SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Tunisia’s deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was given a five-year jail term in absentia and fined 3.5 million euros for corruption, adding to two life sentences he has already received, judicial sources said on Tuesday.
The former strongman was convicted of having exploited his position “to provide for himself or a third party unfair advantages, causing harm to the administration,” according to a Tunis court ruling.
Ben Ali currently lives in gilded exile in Jeddah, having fled to Saudi Arabia with his wife during the mass uprising against his regime in January 2011.
For his part in the same case, Khaled Kobbi, a businessman detained in July 2011, was sentenced to two years in jail and also fined seven million dinars (3.5 million euros).
The case relates to the acquisition of more than 20 hectares of land to build an industrial zone with public funds, before it was sold on in controversial circumstances.
Ben Ali has already been sentenced twice to life in prison for presiding over the bloody crackdown on the uprising that eventually unseated him and ignited the Arab Spring.
He has also separately been sentenced to decades in prison along with his wife Leila Trabelsi for embezzlement, illegal possession of narcotics, housing fraud and abuse of power.
Ben Ali’s clan, and his wife’s family in particular, had a stranglehold on business in Tunisia, and are accused of having run a mafia-style state.
The couple regularly claim they are the victims of post-revolution score settling.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, has confirmed to the press that the company is activating 1.5 million Android devices every day. That insanely high number speaks to the huge growth of the platform in developing nations in addition to existing markets like North America. With flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 coming soon, this year looks to further catalyze Android’s lead over iOS in the global market share race.
Schmidt made these remarks during All Things D’s Dive Into Mobile conference, where he stated that Android has 700,000 apps available. The number of activations has ticked up slightly from 1.3 million earlier this year and 1.4 million last month, though the percentage increase appears to be plateauing.
The vocal CEO also stated he believes there will be one billion Android phones in the world by the end of the year, up from a projected 750 million stated some time ago.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – There have been a number of rumors floating around in regards to the next Nexus 7 as we heard it could be equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and could be released in July for possibly $149. A new report is estimating just how many Google Nexus 7 could be shipping this year once it’s made available.
DigiTimes claims their “sources from the upstream supply chain” are saying they expect a total of 8 million Google Nexus 7 to be shipped before the end of the year, with one million of those units being shipped starting in May. Considering the Google Nexus 7 is expected to be unveiled at Google I/O next month, that means Google and Asus will need to sell over one million units a month in order to meet they expectations. When you think about just how popular the previous Nexus 7 was, we’re sure more Android-tablet owners will flock to the new and improved one once it’s announced.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A new study from Harvard Medical School has linked the overabundant salt intake to 2.3 million deaths worldwide in 2010 – from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related problems, HealthDay News reported.
However, the study only showed an association between salt intake and heart-related deaths, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
According to the researchers, the deaths accounted for 15 percent of all heart-related deaths that year.
Of the 2.3 million deaths, one million (40 percent) were considered premature, meaning the individuals were 69 and younger when they died. And men were found to be more at risk, as they accounted for 60 percent of the deaths.
Worldwide, the researchers noted that the United States ranks 19th out of the 30 largest nations in terms of salt-related deaths, blaming 429 deaths per million adults caused by salt intake. That translates to one in 10 of all heart-related deaths, HealthDay News said.
Countries with the highest salt-related deaths were Ukraine, Russia and Egypt, while countries with the lowest deaths were Qatar, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.
"National and global public health measures, such as comprehensive sodium reduction programs, could potentially save millions of lives," lead author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an news release for the American Heart Association.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Samsung is all set to buy 3% stake of the Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp, who is currently struggling and trying to re-build its operations. Sharp has been mounting up with losses and has had a hard time raising funds after its credit rating status was changed last year.
The partnership with the South Korean firm might just be the breakthrough the company is looking for, to get back to the winning ways. Samsung can also be one of the key consumers of Sharp’s products and can surely help the struggling company to improve its production and operations.
Samsung is rumored to have agreed to buy the stakes of Sharp for 10.4 billion yen (about $110 million) and the fortunes of the Japanese firm relies heavily on this collaboration.
The shares of Sharp rose to 350 yen, a 17% hike on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as soon as the reports of the deal started to surface.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Samsung is expanding its presence in Silicon Valley, and like Apple, Nvidia, and Facebook before it, the Korean giant wants to make an architectural splash. Inhabitat has renders of the proposed new NBBJ-designed San Jose campus for the company's semiconductor division, which the LA Times reports is part of an effort to help the company become a greater force for innovation.
