Monthly Archives: August 2014

Rona Fairhead set to be first chairwoman of BBC Trust


The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Trust, the body overseeing the world famous news corporation, is set to get its first female head.

Rona Fairhead, 53, a high-flying executive who sits on the boards of a number of blue-chip companies, was yesterday announced as the prospective new chairperson of the BBC Trust.

Sajid Javid, UK secretary of state for culture, is expected to officially announce Fairhead as government’s preferred candidate to fill the slot later today, replacing Lord Patten, who stepped down in May on health grounds.

“The BBC is a great British institution packed with talented people, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to be the chairman of the BBC Trust,” Fairhead said.

A long-term non-executive director of banking group HSBC, Fairhead has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

She was selected following “an open recruitment process”, government spokesperson said, “overseen by an independent public appointments assessor”.

Fairhead will appear before the culture, media and sport select committee on September 9.

Fairhead, who also sits on the board of PepsiCo, was described by its Indian-origin CEO, Indra Nooyi, as “a proven business leader with global experience spanning multiple industries and deep expertise in finance and general management”.

She was appointed British business ambassador by Prime Minister David Cameron, earlier this year.

Her predecessor at the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, who was appointed in 2011, left the job of chairman on health grounds following a major heart surgery.

A BBC spokesperson welcomed the “announcement of Rona Fairhead as the preferred candidate for chair of the BBC Trust”, however, she cautioned that here was an appointment process that still needed to be completed.

“We will comment further once the process is complete,” she added.

Deccan Herald

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Soon batteries to run on sugar

New York: In a breakthrough to develop long-lasting batteries for smartphones and other gadgets, scientists have successfully created a sugar biobattery that completely converts the chemical energy in sugar substrates into electricity.

This biobattery can achieve an energy-storage density of about 596 ampere-hours (A/h) per kg – an order of magnitude higher than the 42 A-h/kg energy density of a typical lithium-ion battery used in various gadgets.

“A sugar biobattery with such a high-energy density could last at least 10 times longer than existing lithium-ion batteries of the same weight,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech.

The biobattery is a type of enzymatic fuel cell (EFC) – an electrobiochemical device that converts chemical energy from fuels such as starch and glycogen into electricity

“We are first to demonstrate the complete oxidation of the biobattery’s sugar so we achieve a near-theoretical energy conversion yield that no one else has reported,” Zhang added.

The sugar biobattery is also less costly than the lithium-ion battery and environmentally friendly, researchers reported in the journal Nature Communications.


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UK imams issue fatwa on British Muslim extremists

Some of the leading imams in the UK have issued a fatwa against British Muslims travelling to war zones like Syria and Iraq to join “oppressive and tyrannical” Islamic State.

The fatwa “religiously prohibits” would-be British jihadists from joining “oppressive and tyrannical” Isis, also known as Islamic State.

The imams order all Muslims to oppose Isis’s “poisonous ideology”, especially when it is promoted within Britain, the ‘Sunday Times’ reported.

The fatwa, six senior Islamic scholars from Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester and London, says: “British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited (haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria.”?

It was written by Sheik Usama Hasan, a former imam at the Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque in east London.

The fatwa, the first of its kind issued by British Muslim scholars, follows the elevation of Britain’s terror threat from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.

Prime Minister David Cameron is all set to announce plans tomorrow for laws to prevent British jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria from re-entering Britain.

Passports of UK citizens suspected of terrorist activity will be cancelled.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister will announce legislation to strengthen anti-terror laws and close a loophole that lets British nationals accused of terrorist activity fly home.

It is feared that the number of young Muslims referred to the UK government’s counter-radicalisation programme is expected to “more than double” following the publicity about British jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Whitehall officials say there has been a direct link between online recruitment messages posted by Isis in the past two months and increasingly extreme views expressed by some young Muslims enlisted into Channel, the de-radicalisation scheme.

Channel, which is run by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), dealt with 1,281 people in 2013-14, up from 748 in the previous year.

ACPO is understood to be seeking more counter-extremism experts, particularly women, to tackle the growing number of young female Muslims expressing support for Isis.


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US cyber-warriors battling Islamic State on Twitter

The United States has launched a social media offensive against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, setting out to win the war of ideas by ridiculing the militants with a mixture of blunt language and sarcasm.

Diplomats and experts are the first to admit that the digital blitz being waged on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube will never be a panacea to combat the jihadists.

