Trump pitches ‘America First’ trade policy at APEC Summit

Nov 10, 2017 0

Da Nang (Vietnam)–  US President Donald Trump on Friday pitched an “America First” trade policy at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) here, warning that he will not allow “the US to be taken advantage of any more.”

Speaking at a gathering of business leaders, Trump demanded trade “on a fair and equal basis” and returned to his campaign rhetoric, promising to place America first in global deals and agreements.

President Donald Trump

“We are not going to let the US be taken advantage of any more,” Trump said, speaking shortly after arriving in Vietnam, his fourth stop on a five-country tour through Asia.

“I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first,” the Washington Post reported.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region — the equivalent of about 60 per cent of the world’s GDP.

The US President’s more fiery and protectionist tone offered a stark departure from just a day earlier, when in Beijing, Trump seemed reluctant to press his case as sharply with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Post said.

There, Trump lavished praise on Xi and blamed his predecessors, not China, for the trade imbalance.

He also laid out Washington’s new approach to trade, telling the audience at the summit on Friday that he would no longer pursue multinational trade agreements “that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible”.

“I will make bilateral trade agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and that will abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade,” Trump said without directly mentioning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major trade deal with 12 APEC member countries.

After taking office, Trump pulled the US out of the TPP, arguing that it would hurt US economic interests.

In a tacit knock on Chinese leaders, the US leader said Washington would “no longer tolerate the audacious theft of intellectual property”, CNN reported.

“We will confront the destructive practices of forcing businesses to surrender their technology to the state, and forcing them into joint ventures in exchange for market access,” he said.

Businesses in the US have long complained about China failing to honour intellectual property rights.

Immediately after Trump left the stage, Xi took his place, delivering a starkly contrasting speech that argued for pursuing the kinds of global initiatives that the US President had shunned.

The Chinese leader championed the Paris climate accord, called globalization an “irreversible historical trend” and said China would continued to pursue a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific.

“Against the backdrop of evolving global developments, economic globalization also faces new adjustments both in form and substance,” Xi said.

“In pursuing economic globalization, we should make it more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all.”

Trump also continued the tough talk on North Korea. He said the region “must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail”.

APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the US, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

As Trump arrived in Danang, the White House announced that he would not hold formal talks with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on the sidelines of the APEC summit meeting.

Citing “scheduling conflicts on both sides”, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that no formal meeting will take place.

After Vietnam, Trump will travel to the Philippines for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit. (IANS)

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Google Pixel 2 XL: Promising flagship device with stunning camera

Nov 9, 2017 0

By Krishna SinhaChaudhury

New Delhi– As Google joined race in the premium smartphone segment by launching Pixel last year, Apple and Samsung, the two segment leaders, took immediate note of it.

The fight was no more between the two traditional arch rivals as Google entered the arena after bidding adieu to its Nexus line-up in favour of Pixel smartphones that it designed, developed and marketed on its own.

The first Pixel devices created a ripple in the market. Now, the tech giant has launched the second edition of the Pixel line-up and we got the bigger sibling — the Pixel 2 XL — for review.

At the starting price of Rs 73,000 (64GB variant), the device is set to give some tough competition to iPhone 8 Plus. Let’s see how.

Pixel 2 XL’s build and appearance will impress you the moment you hold it. Google has served up a metal unibody smartphone with a soft matte finish that makes the device extremely ergonomic. This is something all-glass and metal body phones lack these days.

The matte finish also ensures the device remains free of fingerprint smudges. This feature is, however, subjective and some might find it a bit “plasticky”.

Pixel 2 XL joins the bandwagon of bezel-less display smartphones and hence has a taller-than-wider frame to accommodate a 6-inch 18:9 screen in a smaller frame and has almost 76.5 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

However, this is not a flagship with the slimmest bezel as LG has fitted Pixel 2 XL with front-firing stereo speakers which is a refreshing change from usual bottom firing ones.

