Man arrested for killing sister, father for honor

FAISALABAD:The Faisalabad police on Wednesday arrested a man for killing his sister and father and injuring another sister for honor in Tallonadi area.

The police said that Rizwan stabbed his two sisters Sumaira, Saira and his father Mohammad Iqbal while they were sleeping and seriously injured them.

The injured were rushed to the Allied Hospital where Iqbal and Sumaira died of their wounds due to profuse bleeding while Saira was admitted for treatment. Doctors, however, said that she was in critical condition. ONLINE

The police arrested the alleged killed and seized the stab used in the gruesome act and shifted him to the police station for further investigation.

Cisco Systems to lay off about 14,000 employees: CRN

Cisco Systems is laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 per cent of the network equipment maker’s global workforce, technology news site CRN reported, citing sources close to the company.

San Jose, California-based Cisco is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, the report said, as the company transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric organisation.

Apart from Cisco, the other tech giants, which have announced job cuts in the face of PC industry decline in recent years, are Microsoft, HP and Intel.

Microsoft kicked off one of the largest layoffs in tech history in July 2014 after it said it would slash 18,000 jobs.

HP said in September 2015 that it expected to cut about 33,300 jobs over three years.

Intel said in April that it would slash up to 12,000 jobs globally, or 11pc of its workforce.

Cisco, which had more than 70,000 employees as of April 30, declined to comment.

Cisco increasingly requires “different skill sets” for the “software-defined future” than it did in the past, as it pushes to capture a higher share of the addressable market and aims to boost its margins, the CRN report said citing a source familiar with the situation.

Cisco has been investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centers, to offset the impact of sluggish spending by telecom carriers and enterprises on its main business of making network switches and routers.

The company has already offered many early retirement package plans to Cisco’s employees, according to CRN.

Up until Tuesday’s close of $31.12 on the Nasdaq, the company’s stock had risen about 15pc this year, compared with a 10.5pc increase in the Dow Jones US Technology Hardware & Equipment index.

US refuses to back Modi’s claims

WASHINGTON: The United States continues to view the Kashmir issue as a dispute that needs to be settled by both India and Pakistan, says the US State Department, while distancing itself from India’s claims over Azad Kashmir.

In his Independence Day speech on Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to address the ongoing military oppression in India-held Kashmir.

Instead, he accused Islamabad of suppressing the people of Azad Kashmir and Balochistan, saying that “Pakistan shall have to answer to the world” for the alleged atrocities committed against the people in these regions.

At a Monday afternoon news briefing, an Indian journalist asked Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the US State Department Press Office, to address Mr Modi’s comments. The journalist also claimed that the people of Azad Kashmir were “all Indians,” and said to the State Department official that the “time has come now to speak out” for those people as they were not allowed to express their views.

The journalist also reminded the State Department official that the Indian prime minister had directed his ministry of foreign affairs to raise this issue at the international level.

“I wouldn’t speak on Mr Modi’s comments. That would be for him to speak to,” said Ms Trudeau. “Our position, as you well know, on Kashmir has not changed. The pace, the scope, the character of any discussions on Kashmir is for the two sides to determine.”

The US official also urged Pakistan and India to work jointly to resolve this issue, which Pakistan warns has the potential to lead to yet another war between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed states. “We support any and all positive steps that India and Pakistan can take to forge closer relations,” she said.

Instead of addressing the alleged Pakistani atrocities in Azad Kashmir, Ms Trudeau referred to clashes between civilian demonstrators and Indian forces in the Kashmir Valley and encouraged “all sides” to seek a peaceful solution.

“We’re aware of the clashes. We remain concerned about the violence, and we encourage all sides to make efforts to finding a peaceful resolution,” she said.

Noting that she was referring to clashes in India-held Kashmir, the journalist asked: “Is this the time now for the State Department to look into that part of Kashmir also?”

“I would leave our comments on Kashmir where I left them. We do remain concerned about the violence,” Ms Trudeau replied.

Android makers really want to make their phones eye-catching

NEW YORK: It’s getting rarer for phone launches to generate excitement these days — especially in the Android world, where all models use the same underlying Google software. Every year, phones get routine refreshes such as faster processors, better cameras and longer battery life. But Android phone makers haven’t given up trying to stand out.

Samsung, for instance, hopes to encourage upgrades by giving its new Galaxy Note 7 phone an eye scanner for identification and related security features. Other manufacturers are looking beyond the phone entirely, pinning their hopes on innovative accessories.

Motorola offers mix-and-match modules that let you upgrade your phone on the fly, while Alcatel is focused on adding virtual-reality features, including a headset.

Just look…for security

Fingerprint scanners are now standard in high-end phones, following their big debut in the 2013 iPhone 5S. In the Note 7, Samsung takes the notion of such “bio-metric” security a step further, adding an iris scanner that detects patterns in your eyes to confirm your identity.

The feature is easy to set up, and the iris detection works well — as long as you’re not in direct sunlight or wearing glasses (much less sunglasses). Samsung even warns that contact lenses might mess things up, although the scanner worked fine when this scribe wore them.

To unlock the phone, you need to turn on the screen and swipe; then you just stare at the screen. The fingerprint scanner works even with the screen off and glasses on, making it the far better choice unless your fingers are wet.

Many Android phones offer a face-detection feature for unlocking phones, but that’s all it does. With the Note 7, the iris or fingerprint can also unlock a secure folder where you can stash sensitive photos, documents and email accounts you might want to keep away from friends who borrow your phone to look at baby pictures.

