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Monday, April 30, 2018

Microsoft confirms talks with UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to lift Skype ban.

Microsoft confirms talks with UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to lift Skype ban.

Other VoIP services may be opened up provided they comply with regulations, analyst says Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Skype is part of Microsoft Office 365. Right now, only the chat feature, which is text-based, in Skype is available for businesses. Dubai: Microsoft has confirmed that it is in talks with Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE to lift the ban on Skype. “We have been working closely with the local authorities towards gaining a better understanding of the local requirements in an effort to get Skype unblocked. We are passionate about the benefits that Skype offers to our users around the world by facilitating communication and enabling collaboration,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Gulf News.
Gulf News reported in March that Skype could become a reality after Microsoft opened two data centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi early next year. Skype is part of Microsoft Office 365. Right now, only the chat feature, which is text-based, in Skype is available for businesses. Sukhdev Singh, executive director of market research and advisory firm Kantar TNS, told Gulf News that small- and medium-sized enterprises will benefit the most from the move. Big businesses have their own VPNs to access Skype video and voice calls in the UAE. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the UAE has blocked all video and voice call services, including Google’s Duo, Apple’s FaceTime and WhatsApp’s video and voice calling feature. The TRA said in their earlier statement that access to such VoIP services is still a prerogative of the licensed providers who reserve the right to provide such services through their networks. And companies wishing to offer such services must coordinate with the licensed telecom providers in the UAE. “OTT [over the top] services such as VoIP [voice over internet protocol] calls has internationally become a norm. VoIP is one of the main fallouts of the reliable high-speed networks. In extreme cases, Reliance Jio of India moved completely away from the traditional model of ‘Voice plus Data’ to ‘Data only’ package. The model disrupted the industry norm, though their growth was shunted due to network reliability issues,” Singh said
An Arabic daily quoted Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, Director General of the TRA, saying that TRA is in talks with Microsoft and Apple. He emphasised the need to maintain a strong relationship with the tech companies as their investments in the UAE are increasing. Since FaceTime is banned in the UAE, Singh said that a large number of mobile retailers sell imported iPhones meant for other markets. “As a fallout, not only does it cost consumers more, it also disadvantages the legal players, Apple in this case. A step to allow FaceTime and Skype will also clean up this grey market trade,” he said. “If TRA decides to lift the ban on FaceTime and Skype, I guess the regulation may also be applicable to other VoIP services provided they comply with TRA regulations. Since these are not a real replacement for calling, users cannot simply rely on VoIP services completely,” he said.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

It’s a boy: Kate, wife of UK’s Prince William, gives birth to third child

It’s a boy: Kate, wife of UK’s Prince William, gives birth to third child 

LONDON: Kate, the wife of Prince William, gave birth to a boy on Monday at a hospital in London, the third child for the British royal couple. Kensington Palace said the baby was born at 1001 GMT and weighs 8 lbs 7oz. William was present for the birth at St Mary’s Hospital in west London where their other two children, George and Charlotte, were also born, it added.
“The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news,” Kensington Palace said. “Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.” The new prince is Queen Elizabeth’s sixth great-grandchild and fifth-in-line to the British throne behind siblings Prince George, 4, his two-year-old sister Princess Charlotte, their father William, and grandfather and heir Prince Charles. A 2013 change to the law means the boy will not supplant older sister Charlotte in the line of succession. “That would in fact be the first time that has ever happened,” royal historian Huge Vickers said. However, William’s younger brother Harry, who marries U.S. actress Meghan Markle next month, falls to sixth on the list.
Kensington Palace said the name of the new royal would be announced in due course. Bookmakers had made Albert, Arthur, Jack and Fred the favorite names for a boy. Picked :

