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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Trump supporter Malloch to testify to Mueller grand jury


Trump supporter Malloch to testify to Mueller grand jury 


Washington: An American academic who supports US President Donald Trump and is a strong advocate of Britain’s exit from the European Union will testify next month before the federal grand jury considering evidence in the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia.
Theodore Malloch, the author of a forthcoming pro-Trump book and an ally of Nigel Farage, a former leader of Britain’s UK Independence Party, said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Friday by the book’s publisher that he was questioned by FBI agents when he landed at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Tuesday after a flight from London and served with a subpoena to appear before the grand jury. Malloch “is scheduled to testify in Washington D.C. on April 13th under Robert Mueller’s Grand Jury investigation,” Hector Carosso, a representative of Skyhorse Publishing, said in a separate email.
Malloch’s book, “The Plot to Destroy Trump: How the Deep State Fabricated the Russian Dossier to Subvert the President,” is scheduled for publication on May 1. Mueller is investigating possible illegal coordination between Trump and his 2016 campaign and Russia. Trump and Russia have denied any collusion. The FBI and Mueller’s team had no comment on Malloch or events at the airport in Boston. Malloch said in his email that the FBI presented him with a document authorizing the agents to seize his cellphone. He said he handed it over and later was told the FBI had to send it to Washington for a “full assessment.”
He also said the FBI questioned him for about an hour about his career, government security clearances, and academic credentials. He said the agents then asked him about his role in the Trump campaign, which he said was informal and unpaid. He said they also questioned him about his contacts with Trump supporter and political consultant Roger Stone, the WikiLeaks website and Jerome Corsi, a contributor to conspiracy theory websites.
In his statement, Malloch said he knew nothing about WikiLeaks, which published emails U.S. intelligence officials concluded last year were hacked from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. Sources familiar with Mueller’s investigation say one avenue of inquiry is how the hacked emails made their way to WikiLeaks from Russia, and whether any Trump allies ever handled them.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange declined to comment directly on any possible contacts with Malloch when contacted by Reuters.

Sourced : http://gulfnews.com/news/americas/usa/trump-supporter-malloch-to-testify-to-mueller-grand-jury-1.2197520

Character certificate not mandatory for UAE work visa


ISLAMABAD: The government of United Arab Emirate (UAE) has suspended the mandatory condition of submitting character certificate of District Police Officer for applying work visa of UAE. The suspension of this condition made possible due to the untired efforts of the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment. According to a press release issued here on Friday, it has been directed to the Pakistanis those are interested for getting employment opportunity in the UAE they must apply through previous procedure.

Sourced : https://www.samaa.tv/economy/2018/03/character-certificate-not-mandatory-for-uae-work-visa/

Friday, March 30, 2018

US on track to meet climate change target despite Trump


US on track to meet climate change target despite Trump 


UN Secretary-General Guterres says emissions-cutting puts goals within reach despite Trump's planned withdrawal The United States is on track to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement despite President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw from the accord, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday.
Guterres said emissions-cutting plans put in motion by American businesses, regional governments and cities meant that the goals set by the former US administration which signed the deal in 2016 were within reach. “We have seen in the cities, and we have seen in many states, a very strong commitment to the Paris agreement, to the extent that some indicators are moving even better than in the recent past,” Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York. “There are expectations that, independently of the position of the administration, the US might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country.” Under the deal, the administration of former president Barack Obama pledged to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Nearly 200 countries and parties have signed the landmark agreement after intense negotiations in Paris, where all nations made voluntary carbon-cutting pledges running to 2030. The agreement is aimed at limiting global warming to within two degrees Celsius, but Guterres warned that more action was needed by 2020 to reach that goal.
Trump faced condemnation when he announced in June 2017 that the United States was pulling out, painting the accord as a “bad deal” for the US economy. Under the agreement, the United States can formally give notice that it plans to withdraw in 2019, three years after the accord came into force, and the withdrawal would become effective in 2020. Describing climate change as “the most systemic threat to humankind,” Guterres said recent data on extreme weather events showed that “2017 was filled with climate chaos.” “2018 has already brought more of the same,” he said. “Food security, health, stability itself all hang in the balance.” Guterres is planning to host a major summit next year to take stock of progress in implementing the climate deal, but it remains unlikely that Trump would attend
Sourced : http://gulfnews.com/news/americas/usa/us-on-track-to-meet-climate-change-target-despite-trump-1.2196814