But US officials see social media as an increasingly crucial battlefield as they aim to turn young minds in the Muslim world against groups like IS and Al-Qaeda.

For the past 18 months, US officials have targeted dozens of social network accounts linked to Islamic radicals, posting comments, photos and videos and often engaging in tit-fot-tat exchanges with those which challenge America.

At the US State Department, employees at the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), created in 2011, manage an Arabic-language Twitter account set up in 2012 (, an English-language equivalent ( and a Facebook page, launched this week, (

‘Many skirmishes, few battles’

A senior US State Department official described the strategy as a kind of cyber guerilla campaign.

“It is not a panacea, it is not a silver bullet,” the official explained.

“People exaggerate, people think this is worthless or they think it a magic thing that will make the extremists surrender. It is neither one of those. It is slow, steady, daily engagement pushing back on a daily basis.

“It is a war of thousands of skirmishes, but no big battles. America likes big battles but it is not – it is like guerilla warfare,” said the official.

The murder of US journalist James Foley, whose execution by Islamic State militants on August 19 was released in a video on the Internet, jolted the new breed of US cyber-warriors into a frenzy.

Since Foley’s murder, the CSCC has ramped up its Twitter campaign, posting tributes to the slain reporter, opinion pieces and analyses on radical Islam from across the international media, along with cartoons and graphic photos.

The State Department last week tweeted about the death in Syria of Islamic State members, one of whom, Abu Moussa, had recently declared that the group would one day “raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”

Another tweet congratulated militant Yazidis who claimed to have killed 22 Islamic State fighters in Iraq.

Another post was more in keeping with the sober diplomatic tone Washington is used to, a photo-montage showing Syria’s leader Bashar Al-Assad alongside Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in front of a city in ruins.

“Baghdadi and Assad in a race to destroy Syria – don’t make it worse,” reads a message.

Historic parallels

The US-managed Twitter accounts are also not squeamish about reproducing images distributed by jihadists depicting mass executions, drawing historic parallels between Islamic State militants and the Nazis.

One post showed armed Islamic State fighters standing over a ditch filled with executed people, alongside another almost identical image of Nazis killing people in similar circumstances.

“Then & Now: Nazis – like ISIS – murdered out of intolerance, hatred, zeal,” read a comment alongside the two images.

Satire is also used to undermine militants, with one re-tweeted cartoon referring to the “ISIS bucket challenge” featuring a participant named as “the civilized world” being drenched by a bucket of blood.

The US officials say the social media offensive is an attempt to “contest space” on social networks which had previously been dominated by Islamist radicals.

“This is an area, a field, where before we came along the adversaries had this space to themselves,” the official explained.

“You had English language extremists that could say any kind of poison and there will be very low push-back against them,” he added.

The ultimate aim is to make youths in the West or Muslim nations think twice before embarking on a journey to Syria or Iraq to join Islamic State fighters. US officials are also mindful of striking the right tone as they troll Islamists.

“Twitter is unfortunately or fortunately a platform which is suitable for what we call snark, sarcasm, for insulting people,” the official said. “This is something also we are trying to do, we try to attack.

“We are respectful about things, the loss of human life of innocent people, victims of AQ or victims of ISIS, that is not something for sarcasm.

“But when you are mocking them, it is effective to draw the comparison between what they say and what they do. The hypocrisy of this group is a weakness.” William Braniff, executive director of National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, said the US online strategy was a step in the right direction but would take a while to yield results.

“For a decade the government is criticized for not engaging in the world of ideas online,” Braniff said.

“The department of State eventually created this program in part to address that criticism. “This is a just a drop in a bucket – there is so much extremist propaganda online and so many formats for extremists to dialogue that this is really just spitting into the wind.

“We have to give these sort of programs time to build momentum.”


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Michael Brown funeral calls for justice, change in US


Washington: Leaders of the African-American community asked for justice Monday during the funeral of Michael Brown, and made a conciliatory call for change to avoid further tragedies like the fatal shooting of the young black man by a white police officer that set off two weeks of unrest in the US state of Missouri’s Ferguson town.

The closed casket of Brown, 18, adorned with two photos of him as a child and several garlands of white and red flowers, was at the centre of the ceremony at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.

Hundreds of people had congregated since dawn to attend the service.

The Rev. Al Sharpton had words of comfort for the parents of the dead teenager, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, and also a message for the authorities.

“We are required to leave here today and change things. Michael Brown must be remembered for more than disturbances. He must be remembered for this is when they started changing what was going on,” Sharpton said.