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

UAE, Bangladesh sign agreement on recruiting domestic workers

UAE, Bangladesh sign agreement on recruiting domestic workers
The two countries agreed to ensure the entry and employment of Bangladeshi domestic workers in the UAE and help protect their rights Abu Dhabi: The UAE and Bangladesh today (Wednesday) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on recruiting Bangladeshi domestic workers in the UAE. The agreement was signed in the presence of Nasser Bin Thani Juma Al Hameli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, by Saif Ahmad Al Suwaidi, undersecretary at the ministry, and Nomita Haldar NDC, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Expatriate Affairs. Al Hameli praised the cooperation between the governments of the two countries in various fields. "The signing of the MoU comes within the ministry’s keenness to open up different markets to families and employers in the country and to provide several options for the recruitment of domestic workers to meet their needs and achieve their aspirations," he said.
The two countries agreed to ensure the entry and employment of Bangladeshi domestic workers in the UAE and help protect their rights according to the laws and regulations in the UAE. A per the agreement, workers should have the required qualifications and must be physically and mentally fit to perform the job for which they are recruited. The agreement defines that Tadbeer centers are the only authorised centres to bring and recruit workers. Tadbeer will soon start providing their service to recruit workers in different sectors. According to the agreement, recruitment offices in the UAE will send a job offer to candidates in Bangladesh, including all the terms of employment. Both the countries agreed to cooperate to make a list of all the costs related to recruitment and employment of Bangladeshi workers, as well as spread awareness among them about hiring guidelines before and after their arrival to the UAE. Picked :

Monday, April 16, 2018

Expo 2020 Dubai unveils PepsiCo as premier partner

Expo 2020 Dubai unveils PepsiCo as premier partner
Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday announced PepsiCo will be the 10th of its 12 premier partners. Under the agreement, PepsiCo will market joint-branded snacks and beverages, bearing both Expo 2020 Dubai logos and PepsiCo’s product logos, in key markets both internationally and locally. The firm’s Middle East & North Africa (Mena) president, Omar Farid, added that new products would be developed specifically for the Expo. Neither Expo 2020 Dubai nor PepsiCo would reveal the value of the deal, with PepsiCo global chair Indra Nooyi light-heartedly responding, “That’s for us to know and you to guess,” in response to a Gulf News question at a press conference following the signing ceremony. Instead, both parties preferred to talk of an alignment of purpose between Expo and PepsiCo, with Reem Al Hashemi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, praising PepsiCo’s ‘Performance With Purpose’ programme as a model that matched the Expo’s vision and themes of sustainability, mobility and innovation.
“With PepsiCo and Expo 2020, we’re aligned across the board,” Al Hashemi said. “It is not so casual to find corporates that also have such a strong commitment with aligning themselves to making this planet a better place, and so we’ve searched diligently to find that type of alignment so that when we do have a partnership deal, the issue isn’t so much the dollar figure, it’s the kind of impact you can create.” Nooyi highlighted PepsiCo’s efforts in water conservation, for which it won the Stockholm Industry Water Award in 2012; the use of electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce carbon footprint; and its efforts to reduce the use of plastics in its packaging and to increase re-use and recycling. She said PepsiCo would be showcasing its reusable Drinkfinity bottle at Expo 2020. “We’re in advanced testing in Brazil and the United States — it’s actually launched in Brazil. Interestingly, it’s got great trial — the big issue is people don’t want to wash the bottle. We have to stay with it so that people actually get into the habit of washing the bottle and create a culture of reusing the bottle.”
She noted such efforts to change consumer behaviour often foundered, but added, “You have to stick with it. That’s the key thing. Very often we try to do something and then, in two or three quarters, we tend to give up because it’s just hard to do it — it costs money, it takes time. But with Drinkfinity now we’ve stuck with it for at least two years and we are determined. We think it’s a good idea. We want to make sure that we take the time and the energy the effort and investment to actually change consumer perceptions.” Nooyi said PepsiCo would also be using its Expo involvement to find new ideas for sustainable growth. “The great thing about Expo of the kind that’s being planned in Dubai is that we’re going to see so many ideas coming not just from the Dubai pavilions but from the other countries. I think we’re going to be a student of what’s being suggested in the pavilions of other countries.” Picked :

Trump defends ‘mission accomplished’ tweets

Trump defends ‘mission accomplished’ tweets 

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he correctly used the term “mission accomplished” to describe Friday night’s missile strike in Syria. In an earlier statement, Trump also defended the combined US, French and British strikes on three targets in Syria, saying that they were in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb. “The Syrian raid was so perfectly carried out, with such precision, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term ‘Mission Accomplished’,” he tweeted on Sunday. “I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!”
On Saturday, Trump said that the strikes were “perfectly executed”. “Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished,” he tweeted. The term “mission accomplished” because controversial in America after former Republican President George W. Bush used it to declare victory in Iraq, although the war dragged on for years several years after that declaration. Trump said on Friday that the US was “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents”. On Capitol Hill, Democrats blasted President Trump for circumventing Congress, calling the strikes “unconstitutional” while most Republicans applauded the move. “Today, it’s a strike on Syria — what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next?” asked Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Dem¬o¬crat., said Trump must present a more comprehensive strategy on Syria to Congress and seek lawmakers’ approval. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Trump “administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria.”
But House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, praised the action. “The United States has taken a decisive action in coordination with our allies … Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons cannot go unanswered,” he said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also a Repub¬lican, said he supports “both the action and the objective.” “I applaud the president for taking military action against the Assad regime for its latest use of chemical weapons, and for signaling his resolve to do so again if these heinous attacks continue,” said Senator John McCain, another Republican who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