Thursday, March 29, 2018



US court rules Trump illegal payments suit can proceed


Lawsuit says heavy spending by foreign diplomats and embassies at Trump hotel violates constitution
Image Credit: AP Washington: A federal court in the US state of Maryland on Wednesday ruled a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of receiving illegal foreign payments via his sprawling business empire can move forward. But while Judge Peter Messitte rejected the motion to dismiss the suit, he limited its scope to the nation’s capital. The lawsuit — which was brought by Washington and Maryland — alleged that heavy spending by foreign diplomats and embassies at the Trump International Hotel in the nation’s capital, payments by foreign entities at his Trump Tower and Trump International Tower in New York, and other business operations effectively violate the US Constitution’s ban on presidents enriching themselves while in office. “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that the President is violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution by reason of his involvement with and receipt of benefits from the Trump International Hotel and its appurtenances in Washington, DC as well as the operations of the Trump Organization with respect to the same,” Messitte wrote in his ruling.
The Emoluments Clause — which is effectively an anti-bribery measure — bars officials from receiving “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state” while in office without Congressional approval. But “plaintiffs lack standing to challenge possible constitutional violations by the President involving operations of the Trump Organization outside the District of Columbia from which the President may receive personal benefits,” Messitte wrote. The attorneys general for Maryland and Washington hailed the judge’s ruling. “We won the first round! Our case moves forward!” Maryland’s Brian Frosh wrote on Twitter.
“Judge in #emoluments case says we have standing to hold Pres. Trump accountable for violating the Constitution,” his Washington counterpart Karl Racine tweeted. The suit detailed the popularity of the opulent Trump International Hotel with foreign officials since his January 20, 2017 inauguration, alleging that the hotel “has specifically marketed itself to the diplomatic community.”

Sourced : http://gulfnews.com/news/americas/usa/us-court-rules-trump-illegal-payments-suit-can-proceed-1.2196305

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


BRUSSELS: The European Union announced a plan on Wednesday to enable military personnel and equipment to be moved more quickly across Europe, which Nato sees as vital in the event of a conflict with Russia to overcome border delays and bridges too weak for tanks. Russia’s Zapad war games on Nato’s eastern flank late last year raised alarm in Brussels and Washington that large-scale drills could accidentally trigger a conflict in eastern Europe but leave Nato unable to speedily mass troops there. Conflicting regulations across 28 EU countries, bridges and tunnels too narrow or weak for heavy equipment and few special allowances for transfers of US troops all make it difficult for Nato, commanders say.
“By facilitating military mobility within the EU, we can be more effective in preventing crises, more efficient in deploying our missions, and quicker in reacting when challenges arise,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said of the so-called Action Plan on Military Mobility. The plan will now go to EU governments and the European Parliament for discussion. Following a pilot programme last year to identify weak spots along North Sea-Baltic routes, where Russia regularly conducts military drills and has built up its air defences in Kaliningrad, the European Commission will next year outline the best routes across Europe for military transport. The Commission, which oversees the EU’s common budget, will also look at areas to upgrade infrastructure and estimate costs, how to streamline customs procedures for munitions and dangerous goods, and seek better cooperation between EU agencies.
Easier diplomatic clearance is also needed. The plan is a test both for the European Union’s renewed efforts to coordinate on military matters and to work better with Nato, which has its own standards for military-strength bridges, roads, tunnels and airfields. If the EU were to design its own system, that would create unnecessary duplication and likely anger the United States. While Washington no longer has Cold War-levels of personnel stationed in Europe, it has begun returning tanks, troops and helicopters to Germany, Poland and the Baltics as part of the West’s deterrent following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Before retiring last year, the top US commander in Europe, Ben Hodges, called for a military zone of free movement similar to the EU’s passport-free travel “Schengen” zone.
Sourced : https://www.dawn.com/news/1398193/eu-unveils-plan-for-fast-troop-movement-across-europe

Facebook to give users more control over personal information


Facebook to give users more control over personal information 

Washington: Facebook Inc is giving users more control over their privacy by making data management easier and redesigning the settings menu, the company said on Wednesday, in the wake of a scandal over a breach that exposed the personal information of millions and was allegedly used by a political consultancy. The company also said it would propose in the coming weeks updates to the social media website’s terms of service and data policy to better spell out what information it collects and how it uses it.
The company has faced a global outcry after a whistle-blower said that data from millions of users was improperly harvested by consultancy Cambridge Analytica to target US and British voters in close-run elections. Facebook shares are down nearly 18 per cent since March 16, when it first acknowledged that user data had been improperly channelled to Cambridge Analytica, eating away nearly $100 billion of the company’s market value.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find, and that we must do more to keep people informed,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, its deputy general counsel, said in a statement. In addition to redesigning its settings menu on mobile devices, Facebook said it is creating a new privacy shortcut menu where users would be able to better secure their accounts and control personal information. It would also allow users to review and delete data they have shared, including posts and search queries.
Users would be able to download the data shared with Facebook, including uploaded photos, contacts added to their account, and posts on timelines.