Gov. Jerry Brown of California said that the facility will "place at least 2,500 people in high-skill, high-wage jobs," and it features a open-air design that places gardens on almost every floor. The site will feature sports facilities, cafes, and "collaboration zones," and will cover 1.1 million square feet in total. According to Inhabitat, the white steel and clear glass construction is designed to reduce solar heat gain and boost natural light.
The center will be headed by Samsung's chief strategy officer, Young Sohn, who has spoken before about the company's need to out-innovate its competitors in certain areas. Work is set to start this July, and is expected to take around two years.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: The Verge
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Minecraft builder jamdelaney1 has spent three months working on a huge, elaborate construction that he calls the City of Adamantis.
The creator, who worked alone on the project, estimates that sixty million blocks went into the construction of its vast classical plazas, columns, domes, aqueducts and buttresses.
He describes the project on his Planet Minecraft page as "an enormous fantasy city built upon high cliffs from which natural springs and rivers flow, carried to the city by a network of aqueducts".
He adds: "The city's smaller buildings are built in tiers above the cliffs connected by walkways and bridges leading to a large, open temple complex built into the highest cliffs which overlooks the city."
The result is huge, sprawling and detailed. You can get some idea of its scale by watching the video embedded in this post and browsing this Imgur gallery, but for the full effect you should explore it yourself in the game.
You can download the map from Planet Minecraft, and it's been released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0, so if you want to share it around you're free to do so.
Jamdelaney1's says that he's working next on a vast sci-fi-themed city. That'll be worth keeping an eye out for.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Samsung Galaxy S IV is guaranteed to be one of the hottest sellers and after crushing the numbers, analysts have predicted that the next Samsung flagship might cause headaches to Apple.
Peter Misek from Jefferies & Company wrote a note to clients of the analytics firm saying that Samsung plans to build 100 million Galaxy S IV phones. That would require monstrous amounts of resources, which would eat into manufacturing capacity for the upcoming iPhone update.
“The enormous 100 million S4 build plan (we estimate the S3 sold 60M) is leading some suppliers to say that they will reallocate resources away from Apple.”
The last official numbers are from mid-January and state that 40 million Galaxy S III’s were shipped.
On the topic of the next iPhone, Misek had previously written that Apple is already facing manufacturing issues as suppliers struggle to provide enough units of the bigger screen for the new Apple phone. This might even lead to delaying the launch until next year.
We’re a little skeptical of another screen increase so soon after the iPhone 5 (which brought a 21% bump in surface area). With iOS’ limited resolution options, a bigger screen will lead to a decrease in screen sharpness, possibly sliding below the Retina mark. Plus, Tim Cook probably doesn’t want see the iPhone upgrade timeframe slip back like it did with the 4S.
Still, 100 million Galaxy S IV’s will ensure Samsung’s dominance in the Android market (if Misek’s numbers are correct, of course). But with Apple decreasing its dependence on Samsung components, how much can iPhone 5S/6 manufacturing suffer from limited supply from Samsung and other component makers?-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Over 2 million kids in the UK are deprived of basic needs and are not included in official statistics, a new report has found. It says that current methods of calculating child poverty are too fixed on incomes.
Nearly 2.3 million children living “materially deprived lives” in the UK are not included in the government’s headline measurement of child poverty, the report by the think tank Policy Exchange estimates. According to official statistics for 2012 there were 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK.
The study underlines that current government policy does not take into account factors such as the standard of education received by a child, whether he/she has been in the care system, the quality of housing a family lives in or if a child’s parents have a criminal conviction.
Other areas of a child’s life which the report thinks should be should be considered are if the child themselves is a parent and whether the family are experiencing an unsustainable level of debt, the report says.
Policy Exchange argues that in the past too much attention has been focused on material poverty, especially in relation to the average incomes of parents.
Its findings are likely to be viewed favorably by the work and pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith, who has long argued that the scope on how child poverty is approached needs to be broadened.
“It is not just about money. Despite billions of pounds being paid out in tax credits in the past decade, the focus on income alone has not transformed people’s lives,” said Mr Duncan Smith, responding to the report, as cited by Sky News.
In real terms there has been significant extra money spent by the government in a bid to alleviate child poverty.
Since 1998/9 support for the poorest households in the UK has amounted to an average £4,000 ($6,321) a year increase. Between 2003/4 and 2010 the government spent an extra £170 ($268) billion trying to reduce child poverty. As a result Child Tax Credit (a benefit available to any parent regardless of whether they are working or not) rose by 63%, but Working Tax Credit (available to people on low incomes) rose by only 28%.
The report concludes that non-work contingent benefits rose disproportionately over work contingent ones and this has had a negative effect on child poverty.