US adds India to currency watch list 

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury added India to its watch list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies, joining China and four others, according to a report issued on Friday. Treasury said the “monitoring list” includes those “major trading partners that merit close attention to their currency practices.” In addition to India, the semi-annual report to Congress names five countries that continue on the list from October: China, Germany, Japan, Korea and Switzerland. Countries remain on the list for two report cycles “to help ensure that any improvement in performance versus the criteria is durable and is not due to temporary factors.”
While no major trading partner was found to be manipulating its currency, five of those on the list meet two of the three criteria, while China is included because “it constitutes a disproportionate share of the overall US trade deficit.” The US has a deficit of $337 billion with China of a total global trade deficit of $566bn, according to government data. “We will continue to monitor and combat unfair currency practices, while encouraging policies and reforms to address large trade imbalances,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The Treasury report is required by Congress to identify countries that are trying to artificially manage the value of their currency to gain a trade advantage, for example by keeping the exchange rate low to promote cheaper exports. The report said India, which has a $23bn trade surplus with the US, “increased its purchases of foreign exchange over the first three quarters of 2017,” although the rupee still rose in value.
And while China — which is at the center of a brewing trade dispute with Washington — remained on the watch list, Treasury said “the Chinese currency generally moved against the dollar in a direction that should” help reduce China’s trade surplus with the United States. Germany also remained on the watch list, even though it is part of the European currency union, which means it cannot independently control the exchange rate for the euro.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

New regulation announced by Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) in 2016 - Earn while you learn

New regulation announced by Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) in 2016 - Earn while you learn

Few takers for part-time jobs, say Dubai universities Heads of universities highlight challenges in hiring students as part-time workers in freezones Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Students seek information about courses at the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Dubai: More than 18 months after a new law allowed university students to take up part-time jobs in nine free-zone clusters, the scheme has found few takers mainly due to lack of awareness among employers, universities said on Thursday. In interviews on the sidelines of the 30th Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (Getex) at Dubai World Trade Centre, they said there was confusion among employers about being able to legally hire students in part-time jobs and they were also unclear about benefits of hiring them.
Dr Vajahat Hussain, chief executive officer Amity University Dubai said while they have introduced a 20-hour programme “Work as you Learn” and some students have been hired by retail and IT companies, he believes there should have been more progress. “The challenge is more of the awareness on the part of the companies because we as a university are aware and the students are too, but more companies need to know they can hire students as part time employees legally,” he said. He said companies also lack patience in taking students without experience or skills and prefer to outsource jobs. “However, we believe in the next couple of years, it will pick up and companies will see the benefits of getting students on part-time jobs.” According to him, the part-time job rule has worked mainly as a magnet in attracting international students to the country. ‘Confusion’ Employers are not clear about the exact arrangements with regard to part time jobs, according to Niranjan Jayakumar, vice-president and business head, Manipal University. “We have been sending students who are interested in taking up part-time jobs, but what we have seen is that there is some confusion that students cannot be employed when on student visa and employers then ask us for NOC for employment which we cannot give. Those kind of policy-related questions are there and since the guidelines are new, more visibility need to be brought in the guidelines and rules,” he explained. Also, work-study balance on the part of students is another challenge that could be putting off employers. Students pursuing full-time courses have classes during day and a few jobs are available in the evening.
“Because of the options on part-time jobs we have seen a growth of 50 per cent in international students coming to study with us and the interest to earn while they learn comes from them. For some students it’s the question of balancing academic knowledge, while employers expect students to be doing the activity full-time,” said Jayakumar. Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Director at Middlesex University, said while the rule is good to have, one of the reasons it has not picked up is because the type of part-time jobs students seek are not really available at companies. “It’s still in its early days, I think. Undergraduate students at our university have not been interested because of time constraints, but the issue is not always with the students but more with employers because they are not sure if the students are available as they want them to be available whenever they want,” he said. Profeffor Ammar Kaka Vice Principal, Heriot Watt University said the university has attracted 100 Chinese students since the rule was announced. Heriot Watt University (right) stands at the Gulf Education and Training Exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre. “We have students going for part-time jobs since the rule was announced, but I see the challenge in terms of restricting the opportunities for students to work only in freezones. There are companies interested in being part of the education system of the new generation, but it’s not happening to a big extent,” he said. Getex kicks off Getex was officially opened on Thursday at the Shaikh Saeed Halls at Dubai International Convention Centre. This year’s show will feature more than 250 leading universities and training institutes from across the world who will present their undergraduate and postgraduate academic and occupational courses to over 35,000 students in exploring potential learning opportunities.
The exhibition ends Saturday. New regulation announced by Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) in 2016 Earn while you learn New regulation announced by Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) in 2016 grants part-time work permits to around 25,000 students mostly enrolled at around two dozen academic institutions licensed by DCCA, primarily located in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and Dubai Knowledge Park. This is in addition to government universities. The new regulation is being implemented with the support of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). It enables 4,500 businesses in the emirate’s nine creative clusters. Students must be in good academic standing and, generally, in their second year of university. A central clearing system, like an online marketplace, will connect employers with student workers, after checks on eligibility. Students right to pay will be guaranteed. Work hours will be limited to prevent impact on studies.
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Saturday, April 7, 2018