Sources: http://gulfnews.com/news/americas/usa/facebook-to-give-users-more-control-over-personal-information-1.2195983

Monday, March 26, 2018

UAE’s first nuclear power plant now completed


UAE’s first nuclear power plant now completed Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s first nuclear power plant at Barakah has been finally completed, after nine years in the making.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in were welcomed at Monday’s reception ceremony, who accompanied by a number of dignitaries and officials. Shaikh Mohammad took to Twitter and expressed his gratitude to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the partnership with South Korea for carrying out the giant project.
“My dear friend Moon Jae-in, President of Korea, and I today viewed completion of 1st power plant in Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant project. All thanks are due to President, our Korean friends & to joint efforts that have resulted in1st stage of this giant project being completed,” said Shaikh Mohammad. Sourcs : http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/government/uae-s-first-nuclear-power-plant-now-completed-1.2194623

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Trump approves new limits on transgender troops in military



WASHINGTON: Transgender troops who are in the US military may remain in the ranks, the White House said late Friday, but the Pentagon could require them to serve according to their gender at birth. The policy directive that President Donald Trump signed flatly stated that “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service.” But it also largely gives the Pentagon the ability to make exceptions where it sees fit.
The policy adopts recommendations that Trump received last month from Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. It comes after court rulings froze the president’s initial ban on transgender troops — issued in July — as potentially unconstitutional. “In my professional judgement, these policies will place the Department of Defencse in the strongest position to protect the American people, to fight and win America’s wars, and to ensure the survival and success of our service members around the world,” Mattis wrote in a summary of his recommendations to the president. The policy announcement outraged advocates for transgender troops, and the advocates vowed to fight the limits in court. “There is no evidence to support a policy that bars from military service patriotic Americans who are medically fit and able to deploy,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, which focuses on sexuality and the military. “Our troops and our nation deserve better.” In a series of Twitter posts in July, Trump announced that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US. Military.” He said he decided to issue the ban after consulting generals and military experts, although Mattis was given only a day’s notice. In August, Trump directed the Pentagon reverse an Obama administration policy that had allowed transgender people — or those diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or had discomfort with their biological gender — to serve in the military.
In October, a judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily blocked Trump’s ban and said the reasoning behind it was most likely unconstitutional because it represented a “disapproval of transgender people generally.” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had ruled that the military’s current policy should remain in place. Trump’s new order allows the defence secretary and the homeland security secretary to “exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.” In a memo to the president, dated February 22, Mattis cited “substantial risks” about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity. He said that allowing some of them to serve would amount to an exemption of certain mental, physical and sex-based standards and “could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.” Mattis’ assertion contradicts a 2016 study by the RAND Corp., which found that allowing transgender people to serve in the military would “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” for the Pentagon. The study estimated that health care costs would rise $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, representing an infinitesimal 0.04 to 0.13 per cent increase in spending. It concluded that there were 2,000 to 11,000 active-duty troops who were transgender. Citing research into other countries that allow transgender people to serve, the study projected “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” in the United States. Mattis, in his recommendation to Trump, complained that the RAND study “heavily caveated data to support its conclusions, glossed over the impacts of health care costs, readiness and unit cohesion, and erroneously relied on the selective experiences of foreign militaries with different operational requirements than our own.” “In short,” Mattis concluded, “this policy issue has proven more complex than the prior administration or RAND assumed.” In her ruling last October, Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Trump administration’s argument that it needed more time to prepare to process transgender recruits for military service. “The court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on Jan. 1, 2018,” she wrote. On Friday, Pentagon officials said they would continue to comply with federal law. A Defense Department spokesman said the Pentagon would “continue to assess and retain transgender service members.” The new policy must first be published in the Federal Register, which generally requires new rules to be reviewed and subject to a public comment period before they are enacted. Trump announced the ban in July to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members.
But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members. His decision was announced with such haste that the White House could not answer basic questions about how it would be carried out, including what would happen to transgender people on active duty. Now, eight months later, what will happen to transgender people on active duty is still unclear. “What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy,” Joshua Block, a senior staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT and HIV Project, said in a statement. The new policy, according to the ACLU memo, “effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.”
Sources : http://gulfnews.com/news/americas/usa/trump-approves-new-limits-on-transgender-troops-in-military-1.2193571

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Zuckerberg admits Facebook made mistakes


Zuckerberg admits Facebook made mistakes LONDON: Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg broke four days of silence on Wednesday and admitted that mistakes were made in safeguarding user data. His statement came amid a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm. Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday that Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data. “If we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote. Zuckerberg and Facebook’s No 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, have been quiet since news broke on Friday that Cambridge Analytica may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections.
Zuckerberg said the company has already taken the most important steps to prevent such a situation from happening again in previous years. For example, it reduced the access outside apps had to user data back in 2014, though some of the measures didn’t take effect until a year later, allowing Cambridge to access the data in the intervening months. Read: How Facebook data helped Trump find his voters Earlier on Wednesday, an academic who developed the app used by Cambridge Analytica to harvest data said that he had no idea his work would be used in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and that he’s being scapegoated in the fallout from the affair. Alexandr Kogan, a psychology researcher at Cambridge University, told the BBC that both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have tried to place the blame on him for violating the social media platform’s terms of service, even though Cambridge Analytica ensured him that everything he did was legal.
“My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” he said. “Honestly, we thought we were acting perfectly appropriately, we thought we were doing something that was really normal.” Authorities in Britain and the United States are investigating the alleged improper use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political research firm. Facebook shares have dropped some 9 percent, lopping more than $50 billion off the company’s market value, since the revelations were first published. The head of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, was suspended Tuesday after Britain’s Channel 4 News broadcast hidden camera footage of him suggesting the company could use young women to catch opposition politicians in compromising positions. Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2018
Sources : https://www.dawn.com/news/1396848/

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Skilled workers can take up maximum two part-time jobs

Skilled workers can take up maximum two part-time jobs: Under new system employers must bear the employee s end-of-service and other benefits proportionately


Abu Dhabi: Skilled employees such as experts, consultants, university professors and doctors can take a maximum of two part-time jobs with two employers under the new system introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, a senior official told Gulf News on Monday.
Dr Omar Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi, assistant undersecretary for International Relations at the ministry, added the total hours a skilled worker can put in with the two employers must not exceed eight a day and 48 a week. “The employee must also enjoy at least one day weekly rest,” he said.