“The extra cash is focused on tax credits, benefits which are not intrinsic to work and therefore will not tackle the root cause of child poverty, the household is relying on handouts,” Nick Faith, Director of communication at Policy Exchange, told RT.
Policy Exchange believes that serial unemployment in families is one of the main reasons behind child poverty and advises significant welfare reform to encourage more people with families back to work and reduce their dependence on benefits.
“Tackling worklessness is one of the most effective ways of reducing child poverty,” said Faith.
Ruth Woodgate is a mother of two who has to support her family on £209 ($330) a week and lives way below the poverty line.
“I think it’s a silly, silly mistake to make because it[the government] is not dealing with the issues. It’s just throwing money at the situation and that’s not always what is needs. I don’t need handouts, I need a job, people with alcohol and drug dependency issues don’t need money, they need help to get off it,” Ms Woodgate told Sky News.
The government is currently in consultation and is changing the criteria on how child poverty is measured.
The new measure when it is introduced will focus not just on family incomes but also on factors such as the quality of housing or the level of education a child receives and will likely increase the number of children in poverty.
“It [the new measure] would allow the government to focus policy solutions on improving outcomes both now and in the future for deprived children rather than simply masking the problem with state handouts that do nothing to get to the root of the poverty problem,” Matthew Oakley, head of economics and social policy at Policy Exchange, told the Guardian.
There have been some improvements in reducing the number of children living in poverty. Today 17.5% of all children live in households below the relative income poverty threshold, compared to over 25% in 1999.
But despite the progress the UK is still 7.5 percentage points away from meeting its 2020 target.
Part of the problem lies in the wider social problem that UK society has become less, not more socially mobile, iover the last 30 years.Indeed, social inequality is deemed higher than at any time in the post-war period, based on a 2010 report, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK, which then Prime Minster Gordon Brown called “sobering”.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A defense contractor whose subsidiary was accused of conspiring to torture Abu Ghraib prisoners has settled with 71 former inmates for $5 million.
U.S. firm Engility Holdings paid to inmates held at Abu Ghraib, Baghdad, and other U.S.-run prisons, between 2003 and 2007 on behalf of L-3 Services, according to a legal filing found by the Associated Press.
L-3 provided translators to the U.S. military in post-war Iraq. In 2006, L-3 Services had more than 6,000 translators in Iraq under a $450 million-a-year contract, an L-3 executive told an investors conference at the time.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the ex-detainees, Baher Azmy, told AP that each of the 71 Iraqis received a portion of the settlement. Azmy declined to say how the money was distributed among them. He said there was an agreement to keep details of the settlement confidential.
"Private military contractors played a serious but often under-reported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib," said Azmy, the legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. "We are pleased that this settlement provides some accountability for one of those contractors and offers some measure of justice for the victims."
Images of abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2004 sparked international outage.
The ex-detainees filed the lawsuit in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., in 2008.
L-3 Services "permitted scores of its employees to participate in torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time throughout Iraq," the lawsuit stated. The company "willfully failed to report L-3 employees' repeated assaults and other criminal conduct by its employees to the United States or Iraq authorities."
One inmate alleged he was subjected to mock executions by having a gun aimed at his head and the trigger pulled. Another inmate said he was slammed into a wall until he became unconscious. A third was allegedly stripped naked and threatened with rape while his hands and legs were chained and a hood was placed on his head. Another said he was forced to consume so much water that he began to vomit blood. Several of the inmates said they were raped and many of the inmates said they were beaten and kept naked for extended periods of time.
In its defense four years ago against the lawsuit, L-3 Services said lawyers for the Iraqis alleged no facts to support the conspiracy accusation. Sixty-eight of the Iraqis "do not even attempt to allege the identity of their alleged abuser" and two others provide only "vague assertions," the company said then.
A military investigation in 2004 identified 44 alleged incidents of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib. No employee from L-3 Services was charged with a crime in investigations by the U.S. Justice Department. Nor did the U.S. military stop the company from working for the government.
Fifty-two of the 71 Iraqis alleged that they were imprisoned at Abu Ghraib and at other detention facilities. The other 19 Iraqis allege they were detained at detention facilities other than Abu Ghraib.
Previous lawsuits by Iraqi victims of the abuses at Abu Ghraib failed. The New York Times noted a lawsuit by more than 250 prisoners against Titan and, later known as L-3 Services and spun off into Engility, "wound its way all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to review a holding by a lower court in the District of Columbia that the companies had immunity as government contractors," the newspaper stated.
"The new case, though, was filed in Federal District Court in Maryland and allowed to proceed. That led Engility to settle, although CACI has not done so," it added.- www.shfaqna.com/English