A major high point as well as the best feature is Pixel 2 XL’s camera. It doesn’t house a dual-sensor like Apple iPhone 8 Plus, but the single camera lens outperforms many flagship devices out there in the market.

There is a 12MP primary sensor and an 8MP fixed-focus selfie camera.

The rear shooter has been upgraded with a brighter f/1.8 aperture and optical stabilisation (OIS), as well as electronic stabilisation, resulting in detailed images with crisp colour reproduction and accurate tones.

Focusing on a subject happened in a snap and there was literally no shutter lag for us.

Low-light photography was pretty impressive albeit with a slight decrease in the focus speed.

It’s also interesting to see how the primary camera’s portrait mode churns out great images with blurred background sans dual sensors.

The front shooter too is capable of producing quality selfies and portrait shots.

We especially liked the hefty 3520mAh battery that enabled us to get a day-and-a-half usage on a single charge. It really took power-intensive tasks for us to drain the battery on this device.

Apart from unlocking the device in a snap, the fingerprint sensor on Pixel 2 XL can also be used to access the notification panel with a swipe down.

“Google Lens” uses machine learning (ML) capabilities to recognise places, objects and streets, etc, from the clicked images to give more information about them.

What does not work?

On the most-talked about “blue tint” issue, we did notice it the moment we tilted the phone at different angles. Also, the colours look a little washed out when compared to flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

However, Google has promised to fix the issue via an update in the coming weeks.

We did not find the screen “burn-in” issue that some early users had reported during a week-long use.

The pressure sensors on the lower edges of the device activate Google Assistant which is similar to what we saw on HTC U11.

It is a bit disappointing to see it fire up only Google Assistant and silence incoming phone calls. However, the user can change the intensity of pressure to avoid activating it while pulling it out of pocket.

Conclusion: A great camera, timely updates and security patches (which other OEMs tend to miss), a plain understated design language, stock Android Oreo Operating System (OS) and top-notch Snapdragon 835 chipset make the device a promising, power-packed flagship over iPhone 8 Plus. (IANS)

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Cambridge Semantics Adds Jit Saxena to Its Board of Directors

Nov 9, 2017 0

BOSTON— Cambridge Semantics, a Boston-based provider of connected data access and analytics solutions,  announced that Jit Saxena, founder and former CEO of Netezza, has joined its board of directors, bringing over 35 years of industry and entrepreneurial experience.

Saxena is an internationally-recognized business leader who founded Netezza in 2000, a provider of data warehouse appliances and analytics applications, and served as CEO until 2009. In 2010, he served as chairman of Netezza’s board of directors and led the initial public offering and acquisition by IBM for $1.78 billion.

He joins Cambridge Semantics after its recent launch of Anzo Smart Data Lake 4.0, its flagship platform product that builds a semantic layer at scale on all enterprise data, creating a data fabric that empowers users to extract powerful insights at record speed.

“We are very pleased to add Jit to our board of directors,” said Charles Pieper, CEO and chairman of the board. “His extensive experience as a successful entrepreneur and investor in the technology space will help guide our efforts as we expand our efforts to deliver market-leading graph technology based solutions to additional markets.”

Jit Saxena

“I’m delighted to join the Cambridge Semantics board of directors at such an exciting time for the company,” said Saxena. “The company’s innovative graph technology is the future of connected data analytics, enabling a highly intuitive way to understand all enterprise data and extract business value very quickly.”

Prior to Netezza, Saxena also founded a computer and CRM software company named Applix Inc. in 1983 that was later acquired by Cognos and IBM. Saxena earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State University, an MBA from Boston University and a B. Tech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. He also serves as a board member for Actifio, Evergage, Data Robot, ClearSky Data and Mautic.

Cambridge Semantics Inc. is a big data management and enterprise analytics software company that offers a universal semantic layer to connect and bring meaning to all enterprise data. Its software, the Anzo Smart Data Lake®, allows IT departments and their business users to semantically link, analyze and manage diverse data whether internal or external, structured or unstructured, with speed, at big data scale and at the fraction of the implementation costs of using traditional approaches.