The new system is implemented alongside the existing system which allows employers and workers to establish normal business relationship under fixed-term or indefinite contracts.
The new system will enhance the flexibility of the labour market and reduce dependence on labour being sourced from abroad.
- Dr Omar Abdul, Rahman Al Nuaimi


A decision signed by Nasser Bin Thani Al Hameli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, companies can recruit skilled workers — holder of a university degree or higher and those who have completed their diploma in any field — from inside the country or overseas under part-time contracts, which allow these workers to take more than one part-time job without approval of the original or other employers.
The resolution states that an existing regular contract may not be converted into part-time contract or vice versa until after the end of the initial contract, so that each party may freely contract with the model it accepts.
Al Hameli said the new system will enhance the flexibility of the labour market and meet the needs of the employers from the existing labour market and thus reduce dependence on labour being sourced from outside the country.
He added the system contributes to attracting and retaining the skills and expertise to enhance the productivity of the labour market in the country.
The part-time contract is subject to the same rules and penalties applicable to the regular employment contracts, either fixed-term or non-fixed-term, out of keenness to protect the rights of the parties to the employment relationship, according to Al Hameli.
RELATED LINKS
• Professionals in UAE welcome multiple contracts
The two employers shall bear the employee’s annual leave, the end of service benefits and any other financial obligations in proportion to the number of actual working hours and the amount of the wage paid to the worker.
The decision obliges each employer to provide the worker with the requirements and working environment stipulated in the ministry’s regulations.
According to the decision, the employer may not require the worker to work more than the hours agreed upon without the written consent of the worker. The employer may not prevent the worker from working in a similar facility to his company under the non-competition clause or for disclosure of the secrets of the work, unless a court ruling has been issued to this effect.






Full list of skill categories
Skill 1
Skill 2
Skill 3
Skill 4
Skill 5


Eligible categories
Skilled workers who are eligible to enter into the new part-time contract are skill level I or holders of a university degree or higher and skill level II or those who have completed their two- or three-year diplomas after secondary school in any field.
Skill level I includes — but not limited to — board chairmen, chief executive officers, general managers, professors, marketing managers, sales managers, hotel managers, chemists, physicists, geologists, actuarial statisticians, information technology consultants, system analysts, computer programmers, computer networking, architects, urban planning engineers, interior design engineers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, ship captains, doctors, veterinarians, pharmacists, teachers, judges, legal researchers, journalists, interpreters, librarians, archivists and musicians.
Skill level II includes — but not limited to — technicians, surveyors, technical controllers, air controllers, sea controllers, nurses, masseurs, orthopaedic physiotherapists, occupation rehabilitation technicians, nannies, dental assistants, pharmacist assistants, acupuncture technicians and real estate agents.
Sources : http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/government/skilled-workers-can-take-up-maximum-two-part-time-jobs-1.2191547