Among those in attendance were the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader; director Spike Lee and three White House officials.

Sharpton slammed the fact that the youth’s body was left almost 4 1/2 hours in the street for all to see, and asked what the circumstances were “to have that boy lying there, like nobody cared about him. Like he didn’t have any loved ones, like his life value didn’t matter.”

Following the plea by Michael Brown Sr. that this Monday be a day of peace, the reverend addressed those who had committed looting and disturbances during the days of protest after the Aug 9 shooting.

“Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for a riot. He wants to be remembered as the one that made American deal with how we gonna police in the United States,” Sharpton said.

The Brown case has exposed the racial differences still underlying American society, and the economic and social inequalities that exist in some communities like Ferguson, a town where two-thirds of the roughly 21,000 residents are African American, but all three members of the police force are white.

Schools opened normally this Monday in Ferguson to begin the school year, a week late because of the disturbances but now that calm had been restored over the weekend by the NAACP march that went off peacefully.


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Saudi King Warns of Terrorist Threat to Europe, US


RIYADH: The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that extremists could attack Europe and the U.S. if there is not a strong international response to terrorism after the Islamic State group seized a wide territory across Iraq and Syria.

While not mentioning any terrorist groups by name, King Abdullah’s statement appeared aimed at drawing Washington and NATO forces into a wider fight against the Islamic State group and its supporters in the region. Saudi Arabia openly backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, but is concerned that the breakaway al-Qaida group could also turn those very same weapons on the kingdom.

“I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America,” he said at a reception for foreign ambassadors Friday.

Official Saudi media carried the king’s comments early Saturday.

“These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street,” the king said, urging the ambassadors to relay his message directly to their heads of state.

The Islamic State group has been fighting moderate rebels, other extremists and Assad’s forces in Syria for nearly three years. Iraq has faced an onslaught by the Sunni extremists and their supporters since early this year, and the country continues to be roiled by instability.

While providing arms and support to Sunni militants in Syria, Saudi Arabia has denied directly funding or backing the Islamic State group.

British officials raised the country’s terror threat level Friday to “severe,” its second-highest level, because of developments in Iraq and Syria, but there was no information to suggest an attack was imminent. The White House has said it does not expect the U.S. to bump up its terrorism threat warning level.

Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally in the region, has taken an increasingly active role in criticizing the Islamic State group. Earlier this month, the country’s top cleric described the Islamic State group and al-Qaida as Islam’s No. 1 enemy and said that Muslims have been their first victims. State-backed Saudi clerics who once openly called on citizens to fight in Syria can now face steep punishment and the kingdom has threatened to imprison its citizens who fight in Syria and Iraq.

A decade ago, al-Qaida militants launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. Saudi officials responded with a massive crackdown that saw many flee to neighboring Yemen. In the time since, the kingdom has not seen any massive attacks, though it has imprisoned suspected militants and sentenced others to death.

Meanwhile Saturday, police in Iraq said a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into an army checkpoint in the town of Youssifiyah, killing 11 people, including four soldiers, and wounding at least 24 people. Youssifiyah is 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad.

Hours later, a roadside bomb targeting an army patrol killed two soldiers and wounded five in Latifiyah, a town 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.


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American leadership was never more necessary than now: Obama


US President Barack Obama has said American leadership was never more necessary in the world than now and there is no competition to it from countries like China and Russia.

“The truth of the matter is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through,” Obama said at a Democratic Party fund raiser in New York.

“The good news is that American leadership has never been more necessary, and there’s really no competition out there for the ideas and the values that can create the sort of order that we need in this world,” he said, adding that countries like China and Russia are nowhere near the US.

“I hear people sometimes saying, well, I don’t know, China is advancing. But I tell you what, if you look at our cards and you look at China’s cards, I promise you, you would rather have ours,” he said amidst applause.

Obama said some people may say Russia looks pretty aggressive right now but the question to be asked is “are there long lines of people trying to emigrate into Russia?” “I don’t think so,” the US President said amidst laughter.

Obama conceded that the Middle East poses a challenge, which is not comparable to the challenges of the Cold War or the World War.

“The Middle East is challenging, but the truth is it’s been challenging for quite a while.

Our values, our leadership, our military power but also our diplomatic power, the power of our culture is one that means we will get through these challenging times just like we have in the past. I promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago,” he said.

Highlighting that the current situation is not comparable to the challenges faced by the US during the Cold War, Obama said, “This is something we can handle, because we are Americans and that’s what we do.”