State Bank warns against trade in virtual currencies

State Bank warns against trade in virtual currencies 

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday warned the general public as well as banks against trade in virtual currencies, informing them that no legal protection was available against risks involved in the unlicensed business. Virtual currencies, coins and tokens (such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Pakcoin, OneCoin, DasCoin, Pay Diamond etc) are neither recognised as a legal tender nor the SBP has authorised or licensed any individual or entity for the issuance, sale, purchase, exchange or investment in any such virtual currencies, coins and tokens in Pakistan, according to the SBP. While the SBP spokesperson said no data was available about prevalence of virtual currencies in Pakistan, President of the Forex Association of Pakistan Malik Bostan told Dawn that four websites operating from Pakistan were reportedly trading in virtual currencies. He said the exact volume of trade in virtual currency in the country was not known, but many people believed it could be around tens of billions of rupees. Virtual currency, also known as virtual money, is a type of unregulated digital or electronic money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community. The SBP said virtual currencies such as coins and tokens provided high degree of anonymity and could be potentially used for facilitating illegal activities. It advised banks, development finance institutions, microfinance banks and payment system operators and payment service providers not to facilitate transactions of their customers and account holders in virtual currencies or Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and tokens. Due to the ambiguous nature of virtual currencies, no legal protection or recourse was available to anyone in the event of a loss incurred due to any or all of the risks like high price volatility as investments tied to virtual currencies are highly unstable and are primarily based on speculations, said the SBP. No legal protection was available against the risk regarding failure or closure of virtual currency exchanges or businesses due to any reason, including action by law enforcement agencies, hacking or security compromises of crypto currency exchanges and wallet businesses, as a number of instances had been recorded across the world where a huge amount of money had been lost due to the exchange or wallet operations being hacked and compromised, the SBP explained. In Pakistan, fraudsters are also offering pyramid-style investment schemes and coins and promising high returns (similar to Ponzi schemes) to the people, the SBP said, warning that this could cause a significant loss to the general public. The State Bank advised people that domestic and international payment and money transfer services in Pakistan were regulated by the SBP under the applicable laws. In this regard, no entity was currently licensed or authorised by SBP to offer money remittance services and products in Pakistan using virtual currencies, coins, or tokens. Persons using virtual currencies, coins or tokens for the purpose of transferring value outside the country were subject to prosecution as per the applicable laws. “The general public in their own interest is advised to be cautious of and refrain from indulging in activities relating to mining, trading, exchanging, transferring value, promoting and investing of virtual currencies to avoid any potential financial loss and legal implications,” said the SBP. Action sought against illegal business Finance experts welcomed the SBP move that they said would help in spreading awareness among the masses but they questioned the actions taken by the banking and money market regulator to practically stop this activity. “It’s a good thing, I would say,” said a capital and money market expert Mohammed Sohail. “If there is a statement or a warning for people then there must be some information about such activities [prevailing in the country]. But, you see, the State Bank needs to do more than warning the general public. Unfortunately, we have not seen any action on the part of the regulator when it comes to illegal forex or illegal brokerage houses. These illegal businesses actually facilitate and work as channel between the people and virtual currencies market.” As the first step towards discouraging such activities, he said, the State Bank should move against the illegal businesses in capital and money market that could largely help discouraging people from looking towards virtual currencies as an open option for transaction or investment. PICKED :