French language eyes ‘le comeback’ as Britain leaves Europe


French language eyes ‘le comeback’ as Britain leaves Europe BRUSSELS: Once upon a time speaking French was easy in Brussels, but things have changed. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, felt that keenly during a recent panel event with European steel-makers after several hours of speaking English with EU counterparts. “Maybe one in French if possible, otherwise I will run the risk of being criticised,” Le Maire, who speaks perfect English, said as he scanned the audience for questions. But raised hands quickly dropped away, leaving just one from a journalist, who asked the question in English anyway. Such is the fate of the speaker of French in today’s EU bubble, that small world of European decision-making where the language of Catherine Deneuve and Moliere was once essential. Read More: Mamnoon urges youth to learn Chinese language
Even after the shock vote of Brexit, English — or at least that simplified, beat-up version known as Globish — is firmly rooted as the lingua franca of the Brussels elite. “In the last 20 years, English has become completely dominant. French is not going to replace English in any way,” said Nicolas Veyron, one of the most respected economists in Brussels, who spends most of his day speaking English although he is French. That reality stings for French-speaking veterans of the Brussels bubble who remember a time when the top echelon of Europe was a coterie of francophones. “The retreat of French has been catastrophic,” said Jean Quatremer, the longtime EU correspondent for French daily Liberation who has championed holding the line against the advance of English. “There was a time when everyone in the bubble — commissioners, officials, spokespeople, even (Brexit-backing British foreign minister) Boris Johnson, who was a journalist here — spoke French,” said AFP’s Christian Spillman, who first came to Brussels as a corespondent in 1991. The sea-change for French-speaking came in 2004, when a raft of former Warsaw pact countries entered the union, changing the face of the EU forever. “In came all these new faces and no one spoke French,” said Karen Massin, a prominent Brussels lobbyist from France who began her career in European affairs at that time. “That was the real shift and the EU professional world switched totally to English,” she said. ‘Bastardised’ English
This is not to say that French has disappeared — not least because Brussels, the Belgian capital, is francophone. On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron is set to announce a plan to promote the French language on the “International Francophonie Day” — the latest in a series of measures by the young French leader to restore the primacy of his native language in Europe and further afield. Officially, along with English and German, French remains a language of business in the EU. Eighty percent of the commission’s roughly 30,000 employees claim it as a first, second or third language, the commission said. “The use of French is now like Italian or Spanish and is mostly linked to nationality. It’s important for networking,” Massin said. Read More: Language of persecuted Rohingya poised to go digital Veyron said that while French is not fundamental in Brussels, using it “makes the conversation richer, offers extra meaning, nuance to the discussion”. “I know many people who are not native speakers who enjoy turning to French to add an extra dimension to a conversation,” said the economist. One former EU official, now a national diplomat, concurred. There is “a lot of French around, no question, but the real difference is that legal texts are almost all now in English.” From that, it quickly follows that a meeting will also veer to English “and that’s probably for the best,” she said. But Quatremer said it created dangers: “You can have 29 people in a room who speak French and all you need is one person who doesn’t and everyone switches to English.” But resorting to “bastardised English” as a common language can lead to “disasters” when laws are being written in a language in which no one involved is a native speaker. Post-Brexit revival?
Amid the shock of Brexit, talk in Brussels was that English would be on the decline given that it was only an official langauge for small members Ireland and Malta. “Slowly but surely, English is losing importance,” quipped Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, before switching to French in a speech last year. But this is true only in nuances, those working inside the EU bubble agreed, though the commission said French-speaking entered nearly every meeting. “It’s getting better,” said Beda Romano, the Brussels correspondent for Italy’s Il Sole/24 Ore who speaks French and English flawlessly, describing the presence of other languages instead of English. However, in terms of the most common foreign languages spoken, the linguistic map of Europe still has English in front as the most widely spoken foreign language at 38 percent followed by French at 12 percent. Given the realities, no one believes that a push by France could see French return to its prominence during the EU’s early days. “The so-called francophonie is reliving a sweet dream from the past. Much like the British commonwealth, it’s a nice idea but unattainable,” the lobbyist Massin said. Sources : https://arynews.tv/en/french-language-eyes-le-comeback-as-britain-leaves-europe/

UAE spreads happiness with prisoner release, free taxi and bus rides

UAE spreads happiness with prisoner release, free taxi and bus rides: Travellers at Dubai airport get happiness stamps on passports on International Day of Happiness







Dubai: Travellers and residents in Dubai were
greeted with smileys and 11 prisoners won their freedom in Sharjah on Tuesday
as the UAE marked the International Day of Happiness.
At the Dubai Airport terminals, travellers got
happiness stamps on their passports that had a smiley and a message that read:
“Welcome to Happy UAE.”







Officers of the General Directorate of
Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) at the airport welcomed people with a
welcome smile and posed for pictures with them.
According to GDRFA Dubai, travellers expressed
their happiness at the gesture when they saw the smiley face on their
passports.
The GDRA’s gesture of happiness was not
confined to the travellers as they also welcomed employees with a smiley.
The GDRFA Dubai’s employees, who usually use
the fingerprint scanners to log in and out, had a note on the scanners saying
‘Your smile is your fingerprint’.







On Tuesday, they were exempted from the
fingerprint scan to mark the Happiness Day in a gesture to spread happiness and
positivity.
Around 5,000 employees of GDRFA Dubai also
received a surprise video message of happiness from Major-General Mohammad
Ahmad Al Merri, director-general of GDRFA, on their computers.
Free taxi rides
As the travellers came out of the airport
terminals, the lucky 100 of them got free taxi rides from the Roads and
Transport Authority (RTA).
Meanwhile, the message of happiness travelled
across the city on Tuesday as the RTA welcomed commuters at metro stations and
buses with a range of gifts including happiness badges, balloons and stress
balls.
Celebrating the International Day of Happiness
and the Happiness Week, the RTA on Tuesday launched a series of activities
which included surprise gifts to commuters, free Happiness Bus rides from
several metro stations including Mall of the Emirates, BurJuman, Union Square,
Al Ras, Al Rashidiya, The Dubai Mall, JLT and Al Jafiliya.
The buses embarked on their journeys from 8am
to 4.30pm from different locations to various destinations such as Hatta Dam,
Dubai Parks and Resorts, La Mer and Global Village.
Appreciating the efforts of its employees, the
RTA distributed “Hello” cards and free lunch meals to 2,500 bus drivers at Al
Aweer Bus Depot.
As it continues to mark the Happiness Week,
the RTA will distribute vouchers to 600 parking inspectors at the Customer Service
Centre at Umm Al Ramool.
Metro spreads smiles
Speaking to Gulf News, a Nigerian security
officer, who is a regular metro commuter, said: “This is a great country and I
am so happy to have found work here. I love using the metro daily to and from
work, it’s a lifeline for me.”
Another metro user Cesare Angelo said he has
been working in Dubai for two years and haven’t been happier in life.
“From the time I came to Dubai two years ago,
I have been using the metro and it is so convenient, one of the reasons why I
find life so easy here,” said Angelo, who works as a waiter.
Prisoner release
Meanwhile, Sharjah Police released 11
prisoners who were jailed for defaulting on their debts, to mark the
International Day of Happiness.
According to Sharjah Police, the pending debts
of the prisoners were settled by Ayadi Committee and Sharjah Charity
Association.
The prisoners, who belonged to different nationalities,
thanked Sharjah Police for their gesture, which enabled them to restart their
normal life.






