responses to illicit financial flows, one of the largest drags on development worldwide, a statement said. The GFI has long advocated for basic financial transparency measures to hinder common methods of moving illicit money-specifically, public registries of company ownership information, public country-by-country reporting, and global automatic exchange of financial information.

All of these issues have enjoyed a worldwide surge of public momentum in recent years, but the G20's statements this weekend fell short of capitalising on this movement, the statement said. According to the GFI, the G-20 commitment to automatic exchange of tax information is welcome but incomplete.

"While this is a welcome culmination of the G20's long track record of leadership on automatic exchange, the G20 failed to address the extension of tax information exchange to the other 100+ countries in the world," it said.

"For a couple of years, the G20 has declared that automatic exchange of financial information is 'the new global standard' and now we are proudly seeing that claim come to fruition," said GFI Policy Counsel Joshua Simmons. "However, it's critical that the new framework for making information exchange a reality is able to accommodate the world's poorest countries, who suffer the effects of tax evasion and money laundering at least as much as and often substantially more than-rich countries," he added.

  • Published in World
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