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The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Announces Advisors to the Board of Directors

Nov 9, 2017 0

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) announced that Former Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog, Professor Arvind Panagariya, and Former Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Kanwal Sibal, have joined the organization as Advisors to the Board of Directors.

Professor Panagariya, who is now the Jagdish N. Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University, will guide the Board on economic development, international trade policy, and economic reforms in India. Professor Panagariya was the founding Vice Chair of the National Institute for Transforming India (Niti Aayog), the premier think tank for the Government of India. In this role, he worked extensively to promote Prime Minister Modi’s priorities of prosperity for all. Professor Panagariya’s expertise focuses on how industry can contribute meaningfully to this agenda.

Arvind Panagariya

Ambassador Sibal joined the Indian Foreign Service in July 1966, eventually serving as the Foreign Secretary of India. He has served as Ambassador of India to Turkey, Egypt, France and Russia besides having served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, D.C. with ambassadorial rank. He is currently a member of the Executive Council of the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) and is on the Board of the New York-based East West Institute. He writes prolifically on international affairs and is a Padma Shree awardee for 2017.

Dr. Mukesh Aghi, President of USISPF, spoke of the new Advisors to the Board, saying, “Professor Panagariya and Ambassador Sibal have vast knowledge and experience regarding recent history related to the Indian political economy and diplomacy efforts. USISPF has carefully selected them in anticipation of combining their knowledge with the great influence of our board members, in order to make the most drastic impact on U.S.-India relations.”

Professor Panagariya spoke of his new role with USISPF, saying, “I am honoured to be able to serve this new organization, which is well positioned to bring about some of the most effective change. I look forward to working with USISPF’s board, which is the best selection of business leaders who are focused on U.S.-India relations. I believe we have the opportunity to contribute to the making of Prime Minister Modi’s New India.”

Ambassador Sibal also shared his thoughts, saying, “This is a great opportunity to work with some of the most prominent leaders in the U.S.-India space. I look forward to making good progress on US-India issues with USISPF and its Board Members.”

Formed in 2017 by U.S. business leaders, USISPF has carefully selected the most powerful and strategically positioned Board of Directors for US-India related matters. These members serve as both prominent business leaders and global influencers with an ability to impact international relations and corporate affairs worldwide. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USISPF has offices in New York, Silicon Valley, Mumbai, and New Delhi.

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Modi, Prince Charles discuss India-Britain ties

Nov 8, 2017 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendr Modi met Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and held wide ranging discussions on India-Britain ties.

“A relationship marked by mutual respect and strong bonds of friendship. PM @narendramodi welcomed Their Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Hyderabad House, wide ranging issues on strengthening bilateral cooperation were discussed,” Externl Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Prince Charles, accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, arrived here earlier on Wednesday on a two-day visit to India in the final leg of their 10-day four-nation tour that also took them to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

Bilateral trade between India and Britain stands at $12.19 billion. India is the third largest investor in Britain and the second largest international job creator there, while Britain is the third largest inward investor in India, with a cumulative equity investment of $24.37 billion for the period April 2000-June 2017

The Indian diaspora in Britain is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, with the 2011 census recording approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin equating to almost 1.8 percent of the population.

This is Prince Charles’s ninth visit to India. He had earlier visited India in 1975, 1980, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2013. (IANS)

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Rahul Gandhi a tragedy manufacturer: Amit Shah

Nov 8, 2017 0

New Delhi– In a scathing attack on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, BJP chief Amit Shah on Wednesday described him as a “tragedy manufacturer” and condemned him for “misleading” the nation on demonetisation.

Amid a war of words on the first anniversary of the Centre’s demonetisation decision, Shah took to Twitter to attack the Congress and its leaders, including Rahul Gandhi.

“The BJP strongly condemns Rahul Gandhi for trying to mislead the nation on the issue of demonetisation,” he said in a tweet.

Amit Shah (Photo: Twitter)

He also asked the Congress to stop shedding crocodile tears for the poor.