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Facebook needs ‘a few years’ to fix problems: Zuckerberg

Facebook needs ‘a few years’ to fix problems: Zuckerberg WASHINGTON: Facebook will likely need “a few years” to fix the problems uncovered by the revelations on the hijacking of private user data, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview released on Monday. Speaking to the news site Vox, Zuckerberg defended the company’s business model and shot back at criticism of the social networking giant from Apple CEO Tim Cook last week. Zuckerberg maintained that one of Facebook’s problems was that it was “idealistic,” focusing on the positive aspects of connecting people and that “we didn’t spend enough time investing in, or thinking through, some of the downside uses of the tools.” “I think now people are appropriately focused on some of the risks and downsides as well,” he said. “I think we will dig through this hole, but it will take a few years. I wish I could solve all these issues in three months or six months, but I just think the reality is that solving some of these questions is just going to take a longer period of time.”


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

No minimum wage policy in UAE'

'No minimum wage policy in UAE' 

UAE’s wage policies enable a flexible labour market that creates thousands of new jobs annually: ministry Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation today (Tuesday) said the government has no plans to implement a minimum wage policy. The ministry said in a statement, received by Gulf News, that wages – including for domestic workers – will continue to be fixed through negotiation between employer and employee. “The UAE’s wage policies enable a flexible labour market that creates thousands of new jobs annually,” the ministry said. “The government remains of the view that a free labour market, based on supply and demand, creates optimal conditions under which we are able to continue to welcome thousands of guest workers to the UAE every year, while simultaneously fostering sustainable economic growth.” The ministry has nothing to do with any statements released on fixing minimum wages for domestic workers. Recently, some embassies in the UAE had announced measures being put in place about fixing a minimum wage for domestic workers hired from their countries. The UAE has taken steps to increase protection for domestic workers. On September 26 last year, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued Federal Law No. 10 of 2017. The law regulates the contractual relationship between employers and domestic workers and provides legal protections to safeguard the rights of all parties involved. Picked :

Monday, April 2, 2018

China slaps retaliatory tariffs on 128 US products

China slaps retaliatory tariffs on 128 US products BEIJING: China on Monday imposed tariffs on 128 US imports worth $3 billion, including fruit and pork, retaliating for US duties on steel and aluminium that Beijing said “seriously infringed” Chinese interests. The move, which was decided by the customs tariff commission of the State Council, followed weeks of rhetoric that has raised fears of a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. The Trump administration had said its duties were aimed at steel and aluminium imports that it deemed a threat to US national security, but China’s Commerce Ministry on Monday called that reasoning an “abuse” of World Trade Organization (WTO) guidelines. The US measures “are directed only at a few countries, seriously violating the principle of non-discrimination as a cornerstone of the multilateral trading system, which seriously infringed the interests of the Chinese side,” said a statement on the Commerce Ministry website. President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against China’s massive trade surplus with the United States and promised during the election campaign to take steps to slash the US deficit. Beijing had warned last month that it was considering the tariffs of 15 percent and 25 percent on a range of products that also include wine, nuts and aluminium scrap. They came into force on Monday, Xinhua said, citing a government statement. The levies are in response to tariffs of 10 percent on aluminium and 25 percent on steel that have also angered US allies. “We hope that the United States can withdraw measures that violate WTO rules as soon as possible to put trade in the relevant products between China and the US back on a normal track,” the Commerce Ministry statement said. “Cooperation between China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, is the only correct choice.” Trump has temporarily suspended the tariffs for the European Union as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea. But the White House has unveiled plans to impose new tariffs on some $60 billion of Chinese imports over the “theft” of intellectual property. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic official, told US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a phone call last month that the IP investigation violated international trade rules and Beijing was “ready to defend its naitonal interests”. ‘Heavy blow’ But Beijing has so far held fire against major US imports such as soybeans or Boeing aircraft — items that state-run daily the Global Times suggested should be targeted. The nationalistic newspaper said in an editorial last week that China has “nearly completed its list of retaliatory tariffs on US products and will release it soon.” “The list will involve major Chinese imports from the US,” the newspaper wrote, without saying which items were included. “This will deal a heavy blow to Washington that aggressively wields the stick of trade war and will make the US pay a price for its radical trade policy toward China,” the Global Times wrote. Despite the rhetoric, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday suggested the new measures on intellectual property were a “prelude to a set of negotiations”. The United States ran a $375.2 billion deficit with China last year. US Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, held meetings with Chinese officials on Friday and Saturday, including Vice Premier Liu. “With Vice Premier Liu He, I had an extensive discussion about how China’s trade-distorting measures end up hurting American workers,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “I’ve long been skeptical of trade policy -– both at home and abroad -– that caters to big corporations instead of working families,” she said. PICKED :