They also praised the role of police in
supporting and protecting their families, while they were behind the bars and
helped them to overcome the difficulties they encountered during their
incarceration.
Free transport
In Ras Al Khaimah, RAK Transport Authority
offered free public transport within the emirate to neighbourhoods such as Al
Jazeera Al Hamra and Dagdaga and RAK Airport.
The RAK Public Works Department also offered a
30 per cent discount on all its fines.
— With inputs from Aghaddir Ali, Staff
Reporter
Sources : http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/society/uae-spreads-happiness-with-prisoner-release-free-taxi-and-bus-rides-1.2191561

will-not-forgive-without-punishment-sc-bans-shahid-masood-from-hosting-tv-show-for-3-months





The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday banned television anchorperson Shahid Masood from hosting his programme for three months and asked him to submit a written apology to the court.
The news anchor offered the court an unconditional apology "from the depths of his heart" for being unable to prove his startling allegations against the convicted rapist and murderer, Imran Ali, of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, however, dismissed the verbal apology, saying: "I will not forgive you without punishment".
"I have been hearing about the 'depths of your heart' for a while now," Justice Nisar remarked.


The CJP then told Masood to "suggest a punishment for himself or the court will ban him for six months". Masood first suggested a ban for one month and then extended it to two months.
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The SC announced a ban for three months and ordered the anchorperson to submit a written apology. Justice Nisar warned him that the courts "were not the same as before".
Editorial: Yellow journalism
At the beginning of today's hearing, Justice Nisar lambasted the anchorperson for "insulting [the CJP's] law officer" during his late night programme. "How dare he insult my law officer?" the CJP asked.
"I can get a screen installed to watch the remarks you gave in your characteristic loud voice," Justice Nisar said, adding that the court could charge Masood for contempt of court.
In an earlier hearing this month on March 7, the CJP had refused to accept a verbal apology from News One anchorperson for his startling allegations against the convicted rapist and murderer of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur.
Masood, on March 12, had submitted a written apology in court, saying that he was "sorry if the transmission hurt anyone's sentiments". The apology was again rejected by the CJP who said that the anchorperson "had not apologised" in his answer.


The anchorperson had claimed during a late night show in January that convict Imran Ali was a member of a pornography gang which also includes a Punjab minister. During earlier hearings of the case, Masood had also told the court that the suspect has 37 foreign accounts.
Imran Ali, who was convicted in the rape and murder of Zainab Amin by an Anti-terrorism Court in February, had appealed to the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the verdict that handed him death penalty on four counts, pleading not guilty to the offences. His appeal was turned down by the LHC on Tuesday.

Sources : https://www.dawn.com/news/1396458/will-not-forgive-without-punishment-sc-bans-shahid-masood-from-hosting-tv-show-for-3-months

What you need to know before you enter the UAE

What you need to know before you enter the UAE: The most important information you need to have when coming to the UAE is what you can and cannot bring into the country





What you need to know before you enter the UAE
The most important information you need to have when coming to the UAE is what you can, and cannot, bring into the country

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Awareness box for passengers at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Smart Customs Inspection System at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Scanner to detect drugs and explosives at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Baggage claim area at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai Customs CCTV room at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Check point for hand carried items at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai Customs CCTV room in Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Matar Rashed Humaid Nasser Al Muhairi, Team Leader Inspection, Passengers Operations, Dubai CustomsImage Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf NewsThe arrival checkpoint of hand-carried bags at Terminal 3 of Dubai International AirporImage Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
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Published: 21:00 March 3, 2018
Mary Achkhanian, Staff Reporter


Dubai: Apart from the various plans to meet family, relatives, friends, enjoy a vacation and visit the stunning sights that Dubai has to offer, what every passenger must keep in mind when arriving in the UAE are the rules and regulations of what they can, and cannot, bring into the country.
In fact, this awareness is more important than all the tourist information one may gather to help ease your travel experience at the airport and ensure you don’t land yourself in trouble.