“The lies of the Congress have been unmasked and it can no longer capture power by spreading fake news and fake images,” the Bharatiya Janata Party chief said.

Shah’s attack comes in the wake of Rahul Gandhi’s tweet in which he used a photograph of an old man Nand Lal to attack demonetisation.

A former Army man, Nand Lal, 80, had broken down last year after he was unable to withdraw his pension after waiting for hours at a bank branch in Gurugram.

Shah said Nand Lal had lauded the “historic step” taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to uproot corruption and black money.

“It is deplorable how Rahul Gandhi believes in manufacturing tragedies, so much so that he is also using the poor of India to score cheap political points,” he said.

Continuing his tirade against the Congress leader, Shah said the grand old party under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi has become ‘Incorrect News Congress’.

“It has become the biggest source of fake news in India,” he said

For the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, he said, the poor are the means behind which they hide their corrupt, elite and upper class nature.

“Their use of photos to defame is not a new trick. For 15 long years, using a handful of photos, Rahul Gandhi and his party tried every trick in the book to pull down Gujarat,” Shah said adding that they created an impression of Gujarat that never existed.

Shah said the Congress had insulted six crore Gujaratis.

“They tried to make Gujarat a source of ridicule but time and again they got a befitting answer from the people of Gujarat,” he said.

He said Congressmen were happily tweeting photos of Karnataka Minister D.K. Shivkumar standing in a queue and withdrawing money from an ATM in the state.

“After all, what happened, we all know… hundreds of crores have been found in the properties of D.K. Shivkumar. Rahul Gandhi should share that photo as well,” he said.

The BJP President alleged that Rahul Gandhi was unable to digest Narendra Modi’s ever-rising popularity.

“The Congress dirty tricks department is in hyperactive mode. But, 125 crore Indians know these carriers of fake news well and have time and again rejected their fake news and fake tears,” he said. (IANS)

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Qatar Foundation sells its 5% stake in Bharti Airtel for $1.48 bn

Nov 8, 2017 0

New Delhi — Qatar Foundation Endowment (QFE) on Wednesday announced the block sale, through its Asia-Pacific regional holding company Three Pillars Pte Ltd (TPPL), of the entire 5 per cent stake it holds in Bharti Airtel.

According to industry sources, the value of the sale was around $1.48 billion (Rs 10,120 crore).

The trade was priced at Rs 481 per share, a discount of around three per cent to the closing price as of November 8, 2017.

“In May 2013, TPPL invested Rs 68 billion (Rs 6,800 crore) in Bharti Airtel, to strengthen the capital structure and allow further investment for growth. The investment saw TPPL acquire 199,870,006 shares at a price of Rs 340 per share. Given the sale price of Rs 481 per share, the sale of this stake realises a significant gain for TPPL,” the statement said.

The proceeds of the share sale will be reinvested as part of the QFE Group’s ongoing global portfolio growth and diversification, as it seeks to generate long-term financial returns by investing across a range of asset-classes, industries and geographies, the statement said.

“We are delighted to have partnered with Bharti Airtel though an important stage of their growth. Bharti Airtel has successfully maintained its market-leading position, and its positive momentum has led to our investment performing well. The QFE Group will reinvest the proceeds globally, as we continue to grow and diversify our portfolio. We remain firm supporters of the Bharti Airtel business, the management team and their strategy, and wish them well in the future,” said Rashid Al-Naimi, Chief Executive Officer of QFE in a statement.

TPPL’s representative on Bharti Airtel’s Board of Directors will step down immediately. UBS acted as sole book-runner on this transaction. (IANS)

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Pradhan seeks central team to assess pest-affected crops in Odisha

Nov 7, 2017 0

Bhubaneswar– Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday requested Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh to send a central fact-finding team to Odisha to assess the ground realities in the areas where crops were damaged due to pest attack.

In a letter, Pradhan informed that massive pest infestation has hit nine districts in Odisha and crop nearly 1.8 lakh hectare across these districts have been ravaged by the pest attack.

Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

As a result, large numbers of farmers are in distress with some of them have taken the extreme step of setting their crops on fire and even committing suicide, he said, adding he also sought to meet the Agriculture Minister to discuss the matter extensively.

Noting that agriculture including protection against pests and prevention of plant diseases is a state subject, Pradhan blamed the Naveen Patnaik government for the state of affairs.

“The situation has spiraled out of hand largely due to the inordinate delay on part of the state government in supply of subsidized pesticides to the farmers. The state government has done too little too late and by the time the pesticides were put to use, the pests had already attacked the crops and killed them resulting in the crisis in hand,” he alleged.

He said the problem of farmers in Odisha has further got compounded as the drought has hit 15 districts.

“In this context, I would like your urgent personal intervention to explore possible Central intervention and assistance to save the lives and livelihood of the landless agricultural labourers, sharecroppers and small, marginal and sub-marginal cultivators,” said Pradhan.

The Odisha government on Monday announced a package for farmers whose crops have been affected by pest attack.

Agriculture input subsidy will be provided to the small and marginal farmers who have sustained crop loss of 33 percent and above due to pest attack.

According to a report of Special Relief Commissioner, crops in nearly 1, 78,932 hectares of agricultural land have been affected by pest in nine districts and the farmers would be provided agriculture input subsidy in line with the drought assistance – Rs 6,800 per hectare of land in rainfed/non-irrigated areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare of land in areas under assured irrigation would be provided. (IANS)

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Satya Nadella interacts with Microsoft employees

Nov 6, 2017 0

Hyderabad– Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday visited the company’s India Development Centre (IDC) here and interacted with employees.

Satya Nadella

During his brief visit to the city, Nadella spent couple of hours at the campus at Gachibowli.

The details of his visit were not made available by the company, which merely said it was an “internal event”.

Sources, however, said he interacted with employees and spoke about his book “Hit Refresh” released in September.

Hyderabad-born Nadella, who took over as CEO of tech giant in 2014, also spoke about his journey in the company.

Nadella’s engagements in Hyderabad also included an interview to NDTV’s Prannoy Roy.

He later left for Delhi, where he will deliver the keynote address at ‘India Today Conclave Next 2017’ on Tuesday. He is also scheduled to speak about his book during a panel discussion. (IANS)

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SriLankan Airlines looks to boost travellers to India, Australia via Colombo

Nov 3, 2017 0

By Rohit Vaid

Melbourne– Eyeing the growth in passenger traffic between India and Australia, SriLankan Airlines has launched a direct flight service to Melbourne from its Colombo hub.

Launched on October 29, 2017, the service is aimed at attracting Indian passenger traffic to Melbourne, says Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution, SriLankan Airlines.

“Given the number of Indians domiciled in Australia and the students who pursue higher education, and now with the one-stop connectivity offered by us, we are certain to witness travel movements throughout the year,” Tennakoon told IANS.

“On the other hand, India with its cultural vibrancy will be of much interest to the Australian travellers… We see a great potential for both VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure travel.”

As a key cultural, sports, educational and employment centre of Australia, Melbourne has emerged as a preferred destination for Indian travellers in the recent past.

According to Tourism Australia, by August 2017, the number of tourist arrivals from India has been 286,200 which has shown a growth of 15.3 per cent, compared to the numbers recorded during the same period last year.

Besides the new flight offering, the airline hopes to cash in on the fact that it has the largest operations of any foreign carrier in India.

Presently, it has over 120 frequencies to 14 Indian destinations.

“SriLankan Airlines is currently the foreign carrier that operates out of the most number of Indian destinations,” said Tennakoon.

“Our connectivity beyond Colombo to the Far East, Middle East, United Kingdom and now to Australia has certainly given us the advantage.”

The airline also intends to increase its frequencies to key Indian destinations to cater to the expected demand from India to Melbourne.

“With the view of strengthening regional focus, we have planned frequency increases to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore for 2017,” he added. (IANS)

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