Noting that the situation is not comparable to the challenges faced when the US had an entire block of Communist countries against it, Obama said, “Around the world, when you travel to Asia, or you travel to Europe, or you travel to Latin America, or you travel to Africa, what you find is, among ordinary people, they are still looking to America as a beacon of hope and opportunity. And we should not forget that.”

Obama said people are feeling anxious these days “if you watch” the nightly news.

“It feels like the world is falling apart. We are living through some extraordinarily challenging times. A lot of it has to do with changes that are taking place in the Middle East in which an old order that had been in place for 50 years, 60 years, 100 years was unsustainable, and was going to break up at some point,” he said.

“And now, what we are seeing is the old order not working, but the new order not being born yet — and it is a rocky road through that process, and a dangerous time through that process,” the US President explained.

“So we’ve seen the barbarity of an organisation like ISIL that is building off what happened with al Qaeda and 9/11 –an extension of that same mentality that doesn’t reflect Islam, but rather just reflects savagery, and extremism, and intolerance,” he said.

“We’ve seen divisions within the Muslim community between the Shia and Sunni. We continue to see an unwillingness to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and its ability to defend itself. And we have seen, frankly, in this region, economies that don’t work. So you’ve got tonnes of young people who see no prospect and no hope for the future and are attracted to some of these ideologies,” he said.

Acknowledging that the scenerio make things pretty frightening, Obama also criticised Russia for making a decision to look backwards instead of forward, encroaching on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their neighbours, and reasserting the notion that might means right.

And I can see why a lot of folks are troubled. The truth of the matter is, is that American military superiority has never been greater compared to other countries,” Obama said.

Deccan Herald

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Sri Lanka overpower Pakistan to win ODI series


Dambulla: Seamer Thisara Perera claimed 4-34 and Tillakartane Dilshan hit an unbeaten 50 as Sri Lanka trounced Pakistan by seven wickets in the final one-dayer on Saturday to clinch the series 2-1.

Dhammika Prasad chipped in with two wickets as the hosts bowled Pakistan out for 102 and then surpassed the Duckworth-Lewis target of 101 in the 19th over of a one-sided game in Dambulla.

An hour-long rain interruption after Pakistan had slumped to 81-8 in the 26th over of the first session forced the umpires to reduce the game to 48-overs-a-side.

Sri Lanka galloped home in style to build on the 2-0 sweep in the preceding Test series and left Pakistan searching for answers ahead of the World Cup less than six months away.

Opener Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara fell cheaply before Mahela Jayawardene (26) and Dilshan put on a 41-run stand for the third wicket.

Dilshan cut Shahid Afridi to the fence to bring up his half-century and also seal his team`s easy win.

Fawad Alam top-scored for Pakistan with an unbeaten 38, but eight batsmen failed to reach double figures as the tourists crumbled in 32.1 overs after electing to bat on the slow wicket.

It was Pakistan`s lowest one-day total on Sri Lankan soil, falling below the 116 they made against New Zealand at the same venue in 2003.Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said it was not a difficult wicket to bat on.

“There was a bit of tennis-ball bounce, but we should still have scored about 240-250 runs,” Misbah said. “We lost too many wickets early and could not get a decent total.”

Misbah hoped Pakistan will perform better in their next Test and one-day series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates in October.

“That is a really important series and we need to find the right combination ahead of the World Cup,” he said.

Sri Lanka`s captain Angelo Mathews said his team showed character to bounce back after losing the first match of the series in Hambantota.

“We had to pull up our socks after that loss and we did that quite well,” he said. “We gave Thisara (Perera) more opportunities in the series and he proved himself with both bat and ball.”

Sri Lanka next host England for a seven-match one-day series starting in November.

Pakistan never recovered after losing opener Sharjeel Khan in the third over, caught at second slip off Prasad.

Prasad, who replaced the off-form Nuwan Kulasekara, then had the other opener, Ahmed Shehzad, caught at mid-on to make it 14-2.

The third wicket fell at the same total when Lasith Malinga had Mohammad Hafeez leg-before for one as the TV umpire upheld the decision following a review by the batsman.

It soon became 55-5 by the 19th over when Misbah was run out for 18 by a direct throw from Dilshan and Umar Akmal holed out off Perera for seven.

The low total ruined any hopes Pakistan had of snatching a dramatic win with the help of their spin spearhead Saeed Ajmal, who was back after missing the previous two matches to have his bowling action tested.