Passengers coming to Dubai should learn about what they are allowed to bring into the country in order not to unwittingly breach the law, said Khalifa Malik Bin Shahin, Senior Inspection Manager, Airport Passenger Terminal Three.
According to Mattar Rashid Al Muhairi, inspection team leader, there were 15,260 items confiscated in Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport in 2017.
“The most common items seized in all terminals include narcotics, counterfeit goods, restricted medicines and weapons,” he said.
“We have awareness boxes in the customs area in the airport for travellers to gain information on the illegal items, including guns, knives, pepper sprays, laser pens and more,” said Al Muhairi.
“Every passenger should take some time to view the banned items list we have on our official website before they come to the UAE,” he added.
Al Muhairi said travellers coming in with controlled medicines or even prescribed medicines beyond the quantity required for their personal use can face punitive action.
Travellers entering the UAE have been cautioned against bringing in controlled or psychotropic medicines and narcotics that may be available easily in the country of origin but might be included in the control list in the UAE.
“For example, In case of controlled medicines for personal use, both travellers to the UAE and those transiting through the country have to carry a valid medical prescription from the country of origin,” he said.
He also advised passengers to not pick up luggage that doesn’t belong to them because they will be responsible for anything found inside them.
Declare cash
Most passengers arriving in the country continue to be unaware of the need to declare cash money, in whatever currency it may be, if it is above Dh100,000 in value, a custom officer said. According to UAE law, all passengers arriving in the country must disclose cash, travellers’ cheques, jewellery and precious metals in their possession that exceed in value Dh100,000 or its equivalence in other currencies.
“Most cases at the airport have been related to people not disclosing amounts above Dh100,000,” he said. “We have no custom duties on cash money above Dh100,000, but we need them to declare the amounts they have.”
Jewellery, precous metals: 5% custom duty
For valuables, such as jewellery and precious metals, exceeding the permitted limit, custom duties of five per cent will be applicable on them, depending on the reasons they are being brought into the country for.
“We have certain rules for exemption and a discretionary authority in place to evaluate case to case,” stressed Bin Shahin.
A case for exemption
To be exempted from custom duties, for example, baggage and gifts must be of a personal nature and not in commercial quantities and the passenger must not be one who frequently visits the same customs centre or who trades in the items in his possession.
“Some passengers can mistakenly pass through the green channel and others might do it on purpose to avoid declaring what they have. While others might be moving to the UAE carrying their own personal gold, it still has to be declared. This is why we have a discretionary authority who decides on a case by case basis before taking the final decision,” he said.
Discretion with a reason




Bin Shahin added that it’s common for passengers to forget to declare or to hide what they have because they are unaware of the rules of the country.
“We want to ensure everyone coming to the country is happy, and this is why we have the discretionary authority. We are able to know if someone is trying to bring something into the country for commercial purposes, through body language and many other signs,” said Bin Shahin.
Any excess quantities of goods and values intended for commercial purposes are subject to custom tariffs and custom declaration preparation procedures.

Some of the permitted and duty-exempted items and personal effects
1. Gifts whose value does not exceed Dh3,000.
2. A total number of 400 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 500 grams of tobacco (minced or pressed for pipes) or minced/pressed tobacco for smoking, tumbâk (pure tobacco) or water pipe tobacco.
3. The amount of alcoholic beverage shall not exceed 4 litres or 2 cartons of beer, each consisting of 24 cans not exceeding 355 ml for each can. Customs duties on excess quantities shall be collected otherwise they will be confiscated in accordance with Article (4) hereunder.
4. Personal jewellery for non-residents of the UAE
5. A reasonable quantity of electronic devices such as computers or laptops, CD or DVD players, radio systems, projectors, portable TV sets, portable music equipment, etc.
6. Special needs strollers and wheelchairs.
7. Your personal luggage and belongings including clothing and toiletries
8. Disclosure of cash and travellers’ cheques
All passengers who need to disclose must fill the disclosure form designed for this purpose pursuant to the disclosure system applicable in the country.
Banned Items
1. All kinds of Narcotic drugs (Hashish, Cocaine, Heroin, Poppy Seeds, Hallucination Pills, etc..).
2. Goods intended to be imported from boycotted countries.
3. Goods from Israeli origin or bearing Israeli trademarks or logos
4. Crude Ivory and Rhinoceros horn.
5. Gambling tools and machineries.
6. Three layers fishing nets.
7. Original engravings, prints, lithographs, sculpture and statues in any material.
8. Used, reconditioned and inlaid tires.
9. Radiation polluted substances.
10. Printed publications, oil paintings, photographs, pictures, cards, books, magazines stony sculptures and mannequins which contradict Islamic teachings, decencies, or deliberately implying immorality or turmoil.
11. Any other goods, the importation of which is prohibited under the authority of U.A.E. customs laws or any other laws in the country.
12. Forged and duplicate currency.
13. Cooked and home-made foods.




In numbers
Terminal 3 stats for 2017
• 15,260 items confiscated
• 10.6 million passengers screened by Dubai Customs
• 90,568 flights
• 20.9 million luggage screened
Statistics January to November (Drugs and IPR)
Terminal 1:
• Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Seizures: 6 cases, 15,001 trademark labels, 719 mobile phones
• Opiates: 246 cases with 39,432 opiate pills seized
• Cases of drugs carried in abdomen: Three
• Drug Cases: 32 cases, drugs weighing 11kg
Terminal 2:
• No seizures related to IPR
• Opiates: 178 cases with 29,051 opiate pills seized
• Drug Cases: 12 cases, drugs weighing 1.3kg
Terminal 3:
• IPR Seizures: 2 cases, 11,779 trademark labels
• Opiates: 157 cases with 25,672 opiate pills seized
• Cases of drugs carried in abdomen: Eight
• Drug Cases: 187 cases, drugs weighing 315kg

Travellers get 'smiley visa' on Happiness Day at Dubai Airport; Metro brings smiles on faces

Dubai: Passport officers stamped travelers passports with a smiley face as part of Happiness day.
General directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai, surprised those who arrived at the Dubai International Airport Tuesday with a unique stamp with a smiley face design and the title ‘Welcome to the Happy UAE’.