It’s a good concept, although in practice it can feel like you’re using two separate phones. When browsing photos in the “secure” gallery, all your other photos are invisible. You need to go back out to the “unsecure” gallery to view those. And there’s no way to move text messaging to the Secure Folder.

Beyond that, the Note 7 has a more resilient screen, more storage and more ways to use the stylus — for instance, you can translate a phrase just by holding the pen over a word. Samsung also brings water resistance and its excellent Galaxy S7 camera to the jumbo Note 7, while offering easier access to camera settings using swipes.

Nothing is radically new, but the improvements are great if you’re already looking to upgrade. The Note 7 comes out Friday and will cost $850 to $880 in the US, depending on the carrier. It’s about $100 more than what last year’s Note cost at launch, but all models now have a screen that curves over the sides of the phone, something previously reserved for a more expensive “Edge” version.

Build your own phone

Motorola is the latest manufacturer to embrace a new concept called modular design. With it, customers can customise their phones on-the-fly by swapping out components to get, say, a bigger battery or more powerful speakers. Another replaceable module can turn the phone into a wall projector for presentations. This takes the idea of personalisation way beyond choosing the phone’s colour or storage.

LG introduced an earlier modular design with its G5 phone in April, although that phone forces you to shut it down every time you replace a module. Motorola lets you replace modules without missing a Snapchat. Modules attach to the phone using powerful magnets, yet they snap on and off easily, like Lego blocks. Of course, many phone cases and other accessories offer similar functionality, but they aren’t as fun as what the company calls Moto Mods.

For now, you can only use these modules with the Moto Z ($625) and Moto Z Force ($720) phones, which are currently available only through Verizon in the US under the Droid brand. And these modules will cost you: a spare battery is $60 to $90, the speaker is $80 and the projector is a whopping $300. You could shell out more than $1,200 if you also opt for a designer phone back made of fabric, wood or leather.

The concept is pretty radical as Android innovations go, but there’s a chicken-and-egg problem. Third-party developers need to know there are customers out there before they’ll commit the time and money to building imaginative modules. A module with a larger camera lens for better zooming, for instance, would be awesome. But there are no crowds demanding that feature — at least not yet.

LG faces the same problem with its G5 modules. For now, it lets you swap batteries and attach a camera grip with physical buttons to take shots and control video recording.

Another world

Alcatel’s approach to innovation is to not sell you a phone at all. Instead, it wants to offer you a virtual-reality setup for $400. You get a mid-range Android phone, the Idol 4S, along with a VR headset, JBL headphones and an Incipio protective case for the phone. Alcatel doesn’t sell the 4S separately, but based on the $280 price of last year’s Idol 3, you’re paying roughly $100 for the accessories.

Alcatel’s headset is a step up from Google Cardboard, a $15 contraption that’s not meant to be comfortable — it’s made of cardboard, after all. But it lacks the head-tracking capabilities of Samsung’s $100 Gear VR, which on Friday is getting a wider field of view and a black interior for more-immersive viewing.

The Idol 4S comes with several VR apps already installed, including Littlstar for watching VR videos and Fyuse for stitching together 360-degree photos, panorama-style.

Unfortunately, Alcatel’s innovation might feel obsolete in just a few months, when Google releases its Daydream system for headsets and phones. Daydream is designed for higher-end phones than the Idol 4S, so Alcatel’s VR system won’t be compatible.

NA committee clears draft bill prohibiting benami transactions

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance on Tuesday approved the draft ‘Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 2016’ which aims at punishing people holding ‘benami’ properties and curb the practice.

The committee meeting, held at the Parliament House and chaired by Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh, approved the draft bill with observations from Pakistan People’s Party’s Syed Naveed Qamar and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Asad Umar.

The draft law, which will also apply to global assets of Pakistanis, proposes up to seven years rigorous imprisonment and fine for people with benami properties.

The term ‘benami properties’ refers to any property and assets which have been purchased in the name of a person other than the one financing it – a move which allows parking of undeclared money in the real estate sector.

In Pakistan, it is not unusual for politicians, businessmen and government officers to purchase properties in the name of their relatives, spouses or servants to hide their assets.

As per the draft law, a person, who is required to furnish information under this Act, knowingly gives false information to any authority or furnishes any false document shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to 10 per cent of the fair market value of the property.

The draft bill exempted religious institutions and religious trusts from its domain but after objections by members belonging to all parties, the exemption has been omitted.

Existing properties covered

During the meeting, PTI’s Asad Umar vehemently explained to the bureaucracy and treasury members that the draft law should also cover existing benami properties.

“What we are talking about are new benami transactions which will be illegal after the law is approved but what about those who already have benami properties?” Mr Umar questioned.

“People have huge houses in the name of their cooks and they can enjoy that status as the law is effective on new benami transactions,” he added.

It was agreed to amend the wording and include that holding such properties too would be a crime. The new description is – ‘No person shall enter into Benami Transaction and hold Benami Assets.’

Even the fire band opponent of PTI – PML-N’s Mian Abdul Manan agreed to the point raised by Mr Umar.

“Those who have such properties should get it in their name and then gift it to their servants. At least then it will be clear in the documents as how a servant or a minor could own huge properties,” Mr Manan remarked.

PPP’s Naveed Qamar questioned if the law should be implemented with immediate effect. However, it was decided that implementation of the law would be notified by the federal government.

Meanwhile, MQM’s Abdul Rashid Godil questioned if the Federal Board of Revenue has the capacity and will to get hold of benami transactions and catch the influential inclu­ding FBR’s senior officers.

The draft benami prohibition bill had been pending in the Committee for almost four months. After the standing committee’s approval, it will be forwarded to the National Assembly and if approved it will be sent to the Senate.