Ajmal had flown to Brisbane, Australia, for the tests after his action was reported by the umpires during the Test series. He is allowed to play on until the results of the tests are made known.

Ajmal picked up the wicket of Jayawardene, caught in the slips, but Sri Lanka were only one run away from victory at that stage.

The World Cup is to be played in Australia and New Zealand in February-March next year.


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Indian American scientist invented e-mail 32 years ago


Washington: Know who is the inventor of e-mail? The credit goes to an Indian American V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai who received official recognition as the inventor of the computer program for electronic mail system from the US government Aug 30, 1982.

Studying at Livingston High School in New Jersey, Ayyadurai began his work on the email system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

In 1978, he developed a full-scale emulation of the interoffice mail system which he called “E-mail” and copyrighted in 1982.

At that time, copyright was the equivalent of a patent as there was no other way to protect software inventions, Huffington Post reported.

Based on his work, Ayyadurai won a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Award for high school seniors in 1981.

The official US copyright notice for “E-mail” is now with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History (SINMAH).

However, the claims Ayyadurai made for the invention led to controversy over his place in the history of computer technology, with some other people claiming to have invented e-mail.


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8 Ways to Influence Users to Download Your Mobile App


There is a difference between “promoting to” and “influencing” users to download your mobile app — a massive one.

Promoting to users doesn’t put your app on the path for massive downloads. There’s just too much noise in the market with too many apps vying for the same user’s attention.

Now imagine, you put your advertisement out there — what are the chances that you’d be able to get the user to notice and even download your app? You’re leave it for the user to choose. Instead, think about this: What if you can influence the user to buy your app or product instead?

You need to influence people even before they get to your landing page. Potential users should be convinced of the value you’re offering and your microsite, app-store page, etc., should essentially seal the deal!

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can influence your user to buy and download your app.

1. Write a blog. Not just any blog. There’s a blog fatigue with the number of people jumping onto the content-marketing bandwagon. You’ve got to write something that is attention grabbing and worthy of sharing.

Make the topic current and give actionable pointers. I see many blogs that fail because they have no real meat to chew on. People notice good writing and also the people behind the blog or article. Be sure to include links to your landing page in the bio and see the clicks coming through. Readers value insights and opinions and these add to your product’s credibility.

In the first year of its existence, Buffer added 100,000 users through staffers writing blog posts and contributing to other blogs and publications.

2. Contribute to other blogs/publications. While you continue to write for your own blog, it can take time to build a reader base. Complement writing for your own blog with writing for sites from the industry that you’re app is catering to.

Look for the industry leaders (blogs and publications) in that category and approach them with an article pitch. These blogs or publications already enjoy huge traffic and immense credibility. Writing for them will add to your own credibility.

3. Use SlideShare. This is another medium to build thought leadership and get attention. There are many examples of valuable insights shared by app entrepreneurs through a presentation hosted on SlideShare.

Put your experience of your journey as an entrepreneur and talk about something spectacular within the category of your app or simply rework your blogs or articles as presentations.

Whatever you do, make sure you keep your reader amazed and at times amused. So much so that they look for what you do and how it could help them.

4. Seek press coverage. There’s nothing like a third-party endorsement for your app. What’s better then a publication of repute writing about it? Identify a journalist that has done similar category or product stories and write to them with a concise pitch, explaining why it merits a story. If PR doesn’t work well in your home country, try your secondary English-speaking markets.

5. Actively participate on Quora. Build your credibility in your app’s category by responding to queries posted on Quora. Oliver Emberton’s response to one query got him a book deal and several film offers. The possibilities are endless if you focus on providing your users with value and not force-selling your app.

6. Utilize social-media channels. You can’t expect to really be social and not be present on social-media channels. These channels offer a great tool and medium to promote your own content as well as curate excellent content that your potential users may want to read. Build a following by sharing relevant content regularly.

7. Get community approval. There’s a huge community (with many potential customers too) out there waiting to give feedback and help spread the word about your app. All you need to do is to reach out to them through platforms such as Beta List, Product Hunt and Hacker News.

Many apps have gotten tremendous feedback and followers this way, and those followers acted as brand ambassadors that influenced other users to download the app.

8. Build word of mouth. Potentially the best way to get traction for your app is through word of mouth. Not only does it create a viral effect, but people trust others to tell them about great discoveries. See my previous article on how to use word of mouth to influence users to download your app.

Use these strategies to help you build credibility and influence your potential customer’s behavior even before they get to your download page.


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