Metro brings smiles on faces
Dubai Metro commuters Tuesday had more reasons to smile as they received surprise gifts at several stations.
Celebrating the International Day of Happiness and the Happiness Week, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched a series of activities which included surprise gifts to commuters, free Happiness Bus rides from several metro stations including Mall of the Emirates, Burjuman, Union Square, Al Ras, Al Rashidiya, Dubai Mall, JLT and Al Jaffaliya. 
The buses will embark on their journeys from 8am to 4.30pm from different locations.
At Dubai Airport 100 lucky passengers will getting free taxi rides throughout the day.
http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/general/travellers-get-smiley-visa-on-happiness-day-at-dubai-airport-metro-brings-smiles-on-faces-1.2191376

Monday, March 19, 2018

Learning Tips

HEC bans 13 universities' MPhil, PhD distance learning programmes

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has suspended admissions for MPhil and PhD distance learning programmes administered by 13 universities over the latter's failure to meet various quality standards set by the commission.
The HEC's decision will impact nearly 4,000 students.
"Further admissions in any of the distance education programmes being offered by universities are stopped immediately till finalisation of recommendation[s] by the committee," read a missive sent to the varsities by HEC Quality Assurance Division Consultant Muhammad Ismail.
After conducting physical visits and reviewing documents, a committee of HEC experts concluded that the 13 universities lacked adequate faculty to run the MPhil and PhD programmes, the statement read.

"In some cases, [the] universities have not even got [sic] approval of their own statutory bodies," read the statement. It also accused some varsities of violating rules and taking advantage of "weak HEC policies about distance learning".
One of the other complaints was that the universities had failed to integrate information and communications technology (ICT) in their coursework; another, that a lack of transparency was evident from the marking of attendance of students.
The commission has directed the universities to shift the students already enrolled in the affected programmes to other disciplines in order to prevent any losses to their studies.
The institutions whose distance learning programmes have been suspended are:
  • International Islamic University, Islamabad
  • Virtual Campus of Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad
  • University of Peshawar, Peshawar
  • Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan
  • Government College University, Faisalabad
  • University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
  • University of Faisalabad
  • Islamia University, Bahawalpur
  • Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan
  • Sukkur IBA University
  • Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur
  • University of Sindh, Jamshoro
  • University of Balochistan, Quetta

Sources: https://www.dawn.com/news/1396254/

Pakistan all set to seek $2 bn from friendly country


https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/294142-pakistan-all-set-to-seek-2-bn-from-friendly-country


Pakistan all set to seek $2 bn from friendly country
ISLAMABAD: With the general elections looming and the federal budget on the anvil, the government is all set to knock at the doors of friendly countries to rattle up two to three billion US dollars to meet international obligations, The News learnt.
Sources said that initially two friendly countries have been contacted and the response was optimistic. This will almost be the same arrangement as was managed during the early days of Musharraf government, The News learnt.
As per the arrangement being negotiated with a friendly country, a trusted friend of Pakistan has assured of depositing about $2 billion in its account as safe deposit as was done in 2000. It means that this amount will reflect in Pakistan’s account to keep its image positive but Pakistan will not be able to use this amount, sources confided.
Negotiations with the brotherly Muslim country having a generous attitude towards Pakistan in the past are also under way and there is expectation that a relief of about $1.5 billion will be provided to Pakistan. A source without giving details of this arrangement stated this was also done in past, when after nuclear tests, the US had slapped sanctions on Pakistan and there was a serious threat of default. At that time, a desperate Nawaz Sharif government had frozen the foreign currency accounts. This practice was also exercised during the Nawaz Sharif government in 1999. At that time, the brotherly country had requested not to make this arrangement public but Pakistan’s then secretary finance had immediately informed the US about this arrangement, sources confided.
Sources in the government told this correspondent that the government is worried about the situation and negotiation at senior level officers were initiated a couple of weeks ago. Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail, along with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan, visited the Muslim country. Later on, officials of Finance Ministry also visited this country where negotiations went ahead smoothly. Before these tours, the COAS Qamar Bajwa had also visited this country. And luckily these negotiations are going positively, have rather successfully concluded. Now final arrangements will be finalised by political leadership in the next couple of weeks, sources shared with The News. When questioned about political level, who will finalise the arrangement, sources added this is up to governments to decide at which level the agreement will be done. But initially all dialogues are going positive and after assurance of success of these negotiations, Pakistan has decided not to float bonds in the international market, sources confided.
When The News contacted Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail, he refused to comment.