U.S. government seeks end to Supreme Court privacy fight with Microsoft

U.S. government seeks end to Supreme Court privacy fight with Microsoft
President Donald Trump on March 22 signed a provision into law making it clear that U.S. judges can issue warrants for such data, while giving companies an avenue to object if the request conflicts with foreign law. The U.S. government's Supreme Courtbattle with Microsoft over whether technology companies can be forced to hand over data stored overseas could be nearing its end, after federal prosecutors asked that the case be dismissed. President Donald Trump on March 22 signed a provision into law making it clear that U.S. judges can issue warrants for such data, while giving companies an avenue to object if the request conflicts with foreign law.
"This case is now moot," the U.S. Department of Justice said, citing the newly passed legislation, in a 16-page court filing on Friday that requested the dismissal. The Supreme Court on Feb. 27 heard arguments in the case, which had been one of the most closely watched of the high court's current term. Some justices urged Congress to pass a law to resolve the matter. Microsoft and the Justice Department had been locked in a dispute over how U.S. prosecutors seek access to data held on overseas computer servers owned by American companies. The case involved Microsoft's challenge to a domestic warrant issued by a U.S. judge for emails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin relating to a drug-trafficking investigation. The bipartisan new law, known as the Cloud Act, was supported by Microsoft, other major technology companies, and the Trump administration. But civil liberties groups opposed it, saying it lacked sufficient privacy protections.
Microsoft, which has 100 data centers in 40 countries, was the first American company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the United States. The Microsoft customer whose emails were sought told the company he was based in Ireland when he signed up for his account. A representative for Microsoft did not immediately return requests for comment on the Justice Department's filing.
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Sunday, April 1, 2018

UAE postpones good conduct certificate requirement for job visas

UAE postpones good conduct certificate requirement for job visas 

Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announces postponement of new requirement
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News archives Dubai: The UAE has postponed the mandatory requirement for a good conduct certificate for employment visas from April 1, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The ministry, in a response to a Twitter user's inquiry, said that the requirement is postponed "until further notice".
The UAE had made the good conduct certificate mandatory for employment visas starting on February 4. Sources told Gulf News that authorities have started processing visa applications from certain nationalities without the good conduct certificate from last week. However, the ministry had not officially confirmed this. Until Thursday, the last working day in March, the ministry replied to Twitter users that there was no update when they enquired about the status of the requirement of good conduct certificate. “If there is any update, [it] will be shared on the official channels,” it had added.
On Sunday morning, the ministry updated the latest decision to all those who had made the enquiry through Twitter. However, no media statement has been issued as of press time on Sunday. The rule making it mandatory to obtain a certificate of good conduct for expatriates to get a work permit in the UAE had come into effect after the UAE Coordination Committee in January approved a Cabinet Resolution issued in 2017 stipulating that expatriates who apply for work visa in the UAE must first obtain a certificate of good conduct — issued either by their home country or the country where they lived for the last five years.
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Price of petrol, diesel slashed by over Rs2

Price of petrol, diesel slashed by over Rs2 

The federal government announced a new tariff for petroleum products on Saturday, reducing the per-litre price of petrol and diesel by Rs2.07 and Rs2.00 respectively. From April 1, 92 RON petrol will be sold for Rs86 and high speed diesel for Rs96.45, while prices of kerosene and light diesel will be maintained, a press release by the Ministry of Finance stated.
The statement said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) had asked that the prices of light diesel and kerosene should be increased — recommendations that were not adopted and thus respective price for the products maintained at Rs65.30 and Rs76.46 respectively. The ministry, however, also stated that Ogra had asked for a greater price cut for petrol — another recommendation that could not be followed completely as, the ministry explained, the price cut granted in previous months was more than what was asked for.
The prices will remain effective until April 30. Based on existing tax rates and import prices reported by Pakistan State Oil, Ogra had recommended a reduction of Rs5.26 per litre in the price of petrol for April. The regulator had also recommended an increase of 65 paisa per litre for high speed diesel, 55 paisa per litre for light diesel oil and 13 paisa per litre for kerosene.
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